How Do We Show Love?

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Today is Valentine’s Day and I know that most people write about love for our spouses today, but I have been thinking about a different type of love. Love for friends, family, acquaintances and the lost. Scripture tells us that we are to be devoted to one another, show love to one another, and of course, love your neighbor as yourself. We can’t forget the love chapter of 1 Cor. 13; in it we are given many examples of what love is.

Several years ago I wrote a post in which I shared some practical ways to show love. In this post I want to cover heart issues as opposed to practical suggestions. This past year has taught us many things that you can only learn through heartache, sorrow and despair.  I am still working on many of these areas as well and am learning from my own failings.

Be genuine- So many times we use the phrase “How are you doing?” as a greeting and aren’t really interested in how that person is. We would be shocked if they actually shared what is happening in their life. We live in a culture that boasts of self-sufficiency and independence which makes it difficult for people to be transparent and genuine. We need to be willing to listen to & help those who have needs and also be willing to share ours.

Be Selfless- We live in a time that everyone has their days booked and scheduled to the point that we get frustrated when someone’s needs interrupts our day. We should be on the lookout to meet the needs of others. Christ showed His compassion to many by meeting their physical needs. Shouldn’t we strive to follow His example?

Be Thoughtful- Valentine’s day (and other holidays) are special and everyone needs to be shown love on special days. We need to look to those who may not have someone in their life to show them love on these days and encourage them. I had not thought of this until I saw the example set by a family I know. They showed up at the door of a single woman from our fellowship with a bouquet of balloons to wish her happy Valentine’s day. Maybe you know a widow, widower or single adult who needs someone to show they care. Perhaps a young mom would enjoy meeting at Chick fil a to chat. Also be thoughtful and don’t put added pressure on those you are trying to minister to. For instance the young mom might prefer to meet out as opposed to you coming to her house because she would feel pressure to clean, or maybe just getting out of the house and letting the kids play on the CFA playground would be nice.

Be Encouraging- Try to catch a child doing something good when you are out and tell the parent about how well they did. Something as simple as, “Joe held the door open for me on my way into church this morning. He sure blessed me and I’m sure he blesses you too.” I fondly, with tears in my eyes, remember Mrs. Bennett. I was the only homeschooler in our church and our growing family caused great consternation for those around us. I would get the rudest & most critical comments from friends about my pregnancies. Not from Mrs. Bennett. She was about 80 years old and every time I saw her she would give me a big hug and say something about the blessing all of my children would be and how she loved big families because she came from one. Those words literally made my time at church bearable. It is hard to be different from everyone, even if you are following your convictions.

Don’t judge- Let me start out by saying, there are things we are told in scripture to judge and those are things that God has deemed sinful. We are not to be speck inspectors though. We aren’t to judge whether we think someone’s need is great enough for compassion. The rule should be that we show compassion and let God worry about the rest of it. We should never judge someone’s motives. We can judge their actions but we don’t know their hearts. For instance, we can say someone acted in a prideful (angry, rude, you fill in the blank with the adjective) manner but we cannot say the did the because of ______. We don’t know their motives. I had a woman get very angry at me and when she finally came to me she exploded in a tirade of judgment and assumptions. She was mad because I didn’t hug her on the way into church, and that I didn’t talk to her as much anymore and on and on. She then gave all of the reasons I was doing these things. When I said that my reasons were quite different, she called me a liar. What she didn’t take into account was that I was going through a lot emotionally at that time. If she had watched, she would have seen that I didn’t hug anyone (unless they came to me to hug me) because I’m just not a huggy person. We don’t know what someone is going through and it is best not to assign motives. If a person’s actions hurt you, go to them calmly and in love and ask them about it. Don’t judge and assume.

Don’t take a meal- I know that sounds crazy. Everyone knows that when a person is in need you take a meal. At least that’s how we do it in the South. I have been the recipient of countless casseroles (way too many frozen lasagnas. . . whatever you do, don’t do that) after babies, miscarriages, surgeries and during illnesses and I appreciated them all. But it also would have been nice to have a conversation. A real conversation about how I was really doing. Oh, and don’t say call me if you need anything. You call, be there, let them know you care.

