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?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Don't Cling to Paper Nails

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I decided I wanted long nails. So, I got out my school paper (because it was the only paper I had; you know, the kind with lines), traced both my hands on it, and proceeded to draw "long" nails on my sketched fingers, taking great care to measure each thumb, pinky, ring-finger, etc. accurately so each "nail" would fit just right. 

After tediously cutting and trimming, forming each nail to the correct size and shape, I carefully fitted them to each finger (not without mistakes, mind you, and several "re-cuts"). Finally, I got out the Elmer's Glue, and glued each paper nail to my chewed up ones, adjusting the paper so it would look like a perfectly formed nail. Once the glue was dry, I got out my peach-colored nail polish. It took three or four layers of that stuff to semi-hide the lines on the paper. By the time I was done (two or three hours later), I held my hands out in front of me and proudly displayed my long, beautiful, peach nails with unwanted stripes, and blew on the polish to help it dry. 

"Sandi, time to mow the lawn!" Mom called from upstairs.

"But I just painted my nails!" I ran upstairs to show her the amazing artwork I painstakingly designed on my hands.

No amount of showing off, whining, or begging could convince her to let me forego mowing the lawn. So, I dragged the lawnmower out of the shed, taking care not to bump or snag my new nails on the bag, handle or doors. 

So far, so good. 

I started up the lawnmower and AWAY . . . WE . . . WENT, lawnmower, grass clippings, NAILS and all!  Several manicured nails fluttered on the wind amongst the greenery, and tears filled my eyes from all that wasted hard work. Nails and grass flailed about me as I shoved the lawnmower along, stomping along, crying and shouting at the peach artistry sticking to my hair, the mower, and the grass---sticking to everything but where they belonged. To my dismay, some of those pieces of art got sucked up into the lawnmower, others scattered about the dying grass, and I scurried to retrieve them all, desperately trying to salvage what I could among the green shards. 

Have you ever experienced a moment like this? Where, no matter how hard you worked, everything came undone? As if a gale of wind swept down on your well-laid plans and wreaked a tornado of havoc in your otherwise secure life?

It’s amazing how the problems of this world can provide great examples or comparisons to our spiritual lives. Jesus used this world (through parables) regularly to convey an important spiritual message. Just as in the Paper Nail story (which, believe it or not, DID happen; I’m sure this incredible story caused some to doubt its authenticity). Okay, let me start over because the following point is important . . .

Just as in the Paper Nail story, the same thing can happen with our faith if we don’t stick firmly to the Word. We read our Bibles, listen to the preacher, turn on our evangelical TV and radio stations, read Chrisitan blogs, anything we can find to guide us on the right track to Christianity. But then Someone comes along and shakes that foundation of our beliefs, our hard-earned faith that no one has a right to touch, let alone “critique” or question. We grasp at what we know (or believe) to be true, only to discover that what we’ve been doing or believing all our lives is not based on scripture, but based on the dreaded “traditions of men.”

Jesus once warned the Pharisees and scribes that they were neglecting the commandments of God and clinging to traditions of men. These were men highly honored and respected by the people (or themselves) as the elite of religion.

Mark 7:6-9
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
‘But in vain do they worship Me,

Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
Could there be a Pharisee or scribe in all of us? Clearly, this was included in the Bible for a reason. I don’t know about you, but I’ve stumbled upon spiritual truths that have awakened me from my stupor of pious religion. Spiritual truths as numerous as the grass clippings in my backyard! From microscopic details of “how to love my neighbor (husband, siblings, children, friends, etc)” to “how to love God.” I've found myself sometimes clinging to traditions of men (a.k.a. my own ideas), just like I tried to cling to those flailing nails, because I didn't want to change or accept the truth that was set before me. But my attempts were futile, and I'm sure I appeared to God as foolish as I did when chasing my paper nails. Sometimes I detested the truth, hated it with a passion. Yet, Truth stood before me, staring me straight in the face, and finally I had to accept it, accept my fate. I let go of those paper-nails and let them fly away or tossed what was left in the trashcan, resigned to loving God and His word, rather than the traditions of men. And somehow it's brought me unfathomable . . . JOY. TRUTH, by far, is more powerful than men's traditions, just like our real nails are more powerful than paper ones. Silly comparison, isn't it? And yet, this is how foolish we become when we can't "let go." 

How in the world could we become like Pharisees and scribes when we are striving so hard to love our heavenly Father? Jesus answers that question in the verse quoted above. We “neglect the commandments of God,” which ultimately is Truth. 

Where are the commandments of God found?

In His Word.

Here are some warnings from His Word:

Ephesians 4:14
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.

Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the TRADITION OF MEN, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (emphasis mine).

Are we like those paper nails, not clinging to the foundation, not standing on the chief cornerstone, (Matt. 21:33-45), and being carried about by every wind of doctrine? Are we even aware that this might be happening in our spiritual walk?

Jesus warns in Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Let me just say, Satan is good at what he does. He’s been around a lot longer than any of us. He knows what makes us tick and how to push our buttons. Remember, he’s known as the great deceiver, out to deceive “the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). And He even appears as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11: 14-15

. . . for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

Now that I’ve thoroughly frightened us all, how can we be careful that we don’t become like the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ day?

Let’s allow the Word to answer that question in the upcoming posts. But I’ll leave you with this hint:

2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the WORD OF TRUTH (emphasis mine).

Is there a time in your life where you had a "wake-up call" that involved your faith? If you're comfortable, please feel free to share it. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Welcome To The Lord's Lady

This is something I've had on my heart to do for years, and now I'm finally getting around to it!  

I don't know about you, but I love God. I love His word, and I love Him as a Person. The greatest, magnificent Creator of times past, of the present, and of times to come. The Great I AM. He is AWESOME in the true sense of the word. There simply are no words to define or describe our most amazing, loving, passionate Creator. 

I love Him. 

I blow kisses to Him because He is my God, my Lover, my Father, my Friend.

It's because of my wonderful, precious Lord and Savior, my Elohim, that I've started this blog. As a way to glorify Him. To love on Him, and to share Him with everyone else who wants to get to know Him. What takes my breath away is He revealed Himself to us in His Word, so it's my goal to discover and to share just who this wonderful Person is by delving into His amazingness

Really, I want to swim in His Word, DROWN in HIM, in who HE IS, and allow Him to FILL me till there's nothing left of my sinful self. Of course, that fullness can't help but seep out onto others.

He leaves me breathless. 

With that said . . . 

I really wanted to use the title "Women in the Word" (because this is a blog about getting into God's word and discovering His truths), but I learned that title was already being used in numerous places. So . . . I had to come up with something new. 

I prayed about it and asked God to give me some ideas. That’s when I thought of "The Lord's Lady." Of course, my wonderful husband thinks it’s a bit cheesy, but hey, this isn’t a place for him or other men. Although, if men want to read and post something, that’s up to them.

I’d like to thank the amazing Roseanna White for the beautiful header above. She managed to create everything I wanted. She’s a blessing to anyone who stumbles into her path. At least, that’s what she is to me. Always has been.

The castle represents heaven or the Lord's church, and the woman represents all the ladies, young and old, who want to grow in their knowledge of God’s word. And finally, the sword represents the Word of God.

Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the 
sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The purpose of this blog is for women to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God's word. That means, we're going to dive into the Bible and talk about topics that should encourage, enlighten, and exhort us in our spiritual walk, which is really more of a "battle" and not a "walk" as long as we're on this planet. I'm hoping this will be a time questions about the Bible can be answered, and we can explore topics like "What's the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament?" Or questions like "If there's such a kind and loving God, why is there so much suffering in the world?"

This is as much for me as it is for you. I'm hoping this will motivate me to stay in the Word on a regular basis. I'd love to hear from every one of you, your thoughts, the scriptures you'd like to share, and any questions you may have.

Speaking of questions. If anyone asks a question, I will do my best to answer them according to scriptures. But keep in mind: don't listen to a word I say if I don't have a verse or passage to back it up! This is not about me or my opinion. This is about what God thinks. What God wants. What God desires. 

God’s Word, His Sword of the Spirit.

So please join me as each one of us strives to explore the Truth of God's glorious Word.   

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.