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Not Seen But Loved

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday, the wife of one of our friends let us know that her husband, BruceC, has passed into the presence of his Lord.

As I read MaryLou’s note, and followed the heartfelt words that a number of you so thoughtfully expressed to her, I sensed our shared affections for a man most of us have never met.

Because Bruce so often opened his heart to us, many of us feel like we know him. Together we already miss the gentle wisdom that was such a blend of his years in law enforcement and faith in Christ.

What surprised me though, is that in thinking about our conversations with BruceC,  I  found myself with a deepened appreciation for words that I haven’t thought about for awhile. In the Apostle Peter first New Testament letter he wrote, concerning Christ, “Though you have not seen him, you love him…” (1Peter 1:8).

With the passing of our unseen friend, I began to realize how real those affections could be … and why….

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28 Responses to “Not Seen But Loved”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    My dad used to say his grandfather would tell him no one is dead as long as they are remembered, I will remember our friend Bruce as I will all of you I have come to know here.

    I’m not sure how to identify it, but here in this BTA community, ever since I stumbled upon it, all of you have become real friends, not just a passing novelty of being able to have a conversation, but that special connection that comes from person to person. There has always been something special about this place.

    Many have come and went, some leave a larger footprint, but all have had their place in making this journey worth it and why I keep coming to it each morning.

    Thank you to all of you who make up the community, even if I only get to know you in passing. I raise my hand to you from afar wave and show you I am no threat, only another traveler along the same journey as you. Perhaps we can walk a while together and keep each other company.


  2. Bill says:

    Dear BTA Friends,

    I couldn’t add anything to what Brother Steve wrote even if I wanted to. He expressed the feelings of my heart as well.

    Thank you for posting your thoughts, Mart. This was, perhaps, one of the shortest BTA blogs…but it was also one of the most powerful.

    Much love to all,


  3. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It is remarkable what an imprint Jesus has made upon all humanity! His followers and those who believe in him, like Bruce C, remind us of him again and again. Even those who do not think of Jesus, or seek to know Jesus better, recognize his image in others.

    When a Jesus follower dies, we think of the promises we have in the long-foretold Messiah. Death reminds us of Life – when we mention the name of Jesus. Even those who deny Jesus know the narrative of his life on earth.

    Jesus is the One we have not seen – who is familiar. Jesus is with us though absent in the flesh. It is remarkable that those who seek Jesus find him, whether their childhoods were shaped by believers or not.

    The most amazing thing about Jesus is that even those who hate him understand who he really is. And when the time and circumstances are right, people love Jesus after all.


  4. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… thank you for putting in words a thought about who we are and why we are here as we all follow the unseen and hear their words.
    We know that many here first take off their sandals before they speak.
    BruceC left his foot prints in the sand for us to follow as he always came hear bare footed, fully exposed and relevant, open and wanting to both share and learn, being both a teacher and teachable.
    He blessed us with his character and wisdom.

  5. poohpity says:

    Mart so true. As we read Bruce’s words we began to know him. It was so lovely to see the growth as he began to read from the LAB that Mary Lou bought him a couple of years ago which he shared with us as he read through it chronologically. We read first hand how God’s Word transforms as he learned more about our Lord.

    Even though we do not see the Lord He has given us His written Word to know Him. Growing in our relationship bringing us from just knowing about Him to a more intimate closeness to/with Him. The oh so very wonderful thing is that that relationship is available to all who genuinely seek and search for the unseen risen Savior and Creator of the world who has shared so much with us.

  6. SFDBWV says:

    Forgive me for moving beyond the very personal loss of our friend Bruce and the tender feelings of Mary Lou; I want to explore the concept of *loving* God and most specifically Jesus of Nazareth.

    Many people talk of loving God, but I wonder do they actually love God in the same emotion as they do their families and closest loved ones.

    When I think about how much *concern* and *worry* and raw emotion goes into loving a wife or child or parents and for some (not all) brothers and sisters; I wonder if those who claim to *love* God do so on the same level?

    Do we *obey* the tenet’s of Christianity because we *love* or because we *fear*?

    I can intellectually understand that Jesus loves us enough to have did all that He did for our eternal security, and see that He loves us, but do we really *love* Him in the same way? Can we?

    Is love an emotion that has degrees?

    If God is not the top degree of love we feel over and above a loved one here in our lives are we in sin?

