Tag Archives: I John 4:19

Loved by God – It’s Who you Are

Note: If you’ve heard about or desired God’s love for you, but never thought it possible because of how you’ve lived your life, I have a message for you in blue below. Read on.

Last fall, at a men’s retreat at Camp Kanuga in the mountains of North Carolina, we sang the song Good Good Father.[1] It’s about God being a good Father and the fact that His love for us is our identity. I liked the song, but  had no idea how the Lord would use it later that weekend.

The weather was perfect when I ventured out during our alone time Sunday morning. A cool, musky breeze gently brushing my face as I tread on newly fallen leaves toward the labyrinth. I’d seen the circular maze the day before and at the recommendation of a cabin mate, wanted to experience it.

autumn-1072827_1280

A labyrinth is a walking path used as a tool for contemplative prayer. As I stepped onto the serpentine paths leading to the center, I did what the sign said and set aside my worries, asking God to make me aware of His presence, listening for His impressions on my heart.

labimages-2

As I walked to and fro, back and forth, I was progressing to the center, which represents the presence of God. The  center has semicircles resembling a six leaf clover. When I reached it, I paused, stilling my thoughts and breathed in the cool autumn air. I was impressed with the words “It’s who you are.” Was this because we just sang the song? I thought. But “It’s who you are” remained steady in my heart.

I moved and stood within one of the half circles and completed the thought, “Being loved by God is who I am.”

Being loved by God is who I am. No other identity needed. I could have told you that intellectually before that moment, but God wanted this truth to travel past layers of protection and false identities to my very core.

My roles of being a devout Christian, loving husband and father, successful businessman, adequate provider, faithful friend,  or encouraging brother are not the core of who I am. THE ONLY IDENTITY I NEED IS BEING A LOVED CHILD OF GOD. My other roles and identities flow out of this most important fact about me. I’m loved by God.

How many times have I felt like a failure and doubted my worth because of inadequacies in my different roles?

In the center of the labyrinth, past failures and future fears seemed to be swept away in an instant, buried deep in a sea of God’s love.

As I made my way out of the labyrinth, I knew I was different.

I thought – if this is true

 quickly a correction came to mind –  because this is true, how I live my life outside the labyrinth will never be the same.

I’m still processing the impact, but I’m seeing  I don’t need any of those other identities I’ve been fighting for. I’m at peace in who I am as God’s loved child and free to love others without needing anything in return for my validation and identity.

Challenge: Think of your biggest failure or inadequacy. How do you feel about yourself in this area? Do you ever find you identify more with what you say about yourself than what God says about you?

Now think of the thing that tends to cause you the most worry, that fear which seems to follow you around.

Being loved by God is the most important thing about you and overshadows by a million miles those things you had in mind. God’s love for you is eternal and everlasting.

Being loved by God is who you are, a fact which towers above and washes away, all failures, all inadequacies and all fears.

And when you know, truly know, God loves you, you can yield to His Spirit within to love the folks He puts in your way.

Prayer:  Lord, I know Your love for me is far beyond my knowledge. Nothing imaginable can snatch me from your great love. Open the eyes of my heart that I might continue to grow more and more aware of how very much You love me.

May the fact of Your love be the definition of who I am and the overflowing purpose for the rest of my moments. Amen.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. I John 3:1a

What if you’ve never really known God’s love for you?  If you’ve heard about God’s love but never embraced it, you can now.  Cross over. There’s a great chasm between all humans and God because of our sin. If it weren’t so, the pureness of God would be spoiled. 

That chasm cannot be crossed except by living a completely sinless life. Jesus lived this life and by the spilling of His blood a way has been forged across the chasm.

If you’re experiencing  a realization that what I’m saying is true, embrace it. Cross over from death to life by realizing your great dilemma and acting on God’s invitation to surrender your efforts to save yourself and resting in His arms as your Lord and Father.

If you decide to cross over by the bridge of the cross of Christ into eternal life and would like some ideas of some next steps, please send me an email. Thank you for reading this.

[1] Good Good Father by the Housefires

 

Being Loved by God is Who I Am.

At a recent men’s retreat at Camp Kanuga in the mountains of North Carolina, we sang the song Good Good Father.[1] It’s about God being a good Father and the fact that His love for us is our identity. I liked the song, but  had no idea how the Lord would use it later that weekend.

The weather was perfect when I ventured out during our alone time Sunday morning. A cool, musky breeze gently brushing my face as I tread on newly fallen leaves toward the labyrinth. I’d seen the circular maze the day before and at the recommendation of a cabin mate, wanted to experience it.

autumn-1072827_1280

A labyrinth is a walking path used as a tool for contemplative prayer. As I stepped onto the serpentine paths leading to the center, I did what the sign said and set aside my worries, asking God to make me aware of His presence, listening for what He might have to say.

labimages-2

As I walked to and fro, back and forth, I was progressing to the center, which represents the presence of God. The  center has semicircles resembling a 6 leaf clover. When I reached it, I paused, stilling my thoughts and breathed in the cool autumn air. In my heart I heard “It’s who you are,” then again, “It’s who you are.”

