Saturday, October 31, 2015

Do You Have It Together?

Is your life perfect?  Do you have it all together?  Well, let me tell you about my perfect life, perfect marriage, and what a model citizen I am. 


I’m not perfect.  I don’t have it all together.  And you probably don’t either.

And God knows this about us.

We want to get it all together with God.  We even think that everybody in church has it together. 

When we pray, isn’t prayer for those who have it together?  I mean, don’t they thank God for how wonderful their life is, and for all the stuff they own, and the places they live, and the perfectness of their kids?  Don’t people pray that way, and don’t our lives suck when we can’t measure up to that ridiculous standard? 

For those who struggle with all of this imperfection stuff and lack of togetherness syndrome, we have something in common. And if you hang with me for a bit we will discover some words of hope on which to hang our collective hats and hearts and destinies. 

Anne Lamont wrote a book a few years ago and I want to borrow from her. 

“Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up.  The opposite may be true.  We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.”

WoW!  Double WoW!

“We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.”

Have you been there – done that?  Can I have a show of hands?

Okay, I’ll put my hand down now. 

I can hear some of you saying, “But I can’t show up looking like this?  I’m dirty, I’m grimy, and I’ve been wallowing in places I wish I would have avoided.  Let me go clean up first.”

That is just the point, isn’t it? 

We show up anyway.  We pray anyway.

God accepts us anyway. 

I’m reminded of a story found in the Biblical book of James 2:1-26

A translation: “My friends, don’t show partiality when those different from you show up.  If a man comes in wearing a ring and gorgeous clothes followed by a beggar from the street wearing rags and smelling of the garbage pit, don’t invite the rich man to the right side of the table and shuffle the poor man off to a corner or a separate room.  Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor in this world to be rich in the faith and heirs of the kingdom?” 
~Based on James 2:1-26

In another spot we find this:
“The Spirit and Bride say, ‘Come.’  Listen for the invitation.  Any who are thirsty may come; let those who desire to take a drink of the water of life without price, they can come too.”
~Revelations 22:17

And in Luke 19:10 we find:  “God sent Christ to earth to seek and save those who are lost.”

It appears to me that God is inviting the likes of you and me to first come, quench your thirst, and then allow Him to do whatever transformation He chooses to do in our lives. 

We come first; then He helps us get it together.  I like that.

So, even though you and I may not have it all together, we can still show up at God’s door, knock and be received. 

Go ahead, ask to be let in. 

You’ll find the doors will swing open and you will receive a welcome beyond belief.

Thanks Be to God!

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

God Is For Us

This is a strong word of hope and grace for all of us.  We live in an age when we seem battled on every hand.  We face obstacles, lack, discouragement and defeat. 

We are prone to wonder …
  Does God like me?
  Does God know my name?
  Has God lost my address?

The ultimate question that goes unanswered is this:

Is God for me?  Is He on my side?

Allow me to use the scriptures to help define this ponderable question.

This is one of the great verses of hope found in the New Testament.  I find tremendous encouragement simply from resting my eyes on this idea.  I want to want to believe this verse, and I am coming to believe it, for I have great faith and trust in the God I serve.

Now, it is important to note this.  This is a faith statement.  That means we don’t have a written document stating exactly how God will be for us, how He will walk with us in the middle of every adversity or circumstance.  We just have this amazing promise.

I ran across this insightful quote recently and it has been turning my spiritual understanding upside down.  It is from Richard Rohr, a Roman Catholic priest and prolific author/speaker.

“My scientist friends have come up with things like principles of uncertainty and dark holes.  They are willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories.  But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true.  We love closure, resolution, clarity, while thinking that we are people of faith.  How very strange that the word “faith” has come to mean it’s exact opposite.”

Hold onto that thought for a moment while we revisit our key verse.  “If God be for us who can be against us?”

In the final resolution of things we know and hopefully accept the idea that God is on our side and He is with us through all of life’s steps. 

He has never promised nor demonstrated that He will keep us from hardships.  He simply promises to be with us in the middle of our hardships.  FAITH!

We want ready answers, signs in the heavens, a phone call right at the eleventh hour that spells deliverance for our dilemma.  What God wants most from us is TRUST! 

He wants a trusting heart that says “Even in the middle of my misery, God I know you stand with me.  I know you will never leave me nor forsake me.” 

That is giant-size faith.  We don’t know the “HOW” or the “WHEN”.  All we know is God is on our side and in the end, we will conquer. 

Meanwhile, God is with us. 

I take great comfort in that verse tonight.

Thanks be to God.

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Grace Like We've Never Seen

Don’t you love abundance?  I like it when I get a bonus.
I got an extra helping of potatoes recently at our favorite restaurant
Carolyn is giving me an abundant back rub right now.

I love abundance. 

Does God ever shower us with abundance?

He does indeed.

The scriptures remind us of this:  
Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.
~Romans 5:20

For comparison purposes, let’s say that you and I commit a series of sins.  On the Richter scale of sins, this amounts to 100 sins. 

That’s a whole lot of sins, would you agree? 

100 sins – and they fill the house and overflow the windows.

And along comes God.  

So God sees our 100 sins.  Does he give us a measure of grace equal to 101 sins?  Not according to our key verse.

Let’s be generous.  Let’s say he gives a measure equal to 150 sins.  Surely one and a half times more grace than sins is a good thing, right?

And to add to our dilemma, tomorrow and for the next four days we commit these sins five days in a row. 

Wow.  That means our sins now amount to 500 sins.  Surely God will run out of grace on that one.

Hold on, worried child of God.

His word promises, PROMISES I say, that where sin abounds, grace abounds more.

Not grace in a measure of 150 per day, or the 750 for five days. 

Think more in terms of the “thousand” power, even the “ten thousand” power.

God loves us so much that he gives and gives and gives in abundance, overflowing, pouring forth.  He gives more grace than our sins can handle.

He floods our sins with abundant grace, grace like we’ve never seen before.

The question is this – can we accept that kind of grace?
Can we accept that kind of love?
Can we believe in the abundant, lavish love of God?

We hear the scriptures that proclaim …

God so loved the world that He gave his only Son …John 3:16
I have loved you with an everlasting love.  Jeremiah 31:3

But to receive grace in such magnitude?
Is God really that rich in grace?  You bet He is. 

As Philip Yancey says, “God is looking more for ways to bring you home to heaven than He is in seeking ways to keep you out.”

My favorite author, Brennan Manning, says this:  “Only God knows how to pardon.”

And He does it very well indeed.

Where sin abounds grace abounds more.

Thanks be to God.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

What Does God Look Like

Once upon a time there was a kindergarten teacher who wanted her class to have a moment of art.  She told them to draw anything they wanted, and while they worked quietly she walked around the room looking at each child’s artwork.

She stopped at one little girl’s desk and asked innocently, “What are you drawing?”

The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.”

The teacher paused, smiled and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.”

The little girl replied, “They will in a minute.”

And so we wonder, what does God look like. 

I’ve seen God a few times.

I saw him once toting a bag of groceries up the sidewalk of an elderly lady who couldn’t get out and fetch them for herself.

I saw him looking on as a husband and wife walked hand in hand down Sunset Street in the town where I live.

And I saw Him the other day when a lady stopped on the corner of Ravenna and 63rd and handed out a brown bag and a bottle of water to a homeless man begging for money.

God shows up in a thousand ways every day.  If we look for Him we just might catch a glimpse of Him walking our streets, patrolling our neighborhoods and taking a disguised hand in our world.

We can even seen glimpses of him in some significant places in the scriptures.  He appeared in the form of a cloud by day and a blazing fire at night when He led the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years

He appeared in the form of a bread-like substance called manna to feed that same group on their wandering march.

Moses was allowed to look at God’s back-side once.

He was with Jonah in the belly of a whale.
He appeared to young Samuel in the middle of the night.
And He showed His hand to a mother and her son by continuing to refill her oil supply and grain supply until the seasonal rains came and allowed the local crops to grow to full harvest.

I’ve seen God in an envelope filled with cash that was given at a critical moment of need.

I’ve seen Him when He delivered me from a serious auto accident one Valentine’s day in Texas.

And I’ve seen Him in a hundred sunsets, bounty on my table, and in daily food for daily need.

I am keenly aware of God in all the various forms He chooses to assume

I’ve seen Him as …
 My provider
  My healer
   My comforter
    My Redeemer
     An act of Grace
      The one who supplies all my needs

What does God look like?

He often looks like ordinary humanity performing sometimes extraordinary acts of kindness, grace and hope.

Above all … God looks like a man on a cross, with arms outstretched, offering you and me redemption, hope and love.

And God looks like this –

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Beautiful and the Terrible

Do you want to hear the beautiful or the terrible?
Do you like the good news first or the bad news?

I have some awfully encouraging news to offer you today.  When I use the word ‘awfully’ just now that is on purpose. 

~Wouldn’t life be wonderful if all pain and suffering were eliminated?  
~Wouldn’t it be paradise if we had no struggles, no off-putting circumstances?  And if everybody in the whole world got along, now wouldn’t that be just about heaven?

Of course, the answer is “YES” – a thousand times yes.

However, we all know life is at best a hodge-podge of ups and downs, good days, less than stellar days, and sometimes it hardly seems worthwhile for us to get out of bed.

So where is the good news in the middle of all this mixed bag of good and bad?

We find a nugget of hope in this quote from Frederick Buechner. 

“Here is the world. 
Beautiful and terrible 
things will happen. 
Don't be afraid.” 

It almost seems like a slap in the face when he inserts that last comment, doesn’t it?  “Don’t be afraid” he says.

What?  Are you out of your mind?  Have you read a newspaper lately or watched the evening news?

That is our response, for sure. 

Okay – take a deep breath and tighten your shoe laces.  Things are about to get hopeful again.

There is a somewhat obscure passage in the Bible that speaks to our concerns today.  Here it is in my own paraphrase.

“I have told you some of these things because I want you to have peace.  You will have troubles in this world, but hang on.  I have overcome the world.”
~John 16:33

Christ himself is speaking these words, and they are perhaps some of the most encouraging words we could find in the scriptures, especially for such a time as this one in which we find ourselves.

“I have overcome the world.” 
     Powerful words
          Hope-filled words
               Encouraging words

And in one of my favorite passages, we find this – “Be not afraid nor dismayed.  I your God will be with you wherever you go.”

That comes from Joshua 1:9.  These words were spoken to Joshua after his leader, Moses, has died. 

  Joshua feels inadequate. 
    He feels overwhelmed. 
      He feels that he is not quiet up to the job at 

You see, he is an untried leader, especially after walking in the shadow of Moses for all these years. 

God speaks these words to Joshua and they filter down to us today. 

“Be not afraid.”
“I will be with you no matter where you go."

In other words, beautiful and terrible things will come your way.  Don’t be afraid.

Can we rest on that anchor?
I do believe we can.

Is God capable of sustaining us even in the midst of the most severe difficulties?  I do believe He can.

We must acknowledge this – we were never promised smooth sailing.  We WERE promised that he would sail with us into whatever seas our path takes us and into whatever strong gales we may face.

What is left to be said?

Thanks be to God.

Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time