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The Date

Posted on February 13, 2015

He had been planning it for weeks. This was going to be a very special night with his bride and he wanted everything to be perfect. He would prepare the main course himself. Careful to fix her favorite dish the way she would do it. He would walk out to the orchard and find just the right apple for her and then he would drive to the market and choose the best of the fruit and vegetables that she liked. Of course, on the way he would stop by to see the florist and look for something special to accent the romantic flare of the evening.  It all had to be a secret, though. He would surprise her by showing up at her place and they would have a night to remember!

The big day arrived. He began early in the morning working in the kitchen. Throughout the day he shuffled through photo’s, selecting the ones of places they had been together and of people you were very important to her. As he packed the picnic baskets, he dropped in a few extras. Fingernail polish, a hair brush, a small mirror and her favorite lotion. Pleased with all he had prepared for his bride, he knelt and prayed these words,”Dear Lord, thank you for this wonderful woman You have given me. I don’t deserve her or her love, but I am honored to be the one she has chosen to spend the rest of her life with. Amen.”

He arrived at her home and as he entered, baskets in hand, she acted as though it was nothing special, but he knew that inside she was delighted he was there. He proudly showed her everything that he had prepared for her. After dinner he pulled out the photos and held them up, one by one. When he came to special one, he laughed and said, ” Oh honey! Remember this? Wasn’t that the best time.” He reached over and held her hand as he came across a photo of someone whom she had loved very much. He quietly laid the photos aside, then in a determined but loving voice said to her,”Now, I’m gonna  do something for you that you like to do for yourself. Don’t say a word ’cause you can’t change my mind on this.” She was silent as he poured warm water into a bowl and began washing her hands and then her feet. Then gently he began painting her nails, first her fingers and then her toes. Bringing out the hairbrush, showing some emotion, he spoke softly,” I can’t do this as well as you, but don’t try to stop me.” After a few minutes he held up the mirror. Sounding a little surprised at his accomplishment, he said,” Not bad, huh? You are so beautiful!” Without another word, he finished by rubbing her arms and legs with lotion. After a few minutes of silent adoration, he read a poem he had written to express his love for her and then he kissed her goodnight.

As he was leaving the home, one of the night staff stopped and asked,”Mr. Allen, did your wife wake up tonight?” Trying hard to hide his disappointment, he hesitated briefly and then replied,”No… But I think she knew it was our anniversary. Take good care of my bride. I’m coming back for her!”…

I Corinthians, chapter 13, speaks of a love that is foreign to much of the world. It’s a love that gives itself away not expecting to receive any rewards. It’s a love that waits as long as it takes to receive a response and if the response never comes, it still loves. It’s a love that does not demand recognition. It’s a love that gives freely and is not contingent upon whether love is given back in the same measure. It’s a love that dances and sings when it discovers new opportunities to express itself . It’s a love that cuts the threads of selfishness so it’s heart can open up. It’s a love that does not give up. It’s a love that does not write down the faults of others and broadcast them about. It’s a love that refuses to become furious  when it doesn’t get it’s way. It’s a love that celebrates truth and light and will not allow it’s purpose to be compromised by the darkness. It’s a love you can count on when all other love leaves you forlorn. It’s a love that can break through barriers, tear down walls and at the same time be as gentle and tender as a mother with a newborn baby. It will not wait for a convenient time but will express itself deliberately even when it is unpopular to do so. It is a love that can awaken feelings that lie in slumber.  It is a love that will always see the beauty in you and declare your value in the face of a million votes cast against you! It is a love that will cross a raging sea in the darkest night just to reach you. It is a love that will climb up onto a cross to suffer and then breathe it’s last breath, just for you.

….. A heavy fog was setting in as he drove home.  By the time he reached his house he was feeling the effects of a full day. After brewing a cup of hot tea, he sat down with his devotion book and Bible. His dog wasted no time in finding a comfy spot on his lap. He began reading the devotion for the day, but he could not get the love chapter out of his mind, so he turned to I Corinthians ch. 13 instead. He read out loud. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking.” Before he could go any further, he paused for a prayer. “My God,  how much I have to learn about love. And I only have a lifetime in which to do it. Lord, please teach me to love others as You have loved me. Amen.”  He went on reading,”It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…. Love never fails.”….

The Bible is clear. Love must accompany all that we do. Otherwise it is meaningless. This section of scripture ends with a reminder to us that these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. As believers, one day we will see the object of our faith. All of our hopes will become reality. But love will go on and on and on without end. The love of God is and always will be the reason for our very existence.  I guess the man in our story is right. We only  have a lifetime to learn how to love.

…. He awoke the next morning ready for a new day. He quickly checked the calender. ” Ahah!” He exclaimed. “Just what I thought. Twenty seven days until my brides birthday! I’ve got lots of planning to do. And then there is Valentines day. Oh, we are going to have so much fun!” Just then the phone rang. A woman on the other end spoke softly but with excitement in her voice, “Good morning Mr. Allen. I wanted to let you know that your wife is awake this morning and she is asking for you!” She went on, sounding somewhat puzzled.” And she is saying something about her fingernails and her hair?” Before the woman could finish, Mr. Allen said,”I’ll be right there! Thank you for calling me!”

For certain, the love spoken of here and that Jesus exemplified is not always easy for us to express and put into practice. But when we hold that kind of love up before us as a model and fix our eyes upon it as a goal for our daily lives, can life be anything but exciting, promising and rewarding?

Enjoy loving!


What is it???

Posted on February 8, 2015

From as far back as he could remember, he had always heard of it.  It was something that, for the most part, he just took for granted. It was never really close up. It was just out there. He guessed it had always been around and he supposed it always would be. He thought of it as mysterious and was somewhat leery of it. As he grew, be became aware that for some people, it was like a necessity in their life. He was somewhat puzzled over that assumption. His casual observation of it, delivered him to the  point of limited understanding on the matter. His concluding position for a number of years to come would be that it was a good thing for those who needed it. ” What kind of person needed it?” He wondered. After giving it much thought, he determined that those who had big problems were the ones who most needed it.  As he evaluated all of his thoughts concerning it, he didn’t feel like he would have much use for it in his own life. But as he approached manhood, he would encounter it over and over again. Then, when he was a young man in his early twenties, something happened that caused him to rethink all that had been settled in his mind as a boy. Unexpectedly, he became exposed to it! ……..

What is it?… It is living. It is colorful. It is very old but at the same time it is new. It’s like a big puzzle, made up of many small individual pieces . It is hated by some and loved by others. There are those who claim to have been hurt by it and yet others will testify that it has promoted healing for them. Some fear it and some are comforted by it.

What is it?… It is the same year after year but it’s rapidly changing. It is one, yet it is many. Some will do everything they can to stay away from it, while others will give up much to be near it and to watch what it does. At times it is very powerful. Other times, pitifully  weak. It was very expensive. Now it is free! Some will search for it in vain, while others will stumble over it.

What is it?… You can find it in the city and in the country as well. It can be seen growing in some of the most remote areas of the world. It can be damaged, beaten and struck down, but never destroyed. Despite it’s many blemishes, it is perfect. It once was contaminated but now it is pure! Some pass it by, claiming it is useless to them, while others view it as being essential for healthy living.

What is it? … It has a temporary shell, but is most effective when it breaks through it’s shell into the surrounding area. It is called by many names and yet it can be defined by one word. Some view it as being small and insignificant.  In truth, it’s presence is felt worldwide. Because of it, the world is a much safer place. When it is healthy, a small part of it can be planted with remarkable results.

What is it? … Sometimes it remains in one spot. However, it seems to have been designed to branch out. You may never see it climb, although when the son is close to the earth, it will rise. It’s origin is recorded in history. Not only has it survived for centuries, it has thrived! Many will observe it from a distance while some are brave enough to walk in it.

What is it? …  Now it is quite visible. One day it will not be seen. Then it will be seen again, but it will look different.

Well, I’ve given you a lot of clues here, so you have probably guessed “it”. What’s that you say?… YES! It is the “church.” Made up of multitudes of people commonly referred to as “Christians”, mentioned in the Bible one time in Acts,11:26, or “believers”, mentioned 49 times in the New Testament. Sinners who have been forgiven and saved. The Bible speaks of the church as the bride of Christ and as the redeemed of the ages, past, present and future. All those who have repented and been captured by the grace of God. Women, men and children who have been washed and purified in the crucified blood of Jesus.  Purchased by the greatest and only sufficient sacrifice ever offered. The sinless and perfect Lamb of God. His Son, Jesus Christ.. Rescued from the darkness, thanks to the mercy of God, and spared from the clutches of our own sin and Satan himself to rise in victory and become a new creation. A new creation that is peculiar to the world. A new creation that loves God and is committed to following Him and learning His ways. A new creation that attempts to love others as God has loved them. All this is not done because we, the church of God, feel like a new creation. No, it’s because of the faith and understanding that He has given us so we can trust our lives to Him, no matter how we feel, and stand strong on the promises He has given us through the Word. In II Corinthians, 5:17, He promises us that we ARE a new creation. Destined for great things, not because of who we are, but because of who He is!

The Scriptures inform us in the Book of Acts that the early church was persecuted. As a result the church began to spread around the world. That persecution has never stopped. Although most of the news media does not report it, today it continues to increase, year by year. However, we have another promise in II Corinthians, chapter 4, that assures us that no matter what happens to us in this life, we, the church, can never be destroyed and will never be abandoned by God. Jesus spoke of this as well.  We read in Matthew, 16:18, when Jesus was speaking to the Apostle, Peter, He said,”…On this rock I will build my church and not even the gates of Hades will overcome it.” What the Apostle, Paul, instructed the elders at Ephesus to do, as he was saying goodbye to them for the last time, may be good practice for us all, regardless if we are an overseer or if we consider ourselves just a brother or sister in Christ. Paul said to them in Acts, 20:28, ” Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.

…….. He had always thought of it as a noun. An object in one place. To his surprise, he discovered that it was steadily being transformed into a verb! It was anything but an object in one place. It was always on the move. It would begin wherever it was at and branch out as far as it’s abilities and resources  could carry it. It would reach out to that which was unlovely, poor, broken in body and spirit. When all hope was gone, it would find ways to encourage and build back that which had been carelessly destroyed. When it would find that which was lost and had been thrown away, it would, by example, show how something could be saved and remade into a thing of great value. He also discovered that it had a unique ability to feed the hungry with a food more nutritious than anything grown on the earth.

Decades passed and now he was on the other end of life. One day, while crossing a river by walking on the large flat rocks that formed a waterfall, he stopped in the middle of the river. For a few minutes he just stood there, watching all that was being carried by the current around his feet and over the falls. Relating it to his life, remembering all that he could of what and who had touched his life from his beginning to the present time. He laughed.”How ironic,” he thought. As a young boy, he was often curious why people felt they needed ” it” in their life and what was so special about it? Now, he couldn’t imagine living a fulfilling life without it. And wasn’t it odd how he had stumbled across it those many years before? Walking on across the river, he continued thinking about it,” Do you suppose that it could have been planted in his pathway at a strategic point where he couldn’t miss it?” He smiled.

Lingering, to catch one more sunset, he reflected on how blessed he was to have found it years ago. More importantly, how thankful he was to now know in a personal way, the designer and creator of “it” and everything else.

What is it to you?