Posts Tagged ‘Love of God’


QUOTE (Paul Althaus) – May 18

May 18, 2014

Paul Althaus (1861-1925), deutscher evangelisc...

“God’s offer, therefore, is at the same time a summons, an appeal, and a command: namely, that I should let him be what he, in his love, wants to be–my God. The command is grounded wholly in the offer; it is wholly borne by God’s gift to us. It is this gift that stands at the beginning: God’s wanting to be for us. The offer, not the command, is primary. But precisely because this is an offer made in love–love that seeks me as a person–this offer, this gift, necessarily (with the necessity of God’s love) becomes also a summons. God cannot be my God in a saving way unless I let him be my God. Otherwise the nature of the personal relationship, as God himself intends it, would be contradicted. He calls me to trust him above all things. This is offer (promissio) and at the same time summons, commands, and call.”
~Paul Althaus

In honor of Paul Althaus, German Lutheran theologian, who died on this day in 1966.

This Day in History for 18th May
Lutheran Quote of the Day: Althaus on Faith and Command


Enhanced by Zemanta


April 19, 2014

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36


20 on explore on Sunday, July 1, 2007There is a beast that roams my small acreage.

I have never seen its shape for it comes out only after I yield to sleep. Yet, the evidence of its presence confronts me at sunrise every morning. I walk into my field and shutter at the thought of an unwanted presence having recently crossed the very path of my footsteps.

I know what it hunts. I see the numerous holes it has dug in pursuit of its prey – gophers. I do not object to that pursuit. However, I wish that it would get its own. This beast has found that it is easier to steal from me. It has discovered that at the bottom of the fluttering location flags is a gopher trap that often, by the time of darkness, contains a dead gopher. It then absconds with the gopher and my trap. I have lost two traps to this beast.

I can tolerate the presence of this beast lurking in the darkness since we have a common nemesis – gophers. However, I know there is a danger that goes beyond the thief of traps and the annoyance of hole digging (this beast does not have the common courtesy of backfilling its holes).

English: Badger hole This large hole was in th...My concern is for my chickens. I know that it is just a matter of time before this beast finds that a roosting chicken is about as easy to catch as a trapped gopher – and much more satisfying. Therefore, this beast has become my enemy before I lose something I value more than a dead gopher.

I am not sure of my success. Therefore, I must stay vigilant to the unseen dangers.

IMAG0018There is a danger to our souls that lurks in the darkness. Our danger is that the day of judgment will come upon us unaware, when we do not expect it, and when we are not prepared for it. The danger is that we are called to meet our Lord, and He is the furthest thing from our hearts and low on the list of that which we love.

We are most vulnerable to this danger when we are unconscious to its presence. That is why we are encouraged to stay awake. We are to stay vigilant against the beast of a heart that is weighted down. We are to watch ourselves from becoming satiated with an inordinate pursuit of the good things of this world and an over-indulgence of the appetites of the body.

Many of us live in an amicable truce with the cares of the world. We fall asleep and allow the beast of our cravings to roam free because we consider them a normal course of our existence. We live with competing loves because it does not appear that they are having an effect upon our spiritual lives beyond an occasional thief of joy and the annoyance of our disrupted façade.

I believe that the danger of a weighed-down heart is far greater than we realize. A weighed-down heart is evidence of misplaced love. Misplaced loves have to be killed before they can burden our hearts, steal our fruitfulness, and even cause us to give up.

From my experience, I rarely get a clean shot at my misplaced loves. They grow in the hidden crevasses of the normal course of my life. I can become so accustomed to these cares, that I fall asleep to their danger.

I have to go to their lair and smoke them out.

There is only one way to smoke out misplaced love. It is by the work of the Spirit in our lives that affections are set upon God and God alone and misplaced love is killed. We have to come to the Spirit in pray and ask the Lord to examine our hearts for anything that we love more than Him. When we feel weighed down by the cares of this world, we must yield all to the Lord and set our eyes upon the things of the Spirit.

We mustn’t fall asleep to the danger. We must not accept a beast prowling in the darkness of our hearts as normal. The danger of a weighed-down heart is nothing to ignore.

PRAYER: Father, I do not want my love to be misplaced.  I do not want to love anything more than you.  Lord, examine my heart.  Show me where I am being weighed down by the cares of this world.  Show me the good things that I pursue more than you.  Show me where my appetites are out of control.  Help me give to you those loves that I have allowed to become too elevated.  Help me keep my eyes on you.  Help me stay awake to that which I am setting my mind upon.  Keep me in your steadfast love.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta


March 5, 2014

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

honeycut07 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I really wanted to go for a bike ride over the weekend.

I stepped outside and walked to the edge of the porch only to have a cold westerly wind change my mind.  A few moments of gazing at the trees bending under an unseen load convinced me that I did not want to venture out into that kind of wind. So, I returned back to the serenity of indoors.  I did this analysis three times before I rationalized my cycling kit on and grabbed my bike. I know that riding in the wind is not much fun, but I just wanted to get out of the house and get a work-out in.

The soundness of that logic was questioned throughout the first few miles of my ride as tree limbs bent into the roadway delivering a moaning question as to why I had ventured from my protective walls. I fought that wind for miles upon miles, grinding away in my smallest chainring, hoping to at least match my forward speed to that of the wind in my face. There was no escaping the relentless resistance of that wind since the route I had decided upon took me directly into it. I tried to stay low and ground away with each pedal stroke in anticipation of the turn.

The turn is when you pass the half-way mark and start to head home. Better yet, the turn would put my back to the wind on this day. I made my way with eagerness onto a road that would connect me to the turn. It also had the benefit of taking me out of the frontal assault of the wind. It was on this road that I felt the first few drops.  In my battle with the wind, I had not noticed the dark clouds that now barred my return.

ryanmatthew21 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I summited the last climb before the turn with the full knowledge that I was going to get wet and this ride was going to get really miserable. The skies opened up on me as I descended to the turn. Water rolled off of my chin and down my back as my wheels spun a whisper of spray that appeared to double their size.  I quickly lost all concern for wind as I made the turn, for my mind had shifted to the concerns of slick pavement and the hope of home. I dipped my head to keep the rain off of my glasses and grabbed a harder gear – I needed to get home.  I focused on my cadence as I continued to work through my gear cassette until I could not shift anymore.

I was in my hardest gear and pedaling freely. I don’t know how fast I was going since my speedometer had quit, but I must have been tickling 30 mph. I rode like this for several miles, maintaining a speed on the flats that I could never hold by myself. The only reason I was being hurried home was because of the wind. That very same wind that I had fought all the way out, was now lifting me to a speed I could never do unaided.

afphotography / Foter / CC BY-NC

That ride home was fun. The very same wind that had caused me such misery going out, provided great joy on the way home. In fact, wind transformed what normally is more miserable than a head wind, a cold ride in drenching rain, into an exhilarating experience that I will remember.

This love / hate experience with wind spurred my meditation of the workings of the Spirit of God in those who are His.  I believe that there are times in our spiritual lives when we are walking directly into the resisting force of the Spirit that is intent upon changing our direction.

 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. (Acts 16:6-7)

I don’t know how the Spirit resisted Paul but it seems like Paul’s path became too difficult so he changed it. I believe that the Spirit still works that way. We just have to discern when to follow the guiding blow of the Spirit and turn out of the wind to the path of less resistance. That is not always easy to discern because the Spirit might have other purposes.

I believe that there are times when the Spirit blows in our face not to get us to change to direction but in order to strengthen us. The trials and temptations of our lives could simply be removed by the Lord, but often He does not. Frequently, He allows them because we need the work-out.

 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

The Holy Spirit guiding us through suffering is evidence of God’s love for us.  God loves us too much to leave us as spiritual couch potatoes. There are times when we feel resistance in our lives because the Spirit is blowing into our face in order to build endurance, which will produce character, and from that character will emerge God glorifying hope, and everyone needs hope to persevere to the end.  In these instances, we should not turn from the path that we are on. We need to grind on. We need to get low and endure. We need to accept the love of God through our suffering.

We can accept our suffering as the love of God because we, by faith, know that the power of the Spirit is actually what is carrying us home. While the Spirit is allowing and guiding us through difficult times, it is also the Spirit who is powering us through those very same difficulties.  It is because of the tail-wind of the Holy Spirit that we can endure longer than we could ever do unaided. It is because of the power of the Spirit that we can perform beyond our abilities.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

Therefore, we are driven to hope when we grind into the Spirit’s head-wind and when we experience the powerful effects of the Spirit pushing us home.

I often don’t know where or how the Spirit is blowing in my life.

I find it difficult to know when the Spirit is guiding me to turn in a new direction or to grind on.

I regularly fail to realize the power that is pushing me forward as I labor to follow Christ.

I am quick to grumble about trials rather relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

However, the mysterious winds of the Spirit, in all their forms, are a blessing for those who are in Christ. The Spirit is our gift to help us through this fallen world.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:5)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world give do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

We never have to be discouraged or afraid. We have been given the Holy Spirit – our Helper.  He is the One who will do all that is necessary to get us home – guide us in the right direction, build hope in our hearts, and carry us when needed.  Praise God that we have not been abandoned. We are loved and cared for by our Helper who will be with us forever.  Now, let’s go live our lives relishing all the joy and peace in believing.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending us our Helper. Thank you for the work of the Spirit in my life – guiding, correcting, stengthening, and sustaining me.  Lord, teach me to rely upon your Spirit in all conditions.  Teach me to live in your joy and peace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta


January 18, 2014

“…You wicked servant!  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”  Matthew 18:32-33

“Awww…crap on a cracker!”

My Coffee Mug 002That was what I thought as I began to read the new testament portion of my Bible reading plan this morning.  I am fully aware of the absence of the “Christ-like” nature in my response but I immediately realized that I was about to be divinely called out.  My response was that of a third grader whose parent just confronted them of their blatant disobedience.

Allow me to digress and explain my activities of the last week that I have allowed to fester into unforgiveness and hate.  It has been an attitude that I have been fighting and confessing all week but last night, actually early this morning, I allowed my mind to relish in the deep resent of being wronged.  Therefore, I was not surprised this morning to discover that my heavenly Father had orchestrated His Word perfectly to address the wickedness of my heart.

My company is going to be sued.  The process of being sued is not some abstractions when you own part of a small business that has been targeted.  It is personal.  It is even more personal when the chief antagonists are people who you once considered friends.  I wrote about this in “But I Don’t Wanna Be Slapped”.  That blog was written over a year ago and the saga is still on-going.

Mediation has finally been scheduled and documents provided with the assertions of our wrong doing.  My week has been spent reviewing those documents and writing responses.  The deeper I dig the more incredulous I have become at the sear lack of integrity, at least from my perspective, which my antagonists are abiding within.  I have been praying for them by name every night this week.  I have been asking God to bless them in obedience to Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 6:44).

The façade of a struggling heart was stripped away in the early morning hours when my brain awoke to thoughts of the case.  My mind drifted from facts to faces; faces that were once welcome in my home but now are enemies of my home.  Yes, they are my enemies for which I was shocked at the disdain that welled up for them.  I was even more shocked at the personal hate that I felt for their attorney and expert witness.

Worse than those thoughts was the fact that I drank them in.

Therefore, I was not surprise by the scripture that was awaiting me with my morning cup of coffee.  I knew what was coming.  My wicked heart had been clearly revealed.  My Lord cut me to the core.  He crushed any and all pretense and justification that I had created in my pre-dawn ranting.  He showed me how easily I have accepted His mercy, which was more costly than any mercy that I am being commanded to show.  I was confronted with my hypocrisy.

i am real estate photographer / / CC BY

I realized that God in His continuing mercy toward me was showing me that I was forgiving from my mouth but not from my heart.

And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.  So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. (Matt. 18:34-35)

I know that this lawsuit may go on for a few more years and I don’t know how many times I am going to be coming back to this very same wicked place.  How can I forgive when the process does not allow for reconciliation or resolution? I am reminded of Jesus’ response to the question of who then can be saved.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matt. 19:26)

Therefore, I walk the path of a disciplined servant – I repented of my sinfulness, I thanked my Savior for His grace and mercy in forgiving my debt, which was much greater, and I asked Him for the strength to follow Him with all of my heart because I can’t do it myself.

Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of servant-hood. It is a required course, and the exams are always tough to pass. ~Charles Swindoll

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for not allowing me to wallow in my sin.  Thank you for confronting the wickedness and disobedience of my heart.   Thank you for being a lovely Father to me.  Help me in my unbelief.  Help me to be so enamoured by the grace and mercy that you have shown me that will will naturally flow out and onto my enemies.  Lord, be with them.  Show them the same love that you have shown me.  Draw them to yourself.  Enable me to forgive them not only with my mouth but with my heart.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



January 17, 2014

“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:  ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;  in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men’.”  Matthew 15:7-9

tommulpagano / / CC BY-NC-SA

I tried to attend my first group spin last week.  As usual, work kept me preoccupied a few minutes beyond the time that I should have left for the spin session.  Now, I was late.  I hurriedly grabbed my bike and duffle bag of work clothes and rushed out the office back door.  I was immediately confronted with the reason that I was heading to a spinning session rather than a real ride.

The presence of winter still had its firm hold on the thermometer and its white blankets of snow and ice covered most of the ground.  I did the awkward winter shuffle to my pick-up, through the alley and across the adjoining street, burdened with a bicycle over my shoulder and a bag hanging from an outstretched arm for balance.

I hastily removed the front tire of my bike, set it against the rim of my vehicle, lifted the bike into its place in the bed of my pickup, and secured the front forks to the restraint.  I was ready to get the engine running in search of some heat as I patted one pocket and then the other; no keys.  I repeated the process, even patting my backside, which had no pockets.  After doing a few versions of this little incredulous dance, I realized that I had forgotten my coat which was why I was cold and more importantly contained the keys.

Frustrated with myself, I ditched my bag into the pickup bed and headed back to the office.  Since I was now seriously late, I raced swiftly back, recovered my bag from the pickup bed and leapt into the pickup.  I arrived late to the spin room a little exasperated.  In anticipation of a great workout, I went to retrieve my equipment.  I was in for a rude surprise. / CC BY-SA

I reached into the back seat of my pickup to retrieve my front wheel.   Imagine my surprise when I could not find a front wheel on my back seat.  I looked in the front seat – no wheel.  I looked in the pickup bed – no wheel.  I looked again in the back seat – still no wheel.  In my rush to get the spin session, I had forgotten to grab my bike wheel that I had leaned against the pick-up tire.

I had rushed about in vain.  All of that hurrying to get to a spin session that I now could not participate in because my wheel lay abandoned miles away.  The worst part was that someone had come along and snatched my wheel up before I could get someone from the office to walk out and check the street for it.

A bike is not of much use without a front wheel. 

I wonder how many times I have rushed off to a “spiritual session” and left the most important element behind.  I have headed to Church on Sunday morning with a grumbling heart, motivated by obligation.  I have eagerly agreed to help only to complain as the day approaches.  I have ministered and then moped when not appreciated.  I have poured myself out and then bemoaned the lack of fruit.

I have too often played the hypocrite.  I wonder how many times my rushing has been in vain because I forgot to focus on what was most important.  I become engrossed by the cares of  life and abandoned my reliance upon the one who actually accomplishes my intent.  I know that God is always with us but I also know that our hearts can drift far from Him.  We can get so preoccupied with activities, even good spiritual / ministry activities, that our hearts proceed without a thought of the God we love.  Our minds can get so focused on the trivial that we drive off and leave God with our morning devotions as surely as I left my front tire at work.

We are repeatedly warned that the most important attribute of a Christian is love.  Paul says that we are nothing, that we gain nothing, if we don’t have love.(1 Cor. 13:1-3)  Jesus tells us that we worship in vain when our hearts are far from Him.  Even Peter fell into a pursuit that took him away from the heart of God.  He tried to rebuke Jesus from going to Jerusalem to suffer, be killed, and rise on the third day (Matt. 16:21-22).  Jesus responded by showing Peter that he had set his mind on the things of man and drifted away from God’s will.  He actually was being used by Satan to discourage Christ which is not what he thought he was doing.

How many church splits have resulted from elders showing up with hearts far from Christ?

How many family gathering have been ruined by minds set on the things of man.

How many lifeless lessons have been taught or sermons preached by someone responding to obligation?

How many worship service have been wasted in thoughts of lunch?

Showing up is not good enough; showing up on time with an unprepared heart gains nothing.  It is like showing up for a spin session without a front wheel.  When we show up with an unprepared heart, we have just engaged life with so little faith that we could not kick a pebble from the parking lot, which is much less than moving a mountain.

When I showed up without a front wheel, I could not workout.  The problem with showing up with a heart drawn close to God is that we can proceed forward without him, which opens the opportunity to be actually used by Satan as Peter was.  Setting our minds on the things of God is not an option for the follower of Christ.

I would rather show up late with a heart drawn close to God by a mind that is set on the things of God than show up on time with a heart far from Christ due to a mind preoccupied by the things of man.  I do not want to live in vain.  I surely don’t want my preoccupation with the cares of this world to result in my service being used by Satan.

Let’s not live in vain.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for the grace that You have shown me when I have rushed off with my mind set on all my cares in this world.  Thank you for being merciful to me when I have acted faithlessly.  Father, help me to keep my mind set on you.  Give me a love for you.  Draw my heart close to You.  Prevent me from wandering away.  Lord, keep the works of my hands, which I do when my mind is not set correctly on You, from being used by Satan.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



November 28, 2013

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28

Mr. T in DC / / CC BY-NC-ND

The countdown has begun.  In a few hours, my family and I will be seated around a large table surround by my extended family.  We will have before us an enormous amount of food.  Enough food will be splayed on that table for three families to have enough left-overs for days to come.

Our tradition of thanksgiving is to begin the dinner with each member giving a word of thanks.  This time of designated thanksgiving can be poignant, humorous, sappy, heart-warming, and awkward.  Although this time is forced upon us by my mother, it allows a brief moment of sharing all that has been received into our family over the long year.

Emotions of gratitude are best conveyed by those who have received a gift of great value, unearned.  Our gratitude tends to be somewhat muted when our hand is perceived to have had a role.

Gratitude comes from receiving.
Gratitude flows from taking that which is freely offered.

The gratitude expressed at my thanksgiving table will be tainted in some respect because very little of what we have received is perceived as freely given.  We are compensated in our jobs.  Healthy relationships are a mixture of give-and-take.  The delight of children comes through the woes of parenting.

