THIS IS a place for us to break bread and fish in fellowship. This is a place for us to eat the bread and drink the wine of communion with Jesus our Lord. Here we share the love of Christ through sharing our hearts, our loves, our hopes and dreams, our struggles and trials, and troubles and cares. Our purpose here is to share conversationally, so we will remain open topic. We will remember that Jesus came to break bread with us, and serve us that bread, and was raised up to draw all to himself. A bruised reed would He not break nor a smoking flax would He quench. What He made us for, is a relationship, an intimacy with Him. One place to carry that out is in fellowship in the Spirit with brothers and sisters of that same one Spirit. We can even share favorite music and vids. Make yourself a cup of coffee, make yourself at home and say "Hi".

Monday, November 15, 2010

What is Love?: God's Perspective

Again, on our social network site for our favorite charity, sponsoring some of the world's poorest children, we have a discussion group, which discusses many of life's challenges, usually in relation to God or the Bible; or maybe the other way round, talking about God or the Bible in relation to many of life's challenges.  This past week's entry from "C & A" was about love.  Following is my comment, followed by my description of a friendly objection from "T", followed by my reply.  Names are abbreviated for privacy:

Thanks for this post "C" and "A"!

I've thought and prayed about this since it was posted.

Jesus, in what I think of as His "Last Will and Testament", said "Abide in Me, and I in you, ...for you can bear no fruit unless you abide in Me." The Gospel of John 15.

Beloved, what manner of Love has the Father bestowed upon us that we should be called "the children of God"....Beloved, NOW are we the children of God, but it is not yet apparent what that will look like. But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
I John 3 ('epistle' or letter)

Ok, here is what I think, in fact I'm convicted to my core:

Beloved, it is imperative that we know who God IS. Only, Only by knowing Him intimately, can we hope to be like Him at all. Only in knowing Him can we begin to conform to His image. Only in there can we fulfill the purpose of our creation. We were created "in the image of God" imago Dei. How can we be image bearers, if we do not know what the true God looks like? This is why Theology (the study of God) is central to who we are - not necessarily college or seminary training, but definitely being intentionally vested in getting to know Him.

If God is all about glorifying Himself, if not getting embarrassed by the people called by His name, is paramount, if getting a good return on his investment is high on His list, then I think Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) , and Steve Jobs (Apple) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) should be excellent image bearers, because they have glorified themselves, they separate themselves from people who embarrass them, and they get a very good return on their investment.
Beloved, I submit to you that the God you and I know is eternity away from that image:

I Corinthians 13 describes love. For years it sounded like another endless, impossible 'to do' list to me. That is until I understood that I Corinthians 13 is really a picture of Jesus, and Jesus being the Express Image of the Father, I Corinthians 13 is a picture of Eternal God.

As I wrote, if God is self absorbed and self serving, always about "glorifying God" then we have no shortage of people bearing the image of god on earth.

We read in 1 John that God is love. If this is true, what does He look like? My friend Bobby Grow    likes to say that the Trinitarian God is "shaped by His love": It is within this dynamic, wherein the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, and the Father and Son love in the communion of the Holy Spirit wherein He freely chose to create a mirror of Himself in His image who might further reflect His love for the other; and in so doing created a community of creatures who find their greatest delight and purpose by loving Him — through Him — and by loving their neighbors. [Posted at EVANGELICAL CALVINIST  (see sidebar for link), November 2010.][I apologize for using your name without permission Bobby.  I figure like the politician, or was tat "Citizen Kane"? said "I don't care what the press says about me, as long as they spell my name right."]

You see, Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been forever about loving each other. Here, let us get a I Corinthians 13 working definition: Love is other absorbed, not self-absorbed. Love is always, me concerned with what is best for you, not me.

Jesus said:

I do nothing on my own account, but as my Father has taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me here, is with Me: The Father has not left me alone, for I do always those things that please Him. John 8

That is being totally enthralled with someone else. Then, love is, as "T" wrote: For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Just as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are enthralled with each other, God is Selflessly committed to us as well. He loved each of us so much that He sent His only Son to suffer and die on our behalf. And Jesus loves His Father, and us so much that He walked out His vicarious life, and to the cross with JOY. It is God’s nature, again, His joy, to have done this gratis – no strings attached, and in fact any requirements would be contrary to the true nature of God. So we can only receive from Him by faith, as a hungry little child opens his hand to receive a bowl of rice.

Nothing in my hands I bring,

simply to thy cross I cling,

naked come to thee for dress

helpless look to thee for grace,

foul, I to the fountain fly,

wash me Savior, or I die.

Augustus Toplady 1740-1778 from the Hymn “Rock of Ages”

[ADDENDUM: As full disclosure, ironically, Dr Toplady would probably disown about 50% of my theology here, as He was a "Federal Calvinist, and one of the first publishers of a version of TULIP.]

It is imperative that we know so well our frame of dust, and our penchant toward sin, that we can never be fooled into thinking that we are righteous, or in any way merit any consideration. We must become so well aware of His Sinless Holiness, and His selfless, NO strings attached, no holds barred love, that we will as much as possible, never again doubt His Holiness, or His selfless love for us, and our security in Him. If we love, out of obligation to love, is that love or chains? Is it acting out of our duty [and for our own security]?

We, at long last settled as being secure in Jesus’ love, through no merit of our own, are now free to love back. Oh. We will be hurt and tested: “If He really does love me, how can He allow this in my life?”, because He loves us and wants us to mature in our faith in Him, to grow to be adults in the Lord. As we become sure that He is securing our lives unto life and unto eternity, no matter what, then we can begin to take chances to love others with abandon: “They can’t really hurt me, I’m in God’s hands.” This does not mean we write a blank check. Jesus never did, but gave freely, lavishing His love with discipline according to that person’s long term best interest.

Beloved, in learning that our God and Savior are really love personified, that God is motivated by selfless love, we over time become confident in Christ, that He perchance really loves us, and really has our best interest at heart, even when we reject His counsel. I believe that, as we begin to know Him well, we begin to reflect Him better and better, because we see Him as He is: a selfless giver of love: Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. You see, this is not compelled by commandment, but by reflection, by imitation.

Beloved, a son who has been nurtured by, and is secure in his father’s love, sees his father’s work and says “that’s the kind of man I want to be”, and imitates the works that his father does, not for fear of loss, or being found not to be a true son, but out of a simple desire to be like his father, and to please his father. Although Eternal Son of God, Jesus became a man child, He learned about His father in Heaven (just conjecture, but Joseph must have been a fairly decent image bearer himself) through Scripture, preaching, his 'parents' and godly neighbors. The Holy Spirit led Him along as well [understatement of epoc proportions]. He grew in wisdom and stature. He loved and revered His Heavenly Father perfectly, and wanted to be just like Him. The Holy Spirit helped Him to fulfill that all of the way to the cross and death, out of love for His Father, and us.

Sealing the end of this? Beloved, unlike Dorothy, of The Wizard of Oz, the answer is not in you, the answer has never been in you, through perseverance, trying harder to be good, disciplining yourself. These efforts become part of the process, but Beloved, your purpose for being here, your purpose for ever having been created, is to receive God's love freely, this is your joy; and to bear His image, as selfless giver of love. The answer is always and repeatedly looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, through Scripture and prayer to again and again become so well acquainted with Him, and the love He intends to lavish on us, that everything we can give, or stand to lose, are nothing compared to that love.


[NOTE: To this comment, my trusted friend and Sister "T" objected that she was "a little offended" that I so much discounted God guarding His glory, and defended His right and duty to defend Himself.  The following is my reply:]
Yes "T", I believe that you are using the correct usage of "glory", while I'm using a less thoughtful or more careless one.

Still, there is a nuanced difference in interpretation: for example, when Jesus prayed "Father, glorify your Son [why?], so that your Son may glorify you." Again, son is ultimately interested in the Father's Glory.

Father and Son are eternally committed to guarding one another's honor. That's just one example; others, not so clearly in service to other, may seem to be self-service.

There's a number of ways to go about this.

A guy at work says "well you know they found Jesus' bone box [ossuary]".

I don't know if you've heard this one, but archeologists have found an ossuary identified as containing someone named Jesus, and a couple of Marys (or they were in adjoining ossuaries). Anyhow, to claim that this is Jesus our Lord offends me greatly, because Jesus’ bones are nowhere on Earth. As the First Fruits of the resurrection, His bones are part of His resurrected body in Heaven. I'm offended because it is a lie, moreover, I'm offended because it makes Jesus out to be just a man. I'm offended because it is contrary to the true Glory of God. So that is me, filled with the Holy Spirit, viscerally moved to defend the honor of my Lord and God.

Also at church one recently said “I wouldn’t be surprised if, when we get there, God says that we all got it wrong: Christians, Buddhists, Muslims etc.” What!?! You mean Jesus didn’t die for us, rise again the 3rd day according to the Scriptures? You mean as The Word, He failed to reveal the Truth of God? You mean as the Express Image of the Father, He was no more valid then the Qur’an? In times like these I don’t know whether to suffer in silence or rage: “What the sam hill did they teach you in Sunday School!?!”. On that day, I suffered. That same day another one said “I would like to think when we get there, Jesus will be just another guy on the street.” My heart sinks. I digress.

“The Glory of God" is not defined or judged by man's judgement. When Jesus prayed that the Father glorify the Son, He was praying that the Father carry out His plan for the next 3 days. This included being betrayed by His friend, another friend denying that he knew Him, and all of His friends abandoning Him. It included trial as a false prophet by His own people, being spat upon by the unclean gentiles of all people, and tortured, and executed a traitor's execution. It was scandalous that the blameless Son of God should be treated this way, and yet this is what He prayed for. Later in the evening, He would pray that this cup be taken from Him, “Yet not my will, but thy will be done”.

Paul's instructions are.....instructive:

So if there is any encouragement among you, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, and being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or deceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each look not only on his own interests, but also the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Who though in the Form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the Father.

Philippians 2 Yeah, so much for Jesus being just another guy on the street. Yes!!!

So there it is: Humility, care for others, guarding the truth and The Father exalting the Son. It all has a consequence: Glory. Because everything that God does is glorious.

I'm having trouble bringing this back around. Maybe if I relate the type of thinking I'm opposed to: God is sovereign. God is sufficiently powerful to do anything He wants, I agree. Likewise, He can prevent anything He hates. Some define sovereignty as God controlling everything. They argue that everything that happens is done specifically for the Glory of God. This is where I’m offended. Auschwitz, the rape of Nanking, people sexually assaulted in church, etc. This is the consequence of a fallen world that God warned Adam and Eve against. Now, I understand that He will work all things for good to those who love Him, and this will fall out to His glory, but to understand that He planned the sin and suffering for His glory, I believe, reverses the purposes of God. God hates sin, and the Son of God Himself suffered for the Glory of God. I believe He Loves, and this falls out to His unimpeachable “Glory!”. His Father is just, and merciful, and truthful, and this falls out to His unapproachable “GLORY!”. God redeems the consequences of evil, which only evil itself produces in this world, glory be to God. That is said As If glory was value added. The truth is, God is glorious, and “Glory” defined is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is Glory personified.

Jesus died for all creation, for all of the sins of the world. “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.” God so loved the world... that whosoever believeth in Him…

So, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in concert, created. God’s magnum opus was Mankind, created in the image of God, Male and Female created He them. He watched in sorrow as Adam rejected God. Then Father, Son and Holy Spirit, out of love for creation and mankind, set the wheels in motion to redeem mankind, and creation. In the fullness of time, The Father sent the Son on His mission, on the wings of the Holy Spirit, who caused Mary to conceive the Promised Seed. The Holy Spirit was the Anointing in Whom Jesus walked as a man [Theanthropos God-Man] in His vicarious life. My point being that, each person of the Trinity always serving the Other, and always bent on redeeming creation, and that, by the way, to present a spotless Bride to the Son. On the cross, having suffered the righteous wrath of His Father, He cried triumphantly “It is finished!”. This is the culmination of the “carnal union”: Jesus, in the incarnation, took on all human flesh vicariously, to pay for all the sins of the world. The “spiritual union” takes place as each individual believes in the Word of God, that He was sacrificed for their sin, resulting in the union of believer and the Holy Spirit.

I think of the Glory of God like the Hymn “How Great Thou Art”, you know: how beautiful and awesome His creation is and all that. But what brings me to true worship, is

"when I think, that God His Son not sparing,

sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,

That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing

He bled and died, to take away my sin.

Through the lens of Isaiah 53: Creator God is the suffering servant. The scandal is that Glory is in the willingness of the Son of God to be completely humiliated in the sins of the world: even the sins of those who never will repent. Likewise, in our suffering, we ask where is Jesus in this? The answer is He was on the cross.

So what I will stand by in my more than “nuanced difference” is that God is always a jealous God. Father always jealously guards the Glory of His perfectly obedient Son. Son jealously guards the honor and glory of His righteous and just and loving Father (e.g. the cleansing of the temple). Holy Spirit in concert with Father and Son supports God in His work and convicts the world of sin and convicts and comforts His children. And (hopefully) His children, convicted by the Spirit, as you were "T" in your reply to me , jealously guard the Honor and Glory of God.
What is left are those who although partakers in the carnal union, in that their sins were expiated on the cross, still reject the Son of God. What is left for those who have rejected the Salvation that the Son purchased for them on the cross? Gospel wrath! In the final judgment, responding to those who stumbled at the Rock of Offence, who rejected God’s son, who died for them, The Father will take those who were not resurrected in the first resurrection, and remove them eternally from the presence of God, and put them in the place of everlasting punishment.

At that point there will be no more sin in Heaven nor the new Earth. The Glory of the Lord will fill the Heavens and will be the source for Heavenly light. The Bride will forever worship God, in sinless purity.
I hope this helps. I'm grateful that you objected "T". It's sooo good to hear someone defending the Honor and Glory of God. I hope this is more clear. If this still doesn't pass muster for you, please let me know.

In the Peace of the Lord

Your Brother

[Italicized comments in square brackets are addenda for this blog]

MY STORY and Prayer

The following is a copy of my testimony (lightly edited) as given to my friend on a social network associated with our favorite charity.  Her story had moved me deeply, and I felt compelled to offer her the only gift I had - the Eternal love of  God.   I can not express how grateful I am that this has already moved someone.   If someone else stumbles in here in need, hopefully, they too will recognize the immeasurable, incomparable love of Jesus, and trust Him:  

Dear M.,

I wanted to share with you my story.

As a kid, I often heard about God and Heaven and Hell. I trembled. My grandmother would often repeat "Jesus Loves You", but I didn't know who Jesus is.

As a senior in high school, I heard the jocks talking about a jock friend of mine, Mark, being a "Jesus freak". That sounded strange, so I went to Mark after school to ask him what was up with that? He chuckled and said "they called me that?"
He then told me what he had been sharing with them: That Jesus was sent from God to live out His life as a man, and then die on the cross for the sins of the world. In John 3:16 Jesus Himself is quoted saying "For God so loved the world that He gave His one unique son that whoever believes in Him (you may substitute "trust" for believe) will not perish but will have everlasting life". That day I trusted Jesus for my salvation. Over time I came to understand that He died for all of my sins, past present and future, And as such, I would never have to doubt that all of my sin was forgiven. None-the-less doubt I did. I was beginning to believe, to trust that Jesus truly loved me. But that was just the beginning. It takes time to really trust that He intends to order our lives to the greatest possible impact for time (this life) and eternity (the life to come).

In college, when my high school sweetheart jilted me, I felt the Lord had closed important doors for the life I had planned. I rebelled BIG TIME. I left the Lord, I apostacized.  I rejected Him and the Faith. I shook my fists at Him. I probably literally said "you don't exist...". I know I said "I hate you". Well, our Father knew me better than that. He knows a child's tantrum when He sees it. A child says "I hate you" and runs away from home, does the parent stop loving them?

The Lord walked right along side me unseen, through the sin and filth for about 4 years.

The Lord did lead me back. It was slow and low key at first, but He has been at work in my life every moment. For many years I had lingering doubts about His love for me. "Why would He love me? I'm so sinful. I'm such a failure." The pieces didn't come together. I believed He loved me most of the time, but because "the Bible tells me so".

Recently, as in this past year, I have found the pieces I needed to put this to rest as much as possible for my weak, sinful, frame:

We have known that God Is Father Son and Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus has been with the Father forever: John 1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the same (Word) was in the beginning with God."
This "Word' is the expression, the revelation of God. God who is in Heaven, reveals Himself through the son (Jesus). I think it's John Chapter 14 Jesus says "if you have seen me you have seen the Father." That is because Jesus the Son is the Father's expression, His revelation of God. What God wants you to know about God, He has revealed through Jesus.

Jesus Said "God is Love". This is a basic statement of WHO God is. God is not a "what", but a "Who". God has always been, forever and ever and ever. However old creation is, God is forever and ever before that.
If the One God was a singularity, God, who Is Love could have only had self-love for eternity before creation. Okay M., here's the thing: Father Son and Holy Spirit have been together forever - ONE GOD, THREE PERSONS. It's a mystery. It has not been an eternity of self-love. The Father has eternally loved- been enthralled with the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son has eternally loved, been totally devoted to the Father and the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit has forever loved the Father and the Son, and Has been about communicating (communion) that love Father to Son, Son to Father.

So God is eternally Loving directed toward others -forever. God Is Love.

God determined not to keep that love to Himself. He created us, to "Spread that Love."
He created the Heavens and Earth, and said "It is Good". He created Adam and Eve and gave His approbation "it is good". He set them in a beautiful garden because He loved them. He gave Adam Eve, because He loved Adam and Eve, and as an illustration for Jesus' love for His bride. Jesus' bride is His church, which He created, died for and will one day wed in eternal intimacy (it is a mystery as the Apostle Paul declares).

There was something forbidden in the Garden (a literal fruit? we don't know). God warned Adam and Eve not to have this. The temptor came and offered Adam and Eve the opportunity to be free of God's restrictions so they could decide what is right and wrong on their own (a lie). By taking the forbidden [fruit] they decided to reject God. That's what happened to all humanity - we rejected Him. In that day we died eternal separation from God, who is life.

So He sent His Son to live as a man - still God but completely human, to live Adam's choices over again. The deceiver came again, offered Jesus to be his own God. Jesus rejected all offers. Even when the people wanted to make Him an earthly king He rejected their offers. He had one objective one mission one purpose - to do the will of His Father. Why? because of duty? because of fear? Because God is Love, because Jesus loves the Father and always does His will. Because God so loved the World (me M., and You!) that He gave His only Son that whoever trusts Him, not themselves, not their own strength, not their own righteousness, whoever trusts Him alone, believes on Him puts their faith in Him, will have eternal life. That is why He suffered inconceiveable pain on the cross, and the curse of all of humanity's sin, because He Loves the Father, and He Loves us. In the 2nd garden, the garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixtion Jesus prayed, "Father, if it is possible to take this cup from me...none-the-less not my will but thy will be done".

A couple weeks maybe before the garden, when Mary and Martha's beloved brother Lazarus died, Jesus waited a few days to show up. They were distressed because they knew their Lord could have healed Lazarus had He been there. Martha came out to meet Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died". Jesus said "Your brother will rise again". He then said to Martha:

I Am the Resurrection and The LIfe. He who believes in Me, though he dies, yet shall he live. And He who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
Then do you know what He did? (You have to read the whole story, it is very moving),
In order to prove the veracity of the claim He made above, He raised Lazarus from the dead! John Chapter 11.

He Is the Resurrection. He promises to resurrect (bring back to life physically) all who believe in Him and die. He Is the LIfe. He gives eternal life (not life on probation) now, to all who believe in Him. Why? Because He loves us. He won't force Himself on us. Anyone who chooses to reject Him may go their way - without life (spiritual life), and without eternal life.

He gave us The Holy Spirit to make us spiritually alive, and to comfort and to guide us, and as an earnest, a surety, as collateral. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. That means that we who belong to the Lord are His, lock, stock and barrel. To reject us, He would have to forfeit His collateral.
[ADDENDUM]  Scripture says that one reason the Holy Spirit is gtven to reside within our hearts, is to show that God has fully secured us for His own, that He could never reject us or lose us, because we are sealed with the Spirit:  To lose or reject us, He would be rejecting His own Holy Spirit. 
No matter, He wouldn't anyhow because He loves us. He has forever. M. He knew you, when you were being formed in your mother's womb. I look at my wee granddaughters and ooh and ah, (I was oohing and ahing at K's baby yesterday, a grandfather's perogative :O )))the Lord was doing that to us when we were still too small to sonogram. He loves His creatures and wants us to receive His love. People get wrapped up in "you must serve God and love Him and obey and...." You know what M? My Lord isn't all twisted up about that. He knows, He Knows that if I am honest about my own sinfulness, my own unworthiness, (He's good at making us aware), and if I begin to learn how much He has done for me, to bring me to Him again and again, I will begin to really believe that He really really loves me. I begin to abide in Him which reinforces His love for me every day. Why? Why does He Love me? Because. Because that Is Who He Is. He loves me because He is that wonderful. So now I become more and more and more aware. And I could not withhold His love from you if it was 11:48 and I had to get up at 4:15. It is and I must. But no, I must tell you how wonderful He is and how much He loves you. I wish I had a thousand times ten thousand opportunities to tell people just as I'm tellling you now, because I love Him (I blush to say it because I still fail Him daily) because He loves me so much.

I can't try to tell you how it works out, but in some weird way my tough times, and Him walking with me through them, only endears Him to me more.

Oh He doesn't give me everything I want. Often, very often, I think He doesn't give me everything I need (like sleep). He judges my needs from an eternal perspective.

I just want you M., to know that He is there, that He loves you, and is ready for you. Ready for you to do... nothing. Just trust Him. "Yes Lord, I believe You. I trust what you have told me in your word." He will respond to you. The first thing He will do is wrap His arms around you and welcome you home. I did not sense that until years later. I just know it's true. At the same time He sends Eternal God the Holy Spirit into your heart to give you communion (intimate communication) with God the Father and the Lord Jesus (still one God, three persons) and to comfort and to guide you. He will guide you through the scriptures, and through brothers and sisters who are part of your new family but have been walking with Him a while.

