Wrong ways to heal hurts

cutting

I have healed my hurts in Jesus. Please don’t try something else.

I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. I DO hope to help people with it.

Joy is the opposite of fear

joy at ChristmasSurprisingly, courage is NOT the opposite of fear. Rather, fear is the journey towards courage.

When we read the Christmas story, the opposite of fear proves to be joy. Angels visit Zachariah, Mary and Joseph. Each time they say: Do not fear. They explain their news, and then they say that it is cause for great joy.

So you can either be joyful or fearful, but not both.

Why is Christmas so joyful? It’s more than just a feel-good, help-the-less-fortunate time of year. It’s the time that Christ lifted off our shoulders an impossible burden. Christ paid an unpayable price. The separation from God that initiated in the Garden of Eden was finally ended. Humanity can now enjoy relationship with the Heavenly Father.

In the gif, Tim Cocker gives what he calls “terrible” Christmas gifts to his kids in 2011: a banana and an onion (she thinks it’s a tiny pumpkin). But the kids are joyful.

Will be joyful or fearful this Christmas?

Narrow escapes

narrow escape

I’ve been in dangers. I’ve brushed with death. The greatest danger is hellfire. I thank God He pulled me out of lostness and into salvation. What would have happened to me, had it not been for God?

They make a great mistaken when they say we think we’re better than anyone else. No, Christians are not better. They are just better off. We are better off because:

  • we recognize our sinful condition.
  • we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness.
  • we throw ourselves into the loving arms of the Eternal Father.
  • we are blessed on Earth on our journey to Heaven.

Don’t fall prey to the enemy of your soul.

Original picture from Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it.

Dream. Pray. Live.

dream pray live

Don’t give up on dreaming. Don’t give up on praying. Don’t give up on living.

For when you have done any of those three, your life has become a mechanical nothingness.

Original image: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money with it.

Just drop your work and play soccer

photo (7)I had things to do, but my oldest son suggested we play soccer. He’s almost 17, almost off to college where I won’t be seeing him.

When we were missionaries in Guatemala, I was almost always too busy to spend much time with him. The tyranny of the urgent destroys what’s truly important.

Sons and daughters need dad more than money. God wants me to win my family to Christ before winning others. If I am so busy winning others to Christ, if I am something of an absentee father, I will have failed in my mission in life.

So I closed my laptop and changed for a quick-moving game of futsal. In soccer there are piano players — those who have delicate touch and quickness — and piano movers — hulking player who bust through defenses. Rob’s both.

The teams are always my younger son and I against Rob. Even though we are two against one, Rob always wins.

Then a friend, Lisa, came along. Since we were losing, she came on our team. Still Rob was winning. But we kept fighting. My recent trips to the gym have helped me develop more leg muscles and I can keep up with Rob’s starts and stops, his spins, the jukes. Just stay goalside and block the shot. Don’t try to take the ball from him.

Hosea and I are playing better than usual. We are actually passing and combining nicely with Lisa. Oddly, we conjure some decent finishing. It is tied 8-8. It is growing dark.

Finally, another quick one-two pass and the ball slides through the chair legs (our goal). We are winning 9-8.

“It’s too dark to keep playing, Rob,” I say. “Let’s get dinner.”

Ha! This is how I win! I call the game off right when we are in the rare moment of being up one point! I take a shower and get ready for Spanish service. I am exuberant. I can’t remember the last time Hosea and I beat Rob.

Sons need a dad. Drop your work.

Keep praying

Just because you don't see anything happening, doesn't mean nothing is happening.

Just because you don’t see anything happening doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Jesus described the Spirit like a wind, which, in his day, no one knew where it came from or where it was going. So too, we can never know the answers to prayer that are occurring in ways we never imagined, in places we never imagined, to people we never imagined.

If we just keep praying.

Original picture: Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles.

The best and the worst

Beautiful Pictures on G+The best and the worst can be found in the people of God. When Christians love, there is nothing better. When they reflect Christ’s love poorly, it hurts badly.

If you are a Christian, this is my appeal for you to love. If you are not a Christian and you have been hurt by one, this is my appeal to you to forgive us and to keep trying to find love from Christians.

