When is it Good to Give Up?

liturgical calendar

One of the best and shortest speeches Winston Churchill ever gave is oftentimes misquoted. It is known as the “Never Give Up” speech. He delivered it to the students of Harrow School, where he had attended as a youth. In reality, he never said, “Never give up.” After Churchill listened to the traditional songs he had once sung as a boy, Churchill gave this short speech when he was Prime Minister of Great Britain, in October of 1941, during WWII:

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

clock watch

What is the difference between “giving up” and “giving in”? This is a very good time to ponder and meditate on this question, in anticipation of next Wednesday being Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the forty days of Lent, which is found in the Christian Liturgical Calendar and is observed by the followers who love their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Before Ash Wednesday, there is “Fat Tuesday,” which is not in the Christian Liturgical Calendar. “Fat Tuesday” is best known for the Mardi Gras, in New Orleans, when everyone has this big parade and party all day and night and they “give in” to the sensual pleasures of “eating and drinking, and making merry, for tomorrow they will have to “give up” something good for Lent” (Ecclesiastes 8:15, Psalm 19:14, I Corinthians 15:32).

DOUGHNUT POLISH

The Polish people celebrate “Fat Tuesday” by eating sweets, especially PACZKI, a Polish doughnut filled with red raspberry, lemon, strawberry, prune, blueberry, apple, custard or other fillings and often covered in powdered sugar. There is a PACZKI game where someone throws these delectable pastries at someone who is a moving target. The object of the game is to hit the moving target in the face as many times as possible. I know that I would rather eat these once-a-year treats, rather than be throwing them at someone. I am of Polish descent, but somehow I have never eaten a PACZKI, which is quite unusual for a person with gourmet taste. So, in the name of “blog research,” I purchased some PACZKI filled with red raspberry and apple jelly and custard. (Since I had a hardy lunch, I haven’t tried one yet, but I’ll let you know how they tasted next time.).dinner lobstahdinner scallops

banana split with whip creamaromatherapy4

With all kidding aside, this idea of partying and over-indulging in food and drink and other earthly pleasures, before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season begins, is an extremely distorted view of what the most important time period in the Christian Liturgical Calendar is all about. When Lent finally arrives, some Christians “give up” things without really having to “give up” things. I grew up in a church where “giving up” meat was the thing to do. Some would “give up” meat on Fridays. Others would not eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. The only problem was, the same people who “abstained” from meat went out to eat at seafood restaurants. Instead of steak, they ate lobster or scallops. Instead of a hamburger and fries, they had a fish sandwich and fries. For those who gave up decadent deserts, they only had ice cream without the hot fudge and whipped cream and jimmies and cherries.

fish and friesaromatherapy6

The real purpose of Ash Wednesday is to remember where we came from and where we are going. We are reminded that we are the creatures and God is our Creator. Some churches have Ash Wednesday services where the pastor uses ashes to make a cross on the forehead of everyone who attends. My former pastor used the ashes made from last Palm Sunday’s palms (I though that was a cool idea). When the ashes are placed on the forehead, some pastors say, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust…” This phrase comes from Ecclesiastes 12:6-7: “Remember [God] – before the silver cord is severed, before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God Who gave it.” Psalm 103:13-14 teaches, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Lamentations 3:21-26 are verses that both encourage and exhort us: “Yet, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.”

praying handsglasses on Bible

In the current church I have attended since the age of eighteen, the church bulletin says this about the special Ash Wednesday Service: “Wednesday, March 5 is the traditional start of Lent in the church – a time of self-examination and self-discipline, a season of soul-searching and repentance for strengthening our love and faith in the Lord. Join us for this special service to begin the journey into Lent.”

?????????????????????????????????????????????????

Lent is a journey that is meant for Christians to take each year, prior to Easter (Resurrection) Sundy, in order for us to grow closer to our Creator, Savior, and Friend. The “forty days” of Lent is in honor of when Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). After fasting for forty days and nights, Matthew tells us that Jesus “was hungry” (v. 2). What an understatement! And what a perfect time for the devil to tempt Jesus with bread. The devil always waits for the perfect time, when we are the most vulnerable, to kick us when we are already down. This is what he did to Jesus. But, Jesus did not “give in” to the devil’s temptations. Instead, Jesus “gave up” His desire for bread and gave His Father total control, by using the very words of God. Jesus answered the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” When the devil tried to persuade Jesus to throw Himself off the highest point of the temple, he also used God’s Word (Psalm 91:11-2), Again,Jesus did not “give in” to the desire to put the devil in his place and demonstrate His Father‘s love for Him. Jesus knew His Father would not let Him fall. Instead, He “gave up” His own control and did what His Father wanted Him to do. Jesus answered, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (v. 7 and Deuteronomy 6:16). Finally, the devil tempted Jesus by saying if He worshiped him, he would immediately give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” (vv.8-9). Instead of “giving into” and experiencing immediate gratification and bypassing His suffering and death on the cross and having to wait until His Second Coming, Jesus “gave up” His will in order to do His Father’s will and live among sinners and , not only that, die for them. Jesus said, “Away from Me, Satan! For it is written: ’Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only (v. 10 and Isaiah 9:1-2).

Jesus in the Garden

Luke 4:1-13 also records Jesus’ temptations by the devil in the desert. Luke 4:13 gives us a hint as to how the devil operates: “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him until an opportune time.” This tells me to always be on the lookout for Satan and his lies, especially after having a victory over him. I believe Satan tried many times to stop Jesus from doing His Father’s will. We see Satan using an “opportune time” most vividly in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is anguishing over going to the cross (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46). Matthew tells us that Jesus prayed the same prayer three times to His Heavenly Father (26:44) and each time Jesus “gave up” His will to do His Father’s will: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup to be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (v.39b). Jesus did not “give in” to His wanting there to be another way other than the cup of crucifixion. Instead, Jesus “gave up” His will for His Father’s will. And by doing His Father’s will, we who love Jesus are saved through His Perfect Sacrifice for our sins, “because by one sacrifice He [Jesus] made perfect forever those who are being made holy“ (Hebrews 10:14). During the Lenten Season, Jesus calls us to realize His holiness in a deeper and deeper way.

Holding hands

Jim Van Yperen, President of Metanoia Ministries, says that the opposite of “FAITH” is not “UNBELIEF“, but “CONTROL.” I agree with this statement. When we “give up” our control and not “give in” to wanting to control our own lives, we are putting our faith in God. We are “LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD…” to do what? We are LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD be in control of our lives by obeying Him and LETTING HIM accomplish His will for our lives.

DUNKIN COFFEE

So, how do we “give up” things during the Lenten Season? The answer is not eating seafood instead of meat. Why do we “give up” things in the first place? I think the answer can be found in the principle behind Ephesians 4:28: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” When we “give up” something for Lent, we need to put something else in its place that will be honoring to God and will help us grow closer to Him. For example, some people fast for a day or for a meal. Perhaps, the time spent in eating can be spent in reading the Bible and praying. If someone gives up buying Dunkin Donuts coffee, the money saved can go towards the church offering, along with one’s regular giving. If someone wants to give up watching TV, it’s not a good idea to just sit there and look at the blank screen. Instead, you can go visit someone in need or listen to a sermon on CD or read a Christian book or take a walk and talk to the Lord or listen to what He has to say to you. Ask the Lord what He wants you to “give up” in your life in order to be more like Jesus.

imagesCA11J79UimagesCA5UIXAD

I asked this question to the Lord, and He used my pastor to answer me. In the beginning of last December, during the Advent Season, our pastor challenged all of us to stop gossiping and grumbling. I knew this was an area in my life I needed to “give up” to the Lord.

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said this to the Pharisees, the religious hypocrites/bigots of the day, “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings out evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give an account of every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-37). Paul says in Philippians 2:14-16a, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life.” James, Jesus’ brother, says in his letter, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

God Sees Us as

I know that I gossip. I know that I grumble and complain and utter thoughtless and useless words that drip with negativity and display a judgmental attitude toward others. These words are not honoring to God and I am giving them up to God; asking Him to take over the control of the words that come out of my mouth. During this Lenten Season, I will be sharing what God is doing in this area in my life with all of you. In the meantime, whenever I “give into” the temptation to speak thoughtlessly, I stop and pray, “O Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Praise God! He answers this prayer each time, “Yes daughter, I do have mercy on you because My Son died for you and you are now my child and I love you.”

