Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hope after Heartbreak

When the devastation of life knocks us down, where do we turn for help in getting back up?

When heartbreak knocks on our door, where do we find our footing for the next steps that must be taken?

I knew a man in Texas who had to endure a serious drug relapse with his wife.  Those were dark and desperate days, yet he found hope in the scriptures and came out on solid ground on the other side.  One of the verses he found was in Jeremiah.

“With certainty I have great plans for you; plans for goodness and not for harm, for I want you to enjoy a future with hope.” (PMB Paraphrase)  Jeremiah 29:11


In Tennessee there is a friend who faced financial setbacks so severely that he was forced into bankruptcy.  Again, hope was found in the scriptures.

"If I can clothe the flowers in the fields, and I can notice when a sparrow falls to the ground, don’t you think I can also take care of you?  Don’t worry.  If I can take care of the flowers and sparrows, I can certainly take care of you as well.”  (PMB Paraphrase)  Matthew 6:25-34

Do you need more assurance?  Note this.

In the Bible, John 16:33  Christ is speaking.

“In this world troubles will come along.  But have hope.  I have overcome the world.” (PMB paraphrase)

We can’t stop bad things from knocking on our door; however, we can be assured of the peace and presence of God almighty in the middle of the madness. 

Does that give you hope?  It surely does that for me. 

Psalm 147:11 talks about God delighting in those of us who place our hope in his unfailing love. 

A hope in His never failing love

I can get that concept. 

I have faced some desperate times, and every time, in the middle of my desperation, I've found the kind of hope of which we speak. 

I have found it again and again in the Word of God.

Thank God there is great hope after life’s heartbreaks.


Please watch this



My Prayer for You

God:

We are learning.  We are learning to rely on you, to rely on your faithfulness, and to rely on the peace and hope you give us in the middle of our messes. 

You bring peace.
You bring power.
You bring stability.
You bring hope.

What a mighty God you are.

With all that is within me, I say Thanks. 

Thank you Lord for what you have done and for what you will continue to do.


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


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Is God Mad at Me?

Once upon a time there was a mother with eight children.  She was a good mother – even a great mother. 

One day she was cooking in her kitchen and her little girl of five reached up to the stove where a pot was boiling.  Yes, the unfortunate happened.  The five-year-old reached for the handle of the boiling pot and pulled it down onto her head and arms.  She was severely burned.

Years after this accident, this Mom was telling me the story and she concluded it with “I think God is mad at me or that would not have happened to my little Jessie.”

I tell this story because it is symptomatic of how many feel toward God.  They view Him as an ogre who stands around all day just waiting for one of us to step out of line so He can zap us.  Or maybe, as in the case of my friend, God is up there somewhere just looking for some way of causing us grief because He is mad at us.

This view of God breaks my heart. 

Religion is not on the merit badge system.  God is not up there somewhere passing out merit badges for good deeds and then promptly taking them away for every misstep.

~You left the milk out and it spoiled.  ZAP.

~You didn’t dress your little girl warmly enough and she caught the flu.  ZAP.

~I didn’t kiss Carolyn in a proper manner this morning.  ZAP. 

No!
          NO!
                    N O !

God is not dangling our merit badges in front of us just to remind us to stay on the straight and narrow. 

The Bible I read continually reminds us of this ...

He is a God of great love.  Psalm 86:15  Jeremiah 29:11

He is a God of great compassion.  Psalm 51:1

He is a forgiving God.  I John 1:9 Hebrews 8:12

He is ever watchful over us.   Matthew 6:25-34

He is our friend.   John 15:12-15

He knows our name.  Isaiah 43:1

I don’t find a theology of “mad” anywhere in the Bible.  I do find a theology of love, compassion, mercy and grace. 

So if you fear that God is mad at you, have no fear.  God is love. 

Pure
Consistent
Redeeming

L O V E

That is the image of God that I want to pass along to you.


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


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Trust

The fog had rolled in.  Actually it was more like a fog gone wild.  It hung heavily in the air.  The travelers on this day had to walk with extra caution.

A small child was walking precariously, for she had lost her way and she didn't know which way to turn. 

She called out.  “Papa?  Are you here?  Can you see me?’

She waited, and called again. 

“Papa?  I can’t see which way to go.  Can you see me?”

And the answer came.

“My child.  I see you.  I am here.  Take my hand.  Hold tightly, and trust me.  I will lead you to safety.”

“Oh Papa.  I’m scared.”

“Have no fear, little one.  I am here. 


I have some friends in the south who are facing hard days.  His cancer is running rampant through his body.  His strength is weak.  His body is frail. 

She lives in a state of stress.  Between caring for kids and grand-kids she is living day by day with cautious steps.  She is fearful.  What next?  She has no idea what tomorrow may bring.

Across the miles I whisper “trust.”  Her friends at church continually whisper “trust”

And the Father hovers near and continually whispers “Trust.”


I know a man, a good man.  He lost his job recently.  Worry floods his mind.  What will they do?  He has two small boys and another is on the way.  The wife works, and is the only one covered on her company insurance policy.  The medical bills continue.  The worries increase.

My wife is close to them.  In counseling with them both, she often whispered “trust.”

And the Father sweeps in.  He offers grace in abundance, strength for the day, assurance of His presence and peace in the middle of the daily storms.

All He asks for in return – TRUST!

And so we do. 

The words of a favorite hymn come to mind.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take Him at His word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to know “thus saith the Lord.”

And the last line of the refrain says this …

“Oh for grace to trust Him more”

The one on whom we call has a strong grip and good ears.  He leads us through the fog as He holds our hand, and His ears hear our cry, even when muffled with care and worry.

And He always has His eye on us, for He stands tall above the fog and can see the way with clarity.

Trust His hand.
Trust His heart.

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


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Does God Like You?

What a probing question – does God like me?  Of course, God has to love us, for that is the theologically correct response, based on tons of credentialed studies and volumes of books written on the subject.  Everybody knows that God is supposed to love us.  

Don’t we?

Ah, perhaps so, but that begs the question – does God like me? 

It is the old concept of “Yeah, I love you but I don’t like you very much”.  This is usually said after we've pulled some really serious boner or caused some ruckus, and maybe, perhaps, after we've committee some awful crime, or even a sin. 

Love is such an easy word to toss about these days.  But then we “love” lots of things and people.
We love …
Ice cream
Peanuts
Justin Bieber
Morton’s Steak House
Diana Krall
Madonna
Dances with the Stars

Most of us do not personally know the individuals mentioned above, but we proclaim our “love” for them nevertheless. 

And then we come back to our premise – Does God like me

I can state with emphasis the answer to this is YES. God does like me and you.

As my favorite author says …

“God not only loves you,
but he likes you a whole lot.
Actually God is very, very fond of you.”
~Brennan Manning

Here is a word for you, from Thomas Merton, Anglo-American Catholic, writer, and Trapist Monk.

“A saint is not someone who is good
but one who experiences the goodness of God.”


Now, I am not someone who is consistently, 100% good, and I imagine you aren't either, however, I experience the goodness of God on a continual basis.  I revel in the fact that not only am I loved by God; God actually likes me.  He likes when I call on Him from time to time.  He enjoys my laughter, my sense of humor, the way my mind works, the friends I have, the way I love my wife.  In a word, God likes hanging with me. 

Good news alert!  God likes you too.  Have no fear of that.

My mentor, Brennan, says this:

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God; stunned that He should bother to call us by name.  Our mouths should be wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on Holy Ground.”

Why?

Consider this.

Isaiah 43:1 tells us this, and it is God speaking.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.”

That is a pretty great message.  He likes us enough to use our name.  Your name is the most important possession you have, and for someone to use your name, speak it properly - well, that is quite a compliment.  It means, in a word – we are liked.

But wait, there’s more.

Isaiah 43 continues:

“If you pass through waters, I’ll be there.
When you walk in fire,
you will not be burned.
I am the Lord your God.”

It may just be me, but this surely sounds like someone who has my back.  It sounds like somebody likes me a whole lot.  What do you say?

Has self-perception derailed your confidence? 
Have you heard a few too many negatives about the way you conduct your life?

Are you insecure, inadequate, prone to mistakes, potbellied, near death, bordering on panic, depressed, or disillusioned?

Be encouraged.  Again, listen to Brennan’s words.

“Never confuse your perception
of yourself with the mystery
that you are really accepted.”

To restate our scripture:  “I have called you by name.  You are mine.”

That is an amazing and encouraging word of hope.

Let me close with this:

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

The great love of God in Christ is continually reaching out to each of us.  Reach up, or out, or in whatever direction suits you, grab onto the hand of God, and receive your full measure of His love.

He really does like you.

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