True Love

The Bible describes and defines love:

God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8b

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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One misconception about love is that love is based on the recipient of the love. This is not the case with true love. True love is unconditional. If we ever truly love people, we will not stop loving them based on how they change. Love endures all things and suffers long.

In Genesis chapter two, we read about how God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden. In the midst thereof, He planted the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord commanded Adam, “Of every tree of the garden [of Eden] you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (vs. 16-17 of chapter two).When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfectly blameless and holy. They were His prized possessions, created in His image. Then something changed. They decided to eat of the forbidden tree. Adam and Eve died that day. Not physically, but spiritually. (Eventually they died physically, but before this, sin and death did not exist.) No more could they freely fellowship with a holy God. They would have to suffer the earthly consequences of their actions, which are found in Geneses 3:16-17. Did He forsake them? Did He leave them to wallow in their marred condition? Did He stop loving them? I believe we can find the answers to these questions in part of God’s curse on the serpent: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.” The woman’s Seed is Jesus. In John 3:16 Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus died to pay the price of our sins, and through faith in Him, we can have His righteousness accounted to us. If you are believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior, God looks at you and sees not your sin, but the blood and righteousness of His Son. Instead of letting us alone in our sinful state, God went out of His way to make a way for us to have fellowship with Himself once again. If someone stops “loving” you based on changes you have made, chances are that he or she never truly loved you in the first place. Love is sacrifice. God would have been perfectly just to let us rot in hell for eternity, but instead He placed the debt of sin on His Son, because He loved us.

True love does not rejoice in iniquity, but in truth. When we sin, it hurts God because He loves us. Loving truly is tough, mainly because it hurts to see the people around you making mistakes that will hurt them. But love can also bring true joy when we put others first and get to help them. We were all created for a purpose. God has placed certain people in your life for a reason. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to truly love them. No one but God can love perfectly. Only by the grace of Jesus Christ can we hope to love truly. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I challenge you to find true love in Christ and then share it with the people around you.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57


Deep

I need to let you all know that, for the purpose of deep sincere communication, my posts are no longer rated G. While I do not intend to offend anyone, I may discuss topics or express views that are uncomfortable for you to read, or inappropriate for children, or both. Sometimes the truth can be offensive. I am not claiming that everything I say is true, however, I hope that it is. My purpose for this blog is to administer grace to you.


Depression

IMG_1269 I’ve never had anything really bad happen to me. My parents are together, and my family is still alive. We have a house that doesn’t leak and good food. All my limbs work. I’ve never been physically abused. I didn’t really have any legitimate reason to be depressed. But any reason is good enough for a girl who will believe the lies of the Devil and of her own filthy heart.

I have been homeschooled all my life, and for a time I really wanted to go to public school. I didn’t understand why my mom wanted to spend time with us when she could have been doing other stuff in peace and quiet, or why my dad spent so much money on Christian curriculum when he could have sent us to the school that he already paid for in taxes. I wanted to be around peers all the time and show the world how smart I was.

Anyway, when I was about eleven years old, my “best friend” moved away. She wasn’t a very good friend to me at all, but we were close. My parents did not tell me that her family was moving because they were so sad about it that they didn’t want me to grieve for any longer than I had to. However, I was mad at them for not telling me when I heard about it from another already distant friend. Even more than that, I was mad at my friend who was moving because she hadn’t told me either, nor did she seem in the least bit sad about leaving. (Her parents told her not to tell anyone until it had been announced.)

I had a big pitty-party and would even cry when I thought about how “I didn’t have any friends my age.” Even after my Bible teacher taught a lesson on depression, I didn’t realize how selfish I was being. I liked to think that depression was a disease that I had, and kept planning to slip out my window to run away at night. I thought that maybe my parents would miss me, or even be really sad, and in some sick way, that thought comforted me. (Please bear in mind that I was only 11.) The point is that I was proud and selfish, and that I didn’t care about anyone but myself. I was not trusting God to know and do what was best for me, nor was I content with the circumstances He had placed me in.

After a few months I sort of stopped meditating on the thought that “I didn’t have any friends my age,” mostly because I was actually part of a large group of homeschoolers who were all close to my age. Later, I started reading my Bible and praying regularly, but I still felt depressed sometimes when I thought about all my mistakes, shortcomings, and the petty injustices done to me.

