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Lessons from an Octopus

A couple of years ago  I had been praying about my thought life and how out-of-control it gets sometimes with all kinds of worries, comparisons, and woe-is-me attitude. I needed Him to step in and do some major reconstruction in there.   Jesus showed me that it’s not always a “poof, it’s fixed” moment, but He gives us what we need and teaches us practical ways to change.

Travis and I went downtown and as we were leaving from Starbucks I noticed the most hideous display window across the street in none other than a Louis Vuitton store.  It was red polkadot background with red octopus tentacles hanging all over and coming up from the bottom; they were covered in white suckers.  It was awful!  As we drove home Trav turned on Pandora -Josh Garrels station- and his sound was great so I wanted to see what he looked like.  On his website I clicked on photos and in one random photo was octopus tentacles – stick with me – I know it sounds weird.  I was thinking “what is with these gushy sea urchins showing up everywhere.”

The next morning another tentacle caught my eye.  This time it was in a discipleship Journal magazine.  I was alerted and so I read.  Wow was God getting my attention.  The writer was saying her thought-life was sabotaging her growth in Christ; I relate!  She would come to the “altar” but it was like putting an octopus on there with appendages flailing and falling off and every part of it not quite being surrendered.  God showed her it was going to take major discipline.  She had to commit to a process, take every thought captive – set her mind on Jesus, and trust He will do the work through His power to bring her mind to a halt from frenzied thinking.

 I’m committed to that process too!  Even though sometimes those tentacles seem especially unruly!

 

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

Have you thought about that God is so for us that He purposely sets up some interesting ways of getting our attention and teaching us?

-Amy

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at the end of your rope

Have you ever heard the expression  ”at the end of your rope”?

It sounds cliche’ like an expression of feeling out of control.  An expression saying  ”I’ve tried everything I could or know to do and nothing is working.”

Sometimes with the most sincere heart we think we have handled a situation the right way.  We have prayed about it, we’ve read scripture, we’ve listened to sermons on it, and we’ve asked God to help.  Or maybe its an area of sin in your life that you thought could be managed and eventually go away.  At some point we wake up and have that feeling that I’m at the end of my rope…

I have no more rope to cling to, I’ve exhausted all my resources.

Its usually at this point that we realize we can’t make things work the way we want them to and we can’t control sin and manage it.  Nothing can be done in our own strength at all!  It’s supposed to be in Jesus’ strength.

In all situations we are supposed to say “Jesus, it’s my desire to handle this the right way, but I can’t…I need you to do it, I need your strength and help.”   Sometimes the situation won’t change quickly, but because of God’s grace we are able to walk through the toughest of things with our head lifted high.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

David  was good at recognizing quickly that his help was coming from God and no where else.  There was a time of waiting.  He poured out his heart and emotions to The Lord, but  ultimately he had a secure hope resting on Gods faithfulness.

Psalm 61 Please listen, God, and answer my prayer!  I feel hopeless, and I cry out to you from a faraway land.  Lead me to the mighty rock high above me.  You are a strong tower, where I am safe from my enemies. -David

-Amy

 

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Love came down and rescued me.

A lot can change in a year.  The summer I graduated my parents started talking about moving up North for a business venture.  By the last weekend in November they had moved and I stayed behind with my older sister to rent my parents house.   I lost an opportunity for a full tuition waiver at  the university when they left and began classes at the technical college.  I didn’t have a particular career in mind. During childhood, I ranged from wanting to be an interior decorator, dental hygienist, to counselor.  Ultimately I knew that I wanted to be married and have children.  In the mean time I was lost.  I had made compromises in high school.  My heart was divided between a life of going to church and really wanting to make a connection with God and really really wanting to fit in.  I struggled inside feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere.

I knew God had created me for something, but I couldn’t grasp it.

A few months went by and I was introduced to a guy that seemed to really take an interest in me.  I never had a boyfriend and it felt good to be pursued.   We began dating and it wasn’t too long into our relationship that he began comparing me to his ex girlfriend suggesting I should have a manicure like hers, I should adjust my weight to look more like her, or I should grow my hair out.  I laughed it off, but inside I was crushed.  A few times while he had been drinking he became physically violent.  I would break up with him and he would call upset saying he would change and it would be different.   What would make me stay with this guy – I didn’t recognize the person I had become.  Why was I so desperate for attention and the need to belong that I would allow him to emotionally manipulate me and become physically aggressive.  I made other compromises with him that I said I would never do.  I hated it.  I knew the relationship was wrong and what I was doing was wrong.  I cried out to God one night asking for His help after several attempts myself to break it off.

Exactly one year later after my parents had moved away I was 19 and pregnant.  My parents were very supportive and although he suggested abortion that was never an option for me.  I knew I wanted this child, I still couldn’t grasp my future, but I was going to take one step at a time.  I did break it off with him and never asked for any support.

By God’s grace I did take one day at a time and He was so faithful to provide – however I was still so messed up, but didn’t know it.  My mind was still filled with so many lies and insecurities.  It was hard being around my friends, their lives were moving on in the adventure of young adulthood and I was about to be a single mom.  Even though I purposed to live for Christ I still had the shame of not wearing a wedding ring and again not feeling like I fit in.

There were layers of my old life that still needed to come off.

God brought an amazing man into my life and we married and he took my daughter as his own.  Travis and I were both very determined that our marriage would honor God and I believe it has, but with both of us coming into it with a past it has been hard.  Our daughter has been strong in every way.  I never knew if I was doing a good job as a parent, everything we tried didn’t seem to work.  The parenting books must of had it wrong??  More insecurities grew within me.  I felt like a failure at parenting.  Guilt of my past seemed to show up at vulnerable times.  Financial pressures have been big.  Relationship strains have been painful.

But, 16 years later

I have seen God’s faithfulness in my life and our family

(we have 3 more children).

His Love came down and rescued me

God’s kindness led me to repentance.

He saved me from sin and death.

He healed me from hurt.

He delivered me from anger.

He fills me with love, patience, kindness.

He strengthens me when I’m weak

He provides me peace when my mind wants to still spin out of control.

We all have a past, we all have a story, and we all are going through some very hard things and maybe nobody really knows about it….yet.

We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony -Revelation 12:11

God’s great love rescues us and He brings us through each season of our life and has the power to bring something beautiful from it…

His Love came down and rescued me….

 

 

-Amy

 

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the Perfect Pattern

This is a continuation from my previous post.  Definitely some pretty cool info on honeycombs and the hexagonal pattern which got me thinking about patterns in our lives.  Grab a cup of coffee this ones kinda long, but worth it I promise.

2 Timothy 1:13 says Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

this pattern isn’t some formula of doing all the right things

Romans 12:2 Says Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God calls us out of the pattern of the world with it’s behaviors and customs that are usually selfish and often corrupting.  Most christians avoid worldly behavior, but our refusal to conform to the world’s pattern must go even deeper than that.  It’s possible to avoid behaviors, but still be proud, selfish, stubborn, and haughty.  We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds!!

Along with the Holy Spirit transforming our minds we have to cooperate with Him in doing our part to follow His pattern 

and for a pattern for others to follow.

The bees are very active in a hive and the baby bees learn by watching the older mature bees build the combs and work.  If we want those around us to be saved and and new believers built up we have to show them a different pattern of living and it’s not just going to be because we don’t hang out at the bars or watch rated R movies.

A few verses down in Romans 12:9-21 the subject line in the NKJV was Behave like a christian..of course as soon as I read it I saw BEEhave.

So let’s look at some of these patterns, which of course is just a handful from the honeycomb of scripture

    • Love must be sincere Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  The word sincere comes from a latin word that means whole, clean, pure, uninjured, unmixed,sound, genuine, pure, true, candid, truthful  we can’t smile on the outside to someone and criticize on the inside.  We can’t lend a hand to help someone but inwardly complain that we never have help ourselves.  Our love toward each other has to be pure.  I read a quote this week in a book and it said “the most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere”
      Be devoted to one another in love and HONOR one another above yourselves The bees are not all trying to be the queen or drones, or workers; each has a purpose, like we do. We all are important.
      Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord- have you ever seen a hive buzzing with bees, they’re pretty zealous!
      Be joyful in hope and patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. The bees all build with the hope that what they contribute to the colony is creating a better hive/honeycomb for the whole group…we do this in the body of Christ.  what is the mission of the church?  our hope is in our future glory
      Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality. This can be as simple as taking a plate of dessert to your neighbor and having a conversation.   It can be bringing a meal to someone sick.  One of the most powerful lessons I learned on love was when Rachael Butler brought me a meal when Austin broke his arm – It was like my heart was unlocked to a whole new dimension of God’s love through that meal.
      Bless those who persecute you- Don’t sting them!
      Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn
      Live in harmony with one another- associate with everyone even those who are low position; you are not too good for anyone!
      If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyoneThis is not just the kind of peace that means you can tolerate being in the same room with someone, but a true heart transformation that replaces annoyance with love.
      Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
      Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath
      Overcome evil with good. The bible says a soft answer turns away wrath…and Proverbs 16:24 says Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Bees build up their cells evenly no cell is higher than the other.  It would create a space problem and they would be bumping into each other in the wrong kinds of way.  How many times I have built up walls in my heart toward someone, because of an offense or feeling threatened – I’m not in any physical danger it is just my PRIDE and it’s only based on what I think the other person is thinking about me.  When I build up this walls to guard my heart I don’t leave any room for God or others in my life.  Our lives will only look like Christ’s if we do things His way.  There is no other way that works.

 

These are some practical patterns

We are not perfect, there is no way we are going to get all of these areas right, but we are being made perfect in Jesus Christ.  That’s when the Holy Spirit stretches us forming us into His image (we have to be pliable like the wax- it’s usually when God heats things up in our lives that this happens) and He fills in the gaps in our imperfect shapes, to closely fit us together making us stronger than before.

A beautiful, healthy, perfect pattern…

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Honeycomb

Have you noticed there are a lot of bee themes everywhere this year!  It’s all the buzz this spring!  I’ve been learning a little bit about bees and they are smart little things.  My friend Staci Shiner recently said that God put a lot of detail into how bees are created, live, and work; how much more does He do that with our lives, He cares for us -

we have all been created with a special design and purpose.

That really was one of those awakening statements for me!

The honeycomb is a creation of beauty and purpose and for thousands of years it has fascinated people.    Bees work together to build a honeycomb which consists of a pattern of tiny  hexagons- which is a six sided shape that when built leaves no gaps, no wasted space!

The pattern of the hexagon make the comb super strong

and creates the most usable space to hold honey.  If it were a triangle or square it wouldn’t have the strength and would not hold as much honey.  This was apparently mathematically proven and if you are one of those curious or smart people you can read about it here: Honeycomb conjecture.

A typical hive has around 100,000 cells that takes about 2.6lbs of wax to build.  Bees buzz around each other working simultaneously to build their home. Once it’s built  the hive must stay at exactly 94 degrees for the best possible conditions for the honey and comb. The bees control the temperature through their muscle and wing movements.  The honeycomb cells are slightly angled toward the sun making a nice safe home for the baby bees until they reach maturity. The cells also hold delicious golden honey.  The honey that the bees make is also their food which when eaten  is transformed in their body to wax that is excreted through their pores, they brush it off with their antennas and legs.

They then chew on it to make it pliable to be used to create the honeycomb.

You might say the bees were the ones who wrote the original earth friendly campaign of reduce, reuse, recycle!

Now think about our lives for a moment…what happens when we chew on the Word?

Psalm 119:3 says how sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

We read it, we think it about it, and we walk it out!  Our lives begin to look more like Jesus.  Our words change, what we watch changes, our desires change, and so on but most importantly our mind and heart change.  It’s knowing that God loves us and the character of Christ – that transforms who we are.   As each of us “beloveds” (as Jude says it) are building ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit – we are building on a solid foundation.  We become stronger individually and together.

We begin to see the church as a strong structure made from the pattern of Jesus Christ!

2 Timothy 1:13 says Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

I want to unpack what that pattern looks like in the next post!

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Beautiful Things- Layer 5

I always love it when I can see the resemblance of a parent in a child.  I am fascinated by the way that genetics pass on certain looks and features.  Sometimes it looks as if they had been cloned, in a “mini-me” version.  We often hear “Ava looks just like you” directed at both Travis or I, depending on who she is with at the time!    As children grow,  you begin to see certain character traits or nuances that look just like one of the parents.  It is either just built into them or they pick it up by watching their parent.

We are created in the image of God and when we are in Christ Jesus we will begin to have character traits just like Him.

 

This is the last post in a series  about building layers on a foundation.  Layer 5 is reading the word and prayer.  The more we are around Jesus the more we will look and act like Him!  That only happens when we spend time with Him by reading the Bible.

2 Timothy 3:16 says All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Hebrews 4:12 says For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Isaiah 55:11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

 

If it’s alive and active it means its doing something – it’s changing who we are, but and it’s a big but…we have to participate…we have to do what it says.  God’s spirit in us has the power to change us from angry to kind, greedy to generous, lazy to productive, selfish to selfless but we have a choose to grow to become like Christ.

All that potential is in us the moment we say YES to Christ.   Those traits are in us to grow and it’s through reading the Word and conversation – aka prayer – with God that growth happens.

 

It doesn’t matter what your life may look like now, God can always make beautiful things!  Start that conversation today with God.  He will give you the tools to build in your life love, peace, the ability to have joy in suffering, and a heart that is surrendered and humbled – and we will look more like Him!

Listen to this song, Beautiful Things, by Gungor

   

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Under – Layer 4

In one of my previous blogs, I shared some thoughts on submission, being under authority.  I wrote it from the perspective in marriage, but God designed everyone to be under authority.

Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.

God is in charge over all because He created all and knows best.  He also knows that life flows better when there is order, not everyone can be in charge…try working in a work place where there are two bosses and neither one concedes to the other–chaos!  It would be like that in a home as well.

One of the books that shaped both mine and Travis’ view of submission was Under Cover by John Bevere.  We both had heart changes as we read this book.  We highly recommend reading it!

Layer 4 is learning to be under authority.  This is layer 4/5 of a foundation blog series .  You can read about the other layers here.


* from my previous blog…

I recently heard Cindy Easley, the author of Dancing With the One I Love-Living Out Submission in the Real World-, on Focus on the Family. My desire in my marriage has always been to obey God and God says that I am to submit to my husband so I’ve tried to do that. Even though I have to admit early on and maybe more recently I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at times. I have failed way too many times than I would like to share; I am thankful for a God that forgives and a husband that loves, and is gracious with me when I let him down. Cindy Easley made the discussion of submission so practical and less scary (joking-however some may think submission is allowing someone to dominate, but submission is more about God and less about you) I jotted down some bullet points of what she was saying.

  • There is a difference between equal worth and different roles
  • As wives, we are equal but we have different roles
  • Leadership is taking the initiative- our husband is the leader.
  • Ephesians 5:22-24
  • Yielding my right for the greater good (I don’t want squish what God is trying to do in my husband)
  • Do I pout? get angry?
  • Must have HUMILITY,
  • “Husband (name) whatever you do is fine but, here is my take….”
  • Luke 2:41-51- Jesus, God himself, subjected himself to human parents who were sinful
  • Ephesians 5:21-33 Jesus emptied himself for our well being
  • Again, do not hinder God’s work in your husband’s  life
  • Am I arrogant and pompous because I don’t respect??
  • How do I encourage spiritual leadership without disrespecting:
  1. “I am really struggling with_____ would you pray for me”
  2. “Do you want to do this devotional”
  • We are a team!
  • Find something you can do together, skiing, tennis, classes, etc..
  • Never do anything illegal!
  • Don’t allow husbands to harm themselves.
  • Codependence is not submission.
  • “I can’t follow you down that way. You’ll have to do it alone. You are responsible to God”.
  • Submission is not just “yes dear” but Humility.
  • Submission= helping our husbands become the man God wants them to be.
  • We complete not compete.
  • Things I can do to change
  1.  tell my husband I’m sorry I’ve tried to lead.
  2. let’s figure out what I need to follow on.
  3.  Three day rule (from the book of Esther-in the Bible) pray about it if its bothering me for three days then go to him.

Questions to consider…

  1. am I speaking disrespectful?
  2. am I patronizing?
  3.  am I giving off the vibe that I’m smarter than he is so that he’ll do what I want anyway?

Tone is soooo important!
How can I disagree without disrespecting?

  1. by having a gentle and quiet spirit
  2. free of sarcasm
  3. thinking through
  4. ask questions
  • Submission is protecting my husband’s manhood.
  • When we choose to use our vast resources to further our husband’s leadership and success, we are the ones who gain the most.

Remember these are bullet points so if you want to hear the whole thing listen here.

I know there are a lot of people who take this subject and Ephesians 5:21-33 out of context-

This blog post was specifically for wives, but there is a command for men to0-

“to love their wives”-but it doesn’t just stop there-”as Christ LOVED the church.”  Christ sacrificed everything even His very life for the church.  It also doesn’t say “you don’t have do these things if the other person isn’t doing their part”

The very nature of being a Christ follower isn’t based on how others treat us but on how much God loves us that compels us to be like Him.

Why is it hard to submit?  Is there any one bullet point that struck you?  If you read Under Cover, what stuck with you?

 

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Praise – Layer 3

Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:

Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it. To you who trust him, he’s a Stone to be proud of 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ -1peter 2:5-7

Our lives are full of different seasons and there are many times when what we have built into our lives and the lives of those around us will come to light by the challenges we face and we then see who we really put our trust in.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

We have probably all had times in our lives where we have had set-backs.  Probably for most it was unexpected.  I was in my early twenties when my parent’s marriage encountered a life-threating blow.  It  suffered for another 10 years and it was excruciating to watch.  Ultimately it takes two people wholly committed to keep a marriage alive and thriving.   This rocked my world.  Completely unexpected and went against everything I knew to be true in life and a marriage.  I couldn’t discern between what had been truth in my life for what was a lie.

I grew up in a christian home and thought my parents loved each other despite the frequent fights they had.  I knew at the time the fighting was not God’s best but I figured it was one of those things you just live with as a family.   What I didn’t understand as a teenager and then twenty something  was that God has us on a building plan and when we constantly choose to tear off the brick that has been laid or vier from the plan by laying different materials down we are setting our home to be unstable and not hold up when big storms blow in.

For me, watching my parents home crumble meant the floor went out from under me.  I had lost trust for people and marriages around me, including my own marriage.  I struggled with fear.  Every relationship has conflict to work through, but the foundation for resolving it always starts at trusting God and laying down your life for others through loving them.  God has always been faithful and gentle when teaching me how to build my family.  But it wasn’t easy and I failed many times over.

In Ezra 3:3 we read that the Isrealites are able to go back to their own land after being in captivity.  They are going to be able to rebuild the altar and temple of the Lord.

3Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.

Notice  they set the altar in its place and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord despite their fear!  They didn’t waste anytime going straight to the source of their refuge and comfort.  They offered sacrifices to God on the altar, but the temple foundation was still in ruins.  When you are suffering because of choices you made or because of someone else’s choices and all that is in your life seems to have been broken-go to God.  Praise Him, thank Him.   Believe by faith that your life will be rebuilt with the right materials on a solid foundation.

Fear was my biggest challenge.   Where there is fear there is no faith.  I allowed fear to run rampant in my mind and it kept me unproductive in building my life the right way.   When I recognized this, I asked God to forgive me and began working hard to catch those fear thoughts and replace them with faith thoughts.  I thanked God for the work He was doing and going to do.  Slowly, my life was being beautifully rebuilt.

What has caused brokeness in your life?  Have you allowed the Master builder to give you the instructions to rebuild? Trust in God’s goodness and His building plan, He will never let you down!

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Keep the Peace-Layer 2

Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  Ephesians 2:20

Like I had said in my first post about foundations,  God was putting on my heart the beginning of this year that in my home we needed to make sure we had in place firm layers of our foundation.    Are you ready to firm up the foundation and continue to create beautiful lives and homes?

Being human means you are going to have conflict at one time or another with someone.  Even if you “never argue with anyone” have you ever found yourself struggling in your heart with differences with someone? Maybe it stewed long enough in there you were in need of forgiving them for an offense they may not even know they did.  That is conflict.

My husband knows when I’m in conflict with him; either everything I’m thinking comes out of my mouth or I don’t talk to him at all. That is not really a good thing.  If I don’t forgive and allow God’s way to work in my mind and heart -bitterness, criticism, and judgmental will grow.  We have all had leftovers in our fridge and what used to be a roasted, seasoned, and savory meat dish can turn into  something fuzzy and smelly and not edible at all.  It could make you quite sick!  Bitterness and criticism and judgmental can take a life that was once on the right track and full of zest and turn it into something putrid.

 Philippians 4:9 says 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

The previous verse says: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things”

So the battle really starts in our mind.  Thinking about how a person has done this or that will just allow conflict to build.  Romans 12:18 says  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  So the next time you find yourself thinking critically or assuming the worst about someone, stop and remember that peace in a lot of ways depends on what is going on in our minds.  Like I tell my kids and remind myself of often–you can’t control other people, but you can control yourself.  Let’s be peacemakers!

 

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Greatest of These – Layer 1

We are in the middle of a building project.  We have beautiful buildings to construct that will last forever and will be admired for generations to come! One of the 5 layers that will need to be in place correctly is the relationship layer, learning to love.  This is the most important commandment God gives us. 

 Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

It’s the greatest, yet the hardest command.  There are those who make it seem easy.  The ones that make you feel like you are being hugged by a warm apple pie and ice cream.   They are here to help the rest of us who don’t quite offer apple pie as often, but more like mud pie.  They show us that loving is possible.  This blog post is too short to unravel all the aspects of love, but the best place to start is the definition as written in 1 Corinthians 13:4.

1 Corinthians 13 - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

There is enough in this verse to keep you building for a long time, but that is the point.  Its a building project that we work on for a lifetime and there are a lot of people in our lives to love, starting with those closest to us – husbands, wives, children, moms, dads, siblings, co-worker…who are those closest to you?

When I understood in a spiritual way God’s love for me (not just a head knowledge) it caused me to want to love others the way He loves.  This is the greatest thing we can do in life, to love others.  Always considering others above yourself and responding and reacting in a new way because love is your top priority.

Jesus was a perfect example of one who built great relationships.  He spent 3 years with his disciples. Laughing with them, encouraging them, holding them accountable.  Were His disciples imperfect, annoying at times, rude, selfish, unkind?  You betcha, but Jesus was consistent and never gave up on them.  Jesus loved the hurting-those who hurt spiritually and physically.  He spent time listening to others.  Children were drawn to him-probably because he laughed and smiled a lot! He loved people.  He served people. He was the ultimate friend who literally laid down his life in all ways including death.  No greater love than to lay down your life for a friend - John 15:13.

None of us can be perfect in relationships, but are we striving to be?  Do we have a desire to build love in our hearts toward others?

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