Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)

Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Heaven's Arsenal - Part 5

Heaven's Arsenal: "The Power of Love" (continued)

 The Fruits of the Holy Spirit - LOVE

As I mentioned in my prior blog (part 4 of the Heaven's Arsenal series), Heavenly Love is powerful against darkness, yet its acquisition demonstrates one's attainment of full spiritual maturity - for love is the final rung on Peter's Ladder of Christian Character development (2 Peter 1:5-7). 

So how does one go about reaching the high goal of having Heavenly love as the motivation and basis of operation in all things? Love is from God. God is the only one Who can produce Heavenly Love in us. But His process of growing our capacity for love is uncomfortable - something we'd naturally resist.

God grows our capacity to love, not by giving us lovable people who naturally draw out a loving response from us. God grows our capacity to love by bringing difficult people who naturally draw out a bitter or even hateful response from us.

Remember, Scripture tells us that God loved us and Christ died for us "while we were still sinners" (Romans 5:8). This means that God demonstrated Heavenly Love in giving us what we needed, in spite of our unworthiness to receive it. He loved us. He died for us. He blessed us with Heavenly Love, because of HIS Goodness - not because of any merit in any of us. His love is given - even while we clearly deserve the opposite.

Therefore, if we are to learn to possess Heavenly love, we too need to learn to love others who are unlovely - undeserving, even.

A few years back, I was on the third day of my Enoch-time Getaway. Enoch Time is what my husband and I call it when we leave our family and friends for a brief time, fully unplug and go to be alone with God. On this occasion, I had found a quiet retreat on the Oregon Coast. In my experience it takes about 3 days of praying and reading Scripture - just communing alone with God - before He really shows up - BIG TIME. Maybe this is because it takes three days to fully detox from laptops, cell phones, pressing needs, and other mental and physical interruptions. But, on the third day, the Presence of God is especially sweet. 

On this occasion, in late October, I left my beach cabin and took a stroll on the desolate beach. The weather was cold and I wore my down coat, but rolled up my pant legs and let my toes tingle in the icy waters. The Presence of God was very real and I praised Him and spoke to Him. 

"Thank You for this wonderful time with You," I began. "I recommit my life to You this day." I sang His praises and communed with God in great joy. Then I paused. "God," I asked, looking up into the grey sky, "Is there anything You'd like to say to me today? Do You have anything to tell me? As Samuel said long ago, Speak Lord, Thy servant hears You."

Then I walked, waiting quietly to see what He might say. It was a beautiful, powerful time. Clearly, God spoke, "I'm giving you a baby to teach you how to love."

Shocked, both at the enormity of the message and the implications, I sucked in my breath. Giving me a babyTeach me how to love? I stopped mid-stride and stood there dumbfounded.

My own two children were 12 and 17. I seemed to be well past the time when I might have thought about having another baby...  I let that idea seep in a bit.

Then I cogitated on the idea of teaching me how to love. "Why, Lord? Don't I know how to love? There are so many people whom I love! And I certainly love You!" I started off lamely defending myself, but quickly realizing how foolish this was before the One Who knows all. "I must not know about love, or You wouldn't want to teach me..." 

That evening I broke my Enoch-time silence and called my husband. Normally we don't communicate with anyone other than God, during Enoch-time (unless there is an emergency of course)

"Mark," I paused, hardly knowing how to proceed. "God is giving us a baby?"

"What? How do you know? Did you take a test?"

"No. But I know that I am. God told me." 

I couldn't have been more wrong! Looking back on that incredible experience on the beach, I'd have to say that I truly had no idea what I was in for. A baby? Learning to love? It all sounded so sweet - sentimental even. But in actuality I was about to be baptized in fire, my life would take an unexpected turn into the toxic waste of bitterness...

(To be continued in the coming blog  - Heaven's Arsenal part 6)