Father Heart of God

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Back in 2003 I was thinking about God as Father. I was particularly struck by what Jesus said of his own relationship with Father God all through the gospel of John. It seems like it would be good to come back to what I wrote all those years ago. May Father God bless and encourage you as you read and think about God as your own heavenly Father.
We need to experience God’s father heart towards us. What we know of a father’s heart is pretty pitiful. For some it’s as a tyrant who demands unquestioning obedience and who uses physical force or verbal abuse to achieve that obedience. For some it’s as a slave driver who requires “work” to pay one’s way. For some it’s like a school teacher requiring perfect scores. For others though there may be a physical presence, the father is emotionally absent. For many there is no father because of death, divorce, or other circumstance causing separation of the family.
Our experience of our own fathers’ hearts becomes our view of God’s father heart so that our sense his heart may be one or more of the following:

He’s a tyrant waiting for me to put one foot out of place
He’s violent and vengeful
He’s distant and disinterested
He’s unapproachable
He doesn’t listen
He only pays attention if I get all my ducks in a row
He doesn’t care about me or what I feel
He won’t help me, I have to figure it out myself
He doesn’t like me (because I’m ugly, stupid, slow, lazy, fat, careless, a girl, a boy, not like him, whatever)

Here are some scriptures to help you meditate on Father God. God is emotionally present, kind, loving, gentle, and understanding of our limitations. Our minds may know this but our hearts don’t.

  • Psalm 103:13, 14 says, “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust.”
  • Isaiah 9:6 “Mighty God, everlasting father …”
  • Matthew 6:9 “Our Father in heaven may your name be honored …”
  • *John 10:30 “The Father and I are one …” Look at Jesus to get a view of the father heart of God.
  • Romans 8:15 “Father dear Father …”
  • Hebrews 1:5 “Today I have become your Father …”
  • Ephesians 4:6 “Only one God and Father …”
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Life’s Ups and Downs

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Julian of Norwich’s book “Revelations of Divine Love” has had a big impact on my life as I’ve read of her experiences with God during my devotional times. I was particularly struck by what she said as a result of the seventh revelation she received from God.

Julian talks about her experience of being spiritually/emotionally up and down; one minute feeling God’s comfort and rest and great sustaining spiritual joy, the next feeling as though “turned away, left all alone, deeply distressed and tired of my life … there was no comfort or calm for me … only faith hope and love, and I did not feel these, I only believed they were true.” She experienced this back and forth around twenty times. She came to understand that “God wants us to know that he keeps us safe in bad and good times alike.”

So often when we feel blue, discouraged, depressed, alone and cut off from God we assume we have sinned. However, sin is not always the cause as Julian realised. She says she’d not had time between the good and bad times to actually sin. On the other hand, she realised she didn’t deserve the feelings of joy either. God had freely given what he willed, sometimes joy and sometimes sorrow.

I know for myself that when I feel great joy and encouragement in my life and in God that there’s sometimes a teeny sense that I must deserve it in some way, that somehow I’ve been “good” and it’s a reward. By the same token, when my life feels joyless and I’m discouraged, or God feels a long way away and there isn’t much comfort or encouragement around I so often and quickly assume God has abandoned me and that I must have been “bad”, that I must have sinned or have some sinful attitude. What I’m coming to understand more and more from all this is that my feelings aren’t the measure of my relationship with God, and that joy or sorrow are opportunities to keep on trusting him.

(Mother Julian of Norwich. Revelations of Divine Love. (ed by Halcyon Backhouse with Rhona Pipe.) London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1987. pp34-5)

Christmas thot

Christmas is just around the corner and it’s a good time to pause and look back over the year that is rapidly drawing to a close.

We’ve seen world dramas with passenger planes being shot down, the continuing rise of ISL with their murderous hatred of Christians, Jews and the West in general, of terrorist attacks, of hostage situations, plus the many natural disasters occurring in various quarters of the globe. It’s all been incredible. Add to the pot the media’s graphic and incessant reporting of such events with a resultant stirring of fear. This also is incredible to behold.

We are celebrating Jesus’ first coming to our world with all “fairy floss” of the season. However, my question now is, is Jesus’ return imminent? I don’t know but it gives one pause to ponder the possibility.

My reading recently reminded me of God’s take on all things:

“God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he made the universe and everything in it.” (Heb 1:2b) and “[Jesus] sustains the universe by the mighty power of his command (1:3b).

So, no matter what happens – when or where or who or how – God has it in hand and under his control. The universe is sustained by the mighty power of Jesus!

Now Christmas is here, the time to joyfully and truly celebrate Jesus. May you experience something of the wonder of God sending his Son, Jesus, to this world – and, the why of it.

Whoops…

Whoops, indeed! My previous article on stress triggered a suspension by WordPress. I think perhaps because the quote was so long. If you have a problem with reading the article let me know.

Blessings for today!!

Why Stress is Contagious and How We can Override the Mirror Response

The following came into my inbox today from Breaking Christian News. It speaks of a phenomenon with which you may identify. Take a read, go back to the original article, think about occasions when you yourself have experienced this mirror effect and how you may or may not have dealt with it… you might find it instructive.

As well as the recommendations given below, I’d also suggest doing a literal handing it all over to Jesus, praying for the person, and asking for protection from taking on-board the other person’s pain.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

Why Stress is Contagious and How We can Override the Mirror Response

Aimee Herd (Oct 31, 2013)

“When someone dumps emotional toxins on you, you can choose not to accept the incoming by catching yourself when the bogus, catastrophic story of stress goes off and activates a wave of stupefying emotion.”

Mirror NeuronsA recent Huffington Post article notes the natural tendency in people’s brains to mimic others’ emotions, in the case of stress; to our detriment.

No doubt you’ve noticed how other people’s emotions and actions can often be contagious, such as yawning or laughing.

Apparently our brains are hardwired to do so, as Italian scientists in the 1990s discovered. According to the report, our brains contain “mirror neurons,” which are brain cells that mimic the actions or emotions of others.

While this quality is often harmless or even somewhat therapeutic in the case of laughter; the mimic reflex becomes more of a problem when it comes to stress and fear.

The report notes that stress “suppresses the immune system, lowers the good cholesterol, increases the bad and…can lead to any number of illnesses and conditions.”

Stress mirrorSo, how do you counter your body’s natural tendency to copy another person’s emotions?

The HP report states:

The key to resisting the emotional contagion of stress is overriding the double-team autopilot of the stress response—reacting before you think—and your mirror neurons. When someone dumps emotional toxins on you, you can choose not to accept the incoming by catching yourself when the bogus, catastrophic story of stress goes off and activates a wave of stupefying emotion. Instead of latching on to the fear or panic because it’s in your head, contest it by reframing the irrational story to what’s actually the reality.

Instead of mirror neurons reflecting stress, you can use them as a tool to better understand why a person is going off, and, as a result, why you don’t have to.

I would add that saying a quick, silent prayer, inviting God to help you handle the given situation may help the most, as well as a quick prayer for the person you’re trying not to mimic.

There’s also a lot to be said for breathing—it’s highly underrated! Stepping back before you respond; taking a few minutes to breathe deeply, giving your brain maximum oxygen with which to work, can only help.

God’s good creation

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When God had completed his wonderful creation he said it was very good. I can easily imagine him sitting back in his easy chair, feet up and with his hands clasped behind his head and a big smile on his face. Fanciful? Maybe. But that’s my sense of what his comment meant.

It says in Genesis:

“And it was very good.”  Genesis 1:31 NIV

Now, today, God still views his creation in the same way. No matter that we’ve made a mess of his gorgeous world. And, no matter that we’ve made a huge mess of our own lives.

Bear in mind, God knew the specific purpose you were born to fulfil, so He provided all the gifts you’d need, including the environment required to put it all together. Then He looked at you and said, “Very good.” Can you say that too?

 

Self-Control

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“A person without self-control is as defenceless as a city with broken-down walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Lack of self-control makes us vulnerable to attack. We are more vulnerable to temptation, to doing or saying things we will regret, to being swayed by others’ opinions and pressures.

There is a difference between self-control and being in control. Self-control is a healthy discipline that helps us be mindful of what is appropriate behaviour and speech. Being in control is likely the result of a choice (or vow) arising from a wound (or some unpleasant or painful experience) that gives us the idea that we must control the circumstances of our lives where we had been wounded; and it’s likely that other areas of our lives may be totally out of control and undisciplined.

Something to think about…

 

Life improvement

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“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'” Isaiah 1:18 NKJV

When we do the wrong thing and ask forgiveness, we’re not losers, we’re learners. Alexander Pope said: “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

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For more inspirational reading, go to www.thewordfortoday.com.au

No matter the mess, God works for good!

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“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV

When it seems like the world’s gone mad, don’t forget “God existed before anything else… and He holds all creation together.” (Colossians 1:17 NLT). When worry whispers, “God doesn’t know what you need!”, remember God promised to “meet all your needs”. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

[from a friend]

What the locusts ate…

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A thought from a friend:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten….” Joel 2:25 NIV

For everything you’ve loved or lost, God has something else. For everything that’s been stolen from you, God has something else. The situation you are in right now is not the end of the story; God wants to write a new chapter. – He’s not through with you!