Loved and Connected – Basics No. 2

More on Connection

In my previous post I wrote about two basics of faith: Know God loves you, and know you are connected. Knowing you are connected to God is so important that it deserves its own post.

Connection is one of the most powerful contributors to security and peace. Knowing how deeply related you are to God, is vital to growing a secure relationship with God and being secure in your life in general.

Success Magazine on Secure Attachment

I read an article in Success Magazine last month and the following excerpt stood out to me:

“Researchers at Baylor have explored the concept of secure attachment (a bond between two entities) to God when it comes to the benefits of prayer. In psychology, the focus of attachment is often one-sided—how one person views his or her bond with another person. Attachment theory was born in the late 1950s and looked at how children interacted with a parent. In a secure attachment, the child felt protected and cared for by his or her parent. These children exhibited less overall distress.”

“Our research shows that when people have a warm and secure attachment to God, prayer is associated with positive mental health outcomes,” Kent says. “But when the relationship is cold or distant, prayer is associated with negative mental health outcomes. Imagine the difference of praying to a God that loves and cares for you versus a God who is inconsistent, distant or even disappointed in or angry with you. The mental health result is not the same.”

Fearing how God feels about you

In my work as a Pastor I talk to many people who have unconscious, or subconscious, fear of how God feels toward them and as a result their prayer life suffers, and their anxiety is through the roof. It makes sense that one would feel this way especially if bad information has been given, or if good information has been interpreted incorrectly for some reason.

It’s important that we have a

“warm and secure attachment to God”

Here’s a couple scriptures that I love on this particular subject:

Jesus speaking in John 10:28-30: 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 49:16: “Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands;” and in the Message version, “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never. Look, I’ve written your names on my hands.”

Nothing can separate you

Repeatedly throughout scripture the Lord reassures us that we are his, we belong to him, and nothing deceptive can take us out of his loving care.

Romans 8:38-39: “38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

When you feel insecure about your connection to God remind yourself of these scriptures. Say them aloud and let the truth of God’s Word fight the battle of anxiety in your life.

Connected, Secured

We don’t have to live insecure about our connection to God anymore now that we know the truth: Nothing can disconnect you from God. Know it in your bones today that you are extremely connected to God and your connection is secure.  #ConnectedSecured

25 Healing Scriptures

Take Your Spiritual Medicine

Here are 25 of the best healing scriptures to meditate on during times of sickness. I encourage you to Google each verse and read them in different translations until you find the one that really speaks to you. After that, memorize the scripture and think about it…say it aloud…meditate on it…it will lift your mood and cause health to manifest more quickly in your body. Each verse, when said aloud with a believing heart, is like taking your medicine.

I’ve changed each verse to make it read personally and in some instances, I’ve substituted the word “Love” for “God” to make the point even stronger and personal. I hope you begin to feel better quickly!

25 Healing Scriptures

1. I am the God who heals you (Exodus 15:26).
2. I [God] will take sickness away from the midst of you and the number of your days I will fulfill
(Exodus 23:25,26).
3. I [Love] will not put any of the diseases you are afraid of on you, but I will take all sickness away from you (Deuteronomy 7:15).
4. I [Love] will nurse you when you are sick and will restore you to FULL HEALTH (Psalm 41:3).
5. My [God’s] joy is your strength. A merry heart does good like a medicine (Nehemiah 8:10 & Proverbs 17:22).
6. I [God] give power to the faint and I increase strength to them who have no might (Isaiah 40:29).
7. I [Love] will renew your strength. I will strengthen you and help you (Isaiah 40:31, 41:10)
8. To your old age and gray hairs I, Love, will carry you and I will deliver you (Isaiah 46:4).
9. I [Jesus] took your sickness and carried your pains, and by my stripes you are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).
10. Your light will break forth as the morning and your health [recovery] shall spring forth SPEEDILY (Isaiah 58:8).
11. I [Love] will restore you to health and will heal you of your wounds (Jeremiah 30:17).
12. I will heal you and bring health and a cure to you. I will reveal to you how to enjoy abundant peace and security (Jeremiah 33:6, my paraphrase).
13. I [God] will mend that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick (Ezekiel 34:16).
14. I [Love] am moved with compassion toward the sick and I heal them (Matthew 14:14).
15. According to your faith, be it unto you (Matthew 9:29).
16. Healing is the children’s bread (Matthew 15:26, and you are a child of God).
17. All things are possible to the One who believes (Mark 9:23, 11:23-24)
18. I heal all those who have need of healing (Luke 9:11).
19. I did not come to destroy people’s lives but to save them (Luke 9:56).
20. Behold, I, Jesus, give you authority over all the enemy’s power and nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luke 10:19).
21. I have come so that you can have and enjoy an abundant life (John 10:10)
22. Faith in my ability makes you strong and gives you perfect wholeness and soundness (Acts 3:16).
23. My power causes diseases to depart from you (Acts 19:12).
24. Pray for one another and I will heal you (James 5:16).
25. Beloved, I wish above all things that you would be in health (3 John 2).

Loved and Connected – Basics No. 1

Two Basic Truths

Everything in the world of faith begins with knowing that God loves you and that you are connected to God. Your spirit, the part of you that makes you alive, is connected to God all the time. You are closer, more intimate with God, than you are with anyone or anything else all the time. There’s never been and there never will be a separation between you and God. You are that close, already, and nothing can disconnect you from God. Ever. Ever. Ever.

These are two basic truths that bad religion has attempted to destroy. In many cases it has succeeded.

Fear of Disconnection

The fear of being disconnected from God now or for an eternity later produces a myriad of unhealthy and ultimately destructive emotions. The biggest is fear of death, followed by insecurity, anxiety and shame that can be nearly paralyzing and from there the list grows.

Fear can make a person’s life a living hell inside the mind. Consider how you feel when your phone isn’t connected, that’s nothing compared to the fear of being disconnected from God.

A Better Opinion of Yourself

It’s important that you allow a better opinion of yourself to emerge: You are connected to God, and God loves you. This is the best place to start when you want to clean the slate and start fresh in your life with God. Simply begin with these two basic truths. From there, build a beautiful relationship with God, free from fear, that will sustain you for a lifetime.

Renew Your Mind

The scripture calls this concept of changing a negative opinion of yourself, “renewing the mind,” or “putting on the mind of Christ.” One of the best ways to renew your opinion of yourself is to look at what scripture has clearly taught for centuries. The Bible is packed with amazing stories and revelations of God’s love for people, written by people just like you and me. Here are a few passages that will get you started to renew your mind with the truth that God loves you and you are connected to God:

Truth #1: God Loves You

John 3:16-17: 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Ephesians 2:4-5: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

1 John 4:10-11, 16-19: 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him[a] because He first loved us.

Truth #2: You are connected

Romans 8:31-35, 37-39: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 10:28-30: 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

Colossians 1:19-22: 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

Conclusion

I know that’s a lot of scripture, but this is one of the primary ways you build a strong foundation in your life with God. It takes this much truth or more, written in different ways, to rewrite the script in your head that keeps you from advancing confidently in your relationship with God.

Simple Prayer

Here’s a prayer to help you as you open your life to God: “God, I am beginning to believe that I am connected to you and that you love me. Increase my capacity to receive more understanding of how much you love me, so that I will be rooted and grounded in your love for me. Open the eyes of my spirit so that I can comprehend what is the width, length, depth and height of the love of Christ which passes my knowledge. Fill me with all the fullness of who you really are. I trust you to reveal your love and connection to me in a big way. Amen.”

A Fresh Experience

I love to cook. Even more, I love it when a recipe turns out perfectly. Truthfully? When anything I do turns out better than I expected it to, I write it down, step by step, and save it. No matter what anyone suggests, I will do it exactly the same, every single time because in my mind, if I don’t deviate, it will always come out perfect.

This morning we sang a couple songs and in both songs the phrase, “Spirit of God fall fresh on us” hit my heart like a gong. The words literally stopped me from singing and I didn’t understand why. So, I started praying and I knew I was hearing from God, but it was different this time. Immediately, I thought about all the times that I had one those “goosebump” moments with God. Those moments have always seemed so perfect to me and this was different. It was a very matter-of-fact conversation between my spirit and the Holy Spirit.  And when I could feel myself getting frustrated that it was one of those perfect moments with Him, I felt Him comfort me saying, “If every moment we had together was the same, it would get boring.” This was a fresh moment I was having with God. But, because I am not perfect, I didn’t get very excited about the fresh moment… I kinda wanted the goosebumps. Then I realized this…

Last night I made an amazing salad full of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, and chicken. It was perfect. On the menu tonight was steak, sweet potatoes, and corn. If I had showed up with the fresh ingredients from last night, it would have been good, but it wouldn’t have made sense for tonight. I needed something different to have an equally amazing experience at dinner. And at the same time, something different, something fresh, in my experience with God today.

 

Second Sunday of Easter by JoAnn Huber

Second Sunday of Easter by Rev. JoAnn Huber
Acts 5: 12-16 Psalm 118: 2-24 Revelation 1:9-19 John 20:19-31
I love the readings in the Easter season leading us to Pentecost. They strongly
invite us to live out the teaching and modeling of Jesus love and mercy, and show
us too, how others attempted to do so. They also remind us of the basis of our
faith – Jesus lives!
Many signs and wonders were done by the apostles – the people esteemed
them but none dared to join them our first reading says. Many believed in the
power of Jesus after they saw the Apostles working miracles yet still could not
“give up’ their old confidence in the established religious authorities. Less risky to
stay put even though the witness of all who were being healed/cured was
wonderful. In James 1:22 it says,” Obey Gods message! Don’t fool yourselves by
just listening to it!
The author of Revelation finds himself on Patmos- a small island where
Romans sometimes kept prisoners. He was condemned for his faith and his
teaching. He sees and hears a vision rich in symbol. Verse 16 was left out of
today’s reading a part of which pictures “a doubled edged sword coming out of
his mouth”. This sword is the word of God that irresistibly penetrates the heart
and is then fulfilled in events. It deals death as effectively as it saves! If we want
fullness of life we must always die to something/lose something. A hard choice.
We can’t be lukewarm or risk free. God wants all of us and modeled for us what
that entails.
John is also using “I am” statements. I am the first and the last; I am the living
one. I died but now I am alive for evermore. Unspoken, yet there is again the
invitation, “Join me”!
In the Gospel the disciples were very afraid and in hiding behind locked doors.
Jesus enters and says “Peace be with you.” When they see his hands and side they
recognize him with rejoicing. Again Jesus says peace be with you and says “as I
have been sent so I send you”. He then breathes on them the gift of the Spirit.
“Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.” This message is for all the disciples – not
just the apostles – which is of course all of us as well On another visit Thomas,
called Didymas, which means twin, according to John, shows up after having
missed the first visit from Jesus. Jesus again says peace be with you and invites
Thomas to touch the wounds. Does not say that Thomas touched. Thomas saw
and responded, “My Lord and my God” – a statement of faith. In the Gospel of
Thomas, Thomas is said to be Jesus spiritual twin in that he saw that God’s light
was shared by all – in everyone open to receive. He saw Jesus and his heart was
opened for all. Some believe it was Thomas who then traveled to the east to
evangelize where he learned even more about non-duality.
People who strive for a deeper spiritual life often suffer from a depth of
awareness of the universal presence of sin or wrongdoing. There is grief over the
imperfection. Forgiveness is the greatest gift – it always involves mercy and love.
The capacity to forgive is the only power able to release the great tensions within
humankind. It does not easily conquer hearts, yet it is an invaluable secret
treasure. One who does not know how to forgive does not know how to love
deeply. Forgiveness is a way of showing a more authentic love. Words like
forgiveness, love and even mercy can sometimes seem like mere jargon words –
not practical at all in the culture in which we live where we are taught to fight
back, get even, and have a judicial system that does not restore life.
January 30 – Gandhi’s death day – began the season of non-violence. April 4
we end the season of non-violence, as it is the day MLK Jr was killed. With
today’s gospel it seems fitting to speak of forgiveness and the power Jesus has
given us to forgive, as we recall the great modeling that Gandhi and King and so
many others demonstrated.
During the Civil Rights movement one Sunday morning King was preaching at
his church the day after his people had been severely beaten up. They were in
bandages and casts, were bruised and saddened and angry and he said to them,
“The forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged,
the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some great injustice, the absorber
of some terrible act of oppression.” Can we even imagine the difficulty of
hearing that message? How about allowing yourself to be beaten up and not
physically fighting back? King went on to say that, “Forgiveness is a catalyst
creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.”
Another story I am fond of is one where a man took a daily bus ride and the bus
driver was consistently unfriendly, rude and offered his passengers only gruff
words and frowns. One rider was always friendly and encouraging toward the
driver. When asked how he could do that when met with such rudeness day after
day, the passenger responded. “I refuse to let this man dictate to me how I am
going to act.” This man made an act of the will, a decision, not to be led by
another’s negative behavior, nor to respond in kind but rather to act from a place
of freedom. A new beginning every time. NOT seeing the person who hurt you as
an enemy requires depth of understanding, great acceptance of self, and of the
other, and often a huge leap of faith! “Forgive them for they know not what they
do,” says Jesus.
The question is often not can I forgive, but, can I love enough, or how can I
show mercy? We are given deep responsibility to show mercy and love in our
forgiving actions. Who do we need to forgive? Who do we label enemy? From
where does our courage come? Forgivers are peacemakers and lovers and
followers in the footsteps of Jesus and Gandhi and King. We have good
teachers. Be not afraid. Christ lives!

How to Feed Your Holy Hunger in a Hurry

You have a busy life with a to-do list longer than a voicemail from your mom, and even going to church is just another thing you have to get done. And don’t get me wrong, you love it once you’re there, you’re always glad you went, but by Monday at 3pm all those good, spiritual feelings can be a distant memory. With everything you have to get done, with all the places you have go, how can you get your time in with God and feel spiritually connected throughout your week?

The trick is, being aware of our opportunities and jumping on them like a five-year old on a trampoline! Spiritual things are fast and fluid and in-our-face. But we can miss them if we don’t know what we’re looking for; every action of our lives can be one big prayer offering to God. The scriptures say that we are living, eating, and breathing epistles, living love letters written by God.

You might miss the most spiritual moments if you’re not counting that genuine smile you gave your co-worker, the mercy you extend your brother, that nice text in response to your mom’s voicemail, the dollar you gave at the corner, the full attention you gave that child, or the quick ball toss you played with Spot. These things are spiritual when done in love, and they count to God, so let them count to you and feed you spiritually.

Spiritual hunger pangs feel something like the following: you feel lacking and anxious, your brain is shuffling the same playlist of worries, simple problems keep you stumped, the opinion of others matter to you way too much, you want and need something but you can’t put your finger on it; get the picture?

You need to eat! Spiritually, that is, and here are a few suggestions besides the cool stuff you already do every day that you can count as spiritual!

  1. Listen to a good sermon on your phone while getting ready or while driving,
  2. Read a quick scripture from Colossians while your bread is toasting.
  3. Download praise music on your phone and sing in the shower.
  4. On a coffee break, offer a prayer of thanks to God.
  5. During the next break, tell Him you’re listening for His voice.
  6. Go for a short walk and smile on purpose.

God is doing life with you, so don’t be so hard on yourself and realize that your life’s moments can be turned into one big prayer offering to God. You gotta eat!

Fresh Inspiration

We have a unique opportunity during the first month of the year to ignite the power within us, using the fresh inspiration of the season, to realize more of who we are in Christ.

Adhering to God and His Word(s) becomes our launching pad, “…for without me you can do nothing. For those of you who adhere to me and my words take hold [become strong] in you, whatever you wish [are satisfied with] to ask for, you shall have” John 15:5b, 7 from the Aramaic.

Notice the phrase, “Whatever you…are satisfied with…you shall have.” It’s becoming clear to me, that much of what we receive from God, or experience as the over-arching theme of our story, is more determined by what we are willing to live with, rather than what God actually desires to manifest in our lives.

We watched God become himself in the life of Jesus on the earth; we beheld his glory (John 1). God expressed his nature, his intentions in Christ Jesus and gave us a beautiful example of how life could be. Jesus was the will of God in action.

Acts 10:38 tells us that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, and everywhere he went he did good things for people, and brought healing to all those who were oppressed by the devil. God isn’t oppressing us, God isn’t putting sickness on us; God is good to us, God is healing us, God is bringing forth his life in us.

Becoming familiar with the revelations in the Bible, adhering to God by the Holy Spirit, and keeping an internal dialogue of prayer going in our heart, are ways to keep our mind open to receiving the good things God has for us in Christ.

During this month of fresh inspiration, be encouraged that God is for you not against you (Romans 8:31), and if you have been satisfied, or settling, with less than God’s good intention for you, you can begin changing that today.

Starter prayer: Father, thank you for showing me your good will for me in the life of Jesus. I want the life you lived in him to live big in me this year. I believe you are good and have good intentions for me. Open my heart to your Word, and please show me what it looks like to adhere myself to you. Thank you for all that you’re doing in me, with me, through me and for me. Let my life glorify you in all my ways. Amen.

Hope In God

I heard a definition of bitterness last night that really struck me and it went something like this: we become bitter and disappointed when our focus is on how unfairly we feel we’ve been treated, and we forget God loves us and can turn the situation around for our good.

When we believe a situation is pitted against us that nothing is working in our favor and there is no solution that could possibly satisfy us, we can become bitter at God and at the people we feel have caused the trouble for us.

This is a hard mindset with which to live! It takes our focus off of God, our faithful, creative provider, and puts it on the unfair situation, or the way in which others have mistreated us. .

I found this scripture this morning, and the more I repeat it to myself the more hope it brings to me, Psalm 42:11, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why are you so upset deep down inside me? Put your hope in God. Once again I will have reason to praise him, my saving presence and my God.”

I love how this verse says, “Put your hope in God…for once again I will have reason to praise Him!”

We have two places in which we can put our hope, in God or in people. When it’s in people the potential for disappointment and bitterness increases. But when our hope is in God the potential for praise and thanksgiving increases!

Today let’s choose to lift our hearts to God, open our minds and put our hope in his ability to provide creative solutions to problems that we don’t know how to solve.

Meditation to get started: God, I know you love me. I know that you have answers and solutions that I have yet to consider. Forgive me for putting my hope in others and not in you. I am choosing now to release the bitterness and open my heart so that you can turn this situation around for the good of all involved. You get all the glory forever. Amen.  

Clear Lessons from a Muddy Creek

Growing up, we lived near a creek and I would sometimes spend hours playing there. Frequently, I’d come home with dirty socks or wet pant legs and occasionally a scraped knee thanks to the mossy rocks.

I loved to sit by the creek and watch the way it flowed, skipping over the small rocks, small ripples ever moving. From time to time, “stuff” would threaten the flow of the creek. A tree limb after a storm. Trash after a birthday party. A large rock from the middle school boys. The funny thing about the creek is, it didn’t let this stuff stop it from doing it’s job.

Maybe it slowed down, made a decision to go under, around, or even over the stuff. Maybe it spilled over the banks creating a new path for a short time. Sometimes, the strength inside the creek would actually move the stuff out of the way. A few times, I even helped the creek out by removing those obstacles. But no matter what, it never stopped and it never went back.

What’s your stuff today? What’s my stuff today? Do I go over or around it? Do I create a new path? Do I reach inside and find the strength to move it myself or do I let you help me move it? Let’s decide not to stop or retreat. Let’s keep going forward, no matter our stuff.