Love is Relative…

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Love… what does it mean?  Sometimes a lot… sometimes very little.  Very few people, if any, grew up in a wonderful, loving home.  The home where mom baked your favorite cookies everyday and/or snuggled you until you couldn’t stand it… where dad threw a ball with you every afternoon and/or told you how proud he was of you everyday.

For some, this may be more accurate…

Dad says he loves you, but nothing you do ever measures up, he doesn’t return your calls, and basically ignores you, unless it’s convenient.

Mom says she loves you, but uses the grocery money to buy drugs… ignoring you while she’s high and filling your home with questionable people.

Husband says he loves you, but cheats on you after work everyday.

Wife says she loves you, but lies about how much money she spent on her shopping spree.

Boyfriends says he loves you, but dumps you after he convinces you to have sex with him.

Bet friend says she loves you, but stabs you in the back.

I could go on… there are a million different scenarios here.  We’ve all been there at some point with some relationship.  Love is hard.  You may have grown up with one of these parents.  So, as an adult, you have no concept of how to love someone.  You may say the words, but the behavior is something you learned from your past, it’s not real love.  It’s difficult to model something that you have never been taught.

I’m here to tell you though, that while human love is relative, God’s love is not.  His love is perfect.  To us, love is a feeling, maybe even an action… but God is love.  God loves you with His perfect love.  He created you and He cares for you.  Nothing that you do will change His love for you… nothing.  God does not like it when we sin, and we all do, but He loves us just the same.  He loves you so much that He gave His only son to die for you.  You… the one sitting at your desk… you, the one sitting in the parent pickup line… you, the one looking through your phone while watching tv.  You… He died for you.  He thinks you are special… He will never leave you… He will never forsake you… He doesn’t need you to be perfect… or dress fancy… He just loves you for who you are.

All you need to do is accept that love.  Ask Him to come into your heart and He will.  He will fill you with the love that you lack… the love that you may have been deprived of.  He will.  The only thing you have to do is ask with an open, honest heart… just ask…

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

“neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our lord.” Romans 8:39

The Flesh is Weak…

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The night before last, I was having a chocolate craving.  This is a normal occurrence in my life.  My sweet husband usually brings me a little something to ward off the demons that arise when I don’t have chocolate.  However, I have been trying to exercise and eat better, so he’s been mindful of that.

Anyway, there I was, at 9pm, craving chocolate… with none in the house.  I resigned myself to just deal with it until he says… “check the bag I got from your mom for Christmas, there’s M&M’s in it.”  Me: Silently thinks… “What?! You have chocolate from CHRISTMAS?!  That was almost a month ago!”

I politely say “ok, thank you.”  And try to casually saunter, not run with abandon, to the bedroom to retrieve said M&M’s.  Now, I got one of these bags from my mom, too.  So, I’m fully aware that it’s a big bag, not the individual ones you get in the check-out line at the store.  Oh no… there goes my “eating well.”

I rationalize… I can just eat a few to take the craving away.  But, deep down I know that it will take all the will power I have not to eat all 11.4 ounces in one sitting.  I have a problem… I am aware… I hear that half the battle is admitting you have a problem… so, I guess I’m winning already.

I want you to know that I redirected myself.  I did some chores. I momentarily forgot about the need for and availability of chocolate.  By the time I got to my room, I did my Bible reading and then continued a book I had started.  All was well… until 11:22pm.  That little seed entered my brain… M&M’s are right over there….

I want you to know that I think I actually had an out-of-body experience and ended up with the bag in my hand.  I don’t really remember getting it, but there it was.  I’ll just have a few… yeh, ok… as at least 6 ounces just fell into my mouth.  I don’t know how it happens… maybe they lie about how much is actually in the bag?  False advertising, maybe?  I was able to fall asleep before the entire bag was consumed.  It did last one night.  The evil bag of M&M’s was declared deceased at 10:30pm the next night.  So, it’s life as not quite 24 hours.  Evil was destroyed!  That’s how I have to look at it anyway… not that I totally couldn’t resist temptation… not that I now have a few extra zits on my face from the sugar intake… not that the scale will not forgive me when I stand on her… 🙁

The Bible says a lot about temptation.  We are faced with it constantly.  We may not struggle with the same things, but we all struggle.  You could put a six-pack of beer in front of me, I won’t touch it, but you might.  I don’t care for pornography, violence, and I could resist chips and fried chicken… I will even try to control myself around a batch of broccoli… someone else may really have a problem with self-control around these things.  I’m summarizing, but Mark 9:42-47 talks about if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.  I honestly think that if it came down to chocolate and me not having hands… I would still find a way.

The kicker is that I had no idea the chocolate was even there until my husband told me.  It had been there for three weeks untouched.  However, as soon as I knew it was there, I devoured in less than 24 hours.  The flesh is weak, y’all.

Stay away from the things that tempt you.  Stay far away.  Walk the other way, change the conversation, change your friends if you have to… but stay away.  Sin is a killer.  It may or may not kill you physically, but it does kill us spiritually.  We are human… we struggle… we fail… but God has redeemed us.  All you have to do is accept the gift that He gave.

“Watch and pray that will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:41

Burdened…

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The past few months I have been diving into myself.  I have so many insecurities.  I know on a truth level that I am a child of God, but sometimes the flesh peaks out.  I’ve been trying to really weed out the insecurities and focus on what matters… really matters… spreading the Gospel.

I’ve been burdened with this for a while now.  I am blessed with a church whose mission statement is “to be disciples and make disciples.” I have an incredible Pastor and Worship Leader who both encourage me live this mission (awesome church’s website).  I am just burdened with the fact, that I’ve never done this.  I don’t even think that I can claim the salvation of my children.  I mean, I took them to church and I try to live for Jesus, but I’m not sure that I had a direct hand in their salvation… a part for sure.

What does it mean to “be disciples and make disciples?”  Does it mean that I need to personally lead someone to Christ, holding their hand while they pray?  I’ve never done that.  That is a huge burden on me.  What if I never do that?  Does it mean I failed?  I sit here now typing with tears in my eyes over the enormity of that.  I don’t want to sit before God and feel that I have failed Him because I didn’t do the most important task in His eyes.

One of the definitions of disciple is “to teach, to train.”  That seems a little more obtainable.  Still huge, but less daunting. I fail everyday.  I lose my patience, I yell at my kids, I gossip, I sin… we all do.  Who am I to “teach and train” someone else?!  I mean, really… who am I?  I think that’s why we (the congregation) sometimes leave this task to our pastors.  I mean, they went to school to learn this stuff.  They are more equipped to “teach and train” than I will ever be.  Yet, this is why Christianity is dying in the US.  We have placed a huge burden on them to save everyone.  They can’t do it alone.  They need us… the ones not formally trained… the ones that fail.

I am not sure if I will formally lead someone to Christ in my lifetime.  What a glorious goal, but I have no idea if that is in the cards for me.  But, I can tell you that there might be few better equipped that I to “teach and to train” to rely on Christ to hold your marriage together while you are apart for long period of time, or to forgive someone after they have hurt you, or to give of your whole heart to those in need, or to see things from someone else’s point of view when you are mad, to be kind, to love…

I may not be able to quote half of the Bible to someone who doesn’t know Christ, but I can share with them how God changed me from who I was and how He helps me get through everyday.  No one else is better equipped to tell my story.  No one can share what God means for you better than you.

So, I am going to try to focus on the steps in front of me rather than the whole journey.  This year, my oldest son and I will be going on our very first mission trip.  God worked out all the details so far.  I’m not counting it out, but I doubt that I will go there and lead someone to Christ.  However, I may plant a seed, or water one that was already planted.  Surely, I can show the love of Christ.  I can do that without going anywhere.

Pray for me as I continue my journey of growing in Christ.  Pray for me as I, in my small little daily world, try to spread the gospel with the tools that God has given me.  I may not directly lead someone to Christ, but I can, at the very least, open a door and point them in the right direction.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20