Sustaining: Enduring Love

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  – Psalm 100:5

I was reading this passage this week, and the word “endure” stuck out to me.  There are two definitions for the word.  The first is “to remain in existence; last” which I’m sure is the meaning that most people derive from this text.  But the other definition was to “suffer patiently”.

It makes me think about the verse in 2 Peter 3:9 that says:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God wants a relationship with humankind, with you, with your children, with your children’s children’s children.  He wanted a relationship with your grandparents and your great-grandparents.  And he’s suffering patiently, enduring with great love to have that relationship.

My God is amazing in this way.  This love is too great for me to fully understand.  But what I do understand is pretty cool, so I hope you find it as encouraging as it was to me.

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Summer Study: Ephesians 4

I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer.  Click here for Chapter 1Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

 

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I try not to get too political on my blog.  There are definitely things I feel strongly about when it comes to politics, but I also feel like in this climate, not much is heard clearly and too much is being said.

This chapter in Ephesians talked about unity, something we desperately need in the church, maybe even in our country, but I want to focus on the church because that’s what Paul is talking about.  Starting in verse 14, he says:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

I’ve seen people talk about the truth without love, and I’ve seen people talk about love without truth.  It makes me realize that this is a time for discerning, not in some legalistic way, but in a way that speaks towards growing up in Christ.  If I’m not becoming like Christ more each day, then I’m just chasing after the latest blog or podcast that makes me feel something, letting my emotions guide me instead of the Spirit.

I’m not saying that you can’t be led by the Spirit through a blog article or a podcast, but I’m saying that even these good things can become an idol.

In this same line of thought, Paul talks about the things these Ephesians needed to let go of in order to be in Christ, to “be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

The two things that stood out to me the most were the “in your anger do not sin” and “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”  So I want to unpack that a bit.

He mentions anger twice in this chapter.  First, in verse 26 and 27 and then also in verse 31.  He doesn’t say that anger is a sin.  Anger is a response to injustice.  It is very much needed in our world.  But allowing anger to take hold of you, to root down deep and grow into bitterness, rage, even brawling and slander, that’s where it gets dangerous.

When I lost my daughters, I was never angry at God, but I was angry.  I have been angry at a society that doesn’t recognize the pain that pregnancy loss brings.  I have been angry at the thoughtlessness of other people’s comments or actions that heap coals on already suffering women.  And when I don’t let go of that anger, bitterness roots in deep and vomits out of my mouth in slews of judgment and pettiness.  It’s not pretty, folks.  And that kind of anger can divide.  I know why Paul mentions it twice.

Then he talked about the unwholesome talk, which I always thought was about profanity, but the second half of that verse talks about something different:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

This isn’t about profanity.  This is about being critical without kindness, gossiping and venting to other people, talking without the expectation to listen.  It’s helping others according to their needs, not yours.  It’s a humble way of having a conversation. It isn’t about how right you are, it’s about helping a person who is already ready to listen. How many times have we seen on social media the back and forth vitriol that never seems to amount to anything more than an unfollow or unfriend?

And also, just as a side note, sharing the crazy to talk about how crazy it is to friends who already know that it’s crazy doesn’t seem to be helpful or building up anyone in particular.  It just seems to be meant to tear everyone down, and again, divide us into groups who are yelling into the ether with no real desire to listen to one another at all.

This chapter really convicted me this week, and for this week, I’m going to use the last verse as my mantra wherever I go.  I hope you will do this with me.  I have it in the picture below that you can print off and tape to your mirror, which is what I’m going to do.  Let’s be people of unity, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness this week so we can grow more into the image of our big brother, Jesus.

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Summer Study: Ephesians 3

I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer.  Click here for Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Ephesians 3

I felt like this chapter was a transitional chapter.  Up to this point, Paul has been telling the church how rich God’s grace is.  In the first half of chapter 3, he continues this topic, but then ends the chapter with a prayer of unity for Ephesus, that they experience the riches of grace from God and the love of Christ within their church.

I can’t imagine what the Gentiles of the early church must have felt when they heard Paul say things like, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”  That, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

On one side, there were Jews telling them that they had a bunch of hoops to jump through, and on the other, the gods of the pagans were unreachable.  Here, Paul is telling them that they can have a closeness, an acceptance from a God through faith in a man who conquered death, without strings attached.  That this relationship was foretold by prophets and apostles.

They were being introduced to the love of God through the faith in Jesus Christ by the words of the apostle Paul. This love sparked a religious and cultural revolution, that spread to the far reaches of the earth, that eventually landed among my ancestors and was passed down from generation to generation through the church to the glory of Christ.  And Paul speaks into that at the end of this chapter.

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And that’s just simply beautiful to me.

A Safe Place

Whenever we have a thunderstorm at night, our boxer mix, Loco, sits up on our bed, stares down at us and shakes until we wake up.  He doesn’t calm down until my husband takes him into our master closet, a room with no windows.  It’s his safe place.

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We also have safe places that we want to go to when things get really stressful.  When I’m feeling stressed, I like to organize my house.  Just cleaning off my desk somehow makes me feel secure when I feel overwhelmed.

What’s funny about Loco being in the master closet is that the closet isn’t really that much safer than our bedroom.  But either way, we don’t leave him alone in his moment of fear.  Michael will lay on the floor with him in the closet for the rest of the night if he needs to.

In the same way, even when I’m looking for security in other things, God is standing beside me.  He doesn’t leave me alone in my moment of fear.  He waits with me, through every minute if he has to.

Sometimes I use that thing that I think will give me security to try to prevent storms.  I have turned to my schedules and plans to try to create outcomes that I have absolutely no control over.  Like trying to get pregnant, or trying to avoid making mistakes at work, or trying to have a perfect marriage.  I do every ritual I can think of to stop the storms from coming.  But they come anyway.

That’s when I realized that organization isn’t my safe place.  God is.  It’s not family, friends, husband, home, job or hobbies that can ultimately protect me from my pain and suffering.  Only God can fully heal my hurts.  Thankfully, he’s patient with me when I forget and long to be in control once again, using tools that will break on me every time.

But sometimes, when I finally remember that God’s love is my true safe place.  And I let him take the lead.  Something really amazing happens.  He doesn’t just walk with me in the storm, but together, we dance in the rain.

What is a safe place that you tend to go to when things get rough?