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Posted on by Laura Posted in Media, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August Newsletter-Amp Breaker Box

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Long, long time ago. My hair was brown and my waist size was a bit exaggerated from sitting behind a desk for hours a day at a past job. Jane and I were asked to quote scripture for some very close family friends’ daughter’s wedding. I’ll never forget it. The tie was a bit tight, and the shirt size gave me a pretty good red face. We rotated back and forth quoting 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, reading verses 4 through 7:

‘Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…’

I remember sweating through that moment (Jane as ‘cool as a cucumber’), me hoping to remember my short little lines. Truth is, I was excited to do it. That scripture had already found a unique home in my life and its role for me was much bigger than that one moment. Years earlier, I had put two and two together about that scripture; especially marrying it with 1 John Chapter 4 and John’s insistence on hammering it home that God is Love. John emphasizes the statement 5 times in that chapter alone.

It’s pretty strong language. The kind of language that might cause us to change our minds about what we think of our God, kind of language. In the 1 Corinthians Love verses, Love is referenced over a dozen times. By the time we had been invited to read those scriptures, it was common for Jane and me to replace the word Love with the word God. I remember in earlier bible studies discussing that kind of thinking about God. Many times I’ve expressed it like this: If God is Love, if 1 Corinthians is, by definition, Love, then God is patient, not centered upon Himself but others, loves to forgive, is saddened by our choices to hurt ourselves by not taking His wisdom into account, He loves Truth (Jesus is Truth for us), bears our scorn, believes in us, hopes in us, endures all for our sake. Love/God in the earth never fails.

In those studies I looked at how the Gospel is similar to a house electric breaker box. I think my electric box at home has 40 or so breakers that distribute power to different circuits throughout our home. All those circuits are blessings for us. Each breaker delivers things we need or enjoy. Flip one of those breakers off and whatever is assigned to that circuit does not function. A unique part of any breaker box is the main breaker. If that breaker was switched off or lost its power source, all 40 of the other breakers fail. Simply, the main breaker controls what happens in all 40 other breakers. To me, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the main breaker in the Gospel breaker box. If something is to get through to bless our lives, the main breaker is God’s Love. To empower the 40 other blessings to be discovered in the Gospel, each has to pass through the main source breaker: Agape. Anger, hate, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, etc. trip that main, blocking the flow of further blessings down the line. None of us are perfect at preventing that from happening. However, having to go less and less to reset that breaker makes for a more pleasant life. For over 40 years I have tried to pass my definition, or expression, of Who God is, what He does, through the main breaker of 1 Corinthians 13. (It’s always saddened me that the world system stole the word ‘love’ and mutated it, misrepresented it, and created a different vocabulary, stripping it of its scriptural meaning. The word correctly describing something beautiful and wonderful has been slanged into simply a physical expression.)

It’s sometimes hard to get our mind wrapped around that kind of idea, that Love, about the God we worship. Many times it’s easy to think the Father is not patient at all, actually keeping a big record of all our mistakes, and He’s just waiting to pounce. And, because we know us very well, our awareness of not being trustworthy sometimes makes it hard for us to believe He can be trustworthy or caring for people such as us.

I’ve stated before in these letters, God doesn’t seek His own when encouraging us to worship and pray but is seeking for us to discover and find the great benefit to our lives if we do those things. Personally, He’s the Creator of all life and doesn’t need to be encouraged or praised to keep His Spirit up. He doesn’t have good days and bad days. But God knows the mysteries and secrets of our entering into those activities and how they bless our lives. We tend to become double-minded in our thinking about God. And according to James 1:3-8, wavering in our faith can make us unstable. One minute He’s doing the wonderful for us, the next minute, perhaps His mood changes, and watch out! One very important scripture that visits this same conversation is ‘Love casts out fear.’ (1 John 4:18) That’s the remedy to many of our imaginations or separation or rejection because of our weakness. God is Love; knowing that casts out fear.

(WARNING: grandparent statements to follow!) Jane recently went to St. Louis to help our daughter and husband with their 2 year old little girl, Chloe. That family had just had a baby boy, and well, you know, grandmothers to the rescue. I had to drive there to pick Jane up the next weekend and while there I got a good sampling of ‘Chloe the amazing’. I’ll not list all the things I mean by that statement but I’ll bring up one particular moment. We were outside, Chloe in her swing, and Jane and I were rocking her back and forth. In that one moment, looking into Chloe’s smile and eyes, the whole universe of God’s Love for His children seemed to just open up. There was an uncontrollable, not reasoned or logical or even deserving, flash of how, in Christ Jesus, God sees children of God. He continues knocking, inviting, hoping, trusting, wishing, and loving. God Hoping His children will see Him for who He is, believe what He has done, come to Him and find Rest and Peace. In a simple single word, His vibe is we would ‘embrace’ God is Love. He is calm about you, kind about you, not jealous of anyone, does not act unlovely, does not seek His own encouragement but gives that to you, forgives, loves righteousness found in Christ. His invitation bears all, trusts, hopes and endures. We have been alerted that double-mindedness about those ‘God characteristics’ makes the word of God of no effect, sterile, unproductive, dead as a winter.

