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Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians 13

Passing the “Love” test

No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I am bankrupt without love. 1 Corinthians 13:3, MSG 

Love.

It’s something we all crave. Deep down in the very core of our beings. Sometimes when we have not received it, it’s also the very thing we reject.

Because we want to be loved we will look for love and acceptance in a variety of places. Things. Stuff. Approval from others. And often this approval from others looks nothing like the love that makes long-lasting relationships in the future.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. As my daughter gets older. As she has struggled over the years with friendships. As my oldest is now engaged. As I watch a load of preteens “think” they have mastered the art of dating. As I also watch many of these “masters” choose to date because it is “cool.” Pick mates that are mean to them and others. And move from one relationship to the next. Struggle as well with the “mean girl” mentality in their own friendships, and reject adult wisdom.

But is any of the worldly approval really “cool?” Are these ways of seeking approval and acceptance at all loving?

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it does not keep a record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT

I know I’ve dissected this before…but it stands to be discussed again. Because I have a daughter who now thankfully says she just has no time for boys, she has too much worries with pre-algebra. She comes home and tells me the things her friends go though with their “bf’s” (because we do this thing called “talk”), and has decided she don’t want no part of that! Her mind will change one day I am sure. And, I don’t want her to choose a mate solely based on the opinions of others. I want her to be treated right. I want to make sure she does so in return.

That she knows the true meaning of “love” not only in its romantic form, but in its purest form when thinking of how we love ALL. That when she comes home all starry-eyed over some crush, this is the conversation we can have:

Oh, mommy. He’s so cute! But, he is kind of mean to my friends. And, sometimes he calls me names, and gets jealous if I spend too much time with them. He also just has a really bad attitude about things. He’s negative all the time. 

Here goes. The moment she has to place his name in that Love Chapter. Let’s say his name is Bob. Sorry to any Bob’s out there. Here, in our house…everyone is Bob (insert eye roll).

Hayley, is Bob patient and kind? Is he NOT jealous, boastful, proud or rude? Bob doesn’t demand his own way, get irritable, and keep a record of your mistakes, right? He doesn’t laugh when others are oppressed or hurt, but stands up for them, right? Does Bob never give up, have faith in God, and remain hopeful?

If she can’t answer these, then he probably isn’t the boyfriend for her now! She can pray he has these qualities in the future. But, for now? I want her to have someone that is kind and patient with her. That doesn’t hold her wrongs against her, but forgives her. And someone who is also kind to others, and stands up for them when they are hurt or in danger.

I would do the same for my sons. I want the same for them. Not someone who mistreats them, or thinks it’s “cool” to mistreat others.

For all of their relationships. Even with their friends. Even with the adults in their lives. Do these people fit? Can they say they are patient and kind? Are they jealous? Or do they create situations that cause us to envy others, create drama, or keep us far from God?

 And if their relationships are lacking, I ask they insert those names and pray those hearts change and the characteristics of love and kindness begin to dwell in them.

Because they don’t dwell in our bank accounts. They don’t dwell in our looks. Or our job  or “cool” status. Those things fade and can be taken away.

They dwell in the heart. A heart that loves, cherishes, and treats others with kindness, goodness, respect, and mercy. That lives on forever.

Love never gives up. Love never dies. 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in Loving Others, On Parenting

 

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When loving others makes you “Crazy”

Ever been called crazy? Reckless? Dangerous? Ever wondered why others don’t fight the way you do? Think the way you do? Feel the same anger at the same injustices you do? Even look at the “others” with the same love you do? Ever had something really important you know had to be said, only to feel no one was listening?

I have. Many times. And many more times, I have found myself asking God: Why?

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 1 Corinthian 2:14

Twice last week I heard this verse. Once in my quiet time with God, when I had asked him why He kept insisting I keep pursuing even though it was oh-so-hard, and again in a preaching class.

Yep. I must seem pretty crazy.

Or am I?

I spent a good amount of my weekend pondering why we so desperately long for love, yet are so unable to give it, express it, and show it, and knew then…His message is not all that outrageous. It just takes a lot of work. Work that is necessary. May cost something. May get us called a few names, and let’s be honest-work that some of us think not everyone deserves.

And, yes. Work that has deemed me crazy. Because it is what hurt the most, but it was also my greatest source of light. The only thing that kept me from moving out of a darkness that cast a shadow over a good part of a year.

