God knows how to give. Here is one of His finest gifts: His Spirit.
The Holy Spirit was given to the world so that every person on this
planet could get connected to God. In a worldwide movement, the Spirit of God was
poured out everywhere to introduce God to people estranged from Heaven. It’s
the most far reaching and long lasting ad campaign in the history of humankind.
Our hearts have inbuilt sensors to notice God, albeit in bad need of repair. The human condition is such that we commonly won’t recognize God’s voice. This is where the Holy Spirit steps in – so that we can tune into God’s wavelength and receive what He is saying. He is an ear- and eye–opener, healer of broken hearts, and stimulator of the human spirit.
God is extremely familiar with the multi-layered, complex human heart. He patiently waits for the slightest signal, a green light, a “go ahead” from you and me. He won’t break into the door to our heart. Instead, He knocks. He waits. And if we open the door His Spirit enters in.
God is Trinity, which remains a mystery. The Holy Spirit is a distinct eternal
being and Creator just as the Father and the Son. We can offend the Holy
Spirit. He will withdraw if we so insist. Nevertheless, if we welcome Him, He
will keep the communication lines open between us and God. The Holy Spirit is
like the Rainbow in the clouds connecting Heaven and Earth. Thanks to His work,
God’s kingdom has already arrived.
God is with us in our day-to-day affairs. If you believe that, then the
Holy Spirit has opened the eyes of your heart.
Sacrificial love meets supportive love – the husband and wife team in a nutshell! Successful marriages are built that way. It’s interesting how the same words read by different people can evoke different interpretations where sacrificial love goes out the window and makes way for conditional love: “I only love you if you do what I say” and then on the other side of the spectrum comes the enabler saying: “Whatever you’re doing, whichever way you’re going, I’m going to support you.” That marriage would be a toxic cocktail and couldn’t be further from the intentions of the author of this letter to the Ephesians.
Relationships are challenged where self-interest gets in the way. A marriage partnership is unequally yoked if one partner keeps on giving and the other partner keeps on receiving, a classic example of marital dysfunction.
I believe there’s no better training ground teaching us how to love well than that of a marriage relationship. I got married late in life, so I missed out on the fun for the better part of my life. I learned more about love in 13 years of marriage than in the preceding single years of my adult life. Of course this is not to underestimate the effects of friendships or partnerships, however, according to my experience there is only so much commitment we have in friendships. At the end of the day I go home and do what I please. Not so in marriage relationships. When I come home from work and close the door my spouse is still there, which means marriage forces us to work things out. If we can’t work things out, we stop being married. That’s why marriage is a force to be reckoned with. If marriage works it rocks. If it doesn’t work it sucks.
When we learn the ABCs of sacrificing and supporting on a team we can bring that experience into our marriage, and the success rate of this marriage will go up. Bottom line is: we need to learn how to sacrifice ourselves and how to support one another since this goes against the grain of human nature. As with many other things in life, the lifestyle of love boils down to learning by doing. In Christ we see a Teacher who does what He says. We can learn from Him. Awareness is our first step. Our second step: do it – learn the lifestyle of love!
God invented fatherhood. He is the Father of fathers.
In my soul-searching teenage years He introduced Himself to me. Because of the absence of a father during my own upbringing I struggled with fatherhood in general. I had not the slightest idea what role a father would play in a family. So, what does it mean to have a Father in Heaven?
Getting to know God, I have been on a road to discovery. He taught me that wounds will heal, they only needed my attention. I used to be the kind of person that liked to ignore pain thinking: “If I ignore it long enough it will go away.” Well, that ain’t the case! A little scratch can develop into a sore. A festering wound ends up poisoning our life. One thing leading to another, we can get so caught up in our own hurt that we are unable to pay attention to anybody else but ourselves. It’s a chain reaction leading up to complete isolation. The way out of this mess is honesty. Say it as it is, don’t sweep issues under the carpet, and don’t act like nothing happened. God taught me to be honest to myself and to others.
To me, God is a relationship giant. He knows people. He knows me. Over
the years we’ve developed a special father/daughter bond that makes me happy to
think about. As I’m writing about it I become more and more aware what an
excellent Father God is.
Every relationship starts somewhere. Mine started with God when I
accepted His help. I let Him into my life, and the rest is history. I can
highly recommend to any person on this planet to give God a shot. He has His
way with people. He will have a way with you.
During Israel’s formation as a nation, the people gathered at Mount Sinai to
receive the Law of Moses, which included instructions how to set up their first
tabernacle. Craftsmen were working on beautiful garments of blue, purple, and
scarlet cloth, interwoven with gold; these garments meant for the priesthood
were touching on the entire color spectrum visible to the human eye: from
purple (violet), blue, gold, all the way to red. Apparently, priesthood wore a
coat of many colors!
We associate the color “red” most often with love; and red has the farthest
reaching wavelength still visible to the human eye, about 650 nm. Incidentally,
love always reaches out, so the color “red” suits the love-theme very well.
Radio waves are about 100 meters in length, extremely long, and completely
invisible to the human eye; radio waves are able to reach around the world and
far into space. So is God’s love – invisible but far-reaching. His innate being
reaches out, day and night. His love is an ongoing flow overcoming short and
long distances. God will always find a way to reach out to His creation. That’s
just who He is.
Blue has the shortest wavelength visible to the human eye: The visible blue
light has a wavelength of about 475 nm. Because the blue wavelengths are
shorter in the visible spectrum, they are scattered more efficiently by the
molecules in the atmosphere. This causes the sky to appear blue during the main
part of the day, no matter which direction we look. Similarly, God is both near
and everywhere; He is scattered throughout the entire universe – so much so
that we have the opportunity to meet Him anywhere we go.
We have a God of many colors! God’s spectrum of His being is wide, from red, to blue, to invisible. He is able to tune into any wavelength and get in touch with all of His creation. That is why He understands our hearts so well. Even when we feel a million miles away from Heaven, God is still near. We might not feel Him, but He is closer to us than our best friend.
Freedom doesn’t fall in our laps. Unfortunately, freedom is a
precarious gift. It can be taken from us if we’re not careful.
Here is my
We were a family of five with no Dad around. Every child reacts differently to an absentee father. For some reason it tricked me into thinking that I was inconsequential. Well, to make matters worse I faced sexual abuse in my teenage years, unbeknownst to my mother. I became more and more withdrawn.
When God emerged on the horizon of my awareness, I felt this was my ticket away from a life that seemed mostly scary. I was the perfect candidate for a cult. Barely 20 years old, I joined the community who lived in an old castle in Rheinbreitbach, Germany. I stayed there until I was in my thirties.
The cult was
toxic to say the least. Used as a rule book, the Bible was abused to infringe
on every aspect of freedom, especially freedom of thought. Our brains were
washed. I honestly believed I would go to hell if I ever thought of breaking up
with them. However, after twelve years of being at a place I secretly hated,
the stress began to wear on me. I got sick, lost weight and sunk into a deep
My reaction was that of escape – into the world of music. Thanks to music I held on to this community as long as I did. Composing felt like a window in a cage. A melody emerges out of nowhere and evolves and you just roll with it. Music became my little freedom corner. However, a melody is wordless, and I had yet to learn to put my pain into words, rise out of the ashes and move on.
That day arrived
when my brother came to see me. I had little to no contact to my family, so he
had to jump through hoops to get through to me. I asked him one question: Would
my mother be able to forgive my crudeness for pushing her away all this time
I’ve been in the cult? The answer was yes. So I jumped ship. I broke away from
a community that claimed to be my true family but had hurt me badly. It was
ironic because I tried to escape hurt and pain and by doing so I got more hurt
I was set free from false religion, but to maintain my freedom I had to learn to find my voice. I had to start believing in me. Believing in God is a two-way street. If we believe in Him we need to start believing in us also, because God believes in us. And who are we to question Him on His beliefs?
Our identity is tied with Him. Essentially, we will begin to appreciate who we are as we walk with Him through highs and lows, day after day. We don’t go into hiding. We don’t try to escape. We learn how to live fully. God frees us for good, and He knows what He is doing!
While blogging might be a way to spread the word about God, I see in Psalm 19 another way of doing that, albeit without the use of words! This goes to show that communication is not always based on language, and that there are more languages to the universe than the language that comes out of our mouth. Nonverbal language can be just as articulate as verbal language.
Great examples of silent but powerful witnesses are the skies. The craftsmanship of the skies as seen with the naked eye or by telescope is a huge billboard advertising God’s glory. Looking into space, the first thing that comes to mind is “limitless”. We know that phrase: “The sky’s the limit”, which means that there is practically no limit. Neither does God’s power know any boundaries or limitations.
More silent witnesses are majestic mountain ranges. They are solid as rocks can be, yet God formed them, and if He wanted to, He could move them because nothing is impossible to Him.
The vegetation on this planet is yet another silent witness advocating God’s glory. Whispering trees, home for countless birds, and fragrance emitting flowers and herbs – they all wordlessly praise its Creator.
A not so silent witness is the animal world. Elephants trumpet, birds twitter, wolves howl – they all spread the word without using words.
God’s thumbprints are all over creation, and creation proclaims that God is great day and night, night and day. God’s praise literally never shuts up; actually, it gains momentum with each person realizing what is going on. Human beings can be a bit slow sometimes. When it comes to recognizing God I actually think that the rest of creation is ahead of us. Nevertheless, all of God’s creatures have a place in the choir – and believe it or not: you too belong!
“All of God’s creatures got a place in the choir Some sing low and some sing higher Some sing out loud on the telephone wire Some just clap their hands or paws or anything they got” (Bill Staines)
Around 600 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Daniel received a terrifying vision. It had to do with brutal bloodshed and what he called “a great war.” Overwhelming as it was, he began to fast and pray. In response to his prayers, God decided to show something very special to him. For a brief moment He lifted the curtain revealing that everywhere on this planet there are angels around us.
Daniel eventually wrote a book about this experience. The “man” Daniel refers to in his writings represents a certain angel who had a message for him. He said (Daniel 10:12-13):
“Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray
for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been
heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days
the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of
the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of
the kingdom of Persia.”
Peeking behind that curtain, we become acutely aware of what it means when we say that God is for us and not against us. Indeed, we have armies of angels fighting on our behalf. Just try to internalize this little tidbit of information to see how angels make a profound difference in our lives, often without us even noticing.
hardship, I believe it’s important to detach our eyes from a conflict and take
a moment to look up. There is a particular movie scene in “The Fisher King”
that comes to mind. Jeff Bridges plays a former radio DJ who is severely
depressed because of a terrible mistake he made. While swinging on a rope to
break into one of the biggest mansions in New York City he says:
“Thank God nobody looks up in this town!”
a human tendency to not look up, but to focus on the things at hand. In fact,
we can get so absorbed that we end up seeing nothing else but the one thing
that is bothering us. However, as we do look up we have a chance to notice
things we haven’t noticed before. Our horizons expand. Looking up, we get to be
encouraged because God wants to lift our spirit. So – let’s look up more often,
I came across
an interesting statement by Morgan Freeman today:
“Toxic mothers are just as bad as
absent fathers, but ya’ll not ready for that discussion yet.”
One of the prime reasons of toxic personalities is unresolved issues
germinating below the surface – and lack of forgiveness is one of them.