Because He loves us, He has promised us "these works that I do, you will do and greater than these, because I go to the Father." So now we have the gift to go to our family our friends and neighbors, and our children around the world [Note to outsiders: our favorite charity is a child sponsorship which supports very poor children, one on one around the world, through their local church.  My wife and I sponsor a little girl in Haiti named Barbara, and a little boy in Guatemala named Erick.  More info available in the "Birthday" side bar]  and offer them ETERNAL LIFE, because we know the One who created us, and redeemed (bought us back) and we know that He loves us and will forever FOREVER be with us.

The Lord Jesus Bless You M. and everyone else who has read this.

Jesus Loves us because God is Love, and He has been loving us forever and ever.

In Jesus' Name

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"The God Who is In Your Face"

I googled this (the post title) , to see if it's in use; I found a wonderful story about following the Lord's lead, and living a nomadic life in "Big Sky Country" ala Abram and Sarah: http://virginiaawork.com/2009/05/30/prairie-wind-june/  I mention this just to give credit, as someone else thought of this phrase before me.  I thought of the phrase independently, and have a somewhat different use of it.
My concept of  The God Who is in your face is as follows:

Under normal circumstances as a Christian of 30 some years, when I pray, I address Father, who is over and above me, way up in Heaven. That is until recently. 
Now, I begin to know Him as the "God who is in your face". By this I mean He is in my mind, Knowing everything that will occur to me to pray before I pray it, and beyond that, He knows the motivation behind it, better than I do. He's in my eyes, seeing the covetousness within, as well as the beauty I see in a spring apple blossom. He's in my ears, hearing sacred music as I do, or hearing my boss sniveling about our team's failure. He's in my nostrils smelling breakfast that hasn't even been prepared yet, only in my mind. He's in my breath, every molecule of oxygen in my vessels. He's in my fingertips, feeling the soft puppy's ears, and my lips, feeling my grandaughter's soft face.  He's in my heart, feeling my indignation over the injustice that is committed in the slaughter of the innocents, as well as the compassion I feel for my sick friend (who is getting better :)), and the poor little girl in Haiti, whom we sponsor and pray for.  He is in my face, He feels my breath, and I can almost feel His.

Now, when I pray, He is in Heavenly realms, as He has eternally been, but He is in my face, perfectly attentive to my every prayer. As I remember this, my prayer time becomes an act of worship, not just telegraphing a bunch of requests to Heaven. The Eternal Maker of all that is, seen and unseen, and my redeemer, who bore the penalty for my sin, is in my face intimate, with every single sensation, thought and intent. Again, we just do not have a clue, the greatness, and now the closeness of our God. But we begin to get.... a clue.

The singer/songwriter in the following link was facing surgery on his vocal chords and did not know if he would ever sing again.  I think he said this was his first song recorded in the studio following his recovery.  The Lord knows that this is the way I feel about him:

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I just want to open and close with this reminder, that this is an open topic coffee house,  this blog is intended to spur thoughtfulness and participation, not to assign a topic of discussion.

So Paul is admonishing the Church at Corinth (and us) regarding divisiveness

(loosely paraphrasing)....but I propose to you a better way:   Though I speak all the worlds languages and even the language of angels, but do not have love, I'm just a crashing brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  (kjv) and though I have the gift of prophesy and understand [every mystery] and all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have no [love], I am nothing [in God's economy, I am inconsequential].  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and [even if] I give my body to be burned, and have not [love], it profiteth me nothing [no fruit will be borne to my account in eternity].
(English Standard Version) LOVE is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.   It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.  It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with THE TRUTH.  Love bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends [kjv "never fails"].  As for [all of the aformentioned gifts], (loose paraphrase) they will either fail or cease.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.   

Now, my renewed interest in I Corinthians 13 (perhaps my first ever true interest in the passage), is my fuller understanding of the Trinity, and the significance of the Eternal relationship of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and creation as the outworking of that love relationship.  Thanks to "The Evangelical Calvinist Blog", and the Affective theology blogs: "A Spreading Goodness" and "The Honey-Combe", and TF Torrance's book Incarnation, I understand that the God's essential nature is in Trinity, that that is first in importance. 
Our understanding of God is only in His revelation of Himself, and that revelation is optimized in the Incarnation of the Son.  Jesus said: "When you see me you see the Father".  The disciple who Jesus loved said "God is Love".   Since it is God's nature to love, Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have been in an Eternal Love relationship of the most perfect intimacy.
The Son (the Word) participated in Creation.  Creation as I said, was the outworking of the love of the Trinity, to spread that love out- to share that love.  To wit, following each Step of Creation, God's evaluation of His work:  It is good!  It has forever been God's intent to become a man so that He could commune with His creature on his own level.  This is probably not an original thought, but it just ocurred to me that when God said of Adam "it is not good for man to be alone", He was thinking ahead of the INCARNATION,  and the plan for Jesus to wed His bride, the Church.  The fall only necessitated that He send His son to live a vicarious human life perfectly, to die a sinner's death in order to reconcile His creation to Himself.
He sent the Holy Spirit to commune with us every moment of our lives, and as an earnest payment, a surety, or security that He intends to fully redeem (resurrect, remake) our bodies for full, everlasting communion with the Trinity, in perfect intimacy. 
Assuming I am understood (an enormous assumption) or else hoping you have some understanding of your own of this doctrine, how does this apply to the passage above?
The nature of my question contrasts my former understanding:  If Paul in Corinthians, is adding to a long list of  "how to live", "oughts", it should be obvious why I have found it pretty sterile in the past.
If, on the other hand God is Love, He created to multiply that love, He saved us, not for His glory, or some other utilitarian purpose, such as a grudge match between Him and His creature satan, or to prove something, but He saved us because He loves us and desires a relationship with us, then it stands to reason that the passage above describes Him first of all:

Patient, Kind, does Not Envy, does Not Boast,  Not Arrogant, Not Rude,  does Not insist on its own way; Not irritable Nor resentful, not rejoicing at wrongdoing, but Rejoices with THE TRUTH. Love bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


 Jesus spent a perfect lifetime, entirely God, entirely man, lived out (vicariously on our behalf) in perfect love for His Father, as Son of God and Son of Man, and in perfect love for His creation as Son of God and Son of Man.   He was perfect intermediary between God and man because He was both in one person.  His love does not exemplify I Corinthians 13 love; He Is I Corinthians 13 Love.  
We can only practice this love as we abide in HIM.




I knew this blog (1 Cor 13) was incomplete.  I went back to the 1st blog.  It gets close too, but there is one more something.  It keeps flashing through my mind, and then I forget it again.  It really is the dynamus (sp?) of the human response to affective theology as I see it.  Somehow it flashed at me again in church this morning; so I wrote it down on the back of my church bulletine.  Continuing in the passage:  

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  But when I became a man, I put away childish things.

So in that passage Love is the main thing, as set against childish things.  What are rules and regulations for?

Galatians 4  speaks to the believers of Galatia who having begun in the Spirit by the hearing of faith, were now being "bewitched" by those who wanted to re-subject them to the law.

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child... is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. [I'm skipping through this chapter] God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons....God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba, Father".  
[now Galatians are self-subjected to the law.  Contrast that with where they were at first:]  
Where is that blessedness ye spake of?  For I bear you record that if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.  

Why would they have done such a self-sacrificing thing?  Because they thought it was their duty?  Because the law taught pay backs for Paul's gospel?  NO!  He implies they would have given up their own eyes for love of Paul.  Yes, because of what he did for them, but not out of duty or obligation, but you do what you love to do.  That is the legs of affective theology.  God loves to give love, that is why He created creation, and man.  God, including the Son of God, "It is Good", loves His creation and man.  That is why He endured the torture and shame of the cross.  Because He loves torture and shame?  No silly! Because He loves us.  Did He keep law all His incarnate life because it was the law?  No, He did so because He loves us.  So now let us go toward the end of Galatians. 

5:13ff  Brethren, you have been called into liberty[out of the law].   Only use not liberty for an ocassion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.... Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fufill the lust of the flesh...
Now the works of the flesh are manifest [a laundry list of fleshly lifestyles and sins follows, which one might think, "hey, how does keeping the law differ from abstaining from these?" ].....But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace...And they that are Christs have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. 

So, under my formally law clinging self, I looked at the two lists,(the don'ts and the do's) and wondered how this differs from keeping the ten commandments.  In fact the standard seems if anything higher. 
Above Paul said "walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  What does that mean?  As a stand alone directive, it just led me to eventually succumb to trying to beat the the lust of the flesh by will power, and here we are on that tread mill again (it's a hamster wheel).  So at risk of unpacking this too much, and losing the point in overwhelming verbosity, I'll cut to the chase.

On the back of my church bulletine is scribbled:

"WWJD  WDJL?  What does Jesus Love?
Affective Theology:  As we get to know Him in His love, the more we actually trust Him,  the more we behold Him and see Him as He is,  the more we Abide in Him, the more we will love what He loves."

The whole point is that if I am serving the law, I frustrate the Grace of God.  I do out of obligation grudgingly.
To a certain degree, I think this is good as it keeps us out of prison (literal) and keeps civilization somewhat civivlized until He comes.  But what Jesus did, was create us, gave us autonomy, watched us fall, and saved us, out of pure love for us, not out of any sense of duty or obligation.  He was and is driven by His love.
How could we possibly succeed under any other motivation?  As we ABIDE in HIM, (remember, keeping the law is contrary to the Gospel) We get closer to Him, and get to know Him better.  (remember, the law is a stumbling block to those who live by it).  We truly see His infinite love for us.  We begin to identify with Him and His loves.  We begin to love what He loves.  That love drives us to do what we do.  "A man can not serve two masters, He will either love one and hate the other, or else hate the first and love the other."  Jesus specified God and Mammon (whatever that is)  Paul specifies that you can not serve God and the law.  
All you can DO is Abide in Jesus, in His word, in prayer, worship, and fellowship of the brotherhood.  Unless you Abide in Him you will bear no fruit.  As you abide in Him, and trust Him only forever, you will finally know His love, you will finally love Him and love what He loves.  

Love you-all 

Your Brother



PS  Remember, this is a non-topical site.  Comment on whatever is on your heart, or just say "hi".  



FATHER, please show us the height of your Holiness,     
the depth of our sinfulness,  
                and the Height, the depth and the breadth of Your Love for each of us,
then we will begin to see you as you are, and begin to love what you love.
It is in Jesus name we ask this,
                *Used at the close of Sunday School, March 21, 2010


Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I know that I have been whining and groaning alot lately. I know that you all have been praying for me and my family. Thank you so very much. I must not forget that it is in breaking us that He pours us out for others.

I'm going to stammer along here, I'm not sure I'm saying what I mean, so please salt it with Grace.

I suddenly feel awash in His light.

He has given me so much. These truths of abiding (Jim and KC) and Affective theology (Bobby et. al.). I realize that I have served legalistically for years, despite all attempts not to.

What I'm coming to grasp, is that God-Father Son and Holy Spirit have eternally existed in familial bliss. We were created to extend that bliss even infinitely farther. We were created BECAUSE He loves us. Forever He has loved us, because forever He has (He being eternal, timeless) known us. He became one of us to sup with us. He grasped us from the cross, and took us with Him spiritually in the resurrection.

He created us because of the eternal Love between Father Son and Holy Spirit. He created us and saved us because He has always loved us. As we trusting, abide in Him, grasping (beginning to grasp) that love, and grasping (not letting go), the Love of Christ want's to flow through us and reach out to the next object of His affection. I frustrate this and myself by not understanding that it is only ONLY love from Christ folded back in toward Christ that will motivate us to truly love others. It is only that very love that motivates us and enables us to do any of the works of God. For without love I am a sounding brass and crashing cymbal.

I am only sharing this because I want you to know that the Lord hears and answers your prayers.

I have known for over 25 years that Haiti is the black hole of calcutta for the western hemisphere. When another tragedy strikes, I bristle at the news because it's always "blame america". No different this time.

But the Lord says something like: "It's nice to have your grand babies in the next room isn't it?" "Isn't it nice to know they are safe and warm and not hungry?" "Don't you think it's good that they are well loved in your family?"

Actually, this began with a representative of Compassion Int'l on Moody radio talking about Haiti relief. So I went to the web site. I began to look at the children who need sponsors, and browsed for a little girl in Haiti who needs a sponsor. Oops! They aren't available in Haiti at this time because they don't know yet who in the program (65,000 plus children in Haiti!) has survived, and where they are. I have to pray for a little girl known only by the Lord at this time, that she will be safe today and get something to eat, and that she will be safe tonight. I cry every time I think about her, and I pray for her and for the staff that will find her. I look at my babies, and my wife and daughter, even my puppies, and I want to hold them close and let them know that they are loved.

The only thing I have to add is that you all (all of you) have helped me to see this.

If we don't meet up 'til then, I owe each one of you one big hug.

Thanks! Keep praying!

Your brother

PS  My thanks and apologies  to Michele (Sanc'sBlog) whose blog I copied this from after I typed it, before I could secure permission.   I needed a blog here to open up commenting, because without a blog, there is no comment box.