Guest Post- Doing Time With Love

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  

The gift of time has been on my heart lately.We give time, waste time, use time, and sometimes we even “do time.”

 

prison

Typically “doing time” is associated with jail time. How do we look at our time as a Christian? Do we give time, waste time, use time, or do time as a Christian? In Mark 12:30 the Bible says “and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” This time of love is often given without much thought.

As a matter of fact, I have occasionally found myself loving God in a “doing time” sort of way. I am a Christian, so I can’t do…. Well, a Christian wouldn’t do….It is funny, but often I have heard people describing their Christianity in terms of what they can’t or don’t do. I am a Christian so I don’t cuss, drink, smoke, dance….It is a “can’t do” service to God.

I wonder if that is the kind of service God wants from us?

Are we sitting in a pew every Sunday feeling like we are in jail? We haven’t made
enough or done enough that week to get into Heaven. We don’t feel like we can get to Heaven on what we have done so we try to do more, but always fail to do enough. I hate to tell you this, but you are right, you can’t get to Heaven by what you do or don’t do. You can’t get to Heaven on your abilities.

You can only get there through the grace and mercy of Christ’s life that was sacrificed on the Cross just for you.

His blood releases you from all of the “can’t do’s.”

Come to Jesus with all your sin and He will set you free. Often we think we have to wait until we have lost the addictions, lost the sin, lost whatever is holding us back. I am overjoyed to tell you that everyone sitting in the pews Sunday is sitting there with something they are trying to get rid of.

But I don’t think it has to be that way. I wonder if worship to God would be more pleasing if we were coming just to love Him. A friend reminded me of Romans 4 today. Verses 4-5, “when people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” And Romans 3:27 “can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law.”

It is based on faith. We don’t have to put ourselves in the place of “doing time.” Jesus already did that. And then He paid the ultimate price for our “crimes.”

For those of us who have been sitting there for a while, sometimes we forget what it
is like and we want to judge those who haven’t figured out what we have. We can’t honestly look at others without looking at ourselves. That can become our jail. Thinking someone else is getting away with or able to do something that we don’t feel we can, so we compare our Christianity to theirs. This is very dangerous. We are in the jail of our choosing, but we don’t have to be there. Our sin just looks different than what it looked like when we first found Christ.

We have matured…or have we? Comparing isn’t a mature way to live. I Corinthians 8:1b “but while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Love doesn’t compare, it shows compassion.” Love is the “get out of jail” key. Mark 12:31,  “the second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Is it possible that loving our neighbor is what will free us from the prison we have been living in? Could the way we give and use our time loving others help us get out from behind the bars that cage us in?

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to use my time for good. Help me to release the time I spend that is destructive. I want to use my time to fulfill your needs here. Help me to look at others with love. Help me to release any jealousy that I might harbor about how someone else spends their time. I want to help others to be released from bondage that they may feel. I ask this in Jesus’ Holy name.

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.

Guest Post- Touch of Love

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  

courtesy of BlackJack 0919

courtesy of BlackJack 0919

I still can’t get away from the verses in Mark.  To refresh us on the verses…

 “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. “- Mark 12:30 (NLT)

And again simply put, Love God with everything you have.   The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Mark 12:31 (NLT)

 No other commandment is greater than these.  And again, I think this one is hard to do when most of us don’t love ourselves.

When I was younger, I remember hearing the term “she is touched.”  It was not a positive statement.  It was insinuating that someone was a little crazy.  They would act just “a little off.”  The woman I remember being called “touched” was one of the kindest women I remember.  Her kindness was perceived as crazy.  I wonder if we can see ourselves as a “touched” Christian.  Do we do things just a little different than others?  Do we speak to others differently than “the world?”  Do we see that we have been touched?  Can anyone else see that we have been touched?

Mother Teresa said, “Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”  She had a way of seeing things so truthfully and simply.  If we lived by her statement, would others see us as “touched” and a little crazy?

As we look at ourselves in the mirror, do we see that we have truly been touched?  We have been given grace and mercy.  We are children of God.  Do we know that His touch is for us?

When non-Christians see someone offer grace, they often think the giver of grace is “touched” or even naive.  When they see a professed Christian offer judgment, they see them as hypocrites.  How do we “touch” others?   Do they see the negative world they have come to expect in us, or do they see the “touch of joy” that can only come from God no matter what our circumstances are?

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to feel your touch each day.  Help me to realize I have already been touched by you and help me to yearn for that touch each day.  Please use me to touch others who do not know you.  Help them to see your grace, mercy, and joy through me.  In Jesus name I ask this.

 

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.

Guest Post- Acts of Love

Little Gifts of Love

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  

Our two commandments in the New Testament are still in my heart.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  -Mark 12:30 (NLT)

Simply put, love God in every way possible.    The second is equally important:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:31 (NLT)

No other commandment is greater than these.  And again I ask myself, “How do we love others as ourselves when often we don’t truly love ourselves?”  

Do I believe that I deserve blessings?  Do I believe that I deserve mercy and grace?  How can I want others to receive them when I don’t believe I am able to receive?  Don’t take me wrong….we will never deserve blessings, mercy, and grace.  The very definitions of them don’t lend toward me deserving them.  So, I can ask, “Do I believe I should receive blessings?  Do I believe that I should receive mercy and grace?”

When we see someone receive a blessing, do we get jealous and wonder why it wasn’t for us?  Or, do we help the blessing to go further for the person?  Matthew 5:41 (NIV) If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Notice, that the first mile may not have been what I wanted to do.  But, if I decide to go the second mile, that is because I didn’t take offense and leave grumbling.  I decide to ACT out of love and do more than I was demanded to do.

Based on the verses around Matthew 5:41, I’m not sure that I believe that I have to be the one who goes the first mile.  If we see someone do the first mile and take off in offense and leave grumbling, can we take up the second mile?   5:47 (NLT) If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  Our actions will define who we are.

Dearest Loving Father, please help me to accept the message of the cross for myself.  Help me to accept the grace and mercy given to me because of Jesus’ death.  Show me the places that I can offer kindness and blessings to others so that they will see you in me.  I ask this in Jesus’ name

 

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.

Guest Post- Gifts of Love

Little Gifts of Love

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  

I know this first part will sound like I am repeating myself….actually I am, so bear with me please.  When I think of the commandments given in the New Testament, the first one seems pretty simple.

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” – Mark 12:30 (NLT)

Simply put, love God in every way possible.   The second one is easy to read: Mark 12:31 (NLT) “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  No other commandment is greater than these.  However, it isn’t as easy to put it into works.  How do we love others as ourselves when often we don’t truly love ourselves?  I realized that the answer to both, loving ourselves and loving others, go hand in hand.

As I was thinking about this again, I was thinking about one of my favorite books, Gary Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages.  My first thoughts were about words, but this time I moved onto gifts…not in the way Mr. Chapman wrote about them, but about our Christian gifts.

We love one another, but do we appreciate each other’s gifts?  Are we jealous of our friends’ gifts?  Do we try to imitate them, or do we utilize the gifts God has given us?

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”- 1 Corinthians 12:12 (NLT)

Have you ever been to a church where the “main” cook was average?  There were some wonderful cooks who attend there, but one person didn’t want to allow any other “cooks” in the kitchen.  It isn’t that the food is bad, but it could be a feast.  Our need to control or want to be in charge can lessen the blessings God has intended for everyone.

How do we love other’s gifts, when we have never sought after our own?  Or, do we try to do so many things (gifts) that we don’t do any of them well?  Have we found our special gift and embraced it without feeling less than someone who we perceive has a more “prominent” gift?

I think we have to love ourselves enough to find out what our gifts are.  A couple of years ago, I took a Christian gift evaluation on-line test.  As I went over the results of it with a mentor, he looked at me and said, “You didn’t do the test correctly.  You lied to give you the outcome you wanted.  Brenda, the results of this test aren’t true.”  You see, I didn’t tell the truth about my love of music.  No, I’m not a world class musician, but I do love music.  When I did go back and tell the truth, of course it didn’t tell me to go start a worship band, but it added that to my profile.  When you take your gifts test, do you answer to get the results you think you want or do you answer truthfully?  God chose our gifts just for us.  No one else can do that thing (gift) like we can.  A small seed falls into the ground and makes a tree.  The smallest gifts can be the most impactful.

Recently a good friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Thankful my thoughts are not God’s thoughts and my plans are not God’s plans.”  To be truly thankful for this, we have to take our agenda out of our idea of our gifts.  This means we also have to love others with their gifts.

The flip side of this is that we can’t try to get everyone to have our gift.  Not everyone wants our gift.  If you love music and you are a part of a worship group, you can’t force someone to hone their love of music into a gift of music.  The song you sing will feed them without them having to become a singer.

Dear Wonderfully Loving Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the gifts you have entrusted me with.  Help me to use them to the best of my ability to further your beautiful kingdom.  Help me to love your children’s gifts and receive them into my heart without trying to change or mess with them in any way.  Help me to receive the love you want me to receive from others gifts and help me to give to others through my gifts.  I ask this through Jesus’ name and blood.

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.

Guest Post- Words of Love

 

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  Here’s Brenda’s words on…well, words…Enjoy!

When I think of the commandments given in the New Testament, the first one seems pretty simple.

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ” Mark 12:30 (NLT)

Simply put, love God in every way possible.   The second one is easy to read:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:31 (NLT)

No other commandment is greater than these.  However, it isn’t as easy to put it into works.  How do we love others as ourselves when often we don’t truly love ourselves?  I realized that the answer to both, loving ourselves and loving others, go hand in hand.

My first thoughts went to how we speak to ourselves and to each other.  Most of us would not speak to God in the same way we speak to ourselves and to each other.  What do words of love look like?  For me, they would always be authentic.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t have tact, just that they are true.  Proverbs 18:21a (NLT)  says “The tongue can bring death or life.”  I don’t like to be around people who always say “yes” but someone who can show me something without bringing death to my heart is someone I always value.

Words are so powerful.  In Psalm 33:6 (NLT), the Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created.  With the power of words, God created us.  With the power of words, we can lift a friend’s emotions or we can crush them.  When we look in the proverbial mirror, we speak to ourselves.  Do we lift ourselves up, or do we use the old tapes that run in our minds to identify our failures?  As we change what we say about ourselves and to ourselves, we will also be able to change how we speak to others.

Lord, please help me to speak about myself the way YOU see me.  Help my heart to soften to your words about me.  Use me to speak to your children.  Help me to speak to your loved ones in a way that reflects how YOU see them.  Give me words to speak to my friends and strangers only in love.  I ask this in Jesus’ name… 

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.