Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. J.R.R. Tolkien
How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are. 1 John 3:1
*I’m over sixty now, and I’ve always had plenty of hair—a good foot and a half of it in the 1970s. Barbers often commented, “Wow, what a bush!” I think one actually charged me extra because of it. Well, that’s not really the case these days. The bush has fallen over dead! Chemo killed it. They say it grows back and that sometimes it reappears different than it was before. When I was being marinated with cancer-killing chemicals I said that if it comes back blond I’m gonna start surfing. It didn’t and I didn’t.
Instead of a gradual receding of my hairline over decades of aging, I lost all my hair—right down to my eyebrows and eyelashes—overnight. You just don’t look right without eyebrows––sort of extraterrestrial. The top of my head looked like a clear-cut forest. Though disconcerting, my new look wasn’t a complete shock to me. Among all the other unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy—chemo-brain, nausea, debilitating fatigue—the premature loss of my hair seemed trifling. Some people look better bald—but I wasn’t one of them. Continue reading →
No, I mean really. Imagine it. Take a minute, but not too much more than that, to think about what it would feel like if God didn’t love you.
I bet you’ve never heard this before, especially from someone who normally pleads with people to know that he does love them (which, of course, he does)! I know it doesn’t sound particularly edifying and I admit it isn’t ordinarily the best use of your imagination. We’re usually encouraged to meditate on the opposite; that’s why you’ll have to flex your imagining muscles to do this. But consider the possible benefit of momentarily envisioning what is not true in order to assess how much you genuinely believe what is.
Should you be willing to go along with my quirky experiment, I suggest that you identify and temporarily feel the feelings that go along with imagining a God who doesn’t love you. If you don’t feel anything different than you normally feel, consider what condition this might indicate. It could be a sign that your default is to think that God actually doesn’t think much of you. You get the logic, right? If it’s no stretch for you to imagine him as unloving in general or that he loves other people, but not you, the results of my bizarre exercise might signify that one or the other of these is how you actually believe. I say, “actually believe,” because our emotions don’t usually follow what we say we believe or even what we think we believe but what we truly believe. Continue reading →
[I hope you’ll take a look at the 1st three posts or if you’d prefer to view the entire essay you can find it on barneywiget.com.]
The Father loves outer circle sinners and wants his inner circle sons to love them too (Luke 15:11-32)
The most familiar of the three stories is what we typically call the Prodigal Son Parable. Of all Jesus’ parables, this one probably contains the largest cache of spiritual themes and lessons. Each character is significant. There’s the defiant Outer Circle Son who rebelled and later repented. There’s the Pharisaical Inner Circle Son who detested his father’s fawning over his Outer Circle poor excuse for a brother. And then there’s the father who loves his sons fervidly and equally – both the Inner and Outer Circle one. Both sons broke their father’s heart. One left home, while the other one was never really “at home” to begin with. He was as lost as his younger brother, albeit lost while at home. The younger was lost in his rebellion with an empty stomach and the other was lost in his religion with an empty heart. Both needed to come home! Continue reading →
May you have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge… Ephesians 3:18-19
“If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:12
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us… 1 John 4:16-17
We love because he first loved us… 1 John 4:19
God’s love is mutually enjoyed; it looks for a resting place and yearns for reciprocation. His love is only “complete” when those he’s reaching out to reach back. Tozer wrote, “It is a strange and beautiful eccentricity of the free God that he has allowed his heart to be emotionally identified with men. Self-sufficient that he is, he wants our love and will not be satisfied till he gets it.” Continue reading →
Most Bible students are quite familiar with the Greek terms in the New Testament for love. The most prominent of them is “agape,” which denotes unconditional self-giving. It’s this kind of love that God displays to us, deposits in us, and demands of us. It’s the ultimate unselfishness, the deepest regard for another, even when the lover receives no reciprocation of his love in return. It’s the riskiest of loves, the one that “lays down its life for its friends.”
There’s another term for love used a bunch in the Old Testament – “Hesed.” (The “h” has that guttural sound that you make when you’re getting ready to spit. You should practice saying it only when alone and with a tissue in hand.) Pronunciation aside, “hesed” is God’s stubborn, relentless, unrestrained, and insistent love. Hesed is when you refuse to give up loving, even when you have every reason to. That’s the way God loves. When he’s rejected, when his proposal is refused, when his overtures are all rebuffed; he keeps on “hesed-ing” and “agape-ing!” He’s a stubborn lover! Continue reading →
Of all the ways to describe what God is like, this is the most legendary. He loved the world enough to send his Son, he loved us while we were still sinners, he loves us in our state of paltry sanctification. How great is the vast and fearless love of God! His love endures forever. As long as God lives, God loves. Pardon the double negative, but God will never not love! Continue reading →
This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God… 1 John 3:19-22
A case study
When he wrote, “God is greater than our hearts and knows everything,” I wouldn’t doubt if he had his good friend and teammate, Peter, in mind. I know that my favorite failure-become-champion is Peter – arrogant, immature, mouthy Peter. “They-might-blow-it-but-I’m-better-than-all-of-those-guys” Peter.
You know the narrative. “I swear on a stack of Torah’s, I’m no friend of that man they call Jesus!” Fast forward to the tomb angel, “Tell his disciples and Peter that Jesus will see you in Galilee.” I don’t think he was implying that Peter was off the team, but that he probably needed a special invitation because he thought he was. “Be sure to tell Peter about the meeting. He might need a little extra encouragement to show up.” Continue reading →