I Am Second… are you up for the challenge?
I Am Second… are you up for the challenge?
Sitting here sipping my yummy Bailey’s Chocolate creamed coffee and listening to my fav Phil Wickham, I finally have time to write something to you all! I’ve been itching to write for days now, but school hasn’t been too kind to me and time has somehow been slipping through my fingers like sand. BUT, here I am with (hopefully) something profound to say. 🙂
I live with a wonderful family! For many many reasons, I am so very thankful for the people that I live with. Here’s just one reason:
Mrs. S gave our sermon this week at Bible Study. We’re still working our way through Becoming A Woman Who Loves and we talked about the character of love this week (Chapter 5 for those of you who might care). Mrs. S has been nervously preparing for weeks and weeks… she completed a character study of Paul (AformerlyKA Saul) that followed his life from his meeting with Christ on the road to Damascus to his second missionary journey with Silas to Antioch. SO much happened in his life (and didn’t happen in his life) during that time. The sovereign hand of God is seen at work and many of the characteristics of love are exemplified. We are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 – the “love” verses. Although usually taken out of context (they’re words of advice from Paul to the church in Corinth – advising them on how to love one another during their meeting times), the truths supplied therein are homologous to the characteristics of God and, thusly, the characteristics of love. Wouldn’t that imply that we too are capable of such acts (through Him) and should live and love accordingly? I may be stretching there, but maybe not. As we worked our way through the study, two things really stood out to me: patience and the fact that love sometimes separates.
Out of all the characteristics of love, patience has alway been the hardest for me to act out! (As if you couldn’t probably tell by now, hehe. 😉 ) Mrs. S gave a great example of patience in Paul’s life: Paul was sent back to his home in Tarsus for 3 years to sit and wait on the Lord. 3 years. 3 years! Not to say that he didn’t preach and grow during this time, but he was on fire for the Lord and wanting so many things to happen right then – he wanted the Lord to use him, but the Lord said ‘wait on Me and My time and My plan’. And he did! The Lord sent Barnabus in His perfect timing to retrieve Paul and begin a glorifying (and sometimes turbulent) missionary trip. He used that period of stillness to strengthen Paul, develop the relationship between He and him, and prepare the surrounding situations for His glory. Patience is so wise in hindsight. If only we could see all that wisdom when patience is asked of us! Whether it be waiting for the relationship, guidance in decisions we must make, or anything else in our hectic lives… patience is essential. Ahhh, I wish I had more of it! (haha, prime example of impatience right there) 😛
“The argument is, that we ought not seek so anxiously that which is so imperfect and obscure, and which must soon vanish away; but we should rather seek that love which is permanent, expanding, and eternal.” Albert Barnes
Love sometimes separates…
I also do not like to let go of things. I’m a clinger and I would hold on to every friendship that I’ve ever had if I could. I love people and learn so much from them – it’s hard for me to imagine life without the people that mean(t) so much to me. This can be a wonderfully good thing, and it can also be a terribly difficult thing. I have to continually remind myself that there is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3) and some things must come to end – and that “end” can be a beautiful thing, not bad. I was reminded of that again this week. Love must sometimes separate. Back to Paul, he and Barnabus were a working team for years. I like to think of them as Mario and Luigi or something – two men that make up a power duo on their adventures into hostel territory. Goofy, I know! 😉 But look at Acts 15:36-41… even the dynamic duo had to call it quits. The two men had finished their work together and it was time to move on separately – multiplying the gospel as two Mario’s with new Luigi’s in more areas of the world. The Lord’s plan for those two together had finished its purpose – it was time to separate. As any good Navigator would, I began to reflect on the passage in order to find some sort of application for my own life. Thinking back on recent years, love has been separated many times in my life. To be honest, some of the relationships that I had with brothers and sisters in Christ at Virginia Tech have ended. And, no, I don’t think that this is a mere occurrence fostered by distance and busy schedules – this is His doing. Our time together as a dynamic duo accomplished its purpose. With that, our season together came to an end and new seasons have begun. And that’s not a bad thing! (Gotta keep reminding myself of that, hehe.) As Mrs. S said, “Just as we step alongside one another during periods of time and seasons of growth, we are often called to shift our lives and step alongside other, NEW people in order to continue growing and spreading the gospel.” Change is an okay thing. 🙂 Do you have similar situations in your life? Has He ended one season of your life in order to begin another – bringing you new obstacles and unimaginable growth in order to complete His good works? When you face those periods of change, don’t be sad! Be glad. He’s working in those things. Be patient. 🙂
“I have learned to hold all things loosely, so that God will not have to pry them out of my hands.” Corrie ten Boom
TRYING to be a patient young lady ;),
I’ll forewarn you, this may be a little messy. I have many thoughts bouncing around in my head right now and I’m trying to get everything out! When I see things in black and white, I can connect the dots and make sense of it all. Sometimes. 😉 Please join me on this (potentially) bumpy ride…
I’m beginning to feel more like Paul… “If we are out of our minds, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” (2 Corinthians 5:13). Focusing on his words in 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2, Paul talks about not fitting into this world and his main mission while alive… OUR main mission while alive. It is a beautiful sections of verse that many people skim over – I did many times before! It’s heavy and convicting and beautiful all at the same time. I know that our job as ambassadors of Christ is mentioned numerous times throughout the OT and the NT, but this section just hits home for me for some reason. Maybe if I break things down, l will then be able to explain why…
“we know what it is to fear the Lord” (5:11): Our faith is grounded in the existence of God and the power that He yields. We have read and seen His mighty acts and we live in reverence to His name. Fear of the Lord is the first-fruits of wisdom and our recognition of this particular part of His character is vital to our walk with Him.
“what we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience” (5:11): We are bare before Him and I hope to be bare before others, as well. My faith isn’t made of sly words and heartless gestures… the meditations of my heart are known to Him and, I pray, directly seen by those around me. I pray to be a jar of clay. I pray the same for my brothers and sisters in Christ, too. An old friend shared this quote with me a while ago and I think it fits in perfectly here: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today are Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle….That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Brennan Manning
“if we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you” (5:13): The world is going to think that we’re crazzzy – and that’s A okay. It’s not easy defending my faith, professing to others, loving unconditionally… part of me wishes that I were stronger and could bravely face others, but my heart is too soft for that at this point. I must remind myself that I am not of this world and will never “fit” into it. We do not reach the world by becoming a part of it; we reach the world by touching the hearts of His people. We’re crazy for Him and hopefully we’re revealing Him to them.
“Christ’s love compels us” (5:14): Need I say more? Perfect for the imperfect. Blameless for the guilty. Pure for the stained. Perfect Adam for the fallen Adams and Eves.
“those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again” (5:15): love, Love, LOve, LOVe, LOVE. His greatest command is LOVE. Love Him. Love His people. LOVE.
“we regard no one from a worldly point of view….[not even Christ]….if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (5:16-17): I’m a fixer (and maybe a little bit of a clinger). I don’t like letting go of things because I fearlessly hope that whatever failed can be corrected. Whatever broke can be fixed. Whatever changed and be unchanged. Whatever doesn’t work can work again if you try hard enough. Just FYI, that’s such a bad tendency of mine! It has led to more heartache, distress, and regret than was ever necessary. In true fashion, it is hard for me to “forget” my past self – it is hard for me to look at myself as He does. I was given this analogy and it worked wonders for me: If you have gangrene and visit a doctor, he will immediately cut off the dead skin. It cannot heal itself. It cannot be rejuvenated. It will never be live again. It will invade surrounding tissues and cause more death. He saved the surrounding skin from contamination and disposed of the malignant tissue – never to be seen of again. The doctor is familiar with the gangrene and he knows what it does/would eventually do to you… he immediately (and permanently) cuts it off. Christ has cut off our gangrene. Stop sifting through the trash for the dead pieces of skin.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them” (5:19): God didn’t send Christ into the world to condemn us – He sent the Son to retrieve us from isolation. Our sins are too numerous to count and we are too incapable to atone for even one of them. Christ was His way of providing one pure, selfless sacrifice to end all separation. God created us and lost us… Christ was His way to get us back. For some reason SO far beyond my breadth of understanding, God loves us. Each and every one of us! Talk about crazzzy. 😉 He gives us laws, but they are not burdensome. They are for our own good, I tell ya! Taste and see, taste and see.
“we are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (5:20): We are given the great commission (not the good suggestion) to go and make disciples of all nations, to baptize in His name, to teach and admonish one another, to love the brotherhood of believers… He prayed for us (John 17) and lives within us – strengthening our weak selves… He speaks through us via our faith and our deeds… we can do it! 🙂
“be reconciled to God….we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain….now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (5:20-6:2): Paul pleads with the church in Corinth to see the sincerity in his words and actions, to know the gravity of Christ’s atoning blood, and urges them to seek reconciliation. I think this is the prayer in the hearts of all believers… these words could so easily be said by individuals who truly seek out their faith today and hope for Christ’s presence in the lives of others. Just like Christ, we do not wish to judge but rather offer freedom and unfathomable love.
Yes, we’re a little crazy and may appear extreme. So what. We know our God and we try to live and love with every ounce of grace He gives us. We try to follow the Son’s examples and we live within the freedom of His statutes. We need Him, abide in Him and He in us, and serve Him. We love our fellow man and wish to see him become part of His church. We may be different, but that’s okay. Together, we are one. With Him, we have reclaimed our proper place. When you look at things that way, what leverage does the world really have? As David Crowder Band sings, “You make everything glorious and I am Yours. What does that make me?”
I think I connected some dots,
Moving along in my Becoming a Woman Who Loves study by Cynthia Heald, I came across the following quotes and I thought that I might share them with you guys. I really enjoyed them and perhaps you will, too. 🙂 Happy Sunday!
“The springs of love are in God, not in us. It is absurd to look for the love of God in our hearts naturally; it is only there when it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Oswald Chambers
“Without Christ we should not know God, we could not call upon Him, nor come to Him. But without Christ we also would not know our brother, nor could we come to him. The way is blocked by our ego. Christ opened up the way to God and to our brother. Now Christians can live with one another in peace; they can love and serve one another; they can become one. But they can continue to do so only by way of Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus Christ are we one, only through Him are we bound together. To eternity He remains the one Mediator.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“…this outgoing of ourselves to our brother is a sure pledge of God being in us, and we in him.” C. Clemance
“From God’s other known attributes we may learn much about His love. We can know, for instance, that because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite; it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea before which we kneel in joyful silence and from which the loftiest eloquence retreat confused and abashed.” A. W. Tozer
“Christina, the love that I have given you, I want you to give to others. You are not to try to love with the little love that dwells in your heart, but if you will keep My commands, then I will manifest Myself to you, and I will teach you and cause you to abound in love. Stay close to the source. It is My love that I want you to impart. I’m not asking you to do something that is impossible. In fact, what I’m asking you to do is really simple: Accept the love I have for you; allow Me to live in you so that I can teach you how to love. Let Me fill you with My love, My life, My power. In this way you will begin to experience the incomparable blessing of knowing Me and what it is really like to love as I love. Love, God” P.S. 1 John 4:11 (Adapted from Cynthia Heald’s personal reflection)
Ciao for now,
Love. What is it? What does it look like? Why share it? Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? There must be a reason behind Jesus’ decision to make the act of ‘love’ his most important command,
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28-31)
I have been studying Cynthia Heald’s book Becoming a Woman Who Loves with a group of older and much wiser women than I… it’s been wonderful. 🙂 We started the study a few weeks ago and have been laying the foundation for ‘love’. Part of that “laying” requires us to define ‘love’. As we did so, we came across something that was both eye-opening and saddening…
According to Webster, love is:
(1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
(2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers
(3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interest
(4) : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
(5) : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
(6) : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
(7) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind
(8) : brotherly concern for others
(9): a god or personification of love
According to the Bible, love is:
(1 John 4:9-10) : This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
(1 John 5:3) : This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,…
(John 13:34) : A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Why does it take the world five definitions to find the true meaning of Love? We noticed that all men and women seek the same ‘love’… it is His love and it is written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Christians and non-Christians alike, we are innately born to thirst for the same Love. It is when people encounter love (try to find it, create it, keep it, change it) that we saw a big difference between the two groups of people. The world will seek it as an emotion, a source of assurance and self-gain, a physical attraction and reaction, a lifetime goal of happiness and human perfection. This is crazy talk and it ends in more heartache than heartthrobs. Just listen to any song on the radio. The non-Christian is seeking the wrong source for this love… God is love and it is only when we seek/believe/abide in Him that we are truly able to love and be loved (1 John 4:16). I feel like I’m skimming over lots of important information and forgetting most things, but please hear these few things… We can only find pure and perfect love in Him. He alone is the selfless, sacrificing, unconditional lover that we all dream of. His Son was a perfect example of that love and it is his example that we should follow. We ought to seek Him for the love that the world wishes to find in other people – it cannot be found solely among us humans. God’s love (agape love) is a form of love that is given unconditionally and deliberately to those who are not worthy… and he freely gives that to us. He created love and us (Genesis 1:26-27). Thus, He also created our hearts to thirst for love just as His does. But, it is only in Him that we can truly find it. Our sin and fall in this world makes us think (and wish) otherwise, but it’s simply not possible. He is our hearts’ true lover and it is with the fullness of love that we receive from Him that we are able to love others. Never perfectly, but always trying. 🙂
Here are a few quotes that we’ve found in Becoming a Woman Who Loves and really enjoyed:
“Any time love is pursued, the pursuer can never be the same for it is the nature of love to transform.” Cynthia Heald
“Love is the most God-like state of the soul. God is not faith or hope; God is love. The Eternal does not believe or anticipate, but He does love – He is love. Love is the life of the soul. It warms every vein and beats in every pulse.” David Thomas
“Love is the greatest of teachers, for there is no authority more compelling, no power more hypnotically transforming, no counsel more wise, no message more longing to hear, no master for whom it is easier to give up absolutely everything in order to follow and obey.” Mike Mason
“Love never fails….” God, 1 Corinthians 13 :8
“To love as Jesus loved is to keep a towel wrapped around our waists so that we are ready to bow down and serve as needed.” Cynthia Heald
“To be a disciple means that we deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people. Jesus says, ‘That ye love one another, as I have loved you….’ The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but Godlikeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as a human life trying to be godly.” Oswald Chambers
“You will give yourself to many things; give yourself first to Love.” Henry Drummond
Lots of Love,
I found this video on a friend’s blog and I thought that it raised an important question: What is the Bible really about? Who is the focus? What makes this divine tool important? Are we missing the big picture – the main point of the Scriptures? I’ve always had my opinions and ideas and answers to these questions, but perhaps it’s time to look at things from a different perspective. In all honesty, I had never heard this perspective… and, because of that, I think I’ve been missing out on a big part of the Son’s story. Watch this video and see what conclusions the Spirit helps you to draw.
I met someone today that undeniably put one of the biggest smiles on my face to date. His name is Andrew and I met him at the SU campus church service this morning. I have been wanting to go to SU’s campus service for a few weeks now and, while sitting in Sunday school at FBC, I got the urge to skip FBC’s second service and race over to SU to attend their service instead. I’m so glad that I did. (Thanks so much for prompting me to, Dad.) I got to the SU chapel right at 11:00AM… to find out that the service dosen’t begin until noon. haha. 😉 His perfect plan was already starting to pan out, though. During all that extra time I met an awesome grad student (and her husband), undergad, and lots of other SU students. Great fun and something that I’ve been wishing for. 🙂 I also met the campus pastor. She (yes, she) is a wonderful woman – full of life and the Spirit, I believe. Met her husband, too (who is also a pastor). The service was new and different for me, but altogether good! (It incorporated students and their respective arts of music, drama, and film.) Afterwards, we headed over to the dinning hall to grab some lunch (first time I had ever been in that building, too, hehe). After much conversation, all of the young women that I was sitting with had to leave for a meeting. Everyone at Andrew’s table had to also leave for the meeting. Naturally, I moved over to sit with him and talk. Talking to strangers and making new friends, as use. 😉 And so something wonderful began… 🙂
Andrew is a jazz piano major at the SU conservatory. He is a freshman from northern Virginia and he has a few siblings, if I remember correctly. He began playing the piano when he was five years old. He cannot wait to get a dog, but he also cannot choose which breed he wants – lab, golden retriever, or german shepherd. He can play jazz (his favorite), classical, country, pop… you name it, he can play it. He even sings along if he’s familiar with the lyrics and he can make up his own tunes at the drop of a dime. Having NO musical bones in my body, I dearly admire those who have musical abilities… and, trust me, he is magnificent. There is a piano in the dinning hall (one of the perks of attending a large conservatory school), so we headed over to play a tune or two after he finished his glass of Pepsi. While there, he played Kenny Chesney’s “Me and You” for me and made my heart melt. And Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet”. 😉 After jamming out, dancing a little swing, laughing and talking for about two hours, the pastor’s husband and I walked with him to his dorm. After dropping him off, the two of us walked back to our cars unable to not talk about him. We were simply awestruck by him… his gifts, his faith, and the joy that fills his heart while playing the piano – looks just like the pure joy that you would expect to see in the Father. Oh, also, Andrew is blind.
Amen for this blessed day. 🙂