What's LOVE got to do with it? Everything! Love brings everything around to the simple answer. Real love takes away all the clutter and complications. "For God so Loved....". Love is unselfish. It brings things into focus and takes away all the questions. Love is an action word that comes with practice. I remember a time about 40 years ago when I first came to the knowledge of the Love of Jesus. My life was turned upside down by that knowledge. I was asked to share the reason for my life-change with the sister of a relative of mine. I was excited to share. The only problem was, I was carrying around a lot of misconceptions. I thought I needed to look a certain way and sound a certain way to make an impression. The truth of the matter was, she just needed to hear the words and sense the truth. I had my focus on "me". How did I look? What was I wearing? Did my hair look right? Was I sounding "cool"? Fortunately, God can work through all of that. As we mature in the Lord and in Life, we learn that Love is not about performance orientation. If you look at real Love, it is not focused on self but on others. Healthy love of self comes by believing what God says about us in His Word. He tells us that we are so valued that he gave his Son, Jesus, to die in our place, deserving nothing short of death ourselves. He loves us enough to have given the ultimate sacrifice to bring us into relationship with Him, namely to be called Sons and Daughters. Love is a state of being... in Christ. As we understand that aspect, we are free to direct our focus onto others. It begins to come naturally. Being less self-focused brings a peace that opens our eyes to the needs of others and enables us to recognize their needs are not unlike our own. We all need Love. Enveloped in that Love is Grace and Forgiveness. When we attempt to operate under the performance/perfection model as opposed to the simple and real Love model, we will feel like failures as the afflictions of humanity make their way into our lives such as aging, physical afflictions, loss of ability or agility, bouts of depression or dealing with the normal "seasons" of life. Love is a constant and is not affected by change. There is no end to it. Love is eternal. "For God so Loved the World that he Gave His only Begotten Son that Whoever Believes in Him should not Perish but have Eternal Life." John 3:16. God is Love. As we Know Love we can Give Love. Pure and simple without the maze of clutter and complications. This CHRISTMAS and ALWAYS, let's remember that Love has EVERYTHING to do with it." Love Endures Forever." "Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul mind and strength and Love you neighbor as yourself."
Friday, September 28, 2012
Recently, a local Pastor in our little town was hospitalized due to a very serious motorcycle accident. He was in critical condition, fighting for his life when I received the call from our Church Prayer Chain. As I prayed for Rick, the Lord gave me these words: "Safe in the Arms of Prayer". I began to think of the power of fervent, effectual prayer and the privilege of prayer. Then the thought came to me that the greater truth about prayer is found in Romans 8:34 which tell us that Jesus Himself is interceding for us from the right hand of the Father. That is the reason we are safe. Jesus is the "Arms of Prayer"! He is our Teacher and Example of prayer and prayer's Creator. I don't even have the number to attach to the amount of people who prayed and are praying for Pastor Rick. The whole community has come together to support this much loved man of God. If it all depended on our prayers alone, we might have concern. The fact that Jesus, the Head of the Church, is praying to the Father on his behalf, a mystery in itself, brings the ingredient of perfection into the picture. Rick is now home with his family and they continue to mend in many ways from this extremely trying experience. When we pray, we pray believing for the answer. When we realize we are "safe in the Arms of Prayer", we trust that no matter the answer and we all know there are those times things go differently than we desire, we can trust that we are in fact "safe" because Someone bigger, wiser and all knowing is in charge and has a plan for the future. "All things work together for the good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes." As I shared in my last post, I did a lot of rapid fire praying as a child, teen and young adult but still walked in fear because I had no relationship with the "Arms of Prayer". The enemy of our souls, the devil, would love to keep us in a state of fear and dread. The battlefield is in our minds. As we soak in the Word of God and spend time in prayer and meditation with Jesus, we learn to run into those "Arms" and receive the peace and reassurance that we are indeed safe no matter what comes our way. "God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Though it's waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46:1 & 2. Rest assured Friends, no matter what you see or hear, God is in control. Let those "Arms" hold you today and every day and watch what His Greatness will accomplish.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Being a victim of physical and sexual abuse as a child, I grew up filled with fears of many kinds. I had nightmares on a regular basis for the first 23 years of my life. I was extremely afraid of the dark, the kind of fear that paralyzes you when you try to make a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The kind of fear that makes you struggle to stay awake in the midst of a horrifying dream, only to fall back into that same dream when you can hold your eyes open no longer. The thing about fear is that it compounds and multiplies like a plague. Fear may begin with a seemingly justifiable reason and as it grows and expands, you find yourself doing what the old adage says and "fearing your own shadow". This proved to be true at least a couple of times during my early years. There was the night I had gone to bed as usual with my daddy singing a nighttime lullaby and kissing my cheek before exiting my sister and my bedroom and switching off the light. In a few moments, I was calling out to my big sister for help. There was something in my bed, under the covers. I was petrified! She ran to the light switch and called our Dad back into the room. The covers were thrown back and behold there beside me were my Father's lower dentures! They had fallen out of his shirt pocket as he bent over to apply that goodnight kiss. My fears were dissolved in an instant and the ensuing laughter gave me the best night's sleep I had experienced in some time. Then, there was the time I rolled over in bed and flung something heavy across my body. Again, frozen in fear, I called out to my big sis, "There's something in my bed!" There was such trepidation in my voice, my sister flew across the room with lightening speed to flip on the switch. My own arm had fallen completely asleep and when I turned over, it flopped onto my body like a dead weight. Both of these fear experiences were unfounded no matter how real they seemed as they hit my pyche.
Frightened little girl,
Why can't she tell her story,
So afraid no one will care.
Haunting eyes so full of mystery--
Wouldn't they be surprised.
Oh, the hollow ache so unrelenting
Will she ever be set free.
Frightened little girl now grown.
Will she ever let it be known.
All the horrors deep within her--
Who will unlock the door?
Who will be that one she can trust?
There are many, many verses in the Bible that have to do with fear. I want to focus on a couple of those verses. I believe that fear, when allowed to mature within us, develops into a "spirit of fear". 2 Timothy 1:7, "For the Lord has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." I said earlier that I had nightmares for the first 23 years of my life. What changed at that 23 year mark was the discovery of the Love of a Savior, the Savior of all Mankind, the Lord Jesus Christ. As His love flooded in, fear began to flood out. The nightmares began to cease. The fear of the dark began to flee as the Holy Spirit of God began to fill my life and an understanding of the Word of God (the Bible) and the Character of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) took hold of my heart and mind. The "spirit of fear" does not come from a loving Heavenly Father. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to "Be self-controlled and alert (sound minded) because our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour." Verse 9 says to "Resist him, standing firm in the Faith..." Faith and fear are at emnity with one another. God does not give us fear but he does give us faith. As we read the Word and daily deepen our relationship with Jesus, we learn that there are abundantly more reasons to "Faith" than to "Fear". The devil is the father of lies and his attack zone is our minds. As we allow Faith to give our minds self-control, we will rise up victorious over any and every experience that comes our way to destroy us. This "frightened little girl" found out who could "unlock the door" and be uncompromisingly "trusted". To avoid making this any lengthier, I will expound on this in a later post. Meanwhile, if you are experiencing fears of any kind, I would encourage a search of the Scriptures. By the way, it has been 40 years since that first 23 so I have had a lot of time to walk in the Healing and Freedom "Faith" can bring. Bless you, my Readers! Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences.