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What Makes a Saint?

What Makes a Saint?

Saints have seen the burning heart of the universe at Calvary. That’s where love first fills their hearts.

Do you agree that God transforms His own beloveds into saints? Theologians call this sanctification. I think most people would agree that saints have hearts on fire for God. Being in love with God is being a saint. Sanctification without being in love with our beautiful Savior looks like duty, drudgery, deadness, diligent dedication; it’s a desperately burdensome existence. Jesus invites us into the duty of delight, pure and simple.

Our everyday vernacular uses the word “saint” in a lighthearted way to point out a person who has exceptional patience or some other virtue. We’d do well to know what God says about saints. In the Bible, the term “saint” is used thirty-six times in the Old Testament and sixty-two times in the New Testament—and thirteen of those sixty-two times appear in the book of Revelation. Apostle Paul wrote this about saints:

“. . . I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27 NKJV).

 

What was hidden from those in past ages, Jesus revealed to us in ours.  To saints, heaven isn’t so much a destination or even the hope of a better life somewhere else. Heaven is seeing Jesus. To saints, God’s words “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) echoes in their hearts and in their everyday lives.

Saints see God with singleness of heart.  They have “dove’s eyes” for Him. Just as doves mate for life and see with singleness of vision, so a saint desires God and loves Him entirely. Christ feels this way about His beloved, too. Jesus gave His beautiful “Beatitude blessing” to those who long to see Him. They are the “pure in heart” because they yearn to see Him. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Seeing God is their great reward. It’s not only their hope of seeing Him in the afterlife—a saint sees God in the now.

(This is an excerpt from The Art of Loving God, a new book in the making which I’m thoroughly enjoying with God.  I invite you to visit www.burningheartsforGod.com  and you’ll see much more on this topic of loving God. Be sure to subscribe there too. May you experience God’s love deeply during this holy season.)

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Beauty Cheers the Heart

Beauty Cheers the Heart

Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

White scenes of winter soothe me because I grew up in Minnesota and enjoyed a wonderful childhood full of love, play, and no worries. These days, I grieve for children who do not have the benefit of a fearless childhood.

I wept watching the news of the school shooting in Florida. So, so tragic! More loss of innocent lives, so full of promise.  And when ordinary people become heroes and pay the ultimate price . . . we feel sympathy for their families and friends.  We see the funerals on the news. I pray for those who mourn everyone lost and injured. And what about the survivors? They’ll never be the same . . but for God’s grace and help.

Below is a photograph of a scene in Kuhmo, Finland. It lifted me into God’s arms because its beauty cheered my heart. I hope it does the same for you. Scroll down . . . This is a real place.

Even though the horrors of evil abound, the beauty, majesty, and reality of God is greater. One day all will be restored and there will be no more evil. Jesus promised. We will live in a restored, new world where Beauty and Goodness is all we will know.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Proverbs 21:4.

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The God of Great and Small

The God of Great and Small

In a pottery and glass gift shop in the mountains of North Carolina, I came across a tiny piece of glass art and bought it. When I first saw it, I wondered how the artist managed to make something so tiny, about 1/4″ in size, yet with unique, distinctive parts. Its smallness is what made it special to me. I named her “Suzie the flea” because of the joy she gave me. I also saw she had a destiny to fulfill in God’s kingdom of love. Since then, she’s flown by airmail many thousands of miles across the country to bear witness to God’s creative love and favor. The recipients have sent her back to me after she’s lifted their hearts. Suzie represents to me persons who are “little” in God’s kingdom yet each one holds a dear place in His heart.  Their smallness is endearing to Him. These are the hidden ones who stay in the background; they are not in the spotlight of God’s kingdom. He’s jealous to keep them there for His own reasons. I take great comfort in that. No more striving to be someone I am not. I am confident in this alone: God favors me and has destined to use me with messages of His love. I am small, like Suzie. Yet I am dear and can be greatly used in His kingdom. As can you.

 

 

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Longing for More of God

Longing for More of God

Psalm 27:4 NIV: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

My goal this year is to see God more clearly and dearly. Nothing matters more than this.

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God’s Thoughts in Ours

God’s Thoughts in Ours

As a seasoned God-listener, I know prayer is not only one-way dialogue.

Once I felt surprised by something I felt God “said” to me. I wondered,  Is this my thought or God’s?

The next thing that popped into my head was a question. A loaded one. “What is thought?”

God had asked me a lighthearted (which I sensed inwardly) yet “weighty” rhetorical question.

What is thought?

I queried “What is thought?” in an internet search engine. Wow! Somebody gave me an answer.

Curious, I read it. God smiled at me the whole time, of that I’m sure.

Neuroscience engineers might not include “God’s thoughts in ours” as part of their science, but they have mindboggling things to say about the nature of thought.

This article is by Elizabeth Dougherty; from the MIT School of Engineering’s article—“Ask An Engineer.” I provided a link to the entire article below.

Dougherty wrote: “The human brain is composed of about 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) interconnected by trillions of connections, called synapses. On average, each connection transmits about one signal per second. Some specialized connections send up to 1,000 signals per second. ‘Somehow… that’s producing thought,’ says Charles Jennings, director of neurotechnology at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

“An electrical signal propagates like a wave along the long threads called axons that are part of the connections between neurons. When the signal reaches the end of an axon, it causes the release of chemical neurotransmitters into the synapse, a chemical junction between the axon tip and target neurons. A target neuron responds with its own electrical signal, which, in turn, spreads to other neurons. Within a few hundred milliseconds, the signal has spread to billions of neurons in several dozen interconnected areas of your brain . . . imagine how trillions of connections and billions of simultaneous transmissions coalesce inside your brain to form a thought.” (Used with permission.)

That explains everything, right? Oh, how I love God. “How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!” (Psalm 92:5 NIV).

God is gloriously, impossibly complex but manages to dumb down everything into very simple, understandable terms. His thoughts are voiced in us so simply. Sometimes we get just a prompting or a strong urge–He doesn’t even need words. But He likes them a lot.

Inspiration is God getting His thoughts into ours. I wonder if electric impulse signals are a lightning show going on in our brains in which our neurons dance with God’s when they come to us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. God made us to receive His thoughts but His thoughts are not ours, they are above ours in every way.

Of course the safe place to gain God’s thoughts are in the Bible. That’s the place of God’s most reliable “self-revelation” — the place He’s chosen to speak to inspired prophets and apostles. Anything evil, harmful, condemning, or unloving would not be from Him. The Word of God is always communicating with us and uses all sorts of creative ways to do so.

We just need ears to hear–which is spiritual receptivity. We just need to tune in.

 

Credit: What are thoughts made of?   https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/what-are-thoughts-made-of/

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