All my inmost being

I know this blog is really about discovering what it means to really love my wife, but somehow I am stuck in what it means to really love God. My hope is that one flows out of the other, as I understand that His love is pretty much the model that I am working from…

So, flash back about 20 years, BBC2, Friday evenings – The Fast Show

This week I have been mostly reading the Hallel Psalms
(And the few before them)

“Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

What does that mean? All that is within me?

Is that something we just sing/say/pray? Does all that is within me truly bless the Lord? Does every breath I take go towards Him as worship? Every action? Every thought?

What kind of a God is even worthy of that level of worship?

If I extrapolate this to my marriage – could I be the kind of husband that invokes something even close to that level of response from my wife?

If I truly believe that every action of God speaks of his incredible, covenant-keeping, faithful, steadfast, death-defying, life-creating, awe-inspiring, forgiving, merciful, compassionate, righteous, just, honourable, glorious, awesome love – even in his justice & discipline, then can I capture even a fraction of this in the way I treat S.?

Can I aim to pour out and show love to her with every action I take? Can I seek to serve her daily? To be slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love?

To ensure that she knows that she is truly loved from the “depth of her being”, so that “all that is within her” has to acknowledge that love, just like David did? And if my love is only a picture of God’s love (however limited a picture that may be, of course), could I seek to love my wife in a way that leads her to praise her heavenly father even more, as she catches glimpses of His love in mine?

May be a bold prayer – but nothing like going large!

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him
Psalm 103

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
he has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever
Psalm 111

When things don’t go ‘my’ way…

So my day’s not gone great. Things haven’t gone the way I wanted. In the natural I’m pretty discouraged, to say the least. But I have been reminded of this:

There is nothing He doesn’t have access to, hasn’t seen or hasn’t planned in advance.

Can we trust that He is in control? Can we choose to believe that His plans aren’t just ‘good’ – they are the best!

Despite the way it feels, Today, we haven’t actually experienced a ‘setback’ in any way, shape or form – rather, we have watched the unfolding of God’s AWESOME will in our life!

But can we state this, shout this, sing this and pray this? Despite what we think, what we had planned or how we had understood our ‘needs’ to be?

How many times have I told my kids ‘not now’ when they want something now that I’ve planned for them to receive later?

Why? Because I know my plans for them are good! (Usually) I know that if they receive what they want now they won’t enjoy it as much, or they won’t be ready for it, or it’ll get broken, or [insert any other excruciatingly annoying but true dad-like reasoning here]

How much joy would I feel if in response to my ‘not now’, I heard this: ‘OK. I don’t get it, that’s disappointing, but I trust you and I choose to enjoy myself anyway…’

Sound impossible? Not likely in my home, but that’s what He’s asking of us right now.

God makes no mistakes – just good plans from a good God, prepared for us to DELIGHT in. However much it hurts right now.
– Romans 8:28

God is love… But I am human

God is love. Every action, every story in the Bible shouts that love, even through to his discipline.

The pages of the Bible shout His love. Creation sings of His love. He chose us to show that love with our lives.

How loudly does my life shout about his love?

So what does this mean for me?

God is love and I am human. My frustration generally does not show my love (let alone God’s!), neither does my hurt or my upset…

But yet the same facts are true for me… There is never a moment when I don’t love S., there is never a moment when I don’t love my kids. (Even though that love may be pushed to the limits…)

So, logically – if the above is true, there must be a way I can learn to respond – even my most extreme emotions – in a way that pours out my love (or God’s love)?!

How do I learn from God to show my love at all times despite my humanity?

Can I be angry/ hurt/ frustrated/ disappointed/ [insert negative emotion here] and yet still show love?

Can I be human but learn from my creator? Can I explain my biggest frustrations with S. and have her feeling more loved and affirmed than when we started?

Can I call my kids up on something and have them know that my love is unconditional of their behaviour?

Ephesians 3:17-19 

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I will…

Need I write any more?

Psalms 101:1-4Psalm 101

I Will Walk with Integrity A Psalm of David. 

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.

I will
ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?

I will
walk with integrity of heart within my house;

I will
not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;

I will
know nothing of evil.

Conditions on love?

Do we put conditions on our affection? When love is freely received by us, why do we struggle to freely give?

Luke 6:32-36

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

If Jesus is asking me to love my enemies freely, how much more should I pour love out on those within my own home?

Matthew 18:32-35

Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He pours His love and forgiveness out on us when we are not worthy.

