Category: Love


December 20, 2012
Long Walk Part of Gift
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV).

Friend to Friend
An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift.

The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”

I just love that story. During this holiday season, I watch as people scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet. And yet, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts cannot be bought or sold. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

The magi also knew about the joy of giving. While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, they also gave another gift…a long walk. We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know that it was a distance that took months, perhaps years. Their long walk was part of the gift.

I wonder how far we are willing to go to worship Jesus…to bring our gifts to him. I wonder how far out of the way we will go to praise him. Do we only give to Him when it is convenient or easy? Or do we give what He wants most – a portion of ourselves, our very lives.

I think the little African boy had the right idea. The real gift wasn’t the shell; it was the sacrifice he had to make to give it.

Let’s Pray
Dear God, thank You for the gift You gave us through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will keep gift-giving in perspective this holiday season and give gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook.  Help me to see that a “long walk,” or a portion of myself, is the greatest gift of all.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

When Love Trumps Anger

October 26, 20l2
When Love Trumps Anger
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” – James 1:19-20 (NIV).

Friend To Friend
“I’m a terrible mom!”

Do you ever say these words? I do. I did that day. The day I was working in my office, minding my own business, when my oldest son threw a paper airplane at the back of my head.  Not one to normally welcome an air attack, I gave him the stern “mom voice,” and asked him to stop messing around. I told him to give me some private time so I could get some work done. He agreed, and turned to leave. Surprisingly, he then jumped around and threw it at me again!  Well, let me tell you, my grace-o-meter was reading pretty low at this point!  I barked like an angry dog.  “What in the world do you think you are doing?  I just told you that I needed to be left alone so I can get some work done!  Stop it!”

“But Mom, there’s a message on the plane,” he tenderly replied. “Read it.”

As I unfolded the airplane made of orange construction paper, I saw this message written in pink marker:  “Mom, I Love You.” His affectionate declaration was followed by a few X’s and O’s. You know: hug, hug, kiss, kiss. Pure precious. Big fail.

“Nice!” I said to myself. “Loser-mom strikes again.”  I had scolded my son and reacted out of frustration with an unkind tone. All the while, my son was trying to communicate love to me.

I felt horrible. Time seemed to stand still as I started to beat myself up.

Shame began to fill my heart, but as it did the Spirit of God within me gently nudged – reminding me that condemnation is not from Him … that His conviction was purposed to spur me on toward choosing a godly response.  So I chose love – God’s love alive in me.  As I chose God’s better way, the grace way, His love trumped my anger.  It’s weightier.  Praise God!

I called my son back into my office, and apologized for my behavior.  I welcomed this tall, lanky teen to sit on my lap and told him that – while I’m not particularly fond of airplane attacks, especially while I’m working, I am fond of love attacks.  We held each other and had a very sweet moment.

As Preston and I hugged, God reminded me of this principle: When we allow His love to trump our anger, we are able to experience restoration in relationships.

My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20 NIV).

The Bible tells us that we are to be slow to anger.  It is a lesson that I am still learning.  Now, that doesn’t mean we should never be angry.  Jesus exhibited righteous anger in the Jerusalem temple when he drove out the merchants that were buying and selling there.  Righteous anger is permissible.  We should be angry about sin and injustice.  But when we respond to others in anger, it becomes our sin.

Got any relationships that are in need of restoration?  Is there any anger, unforgiveness, or bitterness in your heart that might be gaining a stronghold in your life and keeping you from God’s best?  The benefits of allowing the love of God to trump the anger in your heart are tremendous, but the application can be very challenging.  We can’t overcome our natural, sinful tendencies to react, and overreact, in anger alone.  We need God’s help.  His strength will meet us at our need when we call on Him.  The Holy Spirit will help us to respond in God’s strength, not our own.

Call on His strength today.

Let’s Pray
Holy Father, Thank you for leading me in Your way of grace today. I need Your help!  I confess my anger/bitterness/unforgiveness right now with _______________.  Please forgive me.  Please bring restoration to the relationships that have been affected by my anger.  Help me recognize when I over-react or when I respond in anger that is ungodly.  Give me the strength to respond in love – to be slow to speak and quick to listen – so that You can be glorified through my behavior.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Marriage Tip of the Day:

Marriage is not about you; in truth, it is not about your mate. Marriage is about God. Marriage is a biblical institution designed by God for two primary reasons:

1. To reflect the relationship between God and His people (Christ and the Church). When the marriage is functioning optimally it reflects the unconditional love that Christ has for His bride, the Church, and it reflects the undying loyalty and surrender of the Church to Christ. It reflects total sacrifice and selflessness.

2. To develop Christ like character within us; to conform us to the image of Christ (this is a day by day process that continues until we die and pass into eternal life). The marriage is a place that exposes our areas of weakness, such as selfishness, and the inability to honor commitment. Marriage requires that we endure through inconvenience and discomfort.

*As a secondary function, it sets the proper context for the perpetuation of the human race.

When we view marriage as our greatest service to God, it will make it easier to love and honor our mate, because our relationship will not rest on the frailty of romance, but on the foundation of our faith. I’m not saying that there is no room for romance, but that romance is secondary to the responsibility of marriage. In fact, learning to honor God in your marriage will enhance the romantic experience within your marriage.

When you truly grasp this it will place you in a position in which you will look more to change yourself than your spouse. You will see your fallibility more than their faults. You will recognize that it is not reasonable to expect perfection when you are unable to offer it.

Dr. Rick Wallace

A Part of the “When Your House is Not a Home” series.

Visit our Christian Impact site!

Worth Saving

No one believed in people more than Jesus did. He saw something in Peter worth developing, in the adulterous woman worth forgiving, and in John worth harnessing.

He saw something in the thief on the cross, and what he saw was worth saving. And in the life of a wild-eyed, bloodthirsty extremist, He saw the apostle of grace. He believed in Saul.

Don’t give up on your Saul. When others write him off, give him another chance. Stay strong. Call him brother. Call her sister. It’s too soon to throw in the towel. Talk to your Saul about Jesus, and pray.

God is at work behind the scenes. And remember this: God never sends you where he hasn’t already been. By the time you reach your Saul, who knows what you’ll find.

God used Saul, who became Paul, to touch the world.

Has God given you a Saul?

From Cast of Characters
Listen to UpWords with Max Lucado at OnePlace.com

***

I love reading the work of other men of God and Max Lucado is one of my favorites. His ability to simplify the most powerful of truths is extraordinary. His installment today is no different. Max points to the fact that Jesus sees the potential in the wretched and reaches out to touch that wretchedness with a transforming love that produces the exceptional.

Max appeals to his readers to not give up on their “Saul”. When Christ met Saul on the Damascus road he was the enemy of the church. He was the one who consented to the stoning of Stephen. He was inexorable in persecuting Christians and on his way to do more damage. Christ looked through the wretchedness and validated the potential. Saul (Hebrew name) became Paul (Greek name) and he became one of the greatest champions of the Church.

There are those in your life that have yet to actualize their potential in the Kingdom; don’t cast them away. They need your love. They need your support. They need your encouragement, and they need your prayers. I know that it can be frustrating as you attempt to help birth the new man within your Saul, but when you are tempted to give up, remember that Christ did not give up on you and sent Christian soldiers to usher you into your anointing.

Remember in the book of acts after Paul’s encounter with Christ, the Spirit compelled Ananias to go visit Paul and pray for him. Ananias remembered what Saul had done and wanted no part of it, but the Spirit assured him that there was purpose in Saul and he needed to go pray for him. There is also purpose in the Saul in your life. There is a Paul within them that is struggling to come forth. Don’t write them off. Don’t give up on them. Don’t look down on them. Christ believes they are worth it; who are you to think different. ~ Dr. Rick Wallace

The Guestbook

July 3, 2012
The Guestbook
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody,” – (2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV).

Friend to Friend
Just before leaving our rented condominium after a week of sun, sand, and surf, at Hilton Head Island, SC, we found a treasure tucked under some old magazines on the coffee table. It was a 6 X 8 inch white guest book, signed by previous vacationers who had also shared a relaxing week away from home.

Feeling somewhat like a “peeping Tom” craning to peer into someone’s window, we cracked open the book and stole a glimpse into the personalities of our fellow travelers. With each entry, we visualized what the guests looked like, decided if we would like to invite them over for dinner, and surmised whether they had an enjoyable vacation together.

Have a look for yourself and decide with whom you would like to share a cup of coffee or would like to have as your neighbor:

· “Thank you very much for the use of your condo. We thoroughly enjoyed our first, but not last visit to S.C.”

