Loving God and Loving Others

Just a couple weeks ago, as my husband and I were driving home from church, we noticed the word LOVE as part of the logo on the side of a van. As we continued on our way to the house, we had a discussion on how poorly the English language defines what LOVE really means. One English word embraces such ideas as “loving” (enjoying) ice cream, feeling sexual passion, having a physical attraction to someone, and the love God has toward us and desires for us to have toward Him and our families. This is not true in most languages.

Greek, the original language of the New Testament, is one of the languages that uses several words to differentiate the range of meanings of the English word LOVE.  Agape is the word used to express the love of God for His children. Agape refers to the unconditional love that always seeks the good of another. This is the kind of love that God calls us to have toward Him, our families, and others in the body of Christ. Philia is another Greek word used in the Bible, meaning the affectionate regard or loyalty we should have toward our friends. The third Greek word in the New Testament is storge. It means natural affection, such as the love within a family, and though not used alone in the Bible it is used twice with the prefix a-, translated “without natural affection,” and once in combination with philia, translated “brotherly love.”  The fourth Greek word for love, eros (sexual passion), was a  common word in Greek culture and philosophy but was not used in the Bible.  Agape is the word used in all of the verses of Scripture referenced below.

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.John, who referred to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), has a lot to teach us about LOVE. In his letter of 1 John, we learn the following important truths:

  • Love is initiated by God. 1 John 4:10 says, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (NLT)
  • Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is evidence that we have become children of God, that we have passed from (spiritual) death to life. (1 John 3:10,14)
  • Our love for God is seen in our obedience to His Word. (1 John 2:6; also see John 14:15)
  • If we love God. we will not love the world, that is, the present condition of human affairs, influenced by sin and alienated from God. (1 John 2:15) This does not mean that we are not to love the lost. We are not to love the world system, or the things of the world, but loving people who need to know the Lord is our motivation for sharing the Gospel with them.
  • Jesus set the example of love for us when He laid down His life, and we are to do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ. (1 John 3:16)
  • Our love for others is not to be in word only. We are to love “in deed and truth.” If we see a brother or sister in need, and we have the means of meeting the need, we are not to close our hearts toward them. (1 John 4:20-21)

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God loves us, and He calls us to love one another. As we’ve read the above Scriptures, I hope we have all been motivated to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts and to be a reflector of His love to those around us. This kind of love has the power to change lives!

This post is a part of Tuesday at Ten, the Tuesday blog Link up where Karen posts a prompt phrase or word and you use that prompt as a part of your writing. This week’s prompt word is “Love.”

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A Beautiful Masterpiece

Love this blog post from a writing friend. We truly are God’s masterpiece, and He knows how each stroke fits together to make His finished painting.

Life in the Spacious Place

Heart Paint Splatter

The artist steps back from his painting to review his work so far.  It is taking shape and he is pleased with his progress.  He can see how the picture he imagined is gradually coming together, just as he intended.

To a bystander it may not look particularly special right now.  They may wonder why the artist has painted it as he has, failing to see what the splodge of paint here or the shadowy patch there represents.  They may not understand how it is taking shape.  They may even question why the artist perseveres with this work.  Wouldn’t it be better to give up and start again?

But the artist knows exactly what he is trying to accomplish.  He has a vision in his mind and he can gradually see it being realised.  While his work may not look like much just now, he knows how he will develop it…

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Five Minute Friday::Doubt

Today I’m joining the ladies at Five Minute Friday, for five minutes of free writing. Today’s topic is doubt. If you’re interested in learning more about Five Minute Fridays, check Kate Motaung’s site Heading Home.

This morning got off to a busy start, which wasn’t a good thing for me physically. By the time I sat down with my breakfast, I was in such excruciating back pain that my hands were shaky as I tried to eat my cereal. I saw right away that a good part of this day would need to be spent in rest or my husband’s and my plans for tonight would have to be changed.

I tend to be a perfectionist, and my to-do list is usually longer than anyone could tackle in a day. As a sufferer of several chronic illnesses, I’ve learned the importance of rest. There are two kinds of rest, physical rest and the kind of rest that Jesus spoke of in the gospel of Matthew. The author of Hebrews, in chapter 4,  also taught on rest. He said that two things keep us from entering the mental and spiritual rest that God has for us. The first is disobedience to the known will of God, and the second is unbelief – doubting the character and the Word of God.


Today, I need physical rest. But every day I need spiritual rest. I partake of that by taking on the yoke of Jesus, walking with Him at my side throughout the day. He says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light – unlike my typical to-do list. It’s time to rest in Him and learn from Him what He wants me to do with the time He has given me. If I ask without doubting, He promises to answer!

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Tuesday at Ten {A Moment I Will Never Forget…}

This post is a part of Tuesday at Ten, the Tuesday blog Link up where Karen posts a prompt phrase and you use that phrase as a part of your writing. This week’s prompt is “A Moment I Will Never Forget.”

I was sitting in a high school Latin classroom, in 1963, and the other students had left for the day. The teacher had offered to tutor me free of charge, because I was really struggling with learning this ancient language, and frankly wondering what I would gain from learning it. She worked with me for a couple hours a week to help me pass this class, but what I remember from this day had nothing to do with Latin. It was the words she said to me, as we took a break from the Latin instruction to watch a special news report on the television. She said, “You’ll never forget where you were on this day when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.” She was right.

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Fifty-two years later, I don’t remember a word of Latin. But I did pass this class, finished high school and college, and went on to be a teacher myself. I don’t even remember the name of this kind Latin teacher who cared enough to spend many hours helping me.  But I definitely do remember this teacher and her words to me on this memorable day. This was a moment I’ll never forget!

