Words to live by | Online journal of Marc Heriot

Archive for the ‘Intimacy with God’ Category

Need and supply

Need speaks. Listen to it.

There is an interesting relationship between human need and supply that the Father has established on earth. Life is demanding. Our bodies need air, food, rest, warmth, safety, and beyond basic biological needs our soul needs love, affection, understanding, nurturing, and hope. We have needs, and lots of them.

Our world was created and filled abundantly to satisfy them. And when I have difficulty finding satisfaction our Father declares that he himself will be our supply. I love how God answered Moses when he asked, “I am going to the sons of Israel and will tell them the God of your Fathers has sent me but what should I say to them when they ask ‘what is his name?’ ” God responded, “Yahweh” which is the Hebrew verb meaning, “I am.” I am what? I am what you need me to be. And from this point in the Bible forward we encounter a steady list of names in which God revealed himself to Israel including: Yahweh Tsidkenu —I am your righteousness; Yahweh Rapha — I am your healer, Yahweh Jireh — I am your provider; Yahweh Shalom — and I am your peace; and Yahweh Oshea (or yeshua, or Joshua, or Jesus) — I am your salvation. He knows we need, and he knows that we would only be fully satisfied connected to him as our source of supply.

But, I am resilient. I have a love/hate relationship with need, reluctant to accept supply especially if it in-debts me to another. And for men who have stepped aside from God even more so. Have you ever worked through your hunger? Or pushed through a day on very few hours of sleep? There seems to be some virtue in working through weakness, or dismissing it and getting on with life. I don’t have a date to the office party, so I’m going anyway. I don’t have a travel companion, so why should that stop me from exploring the world? It’s easy to become routinely deaf to the things which are speaking to me. Giving me information. I am stubborn, head-strong and ignore need staring me in the face.

But need is a powerful indicator. Yes, it’s demanding, but if it weren’t it wouldn’t be a need. But it makes sense to listen to it’s voice. If you hear a rattle in your car you’ve never heard before, it’s telling you something. Either stop and address it or it will stop you —usually at a most inconvenient time. You choose —your timetable or your car’s? And if you think about it, our relationship with need and supply on earth is a very reflection of heaven and hell. What is more satisfying than having a deep, all consuming need fulfilled? When it happens, it’s a picture or symbol of heaven. In contrast, when hungry, or thirsty, or needing sleep, without the possibility that need will ever be met, it is the very picture of hell. I am convinced hell and heaven are more than locations — they are the state of our soul being connected to or disconnected from the source of supply. Forever.

So why is it so easy to ignore the need I have when it is so obvious to others? When a baby is born, he has no words to express himself. There is one universal way to draw attention to their need. Thankfully, over time words replace wails — he learns to associate this particular feeling with the need to eat, or sleep, or to be delivered from the turd monsters attacking his sensitive little bottom. “I’m hungry, is it dinnertime yet?” Is much better than “wahhhhhh!” And that is the story of growing up — I identify this strange, amorphous feeling inside and learn to verbalize it. Discuss it. Share it. Communicate nuances about it. I refine my perceptions from red, green and blue, to rhododendron, chartreuse, and indigo. There is a lot to learn, and even graduating from college doesn’t mean I have the vocabulary to frame every feeling we experience in life. Listening to and framing up what I am feeling, and more importantly identifying it and pursuing what I need is a skill that takes a lifetime to sharpen. I have a choice to pay attention to it or ignore it. Grow up or stunt that growth. But there is good news: our Father even helps me vocalize in prayer what my spirit knows is the need:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans‬ ‭8:26-27‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays… 1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬

There’s another way to look at need. Consider, for example, what if my need is a gateway rather than a threat? What if it’s really an opportunity to recognize my weakness and my own limits, and the opportunity of strength and wisdom achieved with another? Peter writes (with my comments sprinkled in):

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials (or needs) so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire (some needs are more demanding, threatening than others), may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (because he is our supply); and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-9‬ ‭NASB

Need ends in finding him. Connection to the source of supply. Closeness to God. And Jesus make it clear there is more blessedness in need in the following:

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. ‭Luke‬ ‭6:20-23 NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Need is directing us toward something essential. It makes me pay attention. Look for a solution. Yet it always speaks to me with the promise of supply. I have been born to look at everything through eyes of hope. And even when the hope of a solution on earth seems dim, there is a heavenly hope I may lean upon.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We are complex creatures, often with mixed values and desires. When need speaks to us, it’s important to pay attention to it and pursue supply. With the Holy Spirit as my helper, I may request supply from my Heavenly Father. And in my need and my pursuit for fulfillment I find that my God not only has supply, but he uses the circumstance ultimately for great blessing.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I need you more – Kim Walker-Smith

Asking, receiving, and living faith

Asking requires the muscle of faith. And like all muscles, it must be exercised to achieve full potential.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. ‭‭James‬ ‭1:5-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

This is not a mental game we play with God and faith, gauging if we are doubting or not, or measuring the faith we have as if the fulfillment of the request is within my power. It’s not. That’s why I ask the Father. He accomplishes it. Yet, am I convinced that he loves me? The gift of his son’s life for mine should help with that. Does he hear me? Want nothing but good for me? He calls us children, and a compassionate parent is always in earshot of his kids, looking out for their welfare. Does he want me to ask? The sheer volume of times Jesus told his disciples to ask should convince me of that. James makes it clear: “He gives generously without reproach” or without defamation, reviling, or insult. In other words, whatever you are asking, he will not minimize or dismiss, secretly laughing at how stupid it may seem. Quite the opposite. When your need speaks, he thoroughly cherishes it and the fact that you would come to him with it.

So the groundwork is laid: I must first believe that I may ask and he hears me. But it’s even more than that.

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself… (Speaking of Abraham) you see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected… For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James‬ ‭2:14-26‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The natural outflowing of believing something, really believing it is true, is that you act on it. When the alarm goes off, you believe it’s time to get up for work. When a friend calls to meet you for coffee, you head to Starbucks at the time you agreed because you believe your friend will be there. When you cut your finger, you put a bandage on it and believe that given time your body will heal itself, so you do no more than protect it. The same is true of asking the Father for something. Internally, you must be convinced, but once you are, you act on it.

This is where we separate living faith from faith that is dead. God is not Santa Clause for whom I make an absurd list of requests and plop it in a mailbox with the envelope addressed to the North Pole. Quite the contrary, He’s a living being whose Spirit is dwelling in my body. We know each other. It’s a real relationship with real communication. It’s not always with words. In fact, it seldom is. He is spirit and those that worship him and speak with him must do so in spirit. When teaching Sunday School to third graders I’d liken this spirit conversation to phone lines or cell signals. It’s our means of connecting. You can’t see them, but they are real, and you know it when someone picks up on the other end. So when asking him for something, it’s a process. If I need or want something, obviously my desire is there, as well as the wishing that I have what I want. But the reality is that it is a request that I bring before him. And this is the key: at some point in that dialogue with my good Father, I believe that it’s mine and he gives it to me. Once that happens, I may act on it as though it existed, even if I don’t see it.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval (through acting on their living faith). By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. Hebrews‬ ‭11:1, 3‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬

I endeavor to take my faith out of “neutral” and shift it into gear. To actively trust in a living relationship with a living God. Asking, takes work. Connecting with my Father about my “ask” takes work. Then, once convinced, true faith results in work, or actions that synchronize with my belief. It’s time to grow up. To be the fruitful, and ask liberally and receive liberally.

John 4:14 His abiding presence

And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke‬ ‭24:49‬ ‭NASB‬‬

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” ‭‭John‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The living water that Jesus promised the woman at the well is my Father’s habitation within me, His presence and the impact that comes with it. His presence in us is a big deal. A game changer.

Imagine being a disciple when they discovered that Jesus was actually alive after being brutally killed. They had such hope that they had found the Messiah, the one all Jews were looking for. He seemed beyond a doubt to be the one. His words, teaching, authority, the miracles, obliterated every doubt — until he was taken. Their emotions went from euphoria to terror for their lives, then disbelief that he was alive again. Once convinced he was really alive, the disciples recognized the incredible moment of history they were experiencing. He was dead, now is alive. What does this mean? The weight of what was happening could easily land on their shoulders. Their contemplated, “how do we respond?” Jesus helped them:

Wait. The promise, the power, the direction is coming. Wait for Him.

