The A, B, C’s of Loving One Another, “T”

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

Think on what is true. Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Fill up on God’s truth every day or your love well will never run dry.

It’s easy to become cynical with everyday life. Our best efforts fall short. Our best idea gets rejected. Our best investment drops off the charts. And our best friend lets us down. And the best person we hoped would get elected…

In general life’s best either eludes us or what we thought would be best is not at all what we expected it to be. Add to all that, the very definition of “best” seems to change on a daily, even hourly, basis.

Just recently my daughter thought it would be best to leave bright and early from where I live to make the six hour drive back to where she just moved. This seemed reasonable as she had a 3:00pm interview. Not something you want to be late for. She gave herself a two-three hour window. Time enough to drop off dog; take shower, style hair, etc…

That seemed like the best plan. But, the truth was God had a different plan. She just didn’t know it. That’s probably a good thing because if God had let her in on the day He laid out for her, she probably would’ve stayed in bed.

Less than twenty miles onto the interstate, she came to a complete stop. Two hours later she had finally gone eight miles and made it around the accident sight. She tried to be thankful she was not in the accident and that no one was hurt (just a mess the semi-truck decided to dump on the road), but her best was colliding with God’s Truth for the day. She was…shall I say…irritated.

No matter, she developed a new best plan. She could still make up a little time, drop off the dog and at least change her clothes. Isn’t that what body spray and dry shampoo are for? So she treks the rest of the 350 miles and pulls in front of her home. With luggage and dog in tow, she puts her key into the dead bolt. Snap! Her key breaks.

All her best is now stuck in a dead bolt. Sometime later I receive another text. Oh, I forgot to tell you that she kept me posted throughout her ever changing best plans. What are mother’s for, right!

“This is absolutely the worst day of my life!”

Then I got a quick call.

“Well, I’m almost to the interview.”

She proceeded to give the very short version of her roommate cancelling her afternoon appointments to come seat with the dog while the landlord contacted a locksmith to change the lock. She had changed clothes in the car while said roommate and dog provided a curtain. The car smelled like Vanilla Blackberry and she was putting make-up on while talking to me. I told her to hang up. She complied.

She had ten minutes before the appointed time for the interview. I wanted to text her something helpful; something to get her past the apparent cruelty of this worst day. I sat at my dining table wondering if it really was the worst day of her life.

A very wise God nudged me not to belabor whether it was really the worst or not. It didn’t really matter.

Instead God reminded me of an eternal truth. One that had just recently changed my own outlook on what I think is best.

I texted:

“God NEVER has a worst day!”

Smiling, I hit “send.”

You want to know what is true? You want to know how to love in truth? Get in the Bible. Read God’s Truth every day. Then when you’re having your worst day, you too will be reminded…

“God NEVER has a worst day!”

And the Winner is…Love One Another!

By Elaine Baldwin | @elainehbaldwin

Well, it’s finally here. Somewhat like Christmas, you’re either expectant or you’re just glad to finally get it over with. Tomorrow is Election Day 2012. There is probably a good number of you who have voted already. Thank you! I am truly glad you took your privilege of voting seriously. Our right to vote is a serious thing and many…many have died to protect that right.

They say voter turn out should be strong and to expect long lines. And that is good, too. It means, as a whole, Americans are taking this voting privilege personally. It is indeed an important election. But, aren’t they all?

Certainly every time we have a free choice to cast our ballot and freely give our opinion of who should be in certain offices and what should be the course of certain issues, we should understand that freedom is significant. To be honest, I’ve not cast my ballot every time I had the opportunity. Therefore, I have to admit, as a non-participant in freedom’s greatest privilege, I am culpable for some of the mess that is out there. I regret this and will not be so lazy in the future no matter how “small” the issue or office on the ballot may be or what time of year it is.

But that is not the main purpose of this post. The main purpose of this post is to remind us that Love trumps all and Love Himself still seats on The Eternal Throne. So no matter who wins what office (and I do have my own preference) GOD REIGNS!

I heard a timely sermon today from Adrian Rogers. The title of the sermon is: “Don’t Let an Election Still Your Song.” You can listen to the whole message here. Of course, many of you realize Pastor Rogers has been home in heaven for many years. His ministry, “Love Worth Finding,” simply chose to replay this message the day before this next election day. I don’t even know which election had just taken place when Pastor Rogers gave this message from his home church pulpit. But, I do know from the context of the message that he knew his flock was worried by who had just been elected president.

What was the theme of Pastor Rogers message to his congregation? This is not an exact quote, but it’s close: “The Holy Trinity has not been taken by surprise. They are not having emergency meetings trying to figure out what to do next.” I am smiling again at this astute observation.

Love has already won and so have we if we are His born-again followers.

So, the real question isn’t who is going to win tomorrow.

The real question is how will Jesus’ followers respond and continue to share His Good News.

So, this week’s Love One Another Challenge is to simply do that. However God shows you to do it…Love One Another.

And let’s not forget that we are also commanded to love our neighbor and our enemy. I think that just about covers everyone we’ll bump into this week. Not an easy challenge. I pray God will give each of us His strength, His Wisdom and His Truth. Remember love without truth is heresy and truth without love is hypocrisy.

May God Bless Each of You and I Deeply Pray He Will Still Bless America!

photo credit: Beverly & Pack via photopin cc

The A, B, Cs of Loving One Another, “Q”

By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin

Quiet and be still. Psalm 46:10  Be still, and know that I God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  (KJV)

The noise of life blocks out God’s message of love to us and makes us ineffective to love others. This happens to the best of us. Even God’s mighty prophets had to learn to be quiet.

(The following is an excerpt from “The Art of Loving One Another.”)

In I and II Kings we read about a pretty amazing prophet. His name was Elijah. He was quite the man of God and served Jehovah faithfully during a very dark time in Israel’s history. In fact, he was so connected with God that when his time here on earth was completed, God took him to heaven in a whirlwind escorted by a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses (II Kings 2:11). Now that’s a “Wow!” change moment. And it wasn’t Elijah’s first one

  • Elijah was given the ability to stop the rain (I Kings 17:1).
  • Elijah and a widow and her son were given unlimited bread while he lodged with them during the time of draught (I Kings 17:9-16).
  • Elijah was given power to raise the widow’s son from the dead (I Kings 17:17-24).
  • Elijah was given power to defeat 450 prophets of Baal in a god-test (I Kings 18).
  • Elijah was given the ability to make it rain again (I Kings 18:45).
  • Elijah was given the speed and endurance to outpace Ahab’s chariot and beat him to Jezreel (I Kings 18:46).
  • Elijah was fed miraculously by God and the angel of the Lord ministered personally to him (I Kings 19:6-7).
  • Elijah traveled for forty days to a mountain on those one day provisions (I Kings 19:8).
  • Elijah spoke directly to God on Mount Horeb, The Mountain of God (I Kings 19:9-15).
  • Elisha smote the waters of Jordan with Elijah’s mantel which fell off when he taken away to heaven in the chariot of fire and the waters were separated and Elisha crossed over on dry ground (II Kings 2:14).

Including the chariot escort to heaven that is eleven oversized change moments Elijah had that I have never experienced. That’s not to say I’ve never had giant change moments. But I’ve never outrun a chariot or stopped the rain or raised anyone from the dead and I probably never will. That doesn’t mean my colossal change moments are not significant. They are just different. There is one thing Elijah and I have that is the same. We both struggle between the “Wows!”

In between all these amazing change moments in Elijah’s life, he allowed one threat made by a malicious woman to knock him off his feet and shut him and his ministry down.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. I Kings 19:2

You see after his knockout punch of the 450 prophets of Baal, evil Queen Jezebel wasn’t too happy. It’s hard to believe that Israel sank so low with such a godless woman as their leader but it only took a handful of generations for Israel to be unrecognizable as God’s chosen people

But, such were the times Elijah lived in. He was the only true prophet in Israel. So when he, with God’s enabling, won the contest against the Baal prophets he didn’t really have any human to give a high five to or join him in a rousing cheer of, “Our God Reigns.”

Here he was, a little tired from outpacing Ahab’s chariot, no supporters, no fans, and no groupies, around him. Only his servant was with him. (I think he probably had to hang around.) Then he gets news that Jezebel has a contract out on him. The text says he ran for his life to Beersheba, left his servant there (there goes the last hope for any support) and then he ran into the wilderness and collapsed under a juniper tree where he requested that he might die

It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers. I Kings 19:4

It’s hard to believe that this mighty prophet of God went from the high of completing one of the most remarkable achievements in the entire Bible to a low so deep that he was despondent and wanted God to take his life. Then again, maybe it isn’t all that hard to believe. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe most of us have to some degree. But, God wasn’t finished with this runaway prophet and He isn’t done with us either. I know because I am still here writing and you are still here reading. So we obviously aren’t done with whatever God has for us to do.

Elijah also had more to do, but he was exhausted and he was hungry and he was scared and he had no one. Elijah was just done in! God knew this. Nor was God surprised by Jezebel’s threats and massive man hunt. It was all part of His plan to speak to Elijah in an intimate way.

After a few visits from the angel of the Lord, some sleep and some food Elijah was good to go. I mean he was good to go for forty long days. I love the last statement from the angel of the Lord before Elijah left for this long trek, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” (I Kings 19:7b). Talk about an understatement!

Elijah conquered the prophets of Baal on God’s strength and with God’s power. He ran from Jezebel on his own without listening for God. The next forty days he survived on God’s provision from the food and rest back in the wilderness. Pretty amazing! Now he is at Mount Horeb, the Mountain of God. But was he ready to listen to God…God’s way?

He’s on a mountain top and not just any mountain top, God’s mountain top!  He still doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to do now that the big battle is over. What can he do? He’s a hunted man. He’s the only one left in Israel. Or so he thinks. Let’s listen in on the conversation between God and Elijah. You can read the whole story in I Kings 19

God: What are you doing here, Elijah?

Elijah: I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away

God: Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD

Now here is where it gets interesting. As if standing before God on His Mountain and talking with God isn’t interesting enough. But, trust me, it gets better

Elijah hangs out and waits for God to speak to him again. Suddenly a great and strong wind ripped at the mountain and rocks were torn in pieces. Elijah thought for sure that this was God. But God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake came and then a fire and Elijah thought surely this was God. But God was not in the earthquake or the fire.

After the fire came “a sound of gentle blowing.”  We’re told that when Elijah heard this gentle breeze, he just knew. God opened his mind, heart and his awareness and he knew this was God. Elijah wrapped his mantle around his face and finally did what God told him to do. He stood in the entrance of the cave. There he and God repeated the first conversation, but there was an important difference.

Elijah was ready to listen without all the “Wow!” So much of his God experience up to this moment had been the colossal and the extraordinary that he wasn’t really able to hear God in the everyday and the ordinary. I have to wonder if God gave him the big show of wind and earthquake and fire just to get the need for “Wow!” out of His prophet’s system. That is purely my own speculation, but it’s interesting to think about.

Now that Elijah could hear God in the gentle breeze, he was ready for change and he was ready for his next assignment. This assignment wasn’t nearly as dramatic or astonishing.

God simply asked him to anoint a new ruler over Aram and a new king over Judah and a new prophet to replace himself, none other than Elisha.

It took days of running and weeks of solitary travel and a mighty exhibition of God’s amazing power, but once Elijah was finally quiet before the Lord, Jehovah God reminded the prophet that he was not alone.

He was not the only one left in Israel. God had a remnant; a 7000 strong remnant that did not bow their knee to Baal.

How long has it been since you’ve been quiet before the Lord? I mean really quiet. Shh….

Photo By: Margaret Richards | http://richardsandcompany.smugmug.com/