Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

I have a friend who is doing the 40-day love challenge, which is based off of the movie “Fireproof”. Today’s posting was about love being a choice. It says:

“Love is Faithful (Hosea 2:20). Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, ‘I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.’” (The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick)

I really like this definition of what love is. It’s a choice. And the great thing about it is, while this is written specifically for married couples, this principle applies in any relationship, whether it’s with a friend, colleague, child, or even an enemy. Love is a choice. It means, even if I don’t particularly like someone, I still treat them well. It means, even when my child says she hates me, I tell her “I love you” in return.

When I look at love as a choice rather than a feeling, it puts a whole new perspective on things. Feelings are not something you can really control. Feelings can change. Feelings lie. But, when I make a choice to show love, I am doing that whether I feel like loving or not. I do it whether I like someone or not. Love is a choice.  1 John 4:7&8 says,

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

We are commanded to love one another. God’s Word doesn’t say love each other if you feel like loving each other. It doesn’t say love each other if they treat you well. It says love one another. Why? Because God loves us. This verse is specifically talking to Christians loving each other, but what about those who are not considered brothers and sisters in Christ? What about those who are doing things that God’s Word indicates are wrong? What does God say about that? Are we to hate them? Are we to be vindictive?

I think most of us would know that the answer to those questions is “no.” We’re not to hate them. In fact in Matthew 5, Jesus says,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘ You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (vss 43-46, NASB)

In a parallel passage in Luke 6, Jesus says,

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (vss 27-36, NASB)

We are not only commanded to love those who are lovable, but to love those who are easy to hate – those who hurt us and use us. That’s so hard. My first instinct is not to show people like that love. But we are commanded to love. So, love is a choice. I can choose to be kind, or I can choose to be unkind. I can choose to react out of anger, or I can choose to calmly respond with kindness. I can love or I can hate. Today, I choose love.

Your turn! What is your opinion about love? Is it a choice or is it something you have no control over?  How do you show love when others are not?  I would love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

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Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Flооd via Compfight cc

Church should be a place where you can feel safe from harm. It should be a place where people don’t cast stones and where love, healing, and growth takes place. The problem with that is that those who gather for church are human. And when you get more than one human together in one place, the chances are, someone is going to get hurt. So, how in the world are we to handle it when it comes? If it’s inevitable, how do we protect ourselves?

I will admit, it’s difficult, and it’s something I struggle with because I have been hurt more than once by a church or someone who was a part of the church. It is so difficult when those who should be leading you, instead of resolving issues, turn to cutting you down and tearing your dreams to shreds. I very recently went through a very hurtful situation, where I felt attacked. I wish I could say that I handled it in the best possible way, but I must admit, I probably could have done better. I wanted so badly to see issues resolved, that when it became obvious that wasn’t the intent of the other person/people involved, I lost all interest in trying to show respect. That isn’t to say that I did lose respect, but I probably didn’t speak as kindly or listen as carefully as I would have normally. I spent the rest of that day fuming and hurting and crying over the way things went down. I was so hurt. And I was so mad at God. How could He allow this to happen? How could He allow me to go through all these crazy drama things I have going on lately? How could He not do something?

But then a new day came. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over being mad at God. I haven’t. But I’m closer. I am finding comfort in His Word, and through the counsel of my friends, readings, devotionals, and yes, even Facebook statuses that have come my way. And interestingly enough, I’ve begun to look at this differently. See, I want to be a leader. I don’t necessarily want the title of leader – I want to have the actions of a leader. A leader leads whether they have a title or not. That means, even when I am hurting, even when others respond badly, even when I feel like throwing in the towel, I set an example of what love looks like. I set the example of treating others with kindness instead of casting stones. And that’s hard. So, how do I do that?

1) I need to forgive. Forgiveness starts with me. It doesn’t start with receiving an apology. It doesn’t start with someone else realizing they were wrong. It doesn’t start because I feel like forgiving. It starts because I choose to forgive.  One of the statuses I read on Facebook last night said,

“Recently, I received a text message that caused me to stare at my phone in complete disbelief. Why couldn’t this person see how hurtful they were being? How could they be so insensitive?

Hurtful situations tend to make me want to fight back and be mean too. Maybe you feel the same way.

But Colossians 3: 12-14 reminds me, “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

My job isn’t to fix this person or make them see my side of things. My job is to obey God by offering an extension of the forgiveness I’ve been given.” (Lysa Terkeurst)

My job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. Do you know how much of a relief that is? Again, my job isn’t to fix the person/people who hurt me. My job isn’t even to make my side heard. My job is to forgive. I am commanded to forgive. And forgiveness is a choice – sometimes one that has to be made over and over again.

2) I need to stand strong and persevere. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).  Maybe this is a test or trial I need to go through so that I can grow. If I look at it as a punishment or a bad thing, then I do myself a disservice. However, if I look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn, then I find a purpose for the trial. I now have a reason to move forward because now I have an opportunity to learn. Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (NASB).

It’s not going to be fun to go through the painful situation, but in the end, if I allow myself to be trainable, I will grow from it, and yield “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” That’s something to look forward to!

3) Finally, I need to keep serving God. If I allow myself to be hurt to the point where I feel I can’t serve, then I am being disobedient to God. We are called to serve, right where we are at. OK, so my ability to serve in the capacity I was in has been taken away at least for the time being. That doesn’t change the fact that I have other ways to serve. I have talents and gifts that God has given me. I will continue to use them to serve Him. Nobody can take that ability away from me, except God Himself.

So, while I am still hurting, and I am still upset, I know God has a good plan for me. He will use me in other capacities if I allow myself to be open to it. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me!

Your turn. Have you ever been in a hurtful situation where you felt like someone was casting stones at you? How did you handle it? What do you do to remind yourself that you still have a purpose? How do you handle hurtful situations? I’d love to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Life is always going to be full of little surprises.  Things are going to happen that can’t be planned for or controlled.  Setbacks will happen.  Good or bad, curve balls are going to be thrown.  The question is, what am I going to do when those curveballs are flung at me?

Last week, I read a blog post written by Michael Hyatt titled, “A Question That Changes Everything.”  In this post he writes, “One of the best questions you can ask when something negative happens is this: ‘What does this experience make possible?’”  That question made me stop and think.  How many times do I let negative circumstances or incidents turn me into a complainer?  How many times have I cowered and refused to move forward because something negative might happen?  How many times have I chosen to give up, instead of move forward because life threw me a curveball and my life was upset?

Yesterday, my oldest daughter sprung some bad news on me while we were driving home from choir practice.  She told me about something she had done that she was not proud of…something I had warned and warned her not to do.  My first reaction, I must admit, was not exactly something I am proud of.  In fact, I had to ask for her forgiveness and God’s because I set a very bad example.  Or, another way to look at it is, I set a very good example of what not to do when your child springs unwelcome news on you.  In any event, my heart is breaking for my daughter because this choice she made cannot be undone.

After I had taken a few minutes to calm down, we discussed what had happened.  And that blog posting I read popped into my mind.  “What does this experience make possible?”  I paused.  I prayed.  And I realized, this experience made it possible for me to show my daughter unconditional love.  I could have chosen to make her feel worse.  I could have chosen to hold this against her forever.  I could have chosen to make the situation worse….which is really where I was headed at first.  Instead, my daughter now knows that I love her no matter what huge mistakes she makes.  She now knows that I am not going to abandon her just because she has done something wrong and made a bad decision.  And she now knows that there is nothing that she can do that is unforgivable.

I learned some things, too.  I learned that taking a moment to stop and ask a question can defuse a situation before it even starts to spark.  I learned that, with God’s strength, I can love without condition.  I learned that, even though I make mistakes, my daughter is just as willing to forgive me, too.  And most of all, I learned to love and accept my daughter – mistakes and all.

So, now, when life throws me curveballs, I’m not going to fall to the ground and cower in fear.  I’m not going to whine, grumble and moan.  I’m going to get up, and I’m going to ask myself what is made possible by that situation.  And then, I’m going to hit that curveball right out of the park.

I’d love to hear from you.  What do you do when you find yourself in negative situation?  How do you respond when life throws you a curveball?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

I had a someone tell me recently that he was looking for a relationship with someone without a complicated past, and that mine was a train-wreck. So basically, even if I were looking for more than friendship, I’d be out of luck right from the outset. As harsh as that sounds, at least it’s honest. I do have a train-wreck of a past. I had a lot of things happen to me, and I did a lot of things that I am not proud of. And I haven’t had a lot of success at relationships.

Now, this person is nothing more than a friend to me, and there was never any expectation or desire for anything more. However, I have to be honest, this hurt. It still hurts even two days later. When I heard those words, my heart broke a little.

If he, as my friend, wouldn’t ever want more with someone with my past, how would anyone else ever want to be with me? It would be easier to be rejected for my looks or my size or my personality – because those are all things I can change. I can’t change my past. My past will always be my past.

In all honesty, I’m not looking for someone, but someday maybe I’ll want to. Maybe there will be that desire to have a romantic relationship with someone someday. Will that person also reject me as unworthy of more because I have a train-wreck of a past?

Before I go further, please understand, my friend didn’t reject me as a person and has never treated me with anything other than kindness and respect. In addition, this statement is not in context, so please don’t think I’m trying to vilify him in any way. In context or not…desire for more or not, the fact that I would automatically be out of the running because of my past still hurts.

See, here’s the thing – I am not my past. My past is a part of my life that God has used to shape me. But it is not who I am.

I prefer to think of myself as God’s “victory in progress”. Here is who I am: a child of God. Every day I learn more truths about myself and how God feels about me. And guess what! I’m pretty special to God.

God wanted me so badly (even while I was sinning – see Romans 5:8) that He adopted me when I confessed that He was (and is) Lord of my life. Romans 8:14-17 says,

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (NASB)

I get to call God “Daddy” and I am one of His heirs. How awesome is that? He chose me, past and all!

Not only did He adopt me, but He forgave me for all my past indiscretions when I confessed them to Him. 1 John 1:9 says,

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NASB)

On top of forgiving me, He wiped my whole entire slate clean – it’s as if none of my sins from the past ever happened in His eyes. Psalm 103:12 says,

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (NASB)

I don’t have to live in shame because of my past. God removed that shame from me when I confessed my sins to Him.

God didn’t stop there, though. He is still changing, renewing my mind, and shaping me. Philippians 1:6 says,

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (NASB)

He’s not going to stop working on me until I am made perfect in Him (so basically as long as I live)!

So, while I may never be accepted as worthy of more than friendship here on earth, in God’s eyes, I am worthy of way more. He wrote my name and deeds in His book long before I was even born (see Psalm 139:16). He knows who I am. I don’t have to be brokenhearted. I just need to turn to the Heart Healer, and He will hold me tight in His loving arms and remind me that because of His love, I am not my past.

Have you ever felt like you were owned by your past? Is your past still haunting you? What do you do when you feel like your past is your identity? What I said above about myself is true of you, too. God wants you and He will take you into His arms too.

~Until Next Time!

Karen Signature

Today I am going to a baby shower, and I have worried about how I will do considering I’ve been very much working toward losing weight the past couple of months.  I’ve done well, and I don’t want to mess it all up.  This morning, I wrote the following excerpt:

I would be lying if I said that I don’t have some trepidation about the fact that I am going to a baby shower in a little less than 2 hours. It’s being held at a restaurant I’ve never been to, and I’m nervous. What if I mess up? What if I eat more than I intend, or something I shouldn’t? What if I ruin my whole week in this one day?

I know it’s a little irrational to worry about such things. After all, don’t I have the tools that I need to combat temptation? Don’t I know how to say no? Didn’t I just do that yesterday with the pizza? And the answer to all of those things is yes, BUT….

Yes, I have the tools I need, BUT that’s not a guarantee that I will use them. I could set them aside. I have so often before.

Yes, I do know how to say no, BUT I don’t always say no when I should. Sometimes it’s easier to say yes…especially when everyone else is. It’s hard to stand out from everyone else.

Yes, I did say no to the pizza yesterday, BUT just because I did it once, does not mean I will do it again. I can be pushed and swayed by my desires.

So, are my fears truly founded? My answer to that is NO. The above are my negative “what ifs” coming back to haunt me. I am strong. I am determined. I am prepared. There is no reason to be afraid. So, I am going to go to that baby shower, and I am going to have fun. But I am NOT going to spend my time worrying about messing up. I am going to live IN the moment, not FOR the moment. I am going to trust that I have the tools, the ability and the determination to succeed.

And really, that’s all we can do anyway. Life is not a guarantee, and I can’t afford to spend my life in doubt and fear.

As I was writing the above, I realized, that this could apply to my spiritual life as well.  I spend a lot of time asking the negative “What if” questions.  What if I make a mistake?  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I fail?  What if…what if…what if…

So, what if I trusted God?  So, what if I remembered He loves me as I am?  So, what if I lived with and for Him instead of for myself?  The reality is, I spend so much time thinking about the things I am worried about, that I forget to LIVE.  I forget to LEAN ON GOD.  I am not alone.  I do not have to carry the burdens of this life by myself.  I am LOVED – not for what I have or have not done, not for who I am and or am not, not for my beauty or lack thereof.  I am LOVED because I am God’s creation.  He created me…and He already knew all the things I was going to do wrong, and HE LOVED ME ANYWAY.

That’s what I have to remember when I am down and feeling like a failure.  GOD LOVES ME NO MATTER WHAT.  I can NEVER get away from His love.  And that is enough to get me through those difficult times….

Until Next Time,

More About Love

Posted: February 25, 2011 in Christianity, Love, Thoughts

Good Morning Friends,

God has been talking to me about what love is.  Yesterday, I wrote about what some different definitions of love are, and how God showed us the ultimate love when His Son died for our sins.  Today, I want to focus in on one definition that I think sums up love very well.

As I mentioned, one of my former pastors had a definition for love that struck a chord with me.  Pastor Randy told us that love is “doing what is best for the other person.”  This means, that even if I believe something else is better for me, or even if I think what I want is more important, doing what is best for the other person is to be my foremost thought.  In other words, I am to die to myself.

So, what does this mean?  Does this mean that I give and give and give and get nothing in return?  I don’t think so.  It has been said that the more you love, the more love you have to give away.  I believe when this phrase is used, most people think in terms of human love.  If you love others, others will love you.  But that’s not always the case, and in fact, I have a different hypothesis about that statement.  I believe that the more I love, the more grace and the more love God gives me to have the strength to love more, even when I feel like I can’t love anymore.

We are commanded to love others.  This isn’t a command that was given in the New Testament.  It was given in the Old Testament first.  Deuteronomy 6:5 says “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  This is reiterated in Matthew 22:37: “And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'”

We are called to love our Neighbor as well.  Matthew 22:39 says, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  This again is a quote taken from Leviticus 19:18.  And finally, we are called to love our enemies.  Proverbs 25:21-22 says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  For you will heap burning coals upon his head, and the Lord will reward you.”  Matthew 5:44-45 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

So, as you can see, we are called to love.  God would not give us a command that He could not and would not help us to fulfill.  Will you join me today in striving to love all those whom God has made (which means everyone)?  We are going to fail at times, but God knows that.  He asks that we do our best to follow all of His commands.  His grace is sufficient for you and for me.

God Bless!!

Thoughts on Love

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Christianity, Love, Thoughts

I have been giving a lot of thought lately to love.  What is it?  How do we show it?  How do we know we have it? Why do we seek it? Really, all of this boils down to my first question – WHAT is love?

There are so many different definitions of what love is.  For instance, Bing DICTIONARY has these definitions of what love is:

Verb: 1.transitive and intransitive verb feel tender affection for somebody: to feel tender affection for somebody such as a close relative or friend, or for something such as a place, an ideal, or an animal;  2.transitive and intransitive verb feel desire for somebody: to feel romantic and sexual desire and longing for somebody;  3. transitive verb like something very much: to like something, or like doing, something very much;  “I love watching old movies on TV.” 4. transitive verb show kindness to somebody: to feel and show kindness and charity to somebody;  “love your enemies”; 5. transitive verb have sex with somebody: to have sexual intercourse with somebody (dated)

So Love is a verb – it is an action.  It is something we DO.  Now, based on the above definitions, it almost seems like it’s more of a feeling we act on, and less of something we should just do.  Let’s see what else Bing DICTIONARY has to say about love.

Noun: 1. passionate attraction and desire: a passionate feeling of romantic desire and sexual attraction;  2. very strong affection: an intense feeling of tender affection and compassion; “Young children need unconditional love.” 3. romantic affair: a romantic affair, possibly sexual; 4. somebody much loved: somebody who is loved romantically or sexually; “He was her first real love.” 5. strong liking: a strong liking for or pleasure gained from something “his love of music”  6. something eliciting enthusiasm: something that elicits deep interest and enthusiasm in somebody “Music was his greatest love but he also liked ballet.”

Both the noun and the verb, according to Bing DICTIONARY talk about feeling and mostly dwell on the feeling elicited, as well as sexual or romantic feelings and actions.  But is this what love is?  If so, then love is shallow and fleeting.  What is the point of loving, if you can fall in and out of love so easily?  It hardly seems worth it.
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A former pastor of mine defined love as, “Doing what is best for another.”  I really like this definition because this is something that seems tangible to me.  Sexual or romantic love is temporary – there are going to be times when I don’t “feel” love.  But there is never a time when I cannot do what is best for someone else – whether it be my husband, my children, my friends, or anyone else.
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Jesus was an example of the ultimate love.  He gave His life for us.  He asked God to keep Him from having to do so, if it was His will (Matthew 26:39).  But He did not fight it – He gave His life willingly.  He submitted to God and humbled Himself, and died for you and for me (Philippians 2:8). He didn’t have to.  He is God – with all the rights and powers of God.  He could have torn Himself off of that cross.  Instead, He did what was best for us – He died.  The good news is, He did not stay dead.  He rose again – there are many witnesses who saw Him after He arose.  Now, He is in heaven, again doing what is best for us – preparing a place for us.
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I want to have a love like His.  I want to do what is best for those around me.  I often fail at it, but God is faithful and He uses those failures to do a good work in the lives of those who love Him and serve Him.  What about you?  Do you desire this love?  Do you desire to accept this gift that God offers – His love and salvation?  You can.  All you need to do is ask Him.  He’s waiting for you – won’t you accept Him today?
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Until Next Time!
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