Love Quest – Walk This Way

The truth of God’s love is irrefutable. Yet, why do you and I still spend so many minutes, hours, and days settling into lovelessness? Souls aching to be enveloped in strong, warm, tender embraces; not just hearing, but to knowing, in the innermost places, ‘I’ve got you and I won’t let go’ – from God.

Instead, we feel naked and lonely, tired shoulders pressed into the biting wind and asking, ‘Where is the love?’

We know the truth – that God has always loved His creation; He walked with it in perfect relationship before the fall and He consistently cared for it after.

That Jesus, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells, is love personified and exemplified, and ‘God so loved the world’ and ‘God loved us and sent His son.’

This is all utterly true.

But, do the unloved feelings still linger?

May I share another truth that God has been weaving into the fabric of my understanding of His love?

The truth is we’ve been loved by God before we could even say ‘I love You’ back to Him. The truth is these unloved feelings are not a reflection of God’s attitude toward us (though I have a tendency to send the blame that direction), instead they are a reflection of my attitude toward Him. They are a reflection of my direction – the way I am walking.

You and I have a role to play in our experience of God’s love.

It’s called abiding.

One definition of abide is to continue in a particular condition, attitude, or relationship.

Jesus says it another way: “Just as my Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:9-10 NASB

So how do we abide in His love?

By continuing to walk in His ways instead of our own.

The same way Jesus abides in the Father’s love: obedience.

One key component of experiencing God’s love and abundant life here and now, is the way we chose to walk. The whole of Scripture is an invitation from God to His creation to walk His way and enjoy His love.

“but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” I John 2:5-6

This isn’t an issue of our obedience earning His love. His love for us is unwavering. This is an issue of how we experience God’s love.

Let me give you an example:

I love my children. I love them no matter what – whether they are charming and kind or defiant and rude. My love for them will never change. But the way they experience my love is partially up to them. My husband and I provide a safe warm home and food for them to eat. If one of my children were to run away because they didn’t want to obey the rules of our house, they would no longer experience that care and love, but it would still be there.

Do you see it?

His love is always there, but sometimes we refuse it. And yet His love remains.

We have the choice to rest in the loving arms of Christ and to walk His way or to bear the cold loneliness of our prideful self-will on a path of our own choosing.

Here are some of the ways God has been reminding me to walk lately:

  1. Humbly Cast Your Cares on Him (1 Peter 5:6&7). I like to figure things out on my own instead of humbly admitting my need and asking for help. Maybe you’re struggling under a burden right now. Whether it was brought on by your own wayward choices or not, have you stopped tapping into your own flawed and frail logic long enough to humbly admit you don’t have the answers and you can’t solve it on your own? We don’t even give Him or His love a chance when we greedily cling to our problems – even the small ones.
  2. Give Thanks (Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:18; Ps. 30:40; and many more). There is an element of humility involved in giving thanks. When we give thanks, we acknowledge that we have received something, not earned it. Giving thanks forces me to recognize to Whom praise is due – and it’s not me. Maybe you feel like you have earned a lot on your own, but who is it that makes us prosper? Every good and perfect gift is from above – we have nothing to boast about. If pride keeps us from giving thanks, it’s no wonder that it keeps us from abiding in God’s love.
  3. Stop Worrying (Phil. 4:6-9). Does it seem impossible? Maybe it is, at least of our own strength. But that’s why the cure is communication with God and includes #1 and #2 above. (I’ve done some study and teaching on this topic. You can read more here).

These are just some of the ways God is helping me to course correct – to walk more closely in step with Him. So many more come to mind – Romans 12:1; 1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 11:29; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 Peter 2:19; Ephesians 4:1-6; well, pretty much the whole book of Ephesians…..for that matter, the whole Bible!

I want to abide in His love, experience it. My guess is you do too.

Let’s walk His way together.

This verse is my prayer for you and for me:

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God [!!!!!!!!!!].” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Divisive Love

“I love you,” my 7 year old daughter cooed…….

……..as an invisible fist punched my soul.

I don’t consider myself a jealous person – but it’s what struck me in that moment.

My daughter’s affectionate words were not meant for me. Or her dad. They weren’t for a sibling (wouldn’t that be great though??). Not for a cousin or a grandparent or aunt or uncle.

She gave her love to someone else.

For a split second I felt betrayed. I am her mother after all; how dare she love someone else outside of the family? It’s not natural! – is it? A child’s greatest affection is supposed to be for her parents and family, right?

And after the feelings of betrayal, insecurity took over: what if she stops loving me? Am I a bad mom?

Yet in my spirit I knew these feelings and questions were not right, were not of Truth. They were rooted in fear, selfishness and pride.

Yes, pride. Because if I want my kids to love me more than anyone else, I am setting myself up as God in their lives; making myself an idol for them to worship, fear, obey.

Often when I think of love, I think of it as something that brings people together; as a unifying force. But if that is the extent of our understanding of love, then we miss the mark – we misunderstand the depths of love.

I’m coming to understand that a unifying love is first a dividing love. A pure and holy love, in its very nature, must first separate itself from any impure and unholy loves of this world.

Psalm 97:10 – Hate evil, you who love the Lord….

I John 2:15 – Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Jesus makes it even more personal. Painfully personal.

Matthew 10:37-39 – He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

It’s hard enough for me to follow Christ this fervently; can I bear to allow my children to follow Him in this manner too? To tell them to think of me as nothing so that they will sanctify Him as everything in their hearts?

I hope my children will obey Christ’s greatest commandment to love God and love others. I even pray it over them. But have I really meant it all this time?

Meaning it requires me to relinquish my claim on their love.

If I really want them to experience Supernatural love, I have to be prepared to offer up the natural love of mother and child on the altar of my heart.

One day, I fervently hope and pray that each of my children will declare with their mouths and by their lives that they love Christ more than all else – even me.

Maybe that ‘one day’ is beginning now. What if the whole point of parenting is to guide our children away from us and toward their Heavenly Father? They are born attached to us; naturally. But from the moment of detachment from the womb, maybe our number one purpose is to reflect the love of God so vividly that it propels them toward a perfectly pure and holy re-Birth and attachment; supernaturally.

And maybe, beyond the logic and reason and rationale of earthly genius, this division leads to a greater unity because of our unified love in and for the triune God.

When I point my children in the direction of the Savior and urge them to depart from me, we will actually journey together toward a deeper unity.

No longer will it only be a unity based on biology, but instead a unity based on eternity!

The natural for the supernatural.

It’s the way God has always seemed to deal with His people, Old Testament and New. He called out the nation of Israel, separated them from the rest of the nations, loved them uniquely, and unified Himself to them in that love. Through that unity, His people were a beacon for the nations to join in that same relationship.

He has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light – together with Him and His people. We are a Holy, Royal, and Chosen people belonging together to Him. Through this unity, we are messengers of His excellencies to the nations – proclaiming that all may enter this beautiful relationship

Natural affection is clingy, jealous, and limiting of the beloved. It’s the invisible fist that assaulted my soul at my daughter’s declaration of love for someone else.

Supernatural love divides for the sake of greater unity. It’s what prompts me to declare, “Yes! Daughter! Love others! Love Your Creator! Our supernatural unity as sisters in Christ far outshines our biological bond as mother and daughter!”


Matthew 12:46-50 –  While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

A Breath of Love

Who knew a short walk would be so difficult?

Our family recently visited Yellowstone National Park. We were awed by the magnificence of it all – the deep blue hot springs, yellowish and auburn rocked grand canyon, vibrant wildlife, shooting geysers, and bubbling mud pots.

But, I remember one short hike in particular; though, not because of the scenery, as you might suppose. What I remember about this walk was how labored my breathing became after a few brisk steps.

My lungs function quite well at my home in the valley. But, at 7,000 feet above sea level, where oxygen is a bit more scarce, they began to shout discomfort.

Breathing – most of us do it without thinking; minute after minute, day after day. However, when breathing becomes difficult, it suddenly becomes our most consuming focus of the moment. Inhale. Exhale. It is our very life. No Inhale, no Exhale, no Life.

As Christians, love is to be our very life. Love of God and love of others.

And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

Matthew 22;37-39

But loving others is just downright hard sometimes. It’s one of my greatest failings. Even this past week, I perceived in my soul the labored struggle to love others. I’ve been convicted about the many times I haven’t let love be the motivating force in my attitudes, actions, and conversations with others.

I long for a solution to this problem.

For quite a while, I bought into the world’s lie that, ‘you can’t love unless you love yourself.’

Don’t buy it. The idea begs so many questions.

How can we, as imperfect people who don’t even know the depths of ourselves, possibly show fulfilling and perfect agape-love to ourselves!? It would be like expecting my oxygen deprived lungs to create oxygen for themselves from nothing. It has never worked and it never will! We can show deference to ourselves above others, we can say positive things about ourselves to try to mend our broken pride, we can pamper ourselves in excess; but none of this will make us feel more loved, and it especially won’t help us love others!

You see, God did not create us to love ourselves. Just like I could not muster up breath in and of myself to satisfy my body’s need for oxygen, I cannot muster up in myself the love I need to satisfy my soul, let alone someone else’s. It’s not in loving myself more (which, let’s be honest, almost always leads to self-centered attitudes and actions) that I gain the ability to love others, it’s in breathing in His love that I can exhale with love for others.

God created us to be thankful and worshipful recipients of His perfect gifts. One His greatest gifts is His love.

“…man’s love for God… must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need-love.”

~C.S. Lewis

God made us to need Him and His love. That need must drive us to find love in Him alone. Because it’s in His love alone that we have the power to truly love another.

 We love, because He first loved us.

1 John 4:19

…Not because we love ourselves, not because of obligation, not because of any goodness within us.

We love because we are loved.

Humility before our Creator is required if ever we are to receive – breathe in – what He is offering to us, His creatures. The more we are filled with His love, giving Christ-like love to others becomes effortless – like breathing in the valleys.

The labored breathing on my 7,000 foot walk was a stark reminder of my need for oxygen. Difficulties in love should be a flashing neon sign that point us in the direction of the One true Source of life-giving love.

“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also love you; abide in my love.”

~ Jesus (John 15:9)

If it’s hard to catch your breath today, if love is elusive, take a deep breath of the Savior’s love for you. Come worship and bow down, kneel before the Lord your Maker, and abide in His love.

Inhale love. Exhale love.

I’ll be doing the same.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

St. Augustine

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Where Hate and Love Collide

I hate the evil in this world.

I hate what happened in Orlando, and Paris, and San Bernadino, and New York.

I hate the fact that there are false religions that preach death when the true God is the Creator and Sustainer of Life.

I hate that millions of voiceless lives have been snuffed out before they’ve had a chance to take their first breath.

I hate sex trafficking.

I hate substance abuse and addiction.

I hate the fact that foster care is needed because families are so dysfunctional.

I hate that there are parents and grandparents in this world who would sell their young children for a few dollars.

I hate that friends of mine have been victims of violence, abuse, rape and crime.

I hate loneliness.

I hate political corruption.

I hate hypocrisy and greed.

I hate starvation.

I hate bullying.

I hate the shadow of depression that has fallen on so many of us.

I hate apathy and inaction.

I hate disease, sickness, and cancer.

I hate hurricanes and earthquakes.

I hate hatred.

I hate death.

I hate the evil and fallen state of this present age.

And I hate that the same evil without, lurks within.

I hate that I yell at my kids.

I hate that I’m judgmental.

I hate that I struggle with selfishness and pride.

I hate that I’ve lied and cheated.

I hate that I’ve hated another.

I hate that I don’t love like I should.

I hate that I know what is right but I still do what is wrong.

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15

 

It’s sad, yes. It hurts, absolutely. But is it ok for me to hate?

What if there is a time to hate? To hate all that is evil and it’s source, Satan? Our love for the Holy God should result in hatred of what He hates. Wickedness, evil, sin. If we don’t hate these things, maybe we are loving the wrong things. And maybe misplaced hate is just as dangerous as Misplaced Love.

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. John 3:20

Of utmost importance is this: God never tells us to hate another person. We are only to hate the evil that resides in us and in this world.

But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 John 2:11

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15

Hating others is sinful and hateful toward God and His creation.

But we can’t stop at simply hating what God hates. We have to follows His steps toward a solution. We must walk in His steps of love. In the steps of Jesus, who, while the whole world loved darkness and was lost in sin and evil and hatred toward Him, loved. Loved unto death.

He set the pattern for how we as His disciples can deal with hate.

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… Luke 6:27

And we know that the world hates those of us who choose His light over darkness, who choose life over death, who choose to love Him instead of loving the world.

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. John 15:18

Let’s not fool ourselves; we can’t love and tolerate and accept everything, as the world would have us believe. We cannot serve two masters.

I pledge allegiance to the Light, Life, and Love found in Christ alone.

And because of that, there is a time to hate. More certainly, there is a time I, we, will be hated.

A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:8


In a response to a newspaper’s question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” G.K. Chesterton replied:

“Dear Sir,

I am.”

All of us are bound to answer in the same way.

Misplaced Love

Have you ever experienced the oh so gentle, yet precise, piercing of God’s truth through your soul?

I recently received a new piercing; one that is still a bit tender.

You see, I’ve been on this Love Quest for 2106, seeking to learn more about God’s love and how to better love Him and others. I struggle to love. Hence my journey.

Most people would probably say that the opposite of love is hate, but the more I’m submerged in my study, I’m not so sure that’s true.

God has been turning my Love Quest upside down and giving me a look at it’s underbelly – taking me in directions I never anticipated going. He’s turning my pursuit of love into an extraction of fear. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s more of a connection between love and fear, than love and hate.

If you read my last Love Quest blog (Fear – Be My Guide), you know that I faced a fear not too long ago. I had to entrust myself to a hunk of metal hurtling through the air, 30,000 feet above the surface of the earth.

As I grappled with this fear, the Holy Spirit did some excavating in the deepest parts of me – digging down deep to the root of my fear. He revealed to me that the source of my fear was actually misplaced love.

I was afraid to fly because I was afraid to die. And the truth behind the fear of death is that I love my life more than I love God and trust Him.

Misplaced love.

And then it dawned on me that misplaced love has been the theme of most all my other fears, worries, and anxieties. I see how I’ve loved the good opinion of people more than I’ve loved God’s good opinion. And that misplaced love caused me to over-analyze and become anxious about the words I say and what I do – hoping that others will have a good opinion of me, will approve of me. I’m just like the Jewish religious leaders who were afraid to confess belief in Christ.

Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (John 12:42-43)

Ouch. How would you like to go down in history with, “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God,” as your legacy? Not me. No thank you.

I see myself in Peter, too.

Our impulsive friend Peter who, because he loved the approval of man and his own life, denied his identification with Christ three times, as the Savior was making His way to the cross to die for people who didn’t love Him like they should – people like you and me and Peter. I might as well have been standing in Peter’s shoes because I would have done the same exact thing.

But it was this next realization about Peter’s story and mine that’s still stirring my soul, and I think forever will.

Do you remember what the resurrected Jesus asked Peter by the sea shore? Jesus’ approach to reconciling the traitorous Peter was to bring Peter face to face with what Christ ultimately desires for us all. The questions He asks us all: “Do you love me more than these?”

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” John 21:15-17

In my ears ring the questions: “Daughter of mine, do you love me more than what others think of you? Do you love me more than your own hopes and dreams? Do you love me more than this tent of dust I’ve put you in temporarily? Do you love me more than your husband and children? Do you love me more than your own thoughts and logic?

If fear begins to rage within me, the answer to one of those questions is usually no.

Fear is misplaced love.

When I’m afraid to fly, it’s because I love this life more than I love the Savior.

When I’m afraid of what others might think or do, it’s because I love the approval of man more than the good approval of God.

When I fear in any way for my children, it’s because I love control of them more than I love the sovereign hand of God.

But the reverse is also true.

If misplaced love breeds fear, then rightly placed love breeds confidence. As my love settles more and more on my Maker, I’m finding deeper trust, peace, and rest in His character and His plan for not only my life, but for all of creation. But it’s an ongoing process of noticing areas of misplaced love, forsaking those things, and letting my love cling to Him instead.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)

Never has it rung so true to me as it does now.

We are not victims to fear. We are willing participants, walking right into the darkness it brings.

But the solution, the cure, is summed up so simply:

And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Luke 10:27)

Is this a truth that pierces you as it does me?

Place your love where it belongs.