A Good Man

Eph 5:25 Husbands, have love for your wives, even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it; 

In my personal experience, it seems like this world has had far too few “good men”. However, today I get to celebrate the fact that God is a merciful and gracious God of second (and third, fourth, fifth….) chances because six years ago He gave to me that elusive creature, a good man.

Six years ago, on top of the bluff over-looking the sun setting on Lake Huron, I was blessed to marry Paul, the love of my life; my best friend; my soul mate; my kindred spirit; my steadying anchor. He truly is the one “whom my soul loves”.

Paul is a man of honour and integrity. He is compassionate and kind. He is understanding and patient with me and all my accompanying baggage of pain, fatigue, and mental health struggles. He is intelligent, very witty and extremely humourous. I swear I have WAY more laugh lines than frown lines because of him. He is very tender, loving and affectionate.

I am not sure what it is that I love most about him but I know that he has made me feel safe, secure, valued and treasured. This is very important to me because for most of my life, the important men in my life have left me feeling inadequate, insecure, rejected and unprotected.

While he is not perfect (who among us is?), my Paul truly is that wonderful rare creature – a good man.

Paul, “I will love you forever; I will like you for always. As long as I’m living, my “hubby” you’ll be”!

Happy Anniversary “Bestie”. 

 

Eph 5:28 Even so it is right for husbands to have love for their wives as for their bodies. He who has love for his wife has love for himself: 

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Mom’s Visit

My Mom came for a visit today. Neither one of us was feeling particularly energetic but as it was a beautiful day we decided to toddle around the arts and crafts show happening in our town square (really it’s more of an octagon).

We ended our time together relaxing in the living room while enjoying cool and sweet chai tea frappes. YUM!

Before Mom got into her car, she drew me into her arms and said, “let me enfold you in an embrace of great love and affection”. I thought that sounded so much more poetic than “give us a hug”.

I liked the saying so much that I just had to share it!

I think that is what God, through His son Jesus Christ, is saying to us – “Come to me my child, and let me enfold you in an embrace of great love and affection.”

Mar 10:15 Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it.
Mar 10:16 And taking them up in His arms, He put His hands on them and blessed them.

 

(Image from http://<a href=’http://wori88.com’>http://wori88.com</a>

Learning to Fall in Love … With Myself

I have written a number of posts about how we, as Christians, are called to love others – both believers and unbelievers. In fact, we are not only encouraged to love others, we are commanded to love others.

Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

Next to loving God, loving others is the second most important commandment.

Mar 12:29-31 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment.  And the second is like this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

Notice that the second commandment has a ‘qualifier’ added to it: love your neighbour as yourself.

We are told that we are to love, respect and treat other people just as we would do so for ourselves. BUT – what if we don’t love ourselves?  And just what does it mean to ‘love ourselves’?

Loving ourselves – hmmm – sounds sort of narcissistic and selfish to me. You know – kind of “mirror-mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all” attitude. There are certainly more than enough selfish, self-absorbed people to go around in this world. But is that the type of love that God means when He says that we are to love ourselves?

I’ll give you a clue – the answer is NO!

The instruction to love your neighbour as you love yourself is mentioned seven times in the New Testament. The word ‘love’ that is used in each one of those scriptures is the Greek word ‘agapao’. We commonly know it as ‘agape’ love and it means to love in a moral or social sense. It is a love based on conscious choice, not feeling or emotion. It means to love because it is the right thing to do rather than waiting to ‘feel’ like loving. It is not a selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed kind of love. It is the kind of love that God has towards mankind – whether we deserve it or not.

God tells us that we are to love ourselves in this way. We must choose to love ourselves even if we don’t feel like we deserve it. Do you love yourself? I know that loving myself has been a HUGE problem for me over the years. Being left by first my father and then my husband gives the old self esteem a real kick in the teeth! My being a sensitive, self-conscious, perfectionist people-pleaser does not help the situation either. I am my own worst critic and thus perhaps my own worst enemy.

Thankfully, I have a gracious, merciful and patient Heavenly Father who is willing and able to help me change my distorted view of myself. He does this by telling me that He loves me.

Joh 16:27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from God.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us

1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation concerning our sins.

God even loved me when I was an unsaved sinner!

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins)…

And since the time that I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, God adopted me into His family and loves me as His daughter.

Eph 1:5 having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,…

If God loved me even when I was in my sinful state, and now loves me as His daughter, shouldn’t I learn to love myself??

Thankfully, I am finally learning to do just that. Through the truths that God has given me in His Word, and through the love of a wonderful husband that God has blessed me with, I am learning to be kinder to myself, learning to see myself through their eyes, learning to fall in love …. with myself.

I pray that you also are able to love yourselves as God loves you.

Blessings

(See my post “In His Eyes”)

Love, Love, Love

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it only appropriate to discuss ‘that crazy little thing called love”. God and Love are inseparable. 1Joh. 4:8 states that “God is love”. To know and understand the one is to know and understand the other. But how little, it seems, do we truly understand either – perhaps, especially, the ‘love’ part.

I think if we were to conduct a survey on what people think ‘love’ means, we would get a wide variety of answers (especially comparing the answers of gals to guys). Unfortunately, there are many people in this world who could not tell you what love means because they have never experienced it for themselves. And then there are those who mistake desire, attraction, and even lust as love.

So what is this thing we call ‘love’? Did you know that there is not just one definition of love? The Bible mentions at least 4 types of love. (and we thought that one was confusing enough!)

Physical Love

One type of love in the Bible can be defined by the Greek word ‘eros’, which describes the physical, sensual love , Biblically speaking, between a husband and his wife. Although the word ‘eros’ does not appear in the Bible, we can see this type of love described in the Song of Solomon.

Son 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

Son 4:10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!

While it is possible to have this type of love for someone, God meant it to be between a man and a woman who are husband and wife. And He meant it to be just one part of the whole package of love. A relationship based on sexual attraction alone is not what God wants for a healthy marriage. When the sags, and the bags and the wrinkles and the grey hair comes along (and it will) there must be something more lasting than physical attraction.

Family Love (natural bonding)

Another type of love in the Bible comes from the Greek word ‘storge’ and refers to the natural bonding that occurs between a parent and their child and between family members.

Paul uses the negative form of the word in Romans and 2 Timothy when he describes what happens to mankind when man turns away from God.

Rom 1:31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

In contrast, Paul uses a positive form of the word in Romans to describe how we should behave towards one another.

Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Affectionate Love (feeling)

“Brotherly love’ is another form of love. Many of us know that the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also called ‘the city of brotherly love’. Philadelphia is a city mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;…

The name of Philadelphia comes from the Greek root word ‘philia’ which describes warm-hearted affection and friendship; a relationship based on brotherly love and kindness. While ‘storge’ love is a natural bonding, ‘philia’ love is based more on ‘feelings’. I don’t know about you but in my own life I have met people towards whom I have taken an instant liking. Then there have been those people who have made my skin crawl and my teeth ache from gritting them so hard. You know, the kind of people who make you feel like you would rather endure a toothache than spend another moment with them.

I do not believe that God expects us to have this kind of love towards everyone. This type of love is based on feelings and there are many people with whom we just don’t ‘click’. However, when I read the scriptures where this type of love is mentioned, it seems that we, as Christians, are supposed to show this type of love towards other Christians. After all, we are all of the ‘family of God’ and as such are all ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ so it is only right that we treat one another with ‘brotherly love’.

Rom 12:9, 10 Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good; in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honor.

1Th 4:9 But regarding brotherly love, you do not need that I write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.

Let brotherly love continue.

2Pe 1:5-7 So, for this very cause, take every care; joining virtue to faith, and knowledge to virtue, And self-control to knowledge, and a quiet mind to self-control, and fear of God to a quiet mind, And love of the brothers to fear of God, and to love of the brothers, love itself. (BBE)

I have saved the most important, and possibly the most challenging, type of love for last.

Love of Choice (moral or spiritual sense)

This type of love in the New Testament is the Greek word ‘agape’.  ‘Agape’ love can be described as being benevolent and affectionate. It’s root comes from the Greek word ‘agapao’ which means to love in a moral sense. Putting the two ideas together, it is the type of love in which you choose to show benevolence and affection towards another person, whether you feel like it or not or whether that person deserves it or not. It is not a love that is based on attraction, connection or feeling. It is a love based on choice. Agape love is the highest form of love and it is the kind of love that God has towards us. It is the kind of love that God has for us, even when we are sinners and don’t deserve His love.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God chose, and continues to choose, to love mankind – sinful mankind – even though, as sinners, we do not deserve His love. And in God’s great love for sinful mankind, He was willing to send His only begotten son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin. Agape love is the love Jesus showed towards all sinners by willingly taking the punishment of death that we, as sinners, deserved.

1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Agape love is the highest form of love and it is the form of love that we, as Christians, are commanded to show to the unsaved world and to each other.

Joh 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Let us work hard at choosing to love others.

Blessings

The Incomplete Message of John 3:16

My apartment is a veritable maze of boxes in various stages of packing. My cat, Emma, is enjoying all the new viewing stages and resting spots all these boxes are providing. But why a cat would prefer to sleep on top of a hard cardboard box rather than her cushioned chair is a mystery to me. For myself, I am sick of looking at boxes! And I can’t believe that this small apartment holds so much stuff! At the end of the day, I feel like a lab rat who has to negotiate a maze before I can get my treat – which in my case would be my bed!

Because of all that is going on in my brain as I prepare for our move, there hasn’t been a lot of brain power left over to write a new post. But I thought that I would take a few minutes today to write a short one.

This morning, as I was performing my morning ritual of ‘bathing in the glow’ of my SAD lamp (that’s a light for those of us who are on the ‘dim’ side of things during the winter) I watched a DVD of Chonda Pierce, who is a Christian comedienne. Although she is humourous, her humour often contains important lessons for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

One of her stories was about how she went into a Christian bookstore with a Jewish man, who had never before been in a Christian bookstore. He noted all the products that had ‘John 3:16’ printed on them. He asked Chonda if that was an important date for Christians. He was interested because his birthday was March, 16th.

Chonda explained that John 3:16 indicated the book, chapter and verse where a truth (I would say the main truth) of God’s word could be found. And this is that truth:

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you probably know that verse off by heart. It contains two unchangeable truths 1) God loves us and he loves us so much, that He sent His son to die for us 2) If we believe in Jesus, who he is and what he did for us, then we will live for eternity.

Now we Christians may say “Yes, I know that. Yup, I get it.” And if we truly do ‘get it’ then we should be sharing that good news with others – and maybe you do. But that isn’t all of the story and the truth that is contained in that small section of scripture. And this is what Chonda continued to point out in her story – how the scripture goes on to say:

Joh 3:17, 18 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes on Him is not condemned,…

And I think that it is right there that many of us Christians get God’s message wrong. We may be good about spouting off John 3:16 but we neglect to back it up with behaviour that supports those next two verses. Notice vs. 17 states that God DID NOT send Jesus into the world to condemn the world. Without salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, this world is condemned already. You don’t have to look too far to see the glaring evidence of sin, wickedness and evil that is present in this world. God did not send Jesus into the world to ‘rub salt into the wound’, as it were, of this hurting world. God sent Jesus to love us back into His kingdom.

And that is where we often get it so terribly wrong. As Christians, we are way too ready, willing and eager to look upon others with judgement and condemnation. God’s Word plainly tells us that He did not use Jesus to bring condemnation upon us, but – oh how often do we use Jesus to bring condemnation upon others – both unbelievers and believers?

Yes, the sad truth is that Christians can be very hurtful towards others. I was once told that the term ‘Bible thumpers’ could be used to describe those Christians who like to use the Word of God to ‘thump’ people with correction. We use God’s Word to condemn people for what they wear, for how they look, for what they eat, for what they say, for what they do and for what they have done. We use Jesus as a weapon to cut people down rather than a tool to build people up.

John 3:17 states that the world is saved through Jesus. How did Jesus bring people to salvation? Was it with judgement, criticism and condemnation? No, he brought people to salvation by speaking the truth with LOVE and in LOVE. “LOVE” is who God is.

1Jn 4:8 The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.

When we condemn others, we are not operating in the love of God. And if we are not operating in God’s love, in His way of loving, then we are not ‘of God’. And if we are not ‘of God’ we can not call ourselves Christians.

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.
1Jn 4:8 The one who does not love has not known God.

So the next time you tell someone about John 3:16, don’t forget that the message is incomplete if you neglect the truth about ‘no condemnation’.

1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God

Blessings

 

The Other Side of the Coin

(I dedicate this post to my husband who inspires my love)

Since it is still the month of Valentine’s Day, I am going to continue writing about the subject of love. Maybe some of my readers are thinking “enough already” but I don’t think that we can ever over – do the topic of love. In fact, I think that it is one topic that is seriously “under-done”. Oh – there’s an abundance of stuff out there about physical love and even emotional love, but we’re not taught a lot about what it means to share “true love” as God means it.

I have already written about my “Cinderella syndrome” which led to unwise choices and a difficult and unfulfilling marriage. I found that my difficulties were compounded by the fact that I was a Christian. As I am a “Type A” personality (psycho speak for uptight perfectionist people pleaser) I wanted to make sure that I was the best Christian wife that I could be. To that end, I tried VERY hard to live by that particular scripture, which I am sure has been quoted to every wife (Christian or not) since time began – you know, the one that says:

Eph 5:22   Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

I confess that I had almost as much difficulty with this command as I did with all the other ones combined! You must understand that I came from a home where my father seemed to want my mother to look after everything while he pursued his own interests. And when I was a young teen, my father left us, which left my mother as sole provider as well as sole parent and homemaker. My mother, not wanting her daughters to be helplessly dependent upon often undependable husbands, wanted instead, that we become strong, independent people in our own right. (Oh how I wished I had followed her advice)

So there I was, a young woman in a new age being told, by the church, to “submit” to my husband. This was not made any easier by the fact that many of the articles that I was reading on the subject, often showed women in dresses, wearing heels and pearls while vacuuming and cooking!! A June Cleaver I am not! In fact, I was more comfortable in jeans and work boots clomping through the bush than I was being a Susie Homemaker. But like all good Type A’s, I took the proverbial “bull by the horns” and worked hard at “submitting” to my husband. (By the way, I have learned that submitting with your teeth and fists clenched, stomach in knots and head pounding is not really submitting – it is being passive- aggressive which is more psycho speak for frustrated, angry wimp)

After 26 years of trying my best to be a “good” and “submissive” Christian wife (and I did have my failings) all I ended up with was a failed marriage, heart break, frustration, serious health problems and an almost complete loss of who I was as the unique person that God created me to be.

Unfortunately, the church has greatly missed the mark as far as teaching married couples what it truly means to be husband and wife. Oh yes, the church is very good at preaching “wives submit to your husband”. In fact, that is all I knew about the subject of marriage (other than don’t commit adultery) in regards to being a Christian wife. Historically, the church has handed husbands and wives a one-sided coin when it comes to marriage. It is a coin that has been tossed into wives’ faces for so long that we don’t realize that there is another side to that coin!

Allow me to show you the “two sides of the same coin” of marriage as God would have us see it, know it, believe it and live it.

The first side is the one we are most familiar with (or at least aspects of it):

Eph 5:22   Wives, be under the authority of your husbands, as of the Lord.

Eph 5:23   For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.

Eph 5:24   And as the church is under Christ’s authority, so let wives be under the rule of their husbands in all things.(BBE)

That side of the coin is obviously meant just for wives. Or is it? Here is a coin within a coin: Notice how vs. 23 states that the husband is supposed to be the head of the wife (and the family and household).  Guys – God is telling you that you are NOT to shirk your responsibility – you are to be the head of the house! Big BUT – that does not mean you are supposed to be an autocratic, tyrannical, macho dictator! The other side of that “coin within a coin” is that husbands are supposed to be “head honchos” of their earthly family in the same way that Christ is the “head honcho” of the church family. Husbands are to conduct themselves as Christ does, and to govern their families with the same love that Christ has for us.

How convenient it has been for men in the church to keep the women ignorant of the fact that there is another side to that coin! But I am now going to flip that coin over and show you the other side:

Eph 5:25  Husbands, have love for your wives, even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it;

I can just hear husbands saying, “but I do have love for my wife”. Ah – but here’s the catch – husbands are not told to simply love their wives, husbands are commanded (not suggested) to love their wives in a very special way -” even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it;”

How much did Christ love the church (church being all who have accepted him as their personal saviour)? Jesus Christ loved the church (us) so much, that he, who was sinless, was willing to pay the horrible price for our sins. He loved us so much that he was willing to take the shame, the humiliation, the scorn, the beatings, the torture and the death that was to be our punishment. Christ held nothing back for himself, but rather, he gave his all for those he loved.

WOW! What kind of freaky love is that?? It is the kind of love that is completely selfless ( not selfish). It is the kind of love that is more concerned about the other person’s wants and needs than of it’s own. It is the kind of love that is willing to do whatever is necessary to guarantee another person’s well-being. It is the kind of love that is willing to sacrifice itself for another. It is the kind of love that does not change, regardless of circumstances. It is a love that never fails.

That is the kind of love that a husband is supposed to have towards his wife. In fact, I would dare to say that it is, or should be, the first side of the coin rather than the flip side. A husband who walks in the love described above makes it very easy for a wife to be willingly submissive to him because she knows that he truly loves her and she can trust him to take care of her, do what is best for her, and make the best decisions for her, their marriage and their family.

A coin with only one side is not a coin at all. Just as a marriage with only one side and/or one partner doing their part is not a marriage. When two separate sides come together equally, you get one solid unit bonded together to make a whole. That is what a loving marriage is:

Eph_5:31   “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh.”

BTW: I have now been blessed with a wonderful husband who does his very best to love me in the same incredibly selfless way that Christ loved (loves) the church. I know and trust that my hubby is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that I am happy, healthy and feeling loved. And this has given me the freedom and peace that I need in order to be willingly submissive to him. (although he may argue that last point! lol)

Mat_19:6   Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

 Blessings