The glue of human history is the Holy Spirit. A man’s influence has a beginning and an end — and in view of our history is pretty short-lived. The Father, on the other hand, is the continuity between generations, leaders, nations, cultures, and moments. Since man’s first sin, the creation has been like an old jalopy careening out of control down the highway. Bumper, fenders, parts falling off, pavement comes and goes, visibility dicey at times, so many unpredictable outcomes. On man’s best day of planning, we reduce a small percentage of the variables over which we actually have control. But the Holy Spirit helps us navigate supremely down a road that no other could predict let alone know. The only reasonable response is to listen, follow, and trust. No human effort could respond appropriately at this moment. Nor did it need to. That glue of human history was about to stick another piece of the big puzzle picture together.

The fountainhead of those waters were released on the day of Pentecost. It was an event eagerly anticipated by both heaven and earth. The moment of impact was accompanied by a rushing mighty wind and fire above the heads of those gathered. They gushed forth in other languages speaking, most likely shouting, the praises of God. At its core this was the Father taking up residence in clean, swept, waiting, praying, and available men and women. The change, as titillating as the experience may have been, was to be an abiding presence of our God — in us. A fellowship with which we are to become quite accustomed.

The resurrection and His abiding presence change everything.

Originally from November 22, 2017

John 5:20 The Father loves the son

For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. John‬ ‭5:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Rotherham’s literal translation adds “The Father dearly loves the Son…”

As I read my way through the book of John, one thing is clear: Jesus knew that he was loved by his dad. The expressions I read are not effusive but matter of fact.

The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. John‬ ‭3:35‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

And the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NIV ‬‬‬‬

Rotherham translates it: “You are my Son, the Beloved, in you I delight.” Mark 1:10

Here is obvious affection and affirmation of the son. Does God love one more than another? Is there anything I can do to obtain more or less of his love? I have wondered if there are increments in his love and if so, how could I develop that more. Yet the questions remains: is there something in our nature that will encourage love, have affection, draw you nearer to one more than another?

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. John‬ ‭10:17-18‬ ‭NIV ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We all have seen an affection of one person for another and have been envious of the same. Whether it was a parent, teacher, friend or sibling who showed preference and value in another — either by affirmation, special treatment, or simply a relaxed trusting interpersonal connection. Something we all want. Then, thinking about the love of God, somehow the thinking reverts to first grade t-ball games: everyone is a winner, we don’t keep score.

So let’s think about the distinction for a moment. God places a high value in people, in me, because I am a person, created in his image. He knows me through and through — both my strengths and the passions or hurts that make me vulnerable. And he loves me whether or not I am doing good. He made provision for me and all people since Adam’s first sin in the Garden. He covered us with grace and a promise. It didn’t stop the flood of hell through the gap that the sin caused, but it is present none the less. Murderer or lover, he makes no distinction. The black sheep and the prodigal, or the one that stays and does his will. They are both his children. And if personal responsibility is a value that makes the best people who they are, then God our Father takes full ownership for both the sickness and the remedy of man. Always has.

But the things I do also matter. When I do good, I bless and help others. When I am only thinking about myself, I hurt others. Even though my Father loves me, if I wreak havoc on another life, his nature of justice wants both me to own my behavior and to extend a shield of protection and remedy to the victim. On the other end of the spectrum, when I do good and love others, I extend his very heart to those that I love — and in this there is reward. But as much as I like credit for doing good, does he love me more?

The most important value in the Father’s heart is love. His love for us, and our love for him. And this value doesn’t mean a lot if it doesn’t result in the very thing it is intended: relationship. Affection, trust, understanding, bantering, laughing, rest, confidence, invincibility. This is my sweet spot as a human… in love. When I respond to love, it provides a context of growth. The person I become, the moulding of my character and nature, the years of choices I make are all things which reflect the values of my life. Yes, he loves me. But does he love me more? It’s an odd question. If a man deeply loves a woman, is she loved more when their love achieves intercourse? Is a grandchild loved more when they spend time with Grandma and enjoy each other’s company and they laugh and create memories compared to the one she doesn’t know? Love expressed and fulfilled is the life we have been called to. Not to talk about it and write about it. The choices we make either draw us toward love or away from it. And living loved make us who we are. And who we are, who we become, is a gift we may offer the father. Yes he loves us, but there is a deep affection any normal person has when they feel valued enough by another that the other person’s life is changed to reflect him or her. I love you enough to be like you.

So let’s put the answer to all these questions in perspective. God dearly loves ALL of us. Yet, something about Jesus prompted John to write that “the Father loves the son.” In John 10 we read why: Jesus did something. He agreed to give up his life. He trusted his Father and emptied himself of all the ambition that a perfect, gifted, qualified man could have embraced, and agreed to be sin’s sacrifice. He gave himself up — to trust—like no individual before him has done. If you were the Father, how would you feel about that? Yes, Jesus is a pretty special son. So, the Father has been given full control to spend the Son as he wishes. In death. For me.

Read that again.

The most valuable thing that the Father possessed, his Son, he was willing to spend on me for my health and remedy. When parents give birth to a child, they project themselves to the future and imagine what their son or daughter will be when they grow up. In a similar fashion, the very thing the our Father hoped for when he created man was standing before him in Christ —a man that loves him, revels in their fellowship, and fully trusts. And like any good father, he has plans for him. He would be the payment for life’s overdue MasterCard bill.

So, who does he love more, Jesus or me?

Silly question, huh? Yes, he’s deeply affected by what we do, whether bad or good. But the goal is to love. To have relationship with me. And that is what is reflected in the Father’s love for the son. And because of this, in Jesus there was/is an extension of our Father’s kingdom on earth in a unique way. In the context of being filled with the Holy Spirit without measure, of performing incredible signs and wonders, Jesus says in John 10 the reason for such unique delegation… because I lay down my life.

With this lack of interest in his own agenda, goals, desires, and even his experiences on earth, Jesus embodied the Father’s spirit, authority, and signs and wonders. He could hear his Father and see where he is working, and do the same. Walking on water, multiplying food, raising the dead — these things make men marvel, yet Jesus saw them and was not tickled by their novelty. In Jesus’ relationship with the Father, he could see what he is doing (present tense). And thus the next comment, “and greater works will he show him.”

So we may believe.

And so we may follow in his steps and do and be the same.

John 14:2-3 The playground of our heart

In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. ‭‭John‬ ‭14:2-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Where does God dwell? When the sanctuary was standing, for many years his presence, his Shekina, was there. But even when the sanctuary was standing, he had his eyes on a different home. Humans.

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. Isaiah‬ ‭66:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

But since the Son came and offered himself and our human temple is swept and clean, he left the former temple (dramatically, I might add) and now he dwells in temples of flesh, the tents of man. My Father takes up residence within me. At the same time Jesus died on the cross, this occurred:

then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭27:51‬ ‭NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

This curtain was a symbol, similar to the Passover lamb. They both were shadows of the real, they pointed to something that cast the shadow. The shadow caster is Jesus. And the heavenly and earthly intersected with timing that was not coincidental.

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh. ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:19-20‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

It wasn’t until after Jesus died, rose, and ascended that the Holy Spirit could fill his disciples. He told them to wait for it. He boldly promised during a feast of the Jews, loudly declaring:

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John‬ ‭7:38-39‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Holy Spirit now dwells in man.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Often when we think of where God is, we think of an ambiguous place called heaven, one described only by the most vivid imagination. We have a general idea that it will no longer involve death or suffering (and anything you translate that to mean from not having to eat vegetables to having a field day at Six Flags over California). But, there’s a real place that he dwells, and it’s definitely not here on earth. Or is it?

What does he want? This is most poignantly answered from Genesis 3:9 Then the Lord God called to man, “Where are you?” He wants us.

He longs for relationship, closeness. Nearness to my heart. Association with my brokenness. And more than that, pleasure in my joy, recovery, and my journey. The Holy Spirit fills me. He fills his other believers. He dwells in man. This is incredible. First in Christ (1 Col 1:19 All the fullness of God dwelt in him and in John 2:19 Jesus is the temple). Now in me (1 Corinthians 3:16 I am the temple of God), and eventually, us – a people connected and built together for him into a temple in the spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22).

So, I ask again, where does he dwell? Where are the all rooms that Jesus speaks of? If I attend a funeral, the minister will usually make it plain that he or she believes it’s in that ambiguous heaven zone. Sometime in the future. Something I don’t see. I understand and accept that I don’t see everything today. I’m a man in a body of flesh that has limitations. But he gives me “sprit eyes” with which to see. And, God made this body. And he made it with the intent of experiencing me in it. And me him. Jesus too had a body. And unlike me, it was not blinded by his own sin and he was able to see that kingdom without obstruction. And to dwell there. And to pull from its storehouses and share with those he taught. You knew Jesus had another source besides his family, upbringing and the education (he never received from Jewish schools), he spoke with authority and impact. He was the real deal and listeners recognized the substance which he commanded.

Thayer’s Greek lexicon says “dwelling place” means: a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode. It speaks of a comfortable place, like home. It’s used only one other place in the New Testament, later in verse 23 speaking of the Father and the Son:

“…and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him.” John‬ ‭14:23‬ ‭AMP‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Possibly, the many rooms of which he speaks are the hearts of those he has redeemed, and loves. Believers. There may be many places Jesus dwells. Places we do not know or understand. Wild, wonderful, miraculous, mind-blowing dwellings that have the ability to color our world uniquely and give us a perspective that is different than natural man. But he also dwells in me. Why can’t that be just as mind blowing?

It is.

The thing that is often confused from the consolation Jesus is offering his disciples is the timing. Is it another far off, pie in the sky promise of when men and women sit on clouds with golden harps? I personally believe that Jesus, who was friends in the flesh with his disciples, was letting them know that there would be a pause and he would be right back (so to speak). Later, in John 16:7, he told them it was better for them that he went away:

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. ‭‭John‬ ‭16:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

He was again pointing to the fact that they would be the new temple. Yes, their relationship would change. It would no longer be flesh to flesh, something they (and we) were very comfortable with. But as much as a relationship with Jesus in the flesh would no longer be present, he was telling them that they would experience him in an even better way. And this occurred with a rushing mighty wind on the day of Pentecost when Jesus returned and filled them all. Clearly, Jesus was saying that the promise of the Holy Spirit and God dwelling in men was coming shortly. Days away. He was talking to them like the nurse talking to the woman in labor. It’s coming.

Putting on “spirit eyes” and not trying to interpret this in the flesh, we may see Jesus in each other. As a believer who wants to value what God values, I’m being transformed daily to be more like him. Yeah, there are some parts still in progress, maybe a lot of parts, but if you can get past the unfinished and see what he has done, you may find him in me. I’m a temple for him. So are you. We may experience the presence of God in each other. I’m a dwelling place for him. So are you. There are many, many rooms in our Father’s house. And it is in these places that not only our Lord dwells, but we are invited to live. We may experience him and his kingdom and majesty in each other. In the playground of our hearts.

The sanctuary of the heart

Our hearts are like subterranean pools of water, full of refreshing and waiting to be found. There are some places not even known until they are discovered by others. Our heart and soul are the playground of our closest friends. There is nothing like the feeling of being loved and accepted for who I am, even delighted in. Can someone find pleasure and value in me? Although we aren’t always conscious of it, our soul is constantly looking for that answer. Who values what I value? Who may understand the perspective from which I look at things and enjoy it like I do?

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs‬ ‭20:5‬ ‭NIV

At the core of my person is a sanctuary in which my Father abides. He loves dwelling within. He created me, infusing me with the essence of his person. A snippet of himself. And despite the layers that the world would overlay on me, obscuring and interpreting me through a value system distinct from the raw love and acceptance that welcomed my birth, the pure, raw me contains his image. The unfiltered person of my childhood. The authentic transparency to which my family was exposed when I was young. Yet, as I’ve aged filters are attached. Layers are added. I am buried within a complexity which makes me more difficult to get to know. Yet, I am still growing and developing and becoming. The seeds of authenticity from which I began continue to shape in my life.

So, here I am.

And, there you are.

We each have a capacity to allow others into our lives. Openness and vulnerability is not something we offer quickly, or all at once, even if I’m an extrovert and others perceive me as an open book. It’s incremental. Peeling back the layers of our heart and exposing ourselves takes time. And in reality, they are sacred moments when it happens. We often don’t even know ourselves fully until we interact with others. Relating to another is an act of trust. And trust comes from belief. Faith that the person to whom I open will not harm me, but rather, will value me. As obvious as this sounds, when I open up, it’s to… another. And that “another” is not me. It’s someone else. Someone who I don’t control, nor do I know their thoughts or motives. And in the transaction of knowing another person is a key, a reflection, or a symbol, of knowing God.

Intimacy and closeness with others helps me to know Him.

Is it any wonder that there is a flow of distraction that keeps us from authentic connection, relationship, and conversation — from the iPhone and media that constantly stream to me and offer a sense of pseudo-value and a real-time escape from connection? Busyness. Distraction. And often, once an interpersonal exchange begins with another, from it erupts suspicion, interpersonal tension, rough edges that rub me the wrong way. It’s like our heart is a kingdom guarded by these angry little watchmen doing anything to keep everyone out. To keep us from closeness to others.

Distraction started in the garden with Adam. He was placed in the world that had all that he needed. Food. Safety. Eve. And a regular time in the cool of the day walking with the creator. But for some reason he began to value the work of his hands above the marvelous connectedness with the Father. What a fateful slip! He ended up trading intimacy for work. Making a living by the sweat of his brow. It’s as if God said, “Work? You prefer the work you are doing? Then fine. Work it shall be. What you used to get freely and without effort  will now come because of your efforts. No longer will you have the capacity to roam and discover in my kingdom without distraction.” Oh! What we lost! Now we see it. And we may return to it. A reclaimed place with him in the heavens, while still living in the fallen condition of earth.

And I may find it in others. There is a playground in the hearts of people. The Father is close in those interactions. When another opens their heart and life to me, they open to my Father. There is nothing more powerful than desire for another. And within that desire is not only a value for what they are, but a hope that they too value you. Love and affection are the deepest of all human emotions, and deep love for another will cause one to go as far as giving their life.

I sense that if I desire to know God and discover him, the many rooms of his house (John 14) are located very close to me. Sitting next to me on the bus or at work. Going to bed with me at night. Hustling and bustling about me during my day. Showing up in the face of friends and family. If I peel back the veil of flesh, I see Him. His love, acceptance, grace, playfulness. Our God is close. All about me. Will I allow those divine transactions between people so that I may know him more?

God’s Love

Awakening to the sound of the woodpecker pounding on our metal gutter at 5:30 a.m., I rose to enjoy a cloudless morning and chorus of birds outside.

I turned on my iPod and listened to Kim Walker singing:

“Oh how He loves us, how he loves us so. He is jealous for me. If love is a hurricane I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His glory…”

The passion and fervency of heaven comes through this song. The Holy Spirit speaks through it, again:-) If a man were to want a glimpse of heaven’s love, or more specifically, a jealous God’s love, where would he look? God has made the young woman and the stout buck to be wired for love. Hormones are at their peak. Minds are their sharpest. Lives are waiting to be written. There is eager anticipation of the future and a desire to forge forward… in companionship. Physical beauty and attractiveness are at their highest level. The flexibility, creativity, the ability to step out of the box of the familiar, the desire to engage and be engaged, the wild and crazy, the serious and substantial, are all present. And for love, to what end would one be willing to run? It is the strangest mix and strongest balance of both love given and love received. Not too much expression to appear presumptuous and insensitive, but not too little that my intention and desire would remain hidden. The pace is set by the one with the most trepidation. The idea that my love could be received and needed by another is incredible. The idea that another finds value in me! and could love me and accept me is even more astounding. Once the ice is broken and the pursuit begins, love is a discovery. Who are you? What are your values? Who are your friends? What are they like? What is your family like? Your relationship with your mom? Dad? What is your history? What are your dreams? Your ambitions? Let us run and play together that I can see the wonder of a person that God created in you. I want no stone, no detail, left unturned. I am absolutely taken with you. Your love is intoxicating. My head swims and swoons. My knees are weak. All of my desire is for you. I want to be with you. Always.

Let’s make a commitment: we will run after each other for the rest of our lives. We will let love speak in every experience we have from today forward. We will let storms rock us and age take its toll, we will raise the fruit of our love together pouring into our offspring the love we have for each other. In them we will find the seeds of our person that were hidden, dormant or buried, and  learn of each other afresh, seeing each other in their eyes and experiences.

And when the passion has finished taking our breath away, our physical response will be replaced by the deep understanding of the incredibleness of it all: our Lord has been manifested in the flesh and has lived with me all these years and loved me with the unfolding of each other. What I thought would be unlovely and would try to hide has snuck its way out, only to be found in cherishing acceptance, as though my secret was kept only to reveal a new level of vulnerability and acceptance which in itself has resulted in new levels of passion and incredible love.

