As we think about Valentine’s Day, many are planning dinner, roses, chocolate, balloons, and other special things with their loved ones. Today, I spent time looking at what the Bible had to say about LOVE! There are soooo many verses on the topic. Here are a few I thought I would share with you.
This was one I was really surprised to find. I think it’s our new household verse! We share so many meals with people around our table. And, I find myself (sometimes) thinking too much about what we will serve. Trying new things. But, in the big scheme of things…it doesn’t matter what you are serving when you are surrounded with those you love.
A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.
Here’s another favorite. So grateful for my biological family…and my family of friends!
A friend loves at all times, and a brother (or sister!!) is born for adversity.
Kinda funny gathering of things for the writer not to understand. I can think of so many more than 4.
There are three things that amaze me— no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.
This is another one that I fell in love (pun intended) with today.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Here are several that I grouped together. The real love story. The one that we are challenged to model our marriages after. How Christ loved the church. He loved us enough to lay down his life for us. the best love story ever.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers
And a few more really, really good ones.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 John 4:16
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
We are studying the book of Revelation for the Youth and Young Adult Retreat for Louis’ Church this weekend. In prepping for this study, I have learned much. This is a book of the Bible is most people stay away from….even Pastors don’t preach on it much….because it can be confusing and controversial. I look forward to diving into it some more.
The biggest thing I have learned during studying it so far is to “live like you were dying!” I know it is a morbid subject to think about…but what would you do if you thought you were dying? How would you live? What would you change? Would you be willing to face your maker and answer for your decisions and your life?
Recently, I thought about Frank….dying on the street outside my house. He didn’t know what was coming. But, God has given him another chance to live in a way that brings Him glory. Unfortunately, even after EVERYTHING that he and his family went through…the pull of the street was too strong. He went back to his old life and landed himself in prison for about 10-11 years. So far…it’s 1 year down…10 to go! I pray that he meets Jesus in a powerful way and is changed…for good! Jesus makes ALL things new!
But, we are not to judge! Every day…we go back to our lives as we knew them. It’s that constant struggle that Paul referred to. While we are on this earth…there will always be the struggle. But, there will come a day when we will struggle no more. Like Francis Chan’s wife said in the Surrender video…I want to hear him say “Well done, Marti!! Well done!” I WANT to hear…
Well done, Marti! You listened to me…you didn’t move to St Louis even though you don’t know what is next.
Well done, Marti! You obeyed Me. You moved into SBH and stayed even after some really crazy and scary things occurred…because I called you there.
Well done, Marti! You lived on mission with me in spite of what others thought and said.
Well done, Marti! You take my commandments seriously. To love God and love your neighbor. Your neighbors are everyone you meet…at work, at home, in the grocery store, at church, on the corner filled with drug dealers and prostitutes.
Well done, Marti!!! Come on in!
But, I must confess…there are many days that I do NOT rise to that challenge. There are days that I want to pack up and move. There are days that I fail miserably in my marriage and not love Louis like I should. There are days when I just don’t feel like stopping to fix Everett a sandwich because he is hungry. There are days when I’m “too busy” to hang with the kids and listen to them. There are days when I don’t spend time in the Word and in prayer like I should. There are days of being a “pastor’s wife” that are a little too much to ask! (Just to name a few of my many, many faults!!! Don’t see this as me “beating myself up”. This is just the plain reality of it…..life here on earth. I am sinful…)
I am so thankful God knows my HEART! That He doesn’t have a checklist of aaaallll the things we on earth call religion that are not Biblical. The long list of man-made “do’s and don’ts” that so many of us think we won’t and can’t live up to….so we stop trying.
I appreciate that I am Saved by Grace and NOT by works. I could NEVER do enough good works to earn his forgiveness and salvation!
I am grateful for a loving, merciful, holy God who loved me way before I loved Him and just wants a relationship with me…not that routine checklist surface relationship….but an intimate, deep, close relationship.
And, you know what?!?!?!? IT’S FREE!!!!!
Come…all who are thirsty….
Take a long deep drink of God’s Perfect Love….
For the last few months, I have been attending my church and Louis’ church. This morning was my first Sunday off from church since Lent started. It really got me thinking about the meaning of taking a Sabbath. Although I am so glad I went to church with Louis each Sunday, I learned that I missed my Sunday Sabbath tremendously.
When Louis and I first started dating, I did not start attending his church. As we got more serious, we also talked about what would happen once we got engaged and got married. The last thing I would want to do is offend him or his congregation. I was (and am) heavily involved in my church, Commonwealth Chapel. In addition, they have a Saturday night service. Since this service started, I quickly drew fond of the time and it became my regular worship time. It was the beginning of my Sabbath. My Sunday mornings became a precious time between me and the Lord.
After much discussion and prayer, Louis and I decided that I would continue to take Sunday’s off of traditional church. I know many of you might judge me saying…”You don’t go to church with your husband?” and “You’re a pastor’s wife?” “Bad wife!” That’s ok…judge away! :o) But, my Sunday mornings were a form of worship, not just in the way most people would look at it. I am so grateful for our church family at Louis’ church for understanding!! And, we get to see each other about once a month when I attend there and we often do visitation together.
Knowing that I am home on Sunday mornings, Everett (the Gardna) started to visit with me as well. We would cook breakfast together, read the word and watch some Bobby Jones Gospel together on TV. We had “church” together just about every Sunday morning. (I am NOT advocating doing this as the only form of worship for any length of time. Yes…you CAN meet with the Lord any time…day, night, weekend, but there is nothing that replaces the fellowship of gathering together for worship!) Everett would eventually fall asleep on the couch, and the Lord and I continued on together. Sunday’s totally rocked! A true day of rest. In retrospect, it reminds me of the parable of the Lost Sheep. The shepherd left the other 99 to go after the 1. I was going after my 1….Everett. Then, my Sunday’s changed.
After Frank progressed out of ICU, Frank and I mainly spent Sunday mornings together. This allowed Vicky a morning off and Geraldine could worship at her church. Thankfully, Commonwealth Chapel has Saturday evening services. But, even if they didn’t…I wouldn’t have changed these moments with Frank for anything! It was just the 2 of us…no distractions. The first morning I went, Frank said something like it’s Sunday, are we doin’ church or what? So, each Sunday morning, Frank and I would spend time reading the Bible and discussing what it meant. Sometimes he would ask me to help him bathe, clean the blood out from under his nails, assist him in going to the bathroom….all kinds of personal stuff.
For some reason, he would rather me assist him than his nurse. Although it was awkward for me at first and I would resist big-time, the Lord would hear NONE of my excuses (and neither would Frank for, that matter), and I was reminded of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. I learned to perform these tasks with joy and love, and it became an intimate and bonding time for us. I learned what the Lord was modeling that day….service.
We talked about all kinds of things…getting real. Our pasts. Our lives. Our hopes. Our dreams. It wasn’t long before Frank was asking me about what was going on with Louis and me. I often wonder if he just wanted to get the subject and focus off of him and onto someone or something else. So, he too could see that Louis and I were “meant to be”. He also came up with my nickname…”Angel”, short for Guardian Angel. Through our talks and his conversations with others, Frank began to learn what God had done for him….how much God loved him and had a plan for his life.
As much as Frank understood and had truly accepted what the Lord had done for him, we talked about how life outside of the hospital would not be easy. When Frank finally got out, the pull of the street and his past and the realities and struggles of living a righteous life was strong. I have heard time and time again, that if you want to make a change…then you have to change your people, places and things. If you don’t…it is nearly impossible.
Well, we would learn what would happen when Frank didn’t change his people, places and things…
There seems to be a theme. This is a summary of what the Lord has been speaking to me at the end of Lent…
Thursday night…Maundy Thursday…Joe Torrence from Embrace Richmond spoke at Commonwealth Chapel on the scriptures around Luke 22 specifically ~ Do this in Remembrance of Me.” What are we suppose to remember? Remembering requires ACTION! Then, He washes their nasty, gnarly, yucky, dirty, stinky feet! Even to the point of washing the feet of the guy who He knows is going to betray him. He models for us what to do…and how to serve. So the question is…WHO are you going to serve and how? John 5 speaks directly to this…v.20 – For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. So, we are to do what Jesus has done…which is what the Father has done….think about the adulterous woman, the lepers, the Samaritan woman, the prostitutes, the thieves, etc.
So, how do we respond to that? In John 13:34-35 Jesus states that our new mandate/commandment to love one another as HE has loved us. So that all will know we are HIS disciples.
A Call to ACTION…Love
So…I’m thinking…who do I love on and why? What is my motive? What am I remembering? Do people know that I am HIS disciple?
Louis and I started our retreat day Friday…rushing around trying to be “on-time” for our retreat. Although we decided that we’d aim to be at Richmond Hill @ 9am, it didn’t take long for us to chill. It wasn’t an appointment we were late for…it was a Sabbath Day….a getaway. So, we slowed down and took our time. The Lord obviously was still going to be there if we were an hour later than what we had planned, right?
At the corner of Broad and 18th there is a Mickey D’s where we stopped for a breakfast sandwich. You wonder WHY things happen like they do. Why we run late….and why the line was long. And why Louis just ran inside instead of waiting in the drive-thru line. On his way out, a 54 year old veteran man (who looked about 70) asked Louis for some money to get something to eat. Most of us are like…yeah right…..and look the other way and ignore the person. Roll the window up. Pretend like we don’t see or hear him. Whatever. But, on this day….this Good Friday…we took the time. Louis explained that we don’t give money out, but we’d be happy to buy him something to eat. Louis and Jerry Lewis (or wonder if it was Louis?) Martin (yes…that is his real name) were able to chat a few minutes.
So, our day started with me thinking about…Matthew 25:31-46…the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats…specifically when Jesus says…
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
A Call to ACTION…provide food and drink, invite the strangers in, clothe the naked, look after the sick, and visit the prisoners.
THIRD > (but not the last, I am sure!)
Then, we found ourselves sitting in the Garden of Richmond Hill.
We started our day with reading Jude. Specifically, vs. 17-23 – A Call to Persevere.
17But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Call to ACTION…Persevere
Jude also refers to Enoch in v. 14. There’s not a lot in the Bible on Enoch, but I sure do like the sound of him. Genesis 5 reviews the long lineage of Enoch. The only other scripture I can find other than is lineage is in what is known as the Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11.
5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Now imagine that…the only thing you were known for…the only thing that truly ever mattered was “he was commended as one who pleased God.” It really puts it all in perspective.
Call to ACTION…Please God.
It begs answers to the following questions…
Can this be said of me? What in my life is pleasing to God? What am I willing to do to please God? Am I ready to go ALL out? Am I ready to accept the Call to Action?
These are the feet of Jesus…belonging to a pastor and his wife…willing to serve…willing (and WANTING) to please God.
Today is Saturday and I am writing this post for tomorrow, because I have time today and probably won’t tomorrow. But…by the time this posts and you read it….tomorrow will be today.
Today is Palm Sunday, so I started reflecting on that and reading about it in the Bible. The beginning of Matthew 21 tells the story of how Jesus entered into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Large crowds gathered…laying down their robes and others cut down branches of palm trees and spread them on the road. All while shouting:
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!!!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!!!
This is why we celebrate Palm Sunday. Many refer this event as the Triumphal Entry. I looked up the meaning of triumphal on www.dictionary.com and learned that it is an adjective meaning of, pertaining to, celebrating, or commemorating a triumph or victory. At first glance, this might be referred to as the Victory Circle! I don’t know much about Nascar. But I do know that the winner of the race typically does a couple of donuts before he revs up to the Winner’s Circle to receive his prize.
But…Jesus…He rode in on a DONKEY! The King…the Messiah…rode in on a donkey, NOT a stallion, showing humility. That might be like a driver calmly parking the car and walking over to the circle.
He enters into Jerusalem on a donkey on a carpet of cloaks and palm branches…not a red carpet. The TV crews weren’t there publizing and critiquing the suit he wore or what designer created it for him.
But…the crowds…they did gather and they did scream! They screamed Hosanna! Hosanna! Which basically means SAVE US! SAVE US! Dictionary.com defines it as (an exclamation, originally an appeal to God for deliverance, used in praise of God or Christ.)
And that is why Jesus came to earth. In John 12:47 Jesus says:
“….For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.”
As I read the paper, watch the news, look out my front door into Southern Barton Heights and look at myself in the mirror. I, too, scream today…. HOSANNA! HOSANNA! I know that I live victoriously because of God’s abundant grace. But when I think of the events of these last few weeks in the nation, the world, and in my own life….I find myself also screaming to the top of my lungs….
SAVE US! SAVE US!
Because I know that ONLY HE can save us…save me…
My friend and author of The Meeting of the Waters, Fritz Kling recently posted on his FB page…
“Over the past 25 years, there has been a 45% drop in how often people invite friends to their homes. Wow! I know Val and I have done our part to keep that figure from being worse! But I’m troubled by what this means for a culture…and what we Christians are doing to stem the tide. In the Bible, good things happen over meals and in homes, and I feel a need now to try harder than ever to practice hospitality.”
I could NOT agree more! Good things DO happen over meals and in our homes…not to mention on our porches and back yards!!! Fritz’s comment really got me thinking…
Louis and I truly enjoy entertaining! Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who *LOVES* to cook, especially on the grill. Some of you know…you’ve tasted his delectable goodies. As many of you know, his homemade teriyaki sauce is good on just about EVERYTHING! He receives regular requests for his teriyaki steak or chicken, crab stuffed salmon, and pancakes! We have often thought of bottling it. But, can’t think of a good name. Any ideas? RevUp Teriyaki is a good possibility.
But, it is NOT just about the food goodness. It’s more about the communing….the chillin’ and relaxin’ with old friends or making new ones. It’s about building community, laughing, playing, relaxing and enjoying one another. The Bible is FULL of stories that take place around the table. I particularly like the ones that where Jesus ate with the “sinners” and the “outsiders”. Then, this got me reading…a blog…John Mark Hicks Ministries, specifically his Missional Table post, although there were more posts on the topic.
