In HOPE 9.7

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David Timms

 Prayer for Today

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teach me to love You more. Purify my heart that I may love You without conditions. Grant me the power for self-abandonment that all I do might be to Your glory. Help me rise above my hurts and heartaches to genuinely honor You. I declare my desire to love You with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. When I weaken in my resolve or falter in my focus, revive me to see only You. To You be all glory, honor, and praise, always. Amen.


  Hope Happenings

This Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 10:00am in the Lawson-Fulton Student Pavilion, Hope International University (founded in 1928) celebrates its 87th Commencement for graduating students.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831


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“Do not desire chiefly to be cherished and consoled by God;
desire above all to love Him.
Do not anxiously desire to have others find consolation in God,
but rather help them to love God.”
~ Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island, p.270


Backwards Love

We often get it backwards and slip into one of two fallacies. Either we work ourselves to the bone “doing the right thing” to earn the Father’s love or we sit in silence waiting for Him to affirm His love for us. Either way, we seek to receive love rather than give it. We continue to make ourselves the true center of the exercise.

Merton suggests we abandon this narcissism.

Yes, it’s true that our best ministry comes out of security in Whose we are (Romans 8:38-39); that our “belovedness” forms the basis for our capacity to fully give of ourselves (Matthew 3:17); that the first work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is to pour out the love of God in our hearts (Romans 5:5).

However, the pathway to being loved requires first our own resolve to love. Ironically, we usually reverse this order.

We console those who suffer or grieve with well-intentioned statements. “The Father sees you and cares.” “The Lord loves you even when you don’t feel it.” And such trivialities. As though our reminders will somehow jolt them past the harsh realities of their lives. It doesn’t happen. And we know it. And we therefore speak the words with hints of hesitation and doubt.

Merton challenges this backwards love and urges us all – settled or suffering – to love God and leave the issues of consolation aside. It defies our common wisdom and usual practice, but it’s thoroughly biblical.

The greatest commandment – the first of all instructions – is not to be loved but to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength” (Mark 12:30). How often do we help each other love God? Or do we more frequently sympathize with each other as we wait for Him to show up and do something good for us?

A student of mine described this as “moralistic therapeutic deism” – a mouthful of a title meaning that we embrace God only when we think He can help us, or we live decent lives as a trade for His favor.

Can we love Him in our heartache? Can we honor Him in our hurt? Can we glorify Him in our grief? Can we pursue Him in our prosperity? If not, perhaps we’ve swallowed the poisonous pill of self-centeredness. We’ve got it backwards. No wonder it doesn’t “work.”

Let’s learn to love Him above every other pursuit of life. And may His glory become our joy.





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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.