March 28, 2014

A Few Quotes on Love by C.S. Lewis

Friday's Thought:

“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.”

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained”


“Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”

March 26, 2014

Dear Mr. Knightly

I found 'Dear Mr. Knightly' to have such an unexpected depth and beauty.

The novel touches on love and forgiveness, on coming out of ones self and the beauty of being vulnerable.

Sam was a foster kid. Growing up in many different homes, without much stability.

Now she is all grown up but struggles with being accepted and loved. She fears rejection and has a hard time sharing herself with others.

But through letters to an unknown benefactor she opens up her heart and learns to express her feelings. She begins to learn she doesn't have to walk this life alone.

I really loved the supporting characters in this novel. Some a little messed up and some with wisdom and guidance. It was beautiful to read and watch these characters grow in their relationships.

I also loved all the references to fictional characters like Lizzy Bennett, Emma, and of course Mr. Knightly. Though Sam hid within these famous novels at the beginning, it was so beautiful to see her begin to grow out of her hiding place and into herself and who God made her to be.

I definitely shed a few tears reading this one.

I highly recommend it!

Buy it HERE on Amazon

March 24, 2014

What Jesus taught me through a homeless man...

Yesterday a homeless man came up to me and asked for money for his lunch.

This time (as there has been many times I've given the homeless money) I actually looked at him, gave him some money, asked him his name then gave him a hug. I don't know if he was telling the truth or lying but for the first time in my life something was different.

I felt the power of God's unconditional love for someone else and I was able to give without expecting anything back in return.

We live in a culture that always wants something back.

And I'm beginning to realize this way of thinking has creep into our Christian culture as well. We don't want to give money to anyone who asks unless we think we may get something back. We tell ourselves it's because we want them to do something good with what we give them. We worked hard for that money, why give it to someone who may misuse it?

This way of thinking is idolatry and money is the idol.

This is not what Jesus taught.

Jesus taught us to give without ever wanting anything in return...anything.

He is teaching us to love others this way...

Because He loves us all this way. This is freedom.

We don't have to pay Jesus back, He gave His life for free.

I pray you open up your heart to the words of Jesus. Some may think they are crazy words, but they are actually words of Life.

Jesus said:

"Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

                                                                      Luke 6:30-36

March 14, 2014

Veil of Tears Movie

Friday's Thought:

Check out this movie preview for Veil of Tears: Hope is on the Way. Narrated by Grammy-Nominated Recording Artist Natalie Grant. 

In theaters March 28th.

The Story: 

"This gripping new documentary film tells the untold story of millions of women in India who are culturally persecuted for no other reason than the fact that they are women. However, despite the centuries of oppression, there are those who are reaching out and trying to change the culture towards women, from the inside out.

These are the faces of true survivors. Those who have withstood a lifetime of adversity in the face of a culture stacked against them. Take a heartfelt journey through the eyes of these women, and others, who unveil their personal stories of persecution, rejection, abandonment, tragedy and even triumph. Get a glimpse of the true resilience of the human spirit and the hope that has changed the lives of millions like these and is helping change millions more.

Narrated by Grammy-Nominated Recording Artist Natalie Grant, this film was shot on-location across the stunning nation of India in some of the most remote tribal villages in the world today. This is a journey where few outsiders have gone before."
                                           From the Veil of Tears Website

"Veil of Tears was so moving and informative. I want everyone to watch it and join us in making a difference in the lives of these women" Francis Chan

March 11, 2014

When we have failed, what next?

"So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"   Romans 2:3-4

God's kindness leads us to repentance.

Many are afraid to come to God with there sins and failures because they are afraid He will be angry and condemn them.

But the Bible says His kindness leads us to repentance.
His kindness!

No matter what you have done, there is hope in Christ Jesus. He calls you to repentance in kindness.

This booklet, 'When We Have Failed - What Next?' by K.P. Yohannan, is very short, but so profound. It shares an encouraging and Biblical way on dealing with our failures and how to move past them.

He starts the booklet with his first chapter called, 'There is Hope.'

He says here:

"I want you to know there is hope. Our failures are no surprise to God. He knows, with greater understanding than we, the creation He made. And this One, who sees our sins, also knows His purposes for us."

And he later says:

"It is never too late. God is not mad at you. He is, in fact, for you. Don't give up. Mighty to save and faithful to love is He. It is to the very ones who know the pain of personal failure that He comes and extends hope:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”  

                                                                     Isaiah 61:1-3

But why do so many of us still mourn over our failures?

K.P. Yohannan quotes Roy Hession:

"If you are still mourning and blaming yourself it is not because God is blaming you; He has put the blame on Jesus. It can only be due to one of two things. 

Either that you have not really repented, or, more likely, you are mourning over your lost righteousness. Perhaps you feel that, having been saved for so long, you should not be failing as you are...You are in effect saying, 'Alas for my lost righteousness.' 

That is nothing but pride."

K.P. Yohannan continues on this point:

"Jesus has taken our blame, the charge against us, the sting of our failure. Then why are we so sick about our failure? Because we thought we were better."

And later he states:

"Deep inside we have the defense that we are better than the wrong we committed."

This really struck me and to be completely honest convicted me. We often think we are better than we are. But Isaiah said our righteousness is just filthy rags before God, ("And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" Isaiah 64:6) then why do we think we are better than our failures?

It's pride.

What we need is to humble ourselves before God and be found in Christ's righteousness.

Paul said:

"...I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."                                                Philippians 3:8-11

 K.P. Yohannan encourages here:

"Let us leave our rags behind and hold on to His riches."

Later on in the book he talks about believing God and to remember His thoughts and ways are above ours.

He says here:

"None of us can totally understand God and His ways with our limited minds. We simply aren't capable. 

But we can believe Him. 

We don't have to understand everything to accept what He says is true. If God says it, we must believe it.

Don't fall into the trap in which you will only believe God if you completely understand Him. Your unbelief will hinder the transformation He wants to bring about in your life. Please don't be a doubter. Join your heart with His and simply believe."

Finally, I'll leave you with this powerful quote from chapter six:

"Along this journey of restoration, every step requires that we believe His Word regardless of our feelings.

So - we must believe there is hope. We must believe that His best remains. We must believe that His road of humility is better than our road of pride. We must believe His restoration is more important than our reputation. We must believe He truly forgives us. And we must believe that by His blood, Satan's head was crushed.

The answer for which you are searching lies in believing God. This is a life of faith."

*This booklet is free for Kindle HERE on Amazon

March 7, 2014

Follow your heart?

Friday's Thought:

'Follow your heart, go with what feels right to you.'

Sound familiar?

It's another one of those catch phrases that have become popular in our culture today.
But what does God have to say about this?

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?

I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings."

Jeremiah 17:7-10                                                    

He says our heart is deceitful above all things! How can I trust it then? How can I follow it?

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is in the Lord.

Is your trust and hope in the Lord?

                       Happy the man whose hopes rely
                       On Israel's God; He made the sky,
                       And earth, and seas, with all their train;
                       His truth for ever stands secure;
                       He saves the oppressed, He feeds the poor,
                       And none shall find His promises vain.
                                                                                    Isaac Watts 

I've shared this music video before, but it just goes so well with this post, I thought I'd share it again. I also just really love the lyrics to this song. : ) Lord, give us a heart after yours. 

It's from a band called Anthem Lights and it's called Follow Your Heart...

                                                  "When I try, I fail
                                                 When I trust, He succeeds."              
                                                                    Corrie Ten Boom

March 4, 2014

Love Beyond Reason

The love of God is so powerful, so unrestrained, so beautiful, so overwhelming and often so incomprehensible.

This book will remind you of this love, and that you are beloved by God.

I thought I'd share a few quotes that really moved me.

From the first chapter, the author says here:

"We may be unlovely, yet we are not unloved."

He continues here:

"Love is why God created us in the first place. Theologians speak of the fact that God created everything freely, not out of necessity. This is a very important idea - it means that God did not make us because he was bored, lonely, or had run out of things to do.

God did not create us out of need. He created us out of his love. 

C.S. Lewis wrote, 'God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.'

But the full extent of God's love was shown not so much when he chose to create us. It was shown when we had become sinful and unlovely."

He quotes Isaiah 64:6:

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." 

And then:

"God proposed to take the human race to where he could change filthy rags and remove the guilt and sin that left the objects of his love so unlovely.

There really is such a place. It is called the cross."

The Desert Experience

In chapter seven, Ortberg writes about the desert experience, which is basically a time in life when you feel God is nowhere near, it's a time we can often feel alone in the world.

He shares these encouraging words to those who may be going through this time:

"...sometimes the desert seems to come for no discernible reason at all.

In these times, even faith is hard. you pray, you pour your heart out to God, but there is no response. No sense of nearness. The Bible is no comfort. You are confused, and you wonder why, but you receive no answer. It is your spirit, your soul, that feels dry and barren. You are not just in the desert. The desert is in you.

In the desert all we have to cling to is the promise.

God has not forgotten you. you have not been abandoned. He leads his children in roundabout ways. He is not in a hurry.

God is at work in the roundabout way of the desert, in ways we do not see and cannot understand. God's way is rarely the quickest way. It is seldom the easiest way. But it is always the best way."

'In the desert all we have to cling to is the promise.' ...This is so true.

There was a short time years ago I questioned if God was real, are you really there God? And who are you really? I see now God allowed that time so that I would sincerely ask these questions and not just believe what I'd been taught. I mattered to Him and He wanted me to know Him, not just know about Him.

The author continues later in the chapter with this:

"In the desert, though, the word of God's love can speak to a deeper place in your heart. in the desert you come to God and you haven't prayed well (or maybe at all), you have been battered by temptation, rocked by doubts, and feel you may be more hindrance than help to whatever work God may be doing in the world. Yet even so you hear the words, 'I still love you. I could not love you more than I do now. I still want you for my child. Haven't you learned? You are the object of my undying affection. You are the beloved."

I never tire of hearing this...You are beloved of God.

The Grace of God

In chapter eight the author writes about love and grace.

He says of remembering we are loved by grace:

"God did not save me by grace only to decide that now he will base how he feels about me on my spiritual performance yesterday, God's love is always a gracious love."

He then talks about Paul.

Paul, the one who killed Christians, until God struck him blind and poured His grace upon him. The one who couldn't stop talking about grace. The one who started and ended his letters with grace.

The author says here:

"Grace is what knocked Paul to the ground on the road to Damascus.

Grace is what brought him to his knees over his sin, and grace is what took his sin away.
Grace was the light that blinded him, and grace was the power that took the scales from his eyes.

Grace gave Paul a thorn in the flesh to keep him from being destroyed by his own arrogance, and grace made Paul's weakness the very home of God's strength.

'My grace is sufficient for you.' God said, and for Paul grace is the first word and the last word and all the words in between. Paul never recovered from the wonder of grace."

We are loved by the grace of God.

Safe in God's Love

Chapter ten speaks of being safe in God's love. What he says particularly on anxiety really spoke to me:

"There is a close connection between anxiety and prayer. we see the same thing when Paul says, 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.'

Many times anxious people read words like this and feel more anxious because they worry too much. But you can't make anxiety go away by an act of the will.

The idea is to allow anxiety to become a cue for prayer. Use anxiety to strengthen your prayer.

...Don't worry about how much anxiety you feel. Simply direct your anxiety towards God.

The anxious feelings may subside. They may not. Don't beat yourself up about that. Your job is not to make sure your feelings are 'spiritually correct.'

Your job - and mine - is to practice constant casting.

You can start right now. Think of the greatest burden on your mind. Maybe it's a problem where you lack wisdom, guilt that plagues you, a task that overwhelms you, a loss or disappointment that seems too much to bear.

You have been carrying it by yourself. cast it on God."

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

He later writes about the cry of our hearts to be loved:

"You are the beloved of God.

This cry of our hearts to be loved is only the faint echo of God's desire to love us. Before you were ever born, you were beloved in the mind of God. This is the deepest secret to your identity. It cannot be earned or won, only gratefully embraced.

Nothing you will ever do could make God love you more than He does right now: not greater achievement, not greater beauty, not wider recognition, not even greater levels of spirituality and obedience.

Nothing you have ever done could make God love you any less: not any sin, not any failure, not any guilt, not any regret.

The irony is we spend our lives trying to earn the love that we can only receive when we admit our poverty of spirit.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 

To learn to live in the love of God is the challenge of a lifetime."

I'll end with a quote by Martin Luther on the love of God:

"This is the ineffable and infinite mercy of God which the slender capacity of man's heart cannot comprehend and much less utter - the unfathomable depth and burning zeal of God's love toward us."

Buy it HERE on Amazon