You are Loved: History’s Greatest Hero

 

 Our world has a deficit of real heroes.  Every now and then one pops up in the news.  Often, we create our own versions of a hero or allow Hollywood to do it for us.    We wait for cinema or fiction to show us how the hero rescues someone in peril.   Often the hero in the movie or the story performs his act of valiance out of obligation.  We grip our theater seat allowing Tinseltown to depict our hero.  Or, we nose dive into a novel that defines our hero-love story.  All along, the greatest epic hero-love story in history was written and recorded for us long ago.

There is no need to pay anyone else to write the story for us.  We just need to read the true hero-love story and believe everything it has to say about us.

On the days we believe we aren’t loveable, turn then to the page of the story where the Hero vows his unconditional, never-ending, unwavering, love for us.

For those hard to look in the mirror days, the really bad hair days, the I am not pretty days, the Hero’s words of love cause us to take a second glance in the mirror and see beauty spilling from the inside, out.

The hero in this epic love story heals festering wounds of the heart.  No matter how the wounds got there, the hero’s love breathes life back into a tattered and torn heart making it whole again.

No other hero can do that.

He does it because we are really loved, and we literally can’t live without this Hero.

click here

You are Loved: History’s Greatest Hero

 

 Our world has a deficit of real heroes.  Every now and then one pops up in the news.  Often, we create our own versions of a hero or allow Hollywood to do it for us.    We wait for cinema or fiction to show us how the hero rescues someone in peril.   Often the hero in the movie or the story performs his act of valiance out of obligation.  We grip our theater seat allowing Tinseltown to depict our hero.  Or, we nose dive into a novel that defines our hero-love story.  All along, the greatest epic hero-love story in history was written and recorded for us long ago.

There is no need to pay anyone else to write the story for us.  We just need to read the true hero-love story and believe everything it has to say about us.

On the days we believe we aren’t loveable, turn then to the page of the story where the Hero vows his unconditional, never-ending, unwavering, love for us.

For those hard to look in the mirror days, the really bad hair days, the I am not pretty days, the Hero’s words of love cause us to take a second glance in the mirror and see beauty spilling from the inside, out.

The hero in this epic love story heals festering wounds of the heart.  No matter how the wounds got there, the hero’s love breathes life back into a tattered and torn heart making it whole again.

No other hero can do that.

He does it because we are really loved, and we literally can’t live without this Hero.

click here

Grace For the Prodigal, Hope For The Parent(s) Who Await Her Return

A spiritually wayward child, it’s become the cancer of the Christian community.  To determine the cause of this spiritual disease we leave to the experts, but my words are to offer hope to the parent who waits night and day for her child to reconcile with God.  The treatment for the disease (restoration with God) is the easy part; it’s the waiting part that’s difficult—waiting for the wayward to swallow the pill of repentance.

The stark realization of this spiritual malignancy came not long ago during a small prayer gathering.  As we prayed; one parent after another unveiled the hidden heartache of a child who went spiritual MIA.  Here of late, a quick scan in most North American sanctuaries reveals the absence of young adults who once occupied a pew.  Those young adults disappeared into spiritual oblivion.  The scary news for parents is this spiritual epidemic knows no boundaries; it strikes its blow on kids raised in the church, kids of church leaders, kids of all denominations, kids raised in youth group, not raised in youth group, kids who attended Christian school, kids who were homeschooled, and on and on.  Every parent silently prays that when the spiritual apron strings are cut, their young adult will choose the path of righteousness and not ruin.

bible

The good news is that the prodigal is all part of the love story between us and Jesus. There is glory in the seeming ruin.  Parents of prodigals need to be reminded that there is hope.  Prodigals are his sheep who strayed from the fold and he is their shepherd.

Remember This: God is Still Wrapping Your Gift

Your prodigal is still that same gift to you from God; she’s still the very one that took your breath the moment she entered this world and within a nanosecond you thought your heart would burst open because of the fullness of love you had for this new bundle in your arms.  She’s no longer the wide-eyed girl in pigtails who squealed with delight when you came home from work.  But she’s still a gift, a sovereign work in progress. God is still assembling the gift. We tend to forget that gifts don’t always come wrapped in neat packages.  Take the gift of Christ, for example, the King of kings arrived swaddled in rags and placed in a manure-stained livestock trough.  Oftentimes, the best gifts arrive in the messiest, unassuming wrapping.  Often, especially in our consumptive culture, the value of a true gift isn’t appreciated right away. The wayward child, your gift form God, doesn’t see the necessity in her gift of the Rescuer —yet.  Help her see the value of the Gift through the simple ways you value her.

Throw off Condemnation

Don’t let the fact that you have a wayward child be the pink elephant in the room.  Sanctuaries are filled with people in your same circumstance who could use some support.  During the small prayer gathering, the wife of the leader of an international Christian organization boldly asked for prayer for her prodigal.  Then suddenly another mother openly shared of her sad journey in dealing with the lifestyle of her wayward.

So shake off the guilt and dump it at the cross.  There is a good chance that your parenting didn’t cause your child’s waywardness.  If it did, then own up to it, leave it at the cross, and share that parental wisdom with another heartsick parent of a wayward.  That prayer gathering was a holy time because we embraced the sadness knowing that help is on the way; the great Rescuer is doing his work in the wayward, just not on our timeline.

Show them Grace

As hard as it may be, show her grace when it seems she deserves reproach− yes, show grace to a daughter who runs from the Rescuer so that she can fill her life with momentary pleasures of this world and when she shows up on your steps greet her with an embrace rather than a scowl.  Why? simple, at some point, you lived the life of a spiritual runaway(didn’t we all?) and God pursued us with a passion, until we fell into his arms.

Destitution Leads to Restoration, so Wait and Watch the Love Story Unfold

A person can run from God, pushing Him out of sight (or so she thinks) for so long until God puts up a roadblock, an intervention.  At that point, she can’t outrun God.  Pastor, author, and prodigal, Tullian Tchividjian points out, “it’s futile to try. It’s impossible to outpace his pursuing affection…He’s always in the position of authority and control, whether we realize it or not.”  If you forgot just how relentlessly God pursues his loved ones reread the book of Jonah.

Grab onto Gospel Fellowship (and Don’t Let Go)

The natural inclinations of parent(s) of a prodigal are to first worry, then withdraw and eventually drift into isolation.  Elyse M. Fitzpatrick asserts, “We’re called to be people in relationship because our God is a God in relationship. He is three persons in one…  Jesus had twelve disciples, but he also had three close friends and one best friend.”

Ask two or three of your friends to gather once a week or every other week for accountability, confession of sin, and prayer. Fitzpatrick calls it “gospelized fellowship.”  Christ-centered fellowship arms us with biblical truths.  It’s the biblical truths we rely on when the struggles in life leave us wanting to lock the door, draw the shades, and stay in bed.  Gospelized friendships point us back to the hope we have in Christ.  I intend to practice more of this.

 Gulp Down the Gospel (in Heaping Spoonfuls)

If you’ve lived the life of a Christian for any length of time, knowing that we ought to cling to God’s word is, well, so basic that it sounds trite.  As years pass, we, unfortunately, forget that we owe our life to the messy, shameful, scandalous crucifixion.  Every day I must remind myself “only a supremely powerful deity could turn the world upside down through a bleeding Messiah,” Fitzpatrick.  Tchividjian notes the “one expression of God’s amazing grace is that he pursues our rescue even though we cannot do one thing for him.”  Not only does he pursue our rescue but rest in the assurance that he also pursues your wayward.

Read and Delight in the Testimonies of Other Prodigals Who Have Returned to the Fold

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/12-ways-to-love-your-wayward-child

http://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/september-2007/let-them-come-home/

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/10/14/earrings-and-one-way-love/

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/09/24/failure-and-one-way-love/

Grace For the Prodigal, Hope For The Parent(s) Who Await Her Return

A spiritually wayward child, it’s become the cancer of the Christian community.  To determine the cause of this spiritual disease we leave to the experts, but my words are to offer hope to the parent who waits night and day for her child to reconcile with God.  The treatment for the disease (restoration with God) is the easy part; it’s the waiting part that’s difficult—waiting for the wayward to swallow the pill of repentance.

The stark realization of this spiritual malignancy came not long ago during a small prayer gathering.  As we prayed; one parent after another unveiled the hidden heartache of a child who went spiritual MIA.  Here of late, a quick scan in most North American sanctuaries reveals the absence of young adults who once occupied a pew.  Those young adults disappeared into spiritual oblivion.  The scary news for parents is this spiritual epidemic knows no boundaries; it strikes its blow on kids raised in the church, kids of church leaders, kids of all denominations, kids raised in youth group, not raised in youth group, kids who attended Christian school, kids who were homeschooled, and on and on.  Every parent silently prays that when the spiritual apron strings are cut, their young adult will choose the path of righteousness and not ruin.

bible

The good news is that the prodigal is all part of the love story between us and Jesus. There is glory in the seeming ruin.  Parents of prodigals need to be reminded that there is hope.  Prodigals are his sheep who strayed from the fold and he is their shepherd.

Remember This: God is Still Wrapping Your Gift

Your prodigal is still that same gift to you from God; she’s still the very one that took your breath the moment she entered this world and within a nanosecond you thought your heart would burst open because of the fullness of love you had for this new bundle in your arms.  She’s no longer the wide-eyed girl in pigtails who squealed with delight when you came home from work.  But she’s still a gift, a sovereign work in progress. God is still assembling the gift. We tend to forget that gifts don’t always come wrapped in neat packages.  Take the gift of Christ, for example, the King of kings arrived swaddled in rags and placed in a manure-stained livestock trough.  Oftentimes, the best gifts arrive in the messiest, unassuming wrapping.  Often, especially in our consumptive culture, the value of a true gift isn’t appreciated right away. The wayward child, your gift form God, doesn’t see the necessity in her gift of the Rescuer —yet.  Help her see the value of the Gift through the simple ways you value her.

Throw off Condemnation

Don’t let the fact that you have a wayward child be the pink elephant in the room.  Sanctuaries are filled with people in your same circumstance who could use some support.  During the small prayer gathering, the wife of the leader of an international Christian organization boldly asked for prayer for her prodigal.  Then suddenly another mother openly shared of her sad journey in dealing with the lifestyle of her wayward.

So shake off the guilt and dump it at the cross.  There is a good chance that your parenting didn’t cause your child’s waywardness.  If it did, then own up to it, leave it at the cross, and share that parental wisdom with another heartsick parent of a wayward.  That prayer gathering was a holy time because we embraced the sadness knowing that help is on the way; the great Rescuer is doing his work in the wayward, just not on our timeline.

Show them Grace

As hard as it may be, show her grace when it seems she deserves reproach− yes, show grace to a daughter who runs from the Rescuer so that she can fill her life with momentary pleasures of this world and when she shows up on your steps greet her with an embrace rather than a scowl.  Why? simple, at some point, you lived the life of a spiritual runaway(didn’t we all?) and God pursued us with a passion, until we fell into his arms.

Destitution Leads to Restoration, so Wait and Watch the Love Story Unfold

A person can run from God, pushing Him out of sight (or so she thinks) for so long until God puts up a roadblock, an intervention.  At that point, she can’t outrun God.  Pastor, author, and prodigal, Tullian Tchividjian points out, “it’s futile to try. It’s impossible to outpace his pursuing affection…He’s always in the position of authority and control, whether we realize it or not.”  If you forgot just how relentlessly God pursues his loved ones reread the book of Jonah.

Grab onto Gospel Fellowship (and Don’t Let Go)

The natural inclinations of parent(s) of a prodigal are to first worry, then withdraw and eventually drift into isolation.  Elyse M. Fitzpatrick asserts, “We’re called to be people in relationship because our God is a God in relationship. He is three persons in one…  Jesus had twelve disciples, but he also had three close friends and one best friend.”

Ask two or three of your friends to gather once a week or every other week for accountability, confession of sin, and prayer. Fitzpatrick calls it “gospelized fellowship.”  Christ-centered fellowship arms us with biblical truths.  It’s the biblical truths we rely on when the struggles in life leave us wanting to lock the door, draw the shades, and stay in bed.  Gospelized friendships point us back to the hope we have in Christ.  I intend to practice more of this.

 Gulp Down the Gospel (in Heaping Spoonfuls)

If you’ve lived the life of a Christian for any length of time, knowing that we ought to cling to God’s word is, well, so basic that it sounds trite.  As years pass, we, unfortunately, forget that we owe our life to the messy, shameful, scandalous crucifixion.  Every day I must remind myself “only a supremely powerful deity could turn the world upside down through a bleeding Messiah,” Fitzpatrick.  Tchividjian notes the “one expression of God’s amazing grace is that he pursues our rescue even though we cannot do one thing for him.”  Not only does he pursue our rescue but rest in the assurance that he also pursues your wayward.

Read and Delight in the Testimonies of Other Prodigals Who Have Returned to the Fold

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/12-ways-to-love-your-wayward-child

http://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/september-2007/let-them-come-home/

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/10/14/earrings-and-one-way-love/

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/09/24/failure-and-one-way-love/

Holy and Healthy 2014

The door to another year stands wide open waiting for us to walk through with anticipation, curiosity, and above all else, hope.  A. W. Tozer reminds us “Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings.”  Some of us leave behind bittersweet memories of the past year reluctant to tuck them away for fear they will be forgotten.

blog.christa-taylor.com/photo-inspiration-open-doors/

My friend endured an emotionally turbulent year, one that she gladly leaves behind.  She bursts through the new year door like an Olympic athlete who begins a race sprinting rather than maintaining a steady pace. She hastens to bury the scars and tears of last year.

If we are to take Tozer’s words literally, how does the believer prepare for whatever the new year brings?

Holy and healthy living comes to mind.  This year, my blog devotes most of its posts to both of these topics.

Holy Living

As we embark on a new year, let us meet together, right here, to revel in God’s word building one another up to face the challenges that may come our way.  My prayer for the 2014 blogging year is that with each post we walk away spiritually nourished.

Oswald Chambers exhorts, “a private relationship of worshiping God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness. It is in the unseen life that you become perfectly fit.”

Healthy Living

Healthy living involves fueling our bodies with real, whole foods.  God cares about every aspect of our life, including what we put on our plate.  It’s counterproductive to feed our mind and heart divinely inspired food from God’s written Word during the Sunday sermon, then dump processed foods into our body at lunch after church.  God wants the purest of everything to enter our mind and body.

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God also gives us the liberty to choose which foods we nourish our bodies.  The logic: our heavenly Father created real food for our pleasure and nourishment, so wouldn’t we want to eat as much of that kind of food as possible?  Real, whole food is defined: Real food is wholesome and nourishing. It is simple, unprocessed, whole food. Real food is pure and unadulterated, sustained yet unchanged by man“. 

God knows what we need to maintain a healthy body. He knew exactly the kind of food the Israelites needed to survive in the desert, so why would he do any less for us?

The important point is not to allow food to become an idol or an instrument of strife.

This blog will encourage not condemn readers to experience unprocessed foods, as close to nature (the way God created it) as possible.  Join me as we journey on a  pilgrimage for a real food challenge on a shoe string budget for 2014.  Be sure to join the blog by email or hit the subscribe icon.