Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Who am I?" - A Child

Have you ever thought of yourself as a child? Perhaps your answer is "Yes, I was a child, but I'm all grown up now." Oh wouldn't it be wonderful if that was the case!! The all grown up part anyway!!

When I think about this one of two things come to mind - pleasant thoughts or ones that can get me down. It really depends on what my children are doing at the time - if they are enjoying a carefree day, living in the moment and loving life the thought of me being a child is wonderful! I recently heard someone say, "Oh to be a kid again..." and I know they were recalling the life free of worry, days filled with fun and no responsibility, the joy of being a child. One who is cared for, given direction and loved simply because they are!

Then there are the moments when my children are being kids - ones who fight, don't always obey and are not quick to listen. The thought of me being a child enters my mind and occasionally I may think, "No, I'm beyond that!" but usually it hits me that the statement is true, in God's eyes I am a child and always will be!! Then I wonder do I frustrate Him like my children can me? I'm afraid I know the answer to that question!!

But rather than focus on my thoughts and answers, let's take a look at God's!! Scripture shows us He defines me, and you, as a child. Not just any child, but His!!

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1

Will you take a minute and think about this verse? What does it mean?? For me, the word love jumps out! In 6 weeks or less, I will meet the child I am carrying - one I love! On that special day and in the ones to come, my husband and I will lavish love on this little one because he or she is our child!! Thinking about God doing the same to me, is pretty powerful!!

And now as I meditate on this verse, the next two lines hit me as well - His Word clearly states this is who we are!! I am reminded once again that only God can define me!! The final sentence teaches me as well; sometimes the very fact that I'm God's child will cause confusion because those who don't know Him won't always understand or accept me, His child.

Defining ourselves as God's children does more than create confusion! No, this very fact affects eternity!! God doesn't just call us children, He asks us to believe like them and have faith like a child! What does that mean? We don't need to have all the answers, we aren't required to analyze everything...He asks us to believe!! "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15

God also knows there will be times when we behave like the children we are, so just like my children are learning, we must remember our actions have consequences. When my kids sin, they know discipline will soon follow and with God as my Father, I can expect the same!!
"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all." Hebrews 12:6-8

God disciplines me and you because He loves us! As we receive His love and find our identity in our role as His child, we are called and should be encouraged to share that love!
"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Eph. 5:1,2

As we grow and mature, we should become more obedient. This obedience should lead to a life that makes our Father proud and impacts those around us! "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky..." Phil. 2:14-15

Finally simply knowing that we are God's children doesn't paint a real clear picture of the future, there will always be some unknown, but as His children we can rest and be at peace because of this truth - "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2

Friend, can I ask you a question? What difference does it make that you are a child of God?

Monday, June 6, 2011

We never know...

Today after a visit on the phone and news that was hard to understand I was reminded that there are many things we don't know and just as many that we cannot control. As I heard about Marcus, a strong, active young man who just celebrated his high school graduation, my heart hurt.

Three weeks ago this young man, whom I use to babysit, was air-lifted to a major medical center with swelling on his brain. The diagnosis was meningitis, treatment given and he returned home. Doctors were amazed at his quick response and recovery.

That was until nearly 10 days later when the symptoms returned and he was again flown away for more help. That was almost a week ago and he's spent most of the time in an induced coma. When he was awake there was pain and I was told the words he speaks are these, "Dad, don't let me die."

As a parent those are hard words to think about; I can't imagine being in his parents' shoes. It's hard enough hearing this from your son, but thinking about the Dr.'s saying something like, "Be prepared for anything, we don't know what lies ahead," complicates things in a big way.

I've thought about this and prayed for Marcus and his family throughout the day and as I've done so I'm reminded of a verse I read this morning. James 4:13-14 says this, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

I know this statement is true, but Marcus's situation really brings the reality of it to life. They have no idea what tomorrow will bring - will it be a miracle, answered prayer or devastating news that changes the future they've always dreamt of? He doesn't know, his parents don't know and even the Dr.'s don't know, but God does.

And friend perhaps our circumstances aren't as scary and life threatening today as they are for Marcus and his family, but it wasn't long ago, actually a yesterday not even a month ago when his family thought their tomorrow would be like all the ones that had already passed. A "normal busy day full of joys and daily trials" never imaging things would be turned upside down by with what initially appeared to be a headache.

We don't want this reality to scare us or cause us to live in fear and worry, but yet it should wake us up because really we are all on the verge of death. Though each and every one of us are in a different place and going in various directions we are all heading to the same destination - end of life as we know it on this earth.

And this reality brings to mind another passage of scripture, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Matthew 24:42-44

I close with a question, "Are you ready? Are your children ready?" because we never know...

And please join me in praying for Marcus, his parents, family, friends and all the Dr.s who are trying to help!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

A little more about love...

The other day as my daughter rummaged through a cupboard she found a stack of napkins left from our wedding. And as you can see that was nearly 10 years ago!! Trust me they haven't lasted that long because of the lack of mess in our house!! No, I think they were hid away for a reason; as we approach our anniversary God continues to bring the idea of love to mind and this napkin simply holds one more truth He wants me to remember!

This morning I posted these three words as my status on Facebook. Perhaps you'd agree with the ones who "liked" it or maybe you are asking the same question that was left in the comments, "Are you sure?" If that is the thought on your mind, can we talk for a moment? (And even if it isn't I encourage you stay with me as we explore this topic a bit more.)

First of all, I understand why you ask. I mean who wouldn't look around in our world today and wonder if this statement really is true? You or I don't have to look far to see broken relationships, divorce, abuse, the list goes on and it gets more complicated when we realize that some of this pain is created by those who love, or are supposed to anyway.

But this is where we must dig deeper - these three words don't come from me and they are not based on my opinion, but instead are found in God's Word, they are Truth from our Father!

So what does that mean? This love, the love I know never fails, is defined by the creator of the world, not the world. That is a difference we must acknowledge because without that understanding it is impossible to grasp the truth in this short statement.

In our world today, love seems to be situational, something that can come and go. It can be conditional, here today and gone tomorrow. We can wrongly view it as something we deserve or need to earn. It is often experienced as something warm and fuzzy, a good feeling; one that's great while it lasts, but forgotten when the moment fades away.

These examples help me understand why we'd question the statement, "Love never fails." Obviously something that is man made is not permanent, thus it will fail!

And this is where God's definition must come in, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, "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 is an action, it is something we do and more important than that it is something God did and continues to do!!

1 John 4:9-11, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Love never fails because it comes from God, the One who makes no mistakes, the One who's love endures forever!! (Psalm 136:2)

Does that mean over the last 10 years my love has never failed my husband? No!! Not even the last 10 days, but God's love in me (and my husband) has not failed, thus His spirit in us has carried us through the moments we have failed and let one another down.

So friends, I am sure, love never fails!! Today will you receive the love God has for you and then share that with another??

Perhaps you want to take a minute and think about this. I encourage you to pray about it and ask God to help you understand what love really means - He will help you take the next step in understanding a concept that can be difficult to comprehend! Like JJ Heller sings, may we all remember that God is the One who whispers these words to our heart, "I will love you for you; Not for what you have done or what you will become; I will love you for you; I will give you the love, the love that you never knew."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Who am I?" - A Lady who is Loved

This is not the post I intended to write this week, but yet it's the one God has on my heart. Love is a topic that has been front and center the last 10 days - two Sundays ago our pastor preached on Colossians 3:14, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity," a friend made the following statement, "I pray you will one day realize the depth of our love for one another," on Memorial Day our 6 year old commented that she loved her "sister who was miscarried," I heard of a husband who just doesn't love his wife the same anymore, and our 4 year old puts her hand on my tummy, feels the baby move and loves the little one. And not to be left out, daily my husband tells me he loves me, and shows it too!!

How about you, what role has love played in your life this last week?? Perhaps it wasn't the topic that was talked about in your home, but even without words I'd have to guess it played a part. And actually if you are a follower of Christ, I know it was present, but today I want to ask you a question (or maybe two), ones that have been on my heart this last week.

First of all, "What is love?"

An on-line dictionary defines it as "A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness."

But the Bible which says God is love (1 John 4:16) says this, "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 never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Love really is a big deal, but too often we focus on the worldly definition rather than God's. Love is more than a feeling, something that is subject to change. It's more than chocolate and flowers on Valentine's Day or even a ring and kiss on our wedding day. No, the English teacher in me is quick to realize according to God's word, love is a verb. If you're like my former middle schoolers and need a reminder - that's an action word! Love is something we do!!

As I walk down the road of life and press on in this quest to find God's answer to my question, I'm beginning to realize there are two sides to this action - it involves giving and receiving. Like the old saying, sometimes it is easier to give than receive. But it is hard to give something you don't have, so friend today as a child of God will you receive the love He has for you?

Will you take some time to pray, and when it's just you and God I challenge you to ask the question, "Who am I?" Then quiet yourself to hear His response. When He whispers, the words you dreamt about as a little girl, the ones you longed to hear as a teen, I encourage you to believe HIM. Friend, it's true, as a daughter of the King, YOU are a lady who is a loved!!