Tag: Love

NICE PEOPLE

How many nice people do you know? Let me be a little more specific: How many people do you know who you feel at ease with; who are genuine and real; who are warm and thoughtful; who you know care sincerely and consistently about you; who you trust, and who are committed to companionship with you for life?

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Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to know a lot of such people. I’ll have to admit, reluctantly, that I could probably count the number of such people I know on one hand, and have a finger or two to spare. If I look back over my life so far, I may be able to employ all my fingers and toes in the count.

I’m not saying this to have a dig at human nature, as easy as that would be. After all, I’m human too (surprise surprise) and I suffer from the same weaknesses and faults that everyone else does. We can all be hurtful at times, or aloof or busy and inconsiderate. Just how do those few “nice people” manage it? How are they nice? What makes them kind, considerate, warm, forgiving, and all those other special endearing qualities which I am deficient in?

If I focus more closely still on what turns me on, socially speaking, I think I would have to single out that amazing ability a very few people have to make you feel welcome, wanted, loved, and appreciated, every time you meet them, even when you know you’re a nobody, and even when you have nothing to offer them in terms of this world’s perks. I can picture a few shining faces, always fixed on mine, so glad were they to see me and let me know so. They were(and are) the people who have made me feel like life was worth living, that there is a loving God, and that the world really is a beautiful place after all.

My next point is unavoidable. As I’ve considered these people prayerfully, I’ve had to ask my God why I’m not like them. Why am I not a nice person? I wish I were. I wish I could have that effect on people. I wish I could be warm, polite, kind and welcoming as a normal standard of being, rather than having to stretch to a minute or two of pleasantness before I lapse back into my normal modus operandi: being distant and preoccupied.  And as many professing Christians as I’ve met over the years, I must confess that the bulk of them have been, like me, in various stages of brokenness, selfishness, business, worldliness, and yes, sinfulness. We go to church (in normal times) in the hope of meeting people who are going to reflect the love of Jesus Christ, not realizing that everyone else is doing the same thing.

How many of us rise to the occasion?

The answer must lie in genuinely becoming Christ-like. I don’t mean a fleshly spirituality in which we think we’re just like Peter and Paul and can do all their magic tricks: I mean loving, selfless, warm, patient, faithful, godly behaviour as a way of life.

The few who achieve that level of walk with God in this life will be the ones to shine like stars for ever and ever.

WHAT GOD WANTS

Watching the news; observing people and the affairs of humanity; looking in the mirror and thinking of what I’ve done with my own life, I had to ask my God why He would care at all about the human race…

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Those of us who are Bible believers know that we’re not worthy of God’s love: He gives it because He wants to. He did, after all, send His son to die for us while we were in our fallen state. But why? What could he, an infinite, omnipotent, incredible, beautiful God possibly want that we have or that we are?

I have to say that the answer, humanly speaking, is beyond me. If I were God I would probably just give up on the world and start all over. But as I thought the matter over this morning, for the umpteenth time, what came to mind quite apart from some relevant scriptural statements, were the few souls I’ve known in my life who were genuinely wonderful people-people who were consistently different to everyone else in a good way.

I realized that these people all had certain things in common. They were humble, warm, selfless, kind, loving and thoughtful, and lived a life of service. While no human “deserves” God’s love, humans were designed and made in His image. And perhaps in those divine qualities which a few somehow manage to exhibit there’s a glimpse of that image of God, and a strong indicator of what God through his son Jesus Christ seeks to foster in us, and to fill his heaven with for all eternity.

Worship doesn’t just consist of singing or raising hands, it’s more to do with how we live our lives:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Yes, we’re saved by faith in the son of God, because of God’s mercy and grace. But it’s when we consciously live out our faith in truth and genuine love and praise, that we please our Creator, and become the kind of people He wants in his kingdom. How many of us are studying the will of our Father in our lives? Jesus said:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23 NIV).

HOW NOT TO BE TOLERANT…

With all  the fake news stories; the smears and lies; the threats of emigration; the false charges of racism, misogyny and xenophobia; the plethora of unproved accusations; the boycotts of Trump family products and Trump events; the protests and riots; the plans to impeach and the more-than-obscene language and rants hurled at the new president, it’s becoming clearer by the day to many of us just how “tolerant” and “loving” some of these liberal types really are.

Disagree if you want: it’s your right. Just don’t try preaching at the rest of us any more about tolerance, if you can’t do it yourself…

THINKING OF YOU

Have you ever felt like nobody really cares about you? Having a tendency to be rather melancholy myself, I’ve struggled with those feelings on and off all my life. The truth is that someone does care…to the point of obsession…

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I’ve been scanning hundreds of old pictures I took of my sons just before the advent of digital cameras, from the day of their birth onward. I was one of those Dads who would talk to his kids even before their birth. I told them I loved them. I played beautiful music to them. I prayed for them. I told them I couldn’t wait to see them.

I knew I had a lot of photographs, but what’s struck me as I’ve been sorting through them is how many different situations and poses they were in when I took the pictures. I was (and to be honest, still am) almost obsessed with my kids, just as any other normal, loving Dad is. I took pictures of them while they were playing, while they were asleep, while they were painting, while they were eating, on my shoulders, in the country, in the city… And it occurred to me almost in an instant, that my obsession with my kids is a picture (excuse the pun) of our heavenly father’s obsession with us.

Jesus saw Nathaniel under a fig tree: he knew where Nathaniel was and what he was doing even before he met him (John 1: 43-49). He told his disciples after his resurrection, “…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

God, the Father of all those who love Him, is watching us, even when we aren’t at all aware of him. But he’s watching us in a loving way, in what we could almost call an obsession. Perhaps the most popular scripture regarding God’s obsession with his people is found in Davids’ writings, in Psalm 139:

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar…”

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there”

“When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…”

THE REAL THING

Some experiences in life, some events and outcomes can be unbearably dark, sad and painful. Others are inexpressibly beautiful, powerful and fulfilling. Even the simplest pleasures such as watching a sunset or feeling gentle raindrops on bare skin can be moving moments. And of course, to love and to be loved are blessings beyond words…

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(Nils Frahm, “Ode”)

Life has been likened to a tapestry. On the work side-representing everyday life-are all the knots and unrecognizable shapes, but when you turn it over, when you look at the finished product on the other side, you see the complete and perfect design. And sometimes, usually only when life is good, it’s almost possible to see apparently painful events as being “beautiful” in their own way, for the reason that life itself-just being alive and cognizant- is an incredible gift that we take for granted far too often.
One thing is certain in my mind: God, who, when he had created the earth and all of life, saw that it was “very good”* (how can God not make an understatement in human language?) has also said in effect, “Wait…I can do better”.
The beauty that surrounds us now is just a warm-up for the real thing:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21: 1-4 NIV).

Almighty God, I thank you for my life, and for all the things you’ve blessed me with. Thank you for all the people who’ve crossed my path, and all the amazing things you’ve allowed me to experience, though I deserve nothing good from you. Most of all, Lord God, thank you that through your Son you’ve chosen to create for me…for us…something even better”
* Genesis 1: 31