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

Let Tears Sooth the Broken Places

One fabulous revelation that has occurred to me over time is everyone—EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US—has stuff. The enemy of your soul desires to mess you up, isolate and immobilize you. He starts looking for a way to “damage” your heart from the moment you’re born. It can come from the death of a loved one, words from a mean teacher or classmate, or even a misunderstanding of unmet expectations. Whatever it is, we have hurts, pains, scars and debilitating wounds. Sometimes they are visible, but most of the time they are emotional—hidden deep inside and protected—where only a few really know what has skewed your perspective of life.

“Tears spoke what I couldn’t.”

My deep wounds started with the loss of my first family when my parents divorced, and it fractured my perspective on life. Thankfully, my husband believed in our marriage and trusted God to repair the breach. Healing can take time, but more importantly, it usually takes hard work on our part. (I went through grief recovery, and it was so powerful for me that I became a grief recovery specialist.)

Tears are one of the wonderful ways we can move toward healing. Like me, you probably spent nights crying out to God—crying until you ran out of tears. Other times, His presence brought me to my knees and tears poured silently. I may not have had the words, but through the washing of my soul, the tears spoke what I couldn’t.

The language of my tears comforted my heart and soothed the broken places in my life. They refreshed me and made me new. My tears gave me the strength I needed to let go, forgive and move on. They opened me up to receive love from God and others.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.  John 6:63 nkjv

Are you in one of those difficult places now? He will help you recover. As you let go and allow your tears to express what your heart needs to say, God can wash away the places in your life that you thought were completely ruined, and help you begin again.  I pray you will open your heart and let your tears speak to Him today.

"Pay close attention to your tears. 
What you weep over has to do with your destiny.” 
- Lou Engle

Ruth’s Reward – God-given Friendships

The relationship between Ruth and Naomi has always amazed me. Naomi was so overwhelmed with grief in the death of her husband and sons that she changed her name. Her given name, Naomi, means pleasant, but she no longer felt worthy of that name. She asked her friends to call her, Mara, which means bitterness (Ruth 1:20). That puts a whole new light on Ruth’s determination and commitment to stay with her mother-in-law. She chose to love and support a bitter woman, who possibly felt angry toward God. No doubt she was suffering a crisis of faith when Naomi decided to stay with her.

I want to imagine when times were good for Naomi’s family living in Moab, Ruth saw something in Naomi—something to believe in—that carried her in the touch times and caused her to make the decision to stay with Naomi. Perhaps at some point Ruth witnessed a strong faith in the God Naomi now was angry with.

What about Ruth’s own grief? She had lost a husband, a father- and brother-in-law. She’d lost security that came with her status as a married woman. Yet, the story is about Naomi’s grief, crisis of faith, and Ruth’s decision to follow her.

Ruth walked with Naomi when she decided to be Mara. Eventually God provided for Naomi, restored her faith and family and used Naomi to do it. Two women who needed one another and held on to each other long enough to see God perform His promise . Ruth’s reward for her love and faithfulness brought her a second husband and a son, and eventually the Messiah was born through Ruth’s linage.

Where will a God-given friendship take you? Are you willing to endure with unconditional love to see God’s plan come forth?

Your Soul is Where Your Spirit Breathes

(excerpt from Love is Not an Emotion)

When paramedics arrive on the scene, aside from checking for a pulse, they look to see if the injured person is breathing—a sign of life. It could be said that our soul is where our spirit breathes.

Strong’s lexicon comments that the human soul “by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness.” The soul is regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life; and as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).”[1] This is where our eternal spirit resides.

It is the place where our spirit man can touch the presence of God.

When we are in love physically, the presence of the person we love can be intoxicating. Have you ever experienced such an attraction that you feel your heart almost stops, or you discover you’re holding your breath— waiting for his or her next communication with you. What will he say? What does he think about this or that? That’s somewhat close to the deep, desire from your heart and soul to touch God, that Jesus is talking about.

So far we understand that we are to love God with all of our heart—or make Him the very heartbeat of our existence. On top of that we are to love Him with our soul—that is our mind, our will and our emotions.

The mind is a faculty of understanding, feeling, or way of thinking. God desires to be a part of our intellect. He wants us to love Him with our thoughts. He wants us to include Him in our intellectual studies. The Bible is key in that. When we read His Word we are in touch with Him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.[2]

I think to love God with all our strength means to hold fast to Him without compromise. Our strength includes being closely joined to a person or a thing. This reminds me of the covenant exchanges I’ve read about in the Bible.

David is one my favorite people to read about in the Bible. I’ve learned so much through his life because I can apply so much of his life to my own. 1 Samuel 18:1 says The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. When people made a covenant to one another like David and Jonathan did, the two parties agreed to join themselves together until death. They joined their strengths to overcome all of life’s battles.

If you read the exchange between David and Jonathan, you’ll find they swore to give to the other all that they were. What once was David’s now belonged to Jonathan and likewise; what once belonged to Jonathan was now David’s possession.

God’s covenant with us goes much deeper. He exchanges all He is for the little that we are. He holds fast to us; while we hold fast to Him. We love God with all our strength knowing He will never fail us; therefore we should strive with all that we are not to fail Him.

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

[1] Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Psuche”. “The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon” http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/psuche.html

[2] Hebrews 4:12 NKJV

A Decision to Get Back on Track

(excerpt from Love is Not An Emotion)

All my life I knew and believed my life was filled with God-given purpose. My mother and grandmother told me so—and I believed them. But nearly five years into my marriage, I found my life going nowhere. I felt misplaced and somehow knew there had to be more to God’s plan for my life.

My husband, Blaine and I both recognized a void in our lives and concluded, we were not where we should be. We thought if we stayed where we were—in every area of our lives—physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially—

we would miss God’s plan.

We began to listen and watch for His perfect will. We sat on our couch in our tiny mobile home that sat in my parents front yard, and prayed together. We asked God to put us where we were supposed to be because we felt in our hearts we were stuck.

The next morning we headed to work in separate cars. We each had a 40-minute commute. I was listening to the local Christian radio station. I heard a job announcement at a ministry in another state and my heart leaped. I believed that was the job God wanted for Blaine. I called the radio station and got the information. The next day he mailed his resume to them. They called him. He went for an interview and shortly after that was offered the job.

Five weeks from the night we prayed, we packed our son and few belongings in a U-Haul® and set out for the most amazing adventure. We both served in ministry and it turned our lives right-side up. It pointed us in the right direction—God’s path for our life.

That was more than 20 years ago. We’ve experienced so much, and God has taken us on a continual adventure. We’re still on His path. He never let us miss a beat as long as we were willing to come alongside Him and walk with Him on the path to our destiny.

I’m not saying the journey has been perfect. We’ve gotten ahead of God, at times, or perhaps made a wrong turn, but as we listened to His voice, He helped us stay His course.

Even when you make a wrong turn or step off His path for your life, if you will run to Him and allow Him to redirect you, He’ll set your feet back on the right course and turn you in the right direction.

If you look back, you’ve probably experienced this in your life. What extremes did the Father go to in order to touch your heart, grab your attention and communicate His love for you?

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Jesus’ Joy and Laughter

Jesus came to earth and lived a human life. The Bible is clear that he was fully God and fully man. Jesus was flesh, conceived and born of his mother, Mary. He grew and developed from an infant and became a man. He bled and died. In every way that you and I are human, he walked the earth and experienced it just as we do. He wept when he learned that his friend, Lazarus died. So it’s safe to say he experienced the full range of human emotions—including laughter.

I believe Jesus had a sense of humor.

Although traditional paintings of him depict a sober, prayerful man, I cannot imagine people were drawn to him unless he demonstrated light-heartedness and fun. Children wanted to be around him. Thousand followed Him just to hear what he might say.

We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”  (Psalm 126:2 NLT).

Like you and me, He was created in the image of God. He certainly demonstrated the character and nature of God. His teachings demonstrated some exaggerations that were funny for his day—a camel going through the eye of a needle, a blind man leading a blind man, or hiding a light under the bed instead of using it to light your home. Perhaps he was being sarcastic, like we are sometimes in order to demonstrate a point.

If you never thought about Jesus having a sense of humor, give it a try. As you see him as a person of joy and laughter, I hope it gives you a different perspective in your relationship with Him.

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

Bob Hope

He Loves to Hear You Pray

Excerpt from This Christmas, God Wants You to Know. . .

I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live (Psalm 116:1-2 ESV).

Elaina stood outside her daughter, Tabitha’s open bedroom door watching set out her things in preparation for the next school day. She could hardly believe she was already a teenager—growing up so fast.

Elaina turned to go to back to the kitchen and suddenly stopped when she heard Tabitha begin to pray. The words were so conversational. She had learned to talk to God anytime or anywhere, like she would her very best friend. She listened to her daughter’s honest and open heart—words of adoration and praise poured from her lips.

Just a few moments longer, she listened and then returned to the kitchen. I love hearing her pray, she thought. She thought of her own prayer time with the Lord, and how many times over the years her children heard her pray.

Then, deep within her heart she heard the Lord say, I love to hear you pray even more than you enjoy hearing your child pray. She suddenly felt like a little girl again, talking to her Father, God!

 

Lord, let my time with you bring me closer to You. Remind me how much you love to hear from me and never let me forget how important our relationship is. Amen.