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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

New-Command

This morning I get to speak at our church, and so my post today is the ‘guts’ of that message.

Though out of season from the traditional church calendar, today I am going to take us back to Passover, specifically the Passover surrounding the final days of Jesus.

The message today comes out of the account of the Final Supper, is told from the perspective of John, and is recorded only in the gospel (the good news) of John.

Here is the setting:

Jesus is having a meal with his 12. And he decides that his dirty dozen need their feet to be washed.

Then there is Judas, who had all that Jesus offered to all of the disciples, but then the bread is dipped into the wine, and Jesus holds it out to Judas …

Can you imagine being Judas? Imagine looking into the eyes of Jesus, and choosing to take the bread, fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament, records of the Psalms and Zechariah. He CHOSE to take the bread. And, as soon as did, as soon as he made the choice, verse 27 tells us that “Satan entered into him.” So, Judas leaves to do Satan’s work.

Jesus is aware that the clock is ticking in regards to his human life. He is now with his 11 disciples, whom he is counting on to spread the news of who Jesus is, and who will give accounts of his arrest, his trial, his death, his rising from the dead and ascension into heaven. He knows that whatever he says may be the last of his words that these men hear.

He is about to share with them, his magnum opus … his greatest work yet. It is a testament or sermon, common in Jewish culture. 

This reminds me of an annual practise in our household when our children were in elementary school. Each September we would get a notice from school … the earthquake preparedness notice. We would be instructed to put together, in a Ziploc bag a list of items (large garbage bag, nutritious snack bars, a deck of cards, a small toy, a water bottle, and a note).

That note … it made my heart stop every year. I would fill the plastic bag, ticking off every item on the list, leaving the note to last. And finally, after going to bed, after the house was dark and still, my quickened heart beat will force me out of bed, and I would boil the water, and stick a tea bag into it, then I would sit at the dining table, with paper and pen, and write what might be my final message to each of my children. And the tears would flow like the water in a spring brook … without choice, just flowing from a place higher up, that removed personal choice, from the action.

It was in the writing of those letters that what is really important, became really important to say.

Dear Cris,

I wish I was with you right now, but I am so glad that you can be with your school friends and your teachers who will look after you so well.

We are so proud of you. You have a heart for other people, and you do not care who they are, what they wear, how old they are … you just love people. Keep doing that, for that is what you were created for.

Be brave, like we know you are, my sweet girl, your daddy’s Red Rocket.

We are going to do all that we can to get to you, just as soon as possible.

Keep answering this question … you know the answer.

Mommy and Daddy love you, but who loves you the most?

It’s Jesus … don’t forget that. It is always Jesus who loves the most.

Do you hear our song? …

A, you’re adorable, B, you’re so beautiful, C, you’re a cutie full of charms …

Love you, to the moon and back,

Momma and Daddy

In John 13:33-35 (The Message), Jesus gave a new command to his followers (aka. those who would be the early Christian/Christ-following, yet imperfect) church:

“My children (he starts with “my children” … he is coming from a parental perspective, a perspective of limitless love, care and concern,  just like my earthquake notes to my children), I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. Let me give you a new command (here it is, what is most important becomes the only message when it might be the last): Love one another.  Now repeat after me Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another ponder those words … now look around this room of believers … he, the Christ, who died for you, and me, is calling his disciples, is calling us (his church), to love each other as he loved … his love was self-sacrifice, it was his death.

Then he finishes his last testament with these words:

This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

You know what I am hearing right now?

“We are one in the spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity
May one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love”

“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples
—when they see the love you have for :

 

  • The poor?
  • The unborn?
  • The drug addict?

 

No, when they see the love you have for … one another, each other.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary speaks to that verse:

“if the followers of Christ do not show love one to another, they give reason to suspect their sincerity.

When the world outside of our church doors sees and hears of divisions within the relationships of Christ-followers, it makes the world doubtful of our authenticity, doubtful of the difference that Christ can make in the world. Jesus knew that this would be the case, and this is why he reminded his followers, all of his followers, in the form of a new commandment … love one another.

