God's Love, Love, Love Series

Love Is…

If I could search every part of my being in an attempt to draw from my own experiences or if I could look up the word in every dictionary or Google it from here to yonder, I would never find a more meaningful definition for ‘love’ than that which is found in the Holy Bible.  As EmpowerMoments kicks off its series in celebration of love, I thought it best that we start with a definition that encompasses the wonder and beauty of love.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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. 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.

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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

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

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV)

Dear Daddy,

I come to You today thanking You for giving us the definition of love. Lord, from Your Word I know that Your son Jesus exemplified love in its purest form and thus, I pray Lord, that You guide me that I may be more like Jesus.  Guide my actions and guide my words, guide my feelings toward myself and guide my feelings towards others. Father, I submit to Your love and ask that You create a beauty within me that will radiate outwardly for the whole world to see.  I love You Father, and most of all, I thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to strive to love more and to love harder.  Love like you have never loved before and be beautiful while you are doing it.  When you love, it is easier to forgive and easier to give.  I EMPOWER you to show an act of love to someone today and EMPOWER that person to pass it forward.

Beverly Gordon is a graduate of Gonzaga School of Law (Spokane, WA) and currently works as an Executive Assistant and Director of Compliance.  She is a devoted mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend who believes in the importance of teaching children the power of prayer.  In her journey of loving and leaning on the Lord she meditates on Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” She resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama with her beautiful daughter and is an active member of the Springfield United Methodist Church.

God's Love, Love

I Heart You <3

Many of you may focus on the title and wonder why I didn’t use the word love. In today’s society the word “love” has almost become obsolete.  Even on Facebook and Twitter people say I “heart” you.  Instantly you know what they mean, but the way it’s written just looks different.  I believe we say “heart” because it doesn’t sound all mushy, but why not be mushy for God?

Jesus wants us to have an attitude of love. 1 John 4:16 says GOD IS LOVE. (NLT) It doesn’t say GOD IS HEART, it says love.  It’s 100% natural for us to have love for our family, children and friends, but what about our enemies and neighbors?  The scriptures instructs us to, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  (Matthew 5:44-45 KJV)

My son once asked me, “Mommy do you love me and everybody or just me?”  I told him, “Of course I love you and mommy loves everybody too.”  I’ve always been a person who loves to love, a romantic at heart. But then I began to really wonder how God wants us to love our enemies. How can I love my neighbor who never speaks or the chick that is always gossiping about me behind my back? Then God says to me, How can you NOT love them? If you love those who love you, what rewards will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?”  (Matthew 5:46-47 NIV)

The chapter continues on by saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 NIV) Can we be “perfect” here on earth?  Obviously, the answer is no.  The word perfect in Hebrew means “maturity,” “completeness,” and “wholeness.”  So we must grow toward maturity and wholeness.  Just as we expect different behaviors from a baby, a child, a teenager, and an adult, so God expects growth and different behavior from us.

So how can we gain an attitude of love?  Someone once said, “To return evil for evil is man-like. To return evil for good is animal-like, but to return good for evil is God-like. “We have to continually assess our actions based upon the perfect example of Jesus so that we can move from “man-like” to “GOD-like” while avoiding becoming “animal-like.” 

Dear Daddy,

I love You with all my heart.  I will always be in love with You because You loved me so much that You gave Your only begotten son to die for my sins.  Lord, help me to grow stronger daily in my attitude of love toward others.  Help me to sincerely love those who persecute me. In Jesus’  Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to adopt an attitude of love toward all people, including your enemies.  Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you hea—eh, LOVE them!  Remember: Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is LOVE! (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT)

How will you endeavor to love those that don’t act so lovable? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Be a Change Agent

Ms. Hassanah White is a dedicated member of Faith Walkers Church in Birmingham, Alabama where their motto is to “Walk it out by Faith.”  She also serves as a member of the Praise Dance Ministry.  Hassanah is a true professional in the realm of marketing and customer service.  She’s a proud mother of a very energetic little boy named Jaden.  Hassanah believes laughter and prayer are the best medicines for any situation.  Her favorite scripture is Hebrews 11:6: “And without Faith it is impossible to please GOD, because anyone who comes to Him must BELIEVE that He exists and that He REWARDS those who earnestly seek Him.”

God, God's Love, Love, Submission/Surrendering

I Give Myself Away

Who gives this woman to be married?  If you’ve ever been to an American wedding, I’m certain that you’ve heard these words.  Traditionally, every wedding consists of the bride being given to her soon-to-be husband.  Customarily, the bride was given to her husband because women were considered property and therefore had to be given by the owner (father).  As part of the transfer, the father was paid for the bride and the groom assumed care and responsibility for the woman.

This tradition is very similar to the spiritual relationship that the Church has with Christ.  The primary difference is that, in order to be one with Christ, you must give yourself away.  As members of the Body of Christ, we represent the bride of Jesus.  That’s right; you are Jesus’ boo, His lady, the love for which He gave His life.  When He died upon the cross, you were bought and paid for—not because you were anyone’s property, but because He loves you. (1 Corinthians 6:20 NIVImagine that.  The King of Kings is in love with you!  He wants to marry you!  All you have to do is give yourself away. 

In Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul explains that giving ourselves to the King is the proper thing to do.  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV)  Jesus sacrificed so much in order to make you His bride.  As your groom, He is prepared to take care of you.  He is ready to love on you.  Will you give yourself to Him?

Giving yourself to Christ requires that “you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.” (Romans 10:9 NKJV) This is critical step that many of us have accomplished; however, God desires even more.  He is asking us to give ourselves fully.  He wants us not just to love Him with our lips but with our entire being.  As such, we are charged to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NKJV) When we love God with all that we have and keep His commands, we have truly given ourselves to Him. 

As we enter into this New Year, I pray that we all take these steps to give ourselves away.  The King is waiting!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for patiently waiting at the altar for our arrival.  We confess that we have been like runaway brides, straying from the altar, not giving ourselves to You fully.  Forgive us for our sins.  Help us to see more clearly the desires that You have for us.  Help us to operate in obedience.  Help us to give ourselves away.  Again, we thank You.  You are holy, majestic, and there is none like You.  We bless You for continuing to be our King.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you give yourselves to the Almighty King.  God is waiting for your arrival.  Offer yourselves to Him fully and completely. 

 

Read a related EmpowerMoment: You Must Click Submit Before the Deadline

Ms. Latasha McCrary is an active member of St. Luke Christian Church in Huntsville, AL where she serves as a Young Adult Facilitator and is training as a Life Skills Coach. She is passionate about the practice of law and views her profession as an extension of her calling to serve. Latasha firmly believes that “Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy” and is grateful for God’s continuing favor evidenced in her life. “By this I know that you favor me, because you have not let my enemies triumph over me.” (Psalms 41:11)

Attitude, Co-Workers, Gentleness, Growth/Maturity, Kindness, Love

Be a Change Agent

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV

I wrote some time ago about the weird practices that take place at my job because of budgetary constraints.  One of the bizarre things is the trash collection procedure. At my past jobs, thorough office cleaning took place outside of normal business hours. However, here the daily cleaning consists only of emptying the trash in each cubicle and the trash man comes around while everyone is busy working at their desks. This would not irk me so much if he didn’t roll his huge industrial sized trash can INSIDE my cube to collect the trash. This has to be the most disgusting thing ever! I would get so irritated and angry whenever I heard the wheels rolling toward my workspace. You may be thinking that I am overreacting but imagine this germ-ridden trash receptacle brushing up against your coat that is hanging on the wall of your cubicle as the garbage man tries to squeeze it into your tiny space. I had gotten so annoyed that I was beginning to resent him for what he was doing everyday—his job.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

One day I finally figured out that my attitude and annoyance was not changing the situation; in actuality, it was only making it much worse. It was at that moment that I decided to do my part to change. I started setting my trash can outside of my cubicle each morning whenever I heard the wheels coming in my direction. I couldn’t change his habits so I changed mine! That scenario reminds me of the countless situations where we deal with difficult people or things. We become so frustrated by the way that someone is acting and the idiotic things that they are doing. If we are honest, we have even allowed ourselves to react to their senselessness in ways that are embarrassing and unacceptable. But there comes a time when we have to make a declaration to change: God, if You are not going to change this situation, change me! Change what, you ask? Change your thinking, your heart, your attitude and your reactions. Mary Engelbreit said it best: “If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

At first the garbage man was a little taken aback by my new approach. He seemed a bit surprised that I was “doing his job” for him. But as time passed, he began thanking me for helping him out. It has even gotten to the point where he gets a little testy if he “pulls up” and my trash can isn’t outside. This is the wonderful thing about changing the way that you act in a difficult and annoying situation; your actions may eventually change the way that the opposition views the situation as well. They may never tell you, but your behavior has the potential to drastically alter their thinking.

In the header scripture, Paul writes to the Romans advising them to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on them. Can you honestly say that you are doing YOUR part to fulfill this nugget of scripture? We are called to a higher standard of living and we must uphold the integrity of the Gospel, even when we are dealing with difficult people and situations.

Dear Daddy,

Please forgive me for the times that I reacted to difficult situations and people in a way that was contrary to Your word. Going forward, please help me act in a way that is pleasing to You and glorying to Your kingdom. Lord, if You are not ready to change _________, please help me to change the way I think and act about them/it. I know that Your will is what’s best for me! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, you are “perfect”, now CHANGE! 🙂 Today, I EMPOWER you to change your thinking, change your attitude, change your heart and change the way that you respond. Those difficult situations and people will not have so much negative influence and power in your life if you allow the change agent to have His way in your life! When the situation doesn’t change, you must decide to change!

Mrs. Kristen Harris is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and dedicated servant.  She is extremely passionate about women’s spiritual advancement, hence the founding of EmpowerMoments.  As an avid reader, Kristen enjoys reading the Bible and other non-fiction pieces. Her driving inspiration is when God says to her: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11) She currently resides outside of Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters where she is an active member of New Life Covenant Church.

Attitude, Growth/Maturity, Love, Marriage, Patience

Who Do You Think You Married?

“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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  I Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

I went into our marriage with preconceived notions and unrealistic hopes and aspirations. My husband and I joke about it now, but during my enlightenment it wasn’t so funny. I remember distinctively, during marriage maintenance prior to our wedding, our first session was about our family structure around marriage. My parents were divorced when I was 10 or so, so all of my “ideas” of marriage came from television. Yep, that’s right; I looked at the Huxtables for my marital pattern.  If not them movies that showed cute and fun marriages that had facial expressions that meant a thousand words and TV shows that featured older couples that laughed, joked, and “complimented” each other ALL THE TIME. I have to give credit where credit is due; my husband’s views were more realistic, so I am grateful for his patience while I came into the reality of what defined our marriage, but it took me a few years.

I came into our marriage with expectations that my husband was not designed to fulfill by MY prompting.  Unbeknownst to me he could only fulfill them in God’s timing. I was stressing him with internal pressure that started to turn us into opponents. Not enemies, but opponents. He was supposed to have me laughing hysterically like my Dad. He was supposed to be comically romantic like Bill Cosby. I expected him to pray ferociously over me like that Pastor and First Lady I saw at that conference. We were supposed to be able to have inside jokes and laugh out loud like the couple I saw at the restaurant. He was supposed to be overprotective of my well-being since I lacked that growing up.

After I faced all of these issues through years of “adjusting to each other”,  I realized I was not being fair. I gave my husband the problems instead of asking for God to heal them. Not only was I not being fair, I was not cherishing the man God gave to me. I would ask God sometimes, “Lord, I prayed over this marriage and you said go forward, why do I feel so forced and so ‘fake’?  Why am I chasing after the ‘ideal’ marriage?” At one point God took me to a low point in my “wifeyhood.” This was when I learned that marriage is NOT for punks. God showed me that with every “expectation” and every “insinuation”, not only was I disrespecting the head of my house, but I was infringing upon the ego, soul, and purpose of my husband. I was poisoning the blessings God gave me.  I was “trampling” over my husband’s character. My notions and actions emitted an arrogance of “you aren’t good enough.” I never “said” it, but my aura exhibited it.

