Living Love When We Disagree

Thank you Melissa Spoelstra for today’s message:

Living love when we disagree sounds good on paper, but it isn’t easy. We’re different—we have different personalities, preferences, and perspectives. And we can struggle to get along, especially when we don’t see eye to eye. In the course of a day, we can find ourselves disagreeing or debating with family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers on social media about everything from food choices and parenting styles to politics and religion. Often we find ourselves divided—even as Christians. How can we work out our differences with humility and grace, always showing the love of Christ, while still remaining true to what we believe?

So who has been irritating you the most lately? Keep that person in the back of your mind and we’ll come back to them in a minute. Paul urged the church in Corinth to “be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). He essentially called them to live love – even when they disagreed. Chapter 13, known as the love chapter, wasn’t included to be a nice poem for weddings. Instead, it was written to urge Christians living in a pagan and diverse culture to approach one another with the love of Christ. God’s Word calls us to do the same.

Regrettably, we often exercise the opposite of that kind of love, choosing instead to keep a record of wrongs or make rude comments—whether in person or on social media. Jesus prayed that we would experience unity as his body. “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

In His prayer, Jesus asked that His followers would be as united as He and the Father are! We can never demonstrate this supernatural love and kindness with those who disagree with us apart from Jesus. Paul acknowledged this truth, mentioning the name of Jesus eight times in the first nine verses of his letter! He knew that we desperately need Christ at the center of our personal lives, including our interactions with others. Our unity comes only through Christ and His love.

Here are some of the main questions the concept of living love has brought up for me:

How can we?

  • Deal with our differences in a loving way without compromising our convictions
  • Achieve harmony while maintaining our diversity
  • Consider the ways that the surrounding culture impacts our beliefs
  • Agree to disagree on matters of preference and opinion
  • Humbly listen to others with views different than our own
  • Embrace ambiguity in some areas, acknowledging that our view is often partial and incomplete
  • Demonstrate to all that love is the greatest thing, which never fails

How have you worked through some of these issues? Have you noticed that sometimes Christians can behave unlovingly towards one another, especially online?

Now let’s bring it a little closer to home. So who was that person that came to your mind when I asked who has been irritating you lately? Think about that person right now. How is God calling you to live His love toward them today? We can’t do it without Jesus at the center of our lives can we? Know that I am praying that every person who reads this post would have supernatural power to live love in their midst of their disagreements!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Love Lives Here

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message…

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid  ~ John 14:26-28, NIV

For years, home was not my happy place. There were tense words, loud conversations, lots of noise, and a whole bunch of chaos. I remember thinking, “When these kids grow up…When my husband is nicer…When we have more money…things will calm down.”

But peace isn’t determined by our circumstances; it’s determined by the way we respond with God’s help to those circumstances. God sent His Son so we could experience peace, not just in the quiet of life, but also when chaos hits.

If you are approaching your home with dread at the end of the day, perhaps your place needs a peace makeover, like mine did. Here are a few things you can be intentional about when it comes to creating a peace-filled home:

Speak Words that Build Peace

So much of what determines our level of peace is the choice of words we use in our home. Are we speaking words of respect and kindness? Are we lifting up the people we live with? How can you build into the lives of those you love with an “I love you!” and “I’m proud of you!” A “You make me happy!” and “I forgive you”?

And it is not just the words we speak, it is the words we allow into our home. Carefully consider TV programs, music, and especially sites you visit on the internet. All of those words that come into your home can promote or tear down peace within your four walls.

Create a Home that Promotes Peace

One of the main biblical definitions of peace when translated from the Greek includes “to be complete or whole” or “to live well.” A home that promotes peace is one where healthy food is served, clutter is controlled, systems are in place and people are cared for. These may feel like the everyday acts of a woman just keeping her home running, but really, they are the hundreds of small decisions we can make every day to promote peace and live whole lives in our homes:

  • Create meal plans for healthy eating.
  • Put things away when we are done using them.
  • Balance our bank account.
  • Pay our bills.
  • Invite others over to share a meal.
  • Serve our neighbors when there is a crisis.
  • Tend to a garden.

Be a Woman Who Promotes Peace

When someone insults me online, on the phone, or even in the line at the grocery store, I need to commit deliberate, defiant acts of peace toward that person. Those acts of peace can be, depending on the situation and the person, quick forgiveness, kind words to quench the hurt, or praying for them instead of responding. Peace is not powerlessness but refusing to give someone else the power over your response.

As you drive home tonight, think about what feeling you have as you approach your front door. Is it relief that you are finally home and have a soft place to land, or do you hesitate because inside your house carries the same amount of chaos as the rest of the world?

If peace doesn’t meet you at the door, make the decision to be someone who doggedly pursues peace in your home starting today.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The All-In Mom

Thank you Arlene Pellicane for today’s message.  I know today’s is Father’s Day but this touched my heart and I wanted to share.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also ~ 2 Timothy 1:5, NIV

When my daughter Noelle was three, she would exclaim “I LOVE blueberries!” or “I LOVE tortellini!” Now at 11, she LOVES penguins. She draws penguins, buys penguins, has penguin themed birthday parties, and dreams of penguins. It’s obvious by looking in her room or backpack that she really is crazy about that flightless black and white bird.

In the same way I can spot Noelle’s zeal for penguins, I wonder if she can tell I love Jesus. Can she see from my life that I’m an all-in mom for Jesus? Does she know I’m not just a casual fan of Jesus; I’m a die-hard follower? I believe these questions matter because a mom has incredible influence over the faith of her children.

Consider Timothy in the Bible. Our verse today reveals that Timothy’s faith first lived in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What a wonderful gift those ladies gave – a vibrant faith passed down from generation to generation. Those women shaped Timothy’s spiritual life and he became the protégé of the Apostle Paul who called Timothy his “beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2).

In Acts 16:1, we are told more about Timothy’s family upbringing. His mother was Jewish and a believer but his father was an unbelieving Greek. Even though Eunice didn’t share Christian faith with her husband, she was able to witness to her son about Jesus. Her transformed life must have made quite an impact on young Timothy.

Lois and Eunice were all-in moms. It reminded me of this illustration I saw at children’s church. If you put just a few drops of food coloring into a gallon of water, slowly but surely that dye works its way through all the water. There’s not a pocket of water that can remain unchanged. In the same way, following Jesus should penetrate and impact every area of life.

We are surrounded by little disciples who are watching us. Whether you have a toddler at your heels or a teen hiding out in the bedroom, they are observing you. Your children are checking to see if what you say matches what you do and who you are. By the way, you don’t have to be a mother to influence the lives of children. As an aunt, friend, Sunday school teacher, or coach, you can make a huge difference in the faith of a child.

Are you letting Jesus into every area of your life? Is the Holy Spirit free to move wherever He wants, transforming you daily by the renewing of your mind? There is a warning to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV), “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

It’s time to be all-in for Jesus. Your children and others in your life are watching to see if your faith is genuine. May others know through our lives that indeed, we do LOVE Jesus!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Be Enough, When It Feels Like All Eyes are On You

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

One evening, while on a getaway with my husband, Steve and I splurged at a fancy restaurant, complete with a four-man band playing music from the ’40s and ’50s. We had taken a few ballroom dance lessons, and Steve was itching to see if we could remember the foxtrot.

“Come on, Sharon,” he urged. “Let’s take a spin on the dance floor.”

“No way,” I said. “Nobody else is dancing.

I’m not going to be the only one out there with everyone staring at me. And suppose we mess up? I’d be embarrassed. It’s been a long time since we’ve practiced, and I don’t remember all the steps. Let’s wait until some other people are out there so we won’t be so conspicuous.”

After a few moments, the first couple took their place on the parquet. They squared their shoulders, pointed their toes, and framed their arms. In one fluid motion they graced the dance floor with perfect dips, sways, turns, and twirls. They looked good, and they knew it.

Nope. I was not going to embarrass myself. I hunkered down in my seat with renewed resolve. I was stuck there. I refused to budge. Then couple number two joined couple number one. Their steps weren’t quite so perfect, but they looked pretty good too.

“Okay, I’ll go,” I said. “But let’s get in the back corner behind that big ficus tree so nobody can see us.”

Off we went to try to remember the slow-slow-quick-quick of the foxtrot. The whole time I was hoping all eyes were still mesmerized on the polished artistry of couple number one.

As I dared look at the crowd, I noticed they weren’t looking at couple number one, number two, or even wobbly kneed number three. All eyes were fixed on a fourth couple approaching the dance floor. The husband was in a wheelchair. He was a middle-aged, slightly balding, large-framed man with a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard.

His dapper attire included a crisp white shirt, a snappy bow tie, and a stylish tuxedo. On his left hand he wore a white glove—I guessed to cover a skin disease. With a smiling wife by his side, the couple approached the dance floor with a graceful confidence and fashionable flair.

Suddenly everyone else faded away, and they seemed to be the only two people in the room.

As the band churned out a peppy tune, the blithesome wife held her love’s healthy right hand and danced. He never rose from the wheelchair that had become his legs, but they didn’t seem to care. They came together and separated like expert dancers. He spun her around as she stooped low to conform to her husband’s seated position.

Lovingly, like a little fairy child, she danced around his chair while her laughter became the fifth instrument in the musical ensemble. Even though his feet never left their metal resting place, his shoulders swayed in perfect time and his eyes danced with hers.

My heart was so moved by this love story unfolding before my eyes that I had to turn my head and bury my face on Steve’s chest so no one would see the tears streaming down my cheeks. As I did, I saw person after person dabbing linen napkins to dewy eyes.

This portrait of love and devotion transfixed even the band members, now misty-eyed as well. Finally, the music slowed to a romantic melody. The wife pulled up a chair beside her husband’s wheelchair, but facing in the opposite direction. They held each other in a dancer’s embrace, closed their eyes, and swayed back and forth, cheek to cheek.

Surprisingly, I no longer worried about whether anyone was watching me.

I didn’t care if my steps weren’t perfect. I wasn’t even concerned about being compared to and falling short of perfect couple number one.

The Lord spoke to my heart in a powerful way. Sharon, I want you to notice who moved this crowd to tears, He seemed to say. Was it couple number one, with their perfect steps? Or was it the last couple that had no steps at all? No, My child, it was the display of love, not perfection, that moved the crowd. If you obey Me, if you do what I have called you to do, then I will do for you what that man’s wife did for him.

As Paul said, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God isn’t looking for perfect people with perfect children, perfect marriages, and perfect lives. He is not searching for men and women with perfect steps to do great things for Him.

He is looking for courageous believers who will rely on His power to work in and through them to accomplish all He has planned for them to do.He is scouting for followers who will obey Him regardless of their present fears or past failures.

He is looking for men and women who know they are good enough because of His power working in them and through them.

Simply put, God had sent a lame man to teach me how to dance.

God chooses to do extraordinary work through ordinary people who will bring glory to His name.

Men and women who know they are not good enough in their own strength but are incredibly powerful in God’s strength slay the giants of this world.

Today, I’m thinking that’s you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

You Can’t Out Give God!