How Deep the Father's Love
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7) “So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply,’ etc.” (Gen 1:27-28a)
This past weekend we celebrated Fathers Day, a day set aside to honor and celebrate our earthly fathers. Like most fathers, I received numerous reminders of the love that exists between fathers and their children and noted through the media, print and electronic, the special and heart-warming tributes offered up by so many. While enjoying these, I was also reminded of God, the Father of us all, who not only created us, but continually demonstrates the relationship a father is to have with his children, that special bond which a good relationship celebrates and those lacking that relationship long for.
This article is far too short to quote the numerous scriptures relating to healthy father/child interaction, but as we scan through the Bible we learn that the father is to instruct, correct, teach, train, nurture, control, provide for, bless, provide spiritual guidance, to forgive, and in short, TO LOVE! Not only has God charged fathers with such responsibility, but He daily demonstrates these facets of love to us through the presence and power of his Holy Spirit. So, to extend your Fathers Day celebration, I offer these additional verses of scripture for your consideration of our heavenly Father’s constant presence and involvement in your life.
“For us, there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” (1 Cor. 8:6)
“But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“But now O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are the potter; and we are the work of Your hands,” (Isaiah 64:8)
These are comforting words; they speak of the love of the Father for the child and of the children for the father. But as many of us have experienced, our personal relationships sometime fail us; schisms do occur within families. Yet, even these provide opportunities for God to demonstrate one of the most powerful aspects of love. Remember the story of the prodigal son, who by his own will separated himself from his family to, as we would say, “do his own thing.” But when his “thing” failed him, he returned home thinking that he would have to beg to be allowed to stay, being willing even to work as a servant in his father’s house. But this son failed to realize a father’s deep love for his children and his capacity to forgive. “He arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
This is a word for all who have separated themselves from God, for whatever reason, for whatever season; once we have determined to return to Him, even while we remain a great way off, He will run to us and love us and forgive us. He is our loving Father who will never leave us nor forsake us.
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness that we are children of God,…” (Rom. 8:15)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Creator and Sustainer
Written by Cameron Miller - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Deana Harvey, artist
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 (NIV)
A calling as a pastor, missionary, or chaplain draws a person to a life of prayer. But none of them pray as long and as fervently as someone who works in IT and is about to go on vacation. The computer systems that run our world seem to work effortlessly and reliably, with only the occasional bug. But behind the scenes, there are people working tirelessly to keep the whole thing going. And that means if the system goes down, that IT technician who was on vacation isn’t on vacation anymore. Hence the prayer.
When I hear God referred to as the “Creator and Sustainer” of the universe, the tireless efforts of an IT technician come to mind. The earth is a surprisingly complex system designed to support human life, and we don’t go more than a few years without discovering another way in which that entire system could collapse and cause mass extinction. There’s not a discipline of science that doubts that all life on earth will be extinguished; it’s just a question of what will get us and when. Will it be an asteroid impact? A new strain of disease? Something we haven’t even discovered yet? Or maybe we’ll just unleash a small fraction of the arsenal of nuclear and biological weapons we’ve amassed and eliminate civilization ourselves.
And yet, life goes on. I usually think of miracles as things like sudden healing or inspired words of prophecy. But more and more I’m coming to the conclusion that everything is a miracle. We think of a hero saving the world at the last minute as something that happens mainly in stories. But this happens more reliably in reality than any TV show or novel. No matter how bad things have gotten here on Earth, how high the stakes, and how certain the doom, the day is saved and the story goes on, over and over again.
The only explanation I can think of is that the Author of this world’s story isn’t ready to end things just yet. If a website running smoothly and predictably is proof that someone is working behind the scenes to keep things running, how much more is a working universe a testament to God’s miraculous provision? I used to think that it was just natural that society held together as much as it did, that disasters were rare and limited in their destruction, and that the laws of physics continued to work in a predictable fashion. But the more I understand how fragile things are, the more I see the miraculous in everything as the world is held together by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If it wasn’t for God’s creation, nothing would exist. If it wasn’t for God’s sustaining, everything would fall apart.
Prayer: God, your provision for me is more than I could ever imagine. Thank you for holding this world together for our benefit.
Poem by Kathryn Kircher - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Illustration by Rhonda Logan-Bailey
“And take . . . the sword
of the Spirit,
which is the word
of God.” Ephesians 6:17
Brooding, fluttering, hovering
Performing what is spoken
Speaking, declaring, proclaiming
Expressing His Father’s heart
Creating, initiating, originating,
Erupting from His heart
Time to Fly
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
A few years ago, in another place and another time, some ladies of the church I was attending sewed up a banner for the Sunday School classes they were leading. It showed a stylized cocoon and a butterfly and contained the caption. “You can fly, but that cocoon has to go.”
Just to review what you know about the life cycles of a butterfly: The adult butterfly lays an egg which hatches into a larva, (caterpillar). The caterpillar grows until he nears his life span and then seals himself into a cocoon, entomologically, a “pupa.” While sealed in this cocoon, not unlike a tomb for the caterpillar, and while by all outward appearances, it is dead; this caterpillar is being transformed. And when the time is right, a beautiful butterfly emerges and flies away to begin life anew.
This image has often been used as a demonstration of the Resurrection, of how a life once lived and died, now rises again into a new life, a renewed, beautiful and full life. And while this is certainly appropriate, perhaps this sequence better fits that of the Holy Spirit as He enters our life. Let’s begin with the cocoon. That which is inside is not dead, it only appears to be when observed from outside, by the world. Inside, it is being transformed.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2) It is while inside the tomb, the transformation takes place, it is while outwardly quiet that the Spirit is working in us to transform us into what God intends us to be.
Then, there is movement within this cocoon. Its outer layers begin to become transparent, and bright and beautiful colors start to show. Yet there appears to be a struggle going on as the cocoon tries to keep this new creature bottled up. But no power on earth can contain it. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5: 5)
Many of us may be finding ourselves as in a cocoon. We have been through the larva stage, and we know in our hearts that there has to be more. But we find ourselves in a dark and lonely place; a place where hope is fleeting and the light is only a memory. But we shall not give up. The Spirit of God is at work in us, and as we press on, we can begin to see some light piercing the darkness that has encased us. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63)
It is a dark and fearful world out there, and it is especially dark if you are bottled up in a cocoon. If you have woven a cocoon around yourself, one of worldly concerns and circumstances, of fear and doubt, of sin and guilt. of self loathing and hatred, it is time to break out of it. And the only means we have to break out of our cocoons is to turn to Jesus and be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
It’s time to emerge from your cocoon; You can fly, but that cocoon has to go.
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