Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Love is an Artist

I have always been torn between my love for beauty and my sometimes severely practical mind. I long for beauty but I often decide that it's too frivilous and a waste of my time. I decide that I'm just being vain or falling for advertising that everything around me look just so. In my legitimate concern about my motives I had unwittingly limited God to my severe practicality. I don't think He likes being limited.

A few days ago, I asked God what He wanted to talk about and He said He wanted to talk about His love. (He never gets tired of this topic apparently.) So I asked, "What about Your love?" And He answered, "Beauty. I want to tell you about My love and beatuy." This is my best stab at putting into words everything He told me.

Beauty is the physical manifestation of My love. Beauty is not a reason to love as the world would say, “I love you because you are beautiful.” but is the fruit of love. You are beautiful because I love you. My love literally has created and continues to create beauty in you.

Creation is the overflow of love. My creation is so vast and detailed and tiny and specific and ordered and right and colorful and intense and useful because it is a prophetic image of My love. My love is all of these things.

You need to know about the connection between beauty and love because beauty is proof that love can’t be contained. Even after love has done all the useful, necessary, practical acts of selfless giving it keeps going and pouring just because. Your needs alone are not enough to keep My love occupied. As though it could be used up or worn out on your needs. My love creates and flows far beyond your needs. 

My love is compelled to create more because I have so much creativity, resources, and energy left over after I have abundantly filled all your needs. It pours out into extravagance and color and spontaneous life for no other reason than “just because.” Like a wall of water isn’t stopped or overcome by anything, My love keeps pouring. It fills up the tiniest crevice as well as whole valleys and is not slowed down. Love is rich and carefree with its riches.

You need to know this because this love is in you too. It is in you to flow to others. You need to know that the love inside of you isn’t afraid of using up its materials, resources, or energy. It isn’t afraid of making mistakes. How could it be? It’s love!

It knows that what one person wouldn’t notice or like will be just the thing for another person. It doesn’t judge its own creation. It doesn’t worry whether its creation will be accepted or how much or whether it will be enjoyed. Love is free to give and create and try and stop one thing and start another and go back again. Everything love creates is just right. If love did judge its creations the creation would always be judged perfect on the one merit that it was created by love.

You need to know this because I want you to accept the extravagant beauty of My love.

Be free. I am showing you how to be free. Quit limiting My love to necessary needs. Quit treating Me like a miser. Love doesn’t barely cover your faults, or barely make you holy. Love doesn’t barely keep you alive or barely give you some healing or barely give you enough joy in harsh circumstances or barely have enough time for you or barely and begrudgingly care for you.

I’ve offered you a castle and all of My wealth and you’ve been sitting on the doorstep eating leftovers from the kitchen. Quit thanking Me for My ‘rich’ provision of that corner you‘re sitting in. Quit trying and pretending to content yourself with the cold. Instead of trying to be grateful that you aren’t quite dead, step inside and tell someone to go start a fire. I want you to own your property and authority.

Jesus, give me the tour of my property and teach me to live extravagantly, taking my worth, my wealth, and my authority for granted.

Jesus' Voice Sounds Like This

A few days ago I was listening to a speaker online discuss the ways that God speaks. When he started to talk about how God speaks to us through the Bible, particularly mentioning that it isn’t always about warm fuzzies and that God uses the Bible to convict us too. He suggested that when God convicts us it makes us uncomfortable, makes us squirm, and puts us in the ‘hot seat’ so to speak.

I believe that God does convict through the Bible but as I was listening to him, panic and dread quickly built up in me. I turned off the sermon and asked Jesus what was going on and why was I reacting so strongly to something I mostly agreed with.

In listening to this teacher speak, I felt that old fear that maybe God did require something of me and if he found me out it was going to be very uncomfortable and awkward and I would be embarrassed. Then I felt a slightly newer fear that maybe I was going to be persuaded by a nice sounding man who has a lot more training and experience than I do to return to those dreadful lies. Then I was afraid that I’d never be free of fear while listening to sermons!

I know that fear comes from the Enemy and is in direct opposition to the truth and love of Jesus so I asked him how was the Enemy giving me this fear?

Very quickly it came to me. “He’s suggested that you don’t know my voice. And you agreed with him.”

Now that is how God convicts. Just the facts. Firm but not the slightest bit condemning. I’m thinking, “Okay . . . if that’s a lie . . . then . . . the truth is that I know your voice. I’m gonna choose to believe you but how can that be true?! I feel like I’ve been fooled so often.”

I guess I got him going a topic he likes because he suddenly became loquacious. I wanted to share this because, well, it’s genius and because God is so much better than we’ve imagined.

“My voice never condemns, accuses, or shames you. My voice never communicates disappointment with you. My voice to you gives you peace, my direction to you is clear. When I ask you to repent it is an invitation to freedom and a request to accept more of my love.

“My voice does not give you confusion. My voice does not say what you are not ready to hear. My voice marks a clear path to freedom. My voice is enjoyable to you since you love my truth.

“My voice rolls with authority, affirms who you are, speaks to you with respect. My voice, even my correction, gives you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. My voice brings light and understanding. My voice does not cause you fear. My voice relaxes or excites you but I do not bring you tension or worry.

“My voice speaks of my goodness. My voice will not manipulate you or suggest that you are failing or a failure. My voice will speak better of you than you speak of yourself. My voice is gentle and kind because kindness leads you to repentance and gentleness makes you great. My voice is everything you desire.”

A Lie or the Truth?

Someone shared this with me recently and it has changed my relationship with God for the better so I thought I’d do my best to share it accurately here.

We all know about the fruit of Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There are fruits, however that are not of the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 3, the story of when woman and man first agreed with the Deceiver, you can find the fruit of their agreement in their actions. They were ashamed, they were afraid, they hid from God, and they blamed anyone available.

None of those four things, shame, fear, blame or hiding, come from knowing and trusting the Truth. In fact, these things are directly opposed to God’s plans for us. So, when we experience any of these things working in us we know that we have believed a lie and that the Truth as well as release from these things is available to us.

This was especially important to me because I have felt for a while that afraid and hiding presence of God, ashamed of myself in front of him. I knew that this was related to all the lies I had been taught growing up in the name of God. I was taught that he was disappointed and grieved by me and that if I came into his presence he would condemn me.

I knew that these were lies, but I didn’t know how to separate them from God in my mind. I knew that God wasn’t like that but I didn’t know how to stop reacting to him as though he was exactly like that. I was afraid of hearing his voice because I had heard so many lies from what I thought was his voice in the past.

I blamed him for all this too. How could I trust him now when I thought I was trusting him then? I accused him of not protecting me and I couldn’t see any way around these thoughts since they were based on the truth of my experience.

I was asked whether these questions, thoughts, and blame directed at God were producing the fruit of the Spirit or the fruit of deception in me. Well, no question there, they were making me miserable. But I didn’t understand! They weren’t lies, they were relevant questions based on my own life!

Then God gave me a picture/story/idea. You know how in many stories there is an unlikely hero who is more or less guided by a wise, slightly mysterious figure. Think Bilbo and Gandalf or Frodo and Gandalf or Harry Potter and Dumbledore. The hero trusts his guide until some point in the story when the guide is suddenly absent in his time of need.

Then the questions come; sometimes from the hero’s own thoughts sometimes from someone else. I don’t have the books to reference but I seem to remember that Aberforth (Dumbledore’s brother) asks Harry exactly how much he knew about Professor Dumbledore and implies that he might not be entirely trustworthy. Or with Gandalf I mostly remember how he was accused by Wormtongue and Denethor.

The point is that as the reader of the story you know the hero shouldn’t be doubting the guide. You’re reading it thinking, “Don’t fall for that! I know it’s basically reasonable but you really can trust him just like you thought you could!” I assume if you were the hero of the story then it isn’t quite so obvious.

So God spoke to me in this way telling me that my questions were real and valid. They were based on my real experiences. But the Accuser doesn’t only accuse humans, he accuses God as well and these questions, real though they were, came from the Enemy not me.

This made all the difference to me. If they came from me then I couldn’t go on with God until they were satisfactorily answered. But if they came from the Enemy then why would I even give him the satisfaction of having me question God with them? Why would I do even a reasonable thing from his suggestion? I trust God because I know him, not because the Enemy can’t come up with a good sounding reason not to.

Suddenly, I let go of the questions and accusations that I was using as a barrier between God and I. I admit I am still curious, since God said they were valid questions, if he will choose to answer them one day. Ironically, since I was using them as a barrier between us, I don’t think I was actually willing or capable of actually hearing the answers.

I am not at all saying that it is wrong to question God. He can absolutely handle your questions and will often answer them. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be honest with God, he will definitely not be offended. I’m not even saying it’s wrong to rail at God for a while. What I am saying is that if your thoughts toward or about God are making you miserable and creating a barrier between you, you don’t have to let them.

If your thoughts are causing you shame, fear, blame or the desire to hide from God then realize they are lies and you don’t have to agree with them or put up with them no matter how reasonable or logical they sound.

There is also a difference between the facts of a matter and the Truth. The facts of the matter are that virgins don’t ever get pregnant. But the Truth is, one did once. The facts for me were that I was abused in God’s name and didn‘t know how he could be trustworthy. But the truth is that I do trust him and he is trustworthy.

I am not sure that I explained this well since I was trying to keep it reasonably short. If it brings up any questions please ask me.