Encourage Yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be ninety minutes to two hours. My friends did it often. They would leave for the office by 6 a.m. so they could beat traffic on the way to the office, and they would come home at seven. I thought about the quality of life, and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you are never alone. There’s traffic everywhere. Everywhere you look, you see people, and you can wave and smile at people. On the other hand, sometimes if you’re driving at night on a country road, you may not see anyone for an hour.

                                      

Scripture says there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of it in terms of traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Most people are on this road, going in the same direction. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. The narrow path is the less-traveled road. The people on it are few and far between. You might be walking all by yourself for a while before you see another person passing by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and see the busy rush hour traffic, but you don’t jump in and join it. You choose to take a secondary road. It’s like deciding, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 onto this side road. I’m going to take the backwoods route.”
Think about it. When you get off onto those secondary roads, they’re more peaceful and winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stop is a backwoods mechanic shop with a filthy bathroom. The towns are few and far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It can be challenging to take the narrow path of God because it isn’t traveled by as many people.
Christians can fall into the trap of doing things because everyone else is doing them. Sometimes we don’t even think about it or we figure, “It’s okay for this family, so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. They give their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is taking them from the narrow path to the wide path. Their children start exposing themselves to entertainment and other influences that may jeopardize their purity. Before you know it, instead of following God, they are following the world.
As Christians, we need to protect the wellspring of life that is our heart and make good choices. I believe Christians should be out front. People should want to be like us. They should be following our way and wanting to make the choices we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. You are going to find that your friends on the narrow path are a wide range of ages, say seventy down to twelve. There are so few people that you have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle should look like so you can be close with people who you know are making these choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect, but when you feel lonely, encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like David in 1 Samuel 30. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t rely on it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and remember what He has done for you already.

Father Fridays—God Is Love

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 NIV)


This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NIV)


There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 NIV)


We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21 NIV)


God is love. Friends, I have never seen a love like this before! God has unrelenting love for us!

So what does God being love have to do with us?

Well, since He is love, we can only truly know what love is when we look at Him.
God gives us the perfect definition of love.
His love doesn’t have levels. His love isn’t based on what we can do for Him.

He never holds back His love. He loves us unconditionally.

God shows us in many ways what His love looks like.
He gave His only Son so that we might live.
He chooses us all. He wants all of us.
We don’t have to work to gain His love. We already have it!
He isn’t judging us. He isn’t waiting for us to make mistakes. He is never disappointed.
He knew what He was getting into, and He chose us anyway.

God tells us that if we love Him, we must also love our brothers and sisters.
God wants us to love others around us. He wants us to love all of His children, even the ones that have yet to come to know Him and love Him.
Again I say, I have never seen a love like this!
Our God sees all of the mistakes in our lives, but He loves us anyway. He even goes further to say that He forgives and forgets them all. He doesn’t hold our past against us! He doesn’t even remember it.

Since God is love, it only makes sense that we should look at His definition of love. We need to look at how God loves us and, in turn, love others around us in the same way.
What if people sin against you? You forgive and forget. You don’t hold their past against them. What if people make mistakes? You love them anyway.

“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9-10 NIV)


I pray that you would seek after God and find out what love really is and means. I pray that you would start loving everyone around you in a God kind of way. I pray that as you start to understand what God’s love really means, it will set you free!

Love, Kathleen 🙂

Encourage yourself in the Lord

Several years ago, I got an offer to go to work for a company in Dallas. I drove down to check everything out. Wow. I couldn’t believe rush hour traffic. Rush hour started at three o’clock and lasted until seven o’clock every evening. That is four hours. Your commute from home to work could easily be up to two hours just for you driving. Ninety minutes to two hours, my friends did it often. They would leave for the office by six am so they could beat traffic on the way in to the office and they would come home at seven. I just thought about the quality of life and I turned that job down quickly.

In rush hour, you never are alone. There’s traffic everywhere. You constantly have to look and see—you see people, and you can wave at people and smile at people. They are everywhere, just constantly busy. But at night, when you’re driving—sometimes, you might be in a drive in a country road, and not see anyone for an hour.
                                     
Scripture says that there is a wide path and a narrow path. I think of those like traffic. The wide path is like rush hour traffic. It’s busy. Everyone is on it. Everyone’s going the same direction. They are all heading towards home. They’re all on a mission to get somewhere, from here to there, point A to point B. But the narrow path is a less-travelled road. Sometimes, people that are on it are few and far between. You might be walking a while all by yourself until you see another person passing you by.
I think the narrow path in Christ can feel lonely at times. You can look around and you can see the busy rush hour traffic but you don’t jump in and go on it. You choose to take a secondary road. If you’ve ever been on a trip or you’re like, “I’m getting off of interstate 40 and I’m going to go on this side road and backwoods.”
Think about it. When you get off on those roads, they’re more peaceful, they’re more winding. They’re beautiful. But sometimes the rest stops are a backwoods mechanic shop and its bathroom is filthy, dirty. There are few, far between. Sometimes you have to pee in the grass. It’s because, truly, the narrow path of God isn’t travelled by as many people. You’ve got people that are going to movies that may jeopardize your own purity because we gotta protect the wellspring of life which is our heart and make good choices.
So every choice we make, we never make it because everyone else is doing it or, “It’s okay for this family so it’s okay for our family.” I see Christians doing this every day. Every day, they are giving their kids wider and wider boundaries. What they are doing is they are taking them from the narrow path to a wider path. They are increasing their path from the narrow path into the wide path. So all of a sudden, the world is leading our children, not our children being led by God.
I believe that Christians should be the front. People should wanna be like us. They should be following our way. They should be making choices that we’re making because our fruit is awesome. We don’t look like the world. We love the world, but we don’t look like the world. We’re in the world, but not of the world.
I will tell you right now, making the decision to stay firmly planted on the narrow path no matter what is lonely at times. I think if you’re in your twenties, you’re gonna find that your friends on a narrow path is gonna be in a huge age range. Say 70 down to 12. There are so few people—few, and far between. You have to change your perspective of what your friendship circle is going to look like so that you can have an inner circle that is close and tight and the people that you know are making those choices with you.
I would encourage you to connect. When you feel lonely, just encourage yourself in the Lord. Keep yourself encouraged like 1 Samuel 36. Don’t look to anyone else to encourage you. Enjoy their encouragement when it comes along but don’t look to it. Don’t stand on it for strength. Stand on the Lord and His strength and what he has done for you already.