Loving the Unlovable

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The following blog was posted on Lift Up Your Day and is included in its entirety below. For more encouragement, check out the other posts on LUYD.


What did you do this past Valentine’s Day? Did it involve standing in line to buy fuzzy teddy bears, overpriced chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, mushy greeting cards, or Star Wars candy for your kids? Perhaps you had a nice dinner out or watched a Rom-Com at home.

However you celebrated Valentine’s Day, I bet it involved those you love. You certainly weren’t spending time and energy on those you don’t love.

 

The Unlovable

You know who they are. The woman who said hateful things about you behind your back. The guy who deceived you and broke your heart. We all know people like this. The ones who make life harder. The ones who hurt others to get ahead. The ones we can’t stand to be around. The ones we cannot, under any situation, love.

And yet that’s what God has called us to do: to love the unlovable.

 

An Impossible Command

Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for those persecute us. (See Matthew 5:43-47.) I thought about this for years, wondering how I could possibly live this out in my own life. How can we muster the courage, strength, or whatever goodness is needed to love those who hate us?

I finally have the answer: We don’t. We can’t. We simply don’t have what it takes.

But God does.

 

A Godly Love

Before we knew God, we had to manage on our own. Our emotions—from love to hate—were based on passion, desire, and fear.

Then, we accepted Jesus as our Savior, and the Holy Spirit took up residence in our hearts. The Bible says that God is Love. This doesn’t just mean that He Loves us, but that His Love abides within us. (See 1 John 4:8 and 15.) If we will tap into the Holy Spirit in us, we can dispense God’s Love (with a capital L).

Remember, Jesus sacrificed Himself so all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). He saved each of us while we were still sinners. God’s Love is bigger than any sin we can commit, and there is no one God doesn’t want to save.

 

Exercises

There will always be people who wound us, aggravate us, or simply annoy us. But we aren’t limited to our own anemic emotions any more. Now, we can draw from God’s perfect Love that dwells within us.

The next time you happen upon your enemies, try these godly tactics:

  • Fake it ‘til you make it. Act like you sincerely care for their wellbeing. This isn’t about lying but about positioning yourself to draw from God’s wellspring of Love.
  • Don’t be ugly. Even when they’re not in the room, don’t say anything hateful about them. That would only negate the good work you’re trying to accomplish and open the door to hypocrisy.
  • Pray for them. You can’t hate someone you’re praying for, so pray and pray some more.

Whatever you do, ask for God’s guidance and wisdom. Treat each interaction with your enemies as opportunities to be His hands and feet in the world. By this, God’s love will be perfected in you. (See 1 John 4:12.)

If you practice this enough, you will eventually prove something quite profound: thanks to God’s grace, no one is unlovable.

We love, because He first loved us.  If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 John 4:19-21 NAS)

2016 Liebster Award!

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Nominated in 2016 by Robin Baldwin of the Words for Life blog.

 

In 2016, one of my fellow bloggers, Robin Baldwin of Words for Life, nominated me for the Liebster Award! This award is passed on from one blogger to another as a way of encouraging them to keep on writing. I am very grateful to Robin for considering me for this!

As a nominee, I have to answer Robin’s questions below, nominate other new bloggers (with no more than 500 followers), and then ask those bloggers questions of my own.

The following are my answers to Robin’s questions:

  1. Why do you write?

The more I learn about God, the more I feel compelled to share it with the world. I simply can’t not write. (Yes, that was an intentional double-negative. As a writer, I take liberties from time to time.)

  1. What one thing do you want to do to leave the world a better place?

I want to help others develop a closer relationship with Jesus, whether that’s through example, personal discussions, or my writings.

  1. Who inspires you? Why?

My late grandmother, Verona Kirby. She was the most godly woman I have ever known. All of us who knew her were blessed because of it.

  1. What makes you laugh?

Cat videos. No matter how rough my day was, a crazy cat video will have me tearfully laughing in no time flat.

  1. If you could write a letter to your younger self, what advice would you give?

You are special, and you are loved. You don’t have to lower your standards for anyone.

  1. Who is your favorite author? Why?

Dean Koontz is an unbelievable author! His thrillers are terrifying, but it’s his imagery that leaves me shaking my head. What impresses me most, though, is that his books usually contain a message of hope. (Read The Face if you’re really daring and don’t care to sleep for a night or two.)

  1. What book made you become a lifelong reader?

I have to pick two: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. I remember thinking, “Now, this is a book!” (I’m pretty sure I was in fifth grade when I read Crichton’s, and I’ve been hooked on adventure books ever since.)

  1. What life experience humbled you?

God recently led me away from a successful career in risk management to work in a management / support capacity for a local business. Through this, I’ve learned not only be obedient but to get excited with whatever God wants to do through me. His way is always better than mine!

  1. What do you do for fun (besides writing)?

I love photography! For me, the fun is capturing that perfect moment in nature, like a fuzzy bumblebee perched delicately on a flower. There’s so much beauty, but a perfect photo is only framed for a moment. To capture that on camera is pure magic.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

“I want to be the kind of woman that, when my feet hit the floor in the morning, the enemy says, ‘Oh no! She’s up.’”

  1. What is your favorite blog post that you wrote? Why?

I really liked “The Most Lavish Gift of All,” which I posted in December 2016. In it, I wrote about a homeless man I had watched spend a large sum of money on a Christmas gift for his sister. Through this simple but generous act, God made me realize that His love is lavish; He does not budget or skimp on us. It was a great reminder, and I hope the blog blessed others as much as the lesson blessed me.

No man is an island. If you’re looking for great blogs to read, here are three of my favorites:

And for beautiful poetry, don’t forget to check out Robin’s site at Words for Life.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your feedback.


My questions to those I’m nominating:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?
  2. Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get “unstuck”?
  3. Is there a writing rule that you like to break from time to time? If so, what is it?
  4. Most blogs have a theme. Do you have a topic you’d like to write about that doesn’t fit within your theme?
  5. Finish this sentence: I wish I were more _____.
  6. Do you write outside of your blog, such as news articles or books? Tell us about it.
  7. Why did you first start your blog?

Take Time to Chew the Cud

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Photo by Ashley Jones, Copyright 2011.

The following blog was published on Lift Up Your Day. I’ve included it in its entirety below. I hope it gives you something to chew on this week.


As we embark on a new year, we’re all looking for the latest methods to improve our physical and spiritual well-being. As a blogger, I feel compelled to offer my own sage advice:

Take time to chew the cud.

The Amazing Cow

Have you ever noticed that cows are always chewing on something? That’s because they have a complex digestive system. They use their four-chambered stomachs to regurgitate swallowed food (“cud”) so they can chew on it a second time before swallowing it again. It may sound gross to us, but this amazing process ensures the cows absorb sufficient nutrients from their fibrous diets.

Animals with multi-chambered stomachs that chew the cud are called ruminants. Under the Old Testament law, ruminants with split hoofs (like deer and cattle) were considered clean and acceptable to eat. I believe God used this rule to remind the Israelites to “do as the ruminants do”: ruminate. That’s not a common word today, but we’re all familiar with its synonym, meditate.

 

Pondering Meditation

In Christianity, meditating isn’t about achieving a state of mindlessness or controlling one’s bodily functions as in some Eastern religions. Instead, it’s the purposeful consideration of a truth or fact.

For example, in Psalm 119, David said he would meditate on God and His “precepts,” “wonders,” “statutes,” and “word.” Like a cow chewing the cud, David promised to ponder on these things over and over so he could absorb as much truth from them as possible.

Unlike grass and hay, which contain a finite amount of nutrients, God’s Word has unlimited value. We can meditate on it day and night and never exhaust its riches.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33 NAS)

 

Chew the Cud

Unfortunately, most of us get in a rut with our Bible study time. We often skip the Old Testament entirely and just skim through the New Testament. Even if we read a daily devotional, we usually forget its message long before lunchtime.

This year, I encourage you to take time to chew the cud. Let God lead you to a verse from Scripture or to a truth about Himself. Meditate on it in the morning, at lunch, while you’re driving, in the shower, and when you lay down at night. Like David, turn it over and over again in your mind, drawing from it all the spiritual nutrition you can.

As Joshua said, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8 NAS). 

May your meditation lead to obedience, and your obedience to prosperity and success this year!

(With thanks to the Cattle Empire for information on the anatomy of cows.)

Charities for Life

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Christmas is almost upon us, which means you’re probably wrapping your presents and doing some last-minute shopping. Now, take a breath. Stop for just a moment and think if there are any people around you who are in need. No matter where you live, you probably drove past at least one homeless person today, and there must be dozens of charities in your area that could use a donation or a helping hand.

If you’ve already blessed your own community and want to make a difference across the world, check out two of my favorite charities that help children in need:

Compassion International

Compassion has many programs to ensure children in need have nutritious food, education, healthcare, job preparation courses, and more. They also share the Gospel with these kids, giving them a real hope for their future.

Robby and I have two sponsor kids through Compassion, a little boy in the Philippines and a girl in Africa. We love to read their letters and to hear how our monthly donations are used. This is a great way to bless children in need throughout the year.

This month, you can also shop Compassion’s Gift Catalog, where you can select an item to give to a family in need—items like Bibles, chickens, goats, pigs, garden seeds, textbooks, bicycles, and more. If you’d like, you can make the one-time donation in honor of a loved one and a card will be sent to them explaining what you donated in their honor. This is a perfect way to honor a loved one and bless a family in need.

Sweet Sleep

Most people are aware that children in poverty need food, shelter, education, and healthcare. What most of us don’t think of is beds. Many children in poverty sleep on bare floors where they’re susceptible to parasites and bacteria. Others are without mosquito nets, leaving them prone to malaria.

Sweet Sleep works with communities throughout the world to provide beds, sheets, and mosquito nets to children in need. This not only gives them comfort, it gives them an opportunity for a future. Sweet Sleep also provides each child with a Bible in their own language, supplying them with faith and a new hope for the future.

This Christmas, pray that the Lord will give you guidance on how to bless those in need, whether they’re in your city or a world away. And may God bless you and your family this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (See Matthew 25:40 NAS.)

The Most Lavish Gift of All

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The following blog was published on Lift Up Your Day. I have included it in its entirety below. I hope it blesses and encourages you!


The Extravagant Gift

I was in a store recently when a homeless man came in and began chatting up the sales clerk. Apparently, John (as the clerk called him), had been in the store earlier and had picked out a reproduction of a painting.

“I told you I’d be back,” John told the clerk. “My sister Susan is going to love this! She’s done so much for me over the past few years, and I just want to give her something to show my appreciation. You said you can ship it to her, right?”

I watched as John produced $45 in wrinkled bills and an old envelope with Susan’s name and address on the return label. (I was reminded that homeless people don’t carry credit cards or use smart phones to manage their contacts.)

Although the painting was one of the most expensive items in the store, John didn’t haggle over the price. In fact, he seemed overjoyed to spend the money. Still, I wondered if he had any left to buy dinner. Where would he stay the night? Would his sister be pleased with the gift or upset over the cost?

As I tried to figure out how I felt about the situation, I watched John float out of the store on a bubble of joy and excitement. I realized he wasn’t just sending his sister something—he was sending her a grand gesture, an extravagant gift, and the joy he felt in giving it was its own reward.

 

The Idol of Frugality

I thought back to when I was 16 years old. It took me weeks to save up $110 to buy a birthstone ring for my mother. It was a lot of money to spend on a single present, which was exactly the point. I wanted to show Mom how much I loved her by giving her a lavish gift.

My mind shifted again, this time to our current Christmas preparations. My husband Robby and I live on a budget, so we agreed to keep the presents to a minimum, focusing on those around us with immediate needs. Still standing in the store, I mentally patted myself on the back for planning a frugal Christmas. That’s when the Lord convicted me: “You already know that money can be an idol. So can frugality.”

It felt like I had been kicked in the gut! I thought I was being smart, but in those two sentences, the Lord showed me that I was beginning to live in fear—fear that the money would dry up, that the needs would exceed the funds, that God would leave us high and dry. It wasn’t conscious—I know God will take care of us—but I’ve been holding a firm grasp on the purse strings, afraid of giving God full reign.

 

The Most Lavish Gift of All

As these thoughts were pouring through my mind, the Lord told me something very important about Himself: “I am not a frugal God. I give lavishly out of my abundance.”

How profound! Our God is the most lavish spender of all time—and He spent everything on us! God gave His Son Jesus to mankind on Christmas, and then Jesus gave His life for us on Easter. God didn’t hold back with us. He didn’t budget or skimp. God gave us 100% of His net worth in the person of Jesus Christ—and we didn’t even deserve it.

 

Let Us Freely Give

Now, I don’t propose that we max out the credit card bills in a misguided attempt to “bless” everyone around us. However, we should be more like John—focused not on what we lack but on our access to God’s abundance.

This Christmas, let’s allow God to guide all of our decisions—including how we spend our money—resting in the surety that He will not lead us astray. And let us freely dispense the priceless gifts of compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love, this season and throughout the new year.

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NAS)