What’s Love Got to Do With It?

February is the month of valentines, flowers, candy, and love. It’s also National Heart Health month, and at our house, we’re hoping we’ll begin to see the snow start melting and glimpses of spring around the corner.

As I thought about what to write this week, the Lord kept giving me the line from an old song “What’s love got to do with it?” If you read my January 30 blog post, Love Your Body: Revive Sexual Purity, I emphasize that God designed sex to be an expression of love in marriage between a man and a woman, His creations. So love has everything to do with sex!

I’ve also written an article for Crosswalk.com on the importance of asking God and your spouse for forgiveness for sexual encounters before you got married, even with each other. I hope everyone has, or will, take that important step. It could save a marriage.

When I think about love, my mind always goes to Jesus. Yes, my husband and I make plans to do something special to celebrate our love on Valentine’s Day, but we both know that Jesus is our first love. We wouldn’t have made it through the stresses and trials of a blended family if we hadn’t put Jesus at the center of our marriage; but most importantly, at the center of each of our lives. We don’t want to ever forget who is our First Love, Jesus Christ. (Rev. 2:4)

Recently at church, the pastor asked the children how we know Jesus is alive today. The answer: He lives in each believer’s heart. That’s true love!

So whether you’re single or married, I want to share three important points about what love has to do with our witness for Jesus, especially as we look at the tumultuous times we live in today.

Christians Need to Love Each Other

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17

Jesus was talking to his disciples in John 15:16-17, and we are Jesus’s disciples today. God chose us to bear fruit and we can’t share a message of love if we don’t love each other. We can’t have dissension in the church or among church members. Sadly, Satan has used the current political unrest to pit brothers and sisters in Christ against each other. In the Bible, there are no Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives . . . There is only One timeless Word of God (John 1:1, Heb. 13:8). There is also only one kind of Christian: “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).

As born-again Bible-Believing Christians, we’re appointed to go out and bear testimony to the world together. We should unite as one in agreement on . . .

  • Whatever allows us to share the Good News that Jesus saves we’re for; whatever prohibits that freedom or tries to silence us, we’re against.
  • Whatever upholds the teachings of the Bible we’re for; whatever prohibits or alters those teachings, we’re against.
  • We stand together for the sanctity of human life, marriage between a man and a woman, God creating us as men and women, and we’re not afraid to lovingly bear that fruit for Jesus.

Anything separating us on those issues isn’t from God!

Christ Loves Us with a Never-Ending Love

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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. Rom. 8:38-39

Sadly, we only have to look at divided churches, families, friends . . . all proclaiming to be Christians separated by issues where they should be united, and Satan wins because that compromises our witness. That’s a shame! There’s a lost world that needs to know the love of Christ displayed through a body of Christ that shows the love of Christ by agreeing on what it means to be a Christian. Today that’s not the case. The good news is that nothing we do can ever separate us from the love of God for those who have truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

I had a man on Facebook tell me he had been a Christian for 50 years, read the Bible numerous times, been to church, talked to pastors, been in Bible study groups, and now has decided Christianity is a farce, doesn’t work for him anymore, and he told me I needed to know that Jesus is not returning. Two things came to mind: (a) you can leave Jesus, but He will never leave you. (b) you can be a Christian in name only, but never have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ. His words were so harsh I fear he was in the latter group.

I remember singing a song as a little girl “I have the love of Jesus love of Jesus down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart to stay.”

How Much Love Do You Have to Give?

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 The Message

Do you Love Jesus Enough to Share Him with others or Are You Keeping All the Love To Yourself?

Another woman on Facebook wrote this:

FB woman: “There are many other religions who do not make Jesus/Satan part of their belief system. All destined to damnation? It’s a big world out there, and much of it overcomes the negative.”

Me: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

FB woman: “Written by John a century later, an evangelist trying to convert the world to his new religion. PBS and History Channel do wonderful educational shows on the origins of the Bible. Check them out. I have read the Bible extensively Janet, I just haven’t drawn the same dark conclusions. And the shows I mentioned are created by scientists and historians with no agenda but discovery. I wouldn’t want to rest my eternity on what someone else says.”

This woman was confused, but I was able to point out to her that John was actually with Jesus, not a century later, and she was resting her eternity on what scientists and television said rather than letting God speak to her through the Bible. Maybe I made some headway. My heart breaks for those misled by the liberal progressive godless agenda and the many “belief systems,” and the Christians who have forgotten their first love. Love says we will take the time to share the truth.

During the election and since Donald Trump became POTUS, many have been mean, vicious, and vile on social media. I often have to remind myself that Jesus died for them too, and it’s my job to let them know that in a loving way. It’s up to them to make the choice. I don’t try to convince them, because you can’t reason with someone blinded by evil. If they’re not following God, they’re following Satan. Those are the only two roads; there is no middle path. But now they’re accountable for knowing there is another way and maybe someone else will share a little more love down the road. Who knows, they just might decide that heavy load of anger, bitterness, revenge, meanness, bullying, whatever that has turned their heart so hard, just isn’t worth carrying around anymore.

No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced,
    but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Show me the right path, O Lord;
    point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God who saves me.
    All day long I put my hope in you.

Psalm 25:3-5 NLT

What does love have to do with it?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor. 13:6-7

Opening picture from crosscards.com

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Dear God, He’s Home!

Today, I’m doing the happy dance because tomorrow, March 5, my book Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man releases.This book is the third in the “Dear God” series. The first two are: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey and Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey. I’ve traveled these three journeys, and my hope is to mentor, bless, and encourage other women who are on the journey now.

Last week, I received the author’s copies of Dear God, He’s Home! and holding your new “baby” never gets old. Today’s blog is part of a two-part post that will introduce you to the heart of the book. Next Monday you will hear from my stay-at-home man.

Photo: Look what was waiting for me when we got home tonight! Another baby birthed LOL:)

The wife of a stay-at-home man is going to talk to God—a lot!

Maybe she’ll write a cathartic letter in her journal: Dear God,. . . . Another wife might begin her pleading or thankful prayers with “Dear God,”. . . . Still other wives in times of desperation or frustration cry out, “Dear God, HE’S HOME!”

The various times my husband has been a “Stay-at-Home Man,” I regularly expressed each of those “Dear Gods,” as do the wives who submitted stories for my book Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. So if you have a stay-at-home man and he’s driving you crazy, don’t feel guilty if you haven’t always been joyous about this new closeness in your marriage relationship. And don’t feel alone. When I sent out a request for stories of women with a husband home due to retirement, illness, disability, out of work, home office, the military . . . whatever reason…the stories flowed into my inbox and my ears.

With unemployment at an all-time high, baby boomers reaching retirement age by the droves, military pulling out of many areas and returning home, businesses down-sizing or setting up virtual offices in homes, chances are pretty good you either are or know a woman with a stay-at-home man.

Whenever I mention the title of my book, wives smirk with raised eyebrows and knowingly remark, “Boy, do I have a story for you!” “I need this book.” “I know someone who could use this book.” Or “I’m going to need this book soon, write fast!”

Myriad emotions and reactions erupt from both spouses when an otherwise out-of-the-home-every-day husband is suddenly home all day—every day. Many wives have their own label for this occurrence. In Honey, I’m Home for Good!, Mary Ann Cook calls it spouse-in-the-house syndrome.” Then there’s retired-husband syndrome” or military reintegration syndrome.

Every couple’s response to their unique syndrome evolves from how they’ve dealt with previous transitions in their relationship. Couples who stumbled and fumbled without finding workable resolutions in the past, will probably stumble and fumble through this new situation too. However, couples who have successfully developed and implemented coping techniques may be better equipped to adjust to a full time “stay-at-home man.” Even so, unexpected issues can blindside both spouses.

There’s no age qualifier for a husband suddenly being home 24/7. Sometimes it comes as a shock and other times it’s the natural progression of expected retirement or return from deployment. But even when we know it’s coming, the reality of a hubby being home full-time can still be shocking and disarming. A woman recently wrote me:

My dad has just announced that he’ll be retiring the end of March, so I’m excited to read your book and send it along to my mom afterwards. We didn’t handle his retirement from the Marine Corps so well 20 years ago. I was just laughing about it with him on the phone today, but he has better laid plans to transition out this time around.

Planning is essential, if you have that luxury. Each time my husband has been home, it’s always been a surprise and no time to plan. It hit us both hard and we struggled through adapting to the transitions and changes we each experienced.

For Better or For Worse but Not For Lunch

There’s a universal frustration expressed by wives of stay-at-home husbands: He’s invading “my space” and my work load is increasing while his is decreasing. The prospect of fixing lunch every day can push a wife over the top.  John expresses the lament of many wives:

When I retired from the Navy (and was a stay at home retiree) my wife (after a few weeks) said, “I promised for better or worse, but I didn’t promise lunch every day. Go out and get another job. So I did…John

John J. Cline

 John

Not every husband can go out and get another job, at least not right away. Instead of feeling resentful or overwhelmed, we wives need to put into perspective issues like lunch or helping with household duties and discuss with our husbands in the same way we would discuss a major decision or planning a trip—talk it out.

Most husbands were used to eating lunch somewhere —maybe driving up to a takeout window, or sitting in a restaurant and ordering, or going to the lunchroom and eating the lunch we packed. They don’t know how to change that pattern unless we help redirect them to making their own lunches now or going out with the guys. One husband, who went from working in an office to working out of the home, still gets in his car and drives to lunch. It was what he always did and it feels right. I’m sure it feels right to his wife too!

Part 2 of Dear God, He’s Home! to be continued next Monday Morning. Have a great week. I’m going to have fun sharing my book with wives who I hope will be blessed and encouraged in this season of their lives.

We’re Running a Special for the Month of March

At our website store, you can purchase Dear God, He’s Home!  personalized and signed for only $9.99 (regular price $14.99) for the month of March.

If you would like to read the first two chapters go to this snippet.

Next week I’ll have a book trailer to share with you.

Who’s Your First Love?

True Love Heart

February is the month of love and romance. Red and pink hearts are everywhere in honor of Valentine’s Day—the universal day for showing and sharing love. Of course, we don’t just love in the month of February—or one day a year—but it is the day we focus on finding ways to demonstrate our love.

Little children certainly don’t limit their display of love to just one day! Whenever my grandkids come to visit, they leave me love notes with their sweet heart drawings all over the house and on my white board. And at home they do the same for mommy and daddy. They seem to have an abundance of love and they don’t mind telling the world about it!

Brandon's love note

Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to your mind: I LOVE_________

 Love is a word we often use loosely and it can take on many different meanings….

  • I love pizza!
  • I love pink!
  • I love my husband!
  • I love my kids!
  • I love my new vacuum!
  • I love Trader Joe’s!

I think you get the idea. Obviously we love our husbands and kids more than we love pizza. So how would you fill in the following blank?

My FIRST love is _____________.

You might have had trouble completing that sentence. If you’re married, how could you possibly differentiate between your husband and your children as your first love? If you have more than one child . . . how could you determine which one of them you love first? You can’t. But when you fill in that blank with…My FIRST love is Jesus . . . He gives you the ability to have limitless love for Him and for others:

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”—Matthew 22:37-40 The Message

You probably know people who would fill in the blank with …

  • My FIRST love is myself.
  • My FIRST love is my career.
  • My FIRST love is fame and fortune.
  • My FIRST love is my car or house or bank account…..

Every day we see on the news or in our neighborhoods, the tragic results of lives lived with the wrong priorities.

Analogy: Earthy Love and Love for Jesus

I once read a satirical advice column:  Dear Dr. Lovelorn, Where do I go to find a lukewarm love for the rest of my life to grow old with?

Of course, none of us ever plan for our romantic love to turn lukewarm. Remember when you were first in love: when time, money, and energy were never a concern. You talked lovingly about each other nonstop, couldn’t stand to be apart, showered each other with affection, and wanted the whole world to know you were in love.

Then when you marry and children join your happy family, it becomes harder and harder to find the time, money, and energy to expend on each other. Yes, your love has matured, but you have to be careful that mature love doesn’t mean the passion and excitement has turned to lukewarm and routine. Even God wants our marriages to stay as on fire, as when we were first in love….

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth”
(Proverbs 18-18 NLT)

God also wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus. Have you been around a new believer lately? They have a radiance and glow…just like a new bride. New believers are on fire for the Lord and there’s a joy and exuberance about them that’s contagious and often leads others to want to know where this new found joy came from.

But as we spiritually mature, we may become like the church in Ephesus who Jesus spoke of in Revelations 2:4-5 (NIV): “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

Removing the lampstand meant they would no longer be an effective church . . . effective Christian witness . . . effective role model to the next generation.

Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart, can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. It’s His love that fuels us to be better wives and mothers and grandmothers. . . . women. Jesus helps us do things for our families lovingly, not dutifully. There’s a difference between preparing a delicious meal because we love our family, versus throwing something together just to get them fed.

How Do We Return To Our First Love?

Just like we have to make an effort to rekindle the romantic fire in our marriages, we occasionally have to reignite the fire for Jesus in our hearts! Here’s an acrostic for L O V E that works for me, and I know it will work for you too:

Linger with Him!

“Oh, how I love your instructions!  I think about them all day long.”—Psalm 119:97 NLT

Find ways to have a quiet time with the Lord every day. I know that’s not always easy if you Susanna Wesleyhave small children; but take a tip from Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist movement. Susanna had 19 pregnancies, and 10 of her children lived past the age of two. That in itself requires great faith, but even with 10 children running around, Susanna believed strongly in daily prayer and if she couldn’t find a private place in the house to pray, she put her apron over her head as a sign to the children to be extra quiet, mom was praying!

 

Find that private place in your home where you can “throw your apron over your head” and help yoMother Daughter prayingur children learn to respect your time of prayer and reading your Bible. This will teach them more about the value of prayer than any Bible study. My daughter has three children 4, 7, 8 and she just read the Bible in a year on her phone by using YouVersion.

cell phone

 Obsess Over Him!

“I will praise the Lord at all times.  I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.”—Psalm 34:1-3 NLT

The dictionary describes obsession as:

  • Preoccupied
  • Dominated
  • Fixed
  • Immersed in
  • Gripped by
  • An Infatuation
  • A Passion

AH…that we would all be deliriously, madly, and obsessively in love with Jesus!

Value Him!

“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.  Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.”—1 Chronicles 16:23-25

Synonyms for value:

  • Worthy
  • Worship
  • Love

We can tell what we value most by looking at our checkbooks and our calendar. Where do you spend most of your money and time? Ask yourself if it has Kingdom value.

Enjoy Him!

I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.—Proverbs 8:30 NIV

Happy In the Lord

When we L O V E Jesus Christ with total abandonment, our hearts begin to change and we’re able to reach out with His love to those around us and L O V E them as Jesus commanded:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”—John 13:34-35 NIV.

 

Share with us ways you’ve found to keep Jesus first in your life and how you L-inger with O-bsess over V-alue and E-njoy Him!

Have a Happy Jesus is “My First Love” Day!

PS: You might also find it helpful to do my Bible study Face-to-Face with Priscilla and Aquila: Balancing Life and Ministry