Archive for the ‘love’ Category

 I pray you may have power to grasp how
wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ, and to know this love.
Ephesians 3:18-19
People often feel blessed when their lives are going well and angry with God when their lives are painful.  Our challenge is to know we are loved, even when our life circumstances are distressing.  It is important that this knowledge is not based on feelings.  The apostle Paul was greatly loved and the Lord said of him, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  Many different times, Paul boasted about his suffering.  His suffering did not make him think God loved him less.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move.  I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;  I have been cold and naked” (2 Corinthians 11:25-28).
If I were going through what Paul went through, I would be thinking, “God has abandoned me,” but Paul confidently assures us, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).  I believe that Paul knew Jesus so well and knew that he was loved so well that whatever his circumstances were, he had peace.   
From Jesus
“I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love you: I thirst for you. I thirst to love and be loved by you — that is how precious you are to me.  I thirst for you.  Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds.” Mother Teresa 
(see complete essay below)
“I know you through and through – I know everything about you.  The very hairs of your head I have numbered.  Nothing in your life is unimportant to me, I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you – even in your wanderings.
I know every one of your problems.  I know your needs and your worries.  And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you – not for what you have or haven’t done – I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity my Father gave you by creating you in his own image. 
It is a dignity you have forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin.  But I love you as you are, and I have shed my blood to win you back.  If you only ask me with faith, my grace will touch all that needs changing in your life; and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.
I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and all your hurts – the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations.  I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so you might share my strength and victory.  I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished.  But often have thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with even greater emptiness of sin.  Do you thirst for love?  “Come to me all you who thirst” (John 7:37).  I will satisfy you and fill you.  Do you thirst to be cherished?  I cherish you more than you can imagine to the point of dying on a cross for you. 
I thirst for you.  Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you:  I thirst for you.  I thirst to love and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to me.  I thirst for you.  Come to me, and fill your heart and heal your wounds. 
If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all.  For me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you.  I thirst for you.  Open to me, come to me, thirst for me, give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to my heart.
No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to remember always, one thing that will never change: I thirst for you – just as you are.  You don’t need to change to believe in my love, for it will be your belief in my love that will change you.  You forget me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day – standing at the door of your heart, and knocking.
Do you find this hard to believe?  Then look at the cross, look at my heart that was pierced for you.  Have you not understood my cross?  Then listen again to the words I spoke there – for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: I thirst (John 19:28).  Yes, I thirst for you – as the rest of the Psalm verse which I was praying says of me: “I looked for love, and I found none” (Psalm 69:20).
All your life I have been looking for your love – I have never stopped seeking to love and be loved by you.  You have tried many other things in your search for happiness;  why not try opening your heart to me, right now, more than you ever have before.
Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit: “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake.”
Come to me with your misery and your sins, with your trouble and needs, and with all your longing to be loved.  I stand at the door of your heart and knock.  Open to me, for I thirst for you.”
Essay by Mother Teresa, From Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter, The Plough Publishing House 2003

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Love the Lord your God
 with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind
and find out what pleases the Lord.
Matthew 22:37 & Ephesians 5:10
Loving somebody and wanting to please them go hand in hand.  This is a natural connection — a relationship connection that the Lord wants to have with us.  Recently, I have been noticing many verses that mention some form of the word “please,”and I would like to share some of them with you:
We have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.  And this is his command: to believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. (1 John 3:21-23)
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8)
Jesus said, “The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”  (John 8:29)
I urge you in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17-18)
My righteous one will live by faith.  I will not be pleased with the one who shrinks back. (Hebrews 10:39)
We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:1)
Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all
spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus  33:17)
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
“Is this pleasing in your sight Lord?” is a question that should filter our thoughts and actions.  A great love for the Lord is the motivation for wanting every aspect of our lives to be pleasing to Him.

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Defend the weak & the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor
& the oppressed.
Psalm 82:3
Ty Osman II had a passion for helping the poor.  He developed this passion by imitating his parents, who began taking him with them on their annual mission trips to Honduras when he was ten years old.  Ty’s family returned to the same village, and over the years Ty became extremely attached to the children.  When they saw one another, it seemed as though they had never been apart.  This year, those children will be asking the question, “Where is Ty?”  While we can hope their heartache will be eased by knowing Ty is in a glorious place, we can continue Ty’s work by contributing to the needs of the orphans.
Both Hands, an amazing non-profit organization that helps both orphans and widows, is honoring Ty and providing us with a way to contribute. Here is information from their website:
Nashville Big Build 2012 in Memory of Ty Osman II
A team of volunteers will be working on a widow’s house to help raise money for an orphanage in Honduras. 550 children live and attend school on the Escalon Project Campus in La Entrada, Honduras.100% of the money raised from our Nashville Big Build project will help provide education, food, housing, and facilities for this orphanage.
Since Ms. Sharon’s husband passed away, it has become difficult to keep up with the necessary improvements and repairs to her home.

So on April 14, a team of volunteers will be working on her home. Think of fundraisers where people raise sponsorship for a charity golf tournament or 5K race. Only with this project, instead of golfing or running, we’ll be helping a widow in need.

