Long-Distance Relationship

Being away from someone you love is difficult. In fact, you might even be counting down the hours until you are together again. You might have a reminder on your phone and you might try to call them every so often to catch up. Sometimes the communication is bare and minimal but you still want to do anything possible to communicate even a short message to the one you love. When something and someone is important to you, your top priority is to show that something or someone they are a priority. The best things in life take work, like: getting a good job, accomplishing a lifetime goal, serving someone in need, and sustaining good relationships. If you are in a relationship and you love that person, you will do whatever it takes to move that relationship forward. Even when its a long-distance relationship, your actions make or break it with the one you love.

Long-distance relationships are not ideal. We always plan for them to be temporary because we long to be with the one that we love. Just talking on the phone once a week is not enough. Texting is not as personal as you’d wish to be with that special someone. They don’t show emotions or live reactions to big news. The presence of your loved one is what you look forward to during the eternity you might await for the long-distance relationship to finally be called a “relationship”.

Have you ever felt this way about someone?

When we consider how much we put aside and devote to a person we love, we also need to consider, as Christians, how much we put aside and devote to God. If you have accepted Jesus into your heart, you entered into relationship with Him. A relationship is so much more than a weekly church service or attending a camp or conference. A relationship is ongoing and takes a lot of work. It takes an effort from both parties even when one doesn’t feel like it. And yes, we sort of have a long-distance relationship with God.

We know that God is with us. As Jesus ascended into heaven after his death and resurrection, He blessed us with the presence of the Holy Spirit. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He dwells in us today and continues to show up in our lives. But as we know, the Holy Spirit is invisible to us. We cannot see the Holy Spirit.

This might be frustrating for some people. Some might feel like they are praying meaningful words that are going out into the void. It may not feel like there is someone on the receiving end of the conversation. I want you to know that God hears you. This thing called faith is trusting in the unseen. We can’t see Jesus right now, but He is awaiting His return to earth while in heaven at this very moment. As Christians, we trust in the unseen and put our faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. The Holy Spirit is here today to help us draw closer to our God who we will soon be with in heaven. Our future is dependent on this relationship with God. Lets stop and think about where our future is going.

Like a long-distance relationship with a human we love, we must also put time and effort into our “long-distance relationship” with God. Like one conversation a week is not enough for a boyfriend and girlfriend to grow in their relationship, we can’t limit our time with God to a Sunday morning service every week. Some of us might even only go to meet God for holiday services or special occasions. How can we get to know Him best that way? Seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend a few times a year would not help you two grow closer. It might just pull you farther apart.We must always be in communication with our significant other. This is done with dates, phone conversations, texts, letters, or simply just sitting down and talking when you have the time to do so.

If you decided to call up your boyfriend or girlfriend or a friend to have coffee, would you sit down for an hour and talk the whole time? Would you not let the person sitting across from you talk? Of course not! You would listen to what they have to say about your conversation topic. Listening to them helps you understand who they are and how they function. They may also have insight for you and could teach you something important for your life. You don’t know unless you shut up and listen!

We often do a poor job of communicating with God. Maybe we decide to sit down and spend time with God every day and pray through our lits of needs and wants. But if this is all we do, we are having a one-sided conversation. It would be like sitting down with your role model and not giving them a chance to share their wisdom with you. Imagine if you had a chance to sit down with Albert Einstein and you didn’t let him talk the whole time you met with him. Or think about sitting down with the Queen of England and not giving her a chance to speak in her awesome British accent! We wouldn’t do that. We would listen and take to heart what she had to say.

It is necessary to listen to God in our conversations with Him. We cannot continue treating God like a vending machine and asking Him for our wants. Lets start asking Him what He wants for us. He wants good things for us, we just forget to ask what they are! I challenge you to start listening as I feel challenged to do the same in my prayer life.

In our relationships with God, we need to put some effort into this “long-distance relationship”. Until Jesus comes back, we can devote ourselves to learning God’s heart through the Bible, prayer, and staying connected with the Church. He has made us for community. To best be in community with our God, we as the Church of believers need to devote ourselves to better communicating with Him together. How are we speaking to Him and how are we listening to Him?

A relationship needs words to grow. God gave us His Word in physical form for us to learn more about who He is. His heart is displayed through the many stories of redemption, justice, and grace in the Bible. His grace has given us a chance to have relationship with Him now and one day be with Him in paradise. We must await the great day when we will be united with Jesus. We must long for His presence. We must do whatever it takes to keep our relationship with Him strong. We must allow our love to drive us to continually communicate with our good God who wants to spend time with us now and forever.

How are you contributing in your relationship with God? It’s Valentine’s Day. This isn’t my favorite holiday, but is a good reminder of how I’m loving those in my life. How can I better love my family, friends, and God who I only want to grow closer with? Today I reflect on His love for me and my love for Him. It is better than any relationship this earth could offer me because a relationship with God is eternal.

Have a wonderful day of reflection. Sit down without your phone or a screen in front of your face. Take a moment to be in silence and listen to God. He wants to tell you He loves you!

 

1 Corinthians 13:13- And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

Why Love Isn’t Working Out

Tonight, my mother, whom I love dearly, and I decided to watch a chick flick because… Why not? I’m not always a fan of these movies. The action movies, comedic movies and series always intrigue me more than movies about a boy driving around his girl in a pick up truck with his shirt off. Tonight, I was again reminded of why I’m not a huge fan of these movies. There is so much wrong with chick flicks. Yes, they can be fun movies to go see. Yes, sometimes they have good story lines. Yes, our favorite actor can play the main role and be a super cute Romeo… I understand that those are all perks but tonight, I saw why I always choose to pick a movie without a soppy love story.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good story about two great people falling in love. I draw the line when a movie manipulates a viewer to feel certain emotions and feelings about the picture-perfect love story. The film we had decided to watch tonight was about a married woman who met up with her high school sweetheart, whom she had not married. The story drew you in with their back story and made you love them being together. But when heartbreak came, which it always does in a classic love story, there grows a tug in your heart to hope that the couple gets back together. But like I said, this woman was married. In the movie, it wasn’t made to look so bad because they loved each other. But in real life, affairs are not taken lightly. There is a lot of pain and turmoil that comes from affairs. This movie did not even make an appeal to the fact that this affair was wrong because this woman had made a vow to her husband. There were so many elements to this movie that only showed me how ridiculous it can sometimes be to watch people passionately fall in love on the big screen.

There are many movies that I love where two people fall in love throughout a detailed, interesting plot of a movie. There are many movies that I hate that show a couple that is always “on-again-off-again”. There are ridiculous reasons for break ups and even more ridiculous reasons for two people to get back together when they obviously have problems they need to deal with by themselves…

Let me tell you why these movies bother me so much.

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http://www.mckinleyirvin.com/Family-Law-Blog/2012/October/32-Shocking-Divorce-Statistics.aspx

50% of marriages end in divorce. This makes me incredibly sad for people and for the love we desperately long for. It makes me sad because families are being split up, financial situations create conflict, friendships can end, hard family and job decisions have to be made, and each person getting a divorce has to deal with getting over a person they loved and cared for so long because new arrangements have to be made for their lives.

I’ve never been married or divorced. But I can tell you that I hate losing people in my life that have meant a lot to me, people whom I’ve loved. When I think of friends that I haven’t talked to in years, it hurts to remember our memories and past together. When I think of all the brokenness and pain that comes from divorcing your husband or wife, I can’t even imagine what I would do in that situation.

I can’t sit here and tell you why there are so many divorces today. Frankly, I think there are billions of reasons why divorce is so common in our culture. But when I look at these chick flicks, I think of all the young girls that watch those movies and fantasize about their perfect relationship or marriage someday with the perfect guy. They shape their expectations on these movies that don’t represent reality.

He will be handsome and strong and thoughtful and romantic and sexy and sensitive.. maybe even rich. He might be a childhood friend or a relationship that has been on and off for years because there is a lot of fighting, but your burning passion for him will make it work… Or maybe he will drive you around in his pick up truck and pick you flowers and row you in a boat across the lake by his house to tell you he’s always loved you…

You might have had movies in mind during that last paragraph. When we watch these movies and fall in love with these scenes that are incredibly romantic and picture-perfect, we need to remember that these movies are simply that, movies. They are staged, scripted moments that two people have to act out. Their on screen partners are most likely not their real husband or wives. They go back home to a real marriage as real people. These relationships that have been written and created are only being acted for an exciting story for the common viewer.

No one is going to say the perfect words perfectly, no one is going to know exactly what you want in life on your first or second date, and no one is going to look that perfect when they wake up in the morning! I’m sorry, but we know that is not reality. We’ve all seen ourselves in the mirrors when we wake up. It’s not even close to what those actors look like on the screen.

I don’t like chick flicks because they take us away from reality and paint us a distorted picture of the kind of love we should look for. The kind of love that we should look for is a love that is selfless. We should look for a love that keeps no record of wrongs and loves no matter what. We should look for a love that is not just about emotions or feelings, but a love that endures through sickness, fights, imperfections, and baggage. A love that will never give up, even when quitting looks like the easiest way out.

I don’t want a love like the “love” they talk about in the movies. It is staged and scripted and has a lot of make up on it. That is not how my life is. My life isn’t perfect and I don’t expect a guy in my life to be perfect either. But even when it’s not perfect, love will endure. That is the kind of love we need in this culture. We need a love that serves without recognition. A love that thinks of another’s needs before oneself. A love that will last forever.

I thank God for the love He has shown me in my life. He has surrounded me with friends and family that always love me no matter what. His choice to love me always blows my mind and reminds me of the kind of love I want to give to others. It’s unconditional. To love like God does, one needs to have a servant’s heart. That is how I want to love. A servant may not look good for the screen, but the kind of service a servant gives to someone is worth more than a one night stand. It’s worth more than a relationship that holds someone back from being who they really are. It’s worth more than going from relationship to relationship to feel worth. It’s worth more than an affair that will destroy families. Serving someone without getting paid, because you love them, is priceless. That is how I’ve seen love through the best people in my life and through God.

That is what we need. Our generation can be different. We can look at the statistics, at these movies filled with emotions and tear-jerkers and kick them to the curb. Love is worth that fight. Love is what we need.

Girls, don’t look for some guy that will charm his way into your life. Don’t look for a guy that is just a good “looker” but a guy who has a heart to match his beautiful eyes. Be the woman you want to be not who he wants you to be. Wait for the right guy to be your last first kiss. Don’t give away too much to other guys or you may not have a whole lot to give to the man of your dreams.

Guys, find a girl that is beautiful because of who she is. Looks will fade. Wrinkles are promising in our futures. Build a future with someone who can laugh with you and support you through every season of life. Make a commitment and treat your girl like a queen all the days of your life.

Let’s be the generation to love unconditionally and faithfully. That is what our world needs.

Not Posting About It.

Yes, we all have our opinions. Yes, we all have our beliefs. Yes, we are entitled to believe what we want to believe. I agree.

Something that I really don’t agree with is all the posts that I am seeing on social media. Whenever a big issue arises there is usually two sides to an argument that has to be made as soon as people hear about it. We expect that to happen. Then we can always expect long paragraphs of personal or popular opinions on our friends’ social media profiles. We can almost predict the time that it will be posted too.

Today, I have something to say about all of these issues and debates that are happening right now. What I have to say is very different from everything you may be hearing right now. It is simply this:

We don’t need to post our page-long, controversial opinions on social media. It is not going to help your cause.

When you put something out there, people can usually see your motives and why you posted it. I’m not saying that we should be completely silent on our social media pages. Our social media pages can reflect who we are and what we believe in. But to always have to start an argument or controversy online is a hassle and takes up a lot of time and strife in a day. It can actually become a burden as you read comments of hate and brokenness fill up your social media feeds.

When an issue arises in the media and in our world, we all form an opinion and idea of what is happening and what should be happening. But here is my question: If your opinion is that strong about something, are you only going to go so far as to post a long sermon about it online rather than to live out what you believe? 

The reason I ask this is because I see so many people get courageous online. We’ve known about the cyber-bullying that goes on when people feel the power to write whatever they want online because its not a face to face conversation. I see the similarities between those situations and how we pose our opinions online with issues today. And it is not just students and young people, there are adults that post very freely online as well. We know that when we have a strong opinion and we post it out there, it will make people angry and upset. Like I said, your motives behind your posts are clear as day! But what I want to know, is if you really believe what you say enough to live it out.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I always try to be careful about what I post online because I know who I am representing. I want to represent Christ well because I believe in Him and what an awesome Savior He is. He loves me and died for me and so I live for Him. And as a believer, I believe that in the end, it won’t matter who I pleased on this earth or on my social media. It will all come down to how God saw me live my life. And as I post things online, that is what I try to keep in mind.

There is also power in what you don’t post online. Your opinions can only go so far without facts and proof. Are your opinions creating controvsery and anger amongst others? Because if what we are shouting from the rooftops is all about “love”, how is making others angry pointing to love? Is that what love is?

I’ve thought a lot about this over the past few days and all I have to say is that it all comes down to how you love. Life is short and the moments you waste on social media commenting hateful things on people’s statuses and tweets only suck up the time you have left each day. Today, why not just set your phone down and enjoy the people around you? Be thankful for the love you’ve received, never take advantage of it. Show this love to someone else. Then change can happen. Then people can come together. Debates never bring people together in situations like this. Love does.

If you are someone who reads the Bible, I bet you’ve heard this verse before:

James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”

I hope that even if you don’t read the Bible or don’t have a relationship with God, that those words are inspiring to you. We can all learn from these words. Listening is important for loving others. Because before we speak, we should know what we are talking about. Don’t let anger creep in so easily. I believe that anger often wastes our time because we get too upset over things that we may not know enough about. Listen to people. Get together with them and hear them out. Don’t base your judgment on a single social media post. Don’t let your anger pour out into your social media posts either. There is often more power in your silence than in the words you want to say. 

Thanks for reading this post about not posting. I know that it is a little ironic, but social media is a powerful tool to spread word of something. Let’s encourage each other to use this tool for good and not let is tear us apart. It is not the issues that tear us apart. Quite frankly, with all the issues going on in this world, they have a way of bringing people together when people rise to the occasion. But when we go rambling about issues that we think we know best about online with bad motives, we can add more issues on top of everything else going on.

Long story short: LOVE.

Touch The Sky.

These words have hit me this week:

“I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground.”

Those words are from a song called “Touch The Sky” by Hillsong United. They mean so much for you and me if we choose to follow Jesus. In today’s culture, everyone sees surrender as a bad thing. It’s seen as a weakness. But as these lyrics sink deep in me, it reminds me of the freedom I have in Christ. Yes, I do surrender my life to Him but that is why I am free.

We are either slave to sin or to righteousness. We can live in the ways of the world and we can be trapped. We get hurt, we get lost, we get addicted, and we get weary with everything life throws at us. As a Christ follower, I decided a few years ago to completely surrender my life to the One who gave it all for me. I lay myself down for a better purpose and a better life. Now I am living a life that is surrounded by an everlasting love. He is my protecter, my friend, my Father. God broke off those chains that the world so happily locked on my wrists. Now I run free in the grace of God, living a life for a beautiful purpose of growing closer to Him.

That is what He wants. A relationship with you and me. He wants us to grow together and be together because He loves us so much. So much that He died for you. He forgives and loves us daily in spite of the mistakes we make. We can lie, cheat, hurt people, steal, be self-absorbed and greedy… But He still sees us through the eyes of a loving Father.

There is so much freedom in surrendering. When I am on my knees, I feel like I can touch the sky. That is where I meet with God, my Creator. That is where I find my life and purpose.

God is beautiful. I encourage you to get on your knees today and spend time with Him. Don’t put off time with your Father anymore. Experience His goodness and His presence. Whatever is going on in your life right now, I know that He has an answer and is the solution.

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Words To Live By.

These words matter much more than mine:

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:14-17.

When It Comes Down To It…

Say you’ve had this friend for years and you’ve gone through so much together. You were neighbors or childhood best friends, and your friendship seemed inseparable. All of your birthday parties were held together and you always sat by each other the first day of school. Then, as time went by, so did the friendship. You get stabbed in the back by your best friend. It stings. Maybe they spread a lie about you. Maybe they ditched you for other friends. I don’t know, you tell me.

Or say you see a person in need and decide to go out of your way and help them. Lets say you stop and help someone with directions in your city. Then while you are pointing every which way to help them find their destination, they take your wallet and run. You are left with your mouth wide open and empty hands. Have you ever been there?

In this world, we get hurt and tossed aside and forgotten a lot. Sometimes it really shakes us up and we don’t understand why this bad stuff is happening to us. Sometimes we may wonder why are these people in my life if they’re just going to hurt me?

As a Christ follower, I know exactly why we are sometimes caught in uncomfortable, awkward, or hurtful situations with people. In Matthew 10:22 it says this, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” I know that because I am following Jesus that there will be many trials in my life including situations with the people that are in my life. We were never promised an easy life where we get treated fairly. We are told straight from God’s Word that people will treat us differently than the rest of the world because we choose to follow Jesus. We have a name, a reputation. Some people are not going to care or like that decision throughout your lifetime. In my life, I’ve seen that people that may hurt me and make me angry are the ones that teach me so much about how to live for Jesus and what it means to show love no matter what. These people are the ones that show where my heart truly is. I learn a lot from these people. Giving them that credit is hard because I have been hurt by some. But if I say that I want to live like Jesus did, I also need to love them no matter what. My pain doesn’t compare to the pain Jesus went through when He walked this earth. Yet He loved us so much that He was willing to die for us and He did die for us.

Do I love people that much? Enough to give up my life?

This Sunday I lead worship at my neighbor’s church and there was also a guest speaker who talked about these things. He talked about the condition of our hearts. What he said really hit me as he talked about what the Bible says about our hearts and how we put love to action.

Proverbs 4:23

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. 

How we choose to love determines a lot in our lives. As Christians, we know that we are saved if we truly believe in our hearts and declare with our mouths that we believe in Jesus and what He did for us. Our hearts need to be in good condition. We know that. But so often, I see my friends living life as if they were going through the motions. Why? I think its because their heart believes in Jesus on the inside, but they are not displaying that on the outside.

We don’t serve to get into Heaven. Its by nothing we do that we are saved. It is by God’s grace and His son who died for us. When we accept Him into our hearts and our lives, then we are saved. But so often, I see my friends and others living life as if they’re set. They don’t want anything more than a reassurance that their future is set and they’re going to Heaven so then they live life however they want to.

On Sunday morning I learned so much about the heart and what it means to have a heart that loves Jesus.

Let me just say this: our hearts change when our outward actions do. Serving and loving others no matter what. When we do something about our faith, thats when our hearts “grow” and learn the most.

We say its not about serving so we don’t focus as much on that. Its all based on our hearts right? I think serving shows where our hearts are. Its a new level. Its a deeper level. Its a declaration of how much we love Jesus by wanting to show Him. So don’t think focusing on our hearts means we just focus on ourselves. Focusing on serving others is a heart after the Lord’s.

Matthew 6:21

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So when people hurt you and forget you and kick you to the curb, remember this: How you respond is more important than what happens to you. When it comes down to it, will you choose to love?