Saturday, December 20, 2014

He Called Me Stubborn

He called me “stubborn.” I couldn’t believe it! The person who accused me of this wasn’t my husband, it wasn’t my mother or my sister. It was a member of the church who I dearly love. A member who sobbed when he thought I might die of cancer (which is another story that I might share later; obviously, I’m alive and survived the world’s most dreaded disease—all because of God, I might add—but more about that later). This man is, what I like to think of as, my “big brother” in the Lord. He’s as big as a bear, and even talks like a bear with a booming voice that commands attention.

And he called me stubborn.

He’d said it with a smile and a gentle voice, but I stood before him with a broken heart. Crushed in my spirit that he would say such a thing about me. When had I been stubborn? What did I do? When did I do it? I studied him. Was he serious? But the look on his face told me he was. Actually, I should confess this part. He called me stubborn because I’d called one of my kids stubborn. So, maybe he was just getting me back? I don’t know.

So . . . I dared ask, “How am I stubborn?” I bent closer as if he were revealing a big secret, a secret about myself that I was blind to.

With a raised brow, he pointed to his Bible on the table in front of him.

I straightened, trying to remember a time I had a confrontation with him concerning God’s word. I remembered years ago, before cancer, I was at a home Bible study with his wife. She and her friend had showed some denominational video that contradicted God’s word, and when the video was over they didn’t do anything to correct what was falsely stated to point us back to the Word of God. And well, I spoke up about it, quite passionately, I might add. And others were glad I did. Was that what he was referring to? I honestly didn’t know. But I got the distinct feeling that this was not a compliment.

So, I said the first words that came to my mind, not thinking them through or anything like that. “I just want to be pleasing to God,” I whispered.

And he nodded.

Why, oh why, is wanting to please God a “bad thing?” Yes, I can be stubborn, not just about God’s Word. But I know others who are more stubborn than me. I think we’re all guilty of it. But to be accused of being stubborn about God’s Word? Well, I take that as a compliment! After all, David was in LOVE with God’s Word, His precepts, His Laws! Psalm 119:47-48, “For I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.” This is just a drop in the bucket. If you want to know just how much David loves God’s Word, read ALL of Psalm 119.

We should love God and His word this much too. He is the source of our salvation after all, He pulled me out of a life of sin, He healed me of cancer. I love Him more than words can say, and He says quite often in John 14-15 that if we love Him, we should keep his commandments. I love Him! I want to crawl under His wings and snuggle next to Him. He held me on my sickbed, His chest was my pillow, and His arms were my blankets, and He held me there when I thought I might take my last breath. It’s not wrong to love God with all our heart, strength, soul, and mind. In fact, Jesus commands it.

Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Deut. 6:5, Mat. 22:37 and Luke 10:27 all say the same thing.

Let’s do this! Let’s love God with EVERYTHING we’ve got! Be bold (Prov. 28:1), be courageous (2 Chronicles 32:7-8), be outspoken (Romans 10:9), and be stubborn (can only find negative verses about being stubborn, so let’s try “perseverance”)!

This one says it all:

1 Timothy 4:16

Watch your life and doctrine closely.
Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Discipline." Really?

Years ago, when I was about sixteen, my sister and I were visiting my dad for the weekend. One of our ritual weekend visits because our parents were divorced. I just happened to be digging through my suitcase, eager to put on my new underpants that Mom recently bought me (underpants that didn't reach all the way up to my chest). I was thrilled! These actually had lace at the top. I couldn't wait to get them on! But as I dug through my suitcase, I discovered my younger sister's new underpants, the ones without the lace. As I watched her get into her suitcase (we always packed our own suitcases, btw), I saw MY underwear! MY new lacy, silky panties in HER suitcase! Boy, did she hear it. I stood with my fists on my waist and told her to give me back MY UNDERWEAR! Of course, she wouldn't and outright lied about them being HERS! I couldn't believe that she would be so wicked and lie about something that we BOTH knew wasn't TRUE. I mean seriously. We were both present when Mom gave us our new, beautiful packages of underwear. And we opened them right in front of each other. But she wouldn't back down. Absolutely wouldn't budge. Nose in the air, she slipped on MY PANTIES!

That's when I marched into the living room (don't worry, I was dressed by now, wearing my little sister's panties and clothes over those), and I shouted and blazed, bellowing that my sister was lying and had stolen MY UNDERWEAR! It got so nasty that I shouted in my sister's face (daringly in front of my father), "I HATE YOU!" Yes, all over a pair of panties. sigh Perhaps this was the last straw in a long line of "offenses," but the word hate, and the feelings of hate, came flooding out over a pair of underwear. Well, not just "one pair." An entire set of beautiful panties.

That's when my dad got out his Bible and had me read 1 John 4:20-21, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother who he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also."

Boy, when I read that verse, I was convicted. Still, ticked, but convicted. That's when I backed down and said, "Well, I DON'T LIKE her then. Humph."

It was that evening, and long into the night, that we had a Bible study with my dad (who was recently released from prison where he had learned the gospel, btw), and at around 12 midnight I was baptized. But that's another story.

This post is about "discipline." Have you ever been slapped in the face with "discipline?" Or perhaps you were on the other end of the spectrum, and you (maybe without knowing it) were disciplining someone you loved? Have you ever loved someone so deeply that you warned them when you saw they were going off the path? When you saw---not a flood coming---just a slight wind that might blow them off course?

And then, you got your head bit off, chewed up, spit out and stomped on?


Honestly, I've been on both ends of this spectrum. I've been accused of "judging," of "needing to mind my own business," and even told, "how dare you 'discipline' me!" When I really didn't realize that's what I was doing. But I've also said the same things (if not in the exact same words) when someone was trying to correct me. I've chewed my loved ones up, spit them out, and stomped on them.

However, I never thought a little enlightenment or correction could be considered "discipline." Someone pointed this out to me, and well, I guess they were right. I never thought of it as discipline when you're just trying to point someone in the right direction. And let's say I DID know what it was, that I knew I was stepping out into that barren field of "correction?" Do you think it was easy? Easy to step out all alone to say, "Hey, this is wrong"? No! We need to remember that! If someone does go out of their way for us, to point to a better path, don't bite the person's head off, but remember that this act was likely a very difficult step for them to take, and they're doing it because they love you. If they didn't love you, they wouldn't care what you were doing, even if it was going to harm you. Someone recently had to correct me, and it was much easier to take knowing it was difficult for them to come to me and they were coming to me in love.

Here's something else to consider: What if . . . just WHAT IF the direction they were pointing us to was not a direction or a path of their own choosing? What if it was the Lord's path and what's found in His word?

If someone says, "According to the word/Bible, you should . . . " We shouldn't scoff at it, but instead, be like the Bereans in Acts and look up what they're saying to see if what they're saying is true. We want to be pleasing to the Lord, don't we? Well, let's make an effort to do that (remember, it's not about pleasing the messenger, but about pleasing our God). And it's not easy! Sometimes I don't want to read my Bible for fear I'll be looking right into a mirror that reveals my sinfulness. I don't want to see that. I want to read the verses about God's love for me, about how Jesus died for me and healed the people. Not about how I need to change. Thanks, but no thanks. But if we want to love God back, and live in the light, in His Truth, we better take time to give ourselves those "exams" and take a good hard look in the mirror.

It's important to remember passages like Proverbs 10:17, "He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray."

And Proverbs 12:1, "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."

I'm never fond of correction. In fact, when it first happens, I’m NOT a very nice person! I'm quite stupid, to be honest. Then as time goes on and it all sinks in, I usually (painfully) come around.

I especially hate it when "correction" or "reproof" comes from someone I think should be corrected! ARG! That's the worst! But . . . maybe it's a test to see how much we love Truth? Are we willing to accept it from someone we can't stand?

These passages, along with the one my dad made me read when I was younger, leaped off the page and gave me a quick slap. I don’t like it when that happens, especially if I'm doing something wrong, because it’s blatantly “in my face.” But that's God's word. He's our Father, and He has a way of cutting to the quick!

The following one really hurts. Here it is . . .

Proverbs 15:10b, "He who hates reproof will die."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

He Doesn't Love You!

My parents separated when I was six years old.

While growing up, I often heard the words, "Your father doesn't love you! If he loved you he would do . . . this, that, or the other thing."

I was a Daddy's Girl, so to hear these words crushed my heart. At the same time, I suspected they were true. After all, I experienced times of terror when I was with my father. Yet, despite all his mistakes, I still loved him and longed to be loved by him.

"Your father doesn't love you! Your father is a manipulator! YOUR FATHER . . . . "

After hearing those words over and over again, and knowing some were true, I couldn't help but ask the question, "What is love, anyway?" How does someone "know" if they are loved? So . . . I went on an exploration to discover the answer because deep down the real question taunted my thoughts, "Does my dad really love me?"

He hugged me a lot, taught me a lot, and said he loved me. Wasn't that love? At the same time, I remember when I was younger being terrified of my father and even wishing he was dead. Talk about a love/hate relationship.

Yep, pretty messed up.

While on this trek of discovery, I asked my school psychologist (I regularly saw the High School shrink because of my lovely, pleasant, wonderful childhood experiences), and I asked her, "What's the meaning of love?" She gave me some great advice during this time (which will be revealed later in this post), and she gave me an answer about love that I didn't quite understand. I also discovered that she was busy seeing a psychologist herself and was having a hard time, revealing to my already confused mind that we in this world were ALL a MESS. So . . . I moved on.

That's when I came upon a school counselor, and he was happy to invite me into his office when I asked him my question in the hall. I sat at the other side of his desk when he leaned over and whispered, "I'm really not allowed to share this with you, but because I can see you believe in God, let's just keep this between the two of us." I was more than willing to keep that promise, after all, God was our shared confidant, we had God in common (and by now, this man is likely retired or in his grave, so it's safe to reveal his secret). He proceeded to draw out a pyramid of sorts and explained how love was all based on "trust." He built this pyramid or graph, and after listening to a message that was as unclear as my psychologist's words, I asked him, "Is this what God really says love is?" Nodding and offering for me to take his drawing, he heartily confirmed that his definition was "God-Approved."

I studied the man closely as he tried to convince me that his definition was directly from our Lord and Savior, and as he continued on, all I could wonder was, "When did this man ever meet God? How can he be so confident that this complicated and confusing definition was really from our Lord? As a matter of fact, how can anyone know the truth or be right when none of them have ever met God in person? Seriously?" I thanked the man, because he did work very hard at helping me, and went home thoroughly, utterly lost and confused.

What did "trust" have to do with whether or not my dad loved me?  How did trust work in our situation? I knew one thing was certain, I didn't trust my dad. But that didn't tell me if HE truly loved me.

So . . . I moved on again. This time, I approached a cute guy at church, an excuse to have a conversation with my latest crush. He also just so happened to be a Bible student. I asked him, "What is love? How do I know if my dad loves me? Do you know if there's a verse in the Bible that talks about love?"

That's when he showed me 1 Corinthians 13. I eagerly opened my Bible and started reading. A verse that actually DEFINED love! Who knew something like this was in the Bible?! As a brand-spankin' new Christian, I certainly didn't!

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says,

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not SEEK IT'S OWN, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (emphasis mine).

Hmm, was my dad any of these things? Well, he was kind of patient because he didn't pester me about not speaking to him. Yeah, I'd cut off communication with my dad for several months, and this was after he baptized me. Was he kind? Well, he did study the Bible with me and that's a nice thing to do.

Suddenly, a thought stuck me like a lightning bolt.

Here I was wondering if Dad was "love" and if he matched up to the definition, and so far he was doing pretty good and fitting the bill. But . . .

was I?

Was I "love?" Was I pleasing to God? Was I patient? No, I really had no patience for my dad. Was I kind? Well, not really. I wasn't even speaking to him at the moment. ARG! This meant, I was the one that was NOT loving my dad!

I immediately drove all the way to his place, dreading every mile as I got closer. "God! I don't want to have a relationship with my dad, and I know this apology for not loving him will reopen that door! I don't want it! I DON'T! But I know I have to be "love." I have to live up to the clear and obvious definition you put in your Word. So, I stood on my dad's doorstep for God, not for my dad. But the tears on my dad's face softened my heart a bit, despite the fact that I still didn't want to be near him. Yet, none of that mattered because I knew my heavenly Father above was proud of me. He was the one smiling. Perhaps shedding a few tears? Nah. He wouldn't do that. Or would He?

Not long after this, my mom ranted at me again with the oh-so-common words, "YOUR FATHER this that and the other thing!" I remembered my High School shrink's words, and with angry tears turned and snapped, "Don't you mean YOUR ex-husband?!" Apparently, I took blame upon myself for my dad not being what he should be, all because of the words, "YOUR father."

For the first time, Mom backed down, stepping away several feet from the sharp swing of my words, and gazing at some distant place in the room that no one could see but her. With sorrow and shame clouding her face, she opened her mouth to speak again, but this time . . .  she apologized. And what's so amazing about that moment is she truly was sorry because she NEVER said "your father" again.

Thank you, Mom.

But now, here I was stuck in a relationship with MY father, and it was one I really didn't want. It's taken many years, as I'm now 43, but it was just this year that I learned something quite valuable. Am I being the definition of love, or am I trying to GET love? Is it all about me, or about the other person? What am I looking for in my relationships? My father is never going to love me the way I "want" or "need." Does that mean he doesn't love me? No. He loves me. I know that now. Does he mess up and make mistakes in loving me? Yes. Do I do the same? YES on ALL accounts. So, I've finally learned, even if I "have a right" to that love I'm looking for, it should not keep me from being what love is.

I love my dad for God's sake. I love my dad because I love my God. I no longer love my dad for myself and what I can get out of the relationship, or even for what he should give me. Not anymore. And because of that, I'm not "looking for anything" from him and being let down and disappointed and HURT. I have no more expectations. I've released all of my "wants" and even my "rights" to what I should receive or wish to receive from him. Doing that makes it a nice surprise when he does do something I "want" or "need." It's a pleasant surprise when that happens. But I don't then turn back to him, looking for those things. Instead, I lift my eyes to my heavenly Father who does know "how" to love. Who loves me, even when I fail at loving Him. THAT my friends is true love. God knows how to love. He does it even while we're in our sin. "While we were yet sinners, He died for us!"

So . . . for now on, when you're not getting what you want from someone or what you need from someone, or even what you have a "right to," don't worry. God doesn't get from us what He desires either, but . . . He still loves us. He will still satisfy those needs through other people, or He will simply expect you to grow during that time in the desert.

Just be "love," no matter what. Be LOVE.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Our Armor

We must study and develop an understanding that isn’t contrary to God’s teaching. Anyone can read the Bible and make it say whatever they want, twisting it to suit their own desires.

2 Timothy 4:3-4: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Galatians 1:6-9: I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

It’s important that we set aside what “we think we know” and “our own will,” and simply read each passage and let God’s word do the talking, not add to it or take away from it.

Let’s go back to Ephesians and take a closer look at this battle we’re in. After all, Ephesians is giving us instructions on armor and weaponry.

Ephesians 6:14-18 says, Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.

Okay, so here's our armor:


Now the question is, how does the Bible (God's word) define this armor? We want the correct definition so we’re using the Bible and not our own opinions and ideas.

TRUTH: John 17:17 says, Thy Word is truth. Pretty simple definition, huh?

RIGHTEOUSNESS: There are several verses that define righteousness, but these two sum them all up quite nicely. Ezekiel 18:9: if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully-- he is righteous and will surely live," declares the Lord GOD.

Romans 5:19: For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

So, “righteousness” is the state that results in doing right and being made right in Christ. How do we know what’s “right”? We learn right and wrong by studying God’s word.

THE GOSPEL: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, which says, Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

So that was pretty simple. The Gospel (a.k.a. "Good News") is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

FAITH: Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

SALVATION: Acts 2:38 says, Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. There are several examples in Acts of people being saved: Acts 8:4-13, 35-39; 10:44-48; 16:14-15, 25-33; 18:8; 19:1-5; and 22:1-16.

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT: Ephesians 6:17: . . . sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. 

Didn't have to go far for that one.

PRAY AT ALL TIMES: Prayer is our communication with God and can't be emphasized enough. Prayer is best illustrated through Romans 8:26 in that man does not know how to pray to (speak, address) God, but we need the Holy Spirit to intercede for us (i.e. properly addressing God and explaining our thoughts). Interesting that the intercession is described with “groanings,” implying that we are “complaining, lamenting, begging” maybe? Perhaps that is why prayer is often discussed in connection with “supplication.”

Notice how the "word of God" is mentioned twice in this list of armor . . . twice, under TRUTH and THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, and you can even find it implied in the definition of RIGHTEOUSNESS. That means it's pretty important.

All these answers were found in the word of God. In the Scriptures. Therefore, "It is written . . ." should be our response to our own spiritual battles.

Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Monday, September 1, 2014

It is Written

I didn’t grow up in the church, and oftentimes I found myself in complete confusion about what God wanted and what I needed to do for Him. My parents were divorced and they each had their own answers to my questions. None of the answers were the same. So, when I got confused, I'd go elsewhere (usually to a school counselor or someone like that).

I remember "running all over the place" in search of answers and everyone always had an "opinion." Of course, all these different people had their own unique answers to my questions (again, none were the same), and that’s when I thought: “How do they know they're right when they're just as human as me and my parents? What makes their answers the right ones?" I can remember thinking they never actually "met God," no more than I had, so . . . how can I really know that what they're saying is true? That's when I gave up asking everyone for answers. It became overwhelming. All the answers were different. How could I know what was true? 

That was the beginning of my battle, and I wasn’t even a Christian yet.

I’m sure many of us are familiar with the following verses in Ephesians 6:10-13.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

How in the world do we defend ourselves against such unearthly beings?

During my time of confusion, I must have been surrounded by a spiritual army shooting their arrows to confuse me and keep me from the truth. Finally, by the time I was sixteen, I learned that if “the answers” aren’t in the Bible (the authority of our faith), I didn’t have to listen to them. Our “armor” and the answers to all our questions are in the scriptures.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (emphasis is mine).

Hmm . . . all doesn’t leave much out now does it?

Remember when Satan tried to tempt Jesus? Look at how Jesus responded to Satan every time: Matthew 4:4: It is written . . .  In Matthew 4:7: . . . it is written . . .  and Matthew 4:10: . . . it is written . . . . Jesus fought against Satan with the Word of God. Of course, they didn't have the New Testament at that time, but they had the Old Testament scriptures, and that's what Jesus referred to each time Satan put a temptation before Him.

But what about those who also use scripture to prove their point? When Satan tried to tempt Jesus he quoted scripture to convince Him to go his way. How do we handle that?

Now remember, at one point Satan had Jesus stand on the pinnacle of the temple, so He's up pretty high. Here, Satan throws "IT IS WRITTEN" back at Jesus. Interesting that their "sword play" (which wasn't "playful" by any means at all) is being done with the Word of God (a.k.a. the sword of the Spirit):

Matthew 4:6 says, And [Satan] said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for IT IS WRITTEN, 'He will command His angels concerning you'; and 'on their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone'" (emphasis is mine).

If you ask me, that’s a pretty convincing scripture. After all, Jesus is standing on the pinnacle of the temple. Why not use this opportunity to prove to Satan that Jesus is the Son of God?

However, this was Jesus’ response:  Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, IT IS WRITTEN, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 


That's definitely one of those YAY GOD moments! I love Him! And it tickles me to see Him in a fight, to witness how He battles the enemy and WINS! 

This goes to show how important it is that we know and understand the scriptures

Monday, August 25, 2014

How Do I Love Him?

If I can’t smell Him, see Him, touch Him, taste Him, or hear Him . . . how do I love God?

My earliest memory from my childhood was when I was a baby. I recall my dad hovering over me with a camera, and every so often a huge bright light would go off, blinding me. I remember looking around, trying to see through the dark shadows clouding my vision. When my eyes finally adjusted, I could see my mom not far away busying herself in the kitchen. I was on a table in a little baby “chair” and a bar separated the small kitchen from the table.

At the time, I couldn’t put my thoughts into words, but I knew I was up high by looking at that “bar.” I can remember thinking/feeling that I was glad I could trust my parents not to let me fall.

There are several other memories I have before the one I’m about to share, but I won’t share them all. By the time I was two or three, I remember walking through the mall with my parents, and out of the blue my dad said, “Sandi, lie down and go to sleep.”

I stopped walking and immediately dropped on the cold, hard floor of the mall, right in the middle of the plaza.

Several people who were walking by stopped and “Ooohhhed” and “Aaawwwed.” I didn’t see them because I was busy trying to “go to sleep,” but I could hear them and my dad having unintelligible conversations. While I just lay there, I wondered why my dad told me to do this in such an odd place. This wasn’t my bed. Why would he make me lie down on the ground right in front of everyone?

Later, I discovered it was my dad showing off how obedient I was to his commands, and “Oooh, it was soooo cuuuuute!” He scoffs at the thought that today I feel like it was a form of abuse, but . . . oh well. You see, I was terrified of my dad. If I didn't do what he said, I'd get whipped with all his might (he even admitted to that with a shudder of shame when he saw my firstborn around the same age as I was then). I wasn’t perfectly obedient by any means. I remember the first time I learned the meaning of “no.” My finger hurt so badly from the sting of my dad’s flick, I thought it might fall off.

My dad was a strict disciplinarian. I didn’t dare disobey him. In numerous cases, his discipline was a horrible experience, but now—and I can’t believe I’m going to say this—I’m grateful for his strict ways.

Yes, I said it. My dad was abusive, or could be, but I AM GRATEFUL for the DISCIPLINE. Note: I said "discipline" not the "abuse." There's a difference.

I’m grateful because it taught me the importance of OBEYING GOD, my heavenly Father and Creator.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Would you ever be willing to sacrifice your child for someone? I certainly wouldn’t! Not even for someone who was without sin! NEVER! EVER! And yet . . .

That’s what God did for us. While we were still in SIN, no less!

Now I want to know what I can do in return? How can I love God back? It’s not like I can kiss Him or give Him a hug, or . . . you get the picture. How about singing Him a love song? Or praising Him with my words?


Well, Jesus answers that question quite thoroughly, so thoroughly in fact, I think it’s pretty important that we listen and obey!

Jesus starts in John 14:15 by saying, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Then in verse 21 He says, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” Not far after that one in verses 23-24 He says, “. . . if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” As if that wasn’t enough, He repeats, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

I’ll wrap these verses up with 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

In the end, it looks like obedience to our Heavenly Father is pretty important . . . IF we love Him.

Could this be why so many are coming against Christians? Because they don’t want to “obey?”

1 John 3:11-13 “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”

Finally, a few last notes on obedience, which comes shortly after John 3:16. I’ll let God do the talking:

John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not OBEY the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (emphasis is mine).

We could also have the rebellious attitude that the Jews had in Jeremiah 44:16 where they said, “As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are NOT going to listen to you!” (emphasis mine).

God is our ultimate Father, and what's even more wonderful, He doesn't make mistakes. Obedience requires trust, because so often we think our way is better. How can the Almighty, Creator and Maker of this universe be wrong? He doesn't give us "rules" to make our lives miserable or to show off His authority. He gives us "rules" (commandments) to obey for our own GOOD. It's all because He LOVES us, and . . .  He's not going to let us fall. We need to become like children and trust in Him.

Matthew 18:1-4 
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

I want to love God. How about you?