I know in my mind that all things are a gift from God and that true gratitude should be expressed for that even which our hands have contributed.  However, there are times when my heart does not feel what my mind tells it.  Gratitude is an emotion that must be felt; the greater the gratitude the deeper the emotion.  True gratitude should be more than mere words around a thanksgiving table.

To remind myself what true gratitude feels like, I recall the greatest of gift that I have received, unearned.

I am grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.  (Hebrews 12:28)

I am thankful for receiving the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  (Romans 8:15)

I am appreciative for receiving Christ, to believe in His name, and to be given the right to become a child of God, born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, but of God. (John 1:12)

I have been unborn again in Christ, unearned.

My gratitude for being saved cannot be expressed in mere words.  I can only express this deep gratitude that I feel in acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.  That is what true gratitude feels like.  Gratitude for all that we have to be thankful for is best expressed in praise to the God who saves the lost and perishing.

May that feeling flow throughout this day of thanksgiving into all the blessings we have received by the work of God’s hand.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you.  Thank you for all the blessings You have shown me.  Thank you for all the unearned favor that you have lavished upon me.  Thank you for saving me.  I praise you of Lord.  I revere you, O Lord!  I am in awe of you my Lord and God.  Your grace still amazes me.  Your love is still a mystery to me.  May my tears of deep gratitude glorify your name. (Your Grace Still Amazes Me)  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“GOD IS LORD” – Oct 20

October 20, 2013

“It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you.  Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.”  Ezekiel 36:32

I have been thinking about how we make our decisions and why those decisions can be so inconsistent with what we say that we believe.  I wrote about those thoughts in my last post, Acceptable Worship.  Inevitably, this line of thinking converges upon our perfect example, Jesus Christ.  I have inconsistent moral motivations because my beliefs are often unsound and my desires blemished.  However, Christ does not have those flaws.  He has perfect understanding of the world; therefore, unwavering belief.  He has a pure and sinless heart; therefore, perfect desires.

Christ had perfect moral motivation that resulted in action.  He came into this for a purpose.  He told us what that purpose was:

…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  (John 10:10-11)

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  (John 6:38-40)

VinothChandar / Foter / CC BY

Jesus demonstrated his perfect moral motivation through His actions here on earth.  His desire was to do the will of the Father.  The will of the Father was for Him to lay down His life and then take it up again, so that we might have eternal life.  That is what He did.

However, why would the Father send His son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, into this world, to suffer and die on a cross so that we might have eternal life?

There is a common theme asserted for the motivation behind the Father sending Jesus.  I have heard this assertion made in many songs, books, and sermons.  The declarations are made of God’s motivation as being His love for you and me.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that however believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3:16-17)

God showed His love for this world by sending His son but why does He love us?

Does God love me because He knows my value and sees my potential?
Does God love me to confirm my value?
Does God show His love to me because I am His prized possession?

I do believe that it is important for us to understand God’s motivation.  It is important because God has told us the reason for His actions on many occasions.  I have been reading through Ezekiel.  From chapter 34 through 36, God makes clear that His actions have a motivation.  The prophecies of condemnation and blessings all end with a similar stated purpose;

You will know that I am the Lord. 

Ezekiel prophesied regarding the new covenant that be established through Christ.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

That is a very loving act of God.  It is particularly loving when you consider that God condemned other nations for the same actions that the nation of Israel had been doing.  So, did God condemn the other nations and blessed Israel because He loved Israel more?  We don’t need to speculate since He tells why He acted:

Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.  And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. (Ezekiel 36:22-23 )

God did not promise to put a new heart into the people of Israel because they were inherently more valuable than the people of other nations.  He did not love them because they were His prized possession.

He set aside the nation of Israel because of His Great Name. 

God shows His incredible love not because of the value of the loved but due to the purpose of the loved.  To act based on the value of man is to deny what God knows to be true; that there is nothing more valuable than His name.  We are not God’s prized possession.  His name is His prized possession because there is nothing more prized then Him.

When we believe that redemptive history is based on God’s love for the value of man then we place man at the center of God’s purpose.  This has lead to so much confusion in our faith.

God did not create man to be glorified. 

God knows perfectly the value of creation.  There is nothing greater than the Father.

God created man to glorify Him.

God’s will, His desire, is that all of creation acknowledge what is of most value in the universe; to know that He is the Lord.  Therefore, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, in love, to save us and give us new hearts, so that all of mankind will know that He is the Lord when He vindicates His holiness before the world through us.

A Perfect Heart / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

God saved us for a purpose much greater than our personal value.  God saved us for the highest purpose.  It is through the redeemed that God’s holiness is made known to the world.  There is no higher purpose for mankind.

