Jan 28, 2011

Letters from Rosie

I came home from work the other day and found a pile of 8 handwritten letters on the countertop of our kitchen. All of the letters looked the same and appeared to be written from the same person. The letters, written on colored construction paper contained a simple message: 
“I love you”  - “I miss you” - “Here is my phone number” - “Here is a story I wrote for you”. 

I asked my wife Cathy where the letters were from. “Rosie” (not her real name); she said; “she is one of the students at my school”.

Note: Cathy works at a school that helps young adults with disabilities to become confident, responsible, contributing members of their families and communities. It is a great school that assists special education students that are 18-21 years of age with the transition from high school to adulthood by providing training in life skills, work skills and social skills.

Cathy went on to tell me that each day, Rosie joyfully takes time to write 5-10 letters that will go to four to five different people. That’s 20-50 letters each day that contain the same simple message: “I love you” “I miss you” “Here is my phone number” “Here is a story I wrote for you”.

When Rosie has her letters completed, her fellow classmate “Ginger” (not her real name) laughs and laughs as she has a great time joyfully hand delivering the letters from Rosie to the unsuspecting recipients. 

Cathy loves to watch Rosie and Ginger working together to make the world a better place to be in. Rosie does her part by taking the time to communicate her love and her desire to be connected with each of the readers of the letters. She communicates that the recipient is missed by her and she has written this story to express her love.

Ginger does her part by simply being an ambassador for Rosie. Ginger’s role is not to write the notes, but to be the one who gets the privilege to make someone else’s’ day by delivering a letter from Rosie. And she does it with Joy; and the task makes her laugh. And the world is they live in is a better place.

God has written letters and stories in the pages more commonly known as the Bible. The letters and stories contain the same simple message: “I love you” “I miss you” “Here is my phone number” “Here is a story I wrote for you”. The letters are written to communicate God’s love and His desire to be connected with each of the readers of the letters. God communicates that the recipient is missed by Him and that He has written this story to express His love.

Have you received your letter yet? If not, it may be because the Gingers of this world have not delivered the letters to you. They haven’t done their part by simply being an ambassador for God; to be the one who gets the privilege to make someone else’s day by delivering a letter from God. It may be because when you got your letter it wasn’t delivered with joy and laughter, but rather was delivered with judgment and criticism. It may be because you haven’t taken the time to open up and read these letters from God.

The letters and stories are still waiting for you. Take time to open up and read the Bible cover-to-cover for yourself to read what God is saying – to you. Don’t just accept someone else telling you what they heard somebody else say the Bible says; read it for yourself. 

You will discover for yourself love letters and stories written for you that have the same simple message: “I love you” “I miss you” “Here is my phone number” “Here is a story I wrote for you”. And the world you live in will be a better place.

Need help reading His letters?

Call either: 

1-888-NEED HIM

or 1-877-2GRAHAM

Someone is waiting to talk with you.

Jan 21, 2011

Stopping Short

The climax and the goal of the New Testament is revelation of and relationship with our Heavenly Father. If you stop by only knowing Jesus, then you’ve stopped short of the relationship that Jesus died to bring you into. If you’re reading this, I believe that Jesus Christ would want me to say to you that today He wants to take you to meet His Dad; your Heavenly Father. 

The church is filled with people who want to serve God without ever having a relationship with Him. People who fill up on teachings on how to do something for God instead of finding out who we are in Christ. And who we are (if you’ve trusted Jesus to be your Lord and Savior) is “sons” and “daughters”. And if we are sons and daughters then the implication is that we have a “father”.

We want some instant experience that is short of any relationship. Come to church (or prayer) and get a zap and suddenly you are just like Jesus. It doesn’t work that way. We become more Christ-like by spending time with Him.

The only people who will have a relationship with the Father are those who will cultivate a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ:
   - A Father who will embrace me
   - A Father who will love me
   - A Father who will hold me
   - A Father who will communicate with me
   - A Father who will provide for me
   - A Father who will be there for me

Jesus wants to take you meet His Father. A Heavenly father who is never going to die or abandon you or forsake you; that is the kind of relationship we all need. Our Heavenly Father is not like theologians have pictured Him. He is not like our earthly fathers. We think we know Him, yet we still stop short in really knowing Him.

One time, one of Jesus’ disciples, Philip, said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 14:8-9).

Jesus was saying to Philip and to all of us; “Every time that you saw me touch someone, reach out, heal, forgive, love; THAT is how our Heavenly Father would and does do it. “You seen Me, you’ve seen the Father”. 

You might be thinking; ‘so what do I need to do?’. First of all, stop relating to the Heavenly Father by what you do or don’t do: “You don’t read the Bible enough, pray enough, witness enough, etc.” Stop living under condemnation and guilt and instead let Jesus take you to meet His dad. He loves you and you are precious to Him; He calls you “beloved”. He acted first, while you were still a sinner (read Romans 5:8).

Let God do the work; your part is to agree with His assessment of sin (confess) and turn from it (repent). The Holy Spirit was given as a “helper”. He is God and wants to help you. The Holy Spirit wants to blast down those walls that you have placed up, that stops intimacy with the Father; to restore a level of trust that was violated when you were young, and you survived by not trusting any more.

Today can be a day of new beginnings; a day to finally hear the Father calling you “son” or “daughter”. Hear my plea to not “stop short”

Need further help? Someone is waiting to talk with you. Call either:
1-888-NEED HIM or 1-877-2GRAHAM (1-877-247-2426).

Jan 14, 2011

Come and Get It!

Jeff is a pastor who lives an hour or so away from his parents. Jeff knows that when he comes home, he can do so fearlessly and confidently and boldly.

Every time that Jeff comes home to his parents house, he bounces up the stairs and says; “Mom, Dad, I’m home!” and he is greeted with hugs and kisses from parents who are so glad that Jeff stopped by to visit.

Jeff immediately goes to the refrigerator and gets some cookies to eat. After that, Jeff then goes to the freezer and gets some ice cream; simply because he "needs some". Then Jeff goes and gets some dry roasted nuts hidden in the upper cabinet because he "needs some”. Jeff knows that his mother hides the food, but always in the places that he knows to look.

And then, when all of his needs are met, he sits down in the living room and his parents always ask; “How are you doing, Jeff? How are the kids? How is your wife? How are things going at the church? How can we pray for you?”

Jeff thinks that THIS is how God our Heavenly Father wants us to come to spend time with Him; fearlessly and confidently and boldly. And then after all of our needs are met, we can sit and hear God ask us how things are going and how can He help us.

Most of us would love to approach our Heavenly Father like that, but we were told not to run, and to be quiet in the house, and to wait until supper. And, even if we could find the food; for it seemed to be hidden, we believed the lie that it wasn’t for us.

Truth is, God wants us to approach Him BOLDLY

The Bible says; “Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” (Hebrews 4:16 from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." http://www.lockman.org/)

What that passage is saying is we don’t need to use big words to approach God. In the original language it means ‘all out spokenness, that is, frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication assurance: - boldness of speech, confidence, freely, openly, plainness’.

God wants to meet our needs and hear what we have to say. God will provide even when we complain. In chapter 11 in the Book of Numbers, when the people of Israel complained that God wasn’t meeting all of their needs, God promised to give them so much provision that it would come out of their nostrils! (Probably not good idea to complain to God, eh?)

God wants us to come to Him as a hungry child; not speaking roundabout or indirectly or using more words than necessary to express an idea. Tell Him what you want; let God decide how He chooses to meet your need. Our Heavenly Father wants us to “Come and Get it!”

“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:16 From “The Message” Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group)

Jan 7, 2011

Look At Me

This past Christmas season, Cathy and our children and I were able to gather on many occasions to spend time together making cookies, eating, playing games, loving, and a whole lot of time laughing (and eating some more).

During our many family gatherings I got to be both a dad and a grandfather. One of the joys of being a grandfather (there are many) is the joy of simply holding a child and looking into the child’s face.

As I have said before, I love children because they seem to like me and let me know it. I think that children see through all of my masks and use their superpowers to melt my suit of armor, and let me know that my secret identity has been discovered; that beneath my hard-shell I really am a nice guy who likes people; especially kids.

This past Christmas season I watched as my granddaughter Fallon turned to find her mom or dad’s voice when someone else was holding her (Fallon was 6 weeks old at Christmas). As I sat and held Fallon and looked into her eyes, I longed (or expected) her to respond to the sound of my voice. I forgot about how really long it takes for a new child to make connection with another person.

I didn’t want to have to wait for this one to turn at the sound of my voice. I wanted Fallon (almost from the womb) to know me as her grandfather. I felt the longing of my heart to be known by this young child; “Hey, look at me! I’m here! Don’t you know who I am?”

I long to hold her and love her and find out who she is as a person. It’s funny; even as my own children have become adults I still love to hold each of them and love each of them and learn who they are. I’m still amazed at who each of my children have become; their beauty, their wisdom, and their great laughter.

In the meantime, I treasure the times that I can hold my granddaughter and gaze at her. I sit at times and stare at photographs of her trying to connect. And I wait; wait until Fallon is older and realizes her need for me. Wait until Fallon can focus on me with her eyes and her ears. Wait; simply wait is what I have to do. 

As much as I long to be known by my granddaughter (and each of my children!), I realize that God, our Heavenly Father, longs so much more for me (and you as well). God was the initiator of the relationship. “Hey, look at me! I’m here! Don’t you know who I am?”

God didn’t wait for us to come to Him; He made the first move. You can read about God’s attempt to love on us in the Bible from the book of Genesis thru the book of Revelations.

The Bible said that God “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) 

Jeremiah 31:3 says; “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.”

How about you? Do you know this Heavenly father? Have you responded to His voice calling out to you saying; “Hey, look at me! I’m here! Don’t you know who I am?” You can; today. He has already made the first move.

Want some help responding? Go to: http://www.harvest.org/knowgod/