If we cannot get this one commandment right, the world will never fully see that we are followers of Christ, no matter how much we do for the poor, the unborn, the addict or any other person of need.

It is important that all members, like the disciples, who were the first followers of Christ,   love one another. This speaks to the world more loudly than whether or not we are members, if we have ever taken part in communion or how we were baptized.

By loving each other we mirror the way Jesus lived, we show his unique, sacrificial, undeniable Christ-like love to the world. If we do not show love to one another … are we truly His followers, His church?

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I just realized that I hadn’t posted yesterday!
I have been hard at work (avoiding) preparing a message for this weekend (on aging!!).
So, in lieu of a belated new post, here is my contribution, from over five years ago.
Now to get a handle on this message …

Although I am only thirty-nine (with four years experience) I am becoming more acquainted with aging, and it’s changes each and every day.

There are some changes that come with ‘time passing on’ (this is hubby’s way of referring to aging) that I quite like.

I love the lines that are forming just outside of the corners of my mouth, and my eyes, because they are evidence to smiles and laughs. I may not remember every individual event that caused my face to smile, but the lines will never hide that joy has filled my days.

I love that I have been plucking my eyebrows for so many years that the hairs almost never re-grow anymore.

I love that I do not have to concern myself with pimples, other than the odd one or two.

I love that, because my hair is … silvering … I have a natural excuse to become an even more blond, and I now have a number(s) to identify and define my hair color 😉

There are also some changes that have occurred that I do not favor so much.

I do not like that my knees have decided I need to pay more attention to them, and they attain my attention in the most uncomfortable of ways.

I do not like that some foods that I ingest want to burn themselves into my memory (or at least into my esophagus).

I definitely do not like the anticipation of body parts migrating in a southerly direction.

But, I especially do not like that the appearance of my hands is changing.

The famous, all-knowing ‘they’ say that the way to most accurately guess the age of woman, you need to only to glance at her neck or her hands.

As each year passes, I have noticed subtle changes happening in my hands, that I am not so happy about. The lines in them are deepening. They need constant re-hydration from rich lotions. I seem to have lost the ability to grown my fingernails to even the slightest length, without their splintering. There seems to be more skin, as it is losing it’s youthful elasticity. They sometimes even ache … but it is their appearance that is more disheartening to me.

It is a frequent occurrence that I glance at my hands, and have no idea whose hands they are. They surely cannot be mine, because mine do not look so … so … aged. Then I realize they move when and where I will them, and so they truly are my own.

Maybe the changes in them bother me, because my hands were the body part(s) that I actually liked about myself. Maybe I thought I would be immune to the normal, natural results of ‘time moving on.’

All that said, maybe the wrinkles, the lines, the shorter nails and the loosening skin are all characteristics of hands that have been held by generations before me, that have held on to the children I gave birth to, that have made meals for those I love, that have held the hands of people readying for eternity, that have written or typed words of encouragement, that have touched the shoulder of one carrying the weight of the world, that have folded in an act of pray, that have been kissed by the man of my life, that will one day be taken by my Redeemer as He welcomes me into eternity.

Maybe they are like the laugh lines I so adore on my face. Maybe they are the lines of hands that have loved, and been loved in return.

So, I’ll keep slathering rich lotions onto them, so that, although they will be marked by the lines of time, they will still be welcoming to the touch of those who need a hand.

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Some days are rays of sunshine, success and sweetness.

Then there are the days of darkness, discouragement and drudgery.

Recently I walked through a day of the later with a friend. From the moment I saw her coming my way, I could see defeat in her walk, her pasted smile, and the invisible, yet so visible weight that she carried across her shoulders.

I could not rectify, solve or improve the situations in her life that day. And I felt helpless.

We all have those days, weeks or even years, when we have lost our confidence, our hope. Sometimes these days are born out of events or emotions that are beyond our control.

Since we all have and do experience life this way at times, what if we applied empathy to the situation? What if, rather than try to fix the difficulty in another’s life, we simply sat in with them, then started to fill them with what is true?

What if we simply told them how much we appreciate them? express the strengths we see in them? tell them that they are loved?

In essence, what if we filled their empty cup with understanding, truth and love?

Isn’t that what we would hope when we are in the depths of despair?

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you,
do also to them”
Matthew 7:12

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Life carries on …

This was the prevailing thought as I left work today, heavy with the weight of grief in a world that does not cease to spin for anything or anyone.

A colleague for much of the past thirteen years died, after a brief battle with cancer. Though she has been missing from our hallowed halls since before the Christmas break, the finality of death leaves a unexpected shock in its wake. 

We went to sleep last night knowing that our friend and co-worker was experiencing an other-worldly peace that passes understanding, and we awoke today to the everyday battles of work in a high school. 

It wasn’t until the end of the day, when her family were prayed for at a staff meeting, that many of us realized that we had not yet begun to mourn.

And we mourn.

And we know that we will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

Late last August our staff reunited and dreamed of a new school year, none of us aware that one would cease to breathe life’s sweet breath before June’s final bell rang.

And so we grieve the death of our friend and colleague, we grieve for her family, but we also mourn for ourselves, as our knowledge in the fragility of life has been flashed before our eyes. We are not guaranteed four score and ten. We are only given right now. 

On her “about” page on her blog (nodroppedstitches)she shared who she knew she was:

“I am the creation spoken about in Psalm 139:13 – 16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV)

Our friend was not expected to live, from the moment she was born. Her health was fragile throughout her life, yet she lived to experience so much of what one might dream for … friendships, marriage, children, grandchildren, further education even up to a year ago and gardening through it all. Doctors through the years had hypothesized her end numerous times … but her days were written before her first breath, by the One who breathed life into her.

As is the same for each one of us.

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Speaking_winter_new

I have the best job in the world, I get to help students learn. At least, that is what I am paid to do.

Most days, if I keep my mind open, I am the one who does the learning, and it is the students who do the teaching.

A couple of weeks ago, while going over the characters in a novel, I looked across the table at the young man I was working with. A young man I have known since he was very young. A young man who lives with the struggles of having a diagnosis that is written clearly all over his face. As I looked at him, I felt the strength of his character, his faith, his compassion.

I smiled.

He smiled back.

I said, “I like you.”

He smiled bigger, and said, “I love you.”

My heart broke …

for he reminded, no, he taught me something,

let your words be true.

You see, what I meant in my heart, when I looked at him, was I love you. Not in some creepy way, but in a true, pure heart, I would do anything for him way (at least, I hope that is what I would do).

But I was inhibited, in ‘paid to work’ mode, where saying ‘I love you’ is awkward and inappropriate.

He, though, always says what is true. Oh, he can be a cheeky monkey, teasing and fooling around with the best of them, but he does not understand the world in terms of what is appropriate or compartmentalization, he lets his words be true … all the time.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4:15

 

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The sign, above, will be the only good thing about driving North, this morning.

As hubby and I pack up our bags, and begin the treck out of the tsunami zone my heart will ache.

For about eight years we have been coming to Cannon Beach, Oregon. Most of those trips have been made with at least the younger two of our three kids. We stay at a conference center (www.cbcc.net) where you get fed in every way … as you walk the beach, as they provide two amazing meals each day, as you breathe the salty ocean air, as you have time to reconnect with your loved ones, as you listen to amazing speakers, as you share worship with other Christ-followers, as they provide entertainment and socializing opportunities.

The only negative of the experience is that, while being fed so well, and in so many ways, is that the time here is spent in a Tsunami zone.

