February 7, 2018 · 2:36 pm
To love is to be transformed into what we love. To love God is therefore to be transformed into God.
In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human success, but rather on how much we have loved.
—–John of the Cross
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
One of the hottest topics of all time is love. Love is so special that people die for it, kill for it, steal for it and mourn for it. John of the Cross teaches that love is transforming and far and away the most important attribute in the twilight of life. Jesus and Paul command us to love with all our being. In doing so we discover what is good.
Love is almost always defined as physical attraction. We fall in love as a result of attraction, then we discover a greater love as we develop a relationship with our partner. This Greater Love can be compared to the love that Jesus, Paul and John of the cross are referencing. There’s no singular word to describe the love that is spoken about in Scripture.
The word that is used to refer to the type of love that Jesus and these great men are speaking of is agape. This love has no real translation in our English language. We can refer to it as love of God for man or man’s love for God. This love is one that transforms and comes to be the only love that really matters. Agape eludes definition and stretches our minds to imagine what God is really like.
Agape love transforms and brings about changes in us that we can scarcely imagine. People from all walks of life have made horrid mistakes and come to understand the love of God, and their lives are radically changed. Dishonest people turn to honestly. People who live very negatively learn to see what is good and right with the world. Those who understand this type of love learn to see God and other people. That is transformation.
We all want to leave a legacy. A legacy is something of value that outlives us. If a person loves this way, they leave a legacy. Their legacy shows a glimpse of the Almighty to those they touch. That glimpse can touch the lives of people and change them in ways that are unimaginable. May we all strive to be people that show the love of God to all persons.
That is the power of love!
Awaken and enlighten us, my Lord, that we might know and love the blessings which You ever propose to us, and that we might understand that You have moved to bestow favors on us and have remembered us.
O Lord, my God, who will seek You with simple and pure love and not find You are all he desires, for You show Yourself first and go out to meet those who desire You?
My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on You.
—–John of the Cross
November 16, 2016 · 10:35 am
Loving tenderness abounds for all
from the darkest
to the most eminent one beyond the stars,
Exquisitely loving all
she bequeaths the kiss of peace
upon the ultimate King.
– Hildegard of Bingen
Jesus tell us : … Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ There is none greater. Many of us spend our lives searching for the best way to live a godly life but Jesus gives us a truly simplistic answer – love God , our neighbors and – just as important – ourselves. We are horrible at loving ourselves and finding neighbors to love is an almost impossible task.
Let us begin at the beginning – love God. If we are to love God we have to begin by acknowledging Him as our creator and the sustaining power of our lives. We must put aside the notion that was are masters of our own destiny and give Him credit for who He is. We love God by staying in touch with Him through prayer and listening His Spirit when He answers our prayers. That is a beginning of love for God.
Love our neighbors – We dream of the perfect neighbor and we never find them. That because we are looking in the wrong place. Our concept of neighbor is physical proximity but God has something much greater in mind. My wife told me a story about meeting a neighbor at McDonalds recently. She enter the restaurant and ordered food for herself and two of our grandchildren. There was a somewhat disheveled lady who later ordered a cup of coffee and a very small amount of ice cream. Soon it was evident that she was receiving her food out of the generosity of the restaurant staff. On her way out my wife asked her if she was hungry and needed help to buy a meal, her reply was “no.” as my wife proceeded to the car she noticed that she was followed by the lady who then approached her with these words, “Neighbor I didn’t really tell you the truth because I am hungry – Can you help me?” My wife accommodated and she replied, “Thanks, neighbor.” That is the kind of neighbor Jesus was talking about. A lady that is down and out by our standards understands God’s concept of neighbor. That lady is my neighbor as well and I didn’t say it was going to be easy to love your neighbor.
Love yourself – “..Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.” People who cannot love themselves find it impossible love others. Did you know that suicide was the seventh leading cause of death among adolescents in 2013? (CDC stats) The National Institute Mental Health estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population. Wow! We are not loving ourselves very much. The key to self is recognizing our worth in God’s eyes. He created us, He redeems us, and He watches out for us. That makes you and your neighbor worth loving.
The challenge is simple learn to love God because of who He is and what He has done and I believe the rest of the puzzle will come together.
Lord give me the vision to recognize your loving tenderness in the beauty that surrounds me. Allow me to see it in the life giving nature of the morning dew and the majesty of the setting sun. Such a realization will lead me to love You more and to love and care for myself and my neighbor. Might I see the majesty of all your creation – especially we humans who are the crown of all creation. Help me to discover Your brand of love and make it mind.
April 6, 2016 · 2:40 pm
Abba John the Dwarf said, ‘A house is not built by beginning at the top and working down. You must begin with the foundations in order to reach the top.’ They said to him,’ What does this saying mean?’ He said, ‘The foundation is our neighbor, whom we must trust, and that is the place to begin. For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one.’
—-Abba John the Dwarf
In the 1960’s there was a movie called: “Dr. Strangelove.” The simplistic plot was about a ridiculous plan of a retaliatory nuclear attack. The plan was ridiculous and so was the name of the man, Dr. Strangelove, who formulated it. This Abba’s is based on the biblical record of a conversation that occurred between Jesus and a lawyer. He asked Him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That is a difficult, demanding, somewhat strange command. The fascinating thing about the wisdom of the monk is that he tells us to begin with something we can see. As much as we would all desire to see God, we can’t see God in the flesh but we do see our neighbor. The key to experiencing God is understanding the depth of His love. God loves us at our worst and we are challenged to love our neighbors at their worst.
All too often when go for what is easy, quick, and painless the result is the foundation of our spiritual house is sinking sand. The love of neighbor is the key to understanding the nature of God. He is a loving, understanding creator and not a cruel and harsh master. To the contrary, with a heart of compassion and mercy, He welcomes sinners into His kingdom. They don’t get the “cheap seats,” but receive a regal welcome. The beginning of that journey is to see God in His creation. Loving His creation – cheats, liars and thieves – is loving Him. Maybe this is a strange love to many of us, but it is the way God loves.
Lord help me to grasp this most difficult teaching of loving my neighbor. All too often our neighbors are those who hurt us the most. Allow your grace and my understanding of your love to rise to a level that allows this love to flow from me. In the act of such love we find an elusive peace that brings us closer to you.
- In Stillness, Christ Speaks (franciscanflowers.wordpress.com)
- The Popular Christ (hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com)
March 3, 2015 · 2:01 pm
We need to be able to look into a mirror and not only see, but fully believe, that the reflection we view is a child of God. We need to believe in ourselves and we can with the assistance of another. A good example of such transformation is found in the story of Dulcinea, one of the principal characters in the popular Broadway musical, Man of la Mancha. The audience learns that Don Quixote, the chief protagonist, lives with many illusions, most especially his idea that he is a knight errant who battles dragons in the form of windmills. At the end of the play as he lays dying, Don Quixote has at his side a prostitute, Aldonza, whom he has called throughout the play Dulcinea – Sweet One – much to the laughter of the local townsfolk. But Don Quixote has loved her in a way unlike she has ever experienced.
When Quixote breathes his last Aldonza begins to sing “The Impossible Dream.” As the echo of the song dies away, someone shouts to her, “Aldonza!” But she pulls away proudly and responds, “My name is Dulcinea.” The crazy’s knight’s love had transformed her.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
2 Corinthians 5:17
June 17, 2014 · 11:38 am
What do I love when I love God?
—– Augustine of Hippo
What do you think?
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November 12, 2013 · 11:23 am
A long time ago there lived a little boy whose parents had died. He was taken in by an aunt who raised him as her own child. Many years later, after the boy had grown and become successful in business, he received a letter from his aunt. She was terminally ill and from the tone of her letter, quite afraid of death. Thus, the man who had been raised and strongly influenced by this woman decided to write her a letter in response.
He began, “It is now 35 years since I, a little boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word that you would give me a home and be mother to me. I have never forgotten the day when I made the long journey of ten miles to your home. I remember being disappointed that instead of coming yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me. I well remember my tears and anxiety as, perched atop your horse and clinging to Caesar, we rode off to your home. Night fell before we finished the journey and as it grew dark I became more afraid. ‘Do you think she will go to bed before we get there?’ I asked Caesar nervously. ‘Oh, no,’ Caesar replied, ‘she will certainly be up to stay with you. When we get through these woods you will see her light shining in the window.’
“We made it to the clearing and there was the light as he promised. I remember that you were waiting in the doorway. You put your arms around me and lifted me, a tired and frightened little boy, and gently took me from the horse and safely placed me on the ground. You had a fire burning and a hot supper was waiting for me on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room. You listened to my prayers and then you waited until I fell asleep.
“You probably know why I am retelling these events to you now. Very soon, God is going to send for you and take you to a new home. I am trying to tell you that you need not worry nor be afraid of the summons or of the strange journey or the dark messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you did for me so many years ago. You can wait and not fear, for at the end of the road you will find love and welcome awaiting you, and you will be safe in God’s care. I will watch and pray for you until you are out of my sight. I shall also wait for the day when I will make the same journey and find you waiting for me to greet me at the end of the road.”
I share this story today in the hope that it may remind us of the great love that God has for us. He, in his heart of grace, is with us in our darkest hours. We are never alone, never abandoned, never forsaken, but are always resting in the bosom of his love. A love that defies description, or comparison to anything we possess. C. S. Lewis walked into the midst of a great argument about the love of God toward us and said, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.” Yes, that is grace, and God has chosen us to be the recipients of His marvelous grace filled love.
- Grace (fivesixteenforfaith.wordpress.com)
July 14, 2013 · 6:19 am
G. Campbell Morgan, the noted British preacher of an earlier generation, once told a true story out of his own life that makes the point. Word came to him one day that a woman in his community was in dire circumstances. It was a desperate situation. She was a widow with three small children and she had run out of money. She was about to be evicted from her home. Dr. Morgan’s heart went out to her. He told his congregation her story and they also were moved to compassion. They took an offering for her and the people were amazingly generous.
Dr. Morgan was thrilled by their response and he couldn’t wait to go over to the widow’s home to present her this gracious love gift. He knocked on the front door, but no answer; no one came. He went around to the back door and knocked even more loudly, but no one came to the door. He shouted through the windows on the side of the house, but still there was no response. Dr. Morgan was so disappointed because he had this wonderful lifesaving gift, but no one would come to the door to receive it.
Later, that afternoon the widow called him. Someone had contacted her and told her about the purpose of the pastor’s visit, so she called him and said: “Oh Dr. Morgan, I’m so sorry I was inside the house all the time when you were knocking and calling… but you see, I didn’t come to the door because I was afraid… I thought you were the landlord coming to collect the rent, but you were a friend coming to bring a precious gift.”
What a parable for our time. How many among us hide from God? We hide because we are afraid of Him, and see him as a collection agent. We perceive him as a stern, determined landlord who demands more than we have. The good news is that God is nothing like that. He is loving, kind, giving and He wants to give you the precious gift of Himself
May 25, 2013 · 6:40 am
I was answered in spiritual understanding, and it was said: What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For Love…. So I was taught that love is our Lord’s meaning.
—–Julian of Norwich
Love is His meaning. There so many things sent our way by God that are meant for love. Julian urges us to see God’s love in our circumstances, and find that love in all we experience.
April 26, 2013 · 6:25 am
I found myself sitting in a nicely appointed hotel room in Baton Rouge and in the solitude of the moment my mind began to wander to things that seem far off and long ago. My attention was drawn to the desk in the corner of the room. It was a fully equipped desk with all the trappings that one might expect, a phone with an extra jack for a laptop, a comfortable chair, a reading lamp an, of course, the pad and pen that bore the name of the hotel. The little pad and pen combination took me on a trip back to a more simple time of my life.
It seemed as if yesterday the pad and pen were the most important items in the room and were to be coveted and cherished. They were, after all, very special to my little princess, better known as my daughter. I would always grab them up quickly and put them in my bag to be presented to her when I returned home. To her they were special treasures that Daddy would bring to his little princess; it was our little father-daughter ritual. As my mind returned to the reality of the day, I knew the pad and pen duo was not nearly as important to me as it once was. My daughter is now an adult, and those treasures that were once so special are now insignificant. Our relationship is no longer based on a daddy’s love for his make believe princess who sees that pad and pen as a treasure to be cherished, but the love of a father who sees his daughter in a whole new light.
It would be a real tragedy for me to expect that my relationship with my daughter would never grow or change in any way. Such a warped way of looking at a relationship would probably end in no relationship at all. So it is with our relationship to God .It must grow and mature and change with each new discovery and challenge in life. Christians often come to a standstill in their spiritual lives based on some pad and pen theology formed long ago.
The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us” for everything there is a season and a time for everything under the sun.” Yes, there is a time for pads and pens for God, but if we are to grow spiritually we must move to a more mature approach to God. Let us always cherish those special things from the early days of our relationship with God, but do allow the season to pass. God always has greater things ahead for us. He allows us to grow, mature and reach new heights as we continue to pour ourselves out to him.
All that said, I still thank God for my time of Pads, Pens and Princesses.
April 5, 2013 · 6:26 am
There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts-one is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the
rotting meat of the desert, because it is the object of their search. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals, and they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. The vultures live on what was. They live on the past. They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is in bloom, because they seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.
In life, there are two birds. The one bird looks for foolishness and stupidity, the other looks for wisdom. The vultures seek to fill themselves with the rotting flesh of drunkenness and debauchery, the hummingbird sobriety, freshness, and the Spirit. In the desert of this world you have your scavengers who are angry and ungrateful, but you also have those who hum a grateful hymn of thanksgiving. The irony is that you find what you are looking for.
I’m sure that all of us want to find what is wonderful and fresh. We want to be in the company of people and things that add value to our lives. Unfortunately, we sometimes seek out the wrong things, and find ourselves drawn to things and people that diminish us rather than build us. Remember, it is all there for us to find.