Perfect Love

  “There is no fear in love. Instead, PERFECT Love drives fear away. Fear has to do with being punished. The one who fears does not have perfect love.” I John 4:18 NIV
It reminds me that there is no perfect love on earth other than Christ’s Love for us. We try… There are good, even great, marriages out there that we can look to for inspiration. A parent’s love for their child can come close to God’s Perfect Love. We can find inspirational love in looking at people who serve others in so many different ways. There are many examples of love in this world, but even the greatest falls far short of the Perfect Love the Jesus demonstrates for us. If we can’t achieve it, then who can?

Many – and I would say, MOST of us spend our lives searching for that perfect love. We become enmeshed in a marriage with an abusive spouse. We settle for acquaintances instead of friends. We neglect our children in our search for the perfect job, or while seeking to advance our careers. Even in the most loving human relationships we hurt each other. We are afraid of being hurt and in doing so we hurt those around us. Mostly unintentionally, but every day, hour, minute we hurt someone one either through omission or commission. That’s a sad commentary on the human race, but take heart! JESUS loves us with a PERFECT LOVE. He will NEVER leave you or forget you. He will never hurt you! No matter what hurts life, the enemy, throws at you, Jesus is at your side IF you want Him there. I don’t have words to express my gratitude for His Unfailing Love!

No punishment, no condemnation. Just LOVE. Kneel at the throne of Jesus today.

  “And so we know and rely on the Love God has for us. God IS Love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them. This is how Love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is NO FEAR in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:16‭-‬18 NIV


(http://bible.com/111/1jn.4.16-18.NIV)

And The Greatest of These

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails. …. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬8‭, ‬12‭-‬13 

Beautiful words; words to live by. Just as Jesus pointed out, and written about by Paul, we are to be united as the body of Christ in LOVE:

  “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12‭-‬14 

A Christian is, by definition, in love with the Savior. As Christians, we should be striving to apply that love in every area and every aspect of our lives. Why is it so difficult to love each other? We let so many things get in the way of our love. People, places, things. They will NEVER be enough, and they will ALWAYS disappoint. Welcome to our world. Skin color, economic status, country of origin, whatever …. don’t even bother trying to deny your prejudice. We all suffer from from that disease! It is through our LORD, Jesus Christ, that we can overcome prejudice and live Love. Faith, Hope, Love. ONLY available through Jesus! Hallelujah and Amen!

Let it out so that love can wash over you AND all the people around you.

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/111/NIV)

Depression – It’s ALL In Your Head!

So, this post may be focused towards women, but it applies to everyone. 

Over the years, I’ve gone to multiple doctors with a litany of symptoms including fatigue, extreme lethargy, unexplainable aches and pains (and more). They would tell me that there was nothing wrong with me physically; therefore, whatever was bothering me was probably just menopause (really? At age 30???) and definitely was just in my head. Women get stuck with that diagnosis frequently. I have to say:

Bosh. Poppycock. Bologna! 

Turns out the docs were right…. although they were also terribly wrong. It wasn’t menopause, but it was in my head. I battled undiagnosed depression for years. It was only in the last few years that it was recognized and diagnosed, so for many of those years, life was a Catch-22 for me. I knew there was something wrong. There were so many times I fought my way through the fog and ‘molasses’, just to collapse into bed or the couch. If not for my animals and the knowledge that they depended on me, I could have just stayed down for days on end. It was all in my head…. so why wouldn’t my body behave??? My body responded like a sloth, and the effort to do ANYTHING took such effort, why bother trying? Obviously (but only obvious to me), if I were such a failure, really, why stick around? When I would drive somewhere, the pull of bridges and overpasses could be really strong. Who would care that I was gone?

  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have Life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10 NIV

I know without a doubt that those thoughts comes straight from the enemy! He is a thief, and he does everything he can to steal our joy and destroy lives. God has given us physicians so that they can help us, not harm us, and any doctor who dismisses us with “It’s all your head” is NOT helping. Whether consciously or not, they are furthering the agenda of the enemy with those words. I already felt worthless; to have a DOCTOR tell me there’s “nothing” wrong, when I could FEEL the wrong inside me…. let’s just say it didn’t help at all! I finally saw a doctor who recognized my physical symptoms for what they really were. I was depressed, not physically ill. At first I resisted the notion. Why would I be depressed? That’s just an excuse for lazy people, right?

No, not at all. After ruling out any underlying physical conditions, this was the conclusion, and she put me on antidepressants. Ugh. There is such a stigma attached to taking these things, especially among the Christian community. I have heard all of the platitudes. “Have more faith. You aren’t praying hard enough. With God on your side you can just push through it. It’s all in your mind; let God have it.” I’ve been prayed over and annointed…. and I still battle depression. I believe that God can heal any disease, IF it would further His Kingdom to do so. He hasn’t cured my depression (yet), so I take that to mean that there is a reason for my depression, I just don’t know what it is – and I don’t need to know. Depression is a real disease, just as much as any physical disease. If you had cancer, do you want people telling you you don’t have enough faith, and to stop taking your meds? I believe that our Great God, Creator God, has given the knowledge to our researchers and doctors to help people with ALL types of diseases, including depression. If you have never experienced it, God Bless you and I pray you never will! It can be debilitating and difficult to diagnose. If you, too, suffer from this insidious disease, then my prayer for you is that your doctor will see it and treat it for what it is.

In all those years, even in the depths of my denial and rebellion and depression, and little voice in my head was constantly reminding me of this:

  “I AM the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me….” – John 10:14 NIV

He never left me, even as I tried to leave Him. Like the sheep that was lost, He carried me back to the fold and His Love. He used human doctors and counselors to show me I wasn’t worthless. I will be grateful for modern medicine as long as I live, and for my God, Who never, never leaves me to face the enemy alone. AMEN. 

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/111.NIV)

Freedom!

What great words from Paul:

  “It is for Freedom that CHRIST has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from Grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope…. The only thing that counts is Faith expressing itself through Love.” – Galatians 5:1‭, ‬4‭-‬6 NIV

He is specifically addressing the men in the church at Galatians, but the message resounds across gender lines and the centuries since. Gentile men (non-Jewish) were being circumcised when they joined the Christian community, and Paul is pointing out that the practice isn’t necessary. How do I know that He is talking to the men who are not Jews? Simple really. All Jewish males were circumcised when they were 8 days old, not as grown men. But getting to the point: once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, the Law no longer applies. We are set FREE from the physical restraints of the old Law; Moses’ Law, because God sent His Son to be the FINAL blood sacrifice for our sins. The old Law cannot justify us any longer. No matter how “good” we are, or how religious, or pious, Jesus’ sacrifice has already atoned for our sins. For MY sins. Past, present, and future.

DO NOT MISINTERPRET WHAT PAUL OR I AM SAYING! (And no, I am NOT comparing myself to Paul!!)

Our sins are covered by the Blood of Jesus. We have been washed clean, and for that, all I can do is fall on my face in thanksgiving and shout “Hallelujah, Praise the LORD!” JESUS made the ultimate sacrifice so that He could fulfill the Law. There is no reason, nothing to gain, by continuing to sacrifice birds and animals to God. It is a done deal; the Law is complete. All thanks to Jesus, we are FREE. Free from the Law, free from the necessity of blood sacrifice. We cannot be justified by anything other than the Blood of Jesus; therefore, any other blood that is shed is an unnecessary and sad waste of our resources. 

Freedom isn’t free here on earth. Our freedoms as citizens of the United States come from the sacrifice of countless men and women who have given their lives so that we can enjoy our lives and liberty. Our freedom on earth is based on obeying the laws of the land. Our freedom for ETERNITY is also because of someone else’s sacrifice. All that we have to do to obtain that final, essential freedom is to accept the gift of it from Christ Jesus. Being FREE in Christ doesn’t mean we have carte blanc to behave as we please. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to yell at your spouse or children. It doesn’t give us the right to hurt people, whether physically or with words. On the contrary, being truly free through Jesus Christ should make us even more conscientious of our words and deeds as we live our lives to honor Him! As Christians, our lives should be governed by these words Jesus spoke when He was asked what was the greatest commandment of the Law:

   “ ‘Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37‭-‬40 NIV

He broke the Ten Commandments down to two to make it super simple for us to follow. No longer list of do’s and don’t’s. In fact, He didn’t tell us NOT to do anything! He knows that when we keep these two commandments, everything, every thought, will fall right into line. I will continue to sin as long as I am breathing. That, unfortunately, is my human nature. I know – I REALLY know, that I am forgiven, and when I stand in front of God on the day of the Great White Throne Judgment, I have the greatest of the great to represent me. Jesus, my Advocate. 

I’m curious. Are you free? Will you be represented by the Advocate, Jesus, or will the enemy [satan] get to stand next to you and drag you with him into the fiery depths of hell? In the words of the late, great, Martin Luther King, then I will truly be “Free at last, Free at LAST, Thank GOD Almighty, we are FREE at last!” Will you celebrate Freedom with us?

(All scriptures quoted are from  http://bible.com/NIV)

Guilty  – or Innocent? Today I Rant!

I can guarantee that someone, today, will be offended by this post, and that’s fine by me. Here goes!

  “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” – Proverbs 18:5 NIV

This is the dilemma we find ourselves in today. There is the “political correctness” crowd, who insist that those who are in prison should be treated with respect and have access to creature comforts such as air conditioning and televisions and radios. They should be allowed to wear their clothes and their hair the way the want, gangbanger style or redneck or white supremacy or whatever. They “deserve” a variety of food and snacks….. 

And right here is where I stand. Prisons should be just that; PRISON. Oh, I know the arguments for their “rights.” I’ve heard them, and I soundly reject them. I also that that if you listen to the inmates, they are all innocent and deserve better treatment…. Right. As a society, we have bent so far over making sure that the incarcerated receive what they are “entitled ” to, that we have shoved the innocent, the victims, to the side and deprive them of justice. Sheriff Joe Arpaio had the right idea, although he let his ego get in the way and hurt the campaign he started for justice. Convicted criminals don’t deserve amenities. Dress them the same (jumpsuits or scrubs and shoes suitable to their job), shave their heads (yep, even the women), give them a cot to sleep on and maybe one hot meal a day, with sandwiches for lunch and dinner. They should be out working on our roads and bridges, picking up litter along the road, and tending the prison farm so that they can eat. Think that’s too harsh? Then explain to me WHY a prisoner should have better living conditions than thousands upon thousands of our veterans and our elderly? I know there are truly innocent people in prison, and I am sorry they are there. I also believe those people are few and very far between.

  “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” – Galatians 6:1‭-‬6 NIV

As a Christian, I am responsible for my own behavior. Even non-Christians must take responsibility for theirs. I am special in that I am a child of the King, but that does not exempt me from being counseled or punished for what I do. It is also my responsibility to help other Christians who may be straying from the path. NOT judging, but GENTLY showing them through scripture and my actions. It is up to me, and it is a responsibility as a Christian to forgive the sinner. Just note that we are commanded to FORGIVE, NOT forget! I have been pushed and prodded and judged by other Christians when I have strayed, and it was often unpleasant and unproductive. When I am pushed, I push back. It was through gentleness and love that I was able to respond, and return to my Lord. That is the ONLY way to Salvation.

I’m not perfect; I’m far from it. I fail every day in my walk with God, but thankfully, He has washed me clean and lifts me up. He is my Strong Tower. Amen.

  “The NAME of the LORD is a Fortified Tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” – Proverbs 18:10 NIV

(Scriptures are from  http://bible.com/NLT

Neutral Ground 

  “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.” C.S. Lewis, @CSLewisDaily 

Wow. Just contemplate this statement for a minute. In case you don’t know C.S. Lewis, he was a committed atheist for years before he surrendered to God:

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen  [College, Oxford], night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” (Source: Wikipedia.org)

Lewis was a scholar and a prolific writer, who took his Christianity seriously and wrote in such a way as to introduce a Living God to unbelievers and believers alike. I think most everyone is familiar with his Narnia series, and it is a wonderful, imaginative and fanciful way to show the principles of Christianity to those who wouldn’t see them, otherwise.  J.R.R. Tolkien did the same thing with his Lord of the Rings books. If you are unfamiliar with the writings of either of these men, I would highly recommend them! This scripture from the Psalms seems to reflect on them: 

  “Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing Your instructions. Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me Life through Your Word.” – Psalms 119:29‭, ‬37 NLT

I realize that fantasy doesn’t appeal to everyone, so rest assured that both authors wrote many other books on Christianity and our relationship with Christ. 

Looking at the term “neutral ground,” I consider the route I traveled the past couple of days, driving from Tucson AZ, back to the Oklahoma City area. Coming up out of Tucson, we (me and the pups) took the scenic route through the Santa Catalina mountains, then on through the Salt River Canyon. One word describes it for me: Breathtaking! Our Creator God took the desert and decorated it with dozens (hundreds?) of species of cacti and grasses and trees in fantastic shapes and colors you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The monsoons began while I was in Tucson, so everything was brilliant shades of green. The trip through the canyon is awesome. Yes, it is a steep grade (mostly 8%) and switchbacks, and if you have never experienced anything like it, well, you should! At the rest stop at the bottom of the canyon, you can walk across the old bridge and watch as the river roars through, and literally crane your neck backward in order to see the top of the canyon on either side. How can anyone stand there and NOT see the Hand of God? At the same time as I am worshipping my God,  I have to stop and think about the statement by Lewis. “…. Every square inch is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.” God created an incredible, breathtakingly beautiful earth, and Satan turns it around and tries to corrupt it. The canyon is gorgeous  – and treacherous. The desert is the same, full of fantastic plants and animals – which the enemy has crammed with dangerous reptiles and plants which can cause serious damage. It’s like a glimpse of heaven and hell smashed together. 

Coming out of the canyon, you’ll see a completely different kind of desert, then through pines and firs as the road continues into the White Mountains. I love this route in large part because of its contrasts. When you leave the White Mountains and come out into red rock Painted Desert country, there is a whole new world of contrasts. Towering bluffs and mesa after mesa … red rocks and colors stacked on top of each other.  It’s Tony Hillerman and Louie L’Amour country, and it is all beautiful. Anyone who thinks anything called “desert” is drab and colorless hasn’t really looked! Driving east on the interstate goes through so many types of country it would take volumes to describe it all. None of it is neutral ground. Throughput my entire trip, the struggle of the enemy against the Creator is so obvious. I see the beauty God and poured out for us, and I see how hard Satan is striving to make it ugly. For myself, I refuse to let the enemy ruin any of it for me. 

It all comes down to choice. Do we allow the enemy to come into our lives and spoil them, or do we choose God? It will NEVER be easy when you choose God, because the enemy will just concentrate harder on making life miserable. Finding JOY in the pain and the ugly is only possible through God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I choose the ground, every square inch, and every split second, claimed by God!

(All scriptures quoted are from http://bible.com/116/NLT)

Christ’s Love

  “Either way, Christ’s Love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for EVERYONE so that those who receive His NEW Life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, Who died and was raised for them.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14‭-‬15 NLT 

Does anyone else struggle with these verses? It isn’t that I don’t believe them, because I do, complete. I suppose my struggle isn’t really the words that Paul writes, but rather with the people I know who profess to be Christian. I’ve said it before, and I will reiterate it again: I am NOT perfect. I fail miserably at being a Christian, and continually slide into sinful behavior. I want to live for Christ, and I strive to do so. I’ve said that so that I can present my dilemma. If a person professes to be a Christian, and they believe they are a child of the Almighty LORD, how can they curse with abandon, lose their temper, make rude gestures at others who irritate them, and/or continue with behavior that are blatantly un-Christian?

I understand backsliding. Been there, done that; still do it. I also believe that the Gospels preach that we are ONCE saved. There are no do-overs. Once we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, it’s a done deal. I cannot become unsaved. 

  “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have LIGHT from the LORD. So live as people of Light! For this Light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the LORD. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the LORD wants you to do.” – Ephesians 5:8‭-‬12‭, ‬17 NLT

I understand broken people. I believe that our GOD  uses brokenness to show how brightly His Light can shine through the cracks. Once we have fallen into the darkness of the enemy, we crack and fade. Through the redemption of our LORD, we are pieced back together… and He leaves cracks and holes for the new Light of Jesus to shine through. It’s a beautiful sight to see! So where does this leave us, with the professing Christian who lives like any other person instead of striving to let go of the old man and embracing the new? It is not for me to judge, or even to speculate whether that person has been born again in Christ Jesus. That judgement belongs to the LORD. The only way I know to deal with these people is to pray…. and that is a HUGE  thing to be doing. The power of prayer is astounding. 

If you are like me, and you have family and friends who profess Christ but don’t live Christ, I hope you’ll join me in prayer for them to see where the Light is coming from, and realize that they are hiding it from the world with their behavior. “Jesus Loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

  “Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the LORD in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to GOD the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18‭-‬20 NLT  (http://bible.com/116/eph.5.8-17.NLT)