My First Love

My First Love

Editor’s note: During 2022, we are focusing on the scriptures found in 2 Peter 1:3-11. These verses teach us about God’s divine nature. We pray that as we reflect on God’s nature, you will see all that He has created you to be! For the month of February, we are focusing on God’s characteristic of LOVE.

As a six year old little girl, my first memory was of fear and hate.  My parents were alcoholics and Daddy was a mean drunk every weekend.  Having an outhouse meant you used a coffee can after dark to relieve yourself.  This was happening one night when my seven year old male cousin walked into the bedroom where I was.  Daddy came in immediately after and whipped off his belt.  He was so mad that I would “allow” a boy to come in while I was using the bathroom.  The whipping didn’t stop until my shoes were filled with blood.  That was when Daddy got worried that I would get an infection.  He laid me on top of an ironing board and poured a bottle of rubbing alcohol on my back and legs.  That was when I not only felt hatred toward me, but I felt hate toward another.  This was how life continued until right before I turned fourteen.

I would spend most of the summer with my cousin in the country.  We would hoe cotton to make money for school clothes.  They were in the habit of going to church on Sunday mornings and I would go with them.  One particular Sunday, there was a missionary conference and different missionaries would do the preaching.  That Sunday evening the one preaching kept talking about how “Jesus loves you”.  It seemed like I was the only person in the room.  

Jesus loves me, this I know

For the Bible tells me so

Little ones to Him belong

They are weak, but He is strong. 

Those words resonated through my soul.  I accepted Jesus as my Savior that evening.  For the first time in my life I truly felt love.  I knew that those words were true.  Jesus loves me!!!  I didn’t even know what the word love meant until then.  Jesus was truly my first love.  

The weekend drunken tirades didn’t stop, but there was something different now.  I knew Jesus was with me and would never forsake me.  1 Chronicles 28:20 says that, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” I felt his presence and knew that I had a loving Father that would never harm me.  Daddy could beat my body, but my soul belonged to my heavenly Father.  

My Father continued to work in my life and I could feel the Lord nudging me toward forgiving Daddy.  I wasn’t easy to persuade, but God never gave up on me.  I eventually succumbed to the gentle nudges and forgave not only Daddy, but Mama as well for not sticking up for us.  I started praying for them both, knowing that they were in the same place I was before I found the Lord.  They didn’t understand love either.  

My mother accepted the Lord first, then when Daddy was ninety years old, he came to know Jesus as his Savior as well.  We have such a loving, merciful Father!  Love is a Person!

I don’t know how I would have survived my childhood without having Jesus’ presence with me and I know I don’t ever want to live a single day without my first LOVE.  

We would like to thank Naomi Jones for writing this blog post.

A Recovering Girl Boss

A Recovering Girl Boss

Editor’s note: During 2022, we are focusing on the scriptures found in 2 Peter 1:3-11. These verses teach us about God’s divine nature. We pray that as we reflect on God’s nature, you will see all that He has created you to be! For the month of February, we are focusing on God’s characteristic of LOVE.

I’m a recovering “Girl Boss”. Present tense because I am still in recovery, so this post will be about my journey so far and not about the finished product. I fully support women owning businesses, working full time, and getting equal pay, but I bought into the lie that I could do everything on my own and didn’t need a man or God to help me achieve big goals. I read all the Rachel Hollis books and attended her movie theater event. I thought if I just applied a few efficiency practices I could be successful!  

I remember reading a blog post about Rachel Hollis’ theories not being based in biblical truth and I just brushed it off. I can’t entirely blame Rachel Hollis for my “Girl Boss” mentality, but what I learned from her intensified this mentality. 

I believe in productivity and achieving big goals, but the part I was missing was depending on God to achieve those goals through me and seeking His knowledge when setting those goals. It got to a point where I was prioritizing my needs and my job over my husband and the needs of my family. 

I knew the life I was living needed to change. God changed my life drastically soon after. He slammed some doors I thought were wide open, I quit my full-time job, and I became a stay-at-home mom. What a transition that was! I never saw myself as a stay-at-home mom, but the Lord did, and He knew this was what I needed. This new role has forced me to completely rely on God’s plan for our family.

You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with our theme of love this month?”  2 Peter 1:3 “his divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIM WHO CALLED US by his own glory and goodness.” The only way I can love my husband and my family, is to first love God and get to know Him better. For the past year, I have devoted time each day to spend with God. 

