Tag Archives: Love

A Mama’s Way

Searching clouds on breezy days
Rolling down the hill
Giggling laughing howling now
Until our aching sides grow still,

Tears blotted from sodden cheeks
Cheers composed and chanted
Into the ear pressed forward
Thoughtful encouragement granted,

Little kisses on upturned noses
Foreheads the hand lightly stroking
Singing prayers into darkest hours
Tender words in kindness spoken,

Tucking children into dreams
To wonder at the night
Illuminating words of Light
Laced through with things we like.

Copyright 2016. L.L. Shelton

Wishing and Hoping

(A letter to one of special relation)

I wish that we had known one another when you were not yet so low on the resources required to actively love the silly slip of a hurting displaced young woman, full of false bravado, to whom your son first introduced you.

I wish that we had known one another before the world had whipped you into submission.

I wish I could have known you when you could focus on the hope in a child’s laughter for more than an instant.

I wish I could have known you in the long ago spring, when you were excited about the baby chicks from Sears and Roebuck that would soon arrive in the mail and the other things that would be coming as a result.

I wish I could have known you before the ordinary disappointments of life with their inevitable pain had combined with the traumatic stress unique to your own circumstance to bring you so far down…

And yet I remember…

I remember moments, however fleeting, when you threw out a witty one-liner or gave an account of something truly humorous, and together we laughed so hard we nearly cried.

I remember occasions when we witnessed a heart-touching scene on the silver screen and you turned to me with tears in your eyes to see the same mist in mine and we acknowledged one another in quiet understanding.

I remember moments when you confided in me something sorrowful and allowed me for a brief time to be some solace to you.

I remember how I admired who you must have once been when I learned of some of the hardships of the child of a south Alabama sharecropper’s daughter; when I discovered that you had been truly grateful for school and had been a good student, and that following your high school graduation you had unflinchingly boarded a bus for the city, with a watch and a few dollars to enter nursing school and make your own way in the world.

I remember how it tickled me when you so candidly related the story of your first date with your eventual husband, when you told how you asked him to let you out at a stranger’s doorstep pretending all the while it was your own, as you were sure he would not ask you out on a second date if he saw your actual humble dwelling; and how you, with even greater transparency, related being finally engaged and parking with your intended in front of the imposing sculpture of “Vulcan, The God of Fire.”

I remember learning of how you and your beau married before he finished school and so you worked while he completed his education, and I thought it was a courageous move, especially for the time.

I remember the common ground that we easily shared as “bargain hunters,” and the genuine excitement with which you would relate the tale of a particularly exciting find.

I remember how you appreciated showing me any new acquisitions, great or small, around the home you were continually building on the hill; how once as we stood in front of a lovely picture of an idyllic vista you said, almost as though speaking to yourself, “I’d love to go there someday,” and I was most amused as the picture was of nowhere specific- and then how one day, when your namesake was five, she stopped in front of a similar rendering and dreamily stated the very same.  In that moment, it occurred to me once more that we live on- sometimes in spite of our best efforts to do otherwise.

I am often reminded of a particular gem in my back pocket, where I compliantly placed many at your instruction.  Some have proved most useful, and I thank you for them.

And yes, sadly I remember how you repeated to me several stories of traumatic memory over the years, the same recollections again and again, and I remember my ignorance.

I remember realizing your turmoil was great, yet the only help I could think to give was to remind you of Christ, of Scripture, and of the need for surrender and prayer.  (All wonderful and true things, but a man who is bleeding to death can rarely focus on them before his wounds are properly addressed.)

I remember the many things that clearly indicate that you were suffering emotionally, uniquely and intensely, and that you were in need of greater understanding than I was able to give to you then.

I hope that somehow in your life now you can know that I grieve for you, and that I recognize how very much was lost to all of us.

I hope that somehow in your life now, you can realize that you were a large part of my motivation to seek the specific education I did, allowing me to practice as a counselor to others who are emotionally damaged, and I hope that it makes you glad.

And I hope somewhere, somehow, you know I have forgiven you your harsh moments, as I hope you have forgiven my offenses, and I want you to know that I loved you and I still do.

Copyright 2017.  L.L.  Shelton.

Plus-Sized Grace For Wives and Mothers

A word for wives and mothers, especially young wives and mothers:
Have you fallen victim to those books and articles that insist that if you simply do this or that- your marriage, your children, your family will become this or that… Burn those. The Bible does not offer any such guarantee.

God through The Bible, His Word to us, gives you and me one mandate: Do your best to learn of me and of my son who stands ready to save you; learn to love me, and to show your love through obedience to me… And you will have my blessing. Everything else is a surprise. Get used to it.  And trust me.

Therefore, if we aren’t sure of what our own obedience looks like, we better dig deep into the Word and become sure; for while God offers no guarantees outside of our own salvation, He does insist that the best chance each of our loved ones has for a blessed and healthy life is to learn of such life and to begin to desire it because we model it for them. He also makes it painfully clear that each one we love may not come to know Him and that the ones who do come to know Him will be made to seek, find, trust, love, and obey on each one’s own private journey of faith. We will not be enabled to give anyone salvation. We will not be invited to directly participate in the inner journey. It is a very private lifetime encounter exclusively designed for the individual soul.

And while I remain convinced that no other work has the potential for greater positive impact on society than that of being a good wife and mother, personally I am truly grateful that by some miracle of grace, every time my job gets harder- I find the strength to pray harder and to work harder; and it is such a sweet surprise to realize that Our Father is working through me to bring about His best will in spite of my own sin, my own lack of this or that, my own lack of perfection. It is an additional gift from a generous Father, and it is available to all of his saved children. ❤️

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Matthew 22 (22:36-40)

Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton

Prayer For Bread

My Beloved Father in Heaven,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make this plea in a public place for I hope that it will find a home in the hearts of others who want these same things for which I pray.

Please forgive me when I fail you and provide me the strength to be more nearly representative of you each day.

By your Grace, please allow that I am never made to stand against my fellow human being, ever. Yet if it must be, grant me the fortitude to bear it.

By your Grace, allow me rather in spite of all my human frailty to forgive, and yet in Truth to uphold your mercy and your justice knowing and accepting you to be the judge of souls and that your’s is the only legitimate judgement; giving me leave to enjoy others in both loving fellowship and loving witness and permitting me the discernment to realize the difference.

By your Grace, please allow my human American brothers within and outside of The Faith sight, that we may continue to imagine a pure vision free of the persecution of one another, and full of love for one another as human beings created in your image.

By your Grace, allow America to continue in true wisdom and to provide a secure home in which all have opportunity to worship you freely; a home for the weak, the downtrodden, and the oppressed- though it be of great cost to us, and do continue your blessing upon us and make a great human family of us in spite of our diversity and because of our commonalities.

By your Grace, My Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

2017, L.L. Shelton

From Mother-In-Love (Rhyme For Jamie)

I was your second mother,
Her arms held you first,
And every time I think this through
I think of you from birth;

I think of how she must have loved you,
Wrapped up in her arms,
Of how she must have felt each time
She kept you safe and warm.

I think of all she gave in hopes,
Your life would be sublime,
Of how she never dreamed there’d come
This awful space in time.

I long for her to know,
That I too loved you Dear,
That every time you came to me
I kept you very near;

For her to know I shared her love,
And now do share her pain,
My heart will ache until that day
We do hold you again.

L.L. Shelton, Copyright 2016.

Brief Thoughts On Marriage

To begin:  There is only ONE good reason for getting married and for having children, and it is:  Because GOD wants you to do it.  And if it is HE wanting you to do it; it is because He wants you to be a part of what HE is building. He wants you to be a part of illustrating HIS story to a watching world. God desires for you to be a part of LOVE as defined by Him.

Don’t allow yourself to enter these arenas, the building of marriage and family, at the persuasion of any other than God in Christ, or without reading His Word and getting whatever grasp upon this that your maturity and His patience allow to you. These are not institutions for the faint of heart and will never withstand the difficulties that come along with them unless built upon a proper foundation. Marriage and family belong to Him. They are His design and He has said that they must be structured upon Him, upon the principles set forth in His Word, to be successful.  And the terms for success in marriage must be and are determined by its Creator.

Maybe you have entered into these things lightly and without a proper amount of forethought. It is not too late. You must pray for GOD to make your partner willing and as He does this, the two of you begin (together in Christ) to tear down the old relationship and to start anew on the correct foundation. Seek out an older married couple in whom you see Christ (in other words, you observe them living together according to the principles set forth in The Bible for the living out of their shared faith). Approach them and directly ask for their active guidance and participation in your lives. If resources allow, find a Biblical counselor to assist you in building this new platform for your marriage.

Another issue may be that your partner remains unwilling to consider Christ. In this case, you must continue in earnest prayer, gentleness, and good will toward your spouse until such time as God releases you from the relationship, and you are free to start again; and this must be done with the greatest caution for two primary reasons.  The first is that you must try with all your will to NOT push your partner away from either yourself or God in the hope that the other will leave soon. This happens often in such a case and is regularly realized only when an experienced helper points out to the Christian in the marriage that this is indeed what that one is doing. The second reason is that you are quite liable to abandon the frying pan in favor of the fire, unless you have spent an adequate amount of time in the judicious study of Holy Scripture concerning the Way of Life of a Christian in order that you may more easily recognize a fraud should there be opportunity for a next time around.

Paul reminds us in a letter to the early church that it is better not to marry at all than to enter the covenant casually.  It is a choice open to the Christian to remain single and serve GOD fully from that position, rather than serving Him from the position of marriage.  However, for God’s saved child, there is no choice as to serve or not to serve, and if your heart is completely without reservation His own; you will be compelled to serve despite your finest efforts to the contrary.  (The difficulties and delights specifically associated with the Christian’s choice to remain single are beyond the scope of this short essay.)

In the end, I don’t wish to leave the impression that there are no joys associated with marriage but only trials, as that would be wholly untrue.  There are multiple blessings to be had within the marriage relationship- true friendship, God’s allowance to fully know and to be fully known by another human being- to completely relate to another person, children within God’s favor and under the protection of a legitimate bond.  I count it a great privilege to enjoy many of the wonders of marriage.

Now,  in this day of much confusion concerning marriage and family, I implore you to search God’s Word for yourself to find that these very things that I tell you are true. And may The Lord God of All bless your every effort!

Signposts: How Churches Can Minister to the Divorced

Copyright 2016.  L.L. Shelton

Brief Thoughts of Love

My Young Friend,

Love has been tragically misrepresented and misunderstood. Love both requires of you and insists that you require of yourself; it is both a proper noun and a verb. It requires of itself what is best for another and gives it without reservation. Love demands sacrifice and sacrifice usually stings a bit.  Often it is genuinely painful, at times even debilitating.  Any one who has truly loved has felt both the joy and the bite of it. The idea that love is all pleasant and ever delightful is a gross adulteration.

I hear a great deal these days about fear of commitment, about lack of commitment, and inability to commit. I listen to tales of lack of intimacy and emotional distance in family relationships and in marriage. I am often told of loneliness, and the death of community. I believe these things are symptoms of a lack of love, and I do not believe it is commitment we are so afraid of, rather it is sacrifice that we fear.

Most of us have felt the confusion resulting from a person’s declaration of love for us followed by an expression of our sexuality, only to realize rejection at a later date. Some of us have felt the terrible vexation that comes when a parent who has claimed love for us has then neglected or abused us (or our other parent or sibling) and maybe even abandoned us or left the home. Each of us has been puzzled at one point or another by the expression of love and insult from the same mouth. Each of us has brandished both affection and grief with one tongue.

People are imperfect. We are incapable of either loving or hating perfectly. This is why we are taught to strive always to become perfect in love and to avoid hate altogether. We’re instructed to leave the hating to God. We are taught to learn of repentance and forgiveness and to become experts at both, and there is a Way.

Another method by which love has been horribly distorted is by the idea that love and sexuality can be one in the same. The two are never one. Human sexuality is and has always been one way in a million of expressing love. Obviously, it is often used in a perverse manner to express things that do not resemble love in the slightest.

For many reasons, one being to set the relationship above and apart from all others, and some that are mysterious and still known only to God Himself, we are told that His system is designed to function optimally for us (for all of us individually and as a corporate whole) when each of us limit the expression of our sexuality to one relationship with one person of the opposite sex (gender) for the entirity of our lives. Yet, we are encouraged by God to express our LOVE for everyone all the time!

My third and final offering concerning the misrepresentation of love is this: God is love, but love is not God.  According to His Word, God is many things and love is ever a part of Him; His perfect Love motivating him continually.  Love is only itself.  Love is one of the many attributes of God and is nonetheless the epitome of holiness and the greatest thing.  Love is perfect. God Himself is love, but love is not God. Therefore, we in our love are not God.  God is bigger.

Lastly, in love I offer this truth from God’s Word.   It is an expression of my love for you. May it allow you some clarity and grant you a bit of peace on earth.

An Old Friend

(Please see 1 John 3:16, John 13,  1 Corinthians 13: 1-13)

Copyright 2016, L.L. Shelton

From Playing Church to Loving God

Part One

I grew up Southern Baptist and remained a member of the denomination until a few years ago.

In fact, Trafalgar Village Southern Baptist, in the suburbs of Memphis, was the first place I ever walked the aisle. I was nine years of age. I remember being emotionally disturbed by the time of the invitation, as I felt certain that my behavior wasn’t altogether good, and that there did exist a God, a heaven, and a hell- and I was as sure as rain just after you water the garden that I wanted to miss the latter.

My grandfather, my mother’s daddy, was a Southern Baptist minister from Texarkana, Arkansas. He preached in his own pulpit, and occasionally in the pulpits in the rural area surrounding Texarkana. We were a close-knit extended family, and this meant that I spent a great deal of time, especially in the summers, running in and out of pews with my brother and usually a cousin or three, in an empty sanctuary. Every now and again, we’d stop some other trivial sport to play church. Some of us would gather on the pews and listen to my brother preach, while another would lead the singin’. Once in a while, there was even a solo- and some of us could boast a truly pleasant voice, which meant it wasn’t a painful experience every time.

Sometimes, when we were feeling especially bold, we would hold a baptismal service. These moments were of course more extraordinary than those when we had no new converts, and often times there would be quite a lot of discussion surrounding whose turn it was to dunk the neophyte … though we never dared to fill up the baptistry… so a healthy imagination was required to participate.

It was a different story when we got together for our family camp. This event, held each year on a crystal clear lake in Arkansas, when the weather was about as hot as weather could get, was ruled and presided over by my four foot ten and a half inch, Irish-American, Granny. She cooked three meals every day in the camp kitchen for she and her husband, their four daughters and their husbands, fourteen grandkids, and eventually a whole slew of greats. She served the goodies up buffet style in the dining hall, just following the blessing; which was most regularly delivered by my Uncle George, a Southern Baptist minister himself, who had a voluminous bass voice which reverberated such, that most of us were pretty sure the fish were prayin’ for ears just so they could plug ’em up.

As soon as the ‘amen’ was sounded there went up a myriad of cheers and grateful comments, as each one dove into the piles of steaming hot biscuits, eggs, and pork bacon if it was breakfast; or fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and slaw, or some other mouth-watering combination if it was supper. Nothing seemed to please my Granny more than watching her large family enjoy the work of her hands.

Each morning, we took off for the lake as soon as we swallowed the last mouthful of Granny’s, and God’s, wonderful provision, and we swam like turtles in the cool, shimmering water until hunger claimed us for a second time. Now, these swimming sessions were when our mock church services would get easier for those who were less able to employ a flight of fancy when we played. In the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost, we dunked one another until we were either silly with lake water, or fussin’ to beat the band. We were enjoying being young and alive in those days and we didn’t give much thought to anything else.

Eventually adolescence arrived, as it has a habit of doing, even in those of us who put up the greatest struggle. I was a member of the youth group at Berclair in those days, and my most interesting memory- next to the time we experienced the earth tremors from the New Madrid fault which runs just underneath west Tennessee, and pretty much felt like it ran directly below the church fellowship hall- is one in which our brand spanking new youth minister, fresh out of seminary, elected to teach us to practice meditation and centering. We didn’t talk too much about The Bible, more about social injustices and getting in touch with ourselves.

I was fourteen years old when I attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Memphis, and I had never felt more out of touch with myself. It was nineteen seventy-eight and a tumultuous time in the life of my family, as my parents were beginning to fight the final battle for their highly complicated marriage. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I walked the aisle in that stadium with hundreds of other people. I don’t remember what were my thoughts when I collected my packet of information, which included a phone number that I was told I could call for further counseling and prayer. I only know that I was overwhelmed with the sense of how big was the world, with all its joy and suffering, and how small was I.

As time moved forward, my family moved to rural Arkansas. I attended my last two years of high school in a tiny town of three hundred, while my parents proceeded to divorce. And as there are fine people everywhere, if a person cares to look, I made some truly good friends. Still, I remember those years as the most emotionally difficult of my life, and often joke that Bill Gates himself couldn’t offer me enough money to return to them.

By the time I was twenty-two I had piled up enough personal trouble to frustrate St. Peter, and soon was compelled to walk a third aisle-and this time the motivations of my heart, present and witnessed therein, were different indeed.

Though, again in a Southern Baptist church, this third experience proved to be unique. I walked the aisle because I was exhausted with myself. I was begging The Lord God to save me from my sin, from my self. I had a new and proper understanding of His position, as well as of my own in relation to Him. I needed saving- not from hell (though that would certainly be a benefit) but from me. I needed a ruler to tell the fool what to do every minute. Certainly, I didn’t immediately understand all things or even some things… more like a little something new everyday. It has been and continues to be a process. But I did immediately begin to want to understand. I desired to please this new found Love.

Today, I am a dedicated wife, mother of seven wonderful children, daughter, sister- and friend to many; but He, Jesus, The Redeemer of My Soul, remains my First Love. I do not please Him perfectly, but He is faithful, forgiving, and loving, and restores me to right relationship with every slip. At this point, I have studied through The Holy Bible a few times, a bit each day, prayerfully pondering each word and wondering at my Savior. And I remember my childhood with particular fondness, as well as with great sadness, as I have realized over the years that in all of our sincerely church-focused moments, we were subscribing to a convoluted view of The Scriptures that was bound to unravel our faith- if we ever got to thinkin’ very hard.

Part Two

The view I am referring to is the view of a man by the name of Joseph Arminius (1560-1609), whose followers published his teachings in a paper titled The Five Articles of Remonstrance. A close inspection of The Scriptures reveals that it is in error, and has I fear been a culprit behind many turnings from faith, including the apparent change in perspective which we have witnessed in the Reverend Billy Graham. This explanation of The Holy Scriptures fails to consider the entire Word in context, and as a conceptual whole.

The Arminian view states that man is a creature created with and always in possession of a free will, and who if he chooses to believe in Christ, is therefore granted election into the kingdom as a result of that choice; and also teaches that man is unable to do any truly good thing with his free will. It supposes that the creation is therefore able to resist the grace (the supernatural call) of his Creator God and choose his own way, and so that some men will not choose God and will remain forever under His wrath, and yet also that every man’s sin is forgiven. It teaches that a man in the Faith may not continue in the Faith, but may fall away and not return, and yet sites the very verse which states that none of whom Christ has been given will be lost; and that God has forgiven every man’s sin. Obviously all of these things cannot at once be true. For instance, I am sure all would agree that God in Christ alone may forgive sin, and that if one is forgiven his sin, then he is released from the eternal or supernatural consequences of his sin. (However not always from the natural or earthly consequences of his sin.) Now, if one is released from the eternal consequences of one’s sin, it is necessarily implied that one’s sin is forgiven. If one is forgiven then God has forgiven him in Christ. This is salvation: To be rescued by God in Christ from sin, and therefore released from its eternal consequences. Thus, it can be clearly seen that these arminian ideas will continue to lend support to the rise of the heretical teachings of open theism and universalism in the church.

Man has a free will and yet cannot exercise that will for good? Then that will is not free. Either the will is restrained or it is free- it cannot at once be both! Either one is capable of good (as defined by God-pure motive) apart from God, or he is incapable of it. Either man elects himself for salvation by his own good works as he sees fit to do, or God elects him by HIS own good works as God sees fit to do. Either repentance and the forgiveness of sins is necessary for one to inherit salvation, or it is not. Either one is transformed and made a new creation upon salvation, or one is not. Either God is Supreme Ruler of All, subordinate to no one and to no thing, or He is not. Either God’s Word is true or it is not.

The Arminian view of Scripture is dangerous in that it diminishes God and magnifies man. This is the antithesis of what God’s Word is most intended to do, as its greatest purpose is to identify God and so to exalt God and to humble man, which will serve to bring man into right relationship with God.

If at any moment, I hold in my core the opinion that God is small and that I am large- then I am in a state of confounded spirituality due to pride; here, I am utterly useless to the kingdom of God- be it for a moment, for an hour, or for a lifetime.

Of course, many men of the reformation era of history did take into account the entire Word in context, and did consider It as a conceptual whole. Their explanation of The Holy Scriptures is quite different, and is logical, as it permits for Scripture’s interpretation of Scripture- therefore allowing It to prove Itself.

The view of these men, including John Calvin (1509-1564) and his followers , states that man was created with a free will, but that he lost that gift in the garden when he fell from grace. They taught that man then became a slave to his sin nature, thus was totally incapable of anything purely good, and so needed a Savior to restore to him, through Salvation, his free will, that he may be capable of what God considers good, and so may volunteer for it. Therefore, they taught that God chose whom He would have mercy upon and rested His grace upon those, and that they, unable to resist His supernatural call, responded and followed Him; and were therefore forgiven of their sin. (As is stated in The Scriptures, repeatedly, God in Christ grants to His followers both repentance and the forgiveness of sins.) It was also taught that they would never again be in that fallen state from which they had been redeemed because of His ability to save and keep souls perfectly. Also, that whomever was not chosen for mercy would be under the wrath of God forever, and that this is according to the Sovereignty, to the supreme authority, of God. These things can all be true at once. Also these teachings do not lend to the errors of open theism or universalism.

However, many people are confused about what it means to be reformed, or to be a Calvinist, today. This is understandable, as it actually means different things to different people in this postmodern period. Personally, I would not profess to be a Calvinist, unless I had read his giant thesis put forth in his institutes and had agreed with it. It is enough to have read and studied every word in The Holy Scriptures and to have agreed with all put forth there, and to call oneself a Christian. However, I do occasionally refer to myself as reformed, because I agree with the five solas of the The Reformation, as well as with the five spine doctrines of Calvinism, sometimes referred to as The Doctrines of Grace .

There are, also, those who agree with Luther’s soteriological thought (teachings regarding salvation), which differs a bit from Calvin’s, who may also label themselves reformed, as well as reformed Presbyterians and those Presbyterians whom I’m sure Brother Knox would consider to be running amuck. Contemplating all of this, we may be tempted to ask ourselves- why does it matter?

I do believe it is a matter of great importance, because next to being assured of one’s own salvation by faith, nothing fires the passionate love of God in a man, or establishes a man more firmly and aids him in his stance more fully when the trials of this life are at their most difficult, as does knowing what he believes to be true about The God who has saved him, and why according to The Holy Scriptures, he believes it is true.

For those of us who exist in the western world today, extremely harsh treatment and physical persecution due to our faith are unheard of- thanks be to God! But our freedom from this particular brand of suffering is not guaranteed. Our right to freely assemble and to worship as is pleasing to us, has been hard-earned in the past and continues to be a state of being which we must work to preserve. I pray that we will never become comfortable to a fault.

All being stated, most importantly, in light of all that we know of God from His Holy Word is the sure mandate that as Christians we are to love and to bless all, within the church and outside of it.

Currently, I am a thankful member of a non-denominational evangelical church where The Word of God is faithfully and carefully preached Sunday by Sunday, and heresy does not mar the pulpit. However, I am forever tied- if only by mere sentiment- to the largest protestant denomination in the United States, the precious Southern Baptist, and I long for her continual reformation around pure and sound doctrine.

©2010, L.L. Shelton