Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Conditional vs. Unconditional Love

Sometimes I think it's hard to accurately reflect upon love.

On the one hand, you have God saying that you must always practice unconditional love towards your fellow man:

-Matthew 5:43-48
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

-Luke 6:30-36
30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

On the other hand, you also have God saying that you must obey His commandments, and one of those happens to be respecting yourself, His commandments, and His image in you:

-Corinthians 6:19
19 Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

I think, essentially, the last verse is of utmost importance when dealing with the issue of conditional vs. unconditional love.

Requiring certain things in a relationship is holding true to God's Word. It's about respecting yourself, respecting God's Word and His decree for how a Christian should lead their lives.

I'll be moving back to Alaska in August, I'm of mixed feelings about it. Sad that my journey here in Washington is coming to a close, but so incredibly grateful for what I have learned and experienced here, especially the last two and a half years.

I'll be posting more pictures of the container gardening experience, and other things in the next few months... then I'll be off to Alaska again sans garden. Hopefully I'll keep blogging and update things as I go....

God Guides Us Through Turbulent Times

The steps of the Godly are directed by God.
He delights in every detail of their lives.

The Bible promises that God will guide you if you let Him. Your job, of course, is to let Him. But sometimes, you will be tempted to do otherwise. Sometimes, you’ll be tempted to go along with the crowd; other times, you’ll be tempted to do things your way, not God’s way. When you feel those temptations, resist them.

What will you allow to guide you through the coming day: your own desires (or, for that matter, the desires of your friends)? Or will you allow God to lead the way? The answer should be obvious. You should let God be your guide. When you entrust your life to Him completely and without reservation, God will give you the strength to meet any challenge, the courage to face any trial, and the wisdom to live in His righteousness. So trust Him today and seek His guidance. When you do, your next step will be the right one.

Are you serious about wanting God’s guidance to become a personal reality in your life? The first step is to tell God that you know you can’t manage your own life; that you need His help. ~Catherine Marshall

I believe that the Creator of this universe takes delight in turning the terrors and tragedies that come with living in this old, fallen domain of the devil and transforming them into something that strengthens our hope, tests our faith, and shows forth His glory. ~Al Green

God will prove to you how good and acceptable and perfect His will is when He’s got His hands on the steering wheel of your life. ~Stuart & Jill Briscoe

Dear Lord, You always stand ready to guide me. Let me accept Your guidance, today and every day of my life. Lead me, Father, so that my life can be a tribute to Your grace, to Your mercy, to Your love, and to Your Son. Amen

Thursday, May 14, 2009

almost 15 days later, more pictures, more insights....

I am grateful.

I am SO blessed. I truly believe this in my heart of hearts. I have seen His work, in my own doings, and how friends begin to come back to Him after a time apart. And I want to cry from the joy of it. The scripture that was instrumental in my turning towards God and facing Him (He whom I ran from for so many years!) has been high in my consciousness these past months.

Luke 22:31-32

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. [32] But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

The sacrifice of Christ, his ultimate sacrifice, that of giving of his own life, that you and I may be made pure in God's eyes made me begin to realize how much I was running from Him Most High.

That Christ so believed in God's everlasting love and grace, he would pray and KNOW that it was already ordained that Simon would TURN BACK.... it still gives me goose-bumps and tears spring to my eyes even now, two years later. Christ said, "and when you turn back", not, "if".

I truly believe this is why I still cry in church. That God never gave up on me, even though I'd given up on myself. I am so very grateful that He truly is the trampoline for my falls. The one I was always looking for, but afraid to trust existed.

You, too, can turn back! You just have to take a chance, and jump with both feet! Even if you are scared, I am here as proof that it IS possible! You will be given the greatest gift you'll ever receive: unconditional love, and unconditional joy.

I'll leave off with a few updated pictures of the container gardening project. We're now quite a few weeks in, and while the plants are not as high as what I see growing in the fields at Joe's Garden, I fully realize that the location we're in now doesn't get full southern exposure, much as I would wish it. I do what I can, with what I can.

These were taken the second day of May, 2009.

Finished carrot-transplant. This picture doesn't do them justice.

My hands are filthy, I have dirt crammed under my nails, and the sun is shining. This was, indeed, a good day.

bad picture of the wicking system used in the second tote as an experiment against the olla-system used in the first. I'll do a post regarding both in another week or so.

Peas - Pulling apart the egg crate-seed starter. EXCELLENT SYSTEM! I totally enjoyed this, and will be repeating it in the future!

Finished second tote. We've got peas, radishes, zucchini, and a tomato (cherry) in this one.

I'll be taking more pictures in the next day or so, and I'll hopefully remember to add them to this space so that more can see how things are going.

Praise God!

Friday, May 1, 2009

70° and super ☼... I'm loving it! (will edit later with more veggie pictures!)

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].” (Hebrews 11:6)