Growing in the Fathers Love
Getting to know God the Father is a progressive journey for my wife, Janice, and me. We’ve discovered that it is not a one-time encounter with Him and then you have it all, but like any other relationship, your love for Him grows through successive encounters with Him as He reveals Himself to you through the word, through the circumstances of life and through prophetic revelation. I understand now that knowing facts about a person does not mean that you really “know” him. I may know much about the Prime Minister of Canada, but if I have never met him, then I don't really know him.
Owning the fact that the Father loves me strengthens the very foundation of my life. From that secure place, I am able to risk more than ever. I am learning that it is possible to know the Father’s attitudes and even His personality through His dealings with me.
Being open before others can only happen when we are secure in the Father's love.
The Father has been teaching us very recently that He wants Janice and me to be vulnerable and transparent before those to whom we speak as well as around those where we live. He wants us to be "real" as we carry on public ministry. I believe the River is carrying us to a place where as representatives of the Church, we need to become relevant, particularly in the eyes of the lost. The world today seems to look at much of the church and say, "They must be from another planet; I can't relate to them at all." They also seem to be aware of the inconsistencies between what we say and how we live.
I don't know about you, but I find being transparent very difficult. Janice and I used to be people- pleasers, swept up in whatever was required to please the other person. This was rooted in a controlling fear which made both of us very private; but I have learned that being open before others can only happen when we are secure in the Father's love. I need to know that the Father sees me and cares for me as His son, that He loves and accepts me just because I am His son. His love is not based on what I know about Him or do for Him.
The closer we get to Him, the less we are concerned with what others think of us. As we have come to experience His love for us, the fears are melting away. Now as we share at a personal level, letting people see inside, people can really relate to us and to the Lord and are then able to enter into the truths we are presenting. It lets them know that Christians are regular people with real problems just like them. However, there is one big difference: we don't struggle on our own, but Jesus walks with us through all of life's trials just as He promised, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
Some have asked us, "How can you live your lives by faith, as you are now doing?" What they are actually asking is, “How do you live without any regular salary and benefits in this day and age, not even knowing what you will be doing or where you will be in any given week?”
We have found Him to be faithful.
We came onto the senior staff at TACF in September of 1993 “kicking and screaming.” We’re not qualified, we thought, but within a few months we grew into that calling and began to enjoy the pastoral ministry. Then the outpouring hit in January of 1994. During the outpouring we began to receive prophetic words from trustworthy prophetic ministers about going to the nations.
In 1998 we began to shift our focus from pastoral ministry. In 1999 we stepped out of the security of a regular pay check and began full-time itinerant ministry with the blessing of TACF. Soaking in the Father’s love during the renewal had prepared us to make that step.
To tell you the truth, it is not always easy, but we have found Him to be faithful. We are being brought to a place where must place our absolute trust in Him for everything. This means that we must know Him and trust Him at an even deeper level. When He asks us to do something or to go somewhere, we are learning that He will provide for us, whether with it is a fresh anointing we need, or basic provision. We have been amazed to find that as we become more dependent on Him and also His people, we are actually coming into more freedom. Frankly at one time, I would have thought the opposite would be true, that being dependent on someone was as sign of weakness and bondage.
FREEDOM THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD
One of the ways my heavenly Father is bringing greater freedom into my life is through insight on the scriptures. Let me share two insights with you that have helped open up the revelation of the Father’s love to me. Maybe they will touch your heart as they did mine.
The first insight concerns the Father’s ability to demonstrate emotion. Did you know that God, the Father, sings over you because He loves you so much?
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you… He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Sam Storms, in his book, The Singing God, paraphrases this portion as follows:
“The Lord your God is with you all the time. He is a powerful and mighty warrior who saves you. When He thinks of you, He exults in festive pleasures and with great delight. At other times He becomes quiet as He reflects on His deep affection for you. He celebrates who you are with joyful singing.”
You really are a “big deal” to Him.
I understand that this word picture is of one who is so caught up in exuberance and celebration that he spins like a top with excitement. Can you believe that God celebrates who you are with this degree of exuberance? You really are a “big deal” to Him. The greatest evidence of this exuberance is the price He was willing to pay for your redemption. It cost Him His one and only Son. That was the high price He had to pay to re-establish a Father and son relationship with you.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I italicized the two-letter word "so" because it carries such huge implications. The cross means that we are not only saved from judgment and have eternal life, but we are invited to come into an amazingly intimate relationship with the Father.
The Apostle Paul uses the Hebrew word, “Abba” to refer to God, the Father. It is the same as calling Him “Daddy” in English. The word, “Abba” is loaded with childlike vulnerability and trust in an all- powerful Dad who can “beat anybody up”—including the devil.
But we didn’t love Him first; He loved us first, and when we receive that love, He gives us a capacity to love Him back and also to love one another. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” We can't even fulfill the greatest commandment, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," without first tasting His love for us personally.
Another truth that really encourages me is Psalm 103:10-14. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”
Learning faith will take you out of your comfort zone of unbelief.
It is because He knows that we are weak that He forgives and shows us His loving compassion. It is natural to think through a veil of human frailty, that if He really knew me He would reject me, but the opposite is true according to this verse. He chooses not to reward us according to our iniquities, but rather to shower us with His loving kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
The more these truths sink into us and we take ownership of them, the more we are willing to step out in faith and accept the fact that we are children of God. Learning faith will take you out of your comfort zone of unbelief. It will give you the overwhelming sense that you are pleasing God. This faith grows as we have encounter with Him daily.