Archive for the 'What Breaks God’s Heart' Category

What Break’s God’s Heart (Disobedient Children)

child%20yelling Several years ago my Pastor (then at Riverlakes Community Church) preached a series on “What Breaks God’s Heart”.  The title has always stuck out to me and I have often times meditated on what does break God’s heart.  The Bible is full of explicit references to the heart of God being deeply moved, even moved to tears over the heartache in this fallen world.  This is the fourth in a series of posts on What Breaks God’s Heart

The other night we had one of “those nights” when it comes to parenting.  We asked Micah to take one bite of his chicken casserole and proceeded to spend the next hour listening to him cry, wine, choke, etc.  The casserole, having turned into virtual soup in his mouth was not going down, so we promptly decided to put him to bed early and ended up enduring an extended period of hearing his cries upstairs, as we tried to take care of the house downstairs.  The next morning I had hoped that he would have gotten over his disobedience, but one bite of his “Nutri Grain” bar proved me wrong.  Let’s just say that after it was all said and done, he ended up in the shower soaking wet and finally at least a little compliant.  When I got my stuff together to go to work, I went to kiss him goodbye on the couch and he deliberately turned over and pulled his blanket over his head, as if to say “I believe that you were completely wrong for making me take a bit of my ‘Nutri Grain’ bar and I am now going to withhold my love from you as you are obviously not worthy of it.”

When a child disobeys his parents, he is essentially declaring his own moral superiority and his parents moral deficiency.  Whether it be a matter of eating chicken casserole or breaking curfew or stealing, actions are an assertion of a moral judgment.  This is just as true of 3 year olds as it is of 30 year olds.

In Matthew 23 we find another account of what breaks God’s heart.  As Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem, he comes to the Mount of Olives and upon seeing the city he cries out,

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Luke records that Jesus proceeded to weep over the city and her disobedience.  After centuries of God calling to His children and imploring them to return, He finally just weeps over their disobedience and gives them over to the natural consequences of their sin.

Disobedient children break God’s heart because they call his character into question.  Every time we disobey, we are declaring our own uprightness and God’s moral deficiency.  What makes this accusation so much more grievous, is the fact that God has adopted us into His family as beloved children and every time we disobey we make our Father out to be cruel instead of loving, a monster instead of a Savior, and a tyrant instead of a Dad.

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July 20 2009 | What Breaks God's Heart | 3 Comments »

What Breaks God’s Heart (Unrequited Love)

DSC03398%20Lonely%20tree%20on%20shorelilne%20bSeveral years ago my Pastor (then at Riverlakes Community Church) preached a series on “What Breaks God’s Heart”.  The title has always stuck out to me and I have often times meditated on what does break God’s heart.  The Bible is full of explicit references to the heart of God being deeply moved, even moved to tears over the heartache in this fallen world.  This is the third in a series of posts on What Breaks God’s Heart

 One of the saddest things that a pastor has to deal with is trying to restore a marriage gone bad.  By the time a couple comes for help it is usually almost too late.  There have been too many hurtful words, too many silent accusations, too many lonely nights and too many destructive habits begun.  On occasion, a pastor may find a marriage gone wrong where one spouse still wants to try and that is probably the hardest thing of all.  It is good because it gives hope to the marriage that at least someone wants to work on it, but it is heart breaking to see the other spouse respond with a stone cold heart.

As I continue to meditate on the question, “What breaks God’s heart?”  I’m reminded that the Bible often describes God’s relationship with his people as the relationship of a husband and wife.  As a husband God provides for them, He nurtures them, and He showers love upon them.  Tragically, one of the most common descriptions of God’s wife is that of a prostitute or an adulteress.  Despite all of the grace and care that God lavishes upon His people they continue to return to their sin and to their idols. 

This tragic reality is most starkly set forth in the Old Testament book of Hosea.  God commanded the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer and to take her into his home.  In spite of this great kindness, Gomer returned to her life of prostitution and ended up a wretched and defiled woman.  As Hosea recounts this story God periodically breaks into the narrative to explain how Gomer’s harlotry is exactly the same as His own wife’s idolatry and how His people’s sin is going to bring terrible consequences upon them.  In chapter 11 the Lord recounts how He cared for Israel as a young nation and how He took them in His arms and lead them with bonds of love, when suddenly He cries out:

How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled.

As we read this account and consider God’s anguish over His wife’s rejection, we must be careful not to think of God as being needy.  It is not that God needs His people to love Him.  God is not diminished in any way whatsoever, by a lack of affection.  At the same time, it is clear that there is a legitimate heartfelt response on the part of God to His unrequited love.

That which was true of Israel in the days of Hosea is still true of us today.  As a husband God greatly loves the church (1 John 4:19) and as a wife we break God’s heart when we refuse to return His love by delighting in Him and Him alone.  The flip side of this truth is the great joy that God takes in His bride and in her faithfulness.  Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  The paradox seems to be that what breaks God’s heart is unrequitted love, but what rejoices God’s heart is His children.

