Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pleasing God

The master who said to his servants "...well done, good and faithful servant..." raises the question of when can we and do we please God and how. 

In one sense there is nothing we can do to make ourselves good (lovely) enough to be accepted by God. We simply are too broken (untrusting and suspicious of God) to ever live a life of complete, uninterrupted love and devotion to him unaided (i.e. on our own), that is equal to (does adequate justice to) who he is (all glorious and worthy of total honor) and what is properly due him (and he also desires).

We can however, by the power and influence of God, out of his infinite love for us, made accessible by and through his unlimited grace, shed forth in our hearts by his Spirit, live for God's glory. In this way it is possible. But this is in response to God's love, not the result of self generated effort i.e. willpower.

Are our wills involved? Absolutely! We have a choice and play a vital role in how we honor and please God. But it's a choice of believing or not believing the completeness and fullness of God's perfect love for us.

This is not a choice to will ourselves to "do or be better"  "God, I am really sorry I blew it again. I am determined to do better next time. Just watch and see."

It is choice of how much (to what extent) do we believe and receive his love for us. How much do we understand, recognize and accept that "*it is finished" and there is nothing we will or ever can do to make it more so. It is a choice to receive and accept (bask in and even **enjoy) his love when we blow it. 

*"it" being the payment for and removal of all condemnation for our rebellious distrust; the essence of all sinful behavior.

And not only so, but the righteousness of Christ is also fully credited to us. If we are in Christ, the ***credit for His perfectly lived life of faithfulness is totally assigned to us. We are now looked upon by God as perfectly righteous/moral.

As a result, God's love is now fully fixed (locked in) on us. He and it can never be removed (separated from us) or us from him (it).

Nor can his love be changed or added to, because of what Christ has already done for us. It is not based on what we do (or will do) for him i.e. it is not because we are deserving, but because Christ is. He earned this for us. 

Knowing this is vital to our being empowered to live for him, because we can only truly love because he first loved us, never the other way around. Our love for (and faithfulness to) him is dependent on his love for us first and our believing and receiving (knowing) this total love. 

We are designed to be responders to God's love, not initiators of love. It is vital we grasp the extent and fullness of God's love in order to be moved to love and desire (have affections for) him in return, over all other desires. The greater and fuller our understanding of this infinite love, the greater and fuller our response and the more honor and glory we bring to him.

And when we do respond (act) in this way, he is well pleased. And he is pleased not only because it brings him great honor but also because it brings us great joy i.e. he is happy for us because he longs for our best i.e. he loves us. 

Matt 25:14-30

21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

  • For a further discussion on the difference between willpower and affections click here
  • For a discussion on the difference between God's objective and subjective love and presence click here
  • For a discussion on experiencing and participating in God's love click here.
  • For a discussion on his love being based solely on grace click here


** We enjoy the love itself. Of course we don't enjoy grieving the one who so faithfully loves us (Jesus). However when we understand nothing stops his love, not even our unfaithfulness, it moves us in greater love and a stronger desire to not grieve him (he is grieved for our sake, not his own). 

Our unfaithfulness only quenches our experience of this unending love, not the love itself. 

***isn't it ironic of how offended we get when others receive credit for what we did

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Self-worth or God's worth?

To *value ourselves is better than not valuing ourselves.

We cannot function to the maximum of our potential if we do not see ourselves as having value and bringing value to others.

However to be valued by God is not only better, but what we are truly designed for and therefore what is best and actually works.

When we understand and recognize God's value of us, we are able to function as designed, regardless of if or when others value us i.e. unlike the approval of finite creatures, Gods value of us is infinite and certain (because it is not based on our performance but on Christ's). The value others have of us and our value of ourselves is not. It is fickle and inconsistent at best and therefore inadequate. Long term it is insufficient i.e. it simply doesn't work.

It is fickle and inconsistent because humanity is fickle and inconsistent; both ourselves and others.

An infinite need cannot be satisfied by a finite source (us).

We were designed to experience infinite value and be the means of bringing God's infinite value to others.

We can only be solid, stable and consistent when (and to the extent) we are anchored in him (his value of us) who is solid stable and consistent.

When we are solid stable and consistent it is only because we are anchored in him who is solid stable and consistent.

The irony is we don't experience our greatest sense of value by focusing on it, (...self, repeat after me, I am valuable, loved important etc.) but when we focus on the most valuable i.e. God (only he is infinitely worthy, lovely and most important etc.)

Why is this? Because, as his image bearers, we were designed to engage and participate in the worth/glory/love of God. We experience our greatest value/meaning/glory/love only when we participate in the most valuable/meaningful/glorious/loving...God. Anything less does not match up with who we are and were designed to be i.e. it simply does not work.

"Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it." Jesus in Luk 17:33

"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake (i.e. to honor me) will find it." Jesus in Mat 16:24-26   

We will only truly find our lives when we lose our him i.e. when we stop seeking to find life without God is when we find real, lasting and true him. 

*I am using value as synonymous with infinitely loved, worthy, important, significant etc.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

the appeal of humility

Why is it that when we see humility in others we find it so appealing? 

No one likes someone who is arrogant and thinks they are "all that." Everyone likes someone who is humble. 

The reason? 

Because humble people treat others (us) with dignity and arrogant people do not. 

A truly (*genuinely) humble person is other (you and I) oriented not self oriented. 

We like it when others treat us as significant/important and do not when they think they are the only one in the room who is.  Nothing is more boring then someone always talking about themselves.

In truth we are all significant in the eyes of God. For someone to act as if they alone are significant is not only unappealing (or even repulsive), it's simply not true. 

The bottom line is when someone is all about self, they have no time for others (including you), unless it is to use them to advance themselves in some way. We find these kind of people boring at best and often obnoxious. 

On the other hand we are draw to truly humble people. We like them. We like it (even admire it) when someone recognizes they are who they are because of others and are focused on recognizing and/or helping others. True humility is always **other oriented and always refreshing. 

As Tim Keller likes to say, "humility isn't thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less"


*...there is also a false humility which no one likes. False humility is not humility at all but actually self pity which is also about self, but masked as humility. 

**Given this understanding tells us something very significant about God, doesn't it? Ironic when you consider most interpret God's call to recognize his glory as only being self focused, when in fact God knows the best thing for us, is our recognizing his glory

Monday, July 3, 2017

Do you have real life?

To make life all about us assumes there's nothing greater or more important than us. 

But what if there is? What if true life itself is a gift that comes outside of us and all the things we see and experience around us? What if our longing for life is due to the absence of connection to its true source? Wouldn't we be wise to explore this and shortchanging ourselves to ignore this possible source?

Some may object and say they have life already. A great one in fact! But how do we know? What if your life could be hundreds, maybe thousands of times richer and fuller...not necessarily circumstantially but in depth of meaning and purpose (most don't even know why they exist i.e. what their purpose is). 

Think of those moments (assuming you have had some) when you had the greatest joy, peace and happiness. What if your life could be like that all the time, without interruption, regardless of your circumstances and to a much greater degree...beyond your comprehension. 

Now what if you could experience this not just for fleeting moments but constantly and with ever increasing intensity forever, beyond this present existence. Wouldn't that be better than the life you now have with little or no future hope and worth exploring and pursuing?

All the things we find lovely, attractive, beautiful, enjoyable and breathtaking now is not a illusion or delusion. We experience and are drawn to beauty for a reason. We experience this because we were designed to engage in and enjoy ultimate beauty; the source of beauty itself. 

And we will do so even far more in the next life. It is there we will experience all things in all their complete, original, uncorrupted, unfettered fullness and glory with our unfettered ability to do so.

Creation will be clearly seen as it truly is. Not as the source of life in itself but as the overflowing gift(s) of the infinitely beautiful, creative, glorious, and loving God; the source/creator of all things, resulting in our hearts overflowing and singing his praises, not to creation but to him for all things he has made and given for our joy.

