Category Archives: Faith

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Most of us are familiar with the idea that you have to love yourself before you can love others, but the question I posed to my Sunday school class this morning is “Is it Biblical?” I asserted that it isn’t, and that the verses which command us to love our neighbors as ourselves are not teaching that we have to love ourselves first.  That proved to be a very unpopular opinion, even after I pointed out that the only place in the Bible where loving ourselves is mentioned is in 2 Timothy 3:2, as a warning of things to come.  I also reminded them that we had just studied last week that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3), which seemed to be an exercise in futility.  Given more time, perhaps I could have explained my position more thoroughly, but as our class time is limited, we had to move on in order to finish the lesson.

So here’s where I plead my case.

Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves. Love of self isn’t necessary here.  Is it?

Then there are all these verses about humbling ourselves:

Psalm 18:27  You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Psalm 25:9  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Psalm 147:6  The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

Proverbs 3:34  He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.

Matthew 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Philippians 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Here again, is it necessary to love ourselves in order to consider others better?

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

Then there are verses like these:

Luke 9:24 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Ephesians 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; “Put off” wouldn’t be another way of saying “love”, would it?

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”   Now why would Jesus tell us we should hate our own lives if we are commanded to love ourselves?

Ephesians 5:29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— Here’s the clincher.  We already love ourselves!  It is our default position, therefore the command is to love your neighbor as much as you already love yourself. Not “Love your neighbor and yourself.”  Not “Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor.”

My point is this:  The command to love others is like the other commandments, in that we are unable to keep them without depending on Christ.  We are able to love because He first loved us.

1 John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Better yet, go ahead and read the whole chapter.

My aim is to emphasize the need to measure every thought/idea/belief/teaching by the standard of God’s Word.  Anything we hear/read/believe/imagine must pass this test before we accept it as truth.

It is with that aim in mind that I have decided to rename the blog yet again.  If anyone is still reading after my prolonged absence, the URL hasn’t changed, but you may want to update your link to reflect the new name.

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Filed under Doctrine, Faith

At least we’re making progress

Everyone who knows me knows that I have been praying for quite a while about a certain situation with a certain daughter, and most of you have been praying on my behalf for a resolution.  I’ve also expressed my hesitation to get my hopes up at the slightest hint of change, because what usually happens isn’t what I’d expected.  However, I thought I should share with you the most recent development in that ongoing saga because, my friends, prayers are being answered!

Last week about this time, I spoke with the dad-who-will-not-intervene about the daughter-who-will-not-call and asked him once again if he would make the girl call her mother.  I was surprised to find out that he had already (so he said) “had this conversation with her” and that he had warned her that she would find herself living with her mom if she didn’t start doing what she was told.  (Here’s where we pray that he runs out of patience.)

Seriously though, who knew the change we’ve been praying for would be in his heart?  Praise God!

He said if she doesn’t call me, he’ll take her phone (that should put the fear in her.)  I suggested that maybe he shouldn’t let her go anywhere with friends unless she calls me first.  Then I thought if he’d already threatened to send her to me, maybe he’d be willing to follow through.  So I asked if he would, and he actually said that if he was unable to reach her, he’d be coming after her!  (On the other hand, he also said that he didn’t want to make it seem like living with me would be punishment, like I care at this point how she sees it.)

So here’s where we stand:  If she starts calling me, I will have contact with her.  If she doesn’t, I will go get her, and this time, her dad won’t be backing her up (if he meant what he said.)  The best part is I’m no longer fretting over whether she returns my calls or not.  And to be honest, I’m kinda hoping she doesn’t.

Although the issue isn’t fully resolved yet, I am gaining ground – and patience, and for that I am ever so thankful.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Praise, Prayer

The Great Sadness of The Shack

Well, I finally picked up a copy of the book everyone’s been raving about.  After reading several negative reviews, I had decided that I wouldn’t waste the money, but I kept running across blogs that had nothing but praise for the novel and curiosity got the best of me.  That, and I thought perhaps I could put my discernment skills to the test.

So now that I’ve read it, what’s my reaction?  I don’t think it’s a story for children.  I was quite put off by The Missy Project – and the idea that this book “offers one of the most poignant views of God and how he relates to humanity that has been written in our time.”  Seriously?  It’s a work of fiction!

Not that it isn’t a good piece of fiction.  But therein lies “The Great Sadness.”  People are reading this fictional story about a fictional god and claiming that they’re finding within its pages a life-changing experience, a better understanding of God’s love, even a deeper relationship with God.  Huh?

Then, when error after error is pointed out, they rush to defend the book, claiming “It is fiction, you know.  It wasn’t intended to be a theology book.”  Can’t have it both ways, folks.

The author discusses his main character’s theological issues and suggests that “Nobody wanted God in a box, just a book.”  How ’bout we slap a dress on him/her, stick her in the kitchen and call her “Papa”?  That’ll fix your theological errors.  Sno ’nuff.

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Filed under Discernment, Doctrine, Faith

Behold, what manner of love

While poking through my unpublished posts, I found this little gem.

Ya know what blows my mind? Ya know I’m gonna tell ya anyway. : )

It’s this: when my child pushes the limits of my sanity, oversteps boundaries, breaks the rules, or gives me reason to escort her to the gates of the city to have her stoned (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) – that is when my heart is most tender towards her. Though I may be angry, disappointed, discouraged, hurt, or all of the above; what I feel most is compassion.

And so it is with God, in that while we were deserving of hell, Christ died for us.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.        1 John 3:1 (NIV)

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Yet Another Reason I Don’t Make Plans

By now you would think I’d have learned not to get my hopes up. So many times I have made plans only to have them change at the last minute. It can be frustrating, especially if you’re the type who doesn’t like flying by the seat of her pants. Since that’s the way I do most things, it’s a rare occasion that I actually do have a game plan, and once in a while it would be nice to have it work out. There’s something to be said for spontaneity, for sure, but come on. Can’t a gal get a break?

We postponed our trip to Arkansas to get Sarah, so I didn’t get to spend her birthday with her, and she missed out on Christmas day with us. Instead we went the following weekend and had Christmas with extended family at my mom’s. Sarah was there for that, but we couldn’t get her to come home with us for the last week of her winter break, even though we promised to have her back by the weekend. Her reason? She just doesn’t like Georgia.

She seems to think that by refusing to come here, she can force me to go there. So far it has worked. But no more. I mean who’s in charge here?

Oh, I’m not really complaining. I know all too well that I’m not in charge. Thank God!

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. ~ Proverbs 19:21

After that last act of defiance, I decided that I would wait for her to ask me to come see her, and I’m thinking that my answer will be “Well, I don’t really like Arkansas.”

Okay, maybe not, but I wonder how else she’ll realize that it’s not the best excuse. It’s not even a good one.

So, on to bigger and better things.

I haven’t shared with you that back in October, Lindsey and I attended a tent revival at the First Baptist Church down the street, which led to my joining that church a few weeks later. I’m lovin’ my ladies’ Sunday school class. And Bible study on Sunday evenings. And singing in the choir. It’s good to be home finally!

After choir rehearsal last Wednesday evening, we held officer elections, and I was “elected” alto representative. That should be interesting.

This morning after Sunday school, my teacher stopped me and said she thought I would be good teacher material. She asked me to consider leading the class from time to time.

I’m very excited about that! Lindsey asked if it meant that I wouldn’t be preaching at home so much since I’d have another outlet. Funny girl.

What it does mean is that I will be sharing what I’m learning with you, my faithful readers. It also means that once again, I have received confirmation that there is a very good reason for me to stay put.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a blessed week!

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Filed under Church, Faith, Family

Trusting the Lord

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3: 5-6

I don’t understand how it could possibly be God’s will for my daughter to live apart from her mother and her sister.  It would make sense if she were being discipled or, at the very least, being encouraged to attend church.  It would make even more sense if she were making disciples or, at the very least, encouraging folks to attend church.  But she isn’t.  And because she knows that I will encourage her to pray and read her Bible and insist that she go to church, she’d rather not talk to me.  And I can’t imagine that this is how God planned it.

 And the thing is, it doesn’t matter whether I understand it or whether I like it.  He is sovereign, and nothing is beyond His control.  It is the way it is for whatever reason, and He may or may not choose to reveal that reason to me.  All I need to know is that He is faithful.  I can trust Him.

And I do.

 

 

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Filed under Faith, Family

Whatever It Takes

by Lanny Wolfe

verse 1
There’s a voice calling me
From an old rugged tree
And He whispers draw closer to me
Leave this world far behind
There are new heights to climb
And a new place in me you will find

chorus
For whatever it takes to draw closer to you Lord
That’s what I’ll be willing to do
For whatever it takes to be more like you
That’s what I’ll be willing to do

verse 2
Take the dearest things to me
If that’s how it must be
To draw me closer to thee
Let the disappointments come
Lonely days without the sun
If through sorrow more like you I become

(repeat chorus)

bridge
I’ll trade sunshine for rain
Comfort for pain
That’s what I’ll be willing to do
For whatever it takes for my will to break
That’s what I’ll be willing to do

tag:
That’s what I’ll be willing to do

I have sung this song many times since my youth without really considering the weight of the lyrics. As I’ve matured, they’ve come to mean more to me than I could have ever imagined. Very often now, more than any other song, this one comes to mind when I’m alone with God. It has become my earnest prayer. A prayer that He has been faithful to answer.

Join me in praising Him for keeping His promises. Give thanks to Him and praise His name!

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Filed under Faith