What happens when we forgive a person? Here is what happens: we address an
offense (one at a time) and then we are able to move on. Granted – addressing
the offense is hard work and can be very painful. Depending on the gravity of
the offense, it may feel very much like reopening an old war wound, which means
we’re bleeding all over again. We want to get to the person(s) involved, we
want justice. Understandably so! Well, sometimes those people that have
offended us can’t be reached. They might be dead or unavailable. Forgiving a
person does not depend on the person who offended us. The work of forgiveness
is entirely our business. We have to get through this. We have to sort through
our feelings. We have to do the house cleaning.
Who wants to live in a dirty house for decades? Nobody! “Well”, you might say, “What about the person responsible for all the mess in the house? That person left me and didn’t come back to pick up the pieces.” As awful as it is to be left behind with a messy situation, here is what I think: Yes, this person violated you and had no right to do so, but after all, this is your realm, your house. You pick up the pieces or pretty soon other offenses will happen to you, and you’ll find yourself in a situation similar to hoarders who can’t enter certain rooms in their house anymore because it’s full of clutter.
It’s not easy to pick up the pieces and let go. However, it’s much more
difficult to live in clutter! We may need a third party to go through this
situation with us. It’s important to acknowledge that we need help.
God recommends forgiveness because it’s a healthy lifestyle. God wants us
to have an uncluttered mind and a heart that remains soft and generous versus
hardened and unrelenting. The effects of forgiving a person and the ability to
leave things behind is both freeing and healing. And let’s not forget that
nobody is perfect. As much as we need to forgive others, others may need to
forgive us too.
If the gate to God’s kingdom is narrow, does this
mean that God is narrow-minded? If the highway to hell is broad, does this mean
that its inhabitants are broadminded? Is Lucifer tolerant and accepting of you
and me because he lets us travel down a six-lane freeway uninhibited, while God
seemingly hasn’t upgraded Heaven’s accessibility by holding on to an antiquated
narrow little gate that people have to pass through? Not only do we have to
deal with a narrow gate but also with a difficult road leading up to it … does
this mean that God doesn’t want us in Heaven in the first place?
If something in the Bible rubs me the wrong way
this usually piques my interest. It makes me curious, and I want to dig deeper.
Nothing is what it seems – especially when it comes to God – and knowing that
God has the biggest heart and the sharpest mind, there’s no way that He could
be narrow-minded. So, what is up with this narrow gate and the bumpy road
leading up to it? Does God just have a weird sense of humor? And is Lucifer
being hospitable having a broad freeway leading to his hellish home? I believe
we get the point when we not only look at the road but also consider its
The comparison between the two roads is a
comparison of lifestyles Jesus is pointing out in His Sermon on the
Mount. One of the eyewitnesses of the day when Jesus delivered this
famous sermon is Matthew. Matthew and all the other disciples of Jesus sat down
on a mountainside in Israel as an enormous crowd was gathering. According to
Matthew’s eyewitness account Jesus opens up His sermon with The Beatitudes
“God blesses those who are poor and realize
their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
I believe this verse is the key to understanding
the two roads. Knowing that we need God gives us an idea where to go. Not
knowing that we need God makes us drifters because it doesn’t really matter
where we go – and we may drift into all kinds of different directions – if
we’re moving away from God, we’re on that broad highway. And I’m not saying
that highway equals easy ride. It may very well be that we get stuck in
traffic. We may bump into each other causing accidents. There’s road rage. It
may not be such a pleasant road trip on highway to hell after all, to a point
that some may eventually second-guess their initial decision, abandon their car
wreck and look for that unassuming bumpy road leading to an unassuming little
gate where we will receive a hearty welcome.
Being on this bumpy road for a number of years I can testify to the fact that God has never let me down. Here is an open secret I would like to share: walking with God is the most rewarding experience one can imagine. Forget about road conditions! God with us, Immanuel, makes everything worthwhile. And who knows – to let believers in, one person at a time, the narrow gate may accommodate for a personal welcome. Embraced by the Savior of the whole world and affectionately held in His embrace, we peek over His shoulder and see a huge crowd who preceded our homecoming, the crowd who also – one by one – proceeded to pass through that narrow gate right into the arms of Jesus. What a day that will be! Can you imagine?
A number of hopping, moving specks on a brick wall is all you can see from afar: Alpine ibexes have taken to scaling the nearly vertical Cingino Dam in Italy. Ibex are very nimble. They can jump more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) straight up without a running start. This helps them roam mountainous terrains with ease. Goats have been using their God-given dexterity to climb high and out of reach for predators; humans have been using their God-given brain to develop strategies to survive in the wild.
The human brain has the same basic structure as other mammal brains but is
larger in relation to body size than any other brains. God gave us a large
brain so we can think. Our thought processes are intricate. Brilliant minds
form think tanks. We think up building structures, complicated machinery, and
fast processing computers. We develop technology to negotiate space, we
entertain, we cook gourmet food, we create music, we believe in beauty and
aesthetics, we create artwork, we can tell a tale, and make stunning
discoveries in the micro- and macro cosmos around us.
Unfortunately, our human progress has also progressively affected Earth’s
biosphere. A latest study has discovered that humans make up 0.01 percent of life
on Earth, but they have caused the loss of 83 percent of wild animals.
Well, this big brain of ours seems to be a blessing and a curse. Or maybe
it isn’t. Maybe our brains are a blessing but they turn into a curse when we
forget who gave us this brain. Animals may outsmart us in that department.
Prophet Jeremiah remarked (Jeremiah 8:7):
“Even storks know when it’s time to
return. Mourning doves, swallows, and cranes know when it’s time to migrate.
But my people don’t know that I ,the Lord, am urging them to return.
Way up there on the mountain heights of human civilization we need to
apply our achievements wisely. God knows mountain heights can be tricky!
Surefooted goats rely on their Maker as they negotiate the cliffs. We can learn
from the mountain goats. Let’s not forget where we are from!
loom. They can get to us. Some go out of their way to conquer them – the rising
death toll of people trying to conquer Mount Everest speaks for itself.
Mountains seem to have been around forever. However, that’s actually not the
case. Mountains do have an issue date. They were formed, and that takes time.
There are three different methods when it comes to mountain forming, and all of
these methods take millions of years:
Mountains grow under
pressure as a result of Earth’s tectonic plates smashing together;
Or they emerge based
on volcanic activity;
Or they are carved
through erosion; Case in point: The Grand Canyon.
story of the Grand Canyon is pretty fascinating. The hot debate over the age of
the Grand Canyon has raged for over 140 years. The most recent findings support
the following theory: while the Colorado River has been carving the Grand
Canyon for only 6 million years it is flowing through canyons that date back
about 70 million years.
about old mountains here: The Himalayas are generally thought to have arisen
from the collision of India and Asia 55 million years ago – although experts
are split over the age here as well! Some go as far as 450 million years. Well,
whatever the issue dates, the age span of mountains puts our own issue date
into perspective. Mankind has not been around long enough to watch and record
the forming of the mountains. There are many things that have preceded us. Our
own time table shrinks in comparison to the time table God operates with. God
certainly took His sweet time to form mountains. And logically, He was there
before the mountains were born.
it comes to relying on the Rock of Ages we’re in good company. All of creation
does! Mountains do. They were millions of years in the making. Maybe that helps
us realize that some things may not materialize in our life time and be OK with
it. Microwaved solutions smell of impatience, and impatience accomplishes
leaves destruction in its wake while patience builds mountains over millions of
years. “Well” – you might say – “I don’t have a million years!” Personally, I
think if we thought beyond our own generation, if we thought of generations to
come, then we would go about our business in a slightly different fashion. It
starts with preserving this planet for our grandchildren and great grandchildren
and their great grandchildren.
earliest fossils of anatomically modern humans are from the Middle Paleolithic,
about 200,000 years ago. How long it takes our species to destroy a planet
which took billions of years to evolve is yet to be seen. We certainly have
built enough weaponry to blow up our planet many times over.
much smaller scale, let’s fill up our patience meter and be a peacemaker today.
I believe that every small effort we make in this department forms a mountain
in its own right: a mountain of peace, a monument of God’s love. Your lifetime
maybe short compared to real mountains, but your impact will go way beyond your
Higher than our highest
expectations, before the conception of the space time continuum, deeper than
the deepest mystery, wider than this universe, that’s the measurement we apply
to God’s love. In other words: it can’t be measured; and if God’s love cannot
be measured, nothing can contain His love.
God gave Moses permission to gaze upon His
beauty, albeit only from behind and without giving him even the smallest
glimpse of His facial features; in the book of Exodus we read this compelling
encounter between Moses and the Almighty (Exodus 33:18-23):
responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”
The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness
pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will
show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.But you may not
look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As
my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and
cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and
let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”
God’s immeasurable love, condensed in the
expression of His glorious face, is forever exuding from Him, permeating the
This is why we encounter bits and pieces of
God’s love everywhere we go. It is easy to see how God lavishes His love
generously and passionately on His creation. A trip into the outdoors with the
astounding variety of animal and plant life paints the picture. It’s similar to
visiting a place with thoughtful design, tasteful decorations and brilliant
architecture. Planet Earth is one astounding monument of God’s creative
energies and love.
Ever looked into the eyes of a dog adoring the
ground you walk on – or into the eyes of a person falling in love with you – or
into the eyes of your sons and daughters as they touch your nose and smile that
toothless smile when they are still very small? That’s God’s love in small
dosage. That’s the stuff we’re made of because we were created out of love. I
am writing this with caution, aware of how tainted love can be and how it has
become almost unrecognizable in the dark corners of this world. While the
darkness is devastating, it’s simply robbing us from the truth. The reason why
we’re here is not an accident. We’re here because of love and we will always be
attracted to love because that’s where we are from, that’s where we belong and
that’s where we are meant to return – you guessed it: we are meant to return to
God, Who Is Love.
Meanwhile we can witness how God’s love
spreads like wildfire. His love creates and endorses life to the point that it
conquers the destructive forces of death. That’s the potent power of God’s
love! And while we may enjoy the measured love-approach here on Earth, my hope
is that once we are immersed into Heaven’s surroundings we will not only see
God’s frame and notice His footprints but we will also have the privilege of
directly smiling at Him. We are promised a new heart, hopefully a more
suitable container of His love.
This is my hope: that you and I get to see
God’s glorious face and that we are able to mirror His love into the world,
endlessly into space, and ultimately back to God.
“Right back at ya, God!”
I say that, of course, with a twinkle in my
eye. No disrespect intended!
”I love you, Lord And I lift my voice To worship You Oh, my soul rejoice! Take joy my King In what You hear Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear” (Laurie Klein)
I used to be one of those people who tried very hard to blend in. Not a lot of confidence and no desire to be in the spotlight whatsoever! At school I kept to myself, stayed away from cliques and when the time came to choose my profession I was mortified to just imagine myself teaching in front of a classroom full of students. My Art Teacher believed I was exceptionally talented. “I’m not going to be a starving artist” is all I said. “And teaching? No way am I going to teach!” We can be blinded by fear. I didn’t choose my profession based on my passion. I chose my profession based on fear.
We can also be blinded by pride. When I think about the times when I thought I knew something and didn’t pay attention to anybody else’s input, I wince today because it never bode well for me. When I’m convinced that I am right (and everybody else is wrong) then my ears are shut and I have a hard time taking in what others have to say. That’s how pride operates. Pride is exclusive, not inclusive. There is much to be said about seeking a second opinion. We always need to be curious enough to listen to both sides of a story.
With an open mind comes humility,
and with humility comes wisdom.
Humans can produce false humility, even though humility can’t be faked. It is not humble to say: “Oh I’m no good!” False humility is supposed to make us look humble by exaggerating how bad we are. Let’s not forget that God created us – don’t you think He did an amazing job? God created us to be His children and to walk in power, love and self-discipline. This certainly does not resemble the little-worm-mentality suggested by fake humility.
There is no shortcut to genuine humility. It develops while walking with God. He is using our life experiences to humble us. And it takes time – a reason why the less experienced among us may have trouble relating to humility. However, the good news is, regardless who we are, where we are from, which culture we grow up in, walking with the Lord will gradually change us over time.
Like a landscape artist, God fertilizes
and prunes us to the point that we are sprouting, branching out, and bearing
fruit. When God looks at us, He sees potential. He gives each of us something
special to do. We are meant to be a blessing.
Thanks to God we get to know who we really are. That’s so exciting! He also keeps us levelheaded as He helps us through the tougher times. He frees us to be humble, and humility is the best! Nothing is impossible to a humble person walking with God Almighty.
The love of God is generous in
nature. I’m sure the word “stingy” is not even included in Heaven’s vocabulary.
Depicted in the first book of Chronicles, King David had inspired his people as he went ahead and donated all his resources, even dedicating his personal treasures to the building of the temple. This was a happy day for King David. An outpouring of generosity marked this very special occasion. Everybody chipped in with gifts.
Common pitfall for humans is to
hold back. I guess, we’re rather safe than sorry. There is such a thing as
generosity abuse, but it only happens when the love circle is broken.
Circle of love, here it is: God
loves us generously, and we love God generously. It would disturb the love
circle if we loved any less. The love circle breaks as soon as one recipient of
love holds back. When one party only gives and the other party only takes, the
reciprocity of love is undermined, and that sucks the life out of any love
It’s like magic: the more we love, the more love we have to give. God knows this secret. He has lavished His love upon His creation since the beginning of time, and He is famous for His unfailing love. God’s love bucket is always full to overflowing, and He does not hold back. Under His wings life flourishes.
Generosity stirs up more
generosity. This is what happened on King David’s happy day. He generously
devoted all he had to the One he loved with all of his heart – and the crowd
followed in his footsteps.
May the Lord of Life and Love stir
you up and move you to respond with the love language you’ve got. Love
translates into many diverse transactions – whether it’s giving of your time, your
expertise, your talent – each giving experience is unique and special but has
this one thing in common: all love transactions are coming straight from the
Heart to heart – that’s how we are
connected to the Lord Almighty, and that’s how we are all interconnected. The blood
flow of interconnection is generosity.
To put us at ease, Jesus says of
Himself that He is gentle (Matthew 11:28):
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Prophet Isaiah wrote about Him
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not
snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
Gentleness is paramount in dealing
with the bruised, the broken, young and tender. Rudeness is able to kill those
who are in this precarious position. However, we all could use a little
gentleness. A kind word goes a long way!
After moving into our house, my husband Bill built a nice little home studio. We’ve started recording at the beginning of the year with the purpose to finish our Christmas album by October. The recording process can be arduous. Technology can be bitchy. Vocal cords don’t respond the same way on any given day. There are hang ups. There are road blocks. Working on this project together as a husband and wife team, it is important to be gentle. Yesterday, due to an oversight, previously recorded tracks disappeared and we had to rerecord. Bummer! It would have been impossible to do without patience. I guess patience and gentleness go hand in hand.
Speaking of gentleness in relationships – I don’t think it’s possible to be gentle with pent-up anger inside. Anger is usually a symptom that something is wrong. If the wrong of a situation remains the unaddressed elephant in the room it soon grows to be a monster. Like it or not, there is no true harmony without voicing our concerns. There is no true intimacy without addressing offense. We don’t need to bury simmering anger for long to see it reaching boiling temperatures. We know how misdirected anger blows up in our face with lots of collateral damage.
Thankfully, there’s constructive anger. When we see dog poop on the floor, we better eliminate it, or it will be carried all throughout the house and cause a lot of stink. I guess we all know what that means. Constructive anger does the house cleaning. We address the wrong and eliminate those emotional triggers that make it unsafe to be around. And removing those triggers ultimately paves the way to gentleness.
Sin is a peculiar word; it carries the sting of judgement. I
don’t know of anybody who likes to feel this sting – nobody likes to be judged.
Nevertheless, we all like to be understood.
When we sit down
in a movie theater and watch a documentary about somebody’s life, then we walk
out of the movie theater feeling more connected to the person portrayed in that
movie. More than just passively watching our lives unfold on Earth, God has always
been deeply involved in our lives. However, it’s still quite another matter
when He took on flesh and blood and sat with us through scorching heat and
drizzling rain. That would be like us getting up from our seats in the movie
theater and all of a sudden become an integral part of the action in the movie.
Well, actually, in a manner of speaking, that’s exactly what happened 2000
years ago when the Son of God entered the scene. He partook in the human
experience by becoming human.
Jesus appeared –
not just out of thin air; He was assembled in a mother’s womb, born to his
doting parents Joseph and Mary, grew up transitioning from boyhood to
adulthood, ran a business and for the later part of His life ran a ministry.
All that to come alongside the human race and deal with our predicament called
“sin”. Jesus dealt with sin like a champion by taking the bull by its horns. An
innocent man, He eradicated sin by taking all the blame and shame. He had
himself judged and executed.
So, thanks to Jesus sin has been dealt with, once and for all. On to the new chapter of salvation! Jesus can definitely free us to live the quality life we were created for. To reap such benefits we need to believe. Faith in Him is key.
Life on earth
can be very distracting, to say the least. It’s important to keep in mind the
good future God has in store for us. Stop what you are doing from time to time.
Take breaks and remember. This will help us deal with life’s inevitable
curve-balls. Let’s not forget that God comes through for us every single time!
He guides us through steep canyons and valleys, and all through our challenges
we learn how to love. Love is a lifelong project. If we stop loving we die
spiritually and physically.
We can’t take anything with us when we die, but love carries over to the next life. It’s also the only thing of value we leave behind: love always leaves a legacy.
towards the end of his book of Revelation is famous and source of comfort for
the tormented. Heaven is a good place. Heavenly features to look forward to are
God’s loving presence, His overwhelming joy and peace and the absence of human
sorrow and pain.
However, does this mean that there is no pain in heaven? What about God’s
pain of losing His creatures due to their free will? Since we don’t have to
choose Him (God being no dictator) pain is inevitable, because apparently there
will always be creatures opposing the Eternal One. They will be harvesting
ongoing pain, and consequently, God will go through the parental pain of not
being able to help them. If God is in pain, how can we be oblivious to that
when we’re right there, in heaven, the place God calls His home? Don’t we share
both His joy and pain, especially as we get closer to Him?
Personally, I think Heaven would be one-dimensional if we had it any other
way. Joy has more depth to it if we are unafraid of pain and embrace the
undesirable feeling of sadness.
My husband Bill and I cried more than one tear when we lost our cat Misty. We had her going on 15 years. She came to us when she was a kitten and left her paw prints permanently in our hearts. I remember the puzzled look on the face of some people when I came grief-stricken to a meeting, and assuming I lost a dear friend or relative of ours came to find out we had lost a pet. Obviously, not everybody will be able to relate, but trust me: somebody will!
The worst part of being in pain is thinking we are alone in this. That, quite frankly, is a lie. Even if (hypothetically speaking) nobody should be able to empathize with what you are going through, God certainly can. However, the reality is: people can usually relate. We don’t have to go very far to find out that another person has been dealing with some kind of grief. When pain bears the fruit of empathy it will create community. If nothing makes sense in pain, this always will: Your pain will equip you to be the best friend you can be to the person next to you who is facing some major challenges.
We are made for one another. God has created us not only to beat
loneliness but to make life a whole lot richer.
Here it is, plain and simple written in the skies: Money does not make us
rich. Relationships do!
The end of earth time as we know it is described by Paul in his
letter to the Greek city dwellers of Thessalonica. Thessaloniki, also known
as Thessalonica, Saloniki or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece,
with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. Paul described to his
Greek friends how the dead will rise first to meet the Lord before the living generation
is caught up in the clouds to join the party.
notice that the ones who have gone before us get to lead the way, which is a
great way of honoring the older generations. I love that about God – little
details like that. But then also the consoling thought that our bereavement is
only temporary! After our passing there is still a lot of life ahead of us – Eternal
Life that is – Life in its fullness; Life in a kingdom where God is King.
The dead will rise to a new chapter in the history of mankind, actually, a new chapter in the history of the universe because the old order has passed making way for the new order of the world. What that means exactly, I don’t know. I’m assuming the stars and planets are still running their orbits. But one thing is for sure: The King of kings will be the leader of the universe, a King unlike any world leader that we know. As the Prince of Peace there won’t be war and violence. Jesus does not rule with an iron fist. He is not the King of bloodshed. If anything, He shed His lifeblood for peace to stop violence for good. The Lord knew that violence begets violence. This is what Jesus said as solders attacked Him in the Garden of Olives and Peter tried to help Him by drawing his sword (Matthew 26:52):
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him,
“for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
Even with the best of intentions, war does not bring everlasting peace – but Jesus does. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace.
Right now this
piece of information feels a bit like utopia. For this reason it’s good to be
reminded that this “utopia” will come true one day. The here and now is
temporary. The future established by God is forever, and forever is a long
question: “who can be saved” was answered with great confidence. Jesus made a
statement to His followers that with God everything
is possible. On the other hand, an anonymous writer of a letter addressed
to the Hebrews uses quite the opposite language (Hebrew 6:4+6):
“For it is impossible to bring back to
repentance those who were once enlightened – those who have experienced the
good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit (…) and who then turn away
from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance;”
How is convicting a person to turn around impossible to God? It must be
impossible because God has decided a long time ago to refrain from interfering
with human decision making. I believe God definitely has the power to coerce His
creatures into submission, but it’s His ethical choice not to use manipulation;
instead God humbly accepts whichever rejection comes His way, and He lets go of
everyone insisting on having his or her own way.
If you are a parent dealing with a
son or daughter going down the slippery road of self-destruction, then you know
to an extent how God feels. He is the parent of creation. He feels very strongly
about us. And yet He respects our decision and lets us be if we so insist, even
if it destroys us. This is who God is.
In the end, all our wrong has been made right. It’s hard to take in this
astonishing truth that has been preached about for centuries. Most of the time
people tend to either beat themselves up over their failures or defiantly dig
in their heels. Prophet Isaiah proclaims in the 44th chapter
of his book (Isaiah 44:22):
“I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I
have paid the price to set you free.”
God has done all His legwork. He has swept away our failures so we can start over with a clean slate. This actually puts the ball into our court. From God’s point of view we’re worth every penny He paid when He sacrificed His Son on Mount Calvary. The question, however, remains: Is God worth everything we’ve got? That’s for us to decide. And whenever we go for it, accept His gift and return to Him, nothing, absolutely nothing will be impossible to God. No despair will be too deep, no fall too steep, and no storm waves too high that He can’t rescue us. Generations have come and gone, and this still holds true: our God is faithful. Our God saves – if we let Him.
Isn’t it great to receive a raving performance
review? It will make our day to hear how we have exceeded expectations. And
yet, there’s always this element of fear before we walk into the room to listen
to our supervisor’s take on our performance – because our achievements as well
as our shortcomings will be assessed, that’s just how it goes.
Every day people pass judgment or are being judged.
We may not like that, but we know that this is how our society works. In the
drift sand of anarchy and lawlessness mankind would have had no chance of
survival. That’s why ultimately the law was given to mankind. The criminal
justice system keeps things at bay, but it does not bring salvation.
Judging a person, we will most likely miss the
whole picture. Try as we may, our judgment calls are flawed. The only perfect
judge of a situation or a human being is God. Still, being judged by God
is not a good situation for us either. Although God is a fair judge and His
judgement is 100 percent correct, our death is the direct result – thankfully,
God is the first to lament the cruelty of judgment and the finality of it.
That is why God sent His Son into the world – particularly not to judge the world – since judgment obviously initiates no happy ending – God sent His Son into the world to restore and save humanity. That’s the best possible outcome for a bad situation we got ourselves into. He came up with an unusual salvation plan. God becoming human is very unusual to say the least. But then His love is quite unusual too, and it’s His love that motivates His sacrifice. No measuring of His love is possible. God’s love meter goes beyond all expectations. His passion for us is an undying flame.
Looking at the way God chose to save us is looking
at a divine love declaration written all over the skies, a love letter written
in stone. It’s love that never goes away. God is in permanent search mode
looking for the lost and broken and reaching out daily. His call goes around
the world. Given all the effort He has put in, can you imagine His joy once we
answer His call and grab His hand? Like His love, His joy is immeasurable.
Saving us is no easy business. It requires blood,
sweat and tears, but feeling guilty about that would be entirely
counterproductive. If we asked Jesus how He feels about us after all that He
had been through, He would probably say that the last thing He wants for us is
feeling guilty all the time. He voluntarily sacrificed Himself to save us, and
His gift comes with absolutely no strings attached. I believe we make Him
happiest when we accept His gift and never look back.
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
Cats can hear
everything! Maya, our pet, can determine by the sound of the engine who is
coming home. In comparison, human ears are not as well-equipped.
While cats hear sounds about as low as humans, they can
hear much higher pitches than we can, and their range goes
even above that of dogs.
Even if we had catlike ears, the question is, would we take advantage of
our enhanced hearing? Here is another question for you: How easy is it to
listen? The talkers among us will probably say it’s easier to talk than to
listen. But what about the people who don’t like to talk? Do introverts have an
advantage over extroverts when it comes to listening? Perhaps – but keeping
silent doesn’t necessarily mean that a person keeps listening. Our thought life
has a profound impact on our listening skills, maybe more than we want to
I googled synonyms for the word “listen”, and here goes:
Give one’s attention to a sound, pay
attention to, take heed of, heed, take notice of, take note
of, mind, mark, bear
in mind, take into consideration, take into account, tune into
We can drown out God’s voice with our own – the voices in our head and our
busy mouth; but we are missing out if we do. There is a world of knowledge and
wisdom available to us if we are curious enough to take the time to stop and
soak it up.
The art of silence that takes the things of God into account has a
profound impact on our lives. And who would have guessed – honing our listening
skills with God also upgrades our people skills. We take the time to listen we
find that we have a better understanding of the person next to us.
In a world that’s deeply divided with angry voices competing for our
attention, paradoxically, listeners who don’t join the angry choir but lend an
unbiased ear have a far better reception. Listeners make things better. Their
wisdom contributes to solving the trickiest problems. Listeners promote peace.
Let’s take a mouth break, shall we? Let’s take time to listen today.
In Queen’s rendition of the Bohemian Rhapsody we are presented with a murder
case. The song powerfully expresses the contradictory feelings of a man who had
just killed a person. Following is a brief excerpt of the lyrics penned by the
late Freddie Mercury:
“Mama, just killed a man
Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away”
We sometimes forget that by proceeding down the slippery slope of anger and
hate we’re all prone to kill someone. The best way to prevent this disaster
from happening is to pursue the opposite direction: Investing genuine interest
in other people and loving generously is the way to go. The trick is not to
differentiate between people because God doesn’t. God loves humans
indiscriminately, always has, and always will. We’re supposed to follow His
example once we jump on His bandwagon. Of course we have our reservations when
it comes to loving everybody. Jesus had a conversation about this very topic
with a teacher of the law.
Discussing the specifics of loving God and particularly our neighbors, a
teacher of the law spoke up and asked Jesus: “Who’s my neighbor?” In an attempt
to narrow down on the amount of people to be loved he asked Jesus this very
loaded question. “Who is my neighbor?” really leaves a lot of room for
individual interpretation, if you think about it. Basically, we pick and choose
whom to love and whom to pass by. In other words, we categorize people, apply
tags, and consider some of them not worthy of our love.
Well, Jesus’s answer is a classic. He told the story of an unnamed person
who got mugged and left on the road to die. After having been conveniently
ignored first by a priest and then by a Levite, a despised Samaritan finally
came to his rescue.
At the end of the story Jesus answered the law expert’s question with a
question of His own (Luke 10:36-37):
“Which of these three do you think was a
neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
God has created no sub humans. Our job is to love everybody. How that works, I don’t know. I would say it’s humanly impossible. But we can start with the people right next door. And as we walk with Jesus, the Master in Human Relations, we can learn from Him. No doubt, loving people is a wild ride and it will break our hearts more than anything, but according to our Creator, it’s all worth it. Love doesn’t kill, which immediately cuts down on murder cases; love honors and respects people regardless of status, gender and tribe; love brings life, literally – thanks to love we have families; love rules, and most definitely: love makes this world a better place.
to God there’s freedom. God is a freedom lover. In His realm every creature is
free. So in order to explore what freedom is all about, it’s best to look to
the source of freedom and go from there.
The first thing I notice, to be free does not necessarily mean we are lawless. Exploring the laws of nature we become aware that the whole universe is fine-tuned. The universe contains organized structures on all different scales, from small systems like the earth and our solar system, to galaxies that contain trillions of stars, and finally extremely large structures that contain billions of galaxies. Planets of any given solar system orbit the Sun. Thanks to the way our home planet Earth orbits the Sun, our terrestrial days fall into 24-hour sequences. Plants use the sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water to produce the lush green pigment chlorophyll generating oxygen as a byproduct, the very oxygen land mammals breathe in. And what do we breathe out? Carbon dioxide! The very carbon dioxide plants use to synthesize foods. What a genius idea to create a partnership like that between vegetation and land mammals! And this is just a little tidbit of the inner workings of nature to illustrate that there is an underlying law to everything we see. Without an underlying law there wouldn’t be a universe to begin with – and no life form to give freedom to.
The inner workings of freedom are based on the law of love. We’re never truly free unless we give love. A freedom lover is a lover of God and people. Just as the laws of nature promote life on Earth, the love law “Love your neighbor as yourself” promotes freedom. It’s a well-known secret: the more love you share, the more love you have. This is contrary to common experience: we spend money and our money dwindles. We spend love and our love increases. Go figure!
Needless to say that the more time we spend in trying to satisfy ourselves rather than to satisfy someone else’s needs, we won’t see the end of it. Catering to our own needs and urges is like a vortex that sucks us in. Our world gets smaller and smaller and we become enslaved to our own ever-growing demands. That’s the opposite to freedom, and it’s hell!
Once we realize how invigorating it is to give something to someone that only unique “you” is capable of giving, we won’t stop sharing. For me it’s the best thing in the world to sing for people with memory challenges. Music plays a key role in these short encounters. Within 60 minutes of playing and singing we are getting to know each other as we dwell in the world of music. What a precious moment in time! I leave there richer than when I came. That’s what happens to everyone who goes out and shares something.
Have you ever pictured the Trinity as a hierarchy? I know I
have. We tend to think in these lines since this is what we’re familiar with;
and so we have trouble understanding how God operates. While God is everywhere
and knows everything and potentially could run and rule every tiny little
detail of His creation, He refrains from doing so. It’s very characteristic of
God to delegate. A prominent example: His hands-off approach with planet Earth.
He gave humans this planet as an assignment and made them chief administrators
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in
number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and
the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Members of God’s
kingdom see themselves as caretakers of this planet, not owners – ruling out
human greed, the seedbed of many wars and conflicts.
civilizations have been largely institutionalized, by contrast Heaven is not,
which is why Church does not work very well as an institution. Church is best
represented by believers focused on loving God and people. Throughout history,
human institutions have repeatedly failed, especially in the area of unity.
God’s concept of peace on the other hand took on flesh and blood with the
arrival of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. He preached in His sermon on the mount
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children
Here is some
exciting news: By pursuing peace God’s kingdom begins to form and establish
wherever we go. That is why being a peacemaker is so powerful. For the same
reasons, Paul wrote a letter to his Greek friends and asked them to avoid
division; God knows, living by this code profoundly impacts the world we live
in and ushers in the Kingdom to come!
to Oxfam Finds 1% of the world population will have accumulated more than half
of the world’s wealth in years to come. This deepening global inequality is
increasing and unlike anything seen in recent years.
Jesus once told a rich man that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. That’s a strong statement! Does that mean that God is partial to the poor and less accepting of rich people? I don’t think so. I believe the point He wants to get across is that we are creating a lonely society via self-sufficiency. Our desire to be independent and run a one-man-show gets all of us into trouble. Realizing we’re incomplete without God, a rich person may have a harder time recognizing this crucial piece of wisdom.
The rich young man Jesus encountered had one question weighing on him. Specifically, he asked Jesus what needed to be done to secure his place in the Kingdom of God. Jesus kept it general in His initial answer when He pointed out that we receive eternal life by keeping God’s commandments. Interestingly, the rich young man was dissatisfied with Jesus’ answer as he kept digging. “What else must I do?” he asked. Jesus’s reply to his follow-up question quickly ended the conversation (Matthew 19:21):
“Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all
your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in
heaven. Then come, follow me.’”
records describe how the young man went away depressed knowing that he would
not want to separate from his many possessions.
We don’t need to be rich to share in a rich man’s worldview. The question Jesus is asking is whether or not we are willing to share. If we use money just to make more money we are in the same boat with the rich young man. Driven by self-serving ambitions, our life’s direction will take us further and further away from God. Similar to the rich man who walked away from Jesus, we will be walking away from God depressed and sad. It’s no secret that riches and fame won’t make us happy.
If every person
on this planet had the sharing mindset Jesus is talking about the world
wouldn’t suffer with rising global inequality. Let’s not hold on too tight to
what we’ve got. Dare to share! It makes a world of a difference.
“A man of riches may claim a crown of jewels; but the king of
heaven can be told from the prince of fools.” (Song lyrics by Gillian Welch and
Bad movies are usually set up with a flawless hero and a super-bad anti-hero with no shred of goodness left. This is a figment of our imagination. There is no such thing as one-dimensional people. People are many things, which is why it is not easy to judge them. I dare say that our judgement calls are flawed. God on the other hand is our perfect judge. Without prejudice and knowing the entire picture, He is the only One who understands our actions and knows us through and through.
The person who sat down and wrote a letter to a people called “Hebrews” was probably steeped in Jewish culture and knew all the hot button issues. One of those topics: Judgement and Justice. Even when all we see is blurry lines, God, like a skilled surgeon, cuts through those gray zones and delivers a perfect verdict. A person so judged is perfectly understood. Actions are not just exposed as they appear to be; its intentions are also laid bare. Sometimes bad things happen with good intentions. Sometimes good things are motivated by selfishness and deceit. Weighing one against the other, God’s mercies come to full fruition.
