Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labels Revisited

I have some encouraging news for you today.  I’ve written about it before, and it still burns on my heart.  Maybe this is just exactly what you need right now.  I hope so.

I want to talk about the labels that are sometimes attached to us.  Labels mostly hurt.  They can sting for years.

You know some of the more common ones. 
      Fatso
           Clumsy
                Stupid

How about …
  Loser
  Jerk of the year
  Mr. Selfish
  Miss Know It All
  Mr. Wise Acre


Labels hurt.  They are no fun, and sometimes they hang around for a very long time, and we even start to believe the negative press a label brings.

I have some good news.  Listen carefully, cause this is going to bring some tremendous relief.





Christ, the forgiving one, looks beyond any label we have ever worn and sees each of us.  He sees our potential and our future opportunities.  He comes and walks beside us with grace and help in every situation.

No longer shall anything in our past haunt us again.  Christ wants to take the messes of our lives and redeem them.  He wants to remove them from us as far as the east is from the west, and His promise is to never remember them against us anymore.  That is amazing.  Psalm 103:12

Never again will we be bothered by our past: past sins, past labels, past mistakes, past failures.

We have a future with hope all laid out for us and a brand new beginning found in the accepting arms of Christ our redeemer.  Jeremiah 29:11

How about that? 

If you want to step into this kind of life of freedom from past restraints, past failures and past sins, will you ask Christ for that? 

Here is a simple prayer.

Christ, Son of God

I have some mileage on me.  I’m road weary.  I’ve been a few places and done a few things.  I would really like for you to take these burdens of my past life off me. 

Forgive me, like it says above.  Redeem what is left of my life to redeem.  And remove these labels, even from my memory.  Let me experience a fresh start.  Let me find redemption and forgiveness in you. 

Amen.

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


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thoughts on Prayer

We can’t get very far in life these days without coming into contact with the word “prayer”.  Almost all people pray some kind of prayer at odd moments during their day, even if it is of a less than righteous nature, such as, “God strike him down.”

I am a huge Anne Lamott fan.  In her book Help Thanks Wow she gives us this thought.

“Prayer is us reaching out to be heard, hoping to be found by a light and warmth …”

We seek some kind of communication with the Divine one.  We want some of his light to flood our pathway and warm our own lives.  Ann says, “We want to be heard.”

And I relate to this thought.

“Help.  Help us walk through this.  Help us come through.  It is the first great prayer.”
~Anne Lamott

When we pray to the divine one we are inviting him to enter into the mess of our lives.  We want His peace and a sense of Him to flood our life.

Then perhaps we should just pray.  We don’t have to assume a certain stance.  We can kneel, stand, lie down, exercise, drive, and eat, and we can still have some prayer time going on. 

God is always listening.  He actually delights in hearing our prayers, for He loves intimate, one-on-one moments with his creations. 

And the amazing thing is … God can handle honesty, and prayer begins an honest conversation.”
Anne Lamott

On some days about all we can utter is ‘Help.”
On others we may feel like lashing out with anger.  That’s okay too.

And sometimes, we hurt so badly that all we can do is gently cry, perhaps moan, groan a bit, or rock back and forth as we examine our pain.

All the while, God is there with us.  He is standing nearby.  He is looking over our left shoulder and listening with interest to our heartbreak. 

God hears and that is enough. 

God hears.

And what does He say? 

Often, His answers come through the scriptures. 

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
~Joshua 1:9 NIV

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
~Psalm 23:4 NIV

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’”
~Hebrews 13:6 NIV

I've had an encouraging word come through books, magazine articles, or other individuals as well. 

Always remember this - when our hearts are about to burst, we can call out to God.  He stands ready to listen and offer help.

That is a promise.


Please watch this:



My Prayer for All of Us

God:

I should pray.
I need to pray.

But what to say? 

I need you as my compass, my travel companion.  I can get into so many messes on my own.  I would rather avoid some of those messes and places. 

Help me God.

Amen

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


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Does Jesus Still Love Me?

Many of us learned a children’s Sunday school song in our infancy and perhaps it still rumbles around in our memory.
  
Jesus love me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus Love me
Yes, Jesus Love me
Yes, Jesus Love me
The Bible tells me so


Have you ever wondered if that lyric is still true?  Does Jesus still love me?

Just for the record, yes, Jesus does still love you. 

The natural follow-up question is this:
  How do you know? 
    Why should he love me? 
      What am I to him? 

From my understanding of the Bible, here is what I know.

God Loves the World    

I can hear you cry out:  “But you don’t know what I've done.”

Consider this:

Though your sins be like scarlet …

But God showed his love for us …


Let me remind you of a couple of people in the Bible.

David was a young lad when God destined him for greatness.  He grew and became well liked by many people.  He became a king. 

And then he blew it.  He had an affair and to cover it up he had the woman’s husband put in harm’s way so he could have her all to himself.  Yet God redeemed him and forgave him.


And then there is the story of the woman who was caught in adultery.  Read this and see how Christ dealt with her.  You’re gonna love this one.

Once a great theologian named Karl Barth was asked to summarize his life’s work in theology in one sentence.  He responded, 

“Jesus loves me this I know, 
for the Bible tells me so."


This great love of God shown through Christ is constantly reaching out to us.  It is offered with love and grace to any who will receive it. 

Of course, none of us deserve it.  No one can do enough good and righteous acts to be counted worthy of this kind of grace and forgiveness. 

It is spread before us as on a banquet table and all we have to do is step up and partake.  Get a plate and fill it full of God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness.

You don’t even have to wash your hands first, or clean behind your ears. 

Receive the gift. 
          Receive the love.

And then … let the healer, the forgiving one tell you what to do next.  

Does Jesus still love me and you?

You bet.  The Bible tells me so, and His words are still reliable.

Please watch this

(From the Veggie Tales Series
Not just for kids)


My Prayer for All of Us

God:
The mere concept of your love is a mystery.  We so glibly say the “I love you” words, and in the Christian world we hear the phrase “God loves you”.

Is this really true?  Even in spite of what I do and where I go?
Did you really redeem a guy like David, and the woman who committed adultery?

I want to experience your love too. 

I think I need a huge dose of accepting your acceptance of me regardless of my past.

Here I am God.  I’m jumping into your love. 

Catch me.


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


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Reliable Love

We depend on things and people to be reliable in life.
We expect our automobiles to start.
We expect the lights to turn on and off.
We expect people to be reliable.

We like reliable!

And when life turns unreliable, it gets ugly.

A personal story:
I once was married to a woman who had a drug problem and I thought it was well behind her.  At seven years of sobriety she relapsed and my life turned upside down overnight.

Once, in the early days of her relapse she asked if I could get her a hamburger.  I was gone less than ten minutes and when I returned she was not in sight. 

Another time she called and said that she had a flat tire at a certain intersection in Waco, TX and asked that I come and help her.  Of course she was not there, and later I discovered that this was a ploy to get me out of the house so she could come and take some things to a pawn shop to finance her drug habit.

I wanted to be a trusting soul, yet time and again she proved unreliable.

People sometimes prove unreliable.

And that brings us to God and thoughts about his reliability.

God is reaching out to us with a tender and intense love.   Do we need proof of the reliability of God?

Listen to this:
I will never leave you or forsake you.  
~Hebrews 13:5

The steadfast love of the Lord never fails. 
~Lamentations 3:22

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.  He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. 
~Psalm 3:18

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans for your good, and not for harm.  I have a future and a hope all mapped out for you.
~Jeremiah 29:11


Can anything ever separate us from the love of Christ?  … Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, the one who loves us.
~Romans 8:35-37


Here is what I gain from all of this.

~God is always there for us. 

~God loves me as I am and not as I should be.

Brennan Manning in The Furious Longing of God asks this most probing of questions.

“Do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you?” 


That is an amazing example of the reliable side of God.  He’s there for us at every turn, every downturn, and every nuance life throws our way. 

He is reliable.
He never changes.
He is God.

Only believe



Please Watch this

Brennan Manning


A Prayer for All of Us

God
In a world of so much deceit and hypocrisy, we want to know ‘are you reliable?’

Your word says you are.
The words of others tell us you are.
Good and meaningful books and authors say you are reliable.

And so we reach out
We take small steps toward you
We test the waters

We need a reliable God.

Amen


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


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Who Am I?

This is the question asked by philosophers, psychologist, therapist, and ministers and their patients and parishioners. 

The great search for self-discovery is one that leads us down various paths, into many conversations and on daring adventures.

I've asked this of myself on many occasions, and when I put pen to paper and make a list I can come up with some interesting descriptors to define myself.  You can as well.  

But in the end, the only real discovery that matters in this search for self-identity is this:


“Who am I?  I am one loved by Christ.”
~Thomas Merton

It all comes down to an awareness of this one fact.  God Loves Me.

ME!

Say that a few hundred times per day – “God loves me.”

That means that God is the great lover.  Ever known a great lover?  Now you do. 

There is one more principle you need to hold on to.

God is the lover who keeps no score.

He does not mark his chalk board with goody points when you are exceptional nor with black marks when you screw up.  So, if God doesn't keep score, maybe we should stop keeping score on ourselves.  We just need to surrender all of our sinfulness to the God who sees neither the score nor the scorekeeper.  All He sees is his child, redeemed by Christ.

God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that and let it become the most important thing in your life. 
~B Manning
The Rabbi’s Heart

The grand day of our lives is the day we begin to accept the fact that God honestly likes you and me, not just loves us because He theologically has to love us. 

God likes us! 

That is an amazing discovery. 

I rest my case.  I’m pretty cool in God’s eyes, and so are you.

Please watch this



 My Prayer for All of Us

God

Oh for grace to trust your great love for me, even as I am and as I want to be.

Amen


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