Sunday, June 30, 2013

Love is Patient

Picture from

What does it mean when the Bible says love is patient?

There are some people that it is easier to be patient with than others for various reasons. As Christians, we are called to show love to all people. Thus, we are called to have patience with all people.

An example of being patient with someone we love is my grandpa. My grandpa died ten years ago of Alzheimer's disease. This is a terrible disease that breaks down your mind and its ability to function properly. It is more than just being forgetful. It is your brain shutting down slowly which may seem to be just forgetfulness at first but eventually it forgets to tell your kidneys to do their job, or it forgets to tell your body you are hungry so you don't eat. If you have ever had to deal with an Alzheimer's patient, you know it can be trying and exhausting. When the person is a family member that you love, it is easier to understand that you are battling a disease, not your loved one. And it is a little bit easier to have more patience with them than others.

How do you show love to an Alzheimer’s patient? If you hear the same story twenty times in one day, you still act as though it’s the first time you heard it. If you get called by a name other than your own, you just answer to it anyway. If you get asked the same question over and over again, you smile and answer it for the tenth time in a row. You do this because you love your family member and don't want to be rude to them knowing they can't help it. You do this because it is the right thing to do. You patiently love them despite their disease.

This is an example of showing patience in love that I think everyone would do no matter what they believed or if they were a Christian or not. This is how most of the world would treat a family member with Alzheimer’s. So what is it about 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love that is different? What is it that makes this kind of love stand out in the world?

The difference is that we as Christians are called to have patience with others and love them despite what they have done to us. Human beings are imperfect not matter which one you talk to. Even your closest friend at some point in life will hurt your feelings or do something to disappoint you. What makes this kind of love different is that we are called to show it because it is right, not because it is fair or just.

Patience is not something that is easy to show when the person you are showing it to has hurt you. There are times in life when people will do things that will absolutely devastate your world. You have a choice to love them and patiently deal with the situation at hand, or to walk away from them and give up on them because you don’t want to face the hurt and it seems like an easier solution. The world often tells us this. It often tells us divorce for example, is a better option than standing by your spouse during difficult times. Divorce often would be a quicker solution to ending the turmoil, but really, it’s just creating a different set of problems. Patiently loving your spouse through the hard times is what God would ask us to do.

I have had situations in my own life where God asked me to be patient and keep loving someone even though they had truly devastated me by their actions. The worlds view was telling me that it was time to move on and just let go of this person even though that is the last thing I wanted to do. But God said, keep loving them and keep trusting me. Patience is huge here because it is asking us to just keep waiting for things to get better even when it looks like it never will. It is asking us to put our heart on our sleeve and love someone no matter what we get in return. Patience and waiting on the Lord turned out to be the best choice. That relationship is healing now and it is still intact today. It is only so because I chose to obey what God was asking me to do, even when the world would have told me the complete opposite.

Love is patient… Take a deep breath, say a prayer for strength, and be patient with those around you whether they deserve it or not. It is a way to show them the love of Jesus!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Love Never Fails

In beginning a journey to understand what love truly is, I started the same place that many people would. In fact, there are three common places that people look to help them figure out what something is: 1) the dictionary, 2) the thesaurus, and 3) Google.

Miriam Webster says love can be either a noun or a verb (meaning, it can be a thing or an action). Defined as a noun Webster says the following:
  • strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> 
  • attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers 
  • affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates> 
  • warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>
  • the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love> 

As a verb or action, Webster defines love the following way:
  • to hold dear : cherish
  • to feel a lover's passion, devotion, or tenderness for 
  • to like or desire actively : take pleasure in <loved to play the violin>
  • to thrive in <the rose loves sunlight>

Using a thesaurus to find other words for love (synonyms) you find:
  • Affection
  • Attachment
  • Devotedness
  • Devotion
  • Fondness
  • Passion

All of this really describes the feelings and emotions associated with love. It doesn’t really tell me what love is. I mean, what love really is. So, I keep looking.

1 Corinthians 13 is affectionately known by many as the love chapter. It is an entire chapter of the Bible devoted to describing the characteristics and importance of love as it relates to Christian living. In this chapter Paul is relaying to the church at Corinth that no matter how many spiritual gifts (spoken of in Chapter 12) that you possess or how great they are in their manifestation, they mean nothing if you don't have true Agape love in operation in your life.

Agape love refers to a type of love that no matter what, always seeks the good of others. It asks nothing in return of the person it was given to. To love someone with agape love is a matter of choice, not of emotion. It loves another whether you receive love in return or not.

This type of love is foreign to the world. Look at the definitions in Webster. They are all based around how someone else makes us feel, not how we treat another person. We are taught by society that we should love those who prove themselves lovable. We are brought up to critique the actions of others and to set boundaries and enforce consequences when those actions prove less than acceptable. This applies to all relationships but is especially true in marriage.

Women, more than men, seem to be encouraged to hold their spouses to a high standard and then leave them when they fall short. Our world has created a system for marriage that is easy come, easy go. In Arkansas, it takes about $50 to get a marriage license. What does it take to get a divorce?

One day I was in the office supply area of Wal-Mart looking for something and on the bottom shelf I noticed a "do it yourself divorce kit". It cost about $25. I am sure you would have to pay a filing fee to file the paperwork, but the point is it possibly wouldn't take much if both parties agreed and had no issues of property or custody to work out.

This thought process is completely opposite of the biblical teachings of agape love, which I will continue to delve into in future posts. 1 Corinthians 13 has challenged me lately. I have found myself reading, "Love endures all things" and saying, "even this, God?” I can name many situations in life when the world would say, "this is too much, just walk away" or “Why would you put up with this, they aren’t worth it”. God keeps saying to me, "Love never fails".

In taking this journey of discovering what true love is, I'm starting with the encouragement that "Love Never Fails". I’m not talking about the world’s definition of love; I’m talking about the love of Jesus in your life and through your life. If you are going through an "even this?" type of situation, hang with me a bit and see where this journey goes! I cannot promise you that life will be a bed of roses, but I can promise you that Gods way is best and His love will not fail you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Love Is...

I sometimes think that we have a misconstrued idea of what love is. When most people use the word love or think about love, they tend to think about what they felt like when they were dating a certain person or what they want someone to make them feel like some day. They put a great deal of emphasis on feelings and emotions. That is a natural part of human love, but there is far more to love than feelings and emotions.

The Bible is full of verses about love. How much God loves us and how we can show Him our love in return. How we should love our families and a command to love our enemies. How to love friends and how to love the random people we meet from day to day.

Lately, I have had a burden in my heart concerning love. I have decided to write about it and post it here. I can’t tell you I will post every three days, or once a week, or anything like that. I will post as I feel led and complete a thought on a certain aspect of love. I am praying in this that someone else will be blessed and may consider something they haven’t before. My goal in writing is only to express the things I have learned lately in hopes that it will benefit others.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sacrificial Obedience

When God speaks to us and gives us direction, we have a choice to either obey His direction or to run in the opposite direction. For most born again Christians the choice is easy and they would obviously choose to obey God. But what do we do when God is calling us in a direction that we don't want to go in. Not because we don't want to obey God, but because what He is asking of us is the hardest thing He has ever asked of us before and honestly, it is seemingly unfair that we should be the one bearing this load.

One choice we have is to choose to do what we want to instead of what God is asking us to. That would be the easy way out in the moment, or so it would seem. History seems to show though that this option usually results in misery until you change direction and return to the way God wants you to go. Take Jonah for example. God asked him to go to Nineveh. He chose to go the opposite direction. Where did that get him? Swallowed by a big fish!! That could not have been a pleasant experience.

Maybe we decide that we want to obey God. We truly do have a desire to do what He is asking of us, but what He is asking doesn't make sense in this world. Choosing this way that God is leading, means that the people around us will likely call us crazy, stupid, nieve, or even ignorant. Noah faced this same delima. What God asked Noah to do seemed ridiculous to the people of his time. However, if Noah had refused to build the ark, he would have suffered the fate of the flood like the rest of the people did. Not only that, his family also would have suffered the same fate. Noah's decision to follow God's direction saved him and his family literally from death. His obedience meant life for his family.

Sometimes obedience requires sacrifice. It sometimes requires us to take the criticism of others. It sometimes requires us to put our own feelings aside. God often asks us to forgive those who have hurt us. That is a task that depending on the circumstances could seem almost impossible. When we are hurting, forgiveness is sometimes the last thing we want to think about. To forgive others in the midst of hurt and betrayal requires you to put aside your own feelings in exchange for showing love and giving grace to the one who hurt you.

Sometimes the sacrifice of obedience means giving up possessions or uprooting to physically go somewhere else to do something for The Lord. Missionaries and Evangelists do this throughout their life and for most it becomes a part of who they are. What if you aren't a missionary or evangelist and you begin to feel that calling. What if you are that person who has lived in the same house your entire life and had dreams of retiring there? Sacrificial obedience.

The good news is that God hasn't called us to stand on our own two feet to accomplish what He asks us to do. His word clearly tells us over and over again that He is our strength, our help, and our shield. It tells us that He will carry our burdens and fight our fights. If He is asking something hard of you, consider this, He will not ask more of you than you and Him together can bear. You may feel overwhelmed and unable to bear the load, but that's ok, because He isn't asking you to bear it alone.

Scripture to stand on:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NKJV)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NKJV)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. (Isaiah 43:1-4 NKJV)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


If I could go back and change the steps I've taken in life, would I?

If I could undo the decisions I've made and make different ones, would I?

If I could take back words and actions in my past, would I?

On many occasions my answer to these questions would be a resounding YES!! The reality is that the road I've traveled was paved by the words I've spoken, my actions, and decision that I've made. While I didn't always say the right things, do the right things, or make the right decisions in life, to change them would change my path. While there are days I long for a different road to travel, I realize that taking a different path, traveling a different road, would change my story. It would change the people who have come into my life. It would change the people's lives I have been able to come into (yes, those are two different things).

I heard today (from this message from The Ramp) that life is like a GPS. God has a calling on our lives and He gives us directions to follow to get us to the place of fulfilling that calling. If you take a wrong turn, it doesn't change the destination you are trying to get to. It changes the route you have to take to get there. It probably will make the trip take longer and possibly be more difficult, but it doesn't change the end destination.

If I could go back, would I? I don't think I would. The wrong turns have taught me things I never would have learned had I not taken them. I have grown in ways I don't think I ever would have known I could possibly grow had I not been given the unique opportunities that have crossed my path. Most importantly, if I had not been down the path I have, I would be much less prepared to help others who keep hearing "re-routing" from the GPS. My experiences in life, though not always pleasant, will serve a purpose both in my own life and in helping others.

If you keep hearing "re-routing" just keep going. Follow the directions as best you can, but know that if you make a wrong turn, it doesn't change the end destination. Don't stop!! Don't give up!! Don't quit!! Keep moving forward in Christ!