Love the Lord Your God

I’ve never really known what real love is. I discovered my lack of understanding recently, while having marital troubles, which I’ve written a little bit about Here(Love Suffers: It Must!). I’m learning, but all I have right now is a great theory of how to surrender which, as of yet, is really untested. But I have discovered one thing that must stop: Conditional Love. I have only loved God (and my wife) under certain conditions. I love God when things are going good but when life takes a turn for the worst, I stop loving and start blaming. I blame Him for anything that is happening in my life that I don’t want or like. This is just not cool and it’s not OK.

I have to learn to love God even when life isn’t going the way that I would like it to be. I need to let God do (or not do) whatever He wants and choose to love Him anyway. Even if I don’t feel like He is acting very loving, I must love Him regardless. I must learn to love my wife the same way. Rina doesn’t always act loving but I can’t blame her. I must love her as an act of the will – through the choices that I make. My love cannot be conditional.

So, I’m saying to God (and to my wife): Do whatever you want, I’m going to love you regardless, because that’s the way you love me. This is the covenant and it must go both ways. The last verse that the prophet Habbakkuk wrote rings true for me:

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

The Prayer of Fear


I’ve been praying prayers of fear for years. The structure for them is basically the same as what Jesus taught in the “Our Father” or the “Lord’s Prayer” with just some slight variations of my own. Here is generally how my prayers of fear go:

      1. Praise: Oh Great and Wonderful; All Knowing; All Powerful; and Loving Father. You alone are Holy.

      2. Flattery: I know that You can do whatever You want and all things are possible for You.

      3. Declarations: Since Jesus died for my sins and I’m in a blood covenant with You then I have the Keys to the Kingdom and nothing will be withheld from me.

      4. Logical Conclusion: Therefore, I should win this power ball jackpot so that I can have abundant life just as Jesus promised and, He never breaks a promise.

      5. Negotiation: You know me, I will give 20% of all my winnings to whomever you want me to.

      6. Benediction: Blessed is God , Yours is the Kingdom; Power; and glory forever Amen.

      7. Gods Answer: No!

This prayer is rooted in my fears and I’m slowly beginning to learn that God doesn’t serve my fears. My fears mainly revolves around my financial situation. I feel that God should change “what is” because I’m not “OK” with it. But God is not in the business of changing what is to make my fears vanish. Fear is a liar, and I know that God is with me. Michael Singer, author of the “Untethered Soul” writes “everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything, and that’s the only time everything will be okay.”

It is time for me to stop praying the prayers of fear and start praying prayers of faith. The only problem is : I’m not really sure that I know what faith is, but I know what it is not and that’s a good place to start.

Change: The Only Constant

This post is more like a journal entry relating to gleanings from the last post. A sort of “ad hocum” from my previous post about seasons. So, here it is:

Change is the only constant.” This, then, is the only absolute. I’ve recently come to this revelation and I don’t like it much. I’d rather live in absolutes and hope that the end of the good season will never come because with absolutes, there is security.

Security, for me, is the absence of change. I have fought for absolutes and security my whole life and I’ve lost. I’ve raged against change and the end of seasons and, so far after damn near fifty years, I have never won. I’m 0-2. No wins and 2 losses. I fight against what is or I fight against losing what is. I think it time for me to end the war against change. I need to surrender. To raise the white flag of unconditional surrender to life and to change. I can’t beat what is. I can’t prevent what is from changing. I must surrender to it.

Perhaps I can embrace change and just live in what is. To live in the now. Live in the now, neither in the future (praying and hoping that what is will be different) nor in the past (regretting the decisions I have made that might have made what is now something different). Surrender to what is now and not try to change it, or be miserable in it, and drive myself and everyone around me crazy. Better to live in the now and love in the now. Let life be what it is; let my feeling about it go “in-through-out” and just love. Its gotta be a better way to live. Michael Singer wrote in the “Untethered Soul”: “The only way that everything is going to be OK is when You are OK with everything.

The Beginning, the End, and the Season

The end of tabernacles generally sucks for me. I hate the fact that the week long camping experience, which is supposed to signify eternal life with God, has to end. When it finally ends, I’m left feeling empty and lonely, dreading the return to work and the same old routine. It’s depressing. I feel this way any time a break from my normal routine ends. I never want the exciting fun stuff to end and I never want to return to the same-stuff-different-day life that I occasionally feel imprisoned in. But, this year, the end of tabernacles was different.

Rina and I have been reading “The Untethered Mind” by Michael Singer and what I gleaned from his wisdom was this:  Don’t fight it, just feel it and watch it… in almost the same way as you watch television. Feel it, then let it go. Rina says it like this: “let it in, let it through, let it go.”  So, this is what I did.  It was sad.  In the beginning, it felt the same as it always did, but somewhere in the midst of the experience, I had a revelation.  Maybe, just maybe, I was supposed to feel this.

If everything has a season, rejoicing and lamenting, then lamenting is something that I’m supposed to do but have never actually allowed myself to do.  All I have ever done is rage against the inevitable conclusion. So this year, I sat and watched. I just sat and stewed in the midst of it. Wallered in it. I thought the feelings of sadness would continue, but this isn’t what happened. Instead, I found something I didn’t expect: Hope.

Somewhere in the middle of wallering in my “why does this have to end and why does my life suck, and why doesn’t God do something about it because I’ve been praying about this forever now?!” It all seemed to go away. I felt a release. This was the end and the end was just that, the end. I felt it, let it in, and then let it go. By allowing myself to feel it, I was actually able to appreciate the end, which gave me another revelation:

The beginning of something new is what follows the end.  All seasons cycle.  This gave me hope.   Hope that this season is going to be good and maybe even better than the season I just finished. By allowing myself to accept the end, I inadvertantly accepted hope, stumbling onto it like a lost hiker lurching out of a dark wood.  It was a beautiful experience.

At the end, Rina bought me a zippo lighter.  It has become, for me, a symbol of hope “a light in the dark places,” if you will.  It will serve to remind me that I’m always in the season where God wants me to be. That each ending generates the beginning of something new, even if it looks as if it is old. By the time I went back to work, I even felt a little excited to see what this new season would look like. This is the first time ever that I’ve not dreaded the return to work. And you know what? I had a good week. “Hope does not disappoint” is written in Romans. Indeed, it does not.

The Joy of the Lord will be your strength

Joy.  What the hell is that?  I’ve heard church people for years say, “Well, you can’t always be happy but you can be joyful.”  What the hell does that mean?  I’m not so sure that the church has any understanding of what the joy of the Lord is or the joy of covenental relationship is.  Here is what it means to me.

To live in covenant with God means that He will have to forgive me, tolerate me, be good/kind to me, hope for me, and basically, I Corinthian 13 me.  To live in covenant with my wife means that I will have to forgive her, tolerate her, be good/kind to her, hope for her, and basically, I Corinthians 13 her.  For her to live in covenant with me means that she will have to forgive me, tolerate me, be good/kind to me, hope for me, and basically, I Corinthians 13 me.  If we can do this, we will share a bond, a union, that is unshakeable.  Nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ, and nothing can separate us from each other.  No matter how bad I hurt her, no matter how bad she hurts me, no matter how bad we both hurt God, none of us will break the bond of covenant and bale on the other parties.  When this is experienced and not just the topic of Sunday morning services, it becomes a strength.  It becomes a source of joy because no matter how bad it gets with each other, or with God, we all know that eventually we will work all these things out and the working out of these things will be for God.  All things work together for good for those in covenant with God and each other.

The feast of Trumpets is this weekend.  Rosh Hoshanna for the Jews but biblically the Feast of Trumpets.  Christians don’t even acknowledge it.  Nevertheless, the bible verse so frequently quoted as the title of this article takes place during the Feast of Trumpets.  Its in Nehemiah chapter 8 for all you bible bangers.  The context of chapter 8 is the first day of the seventh month, this is the biblical day of the Feast of Trumpets. (Lev 23)  Read it for yourself and see what happens in that chapter.  Sin, shame, guilt, conviction, and condemnation have no place with people of the covenant.  They happen but they are simply fleeting emotional storms and not the condition of the heart that we live in.  No matter what happens, God and my wife, will always love me and not matter what we go through we will stay together in covenant.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord is my strength.

 

Finds a Good Thing

He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

     My best friend read this to me on my wedding day.  It is a proverb that I have often pondered for the last 16 years.  A wife is a “good” thing.  All that God created in Genesis was “good.”  The only thing in the garden that was “not good” was that “man was alone.”  So, He who finds a wife finds “a good thing”  Marriage is a good thing.

     The man who finds a good thing obtains or receives favor from the Lord.  Even if that particular husband isn’t exactly a holy person, he still receives favor from God because of his wife.  His wife causes him to have favor with God because she is a “good” thing.  This “good” thing living in his house, blesses him.

     A similar precedent can be found in the book of Genesis with Joseph.  “And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.” (Genesis 39:5).  God blessed Potiphar.  Potiphar probably never heard of Joseph’s God.  Odds are, Potiphar was an Egyptian gods worshippin’ fool.  But, God blessed his house and all that he had because he took a “good” thing into his house.  He had favor with God.  So is the man that finds a wife.  There is an anointing of blessing from God upon the man who “finds a wife.”

Quote from The Pursuit of God

A.W. Tozer in his classic work, “The Pursuit of God” writes, “The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die in obedience to our command.  He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw.  He must be expelled from our soul by violence, as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple.  And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing our of self-pity, one of the most  reprehensible sins of the human heart.” (1)

Love this quote.  Hate its application

 

  1.  1.  Tozer, A. W. “The pursuit of God”  Wing Spread Publishers, Camp Hill Penn, 1982, page 29.