Lessons From A Large Love

Have you been entrusted with a ‘large love’ in your life?  A love that is equal parts gift, privilege, responsibility and vulnerability?  I believe those loves are to give us a glimpse of the love God has for each and every person.  Learning to steward such a love takes a lifetime!  It requires embracing the love and then living the legacy it creates.

This piece is a stewarding of a love our family enjoyed–and it is offered to help you steward the loves God has given you.  It is offered to turn your eyes to the love of God that is the greatest love of all.  Love transforms when we allow it.  Let’s love well.

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The large love that captivated our whole family entered our home just six years ago.  Scout arrived as a 16th birthday gift for our daughter.  He loved his ways into everyone of our hearts.

He was 10272773_10207170337528839_2400701400572314300_onever a demanding dog–he never needed to be.  His gentle presence lulled you into giving him most anything he wanted.  Even at 90 pounds, he lived as a lap dog.

He simply loved and taught us how to do the same.

The Bible is the place to go for the best definition of love.  1 Corinthians 13 is the ‘love chapter’ and I know it well…but head-to-heart learning has to be lived.  This precious dog reminded me of truths about love too beautiful not to share.

Love it patient and kind…It does not demand its own way.

It’s wonderful to be around love, but it’s an even greater joy TO LOVE.  The nature of this 46897238_10215414416865670_8701322365503537152_n (1)gentle giant wooed everyone.  His size made it common for him to 46514110_2120609104669020_1511515110198214656_nget his way–but he never demanded it.  He was a quiet giant who loved cats, bunnies and doves…and his nature was such that they loved him too!    The love of Scout was felt by the tiny animals he adored–and they quietly loved him back.

 

Love is not irritable and it keeps no record of wrongs.

Like most dogs, Scout lived in the moment.  Any wrongs were forgotten and love always his offering.  Miraculously, the nature of this precious boy led us to emulate the same beautiful characteristics.  90 pounds of dogs takes up a lot of space, creates a lot of mess and eats a lot of food.  It never mattered–until he wasn’t here and then the absence of those things just proclaimed his love more intensely.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful,

and endures through every circumstance.

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The same soulful eyes that talked to us daily, pleaded with us as the pain set in and his heart grew weaker.  The love he taught still pleads with us to not give up on love.  It is worth the grief to have loved well–and to have been loved.

But all of this is truly for a deeper purpose than the love of a great pet. For you see, love is from God.  We thought Scout was a birthday gift, but really he was a gift from God to us as a family.  The gift of Scout was to remind us what real love looks and feels like.  It was to remind us each what love accomplishes–and how to love better.  Scout was to remind us how God loves us and what that love will do if we will really live in the ‘large love’ of God.  Real love transforms!  Have you let Him transform you?

 

 

Courage for Life!

Life is hard.  Suicide is NOT the answer.

There are no easy answers and no short cuts to the clichéd idea of ‘a life worth living.’  The spate of suicides we’ve seen among the rich & famous scream out the emptiness of fame and fortune.  The devastating statistics on addiction declare a dead-end for escaping through mind-altering drugs. LIFE is worth living!

There is only one path to full, abundant living:  Jesus Christ.  He understood–and understands–the difficulties of life and made a way where it seemed there was no way.

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ALL life is a gift from the God of the Bible…the One who spoke the world into being and created from nothing.  There is but One God.  He doesn’t want life to be hard…but He uses the ‘hardness’ to draw us to Himself.  He wants us to bring the hard things to Him, trusting His plans for us are good–and His power to accomplish those plans sufficient!

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The courage we need to face life is found only in the character of God.  We must know who He is and live in that awareness.  What our mind knows that our heart can’t feel is useless to us.  It isn’t being able to state the ‘omni’s’ of God; it is being able to rest in those truths.

As difficult things come to us, we need to rest on the Truths of God’s identity–and our own.  We who believe in Jesus Christ–in the truth that we are lost/doomed to a dark eternity without the Saving work of Christ–are God’s beloved children; His chosen.  Those who do not have that kind of faith in God seek to make their own way to peace.  It is a hard road with a harder ending.

If you have faith but not victory, this short video from Kirk Cameron might give some insights on enjoying the benefits of relationship that aren’t found in religion.  If you do not have any faith, my prayer is that this same video will give you hope and this one offer clarity.

