The Importance of Dad

The Importance of Dad

In the human family, it is the father who affirms us as male and female and as persons. It is the masculine voice we are listening for at puberty and thereafter, that time when we are separating our sexual and personal identities from that of our mothers. But when we’ve failed to get the needed affirmation, we can rest assured that there is available to us the healing needed … in the Presence of God the Father, when we learn to listen and obey Him, we are affirmed as real men, real women, real persons … God the Father, who has the Power of Being, heals and affirms us.

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Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Lenten Meditation:  a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother. (John 19:26)

Jesus has a special love for His own. As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face.

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WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

♥We are fa-mi-ly...my mother, brothers, sisters, and me!

OK, I did change the lyrics a bit...but that's who we Renners are, since our daddy went home to God more than 25 years ago.

And I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of it all...the oldest of 7 and the "Boss of the Mob" according to my mom :)

Most families are a mess today!  We're a mess too (aren't we all?!), but with one big difference.  A rarity, in fact!  We love and support one another...and we actually want to be together!  What an undeserved gift...and I certainly know it!

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Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

The parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God "Abba," meaning "Daddy." As we approach Fathers' Day (though this is for moms & others also), let's take a break from the blog-type format.  Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures.  You may like this study for your own devotions or as a small group.

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Lenten Meditation: Eulogize your living loved one

eulogy  noun, plural eulogies.1. a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honor of a deceased person. 2. high praise or commendation.

In our week's Lenten meditation, we focus on the Lord's care for His dear mom as His own death approaches.  How tender, how like a beloved son of a beloved mom! Caring for our treasured loved ones is at the heart of "family" in the purest sense of the word.

However, we often forget that true caring can be much deeper and more needed than merely physical care, as critical as that is.  There's a caring that touches heart and soul...one that meeting physical needs approaches, but a caring that perhaps only loving words can reach.

We busily go through our lives, often thinking many kind thoughts and feeling loving, appreciative sentiments for our loved ones, but not stopping to put words and voice to them...nourishing the soul of ones we love.

Rather what do we traditionally do?  We wait until the person has passed away to express those words, words that deep down she may have been longing to hear.    We give those golden words to others in the form of a eulogy, either formally or informally delivered, at a funeral or memorial service.

I've been thinking a lot about death these days, especially since my dear mom has gone to her reward with Jesus in heaven just last November.  About eight years ago, several of my siblings had the wonderful brain-child to celebrate my mom's 85th birthday with a big party/reunion.  This was a huge deal with music, singing, readings and fun!

As part of that, many of us wrote, in a sense, our eulogies to her, and my son Jeremy compiled them in a book with photos.  And as wonderful as the entire occasion was, the most important thing was that little volume of golden words.

I'm not sure my mom was able to take it all that day. But I do know something was received...she was honored with words of love, affection, and affirmation.  And she looked through that book while she was in the Manor House Senior Center, and who knows but many memories kicked in when she viewed not just words but also  photos of loved ones.

So dear friends, don't wait too long!  Don't even wait till 85...life is a vapor!

I really believe that a big part of our grief over the loss of a loved one is really regret (which can eat us alive!).  Seize the opportunity to just simply say the beautiful, wonderful things you think and feel, even right then and there in the moment. You don't need a big bash to do it! Don't assume the person knows how you feel!We are all insecure enough to NOT KNOW!

You will be glad you did...but most of all, your loved one will be "cared for" in the depths of her soul!

For His honor and glory! Amen!

To see my "eulogy" for my mom's 85, click here.

Take a look at the one another verses.

Lenten Meditation: Eulogize your living loved one

eulogy  noun, plural eulogies.1. a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially a set oration in honor of a deceased person. 2. high praise or commendation.

In our week's Lenten meditation, we focus on the Lord's care for His dear mom as His own death approaches.  How tender, how like a beloved son of a beloved mom! Caring for our treasured loved ones is at the heart of "family" in the purest sense of the word.