· “Had a great time. Enjoyed your villa very much! However, you need to have the springs in the couch repaired. Very uncomfortable to sit on. Thank you.”

· “We have decided that this is where we’d love to live. It’s a golfer’s dream. Your courses are beautiful. The girls loved the beach, parasailing, bike rides, horseback riding, shopping! I love my tan. We will be back to visit! If you are ever in Arkansas, come to Stuttgart. We are 50 miles east of Little Rock. Stuttgart hosts the World Championship Duck Calling Contest every year during Thanksgiving weekend. We are known as the “Rice and Duck Capital of the World.” Riceland Rice comes from our little town and the ducks feed off of the rice fields during the winter after harvest. It is some of the best duck hunting anywhere. Thank you for the use of your condo. We’ve had a great week here.”

· “We really enjoyed your villa, but we won’t be staying here again. We just booked another villa at Colonnade for next year a couple of doors down for almost $300 less.”

· “Hello. My name is Amanda and I got here yesterday. So far we are having a good time. I’m eleven-years-old and I came here with my mother, grandmother, and my Aunt Loretta. She got here at the same time we did, but she is leaving tomorrow. We came all the way from Lake Wylie, S. C. I love it here and might be back next year.

· “It has been a fabulous time. This villa is bigger than our home! My niece is sure she saw a whale at the Old Oyster Factory, but we are sure she saw a buoy. Greg and Dad played golf together and we all played mini-golf. We went bike riding and “gator chasing.” The ocean is breathtaking. I’ve never seen it before, so I’m still in awe!

”When we first came, the keys wouldn’t fit, you forgot to give us a pass, and we almost ran over a biker. Get better service! Two grandmas were with us! Sixth time here – never happened before.”

The Bible tells us that we are simply visitors here on earth (1 Chronicles 29:15). The words we speak are also our entries in the Guestbook of Life.

What entries am I writing with my attitudes, actions and words for the world to see? Will they think that I was a crabby old lady who wanted better service? Will they think I savored each day here with my wonderful family? Will they think that I would have preferred another life just a few doors down? Or will they think that I so enjoyed my time here that I wanted to share it with anyone and everyone who was passing through?

Do you want to know what we wrote in the Guestbook before we left?

“Thank you for the use of your beach home. July fourth is a time to celebrate our great country with its many freedoms. Our hope for all who follow us here is that you will know the freedom which comes from knowing the Truth that sets us all free (John 8:32).” Steve, Sharon and Steven Jaynes

Matthews, NC

Longing to Be Loved

June 15, 2012

Longing To Be Loved
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Friend to Friend
Every once in a while one of my children surprises me with unexpected sweetness. Like most children, my kidsare sweet on a regular basis, but I’m talking about a special, take-my-breath-away sweetness that creates a time capsule moment for my mommy heart. A moment that I will cherish forever.

I had one of those special conversations with my middle child, Hunter, when he was nine year-old. It was bedtime. Teeth were brushed. Jammies were on. Prayers had been prayed. The smell of shampoo lingered from his freshly showered head as I brushed a stray hair from his eye. That’s when he initiated “project: unexpected sweetness” with an innocent question: “Mommy, do you know what I love?”

“What do you love, Hunter?” I asked quietly.

“I love being loved,” he said thoughtfully. “Yep. I really love being loved.”

As I lay beside him in the dark room I could scarcely process the vastness of his statement. It was the simplest of thoughts, delightfully honest, yet one of the most profound and insightful statements I’d ever heard come from his lips. From his heart.

When he spoke those four little words, “I love being loved,” he communicated several things to me:

· He had a deep longing to be loved.
· He knew he was loved.
· His love tank was being re-filled as I tucked him in.
· His greatest need is love.

Like Hunter, our greatest longing is also to be loved… to feel safe, adored, and content in love.

I don’t know where this devotion finds you today, but I sense God nudging me to tell you that He loves you. Completely. Perfectly. Eternally. (Yes, I’m talking to you!) He knows your name, He knows your heart, He knows your circumstances, and He hears your prayers. He loves you and desires for you to rest in His love.

God’s love is not based on performance or beauty. It’s not based on position or abilities. Many times we mistakenly think that if we could just do this or that better – that God would love us more. That if we just hadn’t done this or that – God would love us more. The truth is this: God will never love you more or less…no matter what. His love is complete and you are the object of His heart. Savor the special sweetness of God’s love for you today. Linger on thoughts of His affection for you.

But don’t take my word for it – take His! The Bible tells us that God’s love for us is unstoppable, unsearchable and unbreakable: “…that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith to believe this now: you are valued, priceless, and adored by God. “Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace. Go in His love today. Be assured of it. Share it. Be changed by it. Change others with it.

In our discussion concerning Love and Respect and its immense impact on the marriage, it may have at times seemed somewhat weighted and this was by design. Men and women are wired differently and so the way that you present things to each species is different. So, when you are dealing with both, especially when dealing with marriage, you confront the issues of the woman first. The reason being that once you begin pointing to the weaknesses and fallibilities of the man (husband), that will be all the woman can focus on and she will miss her culpability in the matter.

Today we will, with great emphasis, examine the command of Ephesians 5:33 for the husband to love his wife. One of the first things I want to address is the belief that, in some way, Ephesians relocates the wife to a position of lesser value by asking her to submit. Ephesians chapter 5 is in no way addressing establishing a premise of greater worth of position in the marriage. What this scriptural passage addresses is the natural tendencies of both, the husband and the wife, to act in a way that is counterproductive in their marriage.

Remember, there is no need to give a command to someone to do something they are already doing. So the command is a response to the husband and wife failing to do something they should be doing. Are there any scriptures in the Bible that support my assertion that wives are to be treated as equals by their husbands? Better yet, are there scriptures that instruct the husband to treat and consider the wife as an equal? The answer is yes.

7In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an[c]intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.] (1 Pet. 3:7, AMP)

After Peter instructs the wives to behave respectfully toward their husbands (verses 1-2); he then instructs the husbands to live in an understanding way toward their wives.

Let’s address a couple of things about this passage to insure we have a clear understanding. Here in verse 7, Peter tells the husbands “ in the same way”, or with the same consideration and effort, be considerate of your wife’s needs. He says that the husband must honor the wife in his actions and words. The same way the wife is to be cautious of her behavior; the husband must do so as well. I want to be lucidly clear in what I am about to say here. When this scripture speaks of the woman as the weaker vessel, it is not speaking in the way of spirituality, psychologically, or anything of the sort. It is simply speaking to the fact that in most every case, the husband will be physically stronger than his wife and must honor her by providing her with physical protection.

The key phrase to touch on our point of equality in the marriage is “but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life”. Joint heirs of God’s grace and favor points to equal partners and sharers of this grace. Husbands are warned that when they do not honor their wives in this way it will negatively impact their prayer life.

Being that scripture does not contradict scripture, we can understand that Ephesians 5:22-33 has nothing to do with ascribing more worth or status to either role within the marriage.

Let us move on to the husband’s command to love his wife. Most wives or women in general look at the commands within this passage as an uneven trade off. Part of it is because they are naturally wired to love, so they don’t see the command for the husband to love as a big deal. Until wives come to understand that their husbands are wired completely different than they are they will always run into the brick wall of disappointment. The second reason why the command for the husband to love his wife seems so inconsequential to the wife is that she does not grasp the magnitude of this love and what it entails. When the husband is called to love the wife, he is called to love the wife in the way Christ loves the Church.

“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Eph. 5:25, NIV)

The husbands love toward the wife is to be with the same measure of love that Christ loves the Church. When most people read the part that says Christ gave himself, they miss the word “up”.  It says that “Christ gave Himself up” for the Church. Most people automatically assume that this refers to Christ’s sacrificial death, which is implicit in the statement in that everything that Christ did for the Church is required of the husband concerning his wife. However, this statement concerning giving up is dealing with another sacrificial act of the Christ.

The Greek word translated “gave” in English is

παραδίδωμι

paradidōmi

par-ad-id’-o-mee

From G3844 and G1325; to surrender, that is, yield up, intrust, transmit: – betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up), hazard, put in prison, recommend.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G3860

 

So then this is not about Christ’s sacrificial death, although it is in view here; it is pointing to Christ relinquishing his authority and deity and submitting to the authority and power of another in order to bring honor and purity to His bride. Do you hear what I am saying here? In order for Christ to bring salvation, honor and purity to his bride (the Church), he had to surrender his authority and submit to the authority of another. In the same way, the husband has to submit to the authority of another to provide for his wife. Whether it is an employer of a client, the husband submits their desire and commands in order to provide for the security and needs of his wife. When you can understand the pride of a man, you will understand that this is a great sacrifice. He is designed with power and authority and he naturally wants to exercise his authority. He wants to lead and direct not be lead or directed; however, in order to lead in the home, he has to be willing to be lead outside of the home.

