In my last post I mulled over the difference between judging and discerning. Well, today I want to add one final layer:
I heard a minister of the Gospel once say the biggest thing God will ask you when you finally meet him face-to-face is this: "Did you learn to love?"
It could be so. There is so much about love in the New Testament.
There's a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world, and sometimes in the church too. This means that we surely do need eyes of discernment so that we can keep going in the right direction. We need to keep following our true north (God), as if we're holding a compass and trying to constantly gauge his direction.
But, equally, when we discern we have to discern lovingly. And what does love look like when we're trying to discern things? Here are a few thoughts:
In the church, uphold a culture of honor in our interactions with others.
When thinking or speaking, we can ask: Am I being honoring in my tone and attitude?
Look first for the good in others' hearts.
Remember that people are growing
And finally, don't speak bad things about another Christian to their fellow brothers and sisters. It puts a wedge between relationships in the church.
If we do the above, we'll do a better job at navigating some of those tricky things that happen in churches. Churches are messy, not perfect, so we are given plenty of opportunity to practice the above.
All the while, we're meant to not condone sin as Christians, and that's a biggie. Sometimes we'll see ministers step in, for example, and stop certain behaviors in the church for the sake of the wider flock. But overall we can all still uphold a love for God in a way that is gentle and kind in manner, as far as possible.
So that was a final thought. I'd love to hear any further thoughts in the comments; and let's pray:
Lord God, help us to get a good balance in our lives between standing for truth and loving people lavishly. Give us more wisdom on this one in our personal lives, and Lord help us relate to people in the way you would have related to them when you were on earth. We love you, Jesus, thank you for being here and being ours. In Your name, we pray. Amen.
I've been having a little adventure lately with a book called The Love Dare. *
Here on this blog we talked in January about some of the things we want to focus on this year, and some of you said you'd like help with the area of how to love your spouse better.
Well, as we know, love is an action, and that brings me to this adventurous book.
I was recommended this book by one of our SUMites here in Auckland, Paula Blackie. She said, "It's really, really good." So, curiously, I ordered it.
Books take a while to get to New Zealand, but eventually it landed in my letter box, I ripped open the package, and here's what I found:
The book is a set of forty dares that you do over a period of forty days. Each dare is something you are asked to do for your spouse. Preceding each dare in the book there is a devotional first, with scripture references.
There's also a movie called 'Fireproof' that's linked with the book, and it's about a firefighter who puts the forty dares into action in his own marriage. Sounds good, but I haven't watched it yet.
Anyway, I decided not to tell Bryce about the dares and instead to just dive in quietly. Here's how it began --
Day #1 was called 'Love is patient', and it went like this:
"For the next day resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret."
"Righty ho", I thought, rolling up my sleeves. "This should be easy"; and for most of the day I didn't even see Bryce so that definitely was easy. However, we then sat down to the evening news with the boys, which we don't normally do. As soon as the news began, my whole family began speaking over the news, one on one side of me, two on the other. I didn't manage to hear a single part of the news that evening.
Irritation welled up immediately (Crikey, is this how easily I get irritated?!) and so I got to practice this good quality: patience.
I seemed to be in a particularly serene frame of mind after practising patience and a controlled tongue the previous night. My task today, according to the book, was to continue not to say anything negative to my spouse, and in addition say something very kind to him at some point during the day. A short and sweet dare indeed. Well, at some point that day upstairs I trundled (to his home office), and told him something particularly nice about himself. He grinned back at me.
I liked that dare. Who doesn't like being kind?
Day #3 was titled 'Love is not selfish'. The dare went like this:
"Along with refraining from any negative comments, buy your spouse something that says 'I was thinking of you today' ".
I like the fact the book has to keep telling you not to make negative comments. Oh dear! Is that what marriage is like? Well, that I can do reasonably easily. But the next part was hard as Bryce is the hardest person on earth to buy things for. I literally could not think of a thing to get him. In the end, I walked down to the local shop and bought him a Snickers bar, his favorite chocolate. I left it on his pillow. He said, "What's that for?" I said, "It's for you. Since it's your favorite."
And that's where I've got to so far. In thinking about love as an action, I guess this little book, The Love Dare, helps us try a few of the following things out:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV)
Thanks again to Paula Blackie for inspiring this post; and now I'd love to hear from our community: What are some practical ways you show love to your spouse?
* The Love Dare (2013), by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. Published by B&H Publishing Group, Nashville: TN.
My friends, we're currently talking about the times we're in, and today I want to tell you something intriguing that happened just before the pandemic. I'm sharing it because I believe it can give us some good guidelines for today.
COVID first appeared in December 2019, but in August I heard God say this:
"Get ready, you have no idea what's coming out of these cupboard doors --"
I had a sense that something was coming that I couldn't possibly guess at. Like the analogy of a cupboard, it was as if the doors would soon be open and this 'thing' would come out or be revealed.
I decided to tell Dineen, as I sometimes used to write to her about such things. I nearly fell off my seat when she wrote back and told me she'd heard the same thing -- That we were to get ready and something big was coming. In fact, it turned out that both she and a friend had each heard it within days of each other that very same week as me.
Well, that was amazing, but it got even more startling. Days after Dineen's email, I gave a talk at a church in Auckland that wasn't my usual church. Afterwards I got chatting to the pastor and he said, "I heard God say this week 'Get ready, and do not fear'."
He and I then talked about how striking that seemed. It seemed telling and noteworthy.
Later that August, I completely forgot I'd had the words 'Get ready', but quite separately I felt prompted to start spending my whole mornings with God. It was a real luxury -- The kids were out at school, Bryce was out at work, the house was quiet, and I had hours with God.
All of that long-lingering-with-the-Lord was reduced, of course, when lockdown happened in March 2020 and everyone landed home (aggh!) But those few months of quiet with God were impactful; they set me up to cope when the pandemic hit.
I share that last little story because it has something to do with 'Getting ready', and I believe that word 'Get ready' is still a key for how to respond today, just as much as it was in 2019. Further, it's not just get ready, but 'Get ready and do not fear'.
People have speculated if this is the end times. We don't know. There have been lots of crazy times in the world over the past centuries. On this topic there's perhaps always going to be some mystery --
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Matthew 24:36 (NKJV)
What we are told instead is to always be ready.
Therefore also you be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 (NKJV)
What does it look like to get ready, then?
First, it's like what I did in lingering with God in those months before the pandemic. That's only an illustration, mind you. Our other responsibilities (e.g., parenting) may not allow for that much lingering, but the point is we must take care of our souls as our biggest priority in life. That's all, and that's everything. Care for your soul -- Linger a little more with the Lord.
But then there's more. Jesus gave clear guidelines in Matthew 24 about how to respond to crazy times. The things we need to do to 'Get ready' are:
1. Take care not to be deceived (Matt 24:4, 23-24)
2. Do not partner with any kind of fear (Matt 24:6)
3. Don't let our love for others grow cold (Matt 24:13)
4. Keep watching the signs (Matt 24:33, 42)
5. Keep being active in ministering to others (Matt 24:45-51).
Each of the above points deserves more conversation in terms of how it relates to the pandemic, so I'm going to do a little video or two on the above over the next few weeks. But for now a great theme for us is this:
Get ready, stay ready .... and do not fear.
I'll leave it there. But, how are you doing at the moment, and what are the challenges for you in this time? If you'd like to share, I'd love to pray for you.
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Ann’s most recent post has lingered in my mind for a few days and I thought I’d reflect a little more on it. If that’s okay? Ian here from a sunny Sydney.
We have those between a rock and a hard place moments don’t we? As I think I’ve shared a few times before, one of Fiona’s biggest fears is that she’ll become a ‘church widow’. There was a time a few years back when I attended a couple of prayer meetings a week on top of my Sunday commitments and whenever you have some form of leadership responsibility, pastoring and caring for those you lead takes added time.
Like Ann mentioned, our partner reaches a point when it’s all too much. And I especially feel for you ladies because as I’ve said a few times over the years, for many men, their wife is not just their best friend but often their one true friend. Yes, we may have male ‘friendships’ but they’re quite different to our life partner.
Every few years it seems Fiona will express her concern that there’s a big part of my life that she doesn’t participate in. It’s not just the physical aspects of attending church and such, she’s also aware of the time I spend with God.
How Do we Respond
Ann gave some wonderful counsel and it’s this aspect I wanted to spend a little more time on. Ann encouraged us to look to the Rock. To Jesus. Yes and Yes. Early in my relationship with Fiona, I probably didn’t do this believing it just would add to the issue at hand. It wasn’t until I came to appreciate how much I needed Jesus that in fact He would help me through the matter.
How? Because He’s love. That’s who He is, isn’t He? It’s His natural state. And I believe that’s what we most need in these ‘between a rock and hard place’ situations. Love.
“Christ is love covered over with flesh” – Thomas Goodwin
I found I needed more of His love so that I can love my bride ever more and also gain greater clarity over the situation at hand. And I believe our partners see this love.
If we try to manage the situation in our own strength, we’re likely to exacerbate it. But if we honestly and in all humility come to Jesus and seek His love and wisdom, He will reveal them. There’s unlikely to be a lightning bolt but rather we have Jesus as our companion.
It’s in His companionship we discover more of His love which changes us from the inside and this is what our partners see. In time. The deeper we go in His love, the more our partners will experience it and I believe we have less of these ‘crunch’ situations. Remember His love is endless and wonderfully, Jesus desires to share it with us in ever increasing intensity.
I’m more convinced that life is less about having all the answers and seeking to fix everything and everyone, but rather to walk through it with Jesus and others in tight companionship. So when the dark valleys appear we have trusted companions, one of whom is ‘clothed in love’ who will walk with us. Another of course is our beloved partner in life. They’ll be with us in the thick of it. We’ll grapple the uncertainties of the valley together.
Image courtesy of SawBear at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hi! Ian from wintry Down Under.
Love! It tends to be something we compartmentalize, don’t we? It’s how we feel about our spouse and children, our parents and there’s this industry around romance, the books and movies. Strangely, or perhaps not so, it’s actually not talked about a lot. When asked what I’m writing about, people often give me strange looks when I mention it’s a book about love. “It’s unusual for a man to talk and write about love,” said a lady I met picking my mom up from a dental appointment when I happened to mention what I’m writing about.
I will often squirm when I’m sharing it with a new group of people especially one only of men. I get these strange looks and the subject quickly changes because it’s an uncomfortable subject. Why is it something we find uncomfortable discussing and even if we do we might confuse it with sex (men more likely too)?
We were made in the image of God. Right. And He’s a God of love. Right. That must mean we’ve been made in love and love is an inherent characteristic of our makeup. John 3:16 is perhaps the most recognized verse in the western world. Why? Because it’s written in big bold print at most major global sporting events like the Olympics and the football World Cup. Most of us reading this book probably recall it immediately: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV). Besides being a statement of the gospel, it also clearly states God’s modus operandi, that is, the particular way He works.
God loved the world and everyone in it so much that out of that love He sent Jesus to live incarnationally amongst us, to then die and be raised from the dead. God did it out of … love. This is how He works. Whether it’s in the macro way of the world or within the micro way of an individual, He only knows the one way of operating: in love. Certainly, this love takes different forms depending on the circumstance but everything He does reflects love.
Love in Action
If God’s way of working is by love, is He not inviting us into His world to operate the same way. I wonder if the big question of what’s life about has a relatively simple answer: to live a life of love.
Jesus even reminds us, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35)” No wonder so many in the world struggle with the church and Christians because we so often don’t do very well at loving others. It grieves my heart when we see evidence of abuse within churches, churches breaking up, Christian marriages ending, supporting acts or individuals whose behaviors and words clearly don’t reflect the principles of love.
Yes, we can excuse ourselves for being human. We make mistakes, we sin, because we’re human. The church is full of fallible humans who make mistakes all the time. I know I do. Every. Day. It’s important we be compassionate and extend grace to ourselves and to others.
Love is hard work, isn’t it? Especially when your partner is grumpy or worse, your kids are driving you nuts, or someone hurts you and we can go on. We can’t really love in our own strength and the wonderful thing about walking with Jesus is we don’t have too. And we’re not supposed to. God invites us to love like He does. With a compassionate heart.
As I go deeper with God, the more I find I need to go even deeper, and I want to because through Him we can learn to love better, even when we struggle to. But how do we do it?
Here’s a few suggestions. Why not add your own to the list in the comments? What’s something that’s helped you love better?
It starts with time with God. Prayer, solitude and silence are so pivotal to growing our connection with the lover of our souls. Like any good relationship quality time is essential. Solitude and silence help us listen. Prayer is more about getting God into us; it helps us detach from ourselves so our hearts can be transformed (slowly) into being better lovers.
Actions speak louder than words. Choose to do something that’s about another. It might be a simple text to a friend asking after them or specifically praying for them. I always find that when I pray the Spirit nudges me to do something for another. This is God’s way.
Listen first and hold off giving your own advice or opinion. I struggle with this all the time. We like to solve people’s issues, don’t we? Before expressing an opinion, ask a question. Listen. Ask another question. Listen. Wait for your partner, child, friend to ask for your input. Eek.
Pray for someone who hurt you. Express your hurt to God. Remember, He’s the compassionate one. Imagine Him hugging you and after a while see if you can simply ask God to bless the one who hurt you.
I’m continually amazed by this little community of ours and reading of how various members love one another and their partners and kiddies, even under some very challenging circumstances.
Image courtesy of KAZITAFAHNIZEER at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Happy New Year, dear friends. Wow, 2021 has come upon us and for many of us it hasn’t been a great start with lockdowns, restrictions and political chaos.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks now. In the past few years, I’ve shared my ‘word for the year’ in this first post. And guess what I’ll be doing that again. Interestingly, it also links in well with Ann’s previous post .
I hadn’t given it much thought until I happened to reflect on some of the verses I’d been reading in my Advent readings. Two in particular caught my attention:
The first is from Isaiah 11: “His delight is in the fear of the Lord.” (v3a). The ‘he’ the prophet is referring to is Jesus.
The second is in Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1. I’d encourage you to read Mary’s song. It’s a beautiful love song about God. But the verse: “His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.” (v50).
We’re told that Jesus would ‘delight’ in the fear of the Lord. And then his mother who is carrying him in her womb, personifies this ‘delight’ in fearing God through singing this song and allowing her life to be turned upside down by Gabriel’s news.
Fear of the Lord
Before we get to the ‘word’ for the year, I want us to reflect a little on ‘fear’. I’ve lived with it all my life, at times paralyzing me with anxiety. I expect all of us can relate to fear that has kept us up at night, woken us up at night, or given us sheer terror.
But clearly this isn’t the fear that Isaiah and Mary are referring to. Because they’re delighting in it. I think all of us would agree that the fear I just referred to is one that we don’t delight in.
For some of us we’ve grown up fearing God in the I’m scared-fear way. I know I did. And I can relate that back to the fear I had for my father. For many people, their first impressions of a fatherly figure dictate their initial response to God. I was one of them.
There is a ‘right fear’ of God that makes us long to be more like Him. Jesus and Mary possessed that ‘right fear’. We often swap out fear for ‘awe’ or ‘reverence’ but I’m wondering whether they really have the same impact as the word, fear. We’re all probably familiar with Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (2:12 ESV)
Once again, awe or reverence doesn’t have the same impact, does it. We should tremble in our delight of God. His goodness, His almightiness, His power, His creation (breathtaking), and His tenderness and love for us. We’re simply breathless with tears in our eyes full of all this incredible [good] emotion. As David exclaims in Psalm 145: “God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness.” (v3 MSG)
Does that make sense?
I’ll be doing some study on this notion of delighting in the fear of God and if it’s okay with you will share some more down the track. I want to experience that delight!
A Word for the Year
As I contemplated this delighting in the fear of God, two things happened on the same day. I’m big on the three strikes test being a little sign that God wants one’s attention.
I received an email from Bethel, just their weekly email that all subscribers receive. It featured the word: ‘Behold’ and provided the dictionary definition: 1. To perceive through sight or apprehension; 2. To gaze upon. The email advised ‘behold’ appears ‘roughly (?) 1,527 times throughout Scripture.’ That’s a lot.
I listened to a song I’ve played most days for the past few months, simply titled, ‘Behold Him.’ It’s a beautiful song. I start my mornings with it as it helps me ‘behold’ Jesus.
I had my word: ‘Behold’.
Yes, perhaps an old word, some even might describe it as archaic. You might not find it in the modern Bible translations, rather the older ones. But the notion of fixing my eyes, to gaze upon the Lord and to learn from Him each day excites me.
Do you have a word for the year? Don’t worry if you don’t. But I like it especially as I try to start everyday doing something in relation to it. It provides a focus for my day. Well, at least the start of it.
If you have a word or a reflection for the year, would it be okay if you shared it in the comments below? Be lovely for us to come around each other and encourage one another with their words.
Here’s to a special year ahead, one where we all draw closer to the Lord and discover more of the delight in His Word, in His love and His magnificence.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It’s a big few days in America with the election and we all around the world watch on eagerly with prayerful hearts.
Recently, I came across a little-known Saint, Alphonsus Rodriguez, who lived in Spain in the 1500s. Rodriguez was in his 40s, a widower, with no children and a bankrupt, who on seeking to join a Jesuit monastery was told he was too old and too uneducated to become a priest. He was sent to a Jesuit College on the island of Majorca where he served as a porter and doorkeeper. He turned door-keeping into a sacramental duty. Every time the doorbell rang, he would say, “I’m coming, Lord!” and would then welcome the visitor as Christ himself.