I moved and stood within one of the half circles and completed the thought, “Being loved by God is who I am.”

Being loved by God is who I am. No other identity needed. I could have told you that intellectually before that moment, but God wanted this truth to travel past layers of protection and false identities to the very core of my being.

My roles of being a devout Christian, loving husband and father, successful businessman, adequate provider, faithful friend,  or encouraging brother are not the core of who I am. THE ONLY IDENTITY I NEED IS BEING A LOVED CHILD OF GOD. My other roles and identities flow out of this most important fact about me. I’m loved by God.

How many times have I felt like a failure and doubted my worth because of inadequacies in my different roles?

In the center of the labyrinth, past failures and future fears seemed to be swept away in an instant, buried deep in a sea of God’s love.

As I made my way out of the labyrinth, I knew I was different.

I thought – if this is true

 quickly a correction came to mind –  because this is true, how I live my life outside the labyrinth will never be the same.

I’m still processing the impact, but days later I already see  I don’t need any of those other identities I’ve been fighting for. I’m at peace in who I am as God’s loved child and free to love others without needing anything in return for my validation and identity.

Challenge: Think of your biggest failure or inadequacy. How do you feel about yourself in this area? Do you ever find you identify more with what you say about yourself than what God says about you?

Now think of the thing that tends to cause you the most worry, that fear which seems to follow you around.

Being loved by God, even if you don’t respond to it, is the most important thing about you and overshadows by a million miles those things you had in mind. God’s love for you is eternal and everlasting.

Being loved by God is who you are, a fact which towers above and washes away, all failures, all inadequacies and all fears.

And when you know, truly know, God loves you, you can yield to His Spirit within to love the folks He puts in your way.

Prayer:  Lord, I know Your love for me is far beyond my knowledge. Nothing imaginable can snatch me from your great love. Open the eyes of my heart that I might continue to grow more and more aware of how very much You love me.

May the fact of Your love be the definition of who I am and the overflowing purpose for the rest of life’s moments.

Amen. 

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. I John 3:1a

 

[1] Good Good Father by the Housefires

 

The Cadence of Life (Receiving God’s love and Giving it Away)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

A few years ago a friend of mine shared a secret he had learned during miles of cycling. “Don’t worry about the miles per hour,” Rick said. “It’s the cadence that matters. If you keep the cadence above 70 or 80, no matter how steep the hills, your miles per hour will take care of itself.”

What Rick told me turned out to be true. I had my bicycle computer set to always show me the Miles Per Hour. I  would strain, sometimes in very hard gears, to maintain my speed even on monster hills. But eventually my legs would wear out.

However, when I changed the computer to show my cadence, I paid attention only to how many times I pedaled in a minute. If it was at least 70 times, shifting gears as needed to accommodate changes in the gradient, my miles per hour worked out better at the end of the ride. It’s the key to endurance cycling.

As I think about how watching my cadence led to cycling success, I wonder if there’s a  cadence I can  focus on that will assist me in life. I want to be able to turn the computer of my life to a cadence which can be maintained during the ups and downs of life the way Rick’s suggestion kept me steady even during steep inclines in the road.

I think of  Matthew 22:37-40, where Jesus gives us a focus for our lives, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love. The Beatles had it right. All we need is Love. 

Love is to be the focus of our lives. Jesus says it summarizes the entire Bible,  forming  a  filter for our every word and deed.

But how?

As I ask the question, I get my answer.

I John 4:19“We love because He first loved us.” 

God’s love is the only true love. I can grind out a human love by straining at the pedals of life, but my love will wear out.

My cadence is to be His love flowing through me, as Rivers of Living Water flowing from my innermost being. (John 7:38)  Receiving His love and giving it away. In spite of life’s difficulties, I’m to love God first and then my neighbor, but with His love, not mine.

And Jesus tells me how to do this in John 15:9-12.

  1. Know how much Jesus loves me. Verse 9 says He loves me as much as God loves Him.  The essence of this truth is beyond my understanding, yet Jesus tells me it’s true.
  2. Remain in His great love. Verse 10 commands me to stay, tarry, abide in God’s great love for me, not moving from where God has placed me in the love of Christ.
  3. Love as I have loved you.  Verses 10 and 12  tell me how to remain in His love. I’m to be caught up in the cadence of loving others as He has loved me, allowing His love to flow through me to others.
  4. My joy is completed.  Jesus says when I know his love, remain in it and love others as He has loved me, I will have His joy, fulfilling all my inner longings.

Receiving His love and giving it away.

Lord, thank you for showing me the great focus of my life, knowing your great love, remaining in it and loving others with it. I need you to maintain this as my focus. I so easily shift into a mode of worrying about all that has to be done.

Yet, I know now that by receiving your love and giving away it away, all you need me to accomplish will get done. I believe this, yet I forget it so easily. Please help me live out this cadence of love moment by moment and day by day. Amen.