Tag Archives: love

Helpless in the Face of Horror

There are times in life we find ourselves completely helpless. We see horror unfolding. We see injustice. We see pain and suffering. Yet, we are powerless to change the course of the events. It is humbling.

HALLELUJAH!  God never despises a humble heart!

When Judas kissed Jesus in Gethsemane, the power of sin rolled forward at break-neck speed. Sin often catches us unaware…even though we launch it on its way. By the time we notice, it’s too late. At the meal earlier in the night, Jesus had declared that He was about to be handed over for execution. He plainly stated that one of his trusted disciples would be the betrayer. Every disciple, including Judas, had asked, “I’m not the one am I, Rabbi?” Later, Jesus even told the disciples, “You will all fall away from me.” His words were inconceivable to them. We don’t comprehend our weakness until it stares us in the face.

Jesus understands it. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” While Jesus wrestled before the Father in sorrow, Peter, James and John slept. At His point of greatest need, His closest friends were powerless to help. Only the Father above could give Jesus the help He needed. He poured out His heart with passion…and total trust in His heavenly Father. While flesh fails in the face of grief and horror, surrender to the Father produces eternal victory. “Thy will be done,” are words of faith and power. Jesus was not helpless in the face of horror…He was fixed on the Father’s will.

In fact, Jesus declared that He could ask the Father at any point to save Him…to send Him legions of angels. But love kept Him on mission. Love strengthened Him to walk through horror confident of the Father’s plan. Hebrews tells us ‘for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.’ Because of Jesus, that same focus can be ours.

After the Passover meal, Jesus again poured out His heart to the disciples seeking to prepare them for what was to come. He spoke of the future, of the coming Holy Spirit…of disciples doing greater works than Jesus Himself…of receiving ‘anything that is asked in His name.’ “Don’t let your hearts be troubled,” He encouraged. ‘Abide in my love, obey me.’ Then He said, ‘I tell you all these things, so you can love one another.’

Love is power that removes the helplessness. We see what Love looks like as we watch Jesus in the trial and on the cross. We see what Love most clearly when we are most helpless. On this day of Holy Week, consider:

• When has sin snuck up on you and left you powerless?
• Why is love that is based on the Father’s will so powerful?
• How does our helplessness in COVID-19 increase our understanding of love?

Holy Week 2020 – A Legacy of Love

The Disciples thought they understood Passover. It was a tradition they knew well. During that final meal with Jesus, though, the fullness of their understanding expanded exponentially. What formerly celebrated a past event became an eternal expression of the sacrificial love of God. The Scriptures eloquently say, “Having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them until the end.” Nothing of what Jesus knew was coming – indeed nothing He experienced – deterred expression of His love.

This entire evening provides another feast for our souls. The Word declares that Jesus was agitated in spirit. But He remained on mission…a servant of the Father above. During the meal, Jesus would bring the symbolism of the bread and wine to a shocking reality: the breaking of His own body and the shedding of His blood to cover sin. He didn’t replace tradition. In fact, Jesus said as you do this in the future, remember Me. The revelations of Jesus build line upon line!

Before Jesus knelt to wash the disciples’ feet, we glimpse the heart that chooses surrendered service. Knowing His authority, where He came from and where He was going, the Master chose the lowliest of work for Himself. He could have delegated it. He could have demanded it. Instead, He performed it. That’s what secure love looks like!
That same evening, the disciples argued about who is greatest. They mumbled amongst themselves. Peter even debated with Jesus his need for washing and over-estimated the depths of his loyalty. Judas, possibly even deceived in his own heart, betrayed Jesus. Those are the actions of those not yet matured in love. Those are the actions of you and me.

Yet, as Judas departs, Jesus declares, “Now the Son of Man is glorified.” Jesus sees what is to come and declares it in the present moment. That often left the disciples puzzled…and we as well! Even then, Jesus doesn’t falter in His mission. He keeps feeding and teaching: ‘A new command I give you. Love others as I have loved you.’ One of the most beautiful passages of Scripture rests here…John 17, Christ’s prayer for his disciples…for you and me. His love poured out even as He faced the darkest night.

Consider:

• When your heart is burdened and anxious, what pours out?
• When has Jesus left you confused…and how did you find your way to the Light?
• How does COVID-19 (and other dark times of life) help us love more fully?

 

Dove Note – Do you hear me?

Welcome Back!  If you missed the intro to this little series of lessons from my doves, visit here.

The first Dove Note God sent through my doves was this:  “I enjoy conversation!”

TRUTH:  DOVES ARE SOCIAL!

Sometimes I will awaken in the middle of the night and hear my doves chattering to one another.  Their low, trilling voices are quiet and persistent.   In the afternoon when I go out to feed, they tend to be quiet until they hear my voice…and then conversation is on!  They return to quiet as I go into the cage and listen as I chatter to them.  But if I will stand quietly, the conversation resumes. Can you see the parallels in our relationship with God?

TRUTH:  LOVE DEMANDS EXPRESSION!

God chose to create humanity because of His great love.  He wasn’t lonely; He didn’t need people.  He loved and in that love, God created humanity.  Living in that love is His desire for every one of us.  Like the nearly constant chatter of my doves, God is speaking to us all the time…calling out, speaking sweet truths and inviting us to draw near to Him.Jeremiah-33-Pin-900x1633.jpg

Conversation with God is a joy that we can enter anytime.  His voice, like my doves, is quiet and persistent.  Have you spent time calling out to Him today?  Have you spent time listening to Him today?  God wants us to share our hearts–and share His.

Do you hear Him speaking to you? He is…and His language is love.

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?

 

 

Condition of Love

Love is not in very good shape in our world, is it?  Hateful, despicable words are common.  This world has a filter of self-indulgence, self-defense and self-promotion.  Sadly, it is a filter used by religious folks as much as political leaders. In contrast, the filter of love is the character of God.  The silver lining of the gloomy condition of love in our world is that even a tiny light of true love will gleam with the Glory of God.  

Unconditional love does not mean there are no conditions…it means that the love surpasses all conditions.  That is very good news for all of us!  Love is the character of God; true love received will transform us into His likeness.  It will not excuse our filter of self promotion.  It will change us and then we can be used to change the world.  We live in a thirsty world–a world dying for the love described in Scripture.

A story captivated my heart this morning.  A seven-year old child in the Philippines, abandoned by parents whose ability to love couldn’t stand the rigors of marriage and family, heard of the love of God in the Bible.  At seven, this child was selling fish to have enough money to eat; she baby-sat for family to have enough money to go to school.  At seven, she longed for love.  To this lonely, isolated little girl, the Words of Jesus called…and thankfully, servants of Jesus showed this precious child what that love looked like.  My heart was pierced.  I know there are people longing for love all around me.

Do I live the love of God enough to bring its refreshing, life-giving supply to those who are dying of thirst around me?

We cannot give what we do not have; yet often that is what we try to do as Christians.  We love the idea of the love of God.  We even tell others that God loves them.  We love with our self-filtered idea of love…indulging, defending and promoting our own ideas. 

But love is the character of God…not the efforts of fallen humanity.  Love that transforms; love that quenches thirst comes from above!  It is the love of God that enters our lives and changes us that allows us to love in a transforming way.  Human love manipulates and demands; it simply adds to the deadly sins killing our world.

The Word of God is intended to enter our ears and exit our feet.  As it seeks to fill every corner of our being, every facet of our lives, our eyes become open to the places where love is not a reality for us.

The love of God longs to transform those hard spots.  We cannot love well until it does.  We have to be thirsty for the love of God to be real for us before we can take that love to another.  Love is messy; it exposes things that don’t look like God in US.  Until we let it do

overflowing-cup
Photo by shioshvili via Flickr (Creative Commons)

its work in us, it cannot flow out of us.  Love is the only answer to the deadly sins of our world…the sins that are just evidence of hearts longing for love:  the drug addictions, the sexual immoralities, the lusts for power & control.  

Are we thirsty enough for love that we will allow it into us?   Do we trust God enough to let Him love us AND change us? 

In the story of seven-year old Jasel, the writer described the thirst this way:

“…insatiable desire for the love spoken of in the Bible.”

Jesus is the living water.  We are to be vessels of that water.  He lived and loved the will of the Father which was to draw people into relationship with our heavenly Father.  May our heart desire be to do the same.  The world is dying for love.  

Will you do the hard work of love?  Will you let the Father love you so much He reveals the hard spots in your life that need to be surrendered?  If you will, you become a vessel for the living water.  

Cross-Life coaching can help you face the hurting places where you need love.

LOVE IS A VERB.  Live it!

Real Relationships are Messy

Love.  Family.  Friends.  There is nothing like the holiday season to expose the imperfections of relationships.  Our ideals are so high; our desires grand.  The television commercials and social media shares leave us thinking everyone else has more love and better relationships than we do.  Take heart!  Real relationships don’t always look beautiful…and sometimes they don’t feel lovely either.  The truth is:

Real relationships are messy!

I believe they are meant to be…and God wants to transform the mess into a beautiful message of real love and real relationship.

Our lives are meant to be full of relationships. God, who is love, created humanity in His image for connection.  His image is marred in each of us but His loving pursuit of us is unfailing.  The vast difference between ourselves and the heart of God is revealed when we are in relationship with others.  Relationships show us where we are not like our Creator and inspire us to know Him more—and be more like Him.

God is the author of relationships, and the only source for success in relationships.    He is Creator and Sustainer.  His fervent, faithful love for each of us reveals our need for Him and shows us what it looks like to love others like He loves.

Committed, connected relationships don’t just happen.  Connection with others inevitably leads to hurt feelings and difficulties.  Relationships require attention, intention, effort and even sacrifice.  That is as it should be!  When relationships cause us distress—as every relationship will—there is a beautiful opportunity unfolding.

Do you recall how Jesus’ response to the accusers of the adulterous woman transformed the lives of all involved?  He simply wrote in the dirt.  As we walk through life, we must let Jesus write in our lives…whether we are the accuser or the accused.  Nothing anyone has done to me is greater than what I have done to the Lord of Lords.  In fact, when we sin against another, the sin pierces God first.   In relationship with others, we must train our eyes to look at Jesus first.  When we come to Jesus with our relationship issues, whether anger or hurt, He will reveal something within us that still needs transformation!

Rather than look to Jesus, our natural response to relationship problems is to lash back, make accusations, or hide in shame or self-protection.  Hurt people hurt people but healthy people help people.  The law of sowing and reaping is a vital relationship principle, but it is one that Jesus can alter!  In the natural realm, seeds of resentment produce a crop of resentments.  Anger breeds anger.  Seeds sown from the flesh and unholy spirits destroy lives and relationships.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil — and taking offense is a bait straight from Satan!  Refuse the bait and partner with Jesus to destroy the devil’s plans.

Scripture tells us that vision and understanding give us restraint.  Restraint is a powerful tool to employ in relationships.  Those tv commercials and Facebook posts are an idealistic vision.  Real vision comes from the Word.  Even in this godless age, many know John 3:16…

”For God so loved the world, He sent his only Son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”

The Father loved that Son whom He sent…that’s a bit harder look at love to embrace.  We like love that rescues.  We shirk love that sacrifices in such a profound way.  Even those who are willing to receive hurts to themselves resist allowing their loved ones to suffer.

We want loving relationships that give us only sweetness, and that is neither realistic nor beneficial.  Sincere love for another involves sacrifice and suffering on both sides FOR eternally good purposes!

Loving others is the spiritual service of a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

Relationships matter!  As 2016 comes to a close and a new year dawns, let’s spend some time looking at God’s plans and purposes for the relationships we enjoy in our lives.  We’ll begin with exploring how to expose roots of bitterness to the light of love!  Follow this website or like the Facebook Page to receive notice of the next entry.

Finding Real Love

Human love is fraught with problems that come from our human nature–selfishness, self-centeredness and a lack of faithfulness.  We say “I love you” and really mean “I love how you make me feel.”  The only way we can really love is to receive the love of God and let it pass through to others.  True agape love–the love that is God–is beyond our human abilities.

It intrigued me to discover that only Peter expressed his love directly to the Lord.  We often talk of ‘loving Jesus’ but the Scriptures do not record many such expressions.  There are many commands to love God and discussions of love, but stating love directly is a different story.   You may recall that the disciple Peter saw himself as totally committed to Jesus prior to his arrest…and then he betrayed him three times. It’s also interesting to note the kiss Judas betrayed Jesus with came from ‘phileo’ love–the love that is based on shared interests.  When Jesus restored Peter, he asked him:  “Do you (agape) love me?”  Three times Jesus asked about Peter’s love.  Twice he asked Peter if we agape loved him, and Peter replied, “I phileo love you.” Finally, Jesus asked him if Peter phileo loved him.  Jesus knows our limits and he agape loves us…he meets us where we are at!

The gift of love from another can give us a glimpse of the faithfulness of God’s love.  Make no mistake:  love matters.  We are called to love and do the best we can.  But true love only happens when it flows from the Creator.

We love each other because he loved us first.

If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[c] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?

1 John 4:19-20

Celebrate those who love you.  But most of all celebrate the One who is love and made it all possible..

Love is a VERB

Being loving is not an easy thing, but it is something we all desire to be! Love is a need for every person.  Stories written with love never end.

1 Corinthians 13 is the ultimate definition of what love looks like.  This is one of my favorite ways to remind myself what love looks like.  Perhaps it will bless you too.

Love is not just a word; it must be active and visible.  

I am loving when my actions are:

Patient. I don’t need to get even.

Kind. I seek to give and to do good.

Content. I don’t want what others have.

Humble. I don’t need to make myself look good.

Peaceable. I don’t always have to be right.

Courteous. I show respect.

Serving. I don’t have to get my own way.

Calm. I don’t blow up and lose my temper.

Forgetful. I don’t keep a list of ways I’ve been hurt.

Righteous. I want the best for others.

Truthful. I love God’s word and try to obey it.

Protective. I don’t say hurtful things about (or to) others.

Positive. I believe the best about others.

Hope. I believe good will come.

Endure. I will not give up.

Sometimes we need to read things ‘bottom-side’ up to have the TRUTHS penetrate.   Try this on for a change:

I am unloving when my actions say:

I will get even!

I will not be patient–I will not suffer long for you!

I have given enough!

I don’t want to do anything good for you!

I want more!

I am more important than you!

I am right!

I don’t care about what you need or think!

I want you to do it my way! I am mad and you need to know it!

I have been hurt by you too many times!

I want you to get what you deserve!

I don’t care what God says–I’m doing it my way!

I will say what I want–so what if it hurts you!

I know you can’t do that–you’re a loser!

I know you will never be loving to me!

I give up!

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Transforming Love for a Rebel

Truth is, he was a worthless pony.

Truth is, love gave value to his life.

An untrained stallion, the pulling pony bullied larger horses, kicked and bit unwary humans and rejected all authority. In the eyes of my pre-teen daughter, he was a dream filled withdakotapossibility. His rebel heart drew out her desire to love—and be loved even in her own rebellions. Her desires are the same desires every heart has—to love and be loved despite ourselves.

Named Dakota by his owners, she saw much more. Under his untamed forelock lay a blaze shaped like a question mark. She re-named him “Moonlight Mystery.” Her love for him reveals some of the great mysteries of love.

Loving his potential, she poured her heart and her time into him. She gained his trust in tiny increments. The rebel in him could not resist the time and attention she lavished upon him. The love of God is like that too. As we allow Him to touch us with His love, we cannot resist its transforming power. The love of God draws us toward the potential He intends for us to fulfill.

It would make a sweeter story to tell you that this young girl’s love transformed the rebel pony into a productive, prancing cart puller. Sadly, her love was not empowered by ownership. Disgusted with the pony, the owner sent him away. She never stopped loving Moonlight Mystery—and his life has meaning because of that.

Her love allowed him to teach valuable life lessons on rebellion, love and purpose. Love is like that—it takes a muddy mess and transforms it with purpose into its potential. The love of God not only offers us the chance to fulfill our potential, it includes an offer of adoption into His family. Jesus paid the price to redeem us from the rule of sin—and transport us into His Kingdom as His children.

Love fulfills potential and purpose.

If earthly love does not fail, how can we resist eternal love? Refusing our rebellion, submitting to His sacrificial love, brings purpose to our lives. Jesus believed we were worth dying for…do we believe He is worth living for?

Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.
The Message: Ephesians 1:4)

Sweet Post-script to this story:  We learned that “Moonlight Mystery” has since found an owner who loves him and is doing well!  Those seeds of love have been harvested!  Hallelujah!

Can you hear me now?

We all have those conversations with others that leave us feeling that nothing we thought we were saying was heard.  Whatever it is we intended to convey often takes a back seat to resentment and frustration.  Then, we assure that nothing is heard!

We live in a loud, loud world–where opinions are shouted as truth and personal preference is a god that divides and destroys.  Learning to hear and be heard is a vital pursuit.  We want our hearts to be intent on the cell phone slogan:  Can you hear me now?

A quiet heart resting in God is the key to hearing clearly.  It is also the key to speaking clearly.  When we have God in His rightful place, powering our lives, we will hear Him and heartothers will as well.

We intuitively understand the damage of speaking from a distressed heart.  ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.’  When our heart is impure and filled with ‘us’ instead of Christ, the words we speak reflect that.

David–the man after God’s own heart–gives us insight into what happens when we relate to others with a disquieted heart.

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.  Psalm 73:21,220227162151a

A heart that is pained and bitter makes us senseless and ignorant.  We can’t even think through what we are hearing or seeing. Our relationships with others are cut off.  We stand before God as a ‘beast’ instead of one made in His image.

The emotions God built into us are to alert us to the need to go for Him–for a clean-up, a restoration to what really matters.  We can’t simply acknowledge our unrest, we must confess it for the sin it is.  David didn’t dismiss his sin by excusing himself or accusing another…he said “I was senseless and ignorant.”  He owned his limitations and honored God.  Then, we see a beautiful picture of how God brings each of us into relationship with Him–and how we can restore relationships in our own lives.

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:23,24

God does not toss us aside or even turn His back on us when bitterness and pain causes us to be foolish and ignorant.  He holds us fast and guides us with kindness.  He refocuses on what really matters and leads us toward that.

My tendency in brick wall conversations is to drop the matter and move on.  Sometimes that is the right choice.  But always, loving others and leading them toward what really matters with kindness is the right choice. 

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of Christ.  We can only do that if we surrender our lives so Christ can be seen and felt.  Insisting on our opinion, requiring others to see things as we see them or feel about things as we do is not the way of Christ.   Through Jeremiah, God told His people, I have drawn you with cords of loving-kindness.  He is unchanging.  May we change into more of His likeness.