Tag Archives: God’s love


David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
1 Samuel 17:45, NIV*

Other translations render “the LORD Almighty” as “the Lord of Hosts” or “the Lord of Armies.” A devotional in the Names of God Bible makes the new-to-me point that this doesn’t just mean the warriors of heaven, but the forces of nature and the physical earth. And people. You and me.

Because I’m confident in God’s love, I find courage in verses that remind me of His strength and authority. Like the angelic army that stood ready to defend the prophet Elisha. Like the storm quieting at Jesus’ command.

When anxiety seeps into my spirit I fight it with deliberate focus on God, determined praise for who He is and what He does. Music helps. The other day when I was struggling, He pierced the oppression with the song “You Shine”.

These are battles we can’t fight on our own, although we’re called to give our best effort. I’m learning that as I do my part, the Holy Spirit is so ready to meet me there. Not always right away, but if I persist He’ll eventually make His presence known. He’s there all along, but I can’t grow if I don’t practice depending on Him even when He’s silent.

Mighty God, Lord of Hosts, who loves us, thank You for the promise that You are with us. Thank You for Your light in our hearts and your grace that frees us. We’re under Your authority and Your protection. Our times are in Your hands. Help us not to fear, but to trust and obey. And I praise You for the many times and ways You rescue us from anxiety and despair. You are good, and worthy of worship.

Here’s Brian Doerksen’s “You Shine.” Let it anchor you in God’s strength.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Trusting God’s Love

Immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it.
Ephesians 2:4, 5a, 7, 8 MSG*

What amazing love is this, that “where God wants us” is close to Him, in restored relationship! And that in patience and grace He will take the time to train us, heal us and shape us into the potential He’s set within us.

He saved us, He is saving us, He will save us.

The “all we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it” is that simple and that hard. Choosing to trust God’s love, and that He’s shaping us even through the things we don’t like, is a hard obedience. It’s “a long obedience in the same direction.”

God who is Peace, the perfect peace of completeness when we’re in relationship with You, thank You for a love beyond what we can imagine. Thank You for rescue and for renewal. Help us, deep in our spirits, to know and rely on Your love and to trust You enough to let You work in us.

Let Matt Redman’s song, “Never Once,” remind us to trust.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

We Are Loved

Years ago, back when we had to watch television without fast-forwarding through the commercials, there was an ad where people would tell about various hardships they were going through (job loss, health issues etc) and they’d always end with a big grin and “But I’m loved!”

I don’t remember if it was sponsored by a Christian group or by another religious organization, but my reaction was a sarcastic “yeah, right—that makes everything okay, then”.

These were painful struggles, but the glowing smiles implied happiness and laughter, puppies and flowers, all’s right in the world.

Sometimes life hurts. A lot. Denying the pain makes it worse, and that’s what I sensed in the ads: denial.

Yet, we are loved. And that assurance means more to me each year, each speedbump that rocks my life or those of my friends. The heavier the burden, the more we need to rely on God’s loving, strengthening grace.

Nothing can separate us from His love. If everything crumbles around us, if the very worst happens,  He’ll still be there to sustain us. And somehow He’ll make something beautiful, even if it can only be seen from the far side of eternity.

When fear or discouragement jab me these days, I’ve surprised myself by retorting “But I’m loved”.

It doesn’t numb me or give me a sappy grin, but it resonates in my spirit. It stirs my confidence in the God I’m learning to trust, the God who promised never to leave nor forsake me.

Maybe it’s because I’m learning that His staying has nothing to do with me and everything to do with His character. I can’t earn His love. It was never about that.

He loves me because He formed me. He gave His own Son to save me. He sent His Spirit to live in me. And He never goes back on His word.

Because of who He is, I can say, whatever my circumstances, through smiles or through tears, “I am loved.”

And I will trust Him.

Made by God

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14, NIV*

Verses 13-16 are my theme verses for one of my sons. In that context I believe them wholeheartedly.

This morning, reading Psalm 139 for the second day in a row, I hear the writer’s loving trust, his amazed adoration of this God who is everywhere, who is too big to lose one insignificant human and who cares so much about him.

Reading with that feeling, I can finally apply this verse to myself. It feels like triumph in my spirit, like release from that nagging sense of not measuring up.

I’m seeing the emphasis in a new spot. It’s not about how well I am made. It’s about God who made me.

This makes the difference in being able to accept the verse deep in my spirit. I’m not making boasts about myself. (Canadian self-deprecation won’t allow that!) I’m expressing confidence in my Maker.

Beth Moore began to teach me this in So Long, Insecurity, but these things take a while to stick. I think I get it now.

Loving and meticulous Creator, forgive me for diminishing myself in my mind. People aren’t perfect, but it’s not about us. I confess that attitude as pride: I’ve been putting myself down because I wasn’t what I wanted to be. Help me see that it’s really about You. And I praise You for taking the same care in making me that You did in crafting the vastness of the universe and the hidden intricacies of life in the deepest sea trenches. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Here’s “He Knows My Name,” by Paul Baloche.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday Friends: Author Benjamin T. Collier

I first met Canadian author Benjamin T. Collier at Write! Canada a few years back. Since we’re both members of The Word Guild, I’ve been able to keep up with his writing progress, and I was glad to hear that his first novella, The Kingdom, released in spring 2011.

Janet: Welcome, Benjamin, and thanks for taking time to join us. Novellas are sort of that middle ground between short stories and novels, correct? The Kingdom is fantasy, something I’m reading more of these days. Would you tell  us a bit about the story?

Benjamin: I’m very happy to chat with you. Thanks for the invite.

Yes, the story was simple enough to fit in under a hundred pages, and I felt that adding more just to make it novel length would’ve only served to bulk it up and slow it down. But it was definitely too long for a two-page short story. I was fortunate to find a publisher that does books of this length.

The story begins with a once-glorious kingdom that now lies in the hands of a corrupt steward. And it is up to Princess Nevaeh to restore the kingdom to glory. It starts off in a very fairytale setting and then quickly heads off in a different direction. I hope to keep the reader on their toes.

Janet: The cover art is beautiful. Where did the story idea come from?

Benjamin: I grew up with movies like Beauty and the Beast and Shrek, films that take the known formula of fairytale stories and turn them on their head in ways that speak to people’s hearts. And although the messages in those stories hit very near to my heart, they all fell short of hitting my soul. The Kingdom was written as my attempt to write a story that spoke what was really on my heart. Though in this case it’s written for mature readers.

Janet: One of the extra challenges to writing fantasy and other forms of speculative fiction is the need to invent new worlds and people. Tell us a bit about that.

Benjamin: I’ve written full length fantasy novels before, and I do enjoy the process of inventing new people and cultures and figuring out how they work. But with The Kingdom being a novella I didn’t have as much time to introduce the reader to the peoples and cultures of Allandor and the surrounding regions, I only had time for the peoples and cultures who were relevant to the story, and other aspects of the world are only mentioned in passing.

I think one of the strengths of fantasy writers like J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan is having their characters casually mention this or that person, place, or event, without going into detail over it. It makes the world more intriguing to the reader and gives it a sense of age and history that pulls them in. I hope to emulate that skill.

Janet: Emulating the masters is a good way to go. Do you have a favourite character in the story?

Benjamin: I think I would have to say Ruth, the wyvern. Just because I’m an animal lover. 🙂 I tend to gravitate toward the characters who are most different, even if they’re so different as to be another species.

My second favourite is probably Roy. He’s a particularly fun character to write, whether it’s his dialogue, behaviour, or even the personality that the narrative takes on when it’s from his perspective.

Janet: I’m looking forward to reading about them. What one key thing do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Benjamin: As with most of my writing, my hope is for people to come away with a different perspective on the way that God works and the love that He has for them.

Janet: Any thoughts of a sequel? What projects do you have on the go now?

Benjamin: I’ve considered a sequel. 🙂 But nothing’s been determined yet. Before The Kingdom I also wrote two sci-fi/fantasy novels that I want to go back to and revise now that my writing craft is more developed. But probably the next thing I’ll work on is updating and editing my autobiography (about my life with autism) and get that ready for publishing.

Janet: You certainly have plenty of project ideas. What got you started writing?

Benjamin: I’ve always been a storyteller, but up until the age of five I was non-verbal, and could only communicate through drawing pictures. I’ve always been a big fan of movies and video games, and as a kid I drew a lot of pictures about various video game and movie characters.

For me, writing creatively started as me jotting down notes and background information about the characters I drew. These eventually turned into full-fledged short stories, until one day I decided to take my latest idea and see if I could actually write it down as a novel. That’s when I realized the career path that God was taking me down.

Janet: That’s an interesting way to get here. What do your family think of your writing?

Benjamin: I think they were surprised at first. Books weren’t my first love. But after years of seriously pursuing this as a career my friends and family have seen over time how different parts of my life and personality all come together in this one journey. Now they’re very excited for me. My mother in particular gets excited every time she sees my name on the book cover.

Janet: It is exciting to see someone discover and pursue what they’re designed for! What do you like best about the writing life?

Benjamin: The hours. 🙂

Writing creatively is something I’ve been able to do for my own enjoyment for years. But if there’s a way that my writing can be shared with others, and that they can be blessed through it as well as I am, then it’s great confirmation that I’m doing what God made me for.

Janet: What do you like least?

Benjamin: Deadlines. I don’t know if it’s an autism thing or just me, but time limits and I don’t get along. I manage my deadlines well enough, but they’re one of the more stressful aspects of the business for me.

Janet: Some people thrive on deadlines, but I agree with you. They’re stressful. Writers are told to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?

Benjamin: I’m almost finished my second read through the Lord of the Rings trilogy (I’m in the appendix right now – which is several chapters in itself). I read it years ago but I was given The Silmarillion for Christmas and I wanted to get the world fresh in my mind before I read it.

Janet: Love Lord of the Rings, although somehow I’ve never read The Silmarillion. Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Benjamin: I think the song that’s meant the most to me over the years has been “Trust Me (This Is Love)” by Amanda Marshall. It’s a song that’s come up often on the radio as I’ve been going through a bad time, and it brings me comfort. 

Janet: Thanks for sharing the song. I hadn’t heard it in a while. The chorus is so encouraging, and isn’t it funny how God will bring a song along just when we need it? What do you like to do to get away from it all?

Benjamin: Video games are my most common pastime. In particular I am attracted to games with deep customization options and tools for creativity. My main game lately has been Little Big Planet 2. Occasionally on my blog I’ll have a post that’s just about what I’ve been up to in that one game alone.

Janet: What’s the most surprising or zany thing you’ve ever done?

Benjamin: That might be the skit that some friends and I did at a youth retreat. They went to a wrestling match and I had a fight with my sweater – which I lost. Later on the sweater tossed me through a door into someone’s house and I started savagely beating it with a random boot prop and got my revenge. I still have that sweater, but it was never the same after that.

Janet: I’m giggling—thanks for that image! Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Benjamin. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.

Readers, you may enjoy a photo of the author at rest. (Scroll down to see the photo caption.)


I’m hoping to pick up an autographed copy of The Kingdom at Write! Canada. The print book is available through the standard online and retail outlets (may have to be ordered into your local bookstore), and the e-book is available in Kindle format and through Books on Board. Visit Benjamin T. Collier’s blog to learn more about the author and his book.  Chapters.ca Amazon.ca

Our Identity in Christ

Here are three bloggers’ posts that have encouraged me recently. They’re all on the theme of our identity in Christ, and I’d encourage you to take five minutes, follow the links to the original posts, and refresh your spirit.

Lysa TerKeurst’s post “Because Sometimes we Forget” reminds us that “we must stand moment-by-moment in the reality of our identity before we resume our activity…. ‘You are my daughter, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased.’

At inCourage.me Joy Dombrow’s post, “Like a One and Only,” declares, “Joy may be the name by which the world has known me, but when you pass me by, know that deep inside I am the ‘girl whom Jesus loves’…like a one and only.” 

In “A Life Beyond,” Heather Boersma writes, “God is our Father and our identity is found in being one of his children.  So often we find our value in the earthly roles we play….

God’s Unfailing Love

The NIV declares of God, “his love endures forever” 43 times. “Unfailing love” appears 40 times, always describing God’s love. These results are just from the Old Testament. The New Testament overflows with God’s love too, so I assume the writers used phrases that translate differently.

But Old Testament life seems to have a harsher edge to it than New Testament and into today. God was preparing the way, but the Messiah had not yet come. The Holy Spirit came to individuals but not to all. If God spoke to a person it was usually through a prophet or an angel.

God was preparing a people for Himself and there were a lot of growing pains. There still are, even now when we can rely on the Holy Spirit living in us, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

In the middle of the hardship of Old Testament life as God sculpted a reluctant people for Himself, when their actions often required correction in the form of invading armies and exile, His Holy Word proclaims His unfailing, forever-enduring love.

Whatever we face today, we can know and rely on God’s love God for us. There is hope.


To Know He Loves Us

For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. Psalm 92:4, NIV*

Sunday’s sermon taught that God wants us to know He loves us. We need to know it in order to have a close relationship with Him, and to be open to His work in our lives.

We need to know He loves us.

The night before, I’d read in Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts that noticing—naming—in her case writing a list of—those things that bless our spirits is, in a sense, accepting the gifts. God gives them, be they sunsets or fireflies, but if we don’t receive them we miss the blessing.

So… we need to know God loves us. What better way to press it into our hearts than by recording and rehearsing the many small gifts He lavishes on us each day?

Father God, You give so many good gifts to Your children. Many we don’t notice, some we refuse because we don’t like the way they’re wrapped. Help us to know for sure that You are good. Open our eyes to see Your gifts, open our hearts to receive Your grace. Let your gifts prove Your love to our tentative hearts. Draw us into the relationship You’ve designed us for.

Breaking the pattern this week… instead of a song, here is the video trailer for One Thousand Gifts. It will bless your spirit.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Grumbling in the Camp?

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message*

I’ve been reading the start of the Old Testament, how God called Abram and built his descendants into the nation of Israel: a holy people, chosen by God, with one tribe called to priestly work and all twelve to be living illustrations of the difference God makes.

Right now I’m at the part of the story where Moses is leading the Israelites in the desert. God is visibly with them, the cloud by day and the fire by night. He speaks to them through Moses.

They know He’s with them, and they’re a bit scared of Him. But what do they do, over and over?

They complain. They grumble.

Every time I read it, I shake my head in wonder. God is with them—don’t they get it? He’s brought them out of slavery and protected them from Pharoah’s army. He’s parted the Red Sea and provides their daily manna. Can’t they trust Him to look after them?

As I investigate my own heart to see what’s gumming up the works, as I listen to myself talk to my friends, is that a… grumbling spirit? Oh, dear.

Henry Blackaby says in the Experiencing God workbook, “Settle in your own mind that God has forever demonstrated His absolute love for you on the cross. That love will never change.” (Unit 6, Day 2)

Although I have head knowledge that God loves me, I haven’t been acting on it in belief. I’ve been letting circumstances (and people) irritate and disturb.

But God is good. And He loves me.

I’ve confessed and rejected the grumbling. As I repeat the truth about God’s goodness and His love, I feel myself relax, like all the tension is melting away from my body.

Father, thank You. Please keep reminding me of the truth and quieting my spirit to receive it. You are good. You love me. Help me rest in this knowledge and grow in gratitude and trust. Let it be an antidote to grumbling, striving and discontent. Help me demonstrate by my life that You are trustworthy and good.

A fitting prayer is the song, “Give Thanks,” sung here by Don Moen and friends.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Time with the Father

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Psalm 103:2, NIV*

I was thinking in last week’s post, “Missing the Inheritance,” about how as Christians we often don’t realize what we have in God’s Kingdom. Peter says we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and sometimes we live like miserable creatures with little hope and less resources or joy.

That’s a sad truth, and we do need to learn to appreciate and accept all that our Father lavishes on us when He adopts us as His own, but as Jenny from Captured by God commented last week, that’s not the ultimate focus.

The best gift God gives us is relationship with Himself. If we can’t delight in Him, we won’t gain much from the other benefits of being His children. We probably won’t even notice many of them.

God… the God of the universe, Creator, Sustainer, Rescuer… loves us and longs to spend time with us. And we come asking for endless lists of things, or complaining, or fretting. Or we’re like the prodigal son’s elder brother, too busy working for his father to spend time with him.

Father God, I’m so thankful You’ve made a way for us to be reconciled to You, to be Your children. Thank You for caring for us and inviting us to bring You our concerns and needs. Please forgive us for the times we stop there, or we don’t leave our work long enough to talk with You. Please quiet our spirits and teach us the delight of abiding in You. Help us learn to recognize and rest in Your presence as we go about our days. Help us delight in You.

Our song for the week is “Divine Romance,” by Phil Wickham.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.