Live it- In many churches I have seen that so often we spend time studying and learning about what we should do as Christians but not a lot of living it. We spend a great deal of time in busy activities that make us look good and feel good about ourselves, but what are we doing for the cause of Christ? Do the lost see our compassion? Do they feel we empathize with their pain? Or do they hear us criticize them? Make judgments about what they do? There is a passage in scripture that I seldom hear discussed. It points out that we aren’t to be judging the unsaved that’s for God. We weren’t told to judge them, we were told to love them and pray for them.

 For what is it to me to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. . .   1 Cor 5:12-13

As Christians we should be continuously showing love and compassion. We are to be a light to the world. Not by hammering the lost over the head, or shouting at them, but by showing them the truth in love. We should be showing the love of Christ to our brother’s & sisters in Christ as well.  We often hear 1 Cor 13 during this season of love, usually they begin at verse 4, but to me the truly telling verse is verse 1. Are you a clanging cymbal? Am I?

 If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Cor 13:1-7

Why Do I Write?

Many times I have asked myself this very question. Do I write out of vanity and pride, or is there a deeper purpose? Many think that writing online should be abandoned because at times conflicts arise due to a misunderstanding or just a plain difference of opinion. I must admit that there have been times after certain conflicts that I have considered throwing in the towel. Then I will ask myself the above question.

The first and foremost reason that I write is to proclaim the gospel of Christ to a lost and dying world. Through this medium I am truly able to witness around the world. I have had many visitors from countries where the freedom to spread the gospel is limited. I can’t remember all of the countries, but I do remember that there were several from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. Another wonderful thing about writing online is the ability to share the gospel, even when I’m sleeping. While proclaiming the gospel of Christ I also want to shine a light on the many false teachings that are prevalent today. Many people are being taught a gospel that is unidentifiable when compared to the scriptures, and this is a very real concern for me. I’m not a great theologian by any stretch of the imagination, but I want to use the understanding and knowledge the Lord had given me to bring glory to Him.

Another reason I write is to encourage other women. The world today bombards women with false images of who and what they should be. I want to take my little corner of the world to shine a light on being the women that scripture illustrates. I want to encourage women in their roles as keepers of their homes and as wives and mothers. I want to remind them that they are to focus on Christ in all that they do, and our actions should be borne out of a love for Him.

I also write so that my thoughts will be recorded for future generations. None of us are promised tomorrow and it would be presumptuous to assume that I will be around to share my thoughts and experiences with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want them to hear about Christ from my words.

I don’t believe I am a great writer by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, commas and I really don’t get along well. My goal with my writing isn’t to gain accolades for my ability, but to constantly shine a light on Christ.

A Letter From John Newton

For my birthday a couple of years ago Lindsay bought me an 1835 edition of Volume 2 of Hannah More’s Memoirs. Contained within this volume are numerous letters to and from Hannah More. I am sharing one written by John Newton that I find quite thought provoking. I considered only posting excerpts, but every time I tried to decide where to cut, I came across something else that really spoke to me. I’m not going to share my thoughts now, I’d like to hear what it says to you. What do you find challenging about it? Does any part of it bring conviction? What do you notice about the type of conversation that was considered normal between Newton and his peers? I have many thoughts racing through my head, and really can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

From the Rev. John Newton to Mrs. H. More
December 12, 1798

My Very Dear Madam,
Miss Lambert told me last night that you had been very ill, and were at present but slowly recovering; but another lady gave me hopes to-day that it was a mistake. I well know that fame, with her hundred mouths, tells a hundred fibs, and I can give little credit to rumours till I see them confirmed in the gazette. However, as it is some time since I indulged myself in the pleasure of writing to you, I embrace this occasion, in hope that some of these days you may find leisure to inform me, under your own hand, how you and your good sisters are.

Fame has been busy about me likewise. It has been said by some, that I had had three successive fits; by others that I was confined by a fever; and some thought proper to affirm that I was dead. I compare the art of spreading rumours to the art of pin-making. There is usually some truth, which I call the wire; as this passes from hand to hand, one gives it a polish, another a point; others make and put on the head and at last the pin is completed. My health and spirits have been and still are, as good as ever; but on the twenty-third of last month I found, by repeated falls while I was dressing myself, that the strength of my left leg was withdrawn. For three or four days I could not walk across the room without support. I kept house the Sunday following. This was the wire of the pin, all the additions were invented or conjectured. It is my happiness to have a praying people, and I ascribe it to the Lord’s goodness, in answer to the prayers of my friends, that a blessing attended the means used for my relief and I was only kept one day from St. Mary’s. I really thought at first it might be the Lord’s pleasure to confine me to the house for the rest of my days, that I might myself try to practice the lessons of patience and resignation to the will of God which I have often recommended to others from the pulpit. I may thank him that such a prospect did not distress me. I was enabled to see and to feel that I am not my own; that he who bought me with his blood has a right to dispose of me, and to say Go here, or sit there, as he sees best; and farther, that his sovereign authority is combined with infinite mercy, and that He has promised to choose and manage far better for me than I could choose for myself if permitted. I aimed and still aim to say from my heart what, when, and how thou wilt. My sins and follies banished me to the house of bondage in Africa, redeemed me when I knew him not,- when I defied him. He has since given me a name and a place among his children. My case has been singular.

Surely he has done enough to demand and to warrant the simple surrender of myself and my all to him. And now I am old and know not the day of my death, my chief solicitude and prayer is, that my decline in life may be consistent with my character and profession as a Christian and a minister, that it may not be stained with those infirmities which have sometimes clouded the latter days even of good men. May he preserve me from a garrulous and from a dogmatically spirit; from impatience, peevishness and jealousy. If called to depart or be laid aside, may I retire like a thankful guest from a plentiful table, rejoicing that others are coming forward to serve him, I hope better, when I can serve him in this life no more; and then at length, when flesh and blood are fainting, if he will deign to smile upon me, I shall smile upon death. This is all I have to ask for my own personal concern, and to this purpose I request a remembrance in your prayers. I will repay you as I am able in the same way. It is a serious thing to die, and it becomes me now, far in seventy-fourth year, to transition without dismay. But I well know that if this last enemy, or rather to the believer, this kind messenger, should actually approach, unless the Lord supported me I should prove a coward; though now, while I am in health, and quietly smoking my pipe, and he seems at a distance, I can think, write, or speak of him without anxiety. There is a dying strength needful to bear up the soul in a dying hour. The Lord has said, “As thy day, so shall thy strength be,” and “My grace is sufficient for thee.” On these good words I would humbly rely, for indeed in myself I am nothing, and can do nothing, and without his gracious influence I am alike unfit to die or live.

My dear brother Cecil is thought to be in a dangerous way, that is, in danger of exchanging earth for heaven. The physicians judge it to be an inaccessible disorder in an intestine. The effect is a violent and almost incessant pain in the back and loins. He cannot remain long in one posture, neither stand, walk, or lie down without a change. But his mind is peaceful and resigned. It is a heavy blow upon his people, and heavily felt; but I do not give him up. Much prayer is made for him, and though physicians shake their heads and medicines seem to fail, we know who can restore him by a word. “To God the Lord belong the issues from death.” His life seems to us very important; and if we know what we ask, the Lord will raise him up. If otherwise, he can give us submission to his will, which is always wise and good. Though useful ministers are successively removed, the Lord is still with us. There is a pleasing prospect of a number of young men, who we hope will prove faithful and able in the established church. This is a token for good in these turbulent and degenerate times. The Lord has still a remnant among us, scattered up and down the land like salt, who mourn for their sins and the sins of others. Without these, our nation would be soon in a state of putrefaction. But, for their sakes and in answer to their prayers, Almighty God has given us a great victory by Admiral Nelson, and has since disconcerted the designs of the French upon Ireland. The religion which alone can save the state, is now reproached and stigmatized by a name which, though undefined, has a magical force; and I believe there are those who would be well content if all who profess it were safely settled in New Holland. So the inhabitants of Sodom were weary of Lot, though the destruction of their city was only retarded by his continuance in it, and the very day when he was removed they all perished.