Salley Sweeney came to Harvest back in October, and then again in January, to speak about loving our husbands. Her message has really helped me to take the next steps to loving my husband even better. The first point she made was about submitting to our husbands. Ephesians 5: 22-30 used to make me roll my eyes and think, “Why should I submit to my husband? What if I’m right or my idea is better?”

Thankfully I married a man who can handle my sass and God gives me grace for it. Verse 28 says, “In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.” This is why wives should submit to our husbands, because he loves us as himself. She went on to talk about respecting, honoring, and prizing our husbands. 

“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”- Matthew Henry

We love our husbands by being his helper and being by his side. We can love, respect, and honor him better when we put God first. It’s through “our knowledge of Him who called us,” that we can love big.

We would like to thank Chelsea Criswell for writing this blog post.

Empowered in Love

Empowered in Love

Editor’s note: During 2022, we are focusing on the scriptures found in 2 Peter 1:3-11. These verses teach us about God’s divine nature. We pray that as we reflect on God’s nature, you will see all that He has created you to be! For the month of February, we are focusing on God’s characteristic of LOVE.

Empowered in Love

“Seek Me.” The Father beckoned me with one outstretched arm behind him as he proceeded to move forward. He looked back at me and smiled, encouraging me to come along. 


God gave me this short blurb of a vision a few months ago and my first response was to crumple and childishly call out, “Wait for me! I just want to be held.” This is similar to the whines my boys give me when they want to be carried out of our Tahoe and into the house. I often fall into the trap of timidity and blindness to my own abilities in Christ but in that moment God spoke a new word to me, “EMPOWERED.”

It is out of his extravagant love that he has called me, and you, to be more than just held and comforted. In the Song of Songs the lover of our souls meets us first right where we are in our immaturity and needing his gentle affection but it doesn’t end there. Song of Songs 2:10 reads. “The one I love calls to me: Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling. Come away with me! I have come as you have asked to draw you to my heart and lead you out. For now is the time, my beautiful one.” My tendency is to shy away from such a calling, making excuses for why I’m incapable but that is when I am living out of my flesh and not realizing the power that is in me through Christ. This month’s focus is set out of 2 Peter 1:3-10 which calls us into his divine nature. 


Everything we could ever need for life and godliness has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness.
2 Peter 1:3.


What a treasure I hold inside me already having all that I need through Christ. He loved me too much to let me live a timid, powerless, unloving and undisciplined life. Instead, he calls me to be empowered with, as verse 8 says, “virtues (that) are already planted deep within.” Verse 9 explains that our eyes are closed when we lack these things because we don’t believe it for ourselves.

Looking back I have clear memories of people who loved me calling me to “arise” when I was blind to what was already inside of me. My husband and I used to work out together, before having our boys, and I often got frustrated with him as he gently encouraged me to jump higher while doing wall squats. I saw myself as weak and tired in those moments but I can easily see in hindsight that he believed in me and my strength. I also had a dear friend tell me once that I could go inside to work out before she arrived. The shy side of me took such offense to her suggestion to start working out by myself. I laugh now but I cried then not realizing that I was fully empowered to walk in that gym by myself and get my workout on. They saw in me what my eyes were closed to. And I can’t even count the number of times I was encouraged to pray and speak out truth by the men and women who knew that I was and am more than able. 

I believe out of God’s loving kindness he is calling you and I to be fully empowered. “For God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 When I am timid, my eyes are on myself allowing fear to keep me from sharing and enjoying the love of Christ. There is freedom in experiencing his divine nature and truly believing his word. It will look different for each of us but I’m so grateful that I am called to more than timidity and instead called into his divine power. And what a blessing it is to have a community of women around me pursuing our Father in the same way. 

We would like to thank D’Anna Coleman for writing this blog post.

God is Love

God is Love

Editor’s note: During 2022, we are focusing on the scriptures found in 2 Peter 1:3-11. These verses teach us about God’s divine nature. We pray that as we reflect on God’s nature, you will see all that He has created you to be! For the month of February, we are focusing on God’s characteristic of LOVE.

I can remember being a little kid and dreaming about the husband and family that I would have someday. Love looked like a perfect glass box where everything was right in the world, and nothing ever went wrong. I mean “And they lived happily ever after” was the perfect encapsulation of everything that love was meant to be, right?


Because I was obsessed with this perfect picture of love, I tried to make my life match that. I tried to make my life look as perfect as possible. I swept my junk under rugs, shoved ugly feelings in closets and closed the doors of my heart, only allowing certain parts of me to be seen and explored by God.

See if my heart was a home, I allowed God to enter through the front door, have a seat at my perfectly decorated dining room table for a cup of coffee, but I never invited Him to have a tour of the house. The consequence was that I never felt like I was truly loved or accepted by Him or
anyone else. I was scared that if I allowed every part of my heart to be on display, the ugliness would make them run away.


What changed you may ask? Singleness – that is what changed. See as I was hiding my junk, I was also desperately searching for “The One” that would satisfy my heart’s longing to be loved. I figured to be loved I needed a husband, and before I could have a husband, I needed a boyfriend. To get a boyfriend I just needed to catch his attention and keep it on me.

Spoiler alert: that did not get me where I wanted. I sacrificed perfect love for lust and that is far different. You will never find perfect love outside of God because He is love. I allowed too many red flags to turn into green ones as I reasoned out why I “deserved” this less-then-perfect love. Because remember those closed doors and dirty rugs, those were all reminders of why my love looked less than perfect.

Until one day Jesus stepped in. I was at the end of my rope, and I remember thinking “singleness would be better than this”. In that moment my heart had decided to stop running away from God and instead throw everything aside and run into him and that changed everything.


1 John 4:16 says “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him”.


When I invited God to love me, what I was really doing was abiding in Him. Abide simply means to stay fixed on or stable in; to live in. I allowed God to come live in the home of my heart; not just visit but to stay forever. He had full reign to go into every locked door and look under every rug. Suddenly I wasn’t wishing and lusting after my imperfect love; instead I was being fully saturated and overflowing in the love that never fails, never disappoints, and never leaves.


The thing is, God will never break into your heart. He wants to be invited in. He is gentle and kind. So, the question to answer today is will you invite Him in?

We would like to thank Savanna Ludecke for writing this blog post.

The Greatest Gift of All

The Greatest Gift of All

Editors note: For the month of December, our theme is “The Gift of Jesus” and our focus verses are found in Luke 2:10-14. “but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

What a wonderful time of year this is! What makes this time of year special for you?  It might be being with family and friends. Maybe it’s the decorating, food eating and gift buying that brings you joy. What about Jesus? Does He have a place in your life during this season?

Let’s talk about gifts. Gifts are exciting! All the pretty wrappings and the suspense of what is hidden beneath those wrappings. We have all heard and probably sang the classic song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  Someone tried to add up how much it would cost to give the gifts named in this song.  The grand total came to about $15,000! It seems we get all tied up in the busyness of the season and we forget about the simplicity.

Christmas, a wonderful story and a gentle reminder of the true meaning. It is about the gifts. However, it is not about the gifts that can be purchased with a credit or debit card.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is GIVEN, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “ Isaiah 9:6

The real message is not the gifts we give each other but the gifts God has given to each of us.  His gifts are the only ones that keep on giving.  Let’s look at 4 things:

1. God’s gift to us was a total surprise.  Who would have imagined that Jesus would be willing to leave perfection to come into a sinful world and in human form?

2. God’s gift came to us in humble wrappings. He wasn’t born in a palace.  We all have been taught that He was born in a stable. The reality is He was born in a cave. This cave was a cave where lambs were born to be used for religious sacrifices. The lambs had to be perfect, it was mandatory that they were unblemished. Therefore, they were wrapped in rags to prevent blemishes. We know ultimately Jesus became our sacrificial lamb, which will become another gift in the future. Just as the lambs were wrapped, Jesus was wrapped in cloths or rags and laid in a feeding trough.

3. We don’t deserve this gift. We usually give gifts to those we love and care about. We don’t usually give gifts to those that have been unkind to us. Yet, God still gave us His Son as a gift, because of love, even though the human race had become an enemy of his. They broke religious laws. To top it off,Jesus was already rejected even before his birth when there was no room in the Inn. (Luke 2:7)

4. The gift tells us something about the giver.  Just as we think ahead and plan what we want to give to others, God did the same for us. Through Jesus, our gift, He gave us an opportunity at eternal life. However, we first have to accept the gift. Then we must unwrap that gift. What are you going to do with the gift after you unwrap it?  Push it to the side and think about it later or start utilizing it and discover everything it has to offer?  If we choose to utilize it we will discover that not only is Jesus THE gift but He also brought other gifts with Him. He brought peace, hope, forgiveness, healing and purpose. He also brought a new way to live and see, a joy that can’t be taken and a way to relate to others. He brought so much more that we are still trying to unwrap it all.

It’s not about the gifts that will be under your tree. These gifts are temporary and will be gone one day. Life is about knowing the God who made you and gave you the greatest gift you will ever receive. His gift is eternal and will never wear out. His gift always fits and you never have to return it. Most importantly, His gifts are worth more than $15,000, they are priceless.  Jesus is THE greatest gift of all.

We would like to thank Kathy Jones for writing this blog post.

Being Generous with Our Love

Being Generous with Our Love

Editors note: For the month of November, our theme is Loving Big. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Bug anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This month, you will hear from the ladies of our church about how to show God’s love to others.

Have you ever given someone a gift that you made or created just for them? I love to write and when I was a girl, I would write stories for my little brother. Since I didn’t often have money, this was something I could give him that came just from me.  As I grew older, I became a little more hesitant about sharing things I write with others, but sometimes, I write a poem or a passage for a close friend or someone I love. And the things I value most are those treasured, handmade gifts that have been given to me. These things are, in a sense, part of the person who made and gave them and that makes them special.

In this passage in 1 John, we see that ‘love comes from God’.  It is both His gift to us and the essence of who He is.  God is giving himself to us when He is giving us love. But this is a gift we are not to keep to ourselves – it is something we are asked to share with others.  

When I was in fifth grade, my mother made cookies for my school Christmas party.  They were sugar cookies with red and green colored icing. We didn’t have much money at the time and cookies were a rare treat in our household.  I remember struggling all the way to school with the temptation to hide the cookies. I didn’t want to keep them all to myself, but I didn’t want to share them with everyone in the class. I only wanted to share them with my friends so there would be cookies to take home and share with my brothers.  Unable to hide a plate of cookies, I ended up setting the cookies with the other goodies for the party, and I was pleasantly surprised that there were a few left after the party.  But I still remember the struggle to share with the kids in my classroom that I did not know or like. 

How generous are we with our love? John gives us a simple command here, “Dear friends, let us love one another,” and there is a love that we can easily offer to others because it flows from God, in and through us. However, I think we’re often called to something more – particularly in regard to fellow believers who worship and fellowship with us. However, if we’re honest, it’s probably not easy for most of us to offer more than just greetings to those we don’t know. Most of us realize that the more we know someone and the more intimate the relationship whether family or friends, the easier it is to love them. John even says this about our relationship with God, “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 

People need to be seen and known. There are lonely people all around us who are just waiting for someone to see them – really see them – and to know them.  They may know they are loved by God, but still long for loving relationships with other believers. I was once one of those people, and while I had Sunday acquaintances and companions at church, I was still lonely. It was years before I had friends that knew me and encouraged me in the gifts and calling God has placed on my life.  So, to offer love to our fellow brethren, we may have to offer connection – something more than a warm greeting, short general conversation and well wishes for their day. We may need to offer to exchange phone numbers or an invitation to coffee.  I asked earlier how generous are we with our love, but the real question may be, how generous are we with our time?  For it too is a gift from God. So, like John, I encourage you, ‘Dear friends, let us love one another…’

We would like to thank Sheila Campbell for writing this blog post.

Me Love Big?

Me Love Big?

Editors note: For the month of November, our theme is Loving Big. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Bug anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This month, you will hear from the ladies of our church about how to show God’s love to others.

Loving big.  In I John 3 and 4, the disciple who calls himself the one that Jesus loved gives his readers much counsel on how and why they should love:

“Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.”  I John 3:10

“If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life.”  I John 3:14

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”  I John 3:18

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.”  I John 4:11

My favorite, though, is I John 4:16: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.”  In theory, all these admonitions from John make sense to me, and I know that I really am called to love not only fellow believers, but Jesus even goes so far as to tell me to love my enemies!  (Luke 6:35).  I have found, though, in my own life, that there are obstacles to loving big.  

One of the big ones is rejection.

