______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

The Doctor, Jesus, & Me August 4, 2010

There are some things I really don’t like about myself.
One of those things is the time I waste on worry.
I worry a lot. Yes, yes, I know, “Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything…” (Philippians 4:6)
I’m 55, and still learning that lesson.

One thing I worry about a lot is heated disagreements that might happen. These are often work related. Sometimes not.

Many times I’ve taken a 2 minute possible argument, and played it over and over in my mind. Sometimes for hours. Sometimes all night in bed. More often than not, these future confrontations never happen. Hey, at least I’m prepared…right?

Anyway, that’s one of the things I don’t like about myself. There are others. But (and this was quite a step forward for me) I realized a number of years ago that there are some things I do like about myself. I won’t list them here. I’ve found they are far too numerous to mention. I am, after all, pretty cool. 🙂

The point here is not what I specifically like about myself. The point is, well…

Back when my wife and I decided to get marriage counseling, and I needed personal counseling, we connected with the Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Sass. I don’t know how often this happens, but the counselor, and the counselees, became friends, and, on occasion, socialize together.
Now, the good Doctor and I, though friends, disagree often. That’s OK. I have enough grace to allow him to be wrong. Yes, very big of me, I know.

Some of his advice and teachings have long left my memory. Some I remember, and no longer, personally, find applicable. Some I may now disagree with. However, meeting with this man, and receiving his counsel, was truly a life-changing experience. It was, in many ways, the start of a new journey which has led me to where I am today. (Dr. Sass may or may not wish to take any credit for that.)

His insights and teachings were often theological, and simultaneously psychological. Some were very “deep.” Oddly, (or maybe not), one of the things that impacted me the most, seems now rather simple.
He usually gave “assignments” to be completed between each session. Early on, after a lengthy discussion, he gave me the following:

“This week, I want you to simply enjoy being you.”

I really can’t express the extent of the impact that had on me.

Growing up, we all get a lot of input that shapes how we see ourselves. Much of that input, for many of us, is negative. All too often, we start believing it. All too often, we give the same negative input to others. In a world of “Compare, Compete, and Control,” it is quite necessary to make sure others know that they are “no better than we are.” (Of course, religion and legalizm help us kick it up a notch, to where We are indeed, better than they are!)

Ultimately, “they” are no better than us, and we, no better than they. When this truth is released from the shackles of self-preservation, it can bring freedom instead of bondage. We can quit the whole “compare/compete/control” business, and start to love others without an agenda. Without a need to “change” them. Without a need to convert them. Without, dare I say, a need to “evangelize” them. We are now free to express the love of Jesus to them. We are, also, finally….Finally free…to love ourselves; to accept ourselves, as they say, “warts and all.”

This doesn’t mean we don’t change. Change is inherent with growth. (This includes [big revelation] our changing view and understanding of God.)
But, it is not our job to change each other. It’s our job to love each other. Jesus taught us to love others as ourselves. (Mk. 12:31, Mat. 19:19) This is why learning to be ourselves, and to be OK with that, even with our “shortcomings,” is an essential part of life. It is an essential part of living in grace.

As I said earlier, Mr. Sass and I may disagree. We may disagree now more than we used to. But too many people are ALL about what they disagree on. I think, just maybe, we should focus a little more on what we DO agree on.

So, in light of all the above, I have an assignment for you.
“This week, I want you to simply enjoy being you.”

And to Tom: “Thank you, and God bless you.”

— df


Review of “He Loves Me” December 12, 2009

“He Loves Me.”  A simple title.  Actually, so simple it kept me from reading this Wayne Jacobsen book for years, even though I’ve enjoyed his other writings, audio, blog, etc.  I mean, it’s a book about God’s love.  What Christian doesn’t know about God’s love?!?!  I know His love for me is based on His grace.  I know it’s not by merit.  I know…

Well, this book is SO not as simple as its name, and yet, it is.  One of the many things I’ve learned over the last 10 years, is how much we say we know (and sincerely believe we do) that we really don’t;  at least not the way we should.  This book is yet another journey into learning what we’re sure we already know.
It looks at the Cross, not as an act of judgment, but as an act of love.  We’ve too long reduced the Father and Son to some schizophrenic “good-cop, bad-cop” god.  {The Father was really, really mad, so Jesus had to jump in the way to keep us from getting beaten up.}  Yet Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Hmmm.  Something is amiss.

I’m amazed at how fearful of grace many Christians really are.  Always afraid of what someone else will get away with.  Afraid of losing their ability to use religion to manipulate and control others in the name of God.
God may have wrath, but God IS love.  His wrath is against ungodliness and sin, but never against you.  “He Loves You.”  This is about learning to live loved.  It’s about choosing relationship over the fear of hell.  It’s about no longer trying to earn points with God.  That’s something many Christians say they don’t do, but listen to them talk very long, and you’ll see otherwise.
There’s a very small portion called “A Touchdown For Jesus.”  It may help you rethink what kind of testimony really gives God glory.

“He Loves Me” looks at many facets of the diamond that is God’s love.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Just add this book  to your personal library.  You won’t regret it.
— dave
To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.

Here are some excerpts to wet your reading appetite.

We often view sin as evil action alone and miss the nature of sin itself. At its root, sin is simply grabbing for ourselves what God has not given us. In this realm, our best intentions can draw us into as much bondage as our most indulgent desires.
We don’t enter into this kingdom by a sinner’s prayer, going forward at a religious gathering, or reciting an orthodox creed, but by learning to trust who he is and by living in that trust no matter what life hurls at us.
No longer oppressed by the need to appease God, we are free to live in his love, and that can completely transform everything about the way we think and live.
There is absolutely no condemnation or guilt for anyone who lives in him. Now you can be with your Father just as you are, still in the process of transformation, and not have to hide anything. Those who are o longer influenced by shame can finally live authentic lives.
When Jesus asked people to “repent and believe” the gospel, he was not asking them to be sorry for their sins and embrace an orthodox theology.  He was asking them to forfeit their own agenda and embrace his.  That’s the invitation to the kingdom.  It is not whether we want to go to heaven or hell, but whether we want to trust God or continue trusting ourselves.
In every situation you’ll ever encounter, you will be offered two options in prayer: “Father, save me,” or “Father, glorify your name!” One will lead you to frustration and disillusionment, the other to the greatest wonders in God’s heart.
I don’t think there has been a time since the Middle Ages when the practice of Christianity was so at odds with what it means to live in the life of Christ.
His message was not “Come to God or you’ll burn in hell.” His message was “God’s kingdom has come near you and you can become a participant in it. You have a Father who loves you.”

As you grow increasingly certain that his love for you is not connected to your performance, you will find yourself released from the horrible burden of doing something for him.

I used to be driven to do something great for God.

I’m not driven anymore.  I haven’t tried to do anything great for God in more than a decade, and yet I have seen him use my life in ways that always exceed my expectations.  What changed?  I did, by his grace.
My desire to do something great for God served me far more than it ever did him.  It kept me too busy to enjoy him and distracted me from the real ministry opportunities he brought across my path every day.

God’s work won’t be thwarted by my lack of participation.  He will touch people anyway, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

His focus on touching people instead of managing programs has revolutionized my view of ministry.

People who learn to live out of a genuine love relationship with the God of the universe will live in more power, more joy, and more righteousness than anyone motivated by fear of his judgment.
To Buy it, Click HERE.


Mercy, Not Sacrifice

Since Adam’s fall we have come to picture God not as a loving Father inviting us to trust him, but an exacting sovereign who must be appeased. When we start from that vantage point we miss God’s purpose on the cross. For his plan was not to satisfy some need in himself at his Son’s expense, but rather to satisfy a need in us at his own expense.