The afternoon lectureship of St. Giles-in-the-Fields is vacant. The candidate most likely to have the majority of votes is a Mr. Sheppard, who was some time Mr. Cadogan’s curate at Reading. The Bishop of Chichester is rector of the parish’ and we are told that he inquired his character of the Bishop of London, who had no knowledge of him. I was desired to write to the bishop; but this was a liberty I did not think myself warranted to take; though his lordship has upon several occasions given me pleasing proofs of his favorable opinion; and I have little doubt but he would credit my testimony if it came properly before him. But if you, my dear madam, when you write to him, should choose to mention Mr. Sheppard’s application as a piece of the news of the day, and that your correspondent J.N. assured you that he has known Mr. S. several years and believes him to be an upright moderate man, a good and diligent preacher, and a firm friend of our constitution in church and state, it might perhaps, have a good effect towards fixing such a man in a pulpit, where the afternoon congregation is between two and three thousand. To say that Mr. S. is unprovided for, and that the income of the lectureship would be helpful to the maintenance of his family, are considerations of a very inferior importance.

I am again in the press; when I shall get out of it depends on Mr. Bensley, the printer. When I was at Southampton this autumn, I finished a work, which though but a small one, and began three or four years ago, I should never have finished at home,- my engagements and interruptions are so many. I think it will come abroad early in next year, under the title of “Memoirs of the Life of the late W. Grimshaw” he was an extraordinary man; he was removed to a better world in the year 1763; but I have been enabled to glean up several authentic particulars, which, I think, are worthy of being recorded, to the praise of him whose he was, and whom he served. I have given the book, wholly and for ever to the Society for the Relief of the Poor and Pious Clergy. And I believe I may call this my “extremum laborem.” I am sometimes almost ashamed to think I have written so much. This book will make the twelfth volume in duodecimo; yet it has pleased God to give some of my publications acceptance with the people, and therefore I have cause to be thankful. They have been spread far and wide, published in England, Ireland, Scotland, and America, and in the German and Low Dutch languages. How wonderful that he should so honour the African blasphemer! But there is a time to write, and a time to desist from writing. I may say, as the late Bishop of London, Dr. Lowth, said to me, “I cannot do as I wish, nor as I have done The shadows of the evening are advancing upon me. But while I can use my pen or my tongue, I know who has a right to their service.” If ever I see Mendip again, it must be by a bird’s -eye view from the higher hill of Zion above. But I trust I shall at intervals recollect with pleasure the happy week I passed at Cowslip Green, while I can remember any thing.

May you and all the ladies accept my repeated thanks for all the kindness I have received from you, and if we never all meet together in the flesh, I hope we shall often meet at a throne of grace while upon earth, and hereafter before the throne of glory, and join in the songs of unceasing praise, “to him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

I am most sincerely,
Your affectionate and much obliged,
John Newton

Controversial Topics And Our Responses

As Christians we are supposed to show mercy and grace to others. The difficulty arises when a controversial topic comes up. What are we to do then? Many people would say that we should avoid difficult or controversial topics and be at peace with all men. I’m sure we’ve all heard the old adage about not discussing religion or politics. How as Christians are we supposed to avoid the topic of religion? Isn’t everything we do and think supposed to be affected by our faith?

