Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Saviors & Super Heroes

A father had one son whom he loved. But every other child he hated because they couldn't live up to his standards, they couldn't meet his demands. He was always thinking to himself, "I want to hurt my sons & daughters so badly! I want to kill them! They owe me everything yet they cannot meet my expectations!" So one day he picked up a weapon & he went into the room where they were all gathered. He began yelling at them & swinging at them. The one son he loved jumped in front of his father screaming for all of his brothers & sisters to run. There his father beat him to death...

I ask you, was that father a good father?

So often God our Father is pictured almost the exact same way. That, "in his holiness," He was furious at us (hated us) for falling short of his standards/expectations/demands/law/glory. That he held us in debt to him because of our inadequacy compared to him & his beloved son. And the only thing that could stop his burning anger, his burning WRATH, was to slaughter one of his children. What kind of father sees himself as so superior to his children, so holy, so righteous, that he feels justified in killing them?

God our Father has been painted that way, as arrogant, judgmental, abusive, loveless, & murderous. Even worse is that is the "good news," the gospel, that has been told to the world. Not, "God so loved the world.." but "God was so holy He couldn't accept or love his own children.." "God was so anger & wrath filled that he demanded blood.."

Jesus did not take the suffering God wanted to pour on us. God never wanted to wrathfully make us suffer. Lamentations 3:33 says, "God does not make people suffer nor cause them sorrow willingly from His heart." Jesus took our place as a sacrifice AND a savior. Jesus was not a sacrifice in the sense of being something slaughtered to appease an angry God. Jesus was a sacrifice in the sense of a savior sacrificing himself to save someone else, taking the pain of what he saved us from.

He is our Savior & rest assured, REST ASSURED, that He did not save us from Himself, He did not save us from our Father. God did not save us from God.

The first time the word sin appears in scripture is not at the fall of man in the garden. God did not say, "I am so angry at you! You have sinned against me! Because you have disobeyed me you will surely die because I will kill you with my wrath!"

The first time the word sin appears in scripture is when God is warning Cain. God tells Cain, "Sin is waiting to attack you like a lion. Sin wants to destroy you. Sin wants to kill you."

It is sin that sought to kill us. God has always loved us. We never deserved death in His eyes. What kind of father thinks his children do not deserve to live? What kind of father thinks his child is UNWORTHY OF LIFE?

Jesus is our Savior AND so is our Father. They save us from sin & death & all of its powers. Jesus laid down His life willingly to remove the dark power of sin & shame over our hearts & minds so we can experience God's love for us first hand without barriers! Jesus allowed Himself to be devoured by sin. He went into the belly of the beast to destroy sin from the inside out. He burst out of its belly & burst out of the grave to defeat death!

While the cross was humble & passive when looking only at the physical realm, the cross was utterly heroic when looking at the spiritual realm.
Jesus is nothing but the hero. Our Father is nothing but the hero. They are our Saviors, our Super Heroes, OUR FAMILY.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Your Father's Grace

Grace is your Father's love for you. His never ending love & kindness towards you.

To think that grace only applies to sin leaves us sin conscious & believing that sin has power over us. It makes us think that grace is nothing more than God swallowing His true feelings about us to "give us grace" when we screw up. Grace is not, "I'm thankful God'll have grace for me next time I blow it." Grace is not God's reminder of how despicable we are & how great He is for putting up with us.

Oh my friends.. Grace is not about God forgiving our faults or overlooking our flaws. Grace is about God seeing us as His faultless, flawless children whom He adores!

As Isaiah 9:6 says, God is our Wonderful Counselor AND our Eternal Father. Our Father does not need to blame us or find fault in us to counsel our struggles. He does not look at us as evil or unworthy or as screw-ups. We are His beloved children that He is pleased with. He wants to help us love & be loved better.

A good father doesn't make the focus of his relationship with his children their mistakes. He isn't always looking to improve them. There is joy & play & laughter.

God is not a self-centered Father. He loves you for you. You are not your flaws, faults, & failures and you never have been in Your Father's eyes. You are His darling child. He loves you for you. And loving you for you satisfies Him like nothing else can.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Your Father Loves You for You

If you think you don't "deserve" God's love you are still looking through the lens of sin & law & performance. God wanted us to throw that lens away.

God is our Father. Before giving or loving does a good parent ask, "Does my child deserve this love I am about to show? Does my child deserve this gift I am about to give?" No! Love gives because love loves. Love doesn't judge to evaluate reward. Love just loves.

If you say to yourself, "I'm going to love them even though they don't deserve it." You aren't loving them, you are judging them, judging them as undeserving & unworthy based on how they've behaved. You are dehumanizing them. You are ignoring who their Father is.

It is not more loving to grittingly ignore a grudge. It is more loving to never take up a grudge to begin with. It is not more loving to forgive. It is more loving to never take offense, to never need to forgive except for the sake of the other person's peace of mind.

"Love does not take into account wrongs suffered!"

God never forgave you because He was never angry or offended at you to begin with. God is love & God does not take into account wrongs suffered! The word that has been translated as forgive from both the Hebrew & the Greek means "to remove burden." It does not mean, as our English word forgive means, "to renounce anger, to stop resenting, to let go of a grudge, to stop blaming."

God has no mercy for you! People say mercy is "not getting what you deserve" presuming you deserve bad. Presuming that God really wants to hurt you but chooses not to. The word translated as mercy in the Hebrew means "loving kindness" & in the Greek means "compassion."

Throw away the word "mercy" because it does not represent your Father's heart towards you. God is not "merciful" towards you. He does not want to harm you or pay you back for your wrongdoing!

So often we take scriptures like "while we were still sinners Christ died for us" & think to ourselves "see He was really mad at us but in His love He begrudgingly got over it." But those scriptures aren't meant to give us the picture of "God saved us even though our actions made Him not want to." They are meant to show us that "God saved us, but not from Himself, because He amazingly never held the fact that we were sinners against us."

To question whether someone deserves something is to question their worth, to JUDGE their worth. If you judge someone undeserving of love you are saying they are unworthy of love. That sin or law keeping or good behavior is what determines a person's value. But oh my brothers & sisters how far from the truth that is!

You don't determine (judge) your newborn's worth based on her or his behavior. You don't look at your child napping & say to yourself, "This child doesn't deserve my love." That child has your love because you are their parent. You aren't looking at them through the lens of sin or law keeping or performance. You are looking at them through the EYES of a father or a mother.

Our Father only has FATHER'S EYES. He doesn't wear glasses because He doesn't believe lies.

God our Father did not send Jesus to judge the world, the world judges itself. It condemns itself by refusing to believe in the light of His love. Jesus came to save the world from the lie that God doesn't love you for you as a good Father would.

It branches from the original lie in the garden, "It is good to know evil." God's love for us surpasses all knowledge. The fullness of His love is beyond our imagination. So when we try to wrap our minds around good & evil we believe we are evil & that God thinks we are evil too because we struggle to grasp a love that does not take evil into account.

Evil is simple, it is obvious when things fall apart but it is not obvious how things are put together. So when we choose to know good & evil we choose the power to judge ourselves & others. But  love doesn't judge, love just loves. Sometimes love protects with consequences. Sometimes love protects from consequences.

Children as their lives begin cannot fathom the depths of their parents love for them. But they get to experience that love as their lives unfold.

The enemy wants us to confuse acts of God's protection for acts of God's poor perception of us. God sought to protect Adam & Eve from the tree of knowledge of good & evil but Satan twisted it saying, "God's not trying to protect you. God is holding out on you. He says you don't deserve to know what He knows. He doesn't love you enough to tell you everything He knows. But you can bypass Him & the long process of learning from Him in a relationship & just eat from the tree. You won't surely die!"

And that is Satan's first lie to all of us in our youthful ignorance, "Your parents aren't protecting you. They are holding out on you." And that flips protection upside down, from love to no love. This is Satan's goal:  to disempower our belief & trust in God's love for us.

In religion Satan says, "God doesn't love you for you, you are unworthy of His love. He loves you for Himself to bring Him glory & praise Him & serve Him as a slave."

In failure & shame & guilt Satan says, "God doesn't love you for you, you are unworthy of His love. His love for you is based on what you can do for Him. You know how it goes, everyone is like that. But He's God so He gets to make the loftiest demands."

In pride Satan says, "God loves you because you are so good at what you do (He doesn't love you for you). Look at those people. Doesn't it make you mad that they don't measure up?"

The truth is GOD LOVES YOU FOR YOU. Not because He "has to" because He is love. But because He wants to so deeply that He is too enthralled with you to EVER choose anything but love.

So let's stop talking about God like we're scientists dissecting his corpse, labeling His attributes. Let's be caught into our Father's arms & listen to His heartbeat. You are His special child & He couldn't love you any more or love you any less. But you get to experience more & more of His love today, tomorrow, & forever.

"The reason God saved us & made us alive together with Jesus is so that throughout eternity He can show us the super-abounding wealth of His love & kindness toward us." (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Monday, June 9, 2014

At one

Atonement, at-one-ment, God "meant" for us to be "at one" with Him.

Sin caused a separation between us & God. But God did not separate Himself from us. Sin deceives us into thinking that God's love for us is conditional thus making us feel separated from Him. Jesus crushed that lie with the truth, by showing His unconditional love for us by dying for us to give us life & remove sin's power over our minds & our spirits.

Our Father loved us before we were ever born, before we could possibly meet any conditions. Before we could think or breathe His love abounded for us & His love continues to abound for us forever. Separations be gone! Lies be gone! We are at one with You God!