What is Love? or What Love Isn’t!

Every now and then I think about the life my ex-husband and I had planned together. It was full of fun and challenges and discoveries and love. Unfortunately he had other ideas. I may never understand why he made the choices he did, but I now know they were his choices. And even though they were not mine, I had to make changes too. I chose to make changes for the better. He didn’t.

We tend to use the word “love” very freely but have you actually looked up the word to see its many meanings? I have included two sources here for us to ponder.

On http://www.dictionary.com, Synonyms for the word “love” are as follows:

 1. tenderness, fondness, predilection, warmth, passion, adoration. 1, 2. Love, affection, devotion all mean a deep and enduring emotional regard, usually for another person. Love may apply to various kinds of regard: the charity of the Creator, reverent adoration toward God or toward a person, the relation of parent and child, the regard of friends for each other, romantic feelings for another person, etc. Affection is a fondness for others that is enduring and tender, but calm. Devotion is an intense love and steadfast, enduring loyalty to a person; it may also imply consecration to a cause. 2. liking, inclination, regard, friendliness. 15. like. 16. adore, adulate, worship.

 In 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and verses 4-7 (New King James Version) God’s defines love as follows.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Notice some words that are missing from these definitions: Hate, anger, revenge, jealousy, pride, cruelty, bullying, hostility, pain, lying, resentment, animosity, loathing and meanness just to name a few.

If you see any of the missing habits of “love” in anyone, tell them. They honestly may not realize it. And they certainly won’t realize it is a habit that can be controlled and changed. Then pray for them to recognize their need for change and to have the courage to change that habit. If they rebuke you, move on. If the habits are in you, pray for the courage to change those habits to equal “love”. You’ll see a whole new world open up to you.

When you wake up, you choose to have a good day or a bad day solely based on the  attitude you choose. Life isn’t always beautiful but love is. Make your choices wisely.

Stay safe and God bless.

Consuming Fire!

Don’t Google the questions you need answers for. Go to the source instead. This is prompted after reading several blogs outside of WordPress. One writer was writing about what church should look like. He erroneously proclaimed that the Bible does not contain any instructions on what the church should look like. I am speaking about the church Jesus Christ instructed and described in great detail in scripture.

So I go and Google that question thinking I would find good answers. I was wrong again! Every denomination and self-proclaimed expert has a totally different opinion on the answer. I read a few just to get an idea of why so many people could have it wrong. I discovered that it is a great miracle that anyone has it right.

I found way too many sites where “experts” were defining “church” as a place where you should feel comfortable. Or a place where your feelings matter. Or a place where you can find refuge from the cruel world outside. The list goes on and none of them could quote scripture to back up their “knowledge”. Most of which can be found in 1 Corinthians and Titus. They were preaching about church based on what the average public, who don’t know church or scripture, want to hear.

Yes! You should find a safe church, but does that really exist? You should find a church that has good a/c so you won’t sweat, but is it really necessary? You should find a church who cares about your feelings, but how does that help you grow in Christ?

I think it is awesome that so many people attend church throughout the week. People are involved in evangelizing and growing a community of Christian believers who serve an awesome God. But are they going through the motions or actually getting results.

I know a lot of people who go through the motions. They show up at church when the doors are open because they have nothing else to do. It is something they have done for many many years. They feel they should but have no real feelings about why they are there.

Third Day put out the song “Consuming Fire” several years ago. I not only love the music that goes with this but the words are few but deep.

“Consuming Fire”

Set this place on fire
Send you spirit, Savior
Rescue from the mire
Show Your servant favor
Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I’m in the presence of Almighty God

[Chorus:]

And yes our God, He is a consuming fire
And the flames burn down deep in my soul
Yes our God He is a consuming fire
He reaches inside and He melts down this
cold heart of stone.

Set this place on fire
Send Your spirit, Saviour
Rescue from the mire
Show your servant favor
Yesterday was the day that I was alone
Now I’m in the presence of Almighty God

[Repeat chorus]

Did you realize that inside you there is a flame?
Did you ever try to let it burn?

When I go to church, I want to be on fire or at least have a flickering flame or a spark. I don’t want to get wet when I go there, I want to be consumed. I get excited even before I know it is church night. I look forward to learning and seeing what God has in store for me. Sometimes I get to enjoy what He has in store for someone else, and that is just as exciting. Sometimes I feel Him thump me on the head because I got it wrong. That is exciting too. It is my opportunity to learn and change into what He wants me to be.

I go expecting to see miracles, see lives changed, see people come to a real understanding of why they are there and why they matter. Sure you should feel good about church but it isn’t about how you feel. It should be about how you feel God as He is at work in the church and in you. How God is using the people to further His kingdom, to nurture each other and to spread His love. Church shouldn’t be about us. It should be about God!

Does That Really Happen?

You know, one of those stories that sound so incredibly unreal they are hard to believe. Like the neighbor who won a million dollars or his dog was eaten by an alligator or he found a valuable antique watch or something in an old chair he just bought at a garage sale. Well, they say that truth is stranger than fiction and I think they are right. I have heard of these stories and read them in the paper etc. for years, but never has one been as close as family.

Unfortunately it isn’t something cool that involves money or saving someones life. My daughter-in-law was driving near her home this afternoon and noticed an unmarked police car in her rear view mirror. Sure enough he pulled her over. When he came to the window to get her license, registration and insurance, he asked her if her weapon was in the vehicle. She said it is. He asked her if it was loaded. She said it is. He asked her where it was. She said in her purse. He said he needed for her to get out of her car. She politely said no, she would not. She told him she was not getting out of the car without her baby. He told her to drive on. She committed no infraction. He had no legal right to pull her over.

My son checked when he got home later and there was no record of her tag being run by the PD. I knew from her wording of what he said to her that it didn’t sound right. I knew there was a fake cop working in their area but I never imagined anything like this would happen to anyone I know. I could scream right now. I hate being so far away and feeling so out of control. It is my nature to protect. And when someone has harmed one of my own, I get irate.

So, what am I doing about it? Praying extra hard! Also, if you are ever pulled over and not sure if the cop is real, call 911 and ask the dispatcher to verify the cop is real. They won’t mind at all.

Father, I know You are in control even when I feel like I’m not but want to be. Please put a stop to this fake cop before someone get hurt. In Christ’s name, Amen.

The Power of Prayer

One of the most important and effective things we can do is to pray for someone. But what do we pray? Sometimes I feel like I pray to little and other times I feel like I pray too much. I want to pray with purpose and focus but how do we do that?

Matthew West is one of my favorite worship singers. I call him that because his songs are worship. I read these lyrics from his song “The Power of a Prayer” and it blew me away. The words are familiar to me as I struggled not too long ago with a spouse who just refused to listen to anyone who opposed his “correct” thinking.

“The Power Of A Prayer”

Dear God, it’s me
Calling out to You
Tonight I’m on my knees
Hoping You’ll come through
This one’s for my dad
Can You help him please
The world’s made him mad
At mom and me
And I’m asking you to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Mom is all I have
But she’s alone again tonight
They always used to laugh
Now all they do is fight
You know she loves that man
But he’s so far from You
She’s done all she can
But she can’t break through
And she’s begging You to bring his heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer
Just a whisper in the dark
Spoken from a broken heart
Holding on to one last strand of faith
Somewhere in the world right now
A desperate soul is crying out
Hoping Jesus really hears us when we pray
Dear God, do You
Recognize my voice
I haven’t talked to You
Since I was a little boy
But tonight I heard my son
Pray for his old man
It made me come undone
Made me understand
That only You can bring my heart back home
Oh, the power of a prayer.

My son would be described as a good man even by someone who doesn’t know him very well. So it isn’t that I think he is a bad person who needs a serious change of heart. But I also know that the world can damage our hearts unless we take an active role is keeping it healthy. I am hoping this analogy will help.

Pray for a softened heart to replace the one the world created. Over time, our hearts take a beating. If we don’t give this treatment over to God, our hearts will suffer. Ezekiel 36:26 reads “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Pray for a clean heart. This world is full of garbage and behaviors it says are OK. Well, it isn’t OK and can make your heart suffer great sorrow because of it. Psalm 51:10 reads “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Pray they have true desire for God. When we focus on our own desires, they become what is most important to us. If we make God our only true and passionate desire, life in Him is complete. Psalm 27:4 reads “One thing I have desired of the Lord,That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.

Pray they find their strength and manhood in God. So many people boast to be great examples of how to live or act or build wealth etc. But no one can honestly boast a better example of strength and manhood than Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reads “‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Here is a sample prayer: Father, give name a new heart and a new spirit created from your own flesh and blood. Teach name to continually cleanse his heart with Your love and forgiveness. May name’s desire be to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life. Teach name to completely rely on God in all areas of his life and that God’s strength is made perfect in his weakness.

Of course the first step in any relationship is commitment. We can’t be a fan of Christ and get by. We have to be followers who desire His heart, His joy, His guidance if we are to receive them.

God bless and stay safe…

I Love Fruit!

I really do. It doesn’t matter what kind, I love it all. I am especially fond of grapefruit. Growing up we had three grapefruit trees and two navel orange trees. My grandmother, two doors down, had a small grove behind and beside her. It was awesome. We ate the ones on the trees and threw the ones on the ground…lol. They made for fun grove fights with cousins, siblings and neighborhood friends. Of course our mothers weren’t thrilled but we had fun.

For nine weeks our pastor has been teaching us the aspects of the Fruits of the Spirit. On http://www.dictionary.com, it is described as “The fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:9; James 3:17, 18) are those gracious dispositions and habits which the Spirit produces in those in whom he dwells and works.” The New King James Bible for Galatians 5:22-23 reads “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

I made a point to write down several things I wanted to remember over the course of these several weeks. 1 John 4:7-8 reads “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “By this token, since we are made in God’s likeness, we can be known by how we exhibit love. There have been many occasions where my family and I would be at a restaurant or in a store and someone would start talking to us about church or some deep moral issue. I believe we can know other Christians by how we act. We can also know who is not at least exhibiting Christ-like behavior as well. I often watch and listen to people as they interact with each other. When someone chooses to be mean or loud when being gentle and pleasant isn’t that hard, I often want to say something to them. But I figure I’d get shot so I pray it up instead and keep my mouth shut. Our goal should be to love like Jesus.

This joy has it’s source in religion, not so much elsewhere. A relationship with Jesus is necessary to feel real joy. This joy produces a burning desire to share Jesus with other people. If we show true joy, other people will want what makes our joy.

Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a choice and has to begin with us. Isaiah used the phrase “Prince of Peace” to describe Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 which reads “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Peace be still comes from Christ and is triggered by our trust in Him.

True patience is completely supernatural. It is not something we are naturally born with. It is infused into us when we love Jesus and love like He does. In 1 Corinthians 13, known as the love chapter; God is love, love is patient, therefore God is patient or He would contradict himself. Patience is perfected in our perfect love for Jesus. It is knowing that He is in control of everything that provides the trust we need to cultivate patience.

Kindness is one of those behaviors you have to work at. Many people who are kind hearted do not speak with kindness. Some come across harsh or even mean because they do not acknowledge their abrupt manner. Kindness and forgiveness also run hand in hand as we see in Colossians 3:12-13 which reads “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”

God is good…All the time! It stands to reason that goodness is one of these fruits.  In John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus declares that He is “the Good Shepard”. If we are to bear fruit and witness to the world, we have to be consistent in our behavior. This is a serious mandate if we are to attempt to mirror Jesus.

God was faithful when he provided the Holy Spirit. He always keeps His promises. He is always faithful. Fear should immobilize us to serve God, not make us run from Him. Adversity and fear (just to name a few) should draw us closer to God, should make us run to the Father, just as a little child will run to their parent’s side. We possess this quality because our God does but He is a jealous God. Our grace comes at the expensive cost of Jesus’ life.

The Greek word for gentleness is prautes. Prautes as defined by the ancient Greeks has several meanings and examples. According to www.ExecutableOutlines,com, Prautes is defined as:

1. To describe persons or things which have in them a certain soothing quality… — E.g, having a humble and kind demeanor which calms another’s anger

2. To describe gentleness of conduct, especially on the part of people who had it in their power to act otherwise… a. E.g., a king forgiving a servant who failed a particular task 1) The king has the authority and power to render punishment 2) But chooses instead to show kindness and forgiveness b. Such a king would be praised for his gentle and meek behavior

3. To describe the ability to take unkind remarks with good nature… a. E.g., as when embroiled in controversy b. Being able to discuss things without losing one’s temper because of unkind and unfair personal remarks

4. Most often, to describe the character in which strength and gentleness are perfectly combined… a. E.g., a horse obedient to the reins, a watchdog friendly to the family owning him b. There is great strength present, but it is tempered by a gentle spirit.

It can also be described as being submissive, teachable and considerate. Again, God is our perfect example. He is able to show gentleness when needed and not when needed.

Self-control is difficult to master. By nature, we want things our way or the easy way. Having self-control is not natural or easy. Without this virtue, the other fruits will not be evident. Without it the works of the flesh cannot be overcome. Self-control starts with the choice to have and execute it. It is easy to run to fear when we are afraid or run to anger when someone wrongs someone. Having self-control propels the other fruits which would remain hidden and undeveloped with out it.

Seeing the big picture of these fruits has given me more understanding of how weaved together they really are. We tend to compartmentalize bits and pieces of ourselves, whether it is memories or behaviors. Seeing how these virtues work together makes making them work together easier.

Did I do that?

Considering my son’s fathers’ behavior while he was growing up, I understand that my son has issues making decisions but WOW! Everyday he changes his mind about his job. He has a great career working for a well paying fire department. He has a job offer at another fire department from a former chief. The chief sought out my son because of his reputation and integrity. They have worked together for years and share a mutual respect. The inspector job, however, would be a traditional 8-5 job except for on call time which is shared over the course of the month. Weekends off, vacation days, better family insurance but a lot less money than he is making now.

The problem, my son can’t make a decision. Everyday he changes his mind. My daughter-in-law wants to be a good wife and listen to his concerns etc, but he is spinning in circles between the two opportunities and staying where he is. I feel so badly for her because his father was the same way. I am a fixer and I can’t fix this. I am an exhorter, and I don’t know what to say to him to be of help. I feel defeated and useless. He is lacking a life skill and I feel responsible.

I paused to pray and got an idea. I told him he needed to put all three options on a piece of paper. Chart it out with pros and cons for each so they can discuss and decide on something they can actually see. Figure out the money differences, the hours, etc. and see what happens from there.

Father, I know You know what the future holds for their family and I trust you with their future. Please help them make the decisions You want them to make. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was she thinking?

Behavior is a tremendously deep subject and science. I shake my head at people all the time. I like trying to figure out what motivates someone to kindness or deceit and everything in between. Were their actions a result of learned behavior? Was it a defensive mechanism? Was it just plain meanness? Or was it something else.

My daughter-in-law is a beautiful young woman inside and out. She has a heart of gold and loves her profession. She is a CNA and also takes care of her elderly grand parents. She is the mother of my newest grandson. She does tend to be brutally honest and seldom has a filter on her mouth; which is very refreshing unless you happen to be the person she is talking to. Although she tells it like it is, she is learning how to do that with grace. Something that her journey to getting closer to God is producing.

Her cousin’s girlfriend has been keeping the grand baby for three hours a day for a few months now. Today she didn’t show up or call. She isn’t answering texts and is avoiding her completely. She spoke to her cousin, concerned since his girlfriend was expected, and he asked “didn’t she call you Saturday, she said she did and she told you that she quit”. Well, she didn’t. So now everyone is wondering what is going on.

It would have been easier to just quit. Call and say she couldn’t make it. Things happen. That is understandable. But to lie and avoid someone who had, up until now considered her a friend, is hard to take. She is digging, whatever hole this is about, making it worse than it needs to be.

Now my daughter-in-law is bewildered, upset, and hurt to say the least. It isn’t that there is a problem, it is how the girl went about it. She left her hanging knowing she had to be at work.

This behavior tells me several things about this girl. She is immature, a coward, has no self respect, is a liar, is selfish just to name a few. Now that she has made this so much worse than it needs to be, how does she come back from that? More over, why would you do that to someone?

Father, You know what the problem is with this situation. I pray that we remember to forgive, to support and to shine Your love to everyone. Especially to those who have questionable behaviors. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Peace in the midst of chaos

You can find peace in the middle of the chaos if you look for it. It’s kind of like the conscious decision you have to make when you get out of bed to have a great day. If not, you might not. I use to think this was hooey but of late I have tested the concept and it really works.

So this morning after my devotional and prayer time, God showed me a glimpse of my future. I had been confused and concerned about a lot of things, not worry mind you, just in prayerful concern so my attention has been more on God than usual. He allowed me to see a vision of myself standing with a tall man, whose features I could not distinguish, and standing slightly to the side and behind me was Jesus holding my hand behind my back. You may think this is craziness but it is an answer to prayer for me.

Maybe you’ve heard that humans were created to be relational, well that spells me to a tee. I miss having warm hands to hold and wrap around me and I’ve prayed about this often. I think God allowed me to see that for several reasons. One, so I will stop nagging Him, lol. Two, to reassure me of His promises and Three, so relieve the aching in my heart. My ex-husband did a huge amount of damage to me in many ways and as I heal, I began to long for the good things of our marriage. Mostly just having a warm hand to hold. Yes this is silly girly stuff but I am a girl after all. And I love pink and flowers and lace and all the things that make girls smile.

The other thing I have been struggling with is mom and her negative attitude about everything and everyone. I can put my earbuds in and listen to my music and escape some of the drama but I’m afraid I’ll miss something I need to hear. This morning I went to the living room door and told dad I was going outside for him not to lock me out. Mom heard me while she was in the back part of the house. A few minutes after I came back in mom asked dad about what I had said to him (she sounded like she was picking a fight to be honest). She asked him if he heard me tell him that I was going out back. He said he didn’t know anything about that and mom barked at him for not hearing since she heard it in the back of the house. I feel so sorry for dad not only because of her methods of talking to him but because he really can’t hear. And I know I can’t do anything about either one. So, I have started praying for peace with all that so it doesn’t affect me more than it already has.

I guess it is because my ex was always condescending, mean and crude to me all the time. It wasn’t until he started doing it to other people that he couldn’t hide behind me anymore. I guess you will all say I am bitter and angry about what he did and I guess I probably still am. I have let it go but for some reason lately I have wanted to slap him and ask him if this is what he really wanted when he made me choose. I’ll pray all of this up today, soon because I don’t want a headache or for it to poison me anymore. Maybe if I tell my story it will clean out some of this lingering garbage. I shall think about that. It is not easy to put your life on paper for strangers to read and pick apart but maybe it will be a good thing.

So I will enjoy my new peace for the time being and I hope you enjoy some peace as well. Good day!