Love

Dog Running Pet Canine Dog Park Backyard

Love Jesus with Reckless Abandon

For a while, when we lived in Florida, we had a mixed Labrador Retriever named Pip. He was all muscle and energy. We had a large fenced-in backyard that was his domain, but a couple of times, we took him to a park where he could just run as fast and as far as he wanted, and he wanted.

He would run so fast at the park that he was just a blur most of the time. He ran with wild abandon in what he must have felt was limitless freedom. That’s how we should live in Christ Jesus. If a pet dog can glory with reckless abandon in the new freedom of a park, how should we act with our true freedom purchased by Jesus and freely available to us? (John 8:36)

Be Reckless Immediately

Oswald Chambers, the author of “My Utmost for His Highest,” wrote:

Never start to say, “Well, I wonder if He [God] really did speak to me?” Be reckless immediately— totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything— by casting your all upon Him…be determined to recklessly abandon yourself, surrendering everything to Him. It is only through abandonment of yourself and your circumstances that you will recognize Him.Oswald Chambers

Do you think this is “over-the-top?” Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in :

for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.

Romans 9:3

Paul Shocks Again!

Paul’s statement is shocking! We see that His heart was fully set upon Jesus and His purpose. From this, we can see that Paul’s life was a life of abandonment of himself. Abandonment doesn’t mean we should wander the streets unwashed and in tattered clothes while mumbling to ourselves. We should learn from Romans 9:3 that our purpose should only be Christ’s purpose. There’s no room for Jesus and me to both sit on the throne of my heart.

Image by Andreas F. from Pixabay


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Happiness of the poor children. Taken in Chupah district, Gialai province Vietnam.

Love In Communities

I was reminded today about the three loves each believer has by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. These loves are the love of God, love of us, and love of people. Today, I would like us to focus on our love within communities.

Of course, love of us includes love of self; this is Biblically correct. However, love of self extends beyond us as individuals. We find in the New Testament God’s guidance to make us “individuals” into us as a community. We all need others, even introverts like me. For everyone, Jesus expects us to bond together. We should know and be known by our Christian brothers and sisters. We should find solace in them during times of tragedy, strength during hardships, and shared joy in our blessings.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:8-11

Essential Attribute

The essential attribute we find in a community of believers is the consistent, holy lives of adults that love and invest in the children of their community. Kids need safety, and they desperately need to see and experience the broad spectrum of personalities, ethnic diversities, and professions of our communities of God-fearing brothers and sisters.

Kids need to see how we settle disagreements (Colossians 3:13) and build Christ-centered communities. We need to live what the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). We should learn from what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27)

Our kids need to see and experience how to contribute to the community. Kids need to learn how to give without the expectation of receiving, strengthen the brokenhearted, and weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We all need this, no matter how long we have served Jesus.

Communities of Believers

The phrase “It takes a village” has become common vernacular. I’m not sure about the village metaphor. Still, I do know that to raise children to be contributors to the kingdom of God, a Christ-centered community is needed, a community abounding in good works and steadfast dedication to living our new lives in Jesus. The local church should be the center and facilitator of a Christian community, but that’s not always the case.

A community of believers can spring up from a common cause, such as a mission to the homeless, a food pantry, prayer meetings, and any overt expressions of “God’s will” can cause a community to be birthed. There are countless communities of international believers that still avoid the “bigness” of their community; they remain personal. After all, it’s not a community if we can’t speak, pray, teach, worship, and work together.

Live in Several Communities

We are not limited to a single community of believers. God has not called us to be gadflies, but there is no command that I’m aware of that constrains us to a single Christian community. The local church should always be and remain our first community. Still, there are others to which God may guide us. Two that come to mind are “Faith Driven Entrepreneurs.” If you are a Christian small business owner, this is a great community to join and Prison Fellowship (i.e., angel tree).

Good News

So, the good news is that God does not expect you or me to be disconnected from fellow believers. We must pray and seek communities where God has created a place for us. And we should never forget that our local church is our preeminent community in which God desires us to fellowship and grow. And we must commit to what God’s Word says in Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

That’s it. Someday, I hope to join you in a believers’ community!

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

#Love #Community #LivingForJesus #RockExcavationService


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girl using a laptop with math symbols behind her on a blackboard

Happy Pi Day!

Yes, as you’ve probably seen, today is 𝛑 (pi) day – March 14 or 3.14. Pi fits in the category of irrational numbers, similar to the irrational numbers my dad used to expect on my report cards. 

If we turn to the Bible, we find many well-known and vitally important verses found in “3.14.” Here are a few.

God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’’ 

Exodus 3:14 NLT

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 

John 3:14 NLT

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 

Colossians 3:14 NLT

If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 

1 John 3:14 NLT

I hope you have a fantastic 𝛑 day, and I pray that, as true believers in Jesus Christ, our Lord, we worship the great “I AM” and we truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Gramma and grandson making a cake

God’s Still Crazy About You

A little boy is telling his grandma how “everything” is going wrong.  School, family problems, bullies, and so forth. Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which of course he does. “Here, have some cooking oil.” “Yuck!” says the boy. “How about a couple of raw eggs? “ “Gross, Grandma!” “Would you like some flour then or maybe baking soda?” “Grandma, those are all yucky!”

Grandma smiles and replies: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way.  Many times, we wonder why he would let us go through such challenging times.  But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good!  We must trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!”

Just think:

  • God is Crazy About You.
  • If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
  • If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
  • He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
  • Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen.
  • He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart.
  • What about the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem, not to mention that Friday at Calvary?

Face it, God’s crazy about you!


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a bag of marbles

Fractured

Marbles

As a kid, during lunch hour, I played marbles with friends at school. Just as it is with every generation of youngsters, we had our own jargon. Some types of marbles were cat’s eyes, aggies, steelies, tiger eyes, and shooters. A shooter was either bigger than a standard glass marble or it was a steel ballbearing.

The kids I played with were cutthroat; they always wanted to play “for keeps.” Our school policy forbade “keepsies,” which just made it more fun to play.

If a player knocked your marble out of the circle, then that player kept your marble! When I was growing up, a common colloquialism was to “lose your marbles,” which meant to lose your mind. Since most parents weren’t keen on constantly buying marbles, a kid had to have some skill to keep from losing all of his marbles!

Purposely fractured

I remember my mom looking at me as if I’d lost my marbles when I poured my new bag of marbles into a pot of boiling water. At the time, it was all the rage to make your glass marbles fracture inside. They looked really cool! Though fractured, the marbles didn’t break apart unless they were struck by a steely, then they’d shatter.

We are surrounded by people that are fractured. These people may look cool, be popular, successful, or influential, but if they are struck by one of life’s steelies, they will shatter into a million pieces; they will lose their marbles.

Fractured people

As Christians, we are called to minister to anyone we meet. The person we are talking to might be angry, full of rage, and spewing out caustic comments, but we must not respond in kind. That person may be fractured and fearing that one more of life’s blows will shatter their lives. We must “see” the person rather than seeing his or her appearance. That’s what Jesus did.

Some people brought to him [Jesus] a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

Healing fractured lives

Jesus saw through the man’s disability and found sins, and it was the sins that He dealt with, and as a testimony to the religious leaders, Jesus healed the paralytic man.

As we navigate our way through the turmoil in this world, let’s remember that hurt people, hurt people. Jesus specializes in healing fractured lives. Let’s allow Him to work through us to minister life to everyone.

Photo by Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash


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husband and wife reading the Bible

Today is Dad’s Day!

Today we’re celebrating Dad’s Day. I’m thankful that our nation annually recognizes mothers and fathers. That’s a good thing. This time, I’d like to widen our scope to consider all husbands. To get us started, let’s review a familiar passage of Scripture

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Ephesians 5:25-26

Husbands and wives

In the apostle Paul’s discourse on wives and husbands, he tells wives to “respect” (Ephesians 5:33) their husbands, and he tells husbands to “love” their wives. Of course, husbands and wives both need love and respect, but more than “plumbing” separates men from women.

As husbands, we have a fundamental need to be respected. Respect is different from being honored or appreciated. Respect says to a husband that he carries his burden well. Jesus promises us a “light burden” (Matthew 11:30) not the absence of a burden.

To carry our burden well, we can be like Israel’s “iron dome” and shield satan’s “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16) from reaching our wives and kids. For dads, carrying our burden well means that we know our kids as well as their moms know them. And carrying our burden well means that we are self-aware husbands; we adapt our lives to meet our family’s spiritual, emotional, and financial needs. For our wives, we carry our burden well when we are like fertile soil, providing them with an environment where they can grow and flourish.

Say “I love you”

Until recently, I never fully appreciated how important it is for a woman to be told that she is loved. But then, my wife and I talked with a woman who said her father never told her that he loved her until she was fifty-seven years old. She remembers when she first heard these words from her dad.

Today’s Scripture tells husbands to love your wives. But, of course, saying “I love you” rapidly loses its value if our actions don’t demonstrate love. Jealousy, anger, and selfishness are not acts of love. To love our wives “As Christ loved the church,” we must demonstrate sacrificial love, ministering to them from our time, treasures, and talents, in the same way as Jesus does for His Church. If we do this, then we will earn the respect we crave.

Dad’s Day

So, happy Dad’s Day to all the fathers reading this, and happy husband’s day, too. I pray:

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Photo by Cassidy Rowell on Unsplash


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multi-generational family

Demonstrated Love

I’ve been married to my wonderful wife for over forty years. She is still fascinating and perhaps the best Christian I’ve ever known. An unexpected gift to me when we married was her family. Our whirlwind romance didn’t let me know her family. When I finally knew them, they were polar opposites of my family. It took some time before I understood the profound gift God gave me in them.

I am blessed with Godly in-laws

As a young man in love, I filtered everything through the lens of who I thought my wife was. I didn’t see her family as they were. Instead, for me, they were extensions of my young wife. However, married life is a process of stripping away preconceptions, surrendering useless ideas, and resurfacing the husband and the wife, so they do become “one flesh.” This refurbishing happens in all successful marriages. For me, one of the thousand changes was how I understood the functioning of a family.

God blessed me with Godly in-laws and innumerable family members. However, my greatest blessing was not how many precious people came with my wife when we married. I found my greatest blessing in my steadfast, Christ-centered Father and Mother-in-law. They taught me how to “family.” And in their lives I found a lesson from God.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:9-10 NLT

Demonstrated love

God did something unimaginable. To show us how greatly He loves us, He sent Jesus, His one and only Son, into the world to be tortured and nailed to a cross to purchase salvation for everyone that will take His exclusive offer. The sacrifice of Jesus demonstrated the love God has for us, and He did this while we were still in open rebellion against Him. That is hope. That is salvation. That is life-changing love.

So, how does my in-laws’ love toward me figure into today’s message? Well, please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to write. I write this knowing how far above Jesus is from us. Still, I see a shadow of my God in what my in-laws did.

My in-laws gave their daughter, whom they deeply love, to me to be my wife. Yes, I asked for her hand in marriage from her and her father – that’s a whole other story. At that time, they didn’t know me, yet they loved me. From the start, they proved their love to me. And through my wife, I came to understand their sacrifices and open arms. It took me quite some time to “lean in” and receive their love. My in-laws didn’t consciencely take 1 John 4:9-10 and strive to humanly demonstrate how God loves us, but their actions followed God’s example, which profoundly impacted my life.

Photo by Rajiv Perera on Unsplash


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Eye Problem

Today, I would like us to consider people we will encounter when we venture out into this post-COVID world – I know COVID isn’t over but many mask mandates are.

April 6th was when Indiana dropped the face mask rule. Suddenly, restaurants are filling up, baseball games have spectators, and people are rediscovering those facial expressions hidden for over a year.

I see damaged people

In some ways, I see God’s perfect timing regarding COVID. It’s spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the sun is bright, and we are finally seeing the smiles of friends, loved ones, and total strangers. How glorious it is to see the beauty in every face I see, for we all are created in the image of God.

During those fourteen months of the COVID winter, people’s faces were hidden, although we did learn to smile with our eyes (I hope we don’t lose that skill). But now, as I look into the faces of people on the street or in stores, I see damaged people. God designed us to be with others. No (happy) man is an island.

Eye Problem

Now that I see people’s faces, there seems to be an eye problem. We don’t know what to do with our eyes! I’ve seen eyes that seem lost, dazed, and confused. What is this new world? Why does it feel different from the one I spent my life in, that is, until March 2020?

It saddens me to see this pain in people’s faces. Oh, there’s joy there. They are now free. But as a poor dog kept on a chain, we’re not sure about our newly found freedom. What is appropriate? What will others accept?

Strange new world

Almost like a sci fi movie, we all have entered an alien world; for us, an uncharted world. If we have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then we can rest in God’s message to us in Psalms 56:11:

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

As children of God, we can draw upon God’s strength for His Word declares in Psalm 100:3: “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” So, as His sheep, let us turn our concerns to others for “… my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

As we venture out into this new world, let’s love others and not fear them. Let’s extend compassion and be ready, like Jesus, to recognize the needs of the lost, dazed, and confused. Remember, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:14)

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yield sign

We Interrupt Our Normal Post

I have posts that I want to publish, but I was reading a “Be Blesstified” blog post by Minister Aldtric Johnson and what he had to say is more important. So please read his post, “BLACK HISTORY MONTH: PLEASE SHOW SANITATION PROFESSIONALS SOME LOVE…

I’ll be back next time. Thanks.

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love one another chalk written on concrete floor

Our Signature

Jesus always shows compassion towards people that are lost or struggling. He showed compassion to Mary (called Magdalene); He cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:2), and the dad that asked Jesus for help to overcome his unbelief (Mark 9:24) and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:27). Jesus reached out to me when I was lost.

Here is something wonderful for believers: The Holy Spirit in us is God’s signature, guaranteeing we are His (Ephesians 1:13–14). Likewise, our signature – the thing that identifies us – is pointed out by Jesus in John 13:35By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

This message, “if you love one another“, is recurring from my recent posts. The turmoil in our society is a symptom, more than a “condition.” You can plug in whichever turmoil you wish. Still, all of these symptoms radiate from a single, underlying disease. It is a disease that lives in the flesh of every child of Adam:

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24

Here’s R.C. Sproul’s commentary on this passage:

Belonging to Christ involves repudiating an old life and embracing a new one. The image is that of taking off fraying clothes and putting on new ones.

The Root of the Problem

The root of the world’s travails is a double-headed monster. Mind you, it’s one monster, but it shows up in both the “old self” and the “new self.” Let’s first consider the old self.

One Head is the Old Self

Before you or I accepted Jesus’ salvation, we were convicts awaiting our sentencing. We were under condemnation (John 3:18), we were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), we lived and breathed rebellion against Jesus (Isaiah 30:9), the Righteous One (Acts 3:14). Integral parts of our old self were wickedness, greed, jealousy, and more. Our reprobate selves were diseased and decaying. Nothing good resided in us. So no one should expect anything good to come out of us (Job 14:4). Not brotherly love, not selflessness, not fairness, kindness, gentleness, love, and so forth. Certainly, there were occasional acts of love and kindness, but these were always fleeting, and if the real heart of any reprobate person were to be exposed, only evil would be found (Romans 3:10).

Therefore, with regard to a world bursting at the seams with death, it is hardly surprising that any number of heinous laws, systemic sins, personal wrongdoing, and more were perpetrated upon people. The ideas espoused by people like Karl Marx are lunacy for those ideas stand upon the belief that good can be found, if not in the individual, then in some collection of peoples. How utterly misguided are these theories and philosophies for they are born in sin and doomed for destruction.

The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.Isaiah 24:5

The Second Head is Sin in the New Self

If you scroll back up to God’s Word from Ephesians 4:22-24, notice that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to Christians. He wrote it, not to the city council in Ephesus but to the church in Ephesus. Even after we are born again, our old self still lingers. You and I know this, empirically, because we have sinned after being saved. Maybe that’s too much of an assumption. I confess: I have sinned, more than once, after being saved. Therefore, I know that a battle exists between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17), not in the “me” that is now seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), but, in vain, it fights against my new self. Also, I have not fully been transformed into the likeness of Jesus because my mind, though improving, has not been fully renewed (Romans 12:2). And here’s where the monster comes in.

The Monster

Just as Eve was seduced to sin in the Garden, every Christian has been seduced by God’s enemy at one time or another, resulting in sins of commission or omission. For in whatever areas of our lives we are weak, those the places where we are attacked. When a weak Christian finds solace with other Christians that are weak in the same aspects of character, then the local church starts down the path of heresy. That heresy finds “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3) in other churches, and soon the society undergirded by Christians becomes reprobate, espousing lies and passing laws firmly grounded in death, not life.

Our Signature

What can we do? If Christians never sinned there would be no reason for:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9

Yet, we are warned with passages such as:

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:7

And we are warned:

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.1 John 3:6-8

How can we nullify that dead and decaying old man who keeps trying to cling to us, to pull us under, to steal our joy, to steal our witness, to steal our hope, to collude with weak and false believers that spew out heresies? Jesus has given us soul-medicine, the Good News that protects us from our old self. And what is our protection? John 13:35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Love is how we are recognized, it is our signature. It costs us everything that is worth nothing.

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