With All of Your Heart

(excerpt from Love is Not an Emotion)

Most likely you’ve heard of The Ten Commandments. While they are God-given, commandments to follow, Jesus brought something new. In Mark 12, a scribe asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.[1]

I have asked myself, What does it mean—all of your heart?

In the physical arena, when you love someone or give them your heart, you want to spend time with them. If you’re married, think about when you met your wife or husband. I met Blaine on my fifteenth birthday. As we began to establish a friendship, we spent countless hours talking on the telephone late at night. My Mom asked what we talked about, and I told her “nothing.” We just wanted to be connected. get away

There was an anticipation and expectation before our dates. We could hardly wait to get together. As we dated, I enjoyed getting ready to see him, fixing my hair, picking out clothes I thought he’d like and anticipated his arrival.

Our relationship with God can often be similar to that. He waits for us. He is excited to see us when we come into His presence— where we are always welcome. He loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Physically, the human heart is the most vital of all organs. It is the life source that brings the life-sustaining blood by way of the heart to all the areas of the body. The heart is regarded as the seat of physical life. Often we use the word heart to describe the soul, or the mind, as the fountain and seat of thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, and endeavors, the life source of our inner being or spirit.

This call to love Him with all of your heart demonstrates God’s desire to become connected to us. His life becomes our life. Everything we are spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially and socially should fit into the heartbeat of the Father. Heart to heart means connecting to God on such a level that your own heart beats in rhythm with Him, and your lifestyle reflects such a heart.

You can read Love is Not an Emotion – available in paperback and on Kindle.

[1] Mark 12:29-30 NKJV

Ask Anything

Do you imagine God so big that He is too busy for you? Perhaps you feel compelled to handle things on your own so He can spend His time taking care of “bigger” issues. Maybe you know people who are “worse off” than you are, or you think someone deserves His time more than you do.

Don’t believe the lie!

God desires to be there for you no matter how small you think your problems might be. He has endless capacity to do and be—far beyond anything you can imagine.

Imagine yourself the child of a father with endless resources who loves you, wants to provide for you and give you the desires of your heart. There is only one condition—He wants you to ask. You serve a God without limits. He is unrestrained in what He can do for you.

What things are you holding close to your heart today? Your Heavenly Father is just waiting for you to ask for His time, His wisdom, His intervention. He wants to give you the desires of you heart. It’s not a matter of deserving it. You’re His child and like a good father, He wants to do you good!

Open your heart today and relinquish to Him anything you’ve been holding back. He wants to be a part of the answer. Take a moment and invite him to intervene on your behalf today.

In that day you will no longer ask me anything.

Very truly I tell you,

my Father will give you

whatever you ask in my name.

Until now you have not asked

for anything in my name.

Ask and you will receive,

and your joy will be complete (John 16:23-24 NIV).

 

Kingdom Flash Mob – When Will You Be Called to Do Your Part?

Remember when social media filled with posts with video of flash mobs? I haven’t seen one posted in a while, but I remember seeing them more around Christmastime.

Here’s one from a few Christmases past for your viewing pleasure. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY8Jf-45DzE

A flash mob is a group of people called to a certain place at an indicated time to perform a specified action before diffusing into the crowd. A flash mob gives the appearance of something unplanned, random and unorganized, but is in reality, a beautifully coordinated experience with the right people in their precise places for a staged performance. They appear as a part of the crowd, going about their daily lives, when suddenly they step up and do their part.

Similarly Christians have a part to play in the Kingdom of God. That part is already planned and orchestrated by Jesus, Messiah. The direction and inspiration from the Holy Spirit is already within each person. In response to a question asked by the Pharisees about when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

The revelation Jesus shared when he opened the book of Isaiah 60, read it, and declared the scripture, was one of many flash mob moments during Jesus’ ministry. The Kingdom of God revealed by the Messiah shook people’s reality, angered some and brought life transformation in those who were willing to embrace the Kingdom of God.

Similar to a flash mob, children of God are called together to worship God, to seek His presence, and to be encouraged by His Word. From there we disperse into this world, slipping quietly into our daily lives and await our next opportunity to do our part.

Sarah’s Story Part 1—Abraham’s News

Sarah’s story didn’t look very promising from the beginning—at least from the perspective of natural circumstances. The first mention of her in the Bible describes her as Abram’s wife, Sarai, who is barren and has no children.[1] (Eventually God changed both Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah.) When her husband’s brother, Haran died, Abram’s father took his family from Ur of the Chaldeans where Abram and Sarah grew up and traveled toward Canaan, but stopped short of their journey and settled in Haran where they lived until Abram’s father died.

Here’s where things get interesting. Sarah and Abraham’s family worshipped other gods, yet the Almighty God spoke Abraham and asked him to leave everything familiar to him and Sarah—their country, their extended family and the friends they did life with every day—and go to a land they had never seen.

The Lord said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you. Genesis 12:1-3 CEV

I can just imagine God saying, “Pack your family, tents, and all your belongings and start walking. I’m going to show you this great land. If you do this, I am going to make you into a great nation. I’ll make your name great. If you follow me I will bless you, and bless everyone who blesses you.”

Now imagine Sarah’s response. Abraham comes in and tells her the Only True God promised him a blessing—a promise to become a nation, and all they have to do is go to a land God will show him. I can’t help but think she said what she thought. Maybe she told Abraham,, “Well, how’s God going to do that? I’m barren. Everyone knows I’m barren. We’ve been married for years and tried to start a family without success.” And if she did believe, it’s highly likely she imagined different scenarios of just how God would do such things.

Perhaps she struggled with the grief of leaving everything familiar. I’m sure she had lots of questions. How far is it to this place God is going to show us? When will we get there? I won’t know a single person. What if the people are unfriendly, violent and savage? On the other hand, maybe she embraced this new directive  with excitement and expectation.

How might you feel if God called your family to leave everything familiar and travel to a place you have never been? Have you experienced times in your own life when you struggled to believe God’s promises belonged to you?

[1] Hebrews 11:29-30

Pioneering Faith

No matter how many times we’ve believed God and experienced the results of our faith, there is always a fight to stand firm in the next challenge. I don’t just set my heart and mind on something generic, I imagine what it will look like when the answer comes. I set my expectations high. I think about what it could look like, feel like and taste like. I imagine where we’ll go and what we’ll do as we begin to move forward in obedience to God’s plans.

The challenge is I can get ahead of God. I allow expectations—a picture to develop in my mind that I’ve created, and eventually I discover it’s not even close to the image of what God wants that particular thing to look like.

That brings about a crisis of belief. Did God really say we are supposed to move to another state? While we knew the answer as we began to journey forward, doubt creeps in at the first obstacle. We have this crazy idea that God’s going to come in with his bulldozer and go ahead of us, giving us a clear path, when in fact, He’s actually called us to blaze the trail.

Think of the pioneers of the Wild West. They traveled over rough country. They had no roads laid out before them. They were fortunate to have a path of travelers that have gone ahead to follow. They had to do all the firsts. They made the road; they dug the well and the outhouse.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ESV).

When God asks you to move, it usually involves putting your faith muscles (and natural muscles) to work. I want to think it’s going to be easy—and every once in awhile—it is! But usually, as a pioneer of faith, it means starting from scratch and building something.

So, when you don’t see the results of your faith produce in the way you imagined, take a deep breath and let it go. (Can you tell I’m taking a deep breath now?) I believe God has my best interest at heart. He has something that looks different—and it’s better than I imagined. It’s exactly what I need, even if it’s not what I thought I wanted—or not in the timing I expected.

The Sound of Faith

My husband is a fan of The Voice,  and I have watched it with him a few times. As a fan, you would naturally have a high anticipation of the power and talent you expect to experience in the sound of each of the final contestants.

Now, visualize the astonishment all of Heaven witnessed when God spoke the words that created the world you live in today. His voice—the very word he spoke—commanded every form of life to come forth.

God’s words were powerful enough to bring something unseen into the visible world.

Think about your Bible, filled with God’s words. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right (NCV).

Your Bible can show you what God says and thinks about everything. As you read His Word, you get to know His nature and character. You come to understand and His responses to the questions your heart asks.

Take a step of faith and courageously open God’s Word today, expecting to experience God’s miraculous purpose and watch what He will do. Ask Him to speak to you speak as you read His Word. I pray He will show you how His words can make a difference in your life today.

Memory Stones

wood-sea-ocean-rocks pexelsHistory wasn’t my favorite subject in school, but some elements of it have intrigued me for most of my life. The Jewish culture and all that God’s first, chosen people endured throughout history  fascinated me. As a child, I was an avid reader and true stories like The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, pulled me completely into the world they lived in as soon as I turned the first page.

Sad movies based on real people, places and times before were difficult for me to watch because I knew real people endured those horrible things. That was the case of Shindler’s List. I knew it would rock me deep into my soul, so I waited until I felt I was ready to see it. Three years after the movie premiered, I watched a commercial-free version of it on television. And I carry some of those scenes with me even today.

The final scene takes place at the grave of Oskar Schindler. The amazing part is the custom the Jews have of placing stones on the grave—not flowers as I would have assumed. Even today you can Google “Oskar Schindler’s grave” and view pictures of his memorial stone with small stones of all shapes and sizes placed respectfully one on top of the other.

It seems that each stone placed is a promise made by the one who left it to remember something significant. No words—just pebbles—memory stones. Each memory is respectfully placed at the discretion of each visitor. Perhaps they are thanking God for one man’s courage to stand up when it seemed no one else could. Maybe they owe their very lives to him because without him they would never have been born. Others may hope they have enough boldness for what they believe in when their time comes to stand.

I’d like to think that my faith grows with each obstacle I’ve faced. And each time a new challenge to my faith taunts me to doubt God and his faithfulness, I can pull a memory stone from my past to remind me God was there for me then, and He will help me make it through whatever crisis standing in my way in this moment.

God has done some amazing and very miraculous acts in my life. Joshua 4:6-7 says, When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them…. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever,” (NIV)

I am sure you can think of times in your life that would serve as a reminder of God at work in your life. I encourage you to take memory stones from your own life and use them with the help of the Holy Spirit to develop your faith, build your family and shape your future.

Feel free to share a precious, memory stone in the comments below. I’d love to hear your stories.