To think that I was saved because of my inherent value actually diminishes God’s love.  The love shown to me is so great because it not only redeemed my soul but also my purpose.  By God’s love, I have been brought into the anthem of all creation; that God is Lord.  I could not be a part of vindicating the holiness of God before the nations if it were not for this great love shown to me.

When we recognize God’s motivation in showing us love, we will understand the purpose behind the holiness to which we have been called.  Christ’s perfect example calls us to live not according to our own will but the will of Him who has shown us so much love.

May we live so that the holiness of God can be seen in our lives as a billboard to the most valuable reality in the universe, that God is the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for loving me to a degree that is beyond myself.  Thank you for showing me the greatest love that is possible.  Thank you for redeeming my soul and my purpose.  May your name be vindicated through me.  May the nations see your holiness through me.  Help me to live in holiness through the power of your Spirit for your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“ENDURING FAITH: The Heart” – Sept 29

September 29, 2013

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.””  Hebrews 10:36-38

Endurance training requires that you not stop.  The worst thing that you can do when you are trying to build up endurance is to stop.  The mind will always try to get you to stop for just a little while.

Shrinking back is a temptation of every workout that resides at the limits of my current endurance.  The temptation to grab the edge of the pool  for an extra breath rises at every turn past the mile and a half mark.  I almost quit ten miles from the finish-line of my last century ride.  On every run, I have a conversation within my head, in which I have to convince myself not to turn back and shrink the distance.

Endurance comes by continuing.

It is built by incrementally going a little further than the last time.  Endurance does not come by charging out the front door into some unknown distances.  That is just asking for an injury or at best, horrendously sore muscles that will force you to back down.  The best way to build endurance is to add it in increasing increments.

The writer of Hebrews identified a need for endurance in the faith of the early Church.  I think that his call to endurance is still as applicable today.  Many Christians bounce from one ministry to another.  Their quiet times are characterized by re-commitment.  Struggles result in a crisis of faith.

There are not enough brothers and sisters in Christ who demonstrate a faith that can be called enduring.  I think this is a critical issue in today’s Church.

There are three principles from physical endurance that seem analogous to our spiritual endurance; the heart, fueling, and breathing.

I plan to explore how we build enduring faith in the next couple blog posts but I would like to start with the heart.


Pulsometr donnay

Pulsometr donnay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first started training for triathlons, I wore a heart rate monitor, mostly because I was afraid of dying.  I would watch my heart rate while I exercised and set my pace accordingly.  The key to endurance is to work within the upper end of your aerobic zone.  This is the heart rate at which your body can provide oxygen and fuel to your muscle and remove waste.  If I push my heart rate too high, for too long, I will go into an anaerobic state and my muscles will fatigue in a manner that will cause me to stop.

When I first started to train, I tried to workout at approximately 130 beats/ minute.  Over time I have continued to increase that level.  I can now workout comfortable in the 150-160 range.  That did not just happen.  I gassed out a lot.  I coasted a lot.  It was a constant work in progress of finding that delicate balance between pushing my endurance by enough but not too much.  The trick is to flirt with that line.  I would never have built any endurance if I had not pushed my heart.

Riding the anaerobic edge builds endurance. 

Enduring faith is all about the heart.  We do what we love.  Spiritual activity is of little to no worth if it is done for any reason other than a love for God.  The problem for the Pharisees was religious activity that neglected the love of God (Luke 11:42).

I have seen Christians embark with great intentions of religious and sacrificial living that sputtered to a stop after a period of time.  They can’t keep it up.  They stop because they lack endurance.

Many may have committed to an activity based on the latest book or spiritual leader and not because of a love for God.  When they wear out on one method, they move onto the next.  They are living in a spiritual zone that is perpetually anaerobic.

We must watch our hearts.  We need to monitor our motivations if we are to endure.  Faith is easy when it is what you want to do.  We can keep going for decades when our activities are the demonstration of our true love.  The reverse is also true; we can only sustain activities that we don’t love for a short period of time.

Enduring faith comes from a heart that is doing what it loves to do. 

Now, there are other folks who live on the opposite extreme from the spiritually anaerobic.  They are doing what they love and have been doing it for years.  They are extremely comfortable in their faith but they really have not grown in years.  The depth of their faith and love for God has not changed in decades and sanctification is a strange religious term that they have not really experienced.  They have the tendency of letting their Pastor’s challenges lay at the altar.  They are masters at justifying why they can’t do any more.

These folks are lost in the comfortable  They refuse to allow their hearts to be challenged.  They like the very sustainable religious shuffle of their lives and really don’t want to take any grand leaps of faith.  Their faith has little endurance for anything great.

