Tag Archives: security

Compromising Purity – Adulteration

by yin yang Source:

by yin yang Source

Intimacy with God… with self… with others.

We speak here of “Purity” and “Adulteration”, and a reader might think, “Ah… I know EXACTLY what we’re talking about here! This will be about S-E-X! Mwah hah haa!”

But no. That’s not what this is really about. Let’s deal with this bogey in the very beginning.

Adulteration (from which, indeed, we get the word “adultery”) is NOT simply about sex. It’s about “watering down”, it’s about “weakening”, it’s about “rendering impotent”.

“Oooo”, one might say. “Now we’re talking about ‘impotence’. This just keeps getting better and better.”

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I’ve struggled with how to draft this post, because I feel like I see these “connections” among concepts that are just so clear and simple… and I want to share them with you, Gentle Reader… but I do NOT want to stand in, or even LOOK like I’m standing in, the position of telling you what to think, what to believe, what to be convicted by. That is SO the realm of the Holy Spirit… and you, your mind, heart, convictions… are such a sacred place. I don’t want to just seem like I’m traipsing through your conscience in hobnail religious boots, telling you, “You gotta believe this, or ELSE!!!”

So, I’ve struggled. How do I share, communicate, this lovely picture of connections with you… without the implication that if you don’t see things the same way, you are out of order?

The best I can offer to meet my concerns is simply to say what I’ve just said. To be open and transparent about all this with you, and if these words ring true to you… your heart, your spirit, your reading of scripture and your experience of the presence and ministry of Christ… then great! Feel free to use them in whatever way suits. If these words don’t fit, don’t hesitate to lay them aside.

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There is this simplicity, this joyful and wondrous secret of “how” we enhance our intimacy of relationship with God… that Jesus shares in His opening ministry volley of Sermon on the Mount. And it’s when He discusses, of all things, “Adultery!”

And for centuries since, as all about us in religious circles today, just as people doubtless did the day He spoke… we focus on legalisms and criteria (“annulment” versus “divorce”… how do we interpret “husband of one wife”… or “is a divorced pastor now disqualified to serve”… etc.). In all of this, we rather miss the mark. We can easily miss His point entirely.

Jesus BEGINS with discussion of legalism, yes. But He then elevates the discourse to an entirely new level, as He progresses from “qualifications” to “relationship”.

“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart... It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. But I tell you, everyone who divorces his wife, except in a case of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” [Matthew 5:27-28;31-32]

What I would point out here is simply that while Jesus indeed makes reference to sexual immorality as a legitimate reason for divorce, the crux of His teaching here on adultery is the relationship of a husband and wife. His focus is not on carnal faithlessness, but relational betrayal of trust. For Jesus, the issue of adultery is vastly bigger than “sex, drugs, rock-and-roll” as is so often oversimplified.

Does carnal infidelity constitute a form of adultery? Certainly.

But my point here is that “adultery”, as it relates to purity as an aspect of our intimacy with God, is an overarching issue of “trust” in “love”… vastly more encompassing than sexual promiscuity.

For many posts, many months actually, I’ve been struck by the reality that we trust only insofar as we love, and we can truly love only insofar as we trust. If our trust of another is limited or conditional, so will be our love. I’ve come to realize that herein lies the “love limiter” for most people in their relationship with God. Multitudes of believers “love God with all their heart, mind, and strength” insofar as they are able… But that “ability”, their capacity in their “all”, is bounded and limited by the extent to which they can truly trust Him… Him or anyone else in their lives.

It is very hard to learn to trust. Many of us never achieve the skill in this lifetime. Therefore, our capacity to love God utterly is compromised from the front, by our incapacity to trust anyone utterly… even Him.

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Could it be that Jesus addresses this here?

Could it be that He references the deep trust relationship that should exist between a husband and wife here?

Could it be that for Him, “adultery” weakens and waters down the foundation of trust itself in relationship? And in that denaturing, compromises the capacity to love at all?

I pose the possibility that the hallmark of “purity” is “trust”, and that trust paves the road of love. There are two means for undermining the trust of purity and love. One is betrayal, to receive and accept the trust of another, claim to fulfill the expectations of the other, and then intentionally fail to meet them. The other, less visible form of adulteration, is simply to refuse to dare to trust.

It’s a rather passive-aggressive situation.

We can adulterate love, violate purity, either by actively betraying the trust OF another… or by passively denying trust TO another. In both cases, we personally maintain the integrity of our own control, our own management, and our own defenses intact. We need not trust the other, we need not trust God, we need not risk… or so we think.

We think such defensiveness keeps us safe, keeps us strong, keeps us protected.

On the contrary… this form of adultery, this isolationism, simply keeps us from connecting. It can “feel” safer… like being wrapped up in cotton wool, or bubble wrap. But it simply keeps us cut off, apart, and alienated from others, from self, from God.

It does not strengthen, it weakens. It cuts off from light, from nurturance, from love.

When we invest our sense of safety, our passionate desire, our sense of “what-we’ve-absolutely-GOT-to-have-to-be-OK” into someone or something else that is not “right” for us… we weaken and water down our own capacity to love and be loved. The most frequent example used is that of the marital covenant… but “adultery”… the inappropriate investment of personal security and passion, can be applied to work, career, community esteem, money, education, anything.

Jesus focuses on the “relationship” with some “object” of our passion that will define us. His teaching here is much broader than just His legalistic example of “pornographic lust”… He speaks of the investment of the heart itself. As so often Jesus does, He starts with the simple and concrete, and elevates the dialogue to the simple and relational.

So… the question I am left with, the challenge I hear in my own heart, is…

Is there anything beyond the gracious gifts that God grants to me, that I look upon with the passionate desire and belief that without THAT (other, unpossessed) thing (object, person, position)… my life is just not worth living?

Such a view will weaken me, weaken my grace, water down my love and my capacity to love. When I do this, I am failing to trust… trust God, trust self, trust others who bless and grace my life. When I do this, I shall find myself hungry and wanting, because I have rendered my own pure nurturance from grace into something lesser and weaker.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Enjoy, in utter purity, the grace and blessings God showers upon us. Do not betray their trust in us… nor reject relationship with them out of mistrust of God or His grace.

God is incredibly faithful and effective in spontaneous provision, and sometimes, reaching for the blessings we wrongly think we need, can weaken the blessing we actually have.

If none of this makes sense, I apologize. This idea is very hard to wrap words around. Your comments are more than welcome.

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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds


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Martian Chronicles: Good News

Mars OneHail and well met, fellow missionaries! I’ve been off for a bit doing some investigating, exploration, archaeology. Results will be reported in due course.

Just to review the premise here…

OK, so we are on an adventure…

We’re posing the hypothetical possibility that we have been selected to be one of 10 Christians (or Christian couples) to journey to Mars somewhere between 2025 and 2040, to establish the First Christian Church there.

We’ve been endorsed and sent forth with the blessings of our denominations, and given extraordinary license and dispensation to establish a new church whose only constraints are scriptural, not traditional. That is not to say that tradition is to be despised or held in contempt. Merely that the traditions of one or some should not hold sway over the traditions or convictions of others.

What’s more, we have the incredible opportunity to establish “A” (not “THE”) First Century Church. All these colleagues have an active, living, breathing, personal speaking relationship with the living Christ, and the humility to balance personal revelation with scriptural validation and mutual accountability and examination. (That’s an amazing statement.) This is to say, these are all unabashedly functional mystics.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The last post on these Chronicles posed the question, “Are We Alone?” and considered a frequent impression of people far from all that is familiar and homey.

An interesting point is/was that, while it makes perfect sense of Martian colonists or explorers to feel very isolated and alone so far from home, (even isolated from God Himself), that this is a common, frequent, quiet fear and concern for everyday normal people right here, right now. This sense of isolation, sometimes called “existential angst”, or a sense of the “void”, is something of a primal fear we learn to keep penned up in our darkest closets, lest it escape and take up residence under our beds at night.

We may come back to considering this chimera later, but for today I’d like to consider one of its most common companions… the sense of insignificance.

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Now, our colonists have all been specially picked, specially screened, specially trained… for this extraordinary mission. They are very “secure” in every psychological sense.

But many people who seek out counseling, or pastoral counseling, experience great pain in their lives and seek help for what APPEAR to be a vast variety of reasons: parent problems, kid problems, spouse problems, work problems, social problems, school problems, health problems, legal problems… People seek me out because some arena of relationships is causing someone pain.

What I have found, time and time again, is that people do NOT seek me out to hear my “wonderful advice”, or even so that *I* can “solve” their “problems”. That’s really not what they want or need. (It has taken me a painfully great number of years to learn that!) When there is “success” in a counseling relationship, it is nearly always because I was able to meet one single fundamental need they had when they came, and once it was met they were able to resolve their own issues.

Their need? Significance.

It starts in the very first appointment, when they sit down to “tell me all about it”. Years ago, I used to interrupt a lot, seek to array the facts and details in “their proper sequence”, and work to frame my response and recommendations “just so”. Eventually I learned how very out of order that was. I need/needed simply to LISTEN… let them be HEARD.

This is the first step. This is something incredibly lacking in our day to day lives. I, like so many others, live(d) in a “mindset of response preparation”… rather than a “mindset of embracing their expression and experience.” Someone who seeks me out doesn’t nearly so much want to know “what I THINK” about their situation, as they want to know “that I UNDERSTAND them, what THEY are thinking, what THEY are feeling”… and that I can enter into that experience with them.

So I’ve learned… it starts with (usually) our very first meeting. They have a “story to tell”, and I need just to sit still and quiet, and “receive” that story. Free of reaction, free of judgment, free of comment, free of response. Just receive them, their story, their experience. I don’t have to “approve” of all the elements or decisions made throughout the story. That’s not my role. They haven’t yet asked a question for me to answer.

But it took me the longest time to realize, the underlying theme in ALL these stories… was how this person seeks to affirm their own meaningfulness, their own influence, their own significance, in their lives and relationships… and the pain they experience when their efforts fall short.

Now here’s a strange thing… this is as true for truly “powerful”, “influential”, and “significant” people (whatever that really means)… as it is for the weak and helpless. The issue of “security” and “insecurity” is not met with worldly potency.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bottom Line on this Piece of Good News:

Truth: Human beings crave “attention” as “affirmation”.

Some more, some less. But the more powerless someone feels, the more attention they will demand, and the more their behaviors will absorb the time and attention of others.

So where’s the Good News here?

We, human beings, are MADE this way. We are FASHIONED this way. We have an endemic need for the nurturance and security of attention.

And we are “fashioned” this way because this is a socket in which we are permanently seated, in and for our relationship with God.

Scripture after scripture, from Genesis, through Psalms, through Proverbs, through the Gospels… affirm over and over again… God is HERE, God is ATTENTIVE, God is ALWAYS PRESENT, and He is NEVER too busy to be “paying attention” to you… to me… to each of His children.

This tremendous “Mystery of the Infinite”, this characteristic of Omnipresent God, assures that Jesus, Father, and Spirit, ALWAYS hold our hands and carry us in their arms.

We have no need to:

  • Beg for His attention
  • Ask His pardon for interrupting Him with our petty prayers
  • Hope He doesn’t see our mistakes and shortcomings
  • Cringe, cower, or plead that He will hear and respond to our petitions
  • Wonder if He knows what we need or the timing of that
  • Wonder if He really notices or cares…

None of that.

But I’ve noticed before, that a person CANNOT believe a kindness of God, that they have never ever first experienced from a human being. So, I’ve discovered, first and foremost, the greatest gift I can offer to someone who seeks me out… is simply to “pay attention to them”, “acknowledge them as significant and ‘worthy’ of ‘my time'”, and “HEAR them”.

You would not believe how often, simply THAT… simply LISTENING to them without comment, judgment, or interruption… for the entire first time we spend together… relieves 50% or more of the pain they felt when they arrived.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, suggestion… share the Good News of someone’s significance with them today. You don’t have to “Say” a thing. Just HEAR them. In this, you will affirm them in an incredible way. You don’t have to affirm the “rightness” of everything they think, do or feel. You are simply affirming the rightness of their BEING in the first place. God will grow them, as they allow that. But first, they can know that it is valuable (at least to YOU) that they exist and live at all!

This is a tremendous gift.

This, is Good News.


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Sinless Rules — Part IV: Love Yourself

Continuing with Rule Four referred to in the current series:

Four Rules for Me Never to Sin Again as Long as I Live:

  1. God is Sovereign (“Remember this, Little Monk!”)
  2. Love God with All I Am, Above all Else that Is. (“Revere God = Holiness”)
  3. Love My Neighbor as Jesus Loves Me (“Treat All as Sacred = Righteousness”)
  4. Love Myself as Jesus Loves Me (“Treat Self as Sacred = Humility in Sacredness”)

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Wouldn’t you think, Gentle Reader, that this would be the easiest Rule to comment on? I certainly did, until I started to try. Turns out, this is the most difficult of the lot, because it is the most fraught with illusions, delusions, and misdirection of the enemy.

Right here is the heart of the matter

Visual ParadoxThe eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12)

The woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and *said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” (John 4:28-29)

All these verses address my difficulties with Rule Four.

Here is the cold, hard, truth: We are unspeakably challenged to love ourselves as Jesus loves us, because we do not see, CANNOT see, ourselves as Jesus SEES us! He sees us FULLY. He sees us TRULY. He sees us without distortions, deceptions, or darkness. His eyes are clear and full of Light.

The Samaritan woman at the well was transformed by her encounter with Jesus, from a broken, shame-filled public scandal, who went to the well in the heat of the day most likely to draw water alone and apart from the sidelong glances and mocking sniggers of her neighboring “more respectable” women… into a “messenger of the Christ” who boldly returned to her city to proclaim her amazement and delight at being FULLY KNOWN! Stop a moment! Ponder that! Shouldn’t that be TERRIFYING? For someone to tell her all the things she had done? But no! She is not frightened or ashamed… she is overcome with joy and delight, and seeks to share that with everyone else!

How many times… how many examples in the Gospels? How many broken, shame-filled people do we see cringe their way to Jesus, only to have Him SEE THEM, with His eyes of tender love and acceptance, and go their way after that transformed, healed, and set free? Woman with the issue of blood…. 10 lepers… woman caught in adultery… even Peter after his denial.

Yet ALWAYS working against that, challenging that, trying to negate that TRUTH… the truth that Jesus sees us as we are, accepts us, and loves us totally and without remainder… there is always the lie, the delusion we are heir to because of Original Sin. The Great Lie is… “Because we are now fallen, we are unlovely and disfigured. We are abominable, we can no longer stand transparently without shame. We must hide ourselves, cover ourselves up, not to be seen by one another. Beyond even that, we must hide and conceal ourselves even from HIM, even if that’s just to duck behind a tree.”

THERE is the challenge, the heart of the matter, Gentle Reader. That is the challenge the Lord sets before me with Rule Four. It is a challenge to trust, a challenge to trust to the Truth, despite appearances, distortions, and experiences with people.

We grow up surrounded by relationships that communicate a simple message. The message is, “I will know you, relate to you, and accept you just as long and as far as you meet my expectations and criteria of acceptability. I will love you unless and until you fall short of my requirements. THEN, if you disappoint me, I will cease to love you, and/or I will cast you out of my presence and break relationship with you.”

This is “conditional love”, or “transactional love”. This is our legacy from the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. This is what we experience around us all the time. So, we learn to “keep within the lines”, and we subtly and deeply learn that to “be loveable”, we must meet the expectations of others, meet the expectations of God, and… tragically… meet the expectations of ourselves. Once this programming takes root in our childhoods, once we learn the deep insecurity of knowing “I am loved if I behave well, but if I misbehave badly enough, they’ll not love me anymore…” then years of therapy may not even make a dent in the armor of pain, anxiety, fear, and abiding loneliness that results.

What a tragedy! Because it is all false! And this poisonous taproot undermines our entire access to love and loving trust and relationship… with God… with others… and most deeply, with ourselves.

It is an amazing thing, really… we can get tangled up in this Lie so readily. “If others knew me as I REALLY am, they could not love me, so I must hide myself from them. If God knew me as I REALLY am, He could not love me, so I must hide myself from Him. If I knew me as I REALLY am, *I* could not love me, so I must hide myself from ME!”

The problem, of course, is that we then project a “false self”, an “acceptable self”, out there somewhere into relationships. Like a photograph, sitting on the sofa to represent us. People can chat with, or hug and kiss that photograph all day long, and we won’t feel a thing! The “love can’t touch us”, and thus we stay empty, insecure, anxious, afraid, and alone. We can become aggressive, protective, defensive over that effigy… since it represents us! We can attack others, if we feel that proxy self is threatened. We invest in the Proxy… we protect it, caress it, nurture it, groom it, take better care of it than anything else in our lives… and IT GIVES NOTHING BACK! It CANNOT! It is not ALIVE in the first place.

Ironic, isn’t it? But so the Enemy loves to work. It is the irony of it all. We hunger and yearn for love and acceptance, which Jesus freely offers and gives. But yet, the Enemy can trick us into fleeing and hiding from the presence of Jesus, through generating in us the fear that He will reject or abandon us! PRECISELY the thing we NEVER see Him do, and that He specifically CAME to proclaim… the unrelenting love of the Father, and the Redemption and Union offered through Himself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So how do we escape the trap? How do I learn to “love myself as Jesus loves me”, totally, infinitely, unconditionally?

Well, here’s a few techniques I’ve found helpful…

1. Don’t worry about “untying the Gordian Knot”, just start with a fresh string. It is time to come Out of the Closet! The old man has passed away, and Jesus has made all things new. We are “born again”. We are buried with Christ in His death, and raised with Him in His Resurrection in newness of life. We were “taught to hide” in Adam. We are taught to “Come Out” in Jesus.

2. Exercise “faith” to believe that Jesus is the beginning of all Love, and Loves you (me) completely just as we are! Walk “as if” you were OK, as if you had nothing to hide. Understand that since Jesus has sanctified you with His love and redemption, this is actually True…. we ARE “OK”! Let’s imagine, one day at a time, that Jesus is not a liar, that the Bible is not a Nice Book filled with Wishful Thinking and Fairy Tales, and that maybe, in Christ Jesus, all things are made new… even ourselves.

3. Understand, remind ourselves, that if we have nothing to hide and no tender wounds of shame to protect, we have no need to be defensive or aggressive. We protect tender egos against being bruised and battered by the disagreement of others. Know what? We don’t have to do that. We don’t have to be right. We don’t have to correct others. We don’t have to condition our awareness of our own loveability by the acceptance. judgments, or opinions of others at all.  None of that has anything at all to do with what makes us OK, or loveable. Jesus Himself, and how the Father loves and treats us, is the ONLY grounds for our “acceptability”. If you claim to “love what God loves”, then you HAVE to love yourself. You have no alternative.

Last but certainly not least….

4. Praise and thank God for the infinite grace of the Freedom you have, to love and be loved unconditionally in Him, to love others unconditionally, even though most of those others themselves, only know conditional love.  You may become the only person they ever truly know on earth, who loves THEM unconditionally. Now here’s the sad truth… almost everyone you know loves “conditionally”. No matter what they say, no matter what assurances they give of their undying devotion and acceptance of you as you are, most people are fooling themselves (and therefore you). Because THEY THEMSELVES have not yet learned to love and accept themselves as fully as Jesus does, they do not know how, they CANNOT know how, to give such love to others (or rather, allow His love unconditionally to pass through them, to others).

So, painfully at times, you will do something, say something, believe something (or even NOT do any of these, but just be perceived as doing so!), and find that you’ve crossed into someone’s “Unacceptable Zone”. You will be rejected, denied, cast out. You will find boundaries erected against you, and people who have declared lifelong dedication will turn on you, betraying the trust they asked you to invest in them.

Here is the ultimate challenge of “loving in Christ”. It is at just such moments of betrayal. Are we grieved? Of course. But…. where do we go from there? Do we lash out at them, “giving as good as we get”, attacking them for the pain we feel? Do we (as I so often hear), “forgive but not forget”, saying, “well, I forgive them, but I’m never going to TRUST them again!” Do we “defend ourselves”, taking on the situation point for point in argument, not attacking them or their sacredness, but denying whatever perceptions they have, denying their validity? OR, do we curl up in an emotional fetal position, feeling all dejected and abused, nursing the misery of our state, or castigating ourselves for generating such a situation?

Divorces, lies, addictions, thefts, broken family relationships and betrayals of trust, broken friendships. Time and time again, we see and deal with hurting people in these situations. Over and over we see these ineffective strategies used to try to mask, deny, or heal the pain in their hearts.