“Luke is a narrator. He tells stories rather than writing didactic prose. Through the stories he inculcates the values which he wants his community to embrace. Each meal story reveals something about Jesus and his mission. In Luke 5:27-32 Jesus sits at table with sinners as a physican among the sick. In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus receives a sinful woman at the table of a Pharisee and declares her sins forgiven. In Luke 9:10-17 Jesus shows hospitality to 5000 people as he first calls his disciples to mission (“give them something to eat”) and then models before them his messianic mission. The disciples are called to service. The table has a missional dimension; it reflects the mission of God to commune with his people at table. In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus accepts women as his disciples. In Luke 11:37-54 Jesus condemns the Pharisees because they sit at table only in form, not in spirit. In Luke 14:1-24 Jesus notes that their table does not look like the kingdom of God, but it looks like themselves. In Luke 19:1-10 Jesus invites himself to table with the tax collector Zacchaeus and declares that salvation had come to his house. Luke 24 welcomes a stranger to the table in Emmaus (Luke 24:30-35) and commissions the disciples to bear witness to gospel among all nations (Luke 24:45-49). Just as the disciples offered hospitality to a stranger on the way, so the table is a place where the church welcomes strangers (aliens or “others”). The table has a missionary quality, especially in light of the fact that the disciples receive their call to missions at a table.”
If this is what Jesus is modeling for us on a frequent basis, then who are we communing with and how often are we doing it? Based on the statistic that Fritz brought us, we must not be doing it often. I wonder why we don’t do it more. What keeps us from “breaking bread” with others on a more regular basis? Taking quality time with our families and friends?
and possibly even strangers?
Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Here are a few pics of times we have welcomed friends and strangers, sinners and saints, young and old, black and white, rich and poor to our table, our porch, our back yard and our kitchen for a cooking lesson or 2! I hope to have many more full tables in the weeks, months and years to come! You are welcome at our table anytime…come on over!
So, Cindy and I are in the Berkshires….enjoying the beautiful weather and sites. I had been reading a book called Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Robert Foster, the same guy that wrote Celebration of Discipline. Cindy and I also read some novel by Nicholas Sparks, too. Actually, I read the whole book aloud to her. She loves listening to books on tape, but doesn’t really like to read. So I was her live book reader! It was fun!
But, one of my favorite parts of the trip was just driving around in the convertible…just chillin’. One particular day we went driving late in the day and the sun was going down, but we still had the top down and were wrapped up like Eskimos without a care in the world!! (note the pic!) While looking up at the beautiful mountain, I was took a few minutes to kinda softly sing/hum a song….one of the songs that we would sing at church that was praising God. I sensed this voice saying, Marti, do YOU love me? I was like…well…uh… yeah. Of course I do. I heard it again….do you LOVE me? Me: Well Duh! Yes. You know I do. What’s this all about? Voice: One more time…do you love ME? Me: I just laughed….and said….ok. YES!!! I LOVE YOU!!!
I didn’t think too much more of it. Until the day we flew back…stuck on a layover @ JFK. I was reading the last few chapters of the book on prayer. The last chapter is on Radical Prayer. Wow, I wish I could find my copy. But, one of the last pages, could even be THE last page…the author was writing about a conversation between Peter and Jesus in John 21. The scripture states that Jesus asked Peter 3 times in 3 different ways: do you love me?
You probably know this scripture…
John 21: 15-17
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
Then it hit me… Feed my sheep. I sat in the airport and wept. Cindy didn’t know what to do with me, and frankly, I wasn’t ready to talk about it. As a matter of fact, few people have even heard this story. It’s been a while….2.5 years ago…of processing it with the Lord. The Lord has called me to “feed His sheep”. For the last 2.5 years, I have been pondering and praying…what all does that mean? I still don’t have a full picture of it.
- For one…I know that I am called to feed HIS sheep. They are not MINE…but HIS. He is in control, not me. I can only do what I can do…and leave the rest up to Him. I haven’t always felt that way….thinking I had to do it all on my own and in my own energy. I didn’t always really trust that God’s got it. I have had to learn that…over and over, actually.
- Another…I am called to serve, to be Jesus and bring Jesus to HIS people. I needed to learn to step out….to be bold in that. The Lord has been equipping me for that.
- Remember…the other ½ of my pair. I think he was prepping me for how we would do that together. (More to come on that one!)
- In John 21 it refers to this part of the chapter as Peter’s reinstatement. I think this too was my reinstatement. I can’t remember denying Jesus 3 distinct times like Peter did…but, there had been sin in my life that needed to be confessed and forgiven. It was definitely a cleansing time.
- Lastly, I don’t think He is done with this scripture yet…I think there is more to come. I will continue to seek God’s will in my calling…my ministry.
Tomorrow…more on the story on how I met the other ½. Stay tuned!!