However, we often forget that true caring can be much deeper and more needed than merely physical care, as critical as that is.  There's a caring that touches heart and soul...one that meeting physical needs approaches, but a caring that perhaps only loving words can reach.

We busily go through our lives, often thinking many kind thoughts and feeling loving, appreciative sentiments for our loved ones, but not stopping to put words and voice to them...nourishing the soul of ones we love.

Rather what do we traditionally do?  We wait until the person has passed away to express those words, words that deep down she may have been longing to hear.    We give those golden words to others in the form of a eulogy, either formally or informally delivered, at a funeral or memorial service.

I've been thinking a lot about death these days, especially since my dear mom has taken some major steps in that direction.  About six years ago, several of my siblings had the wonderful brain-child to celebrate my mom's 85th birthday with a big party/reunion.  This was a huge deal with music, singing, readings and fun!

As part of that, many of us wrote, in a sense, our eulogies to her, and my son Jeremy compiled them in a book with photos.  And as wonderful as the entire occasion was, the most important thing was that little volume of golden words.

I'm not sure my mom was able to take it all that day...and maybe will never be able to take it in until Jesus says, "Well done, my faithful daughter, Jeanette!"  But I do know something was received...she was honored with words of love, affection, and affirmation.  And she can look through that book today, and who knows but memories may click in!

So dear friends, don't wait too long!  Don't even wait till 85...life is a vapor!

I really believe that a big part of our grief over the loss of a love one is really regret (which can eat us alive!).  Seize the opportunity to just simply say the beautiful, wonderful things you think and feel, even right then and there in the moment. You don't need a big bash to do it! Don't assume the person knows how you feel!

You will be glad you did...but most of all, your loved one will be "cared for" in the depths of her soul!

For His honor and glory! Amen!

To see my "eulogy" for my mom's 85, click here.

Take a look at the one another verses.

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother.  John 19:26 Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face. Calvin Miller describes the scene well:

Beneath the tree stood the grieving mother of the heretic.  She was a woman whose face was rimmed by little wisps of silver hair that protruded defiantly from under her mantle; occasionally she trembled with uncontrollable spasms of despair.  Before the tree a young fisherman gazed in blurred glances at his dying friend; his broad arm cradled the head of the convict's mother.  But he was unable to console her.  The man on the cross was her son... Miller, Once Upon a Tree

This was her little boy...her precious son that she nursed and rocked and raised to be a man to fulfill God's plan.  Yes, she had warning of suffering ahead...remember Simeon's prophecy when the baby was presented in the Temple?

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword [romphia] will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34 NLT

Little did Mary know all this sword would entail.  According to Miller, romphia (Greek) was a huge Persian sword that literally skewers its victims in pain.   Jesus Himself knew all this and yet submitted to the Father's plan.

But now He would care for His suffering mama by entrusting her to the man He knew would care for her as his own.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 NLT

Years later the apostle Paul would write to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:

Michelangelo's Pieta

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

But this begs the question...where were Jesus' brothers?  Surely, this first-born Son could have entrusted His mother to one of his brothers, James or Jude, or perhaps another close relative.

There was obviously something more going on here...something that includes you and me.

Perhaps a year or so before...

...as Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

So by entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple and friend, Jesus was "creating a new family based not on kinship to one another [blood relationship] but solely through their relationship to him."*  Although his brothers were related by blood, they had not yet become related in the Spirit through faith in Him, God's Son and Savior of the world.

And that brings us back to us believers...those of us who are related to Him by faith.  We are His family...children of the same Father:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus the God-Man is our Brother, and we are his brothers and sisters:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers … For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. Hebrews 2:10, 11, 17

And Jesus cares for His own with a special love and care:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested...So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:16 NLT

We also belong to one another...brothers and sisters in our Father's and Brother's family.

On the night before He died, Jesus gave us the new commandment, Love one another as I have loved you...

Why? because then the world will know you are my disciples. Why?  because the world will hate you. Why? because in this world you will have trouble.

So we will need each other!

Love each other with brotherly affection, and delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.  Gal 6:10

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Bible Students:

Go back to the night before Jesus died (John 13-17). Mark every time that Jesus says love with a red heart. Who is loving whom? Now do this for the epistle of First John. Did you notice that LOVE is John's emphasis? No wonder...He's the disciple Jesus loved.

You may also like this post:  "Love's Abiding Harvest"

The New Testament is filled with "_________________ one another verses." Click here and read through all of them, including the Scriptures. Which ones jump out to you and why? Is God telling you to do something about it...attitude or action-wise?

You may also like this post:"It Takes a Village..."

Activity:

In the center of a piece of paper, write your name.  Around your name, write the names of all the other persons that you consider part of your family.  Those closest to you might be written close to your name, those further away may be written a greater distance from your name. *

Now do the same with your "spiritual family"...fellow believers in your life, whether in your church body, Bible study, family, neighbors, etc.

Then answer the closing questions above...

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

The Surprise of Suffering

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through,as if something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12 NLT

Well, surprised is an understatement when it comes to what we all experienced in our family when our then 20 year old son was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  Our Jeremy had always been athletic, healthy, happy, strong! How could this be happening to him? ...to us?

And as every mom, I began the usual Examining of the Mom Conscience:

How did I not protect him from this? I've been doing more than most in keeping our environment clean of toxic chemicals.

I should have been more perfect with our food.

Have I delved too deeply into alternative medicine?  Punishment?

And on and on...ad infinitum, ad nauseum... To the point of agony.

Then the precious words of our Lord,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT

In Him, peace...on earth, trials and sorrows.

So the question is not Why me, why my son? but rather why NOT me, why not my son?

Over the succeeding months, as we walked out that terrible/glorious year, the Lord reminded me of what He had said through the apostle Paul,

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters... Romans 8:18-27 NLT

Did you notice all the groanings?  That's right, all creation, we believers (actually all humans also), and hold on...the HOLY SPIRIT...Eternal God, indwelling us, praying for us and in us according to the will of God...deep, deep! Oh glory!  What comfort!  Why?

Our situation is not a surprise to our indwelling God.  In fact, the Son of God entered our groaning world and became a Groaning One along with us, so...

Our suffering is not a surprise to HIM...listen to His groaning the night before He died:

While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity... he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him. Hebrews 5:7-10 MSG

And so no matter what we are going through, our Jesus, through His indwelling Spirit, groans it out with us.  And because He is God Almighty, He can take hold of us (Hebrews 2:16) when we run to Him in our darkness of darkness.  He's been through it all:

Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help [run to the cry of] us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:17-18 NLT

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPXapfFfesA']

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To read about Jeremy, 15 years cancer free in 2013 by the grace of God, click here.

Living as Abba's Child: "darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!” I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

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Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

 

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother.  John 19:26 Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face. Calvin Miller describes the scene well:

Beneath the tree stood the grieving mother of the heretic.  She was a woman whose face was rimmed by little wisps of silver hair that protruded defiantly from under her mantle; occasionally she trembled with uncontrollable spasms of despair.  Before the tree a young fisherman gazed in blurred glances at his dying friend; his broad arm cradled the head of the convict's mother.  But he was unable to console her.  The man on the cross was her son... Miller, Once Upon a Tree

This was her little boy...her precious son that she nursed and rocked and raised to be a man to fulfill God's plan.  Yes, she had warning of suffering ahead...remember Simeon's prophecy when the baby was presented in the Temple?

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34 NLT

Little did Mary know all this sword would entail.  According to Miller, romphia (Greek) was a huge Persian sword that literally skewers its victims in pain.   Jesus Himself knew all this and yet submitted to the Father's plan.

But now He would care for His suffering mama by entrusting her to the man He knew would care for her as his own.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 NLT

Years later the apostle Paul would write to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:

Michelangelo's Pieta

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

But this begs the question...where were Jesus' brothers?  Surely, this first-born Son could have entrusted His mother to one of his brothers, James or Jude, or perhaps another close relative.

There was obviously something more going on here...something that includes you and me.

Perhaps a year or so before...

