Tag Archives: Love

A Little Bit of History.

HistoryEvery now and then I have the privilege of hearing stories about the “olden days”. These past stories of adventure and experience from an older generation often hold a glimpse into a vastly different world from that which we live in today. Bygone are the times of what some of them would call a much “simpler” life. A time when high tech was a simple transistor radio or when penny candy was actually a penny. We all have a story, a historical timeline of memorable and forgotten events that shape the very essence of who we are. Knowing our history is an important aspect to knowing who we are.

The first four chapters in the book of Deuteronomy recount the events in the “recent” history of the people of Israel, Moses reminds them where they had come from and what has happened over the past 40 years of wandering in the desert. He is speaking to a new generation of people that were born in exile due to the previous generations disobedience and ignorance of God’s direction. Moses’ whole point in bringing up their history was to motivate and encourage them to put their hope and trust in God alone for deliverance into the promise land. The people are reminded of God’s law through Moses as he digs deeper into its meaning, significance and importance for their lives. Near the end of the book, Moses leaves them with a stern warning in regards what will happen if they do not follow God’s law. He also leaves them with a word of encouragement and assurance that when they repent of their sinful ways God will forgive them and continue to walk with them.

Moses commands the people to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (6:5) We hear this command again from Jesus in Matthew 22 where he is asked this question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? This is the first and greatest commandment, says Jesus, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Did the Israelites love the Lord with all they had all the time? Unfortunately, no. Their lives, much like ours today were filled with distractions (sin) that tested and often destroyed the bond of our relationship with God. One of the most amazing realities in our relationship with God is the completely underserved gift of grace given through his son Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, we can come before Him every hour of every day with the promise of forgiveness. Do you have that assurance in life? Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength?

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A Needle in a Hay Stack

WaldoOften, when something is near impossible to find we use the term “like finding a needle in a hay stack.” This aptly describes the extreme difficulty of locating something that is well disguised by its surroundings. I can’t help but think of Waldo, the little guy in the red and white striped shirt and matching hat who is hidden among other similar colored items and people dressed the same. These well designed puzzles can drive a person crazy trying to find Waldo, the thing to remember is that he is always standing somewhere.

Filled with words of lament from Jeremiah (also known as the weeping prophet) the book of Lamentations portrays the broken heart of the prophet over the destruction of Jerusalem and the brokenness of the people who have turned away from God. Jeremiah’s passionate expressions of grief and sorrow instill feelings of desperation, fear, loneliness and hopelessness. Brought to his knees, Jeremiah, amid all that is happening around him shows us a small but powerful spark of hope that keeps him from spiraling further into the full presence of darkness. “The Lord is good to those who’s hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” (La 3:25). God’s promise of rescue and comfort to Jeremiah,(Jer 1:8) the promise of love, is what Jerimiah put his hope in. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (La 3:22)

Jeremiah found hope in the Lord because of His great love. The Apostle Paul expands on this great love in 1 Corinthians 13 saying, “love never fails… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Under the protection of God’s love Jeremiah put his hope and trust in Him for a better future, a hope in moving forward to better place in life. God, who was and is in full control over all his creation longs for each and every one of us to find hope and comfort in his love. This reminder of God’s sovereign power through the judgement over Jerusalem stands as a critical reminder that, in the busyness and of life we must continue to live a life according to His will. Jeremiah’s life and experiences model for us the incredible power of confession (crying out to God), forgiveness, hope and love.  Therefore, have hope in life. Live in obedience to God’s will because of His great love for you.

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“The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side”

Cattle_eating_grass_through_barbed_wire_fenceHave you ever been driving through the countryside or nearby a local farm and come across the following scene? You must wonder, is the grass really that much better on the other side? This familiar idiom tries to capture the thought that people (or animals) are never satisfied with their own situation; they always think others have it better. When we consider our circumstances, when we compare our experiences with that of others we tend to think that we would be better off or happier on the other side.

Mankind has been struggling with this thought pattern for centuries. In Psalm 73, we are introduced to the thoughts of Asaph and his struggle to “jump the fence” and run free on what looked like the “greener” side of life. He says, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked”. Asaph continues to describes the appearance of a better life, “They have no struggles, their bodies are healthy and strong. They are freed from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. He sees them (those who have turned away from God) and sees a life “free of care” and prosperity.

