14 posts categorized "Agape"

Staunch, Skeptic, and Special!

“I’ve never met a Christian I liked!” declared Seamus* to the rest of us at his table. I frowned at him quizzically. Personally, I had no problem with Christians; my thing was sheer indifference. I just couldn’t relate to their fervor. By the end of the year, however, the unexpected had happened: I had gone from indifferent to fervent. Yikes! Indeed! It was amazing, and with it came healing, joy, and a very real experience of God; but it left me in a strange place: I was now a lone Christian in a friendship group of atheists. Seamus was one of those friends, along with his wife. I know 'couple friends' are something to be thankful for … but … mm … it hasn’t been roses. Let’s just say that while Seamus’s wife is extremely easy-going, Seamus himself is not a tactful man, and he is convinced Christianity is untrue.... Read more →

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A Testimony by SUMite Holly Boone

Dear friends, Holly Boone (a different Holly from the one I shared about in my last post) shared this with me in an email and I asked if I could share it with our community. I pray it blesses you as it did me. I remember being in a similar place in my marriage years ago and knew that if I didn't begin trusting God to change me, my marriage would not survive. And He did, so lovingly and with great beauty as Holly shares with us here. God is so good. Our hope and future rest in Him! Thank you, Holly, for sharing your heart with us. We love you! —Dineen Confession I decided to try a worksheet about sin I’d received from a faith based conference. I wasn’t sure what sin I was going to write down until I sat down and prayed about it. God began to... Read more →

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Weekend Worship — It Starts With a Willing Heart

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “ Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep." — John 21:15-17 I know I talked about this passage a while back, maybe even a couple years ago, but... Read more →

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The Seeds of God's Love

As I passed the vase of flowers I noticed one of the buds had fallen to the table still closed tightly like a tube. I intended to throw the bud away but something nudged me to open its petals. I gently pushed the flower open to see the seeds inside. As I examined the contents, the Holy Spirit spoke this to me, "Trust that the seeds are there even when you can't see them." My friends, this goes to even broader places than we what we usually talk about here at SUM. I want to propose a question to you that hit me in a quiet moment with God and has me thinking on a scale I never anticipated. I believe God is calling us to use all that we are learning about living in mismatched marriage and apply it to the world. To our neighbors, to our friends, to... Read more →

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Weekend Worship — FREEDOM!

My precious friends, since our conference I am more and more convinced that God is moving is a big way and His message is all about Hi love and freedom—the freedom that comes when we walk in faith, trusting Him for our lives and knowing who ecactly we are in Jesus. Recently I wrote a couple posts about steps of faith and I'm seeing that same message everywhere. God is speaking the same things to people from all over the world—people who don't even know each other and it's big, big, BIG! When I catch a glimpse of that big picture (thank you, Lord), I am awestruck and struck by God's GOODNESS. All that He does comes from His goodness. That's His nature and the only way He works. He is completely truthworthy and faithful! I chose the lyrics version of this song from Jesus Culture because someone out there... Read more →

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Weekend Devo — God Loved Us First!

My friends, we have a wonderful week of devotions planned for next week. Rosheeda has prayfully written something for each day so that we can walk through the week with hope, faith and love planted squarely in our Jesus, and celbrate the greatest gift of this life and the next (yep, it's the gift that truly keeps on giving...). What I am learning (and hearing from all over the place) is that until we know who we are and whose we are, we are limping along in faith. This is where our true power, strength and freedom sits, my friends. Take it from someone who has limped along for so many years and is now beginning to understand how deeply we are loved. One new revelation came to me just this week (from that step of faith I made!). In Mattthew 22:34-40 Jesus answers the Pharisees that the greatest commandment... Read more →

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Weekend Worship — Let Your Love Loose!

Like Lynn said in yesterday's post, love has the power to conquer all. As I read that a fuller impact of what it means really hit home. This is something I've known since a child. Not sure how other than God just wired me that way, but I never fully understood what kind of love can do that until I began walking with Jesus and studying the Bible. The mind blowing part of this is the beauty in the way it works. It's part of the beautiful mystery of who God is and how He works. His love funnels down to us through His Son, Jesus, so when we invite Christ into our hearts, that love now dwells in us. I mean, think about it. First John 4:7-21 is one of the most powerful pieces of Scripture, my humble opinion. It says repeatedly that God is love. If Jesus is... Read more →

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Weekend Devo — Sifted Like Wheat

Yesterday we were blessed by a POWERFUL reader letter. In it she mentions Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” If you’ve read Peter’s story you know that he becomes completely sold out for Jesus. But it’s a process he has to walk through. (Click here to read my original post about Peter’s journey.) What I love about Peter is that he goes from being “sifted” as a man who is more full of faith in himself to a man who so full faith in Christ that his love for Jesus is transformed from a brotherly love (phileo) to a sacrificial love (agape). He is totally committed to the path Jesus set before him that fateful day on the shores of... Read more →

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It Had to be Him...

I love my husband. No, I really, really love my husband. And it’s not the same as when I married him. It’s better. I can’t take credit for it either. At all. It’s totally God. I started praying years ago that God would help me love my husband the way Jesus did, to love him with a godly love. And He answered that prayer bigger and better than I ever imagined. Now this is coming from someone who almost canceled her wedding a month before because I was scared to death! Every marriage in my family had ended in divorce and most of my relatives had married and divorced multiple times. My fear went even deeper than that. I will confess to you that the first time my husband told me he loved me, I told him to go to heck (not the word I used but you get the... Read more →

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He Came Upon a Midnight Clear—For YOU!

My Bible study group completed our study yesterday. We’d walked the past 11 weeks through the story of David with Beth Moore. On this last day she shared a powerful visual of a staff that had once been a vine. The bottom was straight but about half way up, the thick stalk rose upward in a tight spiral. Beth Moore then showed how the vine would have grown around a branch, surrounding it, holding it, and referred to Jesus’s words that He is the vine and we are the branches (John 15). It’s a visual that I will never forget because it so aptly shows how Christ is all around us, surrounding us. This vine that climbed from a small beginning. . . She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this... Read more →

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Spouse-Based or God-Based?

What is the difference between a spouse-based marriage and a God-based marriage? This is the question my Sunday school leader asked our group this past weekend. We’re currently doing Gary Thomas’ video series, Sacred Marriage, which goes with his book by the same title. It’s a great course, and I have loved hearing different perspectives on marriage and how God works in our marriages and uses them to refine us. The answer to this question also fits into our “Out-Love Your Spouse” challenge. So here it is: A spouse-based marriage is performance based. In other words, I’ll do something nice for him if he does something for me. Or, why should I do that for her? She never does anything for me? And how about this one: He was grumpy last night. No way am I going to be nice to him today. Basically, as long as our spouse is... Read more →

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Loving God Helps Me Love My Husband

I will tell you, in all honesty, that I cannot love my husband in my own strength. It’s not possible. I tried to for a many years and would do fine for a while, but inevitably I would run out of steam. Resentment would seep back in and these feelings and thoughts that had to with how little I perceived to be getting back. That's the self creeping in, because to out love our spouses requires unconditional love that's centered in Christ, not us. First, I had to ask God to help me love my husband the way He loves him. To put a love in my heart for my spouse that far exceeds what I am capable of. God answered that prayer and keeps answering it faithfully, but it truly starts in my love for God. The more we love God—the more we live for Him—the more we are... Read more →

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Weekend Devo — Giving Love

On one of last week’s post, a commenter asked if God could teach her to love her husband unconditionally. This is such a good question, that I decided to share some of my answer here today. This is such a crucial area that I think we need to talk more about not only loving our unbelieving spouses unconditionally, but also HOW we do that. Can we love our spouses unconditionally? The answer is YES! I am a living testimony to that. For years I loved my husband a lot when he was meeting my expectations, then not so much when he didn't. I was loving him on my own strength. As God showed me this, I began to pray that God would help me be the wife He needed me to be for my husband. Then I began to pray that God would help me love my husband unconditionally, in... Read more →

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Weekend Devo — Love Never Fails

"Love never fails." — 1 Corinthians 13:8 I grew up thinking love was the key to everything. I don't know why, but this was my mental make-up as a child, a teenager, and then a young adult. Yet as I grew older, I started to question if love was really enough. Over time I noticed that love seemed to fail over and over again—failed marriages, broken families, shattered friendships. And even in my faith I questioned whether love alone was enough to save anyone or anything. Too young to understand the difference as a child, I'd defined love according to our human capacity, philia, which translates to friendship or brotherly love (man's capacity). Only later did I learn about God's love, agape, which is selfless and self-sacrificing (God's capacity). As I reflected on the childhood ways I'd left behind (as Paul says), I suddenly saw the connection which brought me... Read more →

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