God is as merciful as He is justice-oriented. On one hand we have His brilliant mind, profound wisdom and impeccable discernment, and on the other His mercies show up every single morning. God sends rain to the good and bad, which is something we tend to grapple with.
I believe there is a reason that God’s name is “I am”. He Is Who He Is, Has Been, And Going To Be. He fits no box. However, if we need a more descriptive name, here it is: God is love. All of His actions, including His judgment calls, are motivated by love. His intentions towards us are always good. God does not judge us to condemn. He bears in mind where we are coming from and goes from there when He interacts with us. He never forgets anything good we’ve come up with. He wants us to thrive, so anything He does on our behalf is growth-oriented. That’s the God we are dealing with!
Sometimes it’s helpful to remember how God interacts with us when we’re about to lose our patience. It’s thanks to God’s patience that we’re still here; and our patience towards another human being will indeed go a long way!
Are all mysteries solved? Ask any scientist, and they will tell you “no”. There is always stuff to learn and new things to discover. That’s the happy side effect of living in a God-created universe.
God comes in layers. After all, God is Trinity. When people meet God, it’s on God’s terms. He reveals what He wants to reveal. For me, I had a meeting with God the Father when He revealed Himself to me. It’s what I needed most. But it didn’t stop there. That’s one beautiful layer of God. Walking with Him, I get to peel back more and more layers. I’ve learned to appreciate the Holy Spirit and I’ve encountered the Son of God, Jesus. Peeling back layer after layer, I’ve come to find out, there are always more layers to the Almighty One. Never be afraid to dig deeper! Even though there’s no end to the digging, getting to know God is the most thrilling experience I know.
The same goes with exploring our world. Everything God created comes in layers. Digging into the micro cosmos and macro cosmos, there is no end to scientific discoveries. Literally, the sky is the limit! Obviously, God is limitless, endless, timeless, and impossible to fathom – so is His creation. However, we are encouraged to dig. We are encouraged to discover. Ultimately, we discover His foot prints everywhere. Every stone has His signature. Every leaf carries His thumbprint.
God may be mysterious, but He is no introvert. He does not hold back His blessings. He gave us His Son so we can find Him. On the other hand, God is no extrovert either. He spreads His hints everywhere, but He is not in plain sight. We need to look for Him to find Him.
I encourage you to go out and seek Him. God can be found. You will discover that finding Him is the adventure of a lifetime.
Life is a dance. What sets dancing apart from the regular steps we take – dance steps go with a song. Dance and music are inseparable. It’s better to dance than to walk and it’s better to sing than to talk. I know some people would like to disagree and it’s mostly people hung up on talent. We’re watching those talent shows and marvel over powerful vocal performances and see dancers hit the dance floor who don’t seem to have a contract with gravity. Flawlessly in time, their bodies swaying, their feet effortlessly working the floor, dancers are in their element like fish in the water. And the same goes for singers. They hit the notes like there is no tomorrow.
Well, this is not about talent. To dance through life and to sing our song is an attitude, and it begins with the Lord of the universe.
started the song and He danced the first dance. God is the author of music. He
God always had dance partners, and He sang harmony from the get go when all Three of the Trinity chimed in. The beautiful thing about God dancing and singing is His generosity in inviting all of His creation to the dance floor. At some point in time the Trinity began to call things into being and has been extremely prolific creating ever since. The hustling and bustling world around us is a vivid reminder. Nature swaying to the heartbeat of the universe, the Lord has invited all of us to His dance floor.
God is asking us for a dance. And then, when we say “yes”, He is so happy that He starts singing. He sings over us. He composes a brand-new song, especially created for the occasion. He sings this song because He is happy we’re with Him. He’s glad that we’re dancing with Him. He does not take our trust we put in Him for granted.
Dancing with God, we’re learning the dance steps as we go. Every day is a new dance. Every day we get up and adjust to changes; we never stop learning. The hardest dance steps to learn in this life would be our dance with death. Our last day rolls around, and we’ll dance into a new tomorrow.
Regardless what kind of day we’re facing let’s never forget that God is with us every step of the way.
Life is a mystery – it’s because all life comes
from God, and God is mysterious. Personally, I keep away from those
“why-questions” and stop asking why this or that happened. What if nothing ever
happened? We would have a bunch of nothingness!
Thankfully, God happened. He decided at some point
that He wanted to add relationships to the one already existing among the
Trinity. And the rest is history! Over time the Trinity called a wide
variety of specimen into being and developed them into various species –
angels, humans, the animal kingdom, and all the unknown species we’re
blissfully unaware of. And the Trinity bonded with all of their creation. God’s
heart is huge, bigger than this universe. The stories and letters penned down
in the books of the Bible give us a small glimpse of that. Scriptures reveal
God’s heart to the curious and God-pursuing reader. Here are some facets of His
connected with His animal kingdom God is not unaware of tiny birds falling
from the sky (Matthew 10:29): “What is the price of two sparrows—one
copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your
Father knowing it.”
see God mourning over the loss of a relationship with one of His angels,
namely Lucifer. Lucifer’s fallout is recorded in the book of Isaiah. There
God laments (Isaiah 14:12): “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining
star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who
destroyed the nations of the world.”
mirror the joys of God’s relationship with humans – (Isaiah 65:19): “I
will rejoice over Jerusalem and delight in my people”– while also
expressing its woes (Psalm 78:40): “Oh, how often they rebelled
against him [God] in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry
celebrates restored relationships as seen in the story Jesus told of the
lost and found son. In this story recorded in Luke’s gospel one of the
main characters who was believed lost and gone forever showed up in his
hometown one day, back at his father’s doorstep. His father’s reaction was
profoundly joyful (Luke 15:24): “We must celebrate with a feast, for
this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but
now he is found.’ So the party began.” Jesus told this story to
illustrate God’s compassion.
God took a risk when He created beings capable of
making decisions on their own. In the aftermath of Lucifer’s and mankind’s
downfall we may or may not appreciate God’s treasured freedom of choice.
However, I’m assuming that if God took such a tremendous risk, even when it
backfired, it’s probably worth it. So, He made beings, free to love or reject
Him, with all the nasty side-effects. As a result, today’s world is filled with
wonderful and amazing stories but we also witness deeply troubled and
depressingly heartbreaking ones. The mystery in the mess is God’s involvement.
He didn’t create the mess but He’s more than happy to see us through. How He
sees us through we don’t know. He relates differently to you than He does to
me. God does not create copycats. And God does not have microwaved solutions. He
is as creative as ever and writes a new story with every newborn. As long or as
short as the story may be, it will always be one-of-a-kind because God’s
relations to His creations are each unique, similar to how we bond differently
with each person we know.
Like it or not, we’re part of God’s mystery. People
relinquishing control and trusting in God get swept away by the waves of His
affections. He’s like the wind as He guides us through life. We might as well
enjoy the ride! We may not know what tomorrow holds but walking with God we do
know where we are headed. We know our destination is home. And home is where
God resides – our home is in Heaven.
Philippians 3:20: “But we belong to heaven. And we are waiting for the Savior to come from heaven. He is theLord Jesus Christ.”
The other day I was watching an advertisement praising the
efficiency of a certain bug trap. This product is designed to attract those
unwanted critters and kill them, at which point they fall into an internal
trash bin so the bug corpses can be easily discarded. This is when it struck
me: We have designed a bug killing machine because we don’t like bugs. However,
none of us could ever create a single fruit fly.
Needless to say
every life form is complex and a wonder to behold. When it comes to human
beings we tend to be narcissist saying we’re the crown of creation. I like to
think that every part of creation is a jewel. We have a big backyard and I love
the plant life. Our plants attract birds and butterflies, and I’m delighted to
see them in the morning when I take my breakfast out on the porch. If we
interviewed God and asked Him which part of creation is His favorite, I’m
certain His answer would be He is partial to everything He made.
prays: “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!” Being thankful for our
complexity includes awareness. Without noticing that we’re complex, how could
we be thankful for it? So ever since there were people, we looked at ourselves.
We notice our physical makeup, our cell structure, our DNA. We explore how our
organs are functioning and communicating with one another. We are exploring our
bodies to intervene when there is malfunction; hence the medical profession was
We are wonderfully complex. Let’s not forget that when looking at our world at large. Our own bodies are complex and yet it works as a unity when our bodies are healthy. Sickness in some shape or form robs our bodies of this unity. As a result, our bodies die. Without unity, the world as we know it dies a little at a time.
Complexity is beautiful. Embracing complexity and working together from different angles speaking different languages, that’s the magic of unity without conformity. God’s kingdom is
wonderfully complex. Let’s open our senses wide and take in what is there to
explore. Let’s find out and be curious together. And let’s put ourselves in the
pool of complexity by sharing what the Lord has uniquely put in our DNA. That’s
what Life with a capital “L” is all about.
The other day Joseph’s son accidentally ran into a stranger as he was
running backwards to catch a ball. The stranger, clearly annoyed, yelled at
him: “Hey you! What’s your name?” “I Forget” “No really! What’s your name?” “My
name’s I forget” “You’re weird! How can you forget your own name?”
Of course I made this up, but couldn’t a conversation like this potentially
happen if you apply names to your children that mean a lot to you but maybe not
so much to your children? The names of the two brothers Ephraim and Manasseh
represent his father Joseph’s life experience. And what a life experience he
had! A roller coaster of events: from favorite son back home to slave in a
foreign country; from a no-name slave in Egypt to Potiphar’s Personal
Attendant; from Potiphar’s Personal Attendant to a forgotten prisoner in an
Egyptian dungeon; from a forgotten prisoner to the Prison Warden‘s Assistant
Manager; from the Prison Warden’s Assistant Manager to Pharaoh’s Second in
Command. That’s Joseph’s story, and so he named his kids “Forget” and
“Fruitful” because God made him forget the past and made him fruitful in a
foreign country. His own name was changed from Joseph to Zaphenath-paneah as if
to make the transition into his new life complete. A different name, a
different life, a different identity!
Well, not quite! Joseph’s past would catch up with him when a worldwide
famine brought his brothers to his doorsteps – the same brothers who sold him
to teach him a lesson. The lesson they tried to get across to Joseph: “You may
be Dad’s favorite but you’re not better than we are!” As it turned out, they
too had a lesson to learn.
Lesson #1: You will be treated just the same way you’ve been treating
Lesson#2: Lies will eventually catch up to you.
More than two decades went by when a time of testing came for both parties:
Would Joseph bear a grudge? Would his brothers finally get real? The story
fortunately ends on a happy note: his brothers confessed the ugly truth they
had kept hidden from their father Jacob for so long; and Joseph completely
forgave them. As a result the family was reunited, a dead relationship
rekindled and his family saved from starvation in a seven-year drought.
Joseph lived up to his new name Zaphenath-paneah which loosely translated means: “God speaks life”, and Joseph certainly spoke life into a very bad situation! What kind of words do we speak over a hopeless mess? Do we pray to God who sees potential? When God speaks, life flourishes. That’s His very nature. We see the world around us as living proof. Connected with Him we become His life agents. We struggle with unemployment, our health, our finances, and we find that God is navigating us through very confusing times – if we dare to look up. Joseph put his trust in God when people meant to harm him.
