Living in Daily Love

Living in daily love (1 Corinthians 13) is one of my top goals in life. So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is tune in to Curt Landry’s “Power Points.”

His 30 second online teaching sessions help to keep me centered in my daily walk with our Lord Jesus. His perspective as a Messianic Jew adds such  a wonderful element, and he ends his nuggets of truth from God’s Word with a prayer for his listeners.

You will find him by tuning in at http://www.curtlandry.com/power-points-curt-landry/. Be blessed!

Falling in Love

Here’s a question for you: Is there such a thing as falling in love with someone after only knowing him or her a short time?

If the stories in our family are any evidence–then I’d say yes.

Mom& Dad wedding 2Mom and Dad: My dad first laid eyes on my beautiful mom at the Cinderella Ballroom in Appleton in 1942. He asked her to dance and, while they were dancing, told her that he was going to marry her. Mom said she thought he was nuts–but three months later, they were married.

Jim and me: Jim told me that as soon as he asked me out the first time, he knew I was the one for him. On our second date, my father answered the door and asked Jim to wait in the living room. Then Dad took me upstairs and said, “When are you two getting married?” He had just seen Jim for the first time, and they hardly exchanged more than a few words between them. I thought Dad was nuts. But three months later, Jim and I were engaged, and five months after that, we married.

Okay, and I’ll confess. When Jim brought me home from that aforementioned second date, we sat in his car, mesmerized by each other and quietly talking for so long that the birds started singing their morning songs before I went inside. By that time, were Jim and I in love? Oh, yes.

So what do you think? Can a couple fall in love even though they’ve only known one another a short time? What’s your experience?

Memorial Day Memories

While I was growing up in Kaukauna, Memorial Day was always a special event. Early in the morning, my father–a WWII veteran–left the house in his American Legion blues with his bugle tucked under his arm. While the rest of the city prepared for the big parade, Dad and a few other vets made their faithful rounds at the cemeteries. Once they had marked each U.S. serviceman’s grave with a small flag and delivered a three-gun salute, Dad raised his bugle to play TAPS.

By ten o’clock, the entire town turned out either to march in or watch the parade.The moment it stretched over the Lawe Street Bridge with my father and the honor guard at its center, the parade paused. The honor guard fired their guns to salute our war dead. Then someone sent the memorial wreath sailing over the the railing. As it hit the waters of the Fox River and began floating downstream, my father lifted his bugle, and the clear, mournful notes of TAPS drifted out over the hushed crowd.

Someone rightly said that we learn more through what is caught than what is taught. By watching my father, not only on Memorial Day but each day of the year, I learned patriotism. I learned to love and appreciate our wonderful Land of the Free, those who risked their lives to keep it so, and our high-flying flag that proudly represents its ideals.

How about you? What Memorial Day memories do you carry in your heart? Please share. We can all use the inspiration.

The Incredible Power of Memory

Today I walked in the rain, sheltered by my big black umbrella and enjoying a brief time with the Lord in my corner of his creation. My walk took me a half-mile down our country road to Lake Winnebago.

I smiled as I discovered deep blue violets and graceful wild geraniums growing along the roadside. During the months of May in my childhood, I picked bouquets of these pretty blossoms and other wildflowers to delight my mother. Those were sweet times.

Today birds whistling, trilling, and chirruping with all their hearts presented a great symphony that filled the morning air. Again I smiled, recalling all the springtime mornings I awakened to their joyous songs.

Memory is a powerful tool. That’s probably why God invites us to remember those times when he has answered our prayers and helped us. Why bother to remember? Because such memories cheer and encourage us. They help us hang on when life becomes difficult. They remind us that God is good. He deeply loves us and has filled his Word with wonderful promises of all he delights in doing for us.

Has God answered a prayer dear to your heart? Remember and be encouraged. Has God restored your health or the health of someone you love? Remember and be filled with thanksgiving. Has God given you the wisdom or strength to overcome an obstacle in your life? Remember and sing his praises. Keep a treasury of your memories of God’s goodness. It will encourage you to trust him today and in the days to come.

Focus: “I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts” ~ Psalm 77:11-12, New Living Translation.

How about you? What memories of God’s goodness do you hold dear to your heart?

(This blog post adapted from a May 2001 piece published by Together in Faith in my ten-year column, Love with Shoes On.)

Forgiven by God

Evening in Jerusalem closed around Jesus as he shared a last meal with his disciples in the Upper Room. When supper was nearly over, he took a cup of wine and announced God’s new covenant to save them–“an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you” (Luke 22:20, New Living Translation).

No longer would sins be forgiven by sacrificing blemish-free lambs, goats, and bulls to God. God’s new covenant would soon be sealed for all time with the blood of his Son–the one Person who (1) was born sinless and (2) lived an entirely sin-free life.

Weeks later, Peter clearly declared to all who would listen the identity of that sinless One–“Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the man you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead. There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all heaven for people to call on to save them” (Acts 4:12).

But why do we need to be saved? What does Jesus’ blood save us from?

From God’s judgment. When we sin–no matter how small, we bring down on our heads the penalty of death. First, spiritual death which makes us slaves to sin here on earth. Later, when our bodies die, the judgment includes another death–eternal separation from our loving God who is  “so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his son, and our sins are forgiven” (Ephesians 1:7).

Imagine! If we want it, we can have it–our sins forgiven, our slates wiped clean by the blood of Jesus–the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. If we will only accept the precious shed blood of Christ Jesus as payment for our sins (Ephesians 2:13).

Why blood?

God’s Word tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). Yet God knew the debt we owed him was far beyond our ability to pay, so he paid that debt himself! He died in our place and rose from the dead. What other response can we give to Jesus our Savior than to shout for joy.

Focus: “All praise to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us” ~ Revelation 1:5, New Living Translation.

How about you? How do you instinctively  respond to the idea of your sins forgiven through Jesus?

Freedom from Prison

“How can you ask me to do that?” Alison wiped the tears from her face. “You know all the ugly things he’s done.”

Yes, Debra knew what her brother-in-law had done before, during, and since their nasty divorce. She also knew how much it hurt when someone who should love you turned on you in hatred. Hadn’t her own daughter hurt her more than any parent should be asked to endure?

“But that’s not the point–” she began.

“Oh, I get it. You want me to say, ‘I forgive you, Leo. It’s all right. It wasn’t your fault.”

“Not at all.” How could Debra help her dear sister understand? Oh, yes. “Alison, remember the story Jesus told about the king who forgave his manager who embezzled a million dollars from him? Do you remember how that same manager then refused to forgive someone who owed him very little?”

Alison nodded, but from her glowering expression, Debra  had the feeling her sister knew where this was going and didn’t like it. She continued anyway, “Later the king discovered his manger refused to forgive a neighbor’s debt and threw his manager in prison.”

Debra looked into her sister’s red-rimmed eyes. “Alison, unforgiveness is a prison.”

Alison crossed her arms. “So you want me to let him get away with all the terrible things he’s done–all the terrible things he still does every chance he gets.”

“I want you to put all that in God’s hands where it belongs. The important thing is for you–all of us–to trust God to know what is best.” Debra took took her sister’s hands. “Alison, when we choose to forgive, we get our lives back. We are free! No more tormenting prison of self-pity and hatred. You want that, don’t you? Then start right now by forgiving Leo for each thing you remember that still hurts you.”

“Forgiving him won’t stop him.”

“No,” Debra said.”But as long as you keep forgiving, you stay free and give God room to work in your heart and his. Alison, let God handle Leo.”

Debra was right. Forgiving another’s wrongs doesn’t make the person right. It simply says, “I cancel the debt you owe me–love, money, respect, or anything else–and put the matter in God’s hands.” Jesus gave us our one sure way out of the painful prison of unforgiveness.

Focus: “Forgive whatever grievances you may have … forgive as the Lord forgave you” ~ Colossians 3:13, New International Version.

How about you? What do you think of Jesus’ method of freeing yourself from the prison of unforgiveness? How has it worked for you or someone you know?

 

 

God’s Care in Frightening Circumstances

As soon as my husband left for his out-of-town seminar, I hopped in my car to shop for Mom’s birthday gift. Five miles up the road, my little red Saab accelerated on its own. I pressed the brakes. It slowed, but the moment I let up, my car shot ahead with a vengeance!

All thoughts of shopping fled as I headed straight for the garage that serviced our cars. Closed.

“What now, Lord?”

A desire to head home gripped me. I wrestled  with my runaway car for two miles before pulling into a Volvo sales lot. Turning off the ignition, I rested my head against the steering wheel and wept. Safe for the moment, I was still three miles from home and no closer to solving my problem. “What should I do, Lord?”

A tall man in a spotless white jumpsuit appeared at the passenger side door. “Can I help you?”

He listened to my story. “Bring it into the garage. I’ll take a look.”

I glanced at my purse, sure that what little money I had with me was about to disappear.

He looked under the hood and sprayed a “sticky valve.” With a smile, he told me the trouble would disappear by the time I reached home. “No charge,” he insisted.

My nerves had begun to settle as I arrived at the next intersection. Two cars pulled up behind me while I waited for a white semi with “Student Driver” splashed in red along its side. It turned onto our road. Too late I saw the danger!

Amid a series of deafening hisses, its back tires rolled toward my front bumper. Frantic, I fumbled to jam my car in reverse–without success. As the huge tires pressed against my bumper, I screamed for God’s help. “Jesus!” The truck stopped and fell silent.

I reached home in a sorry state of nerves. Collapsing  on the living room floor, I wept. “Lord, why did you let this happen to me? Why didn’t you take care of me?”

I did, child. You’re home and you’re safe. His gentle words soothed my heart.

God doesn’t always spare us life’s frightening circumstances. But whatever we face, if we trust and obey him, we come to know the blessing of his shield of love.

Focus: “You bless the godly man, O Lord; you protect him with your shield of love” ~ Psalm 5:12, New Living Translation.

How about you? Can you recall a time when God saved you in the midst of a frightening circumstance? Please share.