Brokenness to Beauty

Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life


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Love is …

Love is …

 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13 NLT).

 

Love is … easy, love is hard. Love is … simple, love is profound. Love is … a command, love is a choice.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You must love each another, just as I have loved you” (John 13:34 CEV). Jesus means these words for me because I declare I am his disciple, a learner and one who seeks to obey him. If you are his disciple, this command is for you as well.

My choice to love was made when I chose to follow Jesus. Same for you. We chose to obey his words, his commands. And he commands us to love each other.

This love is not just human love for friends. This love is well beyond and above that love. This is the “as I have loved you” love of Jesus; God’s love.*

“This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13 CEB).

“As I have loved you.” Now that’s a thought we can chew on for some time.

As I move toward the final stages of writing prior to publishing the Bible Study for my book, Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life, I’ve crafted a page of etiquette for Bible study group behavior.

Sounds funny, a page on etiquette, but these reminders are needed. The points simply remind us of how we should act with one another. It dawned on me that these points of etiquette are actually ways we can love one another in a small group setting. Or anywhere, anytime.

I want to share with you some of the easy ways to love one another, excerpted from my Bible study group etiquette page:

“Value each person in your little community of the Bible study group. Give each other the respect due each one. Commit to:

  1. Show up. Someone said that 90% of any task is just showing up. Be at the group meetings (barring an emergency). And when there, be present. “Be Here Now,” attentive and engaged in the moment. This is for your own benefit as well as the benefit of the others. You never know what God may speak to you through another person, or what God may impress on another through you. Sometimes you just being there is all the encouragement someone else needs (Hebrews 10:24–25).

 

  1. Do your work. The week before you meet, do the work for the upcoming lesson in preparation for the group time. The more effort you put into the study, the more you will get out of it. Solomon said, “The soul (appetite) of the lazy person craves and gets nothing [for lethargy overcomes ambition], but the soul (appetite) of the diligent [who works willingly] is rich and abundantly supplied” (Proverbs 13:4 AMP).

 

  1. Be generous and share the discussion time. Be short-winded so others may also participate in the discussions (1 Peter 5:5–7).

 

  1. Be a better listener than a talker. Bible study discussions are not the place for giving advice or counseling. You are not meeting together to solve anyone’s problems but to learn what God has to say in his Word. “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving] (James 1:19 AMP).

 

  1. Be trustworthy as you listen. What is shared in the group discussions stays a secret with the group. These things are not to be told to anyone else. “He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden” (Proverbs 11:13 AMP).

 

  1. Be a Berean Christian. When questions come up, don’t default to traditional, current, or even “common sense” ideas, but search the Scriptures like the Bereans did to find out what God has to say about the issue. He does have a word to say about it. And unlike the words of men, God’s Word “endures forever” (Acts 17:10–12; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:22–25).

 

These are some easy, simple, yet thoughtful ways we can love one another in any group setting, and these few guidelines will serve as our standard of etiquette for this Bible study group.”

Though the above points are designed for a small group setting, they are applicable in most life situations. I’ll let you make the leap to apply these principles, rooted in God’s Word, to your everyday life, at home, at work, at school, at church, and everywhere. I’m working on it too.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 CSB, emphasis added).

 

Daily Verses

 

How can I move from my limited, human brotherly love to Jesus’ love, to love as he has loved us? A song just reminded me of the only way– “I’ve Been Crucified with Christ,” (by Robin Mark) quoting Galatians 2:20:

“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 CSB, emphasis added)

Listen to the song here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoZWRfXdh4w

I want to cooperate with Christ and let him live his life through me. That’s the only way to love others as he loved us.

Love is … all of the above, and so much more. In Christ we can do this.

 

The Bible Study for Brokenness to Beauty has yet to be published; hopefully, by autumn it will be available. However, the book Brokenness to Beauty: Transforming Your Brokenness into a Beautiful Life may be purchased now at Amazon books. Click here to go to Amazon.

*Agape love: “Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html 

Scriptures are taken from https://www.biblegateway.com

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Keep on Running the Race

All kinds of people run. People of all ages run. They run for all different reasons. I would think it is safe to say most people run because they enjoy it, or some aspect of the running experience. I am not a runner so I am speculating here, based on my observations and what I know of human nature. We get involved in things that we like to do or that are meaningful to us.

All kinds of runners

All kinds of runners

I was up early Saturday to be at the site of a 5K Race and 1 Mile Family Walk. You have to seriously like to run or walk to be at the venue that early! Or, in my case, serious about participating in something I believe in: the ministry of She Is Safe (www.SheIsSafe.org). They are reaching out to women and girls around the world to “prevent, rescue and restore” them from lives of slavery, oppression and abuse, in the context of lovingly telling and demonstrating the good news of Jesus Christ.

SIS 5K 2015 DSC_0971

I was at the race as a member of the newly formed Bakersfield She Is Safe Advocacy Group which sponsored the race. I assisted on the sidelines as others walked and ran, their race fees providing funds for She Is Safe to expand their work to more women and girls in the hard places of the world, bringing hope and new life to them.

Just like I had a specific motivation to be at the race to assist, the runners each had their personal motivations for being there too. And on the strength of their inner drive they accomplished their goal: crossing that finish line. Some wanted to be first. Others simply wanted to finish.

 

They all met their goals of crossing the finish line on their own two feet (or in their strollers!) because they set their minds to do it. All the runners were applauded and many got trophies or awards for placing in various categories, but the feeling of “I did it!” had to be the best prize of all.

 

Too cute not to add!SIS 5K and Family walk 5-2015 DSC_1072

 

Though I am not a runner of foot races, I am a runner in the race of life. We all are. We each have a race marked out for us and it is our responsibility to set our minds to give it our all, our best. Like Paul, we should be “bringing all (our) energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, (we) strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us” [Philippians 3:13,14, TLB).[1]

“What Christ Jesus did for us” should be all the motivation we need to stick to the race course, regardless of how difficult the going may get at times. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross”[2] for us, should help us keep putting one foot in front of the other with hope burning in our hearts. He finished his race and sat down next to the Father in heaven. He won salvation for all mankind, for any and all who will put their trust in him.

May we keep our eyes on the prize God has for us at the end of our race, motivated by the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May we live “to win for the Lamb that was slain the reward of His suffering.”[3]

SIS 5K 2015 FINISH DSC_1066

For fun viewing, here’s a video of the 5K and Family walk: http://youtu.be/OtyYT3DPYGI

Photos and Video by www.proshowweb.com

[1] The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/.

[2] Hebrews 12:2

[3] The battle cry of the Moravian Church’s missionary outreach, based on Isaiah 53:10-12. http://www.globaltribesoutreach.org/articlesmoravian

 

Originally posted on the Abide Prayer Group blog, a women’s ministry of The Bridge Bible Church of Bakersfield, CA.


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Encourage One Another to …

In 1992 our family moved from southern California to Roswell, a community north of Atlanta, Georgia. Roswell was not our final destination; we were on our way to start a ministry, Mustard Seeds and Mountains, in West Virginia. Our “stopover” in Roswell turned into a three year hiatus in which we joined mission staff  at Fellowship Bible Church, started several local ministry outreaches and raised our missionary support to move to West Virginia full time.

We considered FBC our “home church” for all the years we lived in West Virginia. As missionaries with FBC we still receive their Serve (missions) Newsletter. This month featured an article by Corinne Simpson, Children’s Ministries Director at Fellowship Bible Church. I felt she had a powerful challenge for me, and for us all, so I wanted to share her article with you. Below is an introduction by FBC mission/outreach staff and then Corinne’s article.

“If you like your life just as it is and don’t really want your assumptions challenged, stay away from the fringes of downtown Atlanta and don’t get too far away from the boat if you go on a cruise.  And most certainly don’t do go to a place like Bangalore, India.  You just might see the world as God sees it.  And you might be changed in ways you didn’t expect.  It happened to one of our own at Fellowship.”

CorinneSimpson FBC

Corinne Simpson, Children’s Ministries Director at Fellowship Bible Church

 

“When I boarded the plane to visit mission partners in south Asia, I didn’t foresee how God would use this trip to change me.

Our drive from the airport to their home was our first memorable experience in their country – lanes mean nothing!    Stepping out of the familiar—new tastes and smells, poverty, kind and gentle people, the cost and joy of obedience— is hard to forget.    We worshipped, played, had sweet connections with their team, heard stories and got a glimpse of what God is doing in the nations!

Here are a few of my learnings:

*Prayer – steadfast prayer – is needed for our “heroes of the faith” as they live their calling.  Pray for the nations and for the persecuted church.  We stayed a few days in a guest house where nine of the people who stayed there in 2014 were martyred as they went back into their countries.

*Loving people includes knowing them and serving them.  I asked a lady who had been there fifteen years why she stayed … “I love the people.”  A personal conviction for me back at home translates to prayer-walking my neighborhood and reaching out and serving my neighbors – and then sharing the gospel.  Lord, help me to love people.

*The cost of discipleship and obedience is sometimes hard.  Suffering seems to be part of the deal.  Will I embrace that as normal?

Back in Atlanta, last week in church we sang “Hosanna” by Hillsong.  Worshipping together with my church family, we sang:  ‘break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for the kingdom cause’… ‘I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith’… ‘I see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek, we’re on our knees’… ‘Heal my heart and make it clean, open up my eyes to the things unseen … Show me how to love like you’ve loved me.’

‘Lord, it is a privilege to glimpse what it looks like (here and there) to give our life for a worthy cause.   Keep us faithful.  Help me (us) to not be lured into less important endeavors.  Time is short.  You are worthy.’

May we press onward in step with Him and live our calling to be disciples who make disciples!”

 

Article and photo used with the permission of Fellowship Bible Church ( http://fellowshiproswell.org/ ) and Corinne Simpson. Thank you, friends!