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Posts tagged ‘Romance’

Caring for human good…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:3,13

Remember these words: Emotions make great slaves but terrible masters. Are the emotions of your life – especially the emotion of love – mastering you? Do they govern your life? Are you a total slave to your emotions? Or, do you transcend your emotions and make decisions that cause your emotions to follow you?

The first step to controlling the emotion of love is to know that love, primarily, is an action. When you put your hand on someone’s shoulder and say, “Can I pray for you?” Or, when you say to someone, “Hey, can I give you a glass of water or something to eat?” When you help out the poor, when you help those who are struggling, when you see somebody working in the cubicle next to you and you say, “How you doing?” and he says “Fine,'” but you can tell he’s not, and you say, “No, really. How are you?” That’s love. When you live with grace and forgiveness for those you around you, that is love. Men, when you buy flowers for your wives, and women, when you bake cinnamon rolls for your husbands, that’s love.

Love is an action. It’s what you do for people. Love is something you can have for a complete stranger, because love is care for human good. So, if you say to a person, “I love you,” that means you care about their wellbeing even though you don’t even know them.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I relinquish the mastering of my emotions to you. I no longer want to be a slave to them, but to be a servant only of you. Take my feelings of love for others and help me to stabilize those emotions through actions of love. Amen.

Devotion: Have your emotions ever felt out of control? What happened to stabilize them? Did God play a part?

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Love in action this year…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:2,13

It’s love that’s going to carry us through 2014. And, it’s love in action that will help bring others closer to God during this new year.

Paul is the apostle of love. As he shared the message of the love that we ought to have for one another, he emphasized that it is paramount, the most important thing, the thing that transcends every moral code, higher than any claim that anyone makes. Nothing that the different denominations, groups, and religious sects claim matters if they don’t have love. Without love, nothing matters.

One of the most insightful things that Paul shares with us about love is that love is not an emotion. Love is an action. Love is what you do. People may say, “Oh, I get this feeling of love in my heart and I nurture it. Then, if it blossoms enough, I will love someone in action.” However, that’s not the way at all.

I remember talking with a woman who was a volunteer for New Hope, our 24-hour phone and online counseling ministry. She said, “You know, one of the hardest things about working for New Hope is, as I end the call, when I have to say, ‘God loves you and so do I.’ I don’t really know this person, so how can I say ‘and so do I’? Right? I don’t know the person from Adam.”

What she expressed is what many of us think about love, that love is an emotion that you feel for someone after you get to know him or her. If you get to know a person who’s charming enough, perhaps good looking enough, or funny enough, then you will love them. That is, until the moment they are no longer charming, funny, or attractive to you in some manner. Therefore, that love then becomes only a reaction to a person’s performance.

That’s not what love is. Love is an action.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to express love to others as you express love to me – with no expectations and no conditions. Let my love toward others be an act of worship toward you. Amen.

Devotion: How would you describe the differences between emotional love and love in action?

3 Truths to Remember to Avoid the ‘If, Then’ Marriage Cycle.


Marriage cycle
(MarkMerrill.com)

Does this sound familiar to you?

“Honey, if you would just plan fun things for us to do,then I would spend more time with you.”

If you would spend more time with me, then I wouldn’t be so cranky.”

If you weren’t so cranky, then I would plan fun things for us to do.”

And around and around it goes. The endless cycle seen above is what I’ve come to call the “If, Then” marriage cycle. All too often, we find ourselves saying to our spouses, “If you would just do this, then I would do that.” It’s conditional love, which is really not love at all because true love is unconditional.

To save you and your spouse from becoming trapped in the “If, Then” marriage cycle, here are three truths to remember:

1. Love is not 50/50; it’s 100/100. Giving half the effort to your marriage will never cut it. Having the mindset that once you do your part, it’s up to your spouse to do the rest doesn’t work well in marriage. It’s important that both husband and wife are each giving 100 percent of themselves to the relationship.

2. Love sacrificially, not superficially. There will be times when you are tired and don’t want to do the dishes or help the kids with homework or are too busy to leave your spouse an encouraging note on the counter. But love is about making sacrifices. So break the “If, Then” marriage cycle by loving your spouse through practical, daily, sacrificial actions.

3. Love is not a transaction; it’s an action. It’s vital for both husband and wife to change their mindset from what they can get to what they can give. So try giving of your time, your thoughts or your talents without the expectation of getting something back. Do it simply because you love your spouse, not because you want a favor in return.

What are some “if, then” challenges that you and your spouse struggle with, and how do you move past those struggles? Please leave a comment below.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE / NEW MAN.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family FirstFor the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

Behind the mask…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5

We live in a culture where love is a bit confusing. We say, “I love you, wife.” “I love you, girlfriend.” “I love you, dog.” “I love you, chocolate cake.” Love can mean that we want to devour a person. Love can mean something we enjoy watching on television.

However, love can also mean, “I would do anything to make this person’s life better.” Now, that’s real love. Real love doesn’t care about beauty or funniness. Love doesn’t care about education. Love doesn’t care about skills. Love goes much deeper. It’s care for human good. It’s the willingness to sacrifice things that you like so that somebody else can have it better. That’s love.

Often, to receive that kind of love, we build masks to try to trick people into loving us. And what we’re really doing is trying to get people to consume us, as they would consume a product. To look at us, analyze us, and say, “Yes, I want that. I want to consume that.” That’s not what real love does. Love doesn’t consume someone else. Love gives.

The greatest love, then, is love that goes beyond the mask. Real love is comes from someone who knows what mask you’re wearing, doesn’t really mind it, and says, “I love you anyway just the way you are.” The greatest love is love without masks, beyond the masks, beyond the fake things that you feel that you have to do to earn love. The greatest love is the kind that goes beyond that.

The greatest love is unconditional…the way God loves us his children.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be my true self, just as you have designed me. Help me to see myself, and others, as you see and love us. Amen.

Reflection: What mask do you wear to encourage people to love you?

How to Find True Romantic Love.


Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kailen Rosenberg’s upcoming book, Real Love, Right Now: A Love Architect’s Thirty-Day Blueprint to Finding Your Soul Mate(Howard Books, 2013).

Do you sense a longing to experience romantic love as God designed it to be, but can’t seem to find it? Are you searching for the right person to marry, yet frustrated that true love seems to be eluding you?

If so, be encouraged that the kind of love you’re searching for really does exist. But you may be unknowingly sabotaging your own opportunities to find true romantic love – either by approaching dating with bad habits or by responding to people God brings your way out of your ego rather than your soul.

Here’s how you can overcome the obstacles that can block you from find the true romantic love God wants you to enjoy:

Let go of misconceptions about love. Open your mind to the reality that love is all around you and that God may lead you to experience true love at any time in any place. In order to embrace this truth, let go of common misconceptions about love, such as: love is unattainable (it’s actually within your reach), love is painful (a romantic partner’s behavior can cause you pain, but love doesn’t cause pain), love is possessive (real love leads to freedom), love demands perfection (true love is unconditional), and love is vain (your ego actually repels love from you, while authenticity attracts love to you). Write down the negative beliefs about love that you have been holding onto; then pray about each one and ask the Holy Spirit to replace your false beliefs with God’s truths about love.

Identify and work to change unhealthy dating behaviors. Ask God to show you how you’re sabotaging your ability to experience true romantic love by acting in unhealthy ways, such as: trying to control others instead of giving them freedom, projecting insecurity rather than confidence, or being critical of others rather than positive toward them. Once you’ve identified unhealthy behaviors, ask God to empower you to stop them and start new, healthy behaviors in your dating relationships. Accept the forgiveness that God offers you for your past mistakes, and forgive yourself, as well. Find a few people you can trust to serve as accountability partners for you while you work to change unhealthy behaviors to healthy ones.

Assess your values and desires. Think and pray about what you believe about romantic love and why those values are important to you. Once you’ve clarified your values, write them down in a journal. Next, write down what qualities you want in a romantic partner, as well as what you don’t want. Ask God to help you focus from now on what you truly should be looking for in a romantic relationship and a romantic partner.

Design a blueprint to build the person you want to become. A vital part of getting yourself ready to embrace true romantic love is evaluating the image you’re projecting to the world in light of who you really are as a person. Often, people’s images and souls are out of sync with each other. If that’s the case with you, you can align your image with the reality of who you are by designing a blueprint that shows how you can present yourself at your best to others. The blueprint describes qualities related to your outer appearance (such as your physical fitness, hair, clothes, style, makeup, and the state of your home) and your inner strengths (such as wisdom, confidence, honesty, peace, and positive thinking).

Rewrite broken love scripts. Painful experiences from your past can cause you to write distorted scripts in your mind about how to deal with romantic love. Identify whether or not you may be telling yourself lies like these: “I have no value when it comes to love,” “I am unworthy of love,” “Love comes in the form of neglect or abuse,” “My value lies only in my beauty or talent,” “No one is good enough for me,” “I can love others only by rescuing or parenting them,” and “I have no value outside a relationship.” Reject these unhealthy attitudes. Rewrite your broken scripts by accepting responsibility for where you are now in your life and letting biblical truths guide your approach to romantic love from now on.

Heal from love gone wrong. If a romantic partner has hurt you (such as by neglecting you, abusing you, or cheating on you), pursue the healing God offers you by: being honest about your own role in the relationship’s problems, relying on God to help you forgive the person who hurt you and forgive yourself for your own mistakes, recognizing that every romantic relationship can teach you valuable lessons about love even if it doesn’t work out, and looking back on your failed relationships with compassion and understanding while moving forward with hope and trust in God.

Design a blueprint to build the romantic partner you want to meet. Just as you designed a blueprint that describes how you can present your best qualities to potential romantic partners, design one that describes the specific qualities you hope to find in a romantic partner. Include some information about the person’s appearance since you should be physically attracted to him or her, but keep in mind that spiritual and emotional qualities are far more important than physical qualities in order to build a strong relationship that can lead to a healthy marriage.

Get yourself ready for love. These steps are all important parts of preparing yourself to meet a new romantic partner: envisioning love for yourself, letting go of desperation, radiating loving energy, listening to your inner voice, dealing with past wounds, shifting your self-image to one of confidence, letting go of excuses that are holding you back, and learning your love language.

Build a strong foundation. Keep in mind that any future romantic relationship should have all of these building blocks in its foundation: unconditional love, gratitude, empathy, acceptance, charity, friendship, and kindness. Don’t settle for less.

Start dating the right way. Approach dating in a healthy way, with love and respect for yourself and your romantic partners. Keep in mind that the dating process should be a courtship with marriage in mind, and involve purity and balance (rather than games or power plays). Ask God to help you and the person you’re dating to save sex for marriage, even if you or your romantic partner has had sex before in previous relationships. Keep in mind that becoming sexually intimate before marriage interferes with your ability to wisely discern whether or not the person you’re dating is truly the right person for you. Realize, too, that saving sex for marriage protects you from lots of unnecessary heartache. Give yourself plenty of time to figure out if you’re with the right person, and, if so, to build a strong foundation on which you then can build a strong marriage.

Adapted from Real Love, Right Now: A Love Architect’s Thirty-Day Blueprint to Finding Your Soul Mate, copyright 2013 by Kailen Rosenberg. Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., Brentwood, TN, http://imprints.simonandschuster.biz/howard.

Kailen Rosenberg is the founder of The Love Architects, a matchmaking and love design firm, and was co-host of OWN’s show Lovetown USA. She has appeared on the Today show, Good Morning America, and CNN, among others. Visit her website at: www.thelovearchitects.com.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: August 15, 2013

How to Negotiate with Your Spouse so You Both Win.


Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Willard F. Harley Jr.’s upcoming book, He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation (Revell Books, 2013).

Conflict is inevitable in every marriage. So you and your spouse are bound to disagree about some of the many issues you all face in your life together.  But disagreeing doesn’t have to mean fighting.

All too often, couples fight about their conflicts, and their marriages suffer as a result. There’s a better way: negotiating with each other for solutions that benefit both of you. When you and your spouse approach conflicts this way, you can both win by sustaining your love for each other rather than damaging it.

Here’s how you can negotiate with your spouse so you both win:

Keep romantic love in mind. Do your best to try to preserve the romantic love between you that is a gift from God. Making demands of each other or trying to force each other to do something destroys romantic love, while working together to try to find mutually beneficial solutions strengthens romantic love. When making decisions, protect the love between you by working together in ways that build trust and meet each other’s basic emotional needs.

Develop a win-win strategy. Avoid making unilateral decisions in your marriage, because doing so forces one partner to lose while the other one wins, and that doesn’t reflect the love for each other that God wants you both to put into action. Keep in mind that you and your spouse need each other’s perspectives on the issues you encounter, since they complement each other to create a more complete understanding of those issues. Choose to value your spouse’s point of view and what you can learn from it. View each other as equals working on the same team for each other’s benefit. Work together to try to reach a common goal that will lead to a win-win outcome.

Follow the Policy of Joint Agreement. This policy states: “Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.” If you and your spouse both commit to following this policy, you can solve any problem that comes up between you by negotiating until you reach a solution about which you both can feel good. The Policy of Joint Agreement helps you each keep growing in your understanding of each other because it forces you to regularly ask: “How do you feel about what I would like to do (or what I would like you to do for me)?”

Follow the principles of successful negotiation. These principles include: setting ground rules to make negotiation pleasant and safe; trying to be pleasant and cheerful throughout your discussion; avoiding demands, disrespect, or anger while negotiating; taking a break if you reach an impasse or one of you is using demands, disrespect, or anger; identify the conflict you’re discussing from both perspectives until you both understand each other’s points of view; creatively brainstorming potential solutions to the problem; and choosing the best solution about which both of you feel enthusiastic.

Resolve conflicts over friends and relatives. Discuss all invitations from friends and family members with your spouse before responding to them; teach your friends and relatives to wait for a response until you can reach a joint agreement with your spouse about each invitation. Set boundaries with everyone outside your marriage to make it clear that your spouse’s interests are a higher priority than anyone else’s interests whenever a conflict of interests occurs. Don’t let anyone pressure you to make decisions about which your spouse doesn’t enthusiastically agree.

Resolve conflicts over career requirements and time management. It’s vital for the two of you to arrange your schedules in ways that make both of you – never just one of you – happy. If either your career or your spouse’s career requires time commitments that make either one of you unhappy, change jobs or create a new career. Do whatever it takes to ensure that work demands don’t interfere with your marriage relationship. Aim to schedule a minimum of 15 hours per week to invest in your marriage by giving each other undivided attention to meet each other’s emotional needs for affection, sexual fulfillment, intimate conversation, and recreational companionship.

Resolve conflicts over financial management. Work together to create a budget that reflects respect for both of your interests and feelings. List all of your shared income and thoroughly discuss expenditures, seeking a mutual enthusiastic agreement about each of them. When you experience conflicts over how to spend money, try to find ways to divide up the available funds to achieve both of your goals.

Resolve conflicts over children. Never argue in front of your children. Instead, negotiate disciplinary actions, rewards, and other parenting policies in private so you can present a united front to your kids.

Resolve conflicts over sex. Talk honestly with each other about what specific needs you’re each hoping to meet through your sexual relationship – from emotional intimacy to physical release. Also discuss the frequency of making love you’d each prefer, and the most fulfilling ways of doing so. Seek to serve each other and learn how to mutually enjoy sex.

Negotiate successfully when one of you is emotional. Rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance to control your emotional reactions and learn how to respond peacefully to stressful situations.

Negotiate successfully when no one wants to raise the issue. Write down your thoughts about long-buried issues in letters to each other so you can avoid explosive verbal arguments and edit what you want to say so you can present it clearly and calmly.

Negotiate successfully when one of you is indecisive. Test various options and keep in mind that you all can correct any bad decisions later if you notice they’re not working well.

Negotiate successfully when doing nothing is what one spouse wants. Don’t tolerate letting issues that are important to either of you be neglected. Keep bringing up all unresolved issues in your marriage until you both can reach an enthusiastic agreement about them.

Negotiate successfully when one of you is not enthusiastic about much. Since it’s vital for both you and your spouse to be enthusiastic in order to enjoy a healthy marriage, make sure that the spouse who isn’t enthusiastic gets screened for depression and pursues the healing that he or she needs.

Adapted from He Wins, She Wins: Learning the Art of Marital Negotiation, copyright 2013 by Willard F. Harley, Jr. Published by Revell, an imprint of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich.,bakerpublishinggroup.com/revell. 

Willard F. Harley, Jr. is a nationally acclaimed clinical psychologist, a marriage counselor, and the bestselling author of numerous books, including His Needs, Her NeedsFive Steps to Romantic LoveLove Busters; and Draw Close. Harley’s most-loved book, His Needs, Her Needs, is now available as a video curriculum for churches and small groups. His popular website,www.marriagebuilders.com, offers practical solutions to almost any marital problem.    

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: August 5, 2013

{ Day 220 }.


I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. —Psalm 16:8-9

When you know that God enjoys you, then another miraculous thing happens: you begin to enjoy yourself. You begin to like you. You prefer to be yourself over any other person on Earth. This is a revolutionary change for most people. A woman prayed earnestly, “Lord, I want to love my neighbor as I love myself.” The Lord surprised her with His answer: “That’s the problem—you do. You despise yourself; therefore, you despise your neighbor.” God wants you to inhabit the place of personal enjoyment and satisfaction. It’s a position where, in the secrecy of your own heart, you would rather be who you are than anybody else. That gives you incredible confidence and desire to enjoy and love others. Fireworks go off inside you; streams of life touch your being. There’s nothing like waking up in your own skin and thinking, “I’m glad I am who I am. Thank You, Lord!”

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Yes, God, because You love me just as I am, I am glad that You created me to be me. I like being loved by You, and Your love prepares me to love You in return.

It is God’s will that you would come to the
transforming summit of self-acceptance
on your journey.

By MIKE BICKLE.

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