Tag Archives: love

A Family Prayer

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This prayer by Rev. R.H. Raasch is from The Lutheran Prayerbook.

O Lord, I thank you for my family.  You have created our lives and intentionally brought us together to live in our home.  It is within the family relationship that we learn how to share Your gifts of love, forgiveness and mercy.  It is here, in our home, that we learn to be patient, as You are patient;  compassionate, as You are compassionate;  and caring, as You care for us.  Bless our relationships that we may serve You here in our home and when we go out into Your world.  In the mighty name of Jesus we pray.  Amen

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Blest Be the Tie That Binds

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Perhaps you think of this as a hymn about marriage.  In researching, however, I found that it really speaks of the love between a Pastor and his congregation.  It was written by John Fawcett, who was born in 1740 in Yorkshire, England.  As a young tailor’s apprentice he became a Christian, and was often asked to speak at the Baptist church he attended.  When he was 25 and newly wed, he was asked to pastor a small church in Wainsgate.  The parish was quite poor, and often John and his wife were paid in potatoes and other produce.  It was hard to make ends meet.  After seven years at Wainsgate, he received a call from a larger, more prestigious congregation, able to pay him a much higher salary.  The family packed up to leave, but in the end, his wife, Mary said she didn’t see how they could leave the people who had come to mean so much to them.  John wrote this hymn as an expression of that love.

Graceful Relationships

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Sarah’s post on symbiosis told us that relationships are a two way street.  If we want our relationships to survive and thrive, we have to extend a little grace — that’s a word we Lutherans like to use, which basically means getting something you didn’t earn and don’t deserve.  There are times in every relationship when we have to be willing to put aside our own needs and sacrifice for the other.  There’s a great “how to” section in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.  You’ve probably heard this many times, but have you really thought about it?

“Love is patient and kind”

Am I patient with my friend, even when she forgets my birthday?  Or goes on and on about her favorite topic (which doesn’t interest me)? Am I kind and willing to listen to her problems, even on the days I’m tired and really don’t want to talk at all?

“love is not jealous or boastful.”

Am I sincerely happy for my brother when he gets a promotion while I am struggling financially?  Can I congratulate him without bringing up my latest success?

“it (love) is not arrogant or rude”

Am I respectful and courteous to the people who serve me at the restaurant, the bank, the grocery store?  Do I ask how their day is going?  Or do I ignore them in my rush to get on with my other errands?

“Love does not insist on its own way”

Do I give my husband and children a say in our family life and daily routines?  Or do I expect them to go along with my preferences?

“it (love) is not irritable or resentful”

Am I understanding when my co-worker needs extra time off?  Or do I feel put upon and angry?

“it (love) does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Do I try to put the best interpretation on the behavior of others?  Am I will to forgive them when they’re wrong and keep encouraging and believing in them?  Or do I give up and walk away?

In all our relationships, the greatest asset is love.  Use it daily.

 

Love Through God Goggles

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Love Through God Goggles

Welcome to today’s blog post on Ecclesiastes 3…we continue with verse 8

A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

Such a contrast between these… love/hate, war/peace… But, God’s Word says, through King Solomon, that there is a proper time for both.

The first thing Verse 8 made me think of when reading it was the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”. There are many people I know that live in sin… living together/sexual immorality outside of marriage, drug and alcohol addiction, people who are continually dishonest, cheat, or steal. I have friends who live in alternative lifestyles, people who have shopping/spending addictions, I have a friend that is addicted to food, I have people in my life that are dealing with abuse of some kind, friends who have anger management issues. Some of these people are Christians and some of them are not. But they all have one thing in common…my love.

If you have read some of my blogs, or you know me personally, you know that I love people! I have been a people person all my life. I was modelling my love for people, the way Jesus did, before I ever even gave my life to Him. I have always wanted to love people.

Growing up, I got into a lot of trouble. Some of my own doing, but some because of the company I kept. I always gave people the benefit of the doubt, never understood how someone could be cruel to someone else, and I always stood up for people that were picked on because I knew how it felt.

I had a lot of heartache in my childhood. I was picked on, made fun of, called names, had cruel jokes played on me more than once, and not just by kids at school but my own family as well. I never felt as though I really belonged anywhere. I always felt like an outsider and always felt like the “black sheep” of the family.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that Jesus started to change my perspective. I realized how to look at people through what I call, “God goggles”. My opinion of others behavior didn’t change but I was able to look at them with a new filter. One thing I’ve learned in my life is that people who are angry, bitter, committing crimes, abusing others, trying to escape reality with drugs, alcohol, or alternative lifestyles…they are people who are hurting… just like I was when I have displayed some of those traits in my own life. People express the hurt in their hearts in so many ways.

And so that is why I am friends with all types of people. I don’t discriminate. People have asked me “How can you be friends with so and so?” And I tell them, “Just because you can see their sin doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with some of those same sins, you just don’t see it.” With some people I do take more caution for obvious reasons… I can now love them but hate the things they do. How can I do this? I’ve learned something as a Christian that I wished I had learned a long time ago… boundaries. I stick to my boundaries and guarding my heart above all else.

The second thing verse 7 made me think of was war and peace… no, not the book! I thought about war and peace in my heart. There are times in my life when I have been at war with myself, at war with God, at war with other people. There have been times in my life when I have had extreme peace in my heart, contentment within myself, my relationships, and my faith. Like I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, it is possible to be in a state of two opposite conditions of the heart simultaneously.

One for me that comes up often is spiritual warfare. As a warrior in God’s army, I am constantly fighting to protect myself from the devil’s attacks but I am at complete peace because I know that no matter what fiery arrows come my way, God is walking alongside of me. He is my heavenly father, my protector, my healer, my counselor, my provider, my comforter, my strength, and my power. That is where my peace comes from. Without it I would be lost, just like I was before I found it. Without it, I would be just like the lost, hurting people I know, who have no hope.

I love to sing! If you know me, you know that about me too! There is a song that I love to sing when I am praising my Savior for all He is for me… Because of Who You Are by Vicki Yohe. She is my favorite gospel singer. In fact it is one of the songs I have been practicing to sing at church. These are the lyrics…

Because of who you are, I give you glory
Because of who you are, I give you praise
Because of who you are, I will lift my voice and say
Lord, I worship you because of who you are
Lord, I worship you because of who you are

You see your Jehovah, Jehovah Jireh, my provider
Jehovah Nissi, Lord, you reign in victory
Jehovah Shalom, my Prince of Peace
And I worship you because of who you are

The words to this song remind me that I am His and He is mine. He is my everything, just because of who He is.

Who is God to you? Is He your everything? Or do other things hold a higher place in your heart? Are you spending more time with God or with the things of the world?

How about those “God goggles”? Do you look at others through the eyes of Christ? Or do you sit in judgement at the speck of sin in the eyes of others, meanwhile forgetting the log of sin in your own?

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

photo courtesy of hannahhelpme.com

(and by the way, my chihuahua looks just like this pic!)

To My Mom…

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Of course, being that it is Mother’s Day, I wanted to write something about my mother. For some reason, when I was pondering what to write, this is the story that popped into my head:

One day when I was quite young, my mom took me out of daycare to go to the doctor’s office. She decided to make a fun day out of it, taking me shopping afterwards and for ice cream. For a working mom with two kids, this was definitely meant to be a special day for just me and her. Well, on the way home she said that I started crying and told her that she had ruined my whole day!! I had plans to play with a friend at daycare and she had just ruined it!! As adults, we laugh over this story, but I know that at the time it certainly hurt my mother’s feelings.

Wow. Not my best moment- lol. While there are many more endearing and sweet stories that I could tell, this one seems important to me because it reminds me of how great a mother’s love is. Mothers love us through the good, the bad, and the ugly. No matter what happens or how badly I may behave, I always have that love from my mom. There are few other people in the world that I could say that about. This verse from Corinthians seems to be the most fitting:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The love that I have from my mom is one of those things that makes me feel safe and secure in life, even as an adult. I consider my mom to be one of my closest friends and confidantes, and know that I can always call her about anything. And yes, even as an adult, I still eagerly await the cards and care packages that my mom sends me. It is nice to know that in a sometimes scary and confusing world, there is always someone in your corner, quietly rooting you on in your life. I am so blessed and grateful to have such a great mom. So to all moms of adult children and especially to my mom, thank you so much. You are so loved and appreciated for everything that you do!!! Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

A Quote by Dorothy Day

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I’ve been reading a book by Dorothy Day, The Reckless Way of Love, and I really liked this quote.  It’s a little off topic, but then is love ever off topic when it comes to Christianity?  In case you don’t know Dorothy Day was the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and started the first of many houses of hospitality for the poor and homeless.

“If we could only learn that the important thing is love, and that we will be judged on love–t0 keep on loving, and showing that love, over and over, whether we feel it or not, seventy times seven, to mothers-in-law, to husbands, to children–and be oblivious to insult, or hurt, or injury–not to see them, not to hear them.  It is a hard, hard doctrine.”

 

Why Witness?

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We witness to others out of love. God is love and the gospel is His Good News for sinners(that’s all of us.) We love others because He first loved us, and we want to share that message with the world.  Wouldn’t life be better if we loved God with all our heart, mind and soul, and our neighbors as ourselves?  What could be more loving than to tell someone about Jesus?

In Hot Pursuit

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According to the dictionary, to pursue means to chase or run after something or someone.  We pursue the things we really want and are interested in. What are you chasing after in your life?  Is it money?  A beautiful home?  A prestigious job? An expensive car?  A certain someone who attracts you?  If we’re honest, we realize many (if not most) of the things we pursue have to do with worldly approval or success.

The Bible tells us to pursue a whole different set of things.  For example:

“Turn from evil and do good;  seek peace and pursue it.”  Psalm 34:14

Pursue is a verb, an action word.  This means I must not only think peace is a nice idea, I must do what I can to promote it.  Maybe this means compromise, or putting another person first.  Certainly it means caring more about the other person than winning or getting my own way.

Here’s another one:

Pursue love and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…” 1 Corinthians 14:1

Pursuing love means behaving in a loving way to all of God’s children–not just the ones I care about or the ones who treat me well.  It means using my gifts to encourage and support others, not to promote only myself and my own interests.

Finally:

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”  1 Timothy 6:11b

Pursuing righteousness and godliness means going against my natural inclination by doing God’s will instead of my own.  Pursuing God’s way means trying to be selfless instead of selfish.

I know I’ll never completely stop pursuing the wrong things;  but staying close to God through study, worship and prayer will help me remind me of the things I really want.

“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18b

Run after God.  Pursue the eternal.

 

 

 

At All Times

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“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

I was a little upset with a friend a few days ago.  Do you know what terrible sin she committed?  She didn’t agree with me, and she told me she didn’t. Now I certainly wasn’t furious.  But I was hurt. I got defensive.  I felt frustrated.  I didn’t see why she couldn’t “get” my position.  I don’t like conflict, and even this minor disagreement made me feel out of sorts for the rest of the day.  Sunday of all days.  How annoying.

This morning I remembered this verse and I got over myself.  You see, the Bible tells us to love our friends at ALL times.  Not just when they’re supporting us.  Not just when they’re behaving the way we think they should. Not just when they follow our advice.  Not just when they AGREE with us.  So I wrote my friend a note. I still don’t agree with her, but  I told her I cared about her and valued our friendship (I do).  I told her I appreciated all that she does for me and our community (I do).  I realized that loving each other doesn’t depend upon complete agreement.

Here’s the bigger lesson in all this.  In John 15:15 Jesus says,

“No longer do I call you servants….but I have called you friends.”

Jesus is my friend, and he loves me at all times.  Not just when I am being “good.”  Not just when I’m paying attention to Him.  Not just when I’m praying or praising Him, but all the time.  I‘ll fall down and disappoint my friends.  I’ll get annoyed and say angry words without thinking.  I’ll be inconsistent and bull-headed.  Jesus won’t do any of those things.  He is my one constant, yesterday, today and forever.  And He is my friend.  How wonderful is that!  What does He ask in return?  Just this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you,  you are also to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 12:34

What does this loving friendship look like?

“Love is patient and kind;  love does not envy or boast;  it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

If Jesus is my friend who loves me at all times, shouldn’t I try to be the same kind of friend to others?

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Remembering Others…

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My next door neighbor, Mrs. Thompson, passed away following a long illness this past year. She and her husband lived next door to us for as long as I can remember. They knew my husband and I when we were just dating, they attended our wedding, and they shared in many holiday and life experiences with us. I was always surprised by how much interest Mrs. Thompson took in our lives. Despite taking care of her husband, visiting with her many friends, keeping her household and being very active in church activities, she always seemed to know what was going on with us. When my beloved cat died, she wrote me a three page letter about how special he had been her. When we first purchased chickens (an interesting endeavor!), she and her husband were the first to come over with their video camera to chronicle the event. She would call just to check in, and drop by to bring us snacks on the holidays. She always made me feel special, loved, and appreciated.

Her funeral was packed. Much to my surprise, many people stood up to talk about those special letters that she had written them over the years, and all of the kind things that she had done for them. How she had time to do so many things for so many people I will never know. It seemed that she actively remembered everything going on in all of her friends lives, and was always passing her love on to others.

Reflecting back on my own actions, I am sorry to say that the same can’t always be said about me. I get easily caught up in my day to day life, and may go weeks or even months without as much as saying hello to my neighbors. I am not much better with friends or family either. I often get the “are you dead?” call from my mom after a few weeks of forgetting to check in. I am not know for my excellent memory of birthdays either- my big sister often calls me on family members’ birthdays, just to give me a friendly reminder ‘not to forget’.

With this being said, if I could make any new years resolution for self improvement this year, it would be to take note and follow in the footsteps of my good friend and neighbor Mr. Thompson. To try daily to write one personal note, make one phone call, or reach out to at least one friend or family member daily to see what is going on in their lives. I have put the following bible verse on my phone as a daily reminder of this:

Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.