Original image from Beautiful Pictures on Google Circles.

Watch and pray!

watch and pray

Gif from Beautiful Pictures of Google Circles.

Could you not but pray for an hour?

In his hour of desperation, Jesus couldn’t count on his disciples to pray. He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew they were going to arrest him within minutes. He was so stressed out, he sweated blood drops. He prayed, and he asked his disciples to pray.

They fell asleep.

Do we likewise fall asleep when it is time to pray?

Santa is alive and well

santa claus is alive and wellNicholas gave his money away to help people. The legend is that he anonymously helped young ladies pay their dowry by throwing the money in the window. It fell into socks hanging on the hearth. His good deeds became known, and he was named bishop of Myra in what is now Turkey.

Then he died and went to Heaven, where he is alive and well. Don’t look for him at the South Pole. You’ll only find penguins.

The real gift-giver is Jesus. He’s not bringing a sack of toys. He offers far greater presents: the unpayable ransom of your soul, forgiveness, restoration, blessing, acceptance. Sorry Toys-R-Us, Jesus gives priceless stuff.

The wise men came bringing gifts to Jesus, but Jesus IS the gift to humanity.

No good comes from shaming

shaming

This generation believes — oddly — that humiliation brings reformation.

But Joseph refused to open his — apparently unfaithful — fiance to public scandal. She was found to be pregnant before the wedding, and Joseph knew he wasn’t the father.

Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily -- Matt. 1: 19 KJV. Justice — righteousness — was being considerate and tender with her.

Shaming can be traumatic, emotionally damaging. It is antithetical to God’s plan: He forgives and forgets. His lovingkindness (not severity) is what leads to repentance (Ro. 2:4). We despise the Puritans, and then we practice their worst.

This Christmas give the ultimate gift: forgiveness with forgetfulness. If restoration is your aim, drop the Nazi tactic of shaming.

Pregnant from rape, Jennifer decides to have the baby

should I abort?

She was accosted in January 2014 while staying at a small hotel in a college town. There on business, Jennifer never realized she was being followed until she turned around to close the door to her hotel room.

“It was so snowy and windy that I wouldn’t have heard his footsteps even if he had been stomping,” writes Jennifer Christie in a first-person account of her ordeal in Lifesite News. “It happened so fast. I got the door open, turned around to close it, and he was there – a huge man.”

Her first reaction was confusion. She never had time to process the danger and feel fear. The monster punched her in the face. Apparently he dragged her into her room and raped her. Mercifully, she doesn’t remember that part.

Later she was found in the stairwell. “I don’t know why I was there – maybe I was trying to go for help,” she notes.

In the post-rape treatment, she tested negative for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphillis, herpes and other STDs. But they didn’t check for pregnancy.

A month later she was scheduled to work on a cruise ship. Two days into the trip she came down with dysentery. After antibiotics did nothing to cure it, she checked in at the local hospital while docked at Cartagena, Colombia. An ultrasound revealed she was expecting a baby.

Back on the ship, doctors and health care workers tried to reassure her. It would be easy enough to fix and resume her normal life, they said – if she aborted her baby.

“I spent the next week listening to a team of very well-meaning doctors and nurses console me with how “easy” it would be to “take care of it” — to kill the child.”

But Jennifer is a Christian who holds a firm conviction that the baby forming in her womb is a human life. One doctor in particular, though well-meaning, was “more vehement” than the others in pushing abortion, she recalls. Read the rest of the article.

Pass the ball

Lighthouse Church School

Some of my beginning players at Lighthouse Church School

My star soccer player lost the ball eight times in Lighthouse Church School‘s middle school loss against Crossroads B. His repeated futile attempts to penetrate towards goal with individual juking runs had me rolling my eyes. If something’s not work, try something else. There were other players open, ready for a pass.

Maybe he didn’t trust the other players. Since he’s the best, his instinct is to keep trying what has worked before. Unconsciously, he’s afraid if he passes, they’ll lose the ball. But Crossroads’ stout defense stopped him every time.

I’m not a demure coach. I yelled for him to pass. And he did pass finally — straight to the opposing goalie. No one was near to make a run on it. I don’t like sarcastic soccer.

Previously, we lost 0-7, but I was happy because everybody tried their best. Yesterday, we lost 0-4, and I was livid because we self-destructed — namely, the best player played the worst.

There is lesson here for the church. You must trust others, depend on others. I don’t care if you are the star player. The church doesn’t work without delegation. If the person fails, keep trusting and passing them the ball. They will learn eventually, and the team will convert into a winning team.

If you’re not going to ever pass me the ball, I’ll stop making runs.

Gold, frankincense and more

Gold Frankincense and MoreAfter being a Christian for more than 35 years, I can’t really remember anyone ever say this: I need to give more.

No, through more than three decades of rubbing elbows with Christians, most often I hear people brag about how much they have already given. Usually, they compare themselves to others and point out how superior their giving us.

When someone gives quietly (without blowing the trumpet in announcement of his gift, as Jesus said), it inspires me to give.

When someone brags (and usually there’s an undertone of bitterness, as in: they wasted my gift), it’s completely uninspiring.

This Christmas, give without bragging and bitterness. Give God gold, frankincense and more.

Season of joy

joy ChristmasWhy is Christmas joyous? Because Christ came to forgive us our sins, to die carrying out own death sentence so that we might be freed from it. The problem of sin, which dogged humanity from the beginning of time, was finally solved.

Picture source: animationguildblog at blogspot

Do not be afraid

afraidEvery Christmas narrative in the Bible contains the command: Do not be afraid. The angel says it to Joseph, to Mary, to Zachariah.

To you.

Don’t be afraid of God. He is loving. The commands of the Old Testament are satisfied in the New Testament through Jesus. Christmas is, in the words of the angel, “good news of great joy” because God is forgiving the sins of all who ask. The gap separating man from God is bridged by the cross. Reconciliation is possible. Perfect love drives out all fear — 1 John 4:18 NIV.

God loves you with a perfect love. All you need to do, as with a Christmas present, is open it.

The loco church

flying chanclasThey’re not aiming for American Idol, a recording contract or a nationwide tour. They call themselves the Flying Chanclas (flipflops in Spanish), and their ambitions are much larger. They have their sights set on souls.

Yesterday, the Flying Chanclas from the Pacoima Potter’s House Church and a smattering of other Christians “invaded” Santa Maria, CA, a small town not far off the coast, to pass out flyers and do a concert in the evening to get people saved. I brought my drama group.

In an age where droves are crowding churches so big they’re called “mega,” others prefer — myself included — decidedly small churches where you can do more than sit and watch professionals deliver Emmy quality ministry. You can get involved with your own rickety performance. You can DO something more than just applaud others. I’m part of a group of churches called Christian Fellowship Ministries.

While all the hype is about the mega ministry, many Christians get their kicks by carrying out the Great Commission quietly, anonymously, one soul at a time. (After all, Jesus’ chosen successors weren’t the masses; they were individuals.)

You may not see this in mainstream news outlets, but the local loco church (as in, we are loco for Jesus) is thriving. If you were with Jesus 2000 years ago, would you want to partake of the multiplied loaves and fishes or serve them?

But as for the Flying Chanclas, you’ll have to ask Pastor Matt Sinkhorn of the Potter’s House in Sylmar, Services are held at Hubert Humphrey Park at 12560 Filmore St. in Pacoima 91331 on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

There are also Bible studies at the pastor’s house Sunday night 6:30 and Wednesday night 7:30 at 12107 El Dorado Ave. #11 Sylmar CA 91342

You only live twice

you only live twice

Make this life count for eternity.

Photo: Pinterest. I don’t own rights to it, and I’m not making any money on it.

Stop the war (in your marriage)

marriage war

Bring back the lightheartedness, the laughter, the rush of romance, the sensation of feeling in love.

If you have banned that from your marriage, if you evolved through a business-like partnership into dwelling on faults, you are in danger. It is hard for any marriage to survive where love has turned to bitterness and anger.

Without the delicacy and delight, with difficulty a marriage may survive. But where love is renewed and refreshed with romance, it may grow through the years.

Make love, not war.

And is there no God?

girlWell I guess some of us evolved. That’s how we behave pursuing instinctual, animalistic desires with no restraint.

I realize that many personify animals to believe they think like humans, but I don’t think they are capable of admiring beauty, of feeling such deep love, of identifying nobility.

When I look at this picture, a rush of admiration floods my heart: the innocence, the poetic grace, the delight of children playing. Animals are not capable of this because God created man different — with an intellectual and emotional level far superior to animals, levels that make no sense coming out of biological evolution, the crass survival of the fittest that we see in dangerous nature.

But, you become what you believe.

Picture source: The original comes from pinterest. I’m not making any money on it. I don’t own rights to it.

The thrill of defeat

Lighthouse Church School My middle school soccer team got spanked 0-7 yesterday. It was so incredibly satisfying.

Why? Because forming soccer players disciples of Christ makes my heart hum. Because challenges make you grow. Because you have to lose in order to learn how to win.

The Lighthouse Church School players hemorrhaged goals because they were out of position over and over again. With a gaggle of beginners, with little guys, what else can you expect? I told them where to be and what to do, but did they get it?

They got it yesterday — by losing.

So now, we are expecting better results.

Hopefully more kids will be “in the zone” too. Some of the kids appeared to spend parts of the game thinking about the snack at the end. Other kids looked like roots were growing out of the soles of their feet and into the ground. They were stationary.

And if we can find at least one player who can handle our goal kicks (and not pass it directly to the opponents at 15 yards from goal), that would be most helpful.

As for the Brentwood School’s B team, they positioned themselves well enough and passed the ball proficiently. Thankfully, the “B” team’s finishing was “B” in quality. Otherwise the score might have been 14-0.

I love it.

Be grateful

be gratefulAs a wordsmith, I’ve always envied the simple and compelling power of pictures. This one, of a gaunt, starved African child’s hand, speaks volumes to Westerners about the blessings we take for granted. No matter how poor you are, compared to other nations, you are rich, simply because you live in the First World. We ought to be grateful for the blessings GOD has bestowed on us.

God will never leaf you alone

God will never leave youA lot of people wish to kick God out of their lives (by denying His existence, for example). But such is the love of God for you that He will never stop pursuing you.

People who blame God and march off in the opposite direction, often wind up in His embrace.

Keep praying for the “rebel” whom Jesus loves.

You’ll never be abandoned by God.  If you doubt that anyone cares about you, God is waiting by you for you to cry out to Him. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age  — Matt. 28:20 NIV.

If you’re running from God, you can never get away from Him. If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there — Psalm 139:8 NIV.

Don’t give up on yourself

God never gives up onIf God has ever intersected with your life in the remotest way, He will never give up on you. So don’t give up on yourself.

His mercy is ever-lasting. Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus — Phil. 1:6 NIV (syntax modified).

Picture credit: shannon van valin morgan on pinterest. I don’t own the rights to the original, and I’m not making any money on it.

Think on the positive

think positiveThe world and worries will drag you down. Make a concerted effort to focus on anything positive, no matter how small. A spark of light shines brightly if all is darkness. Thinking positive is also a part of faith.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Phil. 4:8

Photo: From Pinterest. I don’t own the rights to the original, and I’m not making any money on it.

God’s thoughts about you are always only good

God thoughtsBanish from your mind the frowning severe face of God that you imagine is angry at your for your sin. His anger was already spent on Jesus, who took your punishment. So He is happy with you and thinks good about you.

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. — Psm 40:5 ESV.

Missionaries in the Philippines battle gunman with prayer

Jaquith-Daniel-and-Colleen

They were awakened abruptly by the sound of two explosions as a masked gunman burst into Daniel and Colleen Jaquith’s missionary complex in the Philippines and demanded money.

The gunman shot a Filipino pastor in the foot, pointed a handgun at his head, and demanded to be taken to the Americans, according to a report by Christian News Northwest.

The Jaquiths shared about the March 4, 2014 incident on a home visit to Newberg, Oregon recently.

Awakened by the explosions, the Jaquiths were then startled to see the gunman appear in their doorway with the pastor as hostage. “Give me the money, or I will kill you!” he shouted.

In response, the Jaquiths dropped to their knees and began to pray. “Colleen and I were desperate and defenseless there on our bed,” Dan said. “In our desperation we both began to unitedly cry out to the Lord with very loud and intense prayers. I prayerfully went to my knees.” Read the rest of the story.

The missionaries website: http://btti.org

Tinkering is like prayer

stealth fighterWhen he was kid, my dad turned on his model airplane engine in the garage to let it run a while and unwittingly splattered oil all over the walls. His dad, my grandfather, bawled him out.

The maiden flight was a failure. My dad was discouraged but kept tinkering. Eventually, he graduated from Berkeley and worked at Lockheed’s super secret skunkworks in Rye Canyon. He worked on the now-outmoded stealth fighter, which crashed in test flight and very nearly killed the pilot.

Eventually, the engineers got it right, and the strike plane was used against Iraq, its radar-evading technology confounded enemies. Tinkering won the day.

Tinkering reminds me of prayer, which people view as a waste of time. True, we Americans are very busy. But time spent with God is never wasted.

Prayer is like research and development, cutting edge change, because you are consulting the all powerful God.

An Egyptian who converted to Christ is persecuted

BishoyAn Egyptian Muslim who converted to Christianity in 1998 after he found God’s love began a hunger strike in prison this week to protest his mistreatment, persecution, and “illegal” sentence, his lawyer said.

Bishoy Armia Boulos, 32, is the first Egyptian to legally attempt to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his official ID, which rankled the 90 % Muslim population.

In 2007, when he filed the lawsuit to change his religion, he said he wanted to raise his children as Christians, which is illegal if the father is registered as a Muslim. He was the first Muslim in Egypt to file such a suit, and it sparked a national uproar that caused his lawyer to stop representing him. Bishoy changed his name from Mohammad Hagazy after his conversion to Christ.

In January 2008, a Muslim judge denied his petition.

Hardline clerics called for his execution, and he received death threats by telephone, prompting Bishoy to go into hiding for months. His apartment was burned.

But as the years wore on, Bishoy grew in courage and he itched to bring change to his nation. He approached a Coptic Christian television station news producer and offered to work as a journalist, but the station turned him down.

After hardline Muslim President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July 2013, Bishoy began documenting abuses against Christians – a practice that led to his arrest in December of that year.

Bishoy’s own father condemned him for his conversion in 2008. “I am going to try to talk to my son and convince him to return to Islam” he was quoted in an Egyptian newspaper. “If he refuses, I am going to kill him with my own hands.”

In response, Bishoy issued the statement: “I would like to send a message to my dad. I saw what you said in the newspapers. You say you want to kill me; to shed my blood in public. But I love you so much because you are my dad and because Jesus taught me to love. I accepted Jesus Christ willingly and nobody forced me. I forgive you. No matter what decision you make. No matter what you do. To my dad and mom, I say Jesus Christ died to save me.” Read the rest of the story.

Pawn of fate?

pawn of fateNo matter how much Oedipus and his parents try to foil the oracle, what Apollos has determined for him cannot be avoided: he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. And then for such a heinous crime, he is to be punished, as determined by the “gods” — even though he is an unwilling victim of gods’ predetermined will.

By contrast, the Christian God grants ample room for human decision. You can realize a great destiny of blessing, happiness and even ministry if you decide to serve God. If you choose fleshliness over and over, however, you will lose blessings of God in your life both now and in the afterlife.

There are no pawns of fate in Christianity but each man falls prey of his own bad decisions.

If you pray, you change the future.

Art from Zach Smithson on Deviant Art. I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money on it.

Jesus brightens families

The photo before I worked on it.

The photo before I worked on it.

Ok, so I’m just a beginner with photoshop. I guess I’m having fun. Maybe I can get a job at Target. They don’t seem to have very good photoshoppers.

fam2014revisded

I tried to lighten our faces.

Jesus does the best job of bringing light to our families.

Ex-Pacoima tagger turned his life around with Jesus

Junior Cervantes in Guatemala

Junior Cervantes preaching the gospel in Guatemala recently.

Born into a family beset by drugs and gangs in Pacoima, California, his future prospects seemed dim. Junior Cervantes displayed athletic promise on the soccer field, but depression dragged him down. His uncles were shot in front of the house. There were family arrests, fighting, and chaos.

Junior decided to run away from home and drop out of his beloved soccer. He opted for hanging out with friends, robbing houses, smoking marijuana and tagging.

“I was a stealer. I was a liar. I was angry. I was depressed. I was lonely. I was an outcast,” Junior recalls.

His uncle, Edgar Cervantes, kept insisting that Junior move in with him in Santa Monica – about 25 miles away — and straighten up his life. In and out of jail for most of his life, Edgar had two “strikes” under California penal law and was scared of getting the third, so he turned to Jesus to clean up his life. He worked a restaurant job in Santa Monica and preached on the Third Street Promenade every week.

It was through Edgar’s influence that Junior prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. But because of Junior’s background and some of the influences swirling around him, he faced a rocky road to maturity in Christ. Read the rest of the story.

If you’re facing criticism

facing criticismdon’t despair. You’re probably doing something right.

Consider Joseph. For having a call of God on his life, he was reviled by his brothers and rebuked by his parents. Eventually the brothers sold him into slavery, after very nearly killing him.

And in the end, God raised up Joseph to great leadership in Egypt. He was the catalyst for enlarging Israel in the incubator of Egypt. He was the man for the plan, but the plan was unrecognizably from God. How did Joseph not spiral in depression from such rejection from his loved ones?

The importance of WE

the importance of weYou can’t just wall humans out of your life. It is unhealthy. It should amaze you what love and acceptance to bring to your heart. It will bless your mental and even physical health.

Finishing strong

In the video above, my son makes the tying goal in the last minutes of the game against the first place team. It was the last game of the Fall 2014 season. The fact that they could come from behind 0-3 and equal the best team was significant.

It is important as a Christian to finish strong. Too many of my friends have been meteoric, a bright light for Christ that burns out. He who perseveres to the end shall be saved, Christ warns in Matt. 24:13. It’s only a 15-second video.

Love never fails

Love never failsHumans have the capacity to love — and the capacity to turn off the love valve. It is a horrifying reality: to stop loving what naturally we love. To be so caught up in drugs and alcohol that a parent neglects a child. To be so embittered by moral failures that a spouse chooses hate.

“The greatest fury comes from the wound where love once issued forth,” said Pat Conroy, author who conducted minute forensics on his own divorce. “I find it hard to believe that this number of people voluntarily or involuntarily submit to such extraordinary pain.”

If love is the most ennobling emotion of all humanity, shutting off the valve the most diabolical. By turning off the valve, you think you are asserting control over your life and destiny. In reality, you become a mini-Hitler annihilating your own race.

Don’t give up on love. God made humans different than animals! The tragic consequence of belief in evolution is that notion we are basically no different than animals, so we can/should behave like animals do. But the human heart shrieks against this wrong-headedness. We are different! We need to receive and give love. To deny it is to lower our image-of-God imprint into the sewer.

God’s love will NEVER fail you. 1 Cor. 13:8 says: Love never fails.

If your spouse has failed you, don’t give up on love. If you parents have failed you miserably, don’t become an unbeliever in love. Bitterness is a deforming solace.

If you have received nothing but despising, you should:

  • Throw yourself on the love of Christ.
  • Give love to other needy people.
  • Keep believing in love.

Love is eternal. Many things will end when we enter Heaven. We won’t take our Taylor Swift songs with us. No Teslas in Heaven. But love, which starts like a spark here on Earth, carries on into a Heaven a powerful conflagration.

I believe in God because I believe in love.

Here’s every element of the series:

1 Cor. 13:4

1 Cor. 13:5

1 Cor. 13:6

1 Cor. 13:7

1 Cor. 13:8

Love always perseveres

love always perseveres

Shakespeare warned us: The face may grow wrinkly, but IF love grows wrinkly, it never was love.

But many today take no heed of Mr. Wobbly Lance. Nor do they take heed — at far greater peril — of the Bible. God loves us with an everlasting love, a model for marriage.

I’m 47. I remember hearing my elders waxing poetic about growing older together, just as much as in love as the day they married. The next generation has dropped the grow-old-together baton.

Today, people are youth and beauty obsessed. People want the upgrade. Well, I have information for ya: spouses are not like iPhones. The older model is the better one! The newer one is no better, just different problems (yeah, no one is free of problems).

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love always perseveres.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love always hopes

love always hopes

Naivete is not an attribute of love. So when 1 Cor. 13:6 says, Love always believes. Love always hopes, it’s not suggesting we go gullible or that we refuse to acknowledge when something is going wrong.

But there is a difference between naivete and cynicism. We might say: Love doesn’t stop believing in your spouse (after all, you fell in love with something good in that person), and Love hopes for the best.

None of this means crossing your fingers. Rather, you should contend for your marriage in prayer.

Of course, Jesus Himself provides the basis for divorce — adultery. And we might think of some other intolerable, similar sins (wife-beating comes to mind). The point here is not to enumerate all the justifiable causes of divorce. Nor is it to make you feel bad if you fell into divorce for any reason. As Jesus said, Moses granted humanity the divorce option because of hard hearts.

The point here is to encourage those who may be contemplating divorce to instead contemplate prayer. There are some practical things to do too, like get some marriage counseling. I recommend a Christian pastor but a secular counselor can be very helpful too.

Other marriage rescuers:

  • a support group (not your same-sex friends who agree with all your complaints).
  • be nice to your partner for once.
  • do the things you did when you were dating.
  • cut the criticism (harsh words are a marriage killer).
  • don’t argue in front of the kids.
  • talk over and come to agreement on child-raising techniques.
  • analyze objectively financial pressures and see how you can remove this marital strain.

There are many more. The point is to re-direct the course of your marriage today towards recovery. Love hopes for the best, believes that  a better marriage is possible. Generally, it’s not better to start over. You’ll get a new spouse with a new set of problems. Keep loving the person you loved.

Here’s every element of the series:

Even rich people can be saved

easier for a rich manJesus’ warning is so troubling that (rich) commentators have claimed it was a gate in Jerusalem that required a camel to hunch down to make it through. But this explanation originated in the Middle Ages when scholarship wasn’t too good. There is a gate in Jerusalem called “the eye of the needle,” but it was built 1,000 years after Jesus walked the Earth, so He couldn’t have been referring to it.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. — Matt 19: 24.

But really the eye of the needle is just that: an eye of a needle. It turns out that Jesus loved hyperbole — a rhetorical device of extreme exaggeration to highlight the importance of the saying.

So what is Jesus saying? First, riches can make it very hard for you to make it to Heaven. Second, if rich people are particularly difficult to get saved, God can save even them.

With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. – Matt. 19:26.

So the stern warning is also a herald of how wonderful Christmas is, how wonderful salvation is. The rich king (wise men) came to see Baby Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Love always trusts

love always trusts

At some point, too much treachery will kill a marriage. But about a zillion marriages have survived some amount of unfaithfulness. And the offended spouse eventually comes to trust the untrustworthy partner. Infidelity is never acceptable, but it’s always worth it to try to save a marriage — for the children, and for the partners themselves.

Jealousy can tear apart a marriage. Often jealousy breaks out without any reasonable justification. Jealousy is a sin. True love trusts and learns to trust again.

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love always trusts.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love always protects

love always protects

Gentlemanliness opens doors for a lady, shields her from the water spray of a car whizzing by in the rain, carries her bags out to the car for her.

When a man grows cold and distant, he drops off the natural manly inclination to protect.

When a woman hardens her heart towards her man, she stops cooking nice things for him. She grows frigid to his romantic advances.

Both sexes need to protect each other. Both sexes have weaknesses that the spouse is designed to cover. When protection fails in a marriage, a marriage is failing.

If you wonder what happened to the love of you life, start protecting again.

1 Cor. 13:4

1 Cor. 13:5

1 Cor. 13:6

1 Cor. 13:7

1 Cor. 13:8

Love rejoices with the truth

love rejoices in the truth
Once you’re married, the blindfold is off. Prior to the wedding, you could see only wonderful things in your fiance. Now there are only bad traits?

Don’t enter marriage blinded by love. Once you’re in, don’t by hypercritical (be a little bit blind). Try to see the good things. And rejoice in them. Praise your spouse daily.

If you can’t see anything beautiful about your spouse, ask your neighbor.

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love rejoices in the truth.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love does not delight in evil

Love does not delight in evil

A sinister side of the human heart secretly rejoices when bad happens to another — and worst case is when it happens to your spouse.

The is the opposite of envy, which angers over another’s blessing. It must rank up there with Hitler’s concentrated evil. The Bible says that married couples are one flesh, and you are mistaken to think that means only the physical union. It’s also emotional and spiritual.

So when good happens to your spouse, it happens to you. When bad happens, bad happens to you too. You are one flesh. Expel such rejoicing from your evil heart.

1 Cor. 13:6 says: Love does not delight in evil.

Here’s every element of the series:

We evolved from snowflakes!

evolution

from the Comical Conservative on Facebook

Love keeps no record of wrong

love keeps no record of wrongs

I don’t know which kills marriage more — being easily angered or compiling lists of offenses. The Bible prohibits both in 1 Cor. 13:5: Love is not easily angered; love keeps no record of wrong.

We mistakenly think we are winning by keeping score. Nothing could be further from the truth. By “winning” we are actually losing — our marriage.

Somebody should pre-package marriage with a warning about its toxicity, and the Centers for Poison Control should be ready to prescribe ample amounts of forgiveness and forgetfulness (in equal measure) as the antidote.

With the toxicity comes a whole of of beauty and fun, but only if you keep the antidote plenteous.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is not easily angered

love is not easily angered

Pic from Google Circles. I don’t own the rights to this photo, nor am I making any money on it.

Insignificant habits irritate us supremely in marriage. The she talks, the way he eats. She forgets your favorite spice, he forgets to tuck his shirt in.

1 Cor. 13:5 says: Love is not easily angered.

Dianna and I took a personality test before marriage at the behest of her church. I was angered that I had to take the test. Were they going to tell us we were incompatible and shouldn’t marry?

When the results came in, we were both surprised: You both have above average levels of anger. Honestly, neither Dianna nor I were aware. But as our marriage progressed, we crossed swords often. We had to learn to calm down, to defer anger, to analyze outside of ourselves, to negotiate, to accept each other and stop trying to change each other.

We’ve made it to 24 years, and we’re still devising strategies to get along We’re still working on being less angry.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is not self-seeking

love is not self-seeking

We have heat-seeking missiles, but a love that is self-seeking hones in on its own destruction. Love gives.

They say it is give-and-take, but if it is to survive, it must give more than it takes. Stop trying to get out of your spouse more. Start trying to give more.

1 Cor. 13:5 says: Love is not self-seeking.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love is not rude/ does not dishonor others

Love is not rude.

pic from Google Circles. I don’t own its rights, and I’m not making any money on it.

The Greek word in 1 Cor. 13:5 that most versions translate “is not rude,” gets translated in the NIV “does not dishonor others.” The ASV spills it “doth not behave itself unseemly.” It is some sort of offensive behavior.

What’s clear is that love is being on your best behavior around those you love. How many times have we hurt with “rude, dishonoring, unseemly” words? Forget about putting your napkin on your lap, words are the things that kill marriages.

If we had truly evolved from animals, words would not have the power the do — for good or for bad.

Today to your family, praise the good and forget about the bad. Don’t let it even enter your conversation. Speak gently, not roughly. Be considerate, not selfish.

Here’s every element of the series:

Image

God is waiting to hear you

God is listening

Love does not boast

love does not boastLove puts another first. Pride means me first.

When you are boasting, you are wanting the world to pay attention to you. Love pays attention to another.

Here’s every element of the series:

Love does not envy

love does not envyEnvy hates because another has. This comes from an evil heart. We should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, but those who are given to feeling superior when they make comparisons also tend to feel envy when they feel inferior in any way.

This is the opposite of unity. So if you envy your spouse, your relationship is adversarial. You should make it partnership.

1 Cor. 13: 4 says: Love does not envy. You should shield your spouse, not leave them exposed to abuse.

Here’s every element of the series: