Friday, October 27, 2017

Jesus Loves Me, Jesus Loves You

God continues to answer my prayer for him to show me how he loves me.

Our church had a women’s retreat last Saturday which excited me and gave me so many great reminders.

First we need to settle it in our hearts and minds just how much God loves us. With that solid in our hearts, we can move on to have healthy relationships with others.

Then remember:

Everyone is constantly under attack by the devil.

Be careful about the expectations we place on people.

Most of what others say and do that we take personally is probably not about us at all.

Forgive other people the way we have been forgiven through Christ.

God has a plan for us to share his love and mercy and grace with others.

The speaker reminded us how important it is to meditate on God’s word, and I was encouraged to start memorizing Scripture again to help with this.

We discussed so many helpful verses, and I will share a few with you.

Ephesians 3:17-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Romans 8:38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 3:1: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Isaiah 30:18: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

I want to begin by memorizing these verses. Once I have cemented the magnitude of what they say in my heart, I will be better able to relate to others.

I need to keep in mind that everyone is constantly under attack.

2 Corinthians 4:4: The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

John 10: 10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Revelation 12: 10: Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

And with a kind and gentle heart, we can learn to love people the way God wants us to.

Ephesians 2: 10: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 4:32: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Hebrews 12:15: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Philippians 2:3-4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Hebrews 3:13: But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Each of us who attended got a key to wear around our neck, to remind us of whatever the most important thing was we learned from that day.

When I touch mine, I think, “Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Our Trip West

About twice a year we travel west from Cleveland for about a week. To visit my Mom (Oh yeah, and my brothers, too) in Missouri and our daughter Rebecca in Iowa. We took this trip a couple weeks ago, and I’ll share some of the fun with you.

It’s a tradition. As Murray’s trying to figure out which road to take somewhere along the way, I’ll say, “Go west, young man.” And he’ll always ask, “Who said that?” and I’ll say, “Some newspaper guy.” (Horace Greeley)

There are other landmarks along the way we always enjoy. A huge cross set up somewhere in the middle of Illinois; the Arch as we enter St. Louis. Another of our favorite traditions since the kids were little? Murray always honks when we enter a new state. Everybody’s grown, and Ping-Hwei’s usually the only one who goes with us, but we wouldn’t think of passing a state line without this signal.

One stop we made this year was to take pictures at a house in St. Louis where Murray lived when he was eight or nine. He showed me how close their school was, only a five-minute walk. They came home every day for lunch.

Mom had her eightieth birthday last spring, so I told her recently to let me know if she’d rather we stay in a hotel when we come. She said, “Oh no, I like being around people.” It made me think.

Dad moved to a nursing home eleven years ago, two and a half years before he died. She’s been alone for a long time. I only ever lived by myself for two years, in an apartment, before I got married.

We had lunch in our favorite restaurant when we visit Mom, a pizza joint which also sells hotdogs with a lovely supply of toppings. Ping-Hwei ordered a shrimp pizza, which really concerned me, but my brother Rodney was nice. He asked Ping-Hwei if he could taste it and said it was pretty good.

On Sunday we went to the Hope School reunion, held every three years. My Mom went there to school, a one room school house which started sometime in the late 1800s and closed in 1955. Each time now, when they gather the students for a picture, there are fewer. This year there were twelve. One of the men there this year said he was the entire first grade class the last year the school was open.

Several of the ladies who came to help set up for the day go to my Mom’s church. When others from the church came later, including the minister, he said, “Oh, here’s the rest of the church.” One of the ladies asked him, “Did you pray for us?” He said, “Oh, I did more than that. I used you in illustrations.”

My cousin Vernon sat beside me and told me his son was about to turn forty. I told him, “The other day I complained to Mom that my baby is in his third year or college, and she told me her baby is almost ready to retire. So I figured I’d better stop complaining.”

After we left Mom’s house, on the twisty country roads, we almost hit a deer. Murray said the deer was almost across the road. When he saw us, he turned and ran back the other way. Poor guy.

While we were with Rebecca, we stopped by a store so she could get cold medicine. She asked, because she’s my daughter, “Should I get candy?” Murray said no, I said yes, and she brought chocolate.

Rebecca took us to her animal shelter and let me play with many happy dogs and cats. The next day she asked if I wanted to go to her friend’s house to see her pet snake. I really don’t feel comfortable with snakes, but because Rebecca’s my daughter, I went. I even held it, a ball python.

When we got ready to leave Rebecca’s apartment on the last night, I stood up and said, “Okay, Rebecca, let me give you a hug.” She muttered, sounding maybe somewhat disgruntled, but as I moved toward her, she slammed into me for the hug.

We listened to books including a Lincoln Rhyme mystery. As we stopped at a rest stop in Iowa coming home, Murray mentioned, “Oh, I found a good parking space.”

Here I experienced a technique of a writer that I am always impressed by. The Lincoln Rhyme book takes place in Italy. As I was getting out of the car, I thought, maybe our disability parking pass won’t be acceptable in Italy,, so drawn into the story had the author brought me.

Excellent trip.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Answered Prayer

The other day I was feeling a little down, and I prayed that God would help me to better see how he loves me.

I’ve always been good at focusing on things in the Bible that talk about how much God hates sin, and I’m sure that’s how God looks at me. I believe the truth about his love, that he gave his son for me, but it’s often hard for me to be assured of it.

Sunday, after my prayer, the songs we sang in church touched me with God’s love, especially “What A Beautiful Name It Is.”

The song talked about how Jesus, who is one with God, shared the glory of God from the beginning. But he didn’t want Heaven without us, so Jesus came down to get us. That thought made me want to cry.

Also God put verses in Psalm 103, one of my favorites, in my mind.

Psalm 103:8-14: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Another way God has answered my prayer is by filling my heart with reminders and the desire to love those near me. I know that thought didn’t come from myself.

And then I found a verse which struck me as the best answer to my prayer so far:

Psalms 94:18-19: I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Thank you, Lord, for answered prayer, and for the love in my heart for you.