True Love

At what point in your life do you think you really began to understand love? Love is introduced to us by our parents, if we have good ones. The love of family is a foundation upon which children grow in their understanding of love. But a child’s love is selfish and limited. It isn’t what it will be when they mature.

Now think about the first time you thought you were “in love.” Maybe you ended up with that person, or maybe that was just a test run for the real thing when it came along.

Loving someone in a long term, committed relationship probably comes closer to the real thing. I have been tremendously blessed to be totally in love with the same guy for over 40 years. And as good as that is, there is another love that I have experienced that is closer yet to true love…when I became a mother.

Parental love is sacrificial, whole-hearted, life-long, and often exhausting. You never stop worrying about your children and you know you would do anything for their happiness.

Parental love is what God feels for you. You are his blessed child, and he would do anything for your happiness…even send his only son to die on a cross for you. His love for you is true love.

1 John 3 (The Message)

16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Love is real when it is given away without any thought of recompense, return, or cost. Love is real when someone else’s needs trump your own. Love is real when it looks like Jesus.

When We Practice Real Love

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

John challenges us to practice REAL LOVE by giving ourselves away just as Jesus gave himself. Just talking about love won’t cut it. Doing love-in-action is the true measure of our love for Jesus. When you live sacrificially for those around you, you are truly living in God’s reality.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command.

When we commit acts of love in Jesus’ name, we are doing what pleases him. He told us to love one another. This is his greatest command.

As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

So go out today and commit an act of true, unconditional, and sacrificial love for someone who needs love. Just as you live deeply in Jesus, so he lives in you. Go and be Jesus today!

Love in Bloom

Hang on to the Rope

The story is told of a helicopter that was called to remove eleven stranded skiers from a mountain top during an avalanche. The pilot deployed a rope ladder and instructed them to hang on. As they clung to the rope and flew away, the wind shear became treacherous when they flew over a deep ravine. The helicopter began to dip, and the pilot called down to the ten men and one woman clinging to the rope that the helicopter could only support the weight of ten people. So in order for everyone to survive, someone would have to let go. 

The skiers began to grumble and fight among themselves, and finally the woman spoke up. 

“Gentlemen, I have lived a life of service to my family. I have sacrificed all of my life for my children and my husband. I denied myself at every turn, even taking care of both my parents before they died. In light of that, I have decided that since sacrifice was the way I lived, sacrifice will be the way I die. I will sacrifice myself so that you all may survive.” When the men heard this they were overcome with gratitude, and immediately every single one of them took their hands off the rope and burst into applause!

But on a more serious note….

For every one of you who lives a life of service to your family, who makes sacrifices for their welfare, and who works tirelessly to provide for your household: we see you. You live a life of frequent self-denial so that others might thrive and be happy. But make no mistake…DON’T LET GO OF THE ROPE.

Joshua 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

That, right there, is your rope. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Grab ahold of him.

I remember once seeing our preschool’s two-year-old class walking to the playground. The teachers use a long rope with multiple loops with handles, and the kids hang on to it as they walk. Yep, we got kids-on-a-rope right here! And you know those kids hang on for life.

So too should we. We need to hang on to God for dear life.

Joshua 23 (The Message)

 8 Hold tight to God, your God, just as you’ve done up to now.

9-10 “God has driven out superpower nations before you. And up to now, no one has been able to stand up to you. Think of it—one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God, your God. Because he fights for you, just as he promised you.

So the next time you’re falling into bed well after midnight because you were up finishing the laundry, helping a child with a science project that they only remembered after dinner is due tomorrow, or fixing the garbage disposal, know that God was there. When the alarm goes off at O-Dark-Thirty tomorrow morning, realize that God will be along for the ride as you commute to work for another long day.

God honors your sacrifice. You are a blessing to your family. So hang on! God is God…YOUR God. You are never alone.

This is the legit Safety Information Card from an airline that I flew on. Once.