Posts Tagged ‘Religion & Spirituality’

I have a friend who is doing the 40-day love challenge, which is based off of the movie “Fireproof”. Today’s posting was about love being a choice. It says:

“Love is Faithful (Hosea 2:20). Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, ‘I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.’” (The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick)

I really like this definition of what love is. It’s a choice. And the great thing about it is, while this is written specifically for married couples, this principle applies in any relationship, whether it’s with a friend, colleague, child, or even an enemy. Love is a choice. It means, even if I don’t particularly like someone, I still treat them well. It means, even when my child says she hates me, I tell her “I love you” in return.

When I look at love as a choice rather than a feeling, it puts a whole new perspective on things. Feelings are not something you can really control. Feelings can change. Feelings lie. But, when I make a choice to show love, I am doing that whether I feel like loving or not. I do it whether I like someone or not. Love is a choice.  1 John 4:7&8 says,

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

We are commanded to love one another. God’s Word doesn’t say love each other if you feel like loving each other. It doesn’t say love each other if they treat you well. It says love one another. Why? Because God loves us. This verse is specifically talking to Christians loving each other, but what about those who are not considered brothers and sisters in Christ? What about those who are doing things that God’s Word indicates are wrong? What does God say about that? Are we to hate them? Are we to be vindictive?

I think most of us would know that the answer to those questions is “no.” We’re not to hate them. In fact in Matthew 5, Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘ You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (vss 43-46, NASB)

In a parallel passage in Luke 6, Jesus says,

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (vss 27-36, NASB)

We are not only commanded to love those who are lovable, but to love those who are easy to hate – those who hurt us and use us. That’s so hard. My first instinct is not to show people like that love. But we are commanded to love. So, love is a choice. I can choose to be kind, or I can choose to be unkind. I can choose to react out of anger, or I can choose to calmly respond with kindness. I can love or I can hate. Today, I choose love.

Your turn! What is your opinion about love? Is it a choice or is it something you have no control over?  How do you show love when others are not?  I would love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB).

I’ve been reading a lot lately about growing in God and getting to know His Word more. In the course of that reading and studying, I’ve found numerous references to being firmly rooted in the Word of God. It’s easy to say to be firmly rooted, but what exactly does that look like? I have heard so many different ideas about how to be firmly rooted, but I’m not just wondering about HOW to be firmly rooted. I want to know what that looks like to be firmly rooted.

This morning, I was reading Colossians 2:6&7, and I think I now have a better understanding of what being firmly rooted looks like. I may not have a full picture, but I do have a bigger glimpse of what that looks like. I believe there are three characteristics that someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will have based on these two verses.

1) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s word will be walking in Christ. What does that mean? Well, that means this person is so in tune with the Lord and His Word that He lives out and copies the way Christ lived. That means, he doesn’t judge someone by past or present sins. This person accepts others as they are and cares about them regardless of their lifestyle, habits or character. Our Pastor actually spoke about this last night in our Wednesday evening service. One thing he said, really struck home to me. I’ve heard it before, but last night it sank in a little more. He said, “Acceptance is not approval.” I can accept someone without approving of his/her lifestyle. I don’t have to like everything about someone or agree with everything someone says to accept that person for who he/she is.

Being rooted in God’s Word also means that this person is more likely to be aware of and to actively seek to avoid compromising situations. It doesn’t mean this person hides in a hole and does nothing. No, instead, it means that this person is cognizant of the things that tempt him/her and then does what is necessary to avoid those situations whenever possible. What walking in Christ doesn’t mean is that this person is perfect. Unfortunately, nobody will be perfect in this imperfect earth.

2) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be built up in Christ and established in his/her faith. This means that this person knows what he/she believes and continues to live in accordance with that. I can’t know what I believe if I don’t spend time in God’s Word and really take the time to study and understand what God is saying. If I do that, then I will grow in my faith, and I will know what I stand for.

3) Finally, someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be overflowing with gratitude. That means, no matter what happens in life, this person is grateful for the good things he/she has, even when things aren’t going exactly as well as he/she would like. It means this person chooses to be grateful in spite of the bad things that happen. This is the part I have the most difficulty with because it’s really hard to be thankful when I feel like nothing is going right. But no matter my situation, I have a choice. I can choose to be grateful. Or I can choose to complain. Either way, I am the one who has to live with myself. Do I want to be joyful or miserable? It’s my choice. I want to choose gratefulness.

I’m so glad that I was able to read these two verses this morning because they encouraged me to dwell on what God has to say to me in His Word, and as a result, I am encouraged to stop looking at the past and worrying about the future. Instead, I want to focus on what God has for me today. I want to grow and learn. Most of all, I want to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Your turn! What characteristics you think someone rooted in God’s Word would have besides these? What other things can we keep in mind about growing in God? I hope to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

I have this scrapbooking community that I frequently visit (ok maybe more than frequently), DigitalScrapbookPlace.com.  And this month, our community is having their first month-long event focusing on Heritage and Genealogy.  I have been ultra-excited about this because I’ve always wanted to know more about my family, but never really tried to do much about that – until now.

