Welcome to the Marriage Builders® Discussion Forum
This is a community where people come in search of marriage related support, answers, or encouragement. Also, information about the Marriage Builders principles can be found in the books available for sale in the Marriage Builders® Bookstore.
If you would like to join our guidance forum, please read the Announcement Forum for instructions, rules, & guidelines.
The members of this community are peers and not professionals. Professional coaching is available by clicking on the link titled Coaching Center at the top of this page.
We trust that you will find the Marriage Builders® Discussion Forum to be a helpful resource for you. We look forward to your participation.
Once you have reviewed all the FAQ, tech support and announcement information, if you still have problems that are not addressed, please e-mail the administrators at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ephesians 4:2 (NLT) 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other�s faults because of your love.
In this verse we are encouraged to understand humility, which allows us to consider another�s point without being puffed up with our own thoughts. Gentleness keeps us from provoking others and from allowing others to easily provoke us. Patience allows us time to provide grace and mercy. Christians need to bear one with another and to make the best of one another, to brink out another�s graces and not a bitter response. It should be our desire to overlook faults so that we might encourage and help others out of love.
The American missionary Adoniram Judson arrived in Burma, or Myanmar, in 1812, and died there thirty-eight years later in 1850. During that time, he suffered much for the cause of the gospel. He was imprisoned, tortured, and kept in shackles. After the death of his first wife, Ann, to whom he was devoted, for several months he was so depressed that he sat daily beside her tomb. Three years later, he wrote: God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I cannot find him.
But Adoniram's faith sustained him, and he threw himself into the tasks to which he believed God had called him. He worked feverishly on his translation of the Bible. The New Testament had now been printed, and he finished the Old Testament in early 1834.
Statistics are unclear, but there were only somewhere between twelve and twenty-five professing Christians in the country when he died, and there were not churches to speak of.
At the 150th anniversary of the translation of the Bible into the Burmese language, Paul Borthwick was addressing a group that was celebrating Judson's work. Just before he got up to speak, he noticed in small print on the first page the words: "Translated by Rev. A. Judson." So Borthwick turned to his interpreter, a Burmese man named Matthew Hia Win, and asked him, "Matthew, what do you know of this man?" Matthew began to weep as he said,
We know him�we know how he loved the Burmese people, how he suffered for the gospel because of us, out of love for us. He died a pauper, but left the Bible for us. When he died, there were few believers, but today there are over 600,000 of us, and every single one of us traces our spiritual heritage to one man: the Rev. Adoniram Judson.
But Adoniram Judson never saw it!
And that will be the case for some of us. We may be called to invest our lives in ministries for which we do not see much immediate fruit, trusting that the God of all grace who oversees our work will ensure that our labor is not in vain. [Adapted from Julia Cameron, editor, Christ Our Reconciler (InterVarsity Press, 2012), pp. 200-201]
Matthew 19:16-22 (NKJV) 16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, �Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?� 17 So He said to him, �Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.� 18 He said to Him, �Which ones?� Jesus said, ��You shall not murder,� �You shall not commit adultery,� �You shall not steal,� �You shall not bear false witness,� 19 �Honor your father and your mother,� and, �You shall love your neighbor as yourself.�� 20 The young man said to Him, �All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?� 21 Jesus said to him, �If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.� 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
A rich young man, perhaps a magistrate or a ruler approached Jesus wanting to know how he could have eternal life in heaven. In calling Jesus Good Teacher or in some translations Good Master the young man was being submissive and willing to learn from Jesus. The young man was convinced that there is a happiness prepared for those in the other world, who are prepared for it in this world. It was a rare thing for one of his age and quality to care so about another world and life. The rich are apt to think it below them to make such an inquiry as this; and young people think there is plenty of time; but here was a young man, and a rich man, solicitous about his soul and eternity. In his heart he was looking for something that must be done, some good thing, some means by which he could obtain this happiness. The young man was focused on present life, so Jesus addressed present life asking him if he had followed the commandments. Then Jesus made a statement the young man could not accept. �If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.�
God�s work is living and breathing and through the Holy Spirit God will speak new meanings to us. In these verses I have usually been focused on the young man�s desire to find eternal life and the disappointment when he heard Jesus saying he had to give up all his riches. But there was something else I missed. Jesus knew the young man was seeking how he could be perfect. The problem is there are none of us who are perfect or can be perfect while we live on this earth. Perfection will always elude us. It is why we must place our trust and faith in Christ who carries us through those imperfections. It is why Christ told the young man to follow Him so the young man didn�t have the worry about being perfect.
Francesca Battistelli sings a song Free to be Me. The first part of the lyrics are as follows: At twenty years of age - I'm still looking for a dream - A war's already waged for my destiny - But You've already won the -battle - And You've got great plans for me - Though I can't always see- 'Cause I got a couple dents in my Fender - Got a couple rips in my jeans - Try to fit the pieces together - But perfection is my enemy -And on my own, I'm so clumsy - But on Your shoulders I can see - I'm free to be me.
I love those words for we are all broken and ripped apart, but Jesus has already won the battle and has great plans for us. Our problem, we are looking for perfection which we can�t obtain. When we focus on trying to be perfect we begin to give up; we begin to think things are hopeless, but in reality Jesus is carrying us through on His shoulders so that we can live the life we were meant to live.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NLT) 4 �Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
For the Jews these were two of the choicest verses. They wrote it in their phylacteries and they felt obliged to say these words at least twice every day. They were very happy in being so obliged, having this saying among them, Blessed are we, who every morning and evening say, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. But more blessed are we if we duly consider and improve,
At the age of 19, Abraham Piper, the son of well known pastor and author John Piper, walked away from his Christian faith. For the next four years, in his words, he "just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around." Of course his parents were "brokenhearted and baffled." After four years of living as a prodigal son, Abraham returned to the Lord and reunited with his parents. Based on his experience, he offers the following advice to mothers and fathers of wayward children:
Don't expect them to be Christlike. If your son is not a Christian, he won't act like one, and it's hypocrisy if he does �. His most dangerous problem is unbelief�not partying. No matter how your child's behavior proves his unbelief, always be sure to focus more on his heart's sickness than its symptoms.
Welcome them home. If he has any inkling to be with you, don't make it hard for him �. Obviously there are instances when parents must give ultimatums: "Don't come to this house, if you are �" But these will be rare �. [In most cases], if your daughter stinks like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreeze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she's pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her 20-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you've been forgiven, don't give him any more money�and let him come home. If he hasn't been around for a week and a half because he's been staying at his girlfriend's�or boyfriend's�apartment, urge him not to go back, and let him come home.
Point them to Christ. Your rebellious child's real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or porn or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk band. The real problem is that your child doesn't see Jesus clearly �. [Jesus] will replace the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the sex that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only his grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to him�captive, but satisfied. [Abraham Piper, �12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child,� desiring God.com (5-9-07)
Unfortunately many of us don�t realize at times we also have a problem of now allowing The Lord into our lives. We don�t allow The Lord to fill the voids in our lives, but instead we seek out other things to fill us. Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength and God himself will pull you through the trials of life.
1 Kings 19:9-14 (NLT) But the Lord said to him, �What are you doing here, Elijah?� 10 Elijah replied, �I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.�
Elijah had been on the run from Jezebel who wanted to kill him. First he ran a marathon to get away from her. Then after an angel ministered to Elijah he continued on his journey for another 40 days until he found himself hiding in a cave. God asked twice why Elijah was there; and twice God got the same facts Elijah stated above. What Elijah really needed to say was - I�m scared and I feel alone and that is why I am hiding here in this cave.
Elijah didn�t have a problem listing out the reasons why he should be hiding in a cave. In fact he was able to recite them perfectly back to God a second time. No doubt on his journey to the mountains and even sitting alone in the cave he had repeated those thoughts over and over to himself. 1 � I tried to serve the Lord. 2 � Look what the people did; they broke God�s covenant. 3 � They killed all the other priests and now I�m the only one left and 4- they want to kill me too. Elijah was so focused on these things he didn�t even express his feelings to God nor did he say to God, please help me I am afraid and alone.
You see we often start looking at the circumstances of our life and that is all we can see. This is the time we need God, but usually don�t seek Him out. We don�t feel His presence despite the fact He is right there with us. We need to take our focus off the situation and remember The Bible gives us promises that God is with us and desires good things for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 Tells us, �For I know the plans I have for you,� says the Lord. �They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.�
Matthew 11:28-29 says, �Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.�
Paul said in Philippians 4:19 � �And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.�
King David reminded us in Psalm 139:7-10, �I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest ocean, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.�
We might ask �Where is God when we need Him�, but God is right there with us waiting for us to call on Him. God also doesn�t act out of haste, but has a plan to help us. And whatever God does to help us will ease the burdens we are facing. Trust God is there with you and tell God what you are feeling and ask for help. God loves you and desires the best for you and will provide an answer to your problems.
Psalm 33:4-5 (NIV) 4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
In these verses King David expresses his thoughts on God�s justice and God�s infinite perfection. For The Lord to be right and true means even His disciplinary acts are designed for our good by deterring us from evil. Everything The Lord does is in truth and there is nothing He must hide from us. The Lord executes inflexible justice. There is nothing but righteousness in the sentence The Lord passes and in the execution of the judgment of it. The Lord takes pleasure in those who also love righteousness. What a pity is it that this earth, which is so full of The Lord�s goodness, should be so empty of His praises when the multitudes that live here benefit deeply from His unfailing love.
Over a hundred years ago, in a Scottish seaside inn, a group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid was walking past the fishermen's table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown splotch. Standing nearby, the innkeeper surveyed the damage. "That stain will never come out," he said in dismay. "The whole wall will have to be repainted." "Perhaps not." All eyes turned to the stranger who had just spoken. "What do you mean?" asked the innkeeper. "Let me work with the stain," said the stranger, standing up from his table in the corner. "If my work meets your approval, you won't need to repaint the wall." The stranger picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and swashes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers. At the bottom of the picture, the man inscribed his signature. Then he paid for his meal and left. The innkeeper was stunned when he examined the wall. "Do you know who that man was?" he said in amazement. "The signature reads 'E.H. Landseer!'" Indeed, they had been visited by the well-known painter of wild life, Sir Edwin Landseer. God wants to take the stains and disappointments of our lives and not merely erase them, but rather turn them into a thing of beauty. [Ron Lee Davis in Mistreated. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3.]
Because The Lord is right and true, faithful in what he does for us and because He loves righteousness and justice that is freely given throughout the world - The Lord wants you to have a good life. The Lord�s words given to us in The Bible are not meaningless; they are words to live by. The Lord through His words has shown us how we are to live and the consequences for when our lives are out of alignment. We need to stop and give praise to The Lord for all that has been done and all that has been given to us.
2 Peter 1:3-6 (NLT) 3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world�s corruption caused by human desires. 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God�s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The Apostle Peter explains we have been given what we need to live lives according to God�s will. God has given us promises so we can stay motivated and not fear the world when we are called to do His work. All of this is to incite us and engage us so as to advance us in the grace and holiness God has so generously supplied.
Following an Easter service in 2003, a woman approached a pastor I know and asked, "So what happened with Jesus after the Resurrection?" "Well, he ascended into heaven and he's still alive," the pastor said. "I know he was resurrected, but he's alive?" she said. "Yes, he's alive." "Alive? ALIVE?! Why didn't you tell me?!" For the next two weeks, she telephoned everyone she knew and exclaimed, "Jesus is alive! Did you know he's alive?!" This woman was motivated to tell others about Jesus and His life after death.
South African Bishop and Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu puts fearless evangelism this way: There is nothing the government can do to me that will stop me from being involved in what I believe God wants me to do. I do not do it because I like doing it. I do it because I am under what I believe to be the influence of God's hand. I cannot help it. When I see injustice, I cannot keep quiet, for, as Jeremiah says, when I try to keep quiet, God's Word burns like a fire in my breast. But what is it that they can ultimately do? The most awful thing that they can do is to kill me, and death is not the worst thing that could happen to a Christian.
Danger is to be respected, but fear is a choice we make. We should never fear standing up for what God has called us to act upon. God has given us His promise that He will be with us when we are following Him. Stand up for God as He has already stood up for you.
Psalm 19:7-11 (NLT) 7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. 9 Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.
King David provides in Psalm 19 words about The Heavenly Creator, The Lord�s instructions for us about life, and how we are to improve upon life through God�s instructions.
Every new car usually comes with an owner�s manual. The manufacturer who built the car supplies them so we might understand how the car operates. Contained inside are descriptions of the cars different functions. There are sections that describe warnings you might receive along the way about the cars operating status. There are also sections describing the maintenance and care that must be given to the car. You see the creators of the car understand it well enough that they can tell us in a manual what is best for the care of the car.
Our creator also provided us an owner�s manual called The Bible. The Bible understands who we are and describes what we need to know. The Bible gives us warnings about life and how to proceed when those warnings arise. The Bible speaks of how we should care for ourselves and others. The Bible tells us what we must do to maintain relationships. The Bible speaks to the very heart of what we were created for and what our purpose in life is about. You see our creator understands us well and has given us directions for life.
Are you taking the time to read your instruction manual? If you take the time to read, you might be surprised by what you learn from The Bible.
Matthew 5:43-45 43 �You have heard that it was said, �Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.� 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
The teachers of the law had corrupted God�s words. They believed love your neighbor only applied to those near to them, who were of their religion and race. They perverted the thought of love your neighbor and corrupted it even further - for if they were to love their neighbor then surely they were to hate everyone else. This was never intended by God for He had even given instructions to assist foreigners and those who they might not like. We see that Christ sets the people straight when He says, �But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.�
Max Lucado writes about a big, muscle-bound man named Daniel who was swindled by his own brother. He vowed that if he ever saw him again, he would break his neck. A few months later, Daniel became a Christian. Even so, he couldn't forgive his brother. One day, the inevitable encounter took place on a busy avenue. This is how Daniel described what happened:
I saw him, but he didn't see me. I felt my fists clench and my face get hot. My initial impulse was to grab him around the throat and choke the life out of him. But as I looked into his face, my anger began to melt. For as I saw him, I saw the image of my father. I saw my father's eyes. I saw my father's look. I saw my father's expression. And as I saw my father in his face, my enemy once again became my brother. [Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven (Word, 1990) pp. 114-116)
We are all created in the image of God the Father. When we seek to harm another - we seek to harm one who God loves, who God cares for, and who God finds precious. God has those same thoughts for each of us as well. When we confront someone we confront someone who has the same Father God we have. Let go of hatred and love as your Father God would love.
Christ commanded us to love one another. Learn to accept people for who they are. Don�t try to change others for only God can truly change a person. Don�t demand from another something you would not be willing to give. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Let go of anger and replace it with compassion and love. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. Better to listen than to react for better is open rebuke than hidden love. Proverbs 19:11 reminds us - A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
Remember today � Love your neighbor, love your enemies.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
In these verses the apostle provides some properties and effects of love. Love is grace to others. It is an excellent grace, and has a world of good properties belonging to it.
Gordon Yeager, 94, married his wife, Norma, 90, on the day she graduated from high school in 1939, according to affiliate KCCI. Seventy-two years later, still inseparable, the two got in the car for a trip into town. That�s where this tragic, but oddly sweet, story starts. They got into an accident and had to be rushed to the hospital. Their children say they were put in the same hospital room, and when it looked like things might not improve, they clasped hands.
Gordon Yeager passed away at 3:38 p.m. He was still holding his wife�s hand. His son Dennis said he was confused at first, because his father�s heart monitor was still registering a heartbeat. The nurse explained that his wife�s heart was still beating, and the beat was being transferred to him through her hand.
At 4:38 p.m., exactly one hour later, Norma passed away, surrounded by family. The couple's daughter Donna told KCCI the family actually felt blessed that their parents died together. Neither of them would have wanted to live without the other, she said. They believed in marriage ��til death do you part,� said Dennis.
Love extends grace in a way that is hard to understand. For love will patiently wait in kindness. Love does not envy another, but accepts them. Loves doesn�t boast that one is better than another. Love gives up pride allowing one to say they are sorry and to correct wrongs that have been made. Love doesn�t try to harm, look for what self will obtain, not easily angered and definitely keeps no wrong. Love is grace that is lived out.
Obviously this couple knew the meaning of love. They loved until death and that is a legacy they leave for their children to think about. Love is a special grace God gives to all of us; we just need to remember to use it.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV) 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians is a short chapter focused on love. The Apostle starts the chapter there are several gift he could possess, but without love those gifts are meaningless. Out of faith hope and love he says, �But the greatest of these is love.�
If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude. Every virtue is an expression of love. No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love. -- Fr. Richard P. McBrien
God�s actions are based upon love. When we are blessed, it is out of love. When we are disciplined, it is out of love. When we need compassion God lovingly embraces us. God put's love into all of His actions and God�s love endures through all times.
When it comes to our actions we need to stop and think, how does this show love? If we aren�t showing love in our actions maybe it is time to rethink how we are acting.
St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D, a time when the church was enduring great persecution. His ministry was to help the Christians to escape this persecution, and to provide them the sacraments, such as marriage, which was outlawed by the Roman Empire at that time. For his belief and practice, St. Valentine was arrested, and imprisoned for his refusal to deny Our Lord and embrace the Roman gods.
While in prison, St. Valentine continued to minister, even witnessing to those who guarded him. One of the guards was a good man who had adopted a blind girl. He asked St. Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed and the girl was miraculously given her sight, demonstrating the power of the One True God. The guard and his whole family, 46 people in all, believed in Christ and were baptized. The emperor was furious about this, so he had St. Valentine beheaded.
St. Valentine�s knew that he could be arrested for his belief and Christian ministry. He knew that refusal to recognize the Roman gods would result in imprisonment. And he knew that if he continued to witness to Christ in the prison he would make his captors angry, and would probably result in his death. But he continued, because he loved the Lord and his fellow humans. He was willing to risk his life in being an instrument in the healing of the blind girl�s infirmity, and in doing so spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who needed to hear it.
This is briefly who St. Valentine was.
"Be My Valentine." This is a phrase that conjures up a lot of different images associated with the celebration of Valentine's Day. Cards with hearts and little poems on them. Candy and flowers given to someone one we love. Young and old alike expressing their affection for their sweethearts. February 14th, for our culture, means cards, candy and flowers.
Somehow, this feast of the church has been skewed to include snapshots from pagan mythology, such as cupid, with the focus of the day only on romantic love. For most, it is a shock to hear that this is a day to remember and celebrate the life and martyrdom of a Christian Saint.
In the Gospel according to John, we read: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13) St. Valentine demonstrated this love when he laid down his life for his friends. This is the kind of love that Valentine's Day is really about.
For Christians, Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate the love of God. That love was shown to us in the life and death of Our Lord and the life and death of martyrs like St. Valentine. This is a love with a depth of commitment that goes deeper than any other love in that it surpasses even the desire to survive. It is the love of a God willing to suffer so that his creatures could know salvation. It is the love of a man willing to risk death so that others can know eternal life.
As you can now see, there is a big difference between our modern Valentine's Day and it's Christian origins. Both are celebrations of love, but they show us the difference between the world's understanding of love and the Christian understanding of love. For the world, love can mean a lot of different things. It can refer to the deep communion experienced by a couple who have been married 50 years. Or "love" may simply refer to sex. More often than not it refers to romantic love, the feeling between a man and a woman. Too often it is nothing more than an over glorified puppy love. � When the world says, "I am in Love," they mean your knees are weak and your throat is dry and you are attracted to someone. � This "love" is often devoid of commitment and depth. � "Love" by the world's definition can be as flimsy and insubstantial as a cheap Valentine's Card.
But the Church's definition of love is quite different. /// For the Christian the ultimate example of that love is Jesus Christ. He is the living example of God's love. He came to this world so that the lost and lonely people of the world could experience the Kingdom of God.
The world's standard for love is a warm gushy feeling. The world's love can be characterized as a flimsy cardboard card, but God's love is best exemplified by the thick bloodstained boards of the cross. God's standard for love is the ultimate act of giving one's life for the one that is loved.
This is a level of love that far surpasses the kind of love the world offers. The world's love is often self-serving and self centered. Its purpose is to serve the lover not the one loved. When it fails to serve the lover then the object of that love is abandoned. Therefore, the first expression of this higher standard of love is a limitless commitment to God. Too often, we reduce our commitment to God to only those times when it is convenient to us.
You and I can easily say that we love God, but does it show in our commitment to him?
Do we say that we will never turn our backs on him because our love is so great, but then fail to do His Will because it does not suit us?
My beloved, We have to show our commitment always, and consistently. We must stand ready to act according to His Divine will in our lives, the ultimate test of our love for Him, demonstrated by our commitment.
There is no doubt that St. Valentine never set aside his commitment - when he faced persecution, when he faced imprisonment, or even when he faced certain death � this great martyr acted firmly in accordance with his commitment to God.
The second and equally important expression of our love for God is found in our commitment to one another. In 1 John we read: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:12) We cannot reach out and touch God, but we can reach out to each other, and commit to give of ourselves to our neighbors as Our Lord commanded.
No one can deny that Mother Teresa was a paramount role model for unselfish love and commitment to her fellow man. In her talk at the February 1994 National Prayer Breakfast, she spoke the following words: "I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me."
Think about what she is saying here � to be willing to give until it hurts. Are we capable of this level of love? As we grow closer to Christ, we recognize that He most certainly gave until it hurt � it hurt Him to love us so much.
Consider how this can be applied to our lives and to the work that we do for the Church.
� Looking at the world from this perspective can possibly change everything. Instead of looking for our own personal gain, we see only the needs of our family, our neighbor or co-worker. Instead of always wanting to be "first" and "in charge", we see the value in taking the role of the servant. � In other words, we find that we are willing to sacrifice our own interest for those of others because we love them and love God so much. We are willing, as Mother Teresa said, to "give until it hurts.
Beloved in Christ, as you work for the glory of God � in everything that you do � make this the standard of your commitment. Whether it is in how you relate to your families, at your work, in your relationships at your parish, or in the work you do in your organization
Make your love for God and each other the single motivation in how you relate to everyone you come in contact with.
We must always remember that the love that we Christians experience and share is obviously different from what the world knows. We may give flowers, candy and cards just like the world, but those tokens are expressions of a deeper love. They are expressions of love that is measured by the standard of God's love.
In addition to giving gifts, here are a few other ways you can celebrate Valentine�s day this year:
As Christians, this Valentine Day must me a time to re-commit our lives to the Lord: God is love and the source of true love. God loved us enough to die for us and St. Valentine loved God enough to die for God's Truth. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than to commit or recommit our lives to Christ.
This Valentine Day must make us strong enough to Stand up for the truth and proclaim the Gospel of God's love: Sometimes it is dangerous to stand up against injustice, hatred, and prejudice. Sometimes it is difficult to oppose the world's view of things to proclaim the truth of God's Love. But that is what St. Valentine did.
This Valentine Day be a reminder to all of us that we must Die to self for the sake of another: � Many priests ask couples when they are preparing for marriage whether or not they would be willing to lay down their life for the their spouse. I have been told that without exception, these couples have expressed that they would be willing to die for the other. Not once have they failed or even hesitated to say, "Yes!" In a clear-cut case of life or death many would die for the ones they love. But in our day to day lives few are presented with a life or death situation. On the other hand, every day we presented with opportunities to die to self. In other words to sacrifice our wants for the wants of another. Try it this Valentine's Day. Sacrifice what you want for what your loved ones want.
My friends, Our love never completely measures up to the greatness of God's love. But with God's help we can grow in that direction and strive toward that ideal. Our Lord said, "This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you." He also said that he has called and appointed us to bear fruit. That fruit is the love that we, with God's help, share with one another. � Christ's love for us is the example that we should look to in all our relationships. It should define how we love our spouses, our children, our parents and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
"Be my Valentine." We all want to hear that phrase today. It simply means "you are loved." I am here to tell you that you are loved. God loves you and wants you to be his Valentine.
The love that God gives us is not like the world's love. It is not a flimsy cheap imitation. It is the real thing. It is an all-giving love that was and is willing to suffer and die for our deliverance.
Will you be God's Valentine? It is your choice. Let's say yes and return in kind the love that God first gave us. And when we do, let's remember the first Valentine and the way he gave everything, including his life, to the God he loved.
Last edited by Jedi_Knight; 02/13/1311:38 PM. Reason: From Bishop Demitri of the Orthodox Church
Proverbs 5:15-20 (KJV) 15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. 20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?
