I am loved

Reblog: Pursued by Love

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found [it], he lays [it] on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together [his] friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” Luke 15:4-6 NKJV

These verses did not come up when I ran a topical search on Gods love for me. But as I prayed this morning, this is where the Spirit lead. Reading over the familiar passage, I could hear the wonderful, slight brogue of Alistair Begg as he animated these verses in a sermon I listened to over a year ago.

“You see, I love that wee lamb, and I’m going after her . . .”

Love in action. That’s what this passage is. Though I am but a small lamb in a large flock, insignificant on the surface, ordinary and easily passed over, Jesus says, “I love you, and I’ll seek you out when you lose your way. I’ll find you, and when I do, I will lift your trembling frame to my shoulders, because I know that you’re tired and afraid, and I will carry you back to safety. And I will rejoice, for I have found my lost lamb.”

Wow. That kind of love goes beyond a proclamation . . . A love that pursues is true love indeed. And I am the object of His pursuit.

I am loved

Reblog: Knowing I am Loved

“I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width and height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19, HCS

My grandmother lived in Illinois, and she reached age 70 without ever once seeing the ocean. She’d read about the sea, seen pictures of its waves, could even point at a map and show you the Atlantic. My grandmother knew there was an ocean.

But then, my parents moved to Florida. When my grandmother came to visit, they took her to the beach. She stepped out on the sand, took in a gulp of salty air and listened to the roar. The sky curved down to meet the water, arching in a planet-sized semi-circle around her. She stumbled, nearly toppling. My parents both scrambled to catch her. They had to stand on either side of her, holding her arms, so that she could take in the dizzying sight before her. “It is bigger than anything I have ever – ever – seen.”

It was at that moment that my grandmother really knew the ocean.

God loves me. I know that. I’ve read it and sung it since childhood. But being able to explain it or quote verses about it or even believing it – all that is my grandmother before she boarded that train to Florida. It’s head knowledge.

I want more than that. I want to be so awed by the depth and length and width and height of God’s love that I stumble in awe—that others must hold me up while I just stand there and marvel. I want to take in great gulps of his love, to be so filled with fullness of it that peace washes over me like the warm waves of Florida’s ocean.

Lately, some circumstances in my life have been bathing me in sadness, and quite frankly, a few weeks ago, I slipped into the first kind of knowing. I believed God loved me. But I didn’t feel like it. Then one day as I folded laundry, matching socks and worrying, God whispered to my heart, “I love you.”

It was the ocean again. I sat down, right on top of the rumpled laundry, and sobbed. I got it. The God of the universe loved me. And with that heart knowledge, that experience-kind of knowing, came Atlantic–sized peace. I write this so that next time I slip, I can go back and re-read it and remind myself how fiercely God’s love for me roars.

I am loved

Remembering Who I Am: I Am Loved

As the year draws to a close, we want to remember what God has shown us throughout 2014. He is so good to continue to remind us of our identity in Christ. Please feel free to share with us what He has shown you this year.

Knowing I am Loved:

“I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width and height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19, HCS

Pursued by Love

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found [it], he lays [it] on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together [his] friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” Luke 15:4-6 NKJV

I am Loved by God, I must Love Others

“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.  We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off him compassion from him–how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, me must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”  1 John 3:16

Loved with Joy

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

I am a Servant

Follow the Leader

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-27 ESV

I grew up next door to two boys, whom I loved like brothers. The three of us spent our warm summer days in our connecting yards, playing kick ball, chase, dump trucks and … follow the leader.  Whoever was the lead kid in our line of three had free reign to leap, spin, clap, and dance.  The other two had follow suit.

We are all grown up now, and I’ve committed myself to a very different leader – Jesus Christ Himself. But the rules remain the same.  I am to imitate my leader, do what He does, follow suit.

Jesus was a servant. He not only washed the disciples’ feet, he laid down His life for them. So, if I am to follow his lead, I, too must devote myself to serving others.  I must not look out for my own advancement, for a better title or position.  I must simply serve.

That’s hard. Because I want “ME” to be the center of every conversation and the focus of every activity.  But it’s not my Leader’s way.  To imitate Him, I must think of others before myself.  I must do more than think. I must actively put them before myself.

That means I need to put my children’s needs before my own tiredness. My husband’s needs before my own plans.  My church’s needs before my own schedule. I must serve my co-workers and friends.

Because I’m following the Leader.

I am a Servant

Serving Outside of the Lines

So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.  – John 13:4-5 HCSB

Spiritual gifts. It’s a trendy topic in Christendom, right? Ready for some ugly honesty? Sometimes (not always) I get annoyed with it. Yep. Annoyed.

Have we each been blessed with a spiritual gift? Yep. Are we called to use our spiritual gift(s)? Yep. Is service restricted to spiritual gifts? Y…uh, wait. Huh. I’m so sorry, but it might get uncomfortable here for a minute.

I’ve never, ever, ever met a mommy who would claim to have been gifted with diaper refreshment skills. Never met one (and remember I have four kids, and with that, a pretty extensive circle of mommy-friends) who would check a spiritual gift box labeled ‘enjoys screaming toddlers, especially for extended periods of time’.

I’ve never met a person who would claim the spiritual gift of chair-stacking. Or broom pushing. Trash-emptying. Window washing. Dish scraping.

Foot washing.

Service isn’t bound by these gifts. Often the call to serve stretches beyond God-given talents and abilities. It goes into the nitty-gritty not-so-pretty. So, when a call goes out for help in an area that is maybe outside our gifted-lines, maybe we shouldn’t be quick to write it off. “That’s just not in my giftedness,” isn’t really Biblical.

Sorry, I went all preacher on you. I needed to, though, because the thing is, I really want to not serve in an area that just doesn’t ‘float my boat.’ I’d love to call the coordinator of that ministry and say, “You know what, this just isn’t one of my gifts. Could you take me off the list?” But the thing is, there’s a need there, and I am capable, even if I’m not ‘gifted’ in it. Right now, they need hands that are willing. So I need to make my hands willing.

After all, the hands that formed the heavens and the earth washed the feet of sinful men.

I am a Servant

Inconvenient Servanthood

I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then, the angel left her. Luke 1:38 HCSB

She was a teenager. An angel showed up and told her that she’d be the mother of the Messiah – the, um, virgin, unmarried mother of the Messiah.  She could have responded with a bunch of arguments: “Wait a second.  What is Joseph going to think?  He’ll never believe me, and I’ll lose him for sure.  And the scandal in town is going to ruin him … and me … and my mother.  Mom will be so embarrassed that we’ll have to move.  Couldn’t this wait until after Joseph and I are officially married?  I mean, that would be a lot easier on me.”

But Mary didn’t talk back to that angel who delivered the bizarre, stressful message. She didn’t tell him that this was incredibly inconvenient and would ruin her reputation.  She made a simple statement: “I am the Lord’s slave.”

And the world was given its Savior as a result.

Did God make it easy for her? Well, in some ways, yes.  He did send an angel to Joseph, too, but not before Mary had to have the awkward, painful discussion with him.  And God gave her the comfort of her family member Elizabeth, also miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist.  But Mary still had to endure the gossip and shame.  She had to ride on a donkey to another town while 9 months pregnant.  She had to give birth in a barn.  And, years later, she had to watch her baby be crucified.

No. The task God assigned Mary wasn’t easy.  Or convenient.  While there was joy, it was joy mixed with suffering.

God has a task for me, too, and for you. The tasks may be different.  They may change daily or in a few years.  Those tasks are not often easy, or convenient, or fun.  But our response should be as Mary’s.  “I am the Lord’s slave.”

Taking our eyes off of ourselves and placing them on our God means He can use us to reach His world … instead of just reaching our own comfort goals.

Being the Lord’s slave is hard. But the rewards are worth it in the end.

I am a Servant

One of Many

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” –  1 Corinthians 3:6-7, NASB

It’s too easy to define myself by what I do, and so dangerous. Either way, there’s a slippery slope. If I fail, then by defining myself by what I do, I’m a failure. If success is sprinkled on my path, then I’m successful–and that leads to arrogance.

Serving the Most High God is a privilege. He calls those whose hands are willing for His kingdom beloved. Beloved! The King of Kings calls His servants beloved. How utterly amazing is that? If I’d just stay right there, right in his loving embrace, then maybe I wouldn’t get myself in trouble.

Guess what? I don’t. Instead of hearing Him call me beloved, I busy myself with His work, which I’m supposed to, but in the doing, I’m defining. Look at this successful ministry. Look at the wonderful thing my child has done. Look at the fruit of my labor… Look at me.

The parable of the sower has three elements: the seed, the soil, and let’s not forget, the sower. But the thing is, many are called to sow. It’s not me all by my onesies doing the will of God. And the focus in that parable wasn’t ever on the sower, was it? Because the fruit of the Kingdom was the point.

I am one of many. Called, appointed, and equipped. And it’s a privilege to serve the Most High God. But it isn’t about me. It was never about me.