Watching Chloe swing and joyously receive the compassion of her grandparents opened a window into the Gospel Love proclaimed in Father, Son and Spirit. All the hopes, dreams, grace, emotions felt for Chloe were being pictured in my mind.

Is it possible to love unconditionally? Humanly, with that Chloe swinging experience, I just answered that question. Spiritually, don’t you imagine if the creature can muster up that kind of response that it’s entirely possible with the Creator? Do you think the ability to do that comes from…evolution? Jesus in his wisdom advised that there is only one Good– the Father. We don’t just carry around Love because we’re simply super kind people. I mean, have you read or watched the news? As a people we’re pretty despicable many times. No, Agape is not of ourselves, any good is because we have been seeded with, and we carry around, His Love to share, care and create relationships.

A few years ago I made a very significant commitment. My intention is to try and not say anything about God here on earth that I would not say about Him while entering the gates of Heaven. I suppose the easiest way to say that is I try to characterize the Father using the same words the Son used to express Him. Jesus knew God better than any other person, Old or New Testament. How I characterize God is critically important to the Peace I’ve found in being ready to be face to face with Him. The world is full of religions with thousands of different expressions; mine is based in those few verses- 13: 4-7. I try to bracket that with Philippians 4:8. ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ The Greek word for think in that verse is defined as: to occupy one’s self with reckoning or calculations, to reason, to consider, to conclude, (significantly: to settle it!).

In the original language used in 1 Corinthians, charity is used. (Hear this, it’s very important.) It’s a love expression unknown to writers outside the New Testament. It’s used to express love in its fullest conceivable form and only exhibited by Christ; a love expressing God’s relationship to us and a love expressing the kind of relationship of The Father to the Son. (E. W. Bullinger’s Lexicon) He’s the Giver of Life, He’s Good, He sent Jesus to express Himself to us! He is patient, kind, isn’t arrogant, doesn’t act selfishly, He’s eager to forgive, loves righteousness and gifts it to us. God bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all for our sakes. God never fails. He’s the kind of God that would give His only Son to establish the relationship with us and invite us into a personal lifelong journey of Joy, Peace, and Rest. If I err about the heart of God I hope to err on this side of that Gospel equation.

July Newsletter-Tomorrow

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In my previous newsletters I’ve emphasized how the Spirit of God is inside believers. I would also suggest, many times believers live like they question that a bit. We can easily assume that God must be called into our lives from far away in order to enter into our particular world or circumstances. Over the 30 plus years I’ve written these letters, if I had to pick out one theme that overlaid almost everything I say in them, it’s ‘God is with us’– not in another dimension. He doesn’t have to be whistled into ours. When Adam and Eve failed, the result was they lost their knowledge of Grace of God, of His Love. What was initially a wonderful grace experience between them and God became suspicious in their minds. Wandering around life without that Grace knowledge became mankind’s universal curse. Post-Eden searching for that specific knowledge is the journey each person is required to walk. However, God never gives up on us discovering He’s Love. God sent prophets, priests and kings and He placed evidence of Himself in the creation so that we might find Him. His desire is that all men find that knowledge of Grace. How else do you explain that the Creator of the cosmos sent His Son to be brutalized and killed and then sent The Comforter to stay in each believer’s heart. That’s pretty personal, pretty one on one.

While thinking about that Grace, and being aware of the Peace it brings, I was thinking about how that knowledge fits into our today, and especially into our tomorrow. The changes we see in our community, our culture and actually the whole world, create a tension between our Christ filled hearts, what we hope for and dream of, and the world systems. Believers’ hearts naturally oppose what we are seeing and hearing many times. In scripture, we’re encouraged to become as children about the Gospel because children actually, usually only see reality. Jesus himself, the wisest of all men, encouraged us to become such as that. Unfortunately, as children grow older they typically change into looking at the world as adults express it. Truth is, the Gospel is reality; the world’s system is sleight of hand, offering much it cannot deliver.

