THE CANDLE

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The candle was simple and plain,
In a holder made of glass;
But oh what radiance when given a flame
It had a purpose at last.

It stood with its soft, gentle light
That warmed and inspired all;
With a fragrance and glow that brought great delight
To those in the banquet hall.

The gift that it offered was great,
Though it didn’t seem like much.
But the candle carried its flame with such weight,
No one could miss its warm touch.

Whatever my talents and gifts,
I will ever serve God my Lord;
So that in my actions all worship I lift
To Jesus the Living Word.

THE FATHER TO THE FATHERLESS

In the 1980’s, many liturgical traditions came up with “inclusive language settings.”  These took care to avoid any gender specific words when it came to God.  One argument for this was that people have so much difficulty with human fathers, they can’t relate to God if we address or refer to Him with the same title.  My experience has been different.
God showed Himself to me as my good, loving Papa when I was in college.  This revelation has been foundational in my healing.  He has built on it through the years.

One such occasion was my Episcopal confirmation, when I was 29.  The Old Testament lesson was about God, the Father to the fatherless.  While this was still being read, I heard God say, “That includes those of you whose fathers couldn’t be dads.”

 

So who is this Papa?  How is He different from a human father?

He is all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful and totally perfect.  He knows and understands each of us:  He is also Creator, so He knew us when He conceived us, before anybody had the slightest idea that we would exist.  He even knows all of the things we don’t know about ourselves.  He is good; He has plans for our welfare that give us a hope and a future.  He loves to bless us; in fact, He lavishes His love on us.  He doesn’t miss a thing, no matter how minuscule or insignificant it seems, because He is always with us (in us, once we give our lives to Jesus!)

 

Do you need someone who really gets who you are?  Do you want someone to talk to about anything at all?  Papa God is listening; He is Personally concerned with every aspect of your life.

 

References
Psalm 68:5; 139:13-16
Jeremiah 29:11
1 John 3:1

HONOR BY FORGIVING

I was 29 when my first repressed memory of abuse came up.

It happened when I was 4, almost 5.  We had a teeter-totter swing in the basement.  My younger sister and I were playing onit.

My father was also in the basement, working on a wood project.  Every time he would run the table saw, we would scream as part of our play.

After a while, my father called me over to him.  He picked me up, turned on his power sander and ran it down my arm.  It had no sandpaper, which would have severely injured me; it left a rub burn, but mostly frightened me.

He put me down; I ran upstairs to my mother, who was washing dishes.  I was crying.

My father followed me, laughing as he came, “I gave Tracy a shave!”

My mother didn’t change her pace or look at me; she just kept washing dishes.  “you’re okay,” she said without expression.

I went into the bedroom that I shared with my two sisters and took care of myself.

 

I could tell plenty of stories like this one.  My father was a very wounded man, who often acted in hurtful, cruel ways.  My mother often failed to advocate for us or protect us, if she recognized what was going on in the first place.  Every adult survivor of abuse knows what I am saying.
Twenty-one years later, Papa God asked me a challenging question.  I was sitting in Church, listening to the pastor’s sermon.  He told about a time when his brother and he had done something particularly unacceptable.  Their father took the boys into his study and told them he wanted them to give him the spanking.  They were appalled at this and asked why.  Their father said that he must have not done well by them, since they could act so poorly.  The pastor said this was the hardest spanking he ever hadd.

At that point, Holy Spirit drew me aside and asked, “How long will you spank your father?”  Then He said, “I will deal with him according to My mercy.”

My father was in a care center with advanced cancer at the time.  Three weeks later, he died while I was en route to see him.

If God could grant this broken man His mercy, I could do the same.  From what I have been told, he gave his life to Jesus shortly before his death; I expect to see him in Heaven.

 

It took years for me to forgive my father for the many traumatic things he did and receive healing from the good, good Father:  Papa God, mostly because things were only broght to my attention as I was ready for them.

 

One question I often asked was, “How do I honor parents who acted in hurtful ways?”

Part of the answer is to forgive.  Honor has to do with reflecting God’s regard for people.  If Jesus died for all sin, that includes those committed against each of us.  We can join with Him, which brings blessing.
If you’re ready, you can pray something like this:

Papa God, by your grace, I forgive my earthly father for ______ (be as specific as you can.)  I receive healing from You today.  Thank You for being my good, good Father.  Amen.
Be healed and set free, in Jesus’ wonderful Name.

REMINDERS

Out in the World:
Prove yourself to us;
Show us what you can do;
Give us a reason
To accept and like you!
Sorry, that’s not good enough;
You need to do more.
We’re upping the anty;
Go for a higher score.

 

Time With Jesus:
My son, My daughter,
You’re so precious to me;
Carry My presence;
Live with integrity.
At peace because I love you;
Full of joy and grace;
Reflecting My glory;
Ever seeking my Face.

 

Out in the World:
Why should we trust you?
What can you guarantee?
Surely you don’t think
You are better than me!
Whenever it’s possible,
I’m sure to beat you
At earning and having;
In all that I can do.

 

Time With Jesus:
I am Your Savior,
The Lover of your soul.
In Me you have life;
My Presence makes you whole.
I will always be with you;
I will never leave.
You’re secure in My Arms;
Don’t fear, only believe.

WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

Names:  So basic, we hardly give them any thought; yet they speak volumes about who we are.  Even the nicknames we choose tell about our self regard and the identity to which we hold.

 

As we grow and build our lives, our names take on greater meaning.  All someone has to do is say your name and an image comes up:  “Oh yes, she’s the one with the beautiful flowers around her house.”  “Ah, the teacher…”  “oh, her.”

 

Jesus asked the man with the Legion what his name was.  I really don’t think He was asking the demons – He never carried on conversations with them; He only spoke to them when commanding them to go.  Moreover, demons are compulsive liars:  Why would anyone ask them anything?  I think it was more of an assessment and call to the man, much like what we mental health clinicians do when we conduct a mental status exam.  By the time Jesus was done, the man had received his real name – his true identity.  He was healed from the inside out!

 

Another story about someone being asked his name is found in Genesis.  Jacob told the angel of the Lord that he would not let him go until he blessed him.  The angel asked him, “what is your name?”  This was not merely a question about nomenclature; it was really about what kind of person Jacob was.  He could not answer proudly, because his name meant “supplanter; swindler.”  The angel told him, “From now on, you will be call Israel,” which means, “One who wrestled with God.”

 

The most precious story about names is in Luke 2.  Gabriel says, “You will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from sin.”  The Name of Jesus carries with it all authority and power.  In His Name, healing, salvation, protection, provision, blessing, honor and glory are made real.

 

What is your name?  Who are you?  Do you know yourself in the light of God’s truth and love?  Or are you believing lies, based on experience and inner wounds?  Call on the Name of Jesus and you shall be healed.

AGREEMENT

Do you agree with God?
Recently, I heard God telling me that He loves and likes me.  Any way that I don’t love or like myself is not in agreement with Him.  This has been a call to deep repentance for me.  In response, my Lenten discipline has been to meditate on God’s regard for me.
The first verse that came to mind is 1 John 3:1:  “Behold how great is the love that God lavishes on us, that we are called His children, and that is what we are…”
The next was Hebrews 2:11,”..Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers and sisters.”
Then, “He put his mark on us to show that we are his, and he put his Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all he has promised.” 2 Cor 1:22  NCV
“I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:18 GNT,

