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by Anna Popescu
Back in the 1970’s, a novel came out, followed by a movie with the same name. Its catchphrase became very popular: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” 1 Remember that? 1
As I was deciding what love message to write this article about, that phrase immediately came to mind. So I have two questions:
1. How can husbands and wives live peacefully together if they don’t have to apologize for hurting each other?
2. If we do not have to ask forgiveness for wrongs committed, doesn’t that negate the death of Jesus on our behalf?
One of the realities of marriage is that husbands and wives will have stressful times of disagreement. We are human beings with an inherited sin nature, and as such we often have our own personal agendas. We want things our way because we each believe we’re right.
So, how should we react to something our spouse says that is upsetting to us? Bill and Pam Farrell discuss this in their book, Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti 2:
“When your spouse ignites the conversation, you have a choice. You can react and shorten the fuse, or you can diffuse the situation. At times, the best way to diffuse a conflict is to turn the focus of the conversation. When your spouse launches a verbal grenade, it usually has a compliment embedded in it.
One day Pam and I were talking about a project we were trying to get done at home and she said to me, “Bill, you are so picky.” To say that I enjoyed that comment would be a bold-faced lie, but instead of getting angry it occurred to me to say, “I wouldn’t have married you if I wasn’t so picky.”
When your spouse says, “You are impossible,” start humming the theme to Mission Impossible.
Lest you confuse this with sarcasm, remember that the Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).
These attempts to cut the hot lead before the conversation explodes won’t work every time, but sometimes it is all the discussion needs to remind you that you are in love.
If diffusing the situation doesn’t work, what else can you do to resolve a dispute? Keep in mind that you and your spouse were brought up differently and therefore may react to certain situations in completely different ways.
One of the hardest things to do in the heat of an argument is to truly listen to the other person without interruption. This is difficult because we immediately start thinking about what to say to support our own view, and often miss the true gist of what our spouse may be saying.
After 18 years of marriage, Rick and I are still learning how to do this. We are both firstborns, meaning we each are the oldest in our families. As such, we both have the inclination to assume we have the right answers to problems, and so we bump heads about certain issues.
Parents typically use their eldest child as an example when trying to settle arguments about or among their children:
“Why can’t you be as ____ (fill in the blank) as _____ (fill in oldest sibling’s name)?”
“We didn’t let _____ (fill in oldest sibling’s name) do that at your age, so why do you think we’ll let you?”
And as we and our parents get older, there is the tendency for our siblings ─ and even our parents at times ─ to turn to us to handle certain aspects of their elderly life/senior care issues. So it’s no wonder we firstborns think we are always right and that is the main reason we have a tendency to interrupt our spouse so that our opinion can be heard first, because of course we’re correct!
This does not just pertain to firstborns. If the first marriage between Adam and Eve had such problems, why do we think we should be exempt? The key is to find ways to diffuse problems before they become huge obstacles.
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit,
but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests,
but also for the interests of others.
I wish I could remember more often to say to Rick, “We each have different ideas on how to get this done, but as my husband, I’ll defer to you to make the right decision because I trust that you want the best for us.” That simple statement truly gets his attention, which also causes him to put a lot of thought into his final decision.
If you use that trust statement, make sure you follow through. Go along with his decision without reservation. Don’t second guess his choice after you have already said you trust his judgment.
I need to remember how important this is because, as Rick’s wife, I am to be subject to him as the head of our marriage ─ just as I am to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church (His bride).
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church,
He Himself being the Savior of the body.
24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Firstborns are not the only ones who have trouble with humility ─ we all do. We have an inherent, prideful tendency to consider only our own opinions so that it is difficult for us to see any other way. We need to pray for the humility to “esteem others better” (Philippians 2:3) than ourselves. That means we should listen to our spouse’s opinion/explanation carefully before thinking that our way is the best.
Forgive as Jesus Does
In 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, Paul writes this to the Corinthians:
8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first,
for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you,
but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways.
It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have,
so you were not harmed by us in any way.
10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience
leads us away from sin and results in salvation.
There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.
But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
In verse 10 above, “…the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience…” shows us that we are to be sorrowful (sad) when we have sinned. And “…worldly sorrow which lacks repentance…” is clearly a warning not to conform to the world’s standard of whitewashing our guilt (or pretending we did nothing to be guilty about) rather than repenting of those sins.
When the Holy Spirit shows us that we have sinned against someone, we are to ask that person to forgive us as soon as we can. When someone asks us to forgive them, we must do so right away, whether we feel like doing so or not.
21 Then Peter came and said to Him,
“Lord,how often shall my brother sin against me
and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you,
up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Relationships need nurturing to grow closer and stronger. Marriage relationships require that even more. When husbands and wives are willing to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for the ways they have hurt each other, they are taking another step in loving each other the way Christ loves His Church.
Jesus loves us so much that He took the punishment for our sins on Himself. This leads me back to that catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” If we do not have to ask forgiveness for wrongs committed, it means that Jesus’ death counts for nothing, and we know that is not correct. If I were to rewrite that catchphrase, it would be “True love means forgiving each other as Jesus Christ forgives us.”
Forgiveness is one of the “key” words of the Christian faith.
If God had not included forgiveness in His plan for humanity,
none of us would enjoy life renewed with Him in heaven.
Without forgiveness there would be no hope at all. 3
2 Farrel, Bill; Farrel, Pam. Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences (p. 112). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Welcome to my annual Valentine’s Day post that I believe is so appropriate
for a day that’s all about love.
The other day I got to thinking about Valentine’s Day and how it’s supposed to be all about love. 1 John 4:19 immediately came to mind, and I knew this was to be my message about love … God’s immense love … for us.
The Dimensions of God’s Love
We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19
We have all been told how much God loves us. That fact is unquestionable, especially as we look around and see the evidence of His love in all of His creation. God’s love for us can be described as multi-dimensional, so let’s look at the different ways God loves us—the Breadth, Depth, Height and Length of His love—by examining the universe He created.
When a man and a woman get married, they usually exchange wedding bands. If you look closely at a wedding band, you cannot see where it begins or where it ends. This circle of metal is therefore used as a symbol of unending love between husband and wife. In the same way, a circle represents eternity.
That is how I think of God’s all-encompassing love for us. I visualize the circle that His arms form to surround the earth. This thought both amazes and comforts me. I am amazed because it shows how big God is. I can’t imagine any human who can hug the whole world. I am also comforted because I enjoy being hugged. But the true illustration of the breadth of God’s love is found in Scripture: But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), —Ephesians 2:4-5
God loved us “even when we were dead in trespasses.” What a truly astonishing thing!
Eternity is a difficult concept for us to understand, but God has it all under control. He loves us so much that He can’t stand the thought of being apart from us, so He has provided us with a way to spend eternity with Him:
For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
The breadth of God’s love for us is that huge. He made sure that we have a way to be with Him forever—in other words, for eternity. Trying to figure out what eternity could be like is the same as trying to count all the stars in the sky. It is impossible!
I like to imagine what it will be like to spend the rest of eternity with God, but I’m sure my limited picture of heaven falls far short of the truth. All I know for sure is that: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. —John 1:12-13
The Grand Canyon ranges in height from 9,000 feet at the North Rim all the way down to 2,400 feet at the Colorado River. Those of us here in the Southwest know that there are no easy ways to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. In fact, portions of the Colorado River are barely visible from above because of the depth of the canyon. Now that’s what I call deep, but it is still measurable.
We read in Romans 5:8 that …God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The love God has for us is so deep that it is immeasurable. It is impossible for me to imagine something that cannot be measured. Everything that surrounds us can somehow be measured, whether by weight or volume. But not God’s love. It is bottomless and keeps going on and on to infinity. Even though we don’t deserve any of it, He loves us that much anyway.
We hear a lot these days about “unconditional love.” The truth is that the only true, unconditional love we will ever receive is from God, Who loves us with a pure love found nowhere else. How better to explain God’s love for us in spite of all our sins and shortcomings? The fact that God loves me in spite of myself is the ultimate proof of the depth of His love.
Have you read about those who have succeeded in climbing Mount Everest? This 29,035-foot mountain range is the highest in the world and the most difficult to climb. There are many people who attempt this climb more than once in the hopes of finally being able to complete the challenge of making it to the summit.
I cannot imagine being at a point 29,035 feet above sea level. That is so high that one’s breathing becomes quite labored and therefore requires extra oxygen. But that is still not as high as the heavens. In Ephesians, Paul gives us a taste of what it will be like when we’re in heaven: and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,. —Ephesians 2:6
There is no way we cn ever understand the height of such “heavenly realms.”
I love knowing that those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be up in heaven with God forever, seated with Him and serving Him in all His honor and glory. Even though we’ll be higher than we’ve ever been, we will not suffer the usual effects of high altitude such as headaches, nosebleeds or labored breathing. God has made sure of that. I believe that heaven will be the most comfortable place ever!
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on things on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
It is estimated that right now the universe is at least 46 billion light years in radius. My puny human mind cannot comprehend such a measurement. Look up at the billions of stars in the night sky and then try to understand the lengths to which God will go for us. He could have designed just an adequate place for us to live, but did He? No. He chose to give us a wonderful universe filled with beautiful planets and stars. It stretches on and on, just like His immense love for us.
