Friday, May 28, 2010

Leftovers... Yuck!

I don't like leftovers. I don't know whether it's that I don't like to eat the same thing over and over, or that reheated food just doesn't taste like the fresh (there are a few exceptions to this rule and the leftovers are actually better - like chili), or that we used to have leftover meals where all the different types of leftovers came out of the fridge. Maybe it's all of those reasons.

I also don't like people leftovers. You know... the people who only call when there is absolutely nothing better to do and no one else to talk to. That may be an exaggeration, but sometimes it can feel that way. I think there is a balance. I don't expect to be put in first place in anyone's life. And I don't think it's wrong to give left overs from last night, if that's all there is. But sometimes, it would be nice to be invited to the party.

This happened to me recently, and it really made me take a look at the way I interact with the people I care about. Do I save the best parts of me for me and give others what's left over? Or do I spend the best of my time and energy on loving others?

Of course, we should be giving our best to God first, expecting nothing in return. Then, He replenishes our supply so we can give to others. I wish I could say I have this part down, but I don't...

I wonder how God feels about the leftovers I serve Him?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

That's a Four-Letter Word!

I want to talk about a word that keeps creeping into my conversations way too often. I use it myself, so I'm not judging anyone. This word, though it may seem harmless - may even seem life giving, life affirming or just make you feel good. But it's not always taken that way.

That word is love. We love our cars, we love our clothes, we love certain foods, we love our favorite sports teams, we love our families, we love celebrities, we love our homes, our pets, our phones. The problem is, when we try to tell someone that God loves them, they have no idea what that means.

For some, the only person who ever loved them was their dad, and he left, so they believe Love abandons.

For others, their mom tells them she loves them but doesn't make it to any of their ball games even though she promises every time. To them, Love disappoints.

For some, their friends say they love them, but then gossip about them, so Love betrays.

Some know love to be the one who comes to them in the middle of the night, leaving them feeling hurt, alone, dirty and scared. They don't understand why love harms.

Others have heard they are loved only when they get good grades or do their chores. They believe love is conditional.

Some people have only known others to love them when they need a favor. Love uses them.

The list of distortion of the word goes on and on. But love is so much different than that. The Bible teaches us God loves us, but until we actually experience that love, they are just words on a page. Telling someone who has a distorted view of love that God loves them, is like telling them who won the ball game last night. It may sound interesting, but it doesn't really change them.

God is pretty clear that we are to love him with all of our being. He's also pretty clear we are to love people. And he didn't tell us to just say the words "I love you", but he gives us examples of how we can love each other. We need to be patient and kind, forgiving and humble, willing to put others first and forget about our own desires. Love is not simply an emotion, but is a motion.

And there are people around us that need to know what love really is. It's not about stuff, or the current trend, or the latest boy or girl friend. It's about God, our Creator, who made us for himself, loving us so much that he sent his Son to live in this broken world, to be broken for us so that we can be restored to the relationship God intended for us to have with him. Love means nothing without knowing what Jesus did for us. Without that, it's just an empty word that gets thrown around way too much. God sent... Jesus died... those are action words, not emotions.

So today, be the example of love that someone else needs... they won't know what hit them.