When I was fully convicted of this and prompted to change, God took me through a series of mirrors. He showed me how my husband is the only person on this earth that can be as patient and delicate with me. He is the only tangible being that can show me myself and how to correct it in love. He showed me that my mouth was speaking death over his efforts and the fruits of my marriage…because “I knew everything.” I went through a period of “hush and heed”.  I hushed and just watched my husband and heeded to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. I took a back seat, slowed down, and allowed God to take the steering wheel. God began to reveal to me my husband’s core of strength and integrity. Watching his natural swagger made my heart go pitter patter and I fell in a new love with him. God showed me the error of my ways. I was so unfair to my husband. How could I try to compare him to fictitious TV? Now my husband jokes and says, “You thought you were in a marriage like the Cosby’s.” I’m still appalled at how he even knew those were my motives. But in my defense, that was all I knew.

We’ll be the first to say our marriage is far from perfect. We both have issues that we deal with daily. We even joke with new couples sometimes and tell them DON’T GET MARRIED!! Not because we don’t cherish ours, but it really shows you who you are and it is a task, yet a labor of love. Through years (well, not that many) of checks and balances and trial and error, I laugh when I catch us laughing hysterically in OUR OWN WAY at each other or when we have family Bible studies or prayer in OUR OWN WAY or when he unconsciously grabs my hand to guide me when we are in crowds, when we sit in silence, yet our flirts are so loud, or even when we fight and just look at each other and say “this is petty.fight’s over.” There’s no foot rub make-up or jazz dances like the Cosby’s, but it’s in OUR OWN WAY that we love  and forgive, and it has become the fabric of the muscles within my heart.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for sparing the quality things in my life until I was able to handle and appreciate them. Thank You for placing these treasures in my life that build me and make me stronger. Lord, I pray for every marriage out there, mine included. Whether it is under attack, in a rough patch, or cruising in marital bliss, Lord I plead Your covering of protection, cooperation, and communication. As wives, Lord please teach us how to be pleasing and a doer of Your Word so that we may be able to fulfill our roles in the marriage. Lord bless every husband, especially the ones with “know it all wives”, to be patient and to love her with patience and kindness until she gets it right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, whether you are married or on the way, I EMPOWER you to remove any ideas out of your head of other marriages and trying to mimic those. Allow God to steer, ordain, and orchestrate the ideals within your marriage. It’s good to say, “I want to have great communication like the Johnsons.” But saying, “I want my husband to communicate with me the way Bob Johnson communicates with Shana” is dangerous. Trust God, and He will teach you how to trust your husband. Love God and He will teach you how to love your husband. Therefore, what God has put together let no one separate (Mark 10:9 NIV)….even if it is YOU.

For more on marriage, read: Must We Do Everything Together?

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment. Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian Church. Check out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Encouragement, Faith, Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness, God's Love, Kindness, Love, Mental Illness, Mother/Daughter, Motivation, Spiritual Therapy, Strength, Trials, Trusting God, Worry

Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness

“Chancee` you have to accept the fact that your mother is going to be institutionalized until the day she dies.”  These words stung as a family member spoke them to me. I was feeling pretty hopeless and was pouring out how I felt about the mental health system’s revolving door that has held my mother captive. I don’t quite know the year it started but her illness preceded me.  Although throughout my lifetime she has had several years of independent living, for nearly the past seven years she has been in the state mental institution. She is absolutely one of the most brilliant people that I know but she has a neurobiological disorder and has been diagnosed as bipolar, paranoid schizophrenic. Her reality and true reality are often conflicting and unfortunately her belief in her delusions, in the absence of medication, can cause irritability and lead to unrest and violence. Because Mom doesn’t believe she has an illness, her cooperation is minimal outside the confines of the mental institution. That fact keeps her from living a “normal” life.

Over the years, I held resentment against my mother for not being there for me to call on her when I needed her. I have felt extreme sadness at the fact that our relationship in no way resembles that of my friends with their own mothers. Mother-daughter trips, spa days, shopping, and dinners have been non-existent since I was a little girl. I feel sorry for her because her own quality of life is severely diminished and as she gets older it continues to get worse. I have become her guardian and she has become the child. It’s a complex relationship and one that she constantly fights.

For years, I have prayed that God delivers my mom from her illness and I have held out hope that one day she will be delivered from this disease; however, it’s been very difficult. I have prayed that I can see her how God sees her and love her like He does. The hardest part about neurobiological disorders is that they are hard to deal with because you can’t “see” the disability and it’s not cancer; therefore, people are treated as if they are just “crazy.” You want them to accept that what they know as reality is false and to just move on but that isn’t realistic.

There is so much to this story that I can write a book, but as this cycle repeats itself it’s hard for me to have hope that one day she will be healed. It’s hard for me to believe that God may have a different will for her life. It’s hard for me to believe that she will cooperate with treatment when she is not under the supervision of the mental institution. I am trying to maintain hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation.

Your situation may not be like mine but if some of us are honest with ourselves there is something that we have or have had hope for but our present circumstances make us feel absolutely hopeless. Our faith is shattered because we can’t see “how” it will happen, “when” it will happen or “what” will happen. As I battle with these feelings of hopelessness concerning my mother, I am reminded of WHO God is in what appear to be hopeless situations:

  • In Exodus 1  The Children of Israel were in captivity for hundreds of years in Egypt. There were Israelites who were born in and died in captivity and never saw God’s promise of freedom come to fruition. Though it came through much trial and tribulation Pharaoh finally let God’s people go. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested. (Exodus 12:30-31 NIV)  In Exodus 14 the Israelites’ situation once again appears hopeless as Pharaoh follows them and they are trapped by the Red Sea but God parted the waters so that they could cross. He made a way out of no way!
  • Remember Sarah – There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah wanted a child her whole life but she was barren. When she received word that she would have a son her situation looked so hopeless that she laughed at the mere thought. Later she bore a son and called him Isaac.  Read Genesis 18:10-14, Genesis 21:1-2
  • Lastly there is the woman with the issue of blood. She had a disease and had been to many doctors over the course of her twelve years of bleeding but no one could help her. There was no pill that she could take to stop it. There was no cure.  Mark 5:25-29

Although our situations may appear to be hopeless, I want us to restore our hope knowing that what God has done for others He will do for us too. Here are my five tips for restoring hope when you feel hopeless:

  1.  Encourage Yourself –I Samuel 30: 4-6
  2. Trust Him –Proverbs 3:5-6
  3. Know that He is not like you! –Isaiah 55:8-9
  4. Have a Flashback – Remember a time when God granted you the desires of your heart even when the situation looked hopeless. Psalms 31:19
  5. Know that He sees the completed puzzle while we can only see the puzzle pieces – Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Daddy,

Continue to help mine unbelief as You restore my faith in You. Help me to continue to believe that You are a healer and just like You have done for others You can do for me too. For every reader out there that is in the midst of what appears to be a hopeless situation, remind them of who You are. Remind them that there is nothing too hard for You! Remind them that You healed the sick, You raised the dead, You walked on water, You restored sight to the blind, You opened wombs that were barren, and You made the ultimate sacrifice! Thank You for being who You are! In Jesus’ Name Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to declare victory today over your “hopeless” situation. I EMPOWER you to have peace with God’s will for your life and that you remain faithful in your pursuits. I EMPOWER you to rebuke the spirit of hopelessness as you remember the God that you serve can do ANYthing.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: The Face of Faith

Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is a small business co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. One of her favorite scriptures is Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”