Archive for June, 2013

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When Children Attack

June 28, 2013

When our son, Kaeden, makes a bad choice we discipline him. Often, the discipline leads to a string of bad decisions on his part as his stubborn will exerts itself against our firm but loving opposition.

For example, if we tell him not to throw his food sometimes he will take a swing at us.

Several nights ago I was putting him to bed and he wasn’t listening. I warned him that there would be consequences and when he didn’t listen I followed through with the consequences. The bed party was cancelled. No reading books and no cuddling – it is actually more of a punishment for me.

Then he smacked me squarely in the face.

I could have left the room, I could have raised my voice, I could have stolen his blanket or grabbed his hands so that he wouldn’t hit me anymore. Instead, I tried something completely different. As he angrily struck me in the face I continued to whisper to him, ‘Daddy loves you’, ‘smack, smack’, ‘Daddy loves you’, ‘smack’, ‘Daddy loves you’. He eventually exhausted himself and stopped; he settled down and went quiet. Then I kissed him on the forehead, told him I loved him, and left the room.

I am not writing about how to discipline your kids and I am NOT soliciting advice on hitting. My boy rarely hits. I write because something about that experience reminded me of Jesus on the cross. His own creation beating him and bruising him, yet his long suffering love still willing to extend forgiveness. As he is getting smacked and beaten to a bloody pulp and hung up on a cruel cross he is spreading his arms to the world whispering softly, ‘I love you this much’. ‘I love you’, ‘smack,’, I love you’, ‘smack, smack’, I love you’.

The cross keeps replaying this undeserved love song in hope that we exhaust ourselves from our own striving and collapse peaceably into his arms again. Quiet and at rest in his love.

Just a thought.

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A Father’s Love

June 21, 2013

Rejection

We all hate to be rejected.

In our complex there are neighborhood boys older than Kaeden. He loves it when they are outside. He will bike up to where they are playing and just watch them in silence for long stretches of time. The older neighborhood boys often don’t acknowledge him; my boy is left on the outside looking in.

Now, those boys aren’t rejecting him per se and he doesn’t feel hurt, but sometimes the concern creeps into my heart that, as he grows up, Kaeden will remain on the outside looking in.  He will feel rejected.

That is painful thought for a parent to process.

Kaeden’s World

Right now Kaeden lives in a world of unconditional acceptance and love. His parents are for him. So are his grandparents. We would all die for him. All of the significant people in his world love him enough that they would give their lives for him without much thought.

We don’t love him perfectly, but we love him completely. That is his reality right now.

One day Kaeden will enter more fully into the world outside of his home and not everyone will love him, accept him, or even like him. What a shock to his system; a chilling splash of water to his face. Some days he will come back home wounded, hurting and rejected. When he is young he will still run to us. Our unconditional love, acceptance and encouragement will be a balm for his wounds and a salve for his soul. We will speak life where others have spoken death, we will speak truth, where others have spoken lies; we will point him to Jesus who will forever be the ultimate source of unconditional love.

Jesus

On father’s day I took my son outside to ride his bike and these were my reflections. But eventually my thoughts turned to Jesus. I imagined Jesus coming to earth; leaving the fellowship and perfect love of the Trinity for the harshness of earth to be rejected, despised and persecuted. I began to wonder about the heart of God the father, sending His Son into this mess. I once heard a popular author say, “Jesus may have had scars on his wrists but God the father had a scar on his heart”. God sent His beloved son to the cross for us; His beloved son willing went to the cross for us.

God’s heart entered our homes so that our homes could be enveloped into His heart.

Jesus left this heavenly fellowship of love for a time to draw us into it. Jesus endured rejection for our acceptance. Jesus was rejected by the self-serving, conditional love of men so that we could be drawn  into the self-sacrificial, unconditional love of the Father.

I am grateful to God the Father for sending God the Son, God the Son for saving godless sinners, and God the Holy Spirit for applying that salvation to my life and assuring my spirit that I am a child of God – forever accepted, never rejected. 

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Satan’s Fall and Our Own

June 11, 2013

Good

In the beginning God created everything good. God created the physical world and in addition to the physical world God created spiritual beings, the angels. Angels are not all- knowing, all-powerful or everywhere present. Angels are created beings not equal to the creator.

Everything God created is good. We are told that repeatedly in Genesis 1. One of the good things God created was freedom of the will for angels. There was one angel in particular, now referred to as satan, who used his freedom to rebel against God. Satan also dragged some of the heavenly host with him who became demons at war with God’s purposes, plans, person and people.

Evil

Now here is a question;  if everything God created was good where did Satan’s desire for evil come from?

There are several possible answers to this mysterious question:  Satan’s evil was either uncaused, caused by God ,or self-caused. Those are the only three options I can think of, so which is it?

No event is uncaused so it can’t be the first option. God is good and He doesn’t directly cause evil though He may ‘allow’ it or use it for His greater purposes. That leaves option three: Satan’s evil was self caused and originated in the goodness of his freedom; a good thing that he used for an evil purpose.

If you think about it, where do people often go wrong? Often in areas like money, sex, power, and drink. All good things that we use in wrong ways. All evil is the corruption of an original good and so was Satan’s.

Now, it is traditionally believed that Satan’s original sin was pride. He wanted to contend for supremacy with God. There are several places in scripture where we have this idea hinted at (Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 but also 1st Timothy 3 where the scripture talks about leaders in the church not being new converts because they may become conceited and be judged like the devil).

Our Fall

Satan’s fall was the first fall. The second fall involved humanity. In the creation story God fashions man in his image and likeness. It is not good for man to be alone so he creates the woman. It is not until they are married that Satan shows up and what began as a marriage quickly degenerates into a war.

In the New Testament book of 1st John the Christian is warned not to love the world. The world here is defined as the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. Adam and eve were tempted in exactly this way. The fruit looks good (lust of the eyes), the taste is pleasurable (lust of the flesh) and the temptation is to be their own God, do there own thing, live there own lives, which is simply the boastful pride of life.

The first Adam fell into sin. The second Adam, the lord Jesus Christ, recovers all that Adam lost for those who trust in him. We are redeemed through Jesus and welcomed back into the presence of God. Through Jesus we are given eternal life that begins now and carries on through eternity. We will be with Jesus forever. The fall of Satan from heaven, however, often makes christian nervous.

Can We Fall From Heaven?

If Satan can fall from heaven does that mean I can too? No. Here are a few reasons:

1. In heaven, unlike on earth, Satan won’t be around to tempt us. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire.

2. The world will be set right; our sin nature will be done away with.

3. We will have learned the consequences of evil in our own experience. For example, once a person jabs a fork into their eye they aren’t inclined to do it again. Why? They have learned from experience the pain of it. Moreover, an eternal hell may be a reminder of the consequences of sin.

4. Our distance from God will be over and our faith will be sight at last. There is, in our experience on earth, a certain degree to which God hides himself so as to not over power our will and force us into relationship with Him. God wants a loving relationship and love can’t be forced. In heaven though, faith will be sight.

5. Lastly, in heaven, we will know a higher freedom, not freedom to sin but freedom from sin. I like how philosopher Norman Geisler puts it:

“In short, God had to create free creatures who could sin before He could produce free creatures who can’t sin. It’s like the difference between a shotgun wedding and a marriage freely chosen. In both cases the person is married, but in only one case was it free….Since God by His very nature (love) cannot force anyone to love Him, it would be highly improper to think of a heaven where people were forced to be there. First there must be courtship, and then two can be bound together for life.”[1]

Death and eternity is not the time for choosing as C.S. Lewis once wisely pointed out; it is the moment for discovering what we have already chosen. At death our choices are solidified, the trajectory of our life on earth is consummated; our sin is burnt up and in God’s final purifying fire our will is granted a higher freedom that we have only flirted with during our earthly journey. We are no longer free to sin, we are free from sin; liberated fully and finally to swim in the waves of mutual love without the undertow of our sinful nature constantly threatening to drag us back into the sea of self.

God desires a marriage with His people not a staged play with His puppets; a people in love not a people coerced from above; God is romancer not a rapist, a people pursuer not a computer programmer. God won’t trade matrimony for a marionette.

So on earth we must be free to love or hate because for love to be meaningful requires a certain amount of self-determination. This is no longer the case in heaven. Our choices have been made. The wedding has been thrown, the relationship has been consummated. We are bound to Him as He is bound to us for all eternity


 

[1] Geisler, Norman. If God, Why Evil? Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011. pg. 62