Brotherly Love- What Does that Mean?

In my reading of 1 John 1 and 2, I was impressed by the ideas of brotherly love.

Those in the Christian world often hear the theme of “love your neighbor” and “love one another.”

I’ve written about this theme before in Love One Another and I’m a Foolish, Fragile Spine.

Some people say that loving one another is the greatest of great commandments, the Golden Rule.

But how often do we actually do that?

How do we practice this?

I can’t even express how teeth-grinding it is for me to see hatred and bigotry portrayed and justified by using biblical texts. It makes me crazy. These hateful people declaring their hatred in the name of God is the example of Christianity they give to the world.

And we wonder why people hate Christians.

Guys, this loving your neighbor theme is serious. The Bible says if we truly love God we will love our brother also ( 1 John 4:21).

My understanding is that if I don’t love my neighbor, I don’t truly love God.

We need to extend that love to everyone—including the people we don’t like.

For me, that means including those “Christians” who spew Bible verses in order to justify their racism. And the people who say awful things about my religious group. And