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Unconditonal

amazinglovePeople are so fickle.  I was thinking about how easily others get upset with people on social media because they aren’t getting enough attention or likes. They threaten cleaning out their friends list because people don’t talk to them enough or God forbid they vote differently from you or have an opposing viewpoint. It seems more often than not, that we attach many conditions to friendship.  Why do so many people not allow for others to think for themselves or have their own opinion about something?  What happened with listening to each other and agreeing to disagree on certain matters?

Since Easter is this weekend, it makes me realize how wonderful it is to have a savior who loves mankind unconditionally.  We all can be punks sometimes.  I wonder how often Jesus feels neglected by mankind, even by Christians. I know personally that in busyness, I often push through life and neglect to give Jesus the attention or credit He deserves.  When Jesus walked the Earth, he taught radical living, opposite from what our flesh wants to do.  He ticked people off because His teachings didn’t line up with theirs.  Many walked away from Him. But, he didn’t move.  He wasn’t afraid of the lepers.  He touched them.  He didn’t care to be seen with a questionable woman.  He breathed real love upon her. For those who had questions,  He sat and answered the questions.  He spoke truth, but didn’t force it on the audience. He endured betrayal, physical lashings, ridicule, anger, and still forgave.  He knew He would be denied by Peter, yet sought him out afterwards for breakfast, after the Resurrection.

Explaining how extreme Jesus’ love for mankind is really unfathomable.  But, once you realize it and come in full contact with it, it’s overwhelming to know you are loved without condition.  When you are smacked with that kind of love, how can you not follow Him?  His love is a magnet.  It moves me out of myself and draws me to Him.  If you haven’t met Him, I hope that you will soon.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Building Upon The Rock

Last night, I ran into an old friend of mine from school. We locked eyes and were genuinely happy to see each other. We embraced each other and talked about how quickly time passes and she nodded toward her daughter when I asked if she had grandchildren yet. Her daughter was pregnant with her first grandchild who would be arriving in a few months. She spoke briefly of struggles she had been dealing with but that she was doing better. The new baby gave her renewed hope and direction for her life. I encouraged her and told her that she could continue to come out of her struggles. Hope is often something that seems lost in the moment of struggle. At least it does briefly, until you refocus on the goal at hand, but more importantly hope is found in God.

Our community has been hit lately with some tough weather. We’ve had two weeks of snow and slick roads. Then it warmed up, which was great, but then yesterday morning the rivers and streams began to overflow. Many areas are dealing with flooding and being trapped once again in their homes by weather. Today it is sleeting, so the roads are very icy. The weather is affecting business. It’s also affecting others paychecks because they can’t get to work. But, we can’t let it get us down. We have to still live and do. I started thinking of the much quoted scripture in Jeremiah. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse has often reminded me that God’s hand is on my life and that He wants the best for me. But, I decided this morning to explore the whole chapter. I think we should really remember to look at the whole context of the passage. Jeremiah wrote a letter to the exiles in Babylon, this is what Jeremiah 29 is about. He reminds the people that God knows where they are and why there are there. It makes no sense to the people why they are captive and dealing with trouble, but God knows the full picture. Jeremiah reminds them that God hasn’t abandoned them. He also warns them about listening to false prophets. These false prophets were telling them that their captivity would be brief. That wasn’t the case; their captivity would be for seventy years. Jeremiah tells the people that in this time period continue to build homes, plant gardens, and marry their sons and daughters. It’s hard sometimes to continue living even when the circumstances aren’t good, but we have to continue on. If we just sit down and do nothing when things are bad, we would not do ourselves or our future any good. Why does Jeremiah encourage them to keep building, planting and marrying? They needed to continue doing so because they are readying the future generation to come into the Promised Land. When we are struggling, we have to look past ourselves and look toward those who will benefit in our struggling. We have to teach the next generation that hope comes from God. We have to endure, so that we will survive, but more importantly so that the future generation will survive.
Think about your life and tough moments in your life. It was tough to go through those things, but have they helped you to be compassionate to others who’ve went through similar circumstances? Have they given you the ability to feed into someone else who is going through what you have already overcome? I know that through tough moments in the past and even current ones, I question God and ask why. But, we have to be ok with the fact that He knows and that His plans aren’t to harm us. He wants us to call upon Him and seek Him. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to rely fully on Him. He wants us not to be selfish but to think of others. He wants us to build our future through people, our offspring and our community. We need to keep building and planting. Our relationships with mankind need to be reaching and lifting. Our arms need to embrace each other. We need to encourage one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to love one another.

“For the Lord says, ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My promise to you. I will bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will look for Me and find Me, when you look for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will bring you back and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have made you go,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you away.” Jeremiah 29:10-14

 
 

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Decorated But Empty

emptybox

Through Christ we have a relationship with God.  At one time in my life I had a religion with God, it’s not the same.  You feel empty, you feel like you are never going to do enough or gain enough favor from him.  You mess up and you pray for forgiveness. You are afraid others will call you out on your sin and then hide it even more.  Then you slip and think if I do this or that, I’ll make my way into His Kingdom.  It’s tiring and unproductive.  Religion is cold, lonely and dark.

