What Does Love Require?

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Hot on the heels of the fire storm of comments for and against certain celebrities and their expressed views about President-elect Donald Trump, equality, and a litany of other issues, a good friend of mine recently posed a thought-provoking question on Facebook. He asked if it is possible to make a point without hurting others. At the time, I responded by saying, “Only by making it a point to LOVE them!”.

The next morning, still pondering that idea, the theme of a powerful Bible study video segment by Andy Stanley began repeating in my head: “What does love require of me?” (a link to the video is below). No matter how strongly we feel about a particular subject, as followers of Christ we are called to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). The most important way that obedience and our love for the Lord plays out is by choosing, day in and day out and often moment by moment, that our ultimate response in every situation will come from a place of Godly love and from His perspective.

Here is a new poem that the Lord inspired me to write and which sprang out of those musings. If it speaks to you, please feel free to share this post!

“What Does Love Require?”

What is the loving response
– the most positive words to say?
Before opening our mouths to speak,
will it edify in some way?
Is your demeanor that of peace
or is there warfare in your soul?
Is your motive to encourage
or to defend, shame, or control?
Should you tactfully address a group
or just keep it one on one?
When and where and even IF
stops before damage is done.
Perhaps, energy channeled,
we’d do best not talking at all;
Humble actions speak volumes,
but foolish pride precedes a fall.
For the lasting impression
– the Jesus the world will see
are the words, deeds, and attitude
of the followers we claim to be.
The exact methods vary
– God grants wisdom to discern
when to share or hold our tongue
while remaining open to learn.
In each and every encounter
we can choose to hurt or inspire;
the question we should be asking is:
what does love require?

1-10-17
©Ladeena Ashley

I realize that this is all much easier said than done. Yet the Lord knows how hard it is to tame the tongue. In His Word, God tells us that although it is a small part of our body; with it we can share life-giving words but also can inflict great damage. James compares it to a bit in a horse’s mouth, a ship’s rudder, and the spark that has the power to ignite a raging forest fire if left unchecked (James 3:2-11).

However, we are not left to ourselves in this! God has promised that he will grant wisdom to all who ask (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6), and nothing can separate us from the love we have in Christ (Romans 8:38). We just have to practice the habit of drawing from His bottomless well of wisdom and indescribable wide and deep love (Ephesians 3:16-21) that never fails!

So, what does love require of you? To share it through all situations!
Not just on Sunday, around “churchy people”, or on special occasions, but EVERY DAY!
You and I fail all the time, but He won’t give up on you (Isaiah 41:10), so keep trying!

God’s Word
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

“The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” – Galatians 5:14

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” – Luke 6:36

“What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

Extra Credit
Here is the link to the study I mentioned. It is a 42-minute video, but well worth a listen to delve even deeper into why it’s so often difficult to love others as we should.
Andy Stanley – Brand: New – What Love Requires
(Please note: link will open in new window on YouTube.)
Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2017 All Rights Reserved (blog content & photos)

A Thanksgiving Poem

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It’s an earlier, shorter post this week. I’m giving myself a small break, and also wanted to leave more time open for you to spend with loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sitting here typing this, I’m basking in the glow of my laptop screen, of course, but I’m also enjoying the fruits of my labor on Saturday: I put up Christmas lights in the living room. Perhaps it was hasty of me, but it’s been increasingly gloomy outside and darker earlier. I needed a bit of cheer.

Giving God thanks for all He’s given to me also cheers me up. We’ve all been blessed with so much, but it can get overshadowed at times by the stresses and troubles of every day life. Struggles try to pull our attention away from the good – away from His goodness – and steal our joy. Don’t let it! (Psalm 42:11) Instead of counting yourself out, count on His strength and count your blessings! Trials are just blessings that you have to work a little harder for! (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

So, without further ado, here is a poem with a theme of thankfulness. Many of my poems speak of being thankful for this or that, but I actually wrote this one around Thanksgiving, several years ago.

“Thanks Be to God!”

With so many problems in our world,
our fears and worries mount;
It’s often difficult to pause –
our many blessings to count.
Thankfulness sows the seeds of joy,
so be grateful for all things;
Cheerful or blue, God loves you –
only the best for you He brings.
Give thanks for life, for guidance
through all that comes your way;
Good or bad, we can be glad
–praising God for every day.
Thank the Lord for family,
Praise the Lord for friends,
Give thanks for His enduring love
– a perfect love that never ends.

11-27-92
©Ladeena Ashley

Faith Notes
Here’s one of my all-time favorite songs: Every Good Thing – by The Afters
It is a joyful song of praise that always lifts my spirits, thinking of how good God is, and all He’s done in my life!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV)

“Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise You! I will praise You as long as I live, lifting up my hands to You in prayer.” Psalm 63:3-4 (NLT)

©Ladeena Ashley
2016 All Rights Reserved (content & blog photos)

Poems, Pictures and Providence

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I’m taking a minute to tell you more about why I’m doing this blog, and how it came to be.

Like many others, sometimes I have a problem seeing “the forest for the trees”, but with this blog, I also didn’t fully notice some of the trees! Oddly enough, it wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I fully realized how it all came together so perfectly, and I identified all the “saplings” that the Lord planted to form the “blog forest” I am now enjoying!

Poems

It continually amazes me just how many poems and other writings He’s given to me over the years. I’ve written on how the truths of God’s Word play out in my life, pouring both good and unpleasant life experiences out on paper, and giving voice to various periods of struggles and growth that have brought me here. Every time I’ve searched for something on a particular topic, I’ve rediscovered long-forgotten poems that will be great for future posts. I am thankful and humbled to have so much material from which to draw!

Timing

Though I’ve shared many older poems, I’ve also composed new, more extemporaneous works. This is exciting for me, as writing had largely taken a back seat to personal and financial challenges for the past several years. I see more clearly that this was always a part of God’s larger plan. Just over two years ago I began a journey of transformation, through which He has guided me back to my creative roots. Later, after much prayer, I felt it was the right time to share more fully with others. Blogging seemed a natural choice, as I also wanted to combat the growing negativity and unrest in the world by sharing His light and hope on a broader scale. God has affirmed that decision and is enriching my faith walk through this experience. It has been at once cathartic and invigorating, especially hearing how God has spoken through my humble offerings!

Pictures

Perhaps you’ve noticed that a photo accompanies every post. They are not stock photos, but all original snapshots taken by myself in various places; many while out walking by myself or hiking with family and friends. I enjoy taking pictures, but had often pondered what to do with all of them, as there are no children for me to pass things like that down to. Some images I’ve posted on Facebook, but I always wished to share on a grander scale, if not actually becoming a professional photographer (the thought has crossed my mind, but it is not my calling). The Lord has given me an artistic eye for color and composition, and with this blog, He’s also provided a way to share all those shots!

His Blog

Though I did not plainly state it at first, in my first blog post, this blog is HIS. Now that the “trees” and “forest” are in better focus, I feel even more strongly about that assertion. When beginning this blog journey, I wasn’t sure what He would do with it, but I remain confident that His purposes will be worked out as long as I keep my mind transformed by His Word (Romans 12:2), my heart trusting in His plan (Psalm 28:7) and my hands devoted to writing whatever it is He wants to say through me. Not that I will always say everything perfectly, but that He will use this imperfect vessel to inspire and encourage others according to His will (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Here’s a poem I wrote to reaffirm my dedication of this blog to His service:

“His Blog”

Your words, Lord, are what I seek.
Your will first in what I speak.
Your message, through text great and small.
Your gentle whispers shared with all.
This blog is Yours; it’s not my own.
Lord, set the rhythm, course and tone.
To further Your kingdom, for Your glory;
To uplift and inspire with my story.
For my story is You, and what you’ve done;
I rest in Your grace as each post is begun.
With expectant joy, I listen and pray
Holy Spirit, keep guiding all that I say.

10-1-16
©Ladeena Ashley

Pass It On!

I’ve been doing a LOT of writing lately, and am thankful for every word I’ve been inspired to write. For those who have been following, and those who are new followers: thank you for coming along on this journey. I pray you are blessed by what you read, but more than that, I pray that you too will pass along that encouragement to those around you. We are all blessed to be a blessing (2 Corinthians 1:4)! We are His light in the darkness, our words and lives shining the light of His love everywhere we go.

I have several favorite songs named “Shine”, but the one I’ll choose for this post is by Salvador. It is truly one of the songs of my heart.
Shine – Salvador (Note: link opens in new window)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16

©Ladeena Ashley
2016 All Rights Reserved (content & blog photo)