Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Experiencing God's Love 2

A few months ago I did a blog on "experiencing God's love." However, this topic is so big, that I wanted to explore it some more. I realize that I am not able to express completely how, or in what ways we experience God's love. There are so many ways that this is true.
I would like to share again some thoughts on this, because I believe it is such an important topic. We tend to take love for granted; especially God's love. We forget that God's love is unconditional. Even though we don't deserve it, God showers us with His love. As I was thinking about more ways I find this to be true, I came up with a couple more I wanted to share; children, and forgiveness.
I believe that God gives us children to help us to love and be loved. Before I was a father I would see my friends with their children. They would care for them, and be there for them, and talk about how much they loved them. But I could never fully understand this until I was a father. The love I have for my children is impossible to explain to others. I love my children completely. There isn't anything they could do that would cause me to stop loving them. And the love I receive back from them is truly priceless. In this experience, I have learned so much about my relationship with God. I can understand God's love better by understanding the immense and unconditional love I have for my children!
A second way I realized I experience God's love is by the forgiveness God gives to me. Romans 3:23 reminds us that "for we all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory." But, God doesn't leave us in our sin. Christ gave His life for us on the cross so that we might be forgiven. Therefore, we are told in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, then He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness." What does this mean? Well, as Psalm 32:1, "Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." We are able to experience happiness because we are no longer weighed down by sin and guilt!
I asked some friends what they thought, and this is some of their responses:
When the congregation at church greet each other with hugs. I experience God's love through my family and friends.God shows his love during times of trial in my life when I don't even realize it and He is working things out for me. God provides what I need and not necessarily what I want. Through sunshine, birds chirping, flowers, and nature. I'd love to know how you experience God's love.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life is full of Challenges

When golf balls were first manufactured, they made the covers smooth. However, it was then discovered that after a ball had been roughed up, they flew further. So, they started making them with dimpled covers. This is how it is with life, that by going through the challenges of life, we might get roughed up, and we actually become stronger.
Have you ever felt that when you go out into the world, you are like a sheep amongst wolves? You try to be nice, and kind, and loving, and giving, only to find that others take advantage of you, or are unresponsive to your generosity? And this can be frustrating and can get us down.
I know that all too often I focus on the potential rejection and suffering that might come to me, instead of focusing on the protection and provision of God in our lives. The Bible speaks of how when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are filled with the Spirit of God, and have the power of God within us, and working for us.
Many times I am asked how I know what to pray. And my answer is always the same: "I don't think about it, I just let the Spirit of God guide my mind and my words and speak through me. It is the same when we are called to go and live through the challenges of life, we need to let the Spirit direct us and speak through us. It is believing that God will provide for you and me what we need in the times that we need it.
Even though the world can seem like a jungle, full of ferocious animals, it is the wisdom, and innocence, and power of God that will protect us and carry us through it all.
But in the midst of it all, we do need to be careful. In the New Testament, Jesus, in Matthew 10:21, gives us a warning about people: "Brother will betray brother...and a father his child, and children will rise against parents." In our world, you have to be careful who you trust and what situations you put yourself in.Again, this comes back to letting the Spirit of God guide your thoughts and your actions.
I urge you to focus,not on the fact that there are challenges and untrustworthy people, but rather that we are called to be "in" this world, and God will guide us in regards to who we can trust, what we should do, and where we should go. Remember, the challenges actually serve a purpose, to make us stronger, and to help us actually make a difference.
Join with me today in giving thanks to God for the challenges we face, and to seek to learn and grow from them! What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Some people are characters, and others have character. Character is the evaluation of an individual's moral qualities. Character includes qualities like honesty, integrity, loyalty and courage. It has been said that character is who you are when no one is looking. In other words, we might be honest in front of people, but dishonest behind their back.
As I deal with people in the church, it is interesting to see how some people can be trusted, while others cannot. Some people can be counted on and stay true to their word, but others go back on their word like it is nothing.
As a minister, character is not just part of my life, it is an important part of my job. I am called to be an example in who I am for others. I am called to be honest, and loyal, and trustworthy, and above reproach.
But as I say this, shouldn't this be true of everyone? Shouldn't everyone be expected to have good moral character? Why do we expect some people to have more character than others?
Life is full of experiences that not only test our character, but actually develop it. We see this expressed in Romans 5:3-5, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Character is born through our life experiences. As we face suffering in our life, we learn perseverance and fortitude; we learn how to push through the difficulties and not give up. This persevering spirit gives us character, because it gives us a strength that could not be developed by life being easy. We learn the importance of being disciplined and committed and trustworthy, so that we can make things happen. We learn that being trusted by others is a valued quality, because we probably have had people come into our lives during the time of struggle who we trusted, and helped to get us through.
If you were to evaluate your character, how would you do? Are you trustworthy? Honest? Loyal? Responsible? Loving? If not, where do you need to improve? It's not about knocking yourself down, it's about evaluating so that you can improve your character, because none of us is where we need to be. But there is probably little that is more important than having good character.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Being Useful

I think that all people want to feel useful in life. There are definitely times when we mess up and don't feel useful. I remember when I was a kid, and my dad would be doing some work, and I would go over and want to help him, and he might even let me try, but if I failed to do it right, he would step in and take it away from me. Those times caused me to feel not so useful.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever struggled with something, or failed at something, and because you did you didn't feel useful? It is not uncommon to go through periods in life like this. The key is not to believe these negative voices.
The Bible tells us that we are very useful. In Ephesians 2:10 we read: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Did you catch that? We are God's workmanship. We have been created to do good works.
Even more, we are reminded that when God created Adam and Eve, after God had finished creating them, God said: "It is good." We are created with the capability to be good, to do good, and to be useful. The key is finding what you are good at. Maybe it is writing, or drawing, or organizing, or resolving conflicts. Then once you have an idea of what you are good at, seek to find a place to put this to use. It may be your job, it may be your church, it may be at your kids' school.
I am thankful for the times that I can be reminded that I can be useful, because this helps me to break the spell that my struggles, failures, and negative voices have put on me. Refreshing my mind in this truth lifts me up and sets me on the path to "good works." I hope this encourages you as well. Share a comment, and encourage someone else.