It was bedtime and I was snuggling Eva. I told a story about a bunny princess named Gertrude who only wore plaid, and a squirrel prince named Hank who only wore pajamas. I paused for the expected interruption and then listened, smiling to tears, as Eva made her revisions. Gertrude became Lizzy with a beautiful pink dress. Hank became Lizzy’s best friend Molly. She too had a beautiful dress, hers was purple; and they also had ponies. And as Eva imagined out loud, I thanked my Father for the wonder of this girl. In that moment, I knew love like I never had before.
We transitioned from story time into our closing goodnight communion.
“Eva, you’re my favorite. I love you best.”
I say this to all my kids. It’s become a Clark family way to express our love. And its true, every time.
“I love you best too daddy” She responded and the game began.
“I love you to the tops of the trees.” I grinned.
“I love you to the tops of the tree’s and the moon, times a hundred.” She knows how to play.
“I love you to the moon, and stars, and universe and back, times a hundred and five.” I said as I gave her nose kisses.
She giggled, “I love you to the moon, the stars, the universe and back, times a hundred and ten!”
We continued for a few more beautiful minutes, each taking turns surpassing the last statement, a million, billion, gazillion, eternity, to infinity and beyond.
Many of you know the pure joy of this game. You have played it with your loved one. It never loses its wonder.
I don’t know if you have ever thought of it this way but this is a game of measurements. The stunning thing is, love is immeasurable. Every time Eva and I play this game we do our best to measure love and discover to our immense joy that it can’t be done.
Eva always ends our competition with an amazing statement. The first time she said it I was astonished by its brilliance. Now it’s become the phrase that suspends our conversation until next time…
“I love you bigger than the future…”
“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—filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:17-19)
I can’t imagine how Paul felt trying to describe a love that is bigger than the future – a love that surpasses knowledge. But I bet it felt a little like the game Eva and I play at bedtime.
Paul starts by using the language of earth. Its as if he is saying Christ love is wider than forever, longer than eternity, higher than a million, billion, gazillion, and deeper than infinity, times a hundred.
Paul invites us into an encounter with Gods love that we may be filled to the full measure of the fullness of God.
Measurements are the stuff of earth. To measure, we use words like wide, long, high, and deep – words like filled and fullness.
But once Paul has done his absolute best to measure the love of God, he shifts into the language of heaven. In the next breath Paul expands our revelation.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” (Eph 3:17-20)
Paul essentially says, “I want you to be filled to the full measure of the immeasurable.” And just in case we might be tempted to apply measurements to the “immeasurable” Paul added, “beyond” and “all” as if to say, “Stop it, you can’t measure Love, He is bigger than the future”!
Measurements are something that make perfect sense on earth but are a foreign concept in heaven. Heaven sits outside of time, its infinite and operates in the economy of a love that is bigger than the future. I believe this scripture is an invitation to move from the measurable reality of earth to the immeasurable revelation of heaven.
And I would like to suggest that’s why Jesus came. Jesus didn’t live simply to reveal a destination, He showed us the foundation – our Fathers perfect love.
Jesus never lived for the immeasurable, He lived from it. Jesus demonstrated what a bigger than the future love could look like. And He invited us to know and live it like He did. Immeasurable was never meant to be simply a description of the destination, it’s always been His heart that it would be our foundation.
Need is measurable; it’s the stuff of earth. Love is immeasurable; it’s the economy of heaven. Love trumps need. This life is the only time we will ever be given the opportunity to live from heaven while on earth.
Thy Kingdom come…bigger than the future.
I have offended a couple hundred someones…
So I have made a few revisions to the song Come Thou Fount, I have changed the lyrics ”prone to wander” to “prone to love.” For those who have never read why I feel free to change those lyrics, you can read My Grandma was Prone to Love or Adam & Eve – Minty Fresh. I have been writing and living out this message for several years now. Its been an awesome journey!
Whenever I write or talk about our new nature in Christ there are always some Christians that seem to get a little irritated, maybe even a lot irritated. I recently read a blog by a fella who was very offended by those particular lyrics being changed. He insisted that anyone who believes we aren’t prone to sin is a fake, insincere Christian – more or less an idiot who gives Christianity a bad name. Last I checked, there were nearly 250 responses to his blog, most emphatically agreeing with the authors assessment, both that we are dirty rotten sinners who are helpless to our ‘sin nature” and that anyone who would change the lyrics of Come Thou Fount is an insincere moron.
