Keep Love Alive




It seems somewhat of a paradox that love is something that is most sought after and yet when we receive it, we can too often stop nourishing it so it will remain alive and vibrant. Scripture admonishes us to consider always its place, value, and quality in our lives.


Peter addresses it this way:


“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)


John addresses this often. Here is only one verse:


“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

John 15:12 (NIV)


The word love appears many times. How many times?  It depends on which translation of the Bible you are using. Here are just a few of commonly used translations and the number of times the word love appears:


  • King James Version – 131 in the Old Testament, 179 in the New Testament
  • New American Standard Version – 133 in the Old Testament, 215 in the New Testament (New Revised Standard – 317 in the Old Testament, 221 in the New Testament)
  • New International Version – 319 in the Old Testament, 232 in the New Testament


Since God is love it is evident that it ought to be our priority as well if we are committed to Him. And He isn’t interested in a casual laid-back version of love, he wants it to be sizzling or not be there at all. We see that in Revelation when the Holy Spirit directs John as he writes to the church at Laodicea:


15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)


The passion of God’s love for us is something He not only desires in response; but that Heart-blaze-bright-220483 also commands we extend to one another. I cannot read about this without being provoked about how often I fall short with evidence of the passion I have for Him as well as others.


Reading through the Song of Solomon we cannot mistake God’s passion nor miss that it is expressed in detail with creativity.


What does that look like in my life?  In yours?


I could list many examples of what it may or may not look like, but what is key for any one of us is what we do with what we know is true. After we have made the decision to love, we can become lazy about continuing to cultivate it.


How often does our dissatisfaction with relationships have something to do with our failure to nurture relationships beyond what we hope to receive and continue to receive?


One of the relationships that often falters is that between a husband and wife. The dailyness of life that can often demand so much from us can result in us slogging along with routine expressions of the love that once was all we could think about. We say the same things, do the same things, and go to the same places. Despite enjoying some of these favorites, perhaps we risk lukewarm love without thinking.


bloom-blooming-blossom-1820567My husband and I are blessed to have a marriage that has lasted for 54 years as of this writing. We have weathered many kinds of seasons and had more than a few tests along the way, but our commitment to one another has stood throughout these years.


As I was reading about the subject of love this post focuses on, we were nearing Christmas and I was looking for a creative gift idea for my husband. I have surprised him more than a few times over the years, but that has reduced the number of items related to interests or hobbies that he doesn’t have or need. (If you know my sweet husband you know he is always happy to get a new flannel shirt, but how many flannel shirts does one man need?)


After a bit more thinking and praying, I came up with a bit different gift to put under the tree for him. I gave him a year of dates! Inside the gift box I placed a letter telling him that on the first day of every month he would find a note with a date for that month. Within the note would be the money, gift card, or information related to the date as well as whether it was one that could be used at any time during the month or it can a specific date. One rule was that it needed to be spent before the month ended.


Each date was designed to invite him to someplace new he had not been even if I had there orIMG_9028 to make time to do something special that he enjoyed that we may not do as often.


The first date began with December 2018 and needed to be spent before December 31. That date was to a new Italian coffee shop and bakery I had enjoyed with friends, but he had never savored.


As of now our dates have included walks with breakfast at a newly opened specialty place, lunch at a fun place we have never enjoyed together, target shooting together with coffee afterward at another new place, and tickets to Phantom of the Opera on stage. (We had enjoyed seeing Phantom several times over the years, but not for a very long time.)


(I can’t really share the other dates that are planned or the surprise would be lost as he reads this, but I hope that this gift of nurturing our relationship will be fun for him each month.)


But what do we do with love in our other relationships? How attentive are we?


What about our relationship with the Lord? 


Is your journal only filled with prayer requests and scripture?


What about writing a love letter to the Lord in that journal (Keep in mind His passion for you❤️)?


I love the words John uses in 1 John 3:18 as expressed in The Passion Translation:


“Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds.”

art-beach-beautiful-269583 (1)









Corinth and Us




When I look at the challenges of fellowship and community in the body of Christ, in the local church, few books in the Bible can match Paul’s letters to the people of Corinth.


