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Posts Tagged ‘#loveoneanother’

There are numerous things that get harder as we age, but I am learning that there is one thing that can actually get easier.

I thought of this recently, when saying good-bye to a friend. As I spoke the words, I realized how they easily rolled off my tongue, how much more often I speak them and how saying them now comes with little requirement to hear them back.

Just three little words, yet, they come forth with ease, meaning and a burning need to speak them … now, while I can.

I love you

I am not certain of when it happened, or why, but those three words have been falling out of my mouth, in increasing frequency. Though they are words that have often been shared with my family, I have sensed a need to speak them to others … and not for the purpose of hearing them echoed back in my own ears … but simply because I need to hear myself affirming those around me that they are loved … that loved is how I define them.

As I think about it, I think that maybe God has been working on my heart.

All of our lives is a constant refining process. We begin deeply loved by our Creator. He loves us, just as we are, even though we are saturated by sin. But, he doesn’t leave us to decay from sin, he works within us to purify and refine us, purging us of what can destroy us, even though it might hurt for awhile.

As I look back I can see evidence of that refining process. Those times that left me crying out for help, for relief. Those times when all I could say was why? Those times when the life hurt, when loneliness was great, when I didn’t have any answers.

No one wants to be refined, but we all want the results of the refining process.

Through refining we become a combination of harder and softer. We become more aware of our reliance on God. We become more aware of who God places in our lives.

We become more aware that our need is greater to give love than to receive it … and that in giving it, we receive it.

Love is the tool as well as the product of the refining process of God in us. As he works through us, our weakness to truly love is exactly what he uses to refine us, strengthening us to love others … not in our strength, but in his.

“If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2b)

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other.” (Romans 13:8)

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)

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Hubby and I … well, it is probably best said that opposites attract.

We have differing points of view on everything from coffee shops, to music, to movies, to politics, to child rearing, to chocolate (he says milk and I say dark). These different perspectives can leave us frustrated, angry and even with hurt feelings. What they don’t do is ignite hate for each other.

What we share together is far greater than on what we differ. Oh, the differing can be immensely challenging and even hurtful, but we share a life-guiding principle …

we love one another

The concept of loving one another came from the mouth and heart of Jesus, himself. It was while sitting around a table with his eleven (Judas had already stepped away … in more ways than just physically stepping away), that Jesus commanded them to love one another.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

This loving each other was as foreign a concept then, as it is now. Like today, when people eliminate or unfriend people who think differently than us, society in the time of Jesus was also more about about assimilation than about community or love.

The Matthew Henry Commentary (MHC), on this love one another passage says,

“Laws of revenge and retaliation were so much in vogue, and self-love had so much the ascendant (superiority), that the law of brotherly love was forgotten as obsolete and out of date; so that as it came from Christ new, it was new to the people.”

So when Jesus delivered this command (not a suggestion, but a command) it was counter culture, odd and new. It could have been dismissed completely had he not given them a model to follow … himself.

Jesus told them to love each other “as I have loved you.”

Each one sitting there, listening to him speak would know, by their experience and intimate knowledge of life with him, how high the bar was that Jesus had set for them.

As the MHC says, of his example of what it is to love one another:

“He spoke kindly to them, concerned himself heartily for them, and for their welfare, instructed, counselled, and comforted them, prayed with them and for them, vindicated them when they were accused, took their part when they were run down, and publicly owned them to be dearer to him that his mother, or sister, or brother. He reproved them for what was amiss, and yet compassionately bore with their failings, excused them, made the best of them, and passed by many an oversight. Thus he had loved them, and just now washed their feet; and thus they must love one another, and love to the end. “

This is what we are called to, as well.

None of this would have been a surprise to the disciples, anymore than it should be a surprise to us, today.

Jesus did not give up on his disciples. He did not unfriend, nor did he cease to love each and every one (Judas included), right up to the end … his end on the cross. For he died for us all, even if we do not choose to accept his leadership in our lives.

To differ does not have to mean that we hate. If we declare that we follow the example of Jesus, there is not place for hate if we are committed to love one another.

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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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Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 6.53.18 PMThis past week was one where I came to understand and appreciate afresh the church as the love story that God intended.

