Finding Healing for Our Hurts & Clarity for Our Confusion

“By the discovery of God, … I do not mean anything mysterious, or mystical, or unattainable. I simply mean becoming acquainted with Him as one becomes acquainted with a human friend; that is, finding out what is His nature, and His character, and coming to understand His ways.”

“My own experience has been something like this. My knowledge of God, beginning on a very low plane, and in the midst of greatest darkness and ignorance, advanced slowly through many stages, and with a vast amount of useless conflict and wrestling, to the place where I learned at last that Christ was the ‘express image’ of God, and where I became therefore in measure acquainted with Him, and discovered to my amazement and delight His utter unselfishness, and saw it was safe to trust in Him. And from this time all my doubts and questioning have been slowly disappearing in the blaze of this magnificent knowledge.”[i]

My experience, which may not be universal but seems to me as if it should be, is that our pain or confusion is best sorted in the Divine Presence. The immediacy of His reality puts ourselves into proper perspective, while the intensity of His love for and attitude toward us heals our hurts. We arrive at these moments via study, practice, intentionality, and His sovereignty.

I had the opportunity to pray to God with a good friend listening a few mornings ago. He happened to invite me to pray when I had just been moved in spirit by contemplating a truth about God’s character. I knew that if I began praying in that moment it was going to be very personal—the kind of praying that only happens in my prayer closet and even then is restrained by my (damnable) reluctance to seem (to myself, ironically) as if I am so enchanted by God as to have no thought of dignity—I was reluctant to go there, as I am unaccustomed to anyone else being privy to my personal prayer life with God, and because I care too much about what others might think, but after a few moments of hesitation I went there anyway. In His Presence all thoughts of my friend’s opinions or even attendance were erased, as I was caught up in the recognition of God’s character.

I came away from this experience—of a few moments—a changed man. This is the kind of thing I have in mind, and am trying to capture in my first paragraph.


[i] Hannah Whitall Smith, The Unselfishness of God (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903), p. 14. as quoted in Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

09-12-2018

The Lord woke me up an hour and 19 minutes before my alarm. I do believe that it was the Holy Spirit Who woke me up, or an angel, but it was hard to believe while in bed. I realized while stumbling up the steps toward my office that part of the reason is I find it difficult to believe God wants to spend time with me. I know that to be true theoretically; I’m not sure I believe it in my heart.

The verse for today is Hebrews 3:12-13:

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Oh the irony.

Lord, forgive me.

Actually, I do believe it; that’s why I’m here right now, doing this. I struggle to act on it because I cannot prove it intellectually.

Lord, help me. Help me to learn the grammar of Spirit to spirit communication. Help me to know You heart to heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24

Uncle Nate’s Anti-Flu Elixir

Guaranteed to Provide Significant Psychosomatic Benefit

***Warning, if  this elixir travels through the esophagus in reverse it may cause discomfort. However, the pleasure of its original consumption may overpower the regret.***

Ingredients:

One bottle Hot (or Medium, if you insist) Salsa

One can family size Tomato soup

2 onions; 1 red, 1 white

1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 lemon

1 entire cluster of garlic

1 jalapeno pepper

fresh ginger root

3 tsps Thyme (approx.)

3 tsps Oregano (approx.)

Instructions:

Dice, chop, and/or puree the fresh ingredients, then add to saucepan with tomato soup, salsa, and ACV.

Squeeze in lemon juice then cut into smaller chunks and cook 1 half of lemon with soup (remove before serving)

The longer you cook this mashup of deliciousness, the better it will be.

Actually tastes pretty darn good. It will, however, increase the running of the nose and the fluidity of the tear ducts.

Whatever you do, DO NOT rub your eyes during the preparation of this elixir, or anytime in the 4-6 hours afterwards.

NOTE: this delicious and healthy elixir is not a substitute for whatever your doctor may prescribe or recommend.

A Letter to My Kids: Some Things You Need to Know

What kind of person you will be is entirely up to you. God enables and empowers you, but the day to day necessity of self control, patience, discipline, kindness, and gentleness that are necessary to be a competent, healthy, and successful person come from within you. God placed the raw materials of every character quality within each of us.

This confuses some people because how much gentleness or joy comes naturally varies from individual to individual, because God creates us all differently. However, the reality that everyone will have to work on something never changes. One person may have a lot of natural self-discipline but have to practice to develop patience. Another person may be naturally kind, but have no self-control to speak of. It makes no difference; everyone has to work on something, and we all need to have the various fruit of the Spirit in order to live a God-pleasing, successful life.

It is also important to remember that none of us will be perfect and the various differences in personality and character makeup that we bring into the world with us form both a beautiful spectrum and a necessary variety in strengths and weaknesses that helps the world-but most importantly advances God’s Kingdom agenda-better than if we all had the same percentages of qualities and style of personality.

One thing I hope you observe from this is that God loves variety, and that beauty is comprised of variation. You see, God said that everything He created was good, and He obviously delights in a wild range of difference. Consider the vast difference in landscapes that He made, many of which we have had the privilege of exploring together. Is any one of them less beautiful than another? Now, indeed, you may have a personal preference, but God declared them all good and delights as much in the high desert of Idaho, as in the green valleys of southern Indiana, and the vast expanse of frozen Alaska.

