Tag Archives: love

I Love You

3 Oct

I don’t know you, but I love you.

I don’t know what will make you laugh, but I can’t wait to laugh with you.

I don’t know the color of your eyes, but they are already beautiful to me.

I don’t know the color of your hair, but I can’t wait to run my fingers through it.

I don’t know the sound of your voice, but I can’t wait to listen to every word you say.

I don’t know the things you will do wrong, but I forgive you already.

I don’t know what you will grow up to be, but I am already proud.

I don’t know you, but I love you with all of my heart.

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Osama bin Laden and The Heartbreak of God

2 May

Today I am mourning the loss of the image of God stamped into the heart of a man that the world never saw.

Every creation bears the signature of its Creator on their heart. As you and I both were handcrafted by the one true and living God, so was Osama bin Laden. He had the image of God within him, yet he never came to know the truth that he was a child of God. Since he lived his life in deception, he lived out the destiny the enemy had for his life rather than the beautiful plans that God had for him. I’m saddened that we never got to see what Osama was created to do here in this world.

Though I do not condone his actions, support his beliefs, or think he should go unpunished, I find it hard to celebrate when I know that my Abba Father is mourning not only the death of His child, but also the eternal separation from him.

Throughout scripture the loving character of our God is revealed countless times.

Matthew 5:43-48 says, 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus tells us we must love our enemies. But the Bible goes further than that.

In Proverbs 24:17, we are commanded, 17 “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; 
   when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice.”

Ezekiel 33:11 reads, ‎”I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”

While I sympathize with those who have lost loved ones in our nation due to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the following war on terror in the middle east, and I can’t image the pain they have experienced, I can also see the faces of others suffering. Surely Osama has a mother, a brother, a sister, a friend… Their hearts must also be shattered. I don’t want to tell anyone they are not entitled to grieve. This whole mess is tragic. I just think that we must not forget to be honorable in the face of dishonor.

I think this beautiful quote articulates my feelings more clearly than I ever could:

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

The call is clear. The Lord has raised the bar for His people. We must love, even when it is hard. Jesus died for Osama bin Laden. Jesus loved him and called him His child. And so will I.

Mercy

21 Dec

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

she cries, she cries so silently.

Muffled by shame, her spirit exclaims,

but from her mouth not a sound escapes.

Jesus, Son of David, it’s mercy she needs,

the fight much too rough on her own.

It seemed yesterday she was doing just fine,

but her monsters, oh Lord, they have grown.

And her hands they are weak,

and her eyes they are heavy,

she’s weary from all her striving.

Jesus, Son of David, it’s mercy we seek,

the victory won in your dying.

And as she cries out, on her floor, face down,

prepared to be punished for sin,

Your mercy pours out, oh the floodgates are down,

Your love, oh Lord, always wins.

-Erika Earl

The Plan

4 Nov

It’s always amazed me how the tiniest concepts in Christianity make for some of the biggest revelations. During my time with YWAM, we studied numerous different concepts that greatly impacted my Christian walk, none more important than that of the character and nature of God. In keeping with my usual M.O. of nerdy overachiever, I spent some of my downtime listing some of the main characteristics of God and finding correlating Bible references. The exercise proved fruitful, and the Lord really revealed so much of Himself to me as I sat on my bunk bed, devouring scripture in search of a greater understanding of Him. As I began to understand more and more of who God is, everything I believed about life began to change. One of the biggest changes was highlighted recently when speaking with a friend about the ever controversial subject of “God’s plan.”

This particular friend has been through a lot – financial struggles, betrayal in relationships, estrangement from family, and even the loss of a loved one. Through it all, my friend remained faithful to the Lord. Now that she is coming out of her hard times and entering the land of promise, so to speak, she told me that she was thankful that the Lord gave her all of these trials to refine her and bring her to the place she is at today. Instantly, I felt my spirit reject what she was saying, and sadly I believe that a majority of the modern church lives under the same impression as my friend – that God hands out metaphorical crosses to break our spirits into submission of His will and that He actively brings sadness, trials, and difficulties our way to refine us into better people, all in the name of love, of course.

That is not the God I serve.

The God I serve is for us, never against us, and it is His greatest delight to bring us through the trials that come our way. These trials, whether they are direct attacks from the enemy, come as consequences for sin (ours or others), or are circumstantial based on us living in a fallen world, are not premeditated by our loving and gracious God. Our pain breaks His heart, but in His great wisdom and love He knows just how to use these hardships for our good. In Romans 8:28 scriptures tell us that, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.” Your pain was never a part of His plan, but He is the great Redeemer and He makes all things (death, pain, betrayal, hardship…) work out for the good of those that love Him. He takes our garbage, and makes it a masterpiece.

So wherever you are right now, whether you are in a mountain top or a dry valley season, know that God loves you. Know that God is for you. Know that He never ever delights in the pain of His children, but rather in their redemption.

Truth changes the way we see things. Let this truth change the way you see Him.

Many are Called, but Few are Chosen…

19 Oct

I’ve been meditating a lot lately on the idea of God having a “chosen people.” Recently, when speaking with a friend, I was asked the following question, “If God loves all of His children, why are only some of them called His ‘chosen ones’?” It’s a good question, and at the time I didn’t really have much of an answer for it. The idea of God picking favorites didn’t sit well with me and my mind was struggling to find words that could adequately articulate the truths I knew in my heart about my Lord. So I hit my knees. I prayed and asked the Lord to pour clarity over my mind, and He was faithful as ever…

In Matthew 22: 14 it reads, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” This commonly quoted line of scripture follows the parable of the marriage feast.

In the parable, Jesus speaks of a king preparing a beautiful wedding for his son. He sent out his servants to invite his community to the celebration – but they would not come.

The king again sent his servants to invite his friends to the celebration, further explaining to them the extravagant measures he went to in order to prepare such a beautiful feast for their enjoyment. Again, they wrote him off, making light of his invitation and going about their day. Some were especially hostile and murdered the king’s servants.

The king could not tolerate such vile actions against his people and destroyed the murderers and burned their city, saying “The wedding is ready, but they which were called were not worthy.” (Matthew 22:3-8)

This depicts the reaction of the Jews, the called people of God, to the coming of their Savior, Jesus Christ. They ignored the lavish love that God invited them to partake in, rejecting His great mercy and showing violence to His children. As a result, the Jewish people suffered greatly.

But the king did not stop there. He greatly desired to share the beautiful feast he had prepared with people interested in partaking. So he sent his servants out again, this time inviting anyone they could find.

This represents the Lord extending His invitation to experience eternal life to the Gentiles. The call was no longer exclusive only to the Jews, but to all people everywhere.

And the guests came. They came in droves and the wedding was “furnished with guests”. But when the king came in and saw the guests he noticed a man without a wedding garment. He had the man tied up, taken away and cast into “outer darkness”. That’s not quite the happy ending to the fairy tale wedding I anticipated.

So what, then, differentiates a person between being “called” and being “chosen”? The invitation is clearly for all people, but Jesus says that only a few get to experience the beautiful wedding celebration He has prepared. At this point many people point the finger at God, asking, “Why, if He loves all His children, would He not choose all of us?” But the blame is not His…

The difference between being called and being chosen is what WE choose to do with the call we receive.

God has done His part. He has prepared the way for us to come to Him by sending His son Jesus to die for us. He has commissioned His servants to spread the Good News and to invite all of His children to sit at His table and feast with Him. He has been whispering in your ear since the day you were born to put on your wedding dress, consecrate yourself and meet Him at the altar. Will you answer that call? If you do, I assure you, you will find yourself among the chosen ones, sitting at the banquet table with the Lord. You, my friend, are chosen.

Meet the Gray Family

13 Oct

Though you could hardly tell from her tiny figure, Jennifer and Shannon Gray are expecting to have their third child any day now, and today I had the privilege of photographing their beautiful family. But there is more to the Gray family than their striking good looks. Their two children, Jordan and Noah, were fabulous, cooperating with my every request, and Jennifer’s lovely mother even pitched in to help out. The couple, married for eight years, is deeply in love – not only with each other, but also with God.  Both are passionate believers in Jesus Christ and are actively involved in their local church. In a society where families are crumbling to pieces all around us, it is such a blessing to see a young family thriving on the grace of the Lord. It is my prayer that God would continue to bless the Gray family with a double portion of His love and presence, and that they would be a shining example to their community of what a family built on the foundation of God looks like.

He is Jealous for Me

25 Sep

“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other Gods. ” -Exodus 20:5

Just as a husband who loves his wife desires her whole-hearted devotion and unwavering loyalty, so the Lord desires to be the exclusive lover of us, His bride. We all know and understand the 7th commandment, “Do not commit adultery.” (Deuteronomy 5:18), but how have we adulterated our marriage with God?

In the book of Hosea the Lord likens wayward Israel to a prostitute in unholy pursuit of other lovers. Israel had defiled its covenant with God by worshipping other Gods. All too often we mistakenly write off idolatry as a thing of the past, a problem irrelevant to our day. An idol is anyone or anything that dethrones God from the place of highest priority in our lives. So who or what is your mistress? Your boyfriend, career, wealth, lust, comfort, ingratitude, pride, sarcasm, etc.?

Sadly, we forget that all good things come from the Lord. We forget to worship the Creator and instead put our faith in the created. Even still, our God waits patiently for the return of His bride, the day when her eyes will no longer stray from His perfect glory. He is jealous for you, His beloved child. His love is enough for you. His grace is sufficient, His power unmatched.

Remember your marriage vows with Him. He has never forgotten.