The essence of ‘salvation’ – of believing that Jesus is our personal need – is a reality we must live moment by moment.  Salvation is a one-time decision; living its truth is a daily necessity.  The Bible IS a light for our path.  We need to mine it daily to find the Truths that will transform even the hardest things into treasures from the King Himself.  God meets us right where we are if we will turn to Him.

God’s children can know that He is present in every difficulty.  Any challenge is a Father-filtered reality and His love surrounds it.  There is nothing that happens in our lives that takes Him by surprise or derails the good plans He has for us.  His power is unlimited.  What He purposes will take place.  He promises guidance.

Our task in life is simply this:  seek God’s face in all things.  In His presence is purpose and peace…abundant life for us and those around us.  He wants us to be connected to each other, loving each other and spreading His glory as we live.

How can I pray for you?

Comment below or send an email to:

billiejoyoumans@heartsongministry.net

 

Wounded by Friends

Caring about others makes you vulnerable in many ways.  The hurts our friends receive hurt us too.  We rise to their defense.  Those are hurts that can accomplish good.  They make us love harder and share one anothers’ burdens. We grow in strength together.

There are other shared hurts that can be deadly.  Our friends’ weaknesses can partner with our own and pull us both into deeper troubles.

But there’s an even greater vulnerability of friendship.  Sometimes friends directly hurt us…they betray us, accuse us of wrong, deceive us or abandon us.  The one we stood by leaves us high and dry.  The one we defended attacks us.

Those wounds are deep.   Does it seem odd that the wisdom of Proverbs says it is good?

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.  Proverbs 27:6

All hurts have the potential to open our heart to new depths of Christ’s healing love.  Every wound has the possibility that Joseph declared in Genesis:  ‘You meant it for evil but God meant it for good…for the saving of many lives.’  When we take our wounds to the Healer, new legacies are born…eternal promises unfold.

One wound we all share is the grief when a loved one dies.  As I write this, my own heart aches at the loss of a precious 21 year old.  A young man with a gentle and kind heart who had a smile for everyone he met.  A young man who fell into the bondage of addiction; a young man whose life was stolen away.  He left behind many wounded, crying hearts. My hope-filled prayer is that his chains will open the way for many to experience the truth of his favorite song.

At first glance, the song is a cruel irony.  This young man loved Jesus, yet his chains were not broken.  Some might think Jesus was not a faithful friend or that the devil and drugs had more power.  Those are lies.  The devil is a defeated foe; an earthly life was taken, but seeds for eternal life were sown.  The unbroken chains of my young friend (whose own heart was broken by his own captivity) are piercing hearts that Jesus longs to heal.

Will we who know the Healer speak clearly about Jesus?

There is a desperate need in our world for loving, confident voices of hope.  In Psalm 51, David–the man after God’s own heart–cried out in sorrow over his own sin but confidence in God’s kindness, “…a broken heart you will not despise” he says to God.

David understood that the walk of faith is not based on sinless perfection or the right actions of others.  He also understood the pain of honest confession and the humility needed to receive God’s plan.  The kindness of God does not create a sugar-coated, life of ease on earth.

The kindness of God brings about purposes of eternal good–and untangling our sins often creates heartaches.  Faith does not always know ‘why’ but it understands heartache prepares ground for the good purposes of God!

God does what it takes to draw hearts to Him.  Horribly hard consequences came from the sin David wept over.  God forgave him but warned him a sword would slash through his family.  The consequences, though, didn’t wipe out the promises made to David decades before::

“…the LORD himself will establish a house for you…I will raise up your offspring…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  I will be his father, he will be my son….My love will never be taken away from him…Your house and your kingdom will endure forever…”  2 Samuel 7:12-17

 

God is faithful to His promises; we can reap the rewards of David’s promises too.  Centuries after David died our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ entered his family.  At least a dozen times, Scriptures refers to Jesus as the Son of David.  God was faithful to His promise.  The Messiah, Immanuel – God with Us – breaks legacies of sin when broken hearts are brought to Him for healing.

Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and give us abundant life.  He died for our sins…and the hurts caused by sin.  We are never more unfaithful to Jesus than when we fail to receive healing for our wounds.

The wounds of life have purpose and beautiful potential when we place them in the loving hands of Jesus.

When we hold on the hurts, our voices are silenced.  We are like the addict, self-absorbed with meeting our own needs.  We never mean to hurt another.  We simply feel hopelessly trapped in our own hurt, clouded by our own questions.  The lies of the enemy loom so large that we can’t see Jesus.  We can’t give hope to others because we have not received it for our self!  The life Jesus died to give us is silenced.  We dishonor His work on our behalf; we are faithless friends.

Jesus shows us how to deal with unfaithful friends…with friends who use us, reject us, neglect us, abandon us.  Jesus died for friends like that.  He surrendered to the will of the Father; He lived out love to the end.  We are not separated from His love by the heartaches of life IF we give them to Him.  Then He plants His own life, and we become fields where hope blooms.

Do you have hard spots in your heart…spots that throb with anger, resentment and hurt…spots that have hurt so long numbness is all you feel?  Do you have habits you can’t break, relationships you can’t heal?  Let Jesus break your heart wide open.   He is the faithful friend who will heal every hurt.  Then receive the Living Word, let it take root and share it with the hurting world around you.  

Love Life

Shortly after 9/11 there was an interview with an ISIS member who captured for me the essence of their heart.  He said something like this:

“America, you will never win because you love life and we love death.”

He may be right…our country may not win, but we don’t have to lose.  Christ is life; He already won by overcoming death.  He offers us life.

In the face of yet another murderous attack, I share a piece from Fixing our Eyes on God.  We need not be fearful or victimized.

Know Jesus.  Know Peace.  No Jesus.  No Peace.

Our look at the Lord today is a well-known title: Jesus is Life.  It (life) is a passion for God; He is the giver of Life.  God loves Life and longs for every soul to know the abundance of true Life. Jesus came that we could know the fullness of eternal life.  But Satan loves death and constantly seeks to blind all to true Life.  He directs our attention to illusions of life that are only death in masquerade:  fame, fortune and adventure.  True Life is Jesus.
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, Scripture guides us to Life.

All Scripture points us to the fullness of Life—to Jesus.  The writings of the disciple John repeatedly remind that Jesus is Life.   John quotes Christ’s own words that ‘He is the way, the truth and the life.’  Jesus is the only way to God; He is the source of truth; and Jesus is Life itself.  The gospel of John opens by beautifully laying out Christ’s eternality as the Word, the Life and the Light of the world.  John’s gospel ties perfectly with the Psalmist who praised the light given by the Word.  It knits with Paul’s explanation that the presence of Jesus reveals eternal life.  The Word, Jesus, is light and life to all who receive it.  The Greek dictionary defines the light that the life of Christ brings as a light unable to be kindled or quenched by another!  Satan can deceive for a time, but he cannot produce a light that endures.  The Word who is Life and Light will never pass away.
Fixing our eyes on the source of life is the only way to navigate this treacherous world safely—and to help others do likewise.  No path on earth can resist the light produced by Christ’s life.  As we allow His life to fill the darkest parts of our lives, the pathway we should take becomes clear.  The shadows that fill the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ flee in the presence of eternal Life!  The despairs that threaten our souls—loneliness, addictions, fear—dissipate when the truth of His life penetrate.  Lives filled with His life illumine the paths of others as well.
In addition to the Light that accompanies the Life, scripture reminds us of other ways Christ is life to this world.  Jesus is the ‘living bread’ and the ‘living water.’  His Life is sustenance and refreshment in this dry, weary land.   As pilgrims, we are not to rely on any other source for life than Jesus Himself.  When the Life of Christ fills us, that which is ‘dead’ becomes alive.  In fact, Christ calls us to be ‘living stones’ in this world of death.  Our lives are to evidence what Christ told Martha:  “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…” (John 11:25).  Our lives are to overflow with the Life of Jesus so that He spills onto those who walk nearby us.

Gaining vision!

MarinesSweet name to consider this morning:  Lifter of My Head.  Sometimes my eyes get stuck in the yuck.  The heartaches, the sin, the stuff of life hold my gaze…and I fail to see the King of Glory.  Ah, but Psalms 3:3 tells me, HE is the lifter of my head.  I will wait for His touch and yield to it that I might see the next step!  He who promised to never leave is always with us.  In the mess, He can be seen if we let Him lift our eyes.      Choose Faith!