Give a Little Bit

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
I’ll give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
So send a smile and show you care

I’ll give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my life for you
So give a little bit
Give a little bit of your time to me
See the man with the lonely eyes
Oh, take his hand, you’ll be surprised

Anyone remember this song? You may not remember it from 1977 when it was released by Supertramp, but you’ve probably heard it since. This tune was playing in my mind this morning. I don’t know why, because I can’t imagine the last time I would have heard it on the radio. I started thinking about the words though and something else came to mind that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately…encouragement.

Think about the last time someone told you you did a great job. Maybe you cooked dinner and your family went back for seconds because they thought it was so good. Maybe you posted something on Facebook and you got 60 “likes”. Maybe you taught a Sunday School lesson and someone told you you really have the gift of teaching. Perhaps you’ve worked hard to lose weight or you got a new hairstyle and someone noticed and complimented you.

These things are so simple, but they pack a powerful charge of positive reactions. If I realize that my family actually enjoyed what I made for dinner, I feel appreciated. I want to cook something wonderful for them again. If I post something on Facebook and get 60 “likes” it makes me feel like people care about me and what I’ve shared with the world. These simple ways of encouraging others make people feel like you care about them and what’s going on in their lives. If I’m encouraged about my teaching skills, I feel like there’s a reason for me to continue. Maybe God really is using me to tell others about Him. And so on with the weight, hair, etc. It’s an uplifting feeling just to know someone noticed and took the time to mention it. Encouragement presses us on toward the goal, whatever the goal may be. It also makes us feel loved, appreciated, and cared for.

The Bible teaches us to encourage one another. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 3:13.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

I love this explanation by Jill Camarin:
“If overexposure to sin causes hardness of heart, then being built up and encouraged daily will prove just the opposite. It will keep our hearts soft, pliable and receptive to the Lord. This is why the writer of Hebrews instructs us to find daily encouragement in one another, because it strengthens us for the day ahead. Encouragement of this type comes in experiencing the body of believers who were meant to share life with. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” ( Hebrews 10:24-25 ). Knowing that Jesus promises to be in the middle of the relationship, when we share our lives with other believers drawing encouragement from them we are also built up in faith; ready to operate as God’s ambassadors in this world.”

I realize there are different types of encouragement. Spiritual encouragement relates to our faith and our relationship with The Lord. Encouraging someone by liking their post on Facebook or noticing they’ve lost a few pounds, might not further the kingdom, but it just might perk them up and give them a boost for the day ahead. It shows them that someone cares about their life and who they are.

I have a long way to go when it comes to encouraging others, but I’m asking God to help me. So…give a little bit of your love, your life, and your time today. Just like it says in the song, you’ll be surprised!

Love,
Karen

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If I Don’t Have Love

Have you ever had a time that you felt like God was trying to teach you something or change something about you? Thankfully, I have and I’m experiencing His guidance, direction, and correction right now.

Maybe you haven’t realized it was happening, but if you think about it for a minute, God might be trying to mold you as well.

For me, it often happens in the form of being inundated with the same theme. Something comes up over and over and over again. Or maybe it’s been there all the time, but God has graciously opened my eyes to view things differently than before.

Right now, I’d say there’s a pretty big one going on in my life. LOVE. God is reminding me that He is all about love and because He is all about love, I should be as well. It all started with For King and Country’s song, “The Proof of Your Love”. I enjoy singing along and I love the fact that it’s straight from scripture, 1 Corinthians 13.

Take a moment to listen and read the words of the song.

In case you can’t view the link, the lyrics are below:

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise.

If I speak with a silver tongue
convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say.

So let my life be the proof
the proof of your love.
Let my love look like you
and what you’re made of.
How you lived, how you died.
Love is sacrifice.
So let my life be the proof,
the proof of your love.

If I give to a needy soul
but don’t have love
then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty
is found in me.

When it’s all said and done,
When we sing our final song,
Only love remains.
Only love remains.

[Monologue]
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all of His mysteries and making everything as plain as day, and if I have faith to say to a mountain jump and it jumps but I don’t love I’m nothing. If I give all I earn to the poor or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (The Message)

Listen to the words and let them sink in. When I watched one particular You Tube video of the song, it hit me hard when they flashed a picture of Adolf Hitler as the words were being sung about speaking with a silver tongue and convincing a crowd. Wow! That’s exactly what he did. He convinced many crowds to do things that people still cannot fathom. Things that are unbelievable and extremely horrific. He convinced them and he was completely devoid of love. He was full of hate.

The Scripture translation from The Message in the monologue also gave me reason to pause. You see I teach children at church. I’ve done it for many years. I feel great joy when I’m explaining something to the children and I can see evidence that they really understand. They get it. 1Corinthians 13 reminds me that even if I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all of His mysteries and making everything as plain as day, but don’t have love, I’m nothing. Nothing in God’s eyes.

Even if I give ALL I earn to the poor, but don’t have love, I’ve gotten nowhere. Nowhere in furthering God’s kingdom. Nowhere in becoming a woman after God’s own heart.

We’ve read and heard this Scripture so often. But do we really take it to heart?

I mentioned that I’ve been inundated with LOVE lately, so on with the story. I’ve just begun Beth Moore’s Bible study about David. Yes, King David. The man whom God chose to be king over His people because He was searching for a man after His own heart. He found that man in David.

Can you just imagine being referred to as a man or woman after God’s own heart? By God Himself? I can’t imagine it, but I know I SO desire it.

There is a huge contrast between Israel’s first king, Saul and the second king, David. Saul usually tried to do things to please God when he knew he had messed up or when he needed a favor from God. David loved God. He sang songs of praise to God, he talked to God on a regular basis, he sought wisdom and guidance from God, he desired to spend time with God. He didn’t do these things in order to mark items off his to do list (pray, read Scripture, praise, sing). David did these things because he loved God. They were responses from his heart because he had a deep love for a mighty God. David wasn’t perfect, but he loved God and God took notice.

There’s a great lesson to be learned from 1 Samuel 16:7. “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart.”

One final thing. A sweet friend of mine gave me the book Kisses from Katie. This book is about an incredible young woman who gave up college, her boyfriend, her sports car, her family, her friends, her life…to live in Uganda. She loves the people of Uganda. She has adopted 13 girls. She has also established several ministries to care for the physical and spiritual needs of the people of Uganda.

What’s the most amazing thing about Katie in my eyes? She did all of this alone. Just her and her Savior that she loves and adores. No husband, no friends, no family. She went all alone to do the work God called her to do. She kisses and hugs children who have fungus growing on their heads. She removes jiggers (small burrowing insects) from their feet. She cuddles children who suffer from HIV. The list goes on and on.

Why has she done this? Because she believes God has called her to Uganda. She also believes Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” She does these things because she has love.

Katie lives in a village where deadly diseases run rampant and there is an ongoing war just a few hours away. She is surrounded by things that can destroy the body, but she says she is much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than she is of any illness or tragedy. She is running from things that can destroy her soul: complacency, comfort, and ignorance.

One of my favorite quotes from Katie is “Jesus called His followers to be a lot of things, but I have yet to find where He warned us to be safe. We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us. And there is no better place to be than in His hands.”

These are just a few examples of how God is reminding me to check the motives of my heart. Do I do the things I do because I’m trying to win favor with God and man or because God has changed my heart and given me a heart like His? A heart of love.

Dear Father, thank you for opening my eyes to Your truth. Your messages are all around me. Thank you for loving me and changing my heart so many years ago when I asked for forgiveness and gave my life to You. Please forgive me for allowing the things of this world to distract me from You and Your will. Remove any hardness that might have settled into my heart. Replace it with love and tenderness that can only come from You. Give me a sense of urgency each day to be about Your work. Help me to show Your love to others. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I will be enabled to love through Your almighty power. Help me to love the unloveable and reach the unreachable. Make me a woman after Your own heart.

Love,
Karen

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But Will You Still Give Me Hugs and Kisses?

What is your love language? This is the question I asked my 11 year old son, Jonathan and my 9 year old daughter, Emory last night before bed. My 7 year old son, Benjamin, had already fallen asleep after playing with great determination in his second basketball game of the season.

Jonathan and Emory looked quite puzzled in response to my question. I had listened online to a Focus on the Family radio broadcast with Gary Chapman. He is the author of The 5 Love Languages of Children. This had sparked my interest concerning the love languages of my own children.

First of all, what is a love language? I described it to my children as the way you prefer for someone to show you they love you. Chapman says the 5 love languages are acts of service, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, and gifts. After discussing it for a while, Jonathan and Emory each decided which way they prefer for us to show them we love them. We talked and laughed and they also guessed which love language I prefer the most.

This morning I explained it all to Benjamin, who had slept through the conversation last night. Immediately after I described each love language to him, he said, “I like to spend time with you!” He was very proud of himself for being able to answer so quickly and definitely. Within a few seconds however, he sadly and almost desperately said, “But will you still give me hugs and kisses?”

I quickly explained that I will always give him hugs and kisses. I told him that just because he likes to spend quality time with me doesn’t mean I won’t also love him by giving him gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, and yes…hugs and kisses.

Don’t you just love the way the mind of a child works? Even Emory, who had decided last night that her love language is physical touch (with quality time being a close second), asked me this morning if I can still give her gifts. 😊 Jonathan had a difficult time deciding, but he was sure to let me know that even though he put quality time at the top of his list, he’s hoping I will still perform acts of service for him (i.e. Please clean my room for me sometimes, Mom.)

The ongoing conversation made me laugh. I explained again that I will love them in ALL ways. We were simply trying to decide which love language we lean toward the most.

I laughed at my children, but I’m very much the same. I told my husband that I lean toward words of affirmation, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Maybe I should have said acts of service?” I do feel quite loved when he helps me clean the house!

As I remember these moments with a smile on my face, I am reminded of my Heavenly Father. I am comforted by the knowledge that He loves me. He loves me in every way I can possibly imagine. He loves me in ways I don’t even realize or comprehend. I don’t have to worry that He might be too busy to spend quality time with me or that He could possibly forget to bless me with gifts.

As an earthly mother, I’m positive there are days that I fail to express my love to my children as I should. Not so with God. Every moment of every day, He reveals His love to me. He has given His Son to redeem my life. He is the Creator of the Universe and He calls me His own. He reveals Himself to me through the Scripture and is listening whenever I call. He always has time for me. He always comforts me. He guides me and protects me. He blesses me with unimaginable gifts. He is the ultimate Father.

My children are correct to fear that if I focus on spending quality time with them I might forget to give them hugs and kisses. I am only human. They know me well enough to realize I am not perfect.

Aren’t we thankful that God is perfect? He knows how to love us in every good way. He knows what we need and when we need it. He doesn’t have to ask what our love language is…He already knows.

Resting in His Love,
Karen

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