Paul had visited Corinth around 50 AD. He had begun the church on his second missionary journey. It was there that he met Aquila and Priscilla, Jewish tentmakers like he was. He spent two years there preaching first to the Jews in the synagogue. When they refused to hear him, he preached to the Gentiles.


When he arrived there, Corinth was already an ancient city that had been in existence for a thousand years before the time of Christ. It was a wealthy seaport city, a center of art, athletics, business, and religion. Unfortunately, it had developed a bad reputation as an immoral city.


How like God to send His light into a dark place?


Paul sent others to minister to the church he established there after he continued his missionary journey to Jerusalem for a brief stop and then on to Ephesus for three years. He kept in contact with the churches he established by letter and letters came to him updating him on the church and how things were going as well. He desired to continue to disciple them and grow them up in all spiritual matters.



By the time he wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth, it’s clear issues were blossoming and the church was not behaving as a Christ like church. The worldly wisdom of the day had been creeping into the church creating confusion and division.


Sound familiar even in 2019 in many places? We seem to have some common characteristics with the city of Corinth and the church there.



Paul’s words as a loving disciple are firm and direct calling them into account out of his love and care for them and his desire to see them mature. He let them know they were acting like babies. They could not be equipped to reach out to others, to look different than the world in Corinth. The church was to model Jesus. The church at Corinth wasn’t doing that.


We are blessed to have many strong, effective, loving churches in our country, but not unlike the church in Corinth our success and culture can slip into the church almost unnoticed until the fruit of its presence becomes evident.


In The Master’s Indwelling, Andrew Murray writes this about the believers in Corinth:


“We find in the Corinthians simply a condition of protracted infancy. It is quite right at six months of age a babe should eat nothing but milk, but years have passed by and it remains in the same weakly state. Now this is just the condition of many believers. We come in contact with them and there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s spirit in them.”


 I think we sometimes bump into the same issue today. Protracted infancy will not let us reflect Him.


Can these things harm the image of Christ? Absolutely! Can they prevent healthy relational fellowship? Yes, of course.


Sometimes the church today (not unlike Corinth) can have a solid foundation with excellent teaching, but if we only rely on being fed on Sundays we will never grow up into Him and become mature. It is what happens on those other six days that make the big difference in whether or not we are truly growing.


Our churches bear a great responsibility before the Lord for the oversight and care of their body, but that is His to judge. We also have a responsibility. How we spend our time in pursuing the Lord beyond the teaching of the pastor will tell a great deal about the way we model Him. It will have a significant influence on whether we move beyond protracted infancy.


We come into a church looking for certain things. What do we also bring? Do we bring childish self-centered attitudes or a growing, developing Christ-life?


Perhaps what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:13 lays out the path for us:


“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”



The Trees Are Waking Up

Our Dogwood


In “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”, Legolas speaks to Gimli about the trees of Fangorn Forest waking up. How much our family loves this trilogy of movies!


I don’t live in Fangorn Forest and I am fairly certain our trees do not speak to each other, but at long last spring has steadily and slowly arrived and the trees indeed are waking up.


I love the word picture of trees awakening. It can be easy to see the trees as dead after autumn in the Midwest and other parts of the country that enjoy all four seasons. They are not dead at all, but only asleep, in a state of dormancy, conserving their resources. The Lord created them to temporarily stop growth, development, and physical activity to conserve energy. One of the reasons their leaves drop in the fall is so fewer parts of the tree need nourishment.

Our Apple Tree


God has designed them so incredibly that they actually change their membranes on the surface areas so that water migrates from inside the cells to the spaces between the cells. This makes them more pliable. Then, as the trees convert starches to sugar in the fall, these sugars act in the same capacity as antifreeze, lowering the overall freezing point of the trees.


How marvelous are His works! What a Creator He is!


If He has so carefully designed the mechanisms of the trees to withstand the harsh winds and temperatures of winter, how could we ever be tempted to doubt His provision for us during the harsh seasons of our lives?


Everywhere we look, He reminds us that He has and is providing for us. We can look at the tree as provision for its beauty, its fruit, its shade, or its wood, but it often goes without notice of the provision for the tree in order for it to provide all of those things.

Our Service Berry Tree


There is a truth there. His provision comes layer upon layer in intricate detail. That provision may seem scarce or non-existent even as the trees appear dead in winter, but the Lord has not forgotten.


The last few days I have been able to enjoy walks where the Lord has been drawing my eyes to the evidences of His creation being summoned to awaken. The steadily increasing warmth of the days and the lengthening hours of light are nudges to the trees to awaken even though an unseasonable few warm days early can fool the trees.


Light. How key it is to everything!


Trees and plants of all kind need light to be fruitful.


blooming-blossom-bright-1116945We, too, need light to bring us out of the darkness, to awaken us into life.


We need ongoing light for growth and fruitfulness.


We need the Light of the World!


I can only imagine what it will be like when the Light of the World returns and awakens this world!  Then we will truly behold Him and see the whole of what we cannot see now.


Grapes , Yellowstone
Grapes, Napa Valley



To Be A Lighthouse




Before the first lighthouse was built, beacon fires were lit as we see in the Iliad and the Odyssey as well as in the stories and movies for “The Lord of the Rings”. It would be in Alexandria that the first lighthouse would be built. Known as Pharos of Alexandria, this first lighthouse stood 350 feet high.


The Romans would go on to build many more as their empire expanded far beyond Rome. A fragment of a Roman lighthouse still exists in Dover, England.


black-and-white-building-dark-722664Century by century modernization of lighthouses occurred to the present day, lighting the way for those out to sea, serving a vital purpose.


Long before GPS guided navigation, these sentinels stood at the place where the land and the sea meet, never wavering in their service with the faithful men and women who kept the beacons lit.


I have visited lighthouses along the east coast of the United States while on various vacations. Some of my favorites mark the beautiful coast of Maine. Each lighthouse appears unique in its design and the terrain on which it stands. My favorites include Bass Harbor Lighthouse, the Cape Neddick Light, and Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Maine.


If all the stories linked to each lighthouse were compiled into books, I wonder how many architecture-coast-light-131102volumes there would be and how many shelves would be needed to hold them.


Reading in Lisa Wingate’s marvelous book, The Prayer Box, set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina brought back memories of lighthouses we visited there and reminded me once again that we, you and I, are called to be light (perhaps lighthouses) for those lost at sea.


The description Lisa Wingate pens in The Prayer Box reminds me of important truths:


“What does a lighthouse do? I ask myself. It never moves. It cannot hike up its rocky skirt and dash into the ocean to rescue a foundering ship. It cannot calm the waters or clear the shoals. It can only cast light into the darkness. It can only point the way. Yet, through one lighthouse, you guide many ships.”


 What clarity these words bring to those we find in Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV):


“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”


beach-dawn-desktop-backgrounds-1532771The lighthouse isn’t rushing about from one place to another. It stands consistently where its designer places it and its light points the way. Those at sea are the ones that must move to avoid disaster and destruction.


To be a lighthouse is to keep the light burning even if we do not see beyond the place we stand. To be a lighthouse is to know the singular call to provide light when darkness, dense fog, and storms would seek to shroud the light. To be a lighthouse is to draw attention to the light within it rather than the lighthouse.


How simply these truths remind us of what it means to be called by Jesus to be light, but how clearly they also underscore the need for light to be ever emanating from our lives. We never know when someone lost in darkness may be hoping to glimpse even the smallest light to give direction and hope.


Near the end of his earthly ministry Jesus told his disciples a parable about how vital it is to keep the light (the oil) in our lamp from running out, from going dark. The parable in Matthew 25 speaks of wise virgins whose lamps are filled and lit, but also warns of foolish virgins whose lamps have gone dark.


Tending the light within us is not a casual admonition.


Let us not forget that even though we may not see those who are searching for a light, we are called to be a lighthouse consistently allowing HIS  light to shine so He can be seen.


“Yet, through one lighthouse, you guide many ships.”

Lisa Wingate