FAITH HOPE LOVE LIKE is the greatest part of AGAPE to like someone?

LOVE AND LIKE ARE BOTH IMPORTANT

When Peter betrayed Jesus and three times he said that he did not know him, the Lord came to him and asked him if he loved (agapao) him. Peter said, “you know that I like you (phileo) .

Do you agapao me? “you know that I phileo you”

Do you  even phileo me? Then Peter was grieved

OK, then feed my sheep.

I have experienced having a lot of people value my contribution to their lives and appreciate me. I have even had people love me, but over the years I have come to value being liked even more than being loved or appreciated. We can admire someone and then feel uncomfortable around them because of their different abilities or position but not enjoy hanging out with them. That leaves them lonely. We can really need someone and would feel lost and sad if they were gone yet still not (just like being with them). Can you imagine when my children were home, how I would feel if they ignored me all week and then approached me with a couple of songs of how great a father I was then said “Oh great father may we have some money please?” They could even keep their rooms clean as I had requested and help with the dishes unbidden and study hard, AND IT STILL WOULDN’T COUNT if they did not like to hang with me and share their lives with me.

I think that the greatest gift that we can give another person is just to like being with them, lighting up when we see them, give evidence that we were thinking about them and wanting to be with them even when we were apart, and mostly doing things with them, doing things to get to know them better doing things to bring them joy, doing things to build a bond of fellowship and memories.

When Jesus said “ feed my sheep” He was not telling Peter to go off and pay for his betrayal by doing penance and laboring for Jesus. No he was seeking to heal the relationship by going sheep feeding  together and learn to like being together again.

When we see someone let us give them the gift of smiling and being happy to see them.  My little grandchildren run up to me and are so glad to see me. I went to a church once where there was a sweet man with an IQ of about 80. He couldn’t read but he knew his hymns and he would sing the melody and I the harmony and we would do duets. If I missed a Sunday the others would miss my body filling a pew but I could tell that he had actually missed ME. Maybe we should change our greetings from “hello how are you?” to I SEE YOU.

I have learned from this that it is not enough to worship the lord and sense his power and how much I need him. It is not enough to go to him in need. It is not enough to do things FOR Him. No, He wants us to like being with him, to cling to our love, our first intense focus on relationship, to be glad when they say, “let us go into the house of the Lord” , to prefer being His friend to all the treasures of the universe. To get all warm and fuzzy when I read His letters to me. To hold Him precious and remember that I am precious to Him too.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

So many people struggle with problems that have lasted a long time.

Often they hang on by focusing on the hope that things will get better in the near future, then if things don’t get better they can become bitter. Meanwhile they are waiting till things get better before grabbing ahold of life, before asking the questions, What can I DO? Who is in my life? What do I have? Who am I? or before doing the LITTLE I CAN with my troublesome reality with gratitude and gusto.

Joni Erickson Tada spent a while focused on getting cured of her quadriplegia but then accepted God’s sovereignty on the issue and became a powerful tool in God’s hands to help other permanently handicapped people. I know of another young athlete who broke his back on a trampoline and became permanently paralyzed. He was saved as a result and developed a ministry for God but was still focused on healing in this life and eventually lost his impact.

I wonder what is the most difficult chronic situation to walk in submission with God through?Chronic depression or anxiety; Chronic pain, fibro, TMJ, back pain, ulcerative colitis; or paralysis; or PTSD; or brain injury; or perhaps a job we can’t quit but is always stressful;  having a missing loved one; or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. With depression, I hear lots of lectures on one more technique that might finally  bring relief to the sufferer, but never lectures on how to get started living with pain now while we are trying to find answers, so that, if the pain never leaves, then at least we are living and serving God. I remember on lady with long term depression who cried out to God, ” If I can’t be fixed, at least use me to bless others!” That week she led two people to the Lord and talked a friend out of divorce but going to counseling instead. She called me up asking, ” Does this mean He has decided to not fix me till I get to heaven?” I told her that I did not have the answer but at least she way wonderfully used by God and God being sovereign means that he doesn’t have to fix us but also means that he will walk the situation with us. I know that by comparison, my bout with claustrophobia was not a big deal but it sure felt aweful at the time. I remember practicing what I preach and letting God know that he did not have to fix me but that there was no way I could function as I had in the past with all my energy drained by the anxiety. He chose to take it away. Sovereignty means that he may treat one servant one way and another differently and we don’t get to whine if we are the one left with the problem and grace while the other gets fixed. Do be careful listening to Christian radio where we seldom hear testimonies about how we are still miserable but finding grace. No we hear someone who WAS miserable but is fine now. This , of course, feeds the feeling that God always has to heal so there must be something wrong with my faith.

Perhaps one that is overlooked is living with a family member or spouse who JUST WON’T CHANGE. The nonchangers that trouble me most are the ones who are always quoting verses and going to church.  For example, I know of a lady who’s father molested her and when she finally confronted the sunday school teaching-church attending man about what had happened; he made vague excuses and in church that Sunday talked about how even when one is a perfect father still our children don’t always turn out well. I think that the fact that they always COULD change keeps hope alive forever in us. However, just as in any chronic pain, we need to get on with our life inviting them to change but not waiting till they do before we start living. We must ask the question, “How can I live an abundant life, even if they NEVER change?”

Now I know that with Christ all things are possible. I know that the rabid Christian killer Saul of Tarsus became a passionate church builder, but how often does God go out of his way to knock them off of their high horses? Even when God brings severe consequences into their lives they still learn nothing. Revelation 9 20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plaques yet repented not.

I’ve seen a lot of depression worsen when someone stays stubborn to the end and never repents or changes. Their loved ones cling to the hope of change and then they are gone.

When in such a chronic relationship we turn to others for advice and are told either, “You made your bed so lay in it!” or “Just dump the person and move on. God often calls us to a third approach where we pray for them and hope to the end. Invite them to change. Minister to them when appropriate and set limits when appropriate. Learn from their example to be tender to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and take the reality of the chronic situation thank God for His intention is allowing it, ask for the grace to walk in it and always remember This Too Will Pass but maybe not till we see Christ.

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW GOD’S DIRECTION?

Of course the “Sunday school mind” replies, “Of course I want to be directed by God, what could possibly lead to a better life?”

In my own case I’m not so sure. His “better” has nothing to do with comfort or function but rather in bringing Himself glory and conforming me to His image. In Romans 8:35 I find that He may lead me down the path of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril,and sword; to be killed all the day long, accounted as a sheep for slaughter. What then is my promise? that in all these things I will remain in his love.

He is so unfair! I often ask people if they would like to live in a fair world, and with normal human foolishness they quickly say, “of course!” So I ask them if they would like me to pray and ask God to give them exactly what they deserve? If so, would they mind if I backed away a good distance before asking for “fairness”! We have been unfairly forgiven cleansed, healed and given immortal life as the bride of Christ.

With this great unfairness comes His right to take me through trials for his glory that may seem unfair. Still the balance of fairness is always in our favor since we are His and He is ours.

I’m afraid that I often err on the side of the double minded person in James one who asks God for wisdom in order to look properly christian but then doesn’t pay attention to the lessons God arrainges to teach me or go searching in His word for how he wants me to proceed.

If you have been following me for a while you should be able to stop for a moment and give the definition of Iniquity:

Good , you said that it is DOING GOOD in which I decide for myself what that good is, I then do it in my own strength and then moan and groan about it for extra credit. It is good to know that ANY one of these steps ruins the effort and takes it from God doing good through me and into GOOD WORKS which always exhausts and brings damage rather than blessing.

I was reading about churches that fast and pray and seek God’s guidance as to WHAT to do but then rush ahead and do not seek God’s WHEN and God’s WAYS or accept God’s appointed authorities or accept help from the people God brings alongside. This leads to burn out and failure and wondering why, if God wanted it done, then why didn’t it work?

In all my ways I need to acknowledge Him and like a good soldier, constantly defer to my commander for directions.

Perhaps the key is Peter’s reply to Jesus when Jesus asked “will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

I believe that the mustard seed of faith is this: ( I may not see how God’s way will work, I may be terrified that I will lose all, I certainly know that I am not strong enough to walk in this way, but I definitely know that going my own way is a guaranteed bust and that no one else has the words of life,so, Lord, direct me down the path you choose).

 

BE STILL

A look at Psalms 46:10

Be still, and know that I …God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts … with us; the God of Jacob … our refuge. Ponder this.

I’ve been having trouble being still in my heart for a month or so. As a severe co-dependant, I can’t stand anyone being angry with me but in the effort to help someone, (I also have a lot of trouble saying NO because of co-dependancy) they chose to get very angry. I didn’t think that the Lord was mad at me but it seems that 100 people can appreciate me and one is mad; and guess which I focus on! The other day I received a letter from my boss with the typical general “you’re doing great BUT” format followed by a couple of specific “shape ups!”

Then I was upset with myself for not being “still” inside, since that was the topic of my last Sunday school class. So I went back to the last chapter and realized that being still has nothing to do with how I am doing or what others think about me or what I fear but rather it has to do with STOP AND LOOK AT THE LORD. Still is not a feeling/it is a ceasing of my mind from fussing with this and that and getting it to look at the Lord and remember:

1.That God is my place to run to when under attack. He is my refuge and not work or food or family, these are all his tools to protect me but he is the protector.

2.That God is my only hope of handling the stress well he must be and is my strength not myself or other people.