The truth is, we do not need to be in control. Even though it’s quite unsettling to let things go, at the same time it’s a huge relief! We believe in the same God Joseph believed in, and our faith will transform into our very own life’s story and encourage more people than we’ll ever know!
Isaiah 43:2: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When
you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through
the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume
When Joshua addressed the Angel of
the Lord he assumed God is taking sides. He was mistaken. The angel made it
very clear when asked on whose side he is on: Israel’s or Israel’s enemies: The
answer was: neither!
Let’s remember that before taking sides: God is on both sides. God
is for you, and “you” means everybody. There is no exclusion in the kingdom of
God. There is no hierarchy as we know it, no club of insiders versus excluded
outsiders. The kingdom of God values every creature in this universe, including
this hot spot called Planet Earth. God loves His angels, His vegetation, His
animal kingdom, His people without a shred of favoritism. However, His
capacity to love is grander than the universe because while He loves everything
and everybody, He also uniquely loves singular you. We can relate to this fact
if we look at our own relationships. You have a different connection to every
person you know. That is the way God’s love operates.
The triune God can’t be divided. Neither can His children be
divided. The body of Christ is one. Frictions in God’s kingdom are
man-made and will definitely end in Heaven. Can you imagine Heaven divided? The
beauty of Heaven is harmony with diversity. The lion and the lamb sit side by
side. The nations of the world are talking to each other, hearing each other
out, respecting each other. Everybody is fully loved, fully accepted, on the
peak of potential, producing and contributing to the new world called Kingdom
of Heaven. That is the future of mankind.
Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will
lie down with the goat, the calfand the lion
and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.”
There is a communication flow going on between Heaven and Earth, and we’re in that flow as we pray. Intercession is part of it, but I would venture to say that intercession is not the essential part of that communication flow. Comparatively speaking, if our only communication in a marriage relationship was to issue a To-Do-List to our spouse every day, love would probably go out the window after a while.
Don’t you hate those fruitless conversations which after a while turn into mere monologues? One person does the talking, the other person’s job is to listen. Maybe occasionally the listener is asked for some feedback, but mostly this person is expected to be the sounding board.
Thankfully, God is no sounding board. The communication flow between Heaven and Earth goes both ways: God speaks to us, and we listen; we speak to God, and He listens. While it is certainly OK to vent to Him and spill all our beans, prayer is a two-way-conversation. God wants to impress His wisdom, and we need an open mind to receive His directions.
Dishonesty presents a major obstacle to our communication flow with God. We can lie to our neighbor, we can lie to ourselves, but lying to God does not work. Actually, lying never works – and hiding from God does not work either. Adam and Eve were prime examples. And why would we want to hide? Why would we be afraid of Him? There is absolutely no question about God’s merciful attitude. Unlike people, God is not quick to condemn and His patience is astounding. He forgives and forgets and gives us a fighting chance as we go through our daily battles. And as we do, we just keep the prayers coming. This will positively affect our lives and the world around us.
We can pray anywhere, anytime. Let’s not give up on praying!
We are not alone. God created us to not be alone. After creating Adam,
Eve followed. Some may say that with Eve came trouble, but trouble came long
before Eve. In fact, Adam was troubled without Eve. He searched high and low
for his equal. And his Creator profoundly understood. If there’s anybody
understanding our need to relate, it is God. After all, God is Trinity. Before
there was anything else, there was relationship, relationship among the Trinity
that is. And relationship is what makes the world go round. We can see that in
· Being alone when we’re sad
magnifies our sadness. With isolation sadness is heaped upon sadness. Picture
yourself being stranded alone on an island. Soon you’d be talking to trees and
ants just for the sake of a communication (albeit one-sided).
· Being with someone
magnifies our joy. Shared joy multiplies, as odd as it sounds, but it’s true:
if you have accomplished something and you’re extremely happy about it – what
if you had nobody to share this good news with? What would you do? Throw
yourself a party of one?
Life without people is an odd couple, similar to faith without works or a
fruit tree without fruit. “About as useless as a screen door on a submarine” is
what Rich Mullins ventured to say in his Screen Door song. Let’s cherish the
people in our lives, even if they sometimes get on our last nerve – because you
get to celebrate when they’re happy and you get to share in their sorrow. We
need to relate; that’s just the natural order of things. And guess what: It’s
what God does!
“Faith without works is like a song you can’t sing. It’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” (Rich Mullins)
God understands us better than we understand
ourselves. We might pray for certain things to happen hoping for a second-best
solution, but God sees the best solution and will answer the prayer in His own
time – maybe in surprising ways. In fact, our Creator is still very creative
and in the habit of coming up with astounding solutions to problems we submit
to His attention.
So, let’s not give up simply because currently we
cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Know that He will give us what
we need; of course this won’t apply to frivolous prayers (God, please give me a
million dollars), but it certainly applies to honest prayers.
One of the main reasons why we may feel miserable
even though we’ve been praying through a tough situation is lack of vision.
Spiritual vision requires faith. Faith believes that God hears us when we pray
to Him. John wrote: “we know he hears us when we make our requests” – it’s
knowing we are heard and knowing we are deeply understood that gives us
confidence and peace.
Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
a connecting line between “Almighty God” and “impossible”, there are just few
things impossible for Him: it is impossible for God to lie and it’s impossible
to please Him without faith.
impossibilities on the other hand are numerous. It’s impossible for us to get a
grip on aging. It’s impossible for us to beat death. Unfortunately, it’s not
impossible for humans to lie. However, like God, we will have a problem with
people who don’t believe in us. And in a strange sort of way, that puts us in
no way we could fill His shoes, but that’s beside the point. It’s in instances
like that when I notice we’re related to the Father of Creation. As His
creation we’re as closely related as we come. So it’s no surprise that we find
we have things in common with God. And I think that helps us growing closer to
the One who is called mysterious.
Job asks us an
interesting question (Job 11:7):
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the
limits of the Almighty?”
Well, can we? Probably not – another impossible thing for humans to do is to understand God fully. Personally, I’m fine with that. How boring if we could figure out everything! Where is the element of surprise? But then that doesn’t mean we give up trying to understand Him; in an attempt to decipher God’s handwriting we’ve been exploring the world.
Back to God’s
impossibilities: there is nothing we could do to please Him, unless we
have faith in Him. And while at first sight this may sound a bit outrageous,
imagine a person in your life who doesn’t believe in you. Every time you needed
encouragement to make a bold move this person would point out your weaknesses
as a potential hazard. Picture yourself being around that person for any length
of time and ask yourself this question: Would it be possible for this
particular person to please you with expensive gifts? This is highly
hypothetical of course, but I think this gets the point across why in the realm
of faith we show our true colors and exhibit signs that we’re related to the
If God is just a word He simply dissolves into black and white while the do’s and don’ts begin to dominate our thinking. Without faith, God becomes a lifeless rule book, and we need to ask ourselves: how good are we really at playing by the rules? I’d say, this has never been our forte. Even if it was, God wouldn’t be pleased, and rightly so!
Let’s put our trust in God. After all, we have it written on our US Dollar bills, haven’t we? We believe in God, and God believes in us – that’s how faith works. Without faith, nothing really works.
Speaking the truth in love is like a spoonful of
sugar, which makes the medicine go down. Truth is sometimes nice to hear,
especially when someone compliments you without trying to schmooze up to
you. Truth people like to hear sounds something like this: “Truthfully,
you’re one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen.” We like to hear that
kind of truth. But – what if the truth is ugly? Truth is still truth.
Here is where Paul’s advice comes in. He wrote in
his letter addressed to Ephesus, an ancient Greek settlement in modern-day
Turkey: “Speak the truth in love.” I find myself struggling with just that. One
of the hardest things for me is to open my mouth and speak sad truth,
especially knowing that it is difficult to accept. Without love the sad truth
would be impossible to deliver. Without love there is probably no chance the
message will be well-received. And without love the receiver of that message is
not going to embrace it either, and isn’t that the ultimate reason why sad
truth is communicated – unless of course our intentions are to condemn? Reality
check: Jesus’ motivation has always been to restore; that’s why we
hear Him say (John 3:17):
“For God did not send his Son into the world to
condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Condemning, by its very nature, has given up on the
so-judged person and is ready to throw this person into the trash. Condemning a
person is like dumping a person. On the other hand speaking the truth in love
is respecting and valuing that same person others have given up on.
So, speaking the truth in love is all about
motivation – and we have the wisdom of ages to help us with that very difficult
task, the Spirit of God, aka the Holy Spirit. Let’s not give up on anybody, and
that includes us all. Instead of beating ourselves up because of recent
failures, we want to speak encouragement into our own life by saying what needs
to be said in love. Love is very powerful. Love brings the dead to life.
There’s precious hope in love; and love is God’s trademark. John, one of Jesus
followers, wrote in his letter (1 John 4:8):
“But anyone who does not love does not know
God, for God is love.”
If God is love, so are His children. Here’s to
The “but” of a situation is sometimes the only way to look at things. For instance: here we are in the middle of the desert, but we’re drowning in water. That is a true fact. When there is a flash flood after torrential rain, you stand a chance to drown in the desert. It is true that the desert is so called because there is lack of water – but it is also true that the desert has some erratic weather patterns. If that happens, the “but” comes into play.
Why am I talking
semantics? Well, Job puts his “but” at the beginning of an amazing statement.
He says “But as for me, (…). That in itself says something without even going
any further. With these four words alone he distances himself from whoever else
is around. When someone says to me “But as for me”, then I know I hear an
expressed belief. I know I wouldn’t want to try to convince that person
otherwise. I would stand corrected and simply respect it.
what Job had been through. In Germany, when a person is out of luck and you
have to break bad news to this poor person Germans say that you come with a
“Hiobsbotschaft” which loosely translated means disaster story and closely
translated means bad tidings similar to Job’s. On top of bad news and more bad
news Job’s friends were harping on him saying “it’s all his fault and God is
mad at him”. Job didn’t think so. He put his foot down and this is what he said
“But as for me, I know that my redeemer lives, and He will stand
upon the earth at last.”
Well, there you
have it. Very nicely said: God is not dead, in fact God is very much alive and
He will come through for me …. and for many more! – He will touch the ground
and walk this earth and our eyes will see Him.
It is important
to stick with what we believe in. It doesn’t mean that we have to convince the
whole world that we’re right, it simply means the whole world can try to talk us
out of what we believe in, “but” we take a stand and remain true to ourselves. We
owe it to ourselves and God to not live a lie. If we know something to be true
we go for it. No “buts” about it!
Now as to the
last part of the sentence Job utters: “He will stand upon the earth at last” that
is the most groundbreaking message that shook the universe when the angels
proclaimed (Luke 2:10-11):
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause
great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born
to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
God went out of
His way to come to earth. He walked in our shoes, literally. What a Redeemer He
Truthfully, if we happen to walk in Job’s shoes for a while, we need to stick to our “but”. We need to remember that our Redeemer lives.
There are many ways to get lost. Case in point, this morning I got lost on a face that I’ve been painting. I’m in the process of portraying a friend of mine. I have a photograph of her and her dog who smile into the camera, cheek to cheek. She calls him her “Boyfriend Dog” and this boyfriend dog of hers clearly adores her. I got intrigued with this picture and now I’m trying to capture this scene … and I got lost in her face! Probably more than 50 times I changed her chin line, her eyes, her twinkles, the curve of her mouth, her hair line, her complexion, her nose, you name it. Still, it’s not her face. This is driving me absolutely crazy … at which point I had to let it go and start writing this blog about getting lost.
Getting lost is really not that unusual. How we react to it is another matter. The goal is not to get stuck. Obviously, in my case, I need help – I need another human being who can point me in the right direction. And this works in other cases too. Has your GPS ever directed you to a dead end? Ask a local. Stuck in repair work and not getting anywhere with your project? Ask an expert. If we’re lost we need input. The trick is not to be oblivious about it – as in a state of denial – or too proud to ask.
Well, here is something that I find quite unusual: We have a God who goes out of His way to find the lost. God is calling a search party to scoop up the aimless wanderers who just can’t figure out their way home. We all belong. We have an innate GPS that confirms that somewhere, somehow we belong and it’s not necessarily our family, our home country, our jobs, our abilities and talents where we feel at home. That’s just part of it. That’s like me gathering the facts of my friend’s face and putting it to paper, which still doesn’t make it quite her face. The essence of her is still missing.
We have a core being that senses home turf as soon as we enter it. Our home turf is heaven. There is nothing like it. There are lots of things close to it – it feels like heaven, but it’s only for a brief moment. Fleeting heaven is no heaven. Our core being seeks permanency and wants to be anchored. So, there’s a mighty challenge that everybody faces. Thankfully, God perpetually seeks and finds the lost. And let me tell you, it’s great to be found!
Everybody has a story. Mine is ongoing as everybody else’s. I’m privileged to have been found by God. He scooped me up when I was a teenager. This was not a happy ending, it was a happy beginning. Like everybody else I had to go through some tough times and made stupid mistakes, but I was never alone. I’ve been carried through the worst while being consoled and at peace going through loss. My core being is already at home. And when my time comes, I will recognize that face when I see Jesus for the first time.
Saving in God’s world is an ongoing process. I’m not talking
about saving money here – which can also be an ongoing process – I’m addressing
the issue of redemption. Whoever wrote this letter to the people group called
Hebrews, knew that saving a person is not a one-time-affair.
This letter is addressed to an ethnic group. Transport the author to this day and age and imagine him or her addressing a letter to a certain people group – let’s say to the Native American people for instance. I believe the only way that would go over well is by being Native American, thereby addressing fellow Native Americans in a personal letter. And I believe that’s the case here: a Hebrew is addressing fellow Hebrews.
So, what’s the word, bird? Of all things, the Hebrew author is broaching the subject of salvation – well, talking about a loaded topic here! It’s the one topic the whole world seems to be disagreeing on, starting with the question as to whether or not we need to be saved, and, if we needed saving, how to be saved. Yep – no easy discussion! Should you ever bring up “salvation” in an otherwise friendly exchange of thoughts, that conversation could quickly turn sour!
Looking at the language of this letter we quickly understand that insider vocabulary is used. It’s like family talk. We are using language with our siblings or close relatives that we wouldn’t apply with strangers. When a Hebrew talks about priesthood a certain picture comes to mind. Priests were understood as mediators who stood between God and people interceding on their behalf. That’s where the author of the letter is honing in by saying we have a perfect mediator in heaven who intercedes for us daily.
about racial boundaries for a while – whether or not we’re Hebrew with a
priesthood or people that skirt rituals and priests altogether – and think
about having a strong advocate who intercedes on our behalf. Isn’t this a thing
of great value? Well, apparently, God thinks so. The Son of God, Jesus fulfills
that role. I dare say, we can all use someone who has our backs, and if that
“Someone” is the Son of God, what strong advocacy this would be!
So back to my
original thought: God saves us every day! He can do that because He sees things
coming our way that we don’t have the faintest idea about. All the while He
checks our body temperature, the numbers of hair we carry on our bodies, our
current mood – you get the picture. God knows everything about us and He uses
that to our advantage.
It gives me a sense of relief realizing that Jesus watches out for me. And you know what? I find it liberating to know that I don’t have to be perfect. Jesus has my back. I love that about Him!
God has big hands not just for saving but most importantly for holding us. We are very important to Him. Think about that: The One whose hands hold the universe holds you and me close to His heart.
God is mysterious. So are His children, the mystery being: frail human beings carry precious cargo. They carry the Son of God inside their hearts. Wherever they go they bring the blessing of Christ.
How can this be? That, my friend, is the same question Mary asked angel Gabriel when he brought the news to her that she will be pregnant with Christ. And his answer was (Luke 1:35):
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.'”
Mary was the first person who carried the Son of God inside of her – albeit in a physical way. Children of God carry the Son of God in their hearts, which is just as real.
Human beings become part of God’s mystery. The Holy Spirit made this possible. And through the arrival of God’s Son in the hearts of human beings hope has arrived, and if there’s one thing this broken world needs, it’s hope!
Here is the hope God instills: He has a good future prepared for this universe and mankind is part of it. When Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians that glorious things are awaiting, then he means just that: the world to come is going to be very good.
We need to remember that as we are going through our daily battles. Our human spirits thrive on hope.
interesting that Peter calls silver and gold perishables? Have you ever thought
of storing your silver and gold items in the refrigerator? Probably not!
As is always the case when it comes to reading any passage of Scripture,
there is more to it than meets the eye at first glance.
Peter calls things perishable that leave us empty. He is talking about
“the empty way of life” which runs in the family. We live that way because
that’s how our parents and grandparents and great grandparents before us lived
– and we’re continuing in the same fashion.
Jesus breaks with this family tradition. He redeems us from the empty way
What is the empty way of life you may ask?
King Solomon experienced firsthand how perishable wealth can be, and here
is his take on life (Ecclesiastes 1:1-2) :
“The words of the Teacher, son of David,
king in Jerusalem:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.’”
King Solomon was very acquainted with the empty way of life. In his book
Ecclesiastes he went into much detail to depict a life void of any meaning. An
empty life is a meaningless life. Suffering from depression is a common side
effect and completely understandable: Why would anybody want to live if life
Thankfully, we were not created to live the empty way of life. We were
created to live Eternal Life, the kind of life that’s meaningful. God makes all
the difference. Try as we may, we won’t find fulfillment outside His realm.
It’s unnatural to live separated from the source of all being. It’s the most
natural thing in the world to be reunited with God – that’s where we belong.
We’re the best version of ourselves when we are with God. In case you were
wondering, the privilege of being with God is not reserved for the afterlife
alone. We can be with Him as we go about our daily business. Eternal Life starts
in the here and now. That’s the gift of Jesus, and that’s what is called
Meaningful, meaningful – everything becomes utterly meaningful as soon as
God enters the equation. That’s my personal experience, and I pray it’s yours,
King Solomon is the author of the book of Ecclesiastes.
Curiously, Solomon used language related to clockwork when he penned down
his thoughts on eternity. Like a watchmaker setting the clock as he is laboring
over his handiwork – our Creator has “timed” our hearts, and guess what: our
heart clocks are set on eternity. Somehow, eternity is in our DNA.
I was in first
grade when our teacher told us one morning that one of our class mates had just
passed away. I was shocked! Subsequently, I began pondering about the end
of my own existence. The only trouble was: I could not wrap my head around the idea
that on any given day my life would come to a screeching halt, and I would
cease to exist. I was wondering: do we really evaporate into thin air? Is there
nothing left of us when we die?
didn’t make much sense to my little heart back then. It really never does, and
rightly so, because – as Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes – our Creator has
not set us up that way.
Why would we
live forever if there was no purpose to our life? I would venture to say that
we actually do matter; our life does have a purpose and death is detrimental to
this purpose. I believe that’s why Jesus hates death. And as the Author of Life
it was His mission to put an end to death by conquering it! The tomb stone was
rolled away, and Jesus emerged from the grave, the physical evidence that He
had overcome our worst enemy.
We all have to
face our physical departure one day when our body gives out and our heart stops
beating. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that our physical passing is not the
ultimate end. If our life story had to be written down, death would be the mere
beginning of our book; there are still countless pages waiting to be filled.
What a wonderful prospect that is!
Thanks to Jesus,
death is not the end but just the beginning. He’s waiting on the other side. Do
we believe that?
invisible – but then He isn’t. I have always felt closer to God just walking
the outdoors. The lush variety of animal species and vegetation simply speaks
If we’re not impressed with the
intricacies of life on this blue and green planet maybe we should check out the
rest of the universe? We’ve been taking astonishing pictures from outer space.
Through 25 years of Hubble Space Telescope research we’ve discovered existing
galaxies beyond our Milky Way; we’ve confirmed that the universe is expanding plus
the role dark energy plays in this scenario; Hubble Space Telescope also gave
us the first look at black holes; we’ve come up with names for new planets we
discovered in the far reaches of our solar system; we’ve discovered birthplaces
of stars with clusters only about two million years old – which in stellar
terms is very young! The sky is literally the limit to our discoveries – as far
as I can see it, there is no limit!
Why would we want to find an excuse
for not knowing God? What is the benefit of ignoring Him? Who wouldn’t want to
meet this Genius who came up with everything? And why is it so outrageous to
think that this Genius loves us? Looking around, it becomes pretty obvious that
He likes to create. Is it far-fetched to believe that He loves what He creates?
What I find remarkable about God
is His reluctance to manipulate us into loving Him. He does not do that. He
respects His own creation enough to give us space, think it over and come to
our own conclusions.
In the criminal justice system
fingerprints play a crucial role to identify the perpetrator. God very
generously left His fingerprints everywhere for us to uncover. To me this is a
telltale sign that God wants to be found.
If we look for God, we will most
certainly find Him. Prepared to meet Him?
In terms of “quality of life”, the
quality of Eternal Life is first grade! Jesus provides an existence that goes
beyond our imagination.
Being immersed in futility, we are
extremely familiar with “temporary arrangements” and unfamiliar with “forever
and ever”. God, however, does not change and life with Him is not temporary –
it’s forever; but beyond that, eternal life represents the fulfillment of God’s
dearest wish: to be reunited with His children. Family life in Heaven is what
Eternal Life is all about.
God makes us an offer we can
refuse: we do not have to accept His gift of Eternal Life. However, He insists
that Eternal Life is a free gift, just as much as He insists that we
voluntarily choose whether or not to accept it.
If we have something very precious
and extremely valuable, there is always this element of fear that someone will
come and steal it from us. We are very protective of our treasures. So is God.
God is very protective of us because He treasures us. When Jesus says: “Nobody
can steal them [God’s children] from me” it means just that: It is impossible
to bypass Heaven’s premier security guard. If anyone dares messing with God’s
children, they awake the Lion of Judah.
Believers have been given Eternal
Life. It’s absolutely impossible to steal Eternal Life from a believer. What
has been given has been given.
Jesus has risen from the dead –
Hallelujah, He has risen indeed! And we can rise with Him every morning as we
get up and our feet touch the ground. Most importantly, we rise to meet Him in
person one day when our chapter “Life on Earth” comes to a close and an
exciting new chapter begins.
At age 17 I realized that God is real. It was wonderful to get connected to God and experience His love. However, to me, the Godhead felt a bit crowded.
“One God is
plenty”, I thought. “Why Three in One?”
I did what I always do when I don’t get something: I focused on the things that I did get. I understood that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and left it at that.
When we were dating, my future husband Bill and I started hanging out to get to know each other. After a while he introduced me to his family. Getting to know the Trinity reminds me a little bit of dating. As time progressed I could not help but notice that besides loving me, the Father dearly loves His Son. Isn’t that how it works? We get involved with one member of the Trinity, and pretty soon we get introduced to all three of them: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Godhead situation became pretty unique when the Trinity had to temporarily split. Jesus arrived on planet Earth! The Son of God was born into a human family and became one of us – a relative of ours! Think about that for a minute.
