Are you being love this Christmas season?

John 3:16 ESV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

This Christmas season I’ve been reflecting on the words that we often see on Christmas cards…peace, hope, love and joy.  This week my word has been love and I’m sure you know that this one is my favorite (smile).

When I became a mother for the first time, I could not believe the immediate, overwhelming feeling of love I had for my son.  I knew I would love my child, but I really had no comprehension for the intensity of that love.  I couldn’t imagine loving anything or anyone more than I loved him.  Of course I loved my husband and my family, but this was a love I had not experienced before and it was very powerful. So much so, that I couldn’t imagine being able to love another child as much as I loved him.  It just didn’t seem physically possible to me.  I was actually really concerned about it when I learned I was pregnant with my daughter.  Could I possibly love her as much as I loved him?  The answer is yes.  I don’t know how it is possible, but my heart just expanded to depths I didn’t know were possible.  I did indeed love her every bit as much as I loved him.  To me, it really is quite the miracle that we have the capacity for this much love.  And it’s beautiful because to me it is a picture of how God must love all of us.  We are all His children so just imagine how big His heart is for us.  My mind just can’t comprehend it!

As I prepare for all the festivities of Christmas, I try to remember why Jesus came to earth…because God so loved the world.  Love.  God is love and to me Jesus is the greatest example for us of that love.  Jesus showed us what love looks like.  He didn’t let anything stop him from loving others, and he commanded us to do the same.  It’s not easy.  Love is easy, hard, and messy all at the same time, but it is so important. This article posted on Un*Lost shows us how important it really is to human beings. Science has shown that the need to be loved could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs.  Science also shows that we have a parallel need to love and care for others.

12391764_767543386681173_2827549231088575546_nI really like this quote by Liam Neeson.  As we celebrate Christmas with friends and family, let’s remember that there are some who have been abandoned by their loved ones.  There are some that have been told they can’t love or be loved.  Lets change that. Lets be Jesus to others.  Lets love beyond our capacity because that is when God shows up. Lets love one another as He has loved us.

Because love matters…

 

 

It’s a jungle out there…

house on Letitia AveI grew up in the city.  It wasn’t the concrete jungle part of the city though.  I lived in a single family house with a decent sized yard with an above ground pool.  This was my house…not sure why it had two-tone siding…it was like that when my parents bought it and we just kept it that way (smile).

I can’t speak about neighborhoods outside of the city, but the guys in our little neighborhood were very territorial.  There were several little neighborhoods around ours, and they all seemed to be rivals of each other. Think of your sport team’s nemesis and that is what it was like. Unfortunately, this lead to some neighborhood fights.  There was one in particular that was really bad.  I’m not sure why this fight started, but I can tell you I’m sure it was over something trivial.  The guys were preparing for the fight by gathering chains and other items that could be used as weapons. It was like something out of The Outsiders movie (or book).  When I outsidersrealized how bad it was going to be, I started to head home.  I guess the police got wind of the fight because as I was making my way home I almost got hit by a police car…and I was on the sidewalk!  Things were chaotic and crazy!

That’s pretty much how I feel about all the bickering that goes on fueled by the media.  Crazy!  The latest being the coverage of Michael Sam and his being the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft.  Immediately I saw posts complaining about the acceptance of Sam, and the negative comments that Tim Tebow received previously for being Christian. People get so tied up in knots about this stuff, and they spew words that can hurt as much as fists and chains.

Some people will say they are just expressing their opinion…it doesn’t mean that they hate any specific group of people.  They wonder why people get so defensive or angry about it.  Well lets pick on smokers for a moment.  If someone told you every time you smoked a cigarette, that you were killing the precious body that God gave to you, I have a feeling that it would get really old eventually. How about every time you lit up, someone quoted the verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?  You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.  So you must honor God with your body.  You may get a little defensive about it over time.  And smoking is something that you do…it’s not who you are…you can become a non-smoker.

Gay people are bullied, discriminated against, sometimes beat up, and are told over and over again that they are an abomination to God and are going to hell.  Daily.  Of course eventually they can’t take it and they get angry or defensive…or both.  So when people post articles like the ones out there now about Michael Sam, it feels like a personal attack.  Being gay is who they are not something that they do.

I’ve read some things recently that Christians feel that circumstances such as the differences in how the public reacted to Sam and Tebow mean that Christians are being persecuted.  I think it is crazy to feel that way from “some” people’s opinions.  I think things get blown so out of proportion.  Like the guys in my neighborhood that would fight over trivial things.  I’m a Christian.  I don’t feel like I’m being persecuted.  Do some speak out against my beliefs?  Of course.  But I’m not going to whine about that.  Just ask Meriam Ibrahim what it’s like to be persecuted for faith.  She is pregnant, sitting in a jail, and sentenced to death because she won’t renounce her faith.  That is persecution.

We are told that being Christian at times will not be easy.  It is our choice to be a Christian.  I can tell you that being gay is not easy.  People do not choose to be gay.  They can choose to be celibate, but they are still gay.  And I can tell you that they face persecution almost daily because of it.

Jesus’ words remind me that life on this earth won’t always be easy:

John 16:33 (NLT)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

MacLaren’s Expositions has this to say about the above verse:

So end these wonderful discourses, and so ends our Lord’s teaching before His passion. He gathers up in one mighty word the total intention of these sweet and deep sayings which we have so long been pondering together. He sketches in broad outline the continual characteristics of the disciples’ life, and closes all with the strangest shout of victory, even at the moment when He seems most utterly defeated.

We shall, I think, best lay on our hearts and minds the spirit and purpose of these words if we simply follow their course, and look at the three things which Christ emphasizes here: the inward peace which is His purpose for us; the outward tribulation which is our certain fate; and the courageous confidence which Christ’s victory for us gives.

I like the statement, “closes all with the strangest shout of victory, even at the moment when He seems most utterly defeated.”  I get frustrated too by comments that people make about Christians, as well as, comments that people make about gay people.  I just remind myself that Jesus has this.  He is victorious.  I don’t need to argue. I’m not saying that we should all stick our head in the sand, but I will say that we need to educate ourselves fully before we become a squeaky wheel about any topic.

I found these this week.  I think they speak into this issue and I love what they all have to say:

Remember to love each other…because love matters.

Love never fails…

Well…I am feeling quite under the weather this week.  Good ole’ spring time cold.  My prayer time has also been focused on other things lately so I haven’t really talked to God about a post for this week.  I did, however, come across this gem during one of my devotionals…and well…you know how I feel about love:

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

New Living Translation (NLT)

Love Is the Greatest

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

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.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

 

No matter how discouraged I get with the negative comments that I see day in and day out.  No matter how much I question if I am doing the right thing…I know that love never fails.  love never fails

Without love, I am a noisy gong, I am nothing, I gain nothing.  So I choose to love…no matter what…because love matters.

 

 

 

coffee for your heart

Neither height nor depth…

The only way I can even begin to wrap my brain around how much God loves me is to think about the love I have for my children.  I would do anything for them.  When they were little, even the most frustrating day could be made better by sneaking in their rooms at bedtime and watching them sleep.  They always looked like little angels and the days frustrations just melted away.  And in the morning…we had a fresh start.

It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that God’s love for us is even stronger than the love I have for my children.  He sees our mess, He knows our hearts, and He loves us.  Oh how He loves us.  One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:38-39 (NIV):

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.

Notice that there isn’t a “but” in that verse or an “if”.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  As much as I love my children and family, my love is nothing in comparison to God’s love.  God is love.

When people find out that I have a gay son, a common response is “of course you love him…he’s your son.” For some, that statement seems to imply that if he wasn’t my son, I wouldn’t love him…that somehow he wouldn’t be worthy of love because he is gay.  It’s as if you are saying, “well I think same sex attraction is a sin, but what are you going to do, he is your son and you love him.”  My son is not the first gay person that I’ve ever known.  Over the years I’ve known many gay people.  I found that they were just like me.  Regardless of whether or not you think same sex attraction is a sin, I love my son despite the fact that he is a sinner.  Just like I love my husband, despite the fact that he is a sinner.  Just like God loves you, despite the fact that you are a sinner.

When Jesus was asked, “of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  He answered in Mark 12:29-31 (NIV):

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”

It seems to me that this love thing was pretty important to Jesus.  And I think the reason for that is…love matters.