Believe it or not. Love is in fact what often motivates us.

Francis Chan says this about love in his book, Crazy Love:

“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. You’ll drive hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while. You don’t mind staying up late to talk. Walking in the rain is romantic, not annoying. You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you are crazy about. When you are apart from each other; it’s painful, even miserable. He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together.”

What if we had this kind of love for God? For others? What if we were so crazy in love with our Lord we kept Jesus’ greatest commandments?

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally as important” ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

So, how do we love like crazy? Love Him. Love others. Recklessly and outrageously pursue love for those that are not like us, even if it costs us something.

First, we love God.

What does it mean to “love God?” It does mean to follow His commandments, to live life a certain way. To be of a certain noble character. But, it’s also more than that.

I have two signs in my kitchen. They are on my wall as soon as you come in our house. The kitchen door is on the side of our house, but for those who come by frequently, they know you come in through this door…because someone is ALWAYS in the kitchen. Anyway…the first sign reads: “GOD BLESS THIS HOME.”

The second is below the first and reads: “FAMILY IS THE HEART OF THE HOME.”

God first. Family second. Everything else after.

It’s why my kids know “quiet time,” may extend past the scheduled 30 minutes, because Mommy is talking to God.

It’s why when the youngest asks “Are you always going to be on your computer working this school year at night?” during a breakfast conversation, that you realize you need to shift priorities.

God first. Family second. Everything else after.

Loving God means He is the center of my life. My ability to make decisions is no longer based on what I want. And, to some that is crazy talk.

When questions like, “Are you sure you can handle that?” are met with, “No, but God knows I can.” People look at you funny. Because, the worldly expectation is that you are bound by your strength and abilities, not the power of Him in you.

When you make a career move because it is wise, and healthy, and the response is, “Are you sure you want to make that move, with them?” And you respond with, “I don’t have a choice, God decided for me.” People don’t know what to say. Because the worldly expectation is that decisions are based on pros and cons lists, not answered prayers.

When you are asked over and over again how you can allow people to spit hateful and abusive words at you over and over, and continue to smile and forgive, and you respond with, “Because God asked me to,” you get labeled the crazy one. Because who loves like that?

People who love God. Parents who want their kids to love God. God-loving people who want others to know just how much God is crazy in love with them.

Because, when we love God, we also reject this idea that we need to fit in and be accepted by the world. We measure our worth by His standards, by how He sees us, even if today we are broken. Even if today we make a huge mistake. Even if today our hair is a mess, or our dress is wrinkled.

We know in the words of an 11 year old girl that I am slowly finding may be wiser than me in all her sassy ways: Who cares, because Jesus sure does not! He says to come as you are!

When we begin to love God, we also begin to love all the messy parts of ourselves. Because we know. We believe He is crazy in love with us.

And, when He is crazy in love with us, He gives us this love to share. His second greatest commandment. To love your neighbor as yourself. One that can often be the hardest.

Why? Because it means we have to love those who hurt us. Those with whom we tend to disagree. And, yes…those we don’t like. We have to love the messy.

I learned this truth myself in a moment of self-righteousness over the summer. Yes, I have these moments. Until someone reminds me…usually my kids-as was this case, that I need to practice what I preach.

During a talk with them about their constant fighting, I shared something with them I had only mentioned in passing. It was the story of a Post-it note I had stuck in my Bible, and the particular prayer, I prayed each morning and night over that Post-it.

I think we are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, the “infamous” Love Chapter. And, I say infamous, because it is often read at many a wedding…it was read at both of mine. That is right…even at my first one. Which is why over the years, I have read over, and pondered the true meaning of this passage, and wondered if we truly understand what is being asked of us in terms of “love.”

I explained to Hayley and Hunter that I had read or seen somewhere that we can measure our ability to truly understand Paul’s description of “love,” and whether we are displaying it by reading the chapter and inserting our own names. So, I read it, and inserted theirs.

Hunter/Hayley is patient and kind. Hunter/Hayley is not rude, does not demand his or her own way, and is not irritable.

“Have you been these things to each other lately? To me?”

Then I shared with them the reason that Post-it was in my Bible. I had been transparent with my daughter about my struggles over my year of hurt, only because it was apparent many afternoons when I arrived home, that I was not in a good place. I value honesty and transparency, and not only do I value them where I work, I do at home, and in all areas of my life. She knew that “love” had not always been welcomed in every place God had me assigned.

So, I explained why I had the sticky notes on my office door. That it was part of a self-esteem assignment. I explained that they were all supposed to be gone. All spread to different parts of the school to spread random “feel good” messages. How one was still stuck to the door when I returned. One that said, “Always be Kind.” I told them I didn’t think it was left by chance. I told them how I rolled my eyes at God that day, but took the note down anyway, and placed it right there in my Bible, where Paul had defined love. Each morning and night, I inserted that individual’s name, the one written on that Post-it. Prayed that God would show what love was supposed to look like. That this person would know how much God loved them. And, I wanted my kids to know that, too.

That He loved them even if they messed up. And, even if in that particular moment they didn’t like each other very much.

And, then it came. That moment of truth. When my own need to insert my own name in that Love Chapter was revealed.

When Hayley looked at me and said: “So, if you pray for that one, do you pray for the other person involved? The one who hurt you? Do you insert that name, too?”

OUCH!

No. No, I hadn’t. I didn’t like them very much. I was glad God had delivered me from that. And, honestly. I was still hurting a little.

So, when Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he isn’t talking about the people we like. He is talking about everyone. And later when he recounts the story of the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), he also explains what a loving neighbor does. He shows mercy, or “compassion and forgiveness toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

See, showing mercy and praying over that sticky note was easy. Praying for those we are concerned for, for whom we care and love. That’s easy.

Loving those who hurt us. That stuff is hard. And it is downright crazy. But, that is the kind of love God calls us to.

And, that is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness is crazy love.

It looks kind of like this:

“But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21

Here is what we know about Joseph. He was loved by his father more than his brothers. He was even given a special gift-a beautiful robe from his father, and the ability to interpret dreams. Because of this his brothers grew jealous and resentful of this love. They sold him into slavery, where Joseph was wrongly accused of crimes against Potiphar’s wife, and remained in prison for several years under Pharoah’s watch. Now, he was eventually freed and became ruler of Egypt. But, he didn’t dwell on his past. He was made victorious, and when confronted with his brothers, he offered forgiveness, and promised to look after their children.

That’s some crazy love, right?

While she may not be the epitome of Christian decorum, I do love this statement from Beyonce:

“Love is an endless act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. Forgiveness is the final act of love.”

Now, while I am called to pray for those who intended to harm me as Hayley reminded me, I am not so sure I could open my home to and promise to look after their children like Joseph. While, I have been called crazy in the name of love, I am not sure I could do that for some who have hurt me. Thankfully, forgiveness didn’t say I had to do that in order to love. I don’t have to set myself up to be harmed again. God provided me my way out of that. But, it does mean there may come a time, this person is the Jew on the side of the road, and I am the neighbor being asked to show mercy.

My call from God is to be the despised Samaritan, and to “go and do the same” as Jesus commanded in Luke 10:37. To do as I would want done to me. To reach out and help. Even if I feel like it is undeserved. Offering the love God so freely offered me.

A love that offered its final act of forgiveness. Its final act of love on a cross. For me. For you. Even for those who harmed us.

So, to recap…what is crazy love?

It’s loving God so much that we will go to great lengths to do what He asks even if it does not make sense. We want more than just a five minute devotional time with Him during the day. We want hours of quiet time with Him.

It is loving our neighbors so much that helping is not an obligation, not a nuisance, but an honor. We jump at the chance to feed the hungry, to help the needy, to lend a hand to the hurting.

It is loving without conditions. Forgiving others faults because your Savior forgave you. It’s allowing others to come to you each day as a new person, because “love keeps no record of wrongs.”

It’s crazy to some. It’s reckless to others. And it is always pursuing. Never giving up on its mission to go after the one. But, God’s love is worth it. It is always worth it. It is not something to keep to yourself. It is something to be shared.

So, go ahead. Be crazy. Crazy in Love with God. Crazy in Love with your neighbor. Offering forgiveness like crazy.

Because crazy love wins. It always wins.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2018 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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For He Has Taught Me More

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. James 1:17

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“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” I hear the screams in the wee hours of the morning. The screams that have woken me from a state of sleep I seemed to have just fallen into. As I fumble around in the dark, I hear the screams again: “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

As I open the door, I hear the small faint whisper of what has distressed this little child so-an earache. Not exactly what I wanted to hear after having just battled three straight cases of strep in 2 months. Really? Was the poor little guy sick again? So, I did the usual-Motrin, back rubs, hushed whispers, but still only howls of pain.

Then I did the only thing that used to calm this same child 6 years ago when he was a floppy, cuddly baby. Picked him up (now about 28 pounds heavier, and much, much longer), made a bed on the couch, and laid his sweet little head on my chest.

While he slept, and I watched the clock tick-1:22, 1:23, 1:24…I started to reminisce about those many months when this was the only way this little boy would sleep, as well as the many things this little one has taught me in the last 6 years.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.                                                                                                  Romans 5:3-4

Our children often teach us more than we could ever learn on our own. In my 36 years I have learned more about myself, others, love, and life in the last 6 years than any book or other experience has or could have ever taught me.

With our “monster” it has been one thing after another. “He isn’t growing enough. Let’s test for cystic fibrosis.” “He isn’t walking yet. Let’s make sure he doesn’t have any neurological reason for this.” “He’s a little floppy, let’s try physical therapy.” “He’s not talking, banging his head, rigid, not social…we think he has autism.”

In the last 6 years I have learned I have more peace and strength than I ever thought I would have. Through the strength only given by Him, I endured each one of these painful visits with one little head laying firmly against my beating heart.

It is also in the last 6 years I have learned not to judge a “book” by its cover. What we see on the outside is often not a true reflection of what is really going on at home, beyond the surface of a child’s tantrum in a store, beyond the harsh words or attitude of a stranger.

In these last 6 years I have endured brutal tantrums, been slapped, kicked, confused, broken, and worn down by a 36 pound bundle of fury. Some days I have wanted to run away. Some days I have wished just “once” Hunter would be “normal.” And, I am more patient, strong, and resilient than I ever thought I would be. All because Christ decided to give this little boy to me.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.                                                              1 Corinthians 13:7

Most importantly, I learned how to love. Unconditionally. To look beyond the faults, the inadequacies, the sins, and the disabilities of others. To realize love goes far beyond being able to say the words.

Because this was the greatest gift God gave me.

And, the greatest lesson Hunter has taught me.

No matter how many fights I endure, outbursts I have to get through, or the sleepless nights I lay on the couch with a little boy listening to the sound of my beating heart, the only thing that will ever truly matter, whether he can get the words out or not, is love.

To love.

At all times. In all conditions. Despite the circumstances. Even when the words aren’t said. Unconditionally.

To love. As He sent my sweet little “monster” to teach me.

To love. As He first loved me.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Autism and Faith, Loving Others

 

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Handing out Hearts

But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. Jeremiah 17:10

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Love. That one word is important to most everyone. We all want to love, to be loved, to be shown love. And, oh…the pure bliss of hearing those three little words-I love you.

But, sometimes those words don’t come. Those three little words are not always easy to say, and my little monster continues to show me with his inability to use his own words-that love is not a word at all.

Love can be as simple as being handed a small pink Starburst.

See, my little monster is not the greatest with words. Well, actually, he is great with them, but only when it comes to sharks, Legos, or what is playing on Animal Planet. The words that require an expression of feeling or emotion don’t come so easy to him. No, sometimes when emotions take over he grunts, he screams. Other times he speaks in food. Sometimes it is making dinner, because some way, some how this calms his overstimulated brain. Sometimes its simply handing over one of his pink Starbursts.

“The pinks are my favorite. They taste like hearts.”

A heartfelt expression of love. A simple Starburst.

One that tastes like hearts.

A heart that my monster handed me.

A simple pink piece of candy that made me wonder, do I pass out hearts, or do I use empty words I really don’t mean?

Do I speak love to others, but fail to show it?

Do I say the word, yet keep hatred hidden in my heart?

Do I speak about my love for God, and then shun my neighbors?

If I could speak all the languages of earth and angels, but did not love others, I would only be a noisy gong or clanging symbol. 1 Corinthians 13:1

I can speak or write the most eloquent of words if I wanted. Tell someone with the words from my mouth how much they are valued and loved, but if I don’t show this love, if my heart is still bitter, and full of hatred, anger, and unforgiveness…well, then all my “love” language is useless.

