I really love words, thoughts, ideas, and for me the use of words is art. I can’t paint a picture, or make a decent drawing, but I can “paint mental, spiritual and emotional pictures”, with words - so thanks for indulging me my “word art” here once again!

 I'd like to start by taking a moment to share with you, a wish -- my wish, that I might somehow have this mystical magical power that would allow me to transfuse into others, the hope, the faith that I've been graced with — that I could simply "will" that gift into others. 

 As a little background, there came a time in my life, that somehow (over time, through the ups and downs, the joys and pain that is the journey of life for all of us on this little planet…) God got to me, big time - in a really good way!

I’ve been learning that, for me, whatever the circumstance in my life and journey, whether easy or terribly hard, whether I’m allowing Him to be my only God, or have allowed lesser gods to crowd Him out -- I've come to understand, to believe, to KNOW, that God's overwhelming love for me is constant. I’ve discovered that His love for me is actually the ONLY true constant in my life! His love for me NEVER changes, it's always complete, whether I FEEL it at the moment or not--whether I FEEL I deserve it or not (and for the record, for the theologians out there, I will attest that God says I do “deserve” His love because He created me, and redeemed me, and is restoring me, through His Cross).

 "Can any person, any being, any circumstance —  can ANYTHING, separate us from the love of Papa God in Christ Jesus?", Paul asks rhetorically, knowing that the answer for him, (and by God’s grace for us as well) is settled forever. 

And yet we shout back, our fears, our hurts and our pain — “But what about…!!?”

How about a really serious financial crisis that could wipe out a lifetime of work and savings? I can say now with confidence, that the fullness of His love is there for me, the same love whether He brings me a surprising, stunning new prosperity, or whether He chooses to hold my hand through the trial of a bankruptcy. 

Falsely accused of evil, even having the legal system used against you by your enemies - causing you to suffer greatly, unfairly? So it was with Jesus, and pretty much everyone who has ever claimed His name, to one degree or another. 

Facing a literal life and death situation for oneself or those we love most? His love is there completely for me, whether He steps in and extends my or their earthly time, or whether He allows me or those I love to pass on from this world earlier then we would, from our limited earthly perspective, choose. 

In this life it seems, so much comes down to trust--Who and what I trust in. Scripture is saturated with the theme of trust--a trust we broke in the Garden of Eden. And ever since that fateful day, God has pleaded with each of us to accept His invitation back into relationship, back into a state of vulnerable trust in His ultimate goodness and faithfulness. He was willing to demonstrate His trustworthiness, ultimately, by way of His sacrifice of love on the Cross. 

I don't know how God chose me, to be among those who have been graced with the gift of trust and faith in His goodness -- there were times in my early life I didn't think I really needed Him all that much.  

But I can't imagine life without Him, without His love and grace covering my life and lifting me above and beyond any “mere” circumstance (some of these “mere” circumstances we face, are of course truly ugly and painful. But in the light of God’s goodness, His provision, His promises, His history of restoration and redemption, and His great peace, we can agree that even the worst of our circumstances deserve be called “mere”!). 

So when religion seems to demand that I do stuff, demands that I pray, and attend worship services, read the Bible, and do witnessing, (you know that routine)—now I just smile, easily turning it all back into the privilege of relationship, which changes everything! 

Prayer? It's having conversations with the One Who loves me most and knows me best. 

Scripture? A treasure trove of encouragement, wisdom, and promise. 

Worship? I can't help but worship the One Who created me, redeemed me, has chosen to live within me, and has given me everything in Jesus. 

And the big finale - "Witnessing!”? (The part of the package that maybe feels at times like the spiritual - or at least religious - deal-breaker? Maybe the word "witnessing" can’t in our time be salvaged? Maybe we need to come up with a less daunting name for the act of simply talking about why my life has, why any of our lives can, have real hope meaning and purpose?).