King Solomon having given his sons advice against falling into immoral traps now leads them to thoughts of holy marriage. He gave them thought that they should marry and quench lustful desires. They were to take delight in their wives for this would be their choice and a blessing given by God. Solomon spoke in poetic terms about the love they should have for their wives seeing them beautiful and having a desire for them alone. His sons should be pleased to rest their heads upon the bosom of their wives while avoiding the same with strangers. These were the loving words of a father to his sons about the love they should have for their wives.
In his book The Obedience Option, David Hegg illustrates what he calls "overwhelming faith." Hegg was talking to a young man who claimed that he couldn't stop his pattern of sleeping with different women. The young man knew it was wrong, but he also claimed that his sexual lust was inevitable. Therefore, it wasn't his fault, especially since God had created him with such strong desires and urges. Finally, Hegg interrupted the young man and said, "Suppose that I came into your room and caught you and your girlfriend as you were just starting this 'inevitable' process." Suppose I took out ten one-hundred-dollar bills, and told you that they were yours if you [stopped]. What would you do?"
When the young man quickly said that he'd rather have the cash, Hegg asked, "So what happened to the irresistible force of lust?"
We both realized a very simple truth: one passion may seem irresistible until a greater passion comes along �. If we take this principle into the arena of righteous living, it comes out like this: the only way to overcome a passion for sin is with an overwhelming passion for righteousness. This overwhelming passion for righteousness is actually a mindset that the Bible calls faith. Here is a helpful definition of this kind of overwhelming faith: Faith is a life-dominating conviction that all God has for me through obedience is better by far than anything Satan can offer me through selfishness and sin. David Hegg, The Obedience Option (Christian Focus, 2011), pp. 27-28;
Matthew 19:13-15 (NASB) 13 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, �Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.� 15 After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.
We have here the welcome which Jesus gave to some little children that were brought to Him. These parents had great faith in Jesus to show up and request His blessing upon their children; for while some believed in Christ there were also those opposed to Him. The disciples meant well trying to protect Jesus from the gathering crowds, but Jesus always reached out to those reaching out for Him. Jesus tells The Disciples, �Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.� The children were yet to form opinions of the world but gladly they had parents who wanted to start their lives by knowing The Christ.
There is a song by John Michael Montgomery called The Little Girl. It�s a story of a little girl born to very dysfunctional parents. Her mother did drugs and her father drank all night. They didn�t know God, nor did they give the little girl the opportunity to learn. And like many children this little girl would sit and watch TV and give her parents kisses and hugs out of love for them even if parents couldn�t fully return their love for her. One night the dad drank too much � he shot his wife and then took his own life leaving the little girl alone. Social workers came and put the little girl into foster care.
From that point we pick up with these lyrics, �And some people from the city took the girl far away to a new mom and a new dad -- kisses and hugs every day. Her first day of Sunday school the teacher walked in and a small little girl stared at a picture of Him [Jesus]. She said I know that man up there on that cross I don't know His name But I know He got off cause He was there in my old house and held me close to His side as I hid there behind our couch the night that my parents died.
This is a touching song illustrating the love Jesus has for us and especially children. The Lord leaves our children in our hands to take care of them, to watch out after them and to nurture them. I believe when we are unable to do so Jesus himself comes to our children and cares for them when others can�t.
This song touches my heart because my dad was an abusive alcoholic who shot at my mother and several times in a drunken rage tried to kill her. Fortunately my mother had the wits to leave. I�m blessed to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Jesus has been there many times in my life to help see me safely through. All praise be given to The Lord.
If you would like to listen to John Michael Montgomermy�s song The Little Girl it can be found on -- YouTube at or search for John Michael Montgomery The Little Girll
Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT) 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, �Look, God�s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.�
This is part of the revelation given to the Apostle John of things to come. These words show the presence of God with His people. This is the promise God gave that those who have placed their faith in The Lord will be present with Him in heaven. All the former troubles of this world have been removed. Tears that once came from sin are wiped away and to be found no more. All the causes of any future sorrow have also been wiped away; gone forever.
Every other week I donate platelets to the Red Cross. I started donating faithfully after I got a call from the Red Cross asking if I knew why they said they desperately needed my blood. They then stated that my blood was absent of CMV antibodies. CMV stands for cytomegalovirus and is a virus present in about 80% of the population. The effects of CMV are rarely seen in normal, healthy people and so it is rarely mentioned by doctors. However the virus can cause devastating effects, including death for those with weak immune systems. The Red Cross then told me they needed my blood for those immune compromised patients and that my blood had already saved 27 lives.
Donating blood platelets requires the use of an apheresis machine. The apheresis process is able to extract blood from the body and then separates the platelets, plasma and red cells. The machine they are currently using requires a needle in each arm - one arm to extract the blood and the other arm to return the red blood cells. The process for me takes just over an hour and during that time the arms have to remain motionless.
During the apheresis process when I gave this past weekend my eyes started watering. It was a miserable feeling as tears slowly made their way down my face and I was helpless to do anything. Finally I asked one of the workers if they would wipe away my tears for me and they did. The torture I was feeling immediately was gone and I could relax without thinking about those few slow dripping tears.
It made me realize something about the verses above. When God wipes away our tears He is providing comfort to a painful experience we never have to face again. Our sins will be removed and our life will be filled with joy. I also thought about how Jesus gave His blood for us that we could live. My blood has saved 27 lived, but the blood of Jesus has saved countless lives that will live an eternity in heaven. Let us all give thanks to God for the comfort and love He provides. Let us also praise Jesus who gave of His blood that we would live forever.
Romans 13:9-10 (NLT) 9 For the commandments say, �You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.� These�and other such commandments�are summed up in this one commandment: �Love your neighbor as yourself.� 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God�s law.
If love is true and sincere, it will fulfill the commandments given by God. Our duty to others and ourselves can be summed up in one word � LOVE. It is a short and sweet word that shows harmony with others and self; mercies to put aside fault; and grace to forgive. Loving and being loved is all the pleasure, joy, and happiness of an intelligent being. God�s love for us is imprinted on our souls that we may love others as God loves us.
Tim Winton is Australia's most celebrated novelist today. Author of more than a dozen bestselling books and winner of numerous literary prizes, Winton resides on the coast of Western Australia, where he lives with his family. Winton was interviewed on the popular ABC television show Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. At one point, the conversation turned to Winton's well-known Christian faith.
"I want to talk about faith," said Denton. "When you were, I think, about five, a stranger came into your family and affected your family quite profoundly. Is that right?"
Tim Winton went on to tell Denton how his father, a policeman, had been in a terrible accident in the mid-1960s, knocked off his motorcycle by a drunk driver. After weeks in a coma he was allowed home. Winton said he remembers thinking, "He was like an earlier version of my father, a sort of augmented version of my father. He was sort of recognizable, but not really my dad, you know? Everything was busted up, and they put him in the chair, and, you know, 'Here's your dad.' And I was horrified."
Winton's father was a big man, and Mrs. Winton had great difficulty bathing him each day. There was nothing that Tim, five-years-old at the time, could do to help. News of the family's situation got out into the local community, and shortly afterward, Winton recalls, his mother got a knock at the door. "Oh, g'day. My name's Len," said a stranger to Mrs. Winton. "I heard your hubby's a bit [ill]. Anything I can do?"
Len Thomas was from the local church, Winton explained. This man had heard about the family's difficulties and wanted to help. "He just showed up," continued Winton, "and he used to carry my dad from bed and put him in the bath, and he used to bathe him, which in the 1960s in [Australia] in the suburbs was not the sort of thing you saw every day."
According to Winton, this simple act of kindness from a single Christian had a powerful effect: "It really touched me in that ... watching a grown man bother, for nothing, to show up and wash a sick man--you know, it really affected me." This "strangely sacrificial act," as he described it, was the doorway into the Christian faith for the entire Winton family. [John Dickson, "The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission", (Zondervan, 2010), 97-98]
Imagine the impact if everyone served and loved others in the way Len Thomas did. Len had a great impact on the lives of the Winston family. Our love and service to others could impact and change lives too. Share your love with someone by helping in ways you know how to help and love.
1 John 14:18 (ESV) 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
These verses speak to two different kinds of fear. One fear is born in love and produces respect, reverence and recognition of authority. This kind of fear evokes a feeling of understanding. For if we love and fear God then we understand how we may have done wrong and out of love for God we are willing to make amends. I liken this to speaking out of turn in a courtroom and the judge asks you to refrain from an outburst. If you have love in your heart then hopefully you respect the judge enough to say, �Yes, Your Honor, I�m sorry and it won�t happen again.�
The other fear I want to mention evokes the emotion of being afraid. If we don�t understand God� love for us then we become afraid fearing God might punish us for our wrongs. When we are afraid we want to protect and strike back if necessary. We end up with dismal apprehensions of God. We do not see God as one who corrects and disciplines, but instead we see a God who punishes.
In love God gave His son Jesus to be among us. Through Jesus we are able to observe God�s intent for our lives. Jesus showed us that God is caring, healing, redemptive, reconciling, and most of all loving. Jesus came so that we might be restored to our full humanity without sin. If we love and understand God then we should see a God who is more interested in our well-being; who wants to bless us and not punish us; and who is inclined to raise us up instead of putting us down.
In the evenings I have been watching Dr. Drew on HLN with my wife as his show reports on the Jodi Arias trial. If you don�t know who Jodi Arias is � she was charged for the brutal murder of Travis Alexander who she called her boyfriend. Yet as my wife and I have watched this trial and listened to the experts on Dr. Drew HLN it becomes apparent this was a warped and volatile relationship. She says she was often in fear of being rejected, being abandoned, of being hurt. In other words she was afraid.
Remember what The Apostle John stated above. Perfect love casts out fear (being afraid). Obviously this relationship was not built on perfect love. It was a relationship that seems to have twisted the meaning of love. Even in testimony yesterday she still admits to loving the murdered man, but just not in the same way. Obviously she doesn�t understand the true meaning of love.
In Jeremiah 29:11 God plainly says, �For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.� God�s perfect love has good intentions towards us. There is no need to be afraid of God for God is perfect love and His intents for us are good.
