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Why do you love me so much?  

The late Billy Graham used one phrase perhaps more than any other. "God loves you!" It's a message we never tire of hearing. The question is, why? Why does God love us?

Recently, I helped three-year-old Emma wash her hands. The whole time (and kids her age love to make a production of it), I repeatedly told her, “I love you so much! I'm so glad you're here, Emma!”

Fiddling with the hand towel, she quietly asked, “Why do you love me so much?” The question caught me off guard. I stammered something about her being our granddaughter, so we would always love her. But honestly, it sounded hollow and unsatisfying to me—maybe to her, too.

Exactly why do I love her? It triggered that larger question—why does God love me? Or you? Or any of us.

Though it would be presumptuous to claim we have an inside track on the mind of God, one primary reason God loves us is that we are His adopted children. He paid for our adoption in blood. In other words, He loves us because He can’t NOT love us.

As humans, we’re crazy about our kids and grandkids. God is all that—and more. He’s crazy about you, too—just as you are.  

Right here.

Right now.

He can’t love you more—not possible.

And He won’t love you less—unthinkable.

Despite a mountain of biblical evidence supporting this message, the problem is that we hear voices that tell us otherwise. Voices that tell us we are unacceptable, unattractive, unworthy, unredeemable, and unfixable. Those voices—pretending to come from many sources—have only one source: a serpent who fooled our first parents and longs to fool us, as well.  

Next time you hear a hissing whisper suggesting you’re a failure as a Christian, that you’re unlovable or unworthy—ignore the hiss and hear this instead:

 

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

-Jeremiah 31:3

 

 
When the True King is Revealed  

An actual prince and a true pauper meet in a chance encounter. Remarkably, they appear like identical twins. For fun, they switch clothes, the pauper donning royal robes as the prince dresses in the other boy’s rags. But the story takes off when the actual prince, wearing those rags, is shoved off the royal castle property.

Like most epic tales, the book version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper is better than the movie. One of the last chapters is titled "Conclusion: Justice and Retribution." Here we learn the fate of those who have helped or hindered the prince in his cruel life outside the palace: “He saved some from the gallows, released others from prison. He provided good homes for two girls whose mothers had been wrongfully executed.” In other words, he made right what was wrong.

Immediately, my mind fast-forwarded to the day when we will stand before the Prince of Peace—who is also King of Kings. He will bring justice and retribution on a scale unimaginable. For those who love Christ, it will be a wonderful day. For those who do not, it will be wretchedness beyond description.

When I look at our culture, where we increasingly call evil good and good evil, I find comfort in this story. It makes me long for the Jesus version of that chapter, “Conclusion: Justice and Retribution.” But we’re not there yet.

So, how do we negotiate the encroaching darkness? I’m drawn to a line from the Prince and the Pauper. The pauper says, “Do not give up! The cause is not lost! Nor shall be, neither!”

Someday, the true King will emerge triumphant. Until then, do not give up!

 

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.  –Galatians 6:9,10

 
Like--or Love--the Word of God?  

Do you love the Word of God—or just like it?

The difference is huge—but how can you know? Here are five questions to help you self-assess.

Check #1

If you LOVE the Word of God, when you skip a day reading it, you feel out of sorts, not ready for the day—as if you are not fully dressed. If you just LIKE the Word of God, reading it is more of a duty, a check-mark thing.

 

Check #2

If you LOVE the Word of God, you regularly find a nugget of treasure that makes you say, “Wow!” Might not happen every day, but often. If you just LIKE the Word of God, you honestly don’t get much out of it.

 

Check #3

If you LOVE the Word of God, you jot down notes in it or about it in your journal or notebook. If you just LIKE the Word of God, you don’t find much to write about.

 

Check #4

If you LOVE the Word of God, you find passages you really want to memorize—and you do! If you just LIKE the Word of God, you don’t bother.

 

Check #5

If you LOVE the Word of God, you regularly experience it drizzling all over your day—shaping your thoughts and words. If you just LIKE the Word of God, once you’re done reading it, it’s done with you.

Based on those five “checks,” would you say you like or love the Word of God? If you just like the Word, maybe one reason is you don’t have an easy reading translation. But if you already do, what’s the answer?

  • Spend LESS time reading other things, doing other things.
  • Spend MORE time reading the Word of God.
  • That’s it!

If we love the Word of God, it will capture our hearts, drive our thoughts and dominate our conversations as surely as a boyfriend or a girlfriend or a hobby.

Read it more—and you’ll love it more.

Read it less—and you’ll only like it, at best.

 

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  —Jesus

 
Lingering Damage  

We’ve all seen the videos: aerial sweeps of entire neighborhoods flattened by Hurricane Ian. After killing 119 people and racking up 47 billion dollars of insured losses, Ian is now the most expensive storm in Florida’s history.

We are just back from a trip to Florida, north of where the hurricane left the coast. But even from a distance, you see damage to the vegetation. Where we stayed, the streets were lined with mounds of branches, palm fronds, and other storm debris.

Residents think the garbage collection people should handle it, but the trash haulers don’t share that idea. The city suggests you haul your tree trash to a “transfer station.”  But from all I’ve seen, that message isn’t being heard by many.

Bear in mind that the storm left a month ago, yet a region of Florida far from the hurricane’s direct path still suffers from lingering damage.

With respect to the hurting people of the Sunshine State, this scene reminds me of the damage unleashed by hurtful speech. In a blast of fury, you and I can release a hurricane of hateful words. As with Ian, the immediate damage is quickly apparent—and often deadly.

But it’s easy to overlook or ignore the lingering damage: erosion of trust, fear of transparency, and ruptured relationships. Call it storm debris. And like those palm fronds I saw at the curb, relational destruction has a way of staying around long after the initial impact.

 

Lord,

Keep us from windy words.

Words that bring death, destruction, and debris.

We ask it in the peace-loving name of Jesus,

Amen.

 

There is one whose rehash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

—Proverbs 12:18

 
When the Messes are No More  

To children, they are treasures—their daily works of art. From crayons to markers to watercolors, kids love to create almost as fast as we can supply the paper.

So it was that five-year-old Ava presented me with a collection of her finest. She's embellished a rectangle of blue felt with a polka dot red crescent moon and an orange heart she’d cut out and glued. And on top of that heart was a smaller heart in the background blue shade.

This masterpiece arrived with other treasures. Among them was a flamboyant rendering of an ultra-green Christmas tree and another illustration (Ava informed me) I was holding upside down.

When you're in the middle of parenting, doling out the crayons (or, if you're courageous, the markers), it feels like you spend most of your life picking up scrap pieces and wiping splashes of color from the table that somehow escaped the protective newspaper. You’re convinced it’s never going to end. The markers, the murals, the messes.

And then, one day, it sneaks up on you.

No more ambitious paintings with "I love you" scrawled in giant letters—the letter "e” invariably spelled backward. No more glue all over everything it shouldn’t be all over. And—wonder of wonders—the table stays clean.

Every parent on the other side of the timeline knows what I’m talking about. But be warned. The loss of kitchen chaos comes at a price: the loss of little feet. Little hands. Little children. With little problems—and big fuzzy felt hearts that have a certain magic for fixing whatever’s wrong with us—and the world.

 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

-Psalm 127:3

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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