Loving like God

Things change.

Life gets harder, seasons alter, people move on. It can hurt. A lot. But through it all, we can, and need to, trust in God’s impeccable timing and love to get us through. This past year has been the greatest, and hardest, year of my life. As seen in my previous posts, I started dating the boy I have had a crush on since I was nine. Aside from my family and God, he became my everything. I gave almost everything to that boy; my time, my trust, my dedication, my love; the title of being my first boyfriend, my first real “I love you,” my first kiss. He was a huge chunk of my world and I thought I was going to marry him. God, however, had other plans. Three months have gone by since we broke up, and despite it being some of the most painful times I have ever gone through, they have also been necessary for my growth with God. I was growing too weak. I had placed Bennett as my source of joy and love when it needed to be God all along. My happiness can not rest on the shoulders of a mortal. My joy can only come from God and God alone because He is the only One who can truly love me the way I was created to be loved. We as humans may try our hardest, and trust me, I’ve seen it, but we always fail. Why? Because we’re human. We weren’t created to be the source of love, joy, or peace for other people. We were created to benefit from God’s ultimate love, joy, and sacrifice. And that’s where I stumbled. I gave too much away to someone who could never love me with the unending love of God that I wanted and needed. And I could never love him with the kind of love he was seeking. We both placed each other as the “god” in our lives, replacing the true God and His everlasting, unfailing, unwavering love. We tried, but because we didn’t have God as our focus, and because we weren’t truly founded first in His love, we failed, and we will keep failing, unless we are grounded in Him.

Glenn E. Schaefer wrote

“Our love, however, is easily misdirected. Its object tends to become the creation rather than the Creator; it loses sight of the eternal for the temporal; it focuses on the self, often to the exclusion of God and others. We become idolaters, focusing a part or all of our love elsewhere. We are ‘love breakers’ more than ‘law breakers'”(“Love”).

We as humans were created to love, and to be loved. This year has taught me, however, that we can’t truly love unless we have and seek first the ultimate love, that which comes from Christ. Every other effort we may try will fail until, and unless, we have the Lord as our strength and love. I believe a reason for this is because of the way we see “love.”

To us as Americans, we “love” a lot. We love that girl’s dress. We love our new hairstyle. We love our cat. We love our families. Our love is a “one size fits all” kind of love. It’s become something both powerful and casual and I think that we often confuse the powerful for the casual in our every day lives. We don’t realize the importance of the word as much as we should. In the original hebrew and greek of the Bible, “love” was not just love. There were multiple definitions for the one word we have. There was “phileo” and there was “agape.”  Both meant love, but with different definitions and values backing the words.

William Evans defines agape as “the highest, most perfect kind of love (Latin, diligere), implying a clear determination of will and judgment, and belonging particularly to the sphere of Divine revelation”(“Love”).

This is the kind of love that our God has for us. It is the never ending, unwavering love Christ offers us daily, despite our constant failures. It is the kind of love that comes from our Savior giving up His life in order to save ours. It is the kind of love that comes from the Father giving His Son to save His children. It is love to the highest degree and it is the kind of love that we as humans were made to have from our God. It is the ultimate love between Creator and created.

Our love for one another as humans, however, is smaller, weaker, and unlike God’s unending love, our love ends. We love through phileo. It is the love of human to human, not of human to God. Our love is strange, it is not eternal, and it is often based on our own desires and feelings rather than those of the other person. And this is why it fails. It is humanity’s love, and not God’s. It is based on the mortal, on the secular, and on the selfish. I have learned that this love may not always be true love, but a strange, twisted version of it. If we place our trust, our hope, our future in this kind of love, it will not be able to succeed in a way that will be beneficial or healthy. We were made for agape; the unceasing love of God made entirely of love.

1 John 4:7-8 says “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Our God is Love. He loves and He is loved and He is Love. If love is fresh water flowing from a spring, God is that spring. He is the ultimate source of love. No man, no thing, can ever replace or compare with this. His love reaches from one end of the universe to the other. It is never ending, never ceasing, never failing. 1 John 4:9-10 states “ This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God’s love is eternal because He shows it through His son, Who is eternal. His love is everlasting to everlasting. It is agape; love in the purest form. And yet we choose phileo. Why?

1 John 4 continues with verse 11; “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

We are commanded to love. This may seem easy when we think of it in terms of phileo. It’s easy to love with humanity’s feeble, fickle love. It’s not as simple when it comes in terms of agape. That, however, is why God offers us the promise at the end of this verse.  “12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 

If we love one another, and if the God of perfect love lives in us, He will carry out that completion of love in our lives towards others. Then, and only then, can we truly love someone the way they were meant to be loved; with an unselfish, compassionate, kind love. Any other kind of love will fail.

This past year has been a year of joy and love; phileo love. It has also been a year full of hurt and change. I have seen first hand the difference between human’s love and God’s love and I have truly seen that without agape, all attempts at loving will be lost.

I encourage you to dig deeper into God’s agape love because without that, we will never succeed in life or in love. We may try our best, but as experience shows, our phileo love will fail unless it is first founded in the agape love of our Father. Seek Him first and allow yourself to fall into the vast ocean of love He has for you, learning then how to show that love, in return, to those around you.

1 John 4:7-21

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Schaefer, Glenn E. “Love.” Bible Study Tools, Bible Study Tools, http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/love/.

 

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Isaiah 49:15-16

Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Do you know what I imagine when I consider this verse? I think of the nails of the cross being used to chisel our names into our Saviors hands. I imagine our names being engraved one painful word at a time. It’s gory, yes, but salvation and the sacrifice our God gave wasn’t pleasant. It was hell. Thank You, my darling Jesus, for engraving my name in Your hands. Thank You for Your sacrifice. May I never take it for granted, my Darling Jesus. I love You. I praise You. You are my everything. Amen.

The “Tony” attitude

A little blue fish once told me that when life gets me down, I just gotta keep on swimming. That’s encouraging, right? I mean, who doesn’t love a nice long swim? But every time something gets me down? Man. That would be a whole lot of swimming. I don’t have time for that. But there’s another way of bouncing back after a bad day. When life gets you down, you got to just keep praying.

Friends, life is full of ups and downs. A day won’t go by without at least one discouraging moment. Your dog dies. Your french fry gets too soggy in your ketchup. Your car gets hit. Your family member dies. Life is constantly throwing obstacles in our way. But it’s how we respond that determines everything else.

Roughly twelve years ago, my family had the blessing of meeting a guy named Tony. He was  quite a bit older than us girls, and instantly he became our “big brother.” He was in our town for about a year before life happened and took him back to his home state. Since then, the only  correspondence we have had with him was through email and letters. Since then, he has grown up, served several years in the military, is now graduating from the police academy, and is also attending college. This past week, we had the opportunity to see him after twelve long years. It was so great to see him again and to spend time with such a godly role model. He has become such an influence to me. His faith, his steadfast love for God, and his willingness to love and serve and help is so amazing. It’s truly a blessing to our family.

Many of you may assume that life was amazing for Tony; that it went smoothly. The thing is, it didn’t. But did he let it bring him down? Not in the least. Instead of speaking about his hardships, he turns the conversations to our God. Instead of complaining about everything he didn’t have, he thanks God for what he does have. He has every right to be troubled, and yet he has more light and love than so many people I know. His faithfulness to our Savior is astonishing. He is so quick to give all the glory to God, and to refrain from giving into the troubles.

Guys, Tony is a blessing to me and my family. His light shines brightly, despite what he has overcome. He inspires me, friends. When I think I’m having a “bad day,” he inspires me to look for the good, and to thank our God for the things I have, rather than the have nots. He inspires me to stay strong, even when I think I have it “rough” (holy wow, guys, I’m so selfish! I get so peevish, it’s ridiculous! My hair doesn’t go right, immediately its’ a “bad day.” How horrible is that!!?? Lord forgive me!!). Tony is an inspiration, and I want to be more like him, to have a better attitude and to live more for God than for anyone else.

There’s this girl that I know. She’s the sweetest and literally most amazing thing I have ever met. Her life is horrible. Think of awful, and she’s had it. But when you see her, all you see is this bubbly, smiling girl. She doesn’t take out her anger or grief or hurt through razors, or purging and starving. She doesn’t pick fights at school, or bully because she herself is being bullied. Instead, she’s there for others. She is eager to help, and to love. She’s the first one to give a smile and a hug. She’s kind and loving and despite her horrible circumstances, she doesn’t give in. Not once. God is her strength, and she holds to Him.

Friends, these people are amazing. We think that because we got a C in a class, or because our eyeliner isn’t sharp enough we are having a bad day, when there are people who are living in terrible circumstances. Children are being abandoned, girls are being raped, people are being hurt and left to die. And that’s just in America! Around the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ are being tortured. Children are being crucified. People are being beheaded. Guys, the atrocities are endless, and yet those beautiful souls never give in. And yet here we are having a temper tantrum because our day got messed up a little. How selfish are we!? How petty? How are we supposed to survive through really difficult things if we can’t even go through a single day without being upset because of something little and frivolous? Friends, we need to change our attitudes and give everything to God because really, He’s the only One who can do a darn thing about our lives. We can try to “control” our lives, but when we really think about it, it’s all in God’s hands. Let Him be the One to take care of you. Give your troubles to Him, and your worries won’t go unanswered. He’s here for us. He’s there for Tony, and holds him up daily. He’s there for my sweet, beautiful friend as she goes through things I can’t even imagine going through. He is there for each and every one of you beautiful readers. Give your troubles to God, and trust that He will carry you through.

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 46:4

Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Friends, our God is here for us. Through the thick and thin. Through the good times and the bad. Through it all, our God is with us. He is faithful. And He has a plan for each and every one of us. So let’s change our attitudes, because really, our outlook on life boils down to how we react to our circumstances. I want to have a”Tony” attitude.  I want an attitude like my sweet friend. I want an attitude that reflects Christ even when my circumstances say I should be acting otherwise. So, friends, what about you guys? Will you join me? Will you try your best to have a Christ like attitude even when the going gets rough? Really, it’s all up to you. You pick. Your choice. What do you say? I hope you join me in my journey of “just keep praying.”
I pray this blesses you. I apologize for any mistakes. It’s late, but this has been on my mind. I love you guys, and you’re in my heart. Blessings to you all. Stay near to God.
❧ Jules

 

Wisdom from Lisa Pennington

“Balance is the result of an intentional reaction to an extreme situation.”

Lisa Pennington, “Tightropes And Teeter-Totters.” YouVersion Bible Plan. https://www.bible.com/users/kitspov/reading-plans/3428-tightropes-and-teeter-totters

Blessings…and Coffee☕️

I’m sitting in bed with three blankets, a warm cup of overly sweet coffee, and a hot corn bag. A shaft of happy morning light shines between my curtains. Hmm…it’s going to be a good day.

It’s eight o’clock, and I’ve gotten nothing done yet, but who cares? I’m almost seventeen and I’m realizing more and more how fast time is flying. So will I better remember another morning of sitting in bed and doing school, or will I remember the the morning of reclining snuggly in bed with a warm cup of really sweet coffee and my blog? I’m pretty sure it will be the blog. 😉

The great thing is, none of this could happen if it weren’t for being homeschooled. *Takes a sip of inspirational coffee*  If I was not homeschooled, I’d be falling out of a cold, hard desk with bad morning breath and a bottle of lukewarm water. But instead, I get to cuddle up in bed with my fuzzy blanket and this gorgeous shaft of Good Morning Sunshine coming through my window, thanking God for the privileges I have. So instead of my original idea of my top reasons to be homeschooled, I’m going to thank God for the little things He’s done (consider it an inside *another sip of inspirational coffee* view on His blessings in my life).

  1. I GET TO WAKE UP AT 8!! I know this might sound silly, but I am so so grateful for my late nights and late mornings. I don’t have to worry about being to school on time. What a great feeling! Thank You, my Darling Jesus!
  2. I have a comfortable bed, a warm home, plenty of food and water. I am so blessed. I could have been born in some third world country where a meal a day is less than normal. But for some reason, God considered me worthy of having a beautiful home with heating and cooling, an abundance of food and clean water, cute clothes, a warm bed, and a safe town. I don’t deserve any of this! And yet…HERE I AM! I don’t want to take any of it for granted. Thank You, Father. You are so Good.
  3. I get to do school in BED! Who else gets to say that?? It’s so awesome and such a blessing!! Thank You Jesus for this!
  4. I have a beautiful family who loves and adores me. Guys, I don’t know of another family who is as wonderful as mine. I mean, no offense or anything, but my family is SO amazing. We’ve got each other’s backs, we build one another up, and we’re always here for one another. It’s such a good feeling to know that if a friend is rude or someone hurts me, I can go to my sisters, or my parents, and they are more than willing to hug me and listen to me. Thank You, my Sweet Savior for my family. They are my most prized possession.
  5. My cat! Friends, I probably sound like a crazy cat lady right now, but I seriously adore that fur ball. He is such a little blessing to me. My dad’s allergic to cats, but for a long time, I had wanted a cat of my own, since our other cats are outside and slightly wild. So when it came time for my birthday to roll around, my parents surprised me with a kitten. For inside! Friends, aren’t they great? I have the best parents ever. The cat’s almost a year old now, and while originally he was supposed to be a “room cat” for my dad’s allergies, he has somehow wiggled (and meowed and scratched and jumped) his way into being a house cat. But get this. He’s not a cuddly cat. He’d rather be outside stalking flies and rocks than sitting with me. But the one person he does cuddle is my dad. The one person in the entire house who is allergic. But my dad loves it (don’t tell him I said this, but he calls himself “grandpa”)! He’ll send pictures of my cat cuddling him while we’re away at dance. So thank You my Lord for generous parents, a fuzz ball cat, and a doting father. You are Good!
  6. I get to have my faith. This is probably one, if not the most important “Thank God” things. We read and watch things about the martyrs around the world, and friends, it’s so very sad. These people are being tortured, little children crucified, people dipped in acid, all because of their faith. And they don’t give in! Guys, we’re able to live and share our faith freely, and the most persecution we get is maybe a disagreement because someone doesn’t like our standards, or a loss of a friend. Worst case, we get fired because we shared our faith too much. That’s it! That’s nothing compared to what they’re going through everywhere but here. Our very own brothers and sisters face death and torture daily and they never give in. Friends, this may sound morbid, and I apologize, but our turn for real persecution is coming. What are we going to do in the mean time? Sit around, offering little prayers over our meals and reading maybe a verse a day just to “be in the Word?” That might be great for you, but I want to do more. I want to exercise and share my faith while I still have the freedom and safety to do so; before people are too afraid to accept because they don’t want to be killed or tortured. Guys, I know it can be “hard” but what are you going to do? I know what I want to do. I want to share. When I stand before God, I want Him to look at me and say “well done, my good and faithful servant.” So thank You, Jesus, for the freedom to have and live and share my faith freely in a nation that doesn’t persecute us because of what we believe. Thank You for that. Prepare me for when that is no longer the case.
  7. My friends. God has allowed friends to come and go, and while I wish that those that have gone could still be close with me, God allows all things to happen for a reason. He is so faithful to provide us with what we need, if only we trust. Several months ago, I felt that I had no friends. My two best friends had both moved away, and I was feeling alone. But I trusted God, and can you guess what He did? He brought me a friend. Two, actually. And now, my sweet Jody is the most amazing friend. She is so sweet, so loving, and such an encouragement to me. I get to see her twice a week, and I get to sing with her on Sundays. She’s strong and fit and beautiful. She lifts me up, she makes me feel loved. She is such a gift from God. And Jilly. Oh, sweet Jilly. She’s a role model to me, even though she’s a few years younger. She’s strong and fit, funny and witty, beautiful and kind. And her voice…holy. wow. Her voice is amazing. When we have sleep overs, much of the time is spent singing with Krystian’s ukulele. Music brings people together, friends. I can vouch for that. Those two sweet girls are my dearest friends. And God is bringing more and more people into my life that I feel that I get to talk to and hang out with. Anthony is like a brother to me; he’s there to go to when something’s bugging me, and I know that he’ll always be there. Celeste is my sweet friend who is always there for a hug and a good natured “eww.” While we’re not quite good friends yet, Destanie is an amazing dance partner and a fantastic c0-teacher. She’s sweet and graceful, and always willing to help.  God has and continues to bless me with people who lift me up and encourage me. I am so blessed. Thank You, Daddy.

 

Okay. It’s almost nine now, and while my list could go on and on, I really do need to get to my school work. *sighs* But I hope that my list of things to thank God for has inspired you to make a list as well. You might not feel like it, but God has truly blessed us with many great gifts that we should be thanking Him for daily. Whether it’s friends, sports, pets, or even just coffee, His blessings deserve our gratitude and praise. And if you can’t think of anything, thank Him for simple things. Healthy bodies. Strong brains. That lady that waves at you every morning as you drive into school or work. That star that seems to shine extra bright in the evening. That flower that just bloomed. Friends, there is always something to thank God for. He’s blessed us with a lot. Take the small amount of time from  your day to praise Him. It will only take a minute.  Nike. “Just do it.”

  • 1 Chronicles 16:34
    34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:17

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 4:2

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

James 1:17

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights