Roses may be red and violets blue but Love is… NOT poetry
My Dad’s wedding gift to us was a simple assignment. Read 1 Corinthians 13. Of course we were both already familiar with this passage, and studied it together during our courtship.
I remember us attempting this whlist in the first days of our newlywed high – with the best intentions, it seemed like the easiest task. Piece. Of. Cake.
But, I can safely say three years later – actually being married takes the words of 1 Cor 13 from “nice ” to NECESSARY!
When I heard this scripture at weddings it sounded “nice”, I would day dream about having this love one day. But now within a marriage I’m learning…
Love is not poetry, though it can be inspiring, beautiful and poetic
Love isn’t a fuzzy feeling
Love usually isn’t getting ‘your way’ by any means
Love doesn’t do the bear minimum
Love goes above and beyond
Love isn’t fleeting and thrill seeking
Love isn’t always social media friendly or retweetable, or likeable
Love has no filter and no hiding place
Love doesn’t play games
Love doesn’t have a plan B
You can’t “fall out of love” because you didn’t “fall” in to it
Love is a choice
Love is usually not the popular choice, but the best choice.
God is Love
God is Love, and if you truly believe this as a Christian it will transform your approach to loving your spouse, a sibling, colleague or stranger.
As I encourage you to (re)visit 1 Corinthians 13 today, I ask – can YOU love like this?
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
I Corinthians 13:1-8 NKJV
I had big trust issues growing up. You would think this made me guarded, secretive, defensive. No. Instead I made myself vulnerable to everyone. I decided the best way to protect myself from disappointment, was to have no expectations of anyone. I recall my explanation to a friend – since I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone, I would make sure anything I disclosed to even my closest friends, I could disclose to a stranger, and I often did. I had no filter, I shared almost everything with anyone who had ears, and to no surprise I was taken advantage of.
A few days before the wedding, I spoke with a colleague at work. He had been receiving updates about the ‘big day’ during our lunch breaks, for the past few months. (He’s been married for 6 years!) He asked me “are you ready to make yourself vulnerable?”
Make myself vulnerable? His question sent thumps running to my heart straight away. I didn’t like the sound of that. Being vulnerable would mean allowing my flaws and faults to be exposed to the one person whose opinion matters most to me! I’ve just mastered the whole ‘guarding’ myself thing, and now I’m being asked to let down my guard? What, that can’t be right!
The beautiful thing is that like God with mankind; when we allow our imperfections to the surface, we can finally experience the fullness of love the other party is prepared to show us, flaws and all. This is also the first step to tackling those flaws.
Even just some days before our wedding day and God was still pointing out a major flaw to me, through my colleague. The scripture in 1 Corinthians 13 makes more sense now. I understood the being “patient” and not being “proud” part, however there are some things that love does in Corinthians that I didn’t understand.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.
In other words, love is vulnerable, has no secrets, is trusting, unguarded. Only then can 2 really become 1. Remember that God will invest so much in a person, with every possibility of that person rejecting His assignment and His love. Remember Eden, God crafted a perfect display of His complete love for mankind, and despite His caution, Adam and Eve still betrayed His trust. Or what about Jesus going to the cross, God made His only Son completely vulnerable and at the mercy of men set out to kill Him, why because He loves us.
You’ll never be more vulnerable to any human being than your spouse. If you’re not ready to be vulnerable with your future husband or wife, then you need to ask yourself what kind of marriage you want now or in the future. Not one based on fear, pride, lacking trust and divided – two individuals “doing life” together. I believe God has something more beautiful, sincere and more intimate in mind for marriage. It is the merging of two journeys, the binding together of two lives, the establishment of a single union before God and man. That’s why it’s so important for it to be the right person.
Marriage may not be a bed of roses, but with the right man, and the right woman you can cultivate you own unique garden that works for the two of you.
So, are you ready to make yourself vulnerable? Start first with Christ, it’s working for me…
Peace & Love
It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me.
Some of us have been to terrible, dark places in our lives – paths we blame ourselves for journeying; so that if any man or woman should choose to love us, deep within us we believe there lies our redemption.
“She can be loved”
His proposal tells the world “she can be loved”, and having her by his side makes him ”desirable”. Is it partly because, although we say Christ has redeemed us, we continue to hold ourselves guilty of our past? This is certain, you will never be able to pay for the life you lived, and there is nothing you can do to change your past. But His blood is more powerful, more than capable of helping you to recover from those mistakes and healing your traumas. His blood calls you a new creation. Even if you were the worst of sinners, there is no darkness, no failure, no history that the blood of Jesus cannot overcome and wash away.
“…bought at a much greater price”
Do you long desperately for ”Mister right’‘? Well contrary to the world’s fairytale there is no knight in shining armour who can save you, because the truth is – we all need saving. Maybe you’re already in a relationship? Do you love it when people talk about your relationship? Does it give you a confidence in your self-worth, which you dare not carry alone? The truth is, no relationship status, no ring can redeem you, because you were bought at a much greater price. Are you able to love and appreciate your worth, the unique value placed in you by God? Or are you still angry and still ashamed? I find I feel more confident since getting engaged, it’s like you carry a stamp on your left hand that says “you’re worth it” (like the L’Orèal ads). But the novelty will soon wear off and then what? Will you seek for the next thing to make you feel redeemed and cleared of your past?
Christ is before you asking you, “Woman where are thine accusers?” Think about the woman accused of adultery, even after the accusations ceased why did she remain there, stood before Jesus? Perhaps her greatest condemnation – the one that kept her where her accusers left her, was her own. What have you done wrong? How have you messed up? Whatever it is, I have news for you, you have been redeemed. You don’t have to justify God’s love towards you or His blessings in your life. There is no need to feel ashamed anymore, when the spotlight is on you. They don’t see who you used to be, they don’t see your past sins and struggles, they see God’s glory. They see YOU, redeemed and refined by Christ – because you are. Jesus took your shame to the cross, you have been redeemed and there is no catch, but believe that your redemption is in Christ.
Your redemption is not pegged on your relationship status. When it comes to the matters of your inner-self, your relationship status is irrelevant. Start addressing those memories that try to convince you that you haven’t changed. Read about Paul, he could have carried the shame and guilt of a notorious past, persecuting the church. He would have been justified to seek the approval of the people he was sent to share the Gospel with, but instead he allowed his identity and call in Christ to be the driving force of his life. You can too.
It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me. I was a wreck, and Christ saw me, broken, desperate and tired, and He carried me. Long before my Fiancé noticed me or even knew who I was, long before there was any proposal in sight, Christ began a work of redemption in me. So I encourage you today, to forgive yourself and forgive your past, and begin to learn about your redemption that is everlasting in Christ. As my Pastor often says – “your past is past”, and no man can, no man has redeemed you and no man will, but the living God.
May God help us to believe His unconditional love towards us, may He teach us step out of the shadows of our past and hand over every negative memory and guilt to Him, and may God teach us to truly love ourselves, in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love
It could be through a dream, conviction of the heart, a revelation.
When God speaks, something new is born – a vision, an assignment, a calling, an ambition. It changes the way we see all that is around us. Our priorities are often rearranged, we sing a new chorus in our hearts, and our minds are filled and fuelled by it.
“God said” starts more and more of our conversations, especially the ones we have within ourselves; as we try to defend the promise God has entrusted to us.
What should we do when God said, and nothing has happened… yet?
God said to Abraham, “Get out of thy country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing”
God said to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.”
The angel of the Lord said to Abraham and Sarah “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “shall I surely bare a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
It had been twenty-five years since the promise was first mentioned in the Bible; imagine how long Sarah had already been waiting before we hear of this promise. She had waited so long for this promise, that when she was told specific details of how long it would be, before she would have a child – her longing and her desire had overwhelmed her faith. Anticipation became anxiety, and waiting turned into worrying. Perhaps secretly within her, Sarah had loosen her grip and let go of the promise. Because having the type of faith that has no bearings by the world’s standards, the type of faith that exceeds mere “optimism” or “positivity”, may have been too difficult for her.
If you could utter words of encouragement to Sarah, in the midst of her waiting, knowing what you know about Isaac and Israel, what would you say?
I would tell her that the possibility of her not having a son was impossible. I would make her aware that a lineage specially chosen by God, was dependant on her having her son. I would assure her that God had plans, hundreds of years in the future, that rested upon her receiving her promise.
So, what has God said concerning you? What has been revealed to you? Is it in line with the character and nature of God? If God has confirmed it as His Word, then it must come to pass. Don’t let go of it, prepare yourself – it will come.
May God pour out over us the grace to trust in Him and wait upon Him in Jesus name amen
Peace & Love
Even as a Christian, don’t make the mistake of believing that your acknowledgment of God is the end of the journey.
The journey has only just begun.
You are no longer the same, in fact you will spend the rest of your life being changed forever.
You are created with such intricacy, such specific detail – nothing in this world can ever fill the void – this world alone is insufficient for you.
There are things hidden within you that only God knows about.
There are joys and rays of peace you strive for, and God has kept them in a secret and lovely place.
There is no one person without a destiny in Christ; as wretched as you may think you are, or think the next person is. God carefully designed this unique vessel, this God-inspired creation, for His own joy of loving us and the incomparable, indescribable joy of being loved by the Father.
So I encourage you today, to return to that secret place, the place that God called Jacob back to, so many times. The place where God first met with you.
Don’t ever be too busy for God, He is your sustenance – without Him, you will run out of steam. Sunday isn’t enough, everyday you must desire to rekindle that special love between you and the Father – spending time with Him in your own special way.
And if you don’t know Him, He has been waiting to know you all of your life.
Wanting to know God, is enough to begin the journey.
Pray this prayer with me: Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner. And I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your son, Jesus, died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Saviour. In Jesus’ name, amen.
BEING SINGLE IS BEING RICH
Personal Growth – Wisdom
Richard met Grace one frosty winter morning. Grace was also frosty. The cold weather had clearly worn at her patience, and the wait for the bus to the train station made her all the more intolerant. But a small warmth gathered in the bottom of Richard’s stomach – in this bitter cold, he was beginning to break into a sweat. He felt he had to speak to the girl at the bus stop. Richard wasn’t the type to approach strangers, especially when there was no clear purpose or desired consequence for his endeavour. He was normally a very grounded and sensible person.
Everything about this was unlike Richard, and yet he had to speak to her. It was a most painful experience for Richard, when he made the effort to start a conversation with Grace that cold morning. There were definitely no fire works, not even a single spark in the 20 to 30 seconds the conversation survived, before the bus arrived and severed Richard’s effort. Yet still, the possibility of a friendship had been sown, a small seed impressioned in fertile soil. In the Spring of that year, as colour returned to the trees and the air outside became rich with hope and fertility – Grace made the effort to speak to the boy at the bus stop. Their story continues.
One day, Grace is sitting in the cafe opposite her work place, when she receives a phone call from Richard. He is fuming. When Grace asks what the issue is, Richard isn’t very clear, and becomes agitated by his own inability to explain himself. He raises his voice in frustration, and eventually manages to offend the one person he had hoped would encourage him.
What should Grace do?
Richard and Grace have been courting now for 11 months and Grace didn’t take offence lightly. In a moment of anger she remembered how she had dismissed Richard when he first tried to approach her. Part of her felt insulted, that this same person, was now at liberty to speak to her in such a manner. But before she could press the send button to a highly heated rebuke, she had composed at the height of her offence, within herself she heard a voice, telling her to reconsider.
Calm down. Will this text message make things better for you? Will it make things better for Richard? Beyond your anger, you want the best for both of you, don’t you? Yes your pride is hurt, but can you sacrifice your pride for his peace – and yours?
In the bible Wisdom is referred to as a most precious jewel.
15 Skillful and Godly Wisdom is more precious than rubies; and nothing you can wish for is to be compared to her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand are riches and honour.
17 Her ways are highways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold on her; and happy (blessed, fortunate, to be envied) is everyone who holds her fast.
Wisdom can mean the difference between a passing disagreement and ongoing strife. Wisdom can appease the brunt of a hurtful remark. And if there is to be any hope for two individuals pursuing a lifetime together, then wisdom must be ever exercised and learned by these individuals. Mother and child, husband and wife, friends and even work colleagues. Wisdom can rarely be crafted by man, because man’s wisdom only buries offence, hides the truth, manipulates. Man’s wisdom is for his own gain – he is at the centre of his own wisdom. But Godly-wisdom bares the fruits of peace and fellowship, healing, progress, understanding, humility, submission, forgiveness and love. Godly wisdom is selfless.
Whilst we are single, we are in the prime season to learn selflessness. If you don’t make the effort to learn selflessness whilst you’re single, then you might take selfishness with you into marriage and other relationships. Having to learn selflessness, whilst confronting the joys and challenges presented in marriage, only makes it twice as hard. Let’s strive to apply wisdom at work – in our relationship with our friends. There are a few great teachers in life, one is our family. Who grate on us and yet still we love them. Who offended us the night before, and yet the following day we greet with a “good morning”. Let’s seek to practice Godly wisdom, when we see the signs of an argument brewing between siblings, or we want to offer correction, or receive correction.
It won’t happen overnight, but actively seeking God’s wisdom can help in preventing a lot of hurt feelings and bitterness, and avert disunity.
Because marriage is a constant journey of coming together –
two becoming one, not growing apart.
An hour or so later, after cooling off, Richard will call Grace back and apologise, and explain what happened. Grace will forgive him and encourage him. Later that evening, Grace may decide to tell Richard how the way he spoke to her made her feel, and Richard might take this correction on board. So that if ever again, Richard feels like he did on this particular occasion, he’ll be mindful of his behaviour towards the girl he loves. And their story will continue.
I pray God will continue to teach us how to journey in Him, and walk in His wisdom, that it might be well with us and our loved ones continually in Jesus name amen.
Stay tuned for the next post on being Single and Rich!
Peace & Love
Rightly so, as children of God we desire to look like our heavenly Father. All too often I understand the frustration when we fall short.
As one of three children, I remember how jealous I became when a family friend visited and said my sister resembled my Mum more than I did. She was clearly mistaken. The competition was never-ending between my Sister and I, to resemble our parents.
“You have your Dad’s eyes”, they would say. “You are a carbon-copy of your Mum!”
They were so passionate and sure of their observations. They enjoyed making the comparison and I enjoyed being reminded of my roots, where I came from.
Identity is a complex thing.
Whilst reading daily devotionals about what it means to be Set Apart – to be Holy, I recognised my strong desire to be like my heavenly Father and God’s even stronger desire, expressed in His word, for us to be like Him.
As the devotional revealed to me:
The more time I spend with my Father, the more I seek Him – to learn Christ, to know Christ – the more I will look like Christ. The fruit of the Spirit of God can be borne in my behaviour, my character, my lifestyle and the condition of my heart. My journey in Christ isn’t hopeless.
It amuses us when we see the resemblance developing between a married couple. They may have the same mannerisms or finish each other’s sentences. The similarities that become apparent between two good friends – two peas in a pod – so that one might be mistaken for the other. Likewise, a growing relationship with God is the avenue to looking more like Him.
Being Set Apart may not be easy, and yes it is a daily exercise and a continued goal, passing days, passing months, years and decades.
But how delightful it is to look like my Father,
A display of His splendor,
To be refined by His manifested love for me,
Created in His image, formed in His likeness.
The more we spend time with God, the more we are conformed to the image of Christ, the more we can be Holy and Set Apart like Christ.
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
My prayer is that Lord, Your love for us will not allow us to weary of seeking You and spending time with You. Teach us to delight in You Lord, so that we will look more and more like our Lord and personal Saviour Christ Jesus. So that we will be conformed to the image of Christ, just like You intended in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love