Anyway, for me now, the pressure is so OFF since I’ve realized that I CAN'T, (it's impossible actually), I literally cannot impose my life of faith and joy into or onto another person (remember my initial wishful wish??). But I so WANT to SHARE with anyone, everyone, the REASON my life has such hope and meaning and purpose — and it's all GOD! -- here in this life by His Spirit in me and the gift of those He has given me to journey with, and then forever in His presence joined by the community of fellow believers from all of time. 

And once again I remind myself, that all this goodness, this hope, this joy is totally unrelated to my particular circumstances, whether easy or difficult! 

So with that, I'd like to share with you, a little Scripture, "The Lord's Prayer", actually -- from the ever popular "RLJ quite expanded" version. 

Looking now at Matthew 6:9-13:

“Our Father…”

You are my Father, my heavenly Papa. But not just mine, You connect us all, "our" Father – we are all connected, all family because of You. We are born by Your act of creation – we remain by our choice to believe in and receive Your redeeming love for us.

“Who art…” 

You simply, ARE--eternally present, the great I Am. 

“In Heaven…” 

You are not only here, by Your Spirit, but You are as well, in Heaven – above and beyond all that we are and know. The world You have created and given us is Your world -- You created it, sustain it--You redeemed it, and continue an intimate connection with Your world and each of us Your children who inhabit it, through Your  Holy Spirit and the Cross of Your son Jesus. 

“Hallowed would be Thy name…”

Your name, Papa God -- means so much, everything really. Your name represents all that is good, and great. In Your name lies all of our being, our hope, our past present and future. Your name holds all authority. Your name is precious and special and above all other names. Your name is worthy of infinite respect and honor because You are so very good.

“Thy kingdom…”

Our world, the universe, and beyond time and space and energy and matter, is You – Your kingdom. Your kingdom is everlasting, no beginning and no end, and within it, You have invited us to be an Integral part of this infinity. You have asked of us simply that we choose to trust in Your goodness and Your love, and that we choose to receive Your love so that we can return that love back to You – relationship to You is everything, and that is our invitation for becoming once again, a forever part of Your kingdom.

“Come…”

Everything is Yours. You would not need an invitation to be here since it is Yours by creation and ultimate authority. And yet, You ask, and You ask us to invite You to come – into our world, into our circumstances, into the midst of whatever and wherever we are. We are in need, broken since "The Fall", perhaps unaware of our need for Your healing, or perhaps on a journey of healing, You invite us to invite You to come!

“Thy Will be done…”

By reason of Your authority, and Your goodness, You have the right to impose Your will everywhere. And yet, You ask us, your created offspring, to invite You to find a loving way to impose your goodness into our world and our circumstances, in spite of our blindness and our recalcitrance – even our outright opposition to your goodness.

“On Earth…”

I am so grateful that You are totally involved with our world, with this part of Your creation. You are not just “above it all”, although You are in a good way truly above it all. But You are also fully invested in our little world. Without Your attention, care, involvement and investment, we would simply cease to be – so thank You!

“As it is in Heaven…”

If I am praying for Your will here on earth, as it is in Heaven, then I should like to know a little about how it is, actually, in Heaven. From all I gather in what You have so kindly shared with us, Heaven is wonderful – because You are there! Thank you for wanting us to be there with You, for “preparing a place” for us, a place so filled with Your goodness that we will discover Heaven to be something wonderfully beyond our current imagination – “our eyes have not seen, and our ears have not heard, how wonderful is the place You have prepared for us to be in ultimate communion with you forever!" ("RLJ quite expanded Scripture version"). As You have explained it, this is a place where relationship is primary and nonnegotiable, where love in its fullness is the only law, because it is the only law that’s needed when it is fully accepted and acted on.  And other than the tears we may shed in saying goodbye to those who refused to be connected to Your love forever, and also tears of inexpressible joy,  there will otherwise be no tears in Heaven, because Your love will saturate us, and animate every interaction between each of us. In this wonderful place so filled with Your perfect goodness, we will not only not hurt each other, but would not even entertain the idea of an unloving action. 

“Give Us This Day…”

Like any one of us, You want to be asked— and by asking, we more fully recognize our need. Our need is constant, every day of our existence – and so, our asking should be refreshed and new every day. I need You, Papa God, today, and every day!

“Our daily Bread…”

We live in more than one realm simultaneously. Our temporal earthly existence is real, but so is our spiritual existence. Each realm of our existence must be fed in order to continue – and you, Papa, are not unaware of our need for physical as well as spiritual provision and sustenance. Your heart is to give us those good and necessary temporal gifts that we ask for. But even more importantly, for our eternal existence, is the necessity for the daily (constant) infusion of You into our lives. You are our spiritual nourishment! You are what our soul and spirit truly hunger for. You are ultimately our only source of life, our only source for life-sustaining “spiritual bread” (as You’ve said, our “Bread of Life”). 

“And forgive us…”

We were born broken, and poor, and naked. We've been in need of Your healing and sustaining grace from the moment of our conception and existence. All of humanity, through the free choice of the first of our line, turned our backs on You, wanting to be our own little gods. We ran and tried to hide from You, the one and only source of life and love. We, each of us, needs to say "I'm sorry for doubting Your love for me, for not trusting Your vision for what is best for me, and I so need Your forgiveness, Papa God"!

“Our debts…”

We truly owe You everything--We are forever in Your debt, for existence, for life, and meaning, and purpose, and especially for the immeasurable gift of reconciling us back to Yourself through the sacrifice of Your Son on the Cross. 

“As we forgive our debtors…”

How can I not choose to forgive others when I am wronged, when You, Papa, through Christ, have forgiven me so completely? Only when I doubt the depth of Your love and forgiveness of my brokenness and my sins against You, will I refuse to extend grace and forgiveness to a fellow fallen brother or sister who has wounded me. 

“And lead us not into temptation…”

As I trust You more and more, I will joyfully follow where You lead, knowing Your heart, Your plans for me, are for my ultimate best, and will never lead me astray.

“But deliver us from evil…”

Only Your mighty hand and heart of love and wisdom, Your cleansing and restoring gift of grace found at the Cross of Christ, is able to deliver me and those You've given me, from the lies and deceit of the evil one who seeks our destruction.

“For Thine is The Kingdom…”

Truly, Lord God, You are the Creator, of all things—and all belongs to You, first by virtue of Your acts of creation, and then as well, by Your gifts of redemption. 

“And the Power…”

Only Your great love is capable of sustaining and energizing. Yes, by Your unlimited power You created all things, even time and space--but all the power of creation pales in comparison to the power of Your love!

“And the Glory…”

Only You, great God, are truly glorious, and fully good, worthy of adoration and praise always, in all things. And by Your grace, we have the great honor and privilege to be reflections of Your glory, to a hurting world in desperate need to know and feel Your goodness and glory. 

“Forever!…” 

You Father God, are eternal, without beginning or end. We are created, with a beginning designed by You. Your passionate desire for us is now to join You in Your eternity going forward, forever. But our only hope of eternity, of an eternity of good, of never ceasing and ever-deepening love and relationship, is in You alone, Lord God--is by way of the grace of the Cross and the indwelling of Your Spirit. 

“Amen…”

Yes. Thank You, thank You, thank You Papa God. May it always be!

My prayer:

May you have and fully receive the gift of faith and trust in the One True God Who will love you through anything, and Who will restore all things — in His inscrutably good, times and ways,

Amen

 

Blessings always,

Ricky Lee Jackson

What Fox News Says About Ricky Lee Jackson:

"He’s the new Joe the Plumber; now there's Rick the Doctor...
Some have joined Tea Parties, stormed town halls, others like family practice physician and country recording artist Ricky Lee Jackson have taken to the microphone... 
he wants his country back." 
~ Fox and Friends / Fox News
 

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