Love’s Price

Saved‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’

Isaiah 53:3-6

In the last week, my husband and I have hosted and said goodbye to 10 people we love, we laughed with our children and cried when they left, we had fun with family and watched great hockey, we celebrated a life lost to those we love, we came together humbly with others to acknowledge Christ’s death on the cross for us, we rejoiced with others in the resurrection of Jesus and we grieved over the loss of a baby we had prayed for. These are just the major events. My heart is full and sad and my body is exhausted. I’m afraid that is the price of love. I’m delighted though about having people to love.

I love how Ann Voskamp said it in The Broken Way – ‘The art of living is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made into love to give.’

Loving is a sacrifice, it is a verb, an action word made to give away. God gave us the biggest give-away in Jesus. His life was ransomed and ours was redeemed. By His wounds, We are healed. As it says in Hebrews, we are the joy set before Him. It was His joy to live and die such a sacrificial love for us.

Yet He has been and is still rejected. God has been revealing to me lately how I have been filtering some experiences through rejection. Charles R Solomon said that rejection is the absence of meaningful love. I believe it is our deep-seated need to be accepted, valuable, worthy. As humans we miss the mark of filling those basic needs in others. When we seek to fill those needs in ways other than through God, our expectations and theirs could take us out. As Eric Johnson says, ‘Expectations are how you think it should go, Expectancy is a Posture.’

A rejection filter distorts the truth of who we are, it cracks the lens and darkens the reality of God in us. It magnifies the lies we have believed and opens our hearts to assault. Ironically it is also in these parts of pain that our flesh can die and as we know in Jesus, with death comes a resurrection.

As always our identity in Him comes in renewing the mind or as Lysa Terkeurst so aptly says in Uninvited. “People can’t fix from the outside a perspective that needs to be rewired on the inside. Only the Lord can do that.”

So as I wound around this rejection path, I couldn’t stop thinking of the words in Isaiah. He was despised and rejected by men and even so, He laid down His life for me on that cross and took up the hate and rejection so that I don’t have to. It is finished! Yet each time I pick it up, I am refusing to accept what He has already done.

Every time I don’t walk in the love He freely gives…

Every time I choose to be bitter instead of forgiving…

Every time I don’t repent when convicted of something…

Every time I judge someone and live from pride…

Every time I let rejection from people steal my joy…

Every time I let my feelings drive my behaviour instead of truth…

The truth is God accepts us, that covers over all kinds of rejection. The truth is that God is Love and Love covers a multitude of sins. The truth is the price of Love that Jesus paid is great and beyond our full comprehension. The truth is it is enough. There was a price for Love and it is paid in full. Love calls us to relationship and it is all God wants from us. Love sometimes makes us vulnerable to the rejection of others. Love is messy. Love is beautiful. Jesus redeems messy love making it beautiful. Love engages our heart and emotions. I’m afraid it is the price of love.

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Waiting Well Addendum

‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.’ Galatians 5:13

‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ Hebrews 10:24,25

In the shower, I was shown that my Waiting Well blog was not a finished story. By the way someone needs to invent a waterproof whiteboard so I can take notes in there and if that is a thing please let me know. Anyway, I forgot a couple of important ways that I know have helped me in the waiting and that I think are imperative for healing. In my initial blog I suggested these ways to wait well; Remember that our life is not our own, Seek Him, Be Real & Receive. Going through the process of waiting does not necessitate being idle. We need to participate in the waiting. The enemy’s plan is to steal, kill and destroy,  and this directive does not change. Waiting around for the miracle or change can cause us to become isolated. Often isolation is the devil’s vehicle to drive the destruction he seeks.

As the writer of Hebrews says above, spur one another on, do not give up meeting together, encourage one another. This is a necessary step to protect from being isolated. Who are your people? If you don’t have people, what are you doing to create that community to grow together with others and protect from seclusion. How are you serving one another in love? Or is it just all about you?

Community. The Lord tells us in Psalm 23 that He is our Shepherd and we lack for nothing. He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep. The thing about sheep is sometimes they aren’t very smart. We need to stick together so that we aren’t scooped up by predators who are carrying out the enemy’s plans. Sometimes we do have desert seasons in order to draw closer to God but in these seek others out. I know when we moved here 6 years ago, it was one of the most difficult seasons in my life. We moved away from a daughter who had barely graduated and was getting established and further away from our other daughter, the only people I really knew were my husband’s family and friends who all had lives. In this though we didn’t stop looking to create community and I held tight for a season to the ones we left. God stepped into our looking and gave us a greater community than we could have ever imagined through our church family. This has impacted every area of our life greatly and made our world larger. In community we can better deal with the things that waiting brings up in our character. Together we can fulfill the commission to tell others about Jesus.team-386673_640 Renew your mind with these truths;

‘Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’Acts 2:46,47

‘Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.’ 1 Peter 3:8

‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!’ Psalm 133:1

Serve. We forget about others in our pain. Isolation keeps our pain locked in. I once heard someone say, give to others the very thing you may be missing. If you are in need of nurturing, offer that to someone else. If you need an ear to hear you, listen to someone else. In giving you will receive. Do not make that your motive but it is a by-product of giving of yourself. I understand there are seasons, especially in loss where we need to be served but even in reaching out then, God meets us with healing. 2 weeks after my Mom took her life, I had to speak at a women’s retreat. God only gave me strength for that but I look back on that time and also see it served to create a place of great healing in me. Serving moves us from navel gazing to an outward focus. Serving is how God works through us as His hands and feet to meet the needs of His people. We are most like Him when we give of ourselves. Roll up your sleeves and look around you and see the countless needs. hand-1331323_640Renew your minds with these truths;

‘But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.’  1 Samuel 12:24

‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’   Mark 10:45

‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

Now go friends, Wait Well. Serve. Be with Others. See what He will do. Live amazed.

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Unfailing Kindness

I love this stage of life that I am in. Although it has taken me a while to embrace it and to be present in it, not thinking there is something I have to do or somewhere I have to be every waking minute, I appreciate everything about it. I get to spend time with my God and my family. I get to write and I get to minister to others. I now am working but very part-time, enough to bless a couple of people a week and take the pressure off our finances as I do that. It creates opportunities for stories and to listen. It is a place I know I won’t be in forever but for now I celebrate the possibilities.

I may have missed my latest adventure if not for this season. I was running to the store to pick up some things to love on people this Valentine’s day when this moment was captured. An elderly couple were unloading their groceries in front of me, he very slowly, when all of a sudden she stepped in and starting throwing the items at him to the conveyor belt. Oh my that tickled me and I couldn’t help myself, I said to her, good throw! She shuffled back to me with a smile and said, “67 years of this and he’s getting slow and I have trouble being patient.” I said, well done, that is amazing. You have made it this far. I asked her if they were going to celebrate today. “Well, a little bit, ” she said, “we will go out for supper. We have coupons from the kids and that helps.”

I then asked her if they had children and she proceeded with joy to tell me the plethora of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren they have been blessed with. Her eyes lit up as she shared stories. What a delight she was! It was just a few moments and I giggled all the way home thinking of her throwing those items (by the way, he was a good catch for a slow guy) and I thought for a brief moment of time she forgot her frustration. Sometimes that is all it takes for someone to feel the love of God.tulips

 

I know it is Valentine’s and there is so much hype around this day and difficult feelings and expectations and disappointments. As one of my wise, single friends said, “I just make sure everyone feels loved. You shouldn’t save all the love for one day.” Amen.

It does make us become more intentional to share with those we love though. In that sense the hype is worth it. As with most things, it is what we make it right? My prayer for all on this day that focuses on love, of whom God is the Creator and is Love Himself, is that they would know Him better through loving or being loved. That they are drawn by His unfailing kindness. He is extravagant in His love, get in it.

I pray that all wounds that have skewed hearts or broken them or caused rejection will experience healing on this day. I pray for no landing places for the hurts and rejection and strength to not choose to dwell there. As another wise friend of mine said (yes all my friends are wise lol ) “Rejection doesn’t feel like a choice when it hits your heart so fast, but we do choose to harbour the thought and let it grow into an offense or to rebuke, renounce and repent of feeling offended.” I pray you will choose to let God heal that place.

I pray for hearts that are hurting from loss, that they will be comforted today. I pray for those that do have a special someone to share with to not take that for granted and to celebrate well. I pray that we will give love away, even in a small measure. Even if it is to stop and listen in a grocery store.

I read this the other day, I believe it was someone who had been married for decades, Love is not about give and take, it is about give and give. What can you do to give love away today? Or how did you? I would love if you would share.

John 13:34 ,”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

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All we need is…

loveapple-570965_6401Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

LOVE! There is nothing more telling to me that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine than seeing what He says about love, and watching how we all try to execute this. Our broken brand of this mission is tainted with our wounds, disappointments, rejections, shame, guilt, insecurities and lack. I failed in at least half of these directives about love just today and I haven’t even left my house yet.

But God…

He is love. He is the model of love. If we know Him, we are a demonstration of what His love did for us. He sent His only Son to die for us. Who does that? GOD did! And when we do choose Him, He gives us a new nature, one that is powered by the Holy Spirit to execute the kind of love that He showed us. Our mission is grand, to love the Lord with all of us and to love our neighbour as ourself, but it is not impossible with Him, despite our brokenness.

