Friday, January 25, 2013

Loving is Doing

Another big theme in the book of 2 John (as it was in 1 John) is love.  John is all about loving each other, as well he should be.  Christ stated it as the 2nd most important commandment given to us (Matt 22:39).

But here, again, John tells us that love is not simply an emotion.  "Love means doing what God has commanded us." (2 John vs 6).  We can really not like a person yet still show them Christ's love through our actions.  We can not even know a person and share our love with them by what we do.  We can extend love to people by not judging them.  Love can be expressed by acceptance, by not discriminating, by serving, by listening.  It isn't something we have to feel.  It is something we do, simply because that is what He has commanded us to do.

There is no human way to show love to those we don't really like or know or agree with.  It is only through making the choice to share the love He has given us that we are able to give it to others.  I know I need to make this choice more often.  I need to deny my selfish ambitions and choose to obey Him; to honor Him through my actions.  I need to love others in spite of my feelings but because it is what He commands me to do as His child.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I have moved on to 2nd John.  A very short little letter written to a special woman and her children.  A personal letter.  It is great to go over these little treasures in the Bible and see how God used John to talk to just one woman, then, but is using that letter to spread His love to all of us now.

In the first 4 verses I have read, it is very obvious that a theme is transpiring.  In these 4 verses, John has stated the word "truth" five times.  So, I decided if I was going to read a book centered around truth, I better know what it means and how it effects me as a Christian.

Truth as defined by is 1. the true or actual state of a matter, 2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement, 3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths, 4. the state or character of being true, 5. actuality or actual existence.

The truth that John is talking about here is the truth of Christ and His existence, death and Resurrection.  The truth as we live it today as Christians is not only these things but His Word as well.  We must stand on the Word of God as the most absolute truth we know.  It is not something we can take bits and pieces out of and leave the rest.  It isn't something we can try to conform to how we want it to fit our lives.  It is the absolute truth and the foundation from which we should live every second of every day.

Christ is truth.  His Word is truth.  My belief in Him is truth.  Actual.  Real.  Indisputable. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

One Liners

I have loved a few of the poignant "One Liners" I have found in 1 John.  Truthfully, the Bible is chopped full of one liners, often people's favorite verses to memorize.  Quick little encourager's, pick-me-ups, reminders, and anything in-between that God has given us through His word. 

The very last verse in 1John is another such verse and I love how my new version (NLT) states it, "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts." Simple, to the point, and spot on. 

So many things in this world can take His place.  Money.  People.  Jobs.  Status.  Stuff.  Just plain old stuff.  Keep away from it.  But how?  This is a plain statement, but how do you stay away from these things that are around you so that they don't take over God's place?  They are there.  Every.  Single. Day.  How do you escape it?

You don't.  There is no way to escape it all.  You must have most of these things to survive and holing yourself up does not go along with God's Word on being a part of the body of Christ.  The only way to deal with all the things around us that could take His place and not allow them to is to fill up with Him first.  Make sure you are so full of Christ that there isn't any room for the others to penetrate the space that He fills.

Fill it full of one-liners from His Word.  Fill it full of prayer.  Fill it full of others filled with Him.  Fill it full of time with Him.  Fill it full of sharing Him.  Fill it full of serving others for Him.  Just fill it with Him and the other stuff has no chance.  It remains in its place.  Just stuff that is there because it is part of life, but only comes in secondary to Him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


From an outsider point of view, many Christians are seen as judgemental hypocrites.  Sadly, in many cases this is true.  Even worse, I fall into the category from time-to-time myself. 

It is easy to be on the 'outside looking in' in many situations.  You can look at a mom in Walmart screaming at her kid to behave and think, "Whoa, chill out woman.  Seriously, who screams at their kids like that?"  It is easy to think this because you have no idea what was going on to make the mom so upset.  Maybe the child had done the same thing for the 20th time that day.  Maybe she and her husband had an argument that morning.  Maybe said child was up at 2 am and 4 am the night before and mom was exhausted.

Iti s also easy to think those thoughts and then find yourself screaming at your own child an hour later at home.  Why is it any better to do it at home?  What were your excuses for making it ok?  Guilty. 

Yes, you heard me right. I'm guilty of all the above.  I have thought those thoughts of a mom at Walmart.  I have also screamed at my kids.  It isn't something I do often (by the grace of God) or something I am proud of.  But I have been there and done that.  So who am I to judge?

But I digress, yelling at children is a whole other post entirely.