It made me a little sad. Not that strangers might think I’m a moron, I’m not a moron. Neither was I saddened by the fact that so many believers are convinced they are prone to sin, I understand that, I have lived it and still am walking out my faith regarding my new nature. But the thick condescending tone of hundreds of believers who are convinced that defending a proclivity to sin is somehow a badge to prove their authenticity was heart breaking.
I think its just the oposite by the way, authenticity isn’t just about confession but also transformation. In my opinion, confession without transformation is whats inauthentic, in fact I’d go so far as to call it hypocrisy. As a Christian, to admit I sin is only authentic if its followed by transformation through the power of His mercy and grace. But thats a rabbit trail for another day, or if you want to read it today, you can go to this blog Mercy & Grace…
What is really on my heart is that on more occasions than I can count, the same scripture is used to support our wandering ways. I saw it again in the responses supporting this fella’s claim of our sinful nature. You have probably read it, 2 Corinthians 2:7-10 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”
I think the temptation is to read this section of scripture through the lens of our own experiences and determine that Paul was acquiescing, tolerating, or even licensing sin, which is what was suggested by many responding to the fellas blog. That was the furthest thing from the truth! More than likely it wasn’t even sin Paul was talking about. Most biblical scholars believe the “thorn” was an illness. Paul mentions an illness in Galatians 4:13 and without going into detail there is enough other references to suggest that Paul may have had an issue with his eyes. Of course the thorn could also be the trials Paul was facing which he mentions just a couple verses later as, “insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties.”
Whether it was illness, persecution, or even sin, Paul never acquiesced; he never suggested that the thorn had any right to him, or control of him, or that somehow it was sent of God to test him. In fact, he writes just the opposite – the thorn was “a messenger of satan. So even if the thorn was sin, it wasn’t a part of Pauls DNA or nature, it came from satan.
Paul continues, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it (the thorn) away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”
Later in this same letter to the Corinthians Paul describes the power of this “sufficient” grace. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” ( 2 Corinthians 8:9)
So Paul prays three times for God to take away the “thorn,” affliction, illness, or sin. And then in the very next verse, God does something absolutely amazing, he answers Pauls prayer! God says, “My grace is sufficient.”
Here is a thought, the grace that was sufficient for Paul was the same grace Jesus operated in; the same grace in which Jesus become poor that His rich power would be available to all of us. Its the same “grace of God that brings salvation” Paul wrote about in Titus 2:11.
Could it be that the power of this grace is the whole point of Paul’s message? Of course it is! All you have to do is read anything else written by Paul to know that Grace is not a Band-Aid, Grace is a Person more powerful than any thorn.
Regarding the “thorn”, could it be that, just like all of us, Paul lived in the tension and mystery of unanswered prayer? And yet even there, God answers and says “My grace is enough.”
Is it possible that Paul wasn’t contradicting everything else he had ever written and the very life of Jesus by suggesting that just this once the grace of God didn’t bring salvation? Of course not!
When we read this scripture and use it to license sin or a nature prone to sin, we miss the one key phrase in this section of scripture that is the whole point, His “grace is sufficient.” His grace is the power that is evidenced through weakness; the same weakness Jesus humbled himself in that we would be raised up.
But there’s more, Paul continues, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I love this scripture because Paul doesn’t say when I am weak, He is strong. Which, by the way, is another song I may lyrically edit some day…
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong, when I’m weak then I am strong.”
That’s what Paul writes, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” That’s what Grace does, it makes us strong. Even in the questions, the seeming unanswered prayers, the struggles not with flesh and blood but with the principalities and powers of darkness, even in the midst of loss or confusion, even when we do fall short, even when we don’t act like the saints His righteousness has transformed us to, His grace is sufficient, His grace is the power of the Gospel to bring salvation.
I would like to suggest that this “thorn” scripture is not about a weak and hopeless Paul who just can’t seem to overcome this one thing, no, this scripture is about Paul running the race in the power of Grace that makes us strong in weakness. We aren’t prone to wander, Grace says so. When we face unanswered prayers, Grace is sufficient. When we fail, Grace picks us up. When we tire, Grace strengthens. And when we repent, Grace transforms.
Its just the good news! Its the good news always getting better – even when it offends…
I continue to edit this months chapter Grace for my new book Lets Go Find This Kingdom Come. However, at this point I don’t see it being ready to be fully posted by months end. So instead I will continue to post excerpts and leave last months chapter seven Prone to Love up. Below is two sections I’ve edited together for the blog.
Zacchaeus was short. He was also a sinner – no relation. Zacchaeus was a man who was unfamiliar with Love as evidenced by how he lived his life. He was a thief and he was also a tax collector – no relation. However, it seems he used his position of power to steal from the people in his hometown of Jericho.
One day, while sitting in a tree in order to catch a glimpse of the arriving famous fella from Nazareth, Zacchaeus encountered the good news. He met Jesus, who loves both sinners and tax collectors.
I imagine you know the story. It’s found in Luke. It’s also been wonderfully preserved in a children’s song that employs the words wee and little. As Jesus is walking through the crowded street past Zacchaeus’ tree, He looks up and greets the short man by name. “Zacchaeus, I must come to your house tonight!” He says. And then Jesus, Love in human form, the Father perfectly revealed, goes to the wee little sinner’s place for dinner.
I’m sure you remember what happened next?
Jesus made sure that Zacchaeus knew he was desperately wicked. He pointed out a number of Zacchaeus’ sins and informed him that if he didn’t change his ways he was on the fast train to hell. Then, just in case Zacchaeus didn’t understand, Jesus described hell. Finally, after Zacchaeus was convinced of his shame and unworthiness, Jesus told him God loved him.
My favorite part of this fictional version of the story is when the disciples handed out tracks to the passer-bys. The tracks were pretty clever. One side looked like money while the other had some inspirational writing on it, about hell and how much God loves us.
Is my sarcasm too strong?
The fact is, not once did Jesus mention Zacchaeus’ sinful ways. Not once did He chastise him, correct him, or challenge him. There was no shameful insinuation, no demeaning eye rolling, no suggestive mothering tone in Jesus voice, quite the opposite. Jesus actions were loud and clear. “I love you and I am going to treat you the way my Father see’s you.”
I would like to suggest that mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin, both expressions of our Fathers always-good love.
I have heard mercy and grace described like this, “Mercy is not getting what you deserve, and grace is getting what you don’t deserve.” I like that. I also think you could say it this way, mercy reveals our Father and settles the issue of sin. Grace reveals our Father and settles the issue of identity.
Zacchaeus was a thief and a liar, he had a sinful nature, he was prone to wander. But one encounter with Love changed everything. When he saw and encountered Love, the sinner was transformed into a saint.
How did this happen? It’s simple; Jesus was the Fathers love revealed. Zacchaeus saw his Fathers nature and embraced mercy. And then Zacchaeus saw himself through His Fathers eyes and stepped into grace. And he was transformed.
One evening with perfect love and the sinner, now saint, declared that he would give more than half of what he owned to the poor and return four times what he stole. It was immediate transformation, the miraculous that follows revelation.
Suddenly the sinner who had lived under the reproachful title of thief, the sinner who had lived under the shame of greed, and the sinner who had been unmoved by the condemnation of an entire town was forever changed. One evening with perfect love…
Zacchaeus was living in one reality when he was introduced to a greater revelation – Love.
He encountered Love, saw Himself from Loves perspective, and decided to agree with how Love saw him.
Through mans eyes, Zacchaeus was a self-centered, small-minded, thieving, liar. Through Loves eyes he was a generous, large-hearted believer who was capable of giving more than half of what he owned away. From his heavenly Fathers perspective, Zacchaeus was supernaturally generous; he was prone to love. The moment he realized God saw him as generous he became generous.
This was a miracle as big as blind eyes opening, as cancer leaving. Jesus said this kind of miracle would be akin to a camel crawling through the eye of a needle. A rich man who moments earlier lived his entire life for money, suddenly is transformed into a generous man completely free from the shackles of greed.
It’s not in the nature of a sinner to give like he gave. But it is in the nature of a saint. Saints are generous and have the capacity to give supernaturally.
I am learning that
what I think about me should always be determined by what my heavenly Father thinks about me. I must see myself from my His perspective. And I’m discovering that when I see myself through Gods eyes, I become a saint, capable of all the things that a sinner isn’t.
I would like to suggest that this is how we become world changers. We simply encounter Gods nature and agree with it. We simply experience a revelation of our Fathers love and surrender. If He is generous and He see’s us as generous, then we become generous, and kind, and patient, and merciful and full of grace…
In His perfect love, His mercy and His grace, we are transformed, we are prone to love!
Excerpt taken from Let’s Go Find This Kingdom Come – Chapter Seven –
Prone to Love. Chapter seven is posted for the month of JULY. This whole chapter will be online at the link above. As I try to make each blog a cohesive thought, I will often skip around or edit a section of the chapter. I’ve done that here. If you would like to read the chapter in its entirety just click the link above.
Change The Way You Think
Eva, my youngest, was named after my grandmother. Eva is stunning! She is a firebrand of Gods love. A couple days after her fitfh birthday party Karen and I were lying in bed telling Maddy, Ethan, and Eva stories. Like all amazing parents, our amazing kids mesmerize us. We are overjoyed with how cute, and caring, and kind, and sweet, and loving, and giving, and… they are brilliant! As far as we are concerned, they are the best kids that have ever walked the planet.
While Karen was reliving an Eva moment, I realized just how much our parenting had matured over the years, especially in how we discipline. We have grown in our understanding that discipline is about revealing and releasing identity.
For instance, if Eva lies about something, my greatest desire is not for her to learn and understand the consequences of lying. My greatest desire is for her to know that she is not a liar.
You see, our heavenly Father doesn’t see her as a liar. So if she lies, she is not acting like how our Father sees her. He sees her as stunningly honest. As a parent, it is my privilege and charge to release her into that truth.
It doesn’t mean we don’t teach repentance; it’s just that repentance isn’t a form of punishment, it’s a privilege. Repent simply means to change the way you think; it’s an about face. Repentance is about changing your mind until you are in agreement with Gods.
In fact, that’s what we tell our kids. When there is an issue where their hearts are self-focused, you will often hear Karen or myself say, “Change the way you think.” And because we have had the talk many times, our kids understand that what we are saying is, “start thinking about yourself like your heavenly Father thinks about you.” Here’s the thing, if we learn to agree with how our heavenly Father sees us, we will start acting like He see’s us. Behavior follows identity.
So while Karen and I lay in bed, she told me how Eva recently had an intentionally forgetful moment and threw a tantrum. Karen sat down on the floor with her and kindly said “Eva, change… what?” Eva, who had just been given a necklace from her Aunt Aimee that read, “I’m a world changer,” looked at her mom and with a sudden sunny attitude and a mischievous grin said, “the world?”
Change the world. Yep, that will work too! In fact, if you become brilliant at changing the way you think, you can’t help but change the world…
I laughed with Karen as she told the story and then we both agreed again, our kids are brilliant! And Eva is correct; she is a world changer, that’s how her heavenly Father see’s her. I would like to suggest that’s how he sees you as well. You are prone to love. The trick is learning to agree with Him, go ahead, try it, change the way you think…
Prone to Love. Chapter seven from, Let’s Go Find This Kingdom Come, is posted for the month of JULY. This whole chapter will be online at the link above.
…The power of the song “Come Thou Fount” is the revelation that we can always know His Love. The song is about a journey to the cross. It is the good news that just keeps getting better. But the song is the beginning of a story, not the end. You see, the cross is the launching pad, the foundation, the slingshot that propels us into the victorious, miraculous, greater works existence Jesus modeled and told us we had access to.
The cross is only beautiful because of the empty tomb. We celebrate His death because of His resurrection. I would like to suggest that the power of Love is perfected when sinners become saints. That was the whole point of Jesus death and resurrection – that we would encounter Love and become love.
Jesus never once was “prone to wander” or “prone to leave the God He loved.” He came to earth to settle that exact issue once and for all. He came to set us free that we too might see, encounter, and become love; that we might be transformed from “prone to wander,” to “prone to love Him!”
I think that if a person sings the line “prone to wander” as a testimony, it is stunning, powerful, life-changing revelation. But when a believer, as a proclamation, sings those lyrics, they are debilitating and destructive. While that line in the song is brilliant theology for the sinner, it is devastating theology for the saint.
Like my saint Grandmother, I no longer sing “prone to wander.” I can’t, it’s not true; my Heavenly Father said so. Instead, when I sing this beautiful hymn, by faith, I agree with how my Father see’s me. I sing, “prone to love you Lord I feel it, prone to serve the God I love.” And I can’t help but cry tears of joy while I sing this. Why? Because not only is it the cry of my heart, but because of my beautiful best friend Jesus, it’s true! And how good is He for making it so, thank you Jesus!
My journey is a headlong discovery of my Fathers love. There is no greater discovery ever made and I am learning like my grandmother, the discovery of His love sets me free to become love. In fact, my revelation of my Fathers love is what transforms me…
Excerpt taken from Let’s Go Find This Kingdom Come – Chapter Seven –
Prone to Love. Chapter seven is posted for the month of JULY. This whole chapter will be online at the link above. As I try to make each blog a cohesive thought, I will often skip around the chapter. I’ve done that here. So if you want to read it in its entirety click the link above.
Adam & Eve – Minty Fresh
I married an angel. She still is, her smile consumes my heart, her intellect is stunning, her fierce love for our kids and myself is better than even the wildest imaginings I had before we married.
And yes, before we married, I had wild imaginings. And while many and more have been surpassed, others have foundered in the sober light of reality.
First, I have discovered that nighttime is primarily for sleeping. Second, my soda is still her soda, and it’s no longer as cute. Third, I now sit down when I pee; it’s just easier that way.
Hollywood has lied to us! Their portrayal of the morning kiss is heartbreaking in its audacious deceit. You’ve seen the movie.
The fella wakes up, the sun is shining through the bedroom window. He rolls over; his beauty is sleeping next to him. She is radiant. “Good morning gorgeous,” he says. Her eyes are closed but she smiles. Then she stretches, opens her glorious eyes and rolls into his arms. And they kiss. And its not a light peck, it’s a full on ‘my tongue and your tongue’ kiss.
And it’s a damn lie! Morning breath is real, it’s ugly, it’s the silent killer.
But there was once a better time, long ago….
Eve was lying in a pile of fig leaves next to Adam; he had just woken and was stretching. The sun was shining; she could feel it on her skin. She kept her eyes closed and waited. She felt the leafy bed move as he rolled toward her. She pretended to sleep, knowing her perfection was being adored. “Good morning gorgeous,” he said. She couldn’t help it, she smiled, and then stretching, she opened her glorious eyes, and rolled into his embrace. And they kissed.
It was a passionate kiss, a celebration of love, but more than that, it was a celebration of perfection – their minty fresh morning breath a tribute to the wonder that was their existence. You see, there was no such thing as bad morning breath before sin; they were perfect – made in the image and likeness of Perfection.
Adam & Eve – Two Trees
Eve thought about the kiss and giggled. It had been a sweet morning. That kiss had led to beautiful conversation and other things that are really none of our business. Later, over breakfast, they had planned their day.
Adam told her he was going to name another animal after her. It was a small, quick, sleek four-legged creature. He would call it foxy. The name has since been abbreviated…
I haven’t Googled this…
Eve told Adam about how she wanted to go pick some wild spinach as she had a great idea for a salad that evening. That’s what she was up to when she walked passed the tree and met the snake…
There were two trees in the garden. Well, there were probably thousands of trees in the garden, but there were two particular trees God went out of His way to acknowledge.
First, the tree of life. It was the good tree; the one that represents the fulfillment of our deepest longing as Psalm 13:2 states.
Then there was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That was the one with the bad apples. God gave some simple instructions about these two trees, “Help yourself to the tree of life but stay away from them bad apples.”
The reason for two trees? It was about love, it was about freedom. God, Love, is always about our freedom. He will not compromise even a fraction when it comes to protecting it. In Galatians 5:1, Paul made a rather obvious statement about this. “It was for freedom Christ has set us free.” Jesus died for our freedom. And through Him we are set free to choose. Love or Need.
Freedom, its about choice. It’s the atmosphere in which love can exist. It’s the soil in which love can grow. The fact is, if you can’t choose to not love, you can’t choose to love.
That’s why He gave Adam and Eve two trees – a choice, love or need…
I don’t think Adam and Eve truly knew what need was while living in the garden. At least, not the overwhelming heartache insecurity need that all of us face. In fact, they were so clueless about need that they walked around naked.
So while I don’t know what their morning pillow talk entailed, I’d imagine their conversations where more focused on all the dreams and potential a perfect God, a perfect son and daughter, and a perfect relationship with love would have to offer.
Can you imagine it, no insecurity, no overwhelming need, no sickness, hopelessness, heartache; just the Fathers love perfectly encountered, embraced, revealed, and experienced in every relationship you know, every interaction, every thought?
My guess is Adam and Eve dreamed together and it was all good, it was the very heart of God. They dreamed of all the things they could do in a world designed just for the two of them. And their dreams didn’t include need or lack, they didn’t know need or lack, they only knew LOVE.
These two people were made in the image of God. Without spot or blemish. Adam and Eve were in perfect alignment with God. Their relationship did not even have a hint of a lie in it. It was pure and beautiful. It was whole, absolutely transparent. It was flawless in mind, heart, and soul. Because they were made in Gods image, they were sinless. They were like God – perfect.
Perfect, that’s the word.
And that’s why I think they probably felt the same way about God as my Grandma did that day at church. They weren’t prone to wonder, they loved Him.
I believe that when your mind is pure and your heart is full of love, sinning isn’t something you want to do. It’s not even really that tempting. Therefore I really don’t think the bad fruit was all that enticing.
My point, I don’t think they spent much time, if any at all, thinking or talking about the bad apples. I honestly don’t believe it was even on their radar. I’m not saying that they weren’t capable of thinking about it, I simply don’t believe they did. Neither do I believe that it was a part of their daily conversations…
When Maddy was two and a half she discovered the TV on button, which was tragically, and not for long, within her reach. One afternoon when we had company, and after she had turned the TV on 25 times, and after Karen or I had turned it off 25 times, we decided to try our hand at parenting. “No touch honey,” we said, and we meant it.
Now Maddy wasn’t happy about this and she let us know. For the next ten minutes she would wobble up to the TV, point at the on button and say, “no, no, no.” Then she’d take a stroll through the family room crying as if her heart couldn’t bear the sorrow of not being able to push the button. Before long she was back in front of the TV letting us know her pain. Finally, when she couldn’t take it anymore, and as we sat dumbfound and bemused, she looked at us and wailed “no, no, no, no” as she reached her hand out and touched it…
I think everyone who has taken a breath has felt this; the desire to do something you’ve been told you shouldn’t. And because we can all relate, I think its easy to project that same desire on Adam and Eve. Our theology is too often constructed to support our personal experiences instead of being determined by the word – perfect love. The Tree of Knowledge was not like the TV button, an all consuming thought, an agonizing battle. And yet many of us view it that way. But there is no evidence in the Bible to support it, quite the contrary.
Adam wasn’t plagued with thoughts of bad apples. He didn’t walk around trying to be good while battling the urge to defy God.
“Name the animals, don’t eat the apples. Go for a walk with Eve, don’t eat the apples. Build a tree fort, don’t eat the apples. Make orange juice, don’t eat the apples…”
I would like to suggest that neither Adam nor Eve spent their days battling with sinful thoughts. Perfect people, designed for and living in Gods perfect love, don’t naturally want to sin. I don’t think they ever desired to eat the bad apple, nor was the thought even intriguing. They didn’t spend their days trying not to sin. Their DNA was holy, just like their Dads. You see, humanity was originally designed and created in His image, prone to love.
So let me ask you a question, and its a big one.
Whose idea was it to disobey God? Eve? Adam?
Here is a crazy thought; original sin didn’t originate in the mind of man.
I am not saying Adam and Eve didn’t have the capacity to think of defying God. But the fact is that’s just not how it happened. And it makes sense. Adam and Eve were sure, secure, and whole in His always-good love.
Adam & Eve – Original Value
There was a snake. He could talk. He made a suggestion. It was a lie. Like all of his lies, it perverted the true nature of God. Eve believed the lie.
The lie? God is in control; He is keeping something from you. His love isn’t perfect. He isn’t always good. He is not enough. He is withholding, uncaring, disinterested, an egomaniac, a liar… You have heard the lie; it has many adjectives but only one objective, to separate us from the truth of our heavenly Fathers always-good love.
When we lose track of Gods nature, we become deceived about our own. That’s what happens when a lie is believed; it separates us from His love nature and the fullness of our identity as sons and daughters.
And that’s just what happened to Eve and then Adam. They made a choice to believe a lie regarding Gods always-good love.
Whenever we discuss this great tragedy, we tend to focus on the choice, the sinful decision. But for a moment, I want to focus on who supplied the lie.
The thought to disobey God, and worse, to actually trade Gods; the idea to step away from Love, didn’t originate with Eve. It was the serpent’s idea whispered into Eve’s ear. Neither was it Adam’s idea when he joined her in rebellion. Eve simply passed the lie along.
Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not absolving Adam and Eve. They made a choice to walk away from a perfect love relationship; they chose to give their God given authority to Satan. It was a big deal. I am simply pointing out that the idea to sin, didn’t originate with them, which I also think is a big deal. Why? Well, I think it says a lot about our original value – how God designed and created us.
You see, most of my life I have been told that I had a proclivity to sin, that it was actually a part of my DNA. However, in the last several years I have come to understand that the moment I said yes to Love I was redeemed and restored to my original value. And when I look at the story of Adam and Eve I realize that my original value is not sinner.
Sin didn’t first enter the world through the hearts or minds of a man. It came from a lie provided by Satan and agreed upon by Eva and Adam. It wasn’t Adam or Eve’s nature to sin that led them to sin. It was a lie believed that distorted the perfect Love nature of their heavenly Father and more, the perfect love nature they already possessed. This is ground breaking revelation. Why? Because many Christians walk around this planet beating themselves over the head while battling a nature that through Christ’s death and resurrection doesn’t even exist.
We are no longer sinners!
Original sin didn’t originate in the mind of man. This is huge! Maybe it means that when Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again, He became our access back to our Father and our original DNA. Maybe when He said “it is finished” He meant it. Maybe those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer prone to sin. Maybe like my Grandma, we have been redeemed and restored to our original value.
And maybe we are again like our Dad, prone to love…
To continue reading on our original value click HERE. The entire chapter will be available for the month of July.
Excerpt taken from Let’s Go Find This Kingdom Come – Chapter Seven –
I have just posted chapter seven, Prone to Love. For the month of JULY this whole chapter will be online at the link above. As I try to make each blog a cohesive thought, I will often skip around the chapter. I’ve done that here. So if you want to read it in its entirety click the link above.
Prone to love You, Lord, I feel it, prone to serve the God I love;
Here’s my heart, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
Grandma’s lips always moved. If you were close enough you could sometimes catch a few phrases.
“Thank-you Jesus. I love you Jesus. You are so precious.”
Elmer and Eva were the kindest and most gracious people on the planet. I am not exaggerating. They never spoke harshly of anyone; they were never critical and always giving. What they had was yours. My dad tells stories from his childhood about how the neighbor boys referred to Grandma as the “God Lady.” They would sneak into the Clark house anytime of the day and help themselves to the cookies in the cookie jar. Apparently one day Grandma caught them red handed. Then kindly she said, “Now boys, you can have cookies whenever you want, all you need do is ask.”
There is a verse in Daniel that describes my grandparents. “But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.” My grandma and grandpa, they were those saints. When you were around them you could almost taste it, smell it, feel it – heaven was that close.
My grandparents lived in Gods love. They gave over half their income to missions; their home was open to everyone. A holy hostel of sorts, a safe place for the wanderer, the hurting, and hungry. There was almost always someone living with them. In my twenties I often wondered if some of these people took advantage of their generosity. But looking back, I realize now that it’s impossible to take advantage of love.
Grandpa lived to be 95; he went home first. Grandma followed at the age of 100. After Grandma died, I miraculously found myself in possession of an amazing, holy, historical, Clark birthright – her Bible. I remember helping pack up some of my grandparent’s things at their house. Somehow, I ended up with the box containing grandpa’s cool Sinatra hat and grandma’s bible.
It honestly wasn’t intentional. But when I realized I had Grandma’s Bible, and that no one in my family knew it, well, lets just say, I was almost tempted beyond what I could bear. I’m not proud of this but it took me weeks to let the cat out of the bag. Personally, I thought it was God ordained. My family thought otherwise.
Dad finally sequestered it, but not before I had a chance to read through and scan some of the contents. That said, I still have grandpas hat and it’s the way he wanted it, so leave off!
I realize I am going on about this Bible but you have to understand, this was her bible for over 50 years! Some of my heritage as a lover of God has been documented and preserved in its pages. It was like having a personalized road map to my inheritance. This bible is marked on nearly every page and in every ink color you can imagine. It is filled with intimate notes in the margins about Gods grace, and mercy, and kindness, and most of all, His love.
In fact, Gods love seemed to be the singular pursuit of my Grandmother. There were several hand written notes, and poems she had cut out of papers, and magazines.
“For the love of God is broader than the measure of mans mind. And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.”
“He drew a circle that shut me out, heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win, we drew a circle that took him in!”
Honestly, while writing this, I am overwhelmed and infinitely grateful by how my grandparents lived. They truly were world changers, heroes in the faith, saints. They lived in such an intimate friendship with Jesus and their prayers never ceased; for their kids, their grand kids, their great grand kids…
Even though they are now in heaven, I still feel the echoes of their prayers; I see the evidence in my life and the lives of my kids. I am their legacy, as are my kids and so on. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You see, when saints pray, the Kingdom is possessed, today, and for the ages that come.
My cousins, Chris and Jonathan, had the privilege of growing up in the same town as my grandparents. Since my grandparents passed I have heard many stories about their lives. Recently, however, I heard a new story about grandma Eva as told by my cousin Jonathan that just absolutely amazed me. I recognized it immediately because it is my story as well, it was a mile marker on a road map to my inheritance in my Fathers always-good love. But its not just for me, I believe I am meant to share with you as well.
Grandma and Grandpa went to their church whenever there was a service. They participated in every way. Jonathan was with Grandma one Sunday morning. During worship Jonathan noticed she was not singing the words. Grandma was a worshiper; she always sang.
The congregation was well into the famous and beautiful Hymn “Come Thou Fount.” As Jonathan tells it, Grandma was not only not singing, she seemed slightly agitated.
The piano led the voices,
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to Thee.
To Jonathan, Grandma’s lack of participation was almost stubborn.
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Grandma seemed perturbed by this line. Grandma was the most patient and kind woman on the planet. Perturbed was so out of character for her that Jonathan became concerned. Finally, he leaned over.
“Grandma, what’s wrong?” He whispered.
Grandma said, “I’m not prone to wander Jonathan. I love Him!
Come Thou Fount
Robert Robinson was born in 1735. He lost his father at the age of ten. His mother, believed to have been a strong Christian, had a desire to see her son grow to become a minister. However, Robert was willfully lost. When he turned fourteen his mother sent him to London to apprentice with a barber. For the next several years Robert lived a life of drinking and gambling. Robert was prone to wander.
At the age of seventeen, he and his drinking buddies went to a meeting where evangelist George Whitfield was preaching. Apparently they were planning on mocking those in attendance but upon hearing the message, Robert’s heart was assaulted by Love.
The following three years Robert wrestled with God. In 1755, at the age of twenty, He won by surrendering. As a side note, God won too! It’s what we in the Kingdom call, a “win/win.”
Three years after Robert said yes to Love, he composed a song. This song is stunning in its revelation.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.
The song has four stanzas in total and for the last 250 years it has captured hearts with the authority of its revelation. The lyrics and melody coalesce beautifully to reveal and release the wonder of grace and the power of Love. Many have sung this song while in their own wrestling match with God. There have been many win/win’s because of Roberts revelation.
This song was Roberts story. It was a testimony of one sinner’s journey to the “mount of Thy redeeming love!” It’s the prodigal son epic. Its one of the most stunning stories in the universe because its not just Roberts, its ours. Every one of us who have said yes to Love, have tasted and touched, been immersed and redeemed, restored and made whole.
All of us are on a journey like Roberts. We live to discover our Fathers Love. And while this song is powerful in that revelation, I would also like to suggest that the journey doesn’t end at the discovery; that’s just the beginning…
To continue reading click HERE. The entire chapter will be available for the month of July.