Romans 8:35, 37: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Nothing can separate us from God, with one exception: we can. Our little ego has that power and is instrumental to separation from God. We know that nobody is born selfless. We all come with an ego. Our ego is a tricky monster.  Try to negate it, and it rears its ugly head anyway. Try as you may, ego’s always in the way!

If that’s the case, what hope do we have to get connected to God? Never despair my friend! God has means to overcome obstacles even as big as the human ego, extraordinary means! Wouldn’t you think that splitting the Trinity and sending the Son of God to Earth is a very surprising way to save the world? I certainly think so.

The important message that we should internalize is that God is always here, in good times and bad. He is literally everywhere, and He is constantly reaching out. It’s up to us to take His hand.

“Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,
You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way.”                         James Taylor

Posted in Ego

Psalm 97:10: “You who love the Lord, hate evil! He protects the lives of his godly people and rescues them from the power of the wicked.”

Love and hate are the opposite poles on the spectrum of emotions. The equator line of indifference lies smack in the middle and is frowned upon by the Trinity. Jesus calls indifferent people “lukewarm”. He further describes them as delusional, detached from reality. Here are His words (Revelation 3:17):

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

There is no indifference in taking a stand. It takes passion to love, and with the same fierce passion we will hate anything that wants to destroy what we love. Passion in a way offers a shield of protection. Interestingly, the North and the South Pole with its magnetic fields similarly offer a shield of protection against the sun’s powerful radiation. Without the magnetic fields the earth as we know it would cease to exist and our current life forms had no chance of survival.

If we don’t protect our relationships they will disintegrate over time; that’s why all good relationships take a lot of work. We love with passion, and we protect with passion – following the footsteps of God Almighty who loves us passionately and who is our shield, day and night, night and day!

Proverbs 21:21: “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

Looking for love in all the wrong places? If we did, we would not be in pursuit of the unfailing kind of love. True love originates from the Godhead – Three in One. One could say that the Trinity possesses the patent for love.

In our pursuit of love and righteousness we might have run into plenty of counterfeits throughout our lifetime. I can’t think of a greater disappointment than to discover fake love. This deplorable theme has been the subject of many sad love ballads, one of which was penned by American singer-songwriter Randy VanWarmer in his 1979 hit single: “You left me just when I needed you most.” Somebody pretends to be our friend, or worse, the love of our life, and then leaves us standing in the rain. Should we now close down like an oyster and never trust a soul again? Wouldn’t that be like slicing all remaining tires of our car after having a flat tire? (A relative of mine posted this analogy on Social Media today. Pretty funny, isn’t it?)

The point is to stop expecting great results if we are not treasure-hunting for the genuine gem; we should neither settle with second best by trying to live happily ever after with a fake Diamond.

Let me share an open secret: if you have in your mind to check out God, if you are actively seeking Him out, you will be successful in the end, because God loves to be found. While God is not in the habit of playing hide-and-seek with you, there is a major issue at hand that might trip you up in your God-pursuit. It is very human to look for love in all the wrong places. It is also very human to look for God in all the wrong places. Fake gods equal idolatry. Just as fake friends are a sore disappointment, so are fake gods.

God gave us a compass called conscience. We are definitely not left to our own devices in this world. We have a lot of help. Don’t forget: God wants to be found. He’ll put heaven and hell to work to make that happen. Yes – even hell can be helpful at times. People going through unspeakable tragedies may end up saying “I’ve been through hell in a handbag”. Have you ever noticed that light shines ever more brilliant in the dark? Light is more noticeable in shady places. Finding God during life’s darkest hour is not so unusual, after all. Of course that does not mean that God uses pain to manipulate us. It simply means that pain can sharpen our senses and help us distinguish between counterfeit and original. We know when we’ve struck gold. We know when we’ve found unfailing love.

Psalm 33:4-5: “For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does. He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.”

We hold a sponge soaked with water, dripping wet, ready to wipe a window. We could say the sponge is saturated with water. Similarly, Earth is saturated with the love of the Lord.

Planet Earth remains an outspoken testimony of God’s love with its wide variety of wildlife, its astonishing makeup of continents and islands and their different climate zones, sounds, colors and smells. The best thing about His creation: it procreates, because God created living beings. The best thing about creating us: We can be creative too! Human beings are known for coming up with new ideas all the time. That’s how they make contributions to human history.

Despite its many challenges, planet Earth is a wonder to behold.  Any project that is seen through from start to finish has details attached to it. The devil is in the details, isn’t it? Well, think of the myriads of details that hold our whole universe together. Any builders who take pride in their work tend to be attached to their building projects. God is certainly no less attached to His work, which is His creation.

However, His attachment comes with a great price. Imagine something you have invested in, and along comes someone who decides to sabotage all your hard work. How would you feel about that? Well, God’s creation story represents just that: God worked the universe. Once He completed His job, He looked around and was very satisfied with the results. But then the Snake entered the scene – and the rest is history.

God, who controls the mechanics of a whole universe, deliberately stands back and lets us do our own choosing. Freedom of choice was first invented by God. It certainly worked against Him in the Garden of Eden, but then the gift of our love is given freely, and that, my friend, means the world to Him.

