Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Furious Love

In order to properly understand our talk this week we must go back to English class and get a proper understanding of the word “furious”.

The noun “fury” is commonly associated with extreme anger; however, in the Oxford Dictionary of Current English the meaning morphs into “intense energy”.

Intense Energy.  I like that.

So what is this love of God all about? 

Why it is intense energy. 

We often quote John 3:16

“For God so loved the world 
that He gave His only begotten Son …”

And as we breeze through that one we glide right past the whole idea of God’s love.  We are on cruise control and sail on by this great truth sometimes. 

Let me borrow from Brennan Manning.

“His love is never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods – or elation or depression.  The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change.  It is reliable. And always tender.”
~The Furious Longing of God

Can you picture God standing with arms outstretched in an inviting pose.  This is a profoundly accurate concept to hold onto. 

When I take the idea of this picture to the next level here is what I see.

There are no "keep out" signs.  No one is excluded.  No race is left out.  No visa is needed, and there is no language requirement. 

Who is included in this invitation of the outstretched arms?

-The drunk in the doorway
-The addict smelling of filth, with bad breath, rotten teeth, and unkempt hair
-The prostitute with a torn blouse, bruised knees and smeared lipstick
-The church goer who sleeps through every Sunday sermon
-The self-righteous man who sings in the choir on Sunday and looks at porn on Monday
-The struggling single mother feeding three kids and working a less than prime job
-The dishonest business owner

And the rest of us

We are all included in the invitation.  The arms are outstretched for you and for me

The love of God embraces all without exception.

That is astounding news. 

The final incredible statement I want to leave you with is this.

God loves you as you are – not as you should be.

What have you done?
What are you doing?
How do you smell?
Where have you been?
What is your worst thought?
What is your most lofty idea?

Regardless of the goodness or badness of your life, God loves you right this moment, as you are. 

That is furious love - Intense energy all for you – and all you have to do is receive it.



Please watch this!
(Use headphones to capture the moment 
of awe, worship and revel in God’s love.



My Prayer for All of Us

God:
Do you really, really love me as I am and not as I should be?  That just seems so wrong.  How could you? 

Help me to rise above my pride and accept your outstretched arms that offer this intense energy we call love.

Thank you God.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Courage to Accept Acceptance

When I go people-watching I often focus on groups of teens in the mall.  I try to pick out the group leader and then figure out the pecking order.  The one I always spot quickly is the one who is lowest in the pecking order of the group.  It seems I can read their body language and mindset.  They just aren’t as accepted into the group as other members, and they know it.

Our struggle to be accepted is a universal and life-long adventure.  

And then we come to grips with the God side of life.  We read and hear on every hand that God loves us and accepts us just as we are, but do we really embrace God’s love? 

Can we trust that God means what he says? 

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

Paul Tillich, one of the most recognized and profound theologians of the 20th century, says this:

“Trust is the courage to accept acceptance.”

The words “accept acceptance” are more than a play on words.  They become a mindset, a lifestyle of living. 

In John 15:15 we find these words:

“I call you my friend.”

What?  God calls me his friend?

Unheard of. 

And we are quick to respond:  “But he obviously doesn’t know where I’ve been … what I’ve done.”

See the problem? 

Trust!

We put up defenses.  We engage in dangerous self-talk.  We put ourselves in bad light – we do everything except Accept Acceptance. 

We don’t trust God and we don’t believe he wants to be our friend.

Allow me to borrow a paragraph from my favorite author Brennan Manning.

“It there anyone I can level with?  Anyone I dare tell that I am benevolent and malevolent, chaste and randy, compassionate and vindictive, selfless and selfish, that beneath my brave words lives a frightened child, that I dabble in religion and pornography, that I have blackened a friend’s character, betrayed a trust, violated a confidence, that I am tolerant and thoughtful, a bigot and a blowhard, that I hate hard rock?”

Anyone who would dare express the above sentiments runs a great risk of being tossed aside.  Talk about acceptance … this kind of confession would be the fodder for all kinds of reasons to avoid acceptance. 

Yet God comes to us again and again and offers friendship, love, forgiveness, justification and yes, acceptance. 

ACCEPTANCE!

Read that stunning declaration again.

“I call you my friend.”
John 15:15

I don’t see any qualifiers there.
  I see no rules and regulations.
    I see no “keep out” signs.
      I see no dress code.
        I see no behavior code.

Just an offer of friendship. 

Do we accept it?

Do we embrace the friendly hand of grace and love offered from God himself?

I hope we do.  I pray we do.

Please watch this.


Phillips Craig & Dean



My Prayer for all of Us

God:
What an amazing concept – you want to be our friend. 

How can this be?

I mean, you are GOD – the BIG one.  The man upstairs.

And me … I’m … me.

What am I to you? 

Yet you find it important enough to send us signals from a dozen sources, and they all say the same thing:

God loves you.
God cares for you.
God wants you.
God longs for you.

What an amazing concept, that I can be in that kind of intimate relationship with you God.

Whatever and however you want to make this happen, I am available to receive your friendship. 

Enlarge my capacity for you God.  Enlarge my concepts to embrace your great love that includes being my friend. 

Thank you.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Who Does God Love

Do you think God is partial?  Does He like some of us and others He brushes off as unimportant or uninteresting? 

Does He love certain nationalities more than others?
Are there some occupations God favors over others?
Does He like the way some people dress better than others?


Let me encourage you with these words.  In my book The Letters, due out in September, you’ll find these words in Letter Fifty-Five.


Dear Child:

How many different people do you think I reach out to?

Let me tell you.

I reach out to …
Office workers
 Corporate executives
  Tax accountants
   Toll booth collectors

Waitresses and waiters
 Street cleaners
  Street walkers
   Those with jobs and those without

IRS agents
 Military personnel
  People who sleep under bridges
   People who sleep in church services

Farmers
 City dwellers
  Parents
   Grandparents

Addicts
 Former addicts
  Drunkards
   Recovering drunkards

Newly weds
 Never weds
  Recently divorced
   Twice and three times divorced

Americans
 Asians
  Ukrainians

Europeans
 Eskimos
  South Africans
  And all other nationalities

Married couples
 Men who love men
  Women who love women

I call to you wherever you are, whatever your color, regardless of your economic lot in life, and no matter if you are good or bad, right wing or left wing, I call to you.  

I want YOU.

Come be with me.

God


This is a pretty amazing concept about God.  He really, really loves us.  And as my favorite author Brennan Manning said, “He not only loves us, but he is very, very fond of us.”

And that includes all of us.

Can you believe that? 

I do.  I embrace the love that God has for me personally. 

Will you embrace His love for you?


Watch this.



My Prayer for You

God:
To think you love me, just as I am, as I look, as I dress, as I speak, and as I think.

My head says “Impossible.”
My heart says, “Really?  You love me?  But you don’t know …”

And you say, “I love you.  Yes you.” 

Thank you God.

Amen


Pastor Mike
P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Is God an Ogre?

Allow me to let Anne Lamott set the stage for our thought this week. 

“The longer I live, the more my God concept allows me to see God in a kinder, gentler, more gracious God-way.  He’s not the ogre we were once taught as children.  He’s not ready to zap us at the first miss-step or the first foul word that comes from our lips.  He won’t put us in time-out.”

This has to be some of the best news I could share with you this week. 

“He’s not ready to zap us …”

Sometimes I meet people who feel exactly like that.  They fear God so much and have such a distorted view of Him.  Their constant thought is God is mad at me.”

Let me set the record straight.

Remember the story of the woman caught in adultery?  She was pardoned right on the spot.  His words were … “neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”

That’s not the response of an ogre.

And this very specific invitation:

“Come unto me all ye who labor with heavy burdens.  I will give you rest.”


Often we find little children to be  good judges of character.  Christ was often seen with kids tagging along.  His great words ...

“Let the little children come to me” are welcoming and cherished words. 

Most kids have an amazing sense of whom to trust.  No sign of an ogre here

So if God is not an ogre, then where do we pigeonhole him?

Check this out.

“For God so loved the world …”

“See what great love God has lavished on us.”

“But you O God are merciful 
and gracious, slow to anger …”


Do these passages sound like a God who is mad at you?

     Do you see an ogre-type God here?

Not at all.

I do see an inviting God
  A Loving God
    A Caring God
      A Compassionate God
        And a Merciful God

What a concept … God is full of mercy and grace and patience.  He loves us with a furious kind of love, and He likes us a whole lot too.

I can relate to a God like that.


Please Take 2 minutes 
and watch this important video.


  
A Prayer for all of Us
By Anne Lamott

Hi God
I am just a mess.
It is all hopeless.
What else is new?
I would be sick of me, if I were you,
But miraculously you are not.
I know I have no control over other people’s lives,
and I hate this. 
Yet I believe that if I accept this and surrender,
you will meet me wherever I am.
Wow.  Can this be true? 
If so, how is this afternoon – say two-ish?
Thank you in advance for your company and Blessings.
You have never once let me down.
Amen.


P Michael Biggs
Pastor Mike
Internet Church
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time