Can You be a Christian and not Love God?

The last few weeks I have either heard or read Christians say, “We don’t obey God because we want to be saved, are afraid of him or want something from him. We obey God because we love him.”

This always gives me pause because of the number of years I have not felt love for God. I first gave my life to him because he showed me through a dream that I was lost. I saw Jesus returning and wasn’t ready. That dream terrified me.

My grandmother gave me a book about God and I loved it. Then I went to an evangelistic meeting. I enjoyed that also, but when they asked if anyone wanted to come forward to give their lives to Christ, I didn’t do it until the last night. That was the night the preacher talked about Jesus and his death on the cross for us. I felt love and gratitude and walked up to the stage to give myself to Jesus.

So, I guess I could say I came to God through fear and then love. But the love feeling didn’t last. Because of my church’s teachings, I started feeling very afraid to sin and believed God would turn away from me if I sinned. I don’t remember any teachings about how we will sin and how God will always be there for us.

So, I was afraid. I became legalistic too and looked down on those who weren’t as “good” as I was. I’m not sure how you can have both feelings, but I guess I went back and forth between them. When I did sin or make a mistake, I couldn’t pray for days because I felt so guilty.

I then learned about, “righteousness through faith,” from a new preacher in my church. This was wonderful news to me and I embraced it. I felt at peace with God for quite a few years.

But then some traumatic things happened in our family. I couldn’t understand why God would allow such pain. I felt repulsed by the way he ran the world and let people suffer. Not just my family, but everyone in the world. I was filled with anger towards him. I walked away from him.

Four years later, when I came back to him, I had read books on why God allows suffering. These books had helped me a lot and I could understand why things were the way they were. But love? No, I didn’t feel love for God and for the most part, I didn’t really believe he loved me.

This went on for years, and the thing is that even though I didn’t feel love for God, I wanted to be a good person and I knew God was the only way to be that. I felt as Jesus said, I hungered and thirsted for righteousness. I cared about justice, mercy, forgiveness, love, compassion, generosity and patience.

I loved what God stood for, but it was so hard for me to equate that with a person in heaven. Maybe because men had hurt me all my life, I couldn’t think of God in a loving way.

So then, if I took to heart what these Christians say about obeying God because I felt love for him, I would have given up in despair. But I learned from Joyce Meyer not to rely on my feelings. They are fickle and unreliable.

One of my sisters feels no love at all for God. She was angry with him for many years. But God wouldn’t let her go. He called her, he bugged her, he chased her until she reluctantly gave in to him. She worships him every day. She is learning about him every day. She is growing every day. There is a huge change in her, although she cannot see it, I do.

In fact, the way God has dealt with my sister has made me love him. Not many people love her. One reason is she always says the truth of what she thinks or believes. She doesn’t let people get away with bullshitting her. She is direct and pulls no punches, but that is one of the reasons I love her so much. She is straight with me; I don’t have to guess where she stands.

I’ve told her I think the thing God loves most about her is her honesty. She doesn’t want to hurt people with honesty, that is just her personality and most people don’t like it. But God does. I know he does, and oh how that makes me love him.

I only started having consistent “feelings” of love for God the last few years. I became a Christian at 19 and I am now 69. It has been a long wait for me. I had moments of that loving feeling, but they didn’t last. Now, it feels like my heart will burst with love and the joy of knowing God. It was worth the wait; I’m so happy.

I wrote this for those who have no feelings for God and think they should. I’m sure God understands feelings and knows they can’t be counted on. I think he wants us to worship him because we admire what he stands for: truth, faithfulness, justice, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, long-suffering, tolerance, and most of all love.

But honestly, I believe God will take us any way he can get us. He loves us that much.

Don’t Be A Mule.

Juancito, which the author calls the best mule of Argentina, on an excursion on the Mitre Peninsula, in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. In the background is the remains of the SV Duchess of Albany, shipwrecked in 1893. Photograph taken in February 2006.

How wonderful it is that God forgives our sins! If I keep silent about my sins, your hand of conviction will be heavy on me and each day I become weaker. But when I confess my sins, you forgive me the moment I ask.

All of us need to pray while we still can, while there is still time. God is our hiding place; when trouble comes, he will deliver us.

God says to us, “I will teach and counsel you. My eyes, which are filled with love, are on you. Don’t be like a horse or mule that must be controlled with bit and bridle! Come willingly!

Those who don’t know God also suffer hard times and trouble. But they miss out on God’s unfailing love and comfort, which surrounds those who believe in him.

Rejoice that you know the Lord! Sing to him!

Psalm 32 (In my own words.)

God Woke Me to Pray.

Drawing by William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1863 – 1864

Last week, I had a dream. I didn’t know at first if it was from God until I spoke with my husband when he came home from work. It then became evident the dream was from our Savior.

I dreamed I was in bed and woke up to get a drink of water. I walked in the living room and saw a glass floating in the air. I thought, “This is the work of Satan.”

I wasn’t afraid. I walked over to the glass and felt it and saw there was nothing holding it up. I then felt a cloud of evil around me. I said aloud, “In the name of Jesus Christ, go away Satan!” I felt half the cloud leave. I was surprised there was any evil left, so I said it again, “In the name of Jesus Christ, go away, Satan!” Then all the evil left the room. This was when I woke up.

My first thought was, “Something terrible is going to happen to someone in the family.” So, I prayed for God to be with us. I also wondered if the dream was from God, because I wasn’t really sure. It was a clear, strong dream, which is the way he has given me dreams in the past; but still, I didn’t understand the dream completely so I wasn’t sure.

When my husband came home, I told him the dream. He didn’t know what it meant either except maybe Satan was going to try to harm someone.

Then he said, “You won’t believe what happened to me today! We were driving to work, (he is in a carpool) and all of a sudden, a herd of deer ran out across the highway. I barely stopped in time. Then I flashed my lights so the people coming from the other direction would slow down, and they did. And then as we were nearing the city, I was going 60 miles an hour; we turned a corner and there was a dead dear laying across the lane I was in. I quickly shoulder-checked and there was no one next to me so I darted over and missed hitting the deer!” They were both very close-calls, and I was driving the sports car, not the SUV.”

Then he finished talking saying, “Two times in one morning!” I looked at him and immediately understood the dream. The Lord had me pray two times, not once, for Satan to be driven away from the family. My husband looked at me, and I could see he understood too.

We are so thankful to God for saving my husband and co-workers from two potentially terrible accidents. Who knows what may have happened to them. Only God. But he made a way of escape for them and I can’t thank him enough.

This morning, I was reading Psalm 30, which reminded me of what happened.

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit. Verses 1-3

You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Verses 11, 12

We are all in a spiritual battle for our spirit, soul and body. Paul describes this in Ephesians.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. “  Ephesians 6:12

Jesus prayed to his Father about his followers, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15

I pray this quite often, and this time there was an urgent need for that kind of prayer, and God woke me to do it. Believe me when I say, I am the least of the followers of Jesus; and as my husband always says, “Don’t forget the Lord used an ass.” Lol. But I wanted to tell people, tell the world, what God did for us that day. I praise his holy name.

Paul’s Prayer for Us.

I read this today and was struck by its beauty and simplicity. It is from the book, “Living Words for Today,” which uses the Living Bible.

“My prayer for you is that you will overflow more and more with love for others, and at the same time keep on growing in spiritual knowledge and insight.

For I want you always to see clearly the difference between right and wrong, and to be inwardly clean, no one being able to criticize you from now until our Lord returns.

May you always be doing those good, kind things that go along with being a child of God, for this will bring much praise and glory to the Lord.

Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!

Let everyone see you are unselfish and gentle in all you do. Remember that the Lord is coming soon.”

Philippians 1:9-11; 4:4,5

The Lord is My Sherpa.
Monique Richard and Tenzing Sherpa near the summit of Everest in 2012

Lord, you are my Sherpa, my mountain guide. I don’t need to worry. You set up the tents and cook food for me. You guide me onto the right trails. You have an excellent reputation.

You make sure we have clean water; you let us rest when we feel we can’t go on. You know how to navigate a mountain; I would get lost without you.

Even when we are climbing steep cliffs, and the wind is blowing, I am not afraid because you are with me. Your ropes and spikes make me safe. When we reach the top, we will feast and celebrate.

Some said I would fail, but with you by my side, I didn’t. Your lessons will follow me all the days of my life. I will never forget you.

Psalm 23 (in my own words.)

God is With Us.

“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”   Isaiah 7:14

As Joseph was considering divorcing Mary, since she was pregnant, an angel appeared to him and told him the child was from the Holy Spirit. He said, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

I’ve noticed lately how many verses there are where God told us he would be with us. Jesus said it many times. One of the things I remember from going to church as a child was that God was with us every moment of every day. I’ve never doubted that, but these days I feel so amazed and happy about it. To think the maker of the universe is beside me every day is comforting. I think I understand why God loves being with us. It is the way I feel about my daughters and grandchildren. I wish I was with them every moment of the day, simply because I love them.

I thought I’d write down some verses about this:

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”  Genesis 28:15

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  Psalm 118:6

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8

“For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even until death.  Psalm 48:14

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43:2

“My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  Ezekiel 37:27

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Matthew 18:20

 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:20

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”  Revelation 21:3

Questions from Jesus.

What I have noticed about the questions Jesus asked, is that he invited people to speak their mind honestly. It was up to them what they would say or decide. He didn’t try to talk people into anything; he respects our freedom of choice.

Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”   He said, “Come and see.”  John 1:38

So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Healing. Even when Jesus knew what people wanted, he asked them to tell him first. Even though God knows what we need, he wants us to ask him anyway.

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

The woman caught in adultery was probably feeling embarrassed. When she wasn’t stoned to death, and the men walked away, she didn’t speak first. Perhaps her face was red and tear-stained. She probably couldn’t look Jesus in the face. So, in asking a question, it made it easier for her to speak.

 “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”

Many times, Jesus asked people if they believed he was the Messiah, the Son of God. He asked so they could declare openly their belief in him. I have heard that speaking something out loud cements in your mind what you believe.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25,26

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”   John 9:35

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”   And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”   Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Matthew 16:13-16

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Luke 18:19 (In other words, who do you think I am?)

Jesus had hard questions for those who opposed him. They were constantly hounding him with questions and accusing him of having a devil. From what I remember, they were the ones who always started a conversation with Jesus. He didn’t hold back any punches.

“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?   John 8:46

Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you are unable to accept My message.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, because he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me!   John 8:43-45

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”   Luke 6:46

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  Matthew 7:3

Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”  They didn’t dare. Mark 11:30

And the last question, one of the saddest, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”   Luke 22:48  I think Jesus was trying to get Judas to think about what he was doing. Jesus would have forgiven Judas, but he just would not repent.

Well, those aren’t all the questions Jesus asked, but those were the ones I remember. What I love about Jesus is his total honesty, singleness of purpose and bravery. I love his respect for the human race in the total freedom he has given us to accept him or not. Most of all, I love his heart of love.