The daytime sky and the night sky are the same, yet very different. During the day we cannot see the stars because of the light of the sun. At night, the stars and moon illuminate the dark sky. When we are in heaven, things will be greatly changed.
There shall be no night there:
They need no lamp nor light of the sun
for the Lord God gives them light.
And they shall reign forever and ever.
No more night? Really? What will that be like? And imagine not needing a lamp to read a book.
Being part of such an exciting eternity with God requires only this:
- recognize that we are sinners and be truly sorry for our sins
- believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and our Savior
- acknowledge that He died on the cross at Calvary and that His death paid the penalty for our sins
- and trust that He rose from the dead on our behalf so that we might live forever with Him—and all because of the length of God’s love for us.
Paul related this aspect to Timothy:
However, for this reason I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might show
all longsuffering, as a pattern to those
who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
—1 Timothy 1:16
The definition of longsuffering is: suffering for a long time without complaining ; very patient during difficult times. I need this reminder because even though I so often lose patience with the things and people in my life—and with myself—God never loses patience with me. His longsuffering patience is eternal!
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17
Beloved, on yet another Valentine’s Day I am so glad we have a God Who shows His awesome and immense love for us in so many ways, in spite of our sinful selves!
Lately there have been things happening in my life that have threatened to destroy my JOY and HOPE. I say threatened because although I have been tempted to be discouraged, I am thankful that I know that my real JOY and HOPE are found in Jesus Christ, who comforts me and always holds me close. I have that assurance because Scripture tells me so. And since I know that “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), I believe it is true.
Beloved, how are things going for you these days?
Are you struggling with the frustrations and problems of this world? Do you feel there is no hope for you in this life? Do you wonder where you’ll end up after you die? If so, you’re not alone. We all have questions such as these, but there is a way to be filled with a true HOPE that never ends.
How well do you know Jesus Christ? If you long for the assurance and HOPE that you’ll spend eternity in heaven with Jesus but have never asked Him to be the Savior and Lord of your life, you need to make that important commitment to Him. It is very easy to do:
ADMIT that you are a sinner and repent of (to feel regret or remorse for) your sins:
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. —2 Corinthians 7:10
BELIEVE: that Jesus Christ took the punishment and died for you and your sins:
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.—Romans 3:22-25
CONFESS that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life:
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” —Romans 10:8-11
I call these the A-B-C’s of salvation. When you admit that you are a sinner and repent of your sins; believe that Jesus took the punishment for them in your place; and confess that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of your life, “the God of HOPE [will] fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
The song “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship reminds us that no matter what we’ve done or where we are in our life’s journey, we can rely on the fact that the arms of God our Father are always open wide. He longs for us to put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. As you listen to this song, consider the Bible verses below that tell us how much God loves and cherishes us.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus.
Once you were far away from God,
but now you have been brought near to him
through the blood of Christ.
How can we not feel JOYFUL as we read this glorious psalm? It is full of HOPE and JOY and makes me want to worship our Creator for all He has done and is doing for us. All honor, praise and glory to God!
Praise to God for His Awesome Works
To the Chief Musician. A Song. A Psalm.
Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
2 Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.
3 Say to God,
“How awesome are Your works!
Through the greatness of Your power
Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.
4 All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah
5 Come and see the works of God;
He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
They went through the river on foot.
There we will rejoice in Him.
7 He rules by His power forever;
His eyes observe the nations;
Do not let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard,
9 Who keeps our soul among the living,
And does not allow our feet to be moved.
10 For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined.
11 You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
12 You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
13 I will go into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay You my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer You burnt sacrifices of fat animals,
With the sweet aroma of rams;
I will offer bulls with goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
19 But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!
74 years ago today, four Army chaplains committed an amazing act of faith, courage and bravery that has never been forgotten.
Although the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart were later awarded posthumously Congress wished to confer the Medal of Honor but was blocked by the stringent requirements which required heroism performed under fire. So a posthumous Special Medal for Heroism, The Four Chaplains’ Medal, was authorized by Congress and awarded by the President on January 18, 1961.
It was never given before and will never be given again.
This story is definitely worth reading!
On Feb. 3, at 12:55 a.m., a periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters. Through the cross hairs, an officer aboard the German submarine U-223 spotted the Dorchester.
The U-223 approached the convoy on the surface, and after identifying and targeting the ship, he gave orders to fire the torpedoes, a fan of three were fired. The one that hit was decisive–and deadly–striking the starboard side, amid ship, far below the water line.
Captain Danielsen, alerted that the Dorchester was taking water rapidly and sinking, gave the order to abandon ship. In less than 20 minutes, the Dorchester would slip beneath the Atlantic’s icy waters.
Tragically, the hit had knocked out power and radio contact with the three escort ships. The CGC Comanche, however, saw the flash of the explosion. It responded and then rescued 97 survivors. The CGC Escanaba circled the Dorchester, rescuing an additional 132 survivors. The third cutter, CGC Tampa, continued on, escorting the remaining two ships.
The warning, “leaves of three, let them be,” is good advice when approaching unfamiliar plants. Poison ivy is a vine that possesses three potentially dangerous leaves.
As a young girl walking to school each day, I detoured around a large elm tree growing adjacent to the sidewalk. I gave the tree a wide berth due to the prolific poison ivy vines winding around the trunk. I had heard horror stories of the reactions people contracted from touching poison ivy. I’d also heard it rumored that some individuals could be exposed to poison ivy without experiencing an adverse response. Each day when I walked past that mass of vines swirling around the tree, I wondered which poison ivy theory applied to me. The suspense was more than I could tolerate. One spring day I broke off several leaves, crushed them in my hands, and rubbed them on every exposed area of my skin.
Occasionally children are guilty of impetuous, irresponsible behavior, unfamiliar with the art of predicting consequences for their actions. Fortunately, I was unaffected by the poison ivy rub down, causing me to conclude that I would be one of the few who were immune to the toxic effects of poison ivy for life. Had I possessed the courage to admit my reckless experiment to an adult, I may have learned that the first reaction to poison ivy merely exposes the immune system to a new substance. If I were confronted with the tainted chemicals again in the future, the urushiol oil on the plant would cause an immediate response.
Later in life, I accidentally brushed against poison ivy leaves in the woods while clearing brush. It wasn’t long before an itchy, red rash developed. Poison ivy was the farthest diagnosis from my mind due to my neutral childhood experience. The second exposure triggered my immune system to recognize the chemical and it produced an allergic reaction. By the time I sought medical evaluation three weeks later, the rash was profusely covering my limbs. The itching was so intense, I couldn’t sleep at night, eventually requiring aggressive medical intervention to treat the tenacious rash.
Urushiol oil is the poisonous chemical of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac plants. Brushing against the berries, flowers, roots, or stems of the poisonous plants leaves a smear of oil on skin, clothing, garden tools, or heavy equipment, remaining viable on those items for years, even surviving freezing temperatures.
There are many other poisons in our lives that carry the potential for causing greater harm than poison ivy, leaving permanent scars and sometimes irreversible damage. What instills more fear than poisonous snakes, the venom of which may cause nerve paralysis within minutes?
“No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil,
full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).
Expressed alternately, “This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—It’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image” (James 3:8, The Msg.).
When a friend’s confidence is betrayed, poison has been emitted from the tongue. Some people feel they can justify “a little white lie.” However, the color of a lie has never been determined.
“The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22).
Our tongues can be dangerous muscles, spouting harmful poison. Unlike poison ivy, the vitriol a tongue spews is not always reversible. Its poison multiplies in creative, unimaginable ways.
Poisonous plants should never be burned in an inside fireplace or an outside bonfire. Urushiol oil attaches to smoke particles that can be breathed, causing swelling of the respiratory tract, compromising breathing, or perhaps shutting down respiratory muscles. “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire; a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire” (James 3:5-6).
An area of forest desecrated by a raging inferno is a chilling sight, killing every living thing in the vicinity. Fire annihilates, toppling giant trees, displacing wildlife, and destroying underground plant roots as it paints the surrounding environment black, the color of death. The ruinous effects of a consuming blaze cannot be reversed for decades, much the same as the destructive injury caused by sinister words. Damage remains both in the path of a fire or gossiping words, frequently lost to redesign forever. “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife” (Proverbs 26:20).
“Rumors are the vehicles that turn life into a demolition derby, and gossip and slander are the tracks on which they travel. The tracks of gossip and slander are paved with careless, idle chatter as well as the malicious intentional sharing of bad reports…..Having a tongue is like having dynamite in our dentures—it must be reckoned with” (Tongue in Check by Joseph M. Stowell).
If I had known poison ivy was potentially dangerous, I would have learned to recognize and avoid the trifoliate plant. Our words function in much the same manner. If we monitor our negative emotions, admitting that anger, jealousy, and bitterness have the potential to inflict immeasurable heartache, we might be motivated to hone our ability to control hostile verbal outbursts. “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
Have you ever wanted to retract a comment you made in haste, but instead of apologizing, you offer the feckless excuse, “ I was only thinking out loud?” Thinking is purely a mental function. Once uttered, our thoughts have been transformed into words. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). Soothing, comforting words serve as a balm to heal.
From the inside out—our heart to our tongue—our inner monologue is filtered. Noble words are first purified mentally. Only God can assist with such an important mission, as we pray in humility and obedience:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).