Monthly Archives: August 2014

Does God Have Favorites?

Does God have favorites? Does God love me?

By Lydia Floren

I have a confession: It has always annoyed me when Jesus’ disciple, John, described himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.”   When I see those words, my insecure, overachiever brain thinks like this:

  • Phase 1: Annoyance: “Boy, John really thought a lot of himself!”
  • Phase 2: Insecurity: “Does God have favorites?  I thought He loved everybody.  Does he love some people more than others? Where am I on his favorites list?”
  • Phase 3: Competition:  “What makes John so special?  Personally, I like Peter the best. He was one of the Big Three too, you know. And I’m not so bad either.”
  • Phase 4: Reality check: “You know, John didn’t call himself ‘The disciple Jesus loved MOST’, or ‘The ONLY disciple Jesus loved.’  He simply called himself ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’”

The truth takes awhile to work its way through my convoluted thought processes, but eventually I get it:  John wasn’t proud of being loved by Jesus.  He was awed by it.   John had experienced Christ’s love so profoundly that it had become THE defining characteristic of his life.  To John, Christ’s love was a magnificent gift, a bright light that obliterated all his faults and failings.

For example, In the gospel of John it is interesting to see what John didn’t say about himself.  He didn’t identify himself by his

  •   Importance:  “John, one of the Big Three”  (Peter, James and John),  or
  •   Role: the only disciple Jesus asked to care for His mother Mary,  or
  •   Occupation:  “the Fisherman Disciple”, or
  •   Family connection: John, a son of Zebede.
  •   Accomplishments:  the NYT bestselling author of 4 books in the Bible—yes, THE BIBLE.

John never said that he was “the disciple that loved Jesus,” although his life showed that he did love Him. John understood that even his ability to love was due to Christ’s love for him:  “We love,” he pointed out in 1 John 4, “because He first loved us.” 

I imagine John experienced Jesus’ love most profoundly when he was at his worst. John discovered that Jesus’ love did not waiver when he was imperfect, off track, or had his priorities mixed up.  Jesus loved John just the same when he…

  • Cowered in the boat while his buddy, Peter, climbed out and walked on water.
  • Tried to manage things, like shooing the kids away, or sending the 5000 to scavenge for supper.
  • Stood by while his helicopter-mother jockeyed for a better position for him in heaven.
  • Conked out  – in spite of Jesus’ plea to stay awake and pray – in Jesus’ greatest hour of need.
  • Hightailed it, when Jesus was arrested, and when they tore his clothes off while chasing him, he kept on running naked.

In his darkest times, John could understand that Jesus’ love was a gift with no strings attached:  it had nothing to do with his performance, and everything to do with God’s grace.  Jesus loves us the same way. God’s love has nothing to do with our performance, and everything to do with God’s grace.  His love is as constant as the sun’s rise.  So wherever you are – at your “best,” or at your worst, or somewhere in between – claim this truth by saying today:   “I am the disciple Jesus loves.” 

Does God have favorites? Of course He does.  We are each His favorite. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never changes. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness, O God. Lamentations 3:22-23

What about you? When do you experience the love of God? 

Pushing the Reset Button Again and Again

reset button

Reminders are funny things.  When I first stick that sticky note on my mirror, or the bracelet on my arm, it grabs my attention every time I see it, and does its job—it reminds me.  But just like anything, once a reminder has been there a few days, it becomes part of the landscape–I don’t even seem to notice it.

That “R” drawn on my hand indicating a “reset button” has been different.  Because it fades over time, I have to keep drawing it on my hand, and when I do I remember why I am doing it.  Because my mind wanders (I know this surprises you) I have thought of several other things that “R” can stand for, each reminding me to reset in some way:

  • Renew: my outlook on life, and be renewed by God’s grace.
  • Receive: God’s presence, His grace, His acceptance, His gifts, His provision, His fruit, His friendship. His guidance, wisdom, strength, appreciation, delight, love.
  • Refocus: on Jesus, on what is important in life, on my God-given priorities and goals.
  • Receive: God’s all-embracing love every day.
  • Re-experience: God’s forgiveness, His gift of freedom from condemnation.
  • Remember: my identity, value, belonging, calling.
  • Release: from guilt, condemnation, the past, my destructive thought patterns and actions.
  • Rejoice: in God’s love for me, in His trustworthiness, His care, His wisdom, His communication, His direction.
  • Resume: walking with Him.
  • Restart, rest, refresh, reengage, regroup, reassess, re-plan, revise–you get the idea.

Receive is a big one today.Thank you, Father, for the ability to receive:

  • Your delight with me, your tender care, your wisdom, your perspective, your insights, your acceptance, your grace.
  • Your spirit-gifts: love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness self-control.
  • Your love: patient, kind, humble, forgiving and forgetting of wrongs, strong, faith-filled and faithful, uncondemning, hopeful, enduring, never-failing.
  • Your presence: within me, restoring my soul.
  • Your embrace: including me, giving me a place and a purpose, helping me to discover and enjoy and share the many gifts you have given me.
  • Your calling.

Thank you for the ability to be able to receive Your calling for me to love others in the same way I love myself. Thank you for the privilege of giving, sharing, loving those around me, and the amazing sense of fulfillment and blessing that results from that much of the time. Thank you that even when I feel nothing, or sense no positive feedback, I know deep in my soul that you are at work–that loving others with your love is powerful.

What do you need to remind yourself of today?

Green Field Landscape near Forest, blue SkyBy Lydia Floren

 

Rest for My Soul

heavy load

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden

We fail. We mess up.  We make bad decisions, and many times the heavy load we carry is the result of those choices.  When we recognize this, we pile on self-condemnation—guilt and shame.  Not God, our Loving Father.  He opens His arms wide, and says:

Child come here.  Put down that heavy load, and climb up in My lap and tell Me all about it.  Receive the grace, the forgiveness I so want to give you, and let me release you from your worry.  Quit accepting shame, and embrace the freedom-joy of My love once again.  Just leave it to Me.  I will help you know what to do as you move forward from here.

Take my yoke upon you and learn of me

I will not only show you what to do now, but I will help you learn from this.  I can teach you to be free of your compulsions, to see more of the world from My perspective, so you don’t make this same mistake twice.  If you choose, My Holy Spirit will do this deep healing in your spirit. 

For my load is easy and my burden is light and you shall find rest for your souls

It is so much easier–and more enjoyable–to follow Me when you aren’t carrying unnecessary burdens.  The load I give you is quite simple: stay connected with Me.  Don’t let anything get in the way of this connection, especially not your mistakes. Don’t let anything keep you from embracing the identity, value, belonging and calling I have given you.

When you stay connected with Me, you will be able to hear my voice and follow where I am leading you to go.

I will show you the next step from here.

Do not anxiously look about you for I am your GodReaching forward to what lies ahead I press on to the upward call of God in Christ JesusCast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you

What helps you stay connected to God, even in the midst of failure?

come to me all who are weary and heavy laden

By Lydia Floren

Image by woodleywonderworks

Kindness Is…

kindness photo

Kindness is saying no to what you could do so that you can say yes to what you’re called to do.

Kindness is allowing other people the space they need to grow.

Kindness is taking the time to learn someone’s name.

Kindness is remembering someone’s name.

Kindness is caring for yourself so that you can care for others.

Kindness is giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Kindness is choosing to think the best of someone.

Kindness is having a positive attitude.

Kindness is compassionate action.

Kindness is keeping a secret.

Kindness is not complaining. At all.

Kindness is refusing to guilt someone into doing what you want them to do.

Kindness is taking responsibility for your own life instead of blaming your problems on someone else.

Kindness is refusing to make excuses.

Kindness is tickling someone’s funnybone.

Kindness is laughing with folks but never laughing at them.

Kindness is choosing to have a thankful heart.

Kindness is refraining from giving advice.

What does kindness mean to you?? Let us know in the comments!

Kindness Is... from Belovedlove

by Lydia Floren

Photo by Feed My Starving Children (FMSC)

The Kindness of God’s Acceptance

psalm 139

you have searched meGod’s acceptance of me boggles my mind, when I think about it. 

Too often, I don’t – think about it, I mean.  Instead, I hide from myself,or others, or Him.  Yet hiding doesn’t change reality.   No matter where I hide, He is there, with His arms open wide to me.  He is fully aware of my faults and failings, and loves me lavishly in the middle of them. (BTW, one of the best ways to hide from yourself or God is to stay too busy.)

In order to receive the full measure of God’s acceptance, I must stop each day and remember that God knows my every thought before it becomes a word or an action, and is intimately acquainted with all my habits.you know it all

This is gritty reality. He accepts me knowing every unkind word I have uttered, every selfish act I have done, or will do.  Even more daunting, God accepts me knowing the ugliness of the motives behind some of my words and actions, those things often hidden from others.  He accepts me with my petulance, pride, manipulation, greed, impatience, annoyance.  It boggles the mind.

knowledge too wonderful

You would think this would be depressing, but in truth, it is quite the opposite.

The understanding that finally someone knows me completely and loves me unconditionally,   empowers me to accept myself with all my faults and failings, an to give my true self to Him each day, and allow Him to make me whole once again.

I can start each day:

  • Celebrating who I am – His precious child, made perfect by Him.
  • Rejoicing where I am – on His path to growth and wholeness, with Him showing me the way.
  • Embracing what I am called to do – love Him, others and myself – in the unique way He created me.

How are you starting your days?enclosedbehindbefore_lg

By Lydia Floren