How’s Your Love Life?

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39, NKJV)

 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Corinthians 13:13)

As you can probably tell from the verses, I’m not talking about romantic love. With that established, let’s talk about the kind of love it is talking about. You’ve read in many other posts how we describe agape love. This is the kind of love that stands the test of time because it is love that seeks out the best for someone else. According to Alyssa Roat,  co-author of the book, Dear Hero, “it refers to a pure, willful, sacrificial love that intentionally desires another’s highest good.”

So, my question was, “How is your love life?” You may be scratching your head at this point, not sure what to say, or you may be declaring that it’s fine. Well, there is a way to determine how you measure up in that department.

Taking a look at 1 Corinthians 13, we can see that there are sixteen traits of love. After reading these, see how close you are to this standard. I believe I could confidently say that most of us will fall short. Here are the sixteen, according to the Christian Standard Bible verses 4-7)


  1. Is patient (it never gives up)
  2. Is kind (cares more for others than for self)
  3. Does not envy (doesn’t want what it doesn’t have)
  4. Is not boastful (doesn’t strut)
  5. Is not arrogant (doesn’t have a swelled head)
  6. Is not rude (doesn’t force itself on others)
  7. Is not self-seeking (isn’t always “Me first”)
  8. Is not irritable (doesn’t fly off the handle)
  9. Does not keep a record of wrongs (doesn’t keep score of the sin of others)
  10. Finds no joy in unrighteousness (doesn’t revel when others grovel)
  11. Rejoices in the truth (takes pleasure in the flowering of truth)
  12. Bears all things (puts up with anything)
  13. Believes all things (always looks for the best)
  14. Hopes all things (trusts God always)
  15. Endures all things
  16. Never ends (keeps going) [Parenthesis from the Message Bible]

Aren’t you glad you don’t have to live the kind of life God requires of us by yourself? I am. Looking at all these characteristics of love could easily make me feel defeated if I thought I had to muster up the strength to accomplish them on my own. I’ve heard this statement a lot over my many years of walking with God, “Lord, I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Indeed, we don’t know what we’d do without Him. The good news, though, is that we are not without Him and never will be.

When I assess my behavior towards others, especially my husband, I find that I fall short too many times of God’s ideal of love.  And when I recognize the shortcoming, I always go back to 1 Corinthians 13 to remind myself how I am supposed to be loving them. I always have to ask myself things like, “Did I share that truth in a kind manner? Was I being too sensitive and, therefore, expressing my irritation? Was I being too impatient to listen to their whole side of the story?” You get the picture. God expects us to be imitators of Him, but, again, He doesn’t expect us to do it all on our own. So, how’s your love life? If you find that you’ve fallen short, no condemnation here. Simply do the work that needs to be done to bring correction to yourself. First Corinthians 11:31 tells us that “if we judge ourselves, we will not be judged”. We all have work to do, so let’s

Never Alone

For He Himself (God) has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b NKJV)

You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139:5-6 NKJV)

In the times in which we live today that seemingly confront us with challenges and opportunities of every possible category, the promise given by God in Hebrews 13:5 is both comforting and reassuring. To know that Jesus promised, in Matthew 28:20, to be with His disciples always even until the end of the age is confidence building for those who love God and believe He loves them.  Our strength in every situation is to focus on God’s commitment to us to be ever-present and available to us. The more we can concentrate on His promises and devotion to our success in following Christ, the more we can experience the peace, joy, grace, mercy, and love of God. To put this simply or to summarize this thought is to say that God has our backs in every situation of life.   

In Psalms 139:5-6 quoted above, the Psalmist was expressing his belief that God had hedged him in.  The hedge indicates being surrounded, protected, or limited.  Some might even say that he was boxed in.  That’s a place of security. The Psalmist was making this declaration with excitement knowing that the God of the universe was concerned enough about him that He had surrounded and was committed to protecting him.  He goes on to say that the Lord had laid His hand on him allowing for a personal relationship to be developed.  This whole concept and reality of God “having his back” was knowledge too wonderful to fully grasp or comprehend.

I think many today have the same feelings or inability to fully comprehend the level and extent of God’s love and protection for His people.  I believe that when we are able to experience the depth of God’s commitment to us, then we are empowered to share and exercise confidence and security with others.  When we understand what God has done for us through His love, we want to share it.  I want to encourage you to share this knowledge and exhilaration with your spouse and family each day. 

