Archives For love

“The human mind is perpetually busy trying to control things, trying to figure things out, 

clinging to the latest idea, 

grasping at the nearest straw.

 It works very hard trying to make sense of things by endlessly seeking to put everything into categories and boxes and systems of thought. 


Sometimes even God himself gets relegated to a category or a box in my mind rather than being free to be God in my life. 

It seems that my mind will go to great lengths to fix things, control things and defend against anything that would disrupt my carefully fully constructed equilibrium…


It’s not that the mind is bad; it’s just very limited in its capacity to move us toward the union with God that we seek. The intellect can set the stage but cannot provide the drama of true encounter. 


Our experience with human relationships tells us this: thinking about someone one is not the same thing as being in their presence. Knowing facts about someone, studying the details of their life, admiring them from afar is not the same as being in relationship with them or allowing oneself to fall in love.” Ruth Haley Barton in “Invitation to Silence ”

Great-grandmother and great-grandson

I have been finding this passage a good reminder as I journey through the season of Lent: 

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed freeand break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and He will say: ‘Here am I.’

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”
Isaiah 58:6-11

  

Lest we forget…
Our Heavenly Father cares for everyone in the world; He has the whole world in His hands.
Verse 1
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Verse 2
He’s got the sun and the rain in His hands
He’s got the moon and the stars in His hands,
He’s got the wind and the clouds in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Verse 3
He’s got the rivers and the mountains in His hands,
He’s got the oceans and the seas in His hands,
He’s got all the animals in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Verse 4
He’s got everybody here in His hands,
He’s got everybody there in His hands,
He’s got everybody everywhere in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Verse 5
He’s got the little biddy baby in His hands,
He’s got my brother and my sister in His hands,
He’s got Mom and Dad in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

Verse 6
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole wide world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

“The story of Jesus is the story of love personified.
We miss the point when we simply try to do what he tells us to do.
And we miss the point when we merely try to follow
the pattern of his life. His life points us back to his
own Source. His life is intelligible only when it is
understood as the personification of divine love.

But genuinely encountering Love is not the same as
inviting Jesus into your heart, joining or attending a
church, or doing what Jesus commands. It is the
experience of love that is transformational. You simply
cannot bask in divine love and not be affected.”
David Benner

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John reclining on Jesus

The Beauty of Broken

November 2, 2016 — Leave a comment

I read Elisa Morgan’s “The Beauty of Broken” a few years ago–and thought I posted about it. But I can’t find it in the archives. It’s an excellent memoir about the gap between dreams and reality in parenting. The Kindle version is on sale for $2.99. Definitely worth it. And maybe some day I’ll get the post in my head onto the screen!

This song is from Enter the Worship Circle’s album, “Chair and Microphone” which gives a sense of the natural style of their music. Imagine a few musicians showing up in your living room and jamming “music for our unfinished stories” [as their website says]

Here’s the music: Orphan’s Song

“We are the orphan boys, we are forgotten girls
We are lost and far from home
We are the fatherless, born of dust and nothingness
We are lost and far from home

There is no love like

Yours in all the earth
There is no love like Yours in the universe
There is no love that heals my broken heart
There is no love like Yours at all

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I’ve heard about a foreign land, about a son and His great big dad
I’m making my plans to be there
They say it’s a beautiful place, full of big wide open spaces
I’m making my plans to be there

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There roads have familiar names, this town has not changed
I’m finding my way back home
You call me daughter, you call me son, you call me back into Your arms
I’m finding my way back home

from a meditation by Carmel Mongey SSC :
“Three of the most beautiful love stories of all time are set side by side in the gospel of St Luke. Two of the stories are always being written about, marvelled at, sung, prayed through and cherished – the stories of the Lost Sheep and the Lost (Prodigal) Son. [In] the third story, the somewhat neglected one, we may come to a deeper realisation of the mother-love of God.

In Luke 15 we read about the woman who has ten coins, and loses one. She lights a lamp and sweeps the floor until she finds it. As in the other stories she, too, calls in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found it.

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…For centuries people have seen the symbolism Jesus uses in the first two stories. The father of the prodigal son is an image of God, our loving Father. The man searching for the lost sheep is Jesus, the good shepherd who will give his life for his sheep.

The woman who lost the coin – who is she an image of? She too, of course, is an image of God, of the mother-love of God.

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…You see a lovely lady, lighting her lamp. She had ten coins, but she has lost one. Just now she thinks only of that coin. See the motherly concern on her face. Why are the coin so dear to her? Hasn’t she nine others?

In Jesus’ days, the mark of a married woman was a headdress made of ten silver coins, linked together by a silver chain. For years, a girl would scrape and save to get together her ten coins. The headdress was like a wedding ring with us. When she had it, it was so much part of her that it couldn’t be taken away even to pay a debt. It was her treasure.

See yourself as one of these ten precious coins, so dear to the lady. You have a value far beyond money. She could have said, ‘I’ll sweep the house in the morning to find it.’ But no, she can’t wait. In the light of her lamp she sweeps back and forth, into every corner, around every obstacle. This lady looking for her coin, is God looking for you and finding you.”

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The Lord says, As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…
Isaiah 66:13

Where do you need to experience God’s comfort? How is God searching for you?

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“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
Pedro Arrupe

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“‘Conversion’ is not about an abstract transaction in which your soul becomes destined for heaven instead of hell.

Rather, ‘conversion’ is the moment when you find yourself within the story of Jesus, the story of Israel, the story of the Church and the story of God.”

David at “A Psalm of David”

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“Holiness is not a state of perfection but a faithful striving that lasts a lifetime. It is expressed primarily in small ways, day after day, through the practice of forgiveness, patience, self-sacrifice, and compassion.”
Dorothy Day
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Pouring it all out

April 21, 2016 — 1 Comment

“Trust in Him at all times. O people.
Pour out your hearts to Him for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:8

I love how trusting God and expressing the feelings in my heart go hand and hand. Trusting God is not some robotic, ‘cut yourself from your mind and heart’ action. It is opening my heart and pouring it out to Him…the same action Mary did, pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet.

Perhaps in some way, the feelings we store in our hearts and then pour out to our Father are like perfume to Him too. Because to be honest with someone, to be truly open and vulnerable with them, is a great gift. And that is a gift we can give to God.

Pouring requires opening. When my heart is open, I can pour out my feelings, my worries, and my concerns to Him.

And then, with my heart open, He can pour Himself, the Spirit of grace and truth, in my life.

The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” Romans 5:5
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Pouring is not a timid action. It is the action of leaning forward, and letting the stream begin to flow.

“This is what the Lord, the one who made you, says –
the one who formed you in the womb and helps you:
“Don’t be afraid, my servant Jacob,
Jeshurun, whom I have chosen!
For I will pour water on the parched ground
and cause streams to flow on the dry land.
I will pour My spirit on your offspring
and my blessing on your children.

Isaiah 44:2-3

“The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves:
it is because His manifestation in the world must be through us.
Every Christian is, as it were, part of the dust-laden air
which shall radiate the glowing Epiphany of God, catch and reflect His golden Light.
You are the light of the world—
but only because you are enkindled,
made radiant by the One Light of the World.”
Evelyn Underhill

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“Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.”
Jan Richardson

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“Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and love.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of You.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact
with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.
Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others.”
Mother Teresa

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You are the light of the world.
A city located on a hill cannot be hidden.
People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand,
and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before people,
so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

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Questions for reflection:
• How did I bring Your light into someone’s life today?
• What person needs light in their lives? How could I bring that to them?
• Who brought Your light into my life today?

A few months ago, I read a memoir of sorts, “Washed and Waiting” by Wesley Hill. I’ve called it the struggles of a saint, not because Hill is extraordinarily holy, but because saint means ‘one who is made holy’, and we, the beloved of God, made holy by Jesus, are called to be saints [Romans 1:7].

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“The fresh start of the gospel is God’s Groundhog Day. Only everyone around us has a memory as well. And yet each day God gives me another chance. Each time each moment I come to God and ask forgiveness I am washed. There is never, ever, a refusal on his part.”

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“Jenna described that dark time and told me something that has remained with me ever since: “I just wanted to be whole again, Wes, and I thought that by pretending it wasn’t there, the depression would just go away. But ignoring is not the path to redeeming. If I wanted this depression to be redeemed, I had to face it head-on.” I tried to swallow the lump in my throat, realizing those words were for me. Ignoring is not the path to redeeming.”

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“Once Tara described an experience she had had while studying in England for a semester. She had been striving to understand and be what she thought she should understand and be. Finally one night, in a service at Coventry Cathedral, she relaxed and submitted to God’s wound-mending embrace. She felt that God loved her just as she was. I read Tara’s description of that night at Coventry several times, and I realized, with a cold, smarting sense of mingled sadness and helplessness, that I knew very little, firsthand, of what she was describing. My first thought as I got out of bed every morning was not, I am the beloved of God. I had not mastered the discipline, as N. T. Wright calls it, of looking to the cross of Christ and seeing evidence there that I am loved extravagantly and inexorably by the self-giving triune God.
…It has taken years for me to learn, bit by bit, this spiritual practice of meditating on the love of God and to understand that it is central to my struggle… I consciously began the daily effort to view myself as God’s beloved, redeemed by the self-gift of Christ.”

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“When I cannot feel God’s love for me in my struggle, to have a friend grab my shoulder and say, “I love you, and I’m in this with you for the long haul” is, in some ways, an incarnation of God’s love that I would otherwise have trouble resting in.
…No longer was I simply struggling; I was learning to struggle well, with others, in the presence of God.”

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“I’d suggest that living with unfulfilled desires is not the exception of the human experience but the rule. Even most of those who are married are, as Thoreau once said, “living lives of quiet regret.” Maybe they married the wrong person or have the pain of suffering within marriage or feel trapped in their situations and are unable to fulfill a higher sense of calling. The list of unfulfilled desires goes on and on.”

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A friend said to Hill:
“Imagine yourself standing in the presence of God, looking down from heaven on the earthly life you’re about to be born into, and God says to you, ‘Wes, I’m going to send you into the world for sixty or seventy or eighty years. It will be hard. In fact, it will be more painful and confusing and distressing than you can now imagine. You will have a thorn in your flesh…that is the result of your entering a world that sin and death have broken, and you may wrestle with it all your life. But I will be with you. I will be watching every step you take, guiding you by My Spirit, supplying you with grace sufficient for each day.
And at the end of your journey, you will see My face again, and the joy we share then will be born out of the agonies you faithfully endured by the power I gave you. And no one will take that joy— that solid resurrection joy, which, if you experienced it right now, would crush you.’
God is the author of your story. He is watching, supplying you with his Spirit moment by moment.”

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Whether it is watching the news or walking through our neighborhood, we see the plight of hurting and needy people. This prayer expresses the heart-cry that wells up in us, and reminds us that God sees and God knows.
“Ever-watching Father:
we pray for the suffering children whom we do not see.
We know that your eyes see their tears,
that your heart knows their sorrow,
that your hands can reach them now.
We remember that Jesus was once a child,
that poverty stole his bread,
that tyrants sought his life,
that his mother tasted tears.

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We ask you to send friends for the lonely,
food for the hungry,
medicine for the sick,
saviors for the enslaved,
rescue for the perishing.

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Give us the wisdom to do our part,
share our possessions,
leave our comforts,
lend them our voice,
send them our food,
love them with more than prayers.
We call on you in the name of your child Jesus.
Amen.”
Tony Kummer

“We live on borrowed breath. We are alive in the most profound sense of the word–filled with the very breath that spoke creation into being. God looks upon humanity’s frame of dust and say, “I formed you, I love you, and I delight in you.” We are beloved dust.”
Jamin Groggin and Kyle Stroebel in “Beloved Dust”

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“We must understand that God does not “love” us without liking us – through gritted teeth – as “Christian” love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core – which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word “love”.”
Dallas Willard in “The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God”

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“A person greatly beloved.” Daniel 10:11
  “Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly beloved too?… You were called by grace and led to a Savior, and made a child of God and an heir of heaven. All this proves, does it not, a very great and superabounding love?
Since that time, whether your path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies, it has been full of proofs that you are a person greatly beloved. .. … Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of your own heart, you are greatly beloved.”
Charles Spurgeon

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
Psalm 42:1
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There’s a short video* going around that shows how powerful our words and actions can be on the people we interact with during the day. Based on the children’s book, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud,* it illustrates the simple truth that we can build someone up with affirming words or tear them down with unkind words.

It’s a lesson even a kindergartener understands. An impatient word can suck the life out of me; an encouraging word brings a lightness to my heart that can last the whole day.

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After I watched the video clip, I realized that’s one reason why I need and want to spend time with God. As I read His Word, He tells me how He cares for me. When I listen to Him, I’m getting my bucket filled. My cup overflows. And because my bucket leaks [thanks in part to the accuser who takes delight in saying bad things about me], I need to hear from my Father every day.

Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
.
Isaiah 41:10

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
” Isaiah 46:4

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;
your walls are ever before Me.

Isaiah 49:15-16

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jeremiah 31:3

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“The Lord your God is with you, He is might to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

Your sins are forgiven…
Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:48, 50

“Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds?
Look at My hands and My feet.
It is I myself!
Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.

Luke 24:38-39

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through Him.
” John 3:17

Hope does not disappoint us,
because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit,
who He has given us.”
Romans 5:5

Which one of these blessings is God speaking to you today?

With whom can you share His encouragement?

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Links
Video clip on how to be someone who fills buckets

Have you filled a bucket today?

The following quotes are from “How to Really Love Your Grandchild” by Ross Campbell. [If you substitute ‘person’ for ‘child’, you’ll see how these principles apply not only to children, but to any person in your life.]

“The question before us is whether children fully receive the love that is there. The world throws into place many obstacles that can keep children from feeling the love they must have…A child stands in the confusion and wonders, Where is the place for me? What will happen to me? Am I loved?
…always be asking yourself these questions: Does this child feel profoundly, unconditionally loved? When and how can I express my love and support for this child again?”

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“Sydney J. Harris said, ‘Love that is not expressed in loving action does not really exist, just as talent that does not express itself in creative works does not exist; neither of these is a state of mind or feeling, but an activity, or it is a myth.’
Love is primarily active, something that must be experienced. That’s true for all of us. But it is truer for children than we can begin to imagine. Children do not think conceptually, as adults do. They don’t grasp love as an abstract idea; they grasp it as a personal experience.”

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“Children (much like the rest of us) have emotional tanks that must be filled. They need love, acceptance and security to live and function well. At regular intervals, someone must fill that tank. You and I certainly need reassurance from time to time; we cannot live without the expression of love. But we can go a bit farther and for a longer time than children. Think of a child’s tank as small, running through its “fuel” rather rapidly and needing more. Therefore, several times a day, (the child]) should receive your love in some way. A warm smile and a hug count as a trip to the emotional “filling station.” A warm, encouraging word is more fuel for their tank.”

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“The truth is that gifts, nice as they may be, are never a substitute for genuine love. They can’t fill the emotional tank in the way that eye contact, touch and focused time can do. I think it’s wonderful that God created love to be a free thing, something that anyone in the world can give. No one need ever spend a cent, yet he or she can give love lavishly and to overflowing. Emotional needs, you see, require emotional solutions. The only gift you can give (a child) that makes a difference is yourself, and that’s measured not in dollars and cents but in hours and minutes, and the genuine proof that these children matter more to us than anything else.”

Because the world is a broken place, filled with broken people, it’s not easy being a child. Other children, tired and pressured adults, unhappy siblings–just about anyone a child relates to can be a source of tension and anxiety.

But the reverse can be true as well. Every time we interact with a child, we have the opportunity to make a positive difference in his or her life. And “How to Really Love Your Child” is a kind of primer on how we can best do that, applicable to anyone who relates to children, not just parents. If you have a child or a grandchild, a niece or a nephew, or even a child you interact with regularly in your neighborhood or church, you will find this book helpful.

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I read this* while on vacation with five children and found it immediately practical. The insights are clear yet very profound. It only took me a few hours to read the book but I reflected on it for several days and discussed some of the ideas with the other adults.

wonderful Vermont beach

wonderful Vermont beach

The chapters that were especially helpful for me were on the love a child needs and the anger a child expresses. The first reminded me how vital it is for a child to feel loved unconditionally.
“There is no way to over-love a child; none of us, for that matter, can ever receive too much genuine love. Children need so much of it…”
In the press of daily life, it is so easy to forget or overlook this. A child constantly needs to experience love in action.

The second reminded me that at times, when a child is angry, he or she is not always so easy to love. Campbell gives some real-world advice on being with a child who is whining or crying (which as we know happens just about any time you are with a child!), It was comforting to read that some of my impatience in those situations is normal and yet can be overcome.

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a peaceful moment playing together

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:13-16

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Who are the children in your life?
What can you do to love them this week?

Notes
I read the “How to Really Love Your Grandchild” version–and have a loanable Kindle copy if you are interested.

A nice companion to Campbell’s book is “Finding Home: An Imperfect Path to Faith and Family” by Jim Daly. This memoir is a powerful story about how love and its absence can affect a child, and how a loving adult can make a difference to a child.

From “When Sorry Isn’t Enough” by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas:

“When we apologize, we accept responsibility for our behavior, seeking to make amends with the person who was offended. Genuine apology opens the door to the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. Then we can continue to build the relationship. Without apology, the offense sits as a barrier, and the quality of the relationship is diminished. Good relationships are always marked by a willingness to apologize, forgive, and reconcile.”

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On repenting:
Another “step down the road of repentance is implementing the plan. A plan that is not implemented is like a seed that is not planted. Making the plan work requires thought and action. I have often found it helpful to write on an index card the changes I am trying to implement and to post them on the mirror where I shave in the mornings. It is a way of keeping them on the front burner of my mind. I am more likely to make the changes if I am consciously aware of what I am trying to do differently today.”

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On asking for forgiveness:
“When an offense occurs, immediately it creates an emotional barrier between two people. Until that barrier is removed, the relationship cannot go forward. An apology is an attempt to remove the barrier. If you discover that the person’s primary apology language is requesting forgiveness, then this is the surest way of removing the barrier. To that person, this is what indicates that you genuinely want to see the relationship restored.
“A second reason that requesting forgiveness is important is that it shows that you realize you have done something wrong—that you have offended the other person, intentionally or unintentionally. What you said or did may not have been morally wrong. You may even have done or said it in jest. But it offended the other person. He or she now holds it against you. It is an offense that has created a rift between the two of you. In that sense it is wrong, and requesting forgiveness is in order, especially if this is the person’s primary apology language.”

Summer comes with many benefits: more time to relax, travel, go to the beach, or simply enjoy the sunshine outside on the deck or porch or terrace or in a park. This can also mean more time to read a good book and this month I’ll be sharing a few five-star recommendations from my summer reading. I’ve called this mini round-up “Beach reading for the soul” even though the two books don’t directly address our relationship with God. Instead, they focus on our relationships with other people–which is also a key aspect of our soul. Six of the Ten Commandments, and the second great commandment of Jesus deal with how we relate to those around us. Following Jesus includes loving the people in our lives, and these two books help us as we seek to become more like Him who loves perfectly.

The first book is “When Sorry Isn’t Enough” by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas.

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Here are a few questions that will help you decide whether you want to read this life-changing book:
*Have you ever needed to apologize to someone?
*Has someone ever needed to apologize to you?
*Have you ever apologized to someone but your apology didn’t seem to make a difference to the person?
*Has someone ever apologized to you but it didn’t seem adequate to you?
Yes? Then this is the book for you.

Following his Five Love Languages approach, Chapman and his co-author Thomas discuss five different styles of apologizing:
* “I’m sorry”
* “I was wrong”
* Restitution
* Repentance
* Asking for forgiveness

Now that you know the five styles, you might be tempted to think you don’t really need to read the book. However, as we are all aware, just because we know something doesn’t mean we put it into practice. And our knowledge tends to be me-focused. I know what works for me, and I generally think that should be true for everyone else too. I often fail to take into account that other people are wired very differently and have different needs.

That’s one reason why this book is so profound. As Chapman showed with the five love languages, if you really want to affect the other person, you need to understand how best to communicate with them. Whether you are trying to express love or trying to apologize, you can end up wondering why the other person doesn’t appreciate your efforts. It’s like talking in Chinese to someone who is fluent in Arabic. A lot will get lost in translation.

The book comes with a form you can fill in to discover your own apology language[s]. There’s also a free online version available [see link below]. I’d definitely recommend doing this. Answering the questions helped me gain greater understanding of how the different apology approaches can effect different people.

Another valuable part of the book is all the powerful real-life stories of people who have wrestled with apology and being reconciled. It’s very helpful to read how other people have struggled to deal with the hurts and offenses that are bound to come into relationships. The material also gave me fresh insight into my relationships. In one case, it prompted me to apologize to someone for what I had done decades ago. The person and I have had a great relationship for some time now, but my apology made a real difference to them and it brought us even closer.

Along with the great examples, each apology style comes with a list of specifics statements you can use when you apologize. For example:
“‘I’m sorry that I was so insensitive. I am sorry that I violated your trust. I’ve created a roadblock in our relationship that I want to remove. I understand that even after I apologize, it may take awhile for you to venture down the road of trust with me again.'”

I found having these written down in black and white was a real help. Just as we need to practice speaking a foreign language, we may have to spend some time practicing how to apologize. There’s also a very helpful list of what *not* to say when apologizing.

I read the book on the plane as I traveled to the states.

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As we flew over the ocean, I was reminded of God’s approach to forgiveness:
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

And outside my window was an illustration of how He loves us:

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For Your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Psalm 57:10

The book is an easy read. I finished it well before we landed. But I’m going to be applying it for the rest of my life. As the parable of the unmerciful servant teaches, if I am going to follow Jesus, I need to practice giving and receiving forgiveness. The book is an indispensable resource for that and I’d recommend it everyone.

Take the free online apology profile here

If you’d like to read Paul Miller on love, he’s written two books. The first, Love Walked Among Us, focuses on Jesus [and covers some of the same material as the Love Course]. His second book, A Loving Life, looks at love in the life of Ruth. Here’s a little taste of each:

“When I think of how Jesus loved people, the word “cherish” comes to mind. When we cherish someone, we combine looking and compassion—we notice and care for that person. We don’t shut him or her out… Love begins with looking…The Samaritan sees a person. The priest and the Levite see a problem. They are too distracted, preoccupied, or agenda-driven to identify with him.”
Paul Miller in Love Walked Among Us

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“Jesus’ life doesn’t give us a love formula. Religion and pop psychology often reduce love to specific behaviors, thus simplifying love so we don’t have to work at it. We like clarity. ‘Just tell me what to do.’ But Jesus deals with people as they are.”
Paul Miller in Love Walked Among Us

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“You endure the weight of love by being rooted in God. Your life energy needs to come from God, not the person you are loving. The more difficult the situation, the more you are forced into utter dependence on God. That is the crucible of love, where self-confidence and pride are stripped away, because you simply do not have the power or wisdom or ability in yourself to love. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you can’t love. That is the beginning of faith—knowing you can’t love. Faith is the power for love. ”
Paul Miller in “A Loving Life”

Review of Love Walked Among Us
Review of A Loving Life

Summer is a great time for book lovers. We look forward to having time to relax with a good book at the beach or in the mountains or curled up in a chair at home.

But sometimes our summer plans involve driving [or flying] long distances to get to the beach or the mountains. Or we still have to commute to work. Or we go for long walks after being cooped up all winter.

If you’ll have some listening time this summer, here’s a great recommendation: Paul Miller’s Love Course. As he did with prayer in The Praying Life, Miller unpacks what it means for real people, like you and me, to love like Jesus. How do we enter into the compassion, honesty, oneness, dependence and passion of Jesus?

The outline is simple, but the five-part series is filled with powerful, life-changing truth drawn from the master of love, Jesus.

The course is free to download. You don’t have to listen to the parts in sequence–in fact, I’d suggest you start by choosing one or two lessons that interest you most. But you may soon find yourself downloading the entire course.

There are also excellent manuals you can buy for each part as well which are designed for personal study or a small group.