Looking for Love???

My friend Kimberly (names have been changed to protect the awesome)  is one of the most loving people I know. If I had to name one person who personifies Jesus in this area of love, it would be Kimberly. She finds the good in eveyone. She shows by her expressions and tone of voice that she is glad to see you and wants the best for you. She never speaks badly about anyone. She gives affection, service, and warmth, expecting nothing in return – no strings attached. Kimberly loves with agape love.

Agape love does not come naturally or easily, but with God we can be more like Jesus (I Thessalonians 5:23-24). Kimberly shared her struggle with me: “We will always be trusting the Lord to help us with this.”

Before, I had talked about God’s agape love for us manifested in His benevolence and desire to always to do what is best for us, even when we don’t deserve it. Jesus commanded us to love each other as He loves us. (John 13:34-35) In Following Christ, Joe Stowell gives an explanation of Christ’s love: “Christ’s kind of love doesn’t require that we fully like everything about the people we are caring for. It does require that we are fully interested in their needs and that we respond to them, not necessarily because they deserve it, but because we are committed to following Christ and replicating His responses to people.”

Agape love cares about other people and shows kindness to them, not because they deserve it but because that is what agape love is. If we want to be like our Lord, know Him better, and shine for Him, we must love others with agape love – because that is what Jesus did for us when we were the ones spitting in his face, denying him in our words and choices, and hammering the nails through his hands and feet (Romans 5:8).

Agape love covers a lot of relationship mud and muck, doesn’t it? Agape love obliterates our desire to criticize and compare and takes away our need to be a people pleaser or to give in to peer pressure; it allows us to see our sister in Christ – or any friend – for who she is. It keeps us from sinking neck deep in the grating-personality quicksand, because we see the person as God sees her. Remember the story where I responded unlovingly to my I-don’t-like-your-grating-personality person? If I had started out operating in agape love, the party would have started out more fun, and I would have been spared a talking-to by God. I would have wanted this person to enjoy the party. I would have seen past what bothered me about her and, instead, would have seen all that God was doing through her and in her; and I would have been open to learn from her sooner. Had I operated in agape love at the outset, I would have been more blessed.

God loves us without expecting anything in return (I John 4:9-10, John 3:16, Luke 15:11-24). For a while, I’ve been watching this elderly couple in my church as they live out this aspect of agape love. For several years now, the wife is slowly showing more and more symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The husband still is her primary caregiver. I assume he always will remain so. He has still honored her and shown her so much respect. There are times, when due to the conditions of the diasease, she doesn’t act very lovingly towards him. Because of Alzheimer’s, she will eventually get to the place where she will never be able to return his love. She might not even recognize him. I’m sure that he will still love and care for her. That’s agape love.

God does what is best for us (Matthew 7:7-11); he does good to us (Psalm 145:8-9). We show agape love to others by doing what is best for them. This may be as obvious as helping them with a project or giving Biblical advice. A false understanding of agape love is that we must do for others whatever they ask; but that is not always agape love. Sometimes the help others ask for enables them to stay in their sin, so agape love must say no. That might not look like love, but loves does not enable people to continue in their sinful, destructive ways.

Say, someone you know is addicted to one of the many “vices.” They call you one night begging for money. You know they will spend it on their “vice.” Even though they beg and cry, it would not be in their best interest to give them the money so they could continue in their sinful ways. Their best interest might be for them to face the consequences of their wrong choices. Sometimes God let us face the consequences of our sin so we are motivated to turn from it and obey Him. Love says, “I won’t help you hurt yourself or others anymore. I still care about you and will pray for you. I will visit you, but I won’t help you continue in your sin.”

Love wants what is best. The strong, confident princess wants the best for others and shows kindness and graciousness to all.

Speechless???

Well, it looks like I’ve been speechless for a few months. No excuses here. I’ve just been going through some pretty hard months spiritually, and really didn’t have anything to say. But I’m back!!!!! Hopefully that’s good news for you!

Meanwhile, I’ve got a brand new blog post continuing on with the idea of how to live as Christian women coming out on Monday, February 25th.

I love to read blogs! Here are some I’ve been keeping up with over the last few months:

thefulltimegirl.com

kimzkitchen.com

Both of these blogs have so encouraged me and challenged my walk with Christ. So, please go check them out!

Also, video links to two of my favorite songs this year.

and

I Don’t Like Her Grating Personality

I am guilty of walking wide-eyed into this one. Some people we just like to dislike. Not very Christian, I know. And I know that my personality is easy for some to dislike too. I’m not everyone’s flavor. However, I don’t want others to dislike me just because they don’t like my personality. That’s how Satan gets us.

God has given me an education in this. I was at a party with friends a few weeks ago (most of whom I didn’t not already know very well). We gathered for the first time, made our introductions, and sat down for the fun time. Immediately, one of the women started guiding, even dominating, the conversation – and I could tell she was that personality. I braced myself for a long night. But later that night, God had a talk with me. He showed me that this wasn’t just an issue of my preference but a sin issue. I was choosing to dislike this woman because I didn’t like the way God made her. I confessed my sin and repented, asking God to help me.

God is the perfect teacher. Through the next weeks, God helped me understand this women in a way I’d been unwilling to see the day before. I was humbled.

One of my college professors explained to me how over the years God had shown him which personality types can cause him to walk wide-eyed into this quicksand. He noticed that each time he had a hurtful relationship, the other person involved had a specific personality type. I reflected on his insight and realized that the same is true for me. By knowing this information about ourselves, we can better anticipate Satan’s traps and know how to Biblically proceed when we clash with another personality. We are wise to understand how God made us – our personality type, spiritual gifts, and core fears – and then to apply the same knowledge to understanding others. Here are four personality types and some interesting facts about them:

THE LION

Most like PAUL in the Bible

Characteristics

  • Task Oriented
  • Self – reliant & independent
  • Strong willed & bold

Strength – Faithfulness

Weaknesses

  • Brushed people aside
  • Always on the go
  • Pride in self-accomplishment
  • Aggressive and dominering of others

Helpful Verses for Victory – I Corinthians 15:10 and Ephesians 4:32

 THE OTTER

Most like PETER in the Bible

Characteristics

  • Enthusiastic & Spontaneous
  • Love being around people
  • Speaks up often
  • Cares what others think about themselves

Strength – Giving wisdon and insight to others, Friendly

Weaknesses

  • Forgetting to pray & seek God
  • Susceptible to peer pressure & influences of others
  • Speak without thinking
  • Insensitive (because not paying attention)

Verses for Victory – Proverbs 22:3 and Psalm 141:3

 THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER

Most like the GOOD SAMARITAN in the Bible

Characteristics

  • Enjoys routine but not changes
  • Very sensitive
  • Likes instructions and will follow
  • Avoids confrontation and will go along with a crowd or an individual

Strength – Loyal & Sensitive

Weaknesses

  • Easily hurt & offended
  • Take themselves and others too seriously
  • Controlled by others

Verses for Victory – I Corinthians 15:58

THE BEAVER

Most like PHILIP in the Bible

Characteristics

  • Very accurate with details
  • Dependable to do tasks or assignments
  • Research and get all the important facts before making a decision

Strength – Planning and organizing

Weaknesses

  • Accepting themselves and others
  • “Nothing is done right” attitude
  • Struggles with “works salvation”
  • Frustrated at spontaneity and disorganization

Verses for Victory – Hebrews 10:23-25

As you see, there is not the PERFECT personality. God made each one of us different so that he would have the right mix to accomplish His work. Can you imagine if we were all otters? We would have tons of fun, but get no work done. What if we were all golden retreivers? Who would make the decisions?

Can you figure out what you are? Have you figured out what I am? Well, here’s a hint. Most people have two that really stand out. A third one is in the middle. And the fourth…is probably nonexistent in your life.

Here is my rankings:

1. Lion

2. Beaver

3. Otter

4. Golden Retriever

That should be no surprise if you know me!

I’ll end with this quote from Beth Moore:

“God call us to love with insight. This is so important because our testy people and our foe both have something broken. If we will let Him, God can give us a heart of compassion and love for them that we did not think possible.”

The Criticism Trap

Wow. I struggle with this muck. With every personality and differing spiritual gifts come the opportunity for various “entangling sins” (see Hebrews 12:1). My entangling sin is criticism. There, I’ve said it.

I am a people person, but I am equally a move-forward-let’s-get-this-done person. The combination of the two (the sanguine and choleric personalities) gives me the passion that fuels the ministry God gave me – boldly sharing the truth with my students and showing them that when they apply these truths (both spiritual and academic), their lives will be transformed. I am mindful that there is much I don’t know and much I don’t even know I don’t know. However, when I see a sister in Christ choosing to believe one of Satan’s lies and wallowing in it – refusing to acknowledge the truth and move forward – I can become critical.

The word criticism doesn’t appear often in any translation of the Bible (trust me…I looked!), but its synonym judging (judged, judgment) does. Judging can take two forms.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” – Matthew 7:1-2

Here judge means “to distinguish” or “decide.” By implication it means “to try, condemn, punish, avenge, call in question.” We are not to judge, or we will face the same negative judging we are giving to others. The issue here is an attitude of supremacy, of believing we’re in the position to judge others’ weaknesses and sins.

“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” – I Corinthians 2:15-16

Paul said that “the spiritual man” makes judgments, even about “all things.”

But we’re not supposed to judge, are we? Once again, the issue is in the attitude. The judging spoken of in Matthew 7 taps into our critical spirit – we can end up thinking that we are better than others; whereas in I Corinthians 2, judgement refers to gathering information and being discerning. The word discen used in the context of judgment (see I Kings 3:11) means “to hear intelligently (often with the implication of attention, obedience, etc.) When we judge with discernment, there’s no room for that awful attitude of supremacy that leads to criticism – putting ourselves above others and believing that we know better, behave better, and are more intelligent or more deserving.

Oswald Chamber’s comments on Matthew 7:1-2 spoke to me in a way I immediately could understand. He said, “The great characteristic of a saint is humility – Yes, all those things and evils would have been manifested in me but for the grace of God, therefore I have no right to judge.” Hmmmm. Interesting perspective. Kinda hard to judge when you put it that way!

So when I see a sister in Christ making decisions or living in a way that goes against God’s Word, I am biblically called to recognize it for what it is – sin. However, I am told by Jesus that I am not to judge her. I am not to bring down the gavel, declaring a verdict and sentence. I am not to look down on her. I am to realize that it easily could have been me. Then I am to love her and pray for her.

I confess that I have been judge and jury too many times. Would I want others judging or condemning me when I am the one sinning? It took only one time of being on the receiving end of condemnation to give me my fill – causing me to check myself and break this sinful habit. For a while, when I was younger, I went through a season of making poor decisions, one after the other. In the midst of this, I did not need a lecture or a judgment of how I was not walking with the Lord. I had a handful of friends whom I knew would not judge me, but they did listen and pray. And the extra blessing to me was that some of these friends shared with me about their own times of poor decisions and how God had worked in their lives.

People-Pleaser Peer Pressure

We tend to fall into this mudhole quite often. When we feel insecure, we offer to do something we shouldn’t in order to get approval. But who needs their approval. As Princesses of the King, we must realize that we have the only approval we will ever need – the approval of the King.

People pleasing looks innocent, but once we start sinking into it, we become obessive, This trap is especially effective on Christians. Don’t we all want everyone to like us? Isn’t one of the Ten Commandments – Thou shalt keep all people happy with you at all times? I mean, if someone is not happy with me because I don’t meet expectations, isn’t that my problem? No, this is one of the fallacies on which unhealthy relationships are based. Our happiness does not depend on the other person’s liking us; and it is not our God-given responsibility to keep the other person happy with us at all times.

I love what Paul wrote about this:

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.” – I Corinthians 4:3-4

The word judged here means to “scrutinize,” “investigate,” “question, discern.” Paul didn’t care that people were checking him out, even in a spiritual way. He knew to whom he answered and who would ultimately make “that judgment.” Whew! Feel the freedom in that. Soak in this maybe-new-to-you concept: it is not your mission on earth to keep everyone happy with you or to do what they say. They are not your boss.

Years ago I frequently fell into this trap. I know how insecure and miserable it made me feel. Now I hate to see other women suffering in the same way just because someone is not happy with them. Those other people are not God. We live to please God and none other.

Now when I am tempted to fall into this mud hole, I remember Jesus. The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus standing firm in truth when dealing with the Pharisees. Taking a stand against the Pharisees was a gutsy move in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees were “the popular party…They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters pertaining to the law of Moses.” The Pharisees said who was in and who was not. Yet Jesus boldly persevered in speaking the truth and not caring what they thought. He never walked away from one of their discussions thinking, I hope I didn’t make them mad. No way! Jesus spoke the truth in love – in a way they could hear and respond to if they chose.

Too often we go along with what we know is not right based on what God has called us to, just to keep the “popular party” happy with us. As in Jesus’ day, sometimes the popular party is the bunch with whom we go to church with. Sometimes I go through this weekly. My Christian friends stay busy with hanging out, going out to eat, shopping, talking together at church, going to each other’s childrens sports games, and some more hanging out. These are good Christians, and they are doing nothing wrong. However, I must have in my life a more balanced approach to life. By the time I work 2 jobs and really study my Bible there is not a lot of extra time. If I fill every other available momement with my friends, I have no time to be a part of a family, fulfill my responsiblities at my home, and grow my relationship with the Lord. That’s when my life could get out of balance.

Some friends might say, “Hey, I wish that was my only problem.” And there’s the rub. I’m not doing anything wrong. My Christian friends are hanging out with each other, so why shouldn’t I? Because living that unbalanced life is not what’s best for me. Because everyone else is, is never the right motive. I live to please God, not the popular party – no matter who they are.

The Other Princesses are so Difficult!!!!!

We can feel strong and confident because we know  that we are the King’s daughter, but what happens when we come upon a few peers? The same thing that happens to everyone when we get together with our peers – emotions and insecurities rule. I have personally observed this in my relationships and ministry: Our insecurities dominate everything. So many women let them rule their lives.

We begin this unhealthy behavior as children. We want to have friends and be part of the group, so we do what it takes to be accepted. We may dress and act the way a group dresses and acts, even if it means going against who we are. We may adopt the interests of the group, even though we are not interested or talented in those areas. We try to become someone we are not in order to be accepted by others. This creates insecurity. Of course it does – the same kind of insecurity an imposter acrobat would feel walking across a tightrope.

We also operate on fallacies that we have absorbed, never examining them in the light of Biblical truth. In college, for my freshman speaking course, I had to learn the 10 Effective Speaking Principles. As I memorized the list, I got more and more excited. I began to understand how not understanding these principles were causing problems in my relationships and other relationships that I had observed. For example, I wrongly believed that it was my fault entirely if a message was misunderstood. Sometimes, you can communicate clearly, but if the other person doesn’t want to hear the message, then you are stuck in relationship limbo.

No wonder we sink up to our eyeballs in the mud holes of comparison, people-pleaser peer presure, critisicm, and the I-don’t-like-her-grating-personality muck. These mud holes pulls us in and down like quicksand. The more we try to get out, the more we sink down. As I have learned from the one episode I watched of Man vs. Wild, there is a right way to get out of quicksand and a wrong way. Most people try the wrong way and die.

We need to learn to be confident in our relationships. We do this by knowing God, knowing who we are in Christ, and having relationships based on truth. We have previously looked at the first two, so now let’s dive into the third: healthy relationships. Let’s talk about the right way to get out of four of the most common relationship mud holes women sink into – and the tools we need to avoid them in the first place.

So…why wait a week…let’s look at the first one now.

The Comparison Mud Hole

Ooh, we women get sucked into this quicksand, and we barely put up a struggle to get out. We compare every area of our lives to the lives of other women:

Our Appearance: Who has the best color on her hair? Who has the most desired body type – not too short, not too chubby, not too short waisted, not too flat, not too chesty? Who has the most stylish clothes? We are never pretty enough, stylish enough, or in good enough physical shape.

Our Friendships: Who is better friends with whom? Who call whom more often? Why doesn’t she ever call me? She is closer to her than to me. Ugh.

Our Kids: Oh yeah, this one is a gem. Either our kids are superior of they never quite measure up to someone else’s. Why did her child make the team (or get a part in the play, etc.) and mine didn’t? (Disclaimer: I don’t have kids. But I am a teacher. Mothers can be really like this sometimes.)

Our Husbands: Why can’t my husband be as spiritual as he? Why doesn’t he bring me flowers for no particular reason? Why doesn’t my husband understand my emotions? Why isn’t my husband more fun? (It seems like my friends want their husbands to be a combination of Billy Graham, Dr. Phil, Jerry Seinfield, Brad Pitt, and their best girlfriends – and to know exactly when we want them to play each role!) (Disclaimer: Alas, I also do not have a husband…but most of my friends do…and this is what they sound like sometimes.)

Are you feeling silly? Do you see the pointlessness of comparing our lives to others? The comparison game leads to self-absorbed introspection – thinking too often about ourselves. The trendy cliche “It’s all about me!” manifests when we waste time comparing ourselves to others.

In my Bible I have written “Comparison is the death of relationships.” (I wish I know who was preaching when I heard it.) The minute we start comparing, we build a barrier between us and the other person. Being a prisoner of this trap often tempts us to make a grocery list of our friend’s perceived shortcomings and faults, or a list of every area in which we feel she surpasses us (and in our minds, looks down on us). As the list grows, so does our pity party – and with it, our dislike of our friend. Do you see how easily Satan uses these lists to put up barriers of inferiority, distrust, pride, and lies? We don’t see the real person any longer – only our distorted perception of her. Not only do we distance ourselves from a good friend, we also fall for Satan’s plan to isolate us from our sisters in Christ.

Comparison breeds competition. Any competition ends up with winners and losers. How can we build healthy relationships when we see ourselves as better than our friends (victor) of inferior to them (loser)? Both positions are wrong and dangerous.

Feeling better than someone else is pride, and God hates pride.

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” – I Peter 5:5

Feeling inferior doesn’t make you humble either. Beth Moore has written, “I’ll never forget the first time God exposed my periodic bouts of self-loathing as just another form of self-absorption. I was shocked, having thought all along that it was a sign of humility. Nothing like priding yourself in hating yourself. Beloved, let’s let this one sink in deeply: constantly thinking little of ourselves is still thinking constantly of ourselves.”

I went through a time of comparing God’s will for my life with God’s will for others. I loved what I was doing, but I kept thinking I could also be doing what they were doing. One day God decisively spoke to me. He told me, “Your plan is not theirs. Your plan is unique – one I have given you.” God impressed upon me that my plan and ministry was his plan for me just as the other women’s ministries were his plan for them.

Jesus dealt with a similar situation. John 21:15-23 records a conversation that took place during the forty days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Jesus restored Peter to ministry (after Peter had denied Jesus the night before his crucifixion.) Then Jesus told Peter with “what death he should glorify God” and challenged him, “Follow me!” (vs. 19) Peter was in the midst of this incredible, never-to-be-had-again-on-this-earth, one-on-one time with Jesus, and what did he do? He let his sinful human nature ruin it. Peter turned, saw John, and asked in essence, “Hey, what about him?”

Peter, Peter, Peter! Why waste precious time with Jesus by comparing and being nosy about Jesus’ plans for John? I love Jesus’ shoot-from-the-hip response: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” (vs. 22)

Jesus has a plan for us. He is working that plan. At times he reveals to us part of that plan. The rest is trust and obey. Jesus’ plan for us doesn’t leave room for comparison. I love that.

Is Anyone Listening?

The last characteristic of God we wll discuss this month answers a question that is alway on my mind when I am talking with someone. Are you listening? Being heard is a core need I have. I love the fact that God hears me – all the time.

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear himL he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth all them that love him but all the wicked will he destroy.” – Psalm 145:17-20

In Daniel 10, we learn much about prayer. In that chapter Daniel, a Jewish exile, has seen a vision from God that concerned a war. Daniel was so affected by the vision that he mourned for three weeks. with prayer and fasting. Then an angel visited Daniel wo tell him the meaning of his vision. The angel’s message give us invaluable insight into how our prayers are received by God and into heaven.

First, God hears us in real time.

“Then he (angel) said unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, they words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” – Daniel 10:12

Not only does God hear us, he hears us as soon as we pray; and he puts into motion the plan for the answer to our prayer. This passage from Daniel goes on to tell of the angel’s supernatural battle with an evil angel and the delay it caused. God was working, but the battle took time.

Next, we learn from the angel that prayer is not bringing God over to our way of thinking: prayer allows God to bring us to his way of thinking. How convicting! The angel acknowledged that Daniel had set his heart on understanding. Daniel wanted to know God’s plan. He was seeking God to know him and his thoughts on this vision.

The angel also said Daniel’s heart was set on chastening himself before God. The Hebrew word used here has a meaning of inward reflection or judgment of one’s life. It reminds me of humbling one’s self. This does not mean we are to hurt ourselves or adopt a form of self-hatred in an attempt to be heard by God. It does mean that we understand who we are and who God is. When we do that, we see that we are naturally sinful and we have nothing in ourselves that gives us position before God (Ephesians 2:1-9). We are not in that humble posture if we stand before God like spoiled, stubborn children, stomping our little feet and demanding our way.

Remember from last month that we come to our Lord boldly, with confidence, because of who we are in Christ (princesses). I like to picture God on his throne and me standing in from of him (or sometimes sitting at his feet) in my glowing white robe, with Christ standing next to me, interceding on my behalf. I don’t need to worry what God will think of me or that he will be mad. I have freedom of relationship to be myself and express myself.

The strong, confident princess comes to God, earnestly seeking him and his will, humbly and with confidence. Because of who she is in Christ, she knows she is heard.

But this is not the last word on prayer. We barely touched the topic. Just because we pray humbly, earnestly, and boldly with confidence through Christ does not mean we get what we are asking for. It does mean we are heard by our loving Father and that he will do what he knows is best for us and our loved ones. Jesus feels our pain and sorrow. The Holy Spirit is praying for us.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” – Romans 8:26

We are covered.

When things go wrong…When life throws you a curveball…when the enemy surrounds you..remember what Christ tells you:

  • Come to me humbly.
  • Talk to me earnestly.
  • Know you are standing boldly, confidently before me dressed in Christ’s righteousness wtih him at your side.
  • You are heard. I see you. I love you. I am smiling on you and singing over you. I’ve got this covered.

Wow. What a difference. Experience peace. Experience physical energy and strength.

Dear Princess, God is everything we need for our fears, insecurities, guilt, and all our other issues. Plug that into what’s ailing you today.

The King is Sovreign

God’s sovreignty, his “exercise of power of his creation,” is key to our relying on God’s faithfulness. The Bible is full of verses stating this and examples of God’s sovreignty.

“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:” – Acts 4:24

This verse to me speaks of God’s sovreignty. What a reminder to us as we start to pray.

Let’s put this together: God exercises power of his creation, and because he love us (wants our best, highly esteems us) and is faithful to us (always in control of what comes into our lives), the power he exercises over us must be for our good and in love.

Whew. Don’t we feel better? This world – our world – is not spinning out of control. It’s in the control of our loving, faithful, almighty, all-wise Father. He will always give us or do for us what is best.

“Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?” – Matthew 7:10-11

Whatever comes inot our lives is allowed for our good by our sovreign, heavenly Father.

I spend my days teaching children from the ages of 10-15. And in my classroom, my girls seem to be at the stages of life when what they go through seems to affect everyone. I don’t always agree with the decisions they or their parents make, but it’s not my job to interfere there. However, I’ve learned that the consequences to their decisions are the perfect teachers. When they are in my classroom, I am very involved in their lives.. And sometimes, they love to tell me how boring their lives are, and how the fact I gave them homework won’t let them do anything fun that night. But I love them. I  do what I think is best for them. I am not omniscient (having perfect knowledge) as God is, but I am their authority in the classroom, and I answer to God for the way I teach – whether it’s fun for them or not.

Can we rest in the truth that our sovreign, omniscient heavenly Father is doing what is best for us? At times he may enlarge our boundaries to allow us to learn from our decisions, and at other times he may set our boundaries close, but we konw he is always doing what he knows is  best for us from his pure motive of love.

The King is Faithful

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” – Deuteronomy 32:4

God is faithful. We can trust him. That’s what he wants from us – our trust – our faith in him and his Son. If we can absorb these truths into our minds, we will be transformed.

Let’s do some life application. If God is faithful and he loves us, why do we worry or fear? Why do we think and act as if we are going through life alone and it’s all up to us? God knows our financial need, how difficult our child is, our health issues…He knows. He is faithful. Because God is who he is, it is impossible for us to be out of his care. God is incapable of not thinking about us.

“…for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” – Zechariah 2:8

We are in the center of God’s vision always.

I know these truths about God, but sometimes when it’s time to apply a truth to my situation, I doubt. Yep, I doubt. I don’t like admitting this to you. Sometimes I say God is faithful, but my anxiety reveals my doubt. I think, Yeah, I know God said this truth and that truth, but my situation is different. Have you ever been there?

God requires action on our part. Knowing that God is faithful to help me in a situation doesn’t take me out of the situation. No, I must let God faithfully stretch me and work changes in me; I must do the next thing he shows me in the situation – things I might not want to do and don’t think I should have to do. God says, “You can do this, We will do it together, but we’ve got to do it.”

Moses experienced God’s faithfulness in ways like no one else. God gave Moses and “impossible job” (see Exodus 3 and 4) – but not impossible with God Almighty. Moses had God’s calling. God spoke directly to him, telling him what he wanted Moses to do. God gave Moses words to say and signs to prove to Israel, Pharaoh, and Moses himself that God had sent him and was with him. Moses needed to step out, believing God would be faithful. It wouldn’t be easy or fun, but if he really believed God is faithful, he had to do what God instructied him to do.

A scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade illustrates God’s faithfulness and how we princess walk by faith. I know your thinking this is a guy movie, but just stick with me. In the movie, Indiana Jones must find the Holy Grail and bring it back to save his dying father by the Grail’s rumored healing powers. (I know this isn’t biblical.) Indiana come upon a chasm that is impossible to get across, but he must cross to continue on. He recites the clues obtained from his father’s notes.

“It’s…a leap of faith,” he concludes. He steps out into the chasm, into thin air. The moment he does so, what was an invisible stone bridge materializes (becomes visible) beneath his foot. Astonished and relieved, Indiana Jones crosses and completes his mission.

Princess, you too must step out on what our Father has told us. It might be scary, but he is faithful to provide the strength you need and make the way for you to obey. This doesn’t mean life will always go as you’d like. It does mean that God has allowed whatever is happening in your life, and it is for your good. In the process you will know your Father better and become more of the princess he planned for you to be. Dozens of people in the Bible experienced the truth in this verse:

“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” – I Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful in your circumstances. He is always working on your behalf. Do you believe it?

The King and I

It’s Tuesday, and I’m just getting the blog out?? Yikes! I’m a teacher, and out on Spring Break, so I guess my mind took a Spring Break too yesterday. Forgive me? I promise that it will most definitely accidentally happen again.

For the month of April, I want to look at the fact that a princess knows her Father. However, we as Christians, can’t sit down for a coffee date with our heavenly Father, but we still have the Bible to learn about Him. We can still talk to him. To know our heavenly Father, we also need to see for ourselved what God says about himself in his book – the Bible – and develop a relationship with him.

Do you really know God, or do you know the idea of God you have created over your lifetime? Knowing the truth about God is important because it is the basis for how we will live our lives – how we make decisions, relate to others, and do our work. Personally knowing God affects every part of life.

You might be tempted to go to the world for answers about God. The world is anything that is not from God and his Word. The world’s answers only make our issues messier and our baggage heavier. Many counterfeit gods exsist in this world and all their positive-thinking-live-your-best-life-law-of-attraction-the-secret-philosophy will not change us or our lives. But knowing our Father’s character will give us hope, perspective, and freedom from all the junk we are carrying.

So, that brings us to the first truth about our Father:

The King is Love

“…for God is love.” – I John 4:8

What does this mean? Why doesn’t the verse say: “God is loving”? First, let’s define love. The Greek word for love used here is agape. It means “affection or benevolence.” Agape love is not a fluffy emotion that makes God feel good. It is God’s benevolence in giving everything he could for our benefit. Benevolence means the “disposition to do good.” God’s love for us ensures that he always does what is best for us.

I know that is hard to understand and accept, especially when we or our loved ones are going through hard times. Unfortunately, the common wisdom in the Western world often associates blessing with a life of ease. We miss the powerful truth that in trying circumstances we get to know God in a way that we could not know him in times of ease. Difficulties allow us to be in a posture to know God’s heart more intimately. And isn’t our goal in life to know God – not to sail through life with no troubles, perfect health, a hefty bank account, and superficial relationships? Do you have a friend our family member with whom you have gone through hard times? Wasn’t that relationship deepened by those circumstances?

The Ryrie Study Bible notes, “Agape characterizes God and what He manifested in the gift of His Son. It is more than mutual affections; it expresses unselfish esteem of the object of the loved. Christ’s love for us is undeserved and without thought of return.” Yes, God loves us even though we never will be deserving or worthy.

“We love him, because he first loved us.” – I John 4:19

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

God expresses his love for us through unselfishly regarding us highly, with respect and admiration. He gives love freely – without thought of return. God value us – prizes us.

“But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) – Ephesians 2:4-5

God’s Love Never Runs Out

This love of God is plentiful. His love for us abounds. We cannot use up all the love God has for us, not matter how hard we try.

“And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” – Joel 2:13

An excellent example of this is in Luke 15:11-32. Here Jesus tells a story (called a parable) to answer the grumblings of religious leaders (the Pharisees and scribes) because Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors and sinners. (That’s us too.) In the parable, a father had two sons. The older son faithfully labored for his father; however, the younger son decided he wanted his share of his inheritance right away.

“And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” – Luke 15:13

Eventually the younger son becamse tired of feeding pigs to try to get by, and he came home to put things right with dad and hopefully be taken back as one of his father’s hired servants. But that didn’t happen:

 “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20

Dear Princess, no matter what kind of wild living you have done, God is ready and waiting to pour out his love on you.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…”

– I John 3:1

Have you ever eaten dinner somewhere really fancy? Maybe a restaurant or a banquet? I haven’t. but I’ve seen in movies where there was a dinner part of 20 or more people. When it was time to eat, twent waiters came into the private dining room. One stood behind each guest, and on signal every other waiter places a plate in front of a guest. Ten seconds later on signal, the other waiters places their plates in front of their guest. Within thirty seconds all twenty had been served. The food looked incredible.

God lavished us with his love even more. Whether I am in a fancy restaurant or at home washing dishes, I am wrapped in God’s love. He always want my best  and works for my best. He always smiles on me and delights in me.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee in singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Finally, nothing can keep us from God’s love.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

That list includes everything that we might fear would keep God’s love from us. The truth is, nothing can get in the way or persuade God not to love us. His love is a done deal.

God’s Love Covers Our Issues

Now let’s plug the reality of God’s love into some of our issues. Start with insecurity. God’s loving us means he highly esteems us – adores us. Now think about it. If God adores us, if we have his constant attention, why do we need the approval of anyone else? Why do we worry about others’ opinions?

Think of your favorite blanket that you use in the winter. Mine is think and soft. It is the ultimate in comfort. When it covers me, I feel warm and cozy. I want it wrapped around me to keep out the chill. God’s love for us is like a warm, cozy blanket. It keeps out the insecurities and lies that Satan likes to whisper in our ears.

Now apply God’s love generously to the issues of fear, loneliness, and guilt. Because we are in God’s constant love, we don’t need to fear anything. He has our lives covered. Are you still hanging on to your past guilt? Why?

“There is therfore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1

God is not condeming you for your past sin. He has forgiven you. Hanging on to past guilt brings condemnation, and that is from Satan. Do you see how all of our issues roll off when we are covered by the love of God?

Those of you who, like me, analyze ideas into the ground might have wondered, Yes, God loves me, but does he like me? I’m different from so many women I know. I’m not everyone’s flavor. So does God like me? The answer to that is yes!

“For thou hast possesed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Mu substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect: and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16

God made you just the way he wanted you to be. God doesn’t make mistakes, and you are not a mistake. God planned the intricacies of your personality; they are his desire for you to be the unique person he planned you to be from the beginning of time.