Archive for the ‘love’ Category

What is Love?

March 8, 2016

“Don’t just pretend you love others,; really love them.”  Romans 12:9

What would it look like if we really loved people?  What is love anyway?  Years ago, in nursing courses, it was said “Love Thy Neighbor” meant having concern for his needs, including his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.  In that sense, nursing and nursing care plans are filled with love.  But does that mean all nurses love their patients?  Is it possible to look out for someone’s needs in the sense of checking off a list without actually loving them?  What does it mean to love?

If I see someone going by, or standing on their lawn while I go by, or see someone in the marketplace, do I ever look at their face?  Do I read their expression?  Do I wonder about how they are feeling?  Do I speak if I can, or smile if I can’t, or wave if I’m not close enough to be seen or heard?  Do I acknowledge that person in any way?

In big cities and crowded places its easier just not to acknowledge strangers at all, and some people remain anonymous for days on end.  Psychologists say we need to be acknowledged by others and to acknowledge them in return daily to be healthy both mentally and physically.  But we don’t take the time for it.  Is it the sheer numbers of people?  Would all that smiling or speaking wear us out while making our way to work?

What if we just acknowledged the people we see often?  Would that be too much?  Or would that smile and word nourish someone’s mind and emotions for another day?  Would it nourish our own mind and emotions for another day?

What about marriage and the family?  How much time do we spend interacting with our families?  The gift of listening without interruption is a precious gift.  And we learn more about our loved ones.  We appreciate them more.  And those gifts of being available to them nourish them, and nourish us.  What if we said “I will silence my phone for 2 hours each evening”, and spent that time in face to face conversation at home?  I wonder how many divorces would be prevented if we honored each other that way?  I wonder if we would have happier, better adjusted, higher achieving kids.  I talked to a boy the other day who said both his parents were working and going to school.  Then he sighed and said there was no one to listen to him anymore.  So I listened, even though he wasn’t my boy, because it may have nourished his little heart and soul for another day.

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What I Did for Love

February 14, 2016

“If any of you wants to be my follower, He told them, you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely.”  Mark 8:14

How many remember the title of this post as a song?  That might be dating yourself, as its quite an old classic.  1975, to be exact.  It was from the Broadway play “A Chorus Line”.  It isn’t about love for a person, but about what one is willing to do to reach a goal or fully realize a talent.  Much sacrifice is required for greatness.

Why are there not more Olympic records broken by Americans?  Why are there not more great scientific discoveries by Americans?  Why are there not more great inventions by Americans?  Why are there not more Americans with advanced educational degrees?  Why are there not more Americans with lifelong marriages?  Why are there not more Christians doing truly great things for God?

I think Jesus provides the answer in the quote above.  To be Jesus follower will cost you.  Oh surely, He had many fair weather followers, and many quiet, hidden followers, but for the disciples who would physically follow Him everywhere He went, the sacrifice was very great.  It meant leaving home and family, familiarity, comfort, bed, meals, security, and so on right up to giving one’s life.

By the way, the answer to all the questions in paragraph two is the same–too much sacrifice.  We always have people who admire or envy those who achieve greatness, but they do not achieve all of which they are capable or all which they dreamed, because they felt the sacrifice was too great.

 

A Prayer for Help to Forgive

March 12, 2011

Lord, I know unforgiveness blocks Your living water in my own soul.  It cuts off the flow in my spiritual arteries.  What am I to do?  I see things and hear things that stab my heart.  Immediately I must bring them to You.  You saw what I saw.  You know I feel what I feel.  I am to leave this in Your capable hands.  You know what I cannot know.  You see into the heart of the other person, and You will deal with them in love, as is necessary.  I am to let go and just love.  I can “just love” by praying for their good, and by saying and doing good to them if and where I am able.  I am to think their good by remembering that You love them and You are bringing about good in their life.  Help me have Your thoughts and an attitude that pleases You.

Loving an Enemy–a prayer

March 12, 2011

Lord, I can’t control what others do to me, but I can control the attitude of my own heart.  Help me truly love, care for, pray for and sacrifice for those who do not love me–who indeed may hate me.  You loved like that, Jesus.  Now You are letting me experience the sorrow of having an enemy who has done harm to my soul and spirit.  Lord, I know this is a practical lesson.  I am to practice loving the way You do–not just think about it.  I need Your help so much.  Please change my deepest heart attitudes–especially the ones I don’t know about, and bring my attitudes in line with Yours.

The Alabaster Jar

March 15, 2010

Lord, I’m looking at Your response to the woman who poured perfume over You, and I see some new things.  I see extravagance on her part we nust never see today.  She sacrificed probably a year’s wages to honor You.  How many of us have hearts like that?  This alabaster jar of perfume may have been her dowery.  She sacrificed, in a sense, her whole future for love of You.  I see a motive of pure love and sacrifice of literally all she had.  She may not have plotted shrewdly where her gift could do the most good, but she gave out of the deepest, most beautiful desire to honor You.  You were pleased.

What is Worship

March 8, 2010

This morning’s message was on worship.  While taking notes, I made lots of my own observations–reflections on the reflection, so to speak.  Anyway, a “fleshed out” version of my total note page follows.

What is worship?  The pastor likes the definition “loving God back”.  I like that too.  How can worship even be worship without love?  How can a phone call to a parent, made out of duty and without love have any value at all?  If I’m loving God back, it explains why the scripture tells us to “lift up holy hands”.  A little child lifts up its hands to its parent, saying “pick me up”, “I want you”, “I want us to hug”.  Since we are to come to our heavenly father as little children, lifting up our hands conveys all that childlike emotion and desire.

God loved me even before I was formed.  The scripture says God watched my formation and recorded the prenatal events in his book.  How like a pregnant mother!  That is love!!  I want to love him back with my whole heart.  How can I do that?  Love requires expression for its life.  How can I express that love to God?

I can offer God my whole day.  If I think of my daily life as an offering, it changes the way I see it.  In this day of offering, I can look for “divine appointments”.  I can be on watch for things God would like to show me.  I can be primed to show gratitude and appreciation for the things, people and events all around, for which I owe God thanks.  I can ask for and watch for an opportunity to share God’s love with someone else who needs that encouragement.  I can also watch for opportunities to serve God’s kingdom in some way.  I can be aware of the need to be loved–my own and that of others.  Everyone wants love and everyone wants to belong to something wonderful and bigger than themselves.  Everyone actually wants Jesus, although they can argue they don’t.  They aren’t being honest about what is keeping them from Him.  Jesus always demands that honesty, and will go right to the heart of that issue if we aren’t too busy pushing Him away.  When he probes us, sharp though it is, He always touches us with His tenderness.

Jesus said God wants worship in Spirit and Truth.  We worship in truth when we use our intellect.  It is based in growing knowledge of God and His ways.  Worship in spirit is emotional and is based on growing love and appreciation of God.  The “AHA” moments of discovery involve worship in truth.  The misty eyes and lump in the throat involve worship in Spirit.  We can’t have one without the other.   Spirit without truth results in emotional excess (there is such a thing), and  Truth without spirit results in dead intellectualism.  (I think its the reason theological schools can produce agnostics). 

Its not up to us to figure out how to worship God.  It is responding to God who moves first.  We worship as God instructs us both in the scripture and by His Spirit.  Its our spirit connecting to God’s Spirit.

Why do people find church boring ?  They don’t come expecting to meet God there.  They come for a bundle of other reasons, but don’t come to show their love to the God they already know and appreciate.  Worship is never about us, never for what we receive, and God forbid not about our entertainment.  Its about God’s Spirit touching our spirit, and when that happens, the worship style is irrelevant.  We can be touched in formal “high church” as well as a noisy “rock church”.  All that matters is coming into God’s presence, letting ourselves be open to God and grateful to Him, and the fruit of that is more love.  Its the love that the world will see on Monday.  If not, something was missing on Sunday.

The 45 Minute Solution

March 2, 2010

When confronting “the blues”, dullness, boredom and the like, I was once given a transforming recipe by a mature and wise pastor.  I call it the 45 Minute Solution.

First, spend 15 minutes a day reading the bible.  Ask the Lord to speak to you through the bible, and you can even ask Him what book of the bible to read.  Personally, I like the gospels, epistles and psalms, but I have never read a book of the bible where I didn’t find a little nugget of gold that met my exact needs at that moment.  Just be aware that God will speak to you if you ask Him and your soul is open and willing to hear Him.

Second, spend 15 minutes a day pouring out your heart to God.  Ask Him for everything you need, lay all your burdens before Him, and don’t forget to thank Him for all the ways you have seen Him help you.

Third, spend 15 minutes a day encouraging someone else’s faith, sharing the hope the Lord has given you.  You can do this through spoken or written words.  You can’t encourage someone else without the encouragement strengthening you, too.  As an old proverb says, the fragrance remains on the hand that gives a rose.

Try this for a couple of weeks.  I promise it will be life changing.

In-Laws, How to Share a Loved One

February 20, 2010

In this culture we don’t have a say in choosing who our children will marry, and they may very well marry someone with emotional issues or someone who hates their new in-laws.  Whats a parent to do?  I wrote this little scene after listening to families struggle with new additions who aren’t connecting.

I have a baby tiger in my garden.  It is not at all tame, and it appears to have some old, unhealed wounds.  I have been trying to get close, but it growls and hisses.  Sometimes, when I speak gently to it, I can draw closer, and then it bites or gives me a nasty scratch.  I don’t hate it when it bites and scratches.  I know it is what it is.  Its not tamed, and its protecting itself.  I do wish I could get a vet to look at its wounds, or an expert who can help me tame it.  But I can’t do those things, for it doesn’t belong to me.  My child, whom I love very much, has brought it into my garden.  So for the sake of my child, it is welcome.  I hope someday it will become used to me, and the growling and hissing will stop.  It may never let me touch it, but perhaps we can both be in the garden in peace.

How to Get into Heaven

February 17, 2010

“Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

Once there were two little boys who lived near the best theme part in their part of the country.  More than anything in the world, they would have loved to spend a day there.  Their parents, however, were far too poor to be able to afford the almost $40 ticket.  Well, the boys decided they would earn their way inside.  One thing they knew how to do was to sell candy.  So they pooled their allowances and bought a supersize bag of mints, and at the beginning of the summer they began selling their mints at 2 cents each.

On the last day before school was to start, they were standing outside the gates of the park, counting their profits, to see if they could buy tickets inside.  What a disappointment!  Their total profit for the whole summer was $2.40, not enough for even one of them to be anywhere close to getting in.  Slowly, they started to walk away, when they came face to face with a kindly old gentleman who offered to let them in.  “How can you let us in, when we don’t have tickets?” they asked.  “I own the place” replied the man.  “Can we give you our $2.40? ” they asked.  “Of course not”, said the man, “Use that for something when you get inside.”

Can you imagine the boys refusing to accept the old gentleman’s offer?  Can you imagine their being so proud, they would insist they couldn’t possibly accept charity, even though paying their own way was never going to happen?  Little children don’t have that kind of foolish pride.

None of us can ever earn our way into heaven.  It cost more than any human will ever hope to be able to pay.  Whatever good things we do are gifts of love and gratitude to Jesus, who has already prepaid our way in.  Why do we still find ourselves wondering if we are good enough to get in, counting our deeds, and afraid we will be embarrassed at how little we have to offer at the gates?

The Candy Cane

February 17, 2010

What if the candy cane isn’t a cane at all, but the letter J, upside down? Legend has it that a J is what it originally was.  J stands for Jesus, “God with us”, whose birthday we celebrate December 25.  God missed us so much that He came to be with us, being born and living as a human, so that He could have a relationship with us and we humans could understand what God is really like.

The red stripes on the J represent the great love of God, who would rather die than lose a single one of us.  It did turn out that way.  He died defeating the evil one who was holding us, intent on eventually destroying us.

The white stripes on the J represent eternal life–our heavenly  home.  Anyone who has ever lost a child, and any child who has become lost from their parent knows the anguish felt until they can be reunited again and the child is safe at home.  God feels that way about us, and leans on the window of heaven day by day, watching and waiting for us.  HE can hardly wait until we are home with Him for good.