A study on what I want my life to be filled with

Category: Love

God Knows and Loves You

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:14-18

I have heard so many times the bible is God’s love letter to us, but sometimes it is hard to see that. But this verse looks like a love letter to me.

This month I am focusing on health and wellness. That can look different for different people but when we focus on the one who created our bodies it can help us put things into a better perspective. God saw your body before it was made. He knows the ins and outs of it and how well, or not, it works. He knows all the days of your life and he has even planned them out. All of God’s works are wonderful! And guess what, you are one of them, which means you are wonderful too! He doesn’t make mistakes. You are not a mistake. You were created by a loving father who thinks about you continuously.

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated by the limitations of my body and health right now, and often I get frustrated with God. Thinking, “Why me? Why my body? This isn’t how things are supposed to be for me.” But then I remember that God made my body and knows how it works and despite my health concerns he still loves me and has plans for me. Also, this is not my home and someday there will be no more pain or tears and I will be dancing and singing with joy before my creator. But until that day comes, I have to push on knowing that God’s plans for me are better than my own, and if there is something God wants me to do, He will give me the strength and energy to get it done.

Now, go smile at yourself in the mirror and have grace for who you see!

(Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash)

Love Is Not Proud

“Pride comes before a fall.” I think we’ve all heard this famous saying many times over. But where does it come from? It comes out of Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Just like most sayings, no one ever quotes it exactly right.

Pride is one of those complicated concepts. We should be proud of our accomplishments but not so proud that we are boasting about it to everyone we meet. We should be proud of our family but not so proud that we don’t let others get a word in edgewise in our conversations. We should be proud of the life we are living but not so proud that we make others feel less important than us. Pride can be good when used or displayed sparingly but watch out that you keep it under control, or it could lead to destruction.

How does this relate to love? Well, love is not proud, in a puffed up “I’m superior to all my fellow humans,” kind of way. Love is the opposite of proud, it is humble. If you live with pride ruling your relationships, there will be destruction of some kind. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. The enemy of our souls and our relationships has three main goals: to steal, kill, and destroy. One of his tools in destruction is pride and many of us give into it more than we realize or care to admit.

The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire; He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord. The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.

Psalm 10:2-4 (NKJV)

Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; Defend me from those who rise up against me. … For the sin of their mouth and the words on their lips, let them even be taken in their pride, and for the cursing and lying which they speak.

Psalm 59:1, 12 (NKJV)

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate

Proverbs 8:13 (NKJV)

These are a few biblical examples of how pride is displayed. Also remember, “Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, but evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NIV. If there is pride in your heart pride will come out of your mouth and into your relationships and if there is humility and love in your heart that will come out of your mouth and into your relationships. Let’s choose love and humility to steer us toward thriving relationships.

(Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash)

The Love of Friendship

There are so many types of love in the world. I like the way the Greek language explains six different types. (You can read a more thorough description here or here).

Agape: Unconditional love

Philia/Storge: Affectionate, deep friendship love

Ludus: Playful love

Pragma: Longstanding love

Philautia: Self love

Eros: Passionate love

Needless to say, it’s a complicated topic.

I was in the car this afternoon and a song came on the radio that reminded me of the old hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”  It was originally a poem written by preacher Joseph M. Scriven to comfort his mother while he was living away from her. I love this hymn because of the simple truths held within and the realization that Jesus really is our friend. This to me shows so many ways that Jesus loves us. Let’s look at the lyrics:

“What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer”

The obvious type of love here is Philia, or the love of friendship. This song shows how Jesus is here to bear all our sins and griefs, share in our temptations and sorrows and in return we receive peace. That brings up the second type of love shown here, Agape, or unconditional love. Jesus is here for us in all things. He walks right beside us waiting to take all our sin, grief, temptation, and sorrow if only we would take it to him in prayer. The last type I see here is Pragma, or longstanding love. This song only works if Jesus is with us all the time, for the long haul. We have the greatest friend in Jesus. He never leaves or forsakes us and he is always around to carry our loads, whatever that may look like.

( Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash )

Love Does Not Boast

The next attribute of love I want to look at is how it doesn’t boast or bring attention to itself. Boasting, bragging, pride, it’s all basically the same just with a different name. This one was a little more difficult for me to understand until I read some other verses about boasting in the scriptures.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:1-2, NIV

Boasting is all about bringing attention to yourself and your accomplishments in a prideful way. The alternative is to humbly let others praise you and your accomplishments and give glory back to God.

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, NIV

Wisdom comes from the Lord, so does strength and wealth. Those can all be taken from us at any time for any number of reasons. If we are boasting in those temporary things our boast is meaningless. We need to be boasting in the sustainable, everlasting love of the Lord who shows kindness, justice, and righteousness.

I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.

Psalm 44:6-8, NIV

Our victories belong to the Lord and He deserves our boastings. Nothing I do on my own will bring about a victory over my enemies. Only with God’s help and strength will I attain victory.

Now let’s turn that around on loving others. We should be bringing attention to those we love and their accomplishments. Lifting them up and encouraging them. Directing the focus of their victories back to the Lord. I want to honor others and be humble before man and God. The only way to do that here is not boasting about myself but boasting about the Lord and what he does for me every day.

Once again the ultimate example of this is Jesus as described in Philippians:

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

Philippians 2:5-11, NIV

Be humble before God and he will exalt you, you don’t have to do it for yourself.

(Photo by CC0 Public Domain )

Snow Day!

We are having a snow day here in the PNW! One of those rare things in the winter if you live around here. Snow is so beautiful! It gives a new sense of wonder and beauty to everything. It reminded me of the song I hear during the Christmas season, Winter Snow by Audrey Assad. It is a beautiful melody about how Jesus came to earth like a winter snow, quiet, soft, and slow. I love the picture it paints of how our savior came to the earth.

Could’ve come like a mighty storm with all the strength of a hurricane. You could’ve come like a forest fire with the power of Heaven in Your flame. You came like a winter snow, quiet and soft and slow. Falling from the sky in the night to the earth below.

Audrey Assad

He didn’t come to force us to follow Him or serve Him. He came to show us love and peace and He invites us to follow and serve Him.

The love of Jesus is just like the snow. He whispers quietly to our hearts in the moments we need him most. He gently holds our hearts when no one else will. He slowly changes our lives to reflect Him in every way. If He came like a mighty storm and tried to force His way into our hearts we would resist. If He immediately destroyed everything in us that was contrary to Him, like a forest fire, we would never let Him into our hearts. He wants us to love him back, so He waits for us to be ready. He wants us to confide in Him, so He slowly gains our trust. He wants us to call Him a friend, so He sits with us and quietly listens. I hope this give you a new perspective not only of snow when it falls but also of Jesus. That He truly loves you. He is willing to wait. He is willing to be soft and gentle with your heart. But don’t wait too long, just like the snow melts, this world will fade away.

(Photo by Karen Chemistruck)

Love Does Not Envy

Another attribute of love I’d like to highlight is how love does not envy. I’ve heard envy described as the green-eyed monster, being green with envy, or even the green sickness. None of those are terms I would want associated with me. Merriam-Webster defines envy as: “a painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” I think deep down all of us struggle with envy, especially with the presence of social media and how it seems to only highlight the best parts of everyone’s lives. Depending on how often you find yourself on any given social platform you might experience envy several times a day or several times an hour.

One person who I think stood up to this famous green-eyed monster and defeated it was James, the brother of Jesus. Talk about someone who had every reason to be envious! Jesus did miracles, had disciples, and had people following him everywhere he went. James, in Jesus’ shadow, was a nobody at the time. I am the youngest of two children and I know what it feels like to be in someone’s shadow, and to be honest it’s not always fun. I can only imagine the temptation to be envious of all the success that followed Jesus from town to town. At first his family didn’t believe in him, or at least his brothers are noted as not believing. They thought he was mad. Later after Jesus’ death, James is noted as being an apostle of the Lord and a pillar of the early church. I guess somewhere along the way he had a change of heart. Although the authorship of the book of James is disputed, I agree with those who give credit to Jesus’ brother. The letter encourages and challenges people to live faithfully in the face of many challenges. In his letter he always pointed people to the Lord, never to himself. That looks a lot more like humility to me than envy. His reputation grew and eventually, “This James, whom the people of old called the Just because of his outstanding virtue, was the first, as the record tells us, to be elected to the episcopal throne of the Jerusalem church.”

While the green-eyed monster seems to be lurking around every corner, we don’t have to feed it. We can choose the way of humility and love and be happy for and celebrate the success of others around us. I think you’ll find you are a happier person overall when you choose love over envy.

( Photo by Rachael Crowe on Unsplash )

Love is Kind

I recently saw the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a small snapshot into the life of Mr. Rogers. The movie shows a friendship that he develops with a journalist named Lloyd Vogel, a fictional character. As the movie went on, I realized that the friendship was inspired by a real one. I decided to look into it and ended up reading an article in TIME Magazine entitled, “Inside the Unlikely Friendship That Inspired A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” by Rachael E. Greenspan. This tells a bit more about the true story that was portrayed in the movie and the article that Tom Junod wrote about Mr. Rogers in 1998.  I plan on reading the original article soon, “Can you say…Hero?” By Tom Junod in Esquire . Both the movie and the article were very inspiring.

When thinking about love being kind, I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Rogers. Like many others, I grew up watching his most beloved TV show and have a special place for him in my heart. But I never really knew what kind of man he was until I watched this movie. It opened my eyes to the kindness that he lived out daily. In the TIME Magazine article Tom Junod is quoted as saying,

Obviously he has a lesson to teach about kindness, but I think that he also has a lesson to teach about the attainment of kindness, that kindness is a practice. He practiced it like he practiced a musical instrument. I think he did the scales every day.

Tom junod

How profound, that kindness is something that you must practice. Sometimes I forget that you need to practice living things out. I played the oboe in school, so I know about practicing scales. To attain any character quality it takes practice and discipline. Kindness is no exception. Next time you are with someone you love, and they push the right buttons (you know which ones), choose kindness over frustration, anger, hurt, or even silence. Choose to practice kindness.

(Image by reneebigelow from Pixabay )

Love Is Patient

We all love, love! We talk about it all the time, it fills the pages of the novels we read, it’s the theme for the songs we listen to and the shows on the screens we watch. It’s everywhere, literally, and for good reason. Love makes the world go ‘round! Can you imagine a world without love?! That sounds unbearable and not a world I’d want to live in.

I want to look at some of the different attributes of love, starting with patience. Patience as defined by Merriam-Webster is, “bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint; manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain; not hasty or impetuous; steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity; and able or willing to bear.” The original Greek word is Makrothumeo and means “to be of long spirit, not to lose heart; to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; and to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.” Now if you take those two definitions and contrast them with how most of the world sees love today, they are almost completely opposite. This view shows love sticking it out through anything that can be thrown its way, unlike many who run for the hills when things get hard or abuse the love of their family and friends to get what they want.

Let’s look at a story that to me is the epitome of love being patient. This is the story of Jacob, the son of Isaac (as in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and how he got a wife, well two wives. Isaac was blessing his sons, and told his younger son, Jacob, to go to Paddan Aram to his uncle’s house and take a wife from his daughters. Jacob set off and when he was close, he came to a well surrounded by flocks of sheep. Among them was Rachel. She happened to be the daughter of his uncle! Score! He had found who he was looking for. She ran home to tell her father and he came to greet Jacob. Jacob stayed with his uncle, Laban, working around his property. Then Laban asked what Jacob wanted in payment. Well,

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

genesis 29:16-18, niv

Laban agreed. Fast forward seven years and it was time for Jacob to receive his bride. They had a big celebration and at the end of the evening Laban took his daughter in to Jacob and he made love to her. But in the morning, it was Leah! He had been duped! He had Laban’s eldest daughter Leah instead of Rachel! He was upset about being deceived, but Laban told him to finish out the wedding week and he could have his younger daughter, Rachel, in return for another seven years of work. Jacob agreed because he loved Rachel. Talk about patience! Not only did he have to wait seven years to marry Rachel, but he had to work an extra seven after they were married. Fourteen years! That’s longer than we spend in primary school. Can you imagine being asked to work and wait for fourteen years before you could marry the person you loved?!

I don’t like waiting two days for a package to arrive, let alone fourteen years! Jacob showed amazing patience in his love for Rachel and respect for his father’s blessing. He stuck to his agreement with Laban and ultimately got what he wanted and had been waiting for. He didn’t run or throw a fit when things didn’t go his way, he persevered in patience and love won. I think if we are all honest, we can say we need to be more patient with the people we love. Let’s be more mindful as we interact with those around us and remember that love is worth the wait.

(Photo by David Kiania)

Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt

I’m guessing most of us have seen or heard this popular phrase before and thought, “Wow! Wouldn’t that be so nice!” But in all practicality, it’s a hard concept to wrestle with. So, what does that even look like? Well in the song by Lee Greenwood “Love Me Like You’ve Never Been Hurt” it looks like a man telling his woman how to love him – like he’s the last man on earth, the first one that touched her, like she can’t help herself, and like no one could hold her like he does. It’s all about honesty and not having secrets between them. But we are all human. We all make mistakes and inevitably hurt the people we love the most.

I’d like to look at the one man I know who did this better than any human ever has. His name was Jesus, and whether you believe he is the son of God or not, he still lived and more importantly died. This man was beaten, spit on, laughed at, mocked, betrayed, and hung on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem to die. Yet while he hung on the cross, he uttered this phrase, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (NIV, Luke 23:34) In the midst of his anguish he forgave all the people who hurt him – friends, religious leaders, and members of the crowd. He forgave in the middle of his pain and that to me is loving like you’ve never been hurt.

What’s the takeaway? Loving people is hard, and loving people who have hurt us is even harder. But I’m guessing none of you have ever been crucified. If Jesus can forgive those people who were killing him and love them anyway, I think we can all work on loving people who hurt us and move toward forgiveness knowing that if Jesus did it, so can we.

(Photo by Karen Chemistruck)

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