All of Me

He brought me to the banquet hall, and he looked on me with love.
-Song of Songs 2:4

Have you given all of yourself to Jesus?

I was thinking about this song, “All of Me”.  I feel like the Holy Spirit is  encouraging us to give ourselves wholly to Jesus. 

I heard once that many people are ready to die for the Lord, but very few are willing to live for him, dying to themselves.

Bonhoeffer’s famous phrase is, “When Christ calls a man, he calls him to come and die”.

Is dying to self and giving up everything optional in the christian life?  It does not seem so, if you look at Jesus words.

Have you read The Song of Solomon?  An interpretation is that it is an allegory about God and his people.  There is a lot of romantic language in it. 

The idea is that we are designed to have a passionate love towards God.

We were designed to be loved by God and to love God, passionately.  We are to have no other gods before God and He calls those little gods our lovers we are committing adultery with.

Jesus looked at his followers, I mean the people who literally followed him from town to town and showed up where he was; and he said to them, that following him can not be casual, but a serious thing, where we give up everything and love him more than everyone. 

There was the time when he said, metaphorically, that to be his real follower, you have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.  And he turned the people off by saying that.

When I had a personal renewal or revival, after college; I kept hearing, in my heart, “surrender”.  I began in worship, putting my arms up. 

I thought about, “why does my body want to do that?”  I realized it is surrender. 

I think that intimacy with God, passionate love, and surrender are things that must be nurtured.  It is a relationship that has to be cultivated. 

Think about those critiques that Jesus levels at the churches in Revelation.  “You have left your first love.”  “Return to doing those things you did at the beginning.”

Yes, repentance is for Christians. 

Relationship with God, is ongoing and must be renewed and revived and even re-awakened from time to time. 

This is a song from us to God, to Jesus.  Read Song of Songs, if you think words like this are far fetched.  This is the devotion that the Holy Spirit is encouraging believers to have towards Christ.

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to loose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry
How can I go on dear without you

You took the part
That once was my heart
So why not take all of me

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to loose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry
How can I go on dear without you

You took the best
So why not take the rest
Baby, take all of me

You Are My Sunshine

See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.

He brought me to the banquet hall, and he looked on me with love.

-1 John 3:1, Song of Solomon 2:4
Loving is what life is about.  Being loved by God, loving God back, and then loving other people.  Every day starts in my life with God loves me.
God loves me no matter what.  When I am feeling like a failure, I feel God’s love.  And when I step into  pride, I step out of feeling the love.
When I wake up, my first sense is that I am loved by God.  God loving me unconditionally is my life.
I know that God is especially fond of me and am astonished by the thought.  The way that parents cherish children, when they look at them and watch them.  I know God is that way with me.
That is the life I was designed to live, being loved and watched over.  My every thought and idea should spring from that love.  From knowing God is like that toward me, I relate to God.
My identity is shaped by God’s love.  And from that place, I ask questions, make plans, and dream.
Being a child, I constantly ask questions and trust.  And I usually don’t get an answer or don’t understand the answer.  But I always trust.

I am always bursting with questions and being encouraged to trust.

Children live in wonder, curiosity, and trust.  Children also forgive and don’t hold grudges.  And children are not perfectionists.
The one who is loved can do great things, achieve, and work hard, without perfectionism and without shame.
The basis for life is that God loves me.  If I forsake that or turn my back on God and live like that is not true, then I get myself in trouble.  And all the while, God still loves me.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/JcnNb7Pnmok?rel=0&controls=0

The Tree of Life

Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
-Revelation 2:7

What are you hungry for and what’s on the menu?  Some people seem to always be hungry.  In this verse, we are told that there is a special tree, that only some people get the right to eat from.

Throughout your life, you have probably tried foods that you never had before.  Sometimes, you might have said, “that’s really good”.  There are foods that taste exquisite.

There is a promise in the message to the first church, in Revelation, that they will get to eat from the tree of life, if they conquer.  A special food is available to those who conquer.

The word conquer is an odd word for us.  What does it mean?

