Father’s Love Letter

Do you ever struggle with knowing that God loves you? True confession…I sure do. I have a hard time connecting my head knowledge with my heart. But I know that God’s love is not limited by my doubts. Yet it’s critical that I stand firm upon the Word of God.

Today at church visiting Pastor Jim Masteller read “Father’s Love Letter”. It’s chock full of scripture and accurately reflects the Person of God, Who He is, His character and His love for His creation.

Please visit the “Father’s Love Letter” website…and download their poster…so you can have it ever before you a reminder on God’s love for you…His precious child.

Father’s Love Letter

A Father’s heart from Genesis to Revelation…

My Child……Love, Your Dad

You may not know me, but I know everything about you… Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up… Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways … Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered… Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image… Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being… Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring… Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived… Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation… Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake… Psalm 139:15-16

For all your days are written in my book… Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live… Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made… Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb… Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born … Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me… John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love…1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you… 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father…1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could… Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect Father… Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand… James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs… Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope… Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love… Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore… Psalm 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing… Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you… Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession… Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul… Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things… Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me… Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart … Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires… Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine… Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager… 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles…2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you… Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart… Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes… Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth… Revelation 21:4

I am your Father and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus… John 17:23

For in Jesus my love for you is revealed … John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being… Hebrews 1:3

And He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you.… Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins… 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled…2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you…1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love… Romans 8:32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me…1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again… Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen… Luke 15:7

I have always been Father and will always be Father… Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…Will you be my child?… John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you… Luke 15:11-32


Almighty God

Used by permission Father Heart Communications Copyright 1999 www.FathersLoveLetter.com

Saving Time?

When I checked back on Janna’s blog…there were quite a number of comments left by readers. I was saddened but not surprised to see a number of people didn’t find it disconcerting that Pastors may use sermons from other Pastors in order to save time. Saving time seemed to be the biggest justification for this practice.

I stand in awe and I’m amazed. Folks…we’re talking that each of us as individuals (especially as Pastors who are leading the body of Christ) has the opportunity to dig in, read and study the very word of God. Do you get it? The Creator of the universe gave us a vital, powerful message that He wants to share with each of us. We can know Him through His word. And we want to save time?

Today we have Pastors that want to “save time” from studying the word of God? They want the cliff notes version of the Bible? Or maybe the Reader’s Digest version?

Think about the person whom you love most in the whole entire world. The person for whom you would die if need be. Do you think you’d be thinking of clever things so that you wouldn’t have to spend too much time with them? Talking, listening or just being together? Or would you treasure each and every moment you get to spend with the wonderful person?

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” – Luke 10:26-28

How exactly does seeking to spend less time in the word of God demonstrate that we love God?

Was Jesus Christ thinking about saving time when hung on the cross? Or was he thinking how much He loves us…so much so that He was willing to endure excruciating pain, suffering and humiliation. The rejection and separation from God the Father because He bore our sins so that we might be saved? Do you think Jesus is thinking about how He can save time and not work so hard or is He preparing a place for us in heaven where we will dwell with Him for eternity?

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:2-4

Maybe instead we ought to approach it a little different. How about thinking what we can cut out of our schedule so that we might be able to spend more time with God in His word, in prayer and in fellowship with other believers?

When we get to heaven…and look back our life…do you think we’ll regret the opportunities that we missed to spend time with God and serving His kingdom here on earth? Or will we be thinking about the TV show that we missed and who won the latest contest?

Are we going through life with an eternal perspective…or a temporal perspective?

Tell me…can you imagine the Apostle Peter hitting John up for a copy of his latest sermon? “Hey John, what’s that…is that your message you preached last Sunday? Do you mind if I get a copy. I’ve got a busy week ahead and I’d like to save some time.”

The Apostles, Paul and the early followers of Jesus Christ had a burning passion and desire to preach and teach the word of God. Of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. These men lived with Jesus for three years as He went around performing miracles and changing lives. They saw an innocent man crucified on the cross…and three days later He is raised from the dead. What they saw transformed them from men who scattered when their leader was taken to be crucified into men who where willing to go to their own brutal deaths because of their faith. They had a burning passionate desire for God.

What about you? Is your flame burning bright and lighting up the world around you…or is it flickering and ready to be extinguished in the slightest breeze?

We need to ask ourselves…what will it take for me to get serious about God?

3/20/07 – At the End of the Day…Reflections

I’m still thinking about the issue that Janna at Bread Crumbs raised about Pastors and the latest trend for them to plagiarize or use another Pastor’s sermon, rather that preach their own sermon based on the their own study of the Bible. It is truly a deep topic and one of great importance to the church today. It’s also a poor, but accurate reflection the state of the church today. But it certainly does not take God by surprise…since He foretold of this happening two thousand years ago.

Last night after I had written down my thoughts about Pastors using a “sermon in a box” I wondered if people reading it would think I was too harsh on Pastors. After all they hold a position with heavy demands and many burdens.

Yet…I was reminded of the scripture that tell us that Pastors and Teachers will be held to a stricter accountability. In fact James said…not too many people would want the job just because of that judgment and scrutiny that Pastors will undergo by God.

“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” – James 3:1

I wonder…how much we don’t challenge our Pastors, Teachers and church leaders when they veer from the Bible. It’s not uncommon for Christians to think that they can not judge another person because the Bible cautions us about standing in judgment of others.

But what I wonder…how much do we cut them slack because we don’t want ourselves held to the high standards of the Bible? Because we ourselves don’t spend serious time reading and studying the Bible? How many of us today would consider ourselves like the Bereans?

How many of us sitting in church pew each Sunday are satisfied with the watered down gospel? That way we don’t have to feel convicted as we live in our own sin. The fact that I might be living with someone outside of marriage…please don’t look at that because we love each other or are committed to one another. Or maybe I’m not declaring money I’ve earn under the table on my taxes…and I feel justified because the government already takes out too much in taxes. Or maybe I’m thinking I’m not so bad. I’m not engaged in sexual sin outside of marriage and I don’t cheat the government by not paying what I the law requires. About the worst thing I do is a “little gossip” with Tammy Sue. But don’t worry…she won’t tell a soul.

Perhaps I am satisfied with the feel good 20 minute sermons that assure me that I am special and loved by God and He doesn’t want me to suffer, or be poor and that all I have to do is ask…and He’ll give me what I want.

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” – 2 Timothy 4:3

Those feel good sermons don’t hold my actions up against the Word of God…that non negotiable standard to which are all accountable. I can walk out of church after hearing a feel good sermon, feel good about myself and be blinded to the fact I’m living in sin. Or turn down the volume on the voice of the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin.

Instead we need Pastors that teach according to the word of God, who are more concerned that their teaching be pleasing to the Lord (to whom they will give an account) than the person sitting in the pew. They will likely throw out a few barbs that will stick and sting as they rest upon the sinner or the saint hearing the truth from God’s Word. Those barbs will dig deep as they fall upon the person living their life in contractions to God’s Word.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” – Hebrews 5:11-13

If God struck Uzzah dead when he reached out his hand to steady the ark because he violated God’s word and instructions, how will He treat us who disregard the Word of God?

Plagiarism…A Dangerous Trend

When reading Janna’s post at Bread Crumb’s I was reminded about a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Janna addresses the growing trend in Christianity today that encourages Pastors to plagiarize sermons.

I call it the dumbing down of the Gospel message. Inherent in this latest trend is the soft selling of the Gospel. Making it seeker friendly, not wanting to offend people by telling them they are a sinner and bound for hell. But that God has provided the free gift of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…that they can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

My church continues its quest to find a Sr. Pastor, following the death of our beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski…a Bible believing, no holds barred preaching, teaching, no nonsense kind of Pastor.

It is with fear and trembling that I wait to see whom God has called to be the man who will lead our church in the coming years. However, because our search committee and elders are committed to finding the man whom God has called, I am filled with peace and I’m trusting and waiting on the process and God’s perfect timing.

Since I have been most blessed to sit under some awesome Bible study teachers…I’ve been spoiled. As such…when I hear a sermon without much scripture and one that is shallow and without much substance…I find myself spiritually hungry. Kind of like when you each Chinese food…you are hungry shortly thereafter. These sermons don’t feed my spirit.

Please check out Janna’s post “It Can’t Be Plagiarism, Can It?” and be sure to watch the video on You Tube which raised Janna’s concern over this important and dangerous trend in the church today.

Below are my comments left in response to Janna’s post.

Dear Janna,

I think you hit the nail right on the head. Instead I fear the problem is far greater than the wrong act of plagiarism. Instead I believe to some degree it may stem from Biblical illiteracy. The prepackaged sermons seem rather hollow. It’s sad that a Pastor would depend on a “sermon in a box” rather than invest the time to study and trust the Holy Spirit to lead him, guide him and direct his preaching and teaching.

I’m sure that you as writer have experienced dry spells. Pastors may as well. In part we may see more of this trend because a lot of churches don’t teach book by book through the Bible. Instead they do the topical sermons.

This is an important topic. Your willingness to examine the Christian community from within is very commendable.

I’m always challenged and grow by reading your posts.

Lord bless…Susan

Decompress

If I’d have known what the last 5 ½ years with my mom would entailed…I wonder if I would have had the courage to make the same decision? I must say…I’m very grateful that I don’t know what my future here on earth holds for me. I’m glad it’s taken, step by step and day by day. I’m grateful that Jesus walks each step with me…even when I don’t feel His presence. It’s not about what I feel…it’s about what He promised in His word.

I never know from week to week what a visit to my mom will entail. She’s 85 years old and has Alzheimer’s. From all appearances…I’d say she is in the later stages of this wretched ugly disease. But it’s been a long time…and there is no end in sight. Not for her and not for me. There are times I’m positively weary from this awful disease.

It seems like all I see is the disease and not my mom.

Alzheimer’s robs human beings of every ounce of self and of dignity that they have. I guess the one merciful thing is that Gayle is blissfully ignorant, unaware and undisturbed by her current state. As she aged and before she was diagnosed she was terrified of getting Alzheimer’s. Her sister died of it…so she knew first hand the ugliness of Alzheimer’s.

I hate Alzheimer’s for what it’s done to my mother and what it’s done to me. What it’s made me feel…and how sometimes I feel nothing. At times I feel calloused and hard hearted just so I can get through this mess without loosing my sanity.

For my brothers…it’s as if my mom rode off into the sunset to die. A nice peaceful, painless and easy death. They haven’t been here for the last five years and haven’t seen just how ugly it can get. They haven’t seen her for over 5 years. They don’t call her, they don’t send her cards or letters. Christmas comes, her birthday, Mother’s Day, Easter…and there is nothing…only silence. It’s almost as if she’s already dead or never existed at all.

Here she is at the end of her life…and going through what she feared the most and they are no where to be found.

While I’ve known that what they are doing is wrong…a friend put it in perspective when she said that she couldn’t imagine that at the end of her life her children wouldn’t be there for her. Stephanie is a young mom of two toddlers…and she lives for those children. Each day brings another story of learning or discovery as her precious little ones grow up. Stephanie and Greg’s lives are centered around their children…they give them so much…love and time and sacrifice for these little ones who are the apples of their eyes.

There once was a day…when Mike and Pat were the apple of my mother’s eye. When they were the center of her life…when her days were filled with delight as she watched these young boys grow. So what happened that would make them turn their back on their mom? I don’t have that answer…I just know I struggle with carrying this burden.

In some respects this may be God’s hand of protection on my mom…keeping people who would not be good for her away. But I find it hard to believe that they don’t even send a token card or letter now and again. But I guess if they did that…they would be reminded she still alive…and they would have to deal with that. I just don’t understand.

Mostly I hate the way Alzheimer’s makes me feel. There are times…I want to walk away from that place and never go back. I regularly pray that God will be merciful and let her pass away peacefully in her sleep.

Any memories of good times are so dwarfed by the last six or seven years…or maybe more. You see Gayle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 5 ½ years ago…but looking back you can see the signs that were misread as someone just getting quirky in their old age.

Well it wasn’t quirky…it was a disease that causes a plaque to build up in the brain and it interferes with thinking and memory among other things. When driving down the street I can point to place after place that holds bad memories. Places Gayle and I visited when the Alzheimer’s was taking over her brain more and more and causing her to behave irrationally. Going places became difficult at best and embarrassing at worst.

A couple weeks ago I went to see my mom and found her sitting in the activity room nodding off. I went to awaken her so we could spend some time together and watch our Sunday movie. When she woke up she was quite adamant that she didn’t want to see me. It had already been a bad day…so this was just icing on the cake. Some of the newer resident’s in the Alzheimer’s unit are in the earlier stages and more rational. The lady sitting next to Gayle told her, “You should go with her. Some of us don’t have anyone that comes to see us. You are lucky.” But Gayle would not be dissuaded.

I thought that being rejected was bad. But I discovered on my next visit…I’ll take rejection any day of the week over what happened next. I don’t want to go into the ugly details and bring embarrassment or shame to my mom. But let it suffice that Alzheimer’s robs human beings of every ounce of dignity that they have.

I walked away that Sunday and felt shell shocked. I needed to decompress. I was emotionally numb for a couple of days. While I knew that God carried me through that day…I wanted to put up a wall. I didn’t go to Bible study the next night because I just wanted some space. I wasn’t in the mood to read my latest book by Beth Moore. Instead I opted for something a little lighter in the form of Christian fiction.

I kind of felt like Elijah whom God cared for when he was overwhelmed, depressed and afraid. God nurtured me during that time. God likes to use people. He used the heartfelt prayers of friends…and an encouraging card to help build up my spirit. Or listening to sermon that God in His perfect timing brought my way. I also found encouragement from the movie “Facing the Giants”.

I feel like I’m facing my own giants. At times they feel quite daunting…even bigger than Goliath. I want to slay these giants…giants of aloneness, solitude, lack of faith, hurt, bitterness, anger, confusion, bad memories and so much more. These are not giants that will fall by my own frail, feeble efforts. But instead I need to invite God into this battle and seek Him, trust Him, obey Him and be filled with His word. These giants are much too big for me…but not for Him. That means I’m a candidate for a miracle. Whether it sustaining power in overwhelming circumstances….or deliverance through a situation….I need God in my circumstances.

Even if I feel alone…I’m not. He’s right there beside me…His Holy Spirit is within me and my Lord and Savior sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on my behalf. So Jesus I invite you into my circumstances. My burdens are much too heavy for me to bear. I’m giving them over to You and seek Your help in these overwhelming circumstances.

3/12/07 At the End of the Day…Fatigue Doth Make Zombies of Us All

I’ll tell you…four to five hours of sleep each night just doesn’t cut it. Tired is the order of the day…from my waking moment to the time head hits the pillow. If I dare slow down during the day…and have a few moments of quite…I’ll try to sneak in a catnap. The good news it…I seldom have a hard time falling asleep. Within seconds of my head resting on the pillow…I’m fast asleep. It also forces me to take good notes when listening to a sermon or a lecture. If I don’t…I’ll be nodding off. It’s absolutely no reflection on the speaker…but the hearer instead.

It seems as if there are just not enough hours in the day. I’m not one to waste time in front of the TV or spend endless hours chatting on the phone. I don’t sit around popping bonbons and watching Oprah all day. But some days I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly what I did.

Insufficient sleep impacts my ability to focus. Something as simple as responding to an e-mail or deciding where to go for lunch…or completing a chore seems quite daunting. Lack of sleep impacts my mood. I’m more touchy…and feel like I don’t have the emotional resources to deal with people or situations.

I’m not even sure what changes I need to make…I just know I can’t keep going this way.

I pray that God will reveal to me…what I need to say “no” to and how I need to reprioritize and reorganize my schedule and my life…so I can better focus on that which essential and of eternal value.