“What’s Love Got to do with It?”

A little boy was asked how you know someone loves you. “You know they love you when your name is safe in their mouth.” That phrase has stuck with me for years.

Two days ago, I wakened early, dressed, and grabbed a protein bar for the road. It was “Fab Friday,” one of our twice-monthly dates where four other women and I meet to learn from God and each other. After chatting and catching up a bit, we looked at scripture and A.W. Tozer’s book, THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY, then discussed the character and nature of God’s love. There is no way I can describe His love adequately, no way at all. But I can reflect on it.

God’s love has no beginning and no end; it is kind, patient, not dependent on my feelings. When I sin, His love doesn’t diminish. He may convict me, challenge me–for the purpose of reconciliation, not of judgment–but His love will not change.My Man Don

Driving home after our study, I turned up our road and saw my dh (dear hubby, darling hunk …) working in the yard. I pulled over. Don stood up, handsome in his denim jacket and cowboy hat, and leaned on the white fence. My heart filled at the sight of him. I know he loves me completely, and that my name is safe in his mouth. He will never disparage or put me down, because he loves me.

And to think that in a much greater sense, my name is safe in God’s mouth is astounding. I have heard Him speak my name in my innermost being when I was in turmoil and fear. The sound filled my spirit. It was like the music of many waters, tender, filled with love, speaking peace to my spirit. Tozer says “To know that love is of God and to enter into the secret place leaning upon the arm of the Beloved–this and only this can cast out fear.” (p. 99)

I can rest in God’s love, which is complete, pure, always wanting my best. “The Love of God” is one of my favorite hymns. A Jewish rabbi wrote a poem in 1050; many years later, a demented man wrote a translation of those words on the walls of the insane asylum where he died; and a Gentile hymnwriter, Frederick M. Lehman, incorporated those words into the third verse of his hymn written in 1917.  (http://www.hymnary.org/text/the_love_of_god_is_greater_far).

The Love of God is Greater Far

The Love of God is Greater Far

 

I’ve copied the words to the first and third stanza, as well as the refrain, below. I pray it will minister to you as it does to me.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Even in tragic circumstances, a man who died in an insane asylum could scratch the words of that last stanza, describing God’s love, on his wall  That love is eternal, unending, unconditional, complete.

So what’s love got to do with it? Absolutely everything! 

I’d love to hear about a time when you felt God’s love clearly, personally.

 

 

 

 

“All the Way my Savior Leads Me”

I think Kelly got in her 10,000 steps today! We’d been away on a trip, and after a warm and wet welcome home, she was on my heels all day. This morning, unbelievably, Don and I spent three hours preparing for our housecleaner. And that was after unpacking, doing about six loads of laundry (not only from the trip, but from having our broken washer/dryer replaced while we were gone), and cleaning up yesterday.

So this morning I walked …

* from the bedroom to the den to put away some paperwork

* from the den to the kitchen

* from the laundry room to the bedroom to put away clean clothes.

Back and forth, forth and back. And every step of the way, she shadowed me.

I thought, this is what Jesus wants from me – that I delight in His presence, want to stay by his side, to remain close every step of the way He leads me. 

There are differences, of course, major ones. Jesus is my Lord and Savior, infinite, all-knowing, loving, just, compassionate, wise. And He has promised never to leave me. He won’t take off for a couple of weeks to travel. He’s always available.

But do I stay close? Often I don’t. I get busy and allow life to box me in, stretch me, pull me this way and that and when there is distance between my Lord and me, I know it’s not Him who’s pulled away.

In 1875, Frances (“Fanny”) J. Crosby penned the words to the beautiful hymn, “All the way my Savior Leads Me” (beautifully sung by the Haven Quartet in the link below). Crosby played the piano, harp, guitar, and organ, and wrote over 8000 hymns, despite being blind from shortly after birth. Crosby once said: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”[33]

Despite my tendency to wander, I want to walk close to my Savior, to rely on Him moment by moment, to follow His leading, to trust Him as my little Kelly-shadow trusts me.

What’s a song that ministers to your soul and reminds you to lean in on Jesus? I’d love to hear about it.

post by carolnl | | 0

“Leavin’ on a Jet Plane …”

“I’m leavin’ on a jet plane …”

Three days after our return from Rancho Santa Marta, Don and I boarded a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam, then on to Prague. I never thought I’d be in Prague, or in Budapest, or in Durnstein. These places were far beyond my expectations.

But here we were. God had again given us the privilege of traveling to places Don and I hadn’t seen before.

We planned to meet my brother and sister-in-law from Kansas, Arnold and Carol, in Amsterdam and continue on together from there. Don and I were walking thru the airport when I looked up and saw my big brother (one of them) standing right in front of me. We hugged tight!

Crossing the Danube in Prage

Crossing the Danube in Prague

 

Prague was a joy. It hurt so good to walk miles every day.

 

 

 

Tower of the charming town of Durnstein, with the old castle of Richard the Lionhart above the town.

Stunning Budapest

Stunning Budapest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Strauss Mozart concert in Vienna was a dream. Fabulous musicians, gifted soloists, and a conductor who very obviously delighted in his work and also his team of musicians. I think I enjoyed watching him more than anything else during the music. Sometimes the conductor let his arms hang at his sides while the orchestra played superbly on their own. At other times he led with gusto, added a “nod” with his baton to bring in the sound of birds, or exchanged smiles with one of his players. I reveled in watching their joy in their craft.

Imagine Jesus looking at us, conducting us through life–not preventing all bad things, not directly causing all good things–but there, sovereign over all. Like that conductor, God delights in His children, especially as we look back at Him with smiles of joy in response to His love and direction.

In “Chariots of Fire,” the character playing Olympian Eric Liddell is asked why he wants to run rather than become a missionary. His response: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

“For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17, NLT

When do you feel the Father’s pleasure?

post by carolnl | | 2

Love, Laughter, and Life

Sorry to miss posting last week. We enjoyed a fabulous cruise down the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. More to come on that. But first, one more post about Rancho Santa Marta (http://www.ranchosantamarta.org/)

 

One of our team’s joys at Santa Marta is dividing into groups of four or five and sharing a meal with one of the four children’s residences. As our group of five walked to Monica’s house, we chuckled at the sight that greeted us. Monica’s girls, aged two to fifteen, lined up in front of the house in pairs, raising arms for us to walk through as we entered their home.

Bob Moorhead walks through the welcoming line

Bob Moorhead walks through the welcoming line

 

Our team leader is “Grandpa Bob” (pictured right). Don and I joined Bob, Judy and Peter in sharing a lovely meal prepared and served by Monica and her family of girls. We enjoyed our dinner together. Even more than our repast, we chuckled as we watched the two little sisters, two and five, mug for the camera, touch Bob’s very white hair, giggle and run. The older girls served us, the joined us at the table as we asked each other questions and conversed in our limited Spanish and their better English.

 

We’re grateful for the family environment in which the children of Santa Marta grow and learn.

Monica, Don and I after our wonderful meal and fellowship

Monica, Don and I after our wonderful meal and fellowship

As we talked and ate we shared so much more than food. When we left, Monica was preparing to have devotions with her family.

 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Wisdom from Proverbs 22.6.

Enjoying laughter and talk around the table

Enjoying laughter and talk around the table

 

That is our prayer for the children of Rancho Santa Marta.

 

Santa Marta’s house parents–and staff and teachers–have many needs including a break from sometimes heavy responsibilities, renewing of their spirits so they can faithfully care for their house families, support, love and laughter both from within and without the ministry. Won’t you join me in praying for Monica and the rest as God brings them to mind.

Raising the Walls

Once again our hearts are full. When we arrived at Rancho Santa Marta a week ago, (http://www.ranchosantamarta.org/), we saw a cement pad where “Victor’s Casa Nueva” (Victor’s new house) would be. When we left Saturday morning, the interior and exterior walls were framed, and the men had started building and putting up roof trusses. The day I saw the walls framed and lying on the cement pad was a thrill. With my camera, I recorded our guys working together, standing in a line to raise that wall. Wow! Great picture of the Body of Christ and how He desires that we encourage, support and help each other to reach a common goal.

SONY DSC

... Lift!

 

Team members stepped in as needed. No arguments about assignments, and lots of  help given as needed at any particular time, whether it was working with a nail gun, picking up more lumber, cooking a meal or doing KP afterward.

 

 

SONY DSC

Many hands lift a heavy wall …

SONY DSC

… And brace it.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. I Corinthians 10:31.

 

 

 

Some of the women (including me) also had fun working with resident children on crafts. They painted, glued and decorated popsicle stick frames, then we glued in their photos and added a ribbon as a hook. Coloring was also a focus; and one of the older “boys” (he’s about 30) spent a long time looking through pictures in a Spanish-English book, asking us to say the words in Spanish. I almost felt like I was the one in school!

Using creativity

Creativity in action

 

I’m so thankful for this wonderful ministry, the hearts and service of its leaders, and the children who are being loved and taught here. Pain is certainly present, with baggage from challenging backgrounds, and with occasional rebellion or departure from the ranch. But these kids live and grow in a family environment, learning about God’s great love for them, loving each other. And so there is hope. I can’t wait to return next year. Want to join us?

 

For more information about RSM’s ministry and needs, go to http://www.ranchosantamarta.org/.

 

May God guide us as we look for opportunities to serve Him this week, wherever we are.