The Sort of Definition of Love

Microsoft Sans Serif – Just what is the proper definition of love? We see a form of it almost everywhere. It’s on television, in books, and the theme of many a song. It’s the sort of love that lasts as long as the feeling is reciprocated. It’s the sort of love that says, “I love you because you love me.” It’s the love that we think will last.

In the movie Fireproof, Caleb and Catherine have lost their love and are about to lose their marriage. Caleb’s father sends him a book, The Love Dare. It takes him on a fourty day journey that changes the way he treats his wife and his marriage to her. More than once Caleb gets frustrated with the process, but he sticks with it. Catherine doesn’t know about The Love Dare and is led to believe that Caleb is out for more money out of the impending divorce settlement. She rejects every attempt he makes at first, however once she sees that he has given up pornography, she begins to trust him again. Believing that another love interest has done her a great favor, she is all set to see the divorce through until she learns the truth.

It is a surprisingly good movie, even though I’m single. Love is difficult concept, even in the Bible. We all know that 1 Corinthians 13 is dedicated to the subject of love, but the Bible has more than just that to say. 1 John 4:7-21 is about God’s love. 1 John 3:11-24 tells us that we should love one another.

Paul told Timothy that people would be capable of love in the last days, but they would love themselves, that they would love money, and that they would love pleasure, but that they would also be without love, would not love the good, and they wouldn’t love God either. God is love. If you don’t have God, how can you give love? If you don’t have love, how can you give God? So you see, that selfish sort of love isn’t love at all, especially if you don’t have God.

The Bible doesn’t just talk about love, but it carries many examples of it. The Ruth sort of love that caused her to leave her people to tend to her mother-in-law. The Esther sort of love that caused her to risk her life for her people. The Elisha sort of love that wouldn’t allow him to leave Elijah even though he knew Elijah would soon go. The Peter sort of love who wouldn’t give up on Jesus so easily. The sort of love that Jesus lived out every day. When he was tired from the day’s work and the crowd showed up, he loved them and healed them and cured them and taught them and fed them.

True love has been polluted by the popular media of the world. I’m not talking about the husband and wife sort of love that seems to be falling by the wayside even in churches, but the sort of love that causes a person to check on an ailing neighbor, to shelf their pride and make wrongs right, and to intervene on a stranger’s behalf among other things, should be the mark of a Christian.

So I want to know, is there another version of The Love Dare that teaches me to not only unconditionally love God, but to also unconditionally love everybody else? I sometimes think I’m like Catherine, the world is vying for my heart when it should already belong to God. I’m like Paul, in that being single allows me to devote that much more of my love to Him. Or, it should allow me. I can’t help but wonder – if I spent fourty days relearning to love God – just what the results would be. Oh, and the proper definition of love is God.

The Covenant Mediator

Maiandra GD – (It’s been an interesting winter. Dad has gotten his truck stuck in the snow twice. The drifts are high enough to not only reach but cover the benches of a standard picnic table. Our only other four-by-four is the suv that can manage to traverse the driveway, but as its system malfunction warning lights have recently activated, we considered it wise not to risk it. To our fortune, our neighbor bailed us out with a tractor. We can only hope we will be equally able to get out when we need to later.)

Hebrews 9:11-15, “11When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
 15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Wikipedia:  “The word “covenant” principally refers to any of a number of solemn agreements made between God and the Israelites in the Hebrew Bible, as well as to the New Covenant, which Christians consider to be the final fulfillment of these. Christians typically use the term “Old Covenant” to collectively refer to the covenants described in the Old Testament.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters, also considers Christ’s death to mark the beginning of a new covenant era. In this era, he claims, the traditional barriers between Jew and Gentile are broken down. Both are approved by God on the basis of faith. However, he also warns Gentile believers in Jesus (whom he views as the Jewish Messiah) not to boast in their newfound acceptance by God, for they have been “grafted in” to the covenantal tree whose root is in the promises to national Israel.”

Hebrews 9:16-28, “16In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

 23It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Incredible Heroics

Lucida Sans –

I remember when heroes were bound by the law.

I remember when heroes were uncorruptable.

I remember when heroes were unstoppable.

I remember when heroes were unkillable.

I remember when heroes were moral.

I remember when heroes were something more…

In the golden age of comics, the super heroes weren’t just super-powered people, but as people themselves they were super. They were a cut above the rest. Citizens who could act in and out of costume for the well-being of everybody.

Then as people got tired of the same old, super heroes started being more realistic. They had personal problems and addictions just like everybody else. They broke the rules, had break-downs, and had no self-esteem, in some cases.

Thus the creation of the anti-hero. Vigilantes who could care less about the law and deal out their own punishments. They racked up body counts of bad men, not realizing that they were becoming what they were hunting.

As I see the superhero movies in theatres, I can’t help but wonder if it too, will leave the super behind and focus on the anti-heroes. It’s just, no matter what we see of superheroes, we must not forget that real heroes wear uniforms and not costumes. They save lives, protect people, and even lay down their own lives so that others might live.

I do have one hero who is above the rest. He is bound by the law, uncorruptable, unstoppable, unkillable, moral, and something more, His name is Christ Jesus.

Murphy’s “I Told You So.” Isn’t Fair

High Tower Text – (We lost him. All that care and it still wasn’t enough. It’s a difficult blow that hit hardest the person who has spent the most time with them and that particular one. With so many puppies vying for whatever milk their mom can produce, that one puppy couldn’t get enough. One by one its organs shut down and it slipped away. Not even the vet was able to do anything for him. It’s doubly sad because there were fewer boys anyway and that limits the group we can choose from. So it’s pretty sad to perform a head count and realize we’re down to ten. We’re bound and determined though, to make certain that we won’t lose another. So it was fitting that the snow was falling because it would have been just that much worse if we lost a puppy and it was a beautiful day outside.)

Murphy’s Laws – READ: Exodus 20:1-17
You shall have no other gods before Me. —Exodus 20:3

Murphy’s Laws are observations about life that seem to have the weight of experience behind them. You’ve probably heard this one: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Here’s another one: “You can’t do just one thing; everything has its consequences.”

My own experience seems to confirm many of Murphy’s Laws, but it’s that second one that I would hang on the wall as a motto. Wrong choices have their consequences. For example, if we choose to live for pleasure, that will affect our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (Ex. 20:4-5). If we walk away from God, we may discover that our children have taken that trip with us. Later, even if we return to Him, they may not.

But there is also good news. Devotion to the Lord has its consequences too. Men and women who live in faith before God can have a strong influence on their children and their children’s children. If they live a long life, they can witness the effect their faith has had on several generations. What satisfaction it brings to older people to see their posterity living for Christ!

Murphy and the Bible agree on this point: “Everything has its consequences.”  — Haddon W. Robinson

If you sow seeds of wickedness,
Sin’s harvest you will reap;
But scattered seeds of righteousness
Yield blessings you can keep. —Sper

People who follow Christ lead others in the right direction.

Intentions

Goudy Old Style – (The puppies are doing much better, but one of them is in much trouble at the moment. We just hope it’ll make it through the night.

Molly and the Brats

Here they are – well some of them anyway. We opted for the partial boxer look, so they’re going to keep the floppy ears but not their tails. Molly is so attentive, but she’s starting to chill out a little now that she sees they are doing so well.)

Among the many Christian movies we have on our bookshelves is the pseudo-sci-fi movie, ‘Decieved’. During the introduction of the various characters, a preacer walks up to the man character (who is smoking a cigarette) and tells him, “You know, If God had intended you to smoke, he wouldn’t have invented lung cancer.” To which the man repplies, “If God hadn’t intended me to smoke, he wouldn’t have created tobacco.”

It’s a common argument. Unfortunately it’s not valid, but that never stops people from using it. First of all, our ways are not God’s ways. What makes sense to us is nothing compared to what God understands. Secondly, God tells us exactly what he intends in the Bible. There’s no guessing and no ifs about it. For the record, God intends that we believe in the one He has sent – Christ Jesus.

As for our bad habits, we just like to take the good things that God has made and use them for destructive ends. God made justice, we sued everybody’s socks off. God made plants, we smoked them. God made atoms, we splitted them. God made rules, we broke them. It’s not in us to be good of ourselves, nobody on earth today could be sufficiently good to get into heaven. You don’t lie? Good! You haven’t stolen anything? Even better! You even don’t lust? How commendable! But it all doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in Jesus as your savior.

Robby’s Night – True Story Worth Reading!

Gill Sans MT – (Seems like most of the puppies are going to be okay, there are two small ones that we’re taking extra measures to ensure their well-being, but all the others are strong and vibrant. The official count is either 7 girls and 4 boys or 6 girls and 5 boys, we aren’t quite sure. Today they are going to the vet and their momma isn’t. She’s going to go crazy without them, but it’s a neccessary thing for the vet to make sure they’re all healthy. I had to have my sister explain the lifting of the ban on abortion funding to me twice to make it make any sense. Apparently, our government can now send money overseas to pay for abortions. Now if each senator wants to take their own money and give to a collection, I won’t stop them. However, they’re taking tax dollars to pay for the procedures. We are in trillions of debt, in the worst economy since the Great Depression, without hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the government is going to take our tax dollars we don’t have to pay for abortions of people in other countries who do not even pay taxes to us? What is wrong with that picture?)

At the prodding of my friends, I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Hondorf. I am a former elementary school music teacher from Des Moines, Iowa. I’ve always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons-something I’ve done for over 30 years. Over the years I found that children have many levels of musical ability. I’ve never had the pleasure of having a prodigy though I have taught some talented students.

However I’ve also had my share of what I call ‘musically challenged’ pupils. One such student was Robby. Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single Mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer that students (especially boys!) begin at an earlier age, which I explained to Robby.

But Robby said that it had always been his mother’s dream to hear him play the piano. So I took him as a student. Well, Robby began with his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to excel but he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary pieces that I require all my students to learn.

Over the months he tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage him. At the end of each weekly lesson he’d always say, ‘My mom’s going to hear me play someday.’ But it seemed hopeless. He just did not have any inborn ability. I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always waved and smiled but never stopped in.

Then one day Robby stopped coming to our lessons.

I thought about calling him but assumed because of his lack of ability, that he had decided to pursue something else. I also was glad that he stopped coming. He was a bad advertisement for my teaching!

Several weeks later I mailed to the student’s homes a flyer on the upcoming recital.. To my surprise Robby (who received a flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital.  I told him that the recital was for current pupils and because he had dropped out he really did not qualify. He said that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to piano lessons but he was still practicing. ‘Miss Hondorf, I’ve just got to play!’ he insisted.

I don’t know what led me to allow him to play in the recital. Maybe it was his persistence or maybe it was something inside of me saying that it would be all right. The night for the recital came . The high school gymnasium was packed with parents, friends and relatives. I put Robby up last in the program before I was to come up and thank all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage he would do would come at the end of the program and I could always salvage his poor performance through my ‘curtain closer.’

Well, the recital went off without a hitch. The students had been practicing and it showed, then Robby came up on stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked like he’d run an eggbeater through it. ‘Why didn’t he dress up like the other students?’ I thought. ‘Why didn’t his mother at least make him comb his hair for this special night?’

Robby pulled out the piano bench and he began. I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen Mozart’s Concerto #21 in C Major. I was not prepared for what I heard next. His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo. From allegro to virtuoso. His suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent! Never had I heard Mozart played so well by people his age. After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo and everyone was on their feet in wild applause.

Overcome and in tears I ran up on stage and put my arms around Robby in joy. ‘I’ve never heard you play like that Robby! How’d you do it? ‘

Through the microphone Robby explained: ‘Well, Miss Hondorf, Remember I told you my Mom was sick? Well, actually she had cancer and passed away this morning and well. .. She was born deaf so tonight was the first time she ever heard me play. I wanted to make it special.’

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be placed into foster care, noticed that even their eyes were red and puffy and I thought to myself how much richer my life had been for taking Robby as my pupil.

No, I’ve never had a prodigy but that night I became a prodigy . .. Of Robby’s. He was the teacher and I was the pupil for it is he that taught me the meaning of perseverance and love and believing in yourself and maybe even taking a chance in someone and you don’t know why.

Robby was killed in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995. And now, a footnote to the story.

(I was only eight years old that day when the Murrah Building was bombed. I remember being in school writing a book about myself and my upcoming  birthday. I lived on the North-Eastern side of Oklahoma City, well out of any danger. I felt the shockwave as it disbursed. It was like everything had jumped up, was suspended for a second, and fell back down. I suppose things fell, but the memory of a young child is a funny thing. It was big news though, nothing on but the stories of the people. Children being pulled from the ruins of the daycare center. People trapped in the rubble. A woman’s legs were crushed by a massive concrete wall. I later discovered that the last person killed as a result of the blast was a rescuer who was a friend of my dad. Going to school I was surprised at how many people lost somebody that was a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance. 168 stories, 168 lives, and 168 people gone but not forgotten. I’ve visited the memorial though, it’s a quiet place. Everybody has a story that touches somebody else and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Your story is no less important.)

Sounding The Alarm

Georgia – Now in the Bible it says that watchmen are posted on the gates and if they see a danger coming and do not blow their horn than the blood that is spilled will be on their own heads, but if that watchman wakes up the whole town he isn’t responsible for any blood that is spilled. It seems like every time I wanted to write about this certain topic everything was wrong. However, it will be to my shame if I say nothing and somebody gets hurt. I expect people to call me names once it is all said and done, but you have to be warned.

Israel has to defend herself at all costs. Thousands of rockets have been raining down on them not only from Gaza, but now some are flying in from Lebanon. Israel is so conscious not to hurt civilians any more than they have to, they have been calling the areas they are targeting and instructing the civilians to flee. Some of the civilians decided to call their leaders who have come up with a brilliant strategy. Every time they recieve a report that an area is being targeted, they will send civilians to that area. Why? Hamas knows that the more civilians get hurt the more the rest of the world will be on its side. Never mind the fact that Hamas is using it’s civilians’ homes as rocket factories, rocket launching areas, and using the civilians themselves as human shields. Israel can’t stand up to the world, and that is what Hamas is counting on.

Even if only one percent of all followers of Islam are fundalmentalist jihadists, one percent of over a billion people is far too many. Former President Bush hinted that even if the war against them was over for now, it would have to eventually begin again. We are the west, we are used to the ways of the west, anything else is so foreign, we can’t wrap our minds around the thought. Think of it this way, there are millions of people who live in a works system without having been taught of Jesus’ saving sacrifice. The women in that system are subject to getting attacked and stoned in the streets for the sakes of their honor. Every missionary who preaches the gospel lives under a sentence of death. People who convert from Islam also live under a sentence of death.

All it takes for bad people to succeed is for good people to do nothing. If only one percent if Muslims are Jihadists, the ninety-nine percent aren’t too concerned about stopping the one percent. At any time, at any place, one percent can kill alot of people when ninety-nine percent do nothing. Aren’t we even worse? We won’t even risk our own lives to save theirs! Ah, but the warning, when the one percent is weak, they are comanded to lay low and build up their strength. when the one percent is at equal, they are comanded to seek out a treaty why they are under no obligation to fulfil. When that one percent is strong they are commanded to seek out and destroy the infidels, the unbelievers. Don’t believe me? Look at what happens in Israel every day. One day, the battle will take place on our soil and we will ask ourselves why we didn’t finish the battle over there. We will be to blame as the poor watchmen we are.