Loving God and loving your spouse

Several weeks ago while I was standing in church I had my head bowed and was listening to the prayer the praise and worship leader was offering up to God.  I heard him say,

“…..we praise you (God) for the things you have given us… something… something… something… (my mind drifted)….”, and then I heard him say, “That’s why we adore you.”

That’s why we adore you”, that really stuck out.  My mind drifted again back into its own thoughts.  Thoughts like, “to me adore =love.”  I looked it up in a thesaurus, I was correct.  Let me say it again, “that’s why we adore you” or rather “that’s why we love you”.  What a powerful statement.  I contemplated on it a bit and then I spoke to God on my own behalf.  My prayer went something like this,

Lord, we love you for what you’ve done for us and you have done so much.  We have good reason to love you.  But you God, you don’t love us for what we’ve done, but rather you love us in spite of what we’ve done.  How awesome and amazing are you God to love that much and in that way.”

I then started to ponder why we pray things like, “that’s why we love you” instead of “we love you”, or “I love you”.  Sure, I know that sometimes some of us do just tell God that we love Him and leave it at that but I would also bet that most of us also pray it with reason.   We love Him for what He did.  Is that okay?  Absolutely.  Is that conditional love?  Yes. If He didn’t spill His blood for our lives would we still love Him?  If not, would it be okay?  Hmmm…

I got real with myself and looked at how hard it is for me to love like that.  I began to think about how difficult it can be sometimes to love someone in the way that God loves us.  The thought was disturbing.   Why is it so difficult?  What does it take?  Then I wondered if any of us have ever loved as unconditionally as God does.  Then from out of nowhere came the thought, “That’s what I’m teaching you”.  Was that a self-generated thought or a God-generated thought?  The thought literally was, “That’s what I’m teaching you.”  “I’m”= not me, and “you” = me.  The thought was spoken to me.  Right away I understood where God was going with this.  He was referring to my marriage.

Those of you who are married understand how difficult and challenging marriage can be.  You who are single and think you know how hard it is, heed my words- knowing and experiencing are 2 different things.  Prepare your hearts.

After I prayed that prayer and had those thoughts the pastor got up and spoke.  And guess what, his sermon was about marriage.  How coincidental, hmmm…

I’ll have more to say about the lesson the pastor taught later.  But I will say this about marriage now, it’s an incredibly beautiful journey in which God will show you so much about yourself and He’ll teach you how to truly love someone as He does.  Don’t take the lesson lightly.  Husbands love your wives and wives love your husbands.  Do this in the glory and honor of God.  You’re truly blessed to have each other no matter how you feel at the time.

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Merry Christmas

Has anyone heard of this headline?

Parents Can Rent Toys At New Website

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/12/01/parents-can-rent-toys-at-new-website/

Here’s a new concept for entertaining your kids on Christmas. Instead of spending 500 bucks on toys you can just rent them instead. That’s right, you don’t have to worry about unwanted toys stacking up in your home because now you can get them at a fraction of the cost and return them when your kid’s stop playing with them. You would also have the secondary benefit of teaching them about separation anxiety. And not only that, as if that weren’t exciting enough, you would also curve their hoarding appetite early on before it becomes a real problem. That’s right, they may have to give something old and used up but they’ll get something new and exciting in return.

I remember when I was a kid Christmas was the best time of the year. I couldn’t sleep at all on Christmas Eve anticipating the next morning when I’d get up and open my presents. For me the more the better, and also the bigger the better. It was such a rush to finally open that big box that I’d been staring at for the past 3 weeks. After opening my presents I would organize them in 2 categories. Those I can keep, the toys or anything else that would entertain me- and those you can take back, the underwear, socks or whatever else you tried to prank me with. According to my dad the second category was full of the gifts Santa had brought. I think my dad and Santa were twins separated at birth because it sure did seem like they had the same personality. I played with my toys one by one until I got tired of them. Some would last longer than others but typically I was bored by the end of the day. With boredom came disappointment because I had an empty feeling. “That’s it? That’s all there was to it?” I thought it was supposed to be more special or more magical than that.

You see to me Christmas wasn’t really about giving. Sure everybody said it was, but as a child there seemed to be a whole lot more getting than giving. After having what was considered to be a good Christmas, sometimes getting what I wanted and sometimes not exactly, I was still let down at the end of the day and never could figure out why. But now we can rent the toys instead of buying them so our kids will have an endless supply of entertainment with minimal boredom impact. That’s just what I needed. For the same amount of money my family would have spent on Christmas they could have gotten me an endless supply of new toys for a year.

WHAT IS OUR SOCIETY TEACHING OUR CHILDREN???? I didn’t grasp the meaning of Christmas- will they?

So what is the meaning of Christmas? Our dear friend Charlie Brown seemed to struggle with that very question. Linus and Charlie were on stage when Charlie posed the question. Linus very eloquently removed his thumb from his mouth and walked over to the microphone to say probably the most insightful thing to ever come from the Peanuts. He quoted Luke 2:8-14 and explained the “good news of great joy for all people”, Jesus had just been born.

Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Usually when we celebrate someones birthday we give them gifts. But what can we give the Lord after he’s risen? Several ideas come to mind but what really sticks out is what Jesus himself said in Mathew 25, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ verses 34-40 NIV.

Look around. How many people do you see who are in need? If your answer is none ask God to open your eyes. Who do you see who’s hungry, who’s cold, who’s lonely, who’s homeless, who’s sick, whose children aren’t as fortunate as yours? “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The other day I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s radio show when a woman called in to talk about her son. She and her husband were teaching him about the importance of giving. I think it was his 6th birthday when he said he didn’t want to get anything but would rather give. They decided to help him raise money for a clean water charity fund, she didn’t say who the clean water was for. That little boy raised over $200 to give to the charity. His mother said his face lit up with so much joy for every $5 that came in. Every $5 that he could use to bless someone else. She said he was much more excited on that birthday than any other time when it was all about him. That little boy gets it.

Merry Christmas