We sometimes are quick to say to one another that we have each other’s back, but can they really feel our hand on their back providing support?  The Psalmist had been through some experiences that made him know that God was present and He cared.  In our marriages, we must make every effort to convey our love and support for each other.  This becomes an assignment and opportunity to express the sense and reality of being committed to the success of our spouse. We can define that success as only being achieved when both of you are pleased and satisfied that your mate is surrounded by your love.  There is no greater feeling of love, security, and contentment than knowing God has your back, but the second best is being secure and assured enough to help your mate experience the commitment of knowing you also have their back, come what may.

Make a commitment to study and get to know God well enough that you have the assurance of Him having your back. In other words, you have the confidence that God is saying to you, “I will protect you. I am here for you. I will defend you. I will support you. I will look after you. I’ll watch over you. I will stand by you”. And then commit to the daily expression and exercise of that same love received from God to your mate and family.   

The Unknown Impact

The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20b, MSG)

Some time ago, we watched a movie, called “The Miracle of the Bells”. I still remember it because it affected me in a surprising way. The story centers around a young woman named Olga who felt destined to play the role of Joan of Arc in a film that was about to be produced. She became terminally ill in the process but refused to slow down until production was finished. As she succumbed to the disease, and finally lay on her death bed, she made this comment, “I did what I was supposed to do.” The result of her death, the release of the movie, and a publicity stunt by her agent/boyfriend all culminated in the people of her town rediscovering their faith in God. The local church that was barely attended by anyone was now filled to capacity Sunday after Sunday.

Olga did what she was supposed to do! She risked her life for the making of that movie, but the eternal impact was powerful. She risked her life but saved countless others. She knew what she was supposed to do, yet she had no idea what the result would be.

Sometimes we feel compelled to accomplish certain tasks for God, and we don’t know why. I’ve realized that we don’t have to know; we just have to be obedient. We have been placed on this earth to make a difference, and we may never know, in this life, what impact our lives have on the plan of God in the lives of others. It does not even have to be something we do out of compulsion but simply a desire to live by God’s Word.

It’s like understanding the concept of the ripple effect. The ripple effect is based on the understanding that we are all connected. The choices we make have far-reaching consequences. Each of us carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. I like this quote by Mother Theresa: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”

Our lives are being monitored by those around us. Knowing that should instill a desire in us to be more mindful of how we live. What kind of example are we setting for others to follow? Will what we do draw others to Christ or repel them? What kind of eternal effect will our lives have? Even the smallest decisions can have a great influence on someone else’s life.

When we are in Christ and truly embrace that our lives are no longer our own, our desire to impact the world for Him will increase. Our desire to obey His Word in all things will be amplified, and we will make an eternal difference in our jobs, our communities, and our homes.

Whatever You Do 0r Say

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:17, NLT)

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:14,16, NLT)

Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:10, NLT)

When I think about the goodness of God and the salvation and redemption provided through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, I am overwhelmed with love for Him.  This love motivates me to action and movement or to what some would call service, work, or living for God.  God has made believers as light to a world that is in darkness.  We have been purposed to light up the darkness of the world.  Our good works stream from us to conquer the surrounding world’s absence of light with its ignorance and sinfulness that separate it from God.  The main purpose of our existence is to experience the love of God, and reflect and share its light with mankind around us.

The most exciting aspect of being light-bearers is that we know it is God’s power working in and through us.  We receive true joy in knowing that God’s life flows into us, through us, and out from us to those around us. Each one of us is uniquely made by God and our lives reflect His glory in unique ways as we imitate the life of Christ.  It is so important, as believers, to spend time with God to determine our individual purposes and function as reflectors of His love and bearers of His image.  The fruit that we display should be identifiable as the fruit and character of Christ and, yet, we are allowed to have our unique God-given personality be expressed. 

 When Colossians 3:17 talks about representing the Lord in everything we say and do, we must realize that we are supported and enabled by the Spirit of God working within us.  The more fruit of good works we manifest, the more we learn and experience the goodness and devotion of God directed to us.  It becomes more evident, as we learn more about God’s love for us, that we are never alone if we depend on His indwelling presence.  Let’s decide to accept God’s assignment to be representing lights of good deeds and character that shine in a world of darkness.   

Remember always that it is God’s character working from within you that is observed by the world and not something generated by you.  Be a light bearer.       

At the Cost of My Sanity?

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires (Psalms 37:4, NLT)

Some friends of ours had a few projects they wanted to accomplish; and while discussing them, the wife had much bigger plans than her husband felt able to accommodate due to cost and scope. He gave it all much thought, fretting over it when he finally made this statement to her, “Sweetheart, you know that I want to please you and give you what you want, but should it be at the cost of my sanity?”

In any healthy marriage relationship, each spouse tries to meet the needs of the other. It’s important, however, to keep our needs reasonable and not allow them to become oppressive. Love helps keep us in check. I use to tell people, all the time, that, if I wanted the moon and he could afford it, my husband would try his best to get it for me. Of course, because I love him, I would never request such a ridiculous thing.

What kinds of things are we asking our mates to do? What “needs” do we impose on them that could be construed as unreasonable? Ladies, are we asking our husbands to keep us in a particular lifestyle that the family budget can’t afford? Gentlemen, are you asking your wives to “bring home the bacon” and also “fry it up in the pan”? In other words, are you asking her to work a full-time job and still keep the home clean and in order by herself?

It’s important to distinguish between wants and genuine needs. Everyone’s needs are different, so I can’t specifically define that distinction for you. You have to do that, together, as a couple. One of the special things that happens in a healthy relationship is – because you are both working toward meeting each other’s needs – you will both work towards also trying to provide for some of the wants. Our verse above tells us that as we delight ourselves in God, He gives us the desires of our hearts. I believe, also, that it works that way in a marriage. As we delight in meeting the needs of our mates, they will seek out the desires we have and try to fulfill them.

The best protection of each other’s sanity is by fulfilling the command in Matthew 7:12 from the Message version: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” A simple yet powerful truth to live by.

If we are not diligent about living out God’s Word, we can easily become conformed to our old nature and become very selfish. When one gets married, the whole idea of seeking out your own needs is supposed to vanish because you are now seeking out your partner’s needs. There are, of course, needs in our lives that only God can fulfill like happiness, contentment, and joy, but things like a comfortable, peaceful home, financial security, and the like are things we can give each other without too much stress and strain. However, having unrealistic expectations of each other can destroy a marriage. And we must always remember that what we are not getting from our mate, God is there to make up the difference if we’re willing to call on Him for support and comfort.

Think On These Things

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4: 4-8 NLT)

As we go through life these days, we find ourselves seemingly, constantly confronted with either news of evil conduct or personal experiences that provoke anger, fear, or just disbelief.  It has become harder and harder to find instances of kindness and thoughts that generate peace of mind or heart.  If you are like me, as I view the evening news or read today’s news article on the Internet, it becomes more challenging each day to maintain joy, and peace of heart and mind.  Sooner than later I am reminded of Psalms 119:165 which says, Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble(NLT).  That is when I turn to God’s Word and find instructions such as those quoted above in Philippians 4.

God has promised us peace of mind and heart but has also asked us to do something in response to His commitment to us.  I find myself wandering off into the weeds of life most often when I take my attention or focus from God’s instructions and promised presence.  It is only when I forget to rejoice or have joy in the salvation that was provided through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that joy is misplaced. The Scriptures encourage believers to not be anxious and to pray or communicate to God about everything.  The implication is that there is no need to worry if we run to God instead of away from Him.

Only through rejoicing in the relationship that is ours with God, can we move on to His next instruction to not worry.  When we realize that God has already solved our greatest problem of the forgiveness of our sins are we able to perceive that any and everything else pales in comparison to God’s restoration of mankind to fellowship and family.  This realization will allow you to experience God’s presence and peace.  The peace provided by our relationship of love, through Jesus, will guard our hearts and minds against the attack of Satan who desires to steal from, kill, and destroy mankind.

Finally, we are instructed to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.  You may say that these things are many times very difficult to find in our environment.  I believe that rejoicing in the Lord and being ever aware of God’s promised presence makes this task possible and probable.  By focusing on what God has, is, and will do for us, in us, and through us, we can and will experience His peace. Isaiah 26: 3-4 says, You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

Rejoice in the Lord; do not worry. Pray and trust God to be faithful to His Word.

Lessons From Children’s Letters to God

So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. (Genesis 6:12-14, NKJV)

In my last blog post, I shared a few excerpts from a book I’ve had for years and enjoy the laughter it provides. The book is called, Children’s Letters to God, compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall. Aside from the humor, these letters hold some interesting lessons if God were to answer some of the questions posed.

One child asked, “In Sunday School, they told us what you. Who does it when you’re on vacation?” The answer: “…the one who watches over you will not slumber. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever (Psalm 121:3b; 8)” So, if God doesn’t need sleep, He doesn’t get tired. Therefore, He has no need to take a vacation. Aren’t you glad! I remember the movie, Bruce Almighty, where God decides to take a vacation and leaves the main character, Bruce, in charge. He was overwhelmed by the responsibility and realized the only one who can do God’s job is God, Himself. He’s omnipresent, so He can be everywhere at once; He’s omniscient, so He knows everything, and He’s omnipotent, so He is all-powerful. That’s why we can trust Him with our everything. God is there to help us in our times of need, and He has the power to do something about it.

Little Eddie wrote, “God: the bad people laghed (the child’s spelling) at Noah – you make an ark on dry land you fool. But he was smart he stuck with you. That’s what I would do.” How often do we ignore God’s warnings and admonishments from His Word? The Bible tells us in St. John 3:16, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (NLT).” In this day and age, we are told that being a Christian makes you weak, that it is outdated, and that there are many paths to God. That whole “many paths to God” thing is the one that gets me. It doesn’t make sense to me, logically. Why would God allow His Son to be tortured and nailed to a cross as one of the “many” options to be with Him? It’s like someone has imagined God saying, “I allowed my Son to be crucified so that you can have eternal life; but if that choice doesn’t work for you, I’ve other methods that you might feel better about. So, go ahead and choose something that’s a better fit for you. I just want you to be comfortable.” What nonsense! Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father, but by Me (John 14:6, NKJV).” I’m with Eddie. I will stick with God’s word instead of doing my own thing.

When I reflect on how long Noah waited for God to fulfill His word regarding the flood, I wonder how long I would have stuck it out. It wasn’t like God gave Noah his instructions and in a couple of months, everything was ready to go. No! It was well over a hundred years later. If we’re honest, most of us would have lost faith and given up. But God remained faithful to what He had spoken. Would that we will be as faithful and trust our God. Nehemiah 23:19 clearly tells us that, God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent. Hath He said, and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? (NKJV) There was a popular saying among Believers several years that stated, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” That’s where I stand. How about you?

The Price of Oneness

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 ESV)

When God instituted marriage for mankind, He said that it would require the leaving of father and mother and the holding fast of the man and woman to each other.  The leaving here speaks of establishing a higher priority for the marriage over your parents or any other distraction. This leaving of parents and holding fast between husband and wife would result in them becoming one flesh. The Hebrew word translated as one means to become united or, in some instances, the same.  I believe that God created marriage to be a blessing to mankind that would allow humanity to serve Him better together through marriage than apart.

In following the instruction of holding fast, I do not believe that God wanted us to lose our identity to our spouses but to share in our common desire to glorify God through our lives of services.  Holding fast involves deep and sincere communication that requires open and honest heart sharing. In working together, spouses would come to understand that their identity is defined by dependence and relationship with God and not by dependence on their mates.  God is asking spouses to be interdependent on each other but not independent of or dependent on each other to the diminishing or exclusion of God.

In order to hold fast to one another, we cannot be independent but are called on to work together to accomplish directives with guidance provided by God for our lives.  Our dependence and success are based solely on God as the source of true peace, joy, salvation, and fulfillment.  God’s ideal of oneness involves our interdependence or mutual dependence on each other in our pursuit of a Christ-centered life of oneness. We need God to live, but we also need each other’s help to do our best to stand in faith and obedience to God.

The price of oneness is to spend time becoming intimate with God and discover your assignment for life.  Then to also spend time learning about your spouse’s life purpose and sharing both your assignments with each other.  Dare to believe that God has, and will, utilize your maturing oneness to help accomplish both your life’s goals. Intimacy with your spouse requires time and discipline to share your heart, triumphs, hurts, fears, dreams, and all that is you.  Set aside this time and define your path together through deep and growing communication to experience God’s gift of oneness in marriage.  

The Gift of Laughter

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength (Proverbs 17:22, NLT)

Laughter is truly a gift from our Heavenly Father. And it’s actually medicinal. According to Hara Estroff Marano, in his article in Psychology Today, “In addition to the domino effect of joy and amusement, laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress.”

I have a book that I purchased decades ago called, Children’s Letters to God, compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall. Whenever I need a good laugh, I will pick up that little book as it describes some of the amusing letters children have written to God. Here’s an example: “God did you mean for giraffes to look like that, or was it an accident?” Another favorite is, “Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.” One more, “Dear God, if you give me a lamp like Alladin (the child’s spelling), I will give you anything you want except my money or my chess set.”

Laughter is such an important component in the lives of married folk. Some of the most intimate moments shared between couples, other than sexually, are when you can laugh at each other’s silly jokes or anecdotes. Have you ever begun an argument that ended in laughter? It dispelled all the anger and hurt feelings. It’s a remarkable thing.

The Good News Translation of the above verse says, “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time.” A marriage that is full of gloom is dying a slow death. When the only thing you can focus on is problems, the strength of your earlier relationship is slowly fading away. It may be necessary to do a reboot, and that’s not an easy thing to do if you’ve developed bad habits throughout your relationship.

So, how do you reboot? Well, first of all, someone has to be the bigger person and decide to address it. Perhaps you, the reader of this post, should be the one. You will want to start by asking God to give you the wisdom for the right timing. Once that has been established, simply let your mate know that you would like to chat about how you both can help your love for each other blossom anew by finding some new joy in your relationship. Explain that you need to laugh more, then suggest that you both brainstorm ways you can do that. Then, of course, pray together for God’s guidance. It won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be worth it if you can rediscover each other.

If you have had very serious issues in the marriage beyond just gloominess, counseling is probably needed. But for the relationship that has simply gone a bit stale, a reboot is all that’s needed. Establishing or re-establishing a date night is so important. It is during those set-aside times that you can see each other again and re-ignite the passion you once had for each other.

Nehemiah 8:10c reminds us that, “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Keeping joy in the midst of your marriage helps make it strong.

Be Persistent

When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25 (NLT)

Many times, in life, we face resistance or opposition to our plans and pursuits.  We find this to be the way of life where we must learn to sail, not only with favorable winds but also against opposing winds to reach the desired destination.  Our marriage relationships are a part of life that sometimes seems to be overrun with opportunities for conflict and disagreement, but I want to encourage you to be persistent in your pursuit of harmony.

The scripture above speaks of townspeople who had brought their request to Jesus, desiring that He heal their blind friend.  Imagine the boldness and high expectation of the community to see a miracle performed, not to mention the blind man’s own anticipation.  Jesus, being the representative of His Father God’s love and desire to meet humanity’s needs, agreed to minister to the man.  Sometimes, in our lives, we find that everything does not come out exactly as we aspired after the first encounter.  Here Jesus ministers to the blind man and then asked him how he saw.  The man responded that his eyesight was better than before but still not all that was expected.  Have you ever had an experience like this in your life, and what did you do?

In the story, we find that Jesus laid His hands on the man again with the result that now the once blind man’s eyes were completely restored.  Many of us give up on the relational situations in our marriages after having confronted them once or maybe numerous times.  But when you believe that God hears and is willing to assist and minister healing to your personal situation, you will be willing to address the issue again, remembering always to wait on God’s best to ultimately be delivered.  In this instance, the persistence in prayer was rewarded with full restoration and affirmation of God’s true intention.

We must be committed and persistent in our belief in God’s determination to be a promise-keeping, faithful deliverer of those who stand or wait in faith.  Don’t be discouraged when your first or third approach to God’s plan for your life meets resistance.  Persist in the pursuit of God’s plan of marital harmony and satisfaction.  Understand that it is God’s plan that will produce the greatest blessing and life satisfaction. Remember what Psalms 37:5 says, “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you” (NLT).