It means victory or overcoming, which has to do with faithfulness.  And faithfulness is an action.  To be faithful and have victory or be overcoming and conquering, is to take action.
And the context here are people who have been working hard for God, but have abandoned or left their first love.  They have labored, endured, and been intolerant of evil people.  They have exposed the lies of false apostles.  They have specifically endured hardships for Jesus name and have not grown weary.

“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance,and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary.”

But in all that, they made the mistake or got off track by moving away from the life of living in Love.  Jesus says that is what they and we started with and they and we too can move away from love, into all sorts of good works.  We can move away from that love and start living is self righteousness, sort of doing the right things for the wrong reasons.
Jesus was not and is not pleased with believers who do the right thing without love.  We learn here that we can not live the life and be pleasing to the Lord, detached from the simple life of love that started our journey in Christ.
The reward for being simply faithful to live in the love of God and be loving because we are loved, is to eat from the tree of life.  Before Adam and Eve fell, they were allowed to eat from the tree of life, in the garden of Eden.  They were forbidden from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
They ate from the second tree and became barred from eating from the first tree.  The phrase ‘tree of life’ is mentioned in Proverbs and perhaps Ezekiel, before we find it again in Revelation here and later, in the city of God, in Revelation 22.
You could make the case that the tree of life is eternal life through Christ.  The Bible looks backwards and forward to Christ, who stands outside of time, as ‘the Lamb who was slaughtered from the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 13:8).
The reward or promise and provision for those who stay in their first love or return to it when they stray, is to eat from the tree of life.  It is interesting that if the tree of life symbolizes Christ, what the promise is saying is that if you stay in the love of Christ, you get more of Christ.
The alternative would be that if you leave the love of Christ that got you started, and somehow get involved in religious obligation or legalism, doing the right thing for the wrong reason; Jesus will remove your lampstand.  This is the penalty or result when we do not repent.
What does this mean: “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent”?  Does it mean you lose your salvation?  I don’t know if it means that.  Figuratively, it might mean that you or you all, because it is a church, plural; will lose you light, your ability to shine real light or influence for Christ.
‘Lights out’, might mean no life or nobody is home.  It might mean asleep.  Maybe it is like Jesus is saying, “If you don’t repent, I am pulling the plug on your church”.  I don’t know.
It is interesting that when we leave the love, the love we had at first, we are already ‘pulling the plug’ or ceasing to be connected to God in Christ.  But perhaps, Jesus keeps blessing people, ministries, or churches for a while, who become disconnected from the love that they started with; and then at some point in time, he says that this has happened and we need to repent, or he will remove his blessing.
This reminds me of Jesus’ saying, “To those who have much, more will be given.  But to those who don’t have much, what they do have will be taken away.”  The secret is that we determine how much we get and he encourages us to get more.  The person who is passive or purposely does not seek to get more will lose the small amount they do have.
You could make the analogy to food or produce and farming.  You get more by harvesting and planting.  If you don’t get out there are pick the produce and plant more and do all the things farmers do, then your crops will shrink from small to none.
Same thing with your livestock.  If you don’t feed and tend to your animals, they will die of be lost.
If Christ is the tree of life, then the reward or blessing; the promise and provision from living loved, is more love.  Christ and his love is never boring and it is limitless.  The experience of his love and the love of the Father through him is deeper and wider than we can explore in our lifetimes.
When we come into the love of God through Christ, we have entered into eternal life.  If begins here and now, then continues into eternity.
The simple love leads to a life of deeper and wider love.  It does not get complicated, but is does go into depth, insight, and wisdom.  When we leave love for works or cerebral knowledge, the leaving the love part is a problem.
The tree of life that is promised to the Christians or the church that conquers, is victorious, or overcomes through faithfulness to living in the love that they started with; could be called ‘the deeper Christian life’.  That deeper life is more from God that we started with.  And God has a catalogue or warehouse of gifts and blessings that he wants to give us, that are in Christ.
The mistake we make is to somehow leave the love that we started with.  And it is funny that conquering, victory, or overcoming is had by simply staying in the love that got us started.  The tree of life is the Father’s love in Christ.  The fruit of that tree is the Father’s love that is shown through Christ.
That is the bread of life that we must eat daily.  This is also our greatest weapon that gives us victory and overcoming and conquering in our lives.  Living loved and knowing the love is the key to living and is what sets captives free.
Salvation, deliverance, and life comes from that love.  Wisdom, joy, and peace come from that love also.  To eat from the tree of life reminds us of every good thing that is from him.
Eating from that tree of life brings us into Philippians 4:8, of thinking about what is true, just, pure, lovely, and commendable; of moral excellence and praiseworthy things that are from the Lord.
If the tree of life is Christ and we have Christ within us, we can access it and partake of the fruit anywhere and at any time.  We neither have to wait to go to heaven nor hope for a special spiritual experience or visiting heaven.  We have Christ within us and can eat his fruit, as our daily bread.
His life is our life and that is the tree of life.  Don’t think that eating from the tree of life is an unusual gift, showcased is Jesus’ word to the Ephesian church of Revelation 2.  It is for all Christians (2 Cor. 1:20).

Back to this issue or word ‘conquer’.  The ones who conquer get to eat from the tree of life.  Don’t let that sound like a good work or zealousness that is ever outside of our first love or love we started with.

He conquered death and the enemy.  When we realized who Jesus was and when he initiated our salvation, or personal salvation experience, we got involved, through his love, God’s love through him; with him.  His conquering was to take action, out of love for us.

Our conquering is to take action, in being faithful to him.  We do this by loving him with the love that started when we were first touched by his love.

Good things can be done, outside of loving Christ.  The problem with this and the problem Jesus has with this for us, is that if we do things and live a certain way that might be good, but it is not from and out of his love, then it is not Christian.  We might identify as Christian and be church people, but we are really humanists or socialists or fill in the blank.

Jesus stern words are that if you want to do good and even hate evil, but it is not from the love that he loved you with that saved you, then he will remove your lampstand or shut off the lights in your church.

He is looking for a people who simply love.  Those who have been saved will love others in that love from the one who saved them.  And eating from the tree of life symbolizes partaking of the life of Christ and becoming deeper and wider in the love that started our lives in Christ.

The way in is the way on.  The love that started us is the love that we go on in.  We never leave the love that started our lives, but take it with us.

There is a tendency we have to let the love grow cold or be taken for granted.  We always need to circle back and revisit that love, rekindle it, renew it, be thankful again for it; and the person from whom it is from and through.  Relationship to Jesus must be nurtured and renewed, celebrated, and made sacred again and again.

Notes on Suffering From Job, By Chambers & Peterson

Then Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will leave this life.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.

-Job 1:20-22
This is a follow-up on why we can not and should not try to fix people.  (You Can’t Fix People)  There is a whole book on this in the Bible, called Job.  It is the story of a good guy who had bad things happen to him.

Here are notes and quotes, full of sage advice and Christ centered wisdom about how to approach suffering, from first Oswald Chambers, then Eugene Peterson.

These are some notes or quotes from Oswald Chambers book on Job called, Baffled To Fight Better.
  • The sympathy which is reverent with what it cannot understand is worth its weight in gold.
  • It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities, has the lasting influence.
  • (A) man may utter apparently blasphemous things against God and we say, “How appalling”; but if we look further we find that the man is in pain, he is maddened and hurt by something. The mood he is talking in is a passing one and out of his suffering will come a totally different relationship to things. Remember, that in the end God said that the friends had not spoken the truth about Him, while Job had. 
  • All we can know about God is that His character is what Jesus Christ has manifested; and all we know about our fellow men presents an enigma which precludes the possibility of the final judgment being with us.
  • The pseudo-evangelical line is that you must be on the watch all the time and lose no opportunity of speaking to people, and this attitude is apt to produce the superior person. It may be a noble enough point of view, but it produces the wrong kind of character. It does not produce a disciple of Jesus, but too often it produces the kind of person who smells of gunpowder and people are afraid of meeting him. According to Jesus Christ, what we have to do is to watch the source and He will look after the outflow: “He that believeth on me,…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
  • There are things in our heavenly Father’s dealings with us which have no immediate explanation.
  • There are inexplicable providences which test us to the limit and prove that rationalism is a mere mental pose. 
  •  The Bible and our common sense agree that the basis of human life is tragic, not rational, and the whole problem for us is focused on this (in the) book of Job. 
  •  Job 13:15 is the utterance of a man who has lost his explicit hold on God, but not his implicit hold, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.” That is the last reach of the faith of a man. 
  •  Job’s creed is all gone; all he believed about God is disproved by his own experiences, and his friends when they come, say in effect, “You are a hypocrite, we can prove it from your own creed.”
    • But Job sticks to it, “I am not a hypocrite, I do not know what accounts for all that has happened, but I will hold on to it that God is just and I shall see Him vindicated in it all.”
  • God never makes His way clear to Job. Job struggles with problem after problem, and providence brings more problems all the time, and in the end Job says, “…now mine eye seeth thee” (Job 42:5): all he had hung onto in the darkness was true, and that God was all he believed Him to be, loving and just, and honorable…
  • Will I trust the revelation given of God by Jesus Christ when everything in my personal experience flatly contradicts it?”
These are notes from Eugene Peterson’s book, The Message: Job: Led by Suffering to the Heart of God.
  • Job was doing everything right when suddenly everything went wrong.
  • He refuses to accept the role of defeated victim.
  • Job does not curse God.
  • Neither does Job explain suffering.
  • He does not instruct us how to live so that we can avoid suffering.
  • Suffering is a mystery, and Job comes to respect the mystery.
  • Perhaps the greatest mystery in suffering is how it can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship, full of wonder, love, and praise.
  • Even in his answer to his wife he speaks the language of uncharted irony, a dark and difficult kind of truth: “We take the good days from God- why not also take the bad days?”
  • Sufferers attract fixers the way road-kills attract vultures.
    • These people use the word of God frequently and loosely.  
    • They are full of spiritual diagnosis and prescription.
    • It all sounds so hopeful.
    • But then we begin to wonder, “Why is it that for all their apparent compassion we feel worse instead of better after they have said their piece?”
  • The book of Job is not only a witness to the dignity of suffering and God’s presence in our suffering but it is also our primary biblical protest against religion that is reduced to explanations or “answers”.
  • Many of the answers that Job’s so-called friends give him are technically true.
    • But it is the “technical” part that ruins them.  They are answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy.
  • In every generation there are men and women who pretend to be able to instruct us in a way of life that guarantees that we will be “healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
  • He (Job) rejects the kind of advice and teaching that has God all figured out, that provides glib explanations for every circumstance.
  • Job’s honest defiance continues to be the best defense against the cliches of positive thinkers and the prattle of religious small talk.
  • Real faith cannot be reduced to spiritual bromides and merchandized in success stories.  It is refined in the fires and storms of pain.
  • We cannot have truth about God divorced from the mind and heart of God.
  • When we rush in to fix suffering (people), we need to keep in mind several things:
    • 1.  No matter how insightful we may be, we don’t really understand the full nature of our friends’ problems. 
    • 2.  Our friends might not want our advice.
    • 3.  The ironic fact of the matter is that more often than not, people do not suffer less when they are committed to following God, but more.
  • When these people go through suffering, their lives are often transformed, deepened, marked with beauty and holiness, in remarkable ways that could never have been anticipated before the suffering.
  • Instead of continuing to focus on preventing suffering… we should begin entering the suffering.
    • Entering the mystery and looking around for God.
  • We need to quit feeling sorry for people who suffer and instead look up to them, learn from them, and if they will let us- join them in protest and prayer.
  • Pity can be nearsighted and condescending.
  • Shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing.

You Can’t Fix People

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.

-John 15:1-9
You can’t fix people.  Have you discovered this?  It is futile to imagine that you can.
We get frustrated with others and want them to change.  We want them to get saved, become different, to move into Christlikeness and godliness.  We say and do things to try to get them to understand, to change.
We are trying to fix them.  We might even think that this is what discipleship or ministry is all about.  But we are wrong.
When we try to fix people, we are trying to save them, get them saved.  It sounds good and noble.  But we were never called to save people.
We are called to love people and let God save them.  This is what the vine and the branches analogy from Jesus is about.  He is the vine.  The vine is the source for the branches.
Branches have the vine on one side and fruit on the other.  And branches bear fruit because they are attached to the vine.  That fruit is offered to the world and the source of that fruit is the vine.
All that the branch does it produce fruit, by being attached to the vine.  The branch does not offer the power to make fruit.  The branch only offers the fruit.
When we try to fix people, we are acting like we are the vine.  And we further delude ourselves that we can somehow get our vine to influence that person to make good fruit.  But we are not the vine and that is not how it works.
We are called to love people and be fruitful.  God saves people.  Jesus saves.  The Spirit of God works to save people.
We share, we love, we forbear, and we stay in the vine.  When we leave the vine to try to be the vine, then we cease to bear fruit and become useless.
The fruit of Christ in our lives is mainly to love people.  We see every person as lovable and as a person God wants to and can save.
People might not be nice, they might be mean, annoying, or even doing evil.  We can most definitely say to them. “that’s not nice”, or, “that is wrong”, or “stop that”.  We can say, “what are you doing?” to someone who is doing something wrong.  We can stand up for someone being attacked, protect them, or shield them.
These are all good and fine.  But in all these, we need to know that we can not fix people.  We need to know this so that we do not try to force people to change (be fixed or saved) or we do not melt down internally into despair, because we do not see people change for the better.
We can forbear with rude people or ask them to not do the rudeness.  We can forbear with people who are rude with their cars on the road or push ahead and cut in line, in person.  Or, we can lovingly say something like, “excuse me”, when someone cuts or we see them steal.
How do you stay in the vine and keep bearing fruit, as you witness someone stealing at a store or cheating?  What if a secret sin that someone is doing becomes known to you?  How do you respond, or do you respond?
How do you not fix people, not be their savior, but always bear fruit from the one who is the savior?  How do you live out the great commission, as a minister, but not fix people?
We are connected to someone.  We reflect him.  We point to him.
We speak his words, his language.  We are filled with the Spirit, who is all about Jesus.
People in our lives, all around us, need Jesus.  They need salvation, need to get saved.  And we always say or need to say, “I can not save you, but I know who can”.
Meanwhile, here is what we can do.  We can give to people.  Give them sustenance, clothes, shelter, and help.  We might not have any of these, but we give what we have and what we can.
We give people attention.  We see them and listen to them.  We have to learn to see people and listen to them without trying to or needing to fix them.
Most of the time, we will not understand people.  We might think, “how will this person ever get saved?”  We’re thinking they are too far gone or too alienated from God or too far into unbelief, deception or rebellion.
Stay in the vine.  When we get into despair, at people, we have to hold on tight to Jesus, who can save anyone.
A person who is a ‘mystery’ to you, how they could, can, or will ever get saved; is a ‘my story’ to them, before Christ.
You can not fix people.  But He can.  We hold onto him, and let him bear his fruit in our lives.
We can and do call upon people to get saved and to come to be saved.  But we do it as we hold onto Jesus and bear fruit.  We are always showing him off and expressing the reality that he saves and that people can get saved, because they are loved.

Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified;and those he justified, he also glorified.

-Romans 8:28-30
One of the dumbest sayings is, “Everything happens for a reason”.  Some people believe that they are comforted by this idea.  When disaster strikes or a loved one dies under unfortunate circumstances, they say this.
The ‘reason’ that I think is false and that makes the statement false is God’s will.  The belief out there is that God wills tragedy: accidents, including kids being run over or even murdered.  No.  Everything does not happen for a reason.
I just finished reading a book that was mostly a beautiful story about a tragic event of a young man.  He died in an unfortunate event, at age twenty.  Eventually, in the story, this statement was made, that everything happens for a reason and that it was ‘his time’.
I think that ‘everything happens for a reason’ is mistakenly justified through a reading of Romans 8 and maybe the seasons verses in Ecclesiastes, where the author says that there is ‘a time to die’.  There is a time or season when people die and there may be a time God determines when a person dies.
But, when someone dies early, there is another saying that goes, “She died before her time”.  This statement is in the same category of human suffering that is not God’s will.
The Holocaust and children being raped is not God’s will or God’s plan.  All bad things that happen, including untimely deaths are also not God’s will or God’s plan.  They are not something that he has a reason for letting happen.
Romans 8 teaches us that God works in the midst of human suffering.  This is a very different idea than believing God caused it.  This is very different than believing that since God allowed it, it must be his will.
It was not his will, but it happened, and he loves you.  God is all powerful.  But humans and forces of darkness have certain freedoms to do harm.
Accidents happen.  I met a woman a few years ago.  The love of her life died in a tree trimming accident.
Bad things happen, while God is all powerful and all good.
Many people die too soon.  It was not God’s will.