This is about our place as Christians.  John tells us in 5:16 that if we see a Christian sinning, we should pray and God will give them life.  Not that we should stop them.  Not that we should give them our opinion.  Not that we should haughtiliy demonstrate our superior behaviors.  We should pray.

The world gets the judgemental-hypocrite version of Christians far too often becuase we are too quick to put into practice the first part of Galatians 6:1 "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him" and too quick to forget the end of it "in a spirit of gentleness"  as well as Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." and I really love Proverbs 18:2 "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."

As Christians we are family.  Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  And, like most earthly families, every member has his/her own personality, interestes and roads to take in life.  At some point in life's journey we all go astray.  Some are long excursions others just small detours.  But whether it is far away from Christ or just a slight turn doesn't matter at all to Him.  We must all confess that sin, no matter the size.  Then, once it is confessed, it is forgiven and the magnitude no longer matters.

It is our job to love, to encourage and to be His hands and feet to the world and to our fellow believers.  We need to use those hands in a folded position rather than a pointing one.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Christian Conundrum

There are many verses in the Bible that could lead one to believe that if you are a Christian life should be easy; we should get whatever we ask for if we just pray about it. 

1 John 5:14-15 are some of those verses.  "And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.  And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for."   As long as it isn't anything bad, we should be good to go, right?

Matthew 7:7 is another one "Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened for you."  Whatever I need delivered right to my door, correct?

Reading these verses out of context can really get a person in a fix.  You can't forget other verses where God reminds us that "In this world, you will have trouble" (John 16:33), "Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8).

God does not intend for the first verses I listed to be a "Get-whatever-you-want" type of faith.  One must remember that these verses are intended to be taken in context,  "whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him."  It is talking about seeking His will. 

We can't just go to God in prayer and demand our way.  That isn't the way He works.  We have to align our wants with His will.  Then and only then will we "know that He will give us what we ask for".  If we are asking that His will be done in our lives, we are able to be certain that our prayers will be answered. 

Do we always know exactly what that will is or what exactly we are praying for?  Heavens, no.  If we did, why would we need any faith.  Things get tough.  We have to fly blind every once in a while or sometimes more often than not.  But having the faith in God to know that His will for our lives far exceeds what we could ever accomplish on our own is what takes us to that next level.  It is only then that you can pray with full confidence.  Knowing that whatever we ask for will be given to us if we are asking for His ways to take over our lives.

So, yes, God's Word can seem a bit tricky at times, a little like a trap.  But if you seek His guidance to understand the real meaning of what He says it can become plain as day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sweet and Simple

"Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God's Son does not have life."  1 John 5:12

Any questions?

This makes me laugh.  Sorry you had to deal with simple humor.  It seems so straightforward, doesn't it?  No ifs, ands or buts.  You either have it or you don't.  Why do people have to make it some big complicated thing with this and that and everything in between?  You either have Jesus in your life or you don't.

If you do, you have the promise of eternal life - no worries, no deals, no take-backs, no amount of work required.

 If you don't, you get hell.  Sorry to be blundt.  That is just the way it is.

And that is all I have to say about that for today.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Lesson in Discipline at 3 and 32

We have always had discipline issues with my youngest daughter.  She is a spirited little one and just wants to do what she wants to do.  She is the one who colors on walls, tables and in books.  She does something again immediately after you tell her to stop.  She will look you straight in the eyes and tell you, "NO!".  It is something neither of my other two kids would dream of doing. 

She takes work.  She gets lots of spankings.  She makes me want to pull my hair out most days.  And she helped me find a temper I never knew I had.  Now, don't get me wrong. This little pistol is an adorable, fun-loving, makes-me-laugh-out-loud little girl that I love to cuddle and squeeze and tickle, but she knows how to ruffle her mama's feathers. But lately, every time I take her back to do the 'spanking rountine' I wonder how I can get her to want to obey us, rather than just doing it because she knows she'll get a spanking if she doesn't.  Does it ever come to that point?

Then today I read 1 John 5:3-4 "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.  For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory thorugh our faith."

It was one of those verses that made me realize, that as a 32-year-old grown woman I still struggle with obedience too and I have had many years of practice.  God tells me obeying Him should not be burdensome, it may not always be easy, but following the will of God should be a pleasure in my life and when I find the load a bit too heavy, I have a Father who is always there to take the weight I don't feel I can bear. 

Obeying Him should be a pleasure in my life.  A way of saying "Thank You" to Him for the sacrifice He made for me.  Do I do this without fail?  Never.  Do I try my hardest each and every day?  I try.