After walking around the earth for a few decades, I’m aware of the responsibility of Christians to be ‘salt of the earth’. We’re to be a shining light in a dark place, doing so by reflecting His radiance and not our own. We’re to share the Gospel and create a place for its expression to be life changing for others. Believers are to bring Hope where there is no Hope. That’s one of the purposes of the Church in the earth. Today and tomorrow, if the fields are really white for harvest, believers have a great opportunity to share the Love of God. Ours is to not match hate for hate, but bring Hope and Good News. The introduction of chaos, confusion, anxiety and rebellion takes its toll on all of us, both the ones creating it and the ones having to observe it. I once heard it said that our lives will be significantly different if we don’t simply evaluate it by what we see but more by how we see it. A world view in competition with the heart of God might be another way to say it. Christ in us is why believers have the ability to Hope in times like these. We are not to be overwhelmed by the world but have a confidence that Christ within us makes it possible to overcome a world of trouble. In the midst of that, we can Rest and, as I mentioned in a previous letter, pray. Author Eugene Peterson once wrote that ‘waiting in prayer is the disciplined refusal to act before God acts.’ Isaiah 40:31 says, ‘They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’ You and I have heard that many times and each time I read it I’m reminded that to ‘wait upon’ in the original text refers to braiding (similar to a rope) ourselves with God. That word implies God adds and strengthens when we join with Him, in this case, in prayer. It’s interesting to notice that when Jesus was told of Lazarus’ death, he waited two more days before going to the site. Confidence in what the Father was doing might have created that response. With the pace of this world, waiting can be pretty tough and pretty out of step with what’s going on around us. However, if we look at the life of Jesus, instead of just simply showing up as adult Jesus and walking into Jerusalem and in a just a few hours permitting the leaders to crucify him, problem solved, Jesus actually waited until he saw what the Father was doing. It took 33 years to accomplish his purpose. For all those years, Jesus waited, trusted and believed.

It’s interesting to look back and see the similarity of the early scripture of the Old Testament and the New. Adam and Eve failed to believe God and the apple became a problem. Abraham did believe and it was counted unto him as righteousness. (Gen 15) Moses followed and led the Hebrews out of Egypt because he believed. Later he would not enter into the Promised Land because he and they doubted God’s promise to go in. Today, and tomorrow, we face that same kind of moment. Do we trust, do we hold steadfast because of the witness in our hearts, or get captured by the world system through their manipulation of our mind and imagination?

One of the things I have grown patient with over the years is not measuring the ‘ways of God’ by what’s going on around me. ‘Judge nothing before its time’ has been a catch phrase for me over the years. In reality, I can only get into a Peaceful place by having a perspective of what’s happening in God’s ‘cosmos’. What is going on in His Kingdom is not the same as what we see and hear, here. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, which had never been done before, no past experiences of that existed. Yet, Jesus did what is real in his world of influence right in the middle of our world of crisis. What we have seen and heard, sickness and war, for the past few years creates fear, division and some very hateful environments. I still have a confidence that as in the Lord’s Prayer (Mathew 6:1) someday ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven’ will come to pass. Even as the world’s anti-Lord’s prayers manifest themselves, God’s dream for the earth is still active and true, no matter what we see and hear. The ‘birth pangs’ we currently see and hear are not unreal; they’re actually described in scripture, but they will eventually be destroyed. The Promise of the whole Word of God is that He is advancing toward a re-model; we’re on the road to that happening in some tomorrow. I’m reminded of a quote I heard years ago, ‘Prophecy is a history of the future.’ That’s interesting to think about, considering prophesies we’ve been given for our future. This is our bottom line. There is a voice that might be quiet and subtle but is louder than all the other voices we hear here on earth- the voice of the Father, Son and the Spirit speak and overshadow all other voices.

God is with us. We are not in this alone, we’re not ‘heavy lifting’ it all by ourselves. Ephesians 2:22 reminds us of the Spirit’s habitation, literally dwelling place, in believers’ hearts. With all the distractions, terror, fear, and aggressiveness we still can have Peace dwelling in our hearts because the Spirit of God lives there. Our task is to tap into that, let it dominate our daily lives; pause long enough to consider it. You can’t outlaw ‘indwelling’. I had minor surgery years ago and the doctor didn’t use stitches on the wound; his explanation was that with physical wounds such as that, they heal from the inside outward. The Spirit of Christ heals the same way; He’s in our hearts. That’s where our true healing comes from.

Andrew Peterson came out with a song we’ve rotated for about 3 years now: Is He Worthy? Andrew’s answer is ‘He Is’. It’s a reference back to the Book of Revelation. That question can find a place in our hearts to where we constantly answer, ‘He is’. As such He is worthy of our awe, our praise, our affection and worthy of our trust. Today and tomorrow, He is with us, does not forsake us, does not abandon or give up on His vision of our future. I often remember how Paul, in his writing prior to crucifixion referred to our Savior as Jesus Christ. After resurrection, Paul referred to him as Christ Jesus. Each was appropriate because Jesus Christ represents what man could do through God. Christ Jesus represents what God could do through man. That’s a nice gift package for us.

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