Oh the love of the Father for us, that He would design such a thing for us to know His love for us.

LOVE

The most important thing on earth, according to Jesus, is:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God–with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind:  38 This, is the great and first commandment.  39 The second, like it, is, this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matt 22:37; Deut 6:5

To love is our greatest duty. What is it? How do we do it? Kim, in her spontaneous exhortation at the end of the song declares: “You would know if you’ve been touched by the love of God because you’d never be the same. You’d never be the same.”

 1Jn 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1Cor 13 gives us a description of what love looks like. Whatever it is, it deals with the core of who we are as individuals. The idea that loving our neighbor is only bringing a dinner over to a needy family because we are on the schedule for the compassion ministry this week is an insult. The love of a maid for her prince describes a portion of the passion included in love — a portion. It is about relationship at its core.

It is about God calling: “Samuel, Samuel,” or about the Father meeting and disclosing His plans for Sodom to Abraham, or sending Nathan to David and spilling God’s heart all over the place. It was about Elohim meeting Isaac and confirming his word.

Gen 26:24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”

And to Jacob:

Gen 28:15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

Love with individuals is a progressive expression. When out and about or in the workplace it’s as simple as acceptance of another. Inclusion, hearing, responding, interaction, teasing, fellowship, more inclusion, value, esteem, commitment, preferring another, self- sacrifice, and ultimately, laying down our life for our friend.

Learning about love

The first interaction we have with love is in our relationship with new life. We are helpless, and the father gives us a mother. We have all that we need for the season. We learn love from others, from family, mom, dad, then from our friends, then our lovers. The expression of love toward us is out of our control. We could be quite convinced, or abused.

Love is aggressive, pursuing, persistent, seeking.

Love must be expressed. It is impossible to love without expression. Pure feelings of love are not consummated except with action. Something must come from me. Love is energy, a verb.

Hurt creates barriers to true love. Love expressed does not have to be earth-shattering for it to carry the truth of its message. We only have one life to lay down for another. A kind word, a God-inspired gesture all speak to the same end. But to one who is hurt, it may not be received — since hurt results in a callousness and natural protection. The ground in which the seed of love is to be planted finds the ground hard where hurt has first visited. Jesus, heal the hurt. Restore the tenderness, sensitivity, humility and the willingness to believe again. Plow up the heart to receive your expression. Love is jealous. It will pursue. God’s love heals.

Knowing or receiving love is different for everyone. To some it is drawing close and embracing. To another, their mind must be convinced of love in a different way; through quality time, gifts received, being affirmed. The natural way I give love is the indicator of how I receive it. So giving and receiving in the natural is a good way to qualify our mate, but is impossible method with which to love others effectively. Heavenly love must be supernatural. He places the type of expression in us that will fill another’s bucket. Our choice to “love our neighbor” is first to acknowledge the requirement then to let the spirit determine the expression needed. Otherwise we will get worn out expressing it to another who has no capacity to receive it in the human context in which I offer it. It must be a spirit transaction.

What would indicate the love of God to me (Marc)?

  • The love, acceptance, devotion and affection of my wife and my lover
  • Acceptance and commitment of my friend. Ones who know me and still love me
  • The connection and interaction with a father. My father. My heavenly father. His fatherhood. His lead. His knowing, wisdom, and care
  • Inclusion in His body. Co-laboring; fellowship; shared experiences; shared destiny; and a shared journey.

A shift from performance-based relationship

My view of love is being rocked. I’m beginning to understand that it is not based in my performance. It is in “being.” From and to our being flows his love. I have long looked at my life and its value in terms of service I offer. If I do right, I am accepted. Like the Major League Baseball player with a batting average that will keep him on the team. “If my heart is committed and on track my service will reflect this.” I am only as loved as my service and contribution.

There is a reason it is taking so long for God’s love to penetrate my soul, and I deeply respect that reason. It’s not because He is slow. It’s about me getting it right. How can He release me as I am asking if I reflect a gospel that is works-based and lodged in world values? If I hold tightly to my record and performance, I miss the fundamental ingredient in my Savior’s love for me. I need the love of God to rock my world. I need a recalibration of my heavenly GPS, a system reset.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

Re-purposed from a May 17, 2009 journal entry