Loving and sincere well wishes to hubby, after his resignation, from people near and far.

Visits from caring people, when one of a family member spent a few hours in hospital.

Messages from my co-ordinator at work, letting me know that there was someone on ‘back-up’ should I need to stay home the next day with my sick loved one.

True care for each other amongst our kids, all dropping everything for each other.

Offers of prayer from all around the world.

In the Greek and Hebrew language the word church is translated as meaning called out or assembly. In neither case does it refer to a building or institution, yet that is often what we think of when we hear or say the word, church.

The early church came together (assemblies) to worship the God who had come, clothed in human skin, to redeem his creation.

In John 13:34-35 (The Message), Jesus gave a new command to his followers (aka. those who would be the early Christian/Christ-following) church:

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary speaks to that verse:

“Before Christ left the disciples, he would give them a new commandment. They were to love each other for Christ’s sake, and according to his example, seeking what might benefit others, and promoting the cause of the gospel, as one body, animated by one soul. But this commandment still appears new to many professors. Men in general notice any of Christ’s words rather than these. By this it appears, that if the followers of Christ do not show love one to another, they give cause to suspect their sincerity.

Showing love to one another is the most distinctive action we can determine to do, in order to set ourselves apart, in order to be called out (to be the church).

By loving each other we mirror the way Jesus lived, we show his love to the world. If we do not show love to one another … are we truly called out? are we truly His church?

I am so thankful to be surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, who walk the walk, talk the talk, and be the church.

 

 

 

 

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Tonight is the night for spooky costumes, trick or treaters and more candy received than dentists would ever desire people to eat.

atticusI have endearing memories of being at my grandmother’s house on Halloween night, helping her to hand out candy (and hoping she didn’t hand it all out, because I was more than willing to take it all off of her hands).

I remember her holding the candy hostage until the spooky visitor told her their name, and whether or not they lived on her her road (and, sometimes, who their parents were). She loved this opportunity to get to know her little neighbours.

I remember those dressed up like cute butterflies, pirates, firefighters and princesses. Then there were the ones that were taller, older, and had masks that completely hid their identity from us. Those were the ones that I felt more fearful and hesitant about letting into my grandmother’s home.

But, after my grandmother would ask her questions, once we knew it was the teen from the farm next door, or so-and-so’s grandson, or a stranger who slipped off their mask to smile and introduce themselves, all was well.

You see, the mask they were wearing was not who they really were, and once that mask was off, or the wearer identified, relationship entered the picture.

But, that was not the sole responsibility of the wearer of the mask.

You see, in my ignorance, I had pre-judged the individuals before my grandmother got to them. I saw them as scary, a threat, and I was wrong.

Last week I was wrong about someone, and I love it when I am wrong!

At the beginning of the school year I met dozens of students for the first time, and without intending to, I pre-judged them, according to their words and body language.

One student, in particular, I pre-judged as one who would not accept help, who felt they did not need help, who felt they did not need a learning support block.

In the past few weeks, I have seen a change akin to the metamorphic changes leading to the emergence of a butterfly from it’s cocoon. This student has accepted assistance, worked collaboratively with another student, and has even asked for help in understanding the next unit in a subject.

I was so wrong! And I am so glad.

So, was I just wrong? I don’t think so.

You see, what changed was that, in the beginning, I judged only from what I saw and heard. Much like the trick-or-treaters, when they first walked into my grandmothers house. It was not until I asked questions, in order to get to know this student, that I began to understand who this student really was … on the inside … under the mask that we all wear.

Relationship is what makes the difference in knowing and understanding people.

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Left wing or right?

C/conservative or L/liberal?

I feel as though our world has gone crazy for pigeon-holing other humans.

As one who has always been quite comfortable being strangely unique, I am offended  (word of the day) by this pigeon-holing.

Because I am a woman …
does not mean I am a feminist, believe I am under the subjugation of men, or love Grey’s Anatomy (nor am I saying I am not).

Because I am an educator …
does not mean that I vote with union-supporting parties, believe that higher education is the only way to a successful life, or that I have amazing handwriting on a chalk/white board (nor am I saying I am not/do not).