All of these are responses I’ve seen frequently, and to be honest, I’ve responded in all these ways myself, at one time or another across my life.

But none of that…. NONE OF IT… is “loving in Christ”. I’m not saying I have the “Perfect Answer”, or that He is finished with me here yet, but I can share what I HAVE discovered in such situations… There are some REAL, SIMPLE (not “Easy”), scriptural guidelines I’ve found. They work for me, and if they bless you, if your spirit affirms them as true, then grace to you. If your spirit does not affirm them, please cast them aside.

When I discover the “conditional boundary” to someone’s avowed “unconditional love”…

First, examine the conscience and see if there is “offense”. The question is, “Have I treated this person, in any way, as less than sacred? Have I devalued her/him in any way?” If so, scripture is really clear. Go be reconciled. Apologize and seek forgiveness. If not, then what?

Second, if there is no offense… if there has been no desecration or devaluation of the other, then is there a “misrepresentation of fact” here? Has there been a rumor spread, or some false belief at work, an error of “fact” involved? Is there a lie, a falsehood, present? Then one time, reverently and sacredly, it is ok to “state the case and set that record straight”. “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;” (Romans 14:16). That is, do not allow someone falsely to believe that you have violated your own conscience. Either you have (offense), or you have not (innocence), but it is important that there be only the Truth present. This declaration is not “argument”. It is not a matter of the other person accepting or believing this, or of our having to convince anyone. It is simply a mandate to be sure the truth is SPOKEN. Whether or not it is believed is irrelevant here.

Third, (and here’s the glorious and beautiful part of GRACE)… NOW, you just go on, and proceed moment by moment, day by day, in exactly the same unconditional love, infinitely flowing the love and grace of Christ, forward and onto EVERYONE, with no further concern for the event. If you do not embrace a blow, it does not and cannot wound you. If the wholeness of your heart is based on Jesus’ love for you alone, and your acceptance of yourself in that…. NOT in the acceptance, endorsement, or expressions of love or unlove by others…. there is no “Offense”. You need not even “forgive”, for there is nothing TO forgive. “Love… does not take into account a wrong suffered,” (I Corinthians 13:6)  The operative words there are “take INTO”. Am I making any sense?

I wish I knew how to say this more clearly, but when you “reset your anchors”, your ego, into Christ this way… you cannot be hurt or wounded anymore, so you don’t have to be defensive or broken. Um… YOU, become SAFE, in HIM. Now, your “reputation” may suffer. Your standing in the community, your job, your social circles, your influence…. any of that. People can “harm” your “outside stuff”, without question. But I am speaking here of “inside stuff”. Of your self-worth, your true value, your Self before your Self, and man, and God. Once that is anchored in Him and His unconditional Love, once your own acceptance of yourself is secure, you are truly SAFE. The Truth has set you free.

Thus, despite criticism, misunderstanding, hurtful words, accusations or namecalling, betrayals of trust… despite ANYTHING AT ALL…. you remain totally free to love and be loved. You remain free to return unconditional love in Christ, even to your attacker, taking her/his agenda as more important than your own, and pouring yourself out for the other… because YOU HAVE NOTHING MORE TO PROVE! God Himself has “proven you”. God Himself stands for you. You can let it go, and love freely. Trust again, pour yourself out. You don’t have to argue and struggle to justify yourself or what you did. God Himself is the one who justifies! You can let it go, and love freely. Trust again, pour yourself out. See?

This is a WONDROUS place to stand. (Would that I myself, stood here ALL the time! But let me be truthful, I have my moments of doubt and insecurity just like everyone else.) But the key is to KNOW THIS! This is Truth, this is Jesus, this is Sermon on the Mount, this is Paul, this is John…. over and over, time and again throughout Scripture, we see this lesson repeated. But for years, read through it though I might, I did not SEE it, didn’t GET it!

So I offer this to you, Gentle Reader. Here is the Key Understanding to Rule Four. I am to “love myself as Jesus loves me”, because when I do, in those moments when I embrace this wholly and totally, THEN I am “Free” to love others as He loves them, and to allow His unconditional love to flow through me as vessel of grace into the world.

Pray for me, Gentle Reader. So much a work in progress! Blessings and grace to thee — Little Monk


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