3.That God is present, he doesn’t run away when trials come, will never leave me nor forsake me He is in me (can’t get much closer than that!)

4.That my present problem is not as big as an earthquake, or mountain slides, or tsunamis, so, if I’m not to fear those then surely fear of this is not needed or helpful

5.To drink from the streams of his word that bring gladness no matter what else.

6.That, though my enemy is ranting and raving, God’s voice drowns out their sound with his great, “FEAR NOT”

7.That God loves to bring peace out of war and when my ways please the Lord, He makes even my enemies to become my friends.

 

FINALLY BRETHREN THINK ON THESE THINGS

We all know that going round and round in our heads on negatives, eats up all our energy and leaves us depressed. Still, we keep finding ourselves doing it again. We yell at ourselves for doing it again, hoping that that would get us to quit but it is like fighting quicksand and only makes bad matters worse.

Besides, the things that we are focused on are often significant and seem worth fussing with. They are unfair, or dangerous. They could be easily changed if only this or that person would admit that they are wrong.

So what’s the process of change? First, when you awaken, thank God for the struggle that teaches you to hate sin and appreciate the Lord, then out-predict the habit brain and try to think ahead, What is likely to happen today that could trigger me into going round and round?

Second, notice myself doing it again, without yelling at myself for doing it.

Third, assure myself that if there is nothing that I can do right now, then it is OK to let it go. (This will not get to brain to quit but it must have permission to quit since it thinks that it is fussing for our own good.

Fourth, focus on A. What can I do through Christ who strengthens me. B. What do I have that God want me to stop and appreciate. C. Who is in my life that I can give and receive from and relate to? D. Who am I and what are the unchangeable feature of that? So let me be grateful to God for my design and even the negatives that sin has added but God intends for good?

Fifth, Invest in what can be done what I have who is in my life and who I am.

Sixth, Thank God for the help in refocusing and see. it as a healing thing to de despite the imperfection of the effort and the results.

Over time this will block the round and rounds that lead nowhere.

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

One of the devil’s best ways to keep us from growth and blessing and ministry is to get us to ask God for wisdom and then not pay attention.

Good intentions are the  enemy of the good, because, since our attitude feels right, we assume that we are alright, even when we haven’t done right.

In James 1 we read, if any one lacks wisdom (hopefully we realize who that includes) let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and doesn’t yell at you for not knowing or for taking so long to ask, and it shall be given him, but let him ask in faith nothing wavering.

What does that imply? I must be prone to ask for wisdom in order to LOOK spiritual and not because I humbly admit that I am not.

Is it possible that, deep down, I am aware that ALL scripture, if paid attention to will reprove me and I don’t particularly like to be reproved. I want to go to church and to pray like a pharasee and ask for wisdom in order to feel and look better to myself and others, not so that I may see the painful truth about myself.

All our research show that ONLY a person who honestly examines himself and asks for painful feedback and then  rewards it, WILL DO WELL, but  will wonder if he is doing well because he is so acutely aware of his shortcomings.

I was asked by a friend who had been saved for only  a year. “When do you get to where you aren’t always slipping up and having to repent and get back on track? When do you arrive at consistent godliness?” “Well”, I said, “I’ve been saved for 62 years and am not there yet. I hope I didn’t discourage him. Remember, it’s the walk not the arrival that lets God. use us and reward us on this side of heaven.

We may only pretend to ask God for feedback, and then not go to his word for reproof). We may also ask others to give us feedback yet subtly let them know that, if they do, we will make it painful for them.

If our friends were foolish enough to give us honest feedback: we would pretend to listen and then not change, we would explain why they have misperceived, we might point out that they are not so great themselves, we could make an excuse (the only one who believes an excuse is the person who makes it) or we might agree and then depress at them, “you’re right I’ll just quit and do less or go kill myself right now”.

I know of a boss who wanted to be more godly and figured that feedback from his troops would help. So he scheduled 15 min sessions with all his workers to give him feedback. Now he had been truly striving to be a godly boss. So, when he met with them and they said, ” Oh you’re fine boss”,he assured them that he was for real and shared with them  something he’d NOTICED ABOUT HIMSELF.  Then they said,” Oh you really want to know?” Then each of them needed an hour instead of the scheduled 15 min. He was a bit depressed but became a much better boss. If a person,like that boss, is trying to see their own flaws but can’t see themselves clearly; then a double minded man will receive nothing from the Lord, from his word or his people or sermons or even superficial devotions.

We need to show the Holy Spirit that we are for real so that he will open the word to us.

 

FREE WIILL PART TWO

SORRY, I’ve been procrastinating lately. As a codependant, I often take on too much but God has convicted me that I need to say no to some things and He wants me to prioritize the internet work so I’ve said no to some things and hope to be more faithful to this blog.  I looked at my comments and God spoke to me through the last comment to get with it. So here goes.

God is pretty much in charge of  everything, (sovereignty) .

He weaves us in our mother’s womb, gives 0us our parents, our sex our IQ our families and our life circumstances. When young, our brains  soak in the conclusions of  parents, siblings and same age peers, pre-programming our brains. Our brains are predicting machines guessing what will soon happen and PRE-PREPARE WHAT WE WILL FEEL THINK AND DO. Our thinking brain believes it is analyzing and choosing but 100% of our responses are driven by the past. The iniquities of our parents pass down for 3 and 4 generations.

Our responses are not just habits of practice and memory but they become powerful well defended urges. The Habit Brain DOES NOT WANT TO CHANGE. We try things and if it makes our dopamine rise, we say “hey lets remember to do that again.” If it makes us uncomfortable we remember to not do that.But, often, godly behavior is not as immediately pleasant as unhealthy choices are.These become controlling habits. We guess as to the meaning of things and try to make sense of patterns and believe principles that don’t reflect reality.

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and we can’t know it. So we come of adulthood thoroughly miss-programmed unable to see truth while CONVINCED THAT WE DO! Blind leaders of the blind who follow the blind, mistaking part of truth for the whole, emphasizing the negatives, calling good-evil and evil-good. Totally unable to even want, let alone see or choose God’s ways.

Then God steps in to make free will possible. First he wakes us up using the Law and the consequences of sin  to make us question if we have GOT IT RIGHT. The truth of God’s nature is evident in the world around us and convicts us. The witness of the WORD and of God’s servants,  jab at us. Next he  gives grace enough for us to sense our need and to admit that we can’t even see, let alone change our ways and that we are unable to earn his love. Then he gives us faith and hope and strength to cry out to him for forgiveness for cleansing and the power to overcome,  even the faith is not of ourselves. He gives the grace for us to ask for and co-operate with help and the feedback of others. I believe that this grace has appeared to all men: BUT we can refuse to admit our sin, we can water it down or try to fix ourselves or try to be good. This blockage of God’s grace results in consequences. God is not mocked what WE SOW we reap and God is just in holding us accountable for the results.

People often say” My parents did the best that they could.” That was the problem. God didn’t ask them to do the best they could, but to admit their sin and damage and cooperate with him and others to do the right thing. God then takes our IMPERFECT obedience and makes it work.

My friend fears that FREE WILL means that if she doesn’t pray perfectly that others will suffer and it will be her fault. My own litmus test for whether a thought is of God is to see if it causes me to be tense and uptight at the idea ME CARRYING IT OUT. God is not a fool. He knows I am made of dust and never asks me to be strong or do ANYTHING perfectly. So, if I am tense, I must have crossed a line into seeing obedience in a graceless way. I think that he wants me to use my free will after salvation to continue to be shown that without him I can do nothing. To continue to be shown that I need to focus my heart and will and love on him and to move my body member according to a GROWING sense of his principles applied, for him to make something out of. NOT FOR ME TO PAY HIM BACK OR BE TENSE DOING HIS WORK. He can take my feeble inadequate efforts and make up the difference and bless others , IF I SIMPLY ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT IS RIGHT AND SEEK TO GET TO KNOW HIM THROUGH THE OBEDIENCE. It is similar to a father hanging on to the seat of the bicycle as the child learns to ride, rather badly. The father wants cooperation and companionship and effort. He does not want perfect effort. In fact someone with a seminary degree in ministry might do a more nearly perfect effort but have it mean nothing if he has a  lack of relationship with the father.

When I get up to speak to large crowds, I am aware of my BAD ATTITUDE and my GOOD ATTITUDE. I want people to like me to tell me how intelligent I am and that I am an important person. Yup! pretty screwed up co dependent. Part of me wants the listeners to be blessed by God’s practical ideas and to worship God for his wisdom and practicality. So I say, ” Lord you know my mixed up mess but please use my efforts for your kingdom despite their imperfect motivation and delivery. AND HE DOES! Woah, how cool is that?

Every person mightily used by God, became suicidally depressed in the effort and gave up. They loved God and his word and his ways and his people and his kingdom. BUT they did it in their own strength. We must arrive at each moment of obedience with the prayer, “Lord if you can make anything out of this go ahead! I sure can’t do anything well enough to work.

I say, gently, to my friend. ” Has someone cast a spell on you, tell me one thing, How did you get saved?Didn’t you trust in the finished work of Jesus? Grace has not gone away the same grace that saves you keeps you. It is not for nothing that pastors fear that grace will make people so peaceful that they will quit teaching sunday school, or sin to let grace abound. But they don’t get it. Once we rest in grace for all eternity we have vastly MORE ability to be his tool. God want to give you power in prayer, but that is like giving a child a high powered car. For the gift to not destroy you, you must let him do the driving and just go along for the ride.