Christ’s love releases you from that worn out path of religion.  He knows you messed up, will mess up, and he doesn’t shame you in it, but instead he forgives you, constantly.  His love and forgiveness is never ending.   All you do is ask Him for it and it’s done.  With this type of forgiveness, you become victorious over anything that you need to overcome.  Because when you have a relationship with Christ, you come to Him raw.  You bear your heart to Him, because you trust Him.  You understand and somewhat grasp what all He has done for you.  Although, His love is unfathomable, you know deep down that it’s real and it’s there inside you.  He knows you better than you know yourself.    His love becomes greater than any sin that had power over you before.  He knows if you are having a bad day, if you feel awful, and yet He doesn’t close the door on you.  He’s there to listen, comfort you, and reassure you that He’s beside you.  A relationship is warm, comfortable, and light.

Anytime you have a close relationship with someone, you start to show little bits of their personality in your own.  I think it happens that way because you spend so much time with that person that they really do rub off on you.  That’s how it’s supposed to be with Christians, we should have such an awesome relationship with Him that we begin to show bits of who He is.  His light is in us and we should be shining it out of us.  His light is love.  He doesn’t love the world; He loves those who reside in the world.  He loves people, he doesn’t discriminate, he doesn’t choose particular types of people, instead He loves all people.   Christianity is made into something harder than it actually is.  Religion puts Christianity in a big pretty box, wraps it with expensive paper, puts a huge felt bow on it and tags it with, “Don’t touch unless approved by the Almighty.” 

Christ came and blended in with people that the religious folks didn’t expect him to be around.  This gift of Christ didn’t come wrapped in ribbons lying in a plush cradle.  This gift of Christ came swaddled in cloth lying in a manger.  This gift of Christ on this day whispered, “I love you and I’m here.” 

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2013 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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Imitation of Life

Image“Do as God would do. Much-loved children want to do as their fathers do. Live with love as Christ loved you. He gave Himself for us, a gift on the altar to God which was as a sweet smell to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (New Life Version)

Often the first person we imitate is our parents or guardian.  This happens the first few months of life.  A baby recognizes the parents face and learns gestures and facial expressions from them.  A baby learns to smile because the parent smiles at the child.  To imitate means to follow as a pattern or to be or appear like the person copied.  The Latin root of the word comes from the word image. 

As we grow up and become teenagers, we strive to imitate celebrities, peers, and people we think are cool.  Even as adults, we look to imitate other people who work alongside us or seem to have things we want.  Who should we be imitating though?  We should be imitating God.  He is the image we should strive to be like.  It makes sense doesn’t it?  We are made in His image and He is our Father.  So, ask yourself this week as you go about your life, who are you imitating?  Strive to do as God would do.  Live a week following after Him and imitating His actions. 

 
 

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A Challenging Journey

I’ve been issued a challenge and it involves the teen youth group my husband and I are leading.  It is very exciting for me to be a part of this and see what the group can accomplish this year.  The challenge is to find eighty ways of transportation and do them in our home state of West Virginia.  The challenge began on November 6, 2011 and will end November 6, 2012. The idea came from our pastor who recently saw a show on History channel called, “Around the world in 80 ways.”  He thought it would be exciting and interesting for us to take the challenge and apply it to our area.  Besides, the name of the youth group is Extreme Voice.   Why would this have anything to do with a church youth group?  What purpose would it serve, other than getting to do some really cool things?  First, Jesus used many modes of transportation to get from one place to another.  He walked, went by boat, or by donkey.   Next, He traveled throughout Galilee encountering people, teaching them, healing them and showing love to them.  It didn’t matter how they lived, who they were, or whatever shortcomings they had, he reached out to them.  Everywhere he went, excitement ensued.  He led an extreme life.

Why should the Christian walk be boring?  Why would we want to put Christianity in a box?  There are many things to experience and many people to encounter along the way.  How can you meet people if you stay in a place that many people feel unwelcomed to come into?  Sure, people came to Jesus, but He also went to people, sought them out of the crowd, listened and loved them.

Every way we try on this challenge doesn’t mean that we will encounter someone every time.  But, I’m sure there is something we will gain from each experience that will teach us something about ourselves, community, or teamwork.

The first way we marked off our list was a hike at a local park.  We decided to geocache  while we hiked, since my husband and I knew several cache’s were hidden there.  Our hike ended up being almost three miles.  It led us on a path around the whole length of the lake.  We handed the group the GPS and let them lead the way to the hidden cache.  They did excellent finding the cache and working together.  We followed the hike up with a lesson on following God’s direction in your life.  We left the park by car, (2nd way) and finished the day off gathering together for ice cream at the local drive in.

The teens are excited, I’m excited, and so are the other leaders involved.  It’s going to be an interesting year!  I’ll continue to share the ways we make it through the state as they unfold.

 

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Travels

 

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