Tag: love

By Sarah Callen

Have you ever been gripped by a Bible passage and unable to move on from it? It’s the one that you reread over and over again and find new meaning in every time. It’s a passage your brain tells you to move on from but your heart is unwavering, certain there’s still more gold to mine. Recently Ephesians 4 has gripped me – I’ve been stuck there for a couple of weeks and I don’t see myself moving on from it any time soon.

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV)

I’ve always loved the part of verse 1 that says “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you’ve been called”. What an amazing exhortation! As I’ve been reading and studying these verses over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that I’ve just been scratching the surface on what this verse actually means.

The word “calling” can mean a lot of different things to different people and I had been reading it as your vocation or your purpose or your life mission. If you are called to be a Fortune 500 CEO, start walking in a manner worthy of that calling now or if your dream is to be a stay at home mom, start loving others well now, etc. But that’s not what this verse is talking about, the calling to which we as Christians have been called is so much bigger. We’ve been called children of God and Paul is encouraging us to act like it.

The good news is that he doesn’t just leave us high and dry, but lays out a manual for us. In just a few verses he takes us through “Acting Like a Child of God 101”. Here are, according to Paul, the things people with our calling are supposed to display:

Humility

Gentleness

Patience

Bearing with one another in love

Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

That is quite the list!

Imagine for a moment what the world might look like if we did even one of those things consistently! How would my family change if I approached them with more gentleness? How would my job change if I chose to bear with others in love even if I disagree with them? How might my community change if I created opportunities to experience unity? How would the church change if we were more humble every day?

I encourage you to grab out your Bible and a journal for the next part – let’s take some time for reflection.

Ask yourself the following questions for all 5 of these words or phrases:

What does ______________ mean?

For example, to me, “bearing with one another in love” means that love needs to be the foundation of everything I do. Without love I am unable to do life with others well. Without love, bearing with one another means doing it with gritted teeth and because of obligation. Love is a necessity.

What does ______________ look like?

For example, to me, “humility” looks like knowing who you are. It means having a correct view of yourself and your station – not thinking more or less of yourself. Pride is not humility. Self-deprecation is not humility. It’s the delicate balance intricately linked with your identity.

Now the fun begins:

Which of these is the easiest for you? Why?

Which of these is the hardest for you? Why?

Recently, I’ve been thinking audacious thoughts and ideas. These seem to be a little out there, a little grandiose, but I’m at a place in my life where I’m becoming okay with voicing them.

What if we each committed to intentionally incorporating one of these characteristics in our lives? Now, this doesn’t mean that we’ll be perfect – we’re going to fail, but we can choose to pick ourselves up and continue to grow.

I wonder how the world around us could change if we were intentional to love more, be more patient, be gentler, be humble in all situations, and look for opportunities for unity in the Spirit. I think that if we open ourselves up to walking in a manner worthy of our calling as precious daughters of the King and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, the world around us could look very different in even a short period of time. I’m willing to give this a try, are you?

 

Sarah currently lives in Dallas, Texas and dreams of founding businesses, giving strategically, and sharing art with the world.
Some of her favorites include: coffee shops, rainy days, a well crafted sentence, and a beautiful work of art. 
Some dislikes include: having her photo taken and driving in traffic. 
Her life motto is: Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.
Please visit her website at sarahjcallen.com. 

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:
In all things the greatest of these is love.
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.

 

 By Dr. Deb Waterbury

I was having lunch with a beautiful young lady the other day, and we were commiserating on our individual inabilities to remember birthdays and holidays.  She was telling me of a funny time when her mother had broken a cherished bowl.  She found a replacement at the street fair one day in late October and determined herself then that she would buy the bowl and give it to her mother for Christmas.  She forgot, decided to give it to her for Mother’s Day, forgot, and subsequently gave it to her mother for Christmas the next year.  The problem was that she had placed a note in the gift wrapped box that was dated the year before her mother actually got it!  Caught red-handed!

I do that sort of thing all of the time, as I’m sure many of you do too.  I buy things or cards and put them away with full intentions of giving them to a special someone for their birthday or a holiday, only to not just forget where I put the gift or card, but to often forget the special day altogether!  I forget dates, occasions, calls–you name it, and I’ve forgotten it.  My young friend and I laughed together as we named ourselves “Time Capsule Friends”–that is, friends who give gifts late or make calls late so that we serve as a sort of “time capsule event” for the one getting them.  We excused our lack of memory as a sort of service instead.Time capsule

Of course our conversation was all in good fun, but I came face to face with the reality of my behavior while having coffee with another dear friend shortly afterward.

Understand that I am a busy woman.  We all are!  Kids, work, the house, our spouses, our church:  Women are more often than not overworked and over-extended in most areas of their lives. Consequently, my friends and co-workers in ministry are generally very gracious with me when I don’t return calls or occasionally re-schedule or even cancel coffee dates or lunch.  Sweetly they will say, “It’s okay, Deb.  I know you’re busy.”  And I am, just as you are and they are and we all are.  However, is that always a good excuse?  Do we allow our undeniably busy lives to interfere with ministering to one another as friends and loved ones?  Is a busy life an excuse to selfishly ignore the needs of others?

As I alluded to, I had coffee shortly after my lunch with another dear friend.  We had talked for a while, and I noticed that she was stammering a little, obviously trying to figure out how to tell me what was really on her mind.  Suddenly and without warning, she began to weep right there in the coffee shop.

“I’m sorry, Deb, but I need to see you sometimes.  I need time with you, not often, but occasionally.”

I stopped short.  You see, this is not the first time I’ve heard this, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this recently.  I get so caught up in my work for the Lord that I had begun to forget the work of the Lord.  I write and minister and speak and counsel, and often I think this is the bulk of what I should be doing.  Unfortunately, I sometimes also ignore that all of those things are absolutely nothing without relationship, without love and friendship and really ministering into one another’s lives.

Jesus, the one person in all of  eternity who truly had an excuse to maybe cancel a few coffees and lunches, never did so.  Right after teaching the Sermon on the Mount, He didn’t hesitate to heal the leper or go to the centurion’s house to heal his servant or to heal Peter’s mom or hundreds of others.  He was busy.  He was about the Lord’s work, but our Savior knew that this work was accomplished in relationship and giving time to individuals.

What excuse have you given for not meeting with a friend or a woman who needs you?  Is it your children or your grandchildren or your job or even your ministry?  Sisters, please don’t do what I’ve done and think that it’s somehow a service or even adorably quaint to be a “Time Capsule Friend.”  It isn’t. God has called us to pour into one another’s lives and live in the love exemplified for us by our Savior.

Needless to say, I’ve made a few long overdue calls lately and paid a few long overdue visits.  My work can wait. After all, it’s really meaningless if in it I am not showing the love of Jesus to the people around me.

Do you need to pick up the phone?

By: Dr. Deb Waterbury

Easter. Let’s put all those controversies aside about whether or not we should hunt eggs or have a bunny or whatever else people want to argue about and talk about how lonely those hunts can be.  The kiddos might be hunting wildly for those multi-colored eggs, but look around when that’s happening. What you will invariably see are men and women standing alone or even in little bunches, smiling as if they are enjoying the afternoon, but what they are really doing is wishing that someone…anyone…would notice how utterly miserable they truly are. Of course, some are having fun, but some absolutely are not. The kicker is that pretty much no one notices whether they are or not, and they certainly aren’t telling.

Why is that?

It’s kind of funny that we live in such a streamlined society where everybody is connected to everybody, and yet for the most part, we are utterly and completely alone.  Even conversations at tables in restaurants these days are neglected in favor of checking your Facebook status or email or texts or Twitter.  I’ve sat and watched two people sit together for dinner and never even look at one another, their attentions fully given to whatever handheld device they own at the time.  It’s never been more hazardous than now to walk down the street for fear of any number of passersby running right into you because they’re looking down at their phone instead of where they are walking.