Endurance comes by riding that ragged edge of the anaerobic zone. 

Enduring faith comes from challenging our hearts.  We follow the Spirit’s leading and the direction of scripture.  We step out in faith and obedience and then we monitor our hearts.

If our faith is getting comfortable, then maybe it is time to pick up the pace a little bit.

Maybe, you feel the desire to go a little deeper.
Maybe, you have become aware of a love that you cherish more than God and the Spirit is calling you to give it up.
Maybe, God’s love has begun to overflow from you into a ministry that you never thought that you could do.

Push your spiritual pace; listen to the Spirit and go do it.

Maybe, you are tried.
Maybe, you are doing ministry from pure obligation to friends and family.
Maybe, you are grinding away in your faith but you hate every minute.

It is fine to pull back on your spiritual pace and catch your breath.  God loves a cheerful giver.  He will not be impressed with great sacrifice that comes through gritted teeth.

The key is to never stop.  Do not pull completely back.  There is no need to drop everything and give up.  Pull back a little bit and monitor your heart.  Allow God time to refresh your spirit at a level where you begin to once again feel the joy of your salvation.

Endurance is comes from this delicate balance of pushing and monitoring the love of our heart.

Our actions always need to be flowing from our love of God.
Sanctification comes from pushing our heart out of its comfort zone.

The combination produces a faith that will endure for the glory of God.

PRAYER: Lord, test my heart.  Show me where I can do more.  Lead me into great depths of knowing and serving you.  Keep my love for you overflowing.  Father, give me wisdom in all that I do.  Create in me a faith that will endure for your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“RULE OF LOVE” – August 20

August 20, 2013

“It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me.”  Jeremiah 27:5

All representative societies have the rule of law as a cornerstone; a compilation of rules to ensure that the weakest of citizens are protected from the powerful.  The powerful are always  tempted to do what is right in their eyes.  Regardless of motivation, the rule of law intends to limit the exercise of power.

In a similar manner, I have a tendency to try and subjugate God to my concept of the rule of law.  I conjure a rule of love by which I seek to constrain the power of the divine into a paradigm that is acceptable to my sensibilities.  My rule of love encompasses all that is lovely and kind and pleasant.  I easily attribute all the byproducts of this rule of love to God.

However, my concept of the rule of love gets me into trouble when I read books like Jeremiah.  The prophecies of Jeremiah crush my feeble boundaries of love.  God’s wrath confronts my sensibilities.  I am tempted to retreat back into my little paradigm of love and turn away from the reality that the wine of God’s wrath has been and will be poured out upon a rebellious people.

Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send to you drink it.  They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.  Jeremiah 25:15-16

Babylonian captivity

Babylonian captivity (Photo credit: jimforest)

The sword that the Lord sent among them was the nation of Babylon.  The creation of the Babylonian empire was a brutal and horrifying saga of conquest.  Love was not the message of the Babylonian armies.  Death, misery, and suffering were the result of resisting the armies of Babylon.  Yet, it seemed right to God to give the Babylonians their empire.

Babylon was neither the first nor the last empire to gobble up vast portions of the earth.  History tells us of the Aztecs, Inca, Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians, the dynasties of China, the Mongols, Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman, Nazi, Soviet, British, Japanese, and American; just to name a few.  God has allowed them all.  He was the one who determined it was right for them to rule.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Ti...

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Titus and the Roman legions in 70 CE) – painting by Francesco Hayez (1867) …item 3.. Josephus claims that 1,100,000 people were killed during the siege, of which a majority were Jewish and 97,000 captured. (Photo credit: marsmet543)

Consider all that these conquerors have done to the conquered in the name of empire.  The savagery that humans have done to one another in the name of conquest turns my stomach and confounds all that I understand to be right and wrong, good and bad.

Conquest does not fit into a warm-fuzzy concept of the rule of love.

Many have turned from the God of the Bible when their concept of a loving God will not fit into biblical portrait of God that includes His wrath.  “A loving God would not do that”, is a statement that I have often heard.  Others refuse to look upon those scriptures that teach of God’s wrath.  Still others create theologies that make God respond to the development of empires, the atrocities perpetrated on the conquered, and all other forms of evil in this world.

These are all attempts to subjugate God to a rule of law that we have created; a rule of love that elevates God’s love above His wrath.

We forget the world that we live in.  This earth is not a world of love.  It never has been.  If it were a world of love, then we would not need a Savior.  The evil and sinful acts that happen every day in this world testify to our need of a Savior and remind us that we live in a world facing God’s wrath.

I believe that it is revealing that God’s wrath can be seen in the actions that are most clearly absent of His love.  When God’s love is withdrawn, the evil of man’s rebellious heart can be clearly seen.

