Love Like This by Lauren Daigle

“Love Like This,” by Lauren Daigle, puts into words a question that comes to our minds when we think about how blessed we are to be loved by God in the amazing way He loves us: “What have I done to deserve love like this?” We can’t earn it, and we can’t do enough to be worthy of it. He just loves us because that’s who He is. Continue reading “Love Like This by Lauren Daigle”

1 Timothy 2:4 – The Attributes of God “Even More”

1 Timothy 2:4 – The Attributes of God “Even More”

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1John 4:16 NIV

GOD IS LOVE

One of the first lessons we want to instill in our children or convey to anyone we have an opportunity to influence is that God loves them. We might say things such as, “God is love,” or “God loves you no matter what.”

Yes, God is loving. In fact, He is the epitome of love. Being the Originator of the concept of love naturally causes Him to be the most amazing example of it. However, as we get to know Him, we find out more about the attributes of God that combine to make Him who He is. There is even more to Him than love! For example, how often do we attempt to learn more about His forgiveness, holiness, tenderness, humility, jealousy, and mercy? He is a multi-faceted God who possesses traits that are essential to include when trying to describe Him accurately and authentically.

HE IS MORE THAN JUST LOVE

Imagine you were asked to describe the attributes of God, and your portrayal of Him was about to forever become the basis for someone’s understanding of who He is. Would you feel pressure to tell them more than the basics of how deeply He loves us? Not that it is insignificant information, by any means! Clearly, it is crucial to incorporate how incredible His love is into an illustration of God. Without His love, there is no gospel; there is no cross, no resurrection, and no promise of eternal life with Him. But there is even more than love, and sometimes those other supernatural qualities get overlooked. 

There is a forgiveness that removes our sin from us forever and ever. There is a holiness that makes Him so far above us that we should be in eternal awe of Him. There is a tenderness that causes Him to earnestly pursue a relationship with each and every one of us. There is a humility that drove Him to offer His Son as a sacrifice to take the place of a sinful world. There is a holy jealousy that calls us to devote our lives to only Him, and a mercy that is new every morning when we fail to put Him first.

In no way is that an exhaustive list of the attributes of God, but starting that list helps us discover how “even more” He is! Read the last two paragraphs here:    devotableapp.com

Unprayed Answers

Unprayed Answers

Whenever I am seated at the piano on Sunday mornings leading our congregation in song along with our church praise team, I consider it to be one of the sweetest blessings in my life. In addition to me, the team presently includes three vocalists, a bass guitarist, an occasional drummer, and an acoustic guitar player. 

In the early 2000s, as I sat on a padded metal chair in a conference room filled with hundreds of other women at a Christian event, a husband and wife duo performed several moving songs. She sang and he played guitar. Listening to them share their love of Jesus and music in such a special way made an impact on me. For a few months after the conference, my mind revisited how touching it was that they had the opportunity to participate in a music ministry together as husband and wife. However, as time went on, the memory of that duo disappeared from my mind.

A few years later, on a whim, my husband and I both attempted to teach ourselves how to play guitar. He learned much more easily and quickly than I did, and my ego took a hit, so I quit. I never tried learning guitar again, and I might just be a little bitter about my husband having such a seemingly easy time mastering a new instrument, especially since I am the one with a music degree and background. (By the way, if you were expecting a post about perseverance when the going gets tough, this is not it.) 😉

More than a decade later on a Sunday morning in 2017, as I sat in front of the sanctuary leading a worship song with the praise team, the memory of that husband and wife duo unexpectedly reappeared in my mind. I immediately began to tear up. I confess that I frequently tear up during the music portion of our church service because when the song lyrics proclaim the greatness of God’s love and faithfulness, my gratitude causes an emotional response. But this particular time, my tears were due to the fact that I had overlooked for several years. You see, I love Jesus with all my heart and I thoroughly love to sing, so I am definitely thankful that I sing on a church praise team. But on that particular morning, I was struck by the added detail that my husband is part of that praise team with me, playing the aforementioned acoustic guitar. I am sure that a combination of factors was involved in God inspiring Darren to learn how to play guitar and join the praise team. I can’t help but think that I know what one of them was: God wanted to accomplish something in my marriage which I had deemed impossible. 

It is amazing that we serve a God who sometimes honors dreams that are shoved down deep into our hearts or almost entirely dismissed. Dreams we don’t even bother to transform into prayer, because we have already decided they are out of the realm of reality.

The idea of sharing in a music ministry together as a couple never became more than an intriguing thought. Not a wish. Not a prayer. In fact, it had been forgotten. But even so, God orchestrated that forgotten idea in our lives years later, and it is an incredible, straight-from-God gift. Because of His great love, God answers prayers we never even consider praying.

Not Alone

Not Alone

Today, instead of our home church, we attended a church with our youngest son in his college town, as we were visiting him and watching his weekend basketball games.

We joined together with strangers with whom we share a common bond of desiring to honor God by going to “His house” on Sunday mornings.

As we left the service, we heard reports that today in a church in Texas, an evil, reprehensible man carried out an evil, reprehensible act.

We may never know or understand why it happened, but we can be assured and we can assure others of what we DO know: God IS with us through absolutely every moment of our lives. We sang about it, as you can see on the screens in the photo: “I am not alone. I am not alone. You will go before me. You will never leave me.”

Other lyrics from this powerful Kari Jobe song remind us we need not fear. “In the midst of deep sorrow, I see Your light is breaking through. The dark of night will not overtake me. I am pressing into You. Lord, You fight my every battle, and I will not fear.”

And another line of the song is, “You bring healing to my soul.”  Oh, so many hurting people are in need of healing because of this senseless, horrendous event, but we know the Healer. The hashtag, “PrayersForTexas,” is thoughtful, but empty, if not accompanied by the actual act of lifting these victims’ loved ones to our Heavenly Father.

If this isn’t the time to share the love of Jesus with others, and to earnestly pray for Him to make Himself known to those that doubt Him, I don’t know when is. Love others. Pray for others. Assure others. God is here, He will never leave us, and He heals.

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Who Determines the Value of Life?

I cannot begin to know the feelings and emotions that are experienced when a medical professional states that a baby is not going to be born with the “ten-little-fingers-ten-little-toes perfection” that one initially expects. But one thing I do know: from His heavenly view, God does not look down upon newborns in hospital nurseries and ever once utter an “Oops.”

When a baby is not born how we may have originally envisioned, questions sometimes arise regarding the quality of life, but it is human-defined quality. We look at potential future and gauge it in human terms and measures.

A couple of particular families who have children with special needs have been on my mind lately. Their lives will never be the same, but their growth, maturity, and love has increased dramatically through this unexpected turn in their lives. These situations do not have to mean the end of a dream. They can signify the beginning of a new one.

Years ago, a couple brought their son to our apartment door to trick-or-treat for Halloween. He was dressed as an adorable pumpkin, and to my knowledge was unable to walk or speak. The smiles on their faces as they participated in a special family moment together are forever etched in my mind. Numerous times in the few months we lived there, I saw the father, who had a rugged and rough exterior, interact in a beautifully gentle manner with his son. I watched the mother show devotion and dedication to her boy whenever they were out and about. I will never forget the bond I observed between those parents and their cherished son. That extraordinary family modeled what genuine love looks like. And any questions in my mind about the quality of life for people who are not deemed ideal by this world’s standards disappeared forever.

In similar circumstances all over the world, we can see precious children who touch others in remarkable ways. They bring out in others the capacity to love and nurture in ways they previously did not know were possible. And parents experience a strength borne out of a love that they maybe never realized they were capable of.

The One who knit us together in our mother’s wombs gave us life. Every life is a gift from God and a gift to others. Every life is sacred, and the life lessons we learn through others are sacred. Every life is valuable and adds value to others’ lives.

God is the One to go to if we are wrestling with a question concerning quality of life. After all, He not only sees the value in all of His children, He is the One who places it there.

 

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Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;  Jeremiah 1:5a
For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

Enjoy the Ride

IMG_2734When I was a young mother, I remember being appreciative of some advice that experienced parents shared with me.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps,” “Pick your battles,” and “Time goes by quickly, so enjoy every moment with your children.” I wholeheartedly agree with these words of wisdom and have passed them along to others from time to time.

I went into motherhood armed with that short list of recommendations found above, but the list of things I didn’t know yet was much, much longer. A couple of decades of parenting has given me new insight. I’m crossing my fingers that a couple more decades will only increase the amount of knowledge! (Well, I’m praying it will, because the finger-crossing trick isn’t very effective.)

This is not a list of advice, as much as a list of “Things You Won’t Realize Until…You Realize Them.”

I now know being a mother is the most exhausting, emotional, educational, enlightening, and extraordinary experience known to mankind.

I now know that you are going to want to give anything to go through the sicknesses and injuries your children are facing in place of your child. Anything. If there was a way to do some sort of Disney-style Freaky Friday movie flip-flop, this mom and every mom I know would have found it by now.

I now know that you will want to shout it from the rooftops (and all of your social media accounts) when your child wins an award or is recognized for an achievement, but the moments when they stand up for themselves or others, stretch out their hand in kindness, or step into bold faith make you beam with an even greater pride. And those instances make you attempt to think of ways to shout from rooftops and post on social media about what an awesome human being your child is without sounding like “that mom.”

I now know that kids can bring you so much joy that the risk of being “that mom” is worth it.

I now know “mother’s intuition” is real and “perfect mothers” are not.

I now know that kids are quite forgiving of parenting mistakes, and staying mad at yourself is pointless and damaging. Decide to do better and be better. When we screw up again, we can decide to do better and be better. Again. Repeat as often as necessary.

I now know that being in unknown territory as a parent is a real feeling, but it is not a reality. God is there through it all. I mean, honestly…He is already there – the territory is not unknown to HIm. He is ready to ride along with you.

Motherhood is full of moments of triumph and turmoil; satisfaction and sorrow: glee and gloom. It is a roller-coaster ride evidenced by the fact that you will scream, throw your hands up in the air, brace yourself, laugh, hold on to your loved ones, and just when you think you can’t do it anymore, find yourself in line to get right back on and continue the ride.

Remember not to ride alone. Through every twist and turn, God is eager and willing to sit beside you, hold on to you, and guide you through unknown territory.

Singing Over You

Singing Over You

Ever since I can remember, music has had a profound effect on me. Certain songs seemingly transport me back in time, lift my mood, and even motivate me.

Singing, songwriting, playing the piano, and leading music in my church are all activities that I treasure and consciously find time for in my life. When my life lacks music, my life feels as if it’s…lacking.

Zephaniah 3:17 is a verse that has always intrigued me…it says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” The entire verse is an incredible picture of Who God is, but the part that fascinates me is that He sings over us. It is so intimate; so meaningful.

I wrote a song entitled, “Singing Over You,” inspired by this cherished verse.
The lyrics are: “Feeling alone again in a crowd. Sick and tired of being left out. When tears start falling, I pray You’ll hear Him calling. May you believe His word to be true. That your God is singing over you. I see you questioning again. When will this feeling ever end? His arms are open. Bring to him a heart that’s broken. May you believe His Word to be true. That your God is singing over you.
Your Heavenly Father takes delight in who you are. He draws you closer, and He heals your wounds and scars. Give him praise. He is a God who saves. And He renews your strength. May today be the day that you hear His glorious song.
May His perfect love overwhelm you. May you believe me when I tell you: that your God loves you just the way that you are, and He sees who you can be, His love transforms us amazingly.
Your Heavenly Father takes delight in who you are. He draws you closer, and he heals your wounds and scars. Give Him praise. He is the God who saves, and He renews your strength.
May today be the day that you hear His glorious song. Over you. His glorious song.”

When a mom sings a lullaby to soothe her baby or a group of carolers lift the spirits of the disheartened with their Christmas tunes, there is an unparalleled sincerity and sweetness in those actions. This sweet sincerity can be seen, heard and felt. The song brings a sense of peace to the listener’s ears.

The verse in Zephaniah reminds us that God is a personal God. God sings over us. What a loving act by a loving God. He showers us with unequalled tenderness, devotion, and safekeeping. If you are feeling alone, lost, or less-than, remember that God is truly in your midst. As He sings over you, may the beauty of His melody and His love bring you His matchless peace.