I Love You

I love you. One of the most beautiful phrases that you can say and yet society has distorted love to the point that, if you were to tell someone you love them, especially outside of your immediate family, they might become uncomfortable or look at you as if they’re trying to figure out what you want from them. The sad thing is that, because of this, many people feel unloved. Many moms and dads never even tell their children they love them because they are not accustomed to doing so, and they assume that their children just know somehow. I believe one of the reasons suicide is rampant today is because of this lack.

The New Testament is full of verses instructing us to love each other.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34).

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (Romans 13:8).

There are plenty of ways to let others know that you love them and, if you had to choose between telling a person or showing them, I strongly recommend showing them, but I would encourage you to let someone know that the reason you serve them, pray for them, spend time with them is because you love them. Not because you are obligated but because Christ has placed a love within you that flows to those around you. Try it out this week. If it’s someone that you have never told before, they may not know how to respond, but that may just be the person that needs the reminder that they really are loved.

Helping One of Our Contributors

Twenty years ago, I had the privilege of having my first article published in The Homeschool Digest. I was referred to them and it was suggested that I contact the company.  Submitting my article, I was not sure whether it would meet the criteria for what they were looking to publish in their monthly magazine. However, I received a gracious response and with a few edits, my article made me a published author.

A contributor and one of the editors of the magazine was none other than one of our contributors, Sony Elise. About a year after the article was published, our family moved to Michigan and we learned that we only lived about three miles from Sony and her family. Connections were made and our families were able to spend time together enjoying meals and Christian fellowship.

Twenty years later, Sony has been an encouragement to many and continues to do so with her words of encouragement on Truth in Grace. While her health does not permit her to do a great deal away from her home, she has about 25 years of professional editing experience behind her. She has her own editing business which has benefitted myself and J.L. Pattison, who is another contributor here.

Over the last 2 months, we have been working together on a collaboration that would help incorporate her editing and her love of good Christian material. With that, it is my privilege to introduce her new online bookstore, Sony Elise Christian Books.

Sony’s intentions are not to compete with Amazon or other major bookstores, but to offer a small selection of good reading material. Supporting her new business helps her to support herself and also helps to support Christian Indie authors who are self-published. Many large name companies will not publish many Christian authors because the author is unknown or because the message in their book is not acceptable in mainstream evangelicalism.

More books will be coming to the current selection, but I also encourage you to visit, like, and share her Facebook page. You will be helping a friend, a prayer warrior, and an encouraging sister.

Every blessing in Christian love and grace,

Mark Anthony

Be Faithful

“Nothing that we do for God is small.” I read these words from D.L. Moody this morning. It reminds me of the song that says, “Little is much when God is in it.” I need to be reminded of this sometimes. OK. I need to be reminded quite often.

I turned 45 a couple months ago, and it hits me at times that I have more than likely lived over half my life already. Accompanied with that thought is wondering if I have done anything to impact people’s lives and help them to draw closer to the Savior. If I haven’t, then my life has been a waste, and I do not want to end my life that way.

I know I’ve written on this before, but I expect that I am not the only one who needs these reminders. You do not have to be a singer, a speaker, a writer, or a pastor to be used by God. You just have to be faithful. Faithful to live a Godly life, faithful to your family, faithful to the calling God has placed on your life (not someone else’s). If you do that, you will most likely reach more people than you can imagine. You may not even know you are doing so. I will also counter that if you are not living a faithful life, then all the good you think you are doing, you are probably not.

Faithfulness is one of the things that I admire most in a person, but I don’t often tell the people I admire that I do so. I guess that’s something I need to work on.

If you are discouraged today or are caught in the trap of looking up to others while feeling insignificant yourself, look up. Examine your life in the light of God’s Word. If you are living a life of obedience, that is all He asks. He will bring the increase. Just keep being faithful.

Are You Starving?

As I was doing my Bible study last evening, Romans 1:28 jumped out at me:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.

Matthew 5: 6 says:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

If you are not hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness, if you do not long for it as though you were starving, may I submit that you may very easily fall into the category of those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge? These people are “filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness,” among other things (Romans 1:29). If you are reading this, I’m guessing you would not put yourself into one of those categories, but if you are not actively seeking God, spending time with Him, studying His Word, you may very easily find yourself falling into an alternate lifestyle and then wondering how you got there.

In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” You cannot serve God and the world. I see so many who act like they can have all this and Jesus too, but we serve a jealous God. He wants our full devotion. He does not want to compete with the plethora of entertainment that we have today.

D.L. Moody is quoted as saying:

The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.

If you never have time to read God’s Word or spend quality time in prayer, I challenge you to examine your heart and ask yourself why. I understand there are busy days and busy seasons, but there should not be busy lifestyles that keep us from doing the most important things. Most of us do not forget to eat or drink, at least not usually the whole day. If you have time to do that, you can find time for God. Download a Bible app and read while you eat if you need to, but make sure that you are getting God’s Word into your heart so that you don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

This hit me in a new way last night, and I am asking God for help to make the time to draw near to Him, to continually learn of Him, to listen to Him. If you and I are too busy to do those things, we are simply too busy.

Preparing for Jesus’ Coming

I wonder what it was like to live before Jesus was born. The prophets had foretold His birth and encouraged people to be ready, but I wonder how many took the prophecy seriously. Maybe it seemed like one of those tales they had heard their whole lives so, even if it would become true some day, it most likely wouldn’t be in their lifetime.

 

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I expect that people then were very much like they are today. The difference is that, today, we know He came. He lived, He died, He rose. But He also promised to come again! Are we watching, making sure that we are ready for His return? Or we are going through life with a vague recollection that He said He would return, but it probably won’t be for a long time yet?

Although that may be true, we need to live as if He were coming today. So many missed His first coming. I do not want to be among those who are not ready for Jesus’ second coming.

As you celebrate this week, think about how much we truly have to celebrate. God so loved you that He gave His Son, and one day, we will get to see Him face to face. Lord, hasten that day!

Dealing With Relational Stress

If you have lived for any amount of time, you have probably been through a breakup of some kind. Whether it was a spouse, a close friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend that you thought was “the one,” people have a way of distancing or, worse, actually turning on you. For myself, I can handle a lot but, when a person I thought loved me moves on, I do not handle that well.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season” and, unfortunately, this includes relationships. I do not like change, and this especially includes a change in relationship, but God allows things for a reason. Sometimes people are only in your life temporarily for a specific purpose. As much as I do not like that season to end, it makes me appreciate that much more those who are always there. I am very blessed with true friends, and I thank God for them.

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I think the hardest part is usually being able to handle relational stress emotionally. I know this is hard for me. You have to be there for your family and the remaining friends in your life, yet your heart aches for the friend that you lost. As hard as it may be, I’ve found that if you take time to thank God for the people who love you, it will give you perspective and reduce your heartache, if even a little.

For women, it is also important to remember that, although PMS is a real thing, we do not have a license to take our anger and frustration out on others. Sometimes things must be said, but there is a Godly way to say it. Until you have found that way, it is better to not say anything. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

If you have something against another, go talk to that person but go with a heart to hear. There is a good chance that it was just a misunderstanding or that you are being hypersensitive and it will blow over.

If you suspect that someone is holding things against you or that your relationship is changing with someone, you should ask him or her if there is a problem. If they say nothing or they don’t want to talk about it, you are going to have to let it go and trust God to heal your heart.

Regardless of your situation, the answer is to draw near to God. He is the only one who can truly comfort your heart and bring peace and joy to your soul. Others may try but God created humans to do only so well in that department. Mostly, He desires His children to rely on Him.

Remember too that this too shall pass. It may feel like the end of the world now but it’s not. God will accomplish His purposes. You will be able to move on. And one day, everything that you don’t understand now will be made clear. Just trust Him. Lean on Him. He is near and will continue to be near, even when others fail.

How To Show Someone You Care

Most people who know me now don’t realize that, by nature, I am pretty insecure. I’ve never been “popular,” so I still have times of wondering if anyone loves me and why. Since coming to know the Lord, I fight to not let that rise to the surface. Instead, when the battle of the mind begins, I pray and ask God to help me to show His love to others. The Bible says that “a man that has friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24) and, although I don’t claim to do this perfectly, God has blessed me with wonderful friends who really do seem to care and whom I am pretty sure really pray for me.

I think sometimes people care more than one might realize so I wanted to give some tips that, at least for me, helps to show me that my friends are not just putting up with me but that they do indeed care.

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1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes I think people don’t want to pry into a person’s life because they don’t want to appear nosy, or maybe they think it’s none of their business. The fact is, many times a hurting person really wants someone to talk to but they don’t want to burden others. Lines such as, “I’m having a really rough day today” or “Please pray for me today” are often doorways for you to stop what you are doing and ask if they would like to talk about it. If your response is merely, “I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll be praying for you,” that will be taken as you don’t want to hear about it or don’t really care. I am not discrediting prayer at all and, if you really don’t want to hear about it or don’t have time to do so, then that at least is a sympathetic response but, if this is a person you really care about, take time to ask them what’s going on. If they don’t want to say, they will tell you but at least they know you are available.

2) Listen. Sometimes when I’m going through a difficult time, I want advice but many times I just need to talk. Don’t feel like you need to have “answers.” Obviously, if God brings something to your mind which will help the person, share that but do it with a posture of humility, realizing that it is the person’s choice whether they take your advice or not. Mostly let them talk it out, pray with them, ask God to give you a burden for this person. It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives that we don’t really invest in the lives of others but, if God has put a person into your life, it’s for a reason. Make sure you are being the friend they need.

3) Pray. It’s one thing to say “I’ll pray for you” and another thing to actually do so. If you commit to pray for a person, write it down, put it on your calendar, do whatever you need to do to remember to pray for this person. Then take the time periodically to let the person know you are praying. This will encourage them immensely. I have over 1,000 Facebook friends and I see many prayer requests every day. Because of this, I have learned not to promise every person that I will pray but, if it is an urgent need, I will pray right away and sometimes post a comment stating that. I also have friends who text or email me requests. These I take more seriously and ask for God’s help to remember them. I have had people that I don’t know real well message me because they know I pray. I don’t know how they know that but I consider it quite a compliment and, again, if they have taken the time to ask me personally, I want to take it seriously.

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4) Initiate interaction. If God brings someone to your mind, take time to call, text, or email that person. Many times, that is what it’s taken for me to realize a person really loves and cares for me. If I am always the one who initiates interaction, I begin to wonder, but getting a message out of the blue that says someone was thinking of me, praying for me, etc. makes my day. It lets me know I really am loved and that even God loves me enough to lay me on someone’s heart periodically. You don’t know what kind of day that person may be having, and it could be your simple act of loving kindness that lifts their spirits and brings a smile to their face. That is not a small thing.

5) Be thankful. I think this is usually the most neglected of all. Not that we aren’t thankful for our friends but I think we don’t often let them know. Take time periodically to do just that. Thank them for their love and their friendship. If someone gives you a gift, don’t just thank them at the moment (that’s common courtesy and is expected); go above and beyond the call of duty and also thank them a month, a year, five years down the road … especially if it’s something you still use. Several years ago, a friend came to visit and, as a “hostess gift,” she gave me a couple CDs. (This was a special blessing, as it showed how well she knows me.) I’ve not done it for a while but, periodically, when I would listen to the CDs, I would write to her to let her know I was listening to them and thinking of her. I just wanted to make sure she knew that she did not waste her money on those. They are still used and appreciated.

I’m sure this is far from being an exhaustive list but hopefully it will help you in reaching out to those special people in your life and making them feel truly loved. If there are other things that you have found to be meaningful in showing love to others, feel free to post it in the comments. If you are one who feels like no one really cares about you, I assure you that is probably not the case. We live in a hectic, fast-paced society. Many are struggling just to keep up and they don’t have time to think beyond their own day-to-day trials. Then there are others who just don’t know how to show that they care. It doesn’t mean they don’t. Purpose to be a friend, to show God’s love, and to think of others instead of yourself. Even if it doesn’t come back to you from people, you will receive your reward in Heaven, and I believe you will feel God even nearer while on earth, which is really the most important One to be close to anyway.