Love Demonstrated

People are the most important part of any business deal, transaction, or exchange, for it’s the people whom God loves the most. The heartbeat of the person; the feelings of the person; the cares and concerns of the person; the good of the person involved, all of these things are uppermost and important to God.

The Apostle John quoted Jesus as saying, “By this will all people know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This is a powerful statement to consider.  Love in action, or love demonstrated is a lifelong experiment in the life of a lover.

It’s natural to be self-focused, closed-off and afraid to open ourselves to the risk of loving.  Disappointments don’t wait until we’re ‘of age,’ they start pummeling all of us very young and we automatically create our callouses, shields and protection mechanisms which prevent us, one disappointment at a time, from really loving.

Loving is risky.  Being open and seemingly vulnerable is risky.  So why would we do it?  Why would we risk loving when so many times it results in disappointment, rejection or even betrayal? I have an answer for you to consider and it’s this, because we are so loved by God, we are so covered by God; we are so full of the love of God which has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we can risk the joy and pain of loving.

The love doesn’t naturally come from us, it comes from God. God is love and in God there is no fear at all and there’s no limit to the supply of love from him.

May we open ourselves to God’s love today and experience this love in action.

Capacity to Receive

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes: “Whatever we are waiting for…it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

We can’t expect things to manifest in our life when we don’t have the capacity to receive them.
In order to have capacity we have to be open and that requires letting go of things that take up space.
Things that are no longer working for us or things that are holding us back. People who keep us from our destiny and the divine plan that’s in place for us.  What’s limiting your capacity to receive today? Cast it on The Lord and receive the love, provision, grace, healing and amazing life He has for you.

God Doesn’t Play Favorites

“I am learning that God shows no partiality to one group of people over another.”  “Now, I understand that God doesn’t play favorites.”  “It’s God’s own truth and nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from…the door is open.”

I’ve just quoted three different translations of the same scripture found in Acts 10:34.  In this chapter, the apostle Peter was preaching to a group of Gentiles, or as we might call them today, “Outsiders,” in the house of Cornelius, a Centurion of the Italian Company, and Peter was a Jew!  The Jewish law said that Peter couldn’t be found visiting or associating with outsiders, but the story in Acts 10 tells us that the Holy Spirit told Peter to go and preach that the life of Jesus was for them, too!

I suppose each culture has people groups that are considered to be unclean; outsiders; poor; stupid; lazy; bad stock; degenerate; and the list could go on. Those are the people that your parents forbade you to associate with, or that to this day you don’t want to be seen with.  Regardless of which group in your society you find yourself a part of, you can be sure of this one thing: God shows no partiality to one group of people over another.

Selah.

Talk, Talk, Talk!

Talking To One Another

A huge part of the believer’s life is talking; talking to God, talking to yourself, talking to your life, talking to the people in your life.  Ephesians 5:18 -20 is an awesome scripture about talking to another in a most unique way, it reads, “…talking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! One of the signs of being filled with the Holy Spirit is talking, but not trash talking, or gossip talking, or negative-hater talking, or complaining talking but rather giving of thanks, and spiritual-song-type of talking.  That kind of talking encourages and lifts the moods of the people who have to listen to you talk! I’m having a little fun with this, but you get the point.

Today, hook up with the wonderful Holy Spirit who is the best singer, encourager, mood-lifter and hymn writer on the planet.  Let the Spirit’s words flow from your heart and mouth and see how the atmosphere in your house is lifted for the better!

Boxes, Ashes To Go and The Ash Wednesday Diet

God is not inside your box. God is not inside your box. God is not inside your box. God is not inside your box. Now this way, God is not inside my box. God is not inside my box. God is not inside my box. God is not inside my box, or your box, or your favorite religion’s box, or your parent’s box, or your educated mind’s box, etc. You get the point.

I was brushing up on my Ash Wednesday facts when I happened upon a news story about a lovely church in Maryland, among many across the country, who will offer what’s being called, “Ash in a Flash” or “Drive-Thru Ashes” or “Ashes To Go.” You can search Google yourself to read about the many who take advantage of this offering, and also learn that Ash Wednesday services are the most highly attended services all year, surpassing Christmas and Easter.

While searching, I also found a beautiful blog by Dr. Manny Alvarez. He serves as FOX News Channel’s Senior Managing Editor for Health News. I won’t paste the whole blog here, but I will share his Ash Wednesday Diet tips, “Emotional” Diet Tips that is:

1. Focus on loving God and all his greatness, instead of celebrities, action figures, “real” housewives or even world leaders that think they know best.

2. Be careful of wolves in sheep’s clothing, like politicians, promising you something but taking your liberties away.

3. Set up standards of morality at home. Enough with the casual cursing. Teach kids some etiquette and manners, and use yourself as an example.

4. Spend time with your family, telling stories, and listening to those around you. Because someday you will wish you had.

5. Think of older folks – remember, that will be you some day. And loneliness can be debilitating.

6. Remember that violence begets violence. Young people are overwhelmed with graphic simulations of violence in video games and on the Internet. Cut it out of your life.

7. Be with the person you want, and respect your commitment.

8. In these times of economic hardship, make sure you do not take shortcuts. Honor is man’s greatest virtue. Think of how this country started – business deals were honored with a simple handshake, symbolizing good intentions.

9. Remember that lawsuits are not the only solution to our problems – though sometimes it may seem that way, with children suing parents, parents suing schools and even the government suing its own people.

10. Finally, stop thinking about how other people see you – but rather, think about how you see yourself. Love yourself for who you are – not for what a commercial or a magazine cover tells you you should be.

I’ll add an 11th tip: Allow yourself to receive the unconditional love of God, and let it destroy the box you’ve created for your God.  I’ll see you at the Drive-Thru.

 

Faithful Love

Margret Ruth Baker writes of the love of God: “The love of God is a beautiful experience and a sure possession.”

The question I have for all of us today is, have we experienced the love of God and made it our possession?

It’s strange to think of the love of God as our possession but the truth is, he desires for it to be just that. He gave His greatest possession, Jesus, so that we could in turn posses his unfailing, trustworthy, beautiful, constant and consistent love.

His love is not something that is deserved or earned, we simply believe that it is and receive it by faith. We have to forget the pain and suffering, sorrow and wounds given by mere human love and receive his faithful and trustworthy love.

We cannot give what we don’t possess. Jesus said in John 13:34, “…love one another as I have loved you.”

In order for us to give love in this way we have to receive it first. Many would say, “I have the love of God,” and I would say that the way we know we have the love of God is in the way we SHOW this love to others.

I encourage you today to search your heart, is the love of God your very own possession? And if so, how can you share His love in even more meaningful ways?

While We Wait

Little of life is lived in a straight line. Instead we move through it from one circumstance to another, few of them of our own making. But by the time the bulk of life is over, our pristine plans and goals in tatters, the real surprise awaits us. By then, we finally figure out that what we would not have planned in our lives, led us exactly to where we would have wanted to go.

There really is no such thing as a mistake; there is only a route we cannot see to where we hoped to get some day. How does that happen? Who knows? Maybe the answer is a simple one: the best in us will always win out no matter where we are.

One thing is sure, however. Life is an exercise in waiting, an enterprise of twists and turns, or drifts and stops and changes that leave us feeling lost, or useless, or ineffective. But, if truth were known, it is our ability to weather it all, to transcend it all, that is the very proof of our effectiveness.

This month’s artist, Gertrud Staats, 1859-1938, for instance, a woman in a man’s world, allowed to dabble in art a bit but basically underrated professionally, not only functioned well despite it all, but persisted. A dedicated landscape painter, she traveled across Europe leaving works of genuine value and beauty behind her as she went. Until the wars came. And travel went with them. Then, Gertrud Staats turned to still life painting to satisfy her sense of vision and truth. And so an even broader body of work is with us, still, in galleries of no small reputation where her value as an artist is assured despite the very circumstances that seemed to arrest it.

This month, her whole life is represented in her stark painting of valiant ships adrift and aground, stopped by forces outside of themselves. But there for all to see and reckon with. Waiting and abandonment, a sense of invisibility and personal incompleteness, plague us all. And yet, the only proper response to those phases in life must be to simply go on being ourselves, our most committed selves. Then, intent on a direction that seems unreachable, in the waiting itself may well lie the ripening of both ourselves and our hopes.

~ Taken from “The Monastic Way” by Joan Chittister, OSB. Joan Chittister has been a leading voice in contemporary spirituality for more than 40 years, is a best-selling author and international lecturer. She is a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.