We celebrate Christmas because God became our relative.
We celebrate Easter because this relative of ours laid down His life for us.
We know that God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end. And yet, by becoming one of us, the eternal God, Author of life and Heartbeat of Creation, voluntarily submitted to mortality. His heartbeat literally stopped before He was returned to life and rose from the grave – all of that to rescue His creation from death.
Dying for us is one thing, but being martyred to death is quite another. Honestly, for the longest time I had trouble seeing why Jesus had to be punished so badly. It made me feel bad. Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to die the way He did – nailed to two wooden beams? If you have seen any of the quite graphic motion pictures showing Jesus on the cross, you too may have wondered about that.
Appalling as His manner of dying was, Jesus did not compete to die the cruelest death ever. Many criminals in the Roman Empire awaited the same fate. Nailed to the cross, people expired to satisfy Roman law. Jesus, however, did not die to satisfy Roman law. He definitely was no criminal. He did nothing wrong to deserve to be executed. Nevertheless, there’s a reason for Jesus’s willingness to submit to the Roman criminal justice system. His intention was to take the blame for every crime ever committed and to accept its punishment – including the crimes committed by the two criminals who were dying right next to Him.
Jesus and the
two criminals were in the same boat. All three of them were nailed to the cross
awaiting their death. Here is the unfolding conversation between the three
dying men (Luke 23:39-43):
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him:
“Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he
said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for
we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’
Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be
with me in paradise.’”
We understand that there’s more to having a real conversation than just being physically present. A Native American proverb basically says that we’re not supposed to criticize people, unless we have “walked a mile in their moccasins”. Well, being crucified with the two criminals, Jesus was more than physically present. He walked in their shoes and literally felt their pain. That’s love going the extra mile.
How could a fire department accomplish a rescue mission without ever being on the scene of the accident? That doesn’t make much sense, does it? By the same token, God decided to go through hell to pull us out of hell. That’s redemption in a nutshell! If there was a different way of saving us, I’m convinced that God would have done it. As it is, He chose His Son to perform the biggest rescue mission ever – saving the world – by dying on the cross. Thank God that He did!
It was customary in the Roman world to declare that Caesar is
Lord. To say and believe that Jesus is Lord went directly against the Roman
Empire and what they stood for. People had to suffer the consequences for being
outspoken. Courageous people died for their faith in Jesus back then, and it
still happens today depending on the political situation of a country.
needed to stand up for what is right, but we also need wisdom to say the right
things at the right time. There is no benefit in
digging in our heels. This will increasingly isolate us from the rest of the
world and further alienate us from people who question us. The
goal is to find the language to express our thoughts in a way that people can
relate to – just as Jesus did when He was questioned by His contemporaries.
To put Him on
the spot, Jesus was asked in public to voice His opinion on paying the Imperial
Tax to Caesar. Following is His reaction (Matthew 22:18-22):
“But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites,
why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.’
They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose image is this? And whose
‘Caesar’s,’ they replied.
Then he said to them, ‘So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s,
and to God what is God’s.’
When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and
This is as straightforward as it gets. Jesus did not mince the words. He called the people asking Him this loaded question ‘hypocrites’; and at the same time His answer speaks to the hearts of all parties involved.
The goal is to
never lose interest in other people’s opinions and to be transparent enough to
be believable. Jesus had conversations with people from every walk of life. He
was free from prejudice and preconceived notions. He spoke with the rich and
the poor, the destitute and the well-to do, the religious experts, and the
nobodies of His time. He addressed every person with tact and spoke in a
language they all could understand.
It seems to be a human tendency to form clubs and create subcultures instead of stepping out to meet people where they are and keep the doors open for ongoing conversation. When opposing parties have stopped talking, the sound of silence can be deadly. On the other hand, keeping the dialogue going without defenses up and without trying to win the argument is a truly worthy objective.
Let’s ask God for empathy to be able to relate, for patience to hear people out and for plenty of wisdom to keep the communication flow up and running. This is exactly what Jesus did when He was on Earth – what better way to declare His lordship than by doing the same?
Saved is a
state of being, not an end result. The fact that it is so hard to discuss the
message of the cross intelligibly has everything to do with disclosure. The
message of the cross has to be revealed by God’s Spirit. God Himself endorses
this message and gives it its seal of authenticity.
The idea of God dying on the cross for us is just as mind-blowing as the idea of God becoming a human being – for real – not just for a week or so, no, the entire human experience. Jesus was born like any human baby; he grew up, went through puberty, became a man and ran his own business before He went into public ministry. All of that is part of the story of the cross. He didn’t just fall from Heaven and got martyred. The Son of God was a citizen, had a nationality and belonged to a family tribe.
Jesus didn’t fall from Heaven because there was more to conquer than death. He also came to redeem our lives by living the full cycle of the human experience. God got His hands dirty; He cried; He laughed; He got tired; He got sweaty; He got hungry; He got refreshed; He cracked jokes; He had parents; He built friendships; He was loved and He was despised. He was revered and he was ignored.
And Jesus prayed. I bet praying
was a different experience for Him as a human being. Praying on Earth has its
challenges. You have to really want it! Distractions are everywhere. I imagine
if we pray in Heaven where God lives that’s a whole different story.
Then Jesus died publicly in front
of everybody a very cruel death. Dying in itself is tough. Why He had to be
humiliated and murdered that way is incomprehensible, but so is human brutality
that happens on a daily basis. The point being Jesus came to redeem us from all
of that. He came to save us from ourselves.
For some reason the message of the
cross got some of us twisted into thinking that we’re to blame for Jesus’s
death. It’s our entire fault that this glorious Son of God had to suffer so
badly. This is only half the truth. The other part of the truth is that Jesus
chose to bail us out because He thinks we’re worth it.
Let this message of the cross sink
in as we go through another Easter season. Jesus’s greatest joy is to see our
healing process as a result of His sacrifice. We accept the truth God whispers
into our ear, and we shed off all the things that tie us down and hold us back.
Being saved simply means we get to be real. Turning to God and allowing Him to
heal us turns us into the person we’re designed to be.
Discover God and you’ll discover
who you really are.
Love is more than a feeling. We may have feelings for a person on a sunny afternoon, but then reality kicks in the following day and now we feel differently. Feelings are fickle. They come and go. And then there’s this aspect of: “I love you more”, when there is rivalry of any kind. Love is no competition. Love is a lifestyle.
“You owe me one!” we hear sometimes when somebody went the extra mile and did something extraordinary to our benefit. Imagine God said that to you and me: “You owe me one!” after He sacrificed His Son. How would we feel about that? Thankfully, God does not say or think that. This is not who He is.
God is extremely generous by nature. Pouring out His love is His daily habit. He simply goes above and beyond, which is why He owes us nothing. If we have trouble believing that, it’s mostly our perception of Him that gets us in trouble. A tainted view of God will taint our view of pretty much everything. We’ll also have a tainted view of love.
Looking at God’s habit of loving every person on this planet, that’s the love lifestyle Paul is hinting at in his letter to the Romans. God is love. So are His children. We owe it to the world that is largely loveless.
If we love like God does, then there are no checks and balances when it comes to loving people. To love is as natural as to breathe. Not to love is as unnatural as not breathing. Actually, not breathing kills us – just as much as not loving kills our spirit.
To love or not to love is really not a question. We just need to go for it. God’s Spirit will breathe meaning into this four-letter-word that has been misinterpreted and abused ever since there is people. Love is really not that complicated, but it’s sometimes hard to do. I don’t think it was easy for Jesus to love His enemies. But He did. Ultimately, it’s easier to keep on loving than to keep on hating, because if we hold on to a grudge we only hurt ourselves.
Love is a lifestyle choice, and God is all over it. It’s not hard to find God if we choose this lifestyle, and it’s not hard to love when get to know Him.
as a bird! Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to pay for everything? We come
and go as we please, we have no responsibilities, and we just live? In theory,
perhaps! But in all reality, wouldn’t it be a lonely society if everyone just
lived for his or her needs without needing anybody?
daily reality is ruled by our needs. We need to work to get food on the table. It’s
simple. Workers deserve their pay. Withholding wages is withholding sustenance.
We all need to eat, so we all need to get paid. There is no such thing as free
The kingdom of
God works entirely differently. In this world, time is money. We get paid for
our services. God on the other hand is timeless and He does not get paid.
According to our world’s standards, God is poor. And there is really no room
for God in the busy machinery we call life in this world. We couldn’t be more
estranged from the ways of Heaven. So much so, that we can’t really imagine
what Heaven is like, other than the absence of fear, loneliness, sickness and
disease. – Well, we take all of that out of the equation, what is left to fight
for? If there ain’t any issues, there ain’t any problems to solve. What kind of
life is that? Are we going to be bored in Heaven?
The presence of
Heaven is a sure indicator that there is such a thing as free lunch. Freedom
from paid services on one hand, graciousness and generosity on the other is a
way of life. Unfettered by money, unhindered by poverty, unencumbered by
physical limitations we live the life of a citizen in the kingdom of God.
The essence of
life in God’s kingdom is love. It’s the relationships that count. Life is
rewarding because we have each other. And the beauty of it all: we don’t put a
price tag on love, because love is priceless. We’re rich because God is rich in
love. Love is the color of Heaven that’s dripping down on planet Earth; love is
the secret agent on Earth that holds things together. Without God’s love this
world would have fallen apart a long time ago.
that next time when we pay someone for his or her services. We don’t pay
because we have to, but because we want to. This comes closer to God’s generous
mindset who showers us with His blessings – not because He has to, but because
He wants to!
Inspired by my singing experience for Memory Care patients, I wrote a poem this morning. Here goes:
Brain I forgot my brain today I must have left it in the kitchen sink From there it went through the strainer And continued into the City sewage I think this must be why The language coming out of my mouth Smells suspiciously And I guess that’s why I feel so miserable Just like a piece of shit.
Lord help me Where did my brain go? Tell me, where did my brain go?
I don’t remember your name Please don’t take that the wrong way There are talking heads around me They feel like misplaced keys Everything seems out of place these days What day is today? And who is the President of the United States? Who cares? I don’t even remember how I got here.
Lord help me Where did my brain go? Tell me, where did my brain go?
I can see it in their eyes When I sing my song They hate what I have become With my memory gone Let me tell you Without words and rhyme Even if you don’t recognize me anymore It’s still me I’m still here I’m not that far gone You can still hold me You can still touch me My brain left me Don’t leave me too.
Lord help me Where did my brain go? Tell me, where did my brain go?
I’m placed with the lost and found Aimlessly wandering around Our frail bodies bear precious cargo When our bodies fail Where does the cargo go? My soul needs a place to stay How do I get there if I forgot how to pray? God scoops me up at the end of the day Even if I don’t remember Thank God – He remembers me anyway.
When our brain function deteriorates we may forget who we are. But does that really mean we cease to exist? I believe the essence of us is not tied to our brains, and by the way, it’s not tied to our physical appearance either. The essence of who we are is tied to our Creator, and let me tell you: He does not think poorly of you and me. He thinks of us like a parent, like a mother and father combined.
We are always on God’s mind. Yes,
we are always on His mind! And even if we forget God, He never forgets us.