It is a terrifying thought to live in a world without the love of God.  It is a fearful thing to face the wrath of God.  Jeremiah was prophesying of God’s impending wrath through the Babylonians so that God’s people would turn back to Him:

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard.  Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.  Jeremiah 26:12-13

Likewise, it is good for us to behold a world without God’s love that faces only His wrath.  We do a disservice to all who walk in the flesh when we focus only on God’s love and ignore His wrath.  The warnings of God’s wrath are intended to persuade the lost to mend their ways and deeds and obey the voice of God.

All the evil that is perpetrated on this earth should remind us of our need for God’s love.  That is why Christ came to this world.  He did not come to make this world a nicer place.  He came to save sinners from the just wrath of the Father.  God’s most loving act was the sending of His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin to condemn sin in the flesh.  That is how God showed His love to the world.

The full revelation of God’s love is what is necessary to satisfy the final demonstration of God’s wrath.

We either accept all of God’s love through Jesus Christ or we get none of it.

That is the rule of love.

PRAYER: Lord, I fear your wrath.  I fear it for myself and for my enemies.  I fear a world that is absent your love.  Thank you for sending your son to save a sinner like me.  Thank you for showing such great love to this rebellious and sinful world.  Lord, I want all of your love.  Forgive me for those times that I have not valued your love for me as I should.  Forgive me for those times that the joy of my salvation, the joy in your love, does not radiate from my being.  Thank you for reminding my of your wrath and turning once again into the loving arms of your embrace.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



May 26, 2013

“But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”  Psalm 103:17-18

English: Icon of U.S. currency.

English: Icon of U.S. currency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bitcoin is the new currency curiosity.  It is a digital currency in an electronic cash system.  Transactions are completed with the transfer of bitcoins from one person’s ledger to another’s ledger.  However, nothing is really transferred.  Numbers are merely tallied across all the ledgers of those in the bitcoin market.

I like the idea of having a bank where my money resides.  I realize that my bank doesn’t really have a vault with a pile of bills in the corner marked, “JD Blom”.  My money resides at their bank in a ledger stored on a computer.  I use a credit card or a check for most of my purchases.  Ledgers get modified with every swipe of my card.  Money gets tallied from one computer to another with each check processed.  I exchange my dollars more like bitcoins than I care to admit.

Bitcoins have value because people assign them value.  A bitcoin has value based on what you can buy with it.  The value is actually in the transaction.  A bitcoin could become valueless if no one were willing to accept the transaction in exchange for their “real” good or service.  However, that is the problem with any “real” money.  Money is only valuable when people give it value.  The dollar that I have in my wallet is only valuable if the store will accept it in exchange for what we mutually agree is of comparable value.

The problem for any currency is inflation.  The dollar that I have in my wallet cannot buy the same amount of goods and services as the dollar my great, great, grandfather had in his wallet.  The devaluing of currency seems to be inevitable.  I have never known a period when inflation was not occurring to some extent.  Inflation does not illicit much concern when it happens over decades but banks collapse when a currency devalues in terms of weeks and months.

Deutsch: Potin tetradrachme (21mm, 8.4g) gesla...That is when we see people try to move their money to more stable forms of currency.  During the latest financial troubles, many people exchanged their paper money into what they felt was a more lasting currency – gold. The best currencies in any market are those that are stable.  The perfect currency is that which can be counted upon to be of the same value, in good times and in bad times.

Have you ever thought about the love of God in terms of currency?  The love of God is from everlasting to everlasting.  It does not change.  It is through the love of God that we have been saved.  What we have been given by the love of God will never be devalued.   God showed us His love by sending us His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin.  God’s love is manifested by His victory over sin for us.

English: A Celtic Cross in the Sunset, St. Mar...What is the value of God’s love?

The value is in the transaction.  The transaction is eternal life.  What value is that for you?

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. Psalm 103:14-16

Our own life and that of our family is most people’s treasure.  Most parents will exchange all that they have for the life of their child.  The value of life is very high.  However, our life is a poor currency.  Our life has value for only about 70-80 years and then it becomes valueless.  We invest heavily into something that will be dust in less than a century.  That is not a stable currency.

Where are you investing the value of your life?  Consider all that you do as an investment.  It will be either to dust or eternity.

The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him.  Maybe it is time for a currency transfer.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not valuing your love like I should.  Forgive me for taking it for granted and treating it as common.  I know that it is not even possible for me to truly grasp the extent of the love that you have shown me.  Your steadfast love is as high as the heavens are above the earth; your forgiveness is as far as the east is from the west.  Open my eyes, Lord.  Help me to understand the depths of mercy that you have shown me.  There is nothing of more value than you O’ Lord.  You are high and lifted up; worthy of all praise and honor.  Thank you for loving me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

%d bloggers like this: