Friday, May 11, 2018

A Love Such As This

How many of you have self-esteem issues? I've had them my entire life. It's hard not to living in today's world, where standards get higher and higher and many people have unrealistic expectations. I grew up being performance based. I just really thought if I could do things well, or appear a certain way, that I would be accepted and loved. I thought I had to earn it. It's what the world teaches isn't it? Reality hits again and again, for me it started rather young. And my God was always there, before I could even understand in what ways He was there.

I remember a movie that was quite a hit in the 70's called "Love Story." The famous line from Love Story was "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Well in real life that's not true. But, when you are loved with an Agape love, that only God himself can succeed at loving you with, that can be true.

You see my friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing you will ever find like the love of God. It is unconditional, everlasting, eternal, nothing can separate you from His love. It is so huge it extends to the ends of the earth literally, it is beyond compare. "Agape" love is a Greek term that means charitable, sacrificial love. It is generous, it never thinks of itself. What kind of love would sacrifice a part of it's own self to save an ungrateful, miserable people from themselves, so they could spend eternity with a perfect Father? He sent His own son, made of flesh and blood to suffer for us, to take all of our horrible sin, past, present, future onto himself. Have you ever really thought about that, what it must have been like for the Father, for the Son?

This is a love that is not performance based; we do not have to measure up. When we fail, He is there to comfort us and give us strength to get back up and try again, and to redirect us. He never looks down on us, He sees us as we will one day be, not as we are right now. He sees the beauty in us that we cannot.

He knows our frail, weak humanity, He made us this way. God wants us to reach out to Him for what we need. He is happy to help us, and loves for us to acknowledge all that He does. He is my hope and my joy, everyday. Some days He is more my hope and others more my joy. It gives me such peace to know that I have Him always and that what He is preparing for me and for us, is beyond our imaginations. His love in unlike any love any of us has ever experienced. I pray that you will give yourself over to Him fully, and truly know the incredible love He has for you.

There may be people and circumstances in this world that challenge your perception of yourself, but know that you have God and He loves you more than you could imagine loving anyone. He would do anything for you. If you don't believe me, read it in the Bible, it says so!


Friday, March 30, 2018

Ultimate Forgiveness

It's so amazing to me when I hear the stories, the incredible stories of impossible forgiveness. Have you heard them?

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

There is the story of the little boy who's parents were missionaries. His father was among a group who were slaughtered by a tribe in Equador, yet he grew up to become one of their family. You can see a version of his story in the movie," The End of The Spear." and read more about it here: http://www1.cbn.com/end-spear-true-story

Then there's the story of the mom who's teenage son was murdered by another teenager. After 6 months, she regularly visited the boy in prison and brought him gifts. When he was released, she took him into her home, and later took him as her own son. To read more about this story you can go here: http://mariashriver.com/jack-kornfield-ive-been-thinking-the-heart-of-forgiveness/ 

How can people forgive in such extravagant ways when so many of us have trouble even accepting the relatively minor things that others have done to us? How can you step into someone's life who has hurt you so badly? Perhaps the answer lies at the cross where the ultimate story of forgiveness took place; the story that many gloss over or minimize with the commercial aspects of the Easter holiday. God sent His only son to live to teach, heal and deliver, only to be abandoned and tortured. And he took the most horrible punishment for all of our sins, and still asked God to forgive us for what was done to him.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Jesus isn't just the ultimate sacrifice, but also our example. And when we ask, and are ready to surrender, we are given the grace to be able to forgive things we could not imagine forgiving. I am one who has had to do that. By the grace of God only, for it was Him through me that did the forgiving. That day I was set free from things I didn't know held me captive. My whole life changed.

Forgiveness is an act that in most cases is never known by the person being forgiven. By forgiving, we break the chains of anger, sadness and bitterness that keep us held to the past, and unable to move forward. A counselor once described unforgiveness as going through life feeling like you are juggling balls or carrying a heavy ball and chain all the time! How very exhausting and distracting that is! When we refuse to forgive, we put a roadblock in our own way to true repentance as God tells us more than once in scripture that we must forgive in order to be forgiven.

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

I pray that you can meditate upon and reach out to God to help you forgive and be free and then experience the peace that knows no understanding.