...as Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

So by entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple and friend, Jesus was "creating a new family based not on kinship to one another [blood relationship] but solely through their relationship to him."*  Although his brothers were related by blood, they had not yet become related in the Spirit through faith in Him, God's Son and Savior of the world.

And that brings us back to us believers...those of us who are related to Him by faith.  We are His family...children of the same Father:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus the God-Man is our Brother, and we are his brothers and sisters:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers … For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. Hebrews 2:10, 11, 17

And Jesus cares for His own with a special love and care:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested...So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:16 NLT

We also belong to one another...brothers and sisters in our Father's and Brother's family.

On the night before He died, Jesus gave us the new commandment, Love one another as I have loved you...

Why? because then the world will know you are my disciples. Why?  because the world will hate you. Why? because in this world you will have trouble.

So we will need each other!

Love each other with brotherly affection, and delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.  Gal 6:10

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bible Students:

Go back to the night before Jesus died (John 13-17). Mark every time that Jesus says love with a red heart. Who is loving whom? Now do this for the epistle of First John. Did you notice that LOVE is John's emphasis? No wonder...He's the disciple Jesus loved.

You may also like this post:  "Love's Abiding Harvest"

The New Testament is filled with "_________________ one another verses." Click here and read through all of them, including the Scriptures. Which ones jump out to you and why? Is God telling you to do something about it...attitude or action-wise?

You may also like this post:"It Takes a Village..."

Activity:

In the center of a piece of paper, write your name.  Around your name, write the names of all the other persons that you consider part of your family.  Those closest to you might be written close to your name, those further away may be written a greater distance from your name. *

Now do the same with your "spiritual family"...fellow believers in your life, whether in your church body, Bible study, family, neighbors, etc.

Then answer the closing questions above...

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

♥We are fa-mi-ly...my mother, brothers, sisters, and me!

OK, I did change the lyrics a bit...but that's who we Renners are, since our daddy went home to God more than 25 years ago.

And I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of it all...the oldest of 7 and the "Boss of the Mob" according to my mom :)

Most families are a mess today!  We're a mess too (aren't we all?!), but with one big difference.  A rarity, in fact!  We love and support one another...and we actually want to be together!  What an undeserved gift...and I certainly know it!

Read More

This "branch" is basking on a beach!

Taking a break...I'm on the way to the beach...in New Jersey. Yes, I'm a Jersey Girl and revisiting my roots with extended family "down the shore."

I'm resting in my Vine...

practicing what I preach...

trusting Him to restore my soul as I abide in HIM...

and refresh my body as I walk on the beach, drinking my Dunkin' Donuts coffee,

talkin' to HIM and meditating on His Word...

so I can hear His voice and keep on followin' HIM!

Thank you, Lord, for family and the Jersey shore!

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Life as a Branch Perhaps one of the most profound things I am learning about abiding is that it never takes you out of the moment you are in! …Abiding is not primarily about cloister and quiet. The invitation to abide is the invitation to draw spiritual sustenance directly from its Supernatural Source amid the dailiness of life!  [even on vacation!] …If we abide, fruit happens! We do our part, but there is a life that flows up through the roots and branches that is beyond our ability to understand or produce! Abiding is and always will be a moment by moment thing. [even on vacation!]

Discipleship Journal via Kathy Godwin (thank you, Kathy!)

I'll see you in a couple of weeks...blessings!

While I'm gone, I invite you to click on topics of interest on the Cloud (a.k.a. "Tags," archives)  to the right in green :)

PS Photos from our family reunion:

August 4, 2012

 

 

Living as Abba’s Child: “darling little children"

Years ago, when a friend had lost her last remaining parent, she said to me, “Now I feel like an orphan!”

I’ve thought about her statement over the years and come to realize that we believers usually live like spiritual orphans.  We live as if we don’t have a Father Who tenderly loves and cares for us.  We live as orphans in a scary world.  But His heart is that we would live as His children in union with Him in His Son.

In his first epistle, the apostle John, by then an elder father of the faith, appeals to his readers (and to us) as “little children”.  The Greek word used has the idea of “my darling little children” or “honey” (“Hon’” as I call my little grandsons).  The word is in the diminutive form and so conveys great affection.

Spend some time exploring the seven verses in 1 John where he uses this sweet, affectionate word…keeping in mind that God our Father is speaking these words to you, His darling daughter or His precious son.

What is He saying to you? (Don’t forget to check the context, the surrounding verses, to get the whole message.)

1.  1John 2:1

2.  1John 2:12

3.  1John 2:28

4.  1John 3:7

5.  1John 3:18

6.  1John 4:4

7.  1John 5:21

Now that you’ve listed the Father’s encouragements and exhortations, pray over how they affect you and your relationship with your Abba Father, with His other children, with God’s enemy, and with the world.

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Now look again at the second chapter.  In that chapter, the apostle John has special instructions to “little children” at varying stages of spiritual growth.

So within the context of being the Father’s darlings (and complete in Christ, Col 2:9-10) comes the realization that on the human, earthly level, we are at different stages in our walk with the Lord.  John pictures it as different stages of human growth:  babies, young men (teenagers), father (or mothers).  Keep in mind, though, that these are not chronological ages, but rather spiritual stages, no matter the chronological age.

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM] I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children. [different Gk word, “a baby, infant”] because you know the Father [“Abba”].

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. [Jehovah = I AM]. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:13-14

List the characteristic(s) of each stage of growth from these verses:

1.   babes, infants =

2.   young men =

3.   fathers =

While we are on this earth, there will be pitfalls and dangers at every stage of growth.  Read through 1 John again, making note of exhortations that could be particularly helpful to “little children” at each stage of spiritual growth.

1.    Baby Christians

2.    Maturing young Christians:

3.    Fathers/mothers in the faith:

Meditate on this central thought of 1 John.  Thank the Father for loving you and choosing you to be in His family.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

If you are studying with a group:

1.    What characteristic of a child do you feel you particularly need?  Why?

2.    Read each of the 7 exhortations to the “little children” in 1 John.  Discuss any that jump out at you.

3.    Which stage of spiritual growth do you think you are in?  Does it still help to know that you are a “little honey” to your Abba?

4.    Are there any pitfalls or struggles in your life that you would like to share with your sisters/brothers for prayer? Any exhortations from 1 John that match these?

Pray for each person immediately after sharing.  Invite the Lord into the area of concern.

[First posted May 12, 2011]

Lenten Meditation: a Word of Family Affection*

Dear woman, behold your son...behold your mother.  John 19:26 Jesus has a special love for His own.

As we've already seen with His forgiving and saving attitude in the midst of excruciating agony, His concern was not with His own suffering.  Rather His attention was next drawn to His precious loved ones at the foot of His cross, His mother and His beloved disciple John.

What agony Jesus must have seen on Mary's face. Calvin Miller describes the scene well:

Beneath the tree stood the grieving mother of the heretic.  She was a woman whose face was rimmed by little wisps of silver hair that protruded defiantly from under her mantle; occasionally she trembled with uncontrollable spasms of despair.  Before the tree a young fisherman gazed in blurred glances at his dying friend; his broad arm cradled the head of the convict's mother.  But he was unable to console her.  The man on the cross was her son... Miller, Once Upon a Tree

This was her little boy...her precious son that she nursed and rocked and raised to be a man to fulfill God's plan.  Yes, she had warning of suffering ahead...remember Simeon's prophecy when the baby was presented in the Temple?

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul. Luke 2:34 NLT

Little did Mary know all this sword would entail.  According to Miller, romphia (Greek) was a huge Persian sword that literally skewers its victims in pain.   Jesus Himself knew all this and yet submitted to the Father's plan.

But now He would care for His suffering mama by entrusting her to the man He knew would care for her as his own.

When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:26-27 NLT

Years later the apostle Paul would write to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith:

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8

But this begs the question...where were Jesus' brothers?  Surely, this first-born Son could have entrusted His mother to one of his brothers, James or Jude, or perhaps another close relative.

There was obviously something more going on here...something that includes you and me.

Perhaps a year or so before...

...as Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.” Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

So by entrusting His mother to His beloved disciple and friend, Jesus was "creating a new family based not on kinship to one another [blood relationship] but solely through their relationship to him."*  Although his brothers were related by blood, they had not yet become related in the Spirit through faith in Him, God's Son and Savior of the world.

And that brings us back to us believers...those of us who are related to Him by faith.  We are His family...children of the same Father:

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Jesus the God-Man is our Brother, and we are his brothers and sisters:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers … For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest. Hebrews 2:10, 11, 17

And Jesus cares for His own with a special love and care:

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested...So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 2:18; 4:16 NLT

We also belong to one another...brothers and sisters in our Father's and Brother's family.

On the night before He died, Jesus gave us the new commandment, Love one another as I have loved you...

Why? because then the world will know you are my disciples. Why?  because the world will hate you. Why? because in this world you will have trouble.

So we will need each other!

Love each other with brotherly affection, and delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone--especially to those in the family of faith.  Gal 6:10

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Bible Students:

Go back to the night before Jesus died (John 13-17). Mark every time that Jesus says love with a red heart. Who is loving whom? Now do this for the epistle of First John. Did you notice that LOVE is John's emphasis? No wonder...He's the disciple Jesus loved.

You may also like this post:  "Love's Abiding Harvest"

The New Testament is filled with "_________________ one another verses." Click here and read through all of them, including the Scriptures. Which ones jump out to you and why? Is God telling you to do something about it...attitude or action-wise?

You may also like this post: "It Takes a Village..."

Activity:

In the center of a piece of paper, write your name.  Around your name, write the names of all the other persons that you consider part of your family.  Those closest to you might be written close to your name, those further away may be written a greater distance from your name. *

Now do the same with your "spiritual family"...fellow believers in your life, whether in your church body, Bible study, family, neighbors, etc.

Then answer the closing questions above...

Dear brothers and sisters, ...who is it in your human family that needs your affection and attention? ...who is it in the family of God that needs your brotherly (Or sisterly) affection and attention?

*Thanks to friends at Abiding Christ Church for sharing these thoughts.

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

the grandboys dec 2010

the grandboys dec 2010

Let brotherly love continue... Hebrews 13:1

I have four grandsons.  They are the darling-est little guys!  I learn so much from them -- about fun, love, life, human nature, and language development (I'm an English teacher).  Above all, through them I learn about our Heavenly Father and how He relates to us His children in the family of God.

Kaden & Eli Oct 2011

Kaden & Eli Oct 2011

Now these little guys come in two's, two sets of brothers.

Evan Carter Oct 2011

Evan Carter Oct 2011

I've told stories about them in various blogs.  This time I'd like to tell two stories about one set of the brothers (Evan and Carter) -- stories that encourage me in my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

"The Interpreter" -- Understanding Each Other

One day, I was driving Evan and Carter home after spending time with them at my house.

Carter says from his car seat in the back, "Babci (my Polish grandma name), where we goin?"

Me:  "I'm taking you home, hon'."

Carter:  "I don't wanna go home!"

Me:  "Daddy will be home soon!"

Carter:  "Daddy?  I wuv him!"

angry birds in disguise

angry birds in disguise

Carter (again):  "I wanna go animal wode!"

Me:  "Animal Road?"

Carter:  "No! animal wode!"

I repeat:  "Animal Road?"  Then back and forth a couple of times.

Finally Carter is in tears...so I turn to the family interpreter, Evan.

Me:  "Evan, what is Carter saying?"

Evan: "He means 'Shade Wode'."

Me:  "Shade Road?"

Evan: "NO! Shade Wode!"

I repeat:  "Shade Road?"  Now Evan is in tears, which is very unlike him.  So I figured I just threw him over the edge!

Me:  "Evan, hon', use different words, like you usually do, to explain what Carter is saying."  This is the amazing thing Evan has done for a long time.  He rarely gets frustrated if I don't understand what he is saying.  He patiently uses synonyms. Amazing!

Evan:  "You know, it's by the Nike store far away."

Me: "I still don't know...Animal wode?  Shade wode?  What is 'wode'?"

Evan:  "You know, Babci, 'He's got the whole wode in His Hands'!"

I laughed and then cried!  Here the first thing sweet little 4 year old Evan thought of to explain the word "world"  was a song he had learned about his Creator God.

Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies, you have prepared praise.
Matthew 21:16

By the way, the place Carter wanted to go to was "Traders World,” a huge, crazy flea market with the statues of animals on the roof...thus "Animal Wode"

"The Evangelist" -- Caring for Each Other

About a week ago, the boys were at my house.  I had saved them a cool ad from a party store, showing every costume imaginable and desirable to a 3 & 4 year old.  But I couldn't find it.  So Evan, Carter, and Babci proceeded to search every room to see where I had put it -- to no avail!  Finally as a last resort...I prayed!  "Jesus, please find the ad!"

Carter:  "Babci, Jesus isn't here!"

Me:  " Oh, hon', He is!  That's the beautiful thing...Jesus is everywhere."

Evan steps in:  "Carter,  you know where ELSE he is?"  Evan very dramatically points to inside his little chest! "You need to get him in YOU.  You need to pray!"

Then to me, Evan says:  "Carter doesn't have Him!"

So I pick up Carter and put him on my lap, thinking this is the time to start explaining the gospel to little Carter.  Maybe little C is ready to "pray the sinner's prayer."

I begin telling him that inside his body is his real person, his heart.   He can ask Jesus to forgive his sins and come into His heart.

Carter, "Inside my belly [pointing]?  Inside my bottom [pointing again with a giggle]?

I figure by this time, things are deteriorating. 

So I turn to Evan, "I don't think Carter is ready yet...we need to pray for him !"

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4

By the way, we did find the ad.  Carter said to me, "In your purse, Babci?"  Sure enough!

The parents of both of these sets of brothers desire that these little guys grow up to be "best buds." And they seem to be well on their way!  But that doesn't always seem to be happening when kids are growing up!

Trust me, I know!  I'm the oldest of 7 and always wished I were an only child...like the time, my youngest sister Nancy threatened to run away from home, and I was helping her pack!  But today each of us would DIE for the other...truly!  Why?  Because we belong to each other...we are in the same blood line, the same family!

And isn't that our Abba Father's desire for us His children...that we would be devoted to one another ("best buds," so to speak), no matter how much we disagree and even dislike each other?  We are in the same blood line, the same family!

The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn't love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don't go together. This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves! 1John 3:14-16 MESSAGE

We have a connection with each other that can't be broken, whether we like it or not!  It's a connection as deep as union with each other in the Triune God!  Just as in a human family, the primary connection a child has is with the parents (and thus with each other), so too in the family of God.  Listen to how Jesus prayed the night before He died:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that THEY also may be IN US, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20-23

As I've been meditating on my union with Christ and my brothers and sisters, I've revisited what are called the One another verses.  Maybe you would like to join me in revisiting them, or perhaps visiting them for the first time.  Then if you care to, pray with me:

Father, empower me through the indwelling Christ, Your Perfect Son, to love my brothers and sisters.  Love them through me.  Understand them through me.  Care about their spiritual, emotional, physical welfare through me, O God.  In Christ's Loving Name.  Amen!

John 13:14

"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

John 13:34

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:35 " By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17 "This I command you, that you love one another.

Acts 7:26 " On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, 'Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?'

Acts 15:39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Romans 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 14:5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.

Romans 14:19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

Romans 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.

Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

1 Corinthians 6:7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?

1 Corinthians 7:5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 11:33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Galatians 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Ephesians 5:21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing oneanother with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1 Thessalonians 4:18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.

Hebrews 3:13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

James 4:11 Do not speak against one another, brethren He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.

James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

1 John 3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

2 John 1:5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.