Monday, May 31, 2010

No Greater Love

Today is Memorial Day when we recognize and honor those men and women who have bravely given of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to make our country and our world a better and safer place to live.

There was a time, though, when our men and women were returning from Vietnam, that the sentiment toward them was not so favorable. And because of that many of them felt the need to hide who they were, so they donned their civilian clothes before leaving the plane that carried them home. They walked through the airport with no fan fare, no congratulatory handshake, no respect given for the great sacrifice they had offered while doing the job they were called to do. It was a sad and shameful way to treat our countrymen and women.

I hope that we learn a lesson from that time in our not-so-distant past, and that we soberly remember with a sense of awe and gratitude what our men and women in uniform have done for us, though we are a stranger to them. I pray that we, as a country, never walk that road of ingratitude again, but that we give our servicemen and women the highest respect that is due of one who gives of themselves under the banner of our own Stars and Stripes.

And I pray that those of us who consider ourselves as soldiers in another kind of service - service to the Lord of lords - will also remember one another as we serve on the front lines of this battle of another kind, a battle of unseen, dark forces, a battle waged in the Spirit. The world will not support us, but we must support one another.

We must love one another, pray for one another and when one of us is down we must come quickly to the aid of that person and help them in whatever way we can. If they need prayer, pray with them. If they need a hand to hold or arms to embrace, offer yours. If they need words of encouragement, pray for wisdom and then offer what the Lord has given you.

I pray that each of us is part of providing an atmosphere of support for one another so that no one needs to feel ashamed in reaching out for help. None of us knows what a day will bring and whether or not we will be the one in need of a helping hand.

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Foodie - Chocolate Cake in a Mug

This past week has been one emotional roller coaster ride after another.  First I had to say goodbye to Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley, then I had to say goodbye to another Jack and Chloe, and then to top it all off, my youngest child graduated from high school.  And it would seem my body is not yet up to doing much baking.  My attempt at making his graduation cake was, well, you don't want to know.  And that was the straw that broke the emotional camel's back.  So, we settled for a grocery store cake (with lots of flotsam and jetsam, as Jen from Cake Wrecks would say.) 

So today I'm featuring a video of someone making a cake.  But I don't think it's settling.  It's a really cute idea and one I'm sure I'll use on nights when another favorite show comes along and I need something chocolate, quick-like!  Enjoy. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Search for Love

In peeking into the avenues that brought my readers one day, I saw another interesting Google search which was a full-on question. (Rest assured I cannot know the names of those doing the searching.) It was a good question – a question we’ve probably all had at one time or another - and I’d like to try to answer it.

The question was, “god, will I find love in my life?”

Now, since I don’t know the identity of this person, I don’t know if he or she is asking the God, the great I AM, the Father God of the Trinity, the Father of Jesus Christ, or an unknown, ethereal deity with a little “d.”

Know this: love and joy and goodness and everything that is truth and light have one Source: God, the Father Who created the heavens and the earth and you and me. When Jesus walked the Earth He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me." (John 14:6) We have relationship with this God Who is the source of all our needs through belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.

It’s unfortunate that we have but one word in our language for “love.” We can say we love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but we also say we love our children. There is parental love, romantic love, and the love of a friend. And sometimes we can get stuck looking for one particular kind of love that feel we’re lacking in our lives.

I was not fortunate enough to be blessed with parental love as I grew up. Oh, I lived with both my natural parents, but they lacked the capacity to truly love the way a parent normally would…the way a child needs. And that’s a kind of love that can’t be replaced in any way, except by the love of a greater Parent, my Heavenly Father.

We can search and search all our lives for one kind of love or another, but all will fall short of the perfect love of the Lord. Even very good and loving parents will fail from time to time; the love of a near-perfect spouse (if you can find one!) will not always satisfy; and very loving children will not love at all times.

But God says His love is like this:

“Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails!” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

God loves you in this unbegrudging, abundant, magnificent way, all the time.  

So my answer to you, Dear Reader, is that yes, you will find love, and you can know that love right now if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. God sent His Son for the express purpose of knowing Him and His love.  If you do know Him, if you are a believer, then turn to Him and allow Him to fill that empty space inside with His overflowing love. No matter what other love we may find on this earth we will continue searching and trying to fill that empty space with everything under the sun until we allow ourselves to be filled with the purest and most satisfying of all loves found only through Jesus Christ. All others will ever fail in comparison to the mighty, unending love of our Lord.

And anyone who He chooses to bring into our lives is but our chance to shower the love we have received from our God onto them, to show them that kind of love that is kind and patient, supportive and loyal, hopeful and trusting.

May God bless you in your endeavor to know more and more the Greatest Love: our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Funnies - Pop Tarts

Who could not like a Pop Tart?  One of the best foods ever to pass itself off as breakfast.  Frosted strawberry rocks.  What's your favorite? 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fad Schmad

So the other day I thought it would be fun to ask my Facebook friends if anyone had any blog topic requests. I got one response (thanks, Trudy!) and it was meant to be a silly one. She said, “Fast weight loss for women 40 and older.” Little does she know that I’ve actually thought of the analogies between weight loss and growing in the Lord before.

We’ll take out the specifics of gender and age, though. Almost everyone wants to lose weight. And as Trudy pointed out, we all want a way to do it fast. We want a fast track to being slim, trim and maybe even gain a muscle or two.

I don’t how many diets have been peddled over the years, hundreds, thousands? There is the Cabbage Soup diet, the low fat diet, the low carb diet, the high carb diet, the cookie diet, the grapefruit diet, the maple syrup diet, the Apple Cider Vinegar diet, and there are even people who resort to ingesting tapeworms to eat up their calories before their bodies do. Hm.

But when all is said and done, what healthy weight loss really comes down to is always two things: eating fewer calories and exercising. But for some reason many people would rather skirt around the real issue in favor of one fad diet after another, chasing after the promises of quick weight loss. I think our flesh just wants to find that magical way to lose weight and eat chocolate chip cookies at the same time.

And I think a lot of believers in Christ do the same thing in their relationship with the Lord. Some continue to work their way to God’s love through works. There are some who believe that in order to know God you have to manifest the Holy Spirit by laughing or barking like a dog. There are some people who allow themselves to be pulled into any group of people that meets in a building on Sunday morning simply because something “new” is going on there, or the teacher is highly charismatic, thinking that must mean that the Holy Spirit is present, even if the teaching doesn’t line up with God’s Word. There are even some people who will get caught up in what amounts to be a cult in their quest to know God. Maybe you haven’t done anything so extreme. Maybe you’ve simply gotten caught up in the world and day to day living and wonder why the light of your faith is down to a flicker, if that.

When all is said and done, what a healthy relationship with God comes down to is always two things: praying and reading God’s Word.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

But for one reason or another, those are not enough for some. And again, I think it comes down to the fact that those same people want to find a way to “be spiritual” and still satisfy their flesh.

But the way to know the Spirit is not through the flesh but by the spirit - by one on one communication with the Lord.

And the ironic thing, is that whether a person is looking to lose weight or draw closer to God, the “quick” tangents will actually lead a person away from their intended goal; but the steady, consistent pace of the things which are necessary will be the most successful. The wise turtle wins the race.

I’d also like to add that just as a person who is trying to lose weight is much more successful when they have the support, encouragement and accountability of others, so believers in Christ are much more successful in their walk when they have the support, encouragement and accountability of other believers. And that means regular fellowship at a good Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, worshipping body of believers.

The thing I love is that no matter what we were doing last week, or yesterday, today is a new day. We can choose to walk with the Lord by the means He has given us – daily prayer and the reading of His Word.

And really, how much more exciting can it get that we have an open door to talk to the God Who created the Universe and that we have the privilege of reading His written Word - His love letter to each one of us?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's Your Main Thing?

I think it’s a good idea to stop what we’re doing every now and then and take stock, once again, of our faith. It’s so easy, in the craziness of our lives, to put our heads down into the work, our noses to the grindstone, and not look up for so long that we don’t even realize that maybe we’ve left our first Love behind.  At some point the work itself has become the objective instead of relationship with Christ.  But without the love of Christ everything becomes rote, legalistic, meaningless and directionless.

The back streets of religious tangents are endless: our work, our service, our relationships, bible studies, even our own personal devotion time and prayer can become dry and monotonous without the spring of life that can only well up from the perfect love that flows from a close and intimate relationship with the Lord.

All these outward works can be done in the flesh and for a long time they won’t look any different than doing them in God’s strength. But as time goes on the inner life of a partnership with Christ, or lack of it, will be apparent as you begin to wear out and your works show less than abundantly fruitful.

Those outward things are not what our faith consists of; they are what flows from our faith in Jesus Christ. If in taking stock you realize that your faith has drifted away from the Lover of your soul and onto anything else instead, sit with the Lord and redirect your faith back onto Him. Let all else fall behind your Lord and seek Him and Him only. Fall in love with your Heavenly Father again. Give Him your whole heart and make Him the main thing once more.

“'Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?' Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'" (Matthew 22:36-37)