I read the novel Christy, by Catherine Marshall when I was about twelve years old. One of the characters in the book was raped. (I would be more specific, but I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you want to read it.) Anyway, I knew that I was really blessed to have a discerning father and a caring mother. I had an appreciation for my family, my church, and the life that God has graciously given me. That helped me to realize that happiness is a choice.

The only thing holding me back from my own joy was my own controllable thoughts. When I focus on how big my problems are, I feel depressed. When I focus on truths about God, I feel joy and peace. Knowing that the God who created the universe loves me, a filthy, selfish, proud, and rotten sinner, enough send His only son, Jesus, who became the very sin He abhorred and abstained from His whole life, to die an excruciating death on the cross, just so that I can be with Him in Heaven instead of perishing forever in Hell gives me joy and peace of overwhelming doses. All this to say, don’t believe lies that will hurt you. Whatever problems you are facing are not too big for God.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:4-8

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Ode to Grades

100_1965A’s are agreeable,
B’s fly in swarms,
C’s make me sick,
D’s make me desire dessert and to desert,
If I get an F, I might as well.


Funky Fungi

This caught my eye on a tree. After I took pictures of it, I started prodding it with a stick to find out what it was. It is very sponge-like. The eye-looking things are actually water droplets that were being held by the growth. God is really creative!
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Mortality

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Psalms 103:15
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

Isaiah 40:6-7
A voice says, “Call out.”Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
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James 1:10-11
and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation,
because like flowering grass he will pass away.
For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass;
and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed;
so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

1Peter 1:24-25
For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”
And this is the word which was preached to you.
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Job 14:2
“Like a flower he comes forth and withers.
He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.”

Galatians 6:10
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.


Balance?

I’ve been told that I should manage my time, have a balanced diet, not fall over, and spread out investments. I like the saying, “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.” I’ve broken every schedule I’ve made. I’ve sprained both my ankles pretty badly. To top it all off, I only have one bank account! My record is pretty dire. Or is it . . .

Having balance means that you stay up even when outside forces try to knock you down. It means that you roll with the punches, adapt to to the unexpected, and stay up when the other pins fall down.

Nobody’s life is perfect. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me you may have peace: In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” There will be punches, unexpected changes, and, at times, bowling balls coming at you with tremendous speed. Don’t forget that Jesus already overcame all that! Through faith in Him, we can, too. (1 John 5:4)

Achieving balance is all about trusting God, no matter what. If you can learn to follow the commands in  Proverb 3:5-6, God will guide you, and you’ll never have to sprain your ankle again because you were trying to do a cartwheel on the corner of a make-shift balance beam. (Figuratively, of course ;))


On an Eggshell

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To have life everlasting,
We all must be reborn.
The robins just keep hatching!
My shell has been shorn.

I was just a fetus in my aqua calcium – so smart,
Though God could see the darkness of my lonely heart.

When Mother Bird decides my time has come to leave the nest,
I won’t for having been shy, fall into everlasting darkness,
But having hatched, fly away in Light to rest!

Better to trust the Lord,
And like an eagle fly,
Than to be a chicken egg,
And fry.

Struggling to break through and covered in slime,
I would have run out of energy and time.

But Jesus doesn’t! All I did was ask,
Christ performed the task.

The Light of the world,
Has set me free,
I’m unfurled–
From the chalk of sin I have liberty!


Render

Matthew 22:15-22 Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away.

Jesus’ reasoning for denari belonging to Caesar was that Caesar’s image was on them. God created us in His image. That means that before we were even born, we owed God complete submission. We are His sheep. He is the Good Shepherd. But,

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. Isaiah 53:6

Just as Gomer left her husband, Hosea, we play the harlot with wicked actions, thoughts, and beliefs. One would think that Hosea would have wanted nothing to do with Gomer. (Hosea 3:1-5) On the contrary, He went out of His way to buy her back. Jesus died to pay for our sins. He rose from the dead three days later so that we can have hope in God’s power over death. As Christians, we doubly belong to God. This leaves us with the question, “Have I rendered to God the things that are God’s?”


Snow

100_1622Beautiful, white, sparkling expanse–
Trampling forbidden.
That would mar its excellence,
But I didn’t listen.

Peering through pains of despair,
I saw trodden, traversed, messed-up meadows of mistakes.
You could not be there,
But Your love penetrated the clouds of fallen flakes.

Melting away my guilt,
You sent Your Son to shine.
Through crystals of new hope,
You made Your righteousness mine.