Do you really love Jesus?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Our dryer was in need of repair. We called for service and a nice man named, Todd, came out to fix it. I was excited to have my dryer up and running again. I was unable to hang a clothes line outside (it is against our Association rules) so my house started to look like the “days of yore”. Todd was pleasant and calm. After awhile, we started to make conversation and we discovered we were both believers. He was talking about some missionary service he had done and how one of his four children came with him. His young son asked his father, “Daddy, do you think they love Jesus?” He was doting about how he has taught all of his children to love the Lord with all their heart. He said, “If I can have my children love the Lord wholeheartedly, then I have done well.” I felt breathless, because I wasn’t sure if I could say “yes” to that question. Do I really love Jesus with all my heart or just sometimes? I felt this twinge in my heart, the answer was only, when things were going well.

So, I Googled that question. Yes, I seriously did. What does it mean to love the Lord with all your mind and heart? Some of the answers were, being obedient, to seek Him by reading His word, have faith, trust in Him. I have heard all these things before. But I wasn’t feeling it. Also, being obedient doesn’t feel free, it feels like a chore and there is no love in that. I came across this passage in a book by Richard J. Foster called “Freedom of Simplicity” that seemed more of what I believe it means to have love for the Lord:

Joy, not grit, the hallmark of holy obedience.

We need to be lighthearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. Our work is jubilant, carefree and merry. Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. Don’t push too hard. Hold this work lightly, joyfully.”

God wants us to love Him without guilt. He wants us to pursue and trust Him in all we encounter and endure. It is so hard to do this because our society tells us to be self sufficient and not to rely on others or a higher power. We have tried to do it on our own; so when we face trouble, we do not turn to Him, instead we worry. He wants a personal relationship with us. When we seek Him because we want to, He will reveal Himself in many different ways. He loves us so much, He sent His only Son to die for our sins, we should not hesitate to pursue Him with joy.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I hope I can love you as much as you love me. Thank you for that love. I pray Lord that my life becomes a testimony of that love and mercy. Help me remember what you have done for me. Reveal in my everyday life, that you are there in every way. I promise to pursue you wholeheartedly. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Got Junk?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

I love a good Spring cleaning. I love getting rid of what is unnecessary. Afterwards, I feel at peace and ready to take on the world again. However, there is a type of cleaning that is more beneficial than one of your home. It is the act of forgiving yourself of the sins you have committed and finally letting it go.

When we ask God to forgive us, He forgive us and He is forever, done with it. He doesn’t throw it back in our faces or remind us of what we did. We have, the enemy that uses others and ourselves to do that. Our sins cause a lot of fear and anxieties in our lives. Jesus died to save us from those sins, so we didn’t have to continually suffer, but to be free.

I went to a healing service at a church, because I was having a lot of pain from my teeth. I fractured a tooth from grinding my teeth at night. I, also was having a lot of anxiety from the cost of the surgery and future dental work I was to encounter. I was so mad at myself for having this problem. “Why couldn’t I just relax?” was a question I continually asked God and myself. But I knew it was a deeper problem. During the service, I prayed and asked Father God for help or a picture of what was causing this issue. I saw an image, similar to the “1 800 Got Junk” haul away truck in my mind. But the “o” had a halo around it. Inside the bed of the truck, I saw pieces of junk but they had words written on them. They were things like, “greed” “jealousy” “adultery” “addictions” “pornography” “lying” “hate” and “blasphemy”. I saw an angel happily driving the truck away to never be seen by me again. I knew this wasn’t just for me but forever person to know. This is what God wants. He gave us His son, Jesus Christ to bore our sins and redeem us. Not remind us, but redeem us. Whatever those sins have been, many of us have had regret for long periods of time from them. We may need to make things right for committing them, but we have to allow ourselves to not continue to be a slave to them.

Not allowing ourselves to be forgiven of those sins, will not change the outcome of committing them in the first place. We can be sorry but do not have to be a martyr for it. The best is way is to live a righteous life for God and try not commit those sins again. My prayer and hope is for us to forgive others and ourselves.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me Lord of any sins that I am aware and unaware of committing. When I am having trouble letting things go, remind me the reason that Jesus was born. Protect my mind from rehashing the past. Help me to forgive myself and others, just as you would Lord God. I pray for your perfect peace in my life. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Gaining Perspective

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

If I am physically feeling sick or in pain, I am not in a good place with handling my emotions. The same goes for when someone or something, I rely on is unavailable or doesn’t work, I lose my mind. My perspective becomes skewed and my day is shot. This is a sad way to live. When you are in the thick of it, it looks like there is no end.

During a few days, I pulled my back lifting my dog, our dryer went out (after the warranty expired), I caught a real mother of a cold where I lost my voice and coughed straight through the night and I noticed there was more month than money. The world was also reeling from a couple of terrorist tragedies. I was cranky and anxious. As I am trying to work through the week feeling defeated, I noticed it is time to get ready for Girl Scout cookie time. No one in the troop wants to take this on. It is time consuming, a huge responsibility, and a lot of energy is needed to make it through this 6 week period. I just didn’t want to do it.

I was feeling unmotivated to do anything. Everything that came my way felt like an emergency and had to be completed right then and there. I was being grumpy to people, taking things they said the wrong way. I was reading into everything as an insult. Then my friend called me out on it.

This friend and I lead that Girl Scout Troop. She sent me a quick email, saying she knows I am overwhelmed right now and offered to handle some of my duties within the troop amongst the other things she did. The problem with emails or social media is you cannot understand what someone’s tone is at the moment they write it. I took it wrong and sent her a lengthy email. I explained why I was not feeling so motivated and would still complete my responsibilities. It came off very harsh and lack of a better word, snotty. She emailed me and said, we need to talk. She called me and said, “I was only trying to help and was not scolding you. Everyone, right now is feeling the weight of the season and stress. Let’s just get through this time and gain some perspective and things will get better.” I felt awful about what I did and realized this way of handling life needs to stop.

Coming to the Lord first, through prayer and taking a step back to reflect on what is going on, will help me relax and figure out what is important to give my energy to. This comes with practice. It is not worth my health or my sanity to keep running around and trying to accomplish everything. Saying “no” is sometimes a gift within itself.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the life you have given me. I realize that I am so fortunate and that you will provide everything I need in my life. Help me to know when to say “yes” and “no” to things. I pray that “busy” not be the way I describe my life, but blessed and thankful. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Sore Losers

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.” Proverbs 24:17-18

I am a Sore Loser

I love sports. There are two favorite teams of mine that I pledge my allegiance to, The Los Angeles Kings and The UCLA Bruins. My father went to UCLA, so it was an automatic for me to cheer for that school. I saw one hockey game almost 25 years ago and I was hooked. Whenever these two teams play their rivals, I want to crawl in a hole and stay there until the smoke clears. Why? I am a sore loser. I admit it.

I know how loud I scream and cheer, does not change the outcome of game. If they do not win because of a lack of effort or it is a tight game all the way through, I am fine with it. Why am I a sore loser? It is the fans that make the experience horrifying. I have seen grown men fight each other because their cheer for different teams. I have seen social media comments that would make the scum of the earth blush. I cannot believe how people can turn into their worst self. Yet, I am so guilty of it too. If my team won, I wanted to rub it in their faces. Mainly because my teams didn’t win very much and I would always get razzed at school or online for being a fan of a losing team. I wanted to quit watching sports because I couldn’t take the sentiments that people would spew. I even found websites dedicated to people hating sports for that very reason. I thought of all things in this world, why would it bother me so much? I think it musters the same feelings when you or your child had an embarrassing moment and you have to face people the next day. You just want to be left alone.

Recently UCLA got worked by their rival school. I didn’t want to go on social media because a few of the USC fans, I know, enjoy with great pleasure to tell me how great they are after their team wins. I actually prayed that I become immune to the razzing. I went on Facebook to manage my website’s page. The very first picture I saw, was a pastor’s family from my church, devoted UCLA fans. They were all dressed up in their Bruin gear. The pastor’s wife was holding their very young baby. He was crying in the picture. Her caption read, “I think my son knew what the outcome of the game was going to be. But I still love my team!” I laughed out loud and then started to cry. I cried because I thought, how silly am I to be so wrapped up in something so trivial that I have no control over. I also realized she diffused the situation. She wrote something so cute and lovely. She admitted defeat but showed it didn’t matter. Believe it or not, it healed me of being a sore loser. You can lose with grace. You still survived. You can love sports and support your team, but you put your devotion in where it matters.

We will always face someone or some force trying to embarrass us or bring our spirit down. Sometimes, we need to be humble but never squashed. But God is our refuge and our strength, we have nothing to ever fear even when we want to hide.

Prayer

“Dear Heavenly Father,

Forgive me for getting so wrapped up in trivial things as wins and losses. But thank you that I can still learn a lot of things in the little things. Help me love and treat people as you would love and treat them. I pray that I be a great sport no matter the situation and be a good example. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Pray, Read and Seek

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

I want God speak to me in a thunderous voice from the heavens and declare, “My child, this is what I want you to do and this will be how you achieve it.” If God did that, we wouldn’t need him, instead He would just be a genie granting wishes. I went to church one Sunday Morning, feeling especially weary about what in the world am I doing with my life. Our church was going through their own big change, we were merging with another church in the same city. This particular Sunday morning, one of the pastors from the other church was going to speak. He gave one of the best sermons, I have ever heard in my life. So simple, yet so life changing.

The sermon was, if you are faced with any major decisions affecting you and/or family’s life there are three things you must do to make sure it is the right decision. Pray, read The Bible and seek wise counsel. Praying by asking the Lord, if this is the best decision. Engage in reading His word and see if that decision is aligned with it. And lastly, ask someone you respect, that can listen and provide wise advice.

I have been dealing with bruxism. This is a condition to wear one grinds their teeth, usually at night and it causes major damage. It creates lots of dental work, which everyone knows is my least favorite thing in the world. Even with night guards, which I will wear right through and break, I suffer with a lock jaw, headaches and fractured teeth from the pressure I create. No dentist or preventative medicine professional knows exactly why people do this. There are lots of reasons why this condition occurs. (See how I have seeked wise counsel? I know way more about teeth than a normal patient should.) I decided to truly seek the Lord as to why this is happening. So I decided to fast for 3 months from social media and only watching G-PG rated movies and shows. In the time I would save from all of those time wastes, I would read the word and pray. I read more books in The Bible than I ever did. I prayed more than I ever had. I heard nothing for most of those three months. The last weekend of my fast, I read a verse from Proverbs 13:3 “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” The word “guards” caught my attention. I must watch the words I say. I was going to church that Sunday morning and the sermon was about negativity and how the words from your mouth give life or death. I felt this confirmation of how this is causing unrelenting stress in my life. The constant complaining and thinking everything is a problem in my life feed into the tension my body was holding onto. I knew from that point on, I had to change or my life would be in and out of the dental office.

Following this path, usually will answer those questions. Many times, we get in the way with God’s direction. We try to force the answer, to usually be a yes in some way. But many times the “no” to the decision turns out to be the best thing for us. When it is from God, you definitely know. There have been many times, I ask the advice of anyone and everyone to get I confirmation on the situation. I forget to pray and definitely not read His word. I wonder, how can words that were written such a time so long ago pertain to my situation now? But it does, read the book of Proverbs or James. Instructions that will pertain forever in time until He comes again.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that your word is true and stands forever. I thank you that prayer is a never ending dialogue I can have with you. Thank you for placing wise people in my life for advice. Clear my mind and my heart to hear what you want for me, especially with major changes. Even though I may face difficulties and battles, remind me that there is a greater good. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”