Jun 262011

Have you ever heard someone say,”I’ve gone too far to come back to church now”? Have you ever thought,” I’ve been too bad to come to Jesus now”? It’s a normal human response.  We are used to experiencing relationships with limits and conditions.  Marriages are expected to fail. Families dissolve and children are left out.

Is it difficult to imagine that this is not God’s plan for relationships? Or are we so accustomed to broken promises and commitments that we expect the same from Him?

What do we expect from our work relationships? If our behavior or performance doesn’t measure up to the expectations of the boss, how long will we keep the job?

What do we expect from friends? If we aren’t as charming or entertaining as we were in the past, will we stop getting invitations to parties, events, meals?

What do we expect from our church? If we make the wrong mistake, if our behavior doesn’t match with that of the average member, do we start getting the evil glances, the brush offs, maybe even an invitation to go elsewhere?

I’m so glad that our Father values relationships differently than we do.

It’s not about how bad you’ve been or how far you’ve gone. It’s all about how good He is! Do you honestly think that His sacrifice is not big enough to outweigh your sins? How dare you! How dare I? All the way from Hitler to me, our sins are drowned in His love, our evil is overwhelmed by His goodness!
Do you think you need to get your act together before you come to Him? Do you think you need to clean your life up before you’ll be acceptable? His sacrifice is more about His love and His goodness than about our sin, our shortcomings.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Jun 252011

How do you convince someone that you mean what you say? Repeat it? Say, “I mean it!” I learned a new literary term recently. Adynaton- an expression that refers to an impossibility. Here’s an example: When pigs fly! or Not in a month of Sundays! You can probably think of several others. We use them to help us express how unlikely it is that something will happen.

One student says to another, “I’m going to make an A on the next Algebra test!” “When pigs fly, his realistic friend replys”

A father says to his daughter,” I’ll love you always!” She replies,”Really dad, how long?” “Until he** freezes over,” he responds.

When I read the Bible, I see God using so many methods to convince us of His love. Through stories, in David’s Psalms, in the gift of His Son. He has left no stone unturned in His attempt.

Did you know that God even uses adynatons? Yes He does! Jeremiah was a prophet during a very bad time. Israel had fallen away from God and into captivity. Their country was in shambles. Try this adynaton on for size! This one’s a direct quote, something in God’s own words.

This is what the LORD says,

he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the LORD Almighty is his name:
“Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,”
declares the LORD,
“will the descendants of Israel ever cease
to be a nation before me.” Jeremiah 31 NIV

Will ocean waves fail? Will the moon and stars cease their shining? Will the sun turn dark? I don’t think any time soon, especially since God is in charge of each of them.

Well, our place in God’s eyes, and our place in His heart, is as constant as the world that He created!

If that’s not enough, God shared another one for Jeremiah to share with us-

This is what the LORD says:

“Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,”
declares the LORD. Jeremiah 31

I love that! Can I take a yardstick to the heavens, to a limitless universe? Can I know everything about the earth we live on, even down to its core? I don’t think so. In that case, God will never, NEVER, reject me, even considering all they mistakes I have made!

As unsettled as our world has become, as unpredictable as the tornadoes and weather disasters are, all of us search for constants in our lives, things we can count on, things that never change no matter what happens.

There is one constant, one thing only, that will never change. That one thing is our Heavenly Father’s love. It is not dependent on our behavior, on circumstance, on whim, on hormones, on politics. Count on it.

Jun 102011

I grew up in a culture where my color was in the extreme minority. There was only one other in my fourth grade class of the same color. When I moved, it was to a place where my color was commonplace and where prejudice by my color against others was as rampant and ancestral as the prejudice “they” held against us.

One of my daughters just returned from another country where the native population is treated with disrespect and disgust and open loathing. They are even charged higher prices in the market. All by another ethnic group who are immigrants to this nation.

I see teachers and parents screaming and shouting at children, whether young or teen treating them in ways that they never expect to have reciprocated or copied.

I see employers making arbitrary and stereotype-based decisions based on an employee’s sex. I see them implementing unfair pay practices based on favoritism or expediency. I see discipline and termination occur on a whim, based more on personal preference than policy and principle.

I see preachers and pew-sitters, no matter what the denomination, talking of “us” and “them” when referring to all those not belonging to their particular fellowship.

When will it all end?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NIV.

When will it all end? Never! Until we follow the never critical, always loving example of Jesus Christ.

What divisions are you making this week? Are you choosing to value others by an arbitrary characteristic- something that makes them different?

Are you a supervisor choosing to treat young employees with criticism and negativity rather than affirmation and support? Are you a parent whose children feel ugly and dumb, rather than beautiful and special? Are you a teacher whose students hear more shouted words of anger and impatience than calmly spoken ones of guidance and encouragement?

There is neither teacher nor student, Catholic nor Protestant, employer nor employee, poor nor rich, educated nor experienced.

Whatever your role is- at home, on the job, in the pew, no matter what your spiritual focus, I challenge you to see the value and intrinsic goodness in treating those around you as if they have a very high, and very equal, value.

Father, let me lift up those around me where ever I am, no matter what their color or creed, their social or financial status, their age or sex. Let me value each one like Jesus values them. Power me to fight prejudice and pride, injustice and unfairness, divisions and biases, in people, and in organizations, and in me.

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