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On Being a Writer: Limit (Chapter 12)

I’m joining with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. Today’s chapter is “Limit – Because I write, I let some things go.”

Limits are something I’m very familiar with, since chronic diseases have forced me to accept many limitations for my own safety. I no longer drive, there are many household responsibilities I need help with, even getting out of most chairs requires my husband’s assistance. But writing is one thing I can do in spite of my physical limitations. I may need to skip a planned writing time occasionally because of a doctor’s appointment or a need to rest when my symptoms are worse than normal, but usually writing is something I CAN do in spite of my limitations.

For several years, I was the primary caregiver for my mother-in-law who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Other responsibilities still needed to be done, but for a season my writing had to be put “on the shelf.” Sitting with Mom, especially when she was at the stage where she was constantly jabbering, made it impossible to work on anything that required focus. But when that season ended a year ago, I slowly began picking up writing again. At first, it was intermittent, but then a few months ago I made a commitment to spend two afternoons per week working on writing. Soon, that became three afternoons per week. The only thing I can honestly say I’ve had to let go to write are spending daytime hours reading emails, checking social media, and playing online games. I’ve allowed for some time in the evenings for these things, but they are no longer a part of my daytime “work” hours.

Life is often about priorities: to do one thing well, we need to give up something else. In the years of homeschooling my daughter, my focus was on doing that job the best I could. When my special-needs son was in a home-bound school program, with a teacher and several therapists coming to the house every week, this became my focal point. And more recently, my efforts were centered on caregiving. It’s up to each of us to determine what assignment God has given us for the current season, and then do our best to fulfill that assignment. I strongly believe that my current assignment is primarily writing, so I am now making it a priority.

On Being a Writer: Rest (Chapter 11)

REST. Yes, this is a need I am well acquainted with.

I woke up this morning at 7:30am, then laid in bed listening to contemporary Christian music for thirty minutes before getting up and dressing. Next, I took the sheets off my bed and put them in the washer. After that, it was time to rest.

Why, you ask, would I need to rest so early in the day? Because I have been diagnosed with a long list of chronic illnesses and live daily with pain. Yet I have to function, to keep my household running and our home reasonably clean. Doing this requires taking at least ten minutes to rest when the pain becomes severe. My day advances in spurts: do a task that requires standing for no more than ten minutes, sit down and work on something else for maybe half an hour, then get back up and do a small housecleaning job for ten minutes. I allow pain – usually in my lower back or neck and shoulders – to tell me when been on my feet long enough, and I then take time to rest.

Resting is an important part of taking care of myself, so that I will have the strength to do the things God has called me to do. And just as my body needs rest because of my chronic illnesses, my mind requires periods of rest so that I can be at my best when I sit down to write. As I schedule times of physical rest into my days, I also schedule times of rest from writing into my weekly plans.

God made the need for rest clear in His Word. First, He set the pattern of working six days then resting on the seventh day, when He rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. For the Jewish people, He established the Sabbath as a day of rest. Apparently the people were thinking a day of rest was good, except when time was limited and crops needed to be harvested, because in Exodus He made it clear that this was not an exception. Even when deadlines loomed ahead, the need of a day of rest was taught.

This Sabbath principle is one I’ve made a part of my life. As Christians, our day of rest is Sunday. My husband and I don’t make this a law we must follow, but with few exceptions we take Sundays as a day of rest from work. On Sundays, I do only essential housework (meal preparation, washing dishes) and I take a break from writing. My husband takes a break from video production and editing, and we make it a goal to spend some time doing something as a family. I also take breaks during my time set aside for writing to get up and walk around or spend a few minutes on something else that needs to be done. At this point, I am not writing every day – my current goal is to publish at least one blog post per week. But if that changes and writing becomes my “full-time job,” I might also need to schedule an occassional week off from writing. And my breaks from writing aren’t necessarily breaks from words – one of my favorite ways to relax is to sit down with a good novel. Since my physical problems require sitting much of the time, this works for me.

Charles Spurgeon, one of the best known preachers of the nineteenth century and and a prolific author, understood the importance of rest. He said, “Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.” If Spurgeon accomplished all he did, while still taking time to rest, should we not follow his example. Taking time to rest is wise!

On Being a Writer: Plan (Chapter 10)

I’m joining with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. Today’s chapter is on planning, on being intentional with our next steps.

I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. I can still remember my wedding day. I had all the details on my end worked out ahead of time, so when my soon-to-be mother-in-law and my family wanted to go out to breakfast in the morning, I was ready to go. My fiance, on the other hand, passed up the breakfast invitation, and he has told me since that he was running around until ten minutes before the ceremony trying to get everything on his end set up. Planning ahead is wise.

Concerning my writing, I also have been planning. The thing I’m currently working on is story leads and openings, and as God reveals other weaknesses in my writing, I’ll move onto them. But I know where I’m headed eventually, and I have the steps to get there laid out.

My final goal for my writing is to write a memoir on my life as the mother of a medically fragile and mentally disabled child. But I recognize I’m not even close to handling such a complicated project. So my next step is to continue working on writing skills, while I expand my reader base by posting on a variety of blog link-up sites. After that, I’ll start finding some magazines and online sites that fit my writing style, and begin submitting queries for article ideas. Once I have had a variety of articles published by paying sites, it will probably be time to start on the book that I believe God wants me to write.

Finally, being a planner by nature, there’s a balancing truth I need to remind myself of frequently. Even though I have an idea of where I want to go with my writing, God is the One who is in charge. I make plans, but as I give God control of my writing – and every other area of my life – He has veto power over my plans. As Corrie ten Boom said: “Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.” Planning plus being filled with the Holy Spirit and sensitive to His voice together result in moving forward to complete God’s plans for me as a writer.

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