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Category Archives: Unconditional Love

Someone Like You!

When God said, “It is not good that man should be alone”, He knew that man would never be complete and fulfilled without a companion. But, could it be with that statement that He’s giving us a glimpse into His own psyche and makeup, too? What if that statement was an indication of His own heart and the possibility that God, Himself, doesn’t want to be alone…..and really wants companionship with us? If you think about it, it starts to make sense. I understand that God is all-sufficient; I understand that everything is His; I understand that He always has the fellowship and companionship of the Spirit and the Son. I understand that if you have everything….there’s nothing left to ‘need’. I get all that.

But, what if the primary reason He created man in the first place was to have someone who could be the object of His affection; someone who He could give of all that He has out of His treasury….which includes everything. Someone who could help Him facilitate all that needs to be done in His kingdom,…..which is still expanding by the way! Someone who He could put in charge of earthly affairs that would guarantee those things would be done exactly like He’d do them. Someone who could be His own intimate companion through the life the two of them would share together. Someone He could love extravagantly with the immeasurable, unconditional love that He has; Someone He could call His own sons and daughters.

Someone special!

          Someone like you!

                    I think it’s highly possible!

 

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……as long as you’re speculating!!

The human mind is an incredible thing! We have the God-given capacity to think, reason, deliberate, decide and imagine. It’s been said that we only use a small portion of our mind…and having dealt with people for six decades I can totally concur! Easy….just kidding!

A lot of my life is spent walking through messy life situations with people. It requires that I be a good listener, be willing to hear both sides of a situation if that’s the case, be willing to give hard advice when it’s needed…., you know, the tough love kind. It requires that I do my best to get the Lord’s counsel on any given situation and to communicate it in a way that people can understand. In fact, I often pray this at the end of a counseling session, “Lord, the things that I said that You’d say….burn those things into their spirit”, “but anything I said to them that You wouldn’t say…..let them forget it before they get out the door.” I’m sure He’s faithful to do that. I don’t want to get to the place that I’m so confident in my own ability to give advice that I run completely past the wisdom of the Lord. So far, so good!

One, nearly universal, thing I’ve noticed in all the years I’ve been doing ministry is a person’s tendency,….and capacity, to speculate. It’s crazy sometimes how a person’s mind can immediately go to all the things that could go wrong. Our imagination is a wonderful thing but it can be a beast when it’s working against us. It can totally eat our lunch when we get on the wrong side of it. The reality is that some of those things can and do go wrong. I mean, the possibility is there.

But, I say, if you’re going to speculate about how bad it might get and all the things that could go wrong….then it seems only sensible that you should at least try to speculate what might ‘go right’!! We‘re so geared to think in a negative way that we might not ever do that unless someone, (like me!), reminds us! *(actually, I need reminding sometimes myself!)

Speculation can gnaw away at your faith. But, as long as you’re speculating….why don’t you speculate about what might go right?!

…..or we could just take the Bible’s word for it:

1 Cor. 2:9 – Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

Try some of these:

March Madness *(not what you think it is!)

“You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look, I Guarantee It!”

Objects in the Mirror are Closer Than They Appear!

There’s a Charge For Extra Baggage

 

 

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It’s Nice to be Able to Hear!

I had a little incident a few days ago. I was relaxing, watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Just kicked back in a soft comfortable chair, got up during halftime and walked into the kitchen and noticed that I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear. At first I didn’t think too much about it but I did think it was a little strange. My hearing wasn’t totally gone. I could hear the TV but I couldn’t, for the life of me, tell what they were saying. I was sure that within a few minutes everything would return to normal. I finished watching the game but the problem persisted. I’m getting a little worried about it by now so I grabbed my computer and Googled, “sudden loss of hearing”. Turns out there’s such a thing. I read a few of the Google posts and was sure I had it! Testimony after testimony of men and women who just lost their hearing in an ear for no reason at all. For a few their hearing eventually came back, for others it never did.

I was sure when I went to bed that I’d wake up and all would be well. NOT! No better in the morning so I’m pretty dang concerned about it by now! Got an appointment with my trusty physician/close friend Dr. Craig Phelps and set up an appointment. Long story short, nothing serious. A little fluid behind my eardrum, a couple of meds and it should be good in a few days.

But it did get me thinking about not being able to hear!

We’ve been ‘given’ an incredible opportunity to be able to communicate with the Father. We can talk to Him…and He talks to us. One of the great adventures in life is learning to ‘hear’, and to discern, what He’s saying to us. He’s not limited to speaking in an audible way; He has all sorts of ways that He might choose to speak to us. But make no mistake about it, He’s speaking! Fathers always want to speak to their kids!

The Bible talks about a time where there was a famine in the land. Not a famine of food but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. If you read that account it appears that the problem wasn’t that God wasn’t speaking…..the problem was that the people weren’t ‘hearing’! ……..and maybe they weren’t hearing because they weren’t listening!

 I don’t know about you but I’m grateful we’re not living in that time, or that kind, of famine. I’m glad that we can hear what He’s saying to us.

We oughta make it a priority!

Check out the audio version:

Some more about ‘hearing’ the Lord:

An Often Neglected Part of Prayer

What’s the Lord Telling You? Part 1

What’s the Lord Telling You? Part 2

You’re Better at Hearing the Lord Than You Think!

 

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A Heart of Gold

Do you know anyone that you would describe as having a ‘heart of gold’? You know, that person that possesses all the qualities you’d want to embrace yourself. I’d say a person with a heart of gold would be someone with integrity, someone who is always truthful, someone who is dependable, someone who is sincere, someone who cares, someone who has your back, someone who does the right thing, someone who is brave, someone who sees the best in everyone. Well, you could take that list a whole lot further if you wanted to…but you get the point.

I think we’re born with a pure and innocent demeanor but it doesn’t take long for the world and all it throws at us to begin to tarnish those traits. The world is mean, it’s indiscriminate, it does its best to run over us and when it does …..it just doesn’t care. These things take a toll on even the strongest personalities. And, ….they can cause that pure and innocent demeanor, or heart, to be tainted. You know what they say, “The struggle is real!”

But there’s good news; When we’re born again it’s “Job #1” for the Holy Spirit to ‘conform us into the image of Jesus’. Quite a task, if you think about it,…..even for Him. After years of learning to walk with the Lord, I’m more like Him than I was. But, in reality, I’m still a long ways from being just like Him. The Father’s plan to conform us into the image of His Son has nothing whatsoever to do with our appearance as the bible verse might indicate. But it has everything to do with our heart being conformed to be like His!

Neil Young’s song, “Heart of Gold”, encourages the listener to “be a miner for a heart of gold”. That’s exactly what the Lord does when we come into relationship with Him. He ‘mines’ those valuable qualities and traits that lie deep within our soul and brings them to the surface. We are, after all, created in the image of God!

I’m thinkin’ we should do the same thing with the people we’re in relationship with…and the people we encounter. Maybe they’re arrogant, disrespectful and hard to deal with. What you see might not be ‘who’ they really are! Maybe they’re just the result of the meanness of the world. But what if, deep down, everyone out there really does have a heart of gold that just hasn’t yet been ‘mined’? 

Being that kind of miner starts with a determination to bring out the best in others….no matter what it takes.

Let’s you and me take the Father’s example……Let’s be ‘miners for a heart of gold’!!

*Audio Version:

I think you’ll like these, too:

Talk About a ‘Fixer Upper’!

Accepted or Valued? There’s a Vast Difference!

A Long Ways From the Lord

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“You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look, I Guarantee It!”

You’ve heard that slogan before, right? It was the tagline for Men’s Wearhouse and their national ad campaign starting in 1986 and concluding only a few years ago. It was used exclusively by George Zimmer, the founder, and CEO of MW. Interestingly enough, Zimmer was removed as CEO by the Men’s Wearhouse board for undisclosed reasons in 2013. The company made a whopping $2.48 billion in sales that year. Zimmer’s stock holdings tallied up to a nice $67.5 million….so he didn’t do too bad despite losing his position at the helm.

There are millions upon millions of dollars spent on physical appearance these days. It almost seems that Americans, both men, and women, are obsessed with how they look. TV commercials air on literally every single show advertising everything from cosmetics, liposuction, skin and hair products, grooming gadgets to cosmetic surgery. I don’t guess I have a problem with that, within reason anyway. I mean, I want to look good myself. I doubt I’m gonna spend a bunch to change the way I look…..but some people do and that’s their business.

When God made us He made us all unique and beautiful in our own way. I’m sure that when He looks at us, which I expect is often, that He really likes what He sees. We’re all different; we look different, think different, act different and have different personalities. But there’s something extremely profound that happens when we engage in relationship with the Father. Everything changes! We begin to gravitate into our true identity as His own sons and daughters. We cease from our striving and trying to earn His blessings. We begin to be at peace with our own selves, …..we learn to be comfortable in our own skin, as they say.

There’s something amazing that happens to a person’s appearance when we understand we’re ‘good’ with God. Our countenance (our look or appearance) changes in a very positive way. Our eyes, which the Bible calls the ‘window’ to our soul, have a look of peace and contentment. Our physical appearance is transformed when we settle into our God-given identity. And, what’s even more profound is that in our interaction with the Father we can begin to see ourselves like He sees us.

When that starts to happen…………

You’re gonna like the way you look, …..I guarantee it!

 

“Obviously, I’m God’s Favorite!”

God Loves You, And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It!

The Fear of the Lord…..Let’s Get It Right!

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“Are We There Yet?”

If you’re a parent you’ve heard that question more than a few times. In fact it could happen on just about any trip. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short trip or a long one you’re apt to hear it. We had five kids so you can imagine how many times we heard, “Are we there yet?”, in their younger years. Little kids don’t really have much concept of time and distance. If they’re in the car and you drive a few miles they immediately start wondering why we’re not already there.

Our Christian walk of faith is kinda like that too. We go a ways, encounter a mess of trials tribulations, overcome one thing after another, win a few, lose a few, slowly but gradually get better…..and you’d think we oughta be there. Our life is an incredible ‘road trip’ if you can think about it that way. We may not express it to the Lord exactly like our kids do on a trip, but you gotta admit….we’re thinkin’ it! “Are we there yet?” I bet the Lord gets a kick out of our impatience at times. But in the long haul we’re like our kids; as we mature we begin to realize it’s not a quick trip. It takes a while to get ‘there’

Spiritual maturity is not an elusive thing at all. It’s attainable alright,……it just takes awhile. We’re on our way there now. But we might as well just settle in and realize it’s a lifelong endeavor. It takes a long, long time for people like us to get conformed into the image of Jesus. When I look at my own life I can tell I’m more like Him than I was….but in all reality I’ve got a long way to go.

It’s an incredible trip we’re on; not a short one by any means, more like a marathon. and when we wonder, “Are we there yet?”, we might need to remind ourselves; no, we’re not there yet……but we’re closer than we were!

Here’s a few you might like too:

 

Dysfunction Junction

“You Are Here”

Livin’ It Up

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“Can You Hear Me Now?”

You remember the Verizon TV commercial featuring the guy moving from place to place, often in remote, out of the way places, to test the cell phone coverage. It was a great ad campaign that lasted several years proving the excellent coverage that Verizon offered.The campaign was successful in part because, “Can you hear me now?” was a phrase we were already using (and still do!). They picked up on that and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cell phone coverage can be a frustrating thing. Doesn’t really matter whether it’s Sprint, Verizon or AT &T there’s gonna be some dead spots. And when you hit one of those dead spots you’re apt to say it again, “Can you hear me now?” Everyone has had the unpleasant task of moving from one place to another to see if the coverage exists. It’s a wonderful thing when you find that ‘place’!

Hearing the Father about our life and all its details seems to me to be one of the most important things we could possibly consider. A lot of people make hearing the Lord a difficult thing. There are even those out there who think the Lord only actually speaks to those of us in the ministry. Ludicrous really, when you get the right perspective, but they’re out there nonetheless. I’ve learned a thing or two that’ll help anyone who’s interested in getting better at hearing the Lord. 

For starters, you have to try to look at it from the Father’s standpoint. It’s not that hard at all especially if you’re a parent. Parents, the Lord in this instance since HIs deepest desire is to be a Father to you, want to communicate with their children. So, you gotta know that God wants to speak to you. But remember…..He’s not limited to speaking to you in an audible voice. He does that;  I can’t say I’ve heard Him that way but I know plenty of people who’ve told me they have and I have no reason to disbelieve them. The Bible includes lots of other ways He speaks; through people, through dreams and visions, through prophecy, through His Word, through signs and wonders, through our circumstances….and one of my favorites, through His “still, small voice”. He even once spoke through a donkey! That’s encouraging  for a guy like me! lol

If you want to hear the Lord about the details of your life you should probably make it a priority. He has plenty of unique ways of getting your attention but those that hear Him best are those who make the effort. Sometimes it might require you to get in a ‘better’ place away from the distractions and the noisiness of life. He’s speaking….and He wants you to hear Him. Don’t make it hard! It’s not.

Oh, and if you were to say to Him, “Can you hear me now?”…..you can be assured that He always does. 

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

Try these:

Resistance Training

Redirecting!

Virtual Reality

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Lady Gaga, Little Monsters & Jesus!

Lady Gaga’s getting a lot of attention, both good and bad, the last couple of days; This was first published two years ago. I had over 2100 views on this post, the most of any blog I’ve written to date. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you did read it….it’d do to read again. Thanks…..and “Share” it if you like it!

It’s been about three years since Julie and me, Cameron and one of her friends went to a Lady Gaga concert in Oklahoma City. On the way to the Chesapeake Center where the concert was to be held, there were picketers….Christian picketers…..a lot of them, displaying their signs and banners “, “Lady Gaga is the Devil”, “God hates fags”; “You’re going to hell!” …. you know the typical unconditional love stuff that we’re so known for!

