Index card notes and never ending Love

No mountain you have to climb, or valley deep and dark can separate you from Christ.
Nothing in creation- no person, no place, no danger, no toil, no frustration, no job, no broken relationship – nothing can separate you from your Father, who loves you.
In the marriage relationship, love waxes and wanes. It changes and grows, certainly, but you will have seasons when love is vibrant and seasons where love is dull and even seemingly lifeless. Because of the one-flesh relationship being the most intimate one we will ever experience on Earth, we often relate God’s love to our experience within the marriage relationship. This happens without even thinking about it. In the times we feel unloved and devalued by our spouse, we wonder if there is a God who finds us valuable, who loves us no matter what. We can learn two things from this.
First, this verse speaks truth into our lives. God does love us, come what may. He always has and He always will. Nothing in creation, nothing around us or in us, or happening to us, can change His love for us. We cling tightly to these verses as Christians for a reason – our basic need to be loved, to be known and loved in spite of all of it.
Second, what can we do in our lives to help our spouse know the truth of this verse? What are we doing daily to grow in love together, so that God can speak to them through us? This may be one of the primary means that God uses to speak His love in to the lives of those around us. If our marriages were unbelievably strong, others may take notice of a God whose love is so deep, so wide and unfathomable, that divorce rates and life challenges and petty arguments have no hold on our marriages. It would be obvious that He is clearly the one at work. This model may be more valuable to the life of the church than anything else we ever do.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thank you, Lord, for your inseparable Love. Thank you, Lord, for being perfect in our imperfect marriages. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Shattered relationships and love that endures

Sitting in the pregnancy center counseling room a young woman sat adjacent from me, dejected and hollow. The pregnancy test was positive and I asked her how I could help her. “No one loves me. No one wants me. I can’t bring a baby into a place where no one will want him. I don’t want him to feel like I do, every day. I have to have an abortion.”
The air sucked out of me, we sat in silence for a little bit. I reached my hand across to her and all that came out was this verse, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love. There is someone who loves you. Very much. I’m so sorry no one has shown you that. I’m so sorry. God loves you. He loves your baby.” We went on to have a long conversation about sin and forgiveness and redemption and God bringing beauty from ashes, but I’m pretty sure all that really mattered to that young woman in that moment was that she was in fact loved by the God of the universe.
In the last year, we had a very close friend leave his marriage and leave the church. A stranger to us, his new life unrecognizable from the friend we treasured. For some of you that have experienced ministry losses like this, you understand the depth of the pain. The chasm that stretches between the individual and you, the relationships demolished.

This verse offers hope to a hurting world and to us. When we experience the struggle of separation, the shock of shattered relationships, of ministry moments where God’s work is hidden. Nothing can separate any of us from God’s love. He is faithful. So much in this life is hard and in ministry we get an intimate and up-close picture of this reality. World wars will come and go, persecution will increase, years will be fat and lean, dangers abound- but God is true to His Word. Nothing can separate us, or our families, or our sheep, from the love of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Dealing with assumptions and accusations

There can be a lot of accusations in the church.
It also feels like sometimes it feels like there is a fair amount of unjust assumptions. Someone doesn’t like the way someone made some announcement and someone doesn’t like the way a certain families’ children sit in church. As church work families we often get the insiders view of these assumptions and accusations. We are putting out tiny fires everywhere, trying to help people live Philippians 4:5, “Let your reasonableness be evident to all.” Sometimes, at the worst of times, we are the center of unjust assumptions. We might feel like we’re defending ourselves right and left, whether it’s over big things or small. It seems unfair, unjust.
God encourages us – Live for me. Do what I sent you for. I hold your honor, man does not.
Paul gets it. He has been in that place. Accusations flying. It must have been so frustrating trying to defend himself, to the Christians, to the Hellenists, to the Jewish converts, to the Roman government, to everyone. He spent a good deal of time sharing his testimony, outlining God’s call for his life, as a true apostle and as a redeemed sinner/saint. Paul knew what it meant that God justified not only His sin through Christ’s death and resurrection, but He also justified His Life through Christ’s death and resurrection. Honor, purpose, place, calling, comes from our baptismal identity. God justifies us through the waters and proclaims us worthy of our calling as we die and rise with Him.
People can bring up any charge against us, but perhaps we can see it as Paul saw it- one more chance to share what God has done in our lives, to show what He has redeemed and justified, made holy. We pray with you now that Christ would give you outward joy in the ministry, but in the moments when assumptions abound, Christ still prevails.

Lord, we thank you for the infinite joys you give us in our ministry and families. Please work in the people we share your Word with, to speak and hear Truth, and grant that we would also be speakers and hearers of Truth. May your Love and Grace reign in our homes and our churches. In Jesus Name, Amen.