I was a baby when I was adopted into my family.  My adoptive parents raised me and treated me as their very own, and I knew I was adopted from as far back as I can remember.  It wasn’t a big deal, even though my mom gave birth to my younger brother.  That was my family. One day when we were kids, my little brother said, “Your mom and dad didn’t want you, so they gave you away.”  Well, I told my mom, and my brother got in trouble for saying it, but that stuck in my head.  Those words introduced me to a spirit of rejection that I battled for most of my life, and which still tries to rise up on occasion.

This spirit of rejection can be caused or enhanced because of many life circumstances:  abuse by a parent or loved one, death of a parent or someone dear, negative words spoken by teachers or caregivers, rejection by a group at school or by a boyfriend or girlfriend, failure at a job or school, divorce; the list goes on and on.  As a person experiences these things as a part of life, she may begin to believe that God has also rejected her.  Rejection also has self-fulfilling consequences.  A person feels rejected, so she pushes people away, afraid to get close to anyone, and she often causes the cycle to continue.  She pushes people so far by her words and actions that they reject her, so it’s confirmed that no one wants anything to do with her.  

Rejection causes me to focus on hiding myself, when love wants me to reach out to someone who is lonely, who is hurting, who needs someone to listen and to pray.  Rejection says to me, “Who do you think you are?” Love says, “Who can Holy Spirit touch through me today?”  Rejection’s focus is self-protection, while love’s is ministry.  Rejection is always looking inward.  Love is always looking outward.  

It’s clear that a person can’t go around living in this rejection mode and still fulfill the law of love, right?  In Philippians, Paul tells his readers, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:4).  The only way I’ve found to move forward is to realize that I AM accepted in the Beloved (in Jesus). (Ephesians 1:6).  The more I receive the love, and believe the love that HE has for me, the more I can open my arms to the people around me and love THEM.  It’s scary, at times, because there is always a risk that people will reject me, but Jesus never will reject you or me.  We can love despite the risk. 

“Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.  Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated to us.”  I John 4:18-19

“Afraid of punishment” means “fear is suspicious” in the Aramaic.  We can overcome our suspicious fear of rejection and love BIG, knowing that we are safely in the family of God, no matter what.

We would like to thank Sheri Warren for writing this blog post.

To Love as Christ Loves

To Love as Christ Loves

Editors note: For the month of November, our theme is Loving Big. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Bug anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This month, you will hear from the ladies of our church about how to show God’s love to others.

In order to love big, one must first know Love—not just head knowledge, social-media profile, surface kind of know. Rather, a gut-level, day-in-day-out, wash-the-dishes, clean-the-poop, kind of know. It’s knowing relationally through life’s messes and celebrations.   

Head knowledge remains such a valued commodity in our society (in Jesus’ society too)and yet, application of that knowledge makes all the difference. Head knowledge means nothing without gut-level application. Pharisees’ head knowledge and religious application set them apart. Yet Jesus frequently called out this “brood of vipers” as bad fruit condemned to judgement (Matthew 12), as hypocritical blind guides leading themselves and others to destruction (Matthew 23). Jesus contrasted these criticisms with storing up good in your heart and accompanied them with warnings about caring meticulously for appearance while ignoring internal decay. Knowing and even doing what is right is abhorrent without the right heart and motivation.

Our knowledge of love, our knowledge of God who is love, must well up from within. So how do we love? Ask.

1 John 4:15 says, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”

Choosing to follow Jesus is eternal salvation, yes, but as believers, we are also called to bring God’s kingdom to earth. Praise the Lord for eternal salvation. Praise the Lord that salvation includes the Holy Spirit who empowers us to walk in love now, empowers us to live in God’s kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven. If you have not yet made the decision to follow Jesus, please do today. Contact your Christian friends and we will celebrate with you! Without this relationship, we cannot love. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).  

So how do we continue in love? Walk in love? Abide. Remain.

John 15:1-17 speaks of bearing good fruit by staying connected to the vine. Verse ten says, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.” It’s not a to-do list. Verse 12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Jesus lay down his life for us, for sinners. Verse 17 repeats, “This is my command: Love each other.” How do I remain in God’s love? Obey. What’s the command? Love each other as Christ loved. Because of God’s love, I am able to love.

