Category Archives: God

One Another

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Recently, I looked at all the “one another” references in the New Testament. Because there are so many, I realized that God clearly cares about this.

What would happen if we – Christians, followers of Christ, born-again believers – actually regarded one another as outlined in Scripture? Would we . . . could we . . . change the world?

From the NKJV, here’s my list.

  • Mark 9:50  Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.
  • John 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
  • John 13:34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
  • John 13:35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
  • John 15:12  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • John 15:17  These things I command you, that you love one another.
  • Romans 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members  of one another.
  • Romans 12:10  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
  • Romans 12:16  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
  • Romans 13:8   Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
  • Romans 14:13  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
  • Romans 14:19  Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
  • Romans 15:5  Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,
  • Romans 15:7  Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
  • Romans 15:14  Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
  • 1 Cor. 11:33  Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
  • 1 Cor. 12:25  That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
  • Galatians 5:13  For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
  • Galatians 5:15  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
  • Galatians 5:26  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
  • Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
  • Eph. 4:2  With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
  • Eph. 4:25  Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
  • Eph. 4:32  And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Eph. 5:19  Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
  • Eph.5:21  Submitting to one another in the fear of God.
  • Col. 3:9  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
  • Col. 3:13  Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
  • Col. 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and  admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  • 1 Thess. 3:12   And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
  • 1 Thess. 4:9   But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
  • 1 Thess. 4:18  Therefore comfort one another with these words.
  • 1 Thess. 5:11  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
  • Heb. 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
  • Heb. 10:24  Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
  • Heb. 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • James 4:11  Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
  • James 5:9   Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
  • James 5:16   Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
  • 1 Peter 1:22  Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
  • 1 Peter 3:8  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender hearted, be courteous;
  • 1 Peter 4:8  And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
  • 1 Peter 4:9  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
  • 1 Peter 4:10  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
  • 1 Peter 5:5  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
  • 1 John 1:7   But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • 1 John 3:11   For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
  • 1 John 3:23   And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
  • 1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
  • 1 John 4:11   Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  • 1 John 4:12   No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
  • 2 John 1:5   And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

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Fairy Tales?

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Someone once told me that they did not read fiction. Ever. They prefer true stories, biographies, and factual books rather than wasting their time reading fairy tales. This person even went so far as to imply that fiction is a form of lying, so they wanted no part of such nonsense. These comments bothered me a little.

Okay, a lot.

It took me a while to come to terms with the condemnation I felt was being directed toward me not only because I love to read fiction, but because I love to write fiction as well. And to my knowledge, the person who gave me their rather strong opinion has never read a single thing I’ve ever written. They have never asked me about my writing, never encouraged me in that area, never shown any interest whatsoever. I figure it’s their loss, right?

Here’s my take.

We are here on this earth because of God, the ultimate Creator. Look around and you will see His magnificent imagination in operation everywhere. He made it all out of nothing – nothing except the words He spoke from the thoughts and images He had in His mind. He planned everything out. The setting, the plot, the characters, all of it. He created a Story of love and redemption.

We fiction writers do the very same thing.

We take that incredible imagination, given to us by God, and we create from the thoughts and images that form in our minds. We have the ability to write stories that make a difference and to be the difference in a world so full of hurt and hate and hardship. We can write stories that actually have the potential to change someone’s life.

I pray that the stories I create will find the people who need them, and that in some small way, their own life stories will be changed because of what they’ve read.

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Holy Ground

Holy Ground

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.  Exodus 3:5-6 (NKJV)

God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, telling him not to come near and to remove his sandals – not because the actual ground was holy, but because it was His presence  that made it holy. Moses responded, not only removing his sandals, but also by hiding his face. He understood that he was in the presence of the glory of the Almighty God, very conscious of his own sin and unworthiness. Moses was so aware of God’s holiness that he was afraid to look at Him.

We need to see something here.

When we come into His presence, whether that be individually or corporately, we should be entering that place as set apart for divine worship with reverence in our hearts, for wherever the Lord is constitutes holy ground.

Gathering together with the Church – the body of Christ – should lead us to holy ground. A place where we get to come and worship the Father. A place where we get to pour out our love to Him by serving those around us and putting their needs before our own. It’s not about us. It never was.

It’s about being a part of something sacred.

Something far greater than you or me.

Let’s not settle for something as small as what we humans define as God’s presence. He is so much bigger, so much greater, more powerful, more majestic, more awesome, more holy than our brains can even begin to comprehend. When we worship Him with complete abandonment and love, acknowledging His absolute sovereignty, we do indeed stand in His presence on holy ground.

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De-Conform

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To all the wordaholics reading this, I am well aware that de-conform is not a word. I made it up for this blog post. Wordaholic, for that matter, isn’t a real word either. Just let your OCD tendencies slip a little for the sake of literary license, okay?

I read Romans 12:1-2 in The Message Bible, and this is what it says:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I know, I know. I’ve caused you more grief by using a paraphrase instead of an actual bible translation. Live with it. But don’t miss my point.

Which is to de-conform.

Remember my last post (click here) about the crowd-following bridge-jumpers? The whole de-conforming thing fits right in. Read the two verses above again and get a small glimpse of what the Apostle Paul is saying here. In a nutshell, THINK! Use your brain.

In a world gone berserk – come on, let’s call it what it is – going against the culture is unpopular, and can even get you in trouble if your attention isn’t fixed on God. But when you ask Him, hear Him and include Him in your life, He’s going to give you some pretty specific instructions. He will change you. He will bring out the best in you.

I had the opportunity to pray with and speak into the life of a young woman today. The details of the situation are hers to share, not mine, but the amazing and completely God thing about it all was that because I put aside my own comfort zone in order to do what the Holy Spirit directed me to do, this young woman got something she would have otherwise missed. It had nothing to do with me, except that I was obedient. It had everything to do with her receiving a gift that the Lord wanted to give her.

As it says in the above passage, readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. I clearly recognized God’s direction in that moment (believe me, I don’t always), and I acted on it immediately. As a result, a precious woman was blessed. How awesome is our God!

So, what does de-conform mean? (Again, my own word, so my own sort of definition.) Rather than chugging along with the crowd, I am striving to hear the voice of my Father so that when He tells me to move in a different direction, I won’t even hesitate. It’s a process. But He is so patiently teaching me, waiting for me to catch up, nudging me along, and scooping me out of the ditches when I stumble. Oh, He is good!

I don’t want to be a photocopy of everyone else. I want to be what God wants me to be – a reflection of His Son, Jesus Christ. I want to be obedient and faithful and true to what He has for me to do. To say. To be. Holy and acceptable to Him.

De-conform.

It’s a real thing.

 

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Take a Look

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When I was a young teenager desperate to do everything my friends were doing, my parents often asked the question, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Well, of course not, but I did want to do some bridge-jumping, despite the dangers of going along with the crowd.

Admit it. That was you, too, once upon a time.

As a matter of fact, we’ve grown up now and we’re still those crowd-following bridge-jumpers.

We live in a world where we carelessly rush into things before we’ve stopped to take a look at where we’re going and why. The general masses are headed in a particular direction, adhering to particular social norms, and behaving in a similar manner; so much so that you can hardly distinguish one personality from another. And we don’t dare disagree. But we keep going along with it because they must be right. Right? Because breaking away from that crowd would make us different. And we don’t want to be different.

It’s hard to be different.

It’s hard to stop and take a look around while you’re in the middle of a crowd that’s moving along at a rather alarming pace. You put yourself in danger of being trampled. Or yelled at. Or mocked. There is a strong likelihood that your friends and/or family won’t stop with you. They’ll probably urge you to get moving so you won’t be left behind.

So, we continue along, not even bothering to question why we do what we do. We see everything changing and we might even protest a little, but it’s hard to be different, remember.

This even happens in the Church.

Yup, I said it.

We really don’t want to stop to take a look while we’re in the middle of the Church crowd because in that context, the backlash could be even greater. We don’t want to say anything to rock the boat because the Church crowd can be harsh.  And it’s Church, after all. God must be in it, right?

Right . . ?

At this point, you’re probably wondering what the point of my point is. I can’t possibly get into it all in one blog post, but I will say that I am stopping more frequently to take a look – to take a look at how Church is being “done”, to take a look at the people around me who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ (not crowd-following bridge-jumpers), and most importantly, to take a look at my own relationship with Him. Why? Because there seems to be a big disconnect between what the Bible says and what I see around me – and what I see in myself.

I have been on a personal journey (that word has been so overused, but I can’t think of a better one right now) for the past few years, and I am convinced that we Christians are missing way, way, WAY too much because we are allowing the crowd to tell us what we believe and how to believe it instead of listening to what God says. Spiritual deafness, is that a term?

Time to pop the cork on your crowd-following. You’re not going to jump off the bridge with the rest of them. You’re going to stop and take a look, regardless of the consequences, and find out how deep and wide is the love our Father has for you. His plan has always been for you to follow Him, not the crowd filled with people who haven’t got time for Him.

Take a look in the Bible. Take a look at the Father in prayer. Take a look at where you’re going with Him.

It’s quite a ride.

Want to come with me?

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Grateful?

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This is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Feasting, family, friends, football . . . you know the drill. It’s often a busy day with the people you care about and there might even be a comment or two where someone offers a word of gratitude.

Aside from this day set aside for thanksgiving, however, are we really grateful?

Hmm . . .

I read an article this morning about the victims of what’s known as the Great Purge, some of the more than 9,000 German Mennonites arrested in Ukraine from 1936-38, during Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s ethnically motivated persecution (click here). I am of Mennonite ancestry and my family immigrated to Canada from the Ukraine, so this news story caught my attention.

I got to thinking about Thanksgiving and how my generation, and those following, have little context with which to understand the sacrifices and hardships that made it possible for us to be where we are today. We, in North America, have not experienced world wars, the Great Depression, or ethnic persecution such as the Jewish Holocaust and that which is described in the article I read. We’ve certainly had rough times, but nothing to the extent that our forefathers lived through, and sometimes even died during.

Yet, they were thankful.

I know this, because I’ve read my great-great-grandmother’s diary. I’ve spoken with elderly people who shared their stories. Almost without exception, they repeatedly express their deepest gratitude to our heavenly Father for giving them courage, for protecting them, for making a way for them, and for never leaving or forsaking them.

I am certain that the Lord pointed me to that website with the article I mentioned. Reading it caused me to stop and really think about my own often ungrateful heart and how I can become more purposeful in expressing thanks, not just to my Father, but to others around me.

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, 
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations. – Psalm 79:13 (NKJV)

 

 

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Pause

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Hit the pause button and sit down with me for a few minutes. This is important.

Too busy, you say? Too bad, I reply. You need to see something.

First, answer this question: When was the last time you experienced God – I mean really felt that God was present with you, hearing you, and showing you how much He loves you? Be honest.

I could venture a guess and say that for most, it’s been a long time. Maybe it’s been weeks or months or years. Maybe never. And that is so incredibly sad, because the Father is all about His sons and daughters experiencing Him. He longs for an intimate relationship with His children.

I’m not going to give you a methodology to cultivate a closer walk with Jesus, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m also not going to spout doctrine or theology. I’m simply going to tell you that Jesus loves you, really loves you, with a love that cannot be described, explained, dissected, or analyzed. Because He IS love. As a matter of fact, He invented love.

And He is right there loving you whether you like it or not.

Before you start protesting, you need to know that you are good enough. You’re important to Him. He is not disappointed in you. The Father’s love for you is infinite. Jesus is your righteousness and you are complete in Him. Complete! You can’t get any more complete than complete, right? There is no separation between you and the Father. Jesus made that possible. He is in you and you are in Him. As one.

Perhaps you believe that you don’t understand enough about God or the Bible to really experience Him. Perhaps someone convinced you that you weren’t spiritually mature. Let me assure you that even though you may not fully grasp the concept of the love, grace, or goodness of your Father doesn’t mean you can’t experience it.

Just pause.

Close your eyes (unless you’re driving) and think about the Father’s love for you. He made you in His likeness – how awesome! – and that’s who He sees when He looks at you. He just loves you. And you can’t do anything to earn it or diminish it. Ever.

That is truly pause-worthy.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV)

 

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