Archive for the ‘Relationships/Love’ Category

When approaching the topic of the Gospel, my first thought was that this subject has been talked about extensively enough that I had nothing to add to the ongoing discussion. I felt every aspect of it had been covered. Then, upon further reflection, I was seized by the realization that I had, in fact, the opposite problem: I couldn’t narrow down what to talk about! The more I thought about the Gospel and its impact on my life and the world, the more I realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ permeates everything. So much for feeling I had nothing to talk about. I could write an entire book!

But for the sake of time and space, I will focus on how a recent revelation of the Gospel directly affected my view of Christ, His sacrifice, and my daily life. Having been in church all my life, I could easily quote back that the Gospel means “good news,” specifically that Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we could go to heaven, and if we accept Christ into our hearts, we will be with Him in heaven one day. At age seven, I accepted Christ after understanding the basics of the Gospel and trusting Him for my salvation. I had been saved from my sins, but at seven, I didn’t fully grasp the all-encompassing breadth of salvation and the Gospel (which is OK, because Christ asks us to have child-like faith). Sadly, after nearly two decades of being a Christian, the Gospel had become a textbook answer and not a personal encounter/revelation.

This summer I read a book on grace that reignited my joy in Christ and His sacrifice for me. (I highly recommend it. It’s One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian.) Surprisingly, I had to be prodded and cajoled by my parents to read the book. They even bought it for me. (Sometimes I get burned out on “Christian” books and feel I could better spend my time in personal Bible study rather than reading another human’s opinions, but that’s another blog topic.) But once I read the book, I truly did see my salvation and Christ’s unconditional gift in a different light. As the title suggests, the book is all about Christ’s love and grace towards us being all we need. Let me rephrase that: Because of Christ’s redeeming love, we do not need to do anything else. It’s done. Complete. Finalized. All we need to do is accept it in humble repentance.

The good news doesn’t stop with salvation. (“Hooray! I’ve got my ticket into Heaven and I’m set now.” NO!) Salvation is only the beginning of truly living. Because of the cross, I do not have to do anything for Christ to make Him want or love me any more or less than He already does, because I did not have any hand in my redemption. He paid for it, He covered it, He said “it is finished.” And because of that, I can live joyfully. Tchividjian points out that because of Christ’s unconditional love, we are free to be nobodies and do absolute nothing because He is the Somebody who did Everything. (Not that we want or should be passive Christians, but we could without condemnation.) We are free from guilt in doing things for God because they don’t affect our eternal position with Him. His Son covered it.

This all gave me great personal relief. I am a fairly Type A, planning, organized, people-pleaser kind of personality. I feel that there is always something more I should do or could do, and I hate feeling like I’ve upset someone. But Christ did it ALL for me. I am free to be a nobody who does nothing with her life. But, because I have the weight of performance lifted from me, I am inspired to do good and live holy because Christ is not keeping score.

The perfectionist in me rejoices. Often, when I have a big project, I avoid it like the plague for as long as possible because it feels insurmountable and I don’t think I can do it well. Eventually, I cave and finish it. But Christ tackled my big project of life. He fulfilled my requirements so that I’ve passed with flying colors. I’ve already passed the class of life without having finished it here on Earth because of Him. Therefore, I’m living free of expectations of myself and what is “good enough.” Christ is more than good enough. And because of that, I can live and love for Him in total abandon. Because nothing I do ultimately matters in my salvation, I’m free to truly live. I don’t have to be fearful or anxious that I’m not doing enough for God. God doesn’t condemn me. Christ’s blood covers me, allowing me to live life abundantly. We aren’t just safe from eternal damnation, but we are also free from condemnation in this life now. Isn’t that the BEST news?

PS: A quote for further pondering from Relient K: The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.

Living in grace,
Larkin

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(I came across this post I’d written quite a few months ago, and decided it was perfect in light of starting off the New Year. What better time to take a spiritual inventory?)
Yep, how fruity are you? Are you displaying spiritual fruits, fruits of the Spirit? Here’s different categories of godly fruitiness:

Paul, in Galatians 5, made a distinction between fruity behavior and not so fruity behavior:

“19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Good fruit: love, joy peace, forbearance (patient endurance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

Bad fruit (rotten tomatoes): sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies

I was reflecting on this passage last night after I received some disappointing news. God has chosen to close 2 doors I was sure I could easily walk through. No, or not now, He had said. In the wake of my disappointment, a whole slew of negative attitudes and perspectives came to the surface, and I realized they were not fruity, but more like rotten tomatoes. I was seeing impatience, self-focus, jealousy, and an impure heart. I was full of pride, bitterness, and I felt like I was in the right to feel that way. It was time to take a spiritual inventory.

So that night, I pulled out the Scriptures and read Galatians 5:22. As a believer, I should be living out my life full of all this good, heavenly fruit, but my my heart did not have love, joy, peace, patience, or feelings of kindness. I was in love with my ideas for my future, with myself, and not with God and others. I was discontent and restless, not sitting in joyful peace, which God gives us despite our circumstances. I felt angsty towards others, towards myself, towards God’s plans. I was not in control (as always) and I didn’t like it. I didn’t agree with what God was doing. I don’t like not having the answers. But then I realized, having love, joy, peace, etc. in my day to day life would make me a happier person, and no one was keeping me from this fruity life but me.

Therefore, I have decided to use this “waiting” time that I did not expect, this area in which I could be moping in disappointment, to see other areas of branching out. To love on others, to practice patience, to cast my idols of my own dreams and demands before God and re-evaluate my priorities.

Are you living a fruity life?

Savoring God’s fruit,
Larkin

Don’t Be an Island

Posted: September 27, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Relationships/Love
Tags: , ,

One perk (of many) with my new smart phone is the awesome Bible app I downloaded. It makes it super easy to read the Bible conveniently and on the go. Generally, when I don’t have a set plan for my Bible reading, I’ll read the Proverb that corresponds with the day of the month. So, I had my phone reading Proverbs 18 out-loud to me, and verse 1 grabbed me: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Hmph, I thought. I’ve never heard this verse, or at least this verse put quite this way. Turns out, I was reading the ESV translation, which I rarely do. I switched to the NIV version, my default, and it had this to say: “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.” Is it just me, or do these verses seem to emphasize different things? The second clause agrees, that it goes against sound judgment. But the first part of the ESV states clearly isolation is not good and goes against the desires of God, for man “seeks his own desire” in being a hermit. The NIV uses the word “unfriendly.” Now I’m thinking of a mean and grouchy man when that word is used, perhaps a grouchy man that is selfish, naturally. That makes total sense. But the ESV version really made me reflect. If I isolate myself, I pursue my own selfish desires, and therefore, it is not good, for any emphasis on self detracts from God’s command to love Him and others.

I’ll admit. I espoused George Washington’s international policy of isolationism in my social life, summed up like this: meddling in others’ affairs or making yourself known or making a scene or being assertive was not for me. The books were safe and predictable. And so, I passed through high school with perfect grades, a few close friends, and no social life. And then college happened. SOCIAL LIFE! WOOHOOOO! It was like a drug. Where have you been all my life?! I do believe I went a little over the top my freshman year, always trying to be involved in all the dorm activities, always trying to get “that” boy’s attention (does he like me? do I like him?), finally living the “wild” (in a very clean way) life I never had. It was like I was on fire. I can’t say it was healthy, but, there is a balance. Man, should not isolate himself.

“No man is an island.” How many times have you heard that? Did you know it’s a quote from John Donne’s poem? Here’s the rest of it:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Donne points out that our lives are all intertwined. When one man passes, a part of someone else dies. A life touches another, ignites a soul, makes someone else come alive. It’s powerful.

You know what else is also powerful? The Trinity. God loves relationship, and He Himself is involved in the most loving, giving, and sacrificial relationship of all with the Son and the Holy Spirit, all three in perfect communion. In the beginning, He said, “Let us create…” Who is us? The Trinity. He created man and said it was not good for him to be alone, and once he had a companion and creation was completed after mankind, he said it was VERY good. Not just good.

I realized in this verse, that I am depriving others by isolating myself. Many times I have told myself and others that basically I’m doing myself a favor by not getting close to them. By not opening up my heart and who I really am. But in actuality, this is can be a cover up for my own selfish fears of being hurt. But, I am hurting other people if I do not interact with them. God commands us to love others through actions and words, to grieve with others, to confess our sins, to basically be transparent and forgiving and joyful in others’ successes.

What do I have to give? you may ask. YOURSELF. You’re one of a kind. Why would God make people so different if He didn’t take joy in that? If he didn’t find you and your individual identity important? Share a smile, kinds words, a hug. These are simple gestures that can mean so much. Once I risked deeper friendships, I learned to risk being vulnerable, and in return, people were vulnerable with me. Together, we could encourage one another in Christ. And we then had a deeper friendship. Sometimes you may feel like you’re the only one giving, but don’t grow weary of doing what’s right. God loved to the point of death. You, then, can love others past your comfort zone.

I didn’t understand true friendship til college. My parents loved me and cared and cried with me. But to have true friends is priceless. I remember when I went through a painful break-up I hid myself in my room, very distraught, and would not come out until my roommate came back. I wouldn’t talk to anyone else in the quad area we shared, I only wanted my roomie. When she came to the door, I greeted her like a blubbering leaking faucet as I garbled out the bad news. I went to hug her, then realized, she was crying! I was confused, and asked why she was crying. I don’t remember her exact words, but she let me sit on her lap and bawl my eyes out. I am so blessed to call her my friend. I didn’t need words then, or explanations or analysis of the scenario, just empathy. Her tears and comfort were more than enough.

Now that I’m out of college and married, I’ve grown to realize the great importance of anti-isolationism. My immediate family doesn’t live here. My husband is my family. My friends are my family. I am there for them, so that in turn, they are there for me. I’m always so grateful when a friend is willing to do a favor for me or when a friend truly wants to spend time with me because they honestly miss me. I love when one of my girl pals texts me and says “I miss you!” or “We need to catch up!” I love honest and open heart to heart conversations. By not having them all these years, I didn’t just hurt myself, but I deprived others of the joy and love God could have conveyed through me to them in their time of need.

Remember: Islands may seem lovely, but only if they’re vacation spots like Hawaii. Risk being vulnerable. Risk being yourself.

Learning to love,
Larkin

Simply put, high school can be rough. Not even considering the stress of Calculus, Chemistry, and ten-page essays, there still remains the constant drama of the high school social scene. I’m sure you don’t have to be reminded of the nasty back-stabbing, black-mailing, and straight up cruelty that goes on at school, on the weekends, and even on the internet. As a Christian young man or woman, though, you are called by your Creator and Savior to rise above this insanity. I encourage you, as Paul encouraged the Romans in his letter to them, to “not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Sometimes taking a stand for the Lord and not caving into the world can be tough, especially on a secular campus where you feel you’re the only one in a sea of many. I, too, remember feeling like I was coasting through high school, trying to do my best but never radically going against the flow.

But take heart; if you truly have embraced the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are more than equipped to combat the high school drama scene with His design for real relationships. The foundation for deep, meaningful relationships lies in no other source than Jesus Himself. Before you can nurture solid friendships, your friendship (and intimacy) with the Father must come first. He should be your everything, and as you seek Him, you will become more like Him. Take a look at Galatians 5: 19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, orgies, and the like…” Sounds a lot like high school, doesn’t it? But keep reading through verse 26: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentles and self-control… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.” By seeking after your Lord daily, and becoming closer with Him, you will develop these qualities and no longer be needy and selfish. And guess what? It’s when you’re at this point, that you are ready and equipped to be a real friend and experience radical relationships, God’s way.

So now that we’ve reviewed the worldly way of friendships, let’s take a look at what God’s Word has to say about true friendship. The writer of Ecclesiastes paints a picture of what friendship looks like: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who has no one to help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) God clearly has made relationships, and wants friendships to be a mutual source of encouragement. You should give as much or more than you take, in order to maintain and show God’s love in your friendships.

Sometimes, though, developing friendships can be difficult. How do you get started? Well, as a wise man once said, “You have to be a friend to have friends.” Paul lays out a beautiful guideline of what self-sacrificial love and friendship should look like for believers: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Now, this is much easier said than done, and seems simpler on paper. What this passage means is that when your friend works hard and aces that test, you rejoice with her instead of resorting to self-pity and envy, and when she hurts your feelings and genuinely asks for forgiveness, you give it to her instead of holding it against her.

Truly, relationships in the body of Christ can be filled with Christian love and unity when Jesus is the center. The psalmist in Psalms 133:1 declares, “How beautiful and pleasing it is when brothers live together in unity!” Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father about unity among believers: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23) It’s simply beautiful how this love triangle works, with Jesus, the Father, and believers. Jesus is one with the Father, and through His sacrifice has restored us to the Father, so that we too may be one with Him and have unity among fellow Christians. And, we have the His strength and pure love to share with non-believers. So next time you are overwhelmed with the chaos of relationships, remember that His love empowers you to have real, deeper relationships, the kind He designed His children to enjoy.

-Larkin

Love Never Fails

Posted: March 5, 2012 by liftyourvoice1 in Relationships/Love

I know this post should have been put up two weeks ago…but despite it’s lateness it fits very well with that discussion.

Recently I found my Brandon Heath CD. In it there is a song titled Love Never Fails. The song describes the attributes of love we discussed on the show. I thought it appropriate to share the lyrics and the song here.

Love Never Fails–Brandon Heath

Love is not proud
Love does not boast
Love after all
Matters the most

Love does not run
Love does not hide
Love does not keep
Locked inside

Love is the river that flows through
Love never fails you

Love will sustain
Love will provide
Love will not cease
At the end of time

Love will protect
Love always hopes
Love still believes
When you don’t

Love is the arms that are holding you
Love never fails you

When my heart won’t make a sound
When I can’t turn back around
When the sky is falling down
Nothing is greater than this
Greater than this

Love is right here
Love is alive
Love is the way
The truth the life

Love is the river than flows through
Love is the arms that are holding you
Love is the place you will fly to
Love never fails you

God’s Valentine

Posted: February 16, 2012 by andreacaresse in Relationships/Love
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week we celebrated Valentine’s Day, a day when many celebrate love and those special to them.  So often we think of Valentine’s Day as a day reserved for couples and “people in love.”   Some jokingly refer to it as Singles Awareness Day.   But did it ever occur to you that we are God’s valentines?  You may never have thought about it in that way before, but we are.

“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.”  John 3:16

“For Your faithful love is before my eyes, and I live by Your truth.”  Psalm 26:3

Jesus told his disciples, “for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”  John 16:27  Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,  your faithfulness to the skies.” Psalm 36:5

God our Father loved us and by his kindness gave us everlasting encouragement and good hope…”  1 Thess. 2:16a

And speaking about Jesus Christ, John writes, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood”

So what is love anyway?  “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends…”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

With a love like this, why is it that so many people try to find their source of happiness and peace in earthly relationships and not in their relationship with God?  Clearly His is the best love imaginable!   A love where we never have to worry about rejection, lies, cheating, envy, arguments, or arrogance.  This is Perfect Love.  A kind of love that’s impossible for fallen human beings to attain here on earth.  Yet so often in relationships today we place our value in the “other person.”   We find our source of life in that individual, and if something ever happens (and it will) to disrupt the relationship, our world turns to chaos.   We put our hope for a future in them, and not our Savior.  No wonder so many relationships end in tragedy today.  We enter the relationship hoping that the other fallen human being will satisfy our deepest heart’s desires, only to be let down by them (because we are all fallen), and we feel that they no longer satisfy our emptiness, so the relationship ends.  If only we would place our source of life on Who we are supposed to… Jesus Christ.

God desires to be our source of life.  He created all people with that inner desire for a deeply satisfying love that has no limits.  When we try to find another person to fit the bill, they will  always fall short.  No one can fill that God-sized whole in your heart.   People fail us.  God never will.  Period.

Maybe your reading this and you realize, “you know… I’m doing that with my relationships…”  If that’s you, let me tell you it’s never too late to have that soul-filling love you’ve been running after.  God is standing with arms wide open, waiting for you to run into His all-encompassing love.    Perhaps you’ve been a Christian for years, but never gave this over to God… He’s calling you to change, and look to Him as your strength.  But maybe you’ve never heard about Jesus; you’re wondering what this all means…  ask Him to fill your heart.  I would also love to talk with you, my email is below.

Always remember that you are God’s special valentine, created for a purpose, and loved beyond anything you can imagine.  Never let the world or society convince you otherwise.

Andrea MacBean –  listener and contributor
acmb.galatians220@gmail.com

relationships and love

Posted: February 12, 2012 by wisconsinsk8er in Relationships/Love

Well first off let me say hello to my Lift your voice friends again . and where to begin on Relationships & love well i have had a couple girlfriends and the most recent i was unequally yoked and it was tearing me apart and i mean don’t get me wrong she was nice and everything but there was nothing more than physical attraction and i was losing sight of God and his plan for me and i didn’t need that. it say’s in the Bible in Song of Songs what it means to be in love with another person and also it describes what it means to be in unity with one another and God has certain person in line for each and everyone of us if we would be patient and wait on the Lord like he asks us to but no we have to go be impatient fools yes i called all of us fools  99% of the time we rush off without God and “Jump off the deep end ” instead of waiting for God to get in the “pool” and ,Catch us we end up drowning in a sea of faces and just grab the closest one to ourselves and hope and pray that person is the one for us and when it ends up hurting us we scream and ask God to come save us and he does . You know why Cause he LOVES us yeah there is that 4 letter word again Dc Talk put it best when they said  love is a serious word . and Teens & Adults throw it around like it is nothing these days . The Messy Mondays guy put it best ” Like is The new Love ” and don’t Describe the things you like With the word you use to Describe You’re God  You’re Family You’re Siblings  and love it has no meaning any more Love is a verb it is not what you are it is something you actively do and feel 24/7 365 .  so before you go off and get a new Boyfriend or Girlfriend that is only gunna last 2 maybe 3 months STOP RIGHT THERE . And Pray about it   there is a quote out there and a movie also and it is “Fools Rush in ”  and i am making a new quote or possibly repeating it i am not 100% on it  . Fools Rush in But Wise men wait on the Lord ”  so be a wise person and Ask God first .