It keeps no record of wrongs…this is the portion that jumped out at me as I read this familiar love chapter from Corinthians today.  Ironically, I am co-leading a women’s bible study about the book Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst and it is all about rejection. Rejection hijacks our normal emotions and we absolutely keep a record of wrongs within all of the jabs of rejection that we have experienced if we don’t allow God to heal these wounds.

When our son was smaller he would often scrape his knees when he was playing. No sooner did one wound start healing and scabbing over, when another one would happen in the same place. The scabs showed the healings were happening but were insignificant as another owie ripped the scab off and irritated the sore. We had to watch that they didn’t get infected.

This is often what happens with unhealed rejection in our lives. Escalated emotions during an incident of rejection is a good indicator of past unhealed hurt. An antidote for this is acceptance. As Lysa Terkeurst says,”Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present day infections. The need for belonging runs deep.” She also says that, “No amount of outside achievement fixes inside hurts. Those hurts have to be soothed by replacing the lies with truth.”

Rejection changes what you believe about yourself and so if you don’t inject God’s truth in those places, it can be a festering wound waiting for the next scraping. Belonging comes from God. His love is like a balm to the soul. His truth goes deep to our roots.

The word tells us in Colossians 3:14. “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Love is something we do, not something we feel. It is a choice. Love is something God does for us, He brings fullness to our empty places. Lysa says,” I can choose to bring my emptiness or God’s fullness into any situation I face. It saves us from begging for scraps of love.”

Love in its fullness is…heart-598048_640

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18, 19

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8

I think you get the idea. In the New International version of the bible, love is mentioned 551 times. I think God was trying to tell us something significant about putting on who He is. As you know from the start of this post, walking in love is not an easy thing to do but we are called to do it. We need to practice walking in love. It not only is an antidote for rejection but for all of the hurts that may be contained in our hearts. He is not finished with us yet and the more we act like Him by being loving, the more we resemble His heart to others that don’t know Him yet.

How does your love reflect God’s heart? What parts of your heart do you need Him to bring healing and correction with truth? How are you bringing God’s fullness to situations? How have your hurts broken the mission of leading others to know Him? What will you do to seek the healing God longs to give you?

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Trust & Grit

Isaiah 55:8,9,”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ” declares the Lord.”As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In the half of the book of Isaiah that the verses above appear, the prophet is bringing words of forgiveness, comfort and hope. He tells of the coming Messiah and the hope and release from captivity for these people. These words that declare His ways and thoughts are higher were a comfort to the people of Israel then just as they are to us now. It is comforting to know that when things don’t make sense to us, it does to Someone. Our pride tries to get in the way and figure things out but often is to no avail. There are some things that just do not have any human answers or explanations.

It is in these times that we need to concede to our limited understanding and turn our face to the One who holds our hearts. Remembering that His love for us is great – Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

silentgodRemembering that even though what has happened may not be good, He can turn it to that, that there is collateral beauty in the darkness. Romans 8:28,” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.We need to be ok with not knowing all the answers and trusting Him, that we can embrace the wilderness and know that His light still shines in the darkness.

It starts here. believe

This picture reminds me of my sister because she gave me this for Christmas. She has had a week, one of those that you are walking along minding your own business and then boom, your feet are swept out from under you. A week when trite sayings or placating words do not console the groanings of her heart. Answers are unattainable and comfort comes only in the depths of tears shared and heartache exposed to God. She knows God is bigger, yet scrambles for answers, hungry for whys to soothe the brokenness of those she loves and of her own heart.

She is an example of someone who loves hard, to the depths of her and in this place she is often rocked hard but the love that gets spread in the process  is beyond description. She is colorful and intense and bold and brash and expressive but oh does she love life. She knows the shackles from which God delivered her and in turn she shares this love to help set others free. The ripple effect of her submission to God after going to the depths of hell is eternal, deep and wide. She meets with the hearts of many, those who are hurting, addicted, suicidal, incarcerated, broken and loves them the best way she knows how, the way God loved her back to life. She may be misunderstood to some but she goes to places that a lot of us wouldn’t or couldn’t access and God knows that. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 He made her unique to love the lost and to bring hope. She experiences a lot of loss and death in this gritty love but God is purposeful and it is because of this kind of love that she now is helping a 14-year-old girl plan her mother’s funeral. It is because of her pressing in to relationships that this girl has someone in the darkest time of her life to walk beside and love her. broken

Our mother loved like this. I want to be known for this. This is how God’s love is. Gritty, deep, messy, eternal and in many ways beyond our understanding. But that’s ok. We don’t need to know everything, we just need to know Him.

What part of your life do you need to trust with His ways and thoughts being higher than your own?  God has given us all a sphere of influence to love with His love. How are you expressing that in your life? Dig deep, it’s the only way to live. Life is too short. God’s love for you too great.

Lauren Daigle says it best in ‘Trust in You’

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

TRUST HIM trust-482655_640

 

 

 

Come & Adore

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1,2

Adore – love and respect someone deeply, to worship, to express reverence and homage.

Adoration – the act of worshiping, a deep love and respect.

Who do you adore? God invites us in this season to come and adore His Son that He sent to this earth in the form of a baby. God is love. The adoration aspect of love could only be accomplished through the innocence of a baby. If Jesus had come originally as a man, this type of love may have been missed. God became tiny, wrinkled, crying flesh! Oh the wonder of it all.

He was announced with a star, imagine your very own shining star calling out your birth. A heavenly host was sent to terrified, astonished shepherds praising God and sending them to the manger. The shepherds were so moved that immediately they went to Bethlehem to see what had been told to them. Does this wonder move you? Are you glorifying and praising God for all that you have seen and heard?

Luke 2:9 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Imagine Mary, a mother’s adoration taken to the next level as her son, God’s son was adored and worshiped by so many unlikely characters. To ponder is to think about something carefully but the Greek definition means trying to put things together. So as Mary was observing all the things around her, she also was trying to figure out what does this mean for my son, for me, for God. She accepted in faith what was to come. We know the story but do we accept in faith what that means for us?

I have been paying particular attention to the words in Christmas carols this year, it has been the way God has highlighted for me to keep His story fresh. O Come All Ye Faithful was my inspiration about adoration.  Come and Behold Him Born the King of Angels O Come Let Us Adore Him Christ the Lord. Our King came, as a baby, so we can relate to Him, adore Him and share His story. God’s great love story. He wants your heart, so He can give you life. Does He have it? Come and adore Him.

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Competing Lines

Galatians 5:13,”You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

There is a fine line between a lot of things in life. Between brilliance and insanity, love and hate, pleasure and pain, bravery and stupidity, you get the picture. We need to determine where that line is and navigate our way around it. One area that came to mind is competition. There can be healthy competition to spur us on and press into things with more excellence. This line can quickly deteriorate when comparison blurs the lines or we are trying to defeat someone to build ourselves up.

Humility is key.key-123554_640

Humility positions us to receive God’s grace that enables us to be all we were created to be. It is not a weakness as it is often perceived to be. In fact it is quite the opposite. Pride keeps our focus on ourselves and humility keeps our focus on God. Competing through the filter of comparison builds false pride in our hearts and doesn’t allow us to be free to be who we are.

The apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians mainly to bring truth to the church. Judaizers, or those that believed Gentile (non-Jewish) believers had to submit to Jewish law and traditions in addition to believing in Christ were dividing the church. Paul responded by teaching that salvation was by God’s grace and Nothing Else. He taught that faith in Christ meant true freedom. (Life Application Study Bible NIV)

So imagine with me, the pull on the believers of that time to follow deeply rooted religion and traditions or to move into the freedom that was offered as a gift. Only God can pull out the deep roots in us in such a way as to leave things behind that don’t serve a life of liberty. This truth still stands today. After Paul admonishes that his brothers and sisters in the church were called to be free, he goes on to say in verses 14 & 15, ‘For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’

See sometimes the enemy does not need to hand hold the whole process of destroying someone. He just needs to plant a seed into a heart missing the fine lines and before you know it, it can slither its way into a full-grown tree of bitterness and resentment. Living in unforgiveness can then cause the seeds to drop into other available places of emptiness.

Insecurity can drive someone to compare and covet another’s gifts or possessions.This can move into belief that they themselves are unworthy. It can grow into jealousy and fits of rage that they aren’t blessed themselves. It becomes a competition to see who is better, often with the other being unaware there even is a competition. Bad mouthing and gossip result in an effort to try to stifle the insecurities. See how that circle spiralled into sin. I have been that person in the past and so I can speak into that. Pride kept me stuck.

I can also speak into the saving grace and freedom of Christ. Humility opened the door.

The goal is this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23

The fuel is this: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 road-908176_640

Pick your race and start running. Read Galatians, soak in the truth of your freedom in Christ. If you don’t know Jesus yet, read Romans and get the truth of the right road.

Lord open our eyes to stay in your lines. Help us when we are deceived by our wounds and hurt. Help us to walk a life of humility and forgiveness. Help us to display your fruit and to serve one another in humility and love. Help us to build others up and not tear them down. May we walk in the righteousness you have freely given us. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.