Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Learning to Love the LORD

My daughter likes to stall before bedtime, which we do not allow.  She tries, but she eventually gets in trouble for not obeying respectfully.  Sometimes this is simply in the form of, "Hey Mom..." and then a series of questions right before I walk out of the room.  Knowing that she is attempting to avoid going to sleep at the moment, I tell her we will talk about that tomorrow. 

Occasionally there is a question that does need to be dealt with right then because I can tell she has a genuine interest and/or concern about something.  At those times I try to sensitively answer her in a timely fashion.  Then if needed we do talk more about it the next day.  We want our children to be open and honest with us even with tough questions and especially with things they would not discuss with anyone else or maybe feel embarrassed about.  As they are little and have little problems we can help them through, our prayer is that we can equip them to deal with the bigger problems that come when they are bigger.

A few days ago just as I was exiting the room before naptime, my daughter said, "Mom, I like God, but I don't really love Him."  Thankfully the Holy Spirit immediately gave me this response: "That's okay, sweetie.  You are just getting to know Him.  You will grow to love Him more and more over time."  She was satisfied and seemingly relieved by my response and said, "Okay."  Then she turned over and started off to sleep.

Both pleased and thankful for her honesty and the response God gave me, I began to think about her statement more.

How many of us would be that honest in our relationship with the LORD?  Especially as one new to faith, can you say you really love Him yet?  Maybe you do, and that is great.  If you don't, though, don't be discouraged.  In any relationship love takes time to grow.  As you get to know the other more and trust builds, then love soon grows all the more.

Even seasoned Christians may experience a lull in love for the LORD.  This happens, in my experience, because of inconsistency in prayer and Bible study and/or a difficult experience that has lead to doubt, fear, or distrust of the LORD's care.  Both of these issues are answered by more time in Scripture, more time in prayer, time with a wise and trusted Bible-believing and following Christian, and honesty with God and others. 

God wants our honesty.  I have felt the most relief and the most love from Him at times when I was the most ugly towards Him.  The times when I was ungratefully shouting my demands or discontent at Him because I was not happy with the way something was going have been the times when I have most clearly and profoundly heard and felt His unconditional love toward me. 

No matter where my love meter is toward Him, He loves me more than I can fathom.  No matter what I do well or what I do poorly His love for me never changes.  Whether I succeed or fail, He remains steadfast in His love toward me.  It is indeed remarkable.

So many miss this love because of unbelief, wounds from the past, perfectionism, lack of understanding of Scripture, lies from the enemy and others, and sheer lack of intenionality to grow in a relationship with a loving Savior.

Jesus loved you and me enough to die a painful death, suffering greatly, and then rising again three days later in order to set captives who call on His name free forever.  It's a lot of take in.  It's a lot to understand.  We will never understand it all this side of Heaven.  Should that stop you from continuing on, and learning and growing more in love with Him, though?  No!

Receive His unconditional love, and let Him grow your love for Him as you intentionally seek to know Him more.  It's a beautiful thing that makes me smile.  Thank You, Jesus!

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:11,12)

"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world 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." (1 John 4:9,10)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Yesterday my husband's grandfather breathed his last breath here on Earth.  He also took in His first breath of Heaven.  Grandpa wouldn't say so, but I think he was a real hero.

Grandpa was close to ninety-two years old.  He had been married for sixty-six years to his wife.  He had been following Jesus as Lord and Savior for over seventy years.  Grandpa was full of wise cracks and enjoyed teasing those he loved.  Even though the last eight months of his life were mostly spent in a bed in his home, his mind was still sharp until the last month or two.

The last time we saw him was a couple of months ago, and during that visit he told my husband he was ready for Jesus to take him home.  My husband assured him that as long as he was still here there was a purpose for him and that in the Lord's time he would go home to be with Him.  He was at peace because of his relationship with Jesus.  He knew his time was coming, and he was ready.  What a blessing to have that assurance and joy even in the midst of suffering.

How amazing to spend nearly a lifetime knowing, growing, and serving the LORD!  He and Grandma were even missionaries in China for three years before communism came there, and they were forced to leave.  He was a pastor until his retirement, and the churches he pastored over the years still send them gifts each year and keep in touch. 

How amazing to spend nearly a lifetime - 66 years! - in marriage!  What a wonderful example of covenant, of commitment, and of love.  They honored their Lord in so many ways through their marriage.  They served others gladly and became well known in their community.  People called on them when they needed help.  They raised a family who went on to raise families.  And now those families are raising families of their own.

I only had the privelege of knowing Grandpa for the last ten years.  I am most thankful for the godly influence he had on my husband.  They were very close, as he was with the rest of his grandchildren, as well.  I know my husband learned so much from Grandpa and looked up to him his whole life.  What a legacy!

I too enjoyed the many times I had with Grandpa and the discussions we had over the years.  Usually our visits mostly included sitting around and talking.  Often those talks would be about something in the Bible or about something we wondered about.  He often talked about the times and current events.  He was real and rarely held back telling us how he really felt.  I liked that - even the rare times that I thought differently than him.

And Grandma.  What a wonderful woman.  She faithfully took care of him and encouraged him.  Although I am sure she is grieving, she knows she will see Grandpa again when it's her turn to enter into Heaven.

It's so amazing to think about what he is doing right now.  He is enjoying what had been promised to him and worshiping the LORD like never before.  He's been reunited with those who have gone before him and waits for the rest of us to get there.  What joy he is experiencing!  No more pain.  No more tears.  Face to face with Jesus.

And we are left here with many memories and the assurance that those who follow Jesus will be reunited one day.  Praise the LORD!

He will be missed by us although we are thankful and rejoice for him that he is now with his Lord.

Please pray for the family and for Grandma who is now without her partner in life.

To God be the glory!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


It's been an introspective time for me.  I have often sat down to blog and found myself just saving drafts unable to really articulate much of anything.  I've mentioned recently how I have felt overwhelmed lately and how I have seen the Lord present to help me with that.  It's been a time to evaluate, to think, to pray, to change, to cut back,  and to just sit back and say, "God I really need You."

Although these types of seasons are not really that fun, they do provide an opportunity to be thankful.  It's usually in times of difficulty when we human beings are most likely to realize our own limitations and reach out for assistance.  Unfortunately many reach out in the wrong direction to things, people, and/or gods that don't satisfy and don't provide what is real.  Others who do seek the Truth know what is real.

Real is refreshing.  After sitting with a friend for a good part of the day and just chatting I felt very refreshed.  Part of this refreshment came from the breeze, part of it came from the reason we were there, and part of it came from the fun we were having.  But as I pondered on this more throughout the evening, I realized that much of this refreshment came from just having someone to talk to who is real and feeling comfortable to be real right back.

I try to always be real.  I love real and believe it should be characteristic of who I claim to be and what I stand for, so therefore it is a priority to be real.  Of course there are times when it is not easy or comfortable to be real, and other times when I fail to be gracious along with real.  Still other times I fail to be real all together.  I long to be a genuine and consistent person, and I want to refresh others and glorify God as a result.

Even more than this I am so thankful that I serve a God who is not only real, meaning existing, but also real as in genuine and true.  He will never let me down.  He will never leave me.  He will always remain true and faithful and gracious and loving to me.  Furthermore, I can be real with Him.

Have you ever screamed at God or just yelled while you prayed?  I have.  Have you ever just told Him exactly how you felt and trusted Him to love you and comfort you anyway?  Oh, I am so thankful that I have. He knows exactly what I am feeling and thinking anyway.  Why would I try to "hide" it from Him or wear a mask with Him?  He wants me.  He wants my genuine interaction.  He wants me to be me, even if and when I feel like I can only be that way with Him.  Praise the Lord!

He has also blessed me with a husband that I can be completely real with and still be loved and accepted by him.  It doesn't mean that he always agrees with me or likes me when I get into a funk of some sort, but he loves me anyway.

Real is so refreshing.

Why aren't more people real?  Fear?

Think of how many complicated situations and conflicts would be avoided if we were just real with each other.

Think of how many times we would receive His strength to get through a situation if we were just real with Him about it.

Lord, please help me to be real.