We all need to remember what true love is and live our lives in that manner. If we are living correctly others may fear us, but they fear us in respect and not because they are afraid of whom we are.
Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) 37 Jesus replied, ��You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.� 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: �Love your neighbor as yourself.�
There were two religious groups during the time of Jesus, the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees had already tried to trap Jesus with a question, but Jesus managed to silence them with His answer. The Pharisees aware of what happened with the Sadducees plotted a question of their own. They said, �Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?� and Jesus gave the reply above. It was a hard answer to argue with; for to love God meant loving all about God, including God�s other commandments. Then Jesus gave another statement putting it in the category of a commandment, �Love your neighbor as yourself.�
Terry Muck, in a March 29, 2009 entry of Men of Integrity wrote � [A man who had no interest in spiritual matters related casually to the Christian who lived next door�they talked over the back fence, borrowed lawn mowers, stuff like that. Then the non-Christian's wife was stricken with cancer, and she died three months later. Here's part of a letter he wrote afterward:
I was in total despair. I went through the funeral preparations and the service like I was in a trance. After the service I went to the path along the river and walked all night. But I didn't walk alone. My neighbor�afraid for me, I guess�stayed with me all night. He didn't speak; he didn't even walk beside me. He just followed me. When the sun finally came up over the river, he came over and said, "Let's go get some breakfast." I go to church now. My neighbor's church. A religion that can produce the kind of caring and love my neighbor showed me is something I want to find out more about. I want to love and be loved like that for the rest of my life.]
We would be much better served to stop trying to impose rules and regulations on people, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees did and focusing instead on being compassionate, generous, loving people who touch the lives of others just as Christ touched lives.
1 John 4:9 (NIV) 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
God loves us. In spite of our rebellious nature towards God, God still loves us. In the commentary of Matthew Henry it says of this verse, �Strange that God should love impure, vain, vile, dust and ashes!� In other words we can be very unlovable people and yet God still loves us. God showed us how deep His love for us goes by sending His Son Jesus into the world that through Him - 1) we could live a peaceful and meaningful life here on earth and, 2) we could live an eternal life in heaven.
1 Corinthians 13 provides us with the attributes of genuine love - 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.
Don Francisco�s song, Love is Not a Feeling, reflects the feelings of an individual encountering a difficult time in life and marriage. The song then explains love is not a feeling but an act of your will. He gives proof to the statement by saying Jesus did not have to die on the cross, but did so out of love for us. Jesus expressed true love through an act of His will. Enjoy the lyrics below and focus on how they could apply to your life.
Love Is Not A Feeling by Don Francisco
So you say you can't take it The price is too high Your feelings have gone It seems your river's run dry
You never imagined It could turn out so rough You give and give and give And still it's never enough
Your emotions have vanished It once held a thrill The wonder of love Could be alive in you still
The ring on your finger Is put there to stay You'll never forget The words you promised that day
Jesus didn't die for you Because it was fun He hung there for love Because it had to be done
And in spite of the anguish His work was fulfilled Cause love is not a feelin' It's an act of your will Love is not a feelin' It's an act of your will
Now I wouldn't try to tell you That it's easy to stand Satan's throwin' everything That's at his command
But Jesus is faithful His promise is true And the things that He asks He gives the power to do
You know He didn't die for you Because it was fun He hung there for love Because it had to be done
And in spite of the anguish His work was fulfilled Cause love is not a feelin' It's an act of your will Love is not a feelin' It's an act of your will
Proverbs 27:5-6 (NKJV) 5 Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
These verses from Proverbs tell us it is good to be reproved and faults made known to us by friends. It takes courage to deal directly in matters that can be painful for one to hear. This is better than concealing matters of concern and keeping them to one�s self. When our faults are confronted in love it is a sign our friends are faithful to us in that they have not allow us to continue in harmful and sinful ways. Matthew Henry wrote, �The physician�s care is to cure the patient�s disease, not to please his palate.� In the final verse we also learn to be on guard against those who flatter us for their own regard and are focused only on what they can gain. A way to grasp this is to think of Judas, a disciple of Jesus, who betrayed Jesus with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver.
Pastor Gordon Macdonald wrote: In the earliest days of my ministry, I cultivated the habit of meeting with our board chairman every Monday morning to gain his perspective on how things were going. That's the good news. The bad news was that I apparently bridled whenever he told me unpleasant things � that he was either seeing or hearing about. One time when I may have sulked a bit, he leaned across the table and said, "Pastor, you have a trait that you're going to have to whip. It's over-sensitivity. We're not talking about you or how we feel about you; we're talking about your ministry and how we can make it better. Stop injecting your feelings into these discussions." Listen carefully to such a rebuke! Your whole future may be marching before your eyes. Suddenly, someone has put a finger on a character quality that stands between you and your dreams.
The loving wounds of a friend may be painful for a moment, but like a splinter removed the pain quickly ends so the healing can begin. Remember too that you are a friend to others. Are your words given to heal or to hurt? Weight carefully what is said to you and also weight carefully what you say to others.