Because I am a west coaster …
does not mean that I wear Birkenstocks (with or without wool socks), eat a Vegan diet, or that I do yoga on the beach (nor am I saying that I am not/do not).

Because I am a Christian, does not mean that I hate anyone who is Muslim, gay or whoever wears tattoos … period!

Here is who I am …
I am, first and foremost, a flawed, undeserving recipient of the most awe-inspiring redemption, from the One who set the world in place (though, I am not sure if it happened in seven days, seconds or millions of years … but I am fully confident that it was by an intelligent being).

I have voted for three national political parties since the first time I was of age to practice the privilege of voting. I vote with my conscience, not with the conscience of a politician, or a party.

I have three children, who I have encouraged, since childhood, to look out for the underdog, the new kid, those who may seem weak … never has this encouragement been connected to a race, religion, lifestyle or any other differential. To care about and for all created things. And I have taught them to NEVER make statements that they are not willing to do something about (and that holding a placard is not as important as reaching for the hand of one who has fallen or been pushed down).

I believe it is possible to have a relationship, even love, someone with whom I disagree. I do not choose to love only those who think like me … how lacking in diversity of life.

I believe in free speech … even when I do not like what is being communicated.

I believe that all of human history matters, and that we learn from what was done right, as well as what was done wrongly. This is the reality of all human existence, that we all have the capability of good and of evil.

I am not perfect … not in my actions, my attitudes or my words, for “there is no just man (or woman)” (Romans 3:10).

I am no pigeon and, I bet, neither are you.

 

 

 

 

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I LOVE working in the environment of teens. This is my fourteenth year working with teens in Christian schools. This is also the first year (after about a twenty-five year hiatus) that I have been assisting in a church youth group. Did I mention that I LOVE working in the environment of teens?

Teens are teens, though there are trends that come and go, teens themselves are, at their core, very similar throughout the years. They are exploratory, curious, questioning, idealistic, fun-loving, confused, stressed with thoughts of the future, and more.

In recent years I have been noticing something about teens, who have grown up in Christian homes, that has me scratching my head.

They don’t want to identify as Christians.

They may say that they believe in God, and even in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They may believe in the value of prayer, and even go to church every week. They may go to youth group and help in Sunday School.

But, they aren’t sure what, or if, they believe.

Teens today are different from generations in the past in that anxiety, depression, social media pressures and bullying, along with the constant exposure to unreal reality (in TV shows and on the covers of magazines) create instability in their present to the point that they cannot fathom the future.

In a sense they have had their feet knocked out from underneath of them, and they do not have the confidence of where it safe to stand.

This has had me on my knees frequently, for the teens that surround me in my life.

Then, coming home from work this week I heard the words to the song Believe by Mumford and Sons:

“I don’t even know if I believe 
Everything you’re trying to say to me

So open up my eyes
Tell me I’m alive
This is never gonna go our way
If I’m gonna have to guess what’s on your mind

Say something, say something,
Something like you love me”

As I heard the lyrics (above) I started to see teens I know say those words to me. It was as if they were telling me, themselves, what they need (foundationaly) for their own belief.

“So open up my eyes
Tell me I’m alive”

Maybe, instead of telling them what to believe, they need us to show them who to believe, and why. God is not a wishy washy possibility, he is a good father who loves his children, who he created. Teens need to be reminded that they are fully alive, with full possibility and promise.They need to be reminded that that the breath of life is in them, just as tides come in and go out from shore, life is about rhythms, and they are part of the rhythm of the created world.

This is never gonna go our way
If I’m gonna have to guess what’s on your mind

We need to speak to them. We need to tell them of the stories of love, of justice, of redemption. We need to give them hope. Sometime hope can come from a smile, but it is even stronger when it comes from a conversation.

Say something, say something,
Something like you love me

Teens need to hear

I love you.

I like you.

I heard someone say once, if you want to change a teenager’s behaviour, you have to convince them that you like (love) them.

Maybe what teens today need most is for people who proclaim love for Christ to proclaim love for them … in words, in deeds.

believe

“My commandment is this–to love one another just as I have loved you.”
John 15:12

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