Jesus Hugdad and baby

image0

Peace,

Lydia

Awe-Inspiring, Spirit-Empowered, Christ-Like, Extravagant Love Manual

bunch of yellow roses

When it comes to romantic (EROS) love, I am no Dr. Ruth. I only know from very limited experience and hearing about other romantic relationships, that if a relationship is based solely on physical attraction and sexual activity, that relationship is doomed from the start. Even Christians are not exempt from broken relationships and failed marriages when “speed dating” is the norm. Two people have a better start at growing closer to each other when they first become friends and take the time to learn each other’s likes and dislikes, thoughts on important topics, the baseball team they cheer for, etc. Time well spent helps their relationship grow into a sincere caring friendship, in which they put the other person‘s needs before his/her own and by making Christ the center of their relationship. In this kind of relationship, one serves the other without wanting anything in return (AGAPE love). This kind of Christ-centered relationship has better “roots” to grow deeper and even last “until death do us part.”

candles and roses

I will be so happy when Valentine’s Day is over and the stupid commercials STOP! One commercial in particular advertises a four-foot stuffed Teddy Bear as must gift for “your sweetheart.” As if a four-foot stuffed Teddy Bear isn’t kinky enough, the commercial announcer guy says that the $100.00 gift “will be well worth it.” Give me a break! The commercial is promoting this giant Teddy Bear as a sure fire way to get what every red-blooded American male wants. This is so not like what God wants a relationship to be based on. God’s way is not “pay back,” but an Agape love that is giving, self-sacrificial and deep. For instance:

good friday6

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own [Agape] love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. 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 God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13).

elderly couple in love

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not only look at your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gifts he has received to serve others, faithfully administrating God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:8-11).

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

images

It is safe to say that not many of us will be called to physically die for a friend or spouse, but Jesus does say to all His disciples (friends), “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). I believe Jesus calls us to deny ourselves by putting others first, before our own wants, desires and needs, in order to demonstrate Christ’s Agape love to the ones we love. How does this look? Let’s go to the “Love Chapter/Manual,” I Corinthians 13, and I will share the areas in my life God is working on:

imagesCATZNBNU

“Love is patient” (v. 4a):
What does God want me to do when a friend is telling me a story for the umpteenth time? God wants me to patiently listen. This is hard for me, but God’s love is patient. I am not going anywhere and my friend seems to enjoy sharing that story. The same goes when I am given unsolicited advice. It is so hard for me to respond by saying something like, “Thanks for the tip,” but that is what God is teaching me to do. I am so thankful that God is patient with me!

“…love is kind” (v.4b):
What does God want me to do when a waiter or waitress does not want to talk to me and deal with my cerebral palsied speech? Instead, the server asks the person I’m with what I would like to eat. God wants me to handle the situation in a kind way. Perhaps, I can ask him/her, “What is your name?” Then, I can kindly say, “(Mike or Molly), this is what I want to eat” and point to the item on the menu, to help them not have to deal with my speech. I could also lighten-up the situation by jokingly say, “I‘m in charge of your tip.” To be kind when my natural reaction is to throw up the “DISRESPECTED” card is not easy for me, but God’s love is kind. I am so grateful that God is kind to me.

hummer

“…It does not envy” (v. 4c):
When a friend talks about having something I wished I would have or be able to do ( a husband or go on a vacation or to be able to ride a bike or have box seats to a RED SOX game), God wants me to be happy for my friend and share in his/her joy. But, depending on my emotional state, this is not my first response. Instead, I ask God, “Why not me too?” When the Lord helps me to finally turn my focus away from the things I don’t have and focus on how much God has blessed me, I can be happy and share in my friend‘s joy. This is not very easy, but God is teaching me that real love is not envious.

“…it does not boast” (v. 4d)
When I do something nice for someone, I should not boast about it. It should only be between God and the person and me. As Jesus said to His disciples, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, Who sees what is done in secret will reward you“(Matthew 6:3-4). Doing something to help someone because God’s love put it in my heart to do, does not have to be known by others. If I talk about what I did for someone, my boasting will not be rewarded by God. Boasting has no place in God’s love.

Peter Saved by Jesus

“…it is not proud” (v. 4e)
It would be easy for me to be proud of my academic accomplishments and rest in my laurels and be satisfied with my past achievements. But God is not finished with the work He is doing in me. He wants me to grow in my love for Him and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. If I boast at all, it should be about what Jesus has done for me: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). God’s love is not proud of self, but proud of what Christ has done and continues to do for me and through me. I will always be a student of His Word because I have a long way to go and need much more “refining” before God is finished with me.

imagesCADT72YY

“It is not rude” (v. 5a):
When people are rude to me and are condescending to me, I should not be rude to them, but instead pray for them. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends of you, live at peace with everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-18, 21). Jesus teaches, “…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44). This is very hard to do in my humanness, but with God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit, I am learning how to pray for those who are rude to me. Many do not even realize that they are being rude.

“…it is not self-seeking” (v. 5b):

God’s love does not ask, “What’s in it for me?” but, “How can I help you?”. God’s love is not self-seeking.

My desire is to be a person who can help, a person who can listen, and a person who is known for her godly love. I do not want to be known as someone who uses people for her own benefit.

brothers fighting

“…it is not easily angered” (v.5c):
When someone does something “stupid” or treats me as though I am a two-year-old, and especially when I know I am way more intelligent than he/she is, my natural reaction is anger and outrage. This does not help the situation nor does it bring glory to God. Instead, God’s love tells me to “overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11) and maybe talk to the person at another time when I am not angry. Ephesians 4:25-26 teaches, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin” [Psalm 4:4]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” I remember a time when I was eating lunch at a friend’s house and one of her friends stopped by. She and I had never met before. Yet, she looked at me and said, “Eating again!?” Obviously, she was teasing and thought I was intellectually limited. I answered calmly, “It’s lunch time,” but I was seething inside. I only mention this because this person and I became very good friends. She is one of my “Scrabble buddies.” When she realized her “mistake” later on, she apologized to me without me having to talk to her about it. If people would just take a little time to listen and talk with physically disabled people, they would quickly realize that our intellect cannot be measured by whether or not we walk or how we walk or by the difficulty of our speech or by our facial grimaces or by our herky-jerky movements or by any other physical characteristic, but by who we are on the inside. If they did take a little time and effort to get to know us, they will discover that we do have a good head on our shoulders. But, even when they don’t, God’s love tells me to not be easily angered. If I had let my anger get the best of me and really blasted my now friend for her preconceived ideas about who I was, I wonder if we would have become friends.

“…it keeps no record of wrongs” (v. 5d):
God’s love tells me to forgive and forget – to wipe the slate clean when a person wrongs me, just as Christ has wiped my slate clean of my many sins. This means that I never bringing IT up again. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. It is very difficult to forgive some offenses, but God’s forgiveness freely given to me and His love for me make it possible for me to forgive and love others.

believe god's love 2

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (v. 6.):
God’s love tells me not to delight in another’s misfortune, even though I think he/she deserves what he/she gets because of the wrongs committed against me. Instead, God’s love tells me to rejoice when he/she repents and turns to God. This is what God wants me to pray for. God’s love helps me to rejoice when people who have wronged me accept God’s Truth. They are no longer my enemy, but my brother/sister in Christ.

imagesCAZB8MBR

“…It always protects” (v. 7a):
God’s love teaches me to protect others; to protect their reputations and to keep what happens between us just between them and me. And, if someone says something about someone that is not true, I need to set the record straight. And even if something is true, I need to ask, “Would he/she want you to tell this to others?” Ephesians 4:29-31 instructs us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, 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.” God’s love tells me not to talk about someone behind his/her back. Instead, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

robin and nest

“… always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (v. 7b):
God’s love teaches me to never give up on those I love. God’s love teaches me to trust Him with the people I love. I cannot change them, but He can. With God there is always hope. “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us” (Romans 5:2b-5). God promises to reward our perseverance: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a Voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’” (Revelation 14:12-13). Sometimes, we will see the fruit of our perseverance and prayers for those we love. But, it will be when we finally go to our heavenly rest, when we will fully see the extent of what our prayers have accomplished in those we love. So, let us never give up on our loved ones, but persevere in our love and prayers for them.

“…LOVE NEVER FAILS” (v. 8a)

banana split love

Can you imagine what the world would be like if those who call themselves “Christians” would not be known for what they hate, but be known for how they love – The I Corinthians 13:4-8a kind of love?! It is never too late to start.

box of chocolate

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. May God’s Love be with us today and forever. Amen

cardinals

(I was not able to send out a post yesterday because I took time to watch the beautiful snow falling outside my living room picture window. There was also an Olympic hockey game going on, with the U.S.A. winning 7 to 1. I ENJOY (not love) watching the snow, and I also ENJOY (not love) watching Olympic hockey. I also ENJOY listening to Mike Emrick, the voice of hockey, calling the game. Hockey in the morning, a delicious mug of hot coffee, with snow falling outside – All was good in Lydia’s world. I will be taking in the rest of the Olympics, without any blogging interruptions, so ENJOY Valentine’s Day and the time off from reading long posts. I did do a few short ones, so I am improving.

My idea of a perfect Valentine’s gift is already shaped in a heart (kind of).

aromatherapy4The Lyd

Lydia

Awe-Inspiring, Spirit-Empowered, Christ-Like, Extravagant Love

box of chocolate

In the interest of fair play (and to correct a mistake I made in my last post for the “followers” of my blog), let’s look at the definition of “love” at Dictionary.com. Also, let’s try to match each definition with one of the three words used in the Greek language for “LOVE”: “EROS” (a kind of self-love or romantic love), PHILEA (a friendship-type of love) and AGAPE (an extravagant, unconditional, self-sacrificing kind of love):

LOVE (noun):
* a profoundly tender, passionate for another person [EROS and AGAPE if God is involved].
* a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend [PHILEA, and AGAPE when godly self-sacrifice is involved].
* sexual passion or desire [EROS, and AGAPE if God is in charge].
* used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like: “Would you like to see a movie, love?” [PHILEA, and AGAPE when God is in charge].

bunch of roses

LOVE (verb with object), loved, loving:
* to have love or affection for: “All her pupils love her” [PHILEA].
* to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person) [EROS, and AGAPE when God is the center of the relationship].
* to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music [or baseball] [“enjoy” or “appreciate” are better words to use].
* to need or require; benefit greatly from: “Plants love sunlight.” [“need“ would be a better word to use – I know some people talk to their plants, but when was the last time they said, “I love you.”?].
* to embrace or kiss ( someone), as a “lover” [EROS and, AGAPE when God is in the center of the relationship].

box of chocolate

LOVE (verb without object), loved, loving:
* to have love or affection for another person; be in love [EROS, and AGAPE if this is God’s will for you].

(You may do the next grouping, if you wish.)

Idioms:
“for love”
* out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
* without compensation: gratuitously: “He took care of the poor for love.”
“for the love of”
* in consideration of; for the sake of: “For the love of mercy, stop that noise.”
“in love”
* infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: “He is always in love.”
“in love with”
*feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); “in love with the girl next door” or “in love with one’s work.”
“make love”
* to embrace and kiss as lovers
* to engage in sexual activity.

believe god's love
In all these definitions of love, the key is to “love one another” as Jesus loves us – with an awe-inspiring, Spirit-Empowered, Christ-like, extravagant love which puts the other person’s needs ahead of our own desires. God made us to have a relationship with Him and with each other. God blesses romantic love that is in a committed relationship called marriage. With Jesus holding the marriage together, with both husband and wife submitting to Christ, their marriage will not be easily shaken, even when the physical attraction is no more, either because of a sickness or disability or whatever else life throws at them. Ecclesiastes 4:12b says, “A cord with three strands is not easily broken.” Jesus is that strong third strand.

elderly couple in love

God also gives us our families and our church families to love with a brotherly/sisterly love; the kind of love that always puts the other person first. While human love is based mostly on feelings, AGAPE LOVE is not based on temporal feelings, but is unconditional and everlasting. God teaches us how to love one another by how He loves us. Psalm 136:1-3 teaches us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. Gives thanks to the God of gods. HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER. Give thanks to the LORD of lords: HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.” Each of the twenty-six verses in Psalm 136 ends with, “HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.” The Apostle John teaches us about God’s love and our love in this way:

brothers fighting

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for [agape] love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us His SPIRIT…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, Whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (I John 4:7-13, 16b, 18-21).

believe god's love 2

So, what does loving our brother or sister in the Lord with this awe-inspiring, Spirit-empowered, Christ-like, Extravagant love look like? We will explore this question next time.

banana split love

May the Love of God Rule in Our Hearts!

The Lyd

Lydia

Awesome, Passionate, Love (II)

me writing

What do these three words really mean? I went to two sources to find out the answers – Dictionary.com for the words “awesome” and “passionate” and “Authentic Community” (by Jim Van Yperen) for the word “love.”

AWESOME: (adjective)
1. inspiring, an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear; causing or inducing awe: “an awesome sight.”
2. showing or characterized by reverence, admiration, or fear; exhibiting or marked by awe.
3. Slang: very impressive: “That new white convertible is totally awesome.”

PASSIONATE: (adjective)
1. having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling; fervid: “a passionate advocate of socialism.”
2. easily aroused to or influenced by sexual desire; ardently sensual.
3. expressing, showing, or marked by intense or strong feeling; emotional: “passionate language.”
4. intense or vehement, as emotions or feelings: “passionate grief.”
5. easily moved to anger; quick-tempered; irascible.

LOVE: (noun: “God’s love is everlasting” and verb: “God loves you”)
The three words used for “love” in the Greek language are:
1. “Eros” is a kind of self-love.
2. “Philea” is friendship.
3. “Agape” is generous, self-sacrificing love.

glasses on Bible

As you can see, the words “awesome” and “passionate” and “love” are way overused and sometimes misused. A person can “love” another person and also “love” a car. In Jim Van Yperen’s book, “Authentic Community” (p. 11), he says this about “love”: “In Scripture, believers are called to put away ‘eros’ and put on ‘philea’ and ‘agape’ love by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ command to love one another is ‘agape’ love. We are called to love one another in the same way God has loved us – with generous, self-sacrificing love.”

“A new command I give you: [Agape] Love one another. As I have [generously and sacrificially] loved you, so you must [agape] love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you [agape] love one another” (John 13:34-35).

How did Jesus “generously and self-sacrificially” love us?

Cross

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His Own [agape] love for us is this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).

banana split love

Jesus demonstrated His [agape] love for us by paying the ultimate price for our sins. Jesus loved us extravagantly, even before we loved Him, by dying on the cross, in order for us to be “justified through faith” and “have peace with God” (see Romans 5:1), with ourselves and with one another. Jesus calls us to the same [agape] love for one another. This cannot be done on our own strength, “but because God has poured out His [agape] love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us (see Romans 5:5b).

banana split with whip cream

Since the words “awesome” and “passionate” and “love” are often misused and misconstrued in today’s English language, I think I will rename my blog post to: “Awe-Inspiring, Spirit-Empowered, Christ-like, Extravagant Love.” This is the kind of [agape] love Jesus wants His believers to have for one another and for the all the world to see and want for themselves.

May the Peace and Joy of Christ fill us with His AGAPE Love!

The Lyd

Lydia

Awesome, Passionate Love (I)

(I bet that grabbed your attention! But, as Westley said to Inigo Montoya, in “Princess Bride,” “Get used to disappointment.” It’s not what SOME of you may be thinking.)

banana split with whip cream

(While I was working on my last blog post, my nephew came in to say Good-bye and I was in the process of picking a burger-and-fries photo. He looked at my computer screen and asked, “Are you trying to make yourself hungry?” Thankfully, he’s not here today because he would really be wondering about his eccentric Auntie. )

Before we talk about talking about one another and gossiping, I am taking advantage of Valentine’s week to focus on God’s LOVE. Every time I hear the words, “AWESOME” and “PASSIONATE” and “LOVE” I think of the movie “Princess Bride” when Vizzini kept on using the word, “Inconceivable” over and over again. Finally, Inigo Montoya says to Vizzini, “I don’t think you know what that word means.” This is what I want to say when I hear someone say, “That was AWESOME” or “I feel very PASSIONATE about that” or “I LOVE you.” I want to say, “I don’t think you know what that word means” or I want to ask, “What do you mean by that?” “AWESOME” and “PASSIONATE” and “LOVE” are three words that are so overused that they really don’t mean what they really mean anymore.

banana split love

I believe that God’s LOVE for us is AWESOME (awe-inspiring) and He demonstrates His AWESOME LOVE in His Son Jesus and His PASSION in accomplishing His Father’s will. When I think about God’s AWESOME AND PASSIONATE LOVE, I think of the word, “LAVISHED” and I think about a banana split lavished with whipped cream. Sometimes, it does not feel as though God loves us, but that is exactly the time when He does LOVE us unconditionally, despite how we feel.. I know that God LOVES me with His perfect Love because “the Bible tells me so.”

glasses on Bible

“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” (John 3:16).

“Greater LOVE has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends” (John 1513).

“ My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have One Who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the world” (I John 2:1-2).

dad and baby

“How great is the LOVE the Father has LAVISHED on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I john 3:1a).

Because God’s LOVE is so AWESOME and PASSIONATE (powerful) for His children who LOVE His Son Jesus, we are able to approach His Throne with boldness and love Him in return.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Because of God’s AWESOME and PASSIONATE LOVE for His children, whom Jesus calls His friends, He has given us the grace to LOVE one another with His AWESOME (supernatural) LOVE (selfless, sacrificial caring). As Jesus’ friends, our life’s PASSION (heart’s desire) is to LOVE God and one another as Jesus LOVES us.

Holding hands

“This is how God showed His LOVE among us: He sent His One an 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. Dear friends, since God so LOVED us, we also ought to LOVE one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we LOVE one another, God lives in us and he in God” (I John 4:9-12).

“You are my friends if you do what I command…This is my command: love each other” (John 15:14, 17).

“A new command I give you: LOVE one another. As I HAVE LOVED you, so you must LOVE ONE ANOTHER. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE one another” (John 13:34).

Jesua, heart, sand

In “Princess Bride”, whenever Westley said to Buttercup, “As you wish”, he really was saying, “I love you.” Whenever we follow God’s will (wishes) for us, we are demonstrating and saying, “I LOVE You, Dear Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

“I LOVE You, O LORD, my Strength. The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer; my God is my Rock, in Whom I take refuge. He is my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation, my Stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:1-3).

“I will exalt You, My God the King; I will praise you and extol Your Name forever and ever. Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your Majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of Your AWESOME works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds. They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in LOVE” (Psalm 145:1-8).

“When Your [God’s] words came, I [Jeremiah] ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight [passion], for I bear Your Name, O LORD God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:16).

May our AWESOME God increase our PASSION for His Word and our LOVE for Him and for one another.

me writing

In Christ’s LOVE,

Lydia

Aromatherapy

aromatherapy

What is Aromatherapy? Does it work or does something “smell fishy” about the whole thing? Aromatherapy is practiced by many proponents of alternative and holistic medicine. This is its definition from (wait for it…) aromatherapy.com:

aromatherapy2

“Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing. The inhaled aroma from these ’essential’ oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. A form of alternative medicine, aromatherapy is gaining momentum. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. There are a wide number of essential oils available, each with its own healing properties.”

aromatherapy3

Where do I sign up? Aromatherapy is used in body message or just by soaking in a nice warm tub of water and these essential oils. I believe many couples will be enjoying aromatherapy together, not exactly for medicinal purposes, on Valentine’s Day. Whether or not one has a significant other, many can use a good message to loosen tight muscles. I know I would benefit from both the aromas and a nice message to loosen my cerebral palsied muscles, which seem to always be as tight as a drum.

aromatherapy5

However, when I think of aromatherapy, I think of the non-tactile, strictly olfactory kind. I think of the pure enjoyment of smells. I mentioned this in “Christmas is Finally Making Some ‘Scents!’” I love the smell of food, especially Polish “soul” food, with their mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen, especially during the holidays. These aromas take me back to very pleasant childhood memories. Have you ever noticed that a certain smell can take you back to your grandmother’s or mom’s kitchen?

IMG_1956White Rose

Besides food, I love the smell of lilies on Easter, the fragrance of lilacs in May and roses in June. And, now that I’m a wheelchair user and maturing in age, I love the fine bouquet of “Citrus Mist” (or “Febreze Hawaiian Aloha“) air freshener first thing in the morning. This tells me it’s going to be a good “REGULAR” day, without any unwanted surprises or me having to make a rut between one “office“ (bedroom/computer room) to the other (bathroom).

SMELL THE WINEimagesCAJ14CYP

It’s a toss up between the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and tropical scent of air freshener, as to which I like best. I think both help my cognitive function: One helps me to wake up and the other frees my brain to think of other more important things, such as praying for others, reading, catching up on sports and weather information, and blog writing (not necessarily in that order). Lighting incense or an aroma candle also helps me have a calm peaceful feeling (I do have the incense or candle burning in a safe place, on a flame-resistant surface). And, yes, I do enjoy the bouquet of a fine wine. (If you are ever at a party and are drinking a glass of white wine, especially Pinot Grigio, and want to impress people, just swirl the wine a bit, smell it and say, “Hmm? lychee nuts.” People won’t know what you’re talking about, but they will be definitely impressed!)

glasses on Bible

Did you ever wonder what God enjoys smelling? This question did not cause me to have sleepless nights, but it is an intriguing question. After all, God created the sense of smell and all the smells we smell to warn us of danger (in the smell of smoke or rotten food, for example) and to enjoy the fragrances of the world He created. He must also enjoy smelling things. I find the answers to many of my questions in the Bible, God’s Word, so that is where I went to and these are some of the answers I found:

“If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed a female goat without defect. He is to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering… [The priest] shall remove all the FAT, just as the FAT is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall BURN IT on the altar as an AROMA PLEASING TO THE LORD. In this way the priest will make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven” (Leviticus 4:27-29, 31)

aromatherapy4aromatherapy6.

God likes the smell of grilled fat! Who doesn’t? Remember last summer when you or your neighbors were cooking steaks on the grill? Remember driving by a burger joint and smelling the burgers and French fries? Isn’t your mouth watering right about now? Grilled, crispy, succulent fat lining a perfectly gilled porterhouse steak with just the right amount of marbling – there’s nothing else that makes my taste buds dance more!

The burnt offerings made in Old Testament times, no matter how succulently delicious they smelled, were imperfect sacrifices for sin, because the priests would have to perform the same sacrifices over and over and over again. BUT God had a better plan:

Cross

“If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come – one in the order of Melchizedek [a Forever Priest], not in the order of Aaron [temporary priesthood]?…The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect, and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God…Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent Priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He intercedes for them. Such A High Priest meets our need – One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of his people. He sacrificed for their sins ONCE FOR ALL WHEN HE SACRIFICED HIMSELF. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:11, 18, 23-28).

jesus has risenJoyful Jesus

Because Jesus, our High Priest, offered the perfect sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins, there is no longer any need to sacrifice animals. Instead, we offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice“ made perfect by His Son.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers [and sisters] in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as LIVING SACRIFICES, holy and PLEASING TO GOD – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-3).

me writing

Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross – “He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9b) – we who believe and trust Him have been forgiven of all our sins – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He LAVISHED on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8). Because of Jesus we can bring His “fragrance” to everyone we meet:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the FRAGRANCE of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the AROMA of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life” (II Corinthians 2:16a)

The Lyd

Many will see the joy we have in Christ and want to know more about where our joy comes from. But, others will not understand how we can be so joyful, even in the midst of our struggles. Sadly, they would rather die than change their way of life. II Corinthians 2:16a does not mean that we are to be argumentative or obnoxious to the people who do not accept Christ. Instead, we are to be a “breath of fresh air” as we love God and one another and “love [our] neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:33). This is the greatest witness:

“’To love [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,’ When Jesus saw that [one of the teachers of the law] had answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’” (Mark 12:33-34a)

imagesCAEA2RP3Jesus Hug

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34).

(In reading the two Scriptures above, it’s very difficult for me to understand why Jesus’ present-day disciples would ever want to join a picked line carrying signs that say, “God hates [you].” In the way I read Jesus’ teachings and see how He loved those others hated, this just does not make any sense to me. In fact, I think it really STINKS.)

praying handsJesua, heart, sand

When we are living sacrifices to the Lord by having His love rule our lives, even our prayers smell good to Him!

“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, together with the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, went up before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:3-4).

(A saint is a sinner saved by God‘s grace.)

SHOES AND SOCKS II

An Example of a “Stinky” Prayer:

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men -robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get’” (Luke 18:11-12).

aromatherapy5flowers and mts

An Example of a “FRAGRENT INCENSE” Prayer:

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

imagesCADT72YY

God loves to smell and hear the prayers of the humble. He delights in the prayers and praises of those who are humble and know they need Him for every breath they take. They will be rewarded.

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17)

“For the LORD takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds” (Psalm 149:4-5).

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

aromatherapy2

So far, we have looked at aromatherapy in relation to how it benefits us. Also, we have looked at the aromas and fragrances that please God. We have discovered the smells that make God smile and bring us closer into an intimate relationship with our Creator – the One who excites all our senses. Now, we need to talk about the things that do not please God so much, in order to grow and become more sensitive to the things to avoid and really “stink” to God. James goes on to say this:

glasses on Bible

“Brothers [and sisters], do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only One Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy, But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).

The Book of Proverbs gives a list of things God hates and are a stench to Him:

“There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to Him:
Haughty eyes, A LYING TONGUE,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
A FALSE WITNESS WHO POURS OUT LIES
AND A MAN [OR WOMAN] WHO STIRS UP
DISSENSION AMONG BROTHERS [AND SISTER]”
. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

angry fist

Both James 4:11-12 and the capitalized verses in Proverbs 6:16-19 talk about slander, lying and gossip. This past December, my pastor challenged the whole church body to make a real effort to stop gossiping. We all do it. It is so easy to gossip and even easier to listen to gossip. How do we “C’mon man! STOP IT!”? Something to “tackle” next time.

May the Peace of Christ Be with Us, All,

Lydia

Fenway truck day

HAPPY TRUCK DAY! Tomorrow (2/8/14) the RED SOX equipment truck leaves Fenway, bright and early, for SPRING TRAINING!