7 New Ways to See God, if You Can’t See God as Father

Last week in LASTing Peace we talked about how we see God. So often, in the confidential rooms of counseling and group therapy, I’ve heard people say that they have a hard time seeing God a loving Father because their earthly father was neglectful, abusive, absent, drunk or a myriad of other things.

In the video, I tried to touch those feelings and untie the knots of anxiety that strangle so many people who believe in God and want to know Him but struggle with the truth that He really loves them. There’s only so much you can say in a five minute video, so today I hope to flesh out that concept and offer some more encouragement.

Just the smallest of recaps, and please go listen to this video if you haven’t yet, but I told you there are times in the Bible when God even reveals Himself through mothering characteristics: He is nurturing and protective.

God sometimes uses seemingly contradictory terms to describe Himself in an effort, I believe, to push our minds outside the boundaries of human personality, so that we can imagine a God who contains all qualities. For example, He is both the lion (strong and defensive) and the lamb (gentle and peaceful). He is both the shepherd (guide, protector, nurturer) and the sheep (the sacrifice for our sins). Jesus also calls Himself the Son of man and the Son of God, a door, a vine and the Bread of Life.

Personally, I think God gives us so many angles, analogies and perspectives because He knows that one image will not make sense to all people. He so longs for a relationship with each of us on a personal level that He has opened all His heart, displayed the smallest measure of all the aspects of His majesty so that we can each taste of the His goodness and anticipate the wonder of all He is and does for us: More than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

So, if you’ve struggled with the concept of God as your Father. I invite you to let that description go. Here are a few more ways that God refers to Himself throughout His Word. In time, maybe you will be able to see God as the perfect Father you never had, the Father you always longed for. If and until then look to Him as:

Master (Adonai)—This one is actually my favorite and I explain why in the video.

Your Rock (Yahweh Tsuri)—solid, unchanging and reliable

Your Healer (Yahweh Rophe)

The King (Melek)

Your Righteousness (Yahweh Tsidqenu)

Your Husband (Ish)

Your Dwelling Place (Maon)

One week from today, we’ll take a brief look at a very special way that God reveals Himself. Till then, rest in the arms of Yahweh Shalom (He is your peace).

Advertisements

2 and 3 Things that Made My Recovery from Anorexia Final

 

marketLast week I shared with you #3thingstomakerecoveryfinal ! Instead of simply saying, Jesus Christ, and then opening the floor for a barrage of questions, I’m letting you in on my answers to a dear friend recently. You can read the first part, here.

2. There are some people that I’ve had to ask to change the conversation. I don’t do this often. But, I have a number of family, friends and acquaintances who are INTENSE exercisers. And though they love me and know my history, some are a bit careless in their conversations and criticism of heavy people or relating the details their last ultra-marathon. It was really tough, but several times I’ve had to say, “Guys, I need to talk about something else”.

3. One thing that really began to change my feelings about food was an experience at the farmer’s market in Olympia, WA. I was alone, walking through the stalls and suddenly overcome by the sheer joy on everyone’s face! These people made their living thinking about food all the time 🙂

And they LOVED it! No one I saw was super skinny. There were people sampling cherries, roasting nuts, counting apples and potatoes. Herbs hung from tall beams, Homemade soaps and mysterious scents everywhere. It hit me for the first time how much of a GIFT food is! How much God wants us to enjoy it! How excited He must be when we harvest and taste and smile over the delicious variety of His creation. But these people were just enjoying it with simplicity–no long mental argument about what was good, bad or best for them to eat.

This has become my pursuit with food and exercise–I want to enjoy this life: Really enjoy it! And whatever comes of my body as I’m “living it up” down here in my good God’s creation, so be it. He is capable of caring for me.

We hear so much about “loving” our body, but I don’t find that anywhere in the Bible. We are called to use our body and care for our bodies. We are asked to touch, feed, nurture, carry, speak, sing, love, hold, birth, reason and worship with our bodies. None of those things require “loving” it–either from a selfish “I’ve got the best body” attitude or the attitude taught so often in treatment that we need to learn to “love our bodies” just as they are.

That’s just it–our bodies just are. They are for the purpose of serving and using and worshiping. And whatever becomes of my body as I’m doing those things, so be it.

And you know the best part about “whatever happens”? In the process of using my body to honor God and enjoy Him, I have EVERY confidence that He will care for the health of my body.

I hope this helps, lovely friend.

Where is the Peace on Earth?

 I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~ Wadsworth

I wonder if when Wadsworth penned those words, he expected to someday see peace on earth. Or was he speaking wistfully about some day hung in eternity, about as accessible as the stars? Certainly, no one even today, nearly 150 years later, would dare to say we have achieved peace on earth.

Here in America, we have come as close to peace as anyone. Most of us live safe, predictable lives. But even here we have domestic violence, natural disasters, political arguments, road rage, rivalry, and worse. Even at this season when we blissfully sing of peace, havoc reigns. Just last week: An inexplicable mass shooting at an elementary school – 27 people killed.

Why is this? What can we do? This morning on talk radio, commentators were asking, “What law do we need to prevent this kind of thing from happening?” The answer isn’t in a Christmas carol. It isn’t in Washington. The United Nations can’t bring about world unity. However, Peace will come from authority. 

Think of it, what do you do when you feel anxious? If you’re like me, you set out on a frantic course to determine the problem, find the solution and relax once more in your manufactured peace. The trouble is, in no time, you and I are in turmoil again.

Do you ever say something like, “Oh to be a kid again, no cares in the world.” The reason kids have no cares is that they are happily submitted to the authority of their parents. Their peace comes from knowing that Mom and Dad will feed them, clothe them, tell them what to do and when to do it, answer their questions, calm their fears, kill the boogieman, dry their tears, tuck them in and teach them what they need to know. What would you give to have that kind of peace again?

This is what the LORD says–your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Is. 48:17

World peace, personal peace, eternal peace is found under authority. And therein is the main reason we miss it. The older we get the less we like the idea of taking orders from someone else. The older we get the more confident we become that we can take care of ourselves. But, what if there was someone worthy to exercise authority over us? And what if that someone was implicitly good and trustworthy?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6

We have been given PEACE, peace incarnate. And yet, this peace is a prince; he has come to rule.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Col. 3:15

Do not think that you can experience His peace unless He has full authority over your heart.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

The peace of Christ is for those who like little children with a benevolent parent, bring their troubles to Him, instead of insisting on their own solution.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Is. 26:3

The Prince of Peace gives peace to those who look to Him for truth and trust His answers.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

And this Peace of Christ is for today, it is peace on earth (Luke 2:14). For even the peace that we desire in our homes, between our political parties, between our nations, is only experienced under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

The Secret to World Peace (and yours)

In an election season, ‘peace’ is the buzzword. Every politician vying for your vote is promising you peace through their plan. Peace in your finances, peace in the form of less crime, international peace, partisan peace, peace with minorities and the absence of hate.

They valiantly pledge their lives to the betterment of public life. Then they turn around and viciously sling mud at their opponent. The worst part is, they can’t all be right! So where do we go for real, true peace?

The simple answer is: God. But unfortunately, that’s become a token response, spoken almost as glibly as a first grader in Sunday school class.

“Well, I’m just praying that God will intervene. If we would all just be obedient to God. Well, God’s going to punish America and then He will establish His peace.”

I’m absolutely not denying the fact that God Jehovah is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.”

If generations, centuries of Christians have believed that God is the source of peace for the world, then why do we not experience peace on earth? At the very least, why don’t we have peace in our own homes?

Remember the “good old days”? We say that when we look at our kids and realize that they have no concerns.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we think, to go back to having no worries, just trusting that Mom and Dad would take care of things? Those nights when you slept well; your breaths were soft and deep and you only cried if you stubbed your toe. Even then, Mom or Dad always had the power to make it better.”

Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Ah children, peaceful, quiet, innocent babes. (Not always, but you get my analogy.)

So what are they doing right?

In her Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore made a startling observation – at least to me. She said, “peace is always associated with authority.” Think about it, your child lives peacefully, relative to you, because she is under your authority. This position includes being loved by you, cared for by you, advised by you and disciplined by you.

I have been mulling over that idea for a couple days. Then this morning, my Father showed me this truth definitively in His own words.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Peace is found under the rulership of Jesus Christ. When I try to be my own authority, peace becomes an illusion.

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. The next verse tell us of His governance. Jesus brings peace to those who are under His authority.

Question: In my most harried moments, the days when my brain feels as if it’s filled with rabid birds, when the anxiety almost seems to physically burn my insides: am I under Christ’s authority? If so, then like a child, I can simply trust my Father – to love me, care for me, advise me and discipline me.

One final thought, that I hope to explore in more detail later:
Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, tension has been an inevitable part of marriage relationships. There God cursed the man to be frustrated in his ambitions and the woman’s desire to be for her husband. Most scholars believe this indicates a power struggle between the two.

Throughout the Bible, God calls the man to be a leader in the home and for the woman to submit to his authority. We also know that God does not prefer men to women, or women to children or one race over another. So why this submission thing? Aren’t we equals?

Could it be that God knows in our sin-sick world, peace-less-ness will reign? I think He is offering us peace on earth by saying, “Yes, I love you the same, you are equal. But peace comes with authority. For the sake of peace in your homes, I am establishing a leader and a follower.” What do you think?

The Greatest Miracle in History?

What do you think was the biggest miracle of all time? Creation? Every sunrise? The resurrection of Jesus Christ? If I had to answer that question right off the top of my head I probably would have said the resurrection. But recently, during my quiet time, my thinking was challenged. I am still not sure where I fall on this issue, so I welcome your thoughts:

The greatest miracle of all time was the death of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;'” John 11:25

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6

If Jesus actually IS life, how could He die? Jesus, physical Jesus, was perfect. Jesus was from the beginning (John 1). The truth that our Almighty God, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor loved a rebellious world, of whom every single one had gone astray – loved that world enough to die for it – THAT is the miracle. We were doomed to die for our sin, but the Immortal chose, with an absolute act of will to DIE for us, in our stead.

It seems to me that it took a greater miracle for the Author of Life to choose to die for His own creation, than for the very God who IS life to rise from the dead. Sin and death are diabolical opposites of life and holiness – therefore Jesus Christ could not be contained by a grave.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers,” 1 John 3:16

God did not compromise one iota of His holiness to redeem a wicked world. God did not extend a second chance to sinners, He offered a perfect, infallible rescue.

 

It’s The Least We Can Do?

Counter-intuitively, the church of Jesus Christ has historically seemed to flourish in the midst of persecution. In Iran, China and Ethiopia, Christians are hunted, hounded, harassed and often killed. Pastor Youcef was arrested nearly 3 years ago. He remains in prison in Iran for “offending Islam.” Recently, an execution order hung imminently over his head. It was denied following international indignation, yet daily he waits with no resolution. In spite of this, the church grows. In July 2011, it was reported that the Christian church in Iran was growing annually at 19.6%. [oprev.org]

In Turkey, Christians are getting tired. It’s been five years since three Christian men were bound, tortured and killed in Turkey. [persecutionblog.com] The church is barely hanging on.

“Within Turkish culture, Christians remain vilified and are treated as second-class citizens. The news media often portray Christianity in a negative light, and some church leaders rely on bodyguards and police protection. In 2011, a Protestant group documented 12 attacks against Christians, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom added Turkey to its list of 16 ‘Countries of Particular Concern’ this year.”

 There is another blessed outcome of persecution.

“Let the whole world bless our God
and loudly sing his praises.
Our lives are in his hands,
and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver.
You captured us in your net
and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
Then you put a leader over us.
We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance.” Ps. 66:8-12

As a grateful Christian, living in America, it’s hard to know what to say. I feel refined in my own daily life, sometimes I feel like the heat is more than I can bear. Why am I spared the sufferings that Christians in other countries experience? Does God know that my faith is not yet strong enough to endure? I pray that’s not the case!

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:15-17

Often we feel like there’s little to do from where we sit. “All we can do is pray,” is a common, comfy-Christian refrain. First, there is no such thing as “only praying.” I think we see little because we ask little, we expect little, we endure little. However, there is something else we can do.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13

Stacy Harp is the editor of persecutionblog.com. I asked her what I can do, what we can do, to raise the awareness of the persecuted church and to increase the fervency of American Christians to support our brothers and sisters. Her first, specific request is that we write to Pastor Youcef.

Would you do that?