Things Jesus Modeled and Taught – Love

I had a chess set a long time ago, and I loved that little chess set. It was a rather funky, electronic board that meant I could play chess even when no one else in the family wanted to play – and that was always. So I played against the computer – an unseen opponent way smarter than myself (because truth be told, I ain’t that smart most of the time!). Anyway, I loved that chess board until way beyond the day it gave up the ghost and it could play no more.

Now I have different loves: I love my guitar (although I neglect it often). I have a strong attachment to my guitar and I’d be sad if it ever left me.

I love tasty food (but I don’t neglect that love!). Yet, I can live without food. I can fast; I can miss meals; I can go without – it truly doesn’t bother me. I love food, but I recognise that even when it’s tasty, It’s a means to an end of survival.

I am part of a family consisting of me, my wife, and my three children – I love my family beyond words. They are my deepest loves on this revolving planet in this great universe! If I ever lost them I would be a wreck, devastated with a hole in my heart. But despite my love, I still find that I do not treat them perfect, much as I try. I will let them down. There are times when I’ve not been there for them. There will be times when my love alone doesn’t seem to be enough for them. This is a deep love, but it is also an imperfect human love.

Jesus taught, spoke and modeled a life of love a LOT! But what he taught about love differs from the loves I’ve described above. He taught that there is a love so much MORE than the love we show. Many in the past have described or called it the unconditional love of God:

When you look at the love of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) it is clear that God’s Love is a big love; a boundless love; a better love – it has no end to it. According to the God Book no matter what you do in life God never stops loving you. This does not equate to us acting how we want and God shrugging his shoulders with a ‘doesn’t matter what you do’ perspective – what we do really does matter to God, but what you do DOES NOT stop God from loving you – as already written: God’s Love is BOUNDLESS. I have seen this in my own life.

  • I have experienced loss and grief – God held me in his loving hands.
  • I have been an idiot and let people down – God gently led me lovingly back along the pathway called repentance into the wide street of reconciliation
  • I have experienced many failures – God loved me in the ditch and reached down many times to pick me up and set my feet on a secure path despite my failings
  • I have lived through horrendous abuse – God healed and restored my soul so that I could experience the joy of living well and happy

There is no part of your life that God cannot reach with his love if you will let him. He longs for you to open your heart to His goodness. The good book (the bible) tells us that Jesus ‘knocks at the door’ calling out for us to open our lives to Him (Revelation 3:20). Even while suffering on the Cross of crucifixion Jesus was still revealing boundless love – he cried out to God to forgive those who caused his suffering and impending death; he sees to it that John the beloved disciple will take care of of his mother; he assures the criminal on the cross next to him that he will enter paradise. This is the boundless depth of the love Jesus taught, spoke of, and lived out in his short time on earth!

The Good Book talks about how the invite to know God’s love is open to all today – it is an inclusive invite for all to come to God and experience His transforming love personally. Maybe today you can open the door to Jesus; open the door of your heart to the love of God; open the door to his healing work; open the door to happiness with Jesus in your corner.

His love is more. More than we have ever experienced – can you hear his love calling to you today?

Faith moves mountains 🏔

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Have faith in God.

Have faith in yourself.

God has faith in you.

Ever thought that?

Never thought that?

Thought worth thinking, that.

Believe for the best.

Believe you can do it.

You’ll get through it.

Trust in yourself.

Trust God’s help.

He’ll see you through.

018 Why the character of your heart really matters

I have been thinking much recently about what is important regarding how we conduct ourselves when life goes pear-shaped and messed up.

The bible has much to say about the importance of looking after your heart (not-least because it is the wellspring of life!). In the bible there’s this story about a prophet called Samuel. The story tells how Sam is sent to find and anoint a new king (a death-worthy mission when you consider the current king is still very much alive and well!). Sam visits a family with plenty of strong lads who look ‘kingly’ They all stand before him and one by one they are rejected. In the story God tells Samuel not to look at the outward appearance when trying to choose a new king. Why?

Because God looks at the heart! Therefore, so should he!

Whatever we face in life, the state of our heart is really important. It’s not enough to ‘get the job done at any cost’ – the state of your heart while you are working really matters to God, and it ought to matter to us too. We don’t often hear people talking about integrity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In today’s world we see business and political leaders treating others like they are of no value at all (did someone say Trump?!). How we treat other people matters – it really matters!

Whatever you have on at the moment, do it with a heart filled with good character and integrity. Treat those around you well. Don’t burn your bridges – you might need to meet those people again in a context where they are the power-holders. Act out of kindness, humility and concern for ‘the other’. Let your heart burn with love. It will not only help you get great results, it will bless those around you, and at the same time it will cause your heart to swell with joy!

 

 

017 Optimism and the Death of a good man

Did you know that today is Good Friday? Arguably the most important day in the Christian calendar! Strange then that I have found myself thinking about optimism when my faith path leads me to the crucifixion today. Perhaps this is not as strange as you might think.

Optimists get a hard time these days: we are accused of being unrealistic in our thinking; we are told that life is not ‘pollyanna’ and that optimism is a mask for what’s happening underneath (Imagine the serene swan gracefully gliding down the river, while underneath the water they are paddling like crazy!!).

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Optimism is not about denying reality – it is about believing that good can come out of our sometimes harsh realities. I am no stranger to pain, death, loss and grumpiness. In life I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly, and understand the showdowns of life. Optimism is about seeing past the pain to healing. It is seeing hope in helplessness. And it is believing in better and rejecting the bitter.

Which leads me to the good guy suffering a gory death on a Roman cross, naked for all to see – what good could possibly come out of that?!

There’s this little verse in a letter to some Hebrews which says,

(Jesus)…who for the joy set before him endured the cross.

It seem Jesus was looking past the pain towards the joy of possibilities. The cross was not the end – it was THE means to an end. Jesus knew and believed that his death would result in new life for the countless millions who would choose to follow him back into relationship with God the Father (Did you know that one in every three humans on the planet claim to follow Jesus today?).

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Perhaps Jesus was an optimist. Perhaps he simply had faith in God to make all things new. Perhaps he didn’t even see the whole picture, but just somehow knew it would all work out for the good.

Whatever you are going through today, may you find strength in God and your own heart to look past the pain to see the possibilities of joy that are on the other side. And may God bless you with all you need to keep stepping forward one step, and one day, at a time.

Revolution on your Soul?

My wife just had to get rid of her trainers. they had holey soles and were giving her wet feet. She wanted to show me the damage so she gave me her shoe to have a look.

I turned the shoe over and found the word “Revolution” on the sole.

I found this interesting as I began to consider how we get revolution into our soul. The answer is in the sole – it was holey.

Perhaps revolution on the soul begins with recognising that Jesus has made a way for us to live holy lives. Our souls need to be holy.

Like my wife’s trainer we don’t need to be perfect. We are broken people saved by God’s grace. Our holiness begins by ensuring that the person of Jesus is filling our soul (like a foot). WE have revolutionary relationship with him – a relationship that is based in God The father’s Perfect unconditional love for each of us.

You are blessed with the favour and love of God

Today’s’ post is a very short encouragement regarding God’s view of you. We often view God as distant and unconcerned with our lives – but this is so far from the truth. There’s a song in the bible that says the following:

“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

let them sing joyful praises forever.

Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

For you bless the godly, O Lord;

you surround them with your shield of love.”

‭‭- Psalm 5:11-12‬

Many of us are looking for places of love, warmth, safety, affirmation or belonging. According to this song we can find these things (and more) in God. Whatever you’re looking for, may you find your true rest and peace in God today

We are blessed by God, and surrounded by the shield His Love.

His love protects, blesses and delivers us.

His favour rests upon you when you live for him, with him, and through him.

He is for you, and not against you.

He loves you.

Enjoy your day and allow some of these thoughts to ruminate in your heart and mind, and illuminate your soul.

Can we have Certain faith in an uncertain world?

How can we ever know that the Gospel of Jesus and the words of the bible are really true? I mean, they were written thousands of years ago in a culture that is so different from ours – no phones, no bank accounts, no McDonalds! It was orally passed down before it was written down! How can we believe that today?!

I hear this a lot. It doesn’t surprise me any more. There’s no simple answer except to say that faith is both simple, yet difficult. It’s hard to believe facts that you can’t verify easily (unless you have a time machine, which so far we don’t Dr!).

It’s hard to believe when you have not yet experienced the power and presence of the Gospel in true encounter with God.

As a Church we need to be encountering God more than we do. We should be seeking to meet with God daily. Our experience and our bible understanding need to come together to infuse into faith that is solid and certain. The Bible claims we can have certainty of what we have been taught, and we place our faith/trust in those teachings. This does not mean there is no doubt – Thomas was not removed from Jesus for doubting – in fact he was blessed as a result of it. Perhaps doubt is part of the strengthening process of faith?

In the Gospel written by Luke he writes the book to show the stories surrounding the life and work of Jesus in order that…

…you might know the CERTAINTY of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:3-4).

Our faith can be certain and steadfast. We can know the certainty of what we believe. Remember, there can still be some doubt – faith is not the removal of doubt: it is trusting God in the midst of it. In the aftermath of Christmas we have opportunities to share our faith with friends and family – it’s a time of year when discussions about Jesus are in the social consciousness.

I pray that we will take these opportunities to share our faith with confidence in the Gospel, understanding of the truth, and sensitivity to those we are sharing with.