Here is just a little bit more of what HE says about you:
Psalm 103:4; Isaiah 61:2  You are crowned with love, compassion and beauty.
Jer. 31:3  Papa God loves you with an everlasting love; you have never not been loved by Him.
Romans 15:14  You are full of goodness.
Romans 15:14  You are complete in knowledge and competant to instruct others.
1 Corinthians 6:19  You are the temple of the Holy spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:3  You are a living epistle.
2 Corinthians 3:18  You are a reflection of God’s glory.
2 Corinthians 3:18  You are being transformed into His likeness.
2 Corinthians 5:17  You are a new creation.  (The word for “new” means something that has never existed before.)
Galatians 4:6  You are God’s son or daughter.  (That means you’re a prince or princess.)
Galatians 4:7  You are an heir in God’s Kingdom.
Galatians 4:28  You are a child of promise.
Ephesians 2:10  You are God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 2:19  You are a fellow citizen with God.
Ephesians 2:19  You are a member of God’s household.
Ephesians 2:22  You are a dwelling in which God lives.
Ephesians 5:8  You are a child of light; light in the Lord.
Colossians 3:1  You are raised with Christ.
Colossians 3:12  You are one of God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved
Colossians 3:15  The peace of Christ rules in your heart.
Colossians 3:15  You are called to peace as part of the body of Christ.
2 Timothy 1:7  You have a spirit of love, power and a sound mind.
1 Peter 2:5,9  You are part of the holy, royal priesthood.
1 Peter 3:14  You are blessed.
1 Peter 5:10  You are Called to His eternal glory in Christ
2 Peter 1:3  You have everything You need for life and godliness through your knowledge of Him who called you by His own glory and goodness.

“We were made to be loved and to love.  This is God’s purpose for us.”  Danny Randall, “Glimpses Into a Love Beyond Words”

Lord God, we come to You, asking that You work in our hearts until we completely agree with who You say You are and we are.  Let all inner wounds be healed so that we experience ourselves as Your blessed, most beloved children.  By Your grace, we lay down all lies to which we have held.  We agree that we are made in Your image, loved and lovable.  Amen.

A LOVE SONG

Take time to listen;
What will you hear?
A gentle love song,
Sung softly and clear.

New every morning,
Echoed at night
As it fills your heart
With peace and delight.

Take time to notice;
What will you see?
Evidence of love,
Signs of God’s glory.

All of creation
Tells of his ways;
His mercy and love;
To him be all praise!

WHAT IS IT

What is it about you that God loves?

Is it your quick wit or great creativity?
Perhaps it’s your work ethic and attention to detail.
Truthfully, it’s probably none of the above.
Yes, He gave you those talents and strengths; He is pleased when you invest in them and use them for Him…
But that isn’t what He loves about you.

Is it your ability to relate to children?
Your service at Church and in your community?

No. Those are good, but they aren’t what He loves about you.

The answer?
He loves you. He loves that you are one of His precious people, personally conceived and created by Him.
He loves that you are one for whom Jesus died and rose;
He looks at you and says that you are a spitting image of Himself.
Papa God loves you in the same way that we love babies: They don’t do much; they eat, drink, poop, cry and sleep; yet we coo over them and adore them. We admire their soft hair, little hands and feet; we remark at how they look like Mama or Papa; we take turns holding them.
God loves you, just because…
You’re you.

GUARD YOUR HEART

The wellspring of life is your heart;
Guard it as a great treasure.
From God’s ways never depart
So that you know His pleasure.

 

As you follow Him each day,
Know that your heart is secure.
Because you trust and obey,
His prosperity is sure.

 

Such love has no one for you
That is constant day and night;
Love so unfailing and true
AS to fill you with delight.

 

Guard this place where love resides;
It’s the center of your soul.
Look for blessings which God hides
That nourish and help you grow.

 

Jesus is the only source
Of good gifts sent from above.
There is no power or force
That can ever block His love.

 

(Based on Proverbs 4:23)

 

SATISFIED

My soul is satisfied
With the Spirit’s wonderful food
That fills and nourishes every cell
And proves that God is good.

 

His love is rich and sweet;
His sparkling joy is divine;
The fruit called peace brings life and wholeness;
Into this heart of mine.

 

I feast on His patience
Kindness and goodness fill my soul.
Because of His faithful gentleness,
I can have self control.

 

There is nothing like hope
To strengthen me and cheer me on.
As I delight in all of God’s fruit,
I sing this happy song.

HOW

How do you look like the Father?
How do you look like His Son?
How do you reflect
The light of the Holy One?

How does your life in the Spirit
Carry and guide you each day?
What do you expect
As you trust God when you pray?

May you see the way Papa does;
With loving mercy and grace;
Until He perfects
Your reflection of His face.

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