    Or by showing love to our earthly families and extended families are we actually showing the love God wants for us to express for Him through our love for them?

    Just some thoughts this morning as life here moves along.


  7. Bill says:


    I, too, have been thinking about Bruce’s passing, as well as the value of love – for seen and unseen people (in keeping with Mart’s theme).

    To answer your questions, I do not believe we love Jesus as he loves us. I know of no one who has laid down – or even is willing to lay down – his life for Jesus. Or anyone else, for that matter. The kind of selfless, lay-down-his-life-for-a-friend love Jesus demonstrated is not something that comes easily to anyone. So, I think we love Jesus in the same way we love our wives, husbands, sons and daughters, even dearest friends. We love fervently and sincerely, but not necessarily sacrificially.

    I’ve been thinking of something else regarding Bruce’s passing.

    There’s a movie called “Seeking a Friend For the End of the World” starring Steve Carell (who plays Dodge) and Keira Knightley (who plays Penny) that resonated deeply with me and my wife. There are a few raunchy parts to the film (I think it’s rated R). But, overall, it’s a very sweet, tender movie about love, loss, and what truly matters in the world.

    In one of the final scenes, as the world literally is coming to an end, Penny (in tears) says to Dodge, “There wasn’t enough time.”

    What Dodge says to her chokes us up no matter how often we watch the movie: “There never would have been.”

    There never would have been enough time.

    That’s how life is. No matter how long we live, there never would be enough time to do everything we want to do, say everything we want to say, or love as deeply as we know we should.

    Most importantly, we never know when we will see someone for the last time.

    That, especially, is what I’ve thought about regarding Bruce. None of us knew when our last time reading his comments would be.

    That’s why we should try to be as kind as possible to one another, loving and compassionate, because we never want our last words to someone to be harsh, angry, bitter, or unforgiving.

    The more I read the Bible, the more I watch people, the more I talk to Christians and non-Christians alike, the more I understand what the Bible says in Colossians 3:14:

    “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

    Love and forgiveness (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”) are the warp and woof of the New Testament.

    I don’t ever want my last words to a fellow human being to lack love or forgiveness. So if I always keep in mind that the last time I see someone could be the last time ever perhaps I’ll be able to temper my words, and extend kindness and compassion, with open arms, and a joyous heart.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m dwelling too much on such things.

    Love to all,


  8. SFDBWV says:

    Thank you Bill for your thoughts; I don’t think you are dwelling too much on such things, especially considering this blog is titled “Been Thinking About”.

    I want to continue on with your thoughts and mine, but am totally out of time as Matt will be getting up to his bike in a few minutes and my day will get smaller and smaller, but I wanted to say thank you and I agree in much of what you have said and will get back to this subject as soon as time will allow.

    You are right our last words to anyone should leave a smile and we should always think they may be the last words we ever get to say or that they may ever hear.


  9. foreverblessed says:

    No, not at all Bill, your thoughts are good to meditate upon, yes love each other, now, do not wait.
    I shall be thinking a bit too,
    first I appreciate it very very much that Mart gave Bruce a special topic!
    Something to “stand still at”. Maybe, that is dutch mad english, to be still for the fact that Bruce is not here on earth anymore.
    Praying for his wife, for the loss, to be comforted. Yesterday I visited a widow in my village, who lost her husband way too early, and unexpected too. I do not know her very well, and wanted to give here a hand shake, but she gave me a big hug. She was so happy I visited her.
    So thinking abut Mary-Lou, we should remember the widows (and widowers and orphans) in our vicinity, just as God remembers the widows, Psalm 68:5.

    Then, we should see our lives as they are in reality: a passing phase. Our spirit is in this body, just a little while and then we leave this world. We should see to it that our spiritual life is regenerated, is growing more and more.
    We are greatly loved by our Father, such great love, Jesus gave His own life for us, we can feel safe in His Hands, loving and caring Hands. He trains us:
    Like the sports people of the world, who take so much care in training their bodies to be good athletes, we should train our spirit, or rather be surrendered to God, to His training our spirit.
    That when we meet difficult people, we see it as a training to grow in perseverance, in patience.
    When we are ill, or in difficult situations, we should train in resting in peace with God. Return into the peace we have in Christ Jesus, regardless of what the situation is, like Corrie the Boom even found peace in the nazi concentration camp.
    These things do not come at once, they are slowly learned just as an athlete trains himself, with ever and ever harder schemes.
    Not that we train ourselves, but God trains us, He is the coach.
    This life on earth is so short.
    See it as a start into eternity. We have already started in the life of eternity! We are already God’s children. Eternal life is already here in us: Jesus in us the hope of glory Col 1:27

  10. poohpity says:

    I believe that love is not an emotion it is an action. God so loved the world He GAVE His Son to take our place. Even though Jesus never lied, lusted, worshiped idols, put anything before God, envied, stole He was treated as if He did and bore the punishment in our place. It is not that we loved God but that He loved us. 1 John 4:10-11 NIV

    Of course our love is nothing compared to His love it is not humanly possible but it is divinely possible due to the Holy Spirit living in us to show to others what we have received. We have received mercy, forgiveness and grace(actions not emotions). We prove our love for God by giving that to others. Not just those who are close to us but to those we think are not deserving of it just like God treated us, so undeserved, YET!

    Who gets our attention first thing in the morning? What fills our minds? Who has found a dwelling place in our hearts? What/who takes first place in our lives? The answers to those are sorted but all telling in so many ways.

  11. phpatato says:

    If I may, I believe I have to disagree with you Deb.

    I think one has to love in emotion first and then that spurs one to love in action. The emotion has to come first I believe. If people don’t emotionally love, they wouldn’t be motivated to do anything in love. Love has to be felt in order for love to be shown. I don’t know of too many people who feel hate that shows love. Usually people who hate, spew hate, shows hate, lives hate. I would be prompted to question the hateful person’s sincerity if they did something that was kind and loving. The verse you gave…God so *loved* (emotion) THAT He *gave* (action) His only Son.

    It is because we love God emotionally first that we put God first in the morning. That we allow our minds to be filled with Him. That we open our hearts to Him.

    In my opinion, we have to love emotionally before we can love in action.

    On another thought….How are you feeling? I hope your blood clots have dissolved and you are feeling much better!


  12. oneg2dblu says:

    Following Steve’s logic or thoughts… shouldn’t we being Christ Followers, always allow the Word of God to define love for us?

    Doesn’t that word define love as a verb for us?

    I say verb, because just like the word faith is defined in the word for us, as faith without works as being dead, I would say, that love without works, or any action is probably the same.

    Christ said, “If you love me you will follow my commands.”

    Christ was asked in Luke 10:25 “Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

    What shall I do, means to me, what action is my responsibility?

    Luke 10::26 Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law?”

    Sounds to me we who are responsible to show, teach, or share with others, that we are to be responsible to what is written in the law.

    So, as follow Christ need only to let the law define what is the way for us to love, to show our faith, and to have inherit eternal life.

    So, if we can also love the unseen, what then does that love look like to those who can not see us?

    For Christ, who we all claim we follow, isn’t it our very Obedience that says, and truly shows Him how much we Love Him?

    We should not let the world or the worldly, define for us, what God’s love should look like.

    Godly Discernment about what is love should come from the word of God, and the guiding Holy Spirit within us, and having those two things aligned, protects us when obeyed, and also overcomes even the world.

    Be Blessed, Gary

  13. cbrown says:

    I love your last thought Gary.Amen

  14. oneg2dblu says:

    Today’s Two Listeners, God a Eventide for April 9, The Glorious Life, speaks to this godly form of discernment with our flesh, something the world does not seem to ever get quite right.
    They think tolerating a little bit of their R rating is supposed to be good for you. Go figure!
    Be Blessed, Gary

  15. poohpity says:

    Pat, no the clot is still there. Thank you for asking. It could take up to 6 months to dissolve with the help of blood thinners. Still have a black foot or dark purple, lol, very colorful and painful.

    Emotions are like the tossing of the sea. Some days we feel this way and the next we may feel that but in the knowing we are shown by actions in seeking the highest good for one loved. Those are not my thoughts the Bible teaches actions as is also explained in 1 Cor 13:4-7 NLT. I was drawn to God because He offered me acceptance, forgiveness, mercy, grace and healing for my brokenness did that effect my emotions you bet it did. If I went on emotions some days frankly I do not feel loved but yet I KNOW I am.

  16. poohpity says:

    Jesus taught us how to measure love; John 13:14-15; John 15:13; Rom 5:8.

  17. phpatato says:

    Deb, I am sorry to hear that you are still suffering from the effects of the blood clot. Your foot sounds nasty. Do take care! xo

    On our *minor* disagreement, I think perhaps we are both in the same dictionary, under a heading titled LOVE. You are standing on the right side of the page under the heading *AGAPE*, and I am standing on the left side of the page under the heading *STORGE* and *PHILEO*.

    Agape – charity – an unconditional love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance = action

    Storge – affection – a natural emotive (arousing or able to arouse intense feeling) fondness especially between family members

    Phileo – friendship – a strong bond between people who share common interest or activity

    Love is both action and emotion. I am simply saying that feeling a deep emotional love causes one to act in love. As an example, if I didn’t feel a love for animals, I probably wouldn’t donate time or money to the SPCA.

    Wow it took me a long time to get this posted. Distractions galore! lol

  18. refump says:

    Although I am not an often commenter I am a long time reader of BTA, so I too would like to add my condolences to BruceC’s wife & family. I always enjoyed his take on things & will miss his participation on this blog.
    Steve, your 8:09 am comment today was if you were mysteriously reading my heart & mind! Especially your question, “Do we *obey* the tenet’s of Christianity because we *love* or because we *fear*?” I have struggled with this question off & on for years. Having been raised by a very strict authoritarian father I found fear was the dominant motivational factor to obedience. I never even considered obeying because I loved him! I didn’t even know what love meant other than a maybe a good feeling as opposed to fear which I completely understood & knew it as a bad feeling. When I discovered God loved me & gave His only Son to die for me I think I then began to understand a little bit what love meant but, I was conflicted (& still am to some degree) what part fear should play in my relationship with my heavenly Father. After all, the old testament mentions fearing God quite a bit. I tried to rationalize that type of fear as something totally different than what I experienced with my earthly father because that fear was a bad feeling. I wasn’t sure what this OT fear was but it could not be the “bad” fear. I am still working through it many years later. I do know that God’s Word does say “perfect love casts out all fear” & look forward to one day understanding & coming to peace with how the “fear” of God & the “love” of God work in harmony.

  19. poohpity says:

    Pat, I did not disagree with you even in a minor way.

    refump, the kind of fear I have of the Lord is a reverent respectful type of fear. Knowing His great power is more than my mind can fathom yet He created everything to bring us joy and pursued us for a relationship to live eternally with him.

  20. poohpity says:

    I also have a very hard time understanding that especially knowing me as I do.

  21. phpatato says:


    I guess you didn’t disagree with me. I was the one who disagreed with you. I guess you could call that a one-sided disagreement? lol

  22. saled says:

    One of my friends shared a Dali Lama quote on facebook this week that went something like this: “Love is the absence of judgement.” I think that what he was getting at was something like this: when my principal put the child that was sick in my group on our recent field trip, I shouldn’t think that she did it out of malice; I shouldn’t judge her motives. But I think this is what the Dali Lama’s quote is missing.

    Somewhere, sometime over the last 30 years I read that love seeks to bring out the best in us. This reminded me of these lines from a love poem:

    “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.”

    These lines have been attributed to more than one poet, and I don’t know who they originated with. But I think they sum up the kind of love we have for those we are intimate with, such as children, grandchildren, spouses. I don’t know my principal well enough to judge her, but in those that I am close to, I hope to use my judgement to make a positive difference in their life.

  23. poohpity says:

    God’s love is one-sided and we are asked to have one-sided love towards others not demanding to have it returned or even appreciated but freely given just like the gift that is bestowed on us. Then we want to share it out of appreciation and gratitude.

  24. Artle says:

    BruceC loves everyone here, evident by the message brought here by Mary Lou. We may not see any more posts with his signature, but his shared thoughts are part of our thoughts that we continue to think about as we too prepare for eternity.

    In temporal terms love is ambiguous. Eternally, Love has one meaning; a meaning illustrated by Jesus in the story of the Samaritan. Though the Samaritan did not lay down his life, he did lay his life aside in order to care for a stranger, leading to another thought. Matthew 16:25 (NASB)

  25. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Loving in the Spirit is such a sweet, gentle love. We can all look forward to reuniting with all who have touched our hearts. May our God of all comfort bless Bruce’s family in their times of need.
    An update on my daughter: She’s doing a lot better. There was a good Godly change in her, but she still hold the chains of strong, willful sin. Please pray that she will let go. She’s an amazing child who had an awesome love for God. Thank you for your prayers!

  26. quietgrace says:

    I just read about an 18 year old man that was sentenced to life in prison W/0 parole for murdering an elderly woman. He demanded money from her and she told him that God loved him and could change his life, and that God’s name is Jesus. He mocked her, strangled, then stabbed her to death. Her grandson was also in on the slaying. His trial is coming up. At sentencing the young man said while in jail he gave his life to God, and wished he had listened to the woman when she first told him about Jesus, but now accepts the consequences. Such a tragic story, but as I’m reading the discussion about love, I am thinking how hard headed we are sometimes to receive love, yet, how completely God loves us enough to forgive us when we sin severely enough to change the direction of our lives and others lives as well. I will be praying for this young man and his new ministry in prison.
    Perfect loves casts out all fear….Yes, it does.
    Blessings to all, Grace

  27. SFDBWV says:

    Deep thoughts from many of you lead me farther into deeper waters.

    Many of our discussions are about trying to figure God out; He must be very amused at what many of us have to say concerning that.

    Mart brought us to a thought he had concerning loving someone we never seen in the Scripture verse found in 1 Peter 1:8. I am trying to explore the honesty and ability of us being able to do just that.

    Refump I especially welcomed your open and honest comment into this train of thought. I love honesty and deplore dishonesty which is why I question some who say, too matter- of- factly, that they love God especially Jesus. And I wonder if they really do or just are going along with what they think they are supposed to be saying or thinking.

    I am not going to debate whether love is something one feels as an emotion or is only something one does, as it is an absurd argument. What I am going to say is that *because* God loves us He provided a way for us to be reunited with Him through Jesus.

    The feeling of love we feel for the people in our lives causes us to do many things regarding their needs and comforts, but how can we equate that same feeling towards God? Can we fill a need for God by acting upon our desire to do so?

    And as Refump and I have questioned, is that desire from us love or fear?

    Jesus said *if* we love Him we will obey Him. The laws of God says if you don’t obey Him you will be eternally separated from Him.

    Here God seems to be saying that He wants us to obey Him, not out of fear, but because *we* want to, and we want to just because it pleases us to please Him.

    Isn’t that starting to look like what love looks like between people?

    I am going to leave it here for now and let this settle into my thoughts.

    Bill I have what would turn out to be an essay concerning your thoughts (and mine) of there never being enough time or enough love as we seem to be cursed in only having hind-sight and not enough foresight to correctly apply them to our lives.


  28. Bill says:

    Good Morning All,

    Brother Steve, you wrote what I wanted to:

    “I am not going to debate whether love is something one feels as an emotion or is only something one does, as it is an absurd argument. What I am going to say is that *because* God loves us He provided a way for us to be reunited with Him through Jesus.”

    With the only difference being I might not have chosen the word “absurd.” People don’t know what they don’t know, and aren’t likely debating the finer points of theology out of spite or a need to obfuscate. So I might have used the word “unnecessary.” But that’s a trifle. And I don’t mean to nitpick.

    If I may resort to mentioning koans again.

    Zen master to student: “Which is the correct definition of love – that it is an emotion? or that it is an action?”

    Student to Zen master: *Hugs the Zen master*

    No words necessary. No debate. Just demonstrate love and let others engage in debating what love is.

    The Bible tells us to feed His sheep. The sheep don’t know from whence the love comes, or if it’s “worldly” or “Godly” or not. Or, even if it’s an action or an emotion. Neither do the homeless on South Division here in Grand Rapids. They could not possibly care less what motivates someone to give them a coat, or a meal. They’re just grateful someone did something.

    Love is for doing, not for debating.

    You wrote:

    “Bill I have what would turn out to be an essay concerning your thoughts (and mine) of there never being enough time or enough love as we seem to be cursed in only having hind-sight and not enough foresight to correctly apply them to our lives.”

    Maybe Mart will provide you with my e-mail address so that you can send me as many essays as you wish. I’d post my address for you here, except then the spam would start flooding in. So it’s best left to a private exchange – if you wish, that is.

    I agree with you: Lot’s of amazing, heartfelt, deep thoughts and emotions here.

    I always learn a lot by stopping by.

    Thanks to all who share their hearts and thoughts.


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