God’s way of standing back and letting us chose to reject Him is a Hallmark of His love. His love His generous and freely given, but by no means manipulative. He stands back and lets us do whatever we think we need to do and will not love us any less. Dolly Parton’s song “I will always love you” reflects some of this generous spirit in her lyrics:

“If I should stay
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go but I know
I’ll think of you every step of the way

And I will always love you.”

The unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth; He loves us – and He always will.

Psalm 18:1-2: [For the choir director: A psalm of David, the servant of the Lord. He sang this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul. He sang:] “I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”

King David lived a long life with many ups and downs. He understood the difference between shifting life circumstances and the reliability of the Rock of Ages, the Lord, who never changes. Clinging to that Rock got him out of trouble, saved him from his mortal enemies, carried him through sore disappointments, comforted him in his losses, and humbled him in his victories. Without the Rock we might despair in our valleys or become arrogant on our mountaintops. I don’t believe anyone is immune to arrogance or despair. But even if we won life’s many battles, were successful in all our undertakings, and had wonderful relationships, we would still lose the war if we believed to have no afterlife.

How would you feel if you were evicted from your home with no place to go? Quite a challenging question, isn’t it? Maybe you have never experienced a situation like this, or maybe you feel the person being evicted is somewhat at fault for letting things slide, but the truth of the matter is: we all will be evicted from our bodies at some point in time. No matter how hard we fight sickness and disease, the ultimate sickness, death, will evict us from our bodies, come what may. And then we need to know where to go.

The sobering truth is, whether we’re comfortable or uncomfortable in our bodies – we don’t own them; our bodies are only leased to us, much like a home we rent. Some people take good care of their rental, some are more negligent. In any event, our lease is temporary, and when the lease is up, we move out for good to a place of eternal value.

Walking with the Lord, we’ve already become accustomed to taking leaps of faith. While the exodus from our bodies is a struggle, it only represents yet another leap of faith. If Jesus has left His footprints on our hearts and minds, the prospect of death won’t terrify us. Most of all, in dying we finally get to meet Him in person, the One who had whispered sound advice to us during tough times. We’re familiar with His voice. Now we get to see His face. He’s already our Friend. Now we move into His neighborhood. According to John’s Gospel Jesus once said (John 14:2):

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”

Psalm 86:5: “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”

Life can sometimes be like an obstacle course,  however, not so with the Lord!  We don’t need to jump through the hoops to please Him. We don’t have to bend over backwards to get into His graces. The Lord is good, and it’s His desire to be good to us. Asking for His help is all we need to do. As a matter of fact, asking Him triggers a boatload of blessings:

  • God is ready to forgive and forget. Often a major hurdle for us is to forgive ourselves, God help us! The blessing of getting unstuck, the blessing of moving on, the blessing of experiencing God’s tender mercies are a huge milestone in many people’s lives.
  • Unloading burdens not meant for our shoulders is another huge blessing. I for one have a tendency to obsess over things I have no control over.
  • God is good. His goodness is a great blessing. What a relief to know He’s on our side, He’s our advocate, He has our best interest at heart!
  • God is love. Goodness and loving kindness will follow us for the rest of our lives. Think about that for a minute. His love never goes away!

The beauty lies in the simplicity: we unlock His blessings by asking. Just ask Him, and see what happens to you and the world around you.

“Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is coming down
I feel I’m knocking on heaven’s door”
         Bob Dylan

Posted in Ask

Ephesians 6:12-13: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

God made us human. Humans live their lives on Earth in a body. As we were conceived we moved into our bodies; ever since it has become our home for as long as we walk this planet, and it’s the same place where God’s Spirit dwells – if we invite Him in. That’s why in another letter Paul compared our bodies to a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20):

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

If we don’t welcome the Spirit of God, then flesh and blood is like an accident waiting to happen, for various reasons:

  • The Holy Spirit is our telephone connection to Heaven. We won’t hear from God unless we let His Spirit speak to our hearts.
  • Only the Spirit of God is equipped to deal with the unseen world. As flesh and blood naturally deals with flesh and blood, so God’s Spirit naturally deals with the spiritual world.
  • Perhaps we know how to wage war against our human enemies; however flesh and blood does not know how to fight a spiritual battle.

Even if we don’t know of any human enemies, we all have a spiritual enemy who passionately hates us, and he does not go away by simply being ignored. Paul calls the enemy force the “mighty powers in this dark world, and evil spirits in the heavenly places”. This enemy force wants to destroy us and is the deeper reason why life is such a battle.

We desperately need God’s Spirit – we’re lost without Him, but we also need other human beings; let’s face it: we don’t function very well on our own. Personally, I don’t like to over-spiritualize things. That’s why I like to close today’s Thought of the Day with a Johnny Cash tune incidentally called “Flesh & Blood”:

“I leaned against a bark of birch
And I breathed the honey dew
I saw a North-bound flock of geese
Against a sky of baby blue
Beside the lily pads
I carved a whistle from a reed
Mother Nature’s quite a lady
But you’re the one I need
Flesh and blood needs flesh and blood
And you’re the one I need.”                           
Johnny Cash