There is an error, an insidious belief that God predetermines our deaths.  This belief might ‘fit’ and feel good, when it is an older person, who is close to God, and they say goodbye to their earthly family and then hello to their heavenly family, in glory and joy.

We get in trouble when we apply this to almost everyone else, especially those who suddenly die, die young, or die under tragic or evil circumstances.

Some Christians that believe in predeterminism believe that it does not matter really how they live and the choices that they make, because their time of death is already set.

Some people die shortly after they retire from full-time work, because they lack purpose.  Every year, people die climbing mountains, which was completely their choice.

There is a difference between God knowing what will happen and God predetermining what happens.

It is lazy to believe that God predetermines everything.  It is a terrible deception.  Actually, God has set things up in the world, so that many things will not happen unless we do it.  We must pray and we must act, or else God’s will can not be done on earth.

That is how big God is on free will.  He freely gives, but then we must freely give for good things to work out.

Error is on both ends of the spectrum.  To say that life and everything that happens on earth is a script, written and directed by God, that we act in, as actors who do not have complete freedom, is false.  And to say that God either does not exist, or is detached and we do everything, including our religions and our own merited righteousness, is also false.

The truth is that we have freedom to choose.  The truth is that bad things do happen, that were not God’s plan or God’s idea.  The truth is that we do not know why people die or are allowed to suffer untimely deaths.

On top of all this is God who is all powerful and totally loving.  There is often no cause and effect.  Remember the story where the tower collapsed and a bunch of people died and they asked Jesus about it (Luke 13).  It was just an accident.  There was no reason.

Silent Night, Holy Night

Be angry and do not sin; on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still.
Selah

-Psalm 4:4
The Psalms are the Bible’s book of prayers.  The Psalms teach us that God listens and we need to learn listening.  And the Psalms ask us to be brutally honest with God.
These are three things I have learned recently about the Psalms, the Psalms of David particularly.
Blessed rest and sweet sleep are connected to not sinning in our anger, open-hearted hurt process, living ‘honest to God’, and being in union with God, no matter what.
Psalm 4 has some advice about silence and anger.  When we are angry, we want to vent it out and a common way of venting is with words.
First of all, anger is not taboo.  We are allowed to be angry.  But be angry and do not sin.
Things like being abusive or destructive, being vengeful or vituperative, and just punishing others because you are angry, is wrong.  Anger is a secondary emotion.  We get angry when we suffer a loss.
Beneath the anger is hurt and sadness that needs expression and processing: grief.  The ungrieved losses that give rise to anger become bitterness.  The anger at your loss is understandable, but you must take the time to feel the pain and suffer your loss, feeling it and grieving it; in order to heal and not add sin to your loss.
The person who does not do this instead takes on the role of being forever angry.  That becomes their identity.  Instead of being for something, whether it is that they want to make something better, in a role or a job, they instead are the angry person, that is against something.  
We constantly have reason to be and opportunities to become angry, because we constantly face losses and infractions upon our will or plans.  But, we must learn how to have healthy angry, to be angry but not to sin.
For nice, Christian people, this might be hard.  The nice, Christian person’s ‘anger problem’ is not yelling or rage, but sadness and passivity.  The hurts of life that give rise to anger are suppressed into an inner sadness.
Silence is really what I want to share about.  It is a discipline of your self, to remain silent.  God is listening, but am I listening?
Go ahead and be angry, but also reflect on your loss and let it go.  In the silence, let the hurt that is beneath the anger, come up and out.
What I see is a discipline of taking your hurt self, your self who has suffered a loss or injustice, to God.  And the deepest and most profound and mature thing you can do is to take your self to the cross.  Bring yourself to Christ to be crucified with him (Galatians 2:20).
That thing you lost or you do not have that you want.  What was taken from you or that you think is yours that you do not yet possess.  You hurt about that and want God to give it to you.
You want breakthrough or breakout.  But, what God wants to give you right now is break-in.  God wants you and Him to be together right now in whatever space or place you are in.  That thing or situation you desire and hurt over so much that you’ve got all this anger about not having it.  And some of it even gets directed at God.
But you know God is good and God loves you and is a good Father.  So, you feel confused and you go back and forth, blaming yourself and consider blaming others who have blocked you or held you back.  And this whole thing you are in has affected your sleep.
Your worries and thoughts are keeping you up at night.  You sleep, but you don’t sleep well and you don’t wake up refreshed.
God wants to be with you where you are at right now.  Jesus wants to have table fellowship with you and communion (Revelation 3:20).
I have learned recently that the Psalms of David teach us that God listens and we need to listen better.  I have also learned that the one thing God wants, that God requires of me, it to be honest with Him, brutally honest.
And that is what Psalm 4:4 is about: being honest to God.  Sit on your bed or couch and be silent.  Let God speak and let the words of your heart well up, in silence and find their way into communion with God.
Go for the highest aim, the highest road; which is union with God.  And then let everything else in your life fall into place.  God is listening, so speak honestly; from a cultivation of your own listening to the inner regions of your heart.
Have no thing, no thought, no obstacle of resentment, disappointment, fear, judgement or hopelessness that would block your union with God, your papa.  Come as you are and sit in his lap.  Laugh, cry, snug and hug; be loved and let your destiny as his child be formed in you.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

