Love Defined from the Source

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Depending on the source, the idea or definition of love can vary. From childhood, to being a teenager and into adulthood. From inside our home to outside of it, the depth of what love is can be so broad leaving one forever seeking out the true definition.

As a child growing up in America, I was exposed to many Disney movies and for those familiar with it, most of those movies were about a princess and a prince who met, had “love at first sight,” then got married and lived happily ever after. All those stories plant a seed in us to carry on in life believing there’s that love at first sight and happily ever after, neglecting the dynamics of two people that come from different backgrounds coming together and trying to become one.

It is usually a walk-in-the-park at the beginning, smooth sailing on the intense curiosity of the other person, but after most of the mystery is gone, things begin to change, reality sets in and you begin to look at your life rather than the other person. Maybe some personal issues start to come up, then the past, then you begin to see the bigger impact that the environment that you grew up in has on your view of what love is.

Maybe that environment was full of anger, bitterness, sweeping things under the table or never coming to resolutions, but silent treatments, temporary or permanent separations or maybe love in the household had conditions attached to it. Then, stepping outside of the house, the source for defining love may have been through movies watched or music listened to with friends or in the car. If it’s not happily ever after with Disney, maybe it’s defined through the explicit lyrics of a song making some believe that love has something to do with, on clean terms, sleeping.

Sometimes lines are drawn when it comes to loving someone, which is usually followed by, “I will or won’t love you if…” told by a significant other or by a parent. I can still remember getting off of the plane with my sister and my Mom telling us that she didn’t love us because we were misbehaving on the plane and not listening to her. There were other times that my parents would make us feel unloved because we did or didn’t do what they wished so I grew up believing that love was conditional. With all the movies and music around me, my definition of love was all the more tainted.

It wasn’t until Jesus came into my life, that I finally found the meaning of love. As I read His word, the Bible and spent time with the Lord in prayer, the meaning of love became clear. His love is unconditional, pure and so powerful. He is merciful and gracious. Nothing we do can ever separate us from His love.

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?…..35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:32,35, 38-39

He is the definition of love and the expression of it was when Jesus was nailed to the cross for our sins. He gave himself fully to us, nothing held back. Although we may not see the value in ourselves, God sees otherwise. Who better to know us than the Creator who created us for love. He is the pure definition of love.

He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8

The act of love is defined in 1 Corinthians. In most versions, the word, “love” is used, but the old King James version uses the word, “charity”. It is a good source to compare our own acts of love and where our heart stands.

Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity never fails: ….. 13 And now abides faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13

Without knowing what love is, who love is or how to love, how do we love others? It starts with finding love. With all the laws, Jesus says that the greatest commandment can fill all. When you love God, He will begin to fill you with His love, then you will be able to love others. His greatest commandment is this:

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

We are all valuable in Christ as He deemed us worthy to die for all of us. All of us, including what the world thinks is the worst. This is love, that He gave His all. If God is love, then the more you get to know Him, the more you know love. The next time you find yourself feeling unloved, look up at the sky and know that God is there and that you are loved by Him. If you want to know Him, just ask Jesus to show up. Believe and receive.

Come Just As You Are

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Whenever the word religious is used to describe someone, it usually implies that he or she is good or strives to be a good person. If I tell someone I go to church or if I talk about God, they label me as religious, but I would disagree. I would disagree with someone calling me a good person. I’m just a sinner saved by grave. I don’t go to church to be a good person. As we need food, air, shelter and water for our physical bodies, the spirit inside of us needs an encounter with God that brings healing and fulfillment.

If we think we can’t be in His presence if we’re sinners, it’s God’s presence that delivers us. I remember going to a miracle crusade in Anaheim, California back in 2003. The stadium was packed and before the doors opened, the line wrapped around the entire building. When the presence of God grew so thick, people were falling out in the presence. The youth were so hungry to get on stage and experience a touch from God. They ran up there, racing with each other. My cousin’s friend who never shed a tear, started to cry as soon as the service started and could not stop for entire four hours. When God’s presence comes, healing comes.

That lack of love can do major damage to someone. Failed by the ones that we expected to love us unconditionally and keep us safe, some rebel and carry around hatred in their heart or a lack of confidence. God can heal those areas. Parent’s don’t always say the right things to their kids. I didn’t understand the depth of unconditional love until Jesus stepped into my life and experienced the love of God. He gave His all on the cross as in taking a bullet for us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:7-10

Whenever the topic of God comes up, we want to run away. When it comes to drawing close to God, some feel that they need to be good in order to do so. Adam and Eve, feeling ashamed, hid themselves from God after they ate of the tree that God told them not to eat from. That didn’t stop God from wanting to be in communication with them. It seems as if some feel that they need to be good, perfect or pure in order to come to God, but the Word says, to come as you are. You don’t need to change yourself before you come to God, rather, come to Him and He will change you.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

God says come as you are. You don’t have to be perfect, good, pure or innocent. God heals the broken and brings restoration. Give God all your burdens, anger, shame, guilt and pain. God gives beauty for ashes. Come as a sinner and He will wipe you clean. He is a gracious and merciful God. In His presence, it is safe to be vulnerable and messed up. It is safe to surrender your burdens into the hands of God. Let His love heal the very depths of your aching soul.

The King Within

Transformation of Jesus painting by Vange
Transformation by Vange L.

If you’ve ever watched the movie, The Gladiator, that is one of my favorite movies. What I like about it, is how it focuses on a character by the name of Maximus who went from a commander of an army to a slave; yet although he became a slave, he still had the same ability to lead a team in a fight to victory. He did not loose his identity because he was no longer a commander. He was still the same man that a dying emperor had chosen to take his place. Although Maximus was not a prince nor in the blood line of one, the man on the inside had what was needed to rule a nation and being a slave did not take away what was already embedded inside of him.

Watching the movie jogged my memory back to a story told by my pastor at church. Occasionally churches do outreaches, where they distribute many items to those in need, within or outside of the country. It takes money, volunteers, preparation and time. Sometimes people choose to volunteer their time, others donate money or personal items. The need was announced at the beginning, then at the end of service, a man who wanted to financially help out requested to meet with the pastor. When the pastor first saw the man he noticed his rundown looking clothing and his scruffy facial hair. He could have passed for a homeless man so when he told the Pastor about the amount of money he wanted to donate, it was an absolute shock. The homeless looking man wasn’t just rich, but he was a King from another country.

Before Jesus came into the world, He sat on a throne as king, but He chose to come into the world as a peasant. He did not come dressed as a king with gold and expensive clothing or with a palace. Some came to the realization of Jesus as King by being around Him. Some experienced His miracles and others, His love and grace. He came for everyone: the rich, the poor, the lame, the sinners, even the ones that the world would consider scum. He hung out with a few people that society abhorred, like a tax collector or a woman who once sold herself for money. He touched and healed lepers or what society considered, the unclean. He did not live extravagantly, although He could have by turning water into wine, healing the sick or by being all knowing. He did not need riches to accomplish His purpose, nor clothing to get people to realize that He is the Son of God. People saw that He is Lord, when they looked at His heart. He took the cross as a criminal would and along with it, the sins of the world: the hatred, anger, pain, bitterness and everything else that needed to be washed away in order for us to be clean and right before God. The sin that would have killed us, He took it upon Himself on the cross. With that powerful love comes surrender and worship.

Isaiah 53: 4-5 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Understanding the Bible

Many years back, in middle school, I was handed a tiny New Testament book, which is the other half of the Bible, beginning with Jesus coming into the world and God’s message that spread like fire after the death of Jesus. Although, I must add, the other half of the Bible, the Old Testament, written before Christ was born into the world, foreshadows His birth and purpose.

I kept the New Testament in my room, not intending to read it. We had a Bible at home, which was gigantic and heavy. It seemed to just serve the purpose of decoration for the coffee table. No one ever read it, just opened it to look through, the rest of the time, it collected dust.

There was a time when I opened up the tiny New Testament sitting on top of my radio. It was a hard time for me, one of those emotionally heart aching times when It felt like things were never going to improve. It was a King James Version, the hardest version to read with the old English. After trying to understand the few versus I read, I got frustrated and just threw it, and questioned, “Why God?”

My recollection of Bible reading was just watching both of my Grandmas read it. I always thought it was something to read when one gets closer to potentially passing away. I didn’t hear a testimony from either of them about what it does for them and just assumed it was preparation for them before leaving this earth.

Many years I spent without knowing the treasure it contained, that it is like a guide for life. It has been said that the BIBLE stands for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and that it is. It reveals who God is and answers life’s questions. Although it’s been written decades ago, the words still apply to life today.

The Bible holds the message of faith hope and love, which remains. There are many theories and philosophies about life, but the Bible holds the truth. When something it true, it can never be denied. Of all books, the Bible is the only one that actually reads the reader. It goes hand and hand with a relationship with God. I’ve heard many say that they’ve read the Bible so many times and they cannot understand it. It’s not just any book. It doesn’t matter how intelligent someone might be, the message speaks to the soul, not so much the mind.

When I first started reading it, I had others interpret it for me, but I questioned their perspective of the message behind the words. I question what sounded contradictory. I question Jonah being eaten by a fish and the donkey speaking to a man. There are many stories in the Bible of the miracles of God, but from a world that looks at a dependency on God as a weakness, pride and self-righteousness can be a blindfold to the truth.

It wasn’t until I restarted my prayer life and kept seeking God and His truth and who He is, that the Bible, the Word of God started to seek me. The situations in my life, the confusion or trouble I was facing would be eased as I opened up to the perfect verse in the Bible. When the eyes of my soul started to open up and I started to realize that God is actually speaking me through His word, it started to make sense. Over an over again, consecutively, I would open up to the few words I needed to read at that exact moment. I could no longer deny His existence. I could no longer deny that God didn’t know me by name.

It took me walking out of a totaled car, after God was telling me about it two weeks before it happened and even that morning, that I finally realized who He is. That He loves me. God loves the world as said in John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” A year later I fully surrendered my life to Him and was baptized. That day I opened up the Bible and for the first time, I could clearly understand the scriptures. Although some passages can be straightforward, there are many that can only be comprehended by the spirit and not the mind.

I pray that anyone questioning the meaning behind the scriptures will start on the path to finding the truth, to seeking out who God is and eventually come to the point of realizing that God is love and He knows your name. I would suggest finding a Bible study to join. I pray it would have a good leader strong in interpretation of the Word. The book of John is usually a good starting point, then there’s the book of Romans and Psalms. There are churches out there with small groups/Bible study groups to sign up for through their church website. May this is a a starting point for many to start walking in the truth and the light of God.

Thankful in a Storm

It’s Thanksgiving Day and something is resonating within me that’s pulling me in completely opposite directions, faith or fear. Despite the distress in my soul, I’m thankful with hope for the future. About ten years ago, I thought I might die. I remember crying out to the Lord in my distress. That night I had a dream that I was carrying a backpack full of currency from around the world, later realizing that I was an old lady in my dream, around the 70s. God knows I’ve always had the desire to travel the world before I leave this earth. That dream was a confirmation that I would be fine and soon after, physically, I was fine.

There’s been many times in my life where I’ve felt so blessed, walking on clouds with everything working out for me, but life always has it’s storms, some that can drive one to the ground just waiting to die, but I can honestly say that if God’s hand wasn’t there to pull me out, I’m not sure where I’d be today. Even in the toughest times, I know that I’ll get through it because my life is in the hands of a good God.

I’ve had my share of lonely times having spent some holidays alone, feeling like the world is against me or completely misunderstood. Even though harsh seasons come, the sun will eventually come out. At times it feels like the hard season will never end, but I have to trust God through the season, even if it doesn’t make any sense. I know He’s shaping me through the flame as fire pulls out the impurities of gold making it rise to the surface.

What I’m most thankful for today is my Lord and Savior Jesus, without Him, I would be dead on the inside, lifeless, empty and without hope. Because of Him, I don’t have to fear the future as He will give me the strength and tools that I need to take on the storms of life as they come and always be my backbone. I’m thankful for life and good health. I’m thankful that during uncertainty, I can put my faith on a faithful God full of mercy and grace.

I pray that HOPE, JOY and PEACE will come to anyone struggling to be thankful today, but to have hope for the future and to know that they’re not alone, God that you let them know that you are there with them and that they are loved by you, God that you would let them see the light after the storm and bring healing to their soul. In Jesus name.

Covid News Sources

If you read though the news, you’ll find that many news sources talk about how President Trump downplayed the virus. When you’re shutting down flights into this country, that’s obviously something big, sometime actions speak louder than words, but society these days would rather have words (Biden) than action (Trump). We had a shelter in place & had to wear masks, but why are people still acting like he didn’t say enough? He didn’t need to emphasize and focus on it as done by many news channels.

Many people don’t understand this. They think he’s killing people because he didn’t emphasize how contagious is it, but why would anyone rely on Trump for that information. He’s not a doctor! He’s not the news. Dr. Fauci said enough about the virus already. If that wasn’t enough, MSNBC was already working hard to scare the hell out of everyone. Doing all they can to make everyone think they’ll die from it no matter your age or how healthy you are, as if the odds are that high. According to COvid-tracker there are about 6 million covid cases. Almost 3 million that have recovered and almost 200 thousand that have died.

I’ve heard it one too many times coming from the mouth of others that, they stopped watching the news because they didn’t want to live constantly afraid. So why do people expect the President to be a news source or Doctor to scare the hell out of everyone? Wouldn’t people want a President who’s hopeful of things getting better rather than a Doomsday President? Either way, it’s our duty to take care of ourselves.