Tag Archives: God

Love Extravagantly

I created a Christian mix tape this past summer and my mom, sister and her best friend and I were driving to an amusement park listening to the CD. On the mix was Proof of Your Love by for King and Country (which has the best music video I have ever seen in a Christian song). In the middle of the song are these beautiful words about love. We all stopped and just listened. Not until months later did I find where the words came from. I get a Bible verse on my phone everyday and I like the Message translation better than NIV in most cases. When I first read these words, I was dumbstruck. I could easily recite 1 Corinthians 13 – which is known as the love chapter – in the New International Version, but when I read it in the Message it felt so new and alive. So below I am sharing with you the Message version of 1 Corinthians 13.


If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Saved For a Purpose

I had the pleasure of listening to Nicole F. Nelson at my church today. It was an excellent message about us being saved for a purpose and that purpose is to use our talents to help others as well as share the Good News, especially when there are so many challenges in this world. Her words speak from God’s heart and they blessed me and I hope that they bless you as well. Below is the video of her sermon.

Something Amazing

When I was younger, my sister and I would pick dandelion bouquets for our mother. Even though it wasn’t a dozen roses, it was just a handful of weeds, my mother still loved it. The dandelion bouquet was a double bonus: a sign of our love for her and she got her garden weeded. The same way it is for God, we do good works because we love Him and want to please Him. It is also a double bonus: a sign of our love for God and we help His other children.

No matter how big our dandelion-picking-love is for God, His will always be bigger, deeper, fuller, all consuming love. His grace in saving us wasn’t just what we did not deserve but He also chases after us. He pursues us with His love and His grace. He sacrificed His son and He won’t let that go to waste.

God didn’t just save us willy-nilly, He didn’t just say, “Sure, I’ll take that one”; He didn’t choose you by accident. God didn’t create you by mistake and He sure didn’t save you by mistake. God created you and loved you for a divine reason. God gave you a second chance and a third chance and a twentieth chance and fifty-seventh chance for a reason! He did it more than just because He loves you, more than because He wants you to be happy, He did it because He has a divine purpose for you. God sent His son to die a horrific death on the cross to save you so that you could do something amazing. Something amazing like sitting and listening to a coworker after a hard day. Something amazing like baby-sitting for a single mom. Something amazing like visiting someone in a nursing home. Something amazing like building a house. Something amazing like being known as the Christian in the family. Something amazing like fixing cars. You have been saved for a purpose and that is to do good works, to help others. When we love others, we are loving our Lord and we are fulfilling the first and the second greatest commandments.

We are to live saved every day, we are to live knowing that there is a God up there and that He is large and in charge. We are to use our talents to fulfill our God-given, divine purpose every day. If you think your background, age, or  education are reasons why God can’t use you, think again. Look at who the Lord Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the Earth, chose to be His son’s earthly foster parents: an unwed teenage peasant girl and a carpenter from a town in the middle of nowhere. Look at who Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, spent His time with: under-educated fishermen, crooked tax collectors, reformed prostitutes. If you believe that God created the universe, then God using you to fulfill a divine purpose is like a cakewalk to Him.

Now go out and do something amazing, go out and fulfill your purpose knowing that God has your back and your future.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:13

grace

Flicker/Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon

This Changes Everything ~ A Cento Poem

 

Empty manger perfect stranger, about to be born, into darkness sadness
Des’prate madness, creation is so torn, we were so lost on earth
Warm hay cold sweat, a mother not yet, praying God-speed the dawn
She looks to her man, holding her hand, they wonder how long
They did not find a palace, just a humble village home and searching for a King
Lowly and small, the weakest of all, unlikeliest hero wrapped in His mother’s shawl
But finding a Child, no crown, no throne, still they bowed down
Expectation turned to mystery
For nothing was like anything they’d dreamed
It’s still a mystery to me
That the Hands of God could be so small
How tiny fingers reachin’ in the night
Were the very hands that measure the sky
Still a mystery to me
How His infant eyes had seen the dawn of time
How His ears had heard an angel symphony
Just a Child, is this who we’ve waited for
‘Cause how many kings stepped down from their thrones
How many lords have abandoned their homes
How many greats have become the least for me
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me
That the King would come for us, this changes everything
A Baby born to save, to save the souls of man
Born that we may have life
You were born that we may have life
A throne in a manger, a cross in a cradle
The hidden revealing this glorious plan
Of the child who would suffer, the child who would conquer
The sin of every woman, the sin of every man
And the world didn’t know, mercy was meek and so mild
And the world didn’t know, that truth was as pure as a child
And the world didn’t know, redemption was sweet and so strong
And the world didn’t know, salvation was writing a song
That the King would come for us, this changes everything

Nativity

What My Dog Wants

My dog normally likes to stay away from me, well except when there is food around. 🙂 It’s not that he doesn’t like me (well, I hope not) but he just prefers to be alone.

So when he comes into my room, I know that he wants something. Kind of a sad mentality that my dog can’t just want me, but wants something from me.

I’m not complaining about my dog, I do have a point.

When I go and find my dog and want to spend time with him or pet him, he usually tolerates me for a couple minutes then goes away.

I feel like too often we can be like my dog, except towards God. We only go to God when we want something and when God seeks us out, we tolerate Him and then say “I’ve done my Christian duty for the week, I can go and do my own thing now.”

For me when my dog doesn’t want me, it hurts but I know he is just moody. It adds to his charm. But think about how God must feel when we tolerate him or treat Him like an one-hour-duty on Sunday. He must feel like the computer techs at the store, you know the ones you only go to when your computer is all buggy and you are all grumpy. No one ever stops by the computer store techies just to say hello or that they are loved.

God, the Creator of the Universe, wants His creation to recognize Him, to look at His work and say thanks.

Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer from our sins, wants those He saved to love Him back. His death on the cross also says, “I love you, love me back”.

God, the divine writer of the Scriptures, put so much time and effort into the world around us, into the Bible, into other Christians and He is saying, “Look at all I did, spend some time with Me. I hold you in My hand, I protect you, spend some time with Me.”

But God is not some love-sick puppy chasing after humanity; however, God does chase us and He does love us. God’s love is so much deeper, so much fuller, so much greater than we can ever imagine. God will never forsake us, He is with us through thick and thin.

So go and spend some time with the Creator of the Universe. He created a personal telephone line just for you. Toll free. The line is never busy. You will never be put on hold. So pray and sing and meditate and read and praise and talk and stand in awe of God. Go and spend time with your Father Above, God Almighty, your Savior and Redeemer, you best friend. I guarantee that you will be glad you did.  Better yet, God guarantees it.


“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5: 8

moody-hero

God Doesn’t Run on Batteries

A couple of weeks ago I had to walk my dog in the dark and by dark I mean more than an hour and half until sunrise. Besides the cold and the rain and the early mornings, the lack of light was really something new to me. I mean I have been on Lake Superior’s shores at midnight but this was a different kind of darkness. Up at the Lake I always knew that I could just walk a couple of feet and find my cabin or walk a couple of feet and find my friends.

But this darkness was different, it was more than just nighttime darkness, it was pervasive, swallowing, encompassing, and lonely darkness. Yes, I had the stars and my flashlight but it was strange to not see other people, other house lights, other signs of life more than the occasional cricket or tree swaying in the wind. It felt like I was the only human in the conscious world. Now I know this all may sound too dramatic and like I am a five-year-old scared of the dark, but to be honest the darkness is scary. The darkness is the unknown and I found a new perspective of that because of my early morning walks.

When I walked in the morning, the only sources of light were my flashlight, the stars, and my house end lights. The lack of light made the light all the more precious and I gained new insight to verses about light, particularly about Psalm 119:105 and Matthew 5:14-16.

My flashlight actually was a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I relied on it to know if my next step was okay to take and where my next few steps would take me. The amount of trust I put into my flashlight is downright crazy. My family has had that flashlight since before I was born and not once did I think about it going out on me. I didn’t once think about the batteries or what I would do if it went out, I just trusted that it would guide me.

That’s the way I want to be with God. To put total trust in Him to secure my next step and to show me where to walk next. I should put even more trust in God than my flashlight because God doesn’t run on batteries. I only knew where I was with my flashlight if I pointed it in the direct I wanted to go, but what if that was the wrong direction? With God, I don’t decide the direction; God does. Oh, am I glad that He is my guide. His timing and direction is beyond perfect, beyond any coincidence I could even think of, God truly still is the God of miracles. How much better would my life be if I trusted Him to guide me to the right path verses trying to stumble my way through the darkness? We should trust God to guide us because He knows the road map when we only have a tiny flashlight.

Just think about how much time and energy we waste having this pent up anxiety about which path to take, what university to go to, which job to take, who is the right partner. Just think how much easier it would be just to give it all over to God, to let Him guide you through life, to let Him be the light on your path. I want to let my path be God’s path, my light to be God’s light, my life to be God’s life. I want to be God’s. I don’t have that much time and energy to waste trying to figure out my life when I know God already has it all figured out and I just need to say “yes”. God is my light and my guide.

The other verse I gained insight to was Matthew 5:14-16, particularly about the city on the hill. I walk my dog around the property line of my ten-acres and my house is in the center of my property built on a hill. I could see my house’s end-lights from anywhere on the property and my house became a sort of beacon. A beacon saying, “Within this light is safety and familiarity, the darkness and the unknown is not present here.” My house and the light was safety, safety from the wild animals that could be just around the next tree, safety from the unknown.

This thought was quite different from my general take away from Matthew 5: 14-16, I had always thought that the ‘city on a hill’ was a light of goodness and hope to a world in darkness. Now I realize different, the city is also a refuge, a shield from the darkness, just enough time to catch your breath before you plunge back into the unknown. The Church should also be a city on a hill, not just source of goodness and hope to the world but a place to go when you just need a break, when you need security, when you have been emptied and need to be filled. The Church should be restorative and a refuge. The Church shouldn’t just be a lighthouse or a beacon saying that hope still lives, it should also be a campfire – a place to come to to rest up and talk with friends, a place of comfort and community.

I realized that the darkness wasn’t scary after I focused on God and on His Word. God was the guide of my path, He had me securely in His light, so I didn’t have to worry anymore. Once you focus on God then the twists and turns and questions of life pale in comparison to His light. God is in control so step back and follow His light.

city on a hill

Responsibility

Inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem “Theme for English B”

 

I like comic books, words, my twin sister, and hats

Superior Spider-man is my favorite superhero

This is true

This is surface

things I’d tell you when I first meet you

but this poem is about me

and not you

so let me continue

 

There are things we all try to hide

But we don’t aren’t

going to focus on that side

I have been given great power

Yes, listen to the arrogance in that

That I have a better life than others

That I have food and water and shelter

I know where I’m going to lay my head each night

I know how to read and write and do arithmetic

 

Yes, it is arrogant to say I have a better life

When in all actuality

That “great power” I spoke of

Should be a commonality

I cannot truly understand know the experiences of

those who do not share my security

But to them I do have a responsibility

to be the best that I can be

I have been entrusted with much

and much will be demanded of me

With great power

must also

Come great responsibility

 

I work and serve for that which endures

For indeed I have come to serve

To serve those that do not have what I have

Who do not have the hope I have

The hope I have placed on an old wooden Cross

Two thousand years ago

 

My greatest power

Is that of my Lord’s love and salvation

This is my motivation

This is true

This I will not hide

I will speak of this side

Dear God ~ Little Reminders

Dear God,

It seems like school sucks all the time out from my day and my thoughts only consist of “What is due in 4th hour?” “I need to study those terms.” “I need to ask the study group about question #12.” It seems like I don’t have any time to think, let alone write.

But thank You, Almighty Father, for reminding me to slow down and having me talk to You. Thank You for getting me back into the habit of praying while I walk to my classes instead of counting off of what I have to do for homework. Thank You for Your Christian songs to replenish me when I am studying. Thank You for other Christians at my school and that they are open about sharing their faith with me. Thank You for reminding me to read all the Bible verses I have written out that are around my house, not just pass them by but to read each one.

Thank You, God, for Your little, and big, reminders to not look in, but to look up to You.

With love from your daughter and best friend,

praying dear God

Pixabay/waldryano

Priorities, Textbooks, and Bible Verses

My mother does a sign out by the road at our church and on the first week of school – just as reliable as teachers giving out syllabuses – she puts on the sign: It’s time for A B C and G O D.

One of the reasons why we go to school is to hone our talents to better use them to serve God. So then throughout the school year we should keep this in mind. If we set up our priorities the first day of school, then the rest of the school year will follow those priorities. God comes before grades and even in itself, learning. God should come first before anything in our lives.

Now I’m not speaking from a high self-righteous pedestal, but instead as someone who slowly let my strong and close connection with God slip due to different factors, priorities and school included.

I’ve always said that God comes first before anything but sometimes you need to take a step back and see if your actions line up with your beliefs.

For years I’ve always had Bible verses hanging up on the inside and outside of my locker. Before homeroom, during passing time, before and after lunch, at the end of the day, I would read and recite my locker’s Bible verses. They would give me strength and refreshment for the next part of my day.

This past year I didn’t hang up Bible verses. I only put a magnet with a Bible verse on the outside of my locker.

I knew that I was going to be taking harder classes than I ever had before and I needed to use every spare second of my time to study. My textbook was my bus buddy and my lunch date. So I figured that I wouldn’t put up my locker Bible verses because I would need to study instead.

Remember how I had said that I needed every spare second to study, well, reading my Bible verses were not spare seconds, they were needed seconds.

I wouldn’t say that I lost my close connection with God, I just let it slip. Instead of growing my relationship with Him, I let it go stagnate. I grew in my academic knowledge, but was stagnate in my relationship with Christ. However, I firmly believe that people can be pursuing God and life and grow in both. We just need our priorities straight.

I also had an “un-reconciled spiritual difficulty” and I had figured that time would fix and heal it. I was wrong again. Problems won’t go away with time but solutions need to be actively sought. Just like God needs to be actively sought to keep and grow a close, strong connection.

So this year I’m actively seeking God with my locker Bible verses, inspirational quotes and Bible verse cards, Bible magnets, reading extra devotional books, talking more about my faith. It is not easy, but it is simple. Focus on God.


“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

-Jeremiah 29:13

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

-2 Corinthians 4:18

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