The widow benefits, an orphanage in Honduras is blessed, and a group of individuals are able to spend the day serving others. The more money raised, the more children can be provided for through this orphanage in Honduras.
Ty Osman II was a young man of character with a true servant’s heart. He brought laughter and joy to everyone he met. Ty passionately served others, and in all things, he glorified the Lord. He took annual trips with his family to serve at an orphanage. The 2012 Nashville Big Build Project is named in memory of Ty Osman II.
This past Sunday, I visited Ty’s church where the preacher Dean Barham showed us a way that all of us can give more. He told us that the early Christians would fast for a few days and then give the money they saved to those in need.
And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food.
–The Apology of Aristides ~ 130 AD
I would like to propose a challenge: for the next month, let’s fast from “fast food” and give that money to continue Ty’s love and work with the orphans in Honduras. 
How can you help?
Join the Both Hands Team for the Nashville Big Build
In Memory of Ty Osman II!~

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Comfort Overflows

For just as the sufferings of Christ
flow over into our lives, so also through
Christ our comfort overflows.
2 Corinthians 1:5
Suffering does have a purpose
Though it hurts beyond words
He endured the pain
All the rejection and shame
Physical – Emotional
His heart was like wax
that melted away
He then died for me
I fall on my knees
His story touches my soul
Takes me to the heart of God
Embraces my pain
Gives me power to love
I seek the silence
When I am quiet I hear
The whisper
Of a love larger than me
Surrounding my soul with joy
Do you hear the invitation
To come and rest in His peace
To drink the living water
Receive Divine Love
Terry S. Smith
my precious daddy
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me ….  But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.  Psalm 22:13-14,19

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Religion that God our Father accepts
as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows ….
James 1:27
Let’s have a Valentine’s Day Revolution!
On Valentine’s Day, it is natural to focus our attention on those we love. However, I would like to challenge us to be just as aware of those who desperately need love.  It is easier to ignore the pain that Valentine’s Day invokes for some people than to enter into the distress of the heartbroken, isolated, and lonely.  Let’s deliberately and intently search for people that we can show God’s gracious compassion and unrelenting love.  We can look for practical ways to demonstrate this love and “look after” those living with a relationship void. 

Help me bring about a Valentine’s Day Revolution!  Please share this idea with your friends: Remember orphans, widows, and the heartbroken on Valentine’s Day. 

Here are three specific ways we can “look after orphans and widows in their distress”:

1) The New Hope Foundation cares for precious Chinese orphans with disabilities.  Click here for more information and to donate. (See comment section for recent information from their newsletter.)

2) Volunteer at a homeless shelter, particularly one that has women and children.  Often, these children, while not actual orphans, are starved for attention and time. (This idea is from my sister Margy who serves this way in Nashville.) 

3) I know of a young widow who needs our help.  This December, my friend Angela’s thirty-four-year-old brother Joshua died suddenly from a heart problem.  His wife Jennie is devastated.  She needs encouragement and financial provision.  Jennie was left without life insurance and with large medical debt.  Any help would be appreciated. 

The Joshua Wilkison Memorial Fund                                      
In the name of: Jennie Wilkison
Cleveland Bradley County Teachers Federal Credit Union
420 Central Avenue Northwest  
Cleveland, TN 37311-4922
(423) 479-6393 (for debit cards)
Via Nancy Trotter
For cards of encouragement:
Jennie Wilkison
c/o Angela Thomas
1727 George Whittaker Lane
Knoxville, TN 37931
If you are reading this and you are heartbroken, isolated, or lonely, please know that there is hope.  God is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).  Many encouraging words can be found on my Dad’s blog, Your Story Matters.

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A Valentine from God

 You are
 I love you.
Isaiah 43:4 

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“Real religion … is this: 
Reach out to the homeless
And loveless in their plight…”
The Message

Would you like to be a part of a Valentine’s Day Conspiracy?  

For the past two years, I have proposed that we remember orphans and those who are lonely on Valentine’s Day.  This year, along with caring for those who are hurting, I suggest that we do not spend any money on Valentine’s Day, and instead use that money to make a difference in the lives of orphans, widows, and homeless people.  Just think of how much money is spent on chocolate, flowers, dinner, etc.  Instead of showing love in these ways, let’s think of other creative ways to express our love.  For example, instead of buying each other cards my husband and I have a journal where we write each other letters.  This has become a treasured keepsake.

One of my friends was slightly appalled when I told her about this Valentine’s Day Conspiracy idea.  She told me that her husband could still buy her flowers AND help orphans!  She helped me realize that this idea may be more popular with my male readers than female readers. : )  Actually, a Valentine’s Day Conspiracy would require more effort because you would have to find ways to show love without spending money.  If we start to look at Valentine’s Day in a different way, and spend our money in a different way, the good things that could happen are more than we can imagine. 

External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.  James 1:27 The Amplified Bible

If you would like to contribute to the needs of precious Chinese orphans who are sick or have disabilities click here.

This idea was inspired by the Advent Conspiracy.     

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