Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Love Challenge: It Is Not Proud

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

Love... is not proud.  I've been thinking and praying a lot about what I wanted to say about this one.  There were a lot of things going through my mind but they just didn't seem like the right thing.  What came to my mind were the words of God to Job in Job 38... Where were you when I...

Today I am going to remember my place.  When life seems unfair I will remember... 

Where were you?  

When I don't understand why things are the way they are I will remember... 

Where were you?  

When I get frustrated that things aren't the way I wish they were I will remember... 

Where were you?  

When things don't happen as quickly as I would like I will remember... 

Where were you?

When I think I know better than God I will remember...

Where were you?




“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11 When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
27 To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
28 Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth[a] in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the mind?[b]
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
41 Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Love Challenge: It Does Not Boast

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

During this two week Love Challenge, I've been thinking ahead to the different aspects of love, thinking of what I could do to focus on each individual aspect as it comes up.  Some seem to be more simple and clear cut than others.

As I was thinking of boasting and what it means, I was reminded of something I read by Oswald Chambers recently:


When we are born again of the Spirit of God, the note of testimony is on what God has done for us, and rightly so.  But the baptism of the Holy Ghost obliterates that for ever, and we begin to realize what Jesus meant when He said - "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me."  Not witnesses to what Jesus can do - that is an elementary witness - but "witnesses unto Me."  We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation.

That last line really stuck with me...

We will take everything that happens as happening to Him, whether it be praise or blame, persecution or commendation.

Today I think I will post that at my desk as a reminder.  I will do my best with the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life of integrity.  When I receive praise, I will remember it is really praise for Him who enables me to live and breathe and move.  I am nothing.  He is all.  I will try not to compare myself to others.  We are all created in the image of God.  When I criticize myself, I am criticizing the One who created me.

I will remember that He is the Master, not me.  I will remember that He is the Creator, not me.  I will remember that He is the Heavenly Father of my children, not me.  I will remember that He is the One who provides, not me.  I will remember that He is the one who protects, not me.

I will remember that He is Lord and Savior.  Not me.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Love Challenge: It Does Not Envy

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

The last two days in The Love Challenge have been fun.  It's amazing the difference in attitude when you take time to focus on real, Godly love.

Today's challenge focuses on envy.  I've been thinking about it and really, envy focuses on things we don't have.  The Bible encourages us towards prayer and thanksgiving.  Instead of worrying about what we don't have, about what might or might not happen, and how to get ahead, instead take these things to God in prayer and remember all of the ways He has been faithful.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Philippians 4:6

Today I am going to focus on being thankful.  Thankful for who God is.  Thankful for His constant faithfulness.  Thankful for trials that have brought me closer to Him.  Thankful for the blessings He has bestowed.  Thankful that He is always there and will never leave me.

I attended a seminar one time where they had us take just one minute and write down as many things as we could think of that we were thankful for.  I remember how much it changed my attitude afterwards just during that one minute of thankfulness.  I remember I told myself I should do that every day.  A minute doesn't take very long.  I haven't kept up with it, though.  As least for today, I'm going to do it again.

Today, instead of envy, focus on thankfulness.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Love Challenge: Love is Kind

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

For the next two weeks I am taking what I call "The Love Challenge."  Each day my focus will be on one aspect of God's love as found in I Corinthians 13: 4-8.  I think that if you are a child of God, He enables these qualities of love in us all the time, but sometimes during the hustle and bustle of every day, it can become easy to rush through life not taking time to reflect on these things.

Today during The Love Challenge, the focus is on being kind.  If you are taking The Love Challenge, here are some practical ideas to show kindness:


  • Pray for a family member or friend specifically
  • Bake a treat for someone
  • Compliment a patient mom while out shopping or dining
  • Bring flowers or cards to a nursing home
  • Bring in your neighbor's trash can
  • Buy coffee or a meal for the person behind you in the drive-thru
  • Donate books to the library
  • Donate clothes to a shelter
  • Drop of bus tickets to a homeless shelter
  • Hide dollars at the Dollar Store
  • Help someone with yard work
  • Take coloring books to Hospice for visiting children
  • Leave quarters at the laundromat
  • Leave your neighbor a treat
  • Pay someone's parking meter
  • Send a note of appreciation
  • Send a surprise package to someone
  • Give out panchos and umbrellas on a rainy day to those in need
  • Tape coins at the playground for kids to find
  • Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life
  • Be kind to yourself... give yourself a break
There are many more ways to show kindness to others throughout the day as well.  Consider making today a Day of Kindness.


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Love Challenge: Love is Patient

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (emphasis mine).

Today is Valentine's Day and I thought what better day to start what I'll call The Love Challenge.  For the next two weeks or so, I've decided to focus especially on one aspect of love each day based on 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8.

Today, my focus will be on "Love is Patient."  Since I don't know what today holds, I'm not sure what this will entail quite yet but I'm excited to reflect back on it at the end of the day.

Some ways I anticipate showing patience today include:

My Children
My Co-workers
Drivers around me
Someone behind me at the grocery store with a lot of items when I have only a few.
Someone in front of me with a lot of groceries when I have only a few.
Myself

I'm excited to see what today holds.  I don't usually ask for comments but if you would like to join me in taking the Love Challenge today (or for the next two weeks), I'd love to know about how you decide to show God's love or specific things that happen today to allow you the opportunity.

Let the patience begin...



Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine's Day for the Single Person

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."  I Corinthians 13: 4-8

Valentine's Day is this week.  It is the day when dozens of women in my office will receive flowers delivered to their desks, cards, balloons, chocolates, you name it.  When I get home and check my Facebook account, I will see photos of my friends and their spouses celebrating the evening out on the town and expressing their forever love to each other over social media.  So basically, a day filled with reminders of the things that I don't have.  Ah, Valentine's Day.

Yesterday at church, the sermon was about loneliness.  I thought it quite fitting for a single person during the week of Valentine's Day.  There are times when loneliness creeps in.  Honestly, loneliness doesn't only apply to those who are single, though.  As my pastor pointed out, you can be lonely sitting in a crowded room of people.  Looking back, there were times when I was lonely even when I wasn't single.

God created us for relationship so it's natural to feel feelings of loneliness from time to time.  We were created ultimately for relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The Psalms are filled with accounts of loneliness by David who was rejected by those he loved and served.  They are also filled with hope and praise for the One who would never leave him.

This Valentine's Day, I've decided to focus on what I do have rather than what I don't have.  I plan to spend extra quiet time alone with God in prayer.  I also plan to spend the day showing His love to others through random acts of kindness.  I can't even explain the amount of warmth it brings to my heart to do or hear of someone else showing practical acts of love to others.  It is better than a large bouquet of roses.

If you find yourself single this Valentine's Day, I invite you to join me in a day of kindness to others on February 14th.  Maybe you could send a card to a friend you haven't talked to in a while.  Or stop by a nursing home to visit the residents there.  You can ask the nurse which people don't receive many visits and spend some extra time with those people.  Maybe you could take a bag of groceries to someone you know who is in need and leave it on their doorstep.  Or pay for someone's gas at the gas station.  Maybe you could go through your closet and find a bag of clothes you don't wear anymore and donate them to a homeless shelter.  There are so many ways you can show God's love to others this Valentine's Day.  

Instead of dreading Valentine's Day this year, I find myself looking forward to it!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Uncle Jim


My Uncle Jim's birthday would have been this week.  The day after mine.  I remember celebrating together when he was in town.  I remember the mystery stories he used to tell where he would tell the end and we had to figure out how it got to that point.  I remember spending an hour or more sometimes trying to figure it out, long after everyone else had given up.  I remember when my Uncle Jim, Aunt Margie and cousin, Jason drove with us all the way from Michigan to Florida when I was 8 years old and we moved away.  I remember when we used to go swimming in my grandparents pool.  I remember his passion for teaching math to middle school students.  I remember his love for his family.  I remember his love for his Savior.  I remember when he got sick.

It was Christmas day that year he called to wish us a Merry Christmas and tell us the news.  He had ALS. The same familial disease that my grandmother had passed away from the week before I was born, just a few months after being diagnosed.  The news was devastating.  I loved my Uncle Jim very much.  I remember crying with my family.  I remember that he still traveled to visit us even after he got sick.  I remember flying up to Michigan to see him as well.  I remember how each time I saw him, he was thinner.  I remember when he had to use oxygen to help him breathe.  I remember when his speech started to get difficult to understand because the muscles in his tongue had started to deteriorate.  I remember the last time I saw my Uncle Jim this side of Heaven.  He said goodbye to us at the airport as we prepared to fly back to Florida, knowing it would probably be the last time we saw him.  I remember sitting at the wrong terminal because we hadn't realized it had been changed.  We were the only ones there.  Looking back, I think God ordained it that way.  We were able to spend those last minutes alone with my Uncle Jim instead of in the middle of a crowded airport.  I remember crying as we said goodbye.  I remember my mom's tears.


I remember my Uncle Jim's funeral.  I remember sitting in the front, my eyes filled with tears the whole time. I remember that he had wanted his funeral to be held in the gymnasium of the school where he taught so that his students would be able to attend and hear the gospel message preached.  I remember the gym was packed.  I remember the letter he wrote to be read at his funeral:

Dear Friends, Family, Staff, and Students,

I had several months to compose this letter in my mind, knowing I was struggling with a terminal illness.  Many people have no advance warning and die very quickly from various causes, but God in his mercy has given me more time to do some important things in preparation for this event.

It has not been possible to thank you all individually but every act of kindness during these past months has been appreciated by me and my family.  I have shared on numerous occasions the ways you have reached out to us as a family.

When it comes to facing death, I was not the bravest guy you will ever meet, having a very strong will to live.  However, in the final result, God is sovereign and I accept His will for me.

Death is something that is not easily understood.  Most people go through life not really knowing what it is and avoiding preparing for it.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in living that we neglect dealing with what lies beyond.  We have only the Word of God as revealed in the Scriptures to enlighten us.

What you see in the casket is only the earthly home in which I lived.  Today, you may have the assurance that Jim Harle is now a resident of heaven.  I am not here as the result of attending church, or being religious, or living a good life, or good deeds I have done, or suffering I have experienced.  I am here as a result of a decision I made to believe in Jesus Christ and accept His death on the cross as the complete sacrifice for my sins.  There is nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else that would provide forgiveness for my sin.  It is Jesus Christ I cling to for the hope and promise of eternal life with Him.

I know that many of you are going to meet me here at some future date, but others have not prepared for the time when you face death.  I want the speaker today to make the way of salvation clear to you.  Everyone must decide for themselves what to do with the claims of Christ.  It matters not what religion you are or even whether you attend any church.  We all must come to Jesus the same way.

As sincere as I can be,
Jim Harle

(may be edited)

It wasn't edited.  On his tombstone read the words of Proverbs 3:5... "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding."

Over the Christmas holiday, my family and I visited my sister and her husband in Virginia.  That Sunday at church we sang the hymn "Because He Lives."  I leaned over to my mom and whispered that I was glad to sing that song.  She whispered something back to me that I never knew before.  "Uncle Jim used to sing that song when he was sick."  Wow.  What a powerful song to think about him singing while he was preparing to leave this life and enter his eternal life with Christ Jesus.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

I am looking forward to seeing my Uncle Jim again one day in eternity.  Because I have also accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I have assurance that one day we will meet again.  If you do not have the same assurance, I invite you to click the Heaven link above to read more.