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Archive for the ‘Beloved by God’ Category

I read that yesterday marked 33 years to the day that Pete Rose joined Ty Cobb as the only players in MLB history with 4000 hits.  A Facebook friend of mine posted this fact and his opinion that Rose deserved to be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rose, as you may know, was banned from MLB baseball and from its Hall of Fame for life because he gambled on MLB baseball games as a player/manager.  My friend insisted that this was irrelevant to his accomplishments on the field.  He also felt Rose had not gambled on baseball games as a player.

I began to respond to this post with the following, “Whether he was a player or not when he gambled on games (Rose was definitely a manager at the time of his gambling) is irrelevant.  Rose knew what was right/wrong, and he knew the consequences.  He nevertheless chose to do what was wrong — not once, but repeatedly.  He deserves his punishment and should NEVER be allowed in the Hall of Fame.”

I finished typing and my finger hovered over the “submit” button.  But I couldn’t send my scathing message.  Why?  Because I realized I was indicting myself — and in a much more important sphere — the sphere of life and my relationship with God Himself.

How many times have I done what I knew to be wrong?  Knowing the consequences, I did it anyway.  How many times have I lost my temper and lashed out at others — even those I claim to love?  How many times have I taken the selfish action, knowing it would bring pain to others?  How many times have I failed to take action that I knew would bring comfort to, ease loneliness of, soothe suffering to others?

I know there is a God.  Creation itself testifies to this.  I know that in doing wrong, there are present and eternal consequences for knowingly sinning (doing wrong) against others and therefore against Him.  And yet, I did the wrong things anyway.  I certainly don’t deserve His love nor to be in any “Hall of Fame” He may have (heaven and right relationship with Him).

As the United Airlines firestorm continues, Dr. David Dykes (longtime pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas) shared this: Regarding the man pulled from the flight, my first thought was, “When they were dragging this bleeding man off the plane, why didn’t someone stand up and say, ‘Let him go. I’ll take his place. Take me instead’?”

“I suppose all the passengers were shocked and stunned into silence. I’m just glad that 2,000 years ago when I should have been the one rejected and bloodied, Jesus stepped forward and said, ‘Let him go. I’ll take his place. Take me instead!’ “

Today is Good Friday.  On this very day, some 2000 years ago, Jesus took my place.  He took my place at enormous cost and enabled me to receive what I didn’t deserve.  To receive what my actions dictated I should NEVER have:  right relationship with God now and forevermore more, and abundant & eternal life.

“What must I do to be saved?” asked a man in Scripture after Jesus’ death.  The answer?  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

On this Good Friday, I remember what Jesus did for me — and for Pete Rose and for you.  And I believe in the Lord Jesus.  And I am grateful (an inadequate word) that Jesus took my place.  May my life going forward reflect this gratitude by reflecting Him.

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Scan 1675My son, wanting to get to a television program, raced through dinner. Which caused me to ask, “That was a quick dinner — did you chew any of it?”

And suddenly, I was time warped back 40 years — for my Dad said that to me from time-to-time when I raced through dinner to get to something I was eager to do.

I was struck by the warm, secure, happy, buoyant feelings that enveloped me.

Those of us who have lost a parent sometimes say, “I miss my Dad,” or “I miss my Mom.” I realized in this moment, that while that is very true, I also very much miss being a kid. Or, rather, I miss what my childhood was characterized by. I was secure and happy and joyous and hopeful for & in the future. There was unconscious confidence in the various people and institutions that filled and guided my life — they taught and/or reinforced truth and how to live it. Most of all, the relationship with and confidence in my parents, provided the foundation for all of this. I was loved, valued, disciplined (in the right way, for the right reasons), sacrificed for.

I miss being a kid.

And then I thought, I still have a Dad. He loves me, values me, disciplines me (in the right way, for the right reasons; see Proverbs 3:12), and has given the greatest sacrifice for me — His only begotten Son that I might become His child (see John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:4-6).

And I realize I’m still a kid, with a Father in whom I can have relationship with and confidence in. And I am enveloped by the warm, secure, happy, buoyant feelings that accompany the child who is indeed loved.

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Have you ever known someone who was truly humble?  Not someone who constantly put themselves down or had very low self-esteem.  That is not healthy nor biblical humility.  Have you known someone with biblical humility?  How did it evidence itself in their lives?

As I continue to dwell on, study and pray about this idea of “returning to my first love,”  two thoughts are revealed to me.

a) Biblical humility is a must for such a return and maintenance of an intimate relationship with God.  Biblical humility – recognizing oneself as a sinner before, and in need of, a holy God.

Isaiah 57:15 – ….. I [God] dwell …. with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

b) We are beloved by God.

Rom 9:25 – As indeed He says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’

It’s important to have biblical humility in conjunction with the personal understanding that we are beloved by God.  Otherwise we end up only in a guilt complex and/or self-loathing.

Being beloved by God is the true core of our existence.  It is in understanding this, in taking it into the core of our being, that we develop biblical humility.  It is then that we have “godly sorrow leading to repentance” (2 Cor 7:10).  It is then that we will have a true (and healthy) biblical humility that flavors how we see ourselves, others and how we live and move in this world.  It makes Philippians 2:3-8 become possible in our lives.

“But as long as ‘being the beloved’ is little more than a beautiful thought or a lofty idea that hangs above our lives to keep us from becoming depressed, nothing really changes.  We ARE beloved.  We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children or friends loved or wounded us.”  — Henri J.M. Nouwen in Life of the Beloved.

That’s the truth spoken by the Holy Spirit who lives in all of us who are believers in Christ Jesus.

As you pray, listen!  God calls out to you, His beloved.  “I have called you by name from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.  I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  Wherever you go, I go with you.  You are my beloved.  Nothing will ever separate us.”

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. — 1 John 4:10

Returning to your first love begins with godly sorrow, biblical humility, and a recognition that we ARE beloved by God — and always will be.

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