Friday, November 28, 2008

The greatest of these is love...

This is what I woke up thinking about this morning...

"If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal...
Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud,
doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil;
doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails... When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things.For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.
But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love. "

I Corinthians 13: 1 - 13

The overwhelming impression that the non-Christian should have of a Christian when they meet is that of love. This is not the benign and polite sort of thing that passes for love so often in our culture, but the powerful, compassionate, courageous, peace-full, glorious love of Christ. In all circumstances, at every meeting, no matter what is happening with the Christian, if the love of Christ is not evident in our interactions with others, we have a problem.

It is possible to have the mistaken notion that a mature Christian is one who does what they know they are supposed to do, who does many works for God and who also knows when others are not doing what they are supposed to do. In contrast to this, the apostle Paul, author of the books to the Corinthians, places his ideas about growth as a Christian - "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. vs 11" right in the middle of a call to love. Essentially, he is proclaiming that knowledge, prophecy, gifts and abilities, even faith are empty without love. It would seem that the mark of a mature Christian is one of love.

I cannot help but notice how radical Paul's definition of love is. Love is patient, kind, not easily angered. I am pretty sure this also means that love is not irritable, not cranky, not selfish, not wanting it's own way at the expense of others. Love is gentle, respectful, especially when it comes to the issue of beliefs. There are times when we as Christians seem almost offended that the world we live in does not believe as we do, even though Scripture continually tells us to expect this. Frankly, why are we even surprised that people don't trust our faith when we act so defensive and on guard with those who don't believe. Do WE even trust our faith? We fight for our right to believe as if there was an actual threat, when in fact nothing can touch our faith if it is real. Is our God big enough to handle other people's differing beliefs? What He tells us to do is love them, as Jesus did. The fact is, Jesus had a much more difficult time with the religious leaders of His day than He did with unbelievers. We cannot love people if we see them as threatening - fear kills love. This is not an issue between Christians and unbelievers. This is an issue between Christians and their God. Do we trust God enough to keep us safe and whole, while we pour His love and concern out on others? Why are we acting as if we are so uncared for? God's love is peace-inspiring, passionate and kind. Picture Jesus on the cross and the soldiers mocked Him. He turned His eyes upward to the One He knew...KNEW...loved Him and asked God to forgive his tormentors. "Father, they don't know what they are doing...mercy, please, for these lost ones..."

Yikes! There's more compassion in Jesus' agony filled plea than I sometimes grant my own child when she's not doing what I want her to do!!! Who am I to be irritated at my loved ones? And more improtantly, what would happen in our lives, in the lives of our loved ones, in our world, if we truly and fearlessly approached others with the same love that Jesus gave to the soldiers on that day?

I know that I often fail in loving others the way God means me to. I also know that what sometimes is loving doesn't look that way to others. We do not judge each other on these things...none of us is good enough to judge others. For every failure to love you may point out in my life, I will be able to point out the same in you, and vise versa. God knows our hearts, and His love for us makes Him a safe judge. But scripture does encourage us to judge ourselves, to examine our own hearts. Lately I have been feeling irritable with the people around me, and I have been thinking about things that have hurt me, and reliving the angry feelings. Acts that were forgiven long ago are resurfacing. Maybe I am just tired...maybe it's PMS, or the pain from the bladder flare or my sore jaw from the root canal...but no matter what, I do love these precious people around me and I am praying daily for the strength to give myself to them in love and to allow God to minister to whatever owies and needs I have.

Anyway, it's just a thought...

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Well, I do believe I am unlocked! It appears that I am a human being after all, not a diabolical computer bent on wreaking chaos and mayhem in google blogland. Whew.

It also appears that my 2 week remission from IC (Interstitial cystitis, or as one friend called it, my pee pee problem) is over. Every once in a while, and lately more often than usual, I get a break from the pain and inconvenience of IC and I am always grateful. The gratitude helps when the remission is over, as well. It keeps me from falling into a crumpled heap on my bed awash in self-pity over my lot in life, which just happens to include the pain that I am in now. Self-pity is not a friendly thing, although I do confess to the odd indulgence. It never helps, and in fact makes things much worse. It's a bit odd, because when other people have compassion for me, acknowledge my pain and give recognition to the struggles of life with IC , I feel validated and understood and cared for. When I become self-focused and think too much about my pain and the struggles of life with IC, I begin to stumble into self-pity which seems to magnify the pain rather than lessen it.

One of the principles of the Christian faith is that God cares for us and loves us, and as we are so loved, we are free to look outward and love others with the love that sustains us. That's the way it is supposed to be, when God's people really believe that He loves them no matter what and trust that love. It gets a bit twisted when we begin to think that He loves us because we are good, or are doing what He wants us to do. Then we get self-righteous and uppity and miserable, judging others as lovable or unlovable based on whether or not they are doing what we think they should be doing. Yeah. Not nice. God loves when we obey Him because it shows Him that we love and respect Him, and because obedience is good for us. It keeps us safe. I remember a pastor once telling me that we do not break the laws of God, we illustrate them, just as we cannot break the law of gravity by jumping off of a building. When we hit the ground, we have illustrated the law of gravity. To our detriment. So, yes, obedience is very important. But God's love is unconditional, available to us even when we rebel against Him. He honors our choices, even if the choice is to live life without Him, and to die without Him, and to face eternity without Him. The freedom He gives us is an element of His great love for us. It also breaks His heart. His love is real. He saves us because He delights in us...and that truth gives me joy. I obey Him because I love Him....or at least that is the goal.

So, if God delights in me, then I can look outward and love others and somehow I am made whole even in this weak body. It's a daily choice. Sometimes I do chose self-pity. The results are familiar, though, and it usually isn't long before I give it up and go back to allowing God to take care of me. I am blessed to have some very special and honest friends who, through their constant love and faithfulness, have earned the right and responsibility to let me know when self-pity and self-focus are messing with my mind and spirit.

Life hurts. That's a pretty universal truth. I don't want to just learn how to cope with it. I don't want to "manage" my illness, or just get by. I love the fact that God takes what was meant to tear us down and destroy us, and uses it to open our hearts even wider, to fill us with more faith and to teach us how to have compassion, how to love in new and deeper ways. I love the definition of compassion that I heard once...compassion is your pain in my heart.

So, yeah, the remission is over. It was a great two weeks. **wink**

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Even though I am locked...

I have been called many things, but up until now spam hasn't been one of them. :)

This is the opening post to my new blog, which I am creating as a place to put all of the ramblings that I have been currently clogging up my Facebook page with. I am a born again, in-love-with-Jesus christian, and so my ramblings have a definite lean to them.

As far as my Christianity goes, I have a difficult time placing myself into any of the standard categories that the world and church seem to find so useful. I love God passionately. I believe that He not only wants me to be free from sin and the awful consequences of sin in my life and the lives of others, but that He also has provided the supernatural transformation of my heart so that I am capable of consistently choosing His will for my life instead of my own, or anyone else's. I believe that some churches call this holiness, while others call it impossible. I call it an amazing gift of grace, one I am not worthy of but one I live in daily. I am not yet free of sin, or free of the potential of sin. As long as I am granted freedom, I have the choice, and while I seek to walk along side God in my life, I do stray. I am willful and stubborn and have moments of whining, fussing, and tantrum-y wanting my own way. God's love for me is merciful, and because He will not leave me or forsake me, I am always His.

I also love God's church. God's church is not a building, which is why Christians do not typically worship in temples. The temple is considered a dwelling place for a deity. The Spirit of God dwells within His people, and so God's people are His temple. The building is simply a place where the church comes together. It is a profound mystery, how the Almighty God actually lives inside the hearts of people. God's presence within His people is evident in what the Bible calls the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Many people claim to belong to God, the God of the Bible, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sins and to open the door to full access to God for the world. The evidence is in the fruit of the Spirit of God, lived out in the lives of people in increasing measure as they consistently walk with Him. We are not perfect, but we are growing in these fruit. Just as a new baby's presence in a home is made evident by the new look of the home; a nursery, playpen, baby toys, baby bottles and food in the kitchen, and extra laundry in the washing room; so too is the Presence of the Spirit of God made evident in the life of a believer by the new look of their heart.

It is a gift.

These are just some of the things that I am thinking about today...
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