Tag Archives: God the Father

Dad

My dad’s ears were enormous – big, rubbery flaps on each side of his head, secure handholds when I rode on his shoulders.  Dad didn’t simply walk around when he gave horsey rides; he galloped and bounded.  Let me tell you: those ears were the difference between a hilarious, exhilarating ride and certain death.  That’s why they were there.  He also used them to listen to us.  His hands, likewise, were shaped exactly to fit the needs of a son who needed a bicycle seat adjusted, a scraped knee bandaged or a comforting, encouraging hand on the shoulder.  His lap was adjustable and could easily accommodate two or three kids at story time.  His deep bass voice carried the tune for many funny songs during long drives and could just as easily restore order to a couple of rowdy boys mixing up mayhem in the back seat.  My dad could wrap his arms around you from behind and show you how to use a drill or a spokeshave.  He could fix a twisted slinky.  Dad would have been 100 years old this week, had it not been for a nasty dustup with cancer.  But I can still feel his ears pressed against my own as I hugged him for the final time.

If we could choose our parents, I’d have chosen Dad.  No dads are perfect – some far from it – but my dad came pretty close.  That’s why it means so much to me that Jesus told us to think of God in Heaven as our Father.  I think He wanted us to feel as comfortable, secure and loved as I did growing up.  For example, He said,

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  –  (Matthew 6:31-32)

When asked how we should pray, how we should speak when we dare to address the Almighty, majestic, sovereign, Ruler of the universe, Jesus instructed us to start like this:  “Our Father…”  He told us to speak with God as a loving father, humbly and confidently asking for what we need – even when what we need is forgiveness!  He said for us not to try to connect with God with fancy words or repetitive phrases but to understand that God truly hears us as we come to Him with sincere hearts.

I guess God has big ears too.

No Small Detail

On Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, near Atlanta, GA, a new billboard now invites people to “Find Jesus in the Quran.”  Surprised?  Don’t be.  Most of the religions I checked have some form of belief in Jesus.  The problem is not what these religions (Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhism, Baha’i, and even some watered down versions of Christianity!) believe about Jesus, but what they do NOT believe about Him.  They believe He was a prophet, an angelic being, a wise teacher, an incarnation of love, etc.  But they do not believe that Jesus, as the Son of God, is the human manifestation of God.

What difference does that make?  It’s no small detail, but a make or break essential.  Here is what this “wise teacher” said about Himself:

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9b)

I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)

Don’t avoid the meaning of this second, simple statement; the people who first heard it did not misunderstand what He meant.  As they picked up rocks to bash His brains out, they said they were doing so:

“… because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”  (John 10:33b)

To say that Jesus was merely a “wise teacher” is to ignore Who He claimed to be.  You can’t have a watered down version of Jesus without denying that He told the truth.  To deny Who He is, is to oppose Who He is.  Here is how John stated this blunt truth:

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son.  No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23)

You might find someone called Jesus in the Quran, but you will not find The Son of God, The Savior in that book.  Make sure you know Who He really is!

Personal note:  Thanks for waiting; we had a great time visiting kids and grand-kids for Thanksgiving, arriving back in Colorado just as the state became freeze-dried by an arctic blast.  Brrrrrrrr…

Spotting a Fake – Part 2

This world is full of false preachers, scam artists who seem to be following Jesus but who in reality are working to become wealthy and famous.  John calls these guys by the right name: “antichrists.”  Last time we considered one of the clues to look for in spotting this type of charlatan.  John says watch out for those who do “not really belong to us.”  (See Spotting a Fake).   But there is a better way:

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.   I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.  (1 John 2:20-21)

God designed humans to be intimately connected to Him by His Holy Spirit.  Sin destroyed that connection.  Jesus came to restore it.  (There is more detail about this in many of my earlier posts.  Click on the “New Here?” link above.)  To all those who would believe in Him, trust Him and follow Him.  He said:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  (John 14:16-17)

The reason Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of Truth” is because:

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  (John 16:13a)

John says, if you truly follow Jesus, He has “annointed” you (given you, filled you) with the Holy Spirit, the One Who guides you into all truth.  Listen to Him!  He will show you how to spot a fake!

I appreciate your tuning in to this “blog,” chewing over neat things from the Bible with me.  I hope you will share it with people you know who have never developed a “taste” for the Bible.  Let me wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!  God is so good.  His blessings, His faithfulness are experienced new each day.  I’ll be taking a few days off from writing this as I spend time with family.

Don’t Settle for Stuff

A very loving, generous and wealthy man invites you to come live with him as though you were a member of his family.  If you take him up on his offer, you can occupy one of the homes on his country estate, eat his food, and use his stuff.  You can ride his horses, race his ATV’s, swim in his pool, sail his boats; it’s all available to you.  Why?  Just because he loves you like a natural child.  He wants to wrap you into his family.

I know, I know, it’s not likely, but just humor me for a few lines here.

 You take him up on his offer and move in.  For awhile it is wonderful, but eventually you become discontent.  You would like different food, a faster ATV, more expensive horses.  And you really would like to own a few of these things.  Or a lot of them…    So, you watch for opportunities to steal from this man.  You are not caught – at least he doesn’t say anything about  your theft – but now you don’t really like to see him anymore.  It makes you feel bad to be with him. But you love your stuff.  It makes you feel superior.  You go to town and brag about how much you have.  Now others are envious of you and that makes you proud.   

Who would do such a thing?  Anyone, John says, who becomes dissatisfied with what he has and obsessed with getting more and better stuff.  Anyone, says John, who forgets the love and generosity of God who blessed him with everything he ever had – including life itself.  Anyone, says John, who thinks better stuff makes him more important.  Here’s how he said it:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.  (1 John 2:15-16)

When someone ignores the One Who invited him (or her) to live in His “estate” and focuses instead on getting better stuff, he loses his love for his Father.  He trades in his relationship with his loving Father for a bunch of stuff.  That may sound like no big deal, until you realize that he also has traded in life for death.  John says:

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17)

There’s a story in Genesis about a guy named Esau, who gave up his birthright as the firstborn son so he could have something to eat (Genesis 25:34).  He could have had it all forever, but he exchanged his place in his father’s family for a temporary helping of stuff.  Dumb.  Don’t settle for stuff instead of life.  Jesus taught this principle with these words:

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”  (John 6:27)

For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)

Don’t settle for stuff.

Deep Lyrics

How many people do you know who break into song when they are trying to teach you something?  Me either.  It’s pretty rare, I’d think.  But pretty cool, too. Hanging out with an old guy who did that would be pretty interesting.  Guy like John.   John’s been laying out all this astonishing stuff in his letter –  stuff about the Word of Life, the Holy Spirit, overcoming sin, and loving in a radical way.  Then, unexpectedly, he breaks into song!   Like most good songs, the lyrics are pretty simple on the surface but carry a mother-lode of deep meaning for the one who stops to ponder what they say.  Here it is:

     I write to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
     I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father.
     I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.  (1 John 2:12-14)

Don’t be fooled by how apparently simple this is.  Chew on it and try to tease out what John is trying to  sing/say…

God’s Name

The bumper sticker said, “God is too big to fit into just one religion.”  Hmmmm…  If they meant that Jews and Christians worship the same God, okay, I agree with that.  But if they meant that all religions share the same God, then we got a problem – sloppy, illogical thinking.  If one person’s God says He has chosen a small tribe of people and will use them to extend blessing to the world, and another guy’s “god” says that that same tribe of people must be eradicated from the earth before his blessing can come, then those two guys are not hearing from the same God.

Because we humans cannot fully perceive or understand God, we have a tendency to define Him according to what we think He should be like.  We say things like, “If there is a God, then why do people starve?”  Questions like that presume that we have the capacity and the right to define God’s character.  We give God a make-over, according to our own preferences.  And we wind up with many different gods.

News flash: We are not in charge of Who God is.  He is.  When He called Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery, Moses asked Him for some ID:

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’  ”God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.  (Exodus 3:13-15)

What a perfect name: “I Am Who I Am; deal with it!”  Throughout the Bible, humans try to redefine the character of God and pretend that He is the way they want Him to be.  Tragic things ensue.  But God doesn’t change; He says, “My name (the essence of Who I am) is I AM WHO I AM.”

An acquaintance,  who is in recovery, talked about how, in AA meetings, everybody seems to have a personal “Higher Power,” each of them with different personalities.   Then he said, “But I am the lump of clay; I am the one who needs to be molded and changed, not God.”   My friend may have done some dumb things in the past, but he has discovered the beginning point for wisdom.  He knows Who God is: He is Who He Is.

You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,
“He did not make me”?
Can the pot say of the potter,
“He knows nothing”? (Is 29:16)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  (Proverbs 9:10)

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said they should start out by praying that the Name of their Heavenly Father would be held in high reverence.  Once you know God’s Name is I AM WHO I AM, everything else can fall into place.

One Plus Two Equals One

… or at least that is what we’ve been told.  God is One and God is Three.  He exists in three Persons, the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  But explanations of how three can equal one usually fall short.  People resort to tortured analogies (“It’s like three sides of a triangle…”) that don’t really help.  It’s a lot like asking a software engineer to explain what he does for a living.  Beyond answering you with “techno-speak” (“I manage the cloud-based infrastructure of network algorithms…”) your engineer friend is hard pressed to help you really understand.

The Bible explains the mystery of three in one by focusing on Jesus’ part in it.  Like this:

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being (Heb 1:3a)

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (i.e. Jesus), who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:18 – with my added explanation)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.   (Col 1:15)

God is invisible to our limited human senses.  Even if we could somehow see Him, we would not be able to understand what we were seeing.  But Jesus, these verses say, is an exact representation of Who and What God is, given to us in a form we can understand: human form.

My favorite (and somewhat tortured) analogy begins with a desktop computer.  If you look at your computer, what you see is really just its case, not the actual computer.  You open it up and look at the circuit cards inside and you still cannot see any computing going on; you don’t have any way of knowing what it is doing.  What “it is doing” happens at a microscopic level, the invisible flow of electrons and “holes” (whatever those are…), in complex patterns, and at the speed of light.  Even if you invented special goggles that enabled you to see that flow of energy, you still couldn’t make any sense of it.  Balancing your checkbook would look very much like a game of Angry Birds.  Nevertheless, this invisible computing process is being done for you!   But there is no way for you to take advantage of it unless the process is somehow translated into a form you can see and understand.

That is why your computer has a monitor.  When you turn on your monitor, voila!, it translates the invisible and inscrutable flow of energy in the desktop unit into words and pictures that you can understand.  Assuming your desktop unit is connected correctly to your monitor, the monitor is the “exact representation of” the computer’s “being.”  The monitor has “made the computer known.”   It is the “image of the invisible” computer.  That’s why, when you talk about your computer, you are referring to all three parts of it as one thing – the processor, the monitor and the connection between them.  Like God: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Who is the wireless connection between the Father and Son!).

If you follow all of that, perhaps it will give greater understanding to these words of Jesus:

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14:9b-10)

Does that make it clearer?  Two plus One equals One.