Through A Glass Darkly

27 11 2013

This week we’re looking at specific obstacles to intimacy with God. If this one’s out of whack, nothing else said here will matter. In fact, if this is your issue, call the heavenly “Roto-Rooter” asap, for this is a clog that will require the Spirit’s help!

“Wow, what could be such a big deal?” you’re asking.

Well, this is the granddaddy of them all:

A distorted image of God

A. W. Tozer stated that the most important thing about you is what you believe about God. To this I shout a hearty “Amen!”

If we believe Him to be a harsh taskmaster, we will do our best to “stay off His radar.”

If we believe Him to be cruel and whimsical, we will hide.

Intimacy is impossible if we believe God to be the ultimate abuser.

For some of us, God seems to be like our earthly father…and that is not a good thing.

(For others, God is like your earthly father – which makes you run to Him. I envy you!)

We all have a tendency to transfer our experience with our biological (adopted or step-) father onto our heavenly Father. For many, this leaves us with “father issues…” and this will be a major hindrance to our intimacy with God. In fact, some (like me) shudder at the idea of being within His arm’s reach.

Beth Moore once said,

“I knew that Jesus loved me

…but I wasn’t so sure about His Dad.”

That sums up my sentiments for most of my “Christian” life!

If this is the case, then it’s time to commit ourselves to the journey of allowing God to renew our vision of who He is. Transformation begins by having our thinking about God corrected.

How can we tell if this is a problem for us? If there are issues between us and our earthly father, pastor, or other authority figure (who’s in a “father-like” role), there’s a good chance that one occurs between God and us as well.

Here are a few truths about God:

In Luke 15, Jesus reveals the Father in the story of the prodigal. Note that when the son was still a long way off, his father – who’d been watching for his son – ran to meet him!

In Romans 8:1 we read that there is no condemnation to those who are “in Christ Jesus.”

In Romans 8:38 we read that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing (this would include you!) shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Phew!

Even Jonah knew God’s character. Listen to his complaint after Nineveh repented and God spared the city:

“Lord, was this not what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish,

for I knew You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God that relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2)

Poor old Jonah hated the people of Nineveh. He wanted to see them wiped off the planet. The last thing he desired was to warn them, lest they repent and God spare their city…which is what happened.

Did you note the last bit of that verse? Jonah knew God’s character.

So can we!

If a faulty view of God is clogging up the works, admit it to God:

“I have father issues. I’m owning it and want to resolve it.”

He already knows. 😉

Ask God to reveal His true character to you…

…then stand by.

This request is “according to His will.”

The answer is “YES!”

I highly recommend these books (especially the first two):

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

The Return of the Prodigal Son Henri Nouwen

Into the Depths of God by Calvin Miller

God has a lot to say to us. Words that will bring healing and wholeness in ways we never dared dream. You can read about one of many such experiences I had with my Father in Who Defined You

*****

You’ve dropped in on the series Intimacy with God. It begins here: C’mon In…

This week’s series is about obstacles to intimacy. It begins here: A Clogged Conduit

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Unlock Your Shackles

25 09 2013

“The key to freedom is not merely what is written in the bible,

it’s what’s written between our ears.”

{This quote comes from one of the 900+ posts I read last weekend. If it’s from you, please let me know so I can properly credit you! ;)}

As a twenty-something year old, my understanding of God was so skewed that I don’t even want to capitalize His name in this sentence. Whatever it was that I “loved” – it certainly was not YHWH!

It is unfortunate that we liken our heavenly Father to our earthly one. While there are some men who are excellent fathers, the majority are not.

Oh, in public, they’re the model of love and kindness.

Get them home and it’s another story. There they reign like a tyrant – selfish, demanding, and subject to outbursts of anger when they don’t get their way.

Others, sadly, appear to be spineless and impotent.

From these “living” examples, a child develops their concept of what God is like.

I was no exception.

My birth father – Mel – abandoned me, I was told for years. (I learned this was not true just a few years ago…thanks Aunt Katie!)

Abandoned? You must have been really bad if even your own father didn’t want you. That’s what a child’s mind does with this information. The identity issues this causes in a child aren’t worth the momentary pleasure a divorced woman derives from such a put down. This doesn’t inflict nearly as much pain on your ex as it does your child. If you are doing this, please stop!

I grew up believing that I was worthless because of this lie.

To make matters worse, I was adopted by my step-dad. He was the embodiment of all that is selfish, demanding, and wrathful. In addition, he was capricious. One never knew what the slightest disturbance might bring in the way of affection or anger. This isn’t the place to expose him – just suffice it to say that he was a very poor representation of our heavenly Father.

As if this wasn’t enough, the church I attended during my teen years was extremely legalistic; so much so that we didn’t even associate with other churches in the same denomination because they couldn’t “toe the mark!” The “god” these dear, devout believers taught about lurked around every corner; watching, just waiting for us to mess up so we could be punished.

Hmm. Not much different than my step-dad.

I pictured life with God like this:

He and I sat across from one another, a game board was spread between us. With a broad grin on His face, “God” said,

“Let’s play a game and have some fun.”

“How do we play?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m not going to tell you. Just make what seems to be the right move. It will be fun!”

I looked over the various parts – the board, markers, dice…I know what to do!

The dice were scooped up and I tossed them onto the board.

Without warning, “God” reached across the table and slapped me hard enough that I fell to the ground. Red with rage, He said, “That was the wrong thing to do. Try something else.”

A smile lit his face, and He brightly said, “Isn’t this fun?”

I made some other move, and all was well…

…and the game went on.

This was my understanding of “God.”

Perhaps now you understand why He’s provided so many “freakin’ miracles” in and around me. He was determined to show me that He was nothing like what I believed Him to be.

To say that He is patient is a gross understatement. He loved me with an everlasting love, therefore He drew me to Himself with lovingkindness.

He has a great sense of humor, too. Remember the church I mentioned? Well, they had a library. Among the books there was one by A. W. Tozer entitled, “The Knowledge of the Holy.” An avid reader, I checked it out and brought it home. God used that book to begin to break through the lies I believed about Him.

Thanks to a high school English teacher who had a classroom full of foul novels…and a “speed reading” machine in the back corner of the room, I can now read somewhere around 700 words per minute with 85% comprehension. (I asked if I could use the machine instead of reading novels and turning in book reports. He graciously consented – anyone else see the fingerprints of God here? ;))

Despite my reading abilities, after three weeks, I’d read only 26 pages in Tozer’s book.

Well, read isn’t the best word to use. Eaten would be a better choice. I had several versions of the Bible, a dictionary, and a notebook. I spent eight or more hours per day absorbing every word that was written. This influx of information, combined with my Fearful Flight, served to greatly alter how I saw God.

In fact, the entire year was one of a rapid transformation as God used His lovingkindness to continue to renew my mind concerning His character.

It was the year of Problematic Food, and How Can You Say You Understand?

The Bible states, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32). By the time that all this took place, I’d read my Bible cover-to-cover no less than six or seven times. I “knew” truth…knew about it, but did not know it by experience until God stepped in and began to reveal Himself. When He said, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13), that’s exactly what He meant.

Bit by tiny bit, God has been replacing what was written between my ears!

How I love Him today because of His patient teaching. He never gave up on me – even when I was maligning Him and accusing Him of many atrocious and cruel actions against me. In the process, He’s shown me how deep His love is for me.

If He can love me like this…

…Oh how much He loves you!

What we believe about God will determine how we live our lives. If your concept of Him is anything like mine, ask Him to show you the truth.

Like me, you will learn that:

“The key to freedom is not merely what is written in the bible,

it’s what’s written between our ears.”

You’ll hear the sound of shackles falling to the ground – like a gentle spring rain in no time at all as He replaces those old lies with the glorious truth of Who He is.