Since the scriptures are supposed to be our guide, let’s look at a few instances which deal with difficult issues. When Paul was warning the Galatians about false teachers he called them foolish (Gal 3:1). Sounds like he could have used a course in how to win friends and influence people. Then there was his issue with Cephas and Peter. In Gal 2:11 he writes that he told Cephas off to his face and Paul calls him condemned. Ouch! This dispute he had with Peter and Cephas is believed to have lasted 14 years. The issue, the salvation of the Gentiles. In 2 Tim 4:10 he also says that Demas deserted him and that he loved this present world. I point this out because many have problems if you name a certain pastor and say his teaching is false. They think that you aren’t giving them the benefit of the doubt. Let me show you what Paul has to say on the matter of teaching a false gospel.

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received he is to be accursed!
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. Gal 1:6-10(NASB)

Do you think there is any purpose in him stating twice that to preach another gospel makes you accursed? Do you think he took it lightly? Was it just a matter of opinion? Did he seem worried about offending, or not being tolerant? Does it seem rather unloving and harsh? The truth is, he was very loving. He loved his brothers and sisters in Christ enough to tell them the hard things. He knew that it mattered eternally that he spoke the truth.

In much of Paul’s writings he is warning the church of the false teachers and doctrines they were finding in their daily lives. I’m sure after his letter were read in the church there were many who made statements like the following.
“Isn’t he judgmental?!”
“Who does he think he is, Mr. High and Mighty?”
“He needs to learn to be a little more tolerant of others and how they worship.”

Why is it today that when a false teacher is discussed it isn’t the teacher being questioned and ridiculed, but the one making the statements? Why are we so willing to throw all of the teachings about false doctrine aside and only misapply Matt 7:1? Why are we so willing to boycott a company because we don’t like their insurance plan’s regulations, but we are unwilling to take a look at those who name Christ? Have we not read Matt 7:21-23 and 1 Cor 5:12-13?

Now there are those who speak the truth, but don’t speak with love. I have met some of them. I have met some who don’t speak the truth, and don’t speak with love. Because there are some who don’t show love, doesn’t mean that all who point out false teaching or practice aren’t showing love.

Some don’t like absolutes and like to say, “You can’t put God in a box.” I’d like to agree with them. I can’t put God in a box. He put himself there. He put himself in a great big box, it’s called the Bible. He told us He would never change. He also admonished those who would add to or take away from His word.

Before you get angry that someone is being intolerant or controversial, ask yourself a couple of questions. Do I know what the Bible says about this topic or am I basing what I believe on what I have heard? How important is it that the truth of God’s word be proclaimed?

Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love or Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love. Eph 6:24(NASB)

Edouard

I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since my last post.  Things around here have been busy, and time has flown by.  Lindsay has been doing some free-lance computer work for Gene’s company; working out of the office and from home. The other girls have been battling with their asthma, Hannah’s being the worst. Hannah hasn’t been able to go to church for a couple of months due to her asthma. At times the solitude is hard for her, but the Lord is teaching her many things through this time.

If you have seen the news at all, you are aware of Edouard heading for Houston. We have spent the last couple of days preparing for the storm. They predicted that we would see sustained winds of 60 mph near our house, but thankfully that didn’t happen. There is another band that will hit us later today, but that will not be until this evening.

While we were hanging out around the house I took some pictures, there wasn’t really much else to do.  We had made all of our preparations for the storm, and there was nothing to do but wait wait for the storm.  The first group of pictures are some that I took before the heavy rain began, after a slight rain shower.

The storms coming in causes the girls’ asthma to act up, and this storm affected Rachel the worst. She had to have a breathing treatment first thing this morning, but after resting for a while, she seems to be better.

Hannah and Caroline had a great time playing Nancy Drew on the computer.

Maggie wasn’t sure what to make of the storm.

All Belle was concerned with was taking cat naps.

Hannah enjoyed playing the keyboard.

Lindsay had fun taking pictures of the rain with her new (used) Cannon 20D.

Sarah watched the storm come in.

Tomorrow is Rachel’s birthday, so it will be a very busy day. I hope to start posting more regularly…. again.