It is through the experience and power of God’s love that Asaph is able to stay on the right side of the fence. He describes a moment when he “enters the sanctuary of the Lord”,  a place where he is able to ground himself in knowing that without God, those he looks over will one day be destroyed. Asaph makes the choice to enter into a place of worship with the assurance that God is with Him and that God will protect him. “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart… But as for me, it is good to be near God.” The experience of God’s love through the story of Asaph is the same love that God has for us today. Our lives, our “sanctuary” or place of worship needs to be found in all areas of life. Through personal prayer, song, scripture reading, working diligently, serving humbly or building Christ like relationships, we are called to worship God. As we stay connected with God he will keep us on the right side of the fence. God gives us the ability to see clearly that what He has given us is good and what He has prepared for us in heaven is even greater.

 

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Roller Coasters and Life

roller coasterWith names like Millennium Force, Top Dog Thriller, Formula Rossa, Intimidator 305 and Steel Dragon 2000, these world-famous roller coasters will provide the thrill that extreme adrenaline junkies seek. There are intense drops, twists and turns, incredible speeds and gut wrenching G-forces that push your mind and body to its limits. You might be one of those people who gets excited about being strapped into the seat on one of these giant steel mechanical marvels or you might be like me, the anxious spectator (who likes to keep two feet on the ground) left holding all the bags, hats and loose change until the ride is over.

When I read through the Psalms I get the sense of being on a different sort of roller coaster, a ride that journeys through a wide range of emotions. Through ups and downs, twists and turns and the pressures of life, we get a glimpse into the complex emotions that our creator built into us. Woven into the fabric of the text we can experience the writer’s feelings of joy, fear, anger, disappointment, outrage, gratitude, contentment and more. When we listen, hear, and take to heart the stories shared by the different author’s we are invited into their lives and deep into their hearts. One of the most powerful and emotional moments in the psalms for me is found in chapter 18:6, “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” Distress, suffering, pain, sorrow, grief, each one of these “places” can bring us crashing to our knees, desperate and needy, searching for God just a David did in this passage.

It has been said that every human emotion is portrayed in some way through the writing of the Psalms. The Psalms are a “go to” for many who need encouragement and direction in their lives; often when we find an emotional connection we can also experience the writer’s response or reflection. One of the strongest themes that help facilitate that connection is that of love. Out of His love for David, God hears his cry for help, He delivers him from the hands of his enemies. Today our God is no different than He was in David’s day, He waits patiently as we persistently try to work things out on our own, he continues to hear our cries, He loves us in all our brokenness, he rejoices when we put our faith and trust in Him. It is His love that will keep us standing with two feet on the ground.

 

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Truth or Dare?

truthdareTruth or Dare is the classic party game of embarrassment. A group of people take turns asking each other “truth or dare”? When someone chooses “truth”, they must answer the question truthfully regardless of how embarrassing it is. When someone chooses “dare”, they are given a task to complete. One example might be: Truth, “What is your deepest darkest fear” or dare, “lick the floor”. You must choose one, what would it be?

Let’s play another game – “Dare to live the Truth”. It is a game of life, real life. The object of the game is to live and walk in the truth. What is truth? When speaking to believers, John in his second letter defines truth as living in the knowledge and acceptance of the good news of the Gospel. He talks about living in the assurance of everlasting life through the death, resurrection and forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ. Truth is found in love and God is love. In 2 John verse 4 we read “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” We are reminded of this joy in walking (living) in obedience to God’s commands because in the world (those “existing” outside of the body of Christ) individuals define truth in their own terms. In this letter, they are labeled as deceivers, “any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist”. (v7)

Sometimes the truth is hard to face, there are real consequences and hard decisions to make in life when we walk in the truth as John describes. Truth requires discernment, it requires courage, it demands obedience and gives us something to hold on to. When we look past the hard realities of living and walking in the truth, we can experience the same great joy and freedom that John sees in the community of believers whom he is writing to. Contrary to Colonel Nathan R. Jesseps’ (Jack Nicholson) statement in the movie “A Few Good Men”, “You can’t handle the truth”, know that you can handle the truth. God’s word tells us that “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

So let’s play the game:
Truth: Do you believe that Christ died for the forgiveness of your sins?
Dare: (Yes) Live out that truth in your life so others will see Christ in you.
Dare: (No) Put your hope and trust in God today, pray and accept Christ into your life.

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Right Under Your Nose.

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Have you ever been looking for something and it was right there in front of you?  Whether it is the Ketchup bottle in the fridge, the invoice on the top of the pile or solution to a simple question. Often these things are “right under our nose” and for some reason we cannot see it, most often what we are looking for is in a place it can be clearly seen. This is an interesting phenomenon and I am sure it happens to most of us.

There is a message in the book of 1 John that should jump right off the page and hit us in the nose. This is a message that is so important and relevant to our lives that we may at times not see it. John writes, “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.” (That is the name of Jesus Christ). In other words, on account of his love for us, we have been saved from the consequences of sin and death. Twice John explains this in his writing, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (3:16). “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (4:9-10).

God’s love for us is revealed throughout scripture and it is important to understand that He calls us into a relationship of love and obedience. “We love because he first loved us” (4:19). “This is love for God: to keep his commands.” (5:3). When we focus on these verses it seems so simple, but life in this world has a way of clouding the purity and goodness of God’s love for us. One of the difficult things we live with are the temptations and desires of this world, John reminds us that “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (2:17) God’s love is everlasting, this might be hard for us to comprehend when we go through the trials and temptations of life, and it is easy to say when life is going well. God gives us his word so that we can be reminded of his love, it is a word of truth and we must always remember like John says “God is Love.” (4:16) The answers to life, to knowing and understanding God’s love for us and the love we are to have for one another are right under our nose, in His word.

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Breaking Down Barriers

wreckingballI enjoy a good demolition project, tearing down walls, smashing things with a sledge hammer, prying, pulling and incinerating the consequent debris. Sometimes I like to dream big, on a much larger demolition scale I was thinking about a wrecking ball. I would love to sit in the operator’s seat of one of these wrecking machines, my hands controlling the swinging action of the massive ball of forged steel as it smashes through concrete, steel, and any other obstacles in its path. A ten-thousand-pound ball of steel has the potential to bring even the strongest barrier to the ground.

Paul’s letter to Philemon describes a different process of breaking down barriers, barriers that rise up in our personal relationships. Much like in Paul’s time, these barriers might include social or economic status, heritage, or even geographic location. Paul writes a very personal letter to Philemon in respect to a mutual acquaintance, a man named Onesimus who was a run-away slave from the house of Philemon. The barriers I am talking about in relationships are broken down by love, a love that is found through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our relationship with Christ. There is a “bond among brothers” in this letter. Paul calls for the barriers of social status (Philemon as master and Onesimus as slave) to be disbanded, “welcome him as you would welcome me… no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother”, brothers in Christ. If you read through this short letter you will find some great insight into what a God honouring relationship looks like, you will see love, trust, respect, confidence and most importantly, Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ loving one another without judgement and without fear, that is a beautiful picture that I hope to see one day. The foundations of the barriers that get in the way of authentic Christ centred relationships are made up of the things of this world, things that focus on us. Exemplified through the life and death of Jesus Christ, the foundations of all our relationships need to be built with one key ingredient, love. Our first love should be for Christ and in the knowledge of Christ’s love for us, when that shines through so then will our love for others. Lives are transformed by love, we don’t need wrecking balls to remove barriers, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome them.

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Terms of Endearment 


A term of endearment is a word or phrase used to address or describe a person for which the speaker feels love or affection. There are some fairly creative terms that couples have crafted for each other over the years but there are a few classics that we might all know. “Baby”, “Honey, Hon or Hun”, “Sweetheart”, “Sugar”, “Beautiful”, “Angel”, the list could go on. Maybe you’re a little more adventurous and you describe your significant other with phrases like “a tall drink of water”, “my heart and soul”, my better half” or “my soul mate”. If your looking for something fresh here are some ideas from the book of Love, Song of Solomon”.

“I liken you, my darling, to a mare among pharaoh’s chariot horses”. “Your eyes are doves”. “Like a Lilly among thorns”. “My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag”. “Your hair is like a flock of goats”. “Your temples like the halves of pomegranate”.“You are a garden fountain”. “Your navel is a rounded goblet”. “Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon”.  

The words found in the book of Songs of Solomon are the exchange of terms of endearment between that of a man and a women, a young couple, a husband and wife who are clearly in love with each other. There is passion, excitement, romance, emotion, and joy found in these words as the characters playfully banter back and forth. Although these terms may not cross cultures and time we can still learn from them today, we can be inspired by the level of passion and commitment that is being expressed in their relationship. Why are these songs or poems included in the Bible? What purpose do they play? To me they are words of inspiration. They are examples and reminders of the passion and excitement that should be a part of our intimate marriage relationships. These words reflect God’s passion and design for a vibrant marriage relationship and in many ways mirrors the love that he has for us. We were created in His image, an image of beauty and excellence that should shine through each and every one of our lives. I’m not an expert in relationships but I have enough experience that I would suggest you stay away from references to mare’s, goats and pomegranates in your next romantic interlude with your spouse.  

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Infinity +1

infinityOne of the things that I love about listening to kids is the simplicity in which they communicate. It has been a long time since I used the statement “infinity plus one”, I’m sure you have heard it before, it is the classic line used to “one up” your friend. Infinity +1, if you look it up you will find that it is actually a complex mathematical concept that can confound some of the brightest minds. I prefer to define it like a six-year-old might, as a “whole bunch”.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians uses a similar line to describe the love of God for his people, “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (3:18b) This is a part of Paul’s prayer for the people who are rooted in Christ’s love to grasp or understand the infinite love that God has for us. When I consider the width, length, height and depth of His love I think of a “whole lot”, like that of a six-year-old. Under this umbrella of love, we experience the gift of grace that is poured out continuously in our lives. In terms of measurement (because as humans we need to measure everything) in respect to God’s love, grace and mercy in our lives I like to think like this: Width describes the breadth of love that God has for every person in every place on this big earth. Length, this is an everlasting (never ending) love that began in that divine moment when He created mankind and follows through into eternity with him. Height measures the distance that puts God’s love so high, (out of reach) that no one person or being can take it away. Depth, even our deepest thoughts and finite wisdom cannot comprehend the incredible measure of love that our God has for us.

One thing that I can tell you with confidence and without a doubt in my mind is that God loves you. His love, grace and mercy is there for all of us to live in, he calls us to be in a relationship with Him through his Son, Jesus Christ. In response to God’s love for us Paul calls us to this action, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”(5:1-2). In other words, take what the Lord has given to you (love, grace and mercy) and let it overflow, beyond measure to those around you because this is what’s he does for you.

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___ ___ ___ ___ ___ . What is it?

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There are many things around us that we often take for granted, and in many ways don’t even recognize as an incredible blessing. For example, the clean air we breathe, a home, freedom, an abundance of food, family, advanced technology, running water, education… the list could go on. Living where I do, I have easy and unlimited access to all these things.  This is not the case for everyone around this great planet. There is one thing that each and every one of us have access to, it makes all the above things pale in comparison. It is GRACE, God’s grace to be exact.

What is it?  GRACE that is. The book of Romans gives us a great look into GRACE. Paul, a man who personally experienced the GRACE of God in his life helps us understand what GRACE is through his letter to the Romans. Let me break it down for you; “G”, GRACE is a gift that we receive through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (1:5). “R”, GRACE releases us from the law and binds us to Christ. (Romans 7). “A”, We have been given access to God’s GRACE through Christ, both now and forever as faithful and obedient believers (5:2). “C”, we have been chosen (11:5) and called (1:7) to live in the GRACE that is freely given through Christ, chosen not because of what we have done but because of the love that He has for us. “E”, everyone, Jew and Gentiles (you and I) as Paul describes are included in God’s plan of salvation, we as believers are called to obedience that comes through faith in Him.

Mercy, love, compassion, kindness, favour, goodwill. These words all in some way stand under the “umbrella” of GRACE. Do we take these things for granted? We may not realize it at times but we can become complacent in our faith, we can lose sight of the incredible gift of GRACE from God that He continually pours out into us. Our daily lives and interactions with others are filled with good days and hard days. One day we may feel loved by those around us, other days we may feel invisible or hurt. The great thing about God’s love and GRACE is that it never fails, it is the same day in and day out. There is so much goodness flowing through the GRACE of our Heavenly Father, for this we are greatly blessed.

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