Now what if this life was offered to you as a gift and not something you would need to gain through your own efforts or could, even if you wanted to or tried. Wouldn't you want to know about it?

This is what is offered to you in Christ.

"...but whoever drinks of the water that I (Jesus) will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." - Jesus Joh 4:14

"But, as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him' ”— 1 Cor 2:9

Do you love him i.e. value him above all other persons or things? If you do not, you have not experienced his love for you yet. To experience his love truly is to love him truly. We can do nothing less once we have.

Do you wish to participate? He invites you to come. 

"The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price (you can't earn or buy it)." - The closing invitation of John the apostle regarding the revelation of Jesus Christ. Rev 22:17 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hard wired for greatness

Reducing people to something 1less than humans (such as holding someone as a political or emotional prisoner or hostage) isn't tolerated long by those being abused. 

Why? Because we are image bearers of one who is of infinite worth, we can not remain long in a state of being treated without dignity (unless we have lost hope of finding relief). We will find a way... one way or another to fill the void and pain of worthlessness (being treated as such) and relieve that pain or die trying (if we ever lose complete hope of obtaining a sense of worth/ meaning/purpose, we will end our lives). 

We applaud the human spirit. We love it when someone, against all odds, refuses to give in to the struggles and set backs of life and fights back against being treated as less then they are (and were designed to be). Instead of giving up, they battle back against opposition, defeat and pain to eventually rise and 2overcome it. The greater the struggle, the more we cheer when they overcome it. The sweetest victory is the one that occurs after it seems least likely to happen.

This is why we love an epic battle of 3good vs evil in movies such as Star Wars (box office sales prove the universal appeal) or any movie that depicts an underdog overcoming seemingly overwhelming adversity such as "Rudy", "Hoosiers" or "Shawn Shank Redemption." We love it when these underdogs are in the battle of their life and desperately losing (or considered "losers") than, against all odds they come back and win. Super Bowl LI with the history making come back of Tom Brady and the Patriots also comes to mind. Even if you didn't like the Patriots you still may quietly respect and maybe even admire their "never quit" approach to the game. At a minimum you will at least wish your team had the same focus and determination.

Why does this connect so deeply within us all? Why do we cheer the Rocky's of the world so enthusiastically?  

We desire greatness and we cheer those on who achieve it. We are all wired for infinite worth. To engage it, experience it and live it!

We all look and hope for something more. Even to the point we live it out vicariously through various celebrity types. We worship "successful" people because it makes us feel important. "Check it out! I know this or that about so and so (sharing something about some well know celebrity)!! Wooowhoooo!!"" If we ever lose hope of obtaining some sense of value/importance/worth, we give up and die. 

But why is this? Why such universal appeal? 

We are all hard wired for greatness because we are hard wired for (to engage, participate in and experience) GOD who is greatest

We are all wired for GOD. And not just any god but the only true God who created and sustains everything who is of infinite worth, greatness and beauty. A God we were designed to fully engage, experience and enjoy. 

Because we were wired to engage and experience greatness i.e. God himself, we long for it. 

However we settle for far less than we were designed for. We settle for the finite when we are designed for the Infinite i.e. the things of creation instead of the Creator. We go about life content (but only short term; moment to moment, like a bee constantly seeking pollen) when we experience the slightest little thing that affirms us. 

But only the Infinite will do. Why? Because we were designed for the Infinite, Almighty, All Glorious, Majestic and Beautiful God! Ultimately nothing else can or will do.  


 1 Who are of great value as God's image bearers (and therefore need to experience/feel and participate in great value)

2 This is why death is so gut wrenching and puzzling. It just feels wrong. We have an innate sense, life should never end (and we only give up on living when we can no longer acquire or enjoy the things of life as easily as we grow older or somehow are unable to enjoy the fruits of this life). Even though death is a common part of our existence, instinctively we know death is an aberration not a normal part of life.  

This is also why overcoming death, is such an exciting and appealing message/reality. This is why the resurrection of Christ is so vital.

3 Note what characterizes good verse evil is rooted in being treated or not treated with value; being loved as we wish to be loved, treated as we wish to be treated. Where does this come from? It goes directly to the infinite worth of God himself. To explore this more click here

Friday, June 23, 2017

Offenders and offended

God abhors evil (wrong doing) because he loves those it harms. He hates precisely because he loves first

This same love moves God to be patient with us in our wrong doing and the harm we cause others. He does not delight in our harm or perishing no more then he delights in our harming and destroying others. He equally values all who are created in his image.

So it appears God has a dilemma. He loves both the offender and the offended.

How did God resolve this?

Because of our brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and inability to operate (to love others) as we were designed and because of his infinite love for us and complete hatred for the wrongdoing that entangles and destroys us all, he provided the solution himself. God sent someone else (who came willingly out of love for him and love for us) to remedy this dilemma by having this other person (willingly) suffer the consequences in our place. 

*Someone who did no true harm or offense (except calling out others on their arrogance...which of course they found offensive). 

He did this so both those who harm (offend) and those who are harmed (offended) might not have to reap long term destruction for the harm they cause others i.e. so they wouldn't have to take care of their indebtedness to restore the loss/harm they caused others because someone else paid it for them.

We are all offenders and offended.

To provide a solution he, who did no wrong and did not deserve the consequences of wrong doing, took all of this and deliberately put it on himself instead of onto us, who did. He sent Jesus, the eternal, faultless Son of God. He now invites you to accept his gift and experience the fullness of his love that moved him to offer it.

This is why it's call amazing grace!!

Psa_85:10  Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Isa 53:3  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

5  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

*Evil - רַע   (pronounced ra) (948c) in the Old Testament Hebrew; from the same as H7455; evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity

— adversity (7), calamity (4), disaster (2), evil (94), harm (2), harmful (1), hurt (1),ruin (3), surely (1), trouble (2), unpleasant (1), wickedly (1), wickedness (1).

For a further discussion regarding evil click here.  


*in order for someone else to credit us with righteousness (God honoring living) and to bear the consequences of our unrighteousness (rebellious unbelief leading to God dishonoring living), they could not have any of their own unrighteousness (rebellious unbelief) and had to live fully for the glory of God (be righteous). The only sacrifice that could meet this was a "lamb without spot and blemish" (no flaws, sins i.e. no unfaithfulness to living for God's honor but total faithfulness. Someone who loved God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and their neighbor as themselves). The only person to do that was the eternal Son of God and Son of man, Jesus Christ. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Shifting hope

We get frustrated (or angry) with the struggles of life because intuitively we know pain and struggle is not what we were originally created for. We were ultimately created for a relationship of infinite, uninterrupted love, joy and bliss; not merely finite (limited/temporary) relationships or relationships with things finite.

We long for a relationship of *infinite love. When we can not find it we go after anything else we can "get our hands on" to give us that sense of love, glory, meaning, value etc. Yet we never truly find long term what we seek. We only experience tastes of it in fits and starts. 

Even for those blessed enough to be in a healthy relationship(s)... one(s) they are truly grateful for, it still is not enough. We long for more because we were designed for more...far more. 

Until we realize what we long for will not and can not be found in this life, we go through life constantly disappointed and always frustrated. 

Only when we come to a place that we know what we really long for is not here but yet to come, does the frustration subside. Our hope shifts and we enter into a true and lasting hope and begin to pursue all other things in light of this new hope. 

Rom 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Heb 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 


*Once true (perfect, infinite, uninterrupted) love is awakened, we desire more with even greater intensity and ultimately with everything that is in us. 

Usually the closest we come to this is when we "fall in love" for the first time. But it isn't sufficient because perfect, infinite, uninterrupted love is what we are designed for. This is our ultimate and true hope and only this love will do.