Practically, what does loving each other look like? In Jesus life, ultimately laying down his life. Until that point, his ministry was full of loving others. He loved crowds, taught them, healed them, fed them. He took time away from the crowds to remain in God’s presence. He saw what the Father was doing and did it too.

At my house, loving each other looks like doing dishes, scrubbing toilets, watching basketball, reading books, playing games, wrestling, tackling, tickling. Yet these mean nothing unless my heart is right. They are useless acts that drain unless my heart does them out of love. When I walk in love, these acts are life-giving, joyful responses to knowing who I am and whose I am. 

Loving big is patient, kind, humble, honoring. Loving big protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.

My constant prayer from Psalm 139 is “Search me, God, and know my heart…lead me in the way everlasting.” Friends, our words and actions overflow from the abundance of our hearts. What are you filling your heart with? May love well up from the core of who we are. As we abide in God, may the fruit of our lives be expressed in love.

Holy Spirit, empower us to love big!

We would like to thank Mary Coleman for writing this blog post.

Loving BIG

Loving BIG

Editors note: For the month of November, our theme is Loving Big. The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:7-8, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Bug anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This month, you will hear from the ladies of our church about how to show God’s love to others.

Jesus loves you and He loves me…BIG!! This love is different than the love the world knows or recognizes. The world does not know this love because they do not know Him. As we look around at the world today, it seems as if the spirit of love is hidden or even lost. Let’s be honest, people are messy and sometimes hard to love. Yet our verse for the month, 1 John 4:7-8, tells us to love one another. He’s not just telling us but He is commanding us to love.

What does your relationship with Jesus look like right now?

The past couple of months God placed the following in my spirit: Do you have intimacy WITH me before doing work FOR me? Or are you trying to do work FOR me BEFORE seeking my intimacy?

When we jump into doing work for the Lord before seeking Him, we are relying on our own works, our flesh. That includes loving people. We are called to open ourselves to God’s love so God can love others through us. When we love one another we represent God to the world. When we leave intimacy with God last, loving each other is hard.

What does being intimate with God look like? For me, it’s being in His Word first thing in the morning before the activities of the day begin. Personally, I enjoy following verse by verse studies of what is really being revealed in His Word or diving into a particular topic or theme. I enjoy the stillness and quietness of the morning and just being with Him. Enter in worship music off and on during the day. Your intimate time with God may look different. Whatever that may be, it is CRUCIAL that before you do activities FOR God that you have spent time WITH God. It is in this moment where His Spirit guides and directs you.

Loving others is a call to action. John 13:34 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. Jesus makes love a priority. Love stirs the spirit and makes an impression on the soul. Genuine love requires more than calling someone tender names. We often think that love is a sweet, sentimental feeling. Biblically, love is self sacrificing, caring and committing. It’s always searching for the good in others. There are so many ways we can love each other. Here are 10 ways to get started:
1. Pray for each other ( James 5:16)
2. Worship together (Hebrews 10:25)
3. Fellowship/ show hospitality (1 Peter 4:9)
4. Serve/ help each other (1 Peter 4:10)
5. Be humble (Ephesians 4:2)
6. Be encouraging ( 1 Thess. 5:11)
7. Forgive (Ephesians 4:32)
8. Be in peace with each other (Romans 12:18)
9. Speak the truth in love ( Ephesians 4:15)
10. Be loveable (Romans 12:10)

Love is not an optional virtue for the believer. It is to be the distinguishing mark of the church in the world. Despite what language you speak or what nation you live in, love has the ability to be understood across the broad expanse of this universe. Since God lives in us, we are to give the love God has given us and give it to the world. It’s a gift to be given and not kept for ourselves. We are called to love again. Will you be obedient? It’s time to bring the light called love into the dark places. The time to love big is now!

We would like to thank Kathy Jones for writing this blog post.

Hunting & Husbands

Hunting & Husbands

Editor’s Note: During the month of November, we are going to learn how to build healthy, Godly relationships. Whether it is with yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends, your co-workers, who we surround ourselves with matters! Relationships can be life-giving and sometimes not. Looking to the Word gives us clear direction and instruction on how to foster healthy relationships. Enjoy reading these just in time for the holidays! This is a re-post from 2 years ago.

My husband asked me to go hunting with him a few months ago and I said, “Sure, sounds like an adventure.”

Ladies, be sure you get all details before you agree to go on a hunting trip. 