Many brilliant young priests passed through the college. Alphonsus welcomed each one lavishly and many of them turned to him for spiritual counsel. One of them was a man named, Peter Claver, who began meeting with Alphonsus, now 72, on a daily basis. The doorkeeper encouraged the young priest to travel to South America where he devoted his life to caring for slaves, for which he was later recognized as a saint.
Alphonsus Rodriguez was also made a saint, canonized for his own brand of quiet heroism expressed in a life of humility, hospitality and friendship that impacted vast numbers of people across the globe.note
Our Little Lives
Sometimes we can question whether we’re making our lives count. We’re just going about our days as spouse, parent, employee/employer, friend, sibling, child and on wondering whether we’re really making any impact. Inherent in all of us is a desire for significance. Perhaps this drive is stronger in men, I don’t know, but we can also let it lead us astray in chasing after the ‘big’ thing that will make us feel better about ourselves and fill us with pride for being a ‘somebody’.
We’re already significant, aren’t we, in the simple fact that God, the creator of the universe has chosen to give each of one of us, life. That’s right, our God thinks we’re pretty awesome because He made us. We were significant before we were born because God thought of us before we even made an appearance in the womb.
The Great Commission
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a NIV)
We’re all familiar with these verses and for many of us we can feel burdened by thinking we’re not doing anything ‘great’ for the Kingdom. Or we might feel this is someone else’s responsibility, that is, those people specifically called to a ministry role of some description.
But, no, we are all called to make disciples. Yes. Every single one of us. But we don’t have to be burdened by it; we can in fact be playing our part by continuing to live out our own little lives. For most of us, the Great Commission will be outworked in our own homes, schoolyards, workplaces, cafes and such like.
Alphonsus Rodriguez provides us with the example. “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14 NIV). We get to choose how we treat everybody we come across today: “I’m coming, Lord!”
Like Alphonsus, we may never know the impact such an attitude might have on our legacy. He most likely had no knowledge that Peter Claver was canonized for his role in South America having passed away long before.
Often, we get stuck in thinking we have to do something significant.
“Start where you are, where you can be of service, not a hero.” (Joan Chittister)
Start with your spouse. Start with your kids even if they’re driving you nuts. Start with your work colleagues. Choose love. Choose to think you’re addressing the King of Kings. You’ll be surprised how once you start, you’ll keep doing it. And then it spreads. Love begets love. Care begets care.
And in the ordinariness of life, something extraordinary begins to take root.
“I’m coming, Lord!”
Grace and peace, dear friends
Note: my inspiration for this post came from Lectio365 Monday 2 November 2020 Devotional titled: Alphonsus Rodriguez: Hero of Hospitality.
So, ya….. This post may sting. This is an area that I have confronted over and over again throughout my life.
How do we walk through life and handle the disappointments, the let downs, the betrayals without slipping down the slippery slope into the dark abyss of bitterness?
My friends, I’m telling you, this sly root of the dark realm can destroy a life, a home, a marriage, a child, a church,……. A city, how about a nation???
Recently I’ve been reading a book by Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, and I was taken back by this short sentence:
Bitterness is unfulfilled revenge!
Woundedness from others, if left to fester in unforgiveness, will sink into dark bitterness. I’ve seen what this looks like in the spirit. It’s a grayish, festering, dead looking part of a person’s soul. Light goes in but doesn’t reflect back. It’s a pit of endless negative thought cycles. It’s leads a soul to where our love grows cold or non-existent.
The cure for bitterness is the love of Jesus. Honestly, we can’t forgive others from within our own strength. Some of us have been through such horrendous things that true forgiveness is impossible outside of the supernatural power and love of Jesus Christ.
I’ll tell you that through all the years of my spiritually mismatched marriage, I could have held a long list of disappointments against my husband. And they may have even been justified. But, unforgiveness is a prison of our own creation. And it’s through unforgiveness that the demonic realm seizes their greatest strongholds in our lives.
What’s fascinating to me is that many Christians think they have done the work of forgiveness but they aren’t truly free. If they were, the persistent ugly thought cycles would diminish and disappear. Now there is no condemnation here. THIS IS A MOMENT to take a pause and consider your thought cycles. Are they lining up with heaven are they:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. —Philippians 4:8
If we find ourselves standing on the event horizon of the black hole of bitterness, we MUST take action immediately. Repent, ask someone to pray with you. Confess your sins to one another ( James 5:16). Find an accountability partner to help you walk into spiritual health. Spend time with a CHRISTIAN counselor. Schedule a prayer session. Ask Jesus if there is any area where unforgiveness, cold-love or bitterness lingers. Lean on His Supernatural strength, love, and power to bring you into freedom.
Bitterness within a marriage is one of the last nails……
Now I’m not just preaching. Gang, I’ve had to live this out in my own life. With that said, it’s not easy but doable. I know it is because I was especially vulnerable to disappointment. But through the blood and love of Jesus Christ, I can forgive ALL offenses and I walk in powerful faith today.
If Jesus will do this for me, He will do it for you as well. And when you couple forgiveness with love, something wonderful lives in you! It’s the spirit of the Lord! Hallelujah!
So, my friends, pray in the comments a simple prayer to release yourself. Or pray in the comments that your spouse is released, a child, co-workers, boss, etc. These prayers of forgiveness are absolutely the first step toward wholeness in Christ. I will echo each one.
The opposite of bitterness is:
Claim one of these attributes and ask the Lord to immediately supply it into your life as an affirmation of your prayer of faith.
Here in our SUM community there are many different marriages. Some have spouses who are easy to love; others have extremely challenging situations. But in every relationship – easy or hard – love is not easy. Nor is it simple. And even with the easiest marriage a faith difference brings a huge challenge.
Our love challenge is not just about loving our spouse. It can be equally hard to love those who are an extended part of our SUM situation. For example, I’ve been frustrated at times with Christian family members and the church because they don't understand. It's all been one massive exercise in love.
Love is, to me, like the diamond engagement ring on my finger. I hold it up in front of my eyes and examine it from different angles, for there are different facets to it. ‘Love’ looks kind and gentle on the one hand, but if I hold it up again I can see it also involves obedience, which might mean speaking truth or walking forward into a specific call from God (as Tiffany shared).
Love is also a learning curve with inevitable failures or humbling experiences. As Lynn said, at 3am in the morning it might not go so well.
And then we know that God is love. So we can take 1 Corinthians 13, hold it up like that diamond and ask ourselves 'What is God like?' Except there are tensions. Love is not easily provoked, and yet we see Jesus was provoked to anger. To delve deep into love, then, involves examining these tensions carefully.
When it comes to my marriage, I often think about the end game. I imagine coming face-to-face with Jesus, and being asked: ‘Did you love your husband well?’ When I think about that question, it’s less relevant to me what my husband is doing than what I am doing. 1 Corinthians 13 is the blueprint. And, I guess I hope the Lord will say this when we review my marriage and family:
‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23, NLT)
There is lots to think about. Personally, I’ve loved hearing from Ian, Tiffany and Lynn with their love insights this month, and have enjoyed writing my bits too. Now, it's time to move on to some new topics on this blog, so I will be back on Wednesday with something different.
My friends, it's been great journeying on you through 1 Corinthians 13. What has spoken to you most in this love series?
As we sit in 1 Corinthians 13, it occurs to me how many facets this little word ‘LOVE’ has. It’s easy to think of love as being kind and patient; it’s easy to think of it as being something like a hug. It is truly that. But there’s another side, and it’s this:
If we love someone, we will put their spiritual health above our own popularity. That is, we'll speak truth when needed.
Now that is hard.
I love to embrace people’s life stories and if someone’s battling dysfunction in their lives I find it easy to be nice to them. That's important, but sometimes we have to speak truth to stop them going around the same mountain any longer.
So, on that happy note, my friends, let me tell you about one of my hardest faith moments, a time when God asked me to do something very unpopular indeed.
Before I go further, this story involves a particular toy in my house, which you may also have. If that’s the case, ask the Holy Spirit about it for yourself. For now, I'm sharing it as a testimony of love.
It was when my boys were about age 11 and 12. They're gentle little souls and don’t often need a firm hand, so I'm not usually 'strict Mum'. But sometimes we have to change our approach, and I was about to find that out.
The boys had become obsessed by pokemon cards. They had invested their money, hearts and souls into this game. Their social world revolved around it with their friends. They would spend hours with the cards spread out on the floor, enacting battles, and they talked about little else. I thought nothing of it, but one day I began to have a strange conviction: Those cards need to be removed from my house.
I wasn’t sure if this was really God, or my imagination. I went upstairs several times to sit and pore over the cards to figure out what it was. “Is this you, Lord?” I asked.
Honestly, sometimes God doesn’t tell us why, he just asks us to obey. So 'why' was perhaps not the most important question. Anyway, looking at the cards they seemed to be encouraging my children to play-act elements of witchcraft. And the conviction only became stronger and stronger.
One day, I heard a clear phrase in my spirit: “Playing with pokemon is like your children handling poo.” Yikes. Really, Lord? A few hours later I went upstairs to find a hand-drawn picture of poo on one of the cards. “Why did you draw that?” I asked the boys. They didn’t know.
Another word came: “Ann, it’s like them being upstairs with prostitution. That’s how important it is that you remove it.” In my mind, this thing was becoming crystal clear and it was uncomfortable. I knew how much the boys would hate having these cards taken from them. “Ok, Lord,” I said. “I’ll do it. But they’ll dislike me for it.” To be disliked by my children was -- still is -- the worst thing possible. But who was I going to idolize - My children or God?
I fasted for three days, saying to God, “Show me if this not you. And if it is, help me do it.”
The fast cemented my conviction. And so the day came: I gathered Bryce (whom I had forewarned) and the boys, and we sat on the floor with the Bible. I explained it as far as I could, and said, “I’m really sorry, boys.” Bryce supported me, though he did wonder if I was nuts. On this count he decided to let me take the lead as he didn't know what to think.
It went down like a sack of cold potatoes. The boys were very unhappy. They still talk about it sometimes: “Mum made us chuck out those cards.” Grr. Eye roll. Mum. Grr.
What else could I do? Sometimes love means being unpopular. I love my children fiercely. What else could I do?
So that is what it means to me to 'not be self-seeking' as per 1 Corinthians 13:5. In my mind, 'Love doesn't mind being unpopular'. The comforting thing is, the Holy Spirit guides us as to when it is right for us to step out and speak truth; and if we do that we know that it's a good thing.
Friends, have you ever taken an unpopular step for love? I'd love to hear about it.
With our coffees at the ready, how about we take a look at this challenging gem today in 1 Corinthians 13:
"Love keeps no record of wrongs"
(1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)
It is a noble thing to not keep record of wrongs. But do any of you have an ‘extremely difficult person’ in your life? How easy is it, really, to not think about the many annoyances or offences? I’m smiling because I suspect we all have one or two such people. Honestly, with a difficult person it's near impossible not to ruminate a little. Or, a lot!
Today I thought I would share a story about a challenging relationship that I've had in my extended family. This is a relationship my husband watches quietly, and he sees me learning to love. Sometimes he even tells me I've done good. Now, at those moments I break into a big smile. Those are the moments he sees my faith and quite likes it.
This particular person in my family has historically rubbed me up the wrong way. And if I'm honest, often I've felt like thumping them. Grrr!!
In the midst of it, the Lord has told me:
“This is an intense battle for you. And it's a love battle. Your job is hit back with the opposite spirit: Love. You can do it!”
This family member and I, we're not together often. But when we are I have to get through it. The conversation is wounding, there’s a clear demonic influence, it comes out in his words and those words have, in past times, left me bruised black and blue.
The Lord extends his comfort to me but he also sees the opportunity for reward if I can get my response right. He says:
“RISE UP daughter, swing your sword, and apply love! For love is your most powerful force, your vehement flame, and your weapon.”
When we have a difficult relationship, sometimes the Lord will show us what's really going on spiritually. In this case he showed me that this relationship is a place where the enemy is using that person's tongue to try to derail me faith-wise. I must fight accordingly (not with the person themselves; 2 Corinthians 10:4); and much of that fight involves God's powerful force: Agape love.
There are many ways to swing the sword of love. After all, 1 Corinthians 13 has many verbs. For a start, blessing is powerful, so when I think of this person I bless them quickly before my mind can rehearse the negative experiences I've had with them (i.e., go over the record of wrongs):
“In Jesus’ name, I bless [name]’s mind; I bless his heart; I bless his finances; I bless his body with physical health; I bless his hands, and his work; I bless his friendships; I bless his marriage. And most of all I bless his relationship with you, Lord.”
However, that's not quite enough to heal the bruises in my heart. Even if I move in swift forgiveness, which I really do try to, it seems that some bruises are so raw that only Jesus can take them away. When a bruise comes to mind, then, I get on my knees and say, “Jesus, this bruise is here. Please heal it.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget and then let the person do more of the same. There is certainly a place for protecting ourselves from too much negative conversation; and God doesn’t want us to be a doormat. Still, with family we can’t help but sit at their table and we may have to endure darts. In those cases our job is to say quickly in our minds: “I do forgive you. And I’m not going to keep a record of wrongs.”
I love the recent words of a minister I heard speak. She said: "When it comes to others, I keep short accounts, short accounts." In other words, "I'll forgive instantly, bless quickly, and do my best to move on."
That said, we are a total work-in-progress, right? None of this is easy. At all. We know our weapons, but we need the strength of Jesus Christ. And so, equally, we give ourselves grace for all the ups and downs. Perhaps in time it can even become something of an adventure. Let's hope so.
Friends, do you have a difficult person or two in your life? How do you practice love?
When you read this passage does you bristle a little?
Do you find it difficult to even begin to understand these words and what they are supposed to look like in real life?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Ann asked me to write about just the second half of verse four. Yikes. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. It is not proud.
You may think to yourself, HA, I’ve got these down. BUT I’ll tell you this. YOUR real core of yourself will show up when you are exhausted, hungry, stressed and lacking in your intimacy with God. THIS is a true measure of what’s deep inside. I still have moments when God shows me how much I have overcome and then there are moments when He reveals where I need a little work.
Ahem, last night at 3 am. I’m not well. Upset tummy and can’t sleep. 3 am my little dog, Grace, starts yipping from her crate in the other room. Grrrrrr, I know that yip. It means Mom, get up and take me out……. For whatever reason…..
I try to ignore it. I can’t. Once a mom, you never sleep soundly again. Double grrrrrr.
I nudge Mike three times, “It’s your turn. Grace is barking.” His response. Him mimics a dead log in the forest. Solid, not moving, sound asleep.
Finally, I throw the covers, slam a few doors, flip on lights, yell at the pups, take them out. Whisper yell some more because Grace wants to chase something by the fence and won’t come in……… It’s so embarrassing… I go back to bed and my husband stirs, ah,,,,,, what,,,, what is happening? As I aggressively flip the lights off.
I wasn’t feeling love. Oh gang, the practice of love is just that, PRACTICE. It’s a life-long journey of surrender, understanding our pressure points and creating an atmosphere where we thrive in love and minimize the strategies of the world to destroy love.
Most of you know that I generally walk in love. I truly love my man, I adore my puppy, Gracie. BUT love isn’t always easy. And I’ll be straight up here. I can’t love without the love of God first. I’m completely incapable of this thing….. love. Love without envy, pride or boasting.
I do believe I’ve arrived at a place where my insecurities are met by an overwhelming love of Christ that I’m able to genuinely celebrate when others are honored and accelerated. Well, most of the time. I’m a work in process.
Pride, envy, boasting and jealousy are really cloaking our deep insecurities. And through Jesus ALL of my pain and insecurities are nearly healed. However, like I said, I’m a work in progress.
And that’s all that matters to God. I’m progressing. I’m reflecting His character in my interactions with those at church, on social media and even in my marriage, except at 3 am when Gracie is barking. *grin*. Honestly, I’ve become really GOOD at apologies. My husband is so gracious when I don’t quite model 1 Corinthians 13. And I offer him the same.
And isn’t that what marriage is all about? It’s living with someone to echo your life. To be a witness, to honor and love you when it’s tough and when it’s really good. I love my husband more today not because of the good days but how he loved me when I was ugly, mean, and less than loving.
I still apply myself to all the measures of 1 Corinthians 13 and through Christ I can do all things and see myself stepping closer all the time. I pray you see yourself ABSOLUTELY THE SAME. Because you are on this path with me. Hallelujah.
Love well. That is our highest and best in this life. It’s the one thing we take with us when we head to our heavenly home.
Today we begin our series on LOVE, and in a moment I have a light-hearted story to share.
But first, speaking of love, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for your loving support after Lynn's announcement this week. This community is pure joy to me and I look forward to us having more good times together. I hope you know you can reach out to any of us on the team, any time.
I'm also delighted for Lynn that she can work on some new projects after all she has poured into us. I say thank you to her. She's not leaving us, but is simply branching out a little wider. So, we cheer her on and onwards we march!
Now for today's thought:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NKJV)
Now, many of us have had practice at 'winning without words' in our home. So we're not usually clanging cymbals. But there was one time where maybe I was, just a bit.
One Saturday morning, shortly after I'd had my 'turning-to-Jesus-life-changing-moment', my husband and I were tucking into a lovely cooked breakfast. In those days I just couldn't help but bring up faith. And so I brought it up, and heartily began to tell him about the changes wrought in me by God. I began to list traits like ‘less anxious’, ‘more at peace’, and so on, which was fine. But somewhere among that, perhaps I mentioned that I was a little bit more humble these days. A little more kind, perhaps. I’m laughing.
“Mm.” he nodded, smiling and rolling his eyes. Here we go again. Then he let out a cough and quietly said into his hand, “Congratulating yourself.”
He was chuckling; but I stopped instantly. Of course I didn't laugh; it was all super sensitive for me. But afterwards, in a quiet moment to myself I did manage a smile. "Point taken," I thought, "Maybe I was congratulating myself a little."
What is it like for others to be on the receiving end of my faith? That is a question I ask often. Because honestly, I’ve sometimes been on the receiving end of another person's beliefs and there's been something cold or unloving about it. It's a lesson.
A clashing cymbal is a hard sound that can’t be listened to for long. I'm not saying I was being the full clashing cymbal that day; I think we learn not to be this way in our marriage. But it is a reminder that if a Christian is self-righteous that’s the sound that hurts our ears and makes us not want to partake of their table. On the other hand, other Christians are like a lapping ocean, a gentler experience. On reflection, I think the ones like that are those who have meditated on the character of Jesus and who focus on Jesus's righteousness more than their own.
I imagine the sound of love to be something like a bird singing, an orchestra playing, a mysterious wind, or a beautiful cello. It is a sound, for sure; it's not quiet. But even if it is a voice speaking unpopular truth, it won't have the self-righteous edge of a metallic, hard cymbal.
On Wednesday, Ian gave a wonderful analogy of Billy Graham, who said that he wanted people to see nothing but the cross of Jesus when they looked at him. That was exactly what was in my head as I thought about this post and my husband's little chuckle at my being 'self-congratulatory'. I suppose in our conversations with others, it can be a great thing when our verbal testimonies do this:
Point to the healing power of Jesus
Point to the cross of Jesus, and our need for it
Point to Jesus as a source of life and abundance
Point to Jesus as a real presence
Hmm, I may well practice this a little more. Next time I'm at breakfast with my husband, perhaps?
Nice chatting, friends, and here's a prayer for us today:
Lord guard my tongue, make my voice a sweet sound to others, and let every word that comes out of my mouth honor You. Season my tongue with mercy, justice and humility. Let me always be an ambassador for Love. In your name, Jesus. Amen.
Have you experienced someone who was the opposite of a clashing cymbal? What did that look like?
Hiya! Ian from Springtime Sydney. Yes, we in the Southern Hemisphere are beginning to experience the blooming of flowers, the tweeting of baby birds (and unwanted attacks while walking by overzealous magpies) and longer days.
I was excited to know that Ann is to be leading us over the next month on a series on the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. Hands up, how many of us had this read at our weddings? Mine is up. Interestingly, my wife, though not a believer and hence not a reader of the Bible, thought this chapter to be such a wonderful explanation of ultimate love and therefore, was very happy to have it read at our nuptials. To be honest, by that time I was a little over 1 Corinthians 13 having read it and heard it so many times over the years. My heart had become a little cynical towards it.
But no longer. I think it’s an extraordinary passage on both how we are loved by God but also how we can love our spouses and others. Being one for practical demonstrations of love (rather than just words) it’s significant in those 5 verses, four through eight, there are 16 verbs. Love is an action. Yes, words are important but the agape love as demonstrated by Jesus is one of unconditional love or sacrifice. Sacrifice typically requires an act, whether it’s simply choosing to text a friend asking them how they are or the ultimate of laying one’s life down as Jesus did.
Knowledge and Action
I’m a Learner. I’m always looking to learn. I’m curious about many things. Having grown up with a Dad as a Doctor surrounded by medical journals and body part molds, I’m forever enquiring about loved one’s symptoms, side effects, and so. Mum was just in the hospital last week having experienced fluid on the lungs which impacted her breathing. When the cardiologist visited, I asked him all sorts of questions of why this occurred, why does that happen, how does this restore her heart to normal rhythm and so on.
Being a learner can be addictive. So much so that we gain all this knowledge but don’t do anything with it. But very early on in 1 Corinthians 13 we’re warned of the danger of just acquiring knowledge. Look at verse 2:
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (NIV)
So I have to take deliberate and intentional steps, some of which I mentioned in my previous post to ensure I am acting in love each and every day.
We all share the same purpose
For years I struggled to understand my purpose. Why was I here? What did God have me to do? Particularly, after leaving the Corporate world a decade ago I grappled with the ‘well what now’ question. It was only after saturating myself in the Word of God and developing a closer relationship with Him that it all of a sudden became very clear.
And it’s summed up in one simple four letter word: L.O.V.E.
That’s it. For all of us.
The two great commands: Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind and love others as we do ourselves.
That’s what should get us out of bed each day. Simply to love. And it’s in loving we discover the things God would have us do. Maybe it’s to start a new ministry, like our dear friend Dineen did a few years ago. It might be to start a new church. Or it might be to care for our aging parents as I’m increasingly being called to do.
Everything we do is significant when it’s done in love. Whether it’s moving mountains or moving an aging mom from hospital to home. When it’s done in love.
I’m going to stop there. I have more to write but I might leave that for another time.
To finish I thought I’d share something I just read today about something Billy Graham’s Pastor (yes, he had a Pastor who met with him every week for more than 15 years) said when questioned about his prayer requests: “He would ask me to pray that God the Spirit would fill him to the extent that he would be totally hidden behind the cross and people would only see Jesus,” and “His entire life was in pursuit that he would decrease so that Christ would increase.” That’s agape love there and what did the world see: a man possessed by the love of God and loving others so they would also come to know God.
On reading this I too prayed the same prayer and hope it becomes a standard part of my prayer life. It’s in the secret place with God where we discover His love and our prayers should build our faith so we can step out into the day seeking to love those people we encounter.
Grace and peace
 Nancy Kane, Stages of the Soul: God’s Invitation to Greater Love (Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2019), 107
I grinned at my friend, Amy*, as we sat cradling cups of steaming coffee, delighted to be together again after weeks of social distancing. How good it had felt to give her a hug hello an hour earlier. Now, happily reunited, here we sat in a bustling café.
Amy was one of my all-time favorites. Her faith is deep, she makes me crack up laughing, and our coffees often extend into hours. This time was no different. Chat chat chat, we went.
Then it happened. The conversation turned to her church, and she began to share how much she and her husband were enjoying their ‘small group’. Cheerfully, she began to describe the group: A group of couples. Each of the couples was so supportive, deeply connected to God, and yet there were no pretences there, they were very real about their struggles. She went on to describe how much they did together and the meals they had on Saturday nights.
This beautiful friend of mine was sharing with me her blessing. I knew the back story: She and her husband had previously struggled to build a couples social life. Given that, I should have been thrilled for her. But you know what? At the risk of sounding like a terrible person, I'm going to tell you: Something appeared in my heart that wasn’t of God. It was a prickle. A thorn. It bubbled up and I felt myself go Grr.
Envy. From my struggles of attending church alone I’m sorry to say that some unhealed prickles in my heart came to the surface. Uggh.
Envy hit me; and I could have batted it away. But instead I fed it a little. I sat there at that café table and began to feel it: Frustrated with the church social scene -- Well, frustrated with my inability to take part in it.
I suspect a few who are reading this can imagine the prickles. As SUMites we struggle to fit. We don’t blend easily with the couples crowd at church, and social events can be no-go zones. But that being what it is, once I got home I realized something from this café-table moment: I realized that I need to learn to be gracious within my own circumstances. I had a friend in front of me and she deserved my cameraderie.
Importantly, God tells me to LOVE.
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV).
In fact, God is love. And then, here's the deal: 1 Corinthians 13:4 says "Love does not envy." Love does not envy. I suppose when we envy we are not appreciating our own blessings, and we are failing to rejoice with others.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice." (Romans 12:15, NIV)
Putting this together, then, I have a way forward: The next time my dear friend shares with me her blessing of this small group (which is a blessing), I'm going to do something different: Celebrate it!
This is just one story of my own, but I thought it was a good way of introducing our next series for September. Starting next Friday, the series is going to be called Did I Learn to Love? and we'll be taking some of the words from 1 Corinthians 13 to chat about what they look like practically in our circumstances: SUM circumstances.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV)
In these posts there might be the odd war story or two. After all, SUM living has a lot of material to work with, and it's pretty edgy. Our love challenge is not just about our spouses; it's also about learning to love the church, and others. So, let’s fasten our seatbelts ready for next Friday. Before then, though, Lynn and Ian will be back on Monday and Wednesday.
Which of those words in the passage above (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) is most challenging for you, and why? I'd love to hear a little of your own experiences.
Hello, dear Sumites. Ian from Down Under here. In this challenging year, it’s very easy to hop on the blame bandwagon and start griping about everything and anything. Life as we know it has been turned upside down and really the ‘new normal’ is still so uncertain. What will life be like in 2021, which is less than 6 months away now?
But the world has been here before. Sure, not in of our lifetimes, but in 1917-18 the Spanish flu pandemic was similarly crazy and in some places in the world, churches were shut for over a year. But they didn’t have such a thing as online church that allows us to worship at the top of our voices in our homes.
Who we are
God is love. That is His very essence. Love.
Everything God creates is out of love. And His great mission is one of love. To restore everyone to a love relationship with Him.
We’re made in His image. So that means, love is who we are. Love isn’t something we do. It’s who we are.
Accordingly, our purpose in life is simply to learn to love. Remember the two great love commands: love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And then love others as we love our self. (Matthew 22: 37-39) That’s it.
What Do we Do
Love. It’s a verb (as well as a noun). It’s an action. In these challenging times, we have the opportunity to love. To think love, speak love and do love.
It’s hard, isn’t it. Every morning we wake up and start thinking about our day. And it’s exacerbated in this season when the world’s gone crazy, our house is full of people ALL the time because of restrictions. And whenever we turn on the TV, radio, or internet, there’s some more bad news and/or someone is blaming someone for something. The extent of intolerance of people of different color, race, religion, gender, nationality is unprecedented. And in a season of COVID where mistakes have been made, people have got sick and people have died.
Before we speak, tweet, post, message, act and think, remember who we are. Love.
We’re all familiar with the four different ‘loves’ in the Bible. ‘Agape’ is the one perhaps most commonly used because it was what Jesus was continually demonstrating. Fundamental to its essence is its unconditional, sacrificial, putting someone else ahead of ourselves. Loving expecting nothing in return.
Jesus is ‘agape’ love. We too can learn it because we’re made in His image.
During the month of July we studied a number of SUMite women in the Bible. I’ve been reading the book of Ruth using a wonderful study by an author friend Tessa Afshar. In chapter 1 see this incredible decision by Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Ruth has just lost her husband. Naomi’s second son has also recently died but his widow chooses to follow Naomi’s advice and returns to her home.
Let’s see what Ruth says:
“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NIV)
Now remember Ruth is a Moabite, a Gentile. But she has chosen to follow Naomi, join her people and know God. She has surrendered her roots, her beliefs, her tribe, to be with her mother-in-law. Sacrificial. Unconditional.
What about Us
I’m challenged in this season to learn to love. It’s in love, we discover who we are. If the two great love commands are our life’s purpose, then learning to love is the great journey of life.
Yes, let’s get practical.
What’s it look like? Martha and I are list people so here we go. I’ll start it and perhaps we can all share in the comments how we can be learning to love.
1. Start the day praying this prayer in Ephesians 3. Pray it over yourself and pray it for your loved ones and anyone else the Spirit puts on your heart:
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv17-19 NIV)
2. Spend time looking at Jesus. I have a small cross by my computer which I continually look at during my day. I’m continually reminded of Jesus’s sacrifice. Let His unconditional love fill us continually during the day. As most of you know I love worship music. The song below is an oldie by one of my favourite worship singers, Christy Nockels, but it’s a beauty for getting focused on Jesus.
3. When your spouse says something hurtful, critical, offensive, don’t bite back. Stop, listen and think how best to respond. You might need to walk away. Try to be polite and come back when you’re ready and seek to engage in positive conversation trying to understand their perspective but also expressing your feelings. Ask questions and use “I feel” sentences.
4. Treat someone with kindness. Smile (might be hard with a mask) or wave to someone. Buy someone a treat. Say something nice. And don’t look to receive anything in return. That’s not the intention. The intention is to be kind.
5. Last month I mentioned the ‘everyone needs a Barnabas’ principle I live by. Every day I make sure I encourage someone with a text, a tweet, a message, a call. I don’t have to even think about it now. After doing it for so many years, it’s become normal for me.
6. Thank your spouse for something they did today. Once again, don’t do it expecting a response. This is what love is. Our hearts grow when we love. It’s one of those supernatural principles of being a spiritual being.
7. Write a letter to a friend.
8. Walk away from any blame bandwagon’s that are so prevalent at the moment. It's very human to think that everything is always someone else’s fault. What’s clear with COVID, we all have to take responsibility in making sure we don’t spread the infection. Wear a mask. If in doubt, wear a mask. Ask before you meet with someone if wearing a mask is appropriate.
I’ll stop there. Be great for us to add to the list in the comments.
May the Lord bless you, may His face shine upon you, be gracious to you and fill you with peace.
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What a year 2020 has been so far! Ian from wintry Sydney here. Be assured that those of us who don’t live in America are weeping for the people of that great nation and we continue to cry out to God believing for a wave of peace to sweep across that great land.
As Ann shared on Monday, it was Pentecost Sunday this past weekend. For a few months now many millions from all around the globe have been believing for a shaking, a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and increased boldness amongst believers to share the good news of Jesus. What we do know is that more people have been praying, more people have been attending online church services and more people have been declaring Jesus as their Savior. Hallelujah.
Hope in the Waiting
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV)
We are waiters, we Sumites, aren’t we? Most of us have been waiting for our spouses to come to know Jesus for many years. And we’ve seen some wonderful stories amongst the group in recent times of our hope bearing fruit.
For many of us, our families and our friends these past few months and perhaps even in the past few days, dreams have been dashed. I know of friends who’s special (first holiday in a decade) anniversary trips have had to be postponed, another friend told me the other day their hubby lost their job, while the scenes around the world have increased the burden on so many younger people who have real concerns about what the future looks like for them.
We can draw comfort knowing that Jesus waits with us. He stands alongside us. Yes, we wonder why He doesn’t just fix it, even a little thing, but God has made a world that is self-operating and often it breaks down.
The Bible is full of nature analogies. And they’re important for us to understand. Jesus loved to consider vines, trees, roots, seeds and fruit. God made us to go deep like trees, with our roots continuously reaching through the soil for nutrients that the Spirit gives us and in persisting in faith, hope and love the fruit will naturally come.
“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9 NKJV)
If we continue in faith, hope and love as 1 Corinthians 13 exhorts us to, a touch of the Holy Spirit (nee ‘scent of water’) will produce the fruit and bring refreshment in this difficult season. The examples in the Bible are too numerous to mention and we ourselves can see evidence of fruit and refreshment when we look back at our own lives through other difficult seasons.
But the greatest of these Is Love.
Jesus isn’t simply one who loves, He is love. As Thomas Goodwin says, “Christ is love covered over in flesh.” Incredibly, in having the Holy Spirit within us we too are love covered in flesh. (Say that to yourself: ‘I am love covered in flesh’ Say it again and again and again until you believe it).
It is in these difficult seasons we can choose to grumble or be grateful, be fearful or hopeful, be angry or peaceful, and hate or love. Choose love, even if it’s through gritted teeth. Remember God is mostly interested in what’s in our heart so actions that are not initiated by love kinda don’t really count for a great deal in God’s economy.
The more we choose love, the more it becomes a habit. And the more it will become the way we act, speak and think. Jesus could only act the way He did because of what was in His heart. A heart of love. Just love. So He acted always out of love.
Besides the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2 shares with us the beginnings of the modern church. Our church. It was a church that was multi-cultural, made up of people from different socio-economic levels, men and women, who were united in declaring Jesus as Lord. In love, they wanted to share the news and so they reached out to other groups, not just those they were familiar with, and with faith and hope in their hearts they boldly declared Jesus is alive.
Dear friends, please share in the comments if there are particular needs and/or dreams that you’ve had dashed in these recent times so we as a SUMITE family can gather around you in faith, hope and love interceding for you to the Lord. We are a family spread around the globe united in our waiting and hope for each other’s spouses to come to personally know Jesus.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” MATTHEW 22:37-39
I’m of the belief that upon arriving at heaven’s gate, Jesus will look into our eyes and ask a single question, “Did you learn to love?”
Jesus commands us to love God and love people. God is easy. People, not so much.
I’ll be vulnerable here. There are many people that I meet who love easily. They always choose to notice the best in others. It’s not that easy for me. Walking into adulthood, I carried with me beliefs that no one was reliable or trustworthy and that I was utterly on my own. No one had my back. Including God.
Of course, these were lies, but I lived them out as truth for many years. Unwinding these false beliefs required years of God relentlessly loving me until over time, my heart finally cracked open. His love filled me to the point that I could love with authenticity and learn to trust people. Releasing my fears of abandonment and distrust felt as though I removed a giant backpack from my shoulders. And once gone, I became free to dream with God. I was freed up to imagine the impossible and discover gifts and abilities I didn’t know already possessed. And loving people became easier.
My dear warrior, our entire journey upon this planet is a quest to learn to love. Love is an easy word; however, it’s been hijacked, perverted, and applied to numerous ideologies. Our assignment for this life is to love people from the source, our heavenly Father. We can’t fail to get this one right.
Every day we make a thousand choices. With each choice, we walk down one of two paths, love or fear. Oh, let us choose bravely and walk in love.
As I write this book, I’m older now and have walked with Jesus for over 50 years. I’ve reflected on decades of life choices and the consequences of choosing fear over love. From my vantage point, the choice of love is always the best course with a better result than living in a false sense of security that fear perpetuates.
Choosing love is a risk. We risk our heart. We risk pain and rejection. However, living wholeheartedly far and away exceeds the risk.
In every decision where I chose to love over bowing to fear, contributed to my refining process. When I risked loving but I was met by disappointment and pain because love wasn’t returned, Jesus arrived with gold from heaven and filled the cracks of my broken heart. If you could picture my heart today, it is whole, but a closer view reflects tiny golden-white-light lines where the pieces of my brokenness were gathered together. All the heart-pieces rescued back from childhood pain, a divorce, an unexpected move, the loss of what I desired from my marriage.
Our heart is made whole by Christ’s love, redemption, and healing. Our hearts become a beautiful recreation of his design. A recreated heart overflows with empathy, compassion, and depth of understanding as well as a wealth of patience. This is the heart of God.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. EZEKIEL 36:26
Warrior, love heals all trauma. One touch of the Savior’s love and a difficult upbringing, abuse, disappointment, fears, and all failures of the past are redeemed. The Redeemer seals love and peace over our pain which silences the lies of the devil. He is our blessing. He is our peace. He is love.
Everything the enemy has used to hurt and destroy you, God will redeem. And in the Kingdom of God, the evil meant to kill you will become the very thing that God will use within you to rescue and bring healing to others. Your pain becomes your superpower. Your woundedness becomes your peace. Your destruction is the birthplace of a love that the demons cannot touch.
Love redeems our past, establishes our present, is our future and our children’s legacy.
Choose love and live strong.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 CORINTHIANS 13:13
Forgiveness is not just an act we do for someone else, it is more so an act we do for ourselves. Unforgiveness harbors resentment, bitterness, anger, and negativity. When we harbor these emotions, the act of portraying love faints away. Is that what I want for my marriage?
I thought about what forgiving my husband looks like and it’s not me saying to him, “I forgive you.” It means to internally release all my negative emotions regarding the small battles to God.
Maybe in my mind, he’s talking to me in a demeaning tone. And instead of me snapping back, I address it. Whether he wants to fix it or argue about it, I simply…move on. If he replies back, “I wasn’t trying to talk down to you,” and instead of debating, “yes you were.” I respond, “Oh ok.” And move on.
It’s deciding in my heart to forgive him for that quick small moment and pray to God to soften his heart. Forgiveness is in the quick small moments of our everyday.
Reflection: Think of a common small moment where you can forgive. What was in the moment that made you feel a negative emotion? Ask God to show you how to forgive or whether to address an issue. If it’s forgiveness, write it down and pray God will continue to give you a heart of humility, grace, and mercy towards your husband/wife.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32
“As he hung on the cross – And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – Luke 23:24
“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” – Colossians 3:13
Image courtesy of Chaiwat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I arrived at a Prayer Meeting that I was leading and one of the members was already present. This was unusual for him as he typically arrived after the first 30 minutes. But I could sense something in his spirit was bursting. It didn’t take long for my friend to share the experience he’d just come from – an impromptu morning worship time where he had ‘laid all his burdens down’ before the Lord as he lay prostrate on the floor.
I envied his freedom and the heightened experience of lingering with the Lord.
We had time before the others arrived for me to share that I too had experienced something similar at the Writers Conference I attended a month or so back. Both our experiences were stimulated by Spirit-enabled worship. There’s something very special when you’re completely given over to worship, whether in public or at home in your own secret place. It really feels like a touch of heaven, caught up in the arms of your lover. No words need to be uttered; no supernatural miracle of healing or prophecy or word of knowledge or other has to occur (even though they might), just the two of you wrapped in a cocoon of extravagant love.
The deepest level of communication is not communication but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. (Thomas Merton)
God wants us to linger. Lingering may seem a waste of time because there is so much to do, isn’t there? But it’s interesting when one looks at those others who have a deeper connection with the Lord, they’ve usually spent lots of time lingering in His presence. It doesn’t have to be with music. As Mother Teresa once said: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”
We all know Jesus lingered with the Father. It was a regular habit of his to disappear early in the morning before sunset to simply spend time in the presence of the Father. It served to replenish Jesus, to refill him for the day ahead.
And Joshua. The one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land knew God intimately. That’s why he was given the responsibility. How did Joshua know God so well? Let’s see what Exodus tells us:
“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood atthe door of the tabernacle, and the Lordtalked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing atthe tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man inhis tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” (Exodus 33:9-11 NKJV)
Joshua stayed behind in the tabernacle. With God.
I’ve probably referred to this verse many times over the years, as it is one of my favorites:
“Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.
In his shelter in the day of trouble, that’s where you’ll find me, for he hides me there in his holiness. He has smuggled me into his secret place, where I’m kept safe and secure— out of reach from all my enemies. Triumphant now, I’ll bring him my offerings of praise, singing and shouting with ecstatic joy! (Psalm 27:4-6 TPT)
Oh my … The Passion Translation just takes it that one step further doesn’t it? David wrote these words; he who learnt to linger with the Lord during the long hours of solitude when the only sounds were the occasional bleats from the many sheep he shepherded for hours on end. It was how he developed a ‘heart after God.’
The enemy knows if he can keep us busy and/or surrounded by noise and distraction, he keeps us from lingering with God. So our connection with God tends to be rushed and compromised. We will often ‘hear what we want to hear’ rather than hear what God is telling us. We only have to reflect on a similar situation with our spouses – when we only connect in busy, noisy and distracted seasons, our relationship struggles, we often simply resort to going through the motions and everything is done quickly and without passion. Until one of us breaks.
Why wouldn’t our experience be similar with our Lord? What we do know is He never leaves us and His love is always constant. He won’t break. Only we will. And He is there ready to pick us up, having forgotten about the distance we’ve kept in recent times.
I hope you are able to make some time to linger this week with the lover of you soul. “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” (Psalm 149: 4 NIV)
He really does. He delights in you. Believe it. Enjoy Him.
On this blog, we’ve been through many an adventure. Well, today, I'd like to share an insight God gave me about some of the purpose. I hope what I share will spur you on.
The insight came in the form of a dream I had in 2016. At the time I was a regular here, as were many others we still see here. Lynn and Dineen were our beloved pastors and we leaned on them heavily. That's how it looked in October 2016. Now for my dream:
I saw the SUMites walking forward as a group, wearing matching red t-shirts.
Lynn was walking in the front and middle, championing the group.
On each SUMite's t-shirt was a white butterfly, above the right breast.
The scene shifted to a room where the SUMites were gathered around a table, making these t-shirts for others.
It might seem flaky to talk about dreams, and some are definitely just our brains being silly; but this one felt different and scripture does attest that God uses dreams to convey mysteries. Well, this dream of the red t-shirts did something for me. I'll share a little now of what that was.
First, the dream showed Lynn championing us alone, which I didn't think much of at the time. However, a year later Dineen was called to exciting new pastures. As it was actually quite hard to wave goodbye to Dineen, this aspect of the dream opened my eyes that it was an OK new season.
Second, the dream showed SUMites in matching t-shirts -- Like the phrase, 'Been there, got the T-shirt'. I don't know about you, but I can certainly say that about this walk. Funnily enough, I found a 2011 video clip of Lynn and Dineen looking into the camera, smiling and saying to their audience: “Whatever you’re going through, know that we’ve been through it and got the shirt!” It makes me smile. A decade on, I believe many of us can say to those on the path behind us: "Whatever you're facing, I've been there". It feels so rewarding when I reach out my hand to another and say that.
But there’s more. In the dream we are wearing red. To me, that speaks of love all over us. How brightly does the fire of the Lord, forged in hard circumstances, burn on us now? I like to think it's visible. And I can't resist telling you that these red t-shirts of love were even pointed to back in 2007 when Lynn, in an October post, posed the question 'What T-shirt are you wearing?' accompanied by a picture of a woman in a red T-shirt deciding whether her T-shirt would be the T-shirt of love. I hope I'm not jumping about too much here for you as readers, but I thought that was cool.
As for the white butterfly on our right breast, I believe that represents the spouses carried fiercely on our hearts, in the right place. My love for my husband and my knowledge of his Life in Christ is the badge I wear. In fact, I took a trip through my laptop to find a picture of me in a red shirt for this post; and the one photo I found was this one, here. It stood out to me how much I hold him tight.
Finally, the dream showed us making t-shirts for others. I believe this to be a key purpose now. In time we reach the point of helping others clothe themselves with love. I wonder if you're finding this? That you're reaching out your strong hands to people who are just beginning their season of being spiritually mismatched?
I have worked for my employer for a little over three years now. I do the same thing all day everyday. Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I see the same computer screen as I fingerprint the numerous people who come into my office. The other day Holy Spirit alerted me to listen and pay attention to people's reactions to seeing their fingerprints on the computer screen, many of them for the first time:
Wow, that is so cool!
I have never seen this before!
Sorry, I am just amazed by this!
Look at that!
Can you believe that we all have different finger prints? No two prints are the same!?
Was I looking at the same machine? It is cool to see the detail, I guess.....
There are some of us who have forgotten how to be in love with and romanced by our King. We have been on this journey for a long time. Our eyes have adjusted to the normalcy of life. We've braced for life's storms for too long that we've gone into self-preservation mode. We have forgotten what is like to have childlike faith. This isn't a rebuke but a call to see things from God's perspective. Be refreshed! Be renewed! Be invigorated again!
I felt a strong impression from our Daddy God to lavish you with love today. If anything today resonates with you, my challenge is for you to take it and meditate on it. Don't allow the familiar to blur your vision of God's great love relationship with you. Don't doubt that you aren't good enough to receive it. Don't think, "He must be talking to someone else..." This word is for you...yes YOU!
I have loved you, [insert your name here], with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I will make you, [insert your name here], my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)
My thoughts of you are countless for you are very precious to Me. (Psalm 139:17)
You can give me all of your worries and cares. They are not meant to be carried by you. I love you so much! (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)
I am for you. You are my beloved and I am yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3)
I will give you everything that you need. You mean that much to me. (Romans 8:31)
There is nothing that can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)
I will rescue you. I will protect you. You can trust me. When you call on Me I am there. (Psalm 91)
One of my favorite things to do is watch over you as you sleep. (Psalm 3:5)
I will show you my goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)
I will never forsake you. I will never cast you off. (Psalm 94:14)
You are my masterpiece. My workmanship. I am so proud of you! (Ephesians 2:10)
You are my special treasure. You are so valuable to me! (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)
There is so much more that I could share. Every word in the Bible is dripping with His sweet love for you.
Beloved, stop striving. Stop trying to meet unattainable expectations of yourself...they're not from Him. Daddy God is so pleased with you. He delights in you so much that He breaks out in song over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I want to wrap up with this song. This is one to sit and soak in the love of your Daddy.
Let's share in the comments - sometimes life gives us a hard beating! What are some things that you do in order to remember the love God has for you? What are some things we can share with one another to fan the flames of our heart and fill us with hope? What keeps you standing firm and grounded in your relationship with Daddy God, Jesus and Holy Spirit?
Lynn here. I’m coming to you from my prayer room on a beautiful and somewhat unusually cool July morning here in southern California. It’s peaceful and a breeze is drifting in the front window. Oh, how I wish you were sitting here with me. I long to sit with each of you and listen to your story. I will one day. And it will be GLORY!
I just clicked off the phone after talking to my mother who called to check in on the job search, the book progress but mainly to tell me, I love you.
But as we talked about the book she said, “Lynn, I’ve shared that story with nearly everyone I meet. I tell it over and over.” She’s talking about Mike’s baptism story. “I tell them to NEVER give up praying.”
Never give up praying.
Don’t stop hoping.
Always lean into the impossible.
Twenty-seven years. I won’t look back at the years with longing for what might have been. I look back at the decades and see Jesus in every turn along the journey. I view the Father’s hand of favor and love and I feel the peace of the Holy Spirit as the Trinity lived within.
It was worth the price of waiting.
To all the weary SUMites, who linger in prayer and continue loving Jesus and your unsaved spouse, words from my beloved mother who has lived with the Lord for nearly eighty years, “Don’t give up hope. Don’t stop praying.”
I adore you my friends. Stay tuned because God is brewing up more fantastical stories in the Donovan Clan. I feel the excitement in the air and can’t wait to share all He brings about in our immediate future.
I don't know about you but I have really been yearning for breakthrough! It gets me fired up thinking about the breakthrough needed in my life as well as others. I am really struggling to completely detach from my old self. I am not saying that I am not growing, maturing or bearing fruit. Please hear my heart. I am talking about the hard reality that the more I press into God, the more I realize I am in rough shape and need Jesus. Can anybody relate?
I recently came across this scripture that has been really stirring in my heart:
So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). -- 2 Samuel 5:20
Some context: David is now king. He captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and makes it his home. The Philistines find out this news and come to capture him. David goes into a stronghold and the Philistines spread out across the valley of Rephaim. It is really interesting to note that the valley of Rephaim means "the house of the giants."
David could have been afraid. Sure, he had a run in with them before (remember Goliath, their once great warrior?); however, this time they were after him!
I love the conversation that happens just one verse before:
So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.” (5:19)
Isn't there something so "magical" about the promises of God being fulfilled in front of your eyes? The New Living Translation sums up the child-like faith that I believe that David had - the Lord did it!
There are some things that I have been praying into for some time now - outside of salvation and surrender for Jason - full and forever breakthrough from the spirits of poverty and self-preservation in my life. There are many layers that have been broken but I still have a ways to go. It's been tough, especially with me as the toughest critic. These giants have taken camp in the valley of my heart and mind.
The Lord keeps impressing on my mind the idea of breakthrough and I praise Him for this recent revelation in this passage of scripture! Tiffany, I am your Daddy but I am also Jehovah Perazim. I am Your God who breaks through. Do you trust me? Do you believe it? Will you stand in faith - even when you can't see what is on the horizon?
I want to close with the song I heard for the first time today. It is so raw and honest. I can relate so well and I'm sure you can too.
If I’m honest, I don’t know what to do With this battle that I’m going through And how to trust you.
Every part of me, wants to figure out my own plan Wants to take things in my own two hands God help me to understand
You are enough, You are enough for me, for me Take my doubts, drown them in the sea Cause you’re more than enough for me
Every part of me, wants to figure out my own plan Wants to take things in my own two hands God help me to understand
Even if I lost everything, you would still be enough for me. Even if I lost everything, oh Even if I lost everything, you would still be enough for me. Even if I lost everything, oh
Can you feel the breakthrough coming or has your hope been lost? Admittedly sometimes I am teetering on the fence between the two. Sometimes life is tough. But GOD! He is so so good.
Jehovah Perazim, You are our God who breaks through. You come forth against our enemies like a raging flood. There is nothing that can thwart the plans You have for us. When we are weary may we always remember that You go before us. You give us victory. When we are weary like Moses, bring others to surround us and hold us up. We can't do this alone. Thank You for this amazing community. We can all relate to the true struggle not against flesh and blood but against the forces of darkness. Thank You for always saying to us, like David, "I will certainly hand them over to you." We love you and praise you for the great big shout - You did it! We trust you. You are enough. In Jesus' name, amen.
See you in the comments! How can I intercede for you today?
I shared with you at the conference that God has been speaking to me about cedars. I saw a vision of a tree that was my family
legacy. The deep roots were the word of God so deeply hidden beneath the soil. I wanted to share with you something that I have been working on. These are words that He has been saying about me. (To keep it from getting too long I will only expound on a few) Let's call today, "Motivation Monday." May these words be a motivation for you to believe what God says about you.
Elevator - one that lifts or raises someone/something up; exhorter - one who incites by argument, or advice; strongly urges; exultor - one who is extremely joyful; leaps for joy; rejoices); exalter - to elevate by praise; raise high; to enhance the activity of; intensify. (Deuteronomy 18:18; Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 68:3; Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13)
Deeply rooted - existing for a long time and very difficult to change; firmly established; deeply implanted. (Psalm 1:3; Colossians 2:6-7; John 15:5; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Daniel 2:22; Isaiah 45:3)
Ancient - (Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 1:4-5)
Stalwart Matriarch - woman that rules or dominates her family, group or state who is marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit. (Psalm 68:11; Proverbs 22:6; James 5:16; Psalm 102:18; Psalm 103:17; Proverbs 14:1)
Legacy - something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past; carried over from an earlier time. (Psalm 145:4; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:14-15; Proverbs 13:22; Psalm 78:2-4; Exodus 20:5-6; Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 2 Timothy 2:2)
Emanate Love - (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 5:2; Matthew 22:37-39; Hebrews 10:24-25; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 20:6-7; 1 John 4:11; 1 John 3:16-18)
Bethel - house of God. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Psalm 119:37; Romans 8:5-7)
Anointed - to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance; to apply oil to as part of a religious ceremony; to choose by or as if by divine election. (Isaiah 22:22; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20-21; 1 John 2:27; John 15:16; Psalm 45:7; Isaiah 44:3)
Non-conforming - (2 Corinthians 3:12; Romans 12:1-2; John 17:14-16; Revelation 12:11; Luke 6:27-36)
Ornamental - one who lends grace or beauty; adorned - to enliven. (1 Peter 3:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Proverbs 31:30; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Genesis 1:27; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Samuel 16:7)
New - (Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 3:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 43:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 1:3; Mark 2:22).
Storms, temptations and trials will come and try to divert your eyes. The deceiver will come and try to cause you to doubt if not forget these life fulfilling promises.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Do whatever is necessary to remember and cling to these promises. I love making jewelry (see photo above) so this is a good tangible way for me to see His word on a regular basis.
How great of a Daddy we have that He would speak something so special and unique to you individually. Let's talk in the comments: What are some ways that you remember His promises in your own life? What helps you to keep your eyes on the prize set before you?