Tag Archives: Jesus

Caught By Grace and Love

IMG_5024 apple.painted_smw

When I saw this fallen apple caught by the bough of an evergreen tree, it reminded me of how the grace and love of Jesus catch me when I fall.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Advertisements

No Lamb Cuddles

IMG_9041 lambs_paint.qt_smw

This past weekend, I was able to gain firsthand experience of one of Jesus’ parables. A friend’s parents own a sheep farm, and while visiting him and his wife with another friend, he asked if I would like to see the lambs and possibly get a cuddle.

Umm, yes, please!

While giving a tour of the sheep farm, he explained that we would be going to a field where 1-year lambs were grazing with rams, rather than visiting the field where lambs were with the ewes, because the ewes can become feisty, while the rams remain chill. It reminded me of the difference between some mothers and fathers— mothers tend to be more protective and careful, while fathers tend to be more relaxed when it comes to their children.

As we drew near to the sheep, although they were mildly curious, they did not recognize our voices, so they would not come near, and some even moved further away. No matter how sweetly we spoke to the sheep and tried to convince them to come near, there were no lamb cuddles for us that day. My friend said that if his mother, their shepherdess, was with us, they would have come running as soon as they heard her.

Jesus’ parable, directed toward the Pharisees, stated that His sheep follow Him because they recognize His voice, but will never follow a stranger and will even run away, because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice. The point Jesus was making to the religious leaders, who were considered by most Jews to be closest to God, was they were not recognizing Him as being from God, because they were not His sheep and even accused Him of being a demon possessed sinner. Instead of recognizing God’s voice and following Jesus as the Good Shepherd, they refused to follow Him and were even trying to kill Him and steal His sheep by trying to convince people to believe and follow them! I have come across people who are so done with religion and traditional church, myself included, but still believe in God. Could it be that we are running away, because we realize some of the voices don’t really sound like Jesus’?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you liked this, you might also like… Lost and Found

IMG_0702 BabySad2_smw


My Heart Is…

IMG_2327 Leslie.tx.qt_smw

“If you want to know where your heart is, look at where your mind goes when it wanders.” —Unknown

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  —Jesus

~~~~~~~

If you liked this, you might also like:

Wisdom Wednesday: The Heart Revealed

Wisdom Wednesday: The Heart Revealed


How to Get Attention

IMG_6796 Rene.turnout_smsq

I learned something this weekend— how to get and redirect attention.

While helping a local volunteer fire department with its car wash fundraising event, I agreed to put on a firefighter’s turnout gear to attract the attention of passersby.  I prefer helping by washing cars or being behind a camera rather than drawing attention to myself, but it was for a good cause.  Since the station had a sandwich board with neon green posters announcing its car wash, I thought it would be a good idea to stand across the street.

Wrong.

I realized that by drawing attention to the opposite side, I was drawing attention to myself instead of to the station and the car wash.  Hey, I had very little experience doing that kind of thing, but now I know.  I did eventually stand by the neon green signs, which was much more effective.

I hate writing this next part, but I can’t leave it out and still get the complete point across.  And by the way, I am not fishing for compliments, ok?  So don’t embarrass me… please?  That reminds me of a quote.

“You better be very careful fishing for those compliments.  You might not like what you catch.”  —Steve Cobb, pastor in “The Deacon”

Ok, so years and years ago when I was 20-something, an out-of-state visitor to the church I was attending, asked me out on a date.  I accepted even though he was quite a bit older than I.  While strolling along a sidewalk after dinner, we talked about our faith in Jesus and future plans.  He turned to me and told me that God had given me the gift of beauty.  Although I feel pretty some days, I don’t think of myself as being beautiful or having a gift of beauty.  Anyway, he said that God could use it to help point people to Him.

Although outer beauty can capture attention, it can also keep it for itself.  Although I, like any woman, long to be considered beautiful in someone’s eyes, what I desire most is an inner beauty that reflects the love of God, because that is true beauty.  He’s still working on me.

One of the things I have learned in life and the blogging world is people are drawn to images more than just words, and through the stock photography business, I have learned that people are drawn to faces more than to mere objects.  Photos with people are much more profitable, because companies know that customers are drawn to faces, especially happy ones.  So even though the fire station had signs posted, and even though they were neon green, having a person either holding a sign or drawing attention to the signs and event is much more effective.  In the same way, although billboards, funny church signs, and religious tracts may draw some attention, what is much more effective is love… personal interaction that draws attention in His direction and not just to ourselves. After all, Jesus has so much more to offer.


Morning Star

IMG_7882 dinghy_smw

“I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”  —Jesus

Jesus is also my ‘life boat’.  (❉◠‿◠)

 

Just in case you wondered:  Why are both Jesus and Satan referred to as a morning star?


Unconditional Love and Grace Are Not Dirty Words

IMG_3512 love.calligraphy.tx_smw

A few weeks ago I heard a preacher talk about God’s unconditional love as if it was a dirty word. On another occasion, an old friend spoke of grace with equal disdain. I understand where they were coming from. One was coming from an attitude of legalism, while the other was grieving over grace being taken for granted and used as a license to sin. I am grateful that the pastors and teachers at the church I attend preach about God’s unconditional love and grace in a balanced way and without contempt.

 My daughter and I were discussing how people see truths differently depending on where they are in life and through which lens they are looking. For example, a person who truly recognizes his or her own utter depravity and the amazing grace and unconditional love of God, tends to really understand grace and is able to be gracious toward others. They see grace in a very positive way. Those who tend toward legalism and feel justified because they are able to keep certain commandments or live what they consider to be a good Christian life, tend to view unconditional love and grace with less value and speak contemptuously about churches that emphasize God’s love and grace. It is reminiscent of what Jesus said to Simon, the Pharisee, when he scorned Jesus for allowing a prostitute to wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus said:

“Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but his woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” (Luke 7:36-50)

The preacher I heard also mentioned visiting a fellow Christian, and upon finding out he had beer in his refrigerator, condemned him and questioned whether or not the man was a true Christian. Even if the man was an alcoholic, it does not mean he is not a Christian. What if he is addicted but wants to quit? What if he agrees with God that his drunkenness is sin? Didn’t the Apostle Paul himself say in the very same letter to the Romans concerning there being “therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that he himself does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do? Didn’t Paul call himself a wretched man and thank God for Jesus Christ his Lord? (Romans 7 :14-25)

The attitude of the preacher reminds me of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican (with modern claims added in italics and parentheses for emphasis):

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Alcohol has never touched my lips, nor my feet entered a movie theater. I am in church every time the doors are open, and I go out soul-winning every week.)” And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. —Luke 18:9-14

Another preacher, who is full of grace, has never condemned his crack addict friend. He does not question his love for the Lord just because his friend is in church for a time and then falls back into his crack addiction. This preacher loves his friend unconditionally and encourages him to never, ever, ever give up. Which one would you say is more like Jesus?

Unconditional love and grace are, indeed, not to be used as a license to do whatever we want. If we do that, then it is fair that our love for God would be put in question. But if we hate when we sin, if we agree with God and try to turn away from doing it again…

and again…

and again,

He forgives us 70 x 7, because He is full of grace and a love that does not put conditions on us, like doing penance, before He will love us again. His love is unconditional. A person who simply dismisses sin and makes light of it because of grace and unconditional love, may need to consider the seriousness of sin, the purpose of obedience, and his/her own love for God. Likewise, people who speak of unconditional love and grace with disdain, may need to consider their own depravity and remember from what they themselves have been saved.

If I err, I would rather err on the side of love and grace.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Love Sometimes Comes in Waves


Read Between the Lines

IMG_5055 Read.Between_sm

 


A Hoped For But Unexpected Blessing

IMG_4859 red.4-leaf.clover_smw

participate in a weekly photo challenge for my photo blog, and this was too good not to post here, too.  While pondering this week’s photo challenge theme Extra, I remembered finding a 4-leaf clover a day or two before.  I also remembered seeing some clovers whose leaves had a reddish edge.  Four-leaf clovers have an extra leaf, so I decided to venture out in hopes of finding one for the challenge.  As I strolled to the back yard, I also thought, “Lord, it would be really cool to find a red 4-leaf clover.”  Even though it wasn’t actually a prayer request, and even though He doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want or expect, I was so excited and surprised to actually find one!  What are the odds?  Seriously!  Jesus loves this ragamuffin!

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.  —Jeremiah 33:3

 


Harmless As a Dove

IMG_4809 dove.Mt1016_smw


It’s Not About Religion, But It’s Not Just About a Relationship Either

IMG_8653 shrimp.boat_smw2

You’ve probably heard it.

You’ve probably read it.

I know I’ve said it.

“It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship.”

Although I said it in It’s Not About Going to Heaven, I also mentioned that Jesus’ dying on the cross was about reconciliation and getting to spend an eternity with God.

But there’s more.

Yesterday at church, our co-pastor, Josh, preached the morning sermon, and I wrote something down because of something he had said. I wish I could remember what he said, but all I wrote was “relationship & fellowship”, and as I pondered the two, although it was not exactly what his sermon was about, I realized that having a relationship with people… or God, does not automatically lead to having fellowship with them.

Fellowship is not about Christian socializing, like church potlucks and picnics, although that is what we generally think of when we use the word fellowship.

Although the term fellowship is used mostly among Christians, it is also used by groups of learned or skilled people in pursuit of mutual knowledge or talent. I know a married couple, who are professional photographers, master photographers, and were the first married couple to become Fellows as well. To become a Fellow within a group of academia is generally a great honor and something that is not bestowed lightly. Within Christianity, the term comes from the Greek koinonia, meaning “communion, joint participation, or partnership”. I have heard our pastor and other preachers define it like this:

“Fellowship is two fellows in a ship, rowing in the same direction.”

In life, there are relationships that occur naturally, like within families. We have a relationship that is created either by birth or marriage, but we don’t necessarily get along, get together or pursue the same goals as a family group. We may have a relationship, but we don’t always have fellowship.

We all have a relationship with God whether we believe in Him or not, because He is our Creator, but we do not all have fellowship with Him. We might have even said “the prayer” and call ourselves Christians and not have fellowship with Him.

But, if we are trying to seek Him, (even if we get distracted), and if we are trying to do what He said, (even if we fail), and if we are trying to discern His will and participate in His purposes and goals, (even if we sometimes think our way is His way), then we have fellowship with Him. He is so patient and gracious, that even when we break fellowship with Him, He still pursues us.

It’s not just about a relationship.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork


%d bloggers like this: