The Full Extent of Love by Kenika

February is pretty epic because it’s the month of my birth, but apparently there is another holiday as well called Valentine’s Day.  This year is special because it will be my and my husband’s first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.  After almost 9 months of marriage, I’ve had a good amount of time, plenty more to go of course, to understand some of the peaks and valleys of love.  I’m pretty sure I thought I knew enough about what it would take in order to make the plunge into marriage, and I am now fully confident I didn’t know the first thing about real love.  Okay maybe I knew the first thing, but not the hundreds of others!  

When I think about what my truest understanding of love is, my mind immediately goes to John 3:16, one of the most popular, familiar, and commonly quoted verses of scripture.  It makes perfect sense that it would be, because it is a description of the Gospel in a very simple form.  You could poll one hundred women about what love is, or one hundred men on what love looks like, and I am positive that the responses would run the gamut.  But when I look at John 3:16 I see the full extent of love in the sacrifice that God made for the world.  This is our model of true love and we can learn a lot from this level of self-denial.  I could try to break it down but I really like the way William MacDonald dissects this verse in the “Believer’s Bible Commentary” so I’m going to let him take it from here: 

3:16 God, we read, so loved the world.  The world here includes all mankind.  God does not love men’s sins or the wicked world system, but He loves people and is not willing that any should perish.  The extent of His love is show by the fact that He gave His only begotten Son.  God has no other Son like the Lord Jesus. It was an expression of His infinite love that He would be willing to give His unique Son for a race of rebel sinners.  This does not mean that everyone is saved.  A person must receive what Christ has done for him before God will give him eternal life.  Therefore, the words were added, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish.” Boreham says: “When the church comes to understand the love with which God loved the world, she will be restless and ill at ease, until all the great empires have been captured, until every coral island has been won.” 

3:17 God is not a harsh, cruel ruler anxious to pour out His anger on mankind.  His heart is filled with tenderness toward man and He has gone to the utmost cost in order to save men.”

Out of the Box by Bombi

So, it’s me again with another 40-something life review. Seems like there are many my age that have their 2nd degree by now, or are grandparents. Some have even started early retirement. Some have taken on a new hobby, tried their hand at publishing their writings, or finally went skydiving.  And then there’s me. 

I think for a long while I would feel bits of intimidation around other people my age. I didn’t check off the boxes in life like they did, I always seemed to do my own thing. Sometimes I would feel like conversations with my peers were kind of lopsided. This feeling wasn’t too overwhelming, but it was enough to still feel a way. Sometimes polarizing, other times it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was big enough for me to take notice. 

There is a song that says, “Time makes you bolder,” and I agree. In my middle age I’ve come to a place that I’m more than okay with me. It’s freeing to know I don’t have to be anyone but me. While perhaps many words could be used to describe me, one word I hope that comes to mind is “friend.”  Anyone can be a friend, right? For me being a friend is more than a thing, it’s an honorable calling. The power of friendship is so strong, one might even feel its bonds closer than family.  

Now that I’ve lived a little bit, I feel it’s safe to say that this isn’t something that comes from a seeking, needy, or even a broken place. It’s not that at all. I believe it’s God-given. Safe to say, if I were asked to choose between singing a song or being a friend, I’d say “FRIEND” every time. I truly believe that’s something God put on the inside of me.  

Maybe that doesn’t sound too spiritual or very ambitious to you. Before you brush it off I’ll remind you of something that you may forget from time to time and that is this, Jesus is a friend. Yes, the One you call your Savior and Lord is the ultimate friend. I believe that if friendship weren’t important, He wouldn’t have been one, or even mentioned friendship at all in His word.  

I want to encourage you, if you feel like you don’t check off many or really any of the so-called boxes of where you could or should be in life, just know you don’t belong in that box. You probably belong outside of it. There are passions that God has place inside of your heart that might not be like anyone you know, or even anything you’ve really seen, but they are just as important as anyone else’s. Before you brush off, ignore, judge, or even dislike the things that gnaw at your heart, take a moment and ask God to shine His light on it and show you what to do with the stuff He placed in your heart. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised and maybe even utterly fulfilled.  

“But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” 

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) 

Let Grace and Love Abound by Sonya

“Much more will those who receive abundance of grace and gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17 

Let grace abound for the forgiveness of sins and our wrongdoings. We are so fast to make a judgment or look down on someone for his or her sin. Romans 5:20, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.” Grace needs to be given in relationships and Jesus offers that grace to us each and every day. We are a performance-based society that focuses on the laws and what we can do and what we do wrong.  It is a mentality that we have to prove something to the other person but when we fall or fail we tend to not get the support and love from others. Why is it hard to forgive and choose grace when someone has wronged you? For me, when I get offended I feel unloved by that person and I tend to put a wall up in that relationship instead of confronting that person. God is really working on my heart to just go to that person directly and let grace and love abound and forgive that person. This is hard for me in my marriage because I get offended easier by the one that I love the most. Each day I can point out something my husband is doing wrong or not doing enough of. This is wrong as I may assume the worst instead of seeing the best in him.  We need to know we are all imperfect people that need a Savior.  Who are we to judge someone who needs grace and forgiveness?  We cannot reign in life through Jesus like Romans says if we get offended, impatient or angry being hung up on the sin of that person. Paul continues to say in Romans 6:14, “For sin will not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” I am so thankful for God’s grace because it frees us to not be bound by sin! When I look at my spouse I need to see him through God’s eyes, full of grace and love.​ 

 This Valentine’s Day I want to extend more love and grace to the one I love and not be hung up on what I want to change or what offends me. Let’s pray that God gives us eyes to see each person through His lenses.  There is an abundance of grace God gives us to a life overcoming of sin and forgiveness of sin. Having a heart full of grace and love will change the way we interact in our relationships.  I hope there is a sweeter love between you and the one you love this Valentine’s Day. 

Master of None by Kenika

 

 

You’ve probably heard the phrase before, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  I’ve always secretly thought of myself in this way.   Of course instead of the name “Jack” I would interchange it for “Jill.”  You see I’m not someone who has one thing that they love or a solitary thing that I’m passionate about.  My passions spread all over the place.  I would pray and pray, “Lord why couldn’t I have been a doctor? Lawyer? Teacher?” because you see those folks have one thing that they pursued higher education for, graduated, and did it. I’m not suggesting that they are by any means limited to that passion only, but they are more likely to function best in that vein.  I mean it’s kind of cool to look back over my life and see all the areas of impact I’ve been blessed to have in various arenas, and I certainly have a story or one hundred to tell my future children and grandchildren.  However the path has been a winding and sometimes frustrating one for me.

I didn’t set out to do many different things, and often dreamed that one thing could capture my heart and arrest my attention forever. At 37 years old I can tell you that has yet to happen at least in a less than broad way. Instead of beating myself up over it I’ve learned to harness it.  I’ve also learned to be a great discerner of seasons and times. What I mean by that is I can accurately detect when a time frame is good to do something, and when that window of opportunity is justifiably closed.  I can almost literally feel when it’s time to pull the plug, or when it’s best to begin. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1a ESV) It has helped so much in order to remain focused on whatever I am doing at the moment.  There are definitely callings I feel heavily that the Lord has embedded in my heart to walk in.  But even with that, they manifest themselves in various ways. Refusing to fret is a learned behavior.  I know that I am unique and I also know that God made me just the way He wanted me.  So instead of looking to others and marveling at the way God uses them, I’ve chosen to accept and love how God has chosen to use me.

If you are someone who finds yourself with interests everywhere and maybe you are trying to do anything that is put before you, but you are seemingly failing at everything.  Put your life before the Lord in prayer. Ask for His guidance on when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”  Petition Him for direction and He will show you where you need to be, when you need to be there and with whom.  While you may never master only one thing, you still want to be the best you can possible be at the three, four or five He has graced you to be.