But I am deeply bothered by the thought that in some way God was able to separate himself at the cross. The popular understanding of the cross seems to be that God the Father executed wrath on God the Son while standing at some discrete distance.

Such thinking not only denies the essence of God’s nature but then distorts what happened at the cross. Paul wrote that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ…” God was no distant observer, but a participant. He didn’t send Jesus to do what he would not do; but God himself acted through Jesus to bring about our redemption.

Some have taken Jesus’ cry that his Father had forsaken him to mean that at the darkest moment, the Father had to turn his back on the Son. God cannot bear to look on sin, they argue, so that when our sins were laid on him, God had to turn his face away from his Son.

God has never run from sinful humanity. He didn’t hide from Adam and Even in the Garden. They hid from him as he sought them out. It is not God who cannot bear to look on sin, but that we in our sin can’t bear to look on God. He’s not the one who hides. We are. God is powerful enough to look on sin and be untainted by it. He has always done so. He did so at the cross.

To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.

Here are some other reviews:

Do Yourself a Favor and Read This Book
Excellent insight. A logical, biblical foundation for a new framework for understanding God’s intended relationship with His children. Love, rather than fear. Even if you don’t consider your relationship with God to be based on fear or “appeasement” (I didn’t either), this book will challenge you to reassess many of the traditions and approaches that dominate many in the Evangelical Christian Church. However, the book is not written from a critical point of view. A freeing book. Approach with an open mind. This book is having a strong, positive impact on my life. I have recommended it highly to several friends.

The Best Book I’ve Read On The Topic of God’s Love For Me
I’ve enjoyed a meaningful relationship with God for 37 years, and have read extensively on the topic of God’s love for individual people. This is definitely the best, most specific, and down-to-earth book I’ve read on this topic. It has impacted my life and how I view God. It’s very freeing indeed.

“For those of us who are longing to ‘live loved,’ I cannot recommend a better follow-up to The Shack than this book. It is an exploration and adventure into the heart of the God we hoped was truly there, and who loves each of us in particular with an everlasting love.” (Wm. Paul Young, Author of “The Shack.”)

To Buy “He Loves Me,” Click HERE.


Moving, Israelites, and Eddie Izzard July 16, 2009

Filed under: Personal — lifewalkblog @ 1:12 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, as those who chose to stay on the “Re-Union” mailing list already know, it looks like we have a new home lined up.  IF there are no glitches, we should close by the end of July, and be moved in sometime early August.  Please keep us in your prayers.  For the move, and related needs, of course.  But also as we continue life in general.

We’re excited, nervous, and a little bit scared.  I’m still not employed at this time, so that puts an excessive burden on my wife.

It’s odd, isn’t it, how we read scriptural accounts of the Israelites, and criticize them for their grumbling and complaining; for their lack of faith.  All God kept doing for them, and yet, each new challenge was like the end of the world.  “Why has God deserted us?!?!”
Man, can I identify!

I’m a big worrier, anyway.  I’m always taking every little problem, and playing it out to its worst possible conclusion, and beyond.  What a total waste of mental energy!
” And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?”  “So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:27, 34  NET

There are real needs, of course.  But Jesus made it clear that God knows our needs.  I’ll admit, sometimes it’s hard for me to not worry without being apathetic.  As Steve Taylor wrote, “Since I Gave Up Hope, I Feel A Lot Better.”
Of course, I’m not without hope (I have been.  It ain’t no fun!).  Like the Israelites, I’ve seen God provide over and over and over.  I do know, deep down, that He’s got it all under control.  He will provide.  I just need to be reminded.  That’s why some time ago, I hung a sticker above my computer that says “Life is good.”  It really is, despite my many past attempts to sabotage it.

“Life’s a river, kid, you gotta go where it takes you” – Wayne Malloy

I can’t believe the places this river has taken me.  This journey, this “Life Walk,” has been quite a ride.  Amazing highs.  Unbelievable lows.  Through it all, I know that I know that I know, God has never left me or forsaken me.  He never will.


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