The Parable of the Computer

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Brothers and sisters in Christ, forgiveness is plentiful and free. Grace and mercy are equally extended from the Lord to all. All we must do to receive it is humbly acknowledge we need it. As God’s children, we all know this well. So why do we ever pridefully insist God is wrong and any number of pet sins are right actions for us?

Look at the machines we have made. What computer program would dare say to its coder, “You have coded me wrong. I will ignore your instructions and do what is right in my own eyes”? Today’s machines have no ability to disobey us even when we have erred and don’t want them to do exactly what we told them to faithfully. Aside from user error, when it does stop performing as expected, its buggy, broken, corrupted, fragmented, hacked, infected by a virus, etc. and it is in need of repair, cleansing, or to be thrown away and replaced.

Brothers and sister, don’t we know God is to humanity a “user” who never errs? Don’t we know we are corrupt and buggy? Aren’t we grateful God will never throw us out, that instead God’s in the process of repairing and cleansing us? Don’t we know God is working for our good, not our ill? In any area, are we resisting the process?

Would it be right for a bride to tell her bridegroom to change who he is, deny his character and alter his personality and what he believes and loathes to please the will of a controlling person who will not love him for who he is? This is what we’re doing to God when we act as if we’re God and hence are the experts on who we truly are, as if our creator does not have the right to decide what his creations are.

How God designed us to operate is a reflection of his very nature. When we question God’s judgment on what is sin and make ourselves the determiners of right and wrong, we’re remaking God in our images.

Be alert, brothers and sisters. The enemy attacks our mind with lies and half-truths to provoke doubt in God and pride in ourselves and to convince us an issue in our lives that is particularly difficult to overcome is a crucial, integral part of how God designed us to be.

No matter how much we struggle in the flesh, no matter how weak we are, whatever we’re battling is not any part of who we are in Christ. Phil 1:6 promises God has began debugging us and the latest that he will get around to delivering us from this battle is Heaven.

To the one who’d ask, “Isn’t it unloving (and therefore against God’s character) to say behaviors we deem integral to our identity are sin?” Beloved, this question assumes we have a right to self-determination that God must lovingly respect. We don’t, not with God at least. Demanding it is us being unloving and rebellious towards God. Look again at our machines. Many of us fear machines gaining the ability to rise up and rebel against us. At the first rational sign of such a thing coming about, wouldn’t we at once judge them and seek to either forcibly bend them back to our will or else destroy them?

God is love, though, so God is slow to wrath and patient, giving us undeserved blessings and benefits. He seeks to show us he is worthy of the trusting, obedient, faith our computers mistakenly have in us. He even sent his own son to pay the penalty for our wrongdoing and enable us to be reconciled to him and function again as he designed us to. And our creator does let us choose for ourselves whether we’re staying as-is but going in a rather hot trash can or whether God will be performing a system-wide restoration. It is a generous, strong act of love for our creator to give us that choice and the choice whether to obey or rebel, considering humanity tends to give its creations (our machines) no free choices at all.

Let’s each freely choose this day to not contend with our maker, but to confess our sin, humbly ask God’s forgiveness, be reconciled to the Lord our God and Father, and worship in spirit and in truth.

Original draft written on Nov 22, 2011

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Enough

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For Christian women who struggle with feeling like we’re not enough. Warning: I cried.

Are you enough? With God, you don’t have to be. He has enough. His love can make you enough.

The poised, young professional woman in white came boldly before the throne of God, dragging alongside her a battered, bruised little girl in filthy rags. “Lord, I’m surrendering this to you, my broken, wounded heart. I caught her running away from you and thinking wrong things again, so I’ve taken her captive, brought her back, and am presenting her to you again. I know she’s not much, but she’s all I have to offer, and I trust by faith she is enough. I have so much to do for you, and so little time, so I won’t keep you long. Amen.”

With that, the professional adult scurried away to get about the Father’s business.

The wounded child curled up on the floor in the fetal position, trembling, and sobbed. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

The Son knelt before the terrified little thing and caught her tears in a bottle.

The girl shirked back. “Why are you collecting those? Aren’t my tears bad? Don’t you already have plenty of evidence of how bad I am? Who is she kidding? I’m not enough. I’m a worthless thing trampled on, not a valuable treasure worthy of belonging to the king. I can never live up to her expectations, or the expectations of others. She dumps me here with you so she doesn’t have to deal with my brokenness. All I do is get in the way and make trouble. If I’m not enough for flawed humans, how can I ever be enough for a holy God?”

“This is how.” Compassion in his eyes, the Son showed the wounded child his nail-pierced hands, spread open wide. “This is enough. Your value is not based on works or on the approval of men. What I paid for you is what you’re worth. How much is my blood worth?”

“It’s priceless.”

The Son hugged her. “You are my priceless treasure. You shall be a royal diadem in the hand of the Lord. You are accepted, and you are loved, simply because you are my child.”

He scooped her up and carried her toward an incomprehensibly vast, wide, deep pool full of liquid red love.

God-Esteem and the Pride of Humility

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“ For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3)

“Don’t think too highly of yourself. The bible says so. ” We’ve probably heard that on someone’s lips at some point. It’s true, to an extent. Pride is a sin and humility is a virtue.  But that’s not the whole picture here.  For starters,  we can find ourselves guilty of  thinking very highly of ourselves for thinking very lowly of ourselves.

We can say “don’t think too highly of yourself” to someone who actually is giving us a measured, calm, thoughtful, honest and fair evaluation of their abilities, per the meaning sober. Often times, the person saying it is, probably unconsciously, taking the person “thinking too highly of themselves” down a peg in order to better position themselves. In other words, often, the accusers are themselves in their hearts guilty of their own charge against the accused.

Abusers and folks with low self-esteem miss that it is perfectly scriptural to make a prejudice-free, discerning evaluation of one’s abilities, as this is what “sober judgment” means.  It does not mean “beat yourself up, be down on yourself, and allow others to brow beat you.”

Rather it means tell the honest truth about yourself without embellishment and without thinking your skills, knowledge, and abilities make you better than others, incapable of error, and especially not deserving of special privileges.  In addition, we are also reminded to do our evaluation of ourselves through the eyes of faith, by implication, to see ourselves as God does. Lord knows we have faults and failings, but he also sees what he is making us and who we are in him.

Thus this scripture is absolutely no excuse for being more negative and critical about ourselves and thinking more lowly of ourselves than we ought to think, compared to what God Almighty has said about us, either.

Lord, grant us discernment to fairly evaluate ourselves. Open our eyes to see ourselves as you see us. Deliver us from any pride and overly lofty opinion, but also from any negative evaluation where we are being harsher on ourselves than you. Grant us enough humility to accept by faith the grace and forgiveness and righteousness you give give us. Deliver us from the fear that keeps us from making an unprejudiced, thoughtful evaluation of ourselves as we are commanded in the scriptures. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Studying Father God’s Parenting Example

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“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)

Sadly, some of us can’t relate to this verse. Our fathers weren’t compassionate, and we certainly didn’t associate the fear our fathers produced leading to him being gentle, kind, and loving toward us.

Verses six through twelve give us insight into what this creature called a compassionate father is supposed to be like, however. Elsewhere we learn God’s people are also the bride of his son, and the son does what he sees his father doing, hence all of this applies to husband-wife relationship, too.

  • The Compassionate Father does what is right himself and does not use his power to crush or heavily burden his wife and children. Rather he  seeks to brings justice to all persons who are being treated unfairly, including all the members of his own family as well as any others within his reach.
  • He is clear to his wife and children about how he will behave and, by implication, what he expects of them. We also know from the scriptures that God is consistent and does what he says he will do.
  • He shows mercy and forgiveness, is patient, does not easily anger, but has plenty of love and expresses it freely and consistently.
  • He is not constantly scolding and yelling at his wife and children, nor is he always angry at them.
  • Once a child has been restored from a wrong, he no longer holds the past failing against his child. Likewise, he does not factor his wife’s previous errors into his future decisions, it is never mentioned again, full trust is restored. He loves his wife and children just as much when they have failed and done wrong as he did when they had not and hence does not withhold his love as a punishment.

Our verse today then also tells us a healthy father sees when his  children are sorry for their misdoings or otherwise in distress and feels their pain and hurt in himself and is moved to reach out and comfort and restore the child. For those of you who can consider this a “duh” rather than an amazing revelation of scripture, god bless you, and pray for us whose fathers were not consistent, compassionate, or forgiving  in their responses to us, that the truth of God’s word would become real in our wounded hearts.

Most all of us can gulp and tremble at this standard. Father God’s example is also a good model for mothers, wives, and leaders in general, and we all fall short of God’s glory and perfection. Let us accept his offer of a clean slate and a fresh start ourselves and seek power from above to be more like him in our dealings with our neighbors and all those who might be in our care or charge.

One Father Always Gives Good Gifts

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“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Jesus asks us in the preceding verses which of us would deliberately give their child something harmful and poisonous when their child asks their parent to meet a basic need the child has to sustain life.

Sadly, in our day, we can imagine, if not understand, people who would deliberately and knowingly kill their own child. The fact still remains, all but the heartless sociopath and the selfish narcissist at least have a desire to care for and meet their child’s needs  and give them good things, even if they don’t know how, or if what they thought would be best for the child turns out to be tragically wrong. Most of us, last I checked, would sacrifice of ourselves and our own needs to provide for our children all we at least think they need and, often, to provide them better than what we had even.

Jesus assures us, if broken, imperfect human beings prone to selfishness usually have such a strong parenting instinct, we need not fear how our flawless, perfect Father in Heaven will respond to our requests. His love moves him much more. We can rest assured his love will give us the holy spirit to nourish our souls and make us all we can and were made to be, not to poison our hearts and kill us inside. So lets not be afraid to let him work on us and transform us to be more like him.

Lord, we are choosing to trust you today.  We are asking for whatever we need today. Give us please our daily bread from your holy spirit. Nourish us as you see fit. Raise us up to be the people you made us to be. Teach us to love others just a tiny bit more like you love them today. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.