Archive | Love RSS feed for this section

Written by God

14 May

My rewritten life is to the beauty of this flower as my first life was to the wall behind it

God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.  Psalm 18:24  Msg.

When I read this verse in the Message it spoke to my heart.  God has rewritten my life.  The turning point was the moment I accepted Christ as my Savior.  Can you also look back upon that moment when your life was reversed?  When you opened your heart to Him and were totally changed?  What would my life have been without Him?  It would have been an “okay” life, but certainly not full of wonder due to the amazing grace I experience daily.  Certainly not full with wonder due to my relationship with the almighty Creator.  And certainly not full of gratitude to Him who meets me at my point of need and of failure.

So I looked this verse up in another version to study it and it read like this:

Therefore has the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness (my uprightness and right standing with Him), according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.  Psalm 18:24 Amp.

At first, I didn’t see the connection between the two translations at all, and then it dawned on me that the key words in the amplified version are in His sight.  Take a look at this verse:

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:17

God first gives us holiness and then rewards us for it. He sees us as righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf.  He’s rewritten our lives because of Christ’s righteousness and His work within us.  All we had to do was open our hearts to Him.   Is the rewritten text perfect?  Only in relationship to God.  Is the rewritten text different?  I can’t even begin to imagine in how many ways it is different, but I can look back and see the path my life was on and know that I know that I know that I know that the rewritten text is a thing of grace and mercy.

Fearless in Your Marriage

27 Apr

Bridal Veil

The world has a skewed sense of marriage.  Many Christian books about marriage lean toward the world’s idea of marriage, and we need to be cautious when we read them.  I recently read the BEST book about marriage:  marriage matters by Winston Smith.  As I read, I thought about the many fears we have in our marriages:

Will he leave me?  (The big fear.)  Will it always be like this?  (Another biggie in those bad moments.)  Does he still find me attractive?  Will he still love me after what I just said?  Can I still love him after what he just did?  Does he love me or just the love making?

The world tells us that marriage is about making each other happy and fulfilling each other’s needs.  We do agree, however, with the world on one thing:  marriage is all about love.  Unfortunately our definitions differ.  In the world, love is a feeling.  In the Bible love is a commitment to do what is best for the other person.  Marriage is a place where we have the opportunity to love and accept one another and continually help each other grow..

We cannot do this if we are not involved in an intimate relationship with God.  We need to worship Him, who is love and who loves us, to be able to agape love another in the everyday moments of life.

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? Galatians 5:13

“Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain”

15 Apr

Some of you may recognize this quote from The Wizard of Oz, spoken of the charlatan controlling “The Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz” from behind the scenes.

I was reading this morning in Marriage Matters by Winston T. Smith and came across four ways we speak honestly, but without love.  One of them is “mind reading” and I whimpered ouch! as I read.  (The “Wizard” of Oz also “read” minds.  I’m about as good at it as he was.)  Mind reading, in the context of the book,  is assuming the worst about your spouse despite what they’ve told you.  I’m guilty.  I’ve done this.  I’ve been convinced that I know why Mike’s done something despite the words that are coming out of his mouth.  And Mike is an honest guy!

According to Marriage Matters, mind reading has two bad effects in a marriage:

For one thing, mind reading tends to extinguish whatever good was motivating your spouse. . . . Second, mind reading destroys the heart of communication, the need to share information.  If you already know what I’m thinking and why I’m doing what I’m doing, why should I bother to explain it to you? And if the results of all my efforts so far is that you believe the worst about me, why would I hazard offering more information?

Ooh, I repent of any further mind reading.  Lord, help me recognize it the moment it begins.  Even if it’s not thinking the worst, but simply putting words in Mike’s mouth, let me not stop our communication.  Amen.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Eph. 4:15

A Personal God

13 Apr

Don’t ever fear that you have lost God’s love or his acceptance.  You’ve been adopted and He gives grace lavishly!

P.S.  If you want to play with my new toy, just go to PilotHandwriting.com, print out a template, fill in the boxes, upload it, and you too can send e-mails in your own handwriting.  The whole process only took me about 10 minutes to set up.

Mixed Marriages

7 Apr

Mike and I: turning each other into beautiful sea glass??

She makes her ponderous way to Iacopo’s office and emits a quiet growl of exasperation at the stacks of paperwork piled on the dining table after a late meeting with the congregation officers.  Hoping to reform Iacopo when they first married, Mirella proudly provided her new husband with a nice, big filing cabinet.  Iacopo dutifully filed it with correspondence and scribbled notes, but the organization remained more geological than alphabetical.  Several arguments later, he declared, “There are two kinds of people, cara mia, pilers and filers.  Ours is a mixed marriage.  –A Touch of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

I am a piler; Mike is a filer.

That is only one of the areas in which we have a mixed marriage.  We have both emitted a lot of “quiet growls of exasperation” at the other during the years we’ve been married.  Can you read the following verses and apply them to marriage?

Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.  And oh, my dear Timothy, guard the treasure you were given! Guard it with your life. Avoid the talk-show religion and the practiced confusion of the so-called experts. People caught up in a lot of talk can miss the whole point of faith.  Overwhelming grace keep you!  1 Timothy 6:18-21

My husband is a treasure given my by God.  But we’re a mixed marriage.  He’s a diamond and I’m a ruby.  We can only handle mixed-marriages with God’s grace.  Grace is the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

The next time I emit a quiet growl of exasperation at Mike, I’m going to try to remember to ask God for grace to see him and all of our little difference for my good, in the way that sea glass gets worn into something beautiful by the continual abrasion of waves against sand.

What Can We Learn From the Mayo Clinic?

5 Apr

The Mayo Clinic (photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattwthorn/)

I recently spent four days at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and am wondering what we, the church, and we, as individuals, can learn from the Mayo Clinic.

1.  Even though it is large, the Mayo Clinic focuses on the individual.  They are people centered.  You feel that your health matters to people from the moment you enter the door.

Love endures long and is patient and kind.  1 Corinthians 13:4a

2.  People at the Clinic overflow with kindness.  (O.K., there was one person in the cafeteria who wasn’t friendly, but she wasn’t unfriendly either!)

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence).  Galatians 5:22-23a

3.  Everything about the Mayo Clinic is designed to bring a sense of peace:  from the colors and lighting to the fountains and flowers.

Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous– with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!  Matthew 5:9

4.  The Mayo Clinic is informative.  You receive a packet of papers after your initial intake consultation that tells you where to be, when to be there, and how to prepare.  If you have any questions, there is an army of volunteers ready to help.

His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), [That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.  Ephesians 4:12,13

Small Moments: Selah

29 Mar

A small moment that I treasure with three of my granddaughters: Shaye, Galilee, and Kayden

My friend’s father died on Sunday and that has made me think even more about small moments.  It’s easy to see the overall narrative of someone’s life:

Mom:  Funny, loved God, encouraging, loving, supportive, protective, and champion of the underdog (From her beloved Chicago Cubs to the migrant workers).

Dad:  Loved life, loved God, loving, always believed the best, hard working, champion of the underdog.

But when our parents died, did we discuss these things?  No.  We knew them.  We savored the small moments.  We shared as many small moments with each other that we knew and lapped up small moments that people shared with us like ice cream cones.

  • My dad taking me out for pie after work and discussing life with me.
  • Mom developing a dance routine for me and my friends.
  • Dad teaching me how to swim, ice skate, and drive.
  • Mom teaching me how to tap dance.  And cartwheel.

It’s the small moments that add up to the narrative arc of life.  Don’t think about adding to your overall narrative, but what small moments can you “write” today?

Selah:  Stop and think about it.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Small Moments

26 Mar

Small Moments: aka Seed Stories. We have many seeds to plant.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

We all have a story.  When we teach students to write their stories we ask them to focus on the small moments.  Sometimes we use the metaphor of seed stories and watermelon stories.

Watermelon stories go like this:  Summer vacation was great.  We went to the beach, and then we hiked, and then we went out to eat, and then we visited Disney World.  Yadda yadda.

Seed stories are small moments that take on an importance when they’re looked at carefully.  For example, you might write about a moment on the beach where you felt completely at peace watching the children play and the waves come in.

If we are to do everything to the glory of God, small moments are important.  We even eat and drink to the glory of God.  I treasure these small moments–these seed stories–in my heart:

  • When my grandson was saved because he read about his grandpa’s salvation in a book that I wrote for him.
  • Reading to my four grandchildren who were strewn around me like kittens.
  • Mike and I studying a complex verse together.
  • Preparing dinner for my guests.
  • Taking my grand-daughters (at least the three who would appreciate it) out for dessert at a fancy restaurant, giving them flowers, and reading a book about how much God loves them while we waited for dessert.

I’m not tooting my own horn.  We all have small moments worth treasuring.  As we make God’s presence visible in our relationships we glorify Him!  Let’s challenge ourselves to focus on revealing Him to others today and the seeds will be as the seeds of a dandelion, flying this way and that to be planted in the lives of others.  What small moments are you treasuring today?

I planted the seed, Apollos [or someone else] watered it, but God has been making it grow.  1 Cor. 3:6

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/33103226@N00/465686800

Am I Loving Enough?

24 Mar

Love others

Self-doubt.

Self-condemnation.

Self-measurement.

Self-focus.

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.  Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.  If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. –C.S. Lewis

I remember hearing a message once called “Fake It Until You Make It.”  That message always bothered me.  But I don’t think this is what C.S. Lewis is saying here.  I think he’s talking about the fact that the Biblical definition of love is about actions not feelings.  Let’s take action today.  Bring someone a cup of coffee.  Cook someone’s favorite meal.  Smile.  Send an encouraging e-mail.  Have fun.

Photo courtesy: http://moonstarsandpaper.blogspot.com/2007/02/hearty-breakfast.html

What is Your Mood Today?

20 Mar

One thing doesn't change

Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.  For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes.  I know that by experience.

Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable:  but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.  This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway.  That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue:  unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. –C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Ahab went home in a black mood, sulking over Naboth the Jezreelite’s words, “I’ll never turn over my family inheritance to you.” He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat. 1 Kings 21:3b MSG

Have you ever gone home, stuffed your face in your pillow, and refused to eat?  Or left the house skipping because of a de-lovely breeze, colorful sunrise, and chattering morning birds?  Our days are greatly affected by our moods, which are by definition changeable; but there is something that is unchanging:  God and His love for us.

But I have trusted in Your faithful love.  Psalm 13:5

Just today I was reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer who struggled with melancholy all of his life.  But.  He believed in God and His love.  And so can we!