More than a Number

Whenever I call my doctor’s office or my dentist’s office one of the first things they ask for is my Insurance card number, which is followed by my pertinent information: name, birthdate, etc. To these medical professionals I am merely a few keystrokes on a keyboard and a series of statistics.

Because I’m a woman and tend to navigate my way through life according to my feelings, I sometimes wonder if that’s how God sees us; as nothing more than statistics. Does He only see our height and weight; our eye color or all of the bad habits we’re unwilling to let go of? Does God only see me as a woman with brown hair who happens to be a socially handicapped introvert who talks too much when she gets nervous? Are we more than the statistics that encompass our physical and emotional makeup?

On my particularly vulnerable days, I wonder the exact opposite – does God see me at all? Am I invisible to the Creator of the Universe? Does He know or care that I’m plagued by insecurities and fear?

The good news is that whenever we’re struggling with our identity in Christ and wondering where we fit in on this planet comprised of more than seven billion people – God not only sees us – He knows our name and exactly how many hairs number our head. Matthew 10:30

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and should be mandatory, required reading for anyone suffering from low self-esteem or depression. When I read that God saw me as I was being formed in my mother’s womb and that every day of my life was laid out before a single day had passed, it reminds me that even though I may have not felt love from those closest to me while growing up – God always saw me. When I was rejected by my first husband, I am assured that the precious thoughts that God continually has about me outnumber the grains of sand.

Rest assured, Sisters in Christ – we are more than statistics or a number on a census to our Heavenly Father. When the enemy creeps in and tries to make us doubt our Father’s love for us we would do well to remember to thank God for making us so wonderfully complex! Psalm 139:14. We are not invisible to the Savior!

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. Psalm 139:1, 3 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ,
Kathy Kurlin
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The Eternal Pursuit of Love

Does the season of romance make your heart flutter . . . or your stomach turn? Hollywood offers us a shadow view of what love is, or more accurately—what it means. Here’s a look at God’s definition:

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11

God’s version of romance draws the unbeliever to His eternal heart of love. Take for example, Tony and Sheila (oh, how I love this story!), a couple living “in the world and of the world”—partying too much, angry too much, trying the world’s way to heal from the broken relationships in their pasts. Hear this: they didn’t think there was any other way. Oh, but God knew another way! In fact, He’d sent His only Son so this empty couple could be filled with forever . . . but, He had some pursuing to do.

In a bold step of faith, Tony and Sheila sat themselves down at a Sunday church service. God spoke directly to their hearts. Both a mess afterwards, a kind lady asked Sheila for her phone number—in case she ever wanted to talk. That week at work, Tony found a scrawled message across the corner of a random cardboard box. “God loves you,” it declared. Not long after, while Sheila did some shopping, Tony grabbed a meal. A little, old lady—a stranger—paid for his lunch, and with a smile she repeated, “God loves you.” Somehow, the unlikely couple found the courage to join a small group Bible Study. Weeks later, in tears of desperation, Sheila decided she didn’t fit in and she wouldn’t go back. But she didn’t tell anyone. To her astonishment, the next day, flowers appeared on her desk along with a compassionate note, “God put it on my heart to send you these.” It was a turning point.

You see, Tony and Sheila did go back to church, and to small group; they did give their lives to the great God who pursued their hearts . . . after all, He asked for Sheila’s phone number, bought Tony dinner, wrote them love notes, and sent Sheila flowers. The inventor of romance knows how to woo His children! What’s your story of God’s loving pursuit of your heart? And when is the last time you returned the favor?

“We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Jesseca Newton
Writer

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Middle School View

Two giggly tweens settled onto pillows in our small group nook, tucked away under the staircase in the church youth room.

“We missed you last week,” I noted with a smile. They turned a bit pink, and started to explain.

“We were on our way here, but then . . .” In short, the two best friends got the giggles. In the back seat of grandma’s car, the giggles—plus a drink of water—resulted in an unfortunate “tossing of the cookies.” The result covered both the “spewer” and her friend’s school backpack; only a shower and a washing machine could fix this mess.

Interestingly, our discussion that night centered on repentance. Young in years and in faith, I asked the girls what repentance meant. They offered the usual Sunday School type answers—“Repentance is admitting that we sinned and telling God we’re sorry.” Absolutely. Correct! But why? They looked at each other, a bit mystified, and shrugged.

“Let’s put it this way,” I began. Building on their already bright imaginations, we started talking about a different scenario. Perhaps Kate felt furious that Sarah spoiled her backpack; maybe she felt this instantly morphed into a wedge between them. Maybe it even caused a seemingly irreparable break in their relationship. How could two besties find a way back to the sweet friendship they enjoyed before?

As I laughed inside at God’s provision and concern that these girls “get it,” I found myself declaring, “So basically, repentance is saying, ‘God, I’m sorry I threw up on your backpack . . . can we be friends again?’”

Ladies, it’s just that simple.

“But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 If your relationship with God is blocked by an unconfessed, unrepented issue (sin) in your life—you can fix it, right now as you are sitting at your computer, reading this loveNOTE on your phone, or scrolling through your tablet. He’s not mad at you, the way Kate might have felt, but He does miss the relationship. He misses laughing with you over life’s unexpectedness. He misses hearing your sorrows; He misses you humbly asking Him for strength to just get through another minute of another day. Yes, He misses the relationship—He misses you!

Jesseca Newton
Writer
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Tests

Maybe it’s the teacher in me but I think tests are important. It is through assessment we as educators discover what has truly been learned by our students. My daughter is in assessment week at school. All those little bubbles on the answer sheet need to be filled in just right. However, not every test requires a sharpened number two pencil.

Regular self-examination is vital in our Christian walk. We need to take a good, long look at the motives behind our thoughts, words, and actions compared to what God’s Word says on those topics. Are our words used as flattery of speech, criticism, or as a source of authentic encouragement to build others up and not tear down (Eph. 4:29; Luke 6:45)? Are our actions out of pride or insecurity to make ourselves look good, for personal benefit/favor, or out of a sincere heart to serve or be supportive?

God tests our hearts but not because He doesn’t already know what is in them. The sovereign God of the universe already knows our hearts (2 Chron. 16:9). The tests are for our benefit. They help us assess and see what really belongs on our spiritual report cards. Tests also help us see what needs to change and be relearned. There is no cheat sheet. Christ calls us to genuinely love. We can’t pass that exam with ulterior motives, but we can take every thought captive to Christ and renew our minds. Those actions will always yield an A+ on our spiritual report cards (Romans 12:2; 2 Cor. 10:5).

Maybe it’s time to crack open the Book, and study a little more for some test prep. His Word and Spirit are our only hope in passing the test with flying colors. You have probably heard the old adage that when we get tested or bumped in life – what spills out of our heart is what is really rooted there. Had any tests this week? What grade would you give yourself in your response? Pass or fail? More importantly, what grade would God give you?

Shela-Lyn Boxberger
Christian Author, Speaker, Interpreter for the Deaf and Bible Study Teacher
http://clevercreations.me/

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