Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Tender Side

I want to talk with you today about the tender side of God.  We have heard enough sermons about God’s wrath – but what about his tender side?

Consider these scenarios:

I gambled away all my money.
               God still loves you.

I had more than one impure thought this week.
               God still loves you.

I committed adultery.
               God still loves you.

I cheated my employer.
               God still loves you.

I lied.
               God still loves you.

I stole a pair of gloves at the mall.
               God still loves you.

I spoke badly of my step-son today.
               God still loves you.

I juggled the books at work to make myself look good.
               God still loves you.

I saw a man drop a ten-dollar bill on the floor and I pocketed it myself.
               God still loves you.

I didn't sing all of the verses of all of the songs in church.
               God still loves you.

I told my neighbor I was sick when they asked me to help them out.
              God still loves you.


Can you see the tender side of God?  He is not sitting up there or over yonder with His arms crossed, shaking His head or wagging a finger in your face saying , “Bad boy.  Bad girl.”

Here are some words that may encourage you. 

“Let us come to God
with great confidence
so that we may find
mercy and grace
in our time of need.”
~Hebrews 4:16

And this one:
“If we confess our sins,
God will be faithful and
forgive our sins
and wash away
all the dirt and grime
that clings to us.”
~I John 1:9

Now that sounds like a tender God, a reconciling God, a merciful God, a grace-filled God, not the ogre God we read about.

Brennan Manning tells the great illustration of an old man walking along a country road, the warm winds of spring blowing gently upon his face and the sun shining overhead.  All of a sudden, he breaks out into spontaneous joy and laughter and does a little dance jig in the middle of the lane.

His grandson is walking with him, and asks, “Papa, why are you so happy?”

The grandfather responds, “Because my Abba is very fond of me.”

That is the image God wants us to hold onto.  That is how God wants us to see him.  He beckons to us.  He stretches out his arms ready to receive us with great affection.  He has a kiss for us and can hardly wait to plant it on our faces. 

I see all kinds of tenderness here. 
   Not anger. 
      Not rebuke. 
         Not rejection. 

Just love. 
Just tenderness.

      … and a whole heap of passionate love for you and for me.

Maybe the time has come for you to come home to the embrace of the God who loves you with tender, furious love.


Please watch this.


A Prayer for All of Us
God
How do you do it?  How can you continually love us, forgive us, and redeem us when you know our nature?  You know we’re probably going to be back in trouble and be wallowing in all the wrong places again, yet you forgive us again and again. 

What a tender-hearted God you must be.  You know us and you love us.

Thank you God for your tender side that I see time and again.
Thank you for your grace side that comes to me.
Thank you for your forgiving side and nurturing side.

It seems to me that I am receiving your amazing grace in greater measure than I deserve.  I thought surely I would have exhausted your supply long before now. 

You are the tender and strong God that I need.

Humbly, with great gratefulness I say “Thanks.”


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration

One Word at a Time

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Where Is God When Life Hurts

When your son is strung out on drugs and you’ve had to cut him off from your family to save your own lives and sanity, where is God?

When those devastating words tumble out of your doctor’s mouth, where is God?

When the pink slip slips from your hand, where is God?

When life throws us on the rocks, who throws us a life raft?

I met some friends for dinner tonight and heard a heart-wrenching story about their son who is entering into yet another drug rehab center this coming Monday.  They were in pain.  They were at their wits end.  They were at a loss for solutions.  Gary, the son, has been in a string of recovery centers for the past eight years now, and this is just one more place that holds some kind of hope for him and for his parents. 

And with all of the other scenarios mentioned at the beginning, we always come back to the same question – where is God in all of this?

Let’s walk this trail together and see where we come out.

I relate to my friend’s woes with their drug addicted son.  That happened to an ex-wife of mine.  That was a devastating and churning time in my life.

Here is what I learned.

God really does mean it when He says “I will never leave you or forsake you.”


He also says this:  “Do not be afraid or dismayed.  I am with you wherever you go.”


And when we long for relief and peace from our struggles, this one came along.  I’m going to paraphrase.

“Don’t worry about anything.  Always pray and petition, offering thanksgiving as you present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, represented by the presence of Christ, which is beyond all understanding, will flood over you and fill your heart and mind.”


So where is God when it hurts?  He is by your side, giving stability, giving assurance, giving peace, and giving His presence. 

Something I learned a while ago may also help you.  God never promises to keep us from problems.  He does promise to be with us in the middle of our problems.


I find great comfort in that today.  And I have experienced first-hand the stabilizing presence of God in the middle of my storm.

I have experienced tremendous peace that is beyond all understanding when facing my most frustrating experiences. 

May God’s presence steady you, surround you and give you an overwhelming sense of His peace.

A Listening Moment for Personal Reflection


As you listen to this beautiful piano solo, why not spend a few minutes asking God for peace in your life, peace from your trials and peace and rest for your tomorrows.

I’ll be praying for you this week.


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


Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Turbulence Comes

Storms are no fun.  Hurricanes are worse yet.  And then there are tsunamis, and earthquakes.  All of these have a tremendous amount of turbulence that tags along and none of it is welcomed. 

So when turbulence comes, then what? 

We hang on.  We find something that is nailed down, tied down, anchored securely to some immoveable source and we hang on. 

I’m reminded of this in Matthew 14:22-33.  He is the gist of the story.

Christ had been speaking to a large crowd on the mountainside and as He is bringing things to a close He tells his disciples to go ahead and get into the boat.  He stays behind, and after the crowds finally depart, He goes into the mountains to pray. 

Meanwhile, the disciples are a long way away from shore when a severe storm hits.  It was your typical storm at sea with winds and waves, and there was great turbulence – you know the drill. 

They were fearful for their lives and when it seemed all was lost, Christ came by.

He spoke to the men in the boat, not to the winds and billows.  He said, “Take courage.  It is me; don’t be afraid.”

Don’t you love that?  When the storms were just about to overwhelm, Christ came along and said, “It is me.  I am here.  Don’t worry.”

How many times have you and I needed to hear that one?  Devastation come, storms erupt, ill winds blow and we are terrified. 

And here comes our God – riding the dangerous winds, with steadiness in His voice, saying “Don’t worry.  I’m in charge.  I am here. “

I find great comfort in that today. 

The one who started life on this sphere as we know it is still in control.  He still watches over things.  He still has a steady hand on the big lever. 

Our part?
Trust.
Trust his word.
Trust his nature.

Trust that He is on duty.
He never sleeps. 
He never takes a day off.

What a promise!

A Prayer for All of Us

God,
Oh for grace to trust you more. 

Trust you with the storms of life.
Trust you when the winds and waves blow unfavorably against us.

And trust that you always, always have your eye on us. 

I believe. 

Thank you God.



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


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Identity

In a world that wants to constantly tweak us, make us better, more beautiful, slimmer, stronger, and more-more-more, where do we find ourselves? 

I have a few thoughts on this subject – stay tuned.

I found this poem from the 1950’s by a Rev. Borders, and have abridged it for our purposes today.


I Am Somebody

I may be poor
  I may be young
    I may be on welfare
      But I am somebody

I may be small
  I may make a mistake
    My clothes may be different
      But I am somebody


My face may be different
  My hair may be different
    I may be black, brown, or white
      I may speak a different language
        But I am somebody

I want to be respected, protected
                                                        Never rejected

I am God’s child
I am Somebody
Rev. William H. Borders,


The search for one’s identity is a worthy search.  We seek it in careers, in houses, in money, in bars, and in relationships.

But at the core of it all, who we are and what we feel about ourselves matters hugely.

Psychologists tell us that our self image is one of those critical ingredients toward becoming a whole and complete person.  And self-image comes largely from understanding who and what we are all about.

We would do ourselves a disservice if we stopped there and left out the God factor when it comes to establishing our identity.


Let me remind us of some thoughts God has toward us. 

"We are fearfully and wonderfully made."
These verses remind us that we are created by God, even in the womb.  He began mapping out our lives even then.  Talk about an identity with a destiny – that is evident here.


"I have called you by name; you are mine."
When we know someone well we call them by name.  We identify them with the name intimates know them by.  God calls each of us by name.  He knows our identity.  We’re not a nobody in God’s sight.


"I know the plans I have for you."
There is a plan in place with your name on it.  That means God has identified you as a person of worth and He has you in mind for a future with hope.  Talk about an identity – your identity has a future. 


We can readily see by these scriptures that we are thought about, planned for and wanted in God’s sight.  He knows us, He calls to us, He plans for us, and He wants us to be a part of his plan.  We are on God’s team, and He knows each of us by name.

Come to the one who knows you so well, loves you so much, welcomes you with open arms, and has already worked out a road-map for your life. 

Talk about an identity – your life is ordered – and it is all good.  God doesn't make mistakes and he doesn't lead us without equipping us.

What is your identity?

You are a child of God – not a slave, not a servant, and not a distant cousin.

You are SOMEBODY!

Perhaps it’s time to give God some words of thanks for who you are and what He has already placed inside you.

He’s listening.  Just use your own words.


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