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July 13 2009 | What Breaks God's Heart | No Comments »

What Breaks God’s Heart? (Death)

Cemetaery-238x204Several years ago my Pastor (then at Riverlakes Community Church) preached a series on “What Breaks God’s Heart”.  The title has always stuck out to me and I have often times meditated on what does break God’s heart.  The Bible is full of explicit references to the heart of God being deeply moved, even moved to tears over the heartache in this fallen world.  This is the second in a series of posts on What Breaks God’s Heart

In the fall of 2005 I was finishing up my last semester at The Master’s Seminary when I had one of the most intimate experiences with death that I can remember.  Each year I got to take a discipleship lab with one of the professors or one of the pastors at Grace Church.  This particular semester I got to spend some time with Jim Pile who is the pastor in charge of Pastoral Care at Grace.  Jim gets to spend a lot of time dealing with death and dying, so over the course of the semester we go to talk about death and dying quite a bit.  Toward the end of the class, I was given the rare privilege of visiting the Los Angeles County Crematorium for an extended tour of the facility.  I got to see the furnaces, a small chapel, and a large room full of brown plastic boxes.  Each of the boxes held a clear plastic bag of ashes.  Standing in this room I listened to the care taker of the facility explain how the facility worked, as I held one of the plastic bags with what remained of a human life in it.  As I thought about what was in my hand, the care taker’s words began to fade into the distance as I reflected on the fact that this person used to be someone’s child.  He was probably bounced on his father’s knee, he was probably rocked to sleep by his mother and he probably went to school with other kids just like him.  Maybe he was even someone’s husband, maybe they were still looking for him or maybe they could care less…and something inside of me just ached.

Death has a way of doing that to us, it always hurts and it seems so completely arbitrary and unfair.  In one box you may have found a drug dealer, and in another box you may have found a lawyer who fell on hard times.  But, when it was all said and done they ended up sitting side by side and soon they would end up in the same place.  Death truly is the great equalizer of all men and yet despite all of the thousands of years that mankind has had to come to peace with our own mortality, death still stings.

When I think of the question, “What breaks God’s heart?” I have to think that death ranks pretty high up there.  Death was the ultimate punishment handed down from God to man for his sin and since that time Adam’s tragic epitaph has been written over every man’s grave “and he died” (Genesis 5:5). 

Perhaps no single event makes this more clear than the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus.  After hearing of His friend’s sickness, Jesus went to find that he had already died.  As Jesus looked over the crowd of mourners that day the Bible gives one of its simplest and most profound statements, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  I’ve often wondered why Jesus wept over Lazarus death, especially when He knew that in just a few moments He would raise Lazarus from the grave.  It almost seems like one of those moments when He would say, “Why are you weeping?  Behold the power of God!”  But instead we find the Savior, God in the flesh, bursting into tears (BDAG) and weeping over the death of a friend.  The only explanation seems to be that death is really that bad.  Death always hurts, it is always heart wrenching and it is one of those pains that is so great that it broke the Saviors heart.

As Christians, we live in a wonderful place where death no longer has victory over us (1 Cor. 15:55).  We have been given a new life and promised a new body (1 Cor. 15:42), but in some way death will still touch each of our lives and that breaks God’s heart.

Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

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July 06 2009 | What Breaks God's Heart | No Comments »

What Breaks God’s Heart? (Sheep without a Shepherd)

untitledSeveral years ago my Pastor (then at Riverlakes Community Church) preached a series on “What Breaks God’s Heart”.  The title has always stuck out to me and I have often times meditated on what does break God’s heart.  The Bible is full of explicit references to the heart of God being deeply moved, even moved to tears over the heartache in this fallen world.  Over the next couple of weeks I want to think through and meditate on some of these passages that speak to the question of “What Breaks God’s Heart?”

 As I write this post I’ve just finished up watching my boys for the night while Amy was away with some friends.  I wrestled with Micah, kissed Cody’s head when he bonked it on the floor, made sure everyone ate, and tucked them both into bed.  The job of a parent never seems to be done and yet what about children who have no parents, or what about sheep who have no shepherd?

When I think about what are some of the things that break God’s heart, one of the items that always rise to the forefront of my mind is “sheep without a shepherd.”  I see these sheep all of the time in Junior High and High School.  I see these sheep in the 16 year old girl with the blank stare on her face and the unkempt hair, because she probably never had a mother to show her how to care for herself.  I see them in the face of the rebellious Sophomore who loves to mock everything I say, but when you look into his eyes you can see the absentee father who doesn’t give a rip about him.

Sheep without a shepherd aren’t limited to student ministries alone.  I find a steady flow of these sheep in my counseling office.  Sometimes these sheep look like a frazzled mother who’s down to her last nerve, because her husband has checked out and now she has to do the worrying for the both of them.  Sometimes these sheep look like they have it all together.  They may drive nice cars, have great jobs, and lots of money.  But they run from one fad to the next, or one therapist to the next in search of something that will finally quench their thirst (Jeremiah 2:9-13).

It seems that part of living in a fallen world is the need for shepherds.  Children need parents who can care for their needs, mothers need husbands who will love them as Christ loved the church, and everyone needs someone to help keep watch over their souls.  What breaks God’s heart is sheep who are harassed, helpless, and lost.

So, what should we do for these sheep?  As always, we need to look to Jesus for our example.  In the midst of an incredibly busy season of ministry, we find this verse: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).  Sheep without a Shepherd break God’s heart, but what rejoices God’s heart is when his people exercise compassion and care for these sheep, especially”the least of these.”  I’m sure there are a lot reasons for this, but I can’t think of any that are more powerful than the fact that God Himself is a Shepherd (Psalm 23).  Isaiah 40:11 describes what kind of a shepherd He is: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. “

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June 29 2009 | What Breaks God's Heart | No Comments »