It’s So Easy to Fall in Love

There is a song by Buddy Holly, called, “It’s So Easy (To Fall In Love)”.

Is ‘falling in love’ in the Bible?  And do we marry our spouse because we fell in love with them?

One story about falling in love, in the Bible is the story of Jacob and Rachel.  He had ‘love at first sight’ with her.  Then he met her dad.
The problem with falling in love is that it is as easy to fall out as it was to fall in.

A person says they got divorced because they ‘fell out of love’.  And then there is the statement: “I love you, but I am not in love with you”.

Somehow, ‘the feeling’, has been lost.  There is more to love than the engulfing experience of falling and feeling ‘in love’.  
As a young man, one day, I saw a couple where the wife was in a wheelchair, disabled; and her husband was pushing her along.  And I had an epiphany where I saw true love.  C. S. Lewis made the point in his book, The Four Loves, that deep love is not only love that loves unconditionally, but receives unconditionally.
As Christians, we hear and read that we ought to be unconditional lovers, as we love one another.  But the other side of the coin, that Lewis brings up, is the exercise of letting yourself be loved unconditionally.
We have been a people who have tried to love others.  For many, it has been hard and we have not done well.  Maybe it is because we have failed to learn to be loved.

There is another love issue about getting married.  We have this idea of ‘looking for the one’, or our ‘soul-mate’.  In Christian culture, we get this idea that God has one person for us, in the whole world.

A lady named Hannah, wrote a much read and commented on blog post called, ‘My Husband is Not My Soulmate‘. I have come to the same conclusion as her dad has, who said, “There is no biblical basis to indicate that God has one soul mate for you to find and marry. You could have a great marriage with any number of compatible people. There is no ONE PERSON for you. But once you marry someone, that person becomes your one person.


Some people state as their reason for divorce, and these are people with children in their homes; that they are no longer ‘in love’ with their spouse.  Maybe they have already ‘fallen in love’ with someone else and maybe not.  This illustrates that being ‘in love’ is not enough.
I believe that everyone should have pre-marital counseling before they get married.  And authentic counseling should cause about 50% of engaged couples to postpone or break off their marriage plans.  When you look at something very carefully, you must be open to finding out that you are wrong and be willing to change your mind.
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Bibliography/For Further Reading:
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Day After Day, Loving God

I will sing praise to your name forever, as day after day I fulfill my vows.

-Psalm 61:9 (CJB)
The place that we are living towards, with the Lord, is being His bride.  The place where we are going to is marriage with Jesus.  All of our lives bring us into union with Him.
Our lives are lived day by day.  Believers live in the present with God.  The gospel message in not just good news for the future, but good news for now.
The vows we make to the Lord, and fulfill daily are like wedding vows.  The promises we make and keep are rooted in love.  When we get married, we make vows out of our love for our bride or groom.
But the vows we make to Jesus are all because of his love.  When we see, hear and experience his love; it is perfectly natural to love him back and make vows to love him and serve him.  
Our vows we make are completely free will.  They are freely given offerings expressing true love.  You get to write your own vows.
Your vows to God are your free choice to make and say as you will, from your heart to God’s.  Our vows are not some sort of payment or contractual obligation.  To make a vow in order to procure God’s favor is wrong and foolish.
The vows we make to God, to Christ, are made from love and from a life that is already under His care.  Our vows are given in the context of already having begun to experience God’s faithfulness.  Making vows or giving offerings comes out of and from knowing God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Everything we do in the kingdom is inspired by the king.  He is good, so we are good.  He loves, so we love.
We don’t do anything towards God to get God to do something.  But we do things towards God because of what God has done and is doing.
When I endeavor to keep my promises to God and make every day a love gift to God, I find fulfillment.  True peace and tranquility comes from loving and serving God.

Honeycomb

Your lips drip sweetness like the honeycomb, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

-Song of Solomon 4:11
Jesus sees his bride as the most loving force, of people, on the earth.  We have Christ and his words of life.  We have his love in our hearts to share with others, including people who hate us.
We speak well of people who are after us or have it in for us.  We say nice things about people who have us in their sights for ill will.  We have nothing but good things to say about them.
When people curse us, we love them with God’s love.  It is like we make an internal turn and let God love them through us, rather than curse back.  That is fundamental to the Christian life.
Our words and what we say out loud and in prayers, are perhaps our greatest tool for goodness and our greatest weapon against darkness.  If our enemy can get us to speak bad words against other people, we have been defeated and taken out.
We are not be be surprised when we are insulted, cursed or maligned.  We should not be surprised if everyone does not like us, and when otherwise nice people do not like us.
In fact, the further you go with Jesus, the better chance that otherwise upstanding people will call you “crazy” or a heretic or evil.  This has been what has been happening to Christ-followers since day one.  
It is hurtful when other Christians curse us and sometimes it is even members of our own families.  But Jesus warned us that this would happen.
The bride of Christ is a prophetic people who speak prophetic words.  The words of God that we speak, are prophetic words of how God sees people.  These words are not flattery, but a foretelling of what a person can truly be, in God’s eyes.
We speak loving words that say what God says people could be or were created or destined to be, if they will.  The bride of Christ is the mouth of God in the world today.  We preach the good news, the gospel of Christ everywhere we go and by the words we speak.
This has always been God’s plan, to have a prophetic, preaching people; who speak for Him in the world, to give the world the opportunity or invitation to be saved.
With our lips, we speak, breathe, eat and kiss.  If your lips drip with honey, it means you have been in contact with honey, with the sweet honey.  We have sweet words because we have been in contact with the sweetness of Christ.
I am and we are like a honeycomb, because God has said we are, and made us to be this way, in Christ.  Sweet words come from the well of Christ within us.  Sweet lips have been touched by the sweetness of Christ.
The bride who is kissed by Christ has sanctified lips that are sweet to the bridegroom.  How we speak and what we speak is a reflection of the affection that God has for us.  The bride of Christ is a people who bless and speak well of others, with words that build up, encourage and comfort.
The bride of Christ is lovely.  The bride reflects the love of the bride groom.  He says that we have sweet lips, that are like honeycombs.
Jesus loves people.  Those who become his bride are lovely to him.  And those who are his, who are his bride, will love people too.
Our hearts are captured with the love of Christ.  We love people the way he does.  We speak blessings with our lips, to people.

Amen.

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Here is a song, called Honeycomb, by Jimmie Rodgers:

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