Kerry Ptacek addresses this issue in great detail: The command that Christian husbands “love” their wives, upon reflection, may seem unnecessary. After all, Christians in general are commanded to love one another, and even their enemies. However, as I have explained elsewhere, love means seeking good for another. Loving a fellow Christian, loving an enemy (one who seeks to harm), and loving non-Christians in general require different actions and responses. The love commanded Christian husbands in this case also would be defined by the object of that love, that is, “your wives.”

A Christian husband should love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church.” But how did Christ love the church? He “gave Himself for her.” Some have thought that Christ’s sacrificial death is in view. However, the Greek verb translated “gave for,” paradidomai, refers to giving someone or something over to the authority or custody of others. Therefore, the part of Christ’s life which is being compared to the role of the husband is when Christ was given over to the authority of others. Christ let Himself be given over by Judas and the Jewish religious leaders to the Gentile authorities. As the Son of God, He was in control of these events, yet as a human, as the Son of Man, He truly gave Himself into their power.

Failure to properly understand the meaning of Christ giving Himself as in this verse leads to a wrong understanding of the first aspect of the husband’s love for his wife: giving himself over to the authority of others, for her sake. The main error in understanding this passage is to think that Christ’s sacrificial death is the example intended for husbands. Under the cover of false heroism too little is actually demanded from the husband. A husband is unlikely to face the prospect of dying for his wife, even if this were the intended sense of our verse. However, all husbands will give themselves over to the authority of others for their wives. They do this especially in going to work, thus being under the power in some sense of either employers or clients during most of their waking hours. Husbands also put aside the tendency of young men not to worry about getting into trouble with the law, so they accept these authorities, for the sake of being there for their wives rather than being in prison or on the run. This may seem like a strange application, but reflect for a moment on the everyday life of young men in those parts of our society in which marriage has broken down.

The love of a Christian husband for his wife begins with giving himself for her. However, even many un-believing husbands love their wives to that extent.

In verse 26 we see the second aspect of love for his wife, which is distinctly Christ-like. The word “that” indicates that what follows is the purpose of Christ giving Himself up for the sake of the church as it applies to the Christian husband.

Here “sanctify” means setting apart someone or something for God’s purposes. God the Father sanctified Christ and sent Him into the world (John 10:3:6). Christ sanctified, set apart, a people for Himself through the gospel. Those given to Him by the Father, the elect, respond to Christ’s words in genuine faith because they are drawn by the Father.

Christ’s word through the Holy Spirit acting on the new heart also cleanses His people from the lives from which they were called. The word “cleanse” refers to the removal of uncleanness which hinders one’s approach to God. For example, the Lord told Peter in a vision that foods previously prohibited under the law had been cleansed and so could be eaten without becoming ceremonially unclean (Acts 10:15; 11:9). Peter when asked to explain his subsequent decision to risk defilement by going to the household of Cornelius the centurion identified the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles assembled there as God “purifying [cleansing] their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).”

You can begin to see the magnitude of what the husband is called to do. As you can see, although the phrase “gave himself up for her” is not directly correlated with the sacrificial death of Christ at Calvary, the statement “as Christ loved the Church” is implicit of it. Women (wives), when your husband says that he will die for you, he means it. Dying for what he believes in is a part of a man’s DNA. This is why when there is some great international incident in which the honor of the US is challenged, young men will come out of the woodwork to offer their lives to defend it. Men relate to honor; even in the streets it is a code of honor. We may not understand it or agree with it, but it exists and it is adhered to with rigid conformity.

28Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.

29For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church,

30Because we are members (parts) of His body.

