Tag Archives: love

Romans: Fulfillment of the Law

Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

As Christians, it’s no longer our duty to live up to the Law.  The commands given to those under the old covenant are no longer our marching orders.  What then; do we throw away all of the commands as if they don’t matter?  No, we fulfill the Law by obeying our new command.

Jesus did not tell those under the new covenant to try and keep up the old.  Instead He gave a new command: to love.  (Romans 13:8-10)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

It’s really as simple as that.  You want to obey God? Love.  You want to please Him? Love.  You want to do what’s right? Love.  Freedom from the Law is freedom to walk in love, and in doing so to fulfill the Law.

Marking Success and Failure

How do we mark our lives? How do we note the successes of it? How do we mark the triumphs that come with it?

Last week we talked about the feelings of failure that we can have. We talked about those gnawing senses that something just isn’t right. It was a question of when you look around and you can’t help but feel yourself overwhelmed and even a bit overshadowed as this sense that something just isn’t as it should be comes to dominate over you, leaving you with this lingering feeling that you aren’t as you should be.

It’s a difficult challenge that we can face, one that can wreak a special sort of havoc on us. Yet sometimes it’s not a matter of how we understand success or failure. It’s a matter of how we understand life.

You see, for as much as we want it to be sometimes, life isn’t something that’s just black and white. Situations, circumstances, they don’t make it that simplistic. Yes, perhaps we want it to be. It would, in most cases, make everything a lot easier for us. There wouldn’t be the conflicts and the struggles that cause the deeper questions to arise within us. We would know who we are, what we were meant for. No one and nothing could take that from us, because we would see the path’s that are in front of us just so much clearer.

It’s why we need to understand that though God has plans for our lives, plans that He has set out since the moment of our conception, since the time of our birth, (Jeremiah 1:5) it’s never quite as simple or easy as we may like it to be. This isn’t because God is somehow confusing. Our Heavenly Father is anything but, making Himself apparent in all things if we choose to look and to see it. (Isaiah 40:21) The problem is we don’t necessarily live in a world that’s that cut and dry, in a world that is solely guided by His hand and His influence.

Perhaps this is why we are called His workmanship, created anew in Christ for the works that He has intended for us. (Ephesians 2:10) Note the fact that isn’t that it doesn’t tell us that we are completed. No, it tells us that we are a worked by the hand of the Master Craftsman Himself, molded and form, shaped for the things that He has intended for us and for our lives.

What needs to be remembered is that though God’s design for our lives is towards the divine, He sets out His plan for our life with a deep knowledge of this world and our nature. He understands that to the person who everything is given, nothing is really valued, and to those who are never challenged, nothing is ever enough. It isn’t a matter of testing us, it is a matter of teaching us all that we need to know, never giving us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13) while showing us the path, showing us the road and the journey that we need to be on.

God uses this, whether it is our failure or our success, to guide us. They don’t define us, not even our greatest success or most tremendous of failures. They are intended to be nothing more than the deeper lessons that we can learn as we are directed towards the people we need to be. Even as one failure grips us, a success is waiting around the corner, and just as one success satisfies this need in us, chances are there are more failures still waiting for our lives. It’s because our Heavenly Father, He knows us. He knows that there are certain things we are only going to examine, that we are only going to question, and to actively seek the answers for, the answers He is waiting to give us (James 1:5) in these situations. Sometimes we need to be humbled to find where we need to be, while other times He elevates us because these triumphs are meant to show us a view that we need to have.

In all of this the question the Disciple needs to ask themselves is why? Why has this happened? It’s not a question to be taken lightly, or out of a sense of pity or arrogance. It’s a question that is meant to lead them towards the sense that they are supposed to make out of it, so they can find what God is trying to show them for their lives.

Once you see your successes and your failures as nothing more than markers on the road of life you can set about really living your life, moving through the journey that it’s intended to be to become the person that you need to. Each one step, it tells you, teaches you a little something about yourself as it shows you not who you are but directs you, in love, hope, faith and compassion, towards the person you need to be.

As we understand that we understand what is intended for us better than we ever did before dwelling on nothing more than the challenges, and the successes and failures of our lives.

That Feeling of Being a Failure

It’s hard, at times, not to feel a bit like a failure, isn’t it? Sometimes we know exactly where these feelings coming from, we tried something and it didn’t work or something in our lives just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. It’s a lot easier in those moments because we know what the problem is, and, even if we don’t necessarily know how to fix it, we can pinpoint it, we can put our finger on it and we can try to figure out how to make that change, even if we know it’s going to be slow going.

The real challenge is when we feel like that failure and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from. It’s when this darkness seems to just twist and turn around us, and we can’t quite manage to put our finger on what it is or why it’s there. It could be a combination any number of things and yet nothing at the same time, just this lingering feeling that something isn’t right, and you’re the one to blame.

Have you ever felt that way? Looking around, kind of questioning what’s wrong with your life as you know it’s something but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Slowly you start to feel overwhelmed and overshadowed until finally it becomes this inescapable feeling that dominates so many of your thoughts as you wonder what you’re even doing, trying to define your life, trying to figure it all out, but not entirely sure where to go or where to start.

In a sense there is no simple answer to this question, except life itself.

You see, by its very nature, life and living is an act of faith. It is an understanding that it is going to be wrought with challenges and adversity, with struggles and things that we just don’t seem to understand. Yet it is also a question of living for the moments of joy and peace, knowing that whatever darkness may surround us, they do come and they wrap around us in ways that bring to us a hope that we can feel devoid of in our lives at times. Perhaps we don’t even realize we are living in that faith, but, by living and breathing, by taking those steps forward we are seeking out the answers that we need to find our place.

The beauty of it though is that it is nothing that we have to go through alone. To live in faith is never to walk a solitary or lonely path. It is to have a constant companion with you, a confidant who doesn’t only know every unspoken place within you, but who doesn’t need for you to say it to see it. As our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, reminds us, even when we feel the most alone, we never are because God, our Heavenly Father, is there to carry us through the most difficult of chapters and the most trying of times. (John 16:32-33) In this love, and commitment to us, He never fails us or forsakes us. (Joshua 1:5)

Yes, there are perhaps going to be times in our lives when it feels like the world, when it feels like our world, is just nothing that we quite understand, and we feel like a failure in it, unable to necessarily do anything right. Yet that’s never just the end of the story for us. There is a plan for our lives, one that has been set out from the day in which we were conceive, appointed by the Great Architect and the Grand Designer of the Universe (Jeremiah 1:5), the Creator who has made all things small and large, who takes not only an active interest in your life, but whose hand guides it.

For whatever other struggles we may know, for whatever failures we may think have taken hold of our lives, that is nothing more than the beginning of the story, a story of self-discover and self-awareness that shows us our true worth and value beyond anything we ever quite knew. It just has to come with the understanding that though God answers all questions for us, giving to us freely of His knowledge, (James 1:5) not all answers we feel we need are the ones that we need right at that moment. It’s a matter of relying on His understanding, His timing, more than our own, knowing that it will come. (Habakkuk 2:3) Revealing itself in its own time, in His time, it comes when we need it most.

Failure, for however it might feel, for whatever challenges it may bring, or wherever it may come from, is nothing more than a path towards a greater end if we let it be. Yes, perhaps we don’t necessarily even know why we feel like a failure, but then, whatever those feelings are, or wherever they come from, they need not weaken you if you understand they are not meant to drag you down, but rather push you forward. The struggles that it brings, it is meant to teach us more about ourselves, about who we are and what we want, about the intrinsic value of success that could and would otherwise be lost on us.

We are defined by what we let define us. We can define ourselves by what truly matters if we look at each day of our lives as a deeper journey into our faith, and understand that these feelings, they are not defining feelings, but tools to help us build the path, to lay the brick work that will lead us down the road of our greatest possible success, a success that our Heavenly Father wants for us to have in our lives.

My Faith is Fleeting

My faith is fleeting, and my heart feels weak…

The struggles a Disciple can face go beyond the questions of society, they go beyond the challenges that arise in the adherence to the Word of God, stretching beyond temptation and sin. They can reach beyond to the darker places of the soul where fear, and worry, hurt and sorrow dwell in the shadows of who we are. They can reach beyond to touch us so that in those deeper moments we look and we see a poor reflection of ourselves, until we look through the mirror darkly amidst the imperfections that dwell within us. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

In those times, it just seems as if faith isn’t enough for us, or if it might once have been it isn’t now as it quickly flees from us in  those struggles we face.

Last week we talked about the fact that it isn’t wrong for a Christian to feel depressed despite the gifts that the Lord has given. Whatever others may say, there are going to be moments in our life when we just can’t seem to make a joyful noise, being glad even as we know that we live in the day that the Lord has made. Yet what about those times when it’s not others who say our faith isn’t enough because we have slipped to the depth of those pits of depression? What about those times when we look at ourselves and we hear the whispering voice in the back of our mind telling us that it just isn’t enough?

Regardless of what anyone else might say or do, this is the hardest to deal with. With others we can, if we find the strength, dismiss it, knowing they don’t know what it is we are going through or even that they don’t know what they are talking about. Yet when the voice comes from ourselves, it’s harder because it is coming from a place where we know we are lacking, from someone who knows us so deeply.

During these times what we need to remember is that these thoughts, they come from a place of darkness in us, not a place of strength. In Daniel’s song of praise to the Lord, “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:22) Here we are reminded by the words of the Prophet that though darkness may threaten to envelop us, God remains in the light and He shines that light to reveal knowledge, hope and wisdom even in our deepest challenges, when depression threatens to swallow us whole.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, faith, your faith is enough and it doesn’t run in the face of challenge. Perhaps it may seem like it, but that is the deception of the Great Deceiver himself, who seeks to outwit us and cause our fall (2 Corinthians 2:11) just as he had so many generations before when he moved to rob us of Paradise. Yes, he comes like a roaring lion seeking to devour us (Romans 5:8), but he also comes as a whispering voice in our struggles and our depression, telling us the most evil thoughts, playing off the weakness and the self-doubt that comes from it. He does it because, where perhaps playing off of the vanity and the arrogance of some may work, in these times moving amidst the pain and the sorrow, pushing a little more, knowing how close one is to the edge, is all that he needs to ensure that they plunge to the depth of their despair, wondering why and how God could forsake them when they needed Him, if He was even there to begin with to hear their prayers.

Consider the argument, for a moment, of Satan before the throne of the Lord, looking upon His servant Job. Though his schemes did not work on the Man of Uz, perhaps a great deal of that came from the fact that he was only a spectator to Job’s  suffering, believing that as all of Job’s comfort, security and hope were taken from him,  the seeds of doubt would plant themselves. He has since mastered his craft and practiced for countless millennia and generations upon humanity, learning that the seed needed to be planted for it to take root. This is the game he now plays with God’s disciples as he weaves his dark cloak around them.

God does not abandon us, nor does He fail us or forsake us in our hour of need. (Joshua 1:5) For as distant as He may seem, He is always there on the other side of the veil that has been placed over our eyes, even as it seems to cover our sight to leave us wondering where He is. In those moments, though it feels as if our faith is weak, it takes greater strength than most know to believe that He is there, not only being certain of the things we do not see but hope on (Hebrews 11:1) but relying on it with every portion of our soul, finding the test to our spirit is nothing more than a challenge to the grace that has captured our heart.

In these moments, faith, dear brothers and sisters, is not gone, it has not fled from you. Yes, you are weary from your challenge, and your adversity, but your strength remains. The deceptions that can be woven around you in your moments of weakness are nothing more than just that. Like any good deception they perhaps feel so real, so palpable. Still they are there for no other purpose but to rob you of the peace and the hope you have. Ultimately what you need to remember is you are the one God choose through the power of His Spirit to bestow the gifts of His grace upon, the one He has showered the love that comes from His faith upon. That does not just slip away during the hardships you face. It is a living, breathing part of you. You just need to hold those promises a little tighter, seeking Him and those He has sent into your life to help you, and you will see the light that He has promised to you cutting through the darkness.

Your faith is never fleeting, however weak your heart may feel, dear Disciple. Be strong in the power of the Lord, and if you can’t find that strength, then let Him show it to you through the love and the compassion of His heart and your brethren as it reminds you how precious you are to Him.

Let the Shame of it Go.

It’s hard when the faithful Disciple, in living their life, finds their mind slipping and their heart sinking deeper within them. They want to see the light that surrounds them, but in that moment they can’t help but see the darkness that fogs their eyes as they feel a coldness inside of them brought by this emptiness. It’s an emptiness that should be filled with faith and hope, the faith and the hope that have always guided you, that you’ve always known was enough, but that seems removed from your life right now.

There’s a myth that surrounds Christianity, and the Christian that is sometimes touted out who says that they cannot be depressed. After all, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” aren’t we meant to “rejoice and be glad in it”? (Psalm 118:24) Aren’t we supposed to “Shout for joy to the Lord” while we “burst into jubilant song with music”? (Psalm 98:4) There are times when we can be made to feel as if, in the depth of despair, amidst the darkness that can surround us, it is even worse because there is something even more shameful in the way that we feel, as if we are not showing the proper gratitude to God for all the good gifts and wondrous blessings He has shown for our lives.

If this is the case, are we truly faithful? Are we truly the Disciples we were meant to be finding that depression creates within us a despair and a pain that doesn’t allow us to see the deeper wonders of God’s miracles that should create a joyful heart within us?

It has always been our perceptions of God’s love and the way that we perceive His word that creates more questions, that create more hardship than the actual fact that lies within the meaning and the purpose that He has intended for us. Whatever myths we attach to it, the truth is something vastly different in the confidence we should have in the faith He has blessed us with as that gift of His grace.

Considering the one we are meant to set our sights on, “the author and the finisher of our faith”, (Hebrews 12:2) there are few who understand the temptations that surround depression quite like our blessed Savior. Facing all that we face, seeing the world through the eyes of our hardships, there were times when even Christ Himself was threatened to be swallowed whole by it. Even as He placed his trust in God, His faith in the love and the design, the grandness of the plan of His Heavenly Father, whom He knew loved Him so dearly, it was not hard to see that pain and that sense of despair on His face, to hear it in His voice as He prayed, knowing His course, as He fell to the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Though His faith never wavered in the face of it, nor did He ever question the nature of God’s plan, in those moments, when He felt the finality of it all, of the design He knew He was sent to fulfill, like any of us, He Himself felt a darkness that surrounded Him that did not let Him make that “joyful noise” or “burst into that jubilant song.”

But then there is a reason why Jesus tells us to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He wants us to know that, even as we feel tired and weighed down by this world, even as we feel the struggles of this world push on us, there is nothing shameful in it. Saints through the course of time, men and women whose faith would be renowned for its strength would face the same even as they trusted in God, finding that the hardships of this world would find the weaker places in them and try to break them. There was and there is nothing shameful, nothing wrong in that. The true test of faith is not in never feeling depression or darkness surrounding us, it lies in how we seek God and those who He has sent to help us through that journey into the foggy mists of the hazier places in our minds.

More than just singing a joyful song or praising God for all of His blessings, being a Disciple of Christ is about being honest with Him. You cannot be faithful in your steadfast devotion to your faith if, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, you hide from Him when you feel as if something is shameful and wrong. You cannot seek His plan and design, you cannot find the peace of His love if you pretend to Him, refusing to bear your heart and your soul to Him.

There is nothing wrong or bad or shameful about what you feel or face, the only wrong that can occur is when you refuse to let the Lord, your Heavenly Father who loves and care for you, heal you, guiding you to the people and places you need where hope and love and help lie waiting for you.

A Revolutionary Spirit

America should have never been.

In Russia the Cossacks of Yemelyan Pugachev had already been crushed even as they attempted to rise against Catherine the Great’s rule, while, in Greece, the attempt to revolt against Ottoman rule was quickly put down with a lack of support from their allies. If, by the examples of the turmoil that was laid to rest by the rulers and the empires around them, the thirteen colonies were to learn anything, it was that you do not rise against your King, especially if he ruled the most powerful of the Empires.

Yet, coming face to face with what they knew of the world around them, and seeing the challenge of what they had to do, there was no other course for them, no other path they could have taken. The cries of Revolution, though reluctant at first, rose from their lips in the courage and the faith that though they may rise and fall with the next steps taken, they were giving themselves for something greater than themselves in the dreams of liberty and the hope of freedom that it carried.

As disciples of Christ there are times in our lives when we see the world around us for all that it is, and the truth is, we should, by the examples that have been placed before us, think twice of standing by our face. Perhaps we live in the blessings of the freedom to express our faith, a blessing that is not, even in this day and age, known by all. Yet, the challenges we face, though a spiritual challenge, offer to us a warning as we see the struggles of those who speak out and speak up for what they believe in all around us. We seek to change the world, offering ourselves in hope and love to others, still, even as we do little seems to change.

During these times we need to remember there is no other course for us except to stand and to dwell in the freedom granted to us by faith. After all, to live by the Spirit that has taken hold of us, that has created a new creation in us, is to live in liberty (2 Corinthians 3:7), a blessed gift offered through the love and sacrifice of Christ. To ignore that is to wear upon us the yoke of slavery, (Galatians 5:1) forged by apathy, hatred, in the understanding that we are all bound together and that while one lives in darkness and pain, destitution and hurt, we all find ourselves in such meager estates, even if we close our eyes and ignore that dark truth.

It is to be burdened by even greater challenges as we accept the world as it is, rather than how it could be in courage and the strength, as we fail to realize even the smallest of voices can be heard around the world by how it touches the lives of those around them. After all, our freedom is an opportunity to, in love, affect change in the lives of others if we let it, (Galatians 5:13) and we put behind us the corruption of our flesh that so weakens us. (Romans 8:21)

The truest revolutions, given to the hope that freedom brings, it does not come through the roaring thunder of cannons, or through the marches of those who take up arms, it comes in the hearts and the minds of those who believe in something bigger than themselves. It comes through a spirit of charity that looks at the weak and the forgotten and asks what can be done for them. It comes through those who love for the sake of loving, and nothing more, using what they have to help the poor and the downtrodden, seeking them out to offer them hope. It comes from feeding the hungry, listening to the depressed, helping the elderly, and being a force for healing to the sick. It comes from being there for those who need you on their terms, showing them the hope and the wonder, the miracles that surround them in the miracle that you can be in their lives.

The faithful disciple meets the world as it is, and asks of themselves, regardless of the challenge that it may bring, how can I rise above the struggles it may bring, above the difficulties I know may arise, to do more and to be more in the lives of others? They do so in a revolutionary spirit that is based firmly in reality, but that can’t stop asking how they can make it better, and what they can do to bring that about in the courage and the strength to take action.

Today is a new day, given as a gift from your Heavenly Father, and, as days go, it is your chance to put anything and everything that may hinder you behind you to give yourself in hope, love and faith, guided by the blessed wonders of Christ. How will you spend it?

Guided by Love to Unity

What sort of Christian, what sort of Disciple do we want to be? How do we want our faith and our hope in Christ to be expressed? How do we want it seen by the world around us, reflected from the deeper places in our hearts and our souls?

Those should be, when we stop to think about it, relatively easy questions to answer, shouldn’t they? After all, the Word of God, simple and beautiful by its very nature, is uncomplicated when it offers us the understanding we need to dwell in the knowledge of what it means to be one of Christ’s Disciples, to follow in the footsteps and the path of our blessed Savior. (1 Corinthians 1:11) Of all the commands that came before, the instructions and the laws that wove around the most ancient of covenants, His was unadorned by ritual and ceremony, by pomp and procedure. Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, (Matthew 28:16-20) showing them the path of faith and hope through a love that edifies, strengthens and nourishes those around us in the miracle that is His blessings. (John 13:34-35)

This is why He Himself, a poor carpenter from Galilee, born in the most meager of estates in Bethlehem, was viewed as so much of a threat. It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from or where you had been, you were welcomed to Him. Yes, what God wanted, what God expected was important, but, in a wisdom that so often seems to elude the comprehension of men, He knew there was no rules that meant more to God than that we love Him, and that we love our one another with the full strength and full conviction of our hearts and our souls, our spirits and our minds. (Matthew 22:37-41) This was the blessing we could be by which all abundant life shined as a beacon to the world around us.

So often though we get tend to get bogged down by doctrine and the fights that it brings, we get so hung up on one or two passages in Scripture that we tend to let that define our faith more than anything else. We let ourselves become known for the things we are against as we let it serve as a wall surrounding us that keeps others out, rather than letting our faith and love serve as a door to let them in.

Now, to be clear, a proper understanding of Scripture should never be debased, nor should it be shied away from. The Word of God is meant to be studied, to be learned from, as it offers a path through its instruction to a righteous life. (2 Timothy 3:16) Yet nowhere in the Bible does it say “He who believes and is baptized, believing in all the right doctrine shall be saved.” Why? Because God transcends us in His wisdom and His hope for us even as He knows we aren’t going to completely understand or grasp it, telling us to dwell in unity with one another and turn from those who would tear us apart, who would destroy the fabric of harmony and peace between us. (Romans 16:17-18)

After all, in the end, it’s only God Himself who judges the hearts, the words and the deeds, the lifestyles and the choices of those souls that enter His Kingdom, not us. The path, if we believe the words of our blessed Savior, the Good Shepherd who guides and protects us, it is not a path that is paved through strictest adherence that abides in law, it is the path that has been paved by Him (John 14:6) in His tender mercy, His loving care, and His healing touch.

You can do more as a Disciple in the humble works of faith with a kindness to others, seeking to be a blessing in the world around you than you could ever do by hiding, locked away in a fortress of law and doctrine, shunning the world harshly for the offenses that it causes you. In that you have the capacity, through the power of the Spirit, to do more with the gift of grace that God has given you if you let yourself. It’s just a question of if you’ll let yourself, knowing that God will use you for more if your heart is truly open to love, hope and charity, and the wonders they can bring.

So again, what sort of Disciple do you want to be? What sort of blessings do you want to bring through your faith? It can be a blessing blossoming with the radiance of the truest beauty that springs forth from your soul, it’s just a matter of setting aside your pride and letting the Spirit nurture it to that point. After all, it is this love, this hope, in the principles of Christ’s blessed example that makes Scripture relevant, passing from age to age even to the present one.

A Question of Beauty


Looking in the mirror it’s hard sometimes not to see our flaws and imperfections as they stare back at us. Maybe it’s a little bit of the world around us with its ever changing standards, not so subtly pushing us towards its own perceptions of beauty. It imposes itself on us, flooding us with images and ideas of what it means to be pretty or handsome. It tries to take and mold those who do not fit those standards, trying to make and re-make them in its own image until finally, in a sense of deeper conformity, it pushes people to meet with that image.

Yet the truth is, for as much as that may be the case, it has more to do with us than it does anything else. After all, we are the ones looking and seeing, wanting to somehow be different than we are, using whatever these standards are as a measure of ourselves to try and change, to want to change, somehow thinking there’s something wrong with us.

You see, what we need to remember is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in the image of our Heavenly Father. (Genesis 1:26) Still, even amidst that, each of us are as unique and as special as the love that God has for us, formed by the wonders of His touch and with the gifts that He intended for us. That’s what makes us truly special, it’s what makes the truest beauty, and the most wondrous of elegance.

It is the image that we see when we look in our hearts, when we look at our deeds, not necessarily the one that we see when we look in the mirror. After all, that can be deceiving and can be trapped in vanity. It can be fleeting, soon to disappear as it washes away with the tides of time. (Proverbs 30:21) It can hide a heart that is cold and hurtful.

That isn’t to say that all who are by the standards around us considered beautiful, are that way. There is no question that they can, and do have a radiance that shines from within their hearts. That though is their most real and sincere beauty and they realize it too, knowing that when everything else in the world starts to fade that’s what they have to count on.

It’s that it’s important to remember that the truest standard of beauty that we can have, the most stunning of grace that can take hold of us is judged by the love in our hearts, the hope in our spirits, and the wonders we make use of in our souls. It lies in how we look at the world, at those who are in need around us and strive to help them, how we edify and uplift our fellow man making their lives just a little bit better. It’s the sense of charity and faith that guides us to imitate our Blessed Savior in the healing power of His touch, seeking to be more to those around us.

Sometimes this is hard for us to remember when we are bombarded with images of the perfect smile, the perfect body, the perfect hair, or whatever else it may be. We think life will just be that much easier, we will be able to get whatever it is that we want or feel that we need if we are a little thinner or a little better looking, if we have a little more hair on our head or whatever else it may be. Yet, in the end, when these things fade, we either end up struggling with the fact that they are slipping away from us, or we have the love and the hope in our hearts that guided us to be better people, to be stronger and more courageous of people.

Rather than trying to obtain beauty, be beautiful with a light that shines forth from your heart. Rather than seeing flaws or imperfections, see a person who has a chance to do more and be more with themselves today, knowing the gifts your Heavenly Father gave you, and using them to change the world around you rather than trying to change yourself for the world. You’re only as beautiful as you let yourself be, the question becomes how beautiful do you want to be?

God judges not by the physical appearance but by the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) What will He see when He looks in yours? Will it be the beauty of your love blooming? Or will it be a preoccupation with being exactly as you perceive you need to look?

Find your beauty within, and bring it out through love, hope, faith and charity. When you do, everything else will make sense in the wonders that it hold.

God is Always There, Are You?

I have to admit that I find it hard some days but then I really have nobody to blame but myself. I just, well, I let it slip away and honestly I don’t know why. It’s not like I have a terrifically good reason as to why or what for.

It’s no excuse but sometimes, despite our best intentions, it’s just hard, isn’t it? I mean we want to take the time out of every day to dedicate ourselves and re-dedicate ourselves to God, to study our Bible, to pray a little more fervently and to just commit ourselves to the love and the hope that our blessed Savior has to offer. The thing is though that sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work out that way and before we know it the time is short before it just disappears.

I guess, perhaps, a part of me finds it too easy. Maybe, in the back of my mind, a part of me knows that God, He’s always going to be there, waiting for me. It makes it easy to neglect Him, to put Him aside when I have other things I want to do or need to do, figuring I can always come back to him later when I have more time.

As disciples, given to Christ, we’re all a little guilty of that now and then. We step away, knowing we can always step back when we need to, like the Prodigal Son, who goes on his own way, only to return home in his hour of deepest need to find his loving father waiting there for him. (Luke 11:15-32) Even if our story or what calls us back isn’t nearly as dramatic as his, it’s still a little bit funny how often we can find it so simple to be like him, doing as we will just because we can.

Yet, the simple truth is that though God will always be waiting for us, though He will always come searching for us as a Shepherd searches for his lost sheep, (Matthew 18:12-14) the longer we let it go, the longer we let ourselves slip or the further we let ourselves wander, the harder we find it to come back to Him. After all, one of the analogies often used in the Word of God to describe our life of faith relates to trees and to crops. The problem is that, if it is not nurtured, it does not grow, if it is not cared for, it withers, eventually dying that slow death that comes from going too long without being tended to.

Our faith, our hope in Christ, it needs to grows daily, it needs to grow with the careful love and the tender affections of hearts that are given to the Lord in the wonders that it brings, remembering that it offers to us all that we need to grow and to live and to find peace. (James 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:16) It is, after all, a blessed hope to all those who trust in it, and look to the Lord as their strength in a world where our endurance is tried day by day, by and by, giving freely and wondrously to us in all God’s love. It teaches us how to love our fellow man, how to live during those deeper crisis’ to our spirit, how to abide with courage in our times of deepest need and longing.

Challenge yourself today to spend a little more time with God, even if you think you have a good relationship with Him, even if you spend some time growing with Him and in Him each day. Spend a little more time learning at the feet of Christ and meditating on the lessons of that He offers to grow in the blessings of the Spirit. Even if you take a little time out of each of your days to do that already, take a even a few minutes more, reminding yourself there is always something else to learn.

Challenge yourself today to imitate Christ a little stronger, a little more. Show a little extra love to those in need, to those who struggle and search, and be a bit more in the lives of those around you. Change the world one life at a time, one day at a time by offering that healing power of the Spirit that mends the wounded spirit and the broken heart. Draw nearer to God by drawing nearer to those around you, by being more in their lives. You’ll be amazed the good that it can and will do.

Don’t stray or wait too long, and never think to yourself you are doing enough, figuring God will always be there. He may but you may not. Take the time, and never let it slip away from you, because, unto you, rich blessings and wondrous hope waits, for every step you make in faith, for every step you make nearer to your Lord.

Wounded Yet Not Slain

There’s an old poem, I think it was by John Dryden, that I’ve heard used, recited over and over at the end of a hard fought battle, at the end of a loss that has one damaged and hurt, that left them wondering and in pain. It goes a little something like, “I am sore wounded, but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down to bleed a while, then I’ll rise to fight again.”

I always liked that verse. In a life that is filled with trials, where triumph and victories are never quite assured to us, where they are never really promised to us, something about it always spoke to me. It always seemed to say that whatever life throws, whatever challenges it may have, it may damage us a little, but in the end, we are not dead until that moment when we are put in the ground or our ashes are spread around us. In a sense it becomes a question of how much fight is left within us when the moments of adversity hit.

After all, as Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

This is something that our Heavenly Father, looking down on the lives of His precious children, understands all too well about this world, isn’t it?

It begs the question, what struggles are leaving you wounded in your daily life? What challenges are you facing? What is leaving you wounded amidst the hardships that you face? Does it seem like it is just too much for you to face? Is it seeming like it is more than you can handle as you lay to bleed, lacerated by the deeper perils of this world?

As disciples of Christ it seems like they are there, lurking around every corner: temptations, trials, tribulations that push on us with a force that bears down on us with a crippling weight. As we struggle not to be crushed, there are moments when we wonder if we can even go on. After all, everything seems to be changing around us and we can’t see the world in the same way again.

It’s in these moments when we need to draw on the comfort and the assurances of a God who loves us. After all, He isn’t just a distant figure who tells us that, “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 11:1) No, He goes further than that, reminding us that, through Christ, all things are possible for us regardless of whatever challenges may be there. (Philippians 4:13) We just need to lay our burdens at the feet of our blessed Savior to find the miracles of hope, (Matthew 11:29-30) that hope that abides in faith to give us the perseverance to go on day by day.

Perhaps it may seem like it is too much. Perhaps, left wounded and bleeding, we can’t help but weep, wondering to ourselves how we can go on. We are not alone in those moments though, we never have been, regardless of how it may feel. Even as our troubles mount and we feel at times like nobody could ever understand what  we are going through, the truth is that God has, through the lives of His saints, seen it all. Job, David, Paul, Stephen, and countless others, even our Savior, Christ Jesus, have faced the deepest and most powerful of pains, and found their comfort in God to move forward even when it seemed as if all had been lost and the burdens  were too much for them. As the Apostle Paul put it, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

As the world wounds you, dear disciples, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, find a place of quiet rest and lay down in the peaceful mediation of the Lord, remembering the words of David, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:1-4) Faith, and a deeper understanding of it, a deeper trust in it, will let you abide in hope in the wonders of God’s blessed love and comfort, healing even the deepest of hurts and the most painful of scars, so that, with endurance, you shall have the chance to rise again.

Take that promise, take that love, and let it guide you in the wonders of the miracles that it offers you. In this world, with all of its battles, it is the surest weapon you have to protect you, the surest of medicines to heal you.