This was just a great perspective for me to look at in light of my troubling three-year-old.  She is just three.  She will figure it out.  But I have to be obedient to Christ in my role as a parent to teach her the ways He wants her to live.  That can be hard in itself.  We might both need your prayers to make it through.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Year of Progress

As I started thinking about my goals for the year of 2013, I thought back on 2012.  Remember that huge list I wrote out last year?  Well, I only fully accomplished one.  That depressed me.  I felt like a complete New Year's Goal Setter Failure, just like 98% of the rest of the population who sets goals at the beginning of the year (note: that figure has no scientific background what-so-ever, I totally made it up). 

So here it is January 9th and I have yet to set any goals for 2013.  Once again, feeling a little failure'ish'.  But, I am so very thankful that I have wise friends.  I met with my great friend yesterday and she had a similar 2012 goal issue, but she let me in on a little something she figured out. 

We are both reading "Unglued" by Lysa Terkeurst.  In this book, on of the first things Lysa talks about is "imperfect progress" which she defines as: imperfect changes, slow steps of progress wrapped in grace.  She wrote this in her journal about it, " Progress.  Just make progress.  Its okay to have setbacks and the need for do-overs.  Its okay to draw a line in the sand and start over again -- and again.  Just make sure you're moving the line forward.  Moving forward.  Take baby steps, but at least take steps that keep you from being stuck.  Then change will come.  And it will be good."

I love this.  While I did not completely meet any of my goals set last year, I can see progress made in many of them.  I moved the line forward.  I made progress.  And now, I have this year to make even more progress as well.  I can't give up on setting goals for myself and wanting to move forward just because I didn't meet a silly little deadline set by society. 

Philippians 1:6 tells me "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

He is still working on me, so why should I be done working.  So, I'll continue on, knowing that even imperfect progress is still progress in a better direction than where I started. 

Here goes:

1.  Sit down for quiet time, reading my Bible at least 4 times per week and blog/journal at least 3 of them.

2. Make my bed more often than not. (I have never been one to make our bed, but I always like it when it is done.  So, I am going to try and do it more often)

3.  Spend more time reading the Bible with my kids.  We read books, Bible story books, Christian children's books and anything else, but don't read the Bible itself as often as we should.

4.  Keep on praying.  One of my goals last year was to pray more often and I did make progress on this one.  Now, I want to continue on this one since you can't ever really pray too much!

5.  Run the Lincoln Half Marathon in less time than last year (2:08).  Really hoping for an even 2 hours, but not certain I can chop 8 minutes off or not.

6.  Do something each month to make my marriage stronger.  So often I focus on myself and my kids and leave the hubs in the dust.  I want to make sure he knows how very much he means to me.

7.  Memorize scripture.  This was a goal from last year too.  I set a small goal of one verse per month and couldn't even do it.  I did 6 however, which is 6 more than I knew in 2011, so I'll take it.  I am going to shoot for the one per month again this year and hope to double my total from last year.

8.  Print this list and have it somewhere visible to remind me what my goals are.  If I don't ever see them, I forget what they are and forget to purpose to do them.

What are your thoughts on imperfect progress and what are your goals for 2013?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

All You Need is Love

When most people think of love and the Bible they usually think of 1 Corinthians 13, a fabulous chapter on how to love.  But 1 John 4 has a lot to add.

"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.  Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (7-8)

Love can be tough.  It draws you in and is a complete investment.  So many people see love as an emotion, something you feel.  But love is so much more.  Love is a decision.  It is an action.  It is a choice you have to make each and every day.

As children of God, we are asked to prove our love to God by showing our love to others, whether we feel like it or not.  God's love is so great for us that we are to pour out that love on everyone else with whom we come into contact.  If we are unable to do this, what does it show of our love and appreciation for what God has done for us.

Remember, "For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only son..."?  That is how much he loves us.  Don't you think that we can at least put on a happy face and be kind to the crabby lady at Walmart as a way of thanking God for His love?  Don't you think we can extend grace to the friend that might have offended us?  Don't you think you can pick up your husband's dirty laundry for him rather than griping at him of all the work you have to do?  There are numerous amounts of ways to prove our love for Christ by showing His love to others and we are asked to do them each and every day. 

Verse 20b says, "for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?"  It is easy to say we love God, when loving Him only takes a little lip service and maybe attending church.  But our love is really put to the test when we are asked to love those around us, and even some we might consider unlovable. 

How can you prove that you love Christ today?