Turns out, we hunted for 5 days. Like hardcore hunting in the MOUTAINS. Hello! Of course you are going to have to hike, JuLea!!! We woke up at 4:15 and didn’t return back to the cabin until after dark. It was COLD…16 degrees cold and snowing. I opted out one morning when it was 2 degrees… did you get that???!!! 2 DEGREES!! I told them to come back for me when it was at least double digits. I bought a cute backpack before we went, not knowing that by the time I had packed all of my necessities for the day would weigh over 40 pounds. It consisted of: water, Gatorade, sandwich, chips, granola bar and bullets (that I never even used). In addition, I carried a 12-pound rifle, 3-pound binoculars, and a blanket strapped to the top of my pack. I was a sight to be seen!  

What had I gotten myself into??? 

One evening, I became quite nervous. We had hunted all day. I was tired, and it was quitting time. We had just hiked to the top of a double black diamond. If you are skier, you know what that means. We were 2.5 miles away from our pickup, and the sun was setting. So, down the black diamond we went. After about 20 minutes, I knew we still had at least about 1.5 miles to go and it was completely dark. Everything looked the same. I couldn’t have retraced my steps if my life depended on it.

Every step into the dark was unknown. Luckily, we had a guide who knew those mountains like the back of his hand. 

And it reminded me, sometimes we are in uncharted territory in life, or so it seems, but our Father knows exactly where we’re at. He knows our next step. He’s the one who created the mountains! And with confidence He leads us through the mountains to our destination – just like our guide. 

Things may feel way off. You may be nervous. You may feel like you’re on the wrong path. But take heart, He has overcome the world! Scripture says in many places that He is guiding your every step. Proverbs 16:9 – The Lord will establish your steps. Isaiah 58:11 – The Lord will guide you always. Friend, He knows what He is doing! He knows exactly where that dark trail leads to.  Choose to be brave in those moments of uncertainty. He will always get you to the other side if you keep walking. He cares about you. We are of such high value to Him! 

Back to the hunting trip…my husband was so excited that I said “yes.” He was proud that I was hunting with him. And you know what? Every cold moment was worth it to see him happy. Once we were at the top of the double black diamond mountain, it was amazing to watch the beauty of creation from a couple thousand yards away. Hours of peaceful sitting became filled with prayer and quiet time. But the greatest reward was the time I got to invest with my husband. 

Flowers won’t grow if you don’t water them.

Your relationship with your spouse won’t grow if you don’t water it either. 

 Figure out things you and your spouse like to do together and do those things! Make time. Do the things you don’t like to do that your husband does and see what happens. A couple of years ago I stumbled across the “30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.” Every day you encourage your husband in a different way. Some days the encouragement was subtle and went unnoticed, other days it was apparent. Some days I would forget and so will you. But, it will become part of who you if you stick it out. Eventually Brent caught on and he started returning the encouragement!

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Be intentional about showing him physically, emotionally and spiritually that you care about him. I would encourage you to do your own 30-Day Husband Challenge and keep track of what God does in your marriage. Here are some examples straight from the challenge of what you can and can’t do for 30 days:

  • You can’t say anything negative about your husband… to your husband… or to anyone else, about your husband.
  • Say something you admire to your husband or to anyone else, about your husband.
  • Let him know you appreciate him and his hard work every day. Tell him you respect him. 
  • Praise your husband for a character quality that you see in him. Build up that man of yours!
  • Appreciate your husband’s faithfulness to you.
  • Praise your husband’s faithfulness to God.
  • Ask your husband questions – hear the heart of your husband. Get to know him. LISTEN, women! Quit talking.
  • Tell your husband how handsome he is.
  • Submit to his authority. God’s perfect design. 
  • Let your husband know when he pleases you and help him navigate through those unknowns.
  • Encourage his love making and masculinity.
  • Verbally let him know you are proud of him.
  • Don’t focus on his faults. Make a list and focus on his strengths. Draw those out in him. 

I leave you with the most important thing you can do for your husband: Pray for him. Pray for him. Pray for him. Have fun encouraging him and in return, enjoy the intimacy this will bring to your relationship!

Oh, I almost forgot. My husband got a nice muley buck on the last hour of the last morning of the hunt. BAM! 

We would like to thank JuLea Bouma for writing this post.