Posts Tagged ‘Love’

It’s Very Simple

September 21, 2012

Christianity is complicated only because PEOPLE make it complicated.

Some denominations tell you that you must perform particular works in order to be saved. Or that you must believe in only their doctrine. Or that you must perform certain rituals (which aren’t actually commanded  in the Bible). Some cherry-pick Scriptures to construct a teaching that really isn’t in the Bible. Some claim to be speaking for God and/or Jesus and require you to follow their every word. And some are extremely legalistic; embracing rule-keeping over mercy at all costs (Luke 11:42). And many are a combination of these things.

How can you know which one really clings to the truth as set out in the Bible?

First of all, you must realize that, at this time, there is no “perfect” denomination. Human influence has its nasty little way of getting in between ourselves and God. This is a situation we have to put up with until Jesus Christ returns and sets things straight.  Does this make our situation hopeless?

NO.

It simply means that we need to make a diligent effort to test any doctrine we are taught and see how the teachings hold up against Scripture.

For example, the Bible states very clearly that we should never call anyone on Earth “Father” (Matthew 23:9 ). However, the Roman Catholic Church refers to their Pope as “Holy Father”.

Another example: Seventh Day Adventists teach that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael. They received this teaching from their founding prophetess, Ellen G. White, not from the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses also teach that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael, though in this case it’s a matter of cherry picking Scriptures to come to that conclusion. The article here explains how erroneous their cherry picking is.

In order to find truth in faith, it is vital that you read your Bible on a regular basis and become familiar with its message. Ignore the words of so-called prophets whose words cannot be solidly supported in Scripture. Do not succumb to teachings based on cherry picked Scriptures that the Bible does not clearly connect within Itself. And remember that true Christianity teaches mercy and love over rules and rigidity.

It is not wrong to scrutinize a group’s teachings as such scrutinization is the best way to avoid getting trapped in false doctrine. The Bible Itself teaches that testing the teachings is the right way to go (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Acts 17:11
The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

1 Timothy 4:1-2
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

Colossians 2:8
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.

Galatians 1:8-9
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!

As mentioned earlier in this post, all religious groups today are burdened with the curse of human imperfection, but this shouldn’t stop us from finding as much Bible truth as is humanly possible. Real Christianity is not something you are taught from men, it is something that is taught to you through the Word of God — the Bible. Be sure that what men are teaching you are in direct harmony with Scripture, and be sure that you heed Scripture over the men when discrepencies occur. Be sure that the godly qualities of love, mercy, and forgiveness are promoted, and leave all judgmentalism to Christ instead of ourselves. True Christianity is not complicated, so don’t let other people make it so.

Peace, and Amen.

 

 

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Jesus Didn’t Hate The Sinners

August 23, 2012

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, lived only a few short decades as a human among us.
And, even though He was the Son of God Himself, and even though He was sinless and perfect in every way, He still didn’t feel entitled to hate the sinners of this world. Instead of hating the sinners He showed mercy, peace, and love towards them: He forgave the adulteress who was facing the death penalty. He healed the crippled, even on the Sabbath. He taught that people should love each other in spite of their differences. He didn’t hesitate to reach out to those who were lost in their sins: He healed those possessed of demons, He forgave immoral women, He ate with tax collectors…  He even showed tolerance towards Judas, fully knowing he was going to betray Him.  Parallel to this, He did not tolerate arrogance, self-righteousness, or mercilessness. And He did not play favorites in any of these things.

Yeah, so?

So, we need to take a lesson from this:
Jesus Christ, who never sinned, did not hate the sinners.

We, as human beings, lose that lesson — instead, we tend to hate those who sin differently from ourselves.
We see people tolerating unmarried heterosexual couples living together while hating the gays who marry. We see people tolerating Atheism while hating the Muslims. We see people tolerating violent video games while hating drug addicts.

In reality,  there is no sin which doesn’t carry the death penalty.
The Bible doesn’t mince words: The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  There are no exceptions and no loopholes: Sin = death. In other words, that unmarried couple is just as deserving of death as that married gay couple. The lover of violence is just as deserving of death as the drug addict. The drunken slob is just as deserving of death as the crooked politician.

And yet, Jesus Christ died for them (us!), so that we may not remain dead in our sins.

So, just as Jesus did not hate the sinners, neither should we. Instead, we should take a cue from Him and throw love at these people we don’t happen to like. My sin, your sin, her sin, and his sin may all be different sins, but we all remain in the same boat, and that boat is sinking without the love of Christ. If  He had hated the sinners, none of us would be Saved. Instead of hating on others, it’s better to do what you can to share the Love of Christ, so that they too may receive Salvation through Him.

 

Good Samaritans?

August 13, 2012

Yesterday at church the pastor read the Bible passage about the Good Samaritan.We all know the story: A man is robbed, beaten and left for dead. Two of his countrymen pass him by and don’t offer help, and then a Samaritan, a social outcast, came along and helped him at great financial expense.Nice, lovely story that everyone should take lessons from.

And it got me thinking: But how does this apply today? Nowadays, most of the “robbery” comes in the form of men with suits working in offices. And nowadays, nobody could care less if someone is from the geographical region of Samaria (Palestine).

So let’s update this:

You are driving your car through the Sonora desert and your car tire blows out. Your cell phone can’t get a signal, you have a spare tire but no tire iron, and you’re stuck on a hot road in the middle of the scorching day. You are in danger of heat exhaustion if you stay in it for too long, and you have nothing to drink. Your car prominently displays Christian-themed bumper stickers, so anyone can figure out where your views lie. And you see a car coming: Unbeknownst to you, the driver is the pastor of a large church who is on his way to speak at a Bible rally. He slows down as he approaches your vehicle, but since you currently appear to be okay he decides to continue on his way, after all, he is LATE for the rally.

About an hour later, another car approaches. This driver is also a fellow Christian, but he is also quite busy and can’t spare a few minutes to help you — he doesn’t even slow down, he just continues on as if you weren’t even there.

You are getting discouraged. And hot. And thirsty. And worried.

Another hour later, a third vehicle comes into view. This one contains two gay men who’ve just gotten married and they are traveling to their honeymoon destination in Mexico. They see you’re stuck, and stop to see if they can assist you. They clearly see your bumper sticker opposing gay marriage, and for a moment your heart sinks.
They probably hate you.

But no.
One offers you some water, the other starts changing your flat tire, and they stay with you until they are sure you’re going to be okay. You can’t possibly express enough gratitude for their help.

Or maybe it was a devoutly Muslim man who came to your assistance.
Or a Wiccan.
Or maybe even a prostitute and her pimp.

That’s what the Samaritan was to the man beaten and left for dead: A perceived unsavory element whom he wouldn’t be caught dead with — and yet that very person was saving his life.

And that’s the lesson Jesus was trying to convey: There is no excuse to put your self and your own views ahead of another’s well-being. We are all responsible for each other, regardless of lifestyle, religion, colour, nationality, or beliefs. We need to show love to everyone, not just the people we happen to like. That is what the true love of Christ is all about.

And that is the modern day lesson we can take from the Good Samaritan.

The Poinsettia

February 10, 2012

I saw a poinsettia today; a left over from Christmas. It’s still very vibrant, red, and healthy looking.
All because someone takes the time to continue watering it.

Meanwhile, at the nursing home in which I work, I’ve seen many poinsettias that aren’t doing so well. Wilting, defoliated, and scraggly. Nobody seems to have the time to keep watering those ones. It doesn’t seem to be anyone’s job: The nursing staff (including me) is too busy taking care of the residents, the doctors are too busy diagnosing, the housekeeping department is too busy making beds and mopping floors, the activities department is too busy planning events and scheduling outings…. and these beautiful, vibrant plants are left by the wayside, ignored, left to fend for themselves; to die for lack of water, and are eventually thrown into the trash.

It only takes a mere minute to pour a cup of water  into the planter from time to time to keep the plant happy and alive.

And I can’t help but think that people are a lot like these forgotten poinsettias.

When you “water”, “cultivate” and care for someone they grow vibrant, healthy, and strong. Once you begin neglecting the person, they begin to starve, wither, and die both emotionally and spiritually. This is the major reason that divorce is rampant, homeless people waste away, and suicides are on the rise. Being cast aside makes some take solace in drugs and alcohol, street gangs, and adultery.

Although no singular person can possibly be responsible for everyone in the world, each of us can do our part to water and cultivate someone in our lives. Is it our individual responsibility to take care of people in that regard?

Absolutely!

According to Scripture, we are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  Jesus even illustrated the importance of helping one another — even strangers —  in His parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

People are poinsettias: Richly coloured, living, breathing beings that need to be cared for. And if we take a moment to think, I’m sure each of us can identify at least one person in each of our lives who is dying from lack of watering, Sonlight, and cultivation. The new divorcee next door; the abused kid down the street; the lonely widow in your congregation. Perhaps it’s a colleague who just got “downsized” from his or her job. Or a teenager who just learned she’s pregnant and her boyfriend dumped her.

We all need some watering and love. And, even though we can’t help the entire world, we can at least make a difference in the lives of those whom we do know. “Watering” a person doesn’t take a lot of effort: Invite them to accompany you to a community or church event. Take them out for coffee once each week just to chat. Help them with transportation, or child care, or yard work. Mentor them, attend support groups with them. Get involved, even just a little bit.

A simple cup of water on a regular basis is all it take to keep a poinsettia alive and healthy; and a simple act of kindness and caring on a regular basis is all it takes to keep a person alive and healthy.

And above all, share the love of Jesus with such ones, as He is the best strength for their weakened state.

Peace, and Amen.

Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2012

Valentine’s day is fast approaching: Many couples are making plans for a special date night, many children are preparing Valentine cards for their parents, and many loners are buying  Valentine gifts for their pets (yes, I’ve seen this done).

In this season focused on love let’s do something a little different this year: In among your plans for showing your loved ones how much you love them, pencil in some time to devote to God — the greatest love you’ll ever have.  God is Love (1 John 4:8 ), and He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to save us (John 3:16). It is because of the love of God that you have people you can love. And if you are a loner with nobody nearby, He is faithful enough to still love YOU even when nobody else around does.

Give an hour to God on Valentine’s day. Don’t ask Him for things, simply express your love and appreciation for all He is and all He has done in your life. Sing praises to His greatness, quietly commune with Him, openly thank Him for loving you unconditionally. And of course, invite your spouse, child, parent, friend…anyone, to share with you in this Valentine offering to God. In the midst of all your special planning for your human Valentine, be sure to remember the God who gave you the best love of all.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends!

 

To My Mother:

May 8, 2011

Thank you mom for all the time you took to raise us, all the patience you had to put up with us, and all the wisdom you instilled into us.

Thank you for being the ultimate “domestic engineer”!

We numbered nine of us and yet you still found the time to teach us how to cook, clean, budget our money, and learn about God.

You didn’t let us get away with breaking the rules, but your discipline was always dished out with a healthy dose of love and forgiveness.

When you realized that any of us was developing a hobby you’d support us all the way: Whether it be sitting down to watch a whole game of pro ball with one of the boys or  teaching one of us girls how to sew, we always knew you would let us grow to be our own individual persons.

You’d welcome us home from school on cold winter afternoons with fresh, hot, home made bread and a mug of hot cocoa.

You knew how to make the “bestest!” home made spaghetti sauce in the whole wide world!

You knew how to sew home made clothes with such quality that others always complimented the clothing, asking which store they came from.

And thank you for loving our father through all these years, in spite of his PTSD caused by the war he was drafted into. You stuck through his issues, supported his business endeavors, and loved him as your best friend.

Mom you taught us domestic skills, morality, spirituality, unconditional love and commitment.

Thank you for all of it. You are a major part of who I am today, and I can’t express the appreciation I have for you.

I will always love you.

Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011

Here in the United States, the second Sunday in May is observed as “Mother’s Day”. This year it falls on May 8th, which is tomorrow. Therefore, in honour of this yearly observance I present to you these Biblical passages to remind us of the blessings and respect that God bestowed on the position of motherhood (taken from the King James Version):

Genesis 3:20
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Genesis 17:16
(God speaking in reference to Sarah, the wife of Abraham) And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations, kings of people shall be of her.

Exodus 21:17
And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 19:3
Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths.

Deuteronomy 5:16
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that they days may be prolonged.

Psalms 113:9
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.

Proverbs 1:8
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.

Proverbs 20:20
Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

Matthew 15:4-6
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Matthew 19:19
Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Galatians 4:26
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Ephesians 6:2
Honour thy father and thy mother

The Easter Season

April 10, 2011

First, my apologies for not blogging so much lately. As I’ve stated several entries ago, I am working on a new website and book, which is taking a lot of my time (because I still have to go to work, be a mom, be a wife, etc. etc.). These projects will be finished by the end of this month, and then I’ll be able to blog more often.

In the meantime, the Easter season is coming up very quickly, and I simply cannot ignore it.

What is Easter to you?
Personally, I prefer to call it “Resurrection Sunday” because, well, to be honest I’m put off by the title “Easter”. More on that in another post.

The word “Easter” evokes many mental images to people, and there are three ways that people view Easter:

ATHEISTS/NON CHRISTIANS: Eggs, bunnies, candy baskets, decorations, and bunny cartoons on the t.v.
BIBLE THUMPERS: (that’s me) Church services, crosses, Bible readings, and Jesus movie DVD’s on the t.v.
REGULAR JOES: Eggs, bunnies, candy, decorations, bunny cartoons, church services, Jesus movies, and Bible readings.

I want to make this abundantly clear:
Although I am an admitted Bible Thumper, I do not judge those who are less conservative in their views.

That being said, each and every one of us (you and me) still need to take time out to deeply consider what Easter is to each of us as individuals. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, getting busy with errands, and work, and life and stuff that we only take a passing thought on the topic, not taking some time to really let it sink in: Jesus Christ, a sinless man, died in order to pay off our debt of sin.

Between now and Easter (which is April 24th this year), I ask each and every one of you to take out a mere 15 minutes each day to stop and consider the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, and how blessed we are to receive such mangificent love. Consider the abuse and torment he endured. Consider his emotional state as he went through each stage of the process between his arrest and his death. Consider his feelings towards his friends, family, and the strangers around him.

Fifteen minutes each day is doable. Let’s not reduce Christ’s sacrifice to a mere passing thought.

Real Love

February 15, 2011

Love is not always the same as “like”. Love is much harder than that.

Liking something can easily lead to love, whether its a person, a pet, or even chocolate. But love isn’t based on an initial liking for someone or something. Jesus Christ said we should love our enemies and pray for them (Matt.5:44 ) — but we don’t like our enemies! It’s easy to love something that you like…. but it’s a whole other thing to love something that you dislike.

I had to go through this several months ago, and I’m still trying to come to terms with it: My old boss from my previous job (a nursing home) was very unconcerned about her duties in caring for the elderly residents who lived there. This created a lot of unsafe situations for these vulnerable people — situations that I wanted no part of.  For example, one night she actually expected me to work alone for a shift taking care of 46 people (because she didn’t want to come in, even though she was the “on call” that weekend).  On another occasion, she tried to sweep a severe case of resident abuse under the rug. She simply preferred her golf game and her beer over  executing her proper duties. We went head-to-head over some of these situations, and she eventually trumped up bogus accusations against me, causing me to lose my job.

And Jesus said: Love your enemy. Pray for those persecuting you.

That’s really hard.

I lost $1,200 dollar in pay for that month, had to take a part-time  job at a $5 per hour pay cut, live 6 months without a water heater (because we couldn’t afford to buy a new one), AND….lose $3,000 in tax return income due to the difference in my pay.

And Jesus said: Love your enemy. Pray for those persecuting you.

Meanwhile, she still loves her $50,000 per year salary, still loves her golf game, and still loves her booze. She sleeps quite well at night, in spite of all the neglect she gives to the elderly under her supervision.

And I still have to love my enemy, and pray for her.

And I do.
Pray for her, at least.
As for love, I’m still not sure how to show that towards her. We haven’t even seen each other this whole past 6 months. I suppose if she ended up unemployed I’d be nice to her about it (praying for the strength to resist the urge to gloat). In all honesty, if she was hungry I would feed her, and if she was homeless I would offer her our third bedroom for a while.  I would even invite her to church with me.
But for now, there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to practice the love I am commanded to give.
So I just leave it be.

But I still pray for her.
And it’s not easy. Even though it’s been several months, the hurt of what she did lingers with us financially, not to mention the painful memories about the whole thing that I try to forget. I loved the residents I cared for; I had been “married” to the job for nearly six years — the whole situation was akin to a nasty divorce.
But God is still working with me on this.
And I’m sure I’m going a lot more slowly than He’d like me to. But I am trying.

I pray for her to recognize and overcome her affinity for the booze. I pray for her to become more compassionate towards the elderly under her care.  I pray that she doesn’t lose her job in the process.

And I pray for my own attitude towards the whole thing.

Yes, I admit it: One part of me would just LOVE to have her go through the same horrible ordeal that she put me through….and then Jesus says: Love your enemy, pray for those persecuting you.
And so the other part of me wants to be as forgiving and loving as Jesus — and it’s so hard.

And Jesus asked God to forgive the men who crucified him.
And Jesus spoke no ill towards the men who unjustly accused him.
And Jesus triumphed in love.

And I, ineptly, struggle to achieve what he did.
But I will still pray for her.

And given the opportunity, I would show her unconditional love.

May God continue helping me improve my inner attitude.

May God have all the glory.

Finding the Lost

October 21, 2010

Recently, we received an envelope in the mail addressed to us…sort of.

The home address was right, and my husband’s name was right, but instead of my name it was the name of some other woman.
Now, before you begin to think this is scandalous, let me explain: There is another couple living in our area in which the husband has the same name as mine, and our last names are the same. Because of this we sometimes get a phone call or an invitation in the mail that is actually meant for them instead. In the case of the phone calls we explain that we are the other Dickersons, and in the case of snail mail mix-ups we can usually track down the sender through the return address and set them straight as well.  Unfortunately, we don’t know their address and therefore we’re unable to forward their mail directly to them.

Anyway, this recent envelope is a little different. It looked official, and was addressed specifically to them by each of their names — unlike other mail for them we’ve gotten that was addressed to “The Dickersons”  or some other less specific thing. So we KNEW it wasn’t  for us, so we looked at the return address: No business name, only the street address. Since it was so official looking we decided we really needed to get this one set straight, so I Googled the address.

Sigh. It’s an office building with 20 different offices in it! Because the return address lacked a name it would be fruitless to “return to sender” because there’s no way to tell who sent it! That meant taking the time to call each and every number until we found the office that sent the letter. Sure, we could go the easy route and open the letter to look, but we don’t want to nose into somebody else’s business, nor do we want to get into trouble! But….we didn’t have the time to go calling all of those offices. And an official matter could be time sensitive. Eeesh!

I opened it, with much trepidation.

In respect for their privacy we won’t reveal the nature of the letter, but it was certainly something that was very important for them, and it was time sensitive. So I called the office at the top of the letter head and explained the situation. I helped the lady on the phone sort out which address and phone number was ours, which was theirs, and whatever else needed to be straightened out.  In the end it sounded like she now has the correct information and is able to contact the correct Dickerson family for their official business. She also told me to toss the letter we received, so we shredded it.

And God showed me a quiet lesson in this: The other Dickerson family was lost, and we helped them get found. Their being found helped avert a burdensome consequence if they had remained lost. My hubby and I feel “warm fuzzies” for finding them and helping them out, even though they are complete strangers to us.

Now, if we can get these “warm fuzzies” for one single act of saving a stranger from a destructive outcome, imagine the magnified feeling Jesus Christ had upon seeking out and saving EVERYONE from the curse of destructive sin! Sure, my husband and I can pat ourselves on the back for our singular good deed — but what we did is nothing compared to the magnitude of Christ’s salvation! After all, we didn’t really save anyone, we simply headed off a major inconvenience — certainly not in the same league as what Christ has done!

And one can’t even begin to imagine how awesome and extraordinary Jesus must have felt, knowing that millions and billions of people have been released from absolute destruction simply because he sought them out and saved them!  God also reminded me that only love would compel one to seek out billions of people to save — even if that meant being ridiculed, beaten, and murdered for it. And I realized that I can never compete with that level of love! I mean, yeah, I’d certainly die for my husband and kids,  and I’d likely risk my life to help a stranger in the face of death; but would I be as willing to die for millions of people who absolutely hated my guts?

It’s a very humbling thought, indeed.

So, yeah. We helped a stranger, and it was good. But what we did was merely a molecule in the ocean of love that is God.

Let’s not forget that ocean. Let’s remember to immerse ourselves in that ocean.
God’s love is not something to be ignored or forgotten.
Amen, and Hallelujah.


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