Category Archives: Loving God

Focus

The dynamic duo -- my babe is on the right. Ooh la la!

Susan has been all about one thing this week — putting on a gardening seminar this morning. She and her friend Pam have been talking, meeting and preparing to hit a “home run” at the Chocolate Oasis workshop at our church this morning. In fact, last night she apologized for being absent this week — meaning she wasn’t giving me much of herself since the workshop was getting it all. I assured her, “It’s OK, Babe. You need to do your best.” By the way, that’s all she knows how to do — her best. I like that about her.

While observing her this week, I was reminded of the power of focus. I saw it all week with Susan. And trust me — her passionate focus will pay off in an amazing seminar. I told her that I wish I could be in her workshop! Her attention to detail, the energy expended in covering all of the details, the thoughtfulness invested in making sure it is pleasing, artsy, and enjoyable will pay wonderful dividends to her attendees. Focus lends itself to excellence.

Jesus told us to have one primary focus — Love God. If you want to love God excellently, focus is essential. All other things, even workshops, somehow need to fit within that one driving passion of our lives. When zero in our focus on the ONE who loves us with an infinite love, we find something extraordinary happen in our lives — excitement, energy, and passion grow in our souls. This never happens when God is a mere slice of the pie, an afterthought, or an entity we fit in the cracks and crevices of our lives.

Another thing happens with focus: We see more than we ever thought was there! I’m guessing that Susan learned more about gardening this week than she ever anticipated. That’s because gardening was her primary focus for days! And when God becomes the ultimate focus for us, we begin to realize the absolute beauty of His character and qualities. It will blow our minds.

So make loving God your number one focus in life, just as scripture commands. Amazing things will happen in the pit of your soul.

Know what’s cool? My little wife did this workshop today in order to love God. This is her offering to Him! She believes that when people get their fingers dirty in God’s amazing creation, they’ll get to know the creator even better.

Good call, my Love!

Distractions

I have recently been dealing with an individual who is immersed in the negative talk of government bashing, one world governments, and endless conspiracy theories designed to take away our freedoms and life as we know it. I DO believe there is some truth in these things…a thread at least. But the danger is that we can become so focused on these tantalizing details of underhanded activities around us that we lose focus of what really matters.
Here is a portion of my response to my email friend:
I suspect you will be frustrated by my take on these things. I am not alarmed. In fact, in a unique way, I see the global government and global banking and United Nations as tools that GOD IS USING. The All-Powerful One is simply bringing His plan to a culmination in His time. I’m not sure what we should do? Stop it? No. Inform people? Maybe to some degree. But do you know how to best spot a counterfeit? To perfectly know the real thing. If we focus our people on the events around us instead of the One who empowers us, the enemy wins.
You and I have very different approaches. I KNOW Edinbrook is not to take this course. I have experienced God’s leading in such clear and profound ways in the last few months. Alarming our people with questionable facts and fantastic conspiracy theories is not what God wants us to pursue. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might!” We are not to be immersed in the ways of the world and anxious about the enemy’s strategies. 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, the older seasoned apostle clarified to young Timothy what he was to make sure he focused on as a leader of the church: 1 Timothy 1:5-6, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion…”
I do think that much of what you are focusing on is “fruitless discussion” and that the enemy’s strategy is working beautifully with you — to get you focused on everything BUT what really matters. This is very dangerous territory. When I read the material you send my way, it is not of God. I see no hint of Spirit-led communication at all. It is hostile, angry, vindictive, judgmental, fear-inducing, and distracting from what we’re to be about.

An IMPORTANT REMINDER: Jesus told us to be sure we do one thing really well — Love God. We are often distracted by fantastic and compelling theories, political movements, and an endless list of other focuses. But it directs our hearts and passions toward things that, in the end, do not matter. This is one of the enemies deceptive strategies. Don’t buy in.

Love God. Make sure He is your ultimate focus. This, above all else, is what really matters.

A Little Pencil

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” Mother Teresa

Having seen the masses of destitute and suffering people in Kolkata, India — even so briefly — I am stricken by Mother Teresa’s statement here. This woman spent a good deal of her life selflessly ministering to the sick and forgotten of this strange city. She knows the pain, hardship, hopelessness, and despair of the slum-dwellers of Kolkata. Even with all of that, with the stench of rotting flesh still in her nostrils and the cries of dying hoards still echoing in her head, she declares the deep longing of relationship and significance in every human being. This need is greater than the food that keeps them alive.

Job made a similar declaration in his scriptural journal in chapter 23:12: “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food!” Recognize that Job was not simply infatuated with words from his creator God, but rather, longed for interaction in a relationship that was life-giving. He valued this more than the physical food (“necessary”) that kept him alive!

We are surrounded every day by  people who are lonely, lacking significance, and feeling unwanted. What a tragedy! And this by people who are created in the image of God. They are deeply and profoundly loved by God, but often fail to be affected by that love. That’s why one of the pieces of loving God is also to love people. As Jesus said, after clarifying the greatest commandment, “The second is like it, you must love your neighbor as yourself.” We are the hands and feet and face of Jesus in our world. God loves people through His representatives! The people around us should not feel “unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody” as Mother Teresa described. We need to love those around us with a God-kind of love.

When we do this, we are loving God too!

Mother Teresa also said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.” This amazing lady wrote quite a few love letters, touched a mass number of lives, and loved God in an amazing way. She knew what she was talking about.

Today, be a little pencil in the hand of God…

Decisions

Joshua 9 records the story of the Hivites, a people group of ancient Canaan, who deceive Joshua and the people of Israel in order to live. God clearly commanded the Israelites to make no treaty with any group within the Promised Land, but when these cunning folk heard of the Jericho miracle, they devised a deceptive plan. Putting on the most ragged clothes and sandals they could find, carrying worn-out wine skins and moldy bread, they approached the leaders of God’s people and told a tale of endless travels to arrive in Canaan before them.

12 “This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.”

14 So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord. 15Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath.

Oops! Here we have a decision made completely upon limited awareness…which is like every one of our decisions if we fail to consult the Lord. Even the great and highly qualified leader, Joshua, overlooked an essential step in decision making. He didn’t ask for God’s wisdom.

To love God we must obey God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Sometimes, however, we disobey without even knowing it because we’re functioning in an “I can handle this mode” instead of a truly “I’m dependent upon you, God” mode. Even though we don’t mean to do this, we falter in our love for God when we forget to include His participation in the important decisions of life.

What a great reminder that this thing we have with God is RELATIONSHIP. He longs to be included in our every day affairs and decisions…because He knows a lot more than we do.

Love Doesn’t Work on Auto-Pilot

We tend to take those closest to us for granted at times. In the fast pace of life today, we sometimes grow numb to the tender and thoughtful things that really ought to be a part of loving people. Without trying, we become focused more on survival rather than influence. That, of course, affects those closest to us…the ones we really love the most. All-too-soon, the love we are supposed to feel and express to one another has become a forgotten memory. A distance takes residence between us. Relationships suffer.

This past summer, Susan and I invited Susan’s parents to join us on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of vacation. Wow! Did we have a fun time! Between late night games, visiting the beach, going on a crazy jeep adventure on the barren sand dunes of the wild horse reserve, and many enjoyable conversations, I came to love Susan’s parents more than I ever have. And I think they grew in their love for us too.

How easy it would have been to just “do our thing” and miss the opportunity of loving one another. That’s right, we loved one another through time spent, sacrifice, interaction, enjoyment, etc. etc. The only way this was made possible was through intentionality. We chose to love them by inviting them and spending time with them. They chose to love us by giving up a week of their normal routine to spend with us in a really fun place. Very cool.

Love never works on auto-pilot. Too many marriages are empty because the pair has forgotten how to authentically invest in one another. True friendships die because the parties involved overlook the small investments needed to keep a relationship alive. Love never works on auto-pilot. Love always requires intentional action.

Jesus, of course, said that the most important commandment ever given was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, will all you mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.” There are a lot of “alls” there. And without a doubt, it takes intentionality. You cannot love God on auto-pilot either.

So here’s a question for you to consider: What new and fresh ways could you choose to love God this week.

Be intentional. Invest in your relationship with God in a new and meaningful way. It’s THE most important thing you could do today.

Lifting the Fog

We heard the tragic news of the Poland’s presidential plane crash. He, and many high ranking officials in Poland’s leadership, perished in the debacle. News Services states that “the plane ran aground in thick fog.” In fact, the control tower warned them numerous times not to land since they were flying lower than the reasonable level for a safe landing. The fog literally disoriented them and clouded their vision so that they were unable to land safely.

We often live in a fog too. No generation of people have ever dealt with the magnitude of stimuli that we do today — cell phones, high-speed internet with Google, Yahoo, and Bing. We are inundated with newspapers, news magazines, and news broadcasts. We are shaped by the media of our culture infusing us with messages that are often directly contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Our hurried and harried pace of life exhausts us and leaves us running on fumes. And then there are “opportunities” for sports (for our children for sure!), entertainment, toys, and endless treasures.

In the midst of this mountain of stuff going on in our lives, scripture warns, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:3. In a world of chaos and confusion, when we’re frantic and living in the fog, God longs for us to experience “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” This is refreshing!

Jesus made it simple too. When asked by a law-abiding Pharisee what the greatest law of all might be, Jesus lifted the fog with His compelling statement, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, and with all your  mind.”

Love God. Just do that. More than anything, let this be your focus, passion, purpose, and plan. Let the Word of Jesus and the wind of the Spirit lift the fog of uncertainty, confusion, and chaos. Don’t crash and burn. Just love God. Do this one thing…