Since Friday night, I have spent hours trying to find information about my family, and each time I find a little piece of  the puzzle, it fuels me on to find more pieces of this puzzle.  I hunt and I search and I dig, and then squeal in joy whenever I find something.  It’s like solving a mystery – and there is a real sense of accomplishment in that.

But it made me stop and think.  If I am willing to put that much time and effort into finding about my earthly family, which is (or was) here temporarily, shouldn’t I put as much effort into finding out more about my heavenly family, which will be forever?  Yet, when it comes to studying God‘s Word or finding out more about His family – I tend to push that aside.  Oh, I have my daily time, but anything more I am “too busy” for many times.  Why is this?  Why am I so willing to find out who I am as a person, but not willing to do so when it comes to my spiritual life?

Perhaps this stems from being afraid that if I get to know myself better spiritually, and I get to know God better, I might not like what I find out about myself.  I might find out that I can’t measure up.  But isn’t that the point?  That I can’t measure up on my own?  That the only way I can truly succeed is to let go, and let God take control?

I have had people ask me how it is that I can believe in God and that the only way to heaven is through His Son.  It’s hard for me to put that into words sometimes because it’s so incredibly personal.  I have seen God work in my life.  I have seen things happen in my life that I had nothing to do with and could not have worked it out on my own for anything.  I have seen the impossible become possible.  But perhaps the biggest reason I am a Christian and believe as I do is because the true Christian faith is the ONLY faith that I have found that does not require me to be “good enough.”   I have not yet found another religion that doesn’t have a list of requirements I need to meet in order to get to heaven.  How do I know when I’ve been good enough?

My faith in God stems not from any works I could do, but through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He died for me.  It’s simple as that.  I could  never be good enough to pay the price myself – sacrifice requires a spotless lamb – and I am definitely not spotless.  He paid the price, so that I would not have to.  Does that mean I get to do whatever I want?  No – but it does mean that I am forgiven and that my debt has been paid.

But even knowing that, I still often neglect the study of God’s Word.  I wonder what would happen in my life if I chose to put as much effort and time into studying God’s Word, as I have into finding out about my past.  I wonder if I would see more positive outcomes.  I wonder if I would have a great impact on those around me.  I wonder if anyone would be able to see the difference.

Can they see the difference now?  I don’ t know – maybe sometimes.  But I have a long way to go, and life is not guaranteed.  I need to seize the day and redeem my time – and get to know my Savior better.

Until Next Time,

Imagine with me, if you will, a world where Christians see their worth, know their hope, live their faith, and dwell in an open community with one another.   I had the privilege of reading Rumors of God, and now to review it, and I have to say, I was very encouraged by this book.  Darren and Jon talk about various “rumors” in this book.  They talk about taking back our minds and our culture, and really living our Christian lives as if the rumors of God are true: He’s loving, generous, and longs for relationship with us.  This book challenges Christians to be open and vulnerable.  To have a community that is open and forgiving – allowing each of us to have our own opinions and being secure enough in our faith to accept and celebrate our differences.  They ask us to step outside our comfort zones.

I originally didn’t want to read this book.  I don’t know why, except, perhaps I was afraid that it would do just what it did – challenge me.  There was nothing dull or boring about this book.  It had me riveted to the words almost from page 1.  But more than that, it caused me to reflect on my own life, and what exactly my purpose as a Christian is.  It challenged some of the clichés and misinformation that I have received and in some cases even bought into a little bit, and got me to see that there is more to being a Christian than going to church on Sunday and “doing” all the right things.  Darren and Jon make their points clearly, but without beating the topics over your head.  They write in an everyday voice, so you don’t have to be a Seminary Graduate to understand what they are talking about, which is probably one of the things I like most about this book.  Overall, this is an excellent read, and I would recommend that EVERYONE read this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Today I’m not feeling very well.  I woke up feeling dizzy and out of focus.  I think I got too much sun yesterday.  I slept through my alarms and so didn’t get up in time to go to my Bible Fellowship class or to service.  I feel slightly better now, but I’m still feeling out of it. I felt bad about missing service at first.  I try to go to church every week, but sometimes things do happen that prevent that.

In my devotional time this morning, I was reading Rumors of God by Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson.  So far it’s a really good book, and I will be reviewing it, once I’ve finished reading it.  In the part I read today, Darren and Jon talk about the difference between grace and mercy, and they used a great analogy.

The analogy included a police officer and “me” as the driver that was speeding/drinking.  First, they asked me to visualize speeding and getting pulled over.  I pray, and say “If you get me out of this, I’ll set my tithe to come out automatically.”  The officer lets me go.  That’s mercy.  I didn’t get the punishment I deserve.  Then they asked me to visualize being drunk and speeding and getting pulled over.  The officer says, “here’s my money and the keys to a new car.  Here’s everything you need to do to assume my identity.  I will go to jail for you, and you can go free.”  That’s grace.

They went on to explain that this is what Jesus did for us.  He saw us in our sin and He loved (loves) us – just as we are.  We don’t have to clean ourselves up to get His love.  He ALREADY loves us.  It really spoke to me to read that because how often do we expect others to “clean up” so that we can be nice to them?  Unfortunately, I see that more often than not.

How encouraging to know that Jesus loves us in our sin, and that He died for us – He assumed our identity – so that we can live a life of freedom and grace.

Until Next Time,

Busy, busy, busy.  That’s what my life is at the moment.  There are moments when I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe.  I have so much on my plate at this time – or so it would seem.  I am Director of our Single Mom’s Adult Bible Fellowship Class (ABF) at church (ReNew). I am, of course, a Mom.  I have a class that I take on Monday night’s while my children are at something else (works out well).  I work a full-time job.  And, on top of all that, I’m moving in less than 3 weeks.  Like I said, busy, busy, busy.

Now, of course, I’m not always this busy – I usually don’t have to pack.  That’s a given.  However, I often find, that I am packing my schedule up with things – events, “play dates,” sleep-overs, etc.  These things take me from what I really want to do.  I am getting better at this, though.  I don’t add nearly as many things as I did a year ago.  I have learned that it’s good to take a break from the hustle and bustle of “things.”  I still have the events that I go to, but I limit them to what can reasonably be handled.  I still allow things into the schedule, but I have learned to balance those things with quiet times, where my children and I can enjoy the company of each other.

However, I also have a way to go.  There are some things that need to stay in our schedule, but I need to be careful about the other things I allow into my schedule.  Our ABF is doing the Bible study, A Mom After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George.  One of the things she mentioned was to take stock of the time spent watching TV, and then decide how we can better use that time.

This convicted me, but not about my TV habits.  In that regard, I don’t really have an issue.  But I do have something that takes up time that could be better spent – computer games.  I love computer games.  I am especially enamored of a few games on Facebook.  It’s not that these things are bad, but they have a tendency to take up more time than I intend.  I get lost in the games…and before I know it, my moments with my kids are gone.  It’s not that I do this all the time, but I do it way more than I should.

So, I’ve issued a challenge to myself to spend less time in my games, and more time with my kids.  I want them to see a mom who seeks after the things of God.  I want them to see how much I love and cherish my time with them.  That means, I set aside what I want to make sure they have what they need – time with me.  I’ve also determined that I will spend more time in God’s Word – not just for my benefit, but also for theirs.

How about you?  Is there something that takes up more time than it should?  Is there anything you need to change to seek after the things of God more fully?  Don’t put it off until another day.  That day may never come.  Join me today, and take that next step forward, toward God.

Until Next Time,

I just love Sundays!  Sunday is my day to relax and rest in the Lord.  I spend time every day in God’s Word, but Sundays I set apart especially to learn about God and to fellowship with other believers.  I find that the growth that I see in my life is directly proportional to the amount of time I spend in fellowship with other believers.  When I spend more time with other believers, I grow more.  When I spend less time with other believers, I grow less.

I think some of this has to do with the fact that when I spend time with other believers, they challenge me to learn more about God.  As I learn about God, I grow in Him and through Him.  I allow Him to work in me more.  That, in turn, helps me to challenge other people to grow.  It is amazing to me how fellowship with other believers can push us to grow.  I guess that’s why God tells us in Hebrews 10:23-25 to “hold fast to the confession of our hope” and to “stimulate one another with love and good deeds,” and finally “not forsaking the assembling together.”  It’s interesting how I have heard that my whole life, and only today finally put two and two together.

But then, that has always kind of been my way.  I have a tendency to take seemingly simple things and make them into something more complicated.  This is something I have struggled with for a long time.  I seem to have this habit of learning things the hard way instead of the easy way.  I don’t know why that is.  Perhaps it’s because I have the “need” to test everything for myself.

It’s not that it’s bad for me to test things, but when I am unwilling to accept anything as fact without testing it, I am doing myself a disservice.  There is nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others.  In fact, that can save some heartache.

I often find myself telling my daughters that they can learn from some of my mistakes.   The interesting thing is that God has given me two daughters who are just like me.  They test and test, and they make their own mistakes – some of which they could have avoided had they just listened to me.  Yet, they need to figure things out for themselves.  It seems it’s not really in our nature to just take the word of someone else.

It’s good that God has given my children who are like me (as hard as it is for me to admit).   🙂   They challenge me daily to live out my faith.  And they are always watching – and being teenagers, they aren’t afraid to call me on my inconsistencies.  This challenges me to grow.  It challenges me to listen and learn from other Christians who have been through similar trials.  It challenges me to get back up and keep trying – because what I do has an impact on someone else, even if I never realize it.

I am so grateful that God puts godly friends in my life…

Until Next Time,