A Father’s Heart

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By Tom Chase

There have been many things this past year in life that have helped me get a better idea of God’s relationship to us as fallen beings. God reveals himself to us as a Father, all to give us a better idea of who He is. (I know that this metaphor gives many individuals problems due to failed relationship and connectedness with their own fathers.) Yet Scripture is clear about His “Fathership.” He loves us very much.

He loves me!

He loves you!

We take this by faith, but we also have His actions toward us as seen in history, as recorded in the Bible, and over time within our own lives.

I have seen the belligerent attitude that comes from children who are headstrong, defiant, unwilling to do what has been asked . . . oh, how it make a father’s heart sad. If the child wins in this, then the child loses. So discipline is needed, required, and necessary for a change in heart. I really don’t want to write about discipline today, but I am compelled. The Bible tells us,

“The Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes everyone he accepts as his child.” Hebrews 12:6b (CEV)

and

“For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:12 (NLT)

Can you hear His heart for us in the following phrases?

“those He loves”

“in whom He delights”

“accepts as His child”

As I sat with my back to a little one in time out who was raging belligerently, full of anger and defiance, a few thoughts came to me. We had been here before; the little one knows how to resolve this, knows what the right response is, but, at this moment, just does not want to do it. I am present but cannot give validation to the misbehavior and heart attitude. So I sit and ignore and wait and long for repentance. At the end of this prolonged time, there is an attitude change. The sound of the cries change. The anger is gone. What this dad has been waiting for has happened: there is a change in heart. Through a small, crying voice, I hear, “Daddy?” “Yes little one,” is my reply. An explanation of why we ended up here occurs, the call to do what is right remains, and the joy of this dad is realized in a full embrace, hugs, and restoration. *Sigh* 🙂 I think, oh, I wish we wouldn’t have to go through the discipline thing in the first place.

It was in the middle of the raging defiance and prolonged waiting when I began thinking about God and us!

When we are raging or frustrated with all that is going on, and we wonder where God is, He is there and He is present! While not all hardship is discipline from the Lord, if you’re feeling alone, this could simply be a chance to check your heart. He may be waiting patiently for us to respond with a small cry, “Daddy, help?”

But if we confess our sins to him,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9 (NLT)

We confess. He forgives . . . *sigh* 🙂 Wow!

God disciplines us, just like our earthly fathers are supposed to. Even though I am fallen and I don’t always get this fathering thing right, I think a dim reflection of God’s heart for us can be seen in this. He does love us. He wants what is best for us.

My prayer for me and you as we begin this new year is that we might find our hearts changed and be found in the embrace of the Father who loves us!

Let’s walk together with Him!

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Starting Point to the Kingdom

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By Beau Leaman

Jesus starts the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit” (Matthew 5:3). I believe all Scripture to be intentional, persuasive, and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). It is for this reason that Jesus intentionally started the Sermon on the Mount with this key phrase, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” What exactly does this phrase mean? Does it mean the Spirit of God inside us must be poor? Is it talking about our own spirit? Does it refer to our personal happy barometer in how we’re feeling? Does it refer to our hope and endurance? Does it mean that those feeling thankful in the moment are blessed? I believe in order for us to ask the question we have to understand two points. These points are both fundamental and foundational if we’re to ask the question, “What exactly does this phrase mean?” Let’s begin discussion.

The first of two points we must ask ourselves in answering this question has to do with the awareness of our depravity. As fallen creatures, we often stumble around keeping clear of the “major sins” of today’s evangelical Christianity. For some of us (depending on where you’re at), I think it’s easy to get caught in the feel-good bubble because we have not committed adultery, engaged in drunkenness, or are in a homosexual lifestyle. We often replace these “major sins” with “respectable sins.” Examples would include: gossip, gluttony, outbursts of anger, lust, slander, etc. Later, in Matthew 5:8, He continues with saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” God calls us to purity and holiness and the more we are pure and holy, the more we shall see God. Our depravity fits perfectly with this analogy. The more we realize what separates us from God, the greater the realization of our depravity. Oswald Chambers says, “The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, ‘Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.’ … The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Chris accomplishes His work.” This leads to the second point.

