I am not a morning person. And that is putting it mildly. My ideal sleep schedule would be 1am until 9:30am, because I prefer to stay up late, and I love sleeping in. I love the coolness and darkness of our bedroom, the warmth of being curled up in the bedcovers, and spooning with my wife. I love the slow wake-up, and groggily heading downstairs in my PJs to begin a pour-over of True-Stone Peru roast with raw sugar and cream. Pulling up a chair in the fireplace room and spending time in the Holy Scriptures, and talking with the Father in the name of the Son with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. At a leisurely pace. So that the rest of the day would start somewhere around 11:30am.
Somehow, about a year ago, I joined a discipleship group that meets every couple of weeks, early in the morning. Which means that every time we meet, I don’t want to get up and be part of it, but every time we do, I can’t believe how great it is. I think a great deal of discipleship probably works that way.
One of the things that being a part of community like this has reminded me is how much I need other people in my life who will speak truth to me when I seem to be doing nothing but listening to the lies of my flesh and the Evil One. Which is exactly what happened recently at one of our meetings. One of the men shared this with me, and us, among a host of other comments, and it hit me like a thunderclap.
God has no mixed feelings about you whatsoever.
Ok, stop. Stop, Mr. or Mrs. or Miss Busyness, rushing through this little post and on to the next thing in your stuffed-to-the-rafters schedule.
Take a look at that sentence again.
Let it soak in.
Say it for yourself, preferably out loud,
God has no mixed feelings about me whatsoever.
It strikes me that I don’t functionally live or think that way. I look at me and see plenty of reason for skepticism and disappointment. I see all kinds of areas for improvement. I’d like to submit my person to Chip and Joanna and their Fixer Upper program and see what they could do with this old house that is in need of some serious repair.
You see, I am filled with mixed feelings about me. But God looks at me, as a follower of Jesus, as his adopted child, and has no mixed feelings whatsoever.
His love is steadfast,
“Yahweh, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…” (Ex 34:6)
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him…” (Deut 7:9)
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Ch 16:34)
“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Ps 25:10)
“…steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” (Ps 32:10)
“The steadfast love of God endures all the day.” (Ps 52:1)
“Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.” (Ps 63:3)
“For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you…” (Is 54:10)
and his mercy is neverending.
“As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!” (Ps 40:11)
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” (La 3:22–23)
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life…” (Ps 23:6)
“…God, being rich in mercy…” (Eph 2:4)
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy…” (Heb 4:16)
“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” (2 Jn 3)
He delights in me, takes joy in me, loves me, sings songs over me.
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zep 3:17)
He has grace on top of grace to heap upon me. (Eph 2:7)
He is happy about who I am and that I am part of his family. (1Pet 2:9-10)
He placed me on mission and is ready to celebrate what he will do through me for the sake of his kingdom. (Luke 15:1-32)
He’s guaranteed me he is going to keep me around forever. (John 10:1-42)
I hope you (and I) are getting the point. On and on we could go through the Holy Scriptures, mining them for all the encouragement that is there supporting the truth that God has no mixed feelings about you or I, as followers of Jesus, and his children, whatsoever.
Part of what makes us feel like God (or anyone) has mixed feelings about us is because we look at our incompleteness and deficiency, and merely see someone who just can’t seem to get their act together. But we are not defined by our doing and performance and a perfectly executed “act.” Jared Wilson has recently written a whole book about that, which is saturated and dripping with grace for people who can’t get their act together. From his conclusion:
What I’m trying to say is this: you are not your quiet time.
Okay, day to day, you kind of are your Bible reading. The spiritual disciplines—the rhythms of the kingdom—do shape us and help us become more of what Jesus is making us through them. But in the end, you are not your quiet time.
You are not your cruddy prayer life. Prayer is vital and necessary. When you pray, you strip your soul down to your proper proportion, helpless and needy and desperate. Prayer of all kinds is basically confessed need of God. It is an expression of our un-God-ness and God’s total God-ness. But in the end, you are not your prayers. Jesus is meditating for you and the Spirit is interceding for you, making up for all your prayerlessness.
You are not your standing before people.
You are not your past.
You are not the accumulation of harsh words from others and negative self-talk.
You are not even your sin, as primary and as serious as that problem is.
I’m not trying to affirm your sense of goodness. I’m doing the opposite, in fact.
I want to, by God’s grace, give you the freedom to own up to your not having your act together. I wrote this book for all who are tired of being tired. I wrote this book for all who read the typical discipleship manuals and wonder who they could possibly be written for, the ones that make us feel overly burdened and overly tasked and, because of all that, overly shamed.
You are not your ability to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
You are not the sum of your spiritual accomplishments and religious devotion.
You are a great sinner, yes. But you have a great Savior.
Child of God, you are a child of God. And he will never, ever, ever, leave you or forsake you.
(from The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together, by Jared Wilson, pgs. 229-230)
AND, HE HAS NO MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT YOU WHATSOEVER.
The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together, by Jared Wilson is available at the Calvary resource table.
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.