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#356443 03/24/02 09:49 AM
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The author writes:<p>"The premise of this book is simple: I will not live with purpose and joy unless I love; I will not be able to love unless I forgive, and I will not forgive unless my hatred is continually melted by the searing truth and grace of the gospel."<p>Words to live by Huh? Well, it seems that this is all we need to know...so we can stop the study now...Yeah right! You know, I read things like this and think, well, isn't that just dandy! Now we have an answer. All I have to do is LIVE it and that would be enough! Well, truth be told, that is right, but it's not at all that easy to do. The rest of this chapter challenges us to take a good hard look at what LOVE really is for us, as God portrays it in His word and by His acts and for our relationships. <p>Mark 12:30-31, Gal 5:14, Rom 13:8-10 all have a common theme. "Love your neighbor as yourself". Not an easy task if we haven't defined love. <p>"Love is described (1 Cor 13), illustrated (the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37) and commanded (Luke 6:27-36) but it is never defined (in the word). The meaning of love is found in the person Jesus Christ and incarnated with definition and meaning by His death and resurrection. 'Love is sacrifice for the undeserving that opens the door to restoration of relationship with the FATHER, with OTHERS, and with OURSELVES.'"<p>So it is because of the actions of Jesus, who saved us with His own TOTAL BEING, that love becomes real. Otherwise, it is just a word, elusive in meaning and otherwise obscured by our feeble attempts to understand it within our human limitations. Love is divine in nature and can only be understood through devine means. <p>"It is pointless and worthless to live and not love. There will be no sweet sounds of joy or reward for living without love. So how do we know if we're really pressing on for the prize? Is love common and ordinary, or supremely rare and supernatural? Is it possible that many are involved in using talents, exercising power, and sacrificing enormous portions of money and flesh without being driven be a heart of love? I wonder if a great portion of our daily choices are made without a passing thought to whether our activity is consistent with a heart of love." <p>Wow, I am stung. How can we answer this? By our own self-examination. Here is where the rubber meets the road. Am I ready to dig in and really take a good hard look at my life and what has been exemplified to me as love as a child unto this day? Am I willing to admit that I have not loved at all but just imitated others faulty version of what they thought love was and then added my own creative style? I may be willing and able, but it is hard. I have often questioned Love and it's meaning. I confess I had no clue what true love is. And from the knowledge I have been gaining through my relationship with Christ, the study of the bible and well written books like this one, I have discovered I knew nothing about love!!! Ouch that hurts! But Praise God, I have discovered that I am learning about love and may one day be able to live it in larger ways in my own life. My attempts now are naive and fumbling, but God has a hold of me. I yield my will daily to His and even though a battle of wills takes place, I know God's will is taking strongholds now that will eventually take precedence in my heart and mind. <p>"Love is the most essential, life-giving gift we offer to another human being. It is also the least-likely,-natural, or-consistent response that is offered in the mundane moments, let alone during the difficult, soul-demanding struggles when we re threatened, reviled, and harmed. Rich moments of OTHER-CENTERED CARE and SACRIFICE ARE RARE. Most people presume the desire to love is a natural human sentiment, but love is actually the exception, the extraordinary, and the life altering surprise. " <p>Now at first glance at this paragraph, a lot of people might disagree. I did at first. Yet, upon self-examination, I found it to be so true. Over the last few weeks, I tried my darndest to love as a natural act, but alas, to no avail. I have had to force love out. My own hatred was so strong that love was no where to be found except to act upon the words of love God gave me in the bible. I thought about how many times I may have had not been frustrated, was not irritable, was in basically a good mood and was 'nice and kind' to others. I called this 'love' when in fact it was just a period of time when I was not so self-absorbed with my own ills that I didn't take it out on everyone else. Now, you may not experience this in the same way or at this level, but if we truly become honest with ourselves and with God in light of the truths being revealed here, we have to admit that our concept of Love is self-absorbed and limited to how we FEEL at any given time, not in response to the call of real Godly LOVE in our life. When I don't act out negatively what I feel because I remember the words of God I have read and studied, then I ACT upon His love, and not my own. This is love carried out through me, but is it really working in me?<p>"I wonder how often love is truly taught and lived as the CENTRAL PRIORITY of life. I asked one of my children what she thought was the most important lesson I wanted her to learn about life. She replied, "Work hard, do your best, and don't lie." Those are worthy objectives to teach a child, but if internalized without a larger picture, they are the basis for crushing legalism and pharisaical arrogance....Perhaps love is so rare, even in good homes, that other lessons about life are preeminent in the classroom of family living.....Love was never meant to be so incidental."<p>As for me, my own household growing up was really void of love, but had lots of lessons about working hard, getting ahead, becoming useful, doing positive things, thinking positively...how bout you?? What kind of example did you have growing up?? My parents tried to instill "good values" into me amidst the perverseness of verbal and sexual abuse. My idea of love was so distorted, it has taken God 47 years to open up the brickwalled protection around my heart and psyche enough to get in and show me what true love is.<p>"When the question of failure to love is raised, it should be heard as the whisper of a friend, not the accusation of an enemy, because our failures can be the delicious entry into a new comprehension of God's grace." .... "we are often so committed to seeing our involvement with others as innocent and our presumption of goodness untarnished that we retreat from facing our own loveliness. It seems inconceivable to most of us that relief can be found in facing our failure."...PLEASE, DO NOT OVERLOOK WHAT YOU JUST READ, IT IS A VERY IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE TO GRASP...GO BACK AND READ IT AGAIN IF YOU HAVE TO ... "In seeing what is in our heart, we might be further compelled to flee our presumption of self-sufficiency and embrace the hope of RELATIONSHIPS BUILT ON GOD'S INITIATIVE NOT ON OUR PERFORMANCE. (wow) However, THIS KIND OF DEPENDNECE REQUIRES A BROKEN HEART THAT HAS GIVEN UP THE DEMANDS OF PRIDE. Many are simply not ready for such a loss of face."<p>Are you ready for God to work in and on you to this extent????<p>
I need to stop here. I thought I could make it through to the end of chapter 1, but the next part about Forgiving Love will have to be a whole'nother study.<p>Once again, insights, comments and thoughts about this study and book as they apply to your life, are not only welcome, but also encouraged.<p>God Bless You All,
Bev<p>[ March 24, 2002: Message edited by: frstrtd ]<p>[ March 26, 2002: Message edited by: frstrtd ]</p>

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Bev/frstrtd: WOW ! Thank you for this meaty, wonderful study!<p>Hmmm...yes I think I am qualified to talk about how facing your failure can transform your life if you are willing to get brutally honest. It is risky and painful but SO worth it. God is restoring my life in totally incredible ways at this time and yet as you alluded to, opening whole new vistas of lack I need to seek Him for help with.<p>I dare to be brutally honest and while saying, Yes, my growing up years were in a very loving home, I have to call it a rather dysfunctional home. Sometimes I toy with a thought I hate to think about--your post is making me wonder if it's what God wants to work on next in me? I had a VERY close relationship with my father. I was the oldest and only girl..their pride and joy..their delight--Having to tell them next after confessing to H about my A was the hardest thing I EVER had to do. <p>H thinks my relationship with my Dad was actually emotionally incestuous. I am not sure. He was my hero and I wanted to marry a man just like him (which I did...and H says I am so much like his mom!! Weird? and yet his Dad had 2 As..I had one and hope never to go down that path again!) I DIGRESS!! Dad and I could talk for hours on end about the Lord. My memory of Mom is that she seemed angry at me a lot. Looking back I think and wonder if she felt jealous of our closeness as they were not openly affectionate.<p>I don't want to make this post about me..just musing out loud and hoping to stir up some conversation. This topic is SO broad.<p>I LOVE The concept that love is a life altering experience. I have to agree 100%. I suppose my loving nature is what got me into trouble originally (plus HUGE fog/deceit/dysfunction) but now that God has brought us into recovery, (Praise Him for that!!), I find life to be an amazing adventure.<p>I have the joy of being restored to Pastor's Wife again (and the relief of NOT being the pastor) One of my new challenges is to put healthy boundaries up THIS time so I can love the women and let H minister to the men. H is now an associate pastor--I have observed that our PW has been burned and shrinks from risking relationships with the ladies...<p>Anyway, please don't feel the need to address all my issues and I hope I am not on a wrong track. I really hope more women will come along and share their feelings/frustrations and dreams. <p>Awesome to meet you, Bev!

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frstrtd Offline OP
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Welcome fresh start and it is a pleasure to meet you also! Thanks for joining us. It seems your experiences have taken you to a good place in your life. The journey may have been stormy, but now that the storm has passed, I can tell God has His hand on you and you are yeilding to His will in your life. Success storys like yours need to be shouted from the roof tops so others can see just how amazing God's love and forgiveness is!<p>Good morning to all and have wonderful day!<p>God Bless,
Bev

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Just wanted to let you know that I too found this to be powerful and though provoking. I will write more later as I have time but knew that when I was doing the BIM series, I often wondered if anyone was reading at all at times. Keep up the good work. Thank you for leading this thought provoking study.

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Sorry, I promise I will post (you will probably get sick of me) as soon as the book gets here. I did order it.

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There is a great deal of discussion in the middle of the book about visualization of the offending person. Visualizing (him) in a state of grace, as a transformed and repenting loving person.<p>This is always hard to do because we are so prone to anger and hatred that we don't really WANT to even see (him) as a delightful loving person. We want to hang on to our justification for our hurt feelings and anger. <p>This is where HOPE comes in. Visualizing (him) in the state of grace and redemption is part of the forgiveness process. And they say clearly that forgiveness is a process, not a one time event! When we have HOPE for redemption and reformation our own heart is softened so we can more effectively love.

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frstrtd, just want to let you know I'm reading the book. I've resisted the temptation to skip to the last three chapters and I'm forging my way through it. This is a great book for me right now. I've been faithful in giving thanks and saying prayers every day, but my motivations are, um, self centered shall we say? My head feels lumpy from all the frying pan moments this book gives me. LOL!

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Just wanted you all to know that I'm reading your words and drinking them in.<p>I am so far removed from God right now, as in a personal relationship. I know it isn't quite fair to ride on anyone's coat tails, but... you're an inspiration to me.<p>Thank you!

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I am so thankful that so many of you ladies have gotten the book or are getting the book. <p>Just so you know, I devoured it the first time I went through it. Read it in only 1 week or so. I know a lot of it didn't 'stick' but it was too good to put down. Now, I am reading it only as needed for the study, 1/2 a chaptor at a time or less. It has been so thirst quenching to slow down, take it apart and really examine all the points and principles the book is getting across while simaltaniously examining myself and applying that which I can. <p>And congradulations to those who resist the temptation to skip ahead, the wait is worth it.<p>I will be posting again on Monday, April 1, no fooling! [img]images/icons/grin.gif" border="0[/img] <p>Take care all and God Bless,
Bev

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Karenna, what you said a visualizing hit me. <p>My WH seems to be facing reality, and why am I not happier? Well, because I was visualizing a repentant return, and I think I am going to get a reluctant one.<p>So while we can visualize, it is not a good idea to expect that visualization in the same detail, for this leads to disappointment. It's a fine line...


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