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Posts Tagged ‘#loveoneanother’

I want to be a gold digger.

Not like … a real digger of gold, with a lamp on my head and a pick in my hand … though, maybe …

In my relationships, I want to seek the gold, the good in people. I want to dig further into them, to see the nuggets of the purest gold … that which has been refined through a life of both faithfulness and struggle.

This does not come natural, though. It requires intentional effort, for I am a selfish person, who is titillated by gossip and conspiracy-theories.

Thus, Proverbs 11:27,

anyone can find the dirt
in someone,
be the one who finds
GOLD

Simple to say … not so simple to do.

But, I think that, if we make it a focus, if we are intentional about where we allow our minds, our thoughts about others to go … in other words, if we become gold diggers … we will reap priceless riches.

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I have been looking for love …

Ever since self isolation and Toilet Paper Gate, I have been looking for a way to love others through this time of Coronavirus. I thought it might be doing errands for seniors but … it just didn’t read into my heart the way I wanted it to.

Life is so different, for so many right now!

No sports to watch at the arena or bar, no concerts, no movies at the theatres and cinemas, no romantic dinners at restaurants, no vacations, no church services, no coffee dates and, for so, so many, no jobs to go to.

Living in this time of Coronavirus means we have what many of us have wished and dreamed of for so long … free time. What we didn’t hope for was that we would have free time, largely, self isolated in our homes.

If you are like me (an introvert who can fake it if I have to), it was, initially, delightful. I have painted rooms, done a bit of writing, tried new recipes, did a jigsaw puzzle, watched a bit of TV, gone for walks in the sun with the Wonderdog and enjoyed the sound of … silence.

The thing is that even for we who are introverts need to feel we are contributing to someone, something bigger than ourselves and our own desires to feel … healthy, purposeful, alive.

Yesterday, that something (someone) arrived at my heart-level, as I scrolled through social media, in the form of this:

A friend, with whom I attended church a number of years ago had posted the above. Her adult daughter lives with special needs and she (no doubt the whole family) are finding these days long … really long. In this time of Coronavirus, programs are largely cancelled. The events, and day trips, and jobs, socializing and learning (and respite) that help those with special needs to feel that they are healthy, purposeful, alive have been eliminated from their days … which can leave a big hole.

This mom’s plea touched my heart.

Having spent almost seventeen years as an Educational Assistant and two working in group homes for those with special needs, there is a very special place in my heart for those who live with struggles that go well beyond my own … that includes those with special needs and their families who parent on a level beyond the typical.

So, I have now accumulated three young women’s addresses. All three are ladies who live with unique special needs. All three have purpose, gifts and a need to be part of community. These (and, I hope more) will be my new pen pals, and I have no doubt that I will be at least as encouraged and ‘fed’ by these new or renewed relationships, as they will be.

And DO NOT praise me for this … we are all called to love one another … it just happened that God pointed out to me who, and how to love them.

Now, who is he pointing out to you to love during this season of Coronavirus?

“Each of you should look
not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:4

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Me or we?

Sometimes our questions come down to that one question …

Me or we?

When we believe that our actions do not have any impact on those around us … when we think that our desires come before anyone else … when we hold to the perspective that we are in control of our own destinies we are living in the me world.

When we consider how our actions impact those around us … when others are considered in the seeking of having our desires met … when we recognize that our destinies are in the hands of a greater power … and we care for the needs of others who we share community with, we are living in a bigger world … the real world.

We are now living in a time when we need to abandon the me for the we.

Now is the time to clean out the stuff in our homes that we truly do not need and prepare it for donation to those who have need. To reach out to help our neighbors who might not be able to get out to get essentials. To read good books, to try new recipes, to take a walk in our neighborhoods, to play games. To use technology, for calls and FaceTime gatherings. To get to know the people who live under our own roofs.

Switching out our thinking from me to we.

It is now the time to listen to what health experts are saying, suggesting, imploring. It is now the time to look at the needs of those around us, of how our pursuit of me could put others in possible danger.

I recently read an article from the Boston Globe, written by Mattia Ferraresi, who is a writer for the Italian newspaper Il Foglio. (The subtitle of the article is, “Many of us were too selfish to follow suggestions to change our behavior. Now we’re in lockdown and people are needlessly dying.”)

Ms. Ferraresi said, of the affects of the lockdown in Italy :

“Strangely, it’s also a moment in which our usual individualistic, self-centered outlook is waning a bit. In the end, each of us is giving up our individual freedom in order to protect everybody, especially the sick and the elderly. When everybody’s health is at stake, true freedom is to follow instructions.”

May we learn from what other nations had to learn the hard way. May we acknowledge that this world does not revolve around me but that we share this world, are co-dependent on each other for both joy and for survival of life.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor (WE) as yourself (ME).’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

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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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