Children of the Heavenly Father

We sang this hymn in church Sunday, and I was reminded of how much I love it! The simple, childlike melody and words touched me and I decided to look up its history. It was written by Caroline (Lina) W. Sandell Berry (1832-1903), the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. She wrote over 650 hymns during her lifetime and became known as “the Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” Lina’s life was filled with tragedy. By the age of 28 she had lost her sister to tuberculosis, her father to drowning, and her mother to a long illness. Her only child was stillborn. In spite of all this, she was able to be comforted by the image of God as a loving father. Listen and enjoy!

For more favorite hymns see these posts:

The Wondrous Cross

On Our Way Rejoicing

Blessed Assurance

Beginning to Pray

In the 6th chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives some instructions about how to pray.  He cautions against praying in a way that is boastful, or calls attention to the prayer;  he advises against using flowery phrases and unnecessary words. We should begin with a proper attitude. Then he tells the disciples to “Pray … like this:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”  Matthew 6:9-13

This, of course, is known as the Lord’s Prayer, and most Christians repeat it every week during the worship service.

Today I’d like to focus on the beginning words of this prayer, because they are so important.  The first word is not “my” but “our.”  This reminds us that just as there is a vertical relationship in prayer(me and God), there is also a horizontal relationship (me and other believers).  Prayer and faith are communal.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are meant to be in fellowship with one another.  There are no lone ranger Christians.

The second word is “father.”  This is the most frequent image Jesus uses to describe God, and that was unusual at the time.  God is not a judge to be feared, but the head of our family, someone who loves us.  His discipline is not intended to simply punish, but to correct and edify us.  He cares for us as a loving parent and his actions are always for our good.

Whenever we pray, begin as Jesus taught.  Pray to a Heavenly Father who loves not only you, but the whole family of God.

Not Forsaken by Louie Giglio–Book Review

Did your earthly father let you down?  Was he absent, abusive or indifferent?  Did he make you feel unimportant or even forsaken?  If so, this book by Louie Giglio (founder of Passion Conferences for young adults) is for you.  In fact, it’s for all of us because no human father is perfect, and we all desire a father’s blessing.

Not Forsaken

According to Louie, the most important thing in our lives is the way we think about God.  Maybe to you God is a scorekeeper, balancing our good acts with our bad ones.  Maybe He’s angry, or distant.  Perhaps you think God should be like a concierge, catering to your wants and demands, or maybe He’s a buddy.  Maybe God is a lot like you, because really, you want to be your own God!  The most frequent image for God used by Jesus, however, is a father.  He refers to God as father 189 times in the New Testament, and this term is used to describe God more frequently than any other term or adjective.

“… the fatherhood of God is the main characteristic that holds all of His attributes together.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not Forsaken sets out to help us understand and appreciate God as our heavenly Father.

Louie acknowledges that this may be difficult to those who have a strained or nonexistent relationship with their own father.  However, he reminds us that God is not a reflection of our father, but the perfection of fatherhood.  With our spiritual rebirth, we have a new and perfect father, and we have inherited His DNA.  Yes, we will still look and at times act like our human Father, but we have the ability to mature and resemble our brother, Jesus.  We are God’s beloved children and this is His message to us:

“I want to continually shape your life in such a way that you look like Me, sound like Me, talk like Me, act like Me, and think like Me, more and more.”

Not Forsaken is an easy read, and I found the section on growing in spiritual maturity challenging.  Although it’s meant for youth, sometimes we adults become complacent with where we’re at in our Christian walk.  Maturity means growth, and we all need to be about growing up to be more like our true Father.

VERDICT:  4 stars

If you would like to learn more or purchase this book, go to the following link:

Not Forsaken

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

 

 

All the Loves

“He who does not love does not know God;  for God is love.”  1 John 4:8

The other night I asked my husband, a pastor, which of the Greek words for love best describes God’s love for us?  Of course, we first thought of agape love.  God loves everyone, regardless of our looks, ethnic background, temperament, intelligence, or worthiness.

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

However, we realized that God’s love is also eros.  In a number of places in the Bible, Israel, and later the church (the new Israel), are referred to as God’s wife or bride.

“Return faithless people”, declares the Lord, for I am your husband.” I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion.” Jeremiah 3:14

The fact that God is our father, and Jesus our brother,  exemplifies storge, or family love.  Jesus teaches us:

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have a Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 23:9

“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy, are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Hebrews 2:11

Of course, philia is part of God’s love nature as well, because through the incarnation, Jesus became our friend.

“I no longer call you servants. because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

So, God no only is love, His is all the loves, and we find every love and everything there is to know about love in Him.  What a wonderful gift!  Remember, He loves you and so do I!

 

 

“To Die is Gain.”

Once upon a time . . .

when humanity was young, and quite innocent; they lived in a place of unimaginable beauty and endless possibility. And then humanity was deceived. We failed to trust our creator, and though the lie was not ours, the doubt and greed fully belong to us. The rejection was not of the place, the food, or the vast kingdom that in inheritance belonged to us as well. The rejection was power and love our Father and Lord possessed. We rejected Him.

What was not known in the dawn of time was that with the failure of trust, blinded by greed and naivety, revelations would be made. The tree of knowledge of Good, and Evil. The name says as much as it implies. Before what would they have known? Neither good nor Evil. The infinite wisdom of God would be too much for them to bear. A better way is to slowly introduce information, to take eternity and explain and teach. God wanted to show us the universe while building a relationship.

From the very beginning it was Him who loved us more.  Suddenly, too suddenly, we knew what worse than bad was. We knew shame, and embarrassment, and lust. We knew regret, and sadness, and fear. We were overwhelmed.

Still God our Father loved us. For our own sakes, he removed us from Heaven. People without self-discipline tend to ruin good things. Not to mention Everlasting Life (The tree of Life) combined with Irrational, self-destructive sin would be disastrous. Therefore, we were separated. How painful that was. Not only for us, but for God. The Alpha and Omega that feels anguish as well as joy. Can you imagine first being rejected by your children, and then having to remove them from the situation to protect them? Maybe some can, because all this resulted in a broken world. A world that for our own sakes requires a barrier of sorts.

Luke 16:26 “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”

Not only between heaven and hell, but between heaven and earth. It’s a burden we must bear. Although Christ came so that we can eventually see our heavenly home, we mustn’t risk it with open borders. Narrow is the road. While we have hope of seeing not only our loved ones but also our merciful Savior, there’s still a gap. A lonely realization that we are to suffer here till our time comes. As Christians, it’s not that we don’t believe in a better, very real, life that exists beyond our reach; it’s that we cannot follow where they go. It’s the harsh separation that stares us in the face. Our despair comes with the knowledge that these bodies we inhabit must endure here for a time.

Philippians 1:21&22 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. So what shall I choose?  I do not know. I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

The End?

Interactive Bible Study -Hebrews Chapter 12

Hi, it’s Joan posting for Michele again.  We’re closing in on finishing the Book of Hebrews.  What would you like her to pick next?  I believe she is considering Titus or 1 Timothy.  Send Michele your suggestions, I know she will want to hear them.

As with all fathers, discipline is a necessary thing to keep us on the right track.  In Chapter 12, we are told that God only disciplines those he loves for doing wrong.  We must strive every day to live as Jesus did and witness the good news of His salvation to all.  If we do not witness as commanded by Him, we can expect to be disciplined by our father, God.

All God’s discipline is so that we may share in His holiness.  Use any discipline He sends as a lesson to be more holy and not as a desire on the part of God to punish.