Prayer: God’s Love Language

I was thinking the other day that, if God had a ‘primary’ love language, it would probably be Prayer.

Many of you have heard about and/or read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. The idea behind this book is that we all have a primary ‘love language’ that resonates with us, and therefore, if I want to show someone love, I should do it in a way which ‘connects’ with them. If someone is an ‘acts of service’ person and all I give them is ‘words of affirmation’, those words may fail to fully communicate my love, no matter how sincere they are.

Now, I realize that, as the Scriptures say, “God is Love”. (1 John 4:8). He does not ‘lack’ any of the ‘love languages’, and He is able to communicate His love fully, completely and without our help.

However, God–as a ‘relational’ being–wants to communicate with us. The perfect Heavenly Father wants to connect with us as His children. He wants to communicate His love for us, and He loves when we communicate our love for Him.

This is the way with any good, intimate, growing and vibrant relationship–there is frequent, authentic, and honest communication as a major part of it.

So, how do we communicate with God?

There are many ways–

Worshiping Him–His character, His attributes;

Thanking Him–His actions, His goodness toward us;

Enjoying Him–His beauty, His blessings…

In all of these–and so many more, PRAYER is a major part of it.

Praying is, in essence, communication with our Father. It involves real, honest sharing of what’s on my heart and mind, what my concerns are, what my desires are, etc.

However, real ‘prayer’ also involves listening to God. It involves quieting myself and asking God to clarify His heart, His desire and His will.

Very often, it brings me to a specific Scripture, or a Truth that He wants to emphasize in my life.

Recently, it’s been a lot about the Fatherhood of God, and enjoying that relationship. Father and child praying

As a dad myself, I remember how wonderful and beautiful it was, when my kids were little, to have them snuggle up next to me and pray. Often, I would lead them, but increasingly as they got older, they would express their own thoughts. How wonderful it was for me to hear their young hearts, and hear them praying for their relatives and friends, their concerns, and expressing their love to God.

This childlike communication–innocent, real, and genuine–was beautiful…and that’s exactly what God is looking for from us.

We need not ‘dress it up’ or make it more ‘formal’. We can come to Him without notice, and go freely into His presence* when needed.

The Scriptures say, after all, that For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-17)

and again,“Because you are his [children], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

The point is that God, in His love and mercy, has adopted us as His children. He wants us to be close to Him.

He wants to knock the walls down between us and Himself. He’s been doing that through Jesus. Hebrews 4: 15-16: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one [Jesus] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Because of His love and grace, God sent Jesus to pay for our sin.

Because of Jesus we have been forgiven and adopted by faith into God’s family.

Because He is risen and interceding for us, we have access to God.

Let us keep that access going by regular, authentic, honest and deep communication. Your Heavenly Father will love that!

 

 

*I’m aware–we’re alwaysin His presence, since God is omnipresent.

You and You Alone!

You, and You Alone are Holy.

You, and You Alone are Good.

You, and You Alone, Lord, are Righteous.

You, and You Alone are True.

You, and You Alone are Perfect.

You, and You Alone are Love.

You, and You Alone are Gracious, Merciful and Patient.

You, and You Alone sent Your Son, my Lord, Jesus.

You, and You Alone accepted His sacrifice on my behalf.

You, and You Alone gave me…LIFE!

You, and You Alone show me Grace and Mercy.

You and You Alone sent Your Spirit upon me.

You, and You Alone give me gifts for your glory, and the good of Your Church.

You, and You Alone lead me and guide me in Transformation.

You, and You Alone give me Power, Courage and Strength to do whatever You, and You Alone have called me to do.

You, and You Alone deserve all worship and all praise.

You, and You Alone, deserve glory, honor, and power.

You, and You Alone are high, and lifted up.

You , an You Alone are exalted above the Earth.

You, and You Alone are exalted above the heavens, and the entire universe praises You, and You Alone.

You and You Alone are the Creator of all these!

You, and You Alone are worthy of my praise, my service, my devotion, my surrender.

You, and You Alone, Lord.

I love you!

Terrorists, Movie Stars, Bullies…and Us

Nasim A

Nasim Aghdam was apparently upset with YouTube.

So, she went to the YouTube headquarters and shot 3 employees, before taking her own life.

What was she upset about? Apparently, she believed that YouTube was ‘censoring’ her posts, restricting the number of people who saw her.

Seriously?

Seriously!

Apparently she was so committed to becoming a ‘YouTube Star’ that, when she perceived interference with that goal, she resorted to violence and ultimately, suicide.

Suicide? For YouTube popularity?!

Now,  I’m not going to go to the Gun Control debate…that is for another day.

However, I do think we can learn something from her, as well as many of the other mass shooters in recent years.

Many of them have in common this phenomena: They are fixated on other people’s opinions of them. 

In fact, they are so fixed on others’ opinions, that it causes them to lash out when others do not accept them, agree with them, etc. In these cases, they’ve resorted to extreme and deadly means to lash out. (Ironically, that’s the only reason most of us have ever heard of them.)

However, I believe that we all have that within us…and we need to correct ourselves!

Anyone who’s ever written a blog that gets just a few views knows how defeating that can be.

On the other hand, anyone who’s made a post on Facebook or put a Tweet on Twitter that has been ‘liked’, ‘shared’ or ‘re-tweeted’ many people will know how intoxicating that can be.

It feels good to have our opinions ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ by others!

…but when we start to give the power to those ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘views’ and ‘retweets’ to define us and convince us that we are worth paying attention to, we’ve given the opinions of others way too much power over ourselves.

We hear a lot today about the devastating effects of bullying.

I agree, bullying is bad, and can be very harsh and difficult to deal with. As one who dealt with it in the past, I know it can be difficult.

But one part of the reason that ‘the bully’ has so much power over us is that we’ve given too much influence to other people over how we view ourselves. This is an unwinnable situation. After all, no one–whether a popular movie star, or ‘the Sexiest Man/Woman on Earth’, or the most popular Athlete, Politician, etc.–can ever stay that way forever.

That means that, at some point, their body is going to change, someone more popular will come along, or they’ll say something offensive to someone, and popular opinion will turn against them.

That’s when they become desperate.

Think of the tabloids: We see actors who ‘used to be’ very popular often doing desperate, degrading, and even dangerous things in order to be thrust back into the limelight. Apparently in their minds, Some’ attention–even negative–is better than ‘No’ attention. 

No matter whether we’re famous or living in relative anonymity, we cannot give ‘the power of my self-worth’ to the acceptance of the masses.

That is a big part of the reason I’m thankful that I know that my reason for existence, my purpose, and my worth lie in the fact that I am a creation of God!

As the Scriptures say,

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

God made me! He is the One who gave me my very own fingerprints. He knows the uniqueness of my eyes…He knows me better than I know myself!

In addition, I am ‘adopted’ as His child because of my faith in Jesus!

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16)

If we are going to get our ‘self-worth’ from anyone, it should be our Creator and God–who made us, loves us, and sent His son, Jesus, to pay for our sin, so that we could be ‘adopted’ by faith in Him!

His kind of love doesn’t change–no matter how many ‘likes’ or ‘views’ we get, no matter what happens to our waistline or hairline, no matter how ‘popular’ or well-known we are.

God created You! God loves You! God wants to give you eternal life, full life, and a life of meaning and purpose.

Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

We buy into the lies of the enemy when we believe that our ‘worth’ lies in the opinions of others. The Truth–which gives life–is this: Your WORTH comes from God, your heavenly Father!

He loves us more than we could possibly imagine!

No matter what.

One-Legged Ladders and Easter

One-legged ladders: Ineffective and dangerous!

I admit that I’ve never tried to use a one-legged ladder–a ladder where a portion of one of the legs is missing. However, I have tried to use an uneven ladder, where one leg is on the ground, and the other leg is a few inches off the ground, because of a hill. Uneven ladder.jpgEven with pieces of wood underneath, it’s dangerous an un-advisable.

Everyone knows that using a ladder in this way is unwise. It would be even more foolish to try to use a ladder where the lower foot of one side is missing. That ladder would rightfully be called ‘broken’ and should be tossed out.

We recently celebrated what most call ‘Easter’–the day that celebrates the single most momentous occasion in the history of the world: The miraculous resurrection of Jesus!

Now, I’m aware that there are many who don’t celebrate this–for many reasons. Some believe in other religions, some believe that ‘miraculous’ things, by definition, can’t happen–and therefore, this event is simply folklore. Others believe that Jesus of Nazareth never really existed.

If you fit into one of those categories, this blog is not for you. Save yourself time, and stop reading.

Others fall into 2 groups: Group 1 believes it all–and celebrates accordingly; Group 2 believes that Jesus lived, did remarkable things, taught profound truth, and then died via crucifixion…but don’t believe in the resurrection.

If you fall into Group 2 I want to remind you of something.

Celebrating Good Friday without celebrating Resurrection Sunday is like using a one-legged ladder. It’s unbalanced, dangerous, and makes no sense!

This is the “Jesus Christ, Superstar” version of these events. Jesus Christ Superstar

Many of you may have watched the live version Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical on Sunday night. Although done with excellence and creativity, I was reminded, as it ended, that it presented Jesus as a conflicted, tormented man who died for a noble cause, but was misguided in doing so. The last scene in the musical shows Jesus on the Cross…an important scene but NOT the end!

It conspicuously avoids the resurrection.

Jesus, it must be said, was NOT ‘conflicted’. Human, to be sure…but He knew His Mission!

Jesus knew it was coming, and He knew why:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:11, 17-18)

Again…

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)

And…

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 27:22-23)

Then, finally, after He’d died,

“Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:36-48)

The point is this: If you’re going to tell the story of Jesus, you MUST tell the whole story–including the resurrection!

If Jesus isn’t raised, then none of this makes any sense. In that case, He died as a misguided man.

C.S. Lewis wrote,

 “You must make your choice.  Either this man was,Trilemma and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

It is important to note, that IF Jesus merely died on the cross, but then stayed dead, then he was no different than many other self-deluded ‘messiah’s’ throughout history.

IF, on the other hand, He rose from the dead, then that shows that He was who He said He was, and His death did have the power to be the ‘atoning sacrifice’ (see Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2), and make forgiveness, and Eternal Life, possible for us who believe!

That is a HUGE difference!

The Cross is Mighty–but only because of the Resurrection!