An interesting thing that I did not know was that Lady Gaga’s loyal followers are known as “Little Monsters”. They dress up in some of the wildest, most bizarre costumes and get-ups that you could ever imagine. It’s like Halloween on steroids! I’ll have to admit, it was a little out of my comfort zone! But the show was unbelievable; I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lady Gaga, whether you like her or not, is an extremely talented young woman. She can sing, she can dance, she can play the piano. She can do it all!

But there was a point three-quarter of the way into the show that I did NOT see coming! House lights out, she’s in the spotlight lying on the stage. She says, “Jesus, …. up there in heaven, …. all those people outside tell me you don’t love me…..but I know that’s not true! I know you love me, and I know you love all these “Little Monsters”, too!” And the bigger part of 20,000+ young people cheered as loud as they possibly could. I had a big lump in my throat; I could barely hold back my tears. And I wondered if anyone had ever told many of these “Little Monsters” that Jesus really does love them. Oh, I know they’ve been told they’re no good and that God’s mad at them. They’ve been reminded of that over and over again but you could tell that they so wanted her words to be true! And I think, somehow, they believed it.

If the Father can’t depend on the church to tell the ‘good news’, He’ll use Lady Gaga, or anyone else He chooses, to let all us “Little Monsters” know how much we’re really loved!

 

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Don’t Worry…..Be Happy!

You surely remember that little song, don’t you? Bobby McFerrin topped the charts with it back in 1988. An interesting little fact about “Don’t Worry Be Happy”;  it’s the very first acapella song to ever reach #1 status on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s a catchy little tune that’s hard to get out of your head once you hear it. It just kinda puts you in a good mood.

The song has a really positive message to it. It’s just good advice! Jesus addressed the Twelve in a similar way. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”. His words indicate that worry accomplishes absolutely nothing for us in the long haul. Much to the contrary, worry fights directly against our faith….and that’s a pretty serious thing. Worry is a distraction and it steals from the joy that I believe that Lord wants us to enjoy.

One of my great friends, Ken Henry, has an incredible perspective on worry. He says, “There are two kinds of worry. We worry about things that we can’t do anything about…so if we can’t do anything about it…..why worry; ….or we worry about things that we ‘can’ do something about; …..so, if we can do something about it….do it….and quit worrying about it!” Great advice, …..and true! I’m trying to incorporate it in my life!

I really wish I had this one perfected. I don’t. In fact, I’ll often wake up in the middle of the night and try to figure out something to worry about. I’ll usually find something, too….only to wake up in the morning and wonder, “Why in the world I was fretting about that?!!

I’m working on trusting the Father more. When I do that….I worry less. I’m doing my best to take McFerrin’s advice…….”Don’t Worry, Be Happy!”

Check these out:

Perspective; It Makes All the Difference!

Critics……..There’s One On Every Corner

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“I Don’t Like God”

Well, I bet that got your attention right off! Sure makes you wonder what’s coming next, huh?! Well, here it is. That’s a phrase that I hardly ever hear. I have, actually, heard it a time or two and it really opened the door to some very constructive conversation. But the real reason we hardly ever hear that complaint is that most people, no matter what their life experience has been, still have a fairly favorable opinion of God. Most people want to believe that He’s good.

God’s not the problem; not by a long shot. In fact, not only is He not the problem, ….He’s actually the solution! “The solution for what?” you might ask. Well, He’s the solution for every single thing we encounter in the course of our life. I think we can boil it down to this; Most people don’t dislike God….they do, however, have some serious issues with those of us who are trying to represent Him. In fact, the few that I’ve ran into down through the years that admit they really don’t like Him, when questioned, it becomes apparent that their opinion of Him came from someone that represented Him inaccurately. That’s a pretty serious offense if you ask me.

Most people that represent God are doing the best they can. More often than not it’s how they’ve been taught. But the fix for this is simple. If we’re going to be a spokesman for Him it oughta be mandatory that we spend a little time with Him, don’t you think?! It’s when we spend time with Him that we take on His characteristics. It’s when we interact with Him that we learn who He really is. Now, I don’t want to be a hard a$$ about it but if we’re not going to hang out with Him some….we really shouldn’t be representing Him to anybody else. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

He’s often portrayed to be mad, impatient, intolerable….and never fully satisfied with our behavior. I don’t get it! I’ve found Him to be the polar opposite of those! He’s been really good to me even when He hasn’t had a good reason to be. He’s been patient with me when I’m at my worst. And, in the midst of some of the dumbest seasons of my life….I’ve never found Him, even remotely, to not be extremely loving toward me. That’s just ‘Who’ I know….that’s Who He is!

So, if you don’t like God,….or you happen to run into someone who doesn’t, …..stop and think for a minute. The problem might just be that He’s been inaccurately represented!

Check these out:

Mad at God?? ….happens all the time!

If You See God “Wrongly”…….You’ll Never See Yourself “Rightly”!

God Loves You, And There’s Nothing You Can Do About It!

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