Celebrate Genuine Love!

Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love!  I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images.  When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful.  In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.  So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!

Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:

  • Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
  • Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
  • Smile & watch for gratitude opportunities – clean air, warm sun, nice coffee / tea, clean water, beautiful trees & HEAPS more!!

Happy Genuine Love day to you!!

Learning to Love Well

Hello from Dubai!  What an interesting city & diverse population!  Our guide told us that about 85% of this city is not local & only 15% are native born. So I’ve been here less than 12hours & I’ve met folk from Bangladesh, Greece, India, Afghanistan, Egypt & lots of other places!  With such diversity, it’s helpful to be friendly, smile & be a learner. It seems to me that when I’m open to learn, that often helps me to love & in particular learning from people who are very different from me. 

Some thoughts for loving well:

  • See people & not objects, projects nor  functions 
  • Serve & smile
  • Flexible let’s me adapt to enjoy & thereby love better

Here are some interesting pix from Dubai today 🙂

 

Shock Value

There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking.  It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.

And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut.  For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day.  Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:

  • He ate with sinners.
  • He associated with tax collectors.
  • He kept company with the irresuptable.

All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens.  And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love.  Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂

Have a happy weekend!

Those Yucky People

“Why is He eating & drinking with sinners and tax collectors?”  This is what the scribes of the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples in Mark 2:16, when Jesus got all cozy with these less than upright scum.  The tax collectors and sinners were considered “yucky people” by the religious leaders and zealots of Jesus’ day.  So no wonder they questioned Jesus’ decision to not only associate, but also get cozy with such reprobates.

And I’m so thankful for His reply in Mark 2:17, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick;  I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Thankfully, Jesus has never required us to get everything clean and pristine in our lives before He would hang out with us.  Not only does He accept us as we are, but He makes us better because of His genuine love for us.  In the same way, let’s be certain that no one in our lives gets the “yucky” treatment, being ostracized, belittled or shamed.  Indeed, Jesus loves us and wants to love through us!

911

For many Americans, today is a memorable day because of the events from 2001.  I suspect that many of us remember where we were & what we were doing when the two planes flew into the World Trade Center in NYC. There are probably several other monumental events in your life that various triggers that evoke various memories & feelings.

While it’s important to keep these national events memorialized, let’s never trivialize the eternal work that Jesus does in our lives.  His work includes not only our eternal salvation, but also the daily experience we can have with God’s genuine love not only to us, but also through us.  Let’s be certain to remember God’s continuing work in our lives, so that God can express genuine love through us to the people around us!  The world is living in a continual state of 911, making emergency calls that only God’s genuine love can answer & resolve!

Who Is Different?

When I was growing up, my dad would take me to garage sales, art galleries, museums, estate sales, hospital visits, nursing homes, etc with an occassional stop at Arby’s for a jamocha shake & potatoe cakes – yum!!  So during my childhood, I was around lots of people who were very different than me.  It helped me a lot that my dad was very personable & never knew a stranger because I was realtively quiet & reflective.

As an adult, I also have the privilege of getting to meet lots of people from all walks of life.  I meet poor folk & prosperous folk, educated & uneducated people, polite & rude folk, insightful & obtuse . . . . Some people are alot like me & we see life from a similar perspective.  In contrast, I’m also around alot of people who are very different from me & I love this!!  What is wonderful about each person that I meet, is that they are deeply valuable, highly esteemed and massively loved by our Heavenly Father.  Let’s be intentional that we cultivate connections with people are different from us & make the committment to express genuine love regardless of our commonalities or differences!

Give Hope

“Everyone is going to make it!”  In Acts 27, these were Paul’s words to his fellow travelers who were on a ship, when everyone had lost hope that they would survive.  And these travelers had very good reasons to have lost hope:  an horrific storm that lasted more than two weeks, no sun or stars (so there was no navigation ability), sailors who were trying to abandon the ship, endless ups and downs, rain, wind and instability on a ship, and no sight or inkling of land for numerous days, to say nothing of not eating for two weeks because of raw nerves and fear.

In our daily living, we get to choose how we will respond to the ups and downs of life.  The people around us can be despondent and lose hope, but let’s be the one who stands confident in God’s goodness and love, offering hope and future, just like Paul in the middle of a brutal storm.  Let’s actively choose to trust in God’s love and goodness, while offering hope as a life preserver to anyone around us who may be discouraged by the storms of life!

Beyond the Surface

“Her eyes were empty” 

I’m in Cambodia & have met women here in the sex industry & their eyes are vacant. On the surface, our initial reaction could be one of shame, disinterest, judgment, revulsion or not even seeing her. When a persons eyes seem empty or vacant, it can be easy to overlook them. But we need to see past the surface & we need to look beyond our initial reactions to see a human for whom Jesus died & deeply loves. 

No one, including you & me, wants to be ignored, overlooked, shamed, judged nor rejected. With genuine love there is never a scarcity, so this helps us to see beyond the surface. In contrast, there’s always a shortage with transactional love. 

Let’s let Holy Spirit Help is to see beyond the surface!

To Be Known

“ . . . . just as also I have been fully known.”  1 Cor 13:12

When I think about who I am & who I present myself to be, I want to think that there’s no discrepancy. But sometimes there is. It’s not uncommon for us to be in a situation & moderate ourselves to be situation appropriate. There’s some wisdom with these kinds of choices. 

But I appreciate that we Jesus / Genuine Love, there’s no need to modify or regulate who we are. Indeed, no one knows us better than Jesus & being anything less than fully transparent w Him is a tragic distortion of intimacy. And even worse, we miss experiencing genuine love. And in full truth, we are made for genuine love – to be loved & fully known, as well as knowing & fully loving Jesus. 

Happy Father’s Day weekend!

Celebrating LOVE!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Maybe you like the chocolate that is often associated with this day, or the candy hearts with little messages on them, or perhaps the romance possibility is appealing for you today.  On the flip side, for many people, Valentine’s Day can be a discouraging reminder of an unfulfilled or broken relationship.

Regardless of your feelings about this day, let’s choose together to celebrate genuine love!!  And maybe today can be more about genuine love than about the romance, cards, candy, chocolate or flowers.  Maybe we can choose to make today about expressing genuine love not only to people that we know & love, but also to the people we don’t know or maybe don’t love so much.  I’m learning an interesting lesson with genuine love:  the more I genuinely love, the more I feel genuinely loved 🙂

Feel free to send this to your friends and family today, as you celebrate genuine love!!

Inseparable

In Romans 8:28-29, there’s a list of things that God says won’t separate us from His love for us, stuff like death / life, angels / demons, etc. It’s a very impressive list & comforting to know that none of these things would interrupt nor interfere with God’s love for us!!
The question then rises, if God’s love for us doesn’t have any gaps, then is it possible that we might let some things separate us from God’s love? Is it possible that we allow things to separate us from god’s Love, stuff like fear, pride, unbelief, busy-ness, worries, relationships, sickness, past memories, unforgiveness. Over this weekend, I’d challenge you to take some moments to inventory your life, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to see what you might be allowing in your life that could cause some obstacles for you to experience & deeply know the Father’s love for you 🙂

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!

Love Well

I have lots of people in my life who are very different from me. I have friends who are professional, starched, button-down, pressed & who have life wrapped around their little finger mostly. I have other friends who are a little more like me, less polished & borderline bohemian.
But loving well is the bridge that connects me with people regardless of our differences. And here’s the truth that needs to reside in the marrow of our bones: people don’t have to be like us to be loved by us. Indeed, Jesus loved a wide spectrum of people, including cheats, hustlers, liars, whimps & wannabes. Loving people is an internal decision & this doesn’t need to be dependent on who they are, what they do or how they behave. Let’s be committed to loving well!

Fleeing at Midnight

I’m in Bangledesh & interviewing families who have recently fled from Burma, literally running for their lives, many of whom are pregnant, with newborns & babies in tow. The things I’m hearing & seeing here are deeply moving. I’ve met moms who have lost their babies, whose babies are malnourished & who are trying to nurse newborn twins. This is all very powerful for me to hear & see, meeting mom’s & babies who have survived atrocities & uncertainties of catastrophic proportions.
And i  can’t help but think about Mary, Jesus’ mom, who fled in the middle of the night with Joseph, with baby Jesus in her arms. Joseph had a warning dream about Herod killing all the babies in Bethlehem, so with tremendous urgency, he escaped Herod’s murderous intent. So Mary understood the plight of the moms I’m meeting.
May we also find genuine love to be our first reaction when we hear of refugees & moms who are doing everything possible to keep their babies alive & safe.

Unlovable

I know that there are seasons when I’m more lovable. And I’m like-able when I’m not sullen, morose, discouraged or cranky. But I’m not a robot & I go through the ups & downs of life. Sometimes I go through experiences & seasons that are extremely difficult. Sometimes, I make bad decisions, letting my flesh rule my choices & priorities & that’s no bueno.
Here’s the hope: In my paraphrase, Romans 5:8 says that in my least lovable condition, Jesus demonstrated His most extravagant love for me by giving His life in my place. I’ve read this verse loads of times, but what always stops my heart is that the verb “demonstrate” is in the present tense in Greek, which means a continuous activity. So God is continually demonstrating Their love to me, since They are Triune & that’s heaps of continuous love!!! I never grow weary of remembering that God loves me because God is love & not because I’m lovable or I deserve or earned that love 🙂

Heroes

When I travel, I often meet people whom I admire & my weekend in New Zealand was no exception. To be sure, the country is entirely magnificent with its natural beauty, but her citizens are equally as enchanting. I met folk who are respectful in their conversations & engagement with diverse cultures. I met people who have overcome adversities that would make your hair stand on end. I met people who have a deep love for Jesus & carry His heart in their daily interactions, eager to serve & express genuine love.
We all meet people who have warts & flaws, but let’s have the courage & determination to see past those shortfalls & see each person as a glorious creation of our loving Heavenly Father!

The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Truth Or Love??

Maybe I’m the only person to struggle with his, but I find it challenging to be truthful & sincerely loving at the same time. For me, this is a tricky balance because I find it easier to be loving & less truthful or more truthful but less loving.
In Proverbs 3:3, it says that we should keep both love & truth around our neck & written on the tablets of our heart. In this verse, we don’t get to pick one over the other, love over truth or truth over love. Instead, we are to blend them together as they connect our head to our body (as a necklace) & permanently inscribed on our hearts to inform our core values & define our actions, conversations & outlook.
With the Holy Spirit helping us, let’s blend love & truth throughout our daily living!

Love on Valentines Day

This picture is the word “love” in 9 different languages. It took me awhile to practice the one in Mandarin & I think I kind of botched the Arabic one. But the idea remains the same regardless of the script or language.
Valentines Day is often attributed to expressing romantic love, but genuine love is WAY MORE than romance. Genuine love is grounded in the reality that God is love & nothing we do or don’t do will change Who God is, full stop. God will never stop loving you because God will never stop existing.
So let’s not only celebrate that God loves us, but let’s allow that opulent & lavish love God gives us to overflow through us today!