New Hope Publishers
The first stamp that I wanted to 'ink up' and stamp on my children and their friends was a stamp of the image of love for God. How does a mother stamp the image of love for God on anyone? How does a mother know that she loves God, and how does she know whether she displays such love for God? One of the first aspects of love for God is a mother responding to being loved by God. I know a lot of women who do not know the depth of God's love for them. Oh, they have heard about His love, and they have seen little stickers that say, 'God Loves You.' They can sing songs about, His love; but the experiential aspect of being loved by God and loving Him proportionately is often lacking. After spending time with a woman, I can tell whether or not she knows how deeply loved she is by God.
What keeps a mother from knowing the depth of God's love for her? What keeps her from inking up the stamp of the image of love for God? I have observed two very common reasons that a mom does not know how deeply God loves her. The first is that she does not have a clear picture of God's love for her. I am not talking about a picture of Jesus or of the cross; I am talking about a clear view of God's heart for her personally or specifically. I read an illustration last summer that absolutely convinced me of our inadequate view of the glorious One Who is so in love with us. "There is no more wonderful image in nature of the glory of God than we find in the starry heavens. Telescopes have long discovered the wonders of God's universe. By means of photography, new wonders of that glory have been revealed. A photographic plate fixed below the telescope will reveal millions of stars which otherwise could never have been seen by the eye. The stars, at first wholly invisible, will leave their image on the plate. The plate must be exposed for several hours to receive the full impression of the farthest stars."(Spiritual Classics, p.272)
Our hearts are like the photographic plate of those sophisticated telescopes, and the picture of the reflection of God's love takes TIME to be produced. For the full expression of God's wonderful love to be captured, it takes time each day to catch a glimpse of His love for you. When a busy mom takes time for God in His Word and in prayer, the image of God's love is photographed more clearly on the plate of her heart. Prolonged time allows the photographic plate to capture clearer pictures of the stars. The more time a woman spends with God, the clearer the impression and view of God's love will be.
Everyday when I spend time with Jesus, I get another snapshot of His love on my photographic plate. When I meet a mother who is unsure of the depth of God's love, I wonder how much time she spends allowing the photographic plate of her heart to be exposed to the starry light of God's love. Abraham Lincoln said that the greatest gift to mankind besides Jesus Christ was the Word. Why is the Word such a great gift? Because God's Word is the telescope through which we catch a glimpse of that which is beyond the naked eye.
One day while reading God's Word-allowing my photographic plate to be exposed for another impression of the Holy One-- I found an illustration of His love that spurred the creation of the "Jedidiah Cult." Let me explain before you report me to the authorities.
"THE JEDIDIAH CULT"
The day my computer got sick, the Lord gave me such a wonderful new message, but I have had to patiently wait to send it to those I love in our wonderful Lord. The message began in II Samuel 12:24,25:
"Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon("peaceable"). The LORD loved the child and sent word through Nathan the prophet that his name should be JEDIDIAH--'beloved of the LORD'--because the LORD loved him."
As I thought about the phrase "beloved of the LORD," I immediately thought of the angel in Daniel who referred to Daniel as one who was "beloved of the LORD." I know you remember that beloved in Hebrew refers to being "delectable." As I continued to meditate on the name Jedidiah, this next thought came to mind: "Jackie, in Jesus you are Jedidiah." As my heart began to leap around with joy, I remembered another verse in the New Testament that describes this "Jedidiah love."
"...I'm not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the FATHER HIMSELF LOVES YOU DEARLY because you love Me and believe that I came from God."(Jn. 16:26,27)
As the joy in my heart was reaching the BURSTING LEVEL, the Lord gave me a chance to share this thought at my Tuesday Bible study. The day that I was born again and I began my love affair with Jesus, I became "Jedidiah--beloved of Yahweh." I have been running around boldly sharing that we are "Jedidiah" because of the lavish love that has been poured out on us in Jesus (I Jn. 3:1).
For nine days I have been pretty focused on the blessing of being "Jedidiah because of Jesus." Then I told a few friends that I was going to start the "Jedidiah Cult," and they all thought I was completely crazy until I explained the definition of a CULT. Cult means an obsessive devotion to a person, principle or ideal. When I read that definition, I began squealing with joy because I am absolutely obsessed and devoted to Jesus, and His principles, and His ideals (THE WORD). I shared this idea with our daughter and she said, "Mom, I just recently learned in class that what distinguishes a cult as negative is the unworthy object of focused obsession and devotion." Only Jesus is worthy of such obsessed devotion and those who "know they are Jedidiah in Jesus" will want to be an honorary member of the 'Jedidiah Cult.'
The next time you are feeling a little unloved or unappreciated, just say out loud the Hebrew name Jedidiah. Consider this whether you are in a grocery store, an elevator, doctors office, school sports event or your kitchen--wherever you are, you can say the name Jedidiah and therefore remind yourself of the truth that you, because of Jesus, are loved by the incomparable, only God, Yahweh. YAHOOOO!!!
"His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave Him great pleasure."(Eph. 1:5)
As an honorary member of the Jedidiah Cult, I am grinning over the reality that it was GOD'S DECISION, WHICH HE DEEMED BEST ("pleasure," in Greek) to pick you and I to be adopted into His forever family. Now if that doesn't crank your tractor and cause your heart to want to cry out "I am Jedidiah in Jesus!" then we may have to postpone your honorary membership in the Jedidiah Cult.
This is just one illustration of God's profound love for us. A dear friend sent me some lapel pins that read:
"Jedidiah is for Lovers."
When you understand how loved of God you are, you carry the nickname of "Jedidiah." A woman with this nickname is ready each day to ink up her love of God stamp and stamp away on the lives of the people who surround her.
I mentioned that I have seen two reasons why a mother doesn't grasp the love of God. The first reason was a lack of knowledge and experience with God's love. The second reason is explained by Jesus in a most familiar passage.
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."(John 15:9)
How does a mother remain in the love of the Jesus? How does a mother wake up daily with the confidence that she is ready to ink up her stamp and continue mentoring those who she loves? Jesus answers the HOW TO REMAIN IN HIS LOVE QUESTION in the very next verse:
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in His love."(John 15:10) My obedience acts as a guard over the love between Jesus and me. When you look up the word "remain" in a Greek Lexical aid, it is defined: warden, guard, keep an eye on. So you and I are wardens of God's love for us through our obeying the Father's heart. You and I keep an eye on God's love through our daily obedience.
Recently on the phone with our son Ben, we were discussing how much obedience is linked to trust. We began to discuss how obedience is part of a trinity--love, trust and obedience. They are inextricably linked together. "But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God and refused to trust Him or obey Him."(Deut.9:23) Then Ben said, "Mom, the simple prefix of "dis" means to shrink." So dis-obedience is the shrinking of obedience. Then I realized that when trust shrinks, disobedience occurs and this impacts the love we are to be guard-remain in my love.
So if you are struggling as a mom to obey Jesus in a specific area, consider the reality that the struggle has been intensified by the shrinking of your trust in His love for you. Dietrich Bonhoeffer demonstrated with his life the reality of obedience which reflects one's trust, and in turn reflects one's belief. He died for what he believed about the love of God. Such a strong belief is captured in one of his famous remarks:"Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes." The call to obey is simply a call to display what you as a woman believe about God's love for you. If you are struggling, it is time to find "time" for your photographic plate to be exposed again to the starry brilliance of God's love for you. Remember, to know God is to love Him. Time spent with Him only intensifies your ability to keep an eye on the love of God. Who was the last person that you stamped the image of God's love on? Do your children know with absolute assurance that their mom is a "warden of the love of God?" Do your children know that you are trusting and obeying God because you are so in love with Him? "This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (I John 5:3,4) Did you notice the trinity in this verse: love, obey and faith (trust).
Recently I received a letter from a young woman who met our son Ben and she wanted to share with me something Ben had shared at a single's fellowship dinner. The single adults were discussing the hobbies and interests of their parents. This young woman wrote about Ben's description of his mom's activities. "Your son said to us, 'Most people have hobbies or are identified by interests and passions, but my mom is just interested in Christ. Her hobbies are witnessing and praying.'" The young woman went on to say, "I long to be a woman who is described with the expletives that Ben used.",/i> All my son was doing was exposing his heart that had been stamped by his mom's love for God stamp.
God's Word has absolutely convinced me that God is crazy about me. In response to God's love for me, I have become a God Chaser. "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert…"(Jeremiah 2:2). The more we grasp how much we are loved by God; the more freely we can respond in LOVE FOR GOD. Now ink up your love for God stamp and get out there and start stamping people with love for God.
II. APPLICATION: The Stamp of love for God
A Most Precious Bouquet of Flowers - March 1996
Last week we had the privilege of taking Ben with us to a PAO conference where he not only could see our ministry together, but he also was able to hear one of the most unbelievable speakers we have ever heard. He is Brennan Manning (a converted Catholic monk) and he understands the love of God on a level that leaves the listener wondering-"Will I ever believe that God loves me THAT MUCH??" In fact, one night Ben and I sat up till 1:00 am discussing why it is so hard to believe that God is so in love with us. Ben, Ken and I could never convey in mere words what we learned, but a good friend (Sharon) mailed me a quote by Max Lucado today that gives you a glimpse of what we learned:
"If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart. And the Christmas gift He sent you in Bethlehem: Face it friend. He's crazy about you." (Max Lucado-A Gentle Thunder)
A Big Brother's Gift - Date Unknown
Since Jessica was in 1st grade, Ben has been giving her tips on "self-defense." So many times I would hear Ben telling Jessica what to do is case some boy bothers her. I have always smiled and enjoyed Ben's protective attitude. Sometimes when Ben would be trying to show Jessica how to defend herself, she would tell him "I don't need any more instruction." Well, Ben's "Big brother's gift" paid off recently. Jessica was at a friend's 13th birthday party, and our friend Bob observed the following situation (and shared it with me the next day at church). Jessica was talking to a friend when a boy (someone she did not know) came up to her from behind and began to tickle her. Her first response, "Please stop doing that…" Then, when he tried again, she responded, "Don't do that again, if you know what is good for you!" Bob had to control his urge to laugh as he watched Jessica firmly handle this boy's advances. I told Bob that her brother had helped Jessica develop this secure boundary along with the awesome love and affection from her daddy.
The Kendall Love Feast - December 1996
Parenting a JV Cheerleader takes us to the JV games and parenting a Varsity Football player takes us to all the Varsity games. Dad and Mom are in the stands cheering and supporting them. Our favorite time "out of the stands" with our teens is eating a meal together. Have you seen the TV commercials encouraging families to eat meals together? For us, these "dining together" times have proven to be invaluable for keeping the lines of communication open between our foursome. The Kendall love feast seems to be a great bridge spanning the generation gap.
Fanning the Flame for Jesus - July 1998
The night of Ben's graduation, Ben told us to watch for a "special signal" when he walked up for his diploma. Knowing the wild man our Ben can be, I was a little nervous. After Ben received his diploma, we saw Ben put two fingers together, place them on his lips and throws a kiss to the crowd. The significance of the kiss throwing gesture is that Jessica always ends her big cheering stunts with the same fun gesture. Ben using Jessica's gesture was just another tender reminder of Ben's love and respect for his little sister. Our foursome has learned how to be "fans" of one another in love.
The Beloved of the Lord - Story of Harry on Ben's Chest (inhaling the air Ben exhaled) (Deut 33:12)
While Ben was doing an internship in Jacksonville, he lived with friends of ours. One day, little Harry was waiting for Ben to return from work, and when Ben drove up, Harry (6 yrs.) asked Ben (21yrs.) if they could swing on the hammock together and watch the sunset. Ben told Harry he would meet him out back, after he changed out of his work clothes. As they lay there, on the hammock watching the sunset, Harry rolled over on Ben's chest. Staring at Ben's mouth, Ben asked Harry, "What are you doing?" "I am wanting to inhale the air you exhale," Harry replied. Tears came to Ben's eyes, when he told me the story, because it reminded him of the verse we framed for Ben on his special weekend of blessing when he was 13 years old. The Lord longs for such intimacy with us as Harry and Ben shared that day on the hammock.-"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."(Deut. 33:12) As the Holy One exhales, we inhale.
I was Thinking About You - June 1995
Recently while Jessica and I were running some errands, she asked if she could have some French fries ("French Fry Queen of South Florida") from Checkers. I agreed and as I drove up to order her fries Jessica said, "Why don't we get Ben a vanilla milkshake; he likes them so much!" I was touched by Jessica's thoughtfulness. When we walked into the house, Jessica shouted, "Ben, we have a surprise for you!" Ben's response, "I've got a bigger surprise for you Jessica!!" While Jessica and I were running errands, Ben was channel-surfing on the TV and saw the National Jr. High Cheerleading Championships and he taped them for Jessica. Ben knows how much our resident cheerleader loves to watch cheering competitions. My eyes filled with tears as I thought about the way Ben and Jessica had spontaneously thought of each other. Sometimes when they are bickering I think they hate each other, but the Lord reminds me of the many times when they are thinking about each other unselfishly. Ken and I have desired that Ben and Jessica actually enjoy each other rather than endure each other. I think they are learning how to really love each other. Two weeks ago, Ben's friend Vincent told me in our kitchen, "You can really tell that Ben loves his little sister." This young man has only seen Ben and Jessica at school yet he was able to catch a glimpse of their love for one another. I am so jazzed, because I was never close to any of my siblings as a teenager (and I had 6 siblings). So I have prayed and worked with our kids in the area of their honoring and loving each other. They heard paraphrases of I John 4:20 regularly.
"If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen."
Learning to love one another has not eliminated skirmishes between Ben and Jessica, but the love has become a secure boundary around their relationship.
Africa Beats Again in Ben's Heart - February 1995
This morning, Ben had the privilege of speaking for the student chapel at Wellington Christian School. Our staff member from Africa, Gracie Kalute, asked Ben if he would come with her and share with the students about his trip to Africa. What a blessing to hear Ben share about his awesome adventure with God in Africa. My smile was so big my cheek bones almost got a Charlie horse!! One of the students asked Ben what his qualifications were to go to Africa, and Ben answered, "A heart full of love and willingness to work is the only qualification." Gracie told the students that Ben was willing to do the "not so nice jobs." She also told the students the Africans were so surprised that a teenager (only 14) would come all the way to Africa to serve Jesus.
A teacher asked why he went to Africa. His response was, "My dad presented me with the opportunity and after praying about it, I knew that the Lord wanted me to go and display in Africa the love I have for Jesus that I try to show through my words and actions here in America.
As I drove Ben to school after he had finished speaking, he put his hand over his heart and said, "After speaking about Africa, my heart is beating again for Africa. Mom, I think I might need to go again this summer."
I told him that we would wait and see what the Lord wanted from him. I reminded him that he has already begun preparing with our church youth group for a mission trip with World Servants to the Dominican Republic. In fact, to go on this particular trip, Ben had to join the youth choir, which for him was a most heroic deed!
Holy Hugs: Double-stuffed Oreos
We are a family of huggers. We hug when we say hello and we hug when we say goodbye. Our niece Kelly shared with us a funny remark that her new hubby, Rob Wilson's, shared concerning his first impression of meeting the Kendall gang. Whenever you enter a Kendall home, it is like everyone lines up and the hugging begins. When you say you need to go, it is like they form a "reception line" to begin the goodbye hugs.
This remark caused me to burst into laughter, because throughout our kids lives, we have always emphasized hugging and saying, "I love you." Our children are comfortable with the concept of intimacy with God because of the intimacy they experienced in our home. We had a code for our holy hugs, we called them "double stuffed oreos." We would do a group hug, kids in the middle and Ken and I on the outside, and the kids would say, "We are the stuffing and you and dad are the chocolate cookies!"
In 1991 I heard David Seamands teach on the distorted concept of God that keeps so many Christians in bondage. The home is the first glimpse our children get of the concept of being loved by God. If they are not secure in our love for them, how will they ever comprehend the Father of the Universe loving them? Holy hugs in the frame of "double-stuffed oreo cookies" was significant in our kids foundational concept of being loved by their heavenly Abba, Daddy (Gal. 4:6).
Author/Songwriter from Dallas Lynda Bell Gilliam said: "Always let your children know that they are loved. Tell them every day. Kiss them and let them know that you consider them to be your greatest gifts." (p. 165/Real Simple, May 2003…magazine)
A Most Affordable Christmas Gift - December 1998
Here is a story from Connecting by Larry Crabb:
"I (Larry Crabb) in a conversation with Brennan Manning impulsively blurted out, 'Brennan, I want time with you to talk seriously about something in my life. I need your help.' Always gracious, Brennan immediately agreed. I wondered-what had triggered that unplanned spontaneous request.
"As I reflected on my plea for help, two memories returned. Several years earlier, Brennan had told me of his spiritual director's curious habit. Whenever he saw Brennan after an extended absence, he jumped up and down with delight. I remember smiling. I pictured an elderly gentleman walking down a deserted beach toward an agreed upon meeting point and, spotting Brennan from a distance, hopping three or four times. The image amused me. It also drew me.
"A year later, my wife Rachael and I tumbled out of a crowded elevator into a hotel lobby teeming with conference participants. Across the way, I caught a glimpse of Brennan's white hair and unmistakable smile. As I leaned toward Rachael to tell her I had just seen Brennan, he turned and saw us. Immediately, he jumped up and down. I was warmed to the bottom of my heart. When those tow memories returned, I understood my unexpected plea for help, I could trust a man who delighted in me."
That story just rocked my world. Am I the kind of person who hops for joy when I see a brother or sister? Do I see the good in people, the good heart buried sometimes under pettiness and resentments and empire-building that irritates me? Do I accept fellow Christians the way Christ accepts me, forgiving one another for the wrongs we do and believing there is something better?
God's Job Description: Awesome - June 2001
Both of our kids are home this summer from college. Yahoo! Ben is taking 10 hours in summer school, and Jessica is going to be a camp counselor. The noise and laughter has returned and so have Ben's classic one-liners. The other day Ben and I were driving somewhere, and I was sharing something incredible God had done for a dear friend and I said, "God is so awesome." Ben immediately responded, "That is why He got the job!"
III. Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Study
1. Discuss the comparison between the telescope and the photographic plate of your heart. II Cor. 3:17,18; Rom. 8:28,29
2. Share what has convinced you of God's deep love for you. I John 3:1; 4:10;Rom. 8:31,32, 37-39
3. Respond to Jesus' remark: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…" John 15:10; 14:15,23
4. Discuss the Jedidiah cult I Sam. 12:24,25; Jer. 2:2
5. Have you ever pondered the parallel between obedience and trust? Deut. 9:23; I Jn. 5:3,4