The Fullness of His Love

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“An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children.  He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others…   His love has not changed.  It hasn’t cooled off, and it needs no increase because He has already loved us with infinite love and there is no way that infinitude can be increased…

He is the same yesterday, today and forever!”

– A. W. Tozer

As a mom of five, I find this quote to be so very beautiful.  I very much desire to give each of my children all of myself every single day of their lives so that they will never want for motherly affection, understanding or attention.  I also know how incredibly difficult it is to feel that there is enough of me to go around sometimes.  As a parent, I have to prioritize the needs of my children in order to make sure everyone gets taken care of.  I have to actually spend time figuring out how to “fit it all in” every single day.  I don’t want any of my children to ever feel neglected, ignored or less important than anyone else – although I’m sure that from time to time they do.  Although I LOVE being a mother and having a large family, I have to admit that I often feel ill-equipped for the task.

Thankfully, the same is not true of God.  He does not have to split His attention between His children. He never has to sacrifice time with one child in order to spend time with another one.  He does not ever feel stretched, spent, tired, weary or unable to “fit it all in”.  Tozer said, “…to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.”

Ephesians 3:14-19 says:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

That we may be filled with ALL the fullness of God!  What a beautiful thought!

There is a song by John Legend that I cannot seem to stop singing lately.  I love the lyrics of this song.  It, of course, was written for his wife but the words of the chorus are such a beautiful picture of love with a whole heart – love to the fullest.  I wonder if this is at least a small glimpse of the way that God loves each one of us – deeply, unconditionally, fully as if there were no others.

“Cause all of me loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges – all your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you

You’re my end and my beginning – even when I lose I’m winning

Cause I give you all of me – and you give me all of you.”

I hope you’ll take a moment today to reflect on the way that God loves you – the fullness and sufficiency of His love.

Rest in His infinite love today – He is more than enough for you!

for love…for truth…for mercy

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There seems to be a lot of judgment going around church circles lately. Or maybe I’m just more keenly aware of it than ever before. I know that Christians are often believed to be judgmental by those who are not Christians. However, I have never felt that way…until recently. I have always believed that Christians were more loving than judging and more accepting than condemning. Again, perhaps I have missed it or ignored it somehow. Or perhaps, with society’s enormous push towards “tolerance”, some Christians have felt the need to be even more vocal about what they believe to be so very wrong.

I may get myself in trouble here. You may not agree with me – and that’s completely okay with me. However, I just don’t understand the need to be so very vocal about what everyone around you (especially those who are not Christ followers) might be doing wrong according to your viewpoint. I hate the word “tolerance”. I don’t understand the need for the word. I wish that people were kind enough and loving enough that the word “tolerance” wouldn’t have to be such a huge thing right now.

I don’t want to just “tolerate” people! I want to learn to love them! In every situation, every family, every group – there will be people we don’t get along with and we have to learn to “get along” or “tolerate” each other for the sake of the bigger picture. Yes. True. However, a Christian is not meant to “tolerate” their neighbor – we are meant to love them! (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31).

But SO often we are known for our intolerance rather than our love – intolerance to love – what a HUGE gap that is! What are we teaching our kids? To love only those who agree with us? To love them, but to make sure they know they are wrong? Is that really love at all? I don’t think it is. It breaks my heart to see so many groups of people treated so very poorly by the Christian community. Disclaimer: I know SO many Christians who are so very loving and accepting of all of those groups – so I know it’s probably more the exception than the rule. But isn’t it true that one bad apple spoils the whole bunch?! I don’t ever want to be that bad apple! No wonder people don’t feel welcome in the church when well-known pastors are tweeting about God’s judgment of people via the tornadoes, when there are churches like Westboro Baptist who judge and hate all men equally (unless they are exactly like them).

I understand that God’s truth is important. I understand that the Bible is full of truth and conviction, and that it is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12). But there are so many Christians these days who believe it is their responsibility to “divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow and to judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Yes – it is our responsibility to speak truth….in love…at the appropriate time…and by the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. I am a truth teller. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I believe something “wrong” is happening. I understand the desire to set people right. I really do. I also understand that the purpose of truth telling HAS to be setting people right, helping people grow, loving them with our words and our purposes – NOT judging them or hurting them. Some things are not your business, pastor. Some things should NOT be said in public forums – or at all for that matter. What is the purpose of your words? To judge or to love? Conviction or compassion? To tear down or to build up? Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is useful for building others up.” I have that one memorized. Not because I am awesome at it – but because I’m not. I have to pay very close attention to my words – every – single – day. Or I’ll slip. I’ll judge. I’ll show hate instead of love. I don’t ever want to be known for what I stand against – but rather what I stand for.
Jesus stood for love. for peace. for acceptance. for grace. for truth. for mercy and kindness.

Want to be more like Jesus? I do. I don’t want those around me to be reluctant to let me in for fear that I might judge them. Heck – I don’t want to be reluctant to let people in for fear that they may judge me!
I want to be a true Christ “follower”. I want to stand for love….for truth…and for mercy!

The Heart Factor

I’ve been blogging since May of 2005. Crazy, right? I was reading back through some of the very first blogs I wrote and came across this one…I figured since I have pretty much all new readership (is that a word?) I would re-blog one of my very first blogs…

I have just started reading a book called “The Sacred Romance” by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge and had to share a piece of it with you: “In the end, it doesn’t matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished – a life without heart is not worth living. For out of this wellspring of our soul flowers all true caring and all meaningful work, all real worship and all sacrifice. Our faith, hope, and love issue from this fount, as well. Because it is in our heart that we first hear the voice of God and it is in the heart that we come to know him and learn to live in his love.” It is often interesting to me, although not suprising, that when God is trying to tell me something He will continue to tell it to me in as many ways as possible until I get it. Well, God – message received.
In the beginning of the book I am reading, the author mentions that all of us – no matter our relationship with Christ, are always wanting more. More love, more emotion, more meaning – More Heart. I can definitely relate to the desire for more out of life – as I’m sure you can. I have been overwhelmed with the feeling lately that there is so much more than I am getting. I seek God – but do I seek Him hard enough? I praise God – but do I praise him often enough? I worship God – but do I worship with ALL of my life, or simply with my song? I have to confess that everything I could ever give would never be enough. So, how do I get more? I’m not exactly sure. I suppose that just knowing that there is more will force me to seek harder and praise more often and try to learn how to worship with everything that is me. At least I hope that is the case.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Currently I’m reading the book, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. I’m only in the first chapter so far, but must say that I’m already in love with the book. I actually had to read the preface twice – that must be the mark of a good book. Anyway, last night I read something that I really enjoyed. Here’s a snippit:

“God is holy. A lot of people say that whatever you believe about God is fine, so long as you are sincere. But that is comparable to describing your friend in one instance as a three-hundred pound sumo wrestler and in another a s a five-foot-two, ninety-pound gymnast. No matter how sincere you are in your explanations, both descriptions of your friend simply cannot be true.
The preposterous part about our doing this to God is that He already has a name, an identity. We don’t get to decide who God is. God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am’. We don’t change that.
To say that God is holy is to say that He is set apart, distinct from us. And because of His set apart-ness, there is no way we can ever fathom all of who He is. To the Jews, saying something three times demonstrated its perfection, so to call God ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ is to say that He is perfectly set apart, with nothing and no one to compare Him to. That is what it means to be ‘holy’.”

I LOVE the sumo-wrestling friend analogy. We don’t get to decide who God is. He already is. We can learn who He is to a certain degree. And despite my seemingly constant state of confusion about what He’s going to do next, I am grateful that I will never fully understand God. If God were able to be fully understood, what kind of God would that be? I enjoy the big-ness of God – the fact that His ways are not my ways. But that He is bigger than I know, more powerful than I could dream of, He is beyond my wildest imaginations – that’s the God I love!
I’m reminded of an old children’s song at this moment. I know it’s a little silly – but there is so much truth in the words of the song. Come on, sing it with me now:
“My God is so BIG!, so strong and so mighty – there’s nothing my God cannot do! ”

I’m believing God’s BIG-ness today!

The empty parts of me

I’m in the middle of Beth Moore’s “Living Free” Bible study, which I’m doing along with a handful of other ladies. I needed to flesh out a little of what I’ve been pondering this week.

One of the things Beth said is this:

“The mystery I will never fully understand is why we would trade God, the only source of genuine satisfaction, for worthless idols that can never satisfy. Yet that transaction calls to you and to me every day of our lives.”

I loved this statement. I agree with it. I, too, am a little confused by the truth in it.

It makes me think of what Paul said in Romans 7:15:

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (ESV)

I am a little encouraged that I am not alone in this. It amazes me how I continue to seek out satisfaction in things – in people, relationships, attention of others, food, and so many other things – that I already know won’t give me what I want or need.

I’ve had moments where I knew God was trying to teach me to depend solely on Him – that there isn’t anything else (or anyone else) that can fill my soul. I remember one of those moments came when Elisa was a baby. She was about 5 or 6 months old – and Ricky had very recently been diagnosed with Leukemia. I was trying to stop depending on my relationship with my husband to satisfy my soul, because I had no idea whether or not he’d still be here in a year – and I didn’t want to be left entirely devastated. So, then, without even realizing it – I turned to my perfect little baby to fill the empty spaces in me. I would stay awake at night and watch her sleep because I was afraid that if I left her side for a moment that she would stop breathing and my whole world would come apart. She became everything to me – to the exclusion of the One I really needed.

One night, when I was watching Elisa sleep – I began to cry. I was so terrified of losing my husband and daughter that the fear was beginning to consume me. I was beginning to have a hard time functioning normally. I had become crazy overprotective, and was beginning to hate that part of me. I pulled out my Bible and began to read. I started to read through the Psalms and found so many verses that talk about finding my satisfaction in God alone, He alone is God, God alone is my rock and my salvation, and so many more. I was overwhelmed with the understanding that God wanted me to look only to Him to satisfy me. That night I surrendered my husband and my Elisa to Him. I came to understand that God could take them away from me in a split second if He thought it was best and there would be nothing I could do about it. I had to come to grips with the fact that they are not mine at all, but God’s – and they will never satisfy the empty parts of me. Only God can do that.

I will never forget that night – I will never forget that moment of surrender. It’s been almost 8 years since that night – but I still have to surrender them to God on a regular basis – sometimes even daily. How quickly we return to our old ways. I am so grateful that I know a God who so often and so freely gives grace to those who seek Him.

Jesus, thank You for Your grace today. For Your desire and ability to fill me up in all of my empty places. I pray that today I will look only to You to sustain me. That You alone will be my desire.

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desies of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made.
The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.
The LORD watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD,
let every creature praise His Holy Name forever and ever!”

(Psalm 145:16-21)

Excellence honors God

I read a quote today that I had never heard before:

” No crooked table legs or ill-fitted drawers, I daresay, ever came out of the Carpenter’s shop in Nazareth.” – Dorothy Sayers

I am quite moved by this quote. I have always believed that excellence honors God – that we should always give our very best in all that we do in order to really bring Him glory. That when we are unprepared or unpracticed we miss the point. I feel this way with music in regards to worship. I, personally, have a difficult time worshipping onstage when I feel unprepared. I find myself concentrating more on the notes and chords than on the One I’m singing/playing about. I hate that. This quote is pretty significant to me – I can’t imagine that Jesus ever sold something that wasn’t His very best work. I can imagine that He worked long and hard to make sure that everything was “perfect”. I had never thought of that before. I pray that it occupies my thoughts today so that I will give everything I have to the work God has for me today. I pray it also for you.

A Dose of Perspective

I read a post by Tally Wilgis just now that I couldn’t keep from sharing with you. Check it out here. It’s all about his observations during a visit to another church. The best part is at the end…

“Each week when Christians and Selfians collide… someone WILL BE uncomfortable. Why is it that the Christians want to make the Selfians uncomfortable? Why can’t the Christians say “If someone has to be uncomfortable in this transaction, let it be us. I’m okay with letting my saved family do church in a theater with beer ads all around.” The way those beer ads hit many church goers is the same way a stained glass window, a tie, or hymnals hits the Selfians. If I KNOW there will be SOMEONE uncomfortable… I want it to be our church members and attendees. Let it be me! If it will allow my selfian friend to see Christ in his own context… so be it.”

Good stuff – right?