Love is from God

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son the propitiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
I John 4:7-12

God is love. God demonstrated His love for us through sacrifice, giving His precious Son so that we could live. God initiated love towards us, He loved us first. His love was not a response to some good we had done. These truths about God and His love are at the core of who we are and how we were created. Every single one of us longs to be loved, we long to feel valued, important, significant.

We search for love in all our human relationships. We start out in this world dependent on a mother and/or father seeking their love and approval. We develop friendships and attempt to feel a sense of love and belonging. We search for a spouse that we hope will love us for who we really are.

But what happens when those people let us down? What happens when there is conflict and disagreement and disappointment? Some reading this may have been born to parents who failed to show love or seemed incapable of doing so. Most of us have had friends that used us or betrayed our trust. Some know the terrible pain of a cheating, unfaithful spouse.

How do we continue to develop a heart of love for others when we have so many broken relationships in our lives? How can I be vulnerable and sacrifice myself for Kristine when I know that her love for me could fail? How can I invest in people and risk so much in this broken world? The answer is that God loves me. Seems too simple, right? The reality is that I must first fill myself with the reality of God’s love for me before I can express true love for anyone else. As long as I seek fulfillment and love from human relationships, I will be disappointed. But when I seek fulfillment and love from God, I will never be disappointed. Everything I need is in God through Christ and I must grab hold of that before I can consistently show sacrificial love to others.

So what does this look like in real life? When Kristine is having a bad day and she is criticizing me about the mess I left in the kitchen or the dirty clothes in my closet I can respond in multiple ways. If I’m seeking fulfillment through her love I will be hurt and I might lash out with harsh words or shut down and sulk, giving her the silent treatment. If I realize that I’m fully loved by my Father I can take a step back. I can see the struggle she is having, humble myself, sacrifice and put my arms around her. In the comfort of God’s love, we are free to risk everything and demonstrate true love to those around us.

The success of every human relationship begins with our relationship with God, secure in His love exemplified in the sacrifice of Jesus. Our stability and foundation in this life is the love of God and when we stand on that foundation we can perfect His love by loving others.

A Lesson from Monty Williams

Today’s Men’s Daily Briefing will not be an article. It will be a YouTube link to a eulogy delivered by Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams. Coach Williams delivered this eulogy for his wife who was killed in a car crash.

There is nothing more powerful we can say today about marriage and faith than what Monty Williams said at his wife’s funeral.

Powerful Eulogy by Monty Williams for his wife, Ingrid

 

What David Didn’t See from His Rooftop

From his rooftop one night, King David saw a beautiful woman bathing. He also saw an opportunity to have this beautiful woman named Bathsheba come to his house. His vision was laser focused on getting in bed with Bathsheba. What David didn’t see from his rooftop at that time was a series of catastrophic decisions that would plague his family for generations.

Below are seven things I found that David did not see from his rooftop, and I hope that these will serve as a warning and a wake up call to all men to consider where lust leads and what sexual sin does to you and everyone around you. If you are married, you are in a covenant relationship with God and your wife, and you are called to honor her, cherish her, and forsake all others until death. If you are unmarried, your covenant with God is to be holy and sexually pure until marriage. When our minds, emotions and bodies begin to wander, then hopefully we can take a Biblical cold shower by considering what David brought upon himself.

Here is what David did not see from his rooftop:

  1. David did not see how much his sins hurt God (Psalm 51).
  2. David did not see the inner turmoil he would suffer because of his behavior (Psalm 32).
  3. David did not see the multiple families and individuals that would be carpet-bombed by his choices.
  4. David did not see the tidal wave of trouble that would sweep over his own family for generations to come.
  5. David did not see that several of his sons would die.
  6. David did not see that his position as a king would be weakened.
  7. David did not see that his influence as a parent would be greatly compromised.

Yes indeed, David was forgiven by God for his sins, and praise God for His immeasurable grace, but David felt the searing heat of God’s wrath in the wake of the consequences of his sins. The same loving and merciful God who said He forgave David, is the same God who pronounced the sentence for David’s punishment. If our affections begin to wander, may we be sobered up by pondering these effects of selfish choices.

In order for us to be the men God calls us to be, we are required to be wholly committed to our wives in mind, emotions, soul and body.  If you are struggling with this, then do not struggle alone. First of all, talk with the Lord and pour your heart out to Him. Then seek out a wise, godly man who has the strength to lead you and demonstrate to you how to love your wife like Jesus loves her.

Most Like Jesus Most Unlike Me

“Be yourself” is the advice we sometimes hear, and in some cases that is absolutely right. We need to embrace our unique personality traits and the special talents God has given us. We can’t live someone else’s life; we have to live our own. So, in that sense, “be yourself” is sound counsel.

On the other hand, there are character traits, behavior patterns, and ways of speaking that have become natural to me. When in certain situations, I typically react in this way or say certain things. That’s “who I am.” So, if those things that I usually say (or don’t say) are hurting my wife, then being “myself” is not the right advice.

Sometimes, that kind of statement is used as a justification for our behavior. We may say, “Well, that’s just who I am,” or,”I’m just being myself.” Somehow, that makes it okay then to be rude, sarcastic or insensitive to the feelings of others, particularly those of our wives.

Please understand that the things that Jesus is asking us to say and do and be are usually the farthest thing from our character. What is most like Jesus is most unlike us. In fact, the Scriptures teach repeatedly from beginning to end that we must be transformed. “Being ourselves” is what got this world in the mess it is in now. “Being ourselves” is what has hurt our wives repeatedly. We have to become someone else. That someone else is Jesus.

God’s plan is for us to be “transformed” into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is God’s new creation…a new man created in His image to act, talk and think like Jesus (Ephesians 2:10; 4:20-24). That transformation process takes place through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts through His word, as we look into that holy and perfect mirror and see Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1:22-25).

For example:

  • My natural response may be to try and “figure out and fix” everything while my wife is talking, but Jesus wants me to become a better listener and to seek to understand what she is saying and how she feels about it.
  • “Being myself” might result in a sarcastic comeback that I personally thought was pretty hilarious, but my wife didn’t share the same opinion. Being like Jesus would have led to a more loving and tender response.
  • Acting like me means that I will hold on to that grudge and let past hurts affect my present and future. Being like Jesus will lead me to deal with those hurts in a godly manner and then release them.

This transformation process is not overnight, as I’m sure you know. It takes years, and sometimes it is downright ugly, but the end result is that our thinking, words and deeds flow from a heart that is governed by Jesus and not self.

My wife, Anna, has a Post-It note on her desk with these words, “I’m not where I need to be, but I’m not where I used to be.” For today, may you take one step closer to Jesus as you seek to be just like Him.

You Can’t Press Replay

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). This Psalm was written by Moses approximately 3,400 years ago and yet it is still as appropriate today in our modern age. To put Moses’ wisdom in other words…you can’t press replay.

This thought came to my mind this past weekend when considering how life seems to be racing by at light speed, and specifically that every day with my loved ones should be considered precious. The truth is, a lot of us don’t grasp this in our earlier years, and it takes us getting to the point where our kids are graduating from school and the parents we once viewed as ageless are in fact mortal. We then seem to get very reflective about things, maybe even a little mopey, but hopefully we sober up about the brevity of life and the irreplaceable moments we have with our dear family.

Oftentimes we get caught up in the pursuit of careers, hobbies, church activities, taking care of the wife and kids and fulfilling all our “responsibilities,” that we might forget to pay attention to the dear mothers that sacrificed so much to bring us to where we are today.

Mothers, especially mothers who are followers of Jesus, are gifts from God that we often don’t appreciate as we should. I just don’t think we can hug them enough or acknowledge them enough not only for all they did for us, but just simply for who they are as people.

Here are a few Proverbs I wanted share with you:

  • Pay attention to your father, and don’t neglect your mother when she grows old (Proverbs 23:22, CEV). Some moms as they grow older begin to feel useless and not needed, because we are going about in our lives and we have everything under control and all is well. But she is still a mom, and will always be a mom. She is hard-wired that way. Always seek to make her part of your life and make her feel valued.
  • Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice (Proverbs 23:25). My mom rejoices just to hear the phone ring and hear, “Hi, Mom!” Yes, she rejoices because her sons are followers of Jesus, but I am trying to think about the little things I can do daily to make my mom “rejoice” (even if she is 6 hours away).
  • There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother (Proverbs 30:11). We do not want to be part of that generation, do we? Do you “bless” your mother? Do you call her on the phone, or stop by and visit, or send a card (not just on Mother’s Day) to simply say how much she means to you? I believe “Honor your father and mother” means much more than picking up our dirty socks when we were kids.

You can’t press replay. Make this day count. Tell your mom today how special she is to you.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:28-31).

Where is Jesus?

So, if your wife is a Christian, ask yourself, “Where is Jesus right now?” You might respond to me with, “What do you mean?”

Since Jesus promised that He would come and make His home with us (John 14:23), that means He has made His home in my wife’s life as well.

There have been many a time in our marriage when my wife, Anna, was stressed and having a difficult time “getting it together.” Of course, considering all that Anna as a homeschooling mother of six deals with on a daily basis, it should be understood that she would have times when being calm is just not going to happen. This does not define her as a person, this is just what happens to all of us (men included) during our “moments.”

I remember that through many of those times Anna was stressed and having a hard time with her emotions, that I was not the help she needed. Whether I simply thought it in my mind, or just came right out and said it to her, it was clear that I thought she was being ridiculous and needed to get a grip. Guess how that turned out? Yeah, not well.

What she needed was my acceptance and understanding, which is what Jesus was giving her at that moment. Jesus calls me to give her genuine acceptance and understanding when she is really having a bad day. She doesn’t need a daddy correcting her, she needs a husband who loves her like Jesus does.

“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).

So, where is Jesus when Anna is having one of those “moments”? And that’s what they are…just moments. My Bible says He is right there with her, loving her through it and being her shoulder to cry on and her friend with a listening ear (Hebrews 4:14-16).

So, if Jesus is right there beside her with His arms around her, where do I need to be?

By the way, where do I want Jesus to be when I’ve having one of my own moments?

Moses was faithful even when…(2 of 6)

Moses was faithful to God even when…the enthusiasm was gone.

By Andy Harrison and Aaron Kemple

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant… (Hebrews 3:5)

#2 Moses was faithful to God even when the job was harder than expected and the enthusiasm was gone.

It did not take long for the people of Israel to change their mind and lose confidence in Moses and in God’s plans for deliverance. When Moses first met with the elders of Israel and told them about God’s plans for delivering them, they responded by bowing their heads and worshiping. It seems that they were excited; they apparently anticipated God’s mighty hand to swoop down on Egypt and take Israel in one swift movement to the Promised Land.

But then things just got hard. Pharaoh added more work to their already demanding quota, and then beat them for not making it. The people cried out to Moses. Moses cried out to God. This is not what we signed up for!

Moses came back to the people with more hopeful and encouraging words from God, but “they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.” They were so beat down physically and emotionally, they could not even listen to what Moses had to say.

So, what did Moses do? He stayed on God’s path. He pressed on with the mission God called him to. He confronted and rebuked Pharaoh, as God called him. He did the miracles and signs God sent him to perform. “Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did.”

Let’s apply this principle to our marriages.

Are we faithful to God (and to our wives) even when the enthusiasm is gone? Has your marriage lost its “zing?” The honeymoon is long gone, the bills are piling up, both of your bodies are changing, the kids are screaming, work is demanding, on and on and on it goes. Maybe you enjoy spending time with people other than your wife, because they seem to be more exciting.

So what will you do? You could leave. You could find a new hottie. You could devote more time to your job and hobbies. You could pursue perverted ways to spice up your “love” life. You could pour yourself into your church activities. You could even become a better dad. But none of those will fix what is wrong with your marriage.

Have you considered, prayed, and sought counsel on how to bring life back into your marriage? Have you forgotten to do the things you used to do for your wife when you were dating and newly married?

Even if your wife does not reciprocate the intimacy, and even if she is not all that excited about you anymore, you must still seek to honor and cherish her. You must continue to find ways to rekindle the intimacy. She might eventually respond if you continue to be faithful like Moses.

On the other hand, looking at this from another direction, sometimes life is just routine. It’s ordinary. It is not always flashy. There is not always a party in the bedroom.  In some ways it will not be the same as the first year together, and that is ok. Some folks have a hard time accepting the ordinary and mundane, but that is just part of life.

Moses did the things God commanded, even when #1 he did not want to do them, and #2 even when the lack of enthusiasm made the job even harder.

That is a faithful man. Are you like Moses?

Tomorrow is point #3, Lord willing.

At last!

At last!

In considering how we see our wives, our marriage relationship, and God’s part in all of that…let us start in the beginning…

God created the world as recorded in Genesis chapters 1&2 and as He created each aspect He said “it is good”. God says this phrase seven times in the first chapter. This over-the-top proclamation of just how great and glorious the created world he gave us is provides a striking contrast when after God created the first man, He said “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). It was not the creation of Adam that was “not good”. Adam was created by God, placed in a perfectly created world, and completely in fellowship with God. So what was “not good”? The fact Adam was alone made him “not good”. Adam was created in the image of God and we know from Gen 1:26 that God is a God of relationship…the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. If God is not alone and we were designed in His image; then we were designed for relationships and it was and is “not good” that man should be alone.

It is also not an accident that the first relationship God created was the marriage. God took action. God created Eve.

God created what the text calls an ‘ezer’, a word that means a “helper-companion,” a friend. Stop and consider this for a moment because the next part is the point for you take home with you and hide in your heart.

Adam had everything he needed in the physical and spiritual sense but even in paradise loneliness was a terrible thing.

God knew this and provided for the very foundation of the most critical relationship we are blessed with…the marriage. God created Adam a friend, a helper, a wife. These words might describe something we consider common or take for granted, but consider Adam’s response. “At last!” He has just been presented with and named all the beasts of the field and birds of the air but was still alone…gave no inclination of finding what he needed in terms of relationship. God saw this, created his wife, and Adam’s response in Gen 2;23 is essentially “Meeting you fills a void in me”. The female speaker in Song of Solomon echoes Adam from woman’s perspective “This my beloved, this is my friend (Song of Solomon 5:16).

There they are, man with his woman…husband with his wife…in perfect fellowship with God in the physical world He created for them. This marriage, with God at the center, resulted in fulfillment of each other in one body…and they were naked (read vulnerable) and not ashamed. What a beautiful image…and to think we can have that today if we would only see God and then see our marriage and our wife like He does.

Do you look at your wife when she comes into a room and say “At last!”? Do you consider your wife and celebrate the ways she completes you and makes you better?  Or are you (or your wife) alone because one or both of you have taken your eye off God…pushed Him off center in your marriage…and are now alone? If so, know that God’s response is this is “not good” and look to Him to guide you and help you unite with your wife and celebrate the union He has blessed you with. Try it out…look at your wife when she comes in the room and think of something that is positive about her and say “At last!  I get to tell you how much I love….”