It’s all about love

If there is one thing I hear the most when I hear God speak, it’s this, “I love you, son. I love you so much.

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God–for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

When I talk about hearing God, you will often hear me say, “It’s all about love.” You see, according to the above verse, God is love. So, if he is love, then everything he says to us is filtered through his love, through himself.

There was a season early in my journey with God where I asked him to show me how much he really loves me. During those days, he would often show me glimpses of his love for me.

I remember this one time specifically. I was upstairs in this office having some quiet time, praying and listening. It was pouring down rain outside. Downpour.

As I looked out the window, I had this thought, Each drop of rain is like a lens, a prism. You can see through it. And, since each drop of rain is a slightly different shape, each drop of rain gives you a different perspective. Then, God spoke, “Son, with every drop of rain in this downpour, I look at you with a different perspective of love. I see you through each rain drop, and I love you that many different ways.

I sure felt loved that day. God’s deep love for us goes beyond anything we can measure or understand. Even when we mess up, he loves us. Even when we fail him, he loves us. Even when we lose hope, he loves us.

Here’s the rest of that scripture in 1 John 4:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (v. 9-10).

From Daddy

The other day in my quiet time, I was journaling my thankfulness to God, and he responded with this wonderful message of love, but it wasn’t just for me.  I felt like this message was for all of his children, those who call upon Jesus.

When I was writing it down, I found myself cautiously capturing the words; whereas before, I would just enjoy flowing and writing and hearing—mistakes and all. But now, I wanted to be more cautious because others would be reading it.

I don’t like having a “cautious walk with God”. Rather, I want to chase him, pursue him, dive completely into what he wants for me.  I don’t mind making mistakes when it’s just me and God. He knows my heart, and I love to just jump into his presence like a three-year old jumping into his daddy’s arms—giggly, slobbering, messy, but madly in love with his Daddy. But now, with other three-year olds on the playground, can I still be that way with my Dad? I hope so.

So, with that, I share my journal entry with you from a few days ago, a little giggly, slobbering and messy:

Today is great day, Father. A great day! I celebrate the life you have given me. It is really, truly blessed and amazing! So amazing! Lord, I have life because you have given me life. You have given me eternal life! Lord, I am so grateful for all you have done and all you are doing and all you will be doing in my life. I can’t say thank you enough. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Son, I appreciate your thankfulness. I really do. I can’t tell you the number of Christians who call me Father who woke up this morning stressed, tired, unthankful—who went off to work like any other day, and never said anything to me. I’m not mad, son. It just breaks my heart, because I love them so much. So much. I just want to spend time with them.

Too many of my children think I bring calamity into their lives to “teach them a lesson” or to get their attention. That’s wrong. It’s not true. Would you take a stick and hit your child, and cause him harm just get his attention? No, that’s stupid. I woo and call and whisper into the hearts of my children. Calamity comes when they go their own way, do their own thing, and take matters into their own hands.

I can’t help a heart that goes its own way. I can only help a heart that is committed to me and listens to me. That’s my greatest desire for my children, to be fully devoted and committed to me. Why? Because I love them and I desire to help them in every area of their life.

Lifting the Heaviness

This past Saturday was the middle of month, day to pay bills. For some reason, it’s always an emotional time for me—sometimes good emotions, sometimes bad.

When you run your own business, there is considerable ebb and flow in your finances. You must learn to budget wisely and control your spending. It’s not hard, and the benefits are quite freeing. But, it can be a rollercoaster experience.

During the hot, Texas summers when electricity bills are sometimes 3 to 4 times that of normal bills, it can be quite stressful paying bills (those bad emotions). Other times, when the cash flow is good and bills are minimal, I often break out in to praise while paying bills. (It’s odd, I know, but I am always quite thankful to God for his provision in our lives.)

This past Saturday morning, bills were due. As I sat down at my computer, and started organizing the payments, there was considerable amount of “outflow” (bills to be paid). This summer has been wonderfully blessed for us, so it’s not a matter of having enough to pay the bills. But, for some reason, the bills started weighing quite heavily on me. And, the thoughts started to flow:

  • Wow, I’m spending a lot of money.
  • At this rate, we’ll be out of cash in no time.
  • With the economy down, it’ll be hard to find projects.
  • Oh no, then what? How can we afford to spend like this?
  • What are we going to do?

Since we were wonderfully blessed with projects this summer, again, there was no danger of running out of cash. Yet, those thoughts were so strong, so powerful, so influential. But, I’m quite confident that they weren’t my thoughts. Nor, God’s.

Read through that list of thoughts again, and you’ll hear many opportunities to make an agreement. At first, I started thinking, What’s going to happen? This heaviness, this depression started overshadowing my morning. I felt as if I was being smothered under the burden of financial stress, which was an odd feeling since we were doing so well this summer.

As I sat down in my recliner to ponder these thoughts, I immediately thought, These aren’t my thoughts. This heaviness is not the fruit of the Spirit. This is evil.

Immediately, I started to fight this oppressive feeling. I knew it was the voice of the enemy trying to subtly work his way into my mind, to get me to agree with him. And, if I had chosen to believe his lies, then my life would naturally follow. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

After just a few moments of prayer and standing on my authority as a Christian believer, the heaviness lifted. Lord, these are not my thoughts. I trust you. In the name of Christ, I break these thoughts. I reject them. I make no agreements in my heart with them. Lord, you are my Provider. The thoughts were gone. Soon, my words were words of praise and thankfulness to God for his provision in our lives.

You have to remember that the enemy is an opportunist. He will look for any and every opportunity to speak lies into your mind to get you to agree with him. And, he’ll do it when you are at your weakest.

Have you ever seen one of those nature shows where a pack of water buffalo are being chased by a few lions. And, there at the back of the pack is a weak, wounded or young buffalo. He’s slower than the rest. He’s obviously not able to keep up. Guess what–he’s the target. And when you are weak, down, depressed, sad or vulnerable, you are the devil’s primary target. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t let down. He hates you, and we must constantly be on our guard for such attacks.

Whispered Agreements

For the next few posts, I want to talk a bit about another voice—the voice of the enemy.

I tend to believe that the enemy has very little power to cause us physical harm. I know there are examples in the Bible where Jesus would rebuke a demon, and then some sort of sickness or condition would leave, like seizures or hemorrhaging.

Maybe I should say it this way—I believe that most of the physical conditions people struggle with today are not a direct result of some physical demonic attack. I do, however, believe that demons are sill very influential in the various sicknesses that come upon us.

Think about this scripture: “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT).

Notice that the devil is a roaring lion. Why do lions roar? To create a sense of fear and domination, to assert authority. But you see, the devil no longer has authority in a Christian’s life. So, he just roars.

So, how is that related to our physical conditions? I believe the enemy is constantly roaring into our lives. He is constantly speaking negative things. Why? To get us to agree with him.

Listen carefully to this scripture: “The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it was withered from the roots. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, ‘Look, Teacher! The fig tree you cursed has withered!’ Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, “May God lift you up and throw you into the sea,” and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it'” (Mark 11:20-24, NLT).

Did you catch that last part? If you believe, you will have it. While it’s often quoted on the positive side of faith, I believe it also applies to the negative side of faith. If you choose to agree with the enemy, then you will have it. Proverbs 23:7 confirms this, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

The enemy is trying really hard to get you to agree with him, because once you make that agreement with him, the negative side of faith kicks into action. As you think in your heart, so it is.

Let me give you an example of an agreement.

Early this year, my teenage son would tell me, “Dad, I can’t hear God. I try and try, but I guess I just can’t hear God.”

Can you hear the agreement in his words?

I sat down with him and showed him scriptures like John 10:3, “The sheep hear his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” And later in John 10:16, “They will listen to my voice.” I explained to him that we can hear God, and that it’s his desire that we hear him. I explained to him that as his father, my desire is to spend quality time with him—talking, sharing, engaging. It’s the same with God.

I asked him if he remembered ever agreeing with a thought that he couldn’t hear God. He said yes. That’s the voice of the enemy. My son made an agreement with this thought, and it wasn’t his thought at all. So, we prayed and broke that agreement. We declared to the enemy that we can hear the voice God, and cancelled all those unholy assignments.

I told him to pray and listen. Then, tell me what he heard. After a moment, he said, “Dad, I heard God. He said: I love you!” It’s always about love.

When it comes to sickness and physical conditions, I think many people have just made agreements and don’t fight the good fight of faith. Do any of these sound familiar:

  • My dad died from cancer. I’ll probably get it too.
  • This depression is so strong. I just can’t fight it.
  • My nose is stopped up. I’m probably coming down with something.
  • I always get the flu this time of year.
  • It has been a hard day. I guess the stress is normal.
  • I can’t hear God.

When we have these thoughts, we think it’s our own. So, we agree. We let down our guard. We stop fighting. We receive it.

Please understand, I’m not condemning you if you’ve made any agreements. I have made my fair share of agreements, even recently. I just want to make you aware that the enemy’s voice is very subtle but incredibly influential. We must monitor our thoughts, and measure them up against God’s word, against the truth. The war we fight is not a physical war, but a mental war engaged in the spiritual realm.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).

What agreements have you made in your life? What have you chosen to believe without first challenging that thought in light of God’s word?

The Crisis God

When I booted up my computer this morning and opened my journal, I realized it has been quite awhile since I really connected with my Father. And thought, Why?

Well, it’s easy—life is good right now. Really good. When I think about all the things that people struggle with—marriage, finances, rebellious kids, sickness, and in-laws, I’ve got it great.

  • My marriage is wonderful and healthy!
  • We’re completely out of debt!
  • Our teenage son is an absolute joy!
  • I’m training for a half-marathon and feel great!
  • I get along with my mother-in-law. Mostly.

Life is good.

And when life is good (and in control), I often just go through my day doing my thing on my schedule my way. I have this impaired sense of, I don’t need God. Life is good.

Rarely, do we call upon the God-who-is-Lord. Rather, we call upon the God-who-is-only-there-when-I’ve-got-a-problem.

Think about it for a moment. How would you describe your prayer life with God? Think of a scale—on one side, the number of times you go to God in a crisis, with a need. The other side is all the times you went to God just thank him, talk to him, spend time with him for no other reason than to just be with him.

I know what my scale would look like, and it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s quite lopsided.

I think about my son and the times he comes to me. Usually, it’s a request for more computer or tv time. Or, he wants to watch a show with me (only because he’s run out of his own computer/tv time for the day). Or, he wants to go to the lake or swimming or over to a friend’s house. Or my favorite, he has used up all his computer/tv time, finished reading all his library books, and he has nothing to do. So, out of boredom, he comes to me wanting to play a game or something.

Boredom. My daddy status is one step below boredom.

Yet, here’s the beauty of it all. My love for him is no less. Even in those times when he comes to me because he has exhausted all of his other options, I still love being there for him. I love it when he comes to me. I enjoy being with him. Sure, it blesses me when he comes to me first, but the fact that he just comes to me is a blessing beyond measure.

I think it’s the same with God. Sure, he loves it when we come to him first—first in the morning, first in a decision, first to be thanked, first in a crisis. But, his love does not waiver when we call out to him as a last resort, when things have escalated beyond our control.

With all the great things going on in my life, I have become more thankful to God. I spend sporadic times throughout the day in simple thankfulness. Just this morning, I was walking our dog, Misty, and saw this beautiful sunrise.

Thank you, Father, for this exciting, wonderful day!

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