This is also true about people’s appearance, and in our society this is very important to remember because the North American media constantly bombards us with the suggestion that there is a single look for women and another for men, or perhaps a few looks, that are ideal, acceptable, and beautiful (or handsome). But let me remind you, God loves variety, and He delights in making very different looking people. Not only does He see beauty in them all (therefore so should we) but He also designed different people to be good at different things. Someone with long arms is going to have an advantage at swimming, for example, while someone with short arms will have an advantage at lifting heavy objects. Someone very skinny might be able to run forever, while someone heavier will last longer and have more energy during a famine. So a thin person might need to run for help and a heavier person might need to nurse other people who have succumbed to exhaustion. Do you see what I mean? Everyone has a purpose, everyone has an advantage, and everyone has a disadvantage.

Now, it is true that we can neglect the bodies or the character traits that God gave us, and then we become less attractive or less useful than God intended, but I want you to always remember that whoever God made you to be is wonderful! Similarly, I don’t want you to fall into the trap of looking for a spouse based on whether they look like or act like what the world tells us in so many subtle and not so subtle ways that they should look or act like. Who cares what the world says! The world has rejected God and suffers in brokenness for it. Don’t fall for the world’s trap; they want to feel better about themselves by making everyone else broken and hurting too. Do you think that is what God wants or how He operates? No! A thousand times, no. God wants everyone to be healed and strengthened: the best they can be, the person He envisioned when He planned and made them.

I have been watching people carefully for a long time and I can tell you that I have seen beauty in a short, round woman delighting her guests with a warm hospitality and delicious food, and I’ve seen strength in a super skinny man supporting his broken-hearted wife. The reality is that love, truth, and beauty have no single appearance, and no exclusive type. God loves diversity, and God delights in who He made each of us to be. So, ponder who you are and what you are designed for, and set about being the best you possible.

Now, please remember that being the best you possible requires planning, practice, effort, analysis, flexibility, and determination! We’ll talk more about that in my next letter. In the meantime, I want you to practice looking for love, truth, and beauty in surprising places. Develop the skill of seeing strength and beauty where others miss it; the whole world will become brighter and more delightful.

I love you!

Daddio

Love Works in Surprising Ways

Sometimes it’s the little things that get you.

Yesterday I used up the last of my bar of Grandpa’s Pine Tar soap (wonderful stuff!), and I thought, “Oh, need to make sure I grab a new bar,” but by the time the shower door closed I was thinking about why κοίνου is translated “unclean” in Romans 14:14.

Today when I hit the shower, there was a brand new bar of soap! Only my wife would first of all notice that my soap was gone, secondly, remember further than the bathroom door, and replace it with a new bar. I am truly blessed by an amazing woman, well-suited for me!

Now you folks need to understand, I live in a home with multiple families and my soap is kept in our bedroom, not in the bathroom, so if I had stepped into the shower to find no soap at all… well, that’s just a very inconvenient circumstance!

Babe, I love you! Thanks for enabling me to think theologically no matter where I find myself!

Is it a sin?

“Is it a sin?”

I’ve heard this question delivered with defiance and with sincere desire to understand. In this vein sometimes one hears, “Is it a sin, or just not recommended?” The question can apply to almost any behavior (or lack thereof) and is typically trotted out in discussion about something different than your conversation partner’s present practice.

“Is it a sin?” is a loaded question both in terms of what it reveals about a perspective too many of us unconsciously share, and in what it suggests may be behind the perspective of the person to whom the question is posed.

But let me put it this way: sin is anything less than the perfect glory of God (Romans 3:23), so yes, doing anything Jesus wouldn’t do is a sin. However, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jess….shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? God forbid!

So what am I saying? We are swimming in sins of a variety of kinds, some of ignorance, some of weakness, and some of our own deliberate fault; praise be to God that we have forgiveness of these many sins through the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. So, now that I have no obligation to earn my salvation or to try and improve God’s opinion of me, I am now free to diligently labor to imitate Jesus ever more faithfully over time, as He leads and convicts me, and enabled to do so by the presence and leading of His Spirit in my new man. We are privileged to have His help in gradually re-fashioning our selves back into the image in which we were originally created.

I thought about it this morning, when once again God woke me up 30 minutes before my alarm, and I sensed He was calling me to come spend time with Him. Yesterday, I started praying but stayed in bed… there is this complex mixture of truths that I reflected on as I sat on the edge of my bed and then shuffled downstairs. On the one hand, I realize that God is calling me to live up to the potential for which He created me, and the circumstances of my life will be altered as a result of how faithful or unfaithful I am to His ways. On the other hand, I thought about how I feel when I open my kids bedroom door at 6:30 am and they moan and stretch and then rise to go swim… my feelings are entirely loving and positive–there is no condemnation or impatience in my heart, just love for them–and I pondered the truth that this is how God feels about me as well. And some mornings because I both want what is best for them, but also have compassion on them, I want to just let them sleep…as we did this morning. And I know that this too is what God is like: 

Psalm 103:13–14 

“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”