No If, And, or But

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“I love you, but…”

Has anyone said that to you?

For me, instead of owning the love, I camp on the words that follow that statement because it seems the person’s love (or approval) is contingent on something I do or don’t do.

When I raised kids, I probably said the same thing. “I love you, but . . . you need to clean your room, do your homework, behave.”

I assumed God spoke that way to me. “I love you, but . . .”

But, what? What do I need to do? As a performance-driven, people pleaser, I turned myself inside out to find the answer.

Do I need to earn my salvation?

No, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Do I need to earn God’s love?

No, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Maybe I need to be a better Christian so I don’t lose God’s love.

And the Loving God who calls me “Beloved” assures me, “Nothing can separate you from my love” (Romans 8:35-39).

You see, I spent years learning God’s Word, but I had to believe God.

Imagine my relief and the mind-blowing joy to know that I know—God loves. There is no if, and, or but!

Hold onto this truth no matter what your feelings or circumstances suggest otherwise. Even in this…coming new year!

Who Can Fill the Hole?

Hot tears rolled down my cheeks during intermission.

“Do you want to leave the play?” my nineteen-year-old son asked.

“No, I’m going to see how this ends. Surely, there’s some value.”

People may not agree with me, but there was nothing redeemable about the musical, “The Book of Mormon.” I found it crude and offensive on multiple levels.

I’m not Mormon, and I rarely attend a play that I haven’t reviewed before hand. However, my son persuaded me while we were in London.

“It won a Tony Award. It’s been running for a long time.” My son later apologized for also going into this performance blind!

Really? This represents America’s best?

However, nothing is wasted.

I tend to live in a Christian cocoon.  Rubbing elbows with our post-modern culture is always an eye-opener.

What I found offensive—swearing and overt sexual language—entertained the audience. They lapped up the Jr. High bathroom humor like it was creme.

That didn’t grieve me as much as the actors who mocked God. Religion as a whole seemed like a joke.

If this grieves my heart, how does the Lord feel?

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Earlier that day, my son and I had gone to Westminster Abbey. Tourists, from around the world, paid to see the historical and majestic building where coronations are held, and royal weddings take place.

The tombs of kings and queens, and memorial plaques honoring famous people, were interesting. But the church seemed more like a museum than a place to worship. If ever there was a place to hear the Gospel message, why not here?

Watching The Book of Mormon that evening, only solidified my heavy heart for the misguided souls around me.

How can they believe in Christ if they do not hear? How can they hear, if we don’t tell them?

Soon thereafter, I heard the Rock song, Flaw, which includes these lyrics, “I have a hole in my soul. I can’t fill it. I can’t fill it. I have a hole in my soul. Can you fill it? Can you fill it?”

I don’t know the songwriter’s intent, but those words struck a chord in me.

We’re all born with a hole in our soul. And we can’t fill it with ourselves!

Neither can anything or anyone else on earth. Although looking at the carrots we chase, you’d think otherwise.

Only the Lord, God can fill the hole in our souls, and satisfy us. His Son, Jesus, has the holes in His hands to prove how much God loves us.

But God won’t force Himself on anyone.

He does, however, warn us, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it (Isaiah 30:15)

Where was God?

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Where was God?

Where was the Almighty while twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christian men were murdered by ISIS for professing their faith in Christ?

Joshua 24:15 says, Choose you this day whom you will serve….

And on February 16th, 2015~~

Twenty-one Christians chose the name of Jesus!

This horrific event happened last month, but the image of these martyrs will not be forgotten. Not by me.

What about God? 

Is there any doubt that He saw these men dying for their faith, claiming the name of Jesus?

If so,then why not spare these men?

Why didn’t God step onto planet Earth and perform a miracle that would prove He is real, and turn the world upside down? And thereby show how much God loves His own.

The ones He chose and knows by name.

Actually, God did!

Two thousand year ago, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus, the Son of God, spoke about the Kingdom of God. He performed miracles to prove His deity.

Then God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us“(Romans 5:8).

But in case we forget, Jesus warned His followers: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). “…If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you….” (John 15:20)

Where was God when the twenty-one Christians died?

God was present with each man.

Because His Spirit lives inside every Believer, and the Lord has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:25).

Twenty-one Christians died, but “their blood is the seed of Christianity.”

The words of Tertullian’s (A.D. 160-230) during the early stage of Christianity rings true today:

Proceed in your career of cruelty, but do not suppose that you will thus accomplish your purpose of extinguishing the hard sect (the Christians). We are like the grass, which grows the more luxuriantly the oftener it is mown. The blood of Christians is the seed of Christianity. Your philosophers taught men to despise pain and death by words; but how few their converts compared with those of the Christians, who teach by example! The very obstinacy for which you upbraid us is the great propagator of our doctrines. For who can behold it, and not inquire into the nature of that faith which inspires such supernatural courage? Who can inquire into that faith, and not embrace it, and not desire himself to undergo the same sufferings in order that he may thus secure a participation in the fulness of divine favor?

What If I Were Jesus?

We love, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Before I asked Jesus into my heart or did a good deed…God loved me.

He still does.

When I have a horrible, rotten day and I’m in a bad mood. When I fail to read my Bible or pray.

God loves me.

Sometimes, I struggle to believe God. And trust that He loves me today as much as He loved me yesterday.

I try to wrap my mind around truth, that NOTHING can separate me from the LOVE of GOD. Not even my pathetic choices, my indifference towards Him.

Surely, I must do something to earn God’s love, make Him love me more.

LOVE MORE?

How could God love any more than this:  “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8)

Love caused Christ to be mocked, beaten, spit upon, crucified, and pierced…for my sake.

Knowing God’s love allows me to rest, invokes me to praise His name, share His love with others.

My first and last thought each day should be my first love, Jesus, and the great things He has done.

As if dying for me wasn’t enough.

What if today, I chose to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul rather than treat God as a casual acquaintance?

What if I loved the Lord for Who He is rather than only seek His hand?

What if I were Jesus, would I long for someone to love me too?

Might I say these words…..

Think of the multitudes who thronged ME when I was on earth all eager for something. Eager to be healed, or taught, or fed.

Think as I supplied their many wants, and granted their manifold requests, what it meant to Me, to find amid the crowd, some one or two, who followed Me just to be near Me, just to dwell in My presence.

How some longing of the Eternal heart was satisfied thereby.

Comfort Me, a while, by letting Me know that you would seek Me just to dwell in My Presence, to be near Me, not even for teaching, not for material gain,not even for a message—but for Me.” (God Calling)

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15)