Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sheltering with Divine Love

Do not waste your time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as I do this, I find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  ~C. S. Lewis

Growing up, we had the best neighbors possible.  Bernie and my mother were close friends, sharing coffee breaks, Christmas baking and craft projects.  Mom had a friendship bridge made over the small ditch between our home and Bernie's.   And, best of all for me, every time I was sick and stayed home from school, Bernie brought over a quart of canned blueberries.  

Bernie passed away a couple months ago, but I have beautiful memories of her bird collection lining the shelves above her drapes, the quilt she made when Emily was born, and her love for all of us.

Now I know all neighbors aren't like Bernie.  I also know when Jesus told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, He wasn't merely speaking of the person who lives next door.  It would be easy for me, since I have lovely Christian neighbors on boths sides of our home.  

The Webster’s Dictionary Definition of Neighbor is "one being or one of the human race; any one that needs our help, or to whom we have an opportunity of doing good."  Sounds like a paraphrase of Mark 12:31, Love your neighbor as yourself.  And sometimes those "any ones" are a little harder to love...

(You know, those people that drive you crazy with their inconsistencies, their sharp tongues and nosiness. The one who is always bragging, who thinks their agendas should be yours, and lie to get ahead.  The ones who fail to rejoice when we rejoice, but chime in easily to join our disappointments!) In our humanness, those people are just hard to love.

The beauty of being a Christian is that God gives us divine love.  The Spirit of God fills us (2 Timothy 1:7). The difference between divine love and human love is that divine love rules from the heart, and human love rules from the head.  

Oldubi Johnson defines Divine Love in this way: Divine love is the eternal willingness to do eternal good, exercised in wisdom and patience, shown in acts of kindness and discipline when necessaryGod, through Paul, tells us in Romans 13:10, Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Whether love is returned in the spirit it was given, or never responded to, Jesus' command to love our neighbor is still valid.  Our love doesn't hinge on what others do, it hinges on what God did to show His love for us--giving us the gift of His Son.  

I don't know about you, but carrying grudges is just too much work.  Constantly dragging out our lists of hurts we've been given and imagining how we can inflict additional pain, can steal our joy and make us into bitter people.  I'm not saying it's always easy.  But I have found when I'm hurt, it's always best to take those people to the Throne.  Then, in the praying, my heart is filled with love.  

Each day I ask my Heavenly Father to allow His love to fill my heart until it overflows on every neighbor I meet--those who live next door, those who attend my place of worship and those I meet throughout the course of my day. 

Loving may require a jar of blackberries, a plate of cookies or a soft answer.  It may require a struggle and turning the other cheek.  But I have a Master Teacher.  God loved me when I was covered in sin, and daily showers me (His child) with His love. That love compels me to go and love.

* * * * *
We have been enjoying fresh produce from our neighbor's garden. Green beans, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, and squash.  In spite of the lack of rain, their garden has flourished.  I made a tin of Oatmeal Cherry Cookies for them.  So easy and delicious, too.

If you like to cook, you'll love her blog.  Freezer meals, baking and even 58 ways to use bacon.

  • 1 Cup Butter 
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat White Flour
  • 3/4 Cup all Purpose Flour
  • 1 t Baking Soda
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 5 oz Dried Cherries
  • 3 Cups Long Cooking Oats

  1. Cream butter and sugars together.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Mix dry ingredients (except cherries and oats) in a separate bowl and then add to butter.
  4. Add in cherries and oats
  5. Spoon batter by rounded tablespoons onto lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes and cool on cooling rack.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sheltering with Praise.

If you're sincere, praise is effective. If you're insincere, it's manipulative.                                                                                                           ~Zig Ziglar

There are many differences of opinions concerning praise.  Some say it makes a person weak and dependent on praise to do a job well.  Others, like the Irish proverb tells us, believe praise causes us to blossom.  

Wendell Philips believed, that while many people know how to flatter, few know how to praise. Flattery is lavish insincere praise, sometimes given to further our own self. Praise is the act of expressing approval.

My children were raised with a healthy dose of praise.  I remember once after one of Melanie's piano recitals, I praised her for playing so well. She told me she had missed a note.  When I asked her how many notes she had played right, the friend standing near us said, "I never heard about the ones I played right, just the ones I missed."

I, too, was raised with the encouragement of praise. Tom's Pizza was the ultimate praise from my daddy after a concert or program.  I don't think we ever outgrow our need for parental praise.  My mother still mentions each blog post I write and project I complete. Many years have passed since those Tom's Pizza praises, yet still I need to hear their genuine praise. 

Taking the Great-Grands to Tom's Pizza

C S Lewis said, had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least

Some Christians seem to be uncomfortable around the word praise, as if praise would encourage pride.  They use the word affirm, assuming the more dignified word would be more accepting.  

God gave us warnings against undeserving praise, but even Jesus was quick to praise when it was deserving. When Jesus, through John, was telling the Ephesians, He was saddened knowing they had left their first love. He was quick to give them praise for what they had done right.  

I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can't stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out. (Revelation 2:2). 

All throughout the Bible praise is recorded.  Paul praised Phoebe for being a helper, Boaz praised Ruth for her courage, and Achish praised David and called him an angel.

As we praise each other, those thoughts of honor and blessing will naturally spill over into praises to God.  The Message translates the familiar verse of the Psalmist, I bless God every chance I get.  My lungs expand with His praise (Psalm 34:1).

Praising God isn't just about recounting a blessing in church. Our medium for praising Him may be different from Bible days, but it's the 2012 way.  It's a Facebook status, reading praise for protection.  It's an e-mail rejoicing in a physical touch. It's a twitter praise for God's help (in 140 characters).  Times have changed, but the command to praise is still the same.  Let every living, breathing creature praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6).

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