In my marriage, do I pour out the incredible,  death-defying, generous, merciful, gracious, faithful, forgiving, unending covenantal love that was poured out on me?

Especially Fond Of You

Well this is what was in my mind when I wrote my last post… 

On that topic, I had a wonderful set of messages from my sister yesterday:

‘Stop striving, just be – and receive God’s love. Just as you are. He loves you just as you are. Allow him to love you just as you are – you are enough!’ Obviously the words ‘just as you are’ were the emphasis 🙂 Love you and thinking of you xxxxx

Isn’t it great to have family like that!!

The Lord has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. (Deuteronomy 26:18) Read: Deuteronomy 26:1-27:26, Luke 10:38-11:13, Psalm 76:1-12, Proverbs 12:15-17 Relate: I am not a big fan of the Shack. It was a nice book. I didn’t get all worked up over the […]

http://tworiversblog.com/2016/04/04/especially-fond-of-you/

So… God’s told me we’re having another baby…

Today’s topic is one that is close to my heart… Babies. 
They are great! But HARD HARD work… A joy to conceive, an endurance to cook (in the metaphorical oven, of course), a pleasure, joy & trial to raise… We have 3 beautiful children, and haven’t been planning for any more.

Now, S. has yet to read or hear about this latest topic, so I can hear her quivering in her boots (or flip-flops) as she will eventually read this…

I’ll set minds at ease, all is not as it may seem from the title.

Before I begin, the backdrop is quite simple:

Another baby she does not wish for. Unequivocally.

I am personally less worried about the whole thing, but that’s beside the point for now. More importantly, something odd started in me a few months ago.

It started with a rough patch with the kids and especially my patience, which forced me to begin praying for more grace for myself and for grace to fill our home. 

I started praying for abundant grace to be the testimony and story of our home life. 

I started praying that as a couple we would show grace to one another and for that to overflow and pour out over our kids. 

I started praying that through the grace we have for one another at home, they would start showing  grace to other friends and living out grace in their daily lives, at school and beyond, to the point that one day they would eventually set up their own homes filled with grace, and live out callings in whatever sphere of life they are called to be, pouring out God’s grace to whoever they meet…

Sound exciting? I thought so…

But then one day the picture changed. I got a picture in my head. A baby daughter. And her name was Grace.

What do you do with that?

I’ve been brought up in the school of ‘never prophesy about births, deaths or marriages’ – and here I am feeling like I need to be praying for something that if I really loved my wife I wouldn’t ask for in 100 years!

I love kids, and if I am perfectly honest (and decided to completely ignore the practicalities of our current callings and ministries) would love to have more, but I am also fully aware of the limitations of our humanity, and that child-bearing is not really on the agenda at the moment.

I’m also not sure that S. would appreciate the ‘manipulation’ that would come with any prophetic statement that involves bear another child!

So what is this all about? 
Every pause and lull I have had in the last week or two has left me praying for something that is physically and practically impossible at the moment, certainly not in our human thinking, and something that doesn’t seem a wise choice at this juncture at all.

So, I’ve been grappling silently with this all until today in prayer I had a mini-epiphany.

The truth is I am praying for a baby to be born, but it may never actually be born in the flesh. I believe that I have been asked to nurture and labour for a different kind of baby…

As far as I can tell, I have been asked to pray abundant grace into being in our home life. I need grace for S, I need to be speaking grace over her. I need grace for my kids and to be speaking grace in every conversation.

I desire to live in a home that is oozing with fresh and living grace everywhere you look or sit, everything you touch.

Grace needs to be flowing from my home and out into the streets; into the hearts of my kids and into the lives of their friends; into our places of work and beyond through our various ministries.

Simply put, God’s grace needs to invade and change our lives and the lives of those around us.

So it appears that for the first time in our marriage, it is my job to carry a baby, to nurture it, feed it day in and day out, consciously and subconsciously until it one day will be born and released into the world.

I read this today:

Jeremiah 31:2-3

Thus says the Lord:

“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Even in the wilderness, God’s grace flows freely -directly out of His love – and His love is incredible. 

He loves us just as we are – with a covenantal, faithful, merciful love that endures forever, that is not phased by mistakes, that sees beyond actions and to the very core of our being. His love doesn’t change because we mess up, if anything it shows its strength in our weakness. His grace comes out of THIS love.

By this love the universe hangs together. Do I allow the father’s love to hold my universe together?

Could I learn to love others like that?

Perhaps, if I am going to see this kind of grace born into my home I should start by receiving His grace through this incomparable love for myself…