This plague, though commonplace in mainstream society, has unfortunately permeated our Christian lives, as well.  Some of us may live in extremely populated areas, but for some reason we feel nothing but loneliness and isolation from those around us who share the most amazing gift of all time—Jesus!

I have often traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, this time of year so that I can speak at Easter conferences, and I am always overwhelmed with the words so many of the women there speak to me.  Had they not been speaking Shona, the native language of most of Zimbabwe, the words they were saying would have been exactly the same words I’ve heard over and over again here in America: “I’m so lonely.”   

It’s not that they are alone.  Few of us are ever alone, but the pain of loneliness is rampant among Christians.

How very sad that is. 

So I began to ask myself why that is the case.  Why are members of an eternal family, truly those who are now the bride of Christ, suffering from such a condition?  I mean, I can almost understand how unbelievers might feel lonely.  After all, what do they share with others but a constant desire to figure out how to be happy or content or joyful?  We, however, have been given the key to such things, and we share that key with millions of other people, many of whom live right in our neighborhoods.  If not there, at least there are those with whom we attend church or bible study.

Why are so many of us, all over the world, still so lonely?

I’m convinced that it’s not loneliness that has plagued our existences, but isolation.  Most of us have a tendency to isolate ourselves, either in our sadness or our sin.  We might reveal some things, but for the most part, we live under the misapprehension that our suffering or our sin is somehow more extreme or more dire than anyone else’s.  Either that or we delude ourselves into thinking that we don’t want to burden anyone else with our problems, so we keep them to ourselves, simmering just beneath the surface of the smiles we paste on in public.

Consequently, many of us who have reason for the most joy experience pain that is both unnecessary and unwarranted, which is just the way Satan wants it.  If he can convince us of this lie, then what we should be presenting to the unsaved world—peace and joy that surpasses all understanding—is buried beneath a mountain of misery that lives inside of our heads.

This is precisely why we are to be who God intended His children to be, and that is relational.  We are to belong to a body of believers, not so that we fill a square in the account journal of our sanctification, but so that we can build one another up, hold one another accountable, and fellowship together.  We need our brothers and sisters and we need to seek them out.  Living inside of our own heads is exactly what Satan wants because there is no relationship there. 

My heart hurt for the women of Zimbabwe, just like my heart hurts for every man and woman I meet who suffers from this plague.  It hurt so much that the focus of my work has streamlined to one of building discipleship and relational connection between believers all over the world.  This is a plague that should not be, and all of us must do what we can to extinguish it however we can.

What can you do to either break out of this isolation or help others to do so?  I pray that all of us seriously consider the ramifications of a body of believers who segregate themselves from every other part of the body in horrible isolation.  Move toward relationship with your brothers and sisters.  After all, heaven isn’t going to be a lonely place.  God meant for us to seek relationship with each other and the beauty that comes with that while we are here on earth.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony….Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:12-16)

about-debby: Dr. Deb Waterbury

For any of you who know me, you are aware that I am a lover of dogs—big dogs. I grew up with a King St. Bernard named Moochie, and since then I’ve owned a black Lab, a yellow Lab, a Golden Retriever, and two Great Danes. Currently my husband and I are the proud parents of a feisty toy Yorkie named Levi and a massive 220 pound Great Dane named Hattie. We got Levi first, but he claimed my husband as his almost immediately. Shortly after, I got Hattie when she was eight weeks old, and she has been my baby ever since.

Even as I write this, her massive head is lying in my lap. I do love her so.

However, just given the plethora of animals I’ve owned myself, it’s a proven fact that most of us outlive our pets, which means that as pet owners, chances are that each of us has had to say good-bye to them at one time or another. This morning a dear friend of mine wrote me to ask for prayers because she and her children are going to have to say good-bye to their sweet dog. It’s heartbreaking, and for those of us who have gone through such a horrible process, their deaths are painfully hard.

More than once I’ve had women ask me if we will see our pets again in heaven. This is such a good and important question. Our pets are a part of our families; so naturally, we want to know if we will get to see them again. I believe that we will. As a matter of fact, I believe that the bible clearly supports that we will. I believe with my entire heart (and based on much biblical research) that I will be surrounded with my big babies for eternity, along with all of my believing family and friends. If you are a Christian and have had pets you have had to bid farewell to on this earth, then I also believe that you will see them again in heaven.

Wonderfully, I’m not alone in this belief. Many theologians agree with me and have written excellent resources on just this subject. Why, even John Wesley wrote the following when speaking of our pets:

 

“Something better remains after death for these poor creatures …

that these, likewise, shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption,

and shall then receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings.”

(Wesley, John, The Works of Reverend John Wesley, A.M. Vol 2 of 7,

Forgotten Books, 1912, p. 56)

 

John Piper wrote the following poem when speaking of eternity:

 

And as I knelt beside the brook

To drink eternal life, I took

A glance across the golden grass,

And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast

As she could come. She leaped the stream—

Almost—and what a happy gleam

Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,

And knew that I was on the brink

Of endless joy. And everywhere

I turned I saw a wonder there.

(Piper, John, “Glorified,” http://www.desiringgod.org/poems/glorified)

 

How can Mr. Wesley and Mr. Piper and countless other acclaimed and well-known theologians make such a claim?

First of all, I think it important to point out that Christ did not die for our pets, at least not in the way He died for mankind. People are made in the image of God. Christians are partakers in His divine glory and have been redeemed by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our sins have been forgiven by this act of propitiation. Animals are not people, so they don’t need a redeemer in the same way.

However, having said that, I also think that Jesus did die for animals in an indirect sense. According to Romans 8, we know that Christ’s death for humanity purchased redemption for everything created, since everything created was brought down due to the sin of mankind. Romans 8:21-23 tells us,

The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV, emphasis added)

These verses indicate that our resurrection and the redemption of our bodies bought by the sacrificial blood of Jesus will extend to all creation. What Paul is saying is that on the New Earth after our resurrection, the animals who once suffered because of the fall of man and the “groanings of the earth” will be joined with us for all eternity, enjoying the glorious redemption of perfection brought to us in eternity with our Lord.

There are so many passages that speak to God both bringing judgment and blessings on men and animals because of man’s sins and respectively, because of God’s grace. (Exodus 9:22-25; Jeremiah 7:20; 21:16; Ezekiel 14:12-13, 17; Deuteronomy 7:13-14; 28:1-4)

Likewise, John the Baptist testified in Luke 3:6, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  The Greek word here translated as “flesh” is sarx, which is inclusive of all flesh, not exclusive to just mean mankind. “All flesh” includes animals. In essence, then, this great prophet was saying that mankind and animals will see the coming redemptive earth.

One of my favorites, though, is how the psalmist exclaims the relationship between God and His created in Psalm 104. In verse 24 of that psalm, the psalmist sings, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Then he goes on to talk about the animals and all created life—sea creatures, birds, mammals—exclaiming how all are fed and cared for by their Creator. But then in verses 29 he says, “When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” To which he follows in verse 30 with, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” To “renew the face of the ground” is to re-create. The psalmist is crying out that God will also renew the animals when He redeems the Created, which fully makes sense!

Truly, the Creator could very well intend to make new animals when He redeems the earth, but that doesn’t follow either with His character as a loving and generous Lord or His clear intention to renew that which was already created. Besides, He created us with spirits that have the propensity to be emotionally fed by our pets. We love them, not in place of humans, but in addition to our human relationships. Our pets bring us companionship and joy and unadulterated love. They are committed to us in our darkest and most profoundly sad moments, and they are there to pounce around in unwavering joy when we are exploding in happiness. God did that! And He does nothing accidentally!

Therefore, since we can see that the bible plainly states that both mankind and animals will be renewed in the New Earth, and we also know that God gave us some animals to be special to us purposefully in His great love, doesn’t it follow that our kind and loving Father will bring those relationships into our eternity? I believe with everything in me that this is the truth. My sweet, enormous, ridiculously silly Hattie will be with me in paradise, along with Levi and Moochie and Harley and Champ and Charlie and Chelsea. I’ll see them all there, and I believe you will see your beloved animals, too.

We serve a God of love who purposefully gave us both human and animal relationships to enjoy on this earth. Jesus will return and renew all of creation that “groans” under the curse of sin, and that includes our wonderful pets. So love them now, knowing that good-bye is only temporary. You will see them again.

How awesome to be loved by so great a God as our God!!

And how wonderful to know that this big love will be with me in paradise!!!

Deb and Hattie 2

 

 

_________________________________

**One of my favorite resources when teaching on heaven and the truths the bible proclaims is the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I can’t recommend this book enough for those who are struggling with what to believe about the hereafter and how it accords with the Word of God.

_________________________________

Dr. Deb Waterbury is the President and CEO of Love Everlasting Ministries. In her desire to spread the truth that all Christian women share an intimate relationship with Christ as their Bridegroom while “Breaking the Barriers of Isolation” that often plagues these same women, Dr. Waterbury travels extensively, both nationally and abroad, leading conferences and teaching seminars at every opportunity.  She has a special heart for the people of Africa, devoting much of her year to speaking in several countries there. Dr. Waterbury also spends a great deal of her time writing both curriculum for study in the areas of her passion as well as allegorical novels representing the believer’s journey in realizing her position as the chosen bride of Jesus Christ.  Her series, The Painted Window Trilogy, has changed the lives of countless women as they come to that beautiful understanding of the truth of their relationship with Christ.  She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

headshotBy:  Elizabeth Ryan

 

I can almost say for certain that there is someone in your life that is abrasive, irritating, competitive, judgemental, controlling, annoying or just plain mean. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about. You cringe at the thought of just being in their presence.

 
It might be a colleague, a family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school, maybe someone at the gym or all of the above. Wherever you are, inevitably there they are.

 
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, you round the corner and THERE THEY ARE! Alarms are going off inside your head! You try desperately to contain your panic, but it’s hard when you instinctively want to turn and run! Instead, you awkwardly manage to expel a series of words that don’t quite sound the same way you thought they would in your head. You feel like a babbling idiot and by the expression on their face they are in agreement.

 
A sad truth in all of this, is that it isn’t just the colleague, the family member, the parent of a student at your child’s school or even the person at the gym. It’s us… Christian women at church on Sunday morning, at our bible study, in our small group, even at our children’s youth group functions.

 
Why is this? One reason… Satan! He wants nothing more than for us to focus on his deception and by this creating a division within us; distracting us from the opportunity to see the beauty of Christ in others and in ourselves. Whether we are the cause or the effect of the irritation we focus on the negative in either scenario. We fail to understand the purpose of the irritation and discomfort. If somehow we could just learn to respond in grace, truth, love and total acceptance of one another we would find peace.

 
As I ponder this, I am reminded of one of God’s amazing creatures the oyster, and the beautiful pearl that He designed for it to create. By definition, pearls form out of the oyster’s natural reaction to protect itself from the irritant. As the sand or parasite works it’s way into the oyster, it’s defense is to coat the irritant with a substance called nacre (the brilliant substance that gives pearls their beauty, luster, strength and resilience). This nacre is deposited layer upon layer as a protective barrier until a lustrous pearl is formed.

 
It is only in Jesus that we will find this natural beauty within us.

 
It cannot be cultured or imitated. The process takes time but understanding the value of what it will produce helps us to look to Jesus. Remember that:

 
In all things the greatest of these is love.

 
What Satan intends for evil, God intends for good… and it is miraculously happening at the same time. Hold tight to this, believe it and trust in Him.

 
We have the choice to respond in defense and avoidance of the irritation of others or embrace and accept the opportunity to see the beautiful pearl that can only be produced when we allow the Holy Spirit to be our protective barrier that not only coats and protects us but transforms our irritation into a strong, brilliantly beautiful pearl that is genuine and unique.Complete with the capacity to respond in grace, truth and love; and gives us the ability to find
the peace and acceptance that each of us so badly longs for.