According to Geo-scientists, the west coast, roughly from California to Alaska, is overdue for a Megathrust earthquake, which will trigger a Tsunami unlike any other this Earth has yet experienced. This scientific teaching comes to my memory as soon as I see the first sign that declares:

“you are entering a tsunami zone”

As I viewed one of those signs, as we were entering what I like to refer to as eutopia, I found myself thinking,

“why would any person, who knows about the possibility of impending doom, enter into a tsunami zone?”

Then I thought of other risks of impending doom that we drive into, throughout our life:

  • Marriage
  • Raising children
  • Moving to a new town
  • Changing careers
  • Starting a new business

Each one of the choices above can be doors that lead us to tragic ends, yet we humans keep driving into various tsunami zones in our life. Areas that could be the end of us, destroy us.

But, like the possible threat of a Megathrust earthquake and resulting tsunami, the risks associated with major life choices are not guaranteed, but possible. Like the benefit of being fed, and nurtured, and made better by being in a beautiful coastal town, the most major, of major life choices, can also satiate, nurture and make us better.

If we never enter into the tsunami zone, we will never Know the joys of the risk.

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Good Mother

Mother’s Day is so … daunting, if you are a child.

Mother’s Day is so … stressful, if you are a husband of a mother (so my hubby says).

Mother’s Day is so … lonely, if you are a mom, whose child is not longer on this earth.

Mother’s Day is so … full of hurt, if motherhood has not happened for you.

Mother’s Day is so … beautiful, if you are blessed to be a mom (so, I say … no gifts required, but time together is always appreciated).

But for this blog, I write, not as a mom (as if that is possible), but as a daughter. And, this is a daunting thing to do.

When I think of my mom, I think of the words of a Jane Arden song, “Good Mother”:

“I’ve got money in my pocket,

I like the color of my hair 😉 ,

I’ve got a friend who loves me,

I’ve got a house, got a car,

I’ve got a good mother,

and her voice is what keeps me here”

But, what does ‘good mother’ mean to me, as I think about my mom?

She didn’t do it all right. She didn’t wear pearls, like June Cleaver. She didn’t have warm baked cookies for us when we came home from school. She didn’t read to us at bedtime every night. She didn’t keep her cool at all times. She didn’t drop what she was doing, every time I wanted her attention. She doesn’t always have wisdom to share (advice, though, … always). She didn’t work into the night sewing, and cleaning and whatever else that Proverbs 31 chick was supposed to do.

She is not perfect! Which is okay to me, because I am a mother, and I am so aware that ‘perfect’ and ‘mother’ do not go together (and surely, I was not perfect, as a daughter either).

But here is what she did right, in my mind:

She, despite being single and poor, chose to give birth to me.

She chose to marry, not just a man who would love her, but one who would be the best father to me, and to my brothers, that they would have in the years that followed.

She chose to do what she could, by caring for others children, to contribute financially to our family during the years when interest rates soared to near 20%.

She encouraged relationships with the parents of herself and our dad.

She celebrated … everything! If there was reason, there was cake!

She made birthdays special for my brothers and I.

She worked hard, with our dad, to maintain a marriage that has survived just over 40 years.

She loves us, all.

It would be so easy, too easy, to pick apart the problems, the mistakes, the weaknesses … the sins of our mother. But that does nothing to benefit anyone … that does nothing for her, that does nothing for us, for me.

She taught me to be honest, trustworthy, kind, sensitive and good to others, to be myself, and that it is a good thing to love God. I am, flaws and all, who I am because of my upbringing, because of my good mother. I believe my own children will only love me, in proportion to how I have modeled my love for my own mother. The jury is still out on how that is going to go.

But I know that I love her. I know that I respect her. I know that I could never know what it was to walk in her shoes, because I have been blessed to have grown up in a different time, with different parents, and different circumstances.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she did the best she could, with the resources that were available to her. And I know that, one thing is for sure, she has loved me from my earliest beginnings and will until we part on this earth.

“I’ve got a good mother, and her voice is what keeps me here,

Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward,

Be yourself”

* this is a re-post from four years ago … but still so true.

 

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