31For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Eph. 278-31, AMP)

As you can see, the husband’s command does not stop at giving himself up or sacrificing his life. The husband is to love the wife in the same way that he loves himself. Again this points to treating her with equality born from a love that is willing to look beyond self and see her needs. He is to “nourish” Greek,

ἐκτρέφω

ektrephō

ek-tref’-o

From G1537 and G5142; to rear up to maturity, that is, (generally) to cherish or train: – bring up, nourish.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G1625

And “cherish”, Greek,

θάλπω

thalpō

thal’-po

Probably akin to θάλλω thallō (to warm); to brood, that is, (figuratively) to foster: – cherish.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries G2282

 

Men, we are called to put it all on the line. We are to give ourselves up for the sake of honoring, purifying, protecting and providing for our wives. We are to look past our needs and desires and see theirs. To give up our lives is natural and instinctive, but to sacrifice of ourselves while living has the greatest impact and it will draw our wives to us.

There is one last thing I want to point to here men, and that is that there is no conditional clause involved in this passage. What this means is that we are to love our wives unconditionally. Regardless to how irrational she is behaving; not matter how disrespectful she is being, we are to love with every ounce of our being. “As Christ loved the Church” says so much. We must understand that Christ made his greatest sacrifices for us while we were most undeserving of them.

6 For while we were still(L)helpless, (M)at the right time(N)Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; [d]though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God(O)demonstrates (P)His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, (Q)Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:6-8, NASB)

So, husbands, your command to love your wife must come from within; an “agape” love that looks through your wife and sees God’s design and plan for you as the head.

 

May God Bless and keep each of you.

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

Rick Wallace Ministries

 

It would seem that with all the evidence supporting the fact that wives need love and husbands need respect, that there would be more people applying these principles to their marriages. It seems that a concept this simple would be easily applied and all would be better for it. The problem is that the very foundation of this principle; men and women being designed and wired differently, creates a divide that is often times quite difficult to narrow.

 

Once a couple realizes that they have been communicating in code, the ability to efficaciously decipher the code is not easily obtained. Listen to what one of Dr. Eggerich’s clients had to say.

 

“Thanks for all your suggestions and support. [But] I remain perplexed at the chasm that exists between my perception and reality. When I began this endeavor, I had hope but low expectations, and I was happy to see how quick and positive the effects of “loving” behavior are. It was not difficult to bite my tongue and not “fight back” when I prepared myself for it. I think that while I felt apologetic, I can easily be humble and pretty much take anything that comes my way.

 

The difficulty begins when I begin to see things return to normal. When I let my guard down, I begin to talk or share and it turns out that underneath things are very volatile and sensitive. When things started to go bad last week, it happened extremely fast and I was surprised to hear how all the same issues remain at the same raw and grim level. I hate hearing that I am her enemy. It is painful to hear her ask, “Why do you want to crush my spirit?” It is extremely difficult not to explode in despair when I hear her say that she doesn’t believe that I love her, or that I will never change, or that she made a mistake and I am not the man she thought I was.

 

It sure makes it seem that the road is long and possibly fruitless. Amidst getting angry, and blaming her, and the gambit of contorted emotional upheavals, I hear you saying that it is rarely the content  but rather the manner of delivery that causes problems and I cringe at my inability to communicate effectively. Things have gotten so grossly out of shape and I feel ashamed that I’ve been blind and let them get so bad. I also feel a little overwhelmed that all this effort and tolerance will only get us to some point of mediocrity, and that at the slightest perturbation everything will come tumbling down again.”

 

Dr. Eggerich’s points out the fact that very few men are capable of articulating their feelings as lucidly as this man has. Most men simply become frustrated. The disciples, after hearing Jesus speak of the issues and requirements of marriage said, “…If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” (Matt. 19:10 NIV)

Jesus had just explained that divorce was not an avenue of expediency in dealing with a troubled marriage and that the violation of the marriage covenant had severe consequences. Make no mistake about it; marriage is an institution that requires true and unwavering commitment.

It is not commitment when its based on circumstances and other transitory variables. The marriage requires your all even when you do not feel like giving it. Marriage demands sacrifice when every fiber of your being is telling you to preserve your own existence

 

Is Unconditional Respect an Oxymoron?

 

In a society where almost from birth we are taught that respect is something that is earned, it seems quite the oxymoronic statement to say that the wife is called to unconditional respect. Actually the command is to demonstrate respect, not feel it. The wife is to demonstrate respect and reverence for and toward her husband even when she does not feel as though he deserves it. In the same way the husband is required to demonstrate unconditional love toward his even when he feels that she does not deserve it. Why is this? First of all, what is deserving of love and respect is a relative concept. Each person has their own view as to what it takes to earn their respect and love. This command removes the individual perception out of the equation. Secondly, human emotion is often reactive instead of responsive, which is its true design.  Instead of allowing the emotions to be a responsive mechanism that alerts one to the truth of any given situation, most have learned to allow their emotions dictate action based on a perceived truth. Anger, when it is healthy, is an emotion that alerts one of a wrong of some sort. This is where anger’s job ends. Anger should never be the determining factor in responding to the wrong. This command alleviates the human inclination to withhold what is required when angered or disappointed.

Unconditional respect is diametrically opposed to the very essence of the woman’s design. This is why she is commanded to demonstrate respect toward her husband, because it is unnatural and it makes no sense to her whatsoever. Now the wife understands unconditional love, she has no problem with that at all. It makes sense, since she is wired that way. Now on the other hand, when you say unconditional respect to the wife, it does not register as she attempts to reason with it.

The wife has a mindset that the husband must meet certain criteria in order to receive respect. It seems that wives fail to give serious consideration to Peter’s exhortation to wives to maintain their chaste and respectful behavior, even when their husbands are being disobedient to the word (1 Pet. 3:1-2). Peter’s reasoning is that through her respectful and chaste conduct she will win over her husband and he will begin to live as a Christian husband should. The wife’s chaste, respectful, and affirming behavior has the power to transform her husband. This is diametrically opposed to the wife’s natural response to her husband’s waywardness; to browbeat him into submission. As you can see by the escalating divorce rate, that approach is working like a charm.

This in no way implies that the wife is not to address her husband’s waywardness and it definitely does not imply that she should endorse it. However; the wife can express unconditional respect in the manner in which she engages her husband at all times.

On the other side of the coin, husbands have a great difficulty in grasping the concept of unconditional love; just as the wife with unconditional respect, the husband is not wired to naturally demonstrate this virtue. This is why he is commanded to so. Men are extremely objective in the focus of their love where women are subjective. What does this mean and why is important to understand this? What this means is that the husband’s sense of love is based on who he projects his love upon. He is responsive to the object. If he feels that the object is not deserving of his love it is very difficult for him to demonstrate love toward the object. The wife (woman) is subjective in her love; her love flows from within. She is wired to love even when she is not being loved in return. She is a giver by nature. Unconditional love for the wife is a no brainer; what other kind of love is their?

The point that both the husband and the wife seem to miss is if they carry out their responsibility it actually motivates and encourages their spouse to carry out theirs.

Tomorrow we will focus more on the husbands command to love and we will draw the correlation between his command to love and the power within it to hold his marriage together.

Remember, “Husbands love your wives, and wives respect your husbands (Eph. 5:33)” is a simple concept and command. Getting there; however, requires true commitment.

 

God bless,

 

Bishop Rick Wallace

Fill Your Space

 

I have one thing to say to you: Fill your space. Let me explain. Last year was, by far, the worst year of my life. Not because of anybody else but because of me. This is why: I was not truly successful at anything in particular. I had some decent moments, but nothing great and nothing lasting. For a person that was used to succeeding at everything they attempted this was a struggle. In the month of December the frustration I had been fighting for the entire year was beginning to weigh me down. So, I decided to follow my own advice and take an introspective look at myself.

What I found was that I had not been filling my space. What I mean by filling my space is bringing more to any situation than I took from it. A person that adequately fills their space brings value to every situation they enter into; no matter how large or small the situation. I had always been successful at anything that I set my mind to do, but somewhere I lost sight of why. I just kept waiting for success. I kept doing what I have told people not to do for years, wait on fortune to find me.

Even when I was not completely in the will of God I always filled my space. If I walked in a room I filled my space because I brought a value to that room greater that what I was taking away from it. I could help those in the room elevate themselves emotionally, financially, in self-esteem and so much more. Even when someone paid me for a service, I always gave them more than cash value. They called it a great deal; I called it filling my space. It was a principle at work. I decided in December that it was time to fill my space and that will be my goal from this point forward.

So, I encourage you to fill your space. In fact, do all you can to more than fill your space. This is what I will be striving for in 2012. Filling your space will bring you success. When put out more than you get, when your presence brings about a blessing and worth to anything, that is filling your space. When the lives you come in contact with are better for it, you are filling your space. Greatness comes by filling your space.

I want you to really think about that.

God bless you ~ Bishop Rick Wallace

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