The word “love” brings images of comfort, closeness, trust, support and acceptance. Probably the last thing we associate with love is “tough.” Yet all of the softness of love can disappear if love is not appropriately tough.
By “tough love” we mean love that will demand the best in someone. Love that will endeavor to curb destructive behavior. Love that will use discipline to bring positive changes in attitude and actions. Tough love is a parenting tool. Which takes us to the Bible, and the way our Heavenly Father has to deal with us at times.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:5,6)
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17)
God always chastens in love. If we listen carefully, that love will melt our hardness and rebellion and bring us to our knees in repentance. It will bring us into alignment with God’s highest purpose for our lives. When we give up our way for God’s way, we learn that our Heavenly Father truly does know best.
I will determine to listen and yield to God’s rebukes, knowing that He loves me and only seeks my good.
We live in a country rich in cross-cultural diversity. Chinese restaurants peacefully coexist in the same food court with Taco Bell and Italian pizza. Down the street you can find Japanese sushi and Indian curry. The world has brought its kitchens to our doorstep.
But more than food, we are enriched by the relationships that introduce us to different ideas and ways of doing things.
At Cedar Road Assembly of God, we have chosen to be a multicultural, multi-generational fellowship. We welcome people from different cultural backgrounds. We believe we are all one in Christ. We have a connection that transcends color, nationality and origin. To be a people of love demands this stance.
As you look around and recognize this diversity, know that it is intentional. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek – nor Hispanic nor Asian nor Arab nor Eastern European… You get the picture.
So get used to hearing different accents and seeing colorful fashion. Go ahead and welcome the stranger. Heaven is going to be a lot like this.
I will open my heart to fellow Christians from every corner of the world.
Linda Martin lost her hearing at the age of 11 due to a life threatening illness. At the age of 23 she attended Central Bible College and learned sign language. She also graduated from Texas Women’s University, Gallaudet University, and has a Ph.D., (All But Dissertation) from George Washington University. After working for four years at Gallaudet University, she worked 31 years as counselor/teacher for deaf students at the Montgomery County School District in Maryland.
In spite of these accomplishments, Linda felt unfulfilled in one area: she wanted to be a mother. She turned to adoption. Single and deaf, was this possible? Yes! Linda’s heart was large enough to accommodate older deaf children that no one else wanted. From 1983 to 2001 she adopted 29 deaf children from nine different countries. Now she enjoys 36 grandchildren as well.
Today, Linda continues to teach deaf students at the University of Valley Forge. Did I mention that she is also an ordained minister? How did she do all this? At some point in her life, Linda was empowered by the love of God to believe she could do all things through Christ. In that love, there are no limitations.
I will not limit the power of God’s love in my life, in spite of my weaknesses.
We know that the heaven’s declare the glory of God, and that the earth is a massive display of His handiwork; but there’s something more at play here. God has filled the world with tokens of His love. Everywhere you look, you see things God has designed purely for our pleasure — things He knew we would enjoy.
A breath-taking sunset. A cloudless sky. A warm spring day. Sweet fruit that kisses the palate. Flowers that not only amaze us with their intricate design and color, but also intoxicate us with their fragrance. Pets that mirror His loyalty. Bird song that lifts our spirits.
All around us God drops daily reminders that say, “Hey! I love you. And here is another love gift. Enjoy.”
When we come to the cross, it is more than a token. Here God offers the embrace of His forgiveness and grace. Here He pours out His love in its totality. Here He gives us His Son. There is no greater gift. No greater love.
I will look for the tokens of God’s love in my world today, and simply enjoy them.