The Mark of A True Disciple

FTI Love One Another“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

I’ll admit I struggle with this. Love can feel like one of the most difficult things in this world to do. But for a true disciple of Jesus, there is no way around it. We are called to love. Actually, we are commanded to love.

Before Jesus humbled himself on the cross, he humbled himself to wash the feet of his disciples. You can read about it in John 13, the same passage that contains the verses quoted above.

Jesus was teaching them by example – humility, service, others before self – this is how you are to live. Love each other so that “everyone will know that you are my disciples.” 

So it grieves me to see Christians divided when we should be standing in unity against the enemy of our souls.

I think Kristen encapsulated how I and so many of us feel when she used the word “weary” in her post yesterday. We are tired of seeing the virtual carnage, the bloodbath of hurtful words streaming in front of our eyes, wounding our souls. Yes, we are weary.

Some may think they are helping enlighten others when they attack and brother or sister (or an entire family) on social media. They may think it’s harmless venting. But the truth is, if we are going to identify ourselves with the name of Christ, we need to think long and hard about what messages we are conveying.

Because the world is watching. And they love to see us hating on each other because then they have an easy excuse for rejecting Christianity.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give anyone a reason to walk away from Jesus. I want to be numbered with the true disciples – the ones who show love to one another, reserving their swords for the real enemy.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

Love Is Not A Three Letter Word

Somewhere today, there’s a guy buying a ring getting ready to “pop the question.”

There’s a girl down the street shopping for a dress. THE dress. The one she’ll wear on her “big day”.

Everyone wants love. But, while most of us know how to plan a dream wedding, we’re not quite as prepared for the reality of life beyond the honeymoon. 

We know that’s true because the numbers don’t lie.

Half of all marriages end in divorce.

Which means that, for every guy who buys a ring, there’s one guy taking a reluctant trip to the pawn shop.

While one girl shops for the perfect dress, another one is tearfully auctioning hers to the highest bidder online.

Meanwhile, Hollywood keeps churning out episodes of The Bachelor. The sacred bonds of marriage continue to be challenged and redefined by marketing gurus who know that love is a hot commodity.

And it doesn’t matter if hearts are breaking when you’re building an empire.

I know this isn’t your typical Valentine’s post, especially coming from me (a self-professed, googly-eyed romantic.) But lately I guess I’ve heard too much do-whatever-feels-good propaganda to stay silent.

So here’s what I have to say to anyone who’s been cheated by the “love” shysters:

You do not have to keep buying what they’re selling!

You do not have to accept disposable love.

You can have the forever-after kind.

Forget the fake Hollywood version.

A cheap imitation can never compare to true love. 

Because love is not a three letter word.

Even though many have reduced it to nothing more than a  physical act, true love is something far above that, and far more desirable.

When we commit our pursuit of love to the One who IS love, He will help us raise our standards so we can stop falling for lame substitutes and experience the real thing.

This could be the happiest Valentine’s Day ever if we stop entertaining ideas about what love is not and start embracing what love is.

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

P.S. If you haven’t found that kind of love yet, just remember that God wants the very best for you. And the very best is always worth the wait. Until then, consider the above list to be a preview of coming attractions.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Linking with
Faith JAM Thursdays

 

When Life Doesn’t Turn Out Like You Hoped It Would

You could feel a dark cloud hanging heavy over the room as the young woman with the long, brown hair began to share her heartbreak.

She cried as she spoke of the pressures of her husband’s job and how she was now second-guessing their decision to move to a new city away from the comfort of the community they had known.

Another woman told her story of having to be apart from her husband for 22 months when he was forced to take a job in another part of the state. At the time, she had just found out she was pregnant and had to remain in her job for the insurance benefits. He missed the birth of their first child as a result.

Photo and Verse

Around that circle of strangers, tears flowed. And so did words like bitterness and anger, with heads nodding in empathetic agreement.  Because we all know that life is hard, and there is no shame in admitting that. Jesus himself is described by the prophet Isaiah as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isa. 53:3)

But we also acknowledged that our faith is in God and not circumstances. That there is still hope, even when life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped it would.

So we prayed. And as we bowed our heads and carried each others burdens to the cross, it reminded me of how important it is for us to gather together and share our journey with other believers. We need that connection and encouragement.

Because it’s easier to hold on to hope when we hold on to each other.

And when I looked up, the world seemed new. All those smiling faces in a circle of light, shining like the sun on a cloudless summer day.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25

 

How to Stop Fixing and Start Enjoying Our Spouse

200px-Man-and-woman-icon.svgHusbands and wives everywhere agree that the differences between men and women makes for some very interesting marital discussions.

Gary Morland takes a humorous look at this subject in his post entitled 4 Things My Wife Needs to Remember I Can’t Do (And That Your Man Can’t Do Either)

I hope you’ll take a minute to read it and watch the short video that accompanies it. It’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you think, I think. 🙂

Plus, it’s kind of cool to get the male perspective on a topic that has had women asking for ages, “What’s wrong with my man and how do I fix him?”

Isn’t it ironic that one of the top complaints women have is that, instead of simply listening to their problems, men want to fix them.  But, if we’re honest, isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to do to the men in our lives?

Food for thought…Maybe we should leave the “fixing” of each other up to the Lord and just learn to enjoy our differences.

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Ephesians 5:21

 

When Who You Are Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

We may be embarrassed to admit it, but there are three, little words we women long to hear.  And it may be different than some might think.

From our earliest memories, we are aware that we were born with this desire – like a seed planted deep in the heart and soul of us – to know we are loved and cherished.

And it’s like the unfolding of a flower opening to the sun when it happens – When we feel those things being expressed through this secretly-coveted affirmation.

You Are Beautiful!

But it takes more than hearing. It takes believing. And that can be difficult.

I chuckle now at that time in high school when a classmate told me I could be pretty if I just used more mascara. She whipped a tube out of her purse and began to work on my lackluster lashes. I don’t think she achieved the transformation she envisioned. 

Then, there are those glamor magazines, filled with models and Hollywood celebrities, all with perfect skin and straight teeth and well-sculpted bodies. We’ve heard about photography tricks and photoshop, but we can’t forget the images we’ve seen. Especially when we look in the mirror.

We have this snapshot of pretty painted on our brain and our own eyes speak the plain truth that no amount of makeup can cover over.

We are who we are. 


But if we don’t know who we are, our hearts can become targets for deception.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Proverbs 31:30

The Seattle Times published a piece on human trafficking in which writer, Nicole Brodeur, reveals that “many of these kids go willingly, lured by attention and the affection they crave.” Even more shocking, the article goes on to quote Lt. Eric Sano of the Seattle Police Department:

“The victims would rather endure the beatings or the rapes for the times he tells her he loves her, when he tells her she’s beautiful and treats her like a princess.”

It’s important for us to understand who we are.

We are daughters of the King! And these are His words to us:

You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Song of Solomon 4:7

How can a dearly loved Princess of God feel anything but beautiful? But we do.

Because our culture is screaming the opposite.

I was watching a sitcom recently that actually touched on this subject. Two parents were lamenting over the negative messages our society is sending to young women. As we see them discuss their teenaged daughters questionable dating choices, the wife says to the husband in desperation, “They are expected to look and act like porn stars!”

Yes, sadly, the culture is screaming loud.
And not just at teens, but adults as well. 

Case in point: The overwhelming sales of a certain book that exploded on the scene this past year. When I heard about some of the content, I must have turned 50 shades of red. That was enough to know it’s something I won’t be putting on my reading list.

Even the author admits that she’s not a great writer and that she is “stunned” by it’s popularity. But, really, it’s not surprising at all. Her book is categorized as a “romance” and statistics show that romance novels are a billion (not a million, a BILLION) dollar industry, far surpassing all other genres.

And I get how a woman might turn to fantasy to try and escape from the weight of her own reality. How she might like to forget her own story and lose herself in one that offers some version of the love she lacks. But when the last chapter is read, she’ll still be looking for something to fill the pages of her heart.

Because that’s the way the enemy works. That slithering snake has a counterfeit version of every good thing God offers us. And, just like a predator, he lures us with the lie that he can supply what we need. But he can’t.

Christian women beware! 

The King of Heaven has called you out of darkness. He has crowned you with light. He wants you to know that His love for you is real. Not a cheap imitation. So, don’t eat the forbidden fruit. You are precious and beautiful treasure to Him. Believe that.

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.
Ephesians 5:8

Look in the mirror and speak these truths out loud until all those other voices begin to fade.

Teach them to your children.

Remind every young girl you meet.

You are a child of God. Romans 8:16

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

You are loved with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3  


Let’s face it. We are who we are.

And that’s a good thing!

Do you think the media makes it harder for women today to deal with issues of self-worth? How has God helped you to accept the fact that who you are is enough?