COMMANDMENTS


mirror image

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.

For centuries we have been reading and quoting these two ‘commandments’ and that is fine. One should, above all else, love God first and foremost. One should also love their neighbor— ‘neighbor’ being one’s fellow man—no matter who that might be. There is also a third part to these ‘commandments’, which is grossly overlooked. This third part is the last two words. “…as yourself.”

We talk about the love God has for us and how this should be reciprocated. We talk about how we should love the sinner (which is anyone and everyone) but hate the sin. We talk about loving our enemies, even if we don’t like them, which almost seems like an oxymoron. We talk about showing the love of God, letting God’s love flow through us, being an example of God’s love to others, and countless other Christian clichés about loving others, but we, and those who instruct us, forget one tiny detail. If we don’t love ourselves, how can we love others?

The “normal” answer for this is – once we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and truly love God with all we are, then that love will permeate our being and flow out of us to others. That still doesn’t account for the fact that we find everything about ourselves to be hideous and repugnant. We still need to find some way to forgive ourselves for what we may have done in the past and accept the person we have, or will, become. That is the one thing that is not taught in our churches. “If God can forgive me, why can’t I?”

Yes, there are scriptures to help with this, such as, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1) But that is taken out of context. The condemnation referred to here is man being condemned by God for sin. Once the gift of salvation is accepted, God grants a ‘pardon’ for our sins and wipes the slate clean of any record of sin. The sin stain is gone and we now appear before God as ‘spotless.’ But, when we look in the mirror, we still see the same person with all of our character flaws, past sins, evil desires and so on.

We can run to the altar and tearfully throw ourselves down in sincere repentance, asking for God’s forgiveness until every one of our sins are recounted, relinquished and removed from God’s sight, but, when we are alone with ourselves, we still feel disgust, or even a loathing, for ourselves. So we are back the next week, repenting and sobbing, trying to get the love, forgiveness and acceptance we already have from God, when we are the only ones holding out on us. We know that He knows who we are and what we’ve done, but so do we. And therein lies the rub.

Usually, it is at this point that the Apostle Paul comes to mind saying, “I die daily,” meaning that little by little we are to take off the old man and put on the new. Some, like Paul himself, make an over night transformation, but for the rest of us it is a lifelong process.

Does that mean that we all have to become Christian Clones? At times it seems that way when you talk to some groups of believers. They all act the same, talk the same, and begin to look the same after a short time of being around them. If they are content to be the Stepford believers, then that is fine for them.

But it is our uniqueness that God likes. He created each of us individually, to be individuals, for our individual purpose. The only one we have to try to be like is Jesus, and that doesn’t mean we have to run around with an angelic face, spreading love and joy and peace all the time. We can have a personality of our own. We do have a personality of our own. That personality is what makes you you and God loves you for being you, just as he made you.   And all of your past experiences have shaped and molded that personality into who you are today.

So where does all of that leave us on loving ourselves so we can love our neighbors? Let me take a scripture totally out of context and say, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) If God can forgive and accept us and love us for who we are, then why can’t we? Or better yet, why shouldn’t we? Are we greater than God? Is there any other standard higher than God’s? If we are good enough for God, we ought to be good enough for us!! Realizing that this is not going to be easy for some, if not most, there is just one more thing to say, meant as nicely as possible – Get over yourself. You are who you are and will be whom God created you to be if you quit trying to tell yourself you’re not good enough. If you’re waiting until you’ve arrived, you’re never going to get there. Never stop trying to improve, but realize that there was only one sinless, regretless, perfect man. Chances are that probably isn’t you, but it is a goal to strive for. In the mean time, just relax and know that everyone else was and is a sinner saved by grace.   You are the same as everyone else in that respect. Accept yourself for who you are and it will make it easier to accept—and love – others. You are unique, just like everybody.

©  Simply Consider This, 2014.

Advertisements

THE QUANDARY


questionsWhat does it matter?
Does anyone really care?
Are there any real answers?

Why do I have to read a history book?
Why do I have to talk to an unseen spirit?
How can I be sure the answers are not just my imagination?

If only I could believe in the unseen.
If only I could learn to trust the voice I hear.
If only I could understand that this is real.

He is The Way, The Truth and The Life.
I must believe it all The Way.
I must trust that what I believe is Truth.
I must understand that His Way is The Truth for my Life.

Do I want to continue on with what I am doing?
Do I want to continue on with unanswered questions?
Do I want to continue on with the helplessness I am feeling?

Am I willing to accept the forgiveness?
Am I willing to accept the acceptance?
Am I willing to accept the freedom?

Am I willing to listen to, understand, accept, believe in, trust in, and follow His direction?

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

SWEETLY KISSED BY JESUS


father kissingBeen sweetly kissed by Jesus

A tender kiss He placed upon my cheek

Affectionately given, as a Father loves his child

As I came to Him, with my arms reaching out

My heart calls to Him, my lips lovingly proclaim

Abba, Father!

Your presence surrounds me

I feel so safe in Your arms

Yes, sweetly kissed by Jesus

A tender kiss He placed upon on my cheek

Treasuring this moment, forever

Until eternity

When at last I reach Heaven

We will finally meet

Remembering how You held me

In Your arms cradled tenderly

Never forgotten will be

The tender kiss placed upon my cheek

Running toward my Savior

My God, my King

The One who so willingly died for me

Bowing humbly down before Him

Overwhelmed by His majesty

There at His feet to adore Him

The One who kissed my cheek

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

PERFECT WORLD


heaven-on-earthIn a perfect world
There would be no sadness,
only joy would be found.

In a perfect world
There would be no hate,
only love and peace.

In a perfect world
There would be no greed,
only giving and sharing.

In a perfect world
There would be no race,
no color difference.

In a perfect world
There would be no religion,
no arguments about belief.

In a perfect world
There would be no disease,
no pain, no hurt.

In a perfect world
There would be no hunger,
all would have enough to eat.

In a perfect world
There would be no loneliness,
all would be included.

In a perfect world
All would be perfect,
sounds like heaven to me.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

ACCEPTANCE


My Dad was in the military, so we moved around a lot when I was a kid.  I learned how to make friends pretty easy.  Of course, a lot of those friends were military kids too, so they were in the same boat.  You make a friend and soon your Dad, or theirs, would get reassigned.  I never got too close to anyone because I knew it wasn’t going to last.  Between 9th and 10th grade, Dad retired and we moved to a small town in Missouri.  There I found groups of kids that had known each other for several years some had known each other since kindergarten.  It was quite a culture shock.

Not only did they know each other all their lives, but they had formed groups that were  almost impossible to join.  It went beyond the jocks and the music department, the theatre group and the farmers, the hippies and the rednecks.  That was the type of groups I was used to seeing in San Antonio where I spent my freshman year.  Those were groups that banded together with a common interest.  Some of it was still there, but it wasn’t as well-defined.  Groups were based on friendships in this little hick town and it took a long time be accepted.  I just decided to try to be myself, mostly to be by myself.  It was easier that way.

All my life I wanted to be accepted.  I wasn’t an outcast but I wasn’t part of the “IN” crowd.  I wasn’t even on the fringe. In high school everyone seemed to know who I was, but no one wanted to get to know me.  Now, as an adult,  I keep trying to be accepted by different groups of people but never really fit in.

A good example of not fitting in came in an email from a potential employer at a job that I felt I was born to do.  It read, ”We have already engaged some other applicants that we feel would have been a better fit.”  Once again, I don’t fit in.  I seem to be the square peg and the world is a round hole.

No matter who you are, how old or young you are, well-educated or not, outgoing or shy, everyone is born with a need to be accepted. Children want to be accepted by their parents and are constantly saying, “Look what I can do,” to get their approval.  As we get older we might tell ourselves and others that we don’t care what others think of us, but deep down we want to be accepted.

Jesus wanted to be accepted by all people, but he knew he wouldn’t be because most were so caught up in doing things their way and being a part of their “groups” that his simple message of love was rejected by those who thought they had it all together.  Who would appreciate someone who accepts them without question more than those who have been rejected most of their lives?  The simple, the sinners, the ones who were considered to be less than ideal citizens, were the ones who came to Jesus most readily.  Why was that?  It is the same today as it was then.  It comes down to acceptance.

Jesus accepts you where you are.  No matter who you are.  It doesn’t matter to him what you’ve done or what you’re involved in now.  He accepts us without conditions.  His only request is that we believe in him because he believes in us.  In fact, he believes in us so much that he gave his life for us.  He suffered and died on the cross to pay for our sins.  When he rose from the grave he had conquered death, hell and the grave.  It was sin that caused death for man in the beginning and caused a separation between man and God. By believing in Jesus and accepting him as our savior and redeemer, we can overcome any sin, be forgiven for that sin, and spend eternity with him.

We all have sinned and we all have to make choices on a daily basis.   Sometimes we don’t make the right choices and other people will condemn us for it, but Jesus loves us anyway.  He doesn’t expect us to be perfect when we accept him as our savior.  Jesus will forgive us if we ask him.  He loves the murderer and thief as much as he loves Billy Graham.  More importantly, he accepts us as we are.

If you’re waiting until you’re good enough for Jesus to accept you,  your wait is over.  You’ll never be any better in his eyes than you are right now.
Today is the day of decision. Acceptance from a loving God, or rejection from the world and an eternity without knowing or ever having experienced that love and acceptance.  Accept Jesus.  He has already accepted you just as you are.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

HIDDEN BEHIND A MASK


masks

Oh how sad it has come to be
Hidden behind a mask are we
Unable to reveal our identity
Stuck away where no other can see
Is the unique personality
Self preservation has taken place
Because of the past we change our face
Afraid of rejection, judgment or scorn
Before the world a mask is worn

Crying out from underneath
The soul is yearning to be free
Free of wearing another face
For this mask has taken its place
In the quiet of the night
Tears fall because of it’s plight

In secret places solace is found
There true self is finally unbound
Free to be just who you are
Without fear or alarm
Flying, the soul dances again
Wishing this time would never end
Treasuring the moment for we know
This glorious time soon must go
When once more we will conceal
Behind a mask just how we feel

Isn’t it true God made us to be
Who we are individually
Why can’t we accept each other
That we are different one from another
Yet we keep the world at bay
Knowing there’s no other way
For revealing who we really are
Can, and has led to many scars

Forgive us Father for being so cruel
And for breaking a golden rule
That speaks of loving one another
Accepting our sisters and our brothers
Not for who we think they should be
But for their God-given individuality
Judging isn’t what we’re called to do
For Jesus, that is up to you
Let the mask fall from our face
Replaced by God’s tender grace
In our eyes let others see
God’s love for unique personalities

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.