And the thing is…I can’t hide behind pretty words. God knows my heart. He knows if my words are deceitful. He knows if I am doing good deeds out of pure love for others, or because I want the glory and recognition the world provides. He knows when I have spoken kindly to a neighbor or friend, then turned my cheek only to say or feel something different.

He hears our words. He knows our hearts. And he knows when our words are just noise, and not spoken out of love at all.

He knows when our hearts taste nothing like the small pink piece of candy handed to me by a five year old, and more like the bitter lemon candies no one really likes.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever. 1 Corinthians 13:8

A little boy, one who knows all the words but can’t always use them, reminds me of this over and over.

Where words fail to express love, our actions will.

Where words are often full of deceit and void of meaning, our hearts will reveal the truth.

So, in honor of a little monster who often can’t speak, but who most certainly feels, leave the words to the poets. To the noisy gongs. To the clanging symbols. Instead, let your actions speak. Let them come from your heart. Let them resemble a pink Starburst given by the hand of a small child.

Let them leave a “taste like hearts.”

Sweet, true, and full of love.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Autism and Faith, Loving Others

 

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When Loving Others is Hard

Love one another with brotherly affection. Romans 12:10

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Love. Defined as admiration, desire, or attraction. Most of us think of this definition when we think of the meaning of the word. No matter our walks in life, most of us, probably all of us, have experienced admiration, desire, or attraction.

Love. Also defined as unselfish and loyal concern for the good of another, or brotherly concern for others. This definition is what Christ-like love can be defined as, and I’ll be completely honest-at times in my daily interactions, circumstances, marriage, and as a parent, I don’t show “brotherly concern.”

Take this morning for instance. Our family has been subjected to ridiculing letters, phone calls, and environmental control visits courtesy of our neighbors. This morning was no exception. One of our “anonymous” neighbors showed concern for the state of our beloved dog, not by paying us a visit…but by calling animal control. A dog, I will add, that is 15 years old. A dog that is on her last leg (literally, she can’t walk on one of her legs), and a dog that is dying. At Christmas. Frankly. we don’t have it in our hearts to make the tough decision we know we need to at this time (Did I mention it’s Christmas time?). Frankly, we want her to enjoy one last Christmas, one last stocking. Frankly, I did not feel an ounce of “brotherly concern” for my “anonymous” neighbor!

So, after I called my husband, let off some steam, as I am sure it was coming out of my ears. After I plotted posting signs in our backyard, and thought about calling to price 12 foot privacy fencing, I took out my Bible and opened it up to what is often referred to as the Love Chapter-1 Corinthians 13. The first 13 verses of this passage are frequently read at weddings around the globe. It was read at mine almost 8 years ago.

But, do I live out its words each day of my life? Do I practice love with each encounter I have day in and day out? Do I truly show love to my husband, my children, my friends, my neighbors, or even strangers?

Am I an example to others of the true definition of love?

Love is patient, love is kind (v. 4). Am I truly patient? No, I have patience issues on the road, and I often fail to show patience with my children. I also hate to wait, for anything, period!

It is not irritable…(v. 5). Um, well….this morning’s rant about my neighbor was definitely not full of happy thoughts, or words for that matter. I was definitely irritable. Downright angry! And, ask the husband who has lived with me for 8 years, and I am sure he can attest to my frequent displays of irritability. I am sure “love” has not been displayed to a shopper blocking the aisle with their cart, or to my children who have spent hours fighting and screaming at each other.

It keeps no record of wrongs (v. 5). Well, I know I keep a record. I’m surprised I have not framed some of our mailbox letters. My ability to list everything my husband has done in the last day, week, month, year to irritate me during an argument is pretty solid proof that I keep a running tally of wrongs.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (v. 7).

This means….

The friend who is so different than you-show love.

The neighbor who has persecuted you, blown leave in your yard, or just irritates you-show love.

The co-worker, acquaintance, or family member who has a different set of beliefs than you-show love.

Your children, husband, mother, sibling, or anyone who wears your patience thin-show love.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40) does not mean we only love those who live in our homes, or those who live next door. It means everyone with whom we come into contact. It is displayed to those in the community, in the grocery store, at work. It means loving those you happen to like, and those you don’t like so much.

Never ceasing. Never failing. In every situation.

Show unselfish and loyal devotion. Show brotherly affection. Show love.

Three things will last forever-faith, hope, love-and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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