The greatest love I’ve ever known, the greatest love I’ve found

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It’s only fitting to finish the love month of blog posts by sharing with you about the best love I’ve found. I was listening to the radio the other day and they shared a little bit of the history of Valentine’s Day. One version, at least. But it struck me and reminded me of just one of the reasons I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day; it’s another excuse to show those around you how much you love them. Some argue you can do that any day and I agree but why not include this day, as well?

So apparently Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome who was imprisoned for helping Christians. A Roman Emperor tried to convert him to Roman paganism; if he converted, his life would be spared. Not only did Saint Valentine refuse to convert but he was actually executed for trying to convert the Emperor to Christianity. But before his execution, he would send messages about Christ’s love out, signing them Your Valentine. Love letters about God’s love.

I love my boyfriend. I love him more than I loved any other guy. But let me tell you why. The best thing about him is the love he has for Christ. It’s that love, that respect for God that manifests itself in ways that make me feel so unbelievably loved. And I’ve learned the only way someone can love this deeply is if they have Christ’s love. Because I know his love for me doesn’t depend on my behavior, whether good or bad in that moment, but in who he is in Christ.

1 John 4:19 says “We love because He first loved us.” It’s that love that pours out in an abundance showing signs of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, patience, not envious, not boastful, not proud, not dishonoring, not self-seeking, not easily angered, not keeping a record of wrong, not delighting in evil, rejoicing in truth, protecting, trusting, hopeful, and persevering (Galatians and 1 Corinthians ). Wow. You see, I’m not talking about attraction here. Infatuation. Similar personalities or success. I’m talking about something that reaches so much deeper. Something we don’t often talk about it.

Jesus was our prime example of this love. Humbling himself- not prideful, not focusing on what he felt he deserved. So full of grace, mercy, forgiveness. This is the greatest love I’ve found. When I was at my worst, He loved me evermore. This is the love that never fails because Jesus never fails. This is the love that endures because Jesus is always with us. This is the love that is eternal because Jesus is with us to the end of time. When you find that love, you desire nothing more than to share it with others. I pray you feel His love more than ever.

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*Special shout out to Wikipedia and my wonderful boyfriend with their help with this post:)

photo credit: patrickmai875 Valentines Day via photopin (license)

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February Fakes: Why I’d date an atheist over a “Christian”

February Fakes

Well this might be one of my most controversial series to date but I think what I’m going to share needs to be said. And I sincerely hope you listen to my heart behind the words I write instead of pulling them apart. Each post on Sunday, in February, will be inspired by a different man I’ve dated. Each, very unique and different individuals. However, all four claimed to be Christians and God was/is an active part of their life. You’ll find Christian noted as their religion on their Facebook profile and you’ll see them in church on Sunday morning. But these four guys had me questioning why I’d rather marry any of my atheist friends over them. The word Christian is in quotes because I’m now convinced these men aren’t Christian at all. It’s not me being judgmental. There’s a reason people are turned off to Christianity and this is part of the problem. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they’ve been hurt by Christians. And I’m not talking about little, petty things that you get over. I’m talking about things that shouldn’t be happening within the body of Christ. I’m talking about things that need to be addressed and not swept under the “we all sin” label. Don’t ever let someone or something put a bad taste for Christianity in your mouth. Look to Christ only. If you encounter any of these types of men, don’t give up on Christian guys- just know you haven’t found a real one yet. While my perspective is from a woman’s standpoint, you can definitely apply this to women who claim to be Christians, as well.

Goals

There are a few goals I have in mind for this series. I want to stress to everyone that claims to be a Christian to really iron out what that means. So often we grow up in a Christian home, go to church every week, and go about our lives. But God desires to be included in every aspect of your life- not just on Sunday mornings. My goal is for you to strengthen your relationship with Christ.

My fear is a lot of people may have had similar experiences to mine. And I must say, if my faith wasn’t as strong as it is and this was what I had to go by to determine whether or not I believed in Christ, I would have walked away years ago. My goal is for you not to walk away. To know that not everyone who says they are a Christian really is. And you don’t have to feel guilty, ashamed, dumb, or naïve because of your own experiences. If you meet people like this, know they are not a Christian and you don’t have to feel bad for “judging” them. That’s a big one. Again, never let another person affect your view of Christ.

These posts are not meant to bash anyone; I’m actually still friends with everyone I’m about to write about. But I want you to see and understand how real these emotions are. I want you to see how they’ve affected me and how they are probably affecting others.

I’ve thought long and hard about this series. There are many scriptures that have backed up my reasoning for these posts. Throughout the month of February I would encourage all of us to really meditate and dwell on what these scriptures mean. And be sure to either check back or subscribe to my blog to get the posts! Next one is February 7th!

*Scriptures and my thoughts for reference

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”- 1 John 3:9

This scripture used to confuse me, especially each time I sinned. There is a huge difference in being a sinner who sins and being saved and sinning. One is out of character for you and one is your character. Once you get saved and once you watch other people’s lives long enough, you are able to tell the difference.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” -Gal. 5:16- 24

Just because someone says they are saved, doesn’t mean they are. Are they walking according to the Spirit or are they walking according to the flesh?

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’” -Luke 13:22-27

The door to heaven is narrow. So many people claim to be Christians but so few really become saved according to the scripture. Watch what they do, not what they say.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23: 25-28 [Read all of Matthew 23]

All of Matthew 23 is so good! It shows that Jesus knows and sees what you are seeing. You aren’t crazy! It shouldn’t surprise us that we have modern day Pharisees today. And it’s okay to talk about it.

“15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Rev 3:15-16

This is probably one of my favorite verses and the one that explains why I get so passionate about this. Ask any of my non-Christian friends how I treat them or what I think of them. I have so much respect for them because what you see is what you get. Such honest, real discussions with a mutual level of respect. However, I can’t have that close or deep of relationship with lukewarm people- people that go back and forth, say one thing and live another. There is no trust there. So while I am friends with these people, the relationships never become deep.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” –John 13:35

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” –1 Corinthians 13

Love. You will see a lot of this absent from the guys I’ve dated. And no matter what all else is said and done, this is the one thing that matters. Real, Christ-like, love.

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