In Matthew 4:17 it says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus starts his initial preaching with a call to repentance and starts the Sermon on the Mount with a call to realize our need for God’s help. What a point to be made! Repentance is the natural follow-up once we realize the proper place He holds in our life. This repentance cries from a genuine heart of poverty and genuine trust that He will and has the power to forgive us. This forgiveness frees us to do His work without any footholds restraining us to doing His work.

May God grant us the wisdom to realize and acknowledge those areas of our life we’ve held back from having a genuine and heartfelt relationship with Him. May God grant us the power to talk with Him no matter how big or small the circumstance may be. May God open our eyes so our faith and trust in Him would increase all the more for His Kingdom’s sake.

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High above Mossyrock

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by Gordy McCoy

Are you experiencing cabin fever? Do you feel the need for a road trip, despite the rising costs at the gas pumps? How about a walk in the woods that is good for your soul? Linda and I found a wonderful walk that we will never forget.

This is not an easy walk and by this I mean, it was challenging. It was challenging for a few reasons. First of all, I was recovering from my last knee and foot surgery. And then there is our short little dog, Brody, that made the trek with us. He was recovering from several surgeries from a life threatening, pit bull attack. And then there’s Linda, who was having shortness of breath from some health issues. So here we are…an unlikely trio for a walk up a hill. But we had a focus and a purpose.

The focus was what is at the top of the hill, a beautiful white cross, towering above the Mossyrock community, a symbol of love and forgiveness. We spotted it when we were traveling on highway 12 heading for Mossyrock, and we were drawn to it. We found the road that led to the base of the trail that went to the cross. We found a little Catholic mission and we went in, and although we are not Catholic, we were intrigued by the reason the cross was put there.

As this adventure progressed, we were convinced He had a reason for us to “go to the cross.” So off we went. It turned out to be a very warm day and this actually made the trek harder on us, but necessary, for Him to get His message deep into our hearts. The journey to the Cross was much harder for Him, not because of weakness, but because of the strength of His purpose. Our journey up this hill has stations where we could rest and think about His journey to the Cross. Our journey had switchbacks for us to regain strength, but there was no turning back for Him. He had a focus. We had a desire to see the cross up close, He knew what was waiting for Him on the Cross. We kept thinking how hard this journey was for Him and it added new meaning to Him dying on the Cross for us and also because of our sin. The whole time we were going up this trail we never once got even a small glimpse of the cross. We got tired, and thirsty, but we knew we had to keep going. We knew it would be worth the climb.

It wasn’t until we got to the very top …and there it was. It was so beautiful, the symbol of our salvation. We prayed and praised Him as we looked up at this pure white cross. And then, we turned around and looked at the valley below, it was an amazing mountaintop experience.

In reality and symbolically, on this journey, He has brought us so far and set our feet on the mountaintop. He wants us to realize how far He has brought us and what He has brought us thru, over our almost 42 years together. We felt invigorated and victorious, He had brought us here. He wanted us to persevere and then experience the view, the cross and His creation. We felt His love, His peace and we were so filled with encouragement. We did it! Together … with Him leading us. As we walked down the hill we kept thinking how blessed we are. So thankful for Him and His faithfulness. For His protection and healing. For His presence.

Here are a few facts about this Crosswalk we went on. The cross weighs 47,000 pounds. Yes, that’s right. It’s made from white concrete so it is white inside and out. Pure white. The cross is lit up at night …so beautiful …so visible. The trail leading up to the cross is well maintained with benches along the way to rest, and be still and know that He is God. You will find as you make this journey, a build up of emotion that overflows when you reach the top.

The cross, being a symbol of forgiveness is made up of a series of sevens. The foundation of the cross is seven feet deep and seven feet square. There are seven steps that lead to the platform and the support column is seven feet high and seven feet square, on top of which stands the cross, that from that point is 70 times seven inches, or approximately 60 feet.

Easter this year will be different for us as we take another look at THE CROSS and what it means to us. We need to realize how hard it was but He knew it would be worth it …for us. So if you get a chance to go to Mossyrock, make the journey to the top of the hill …the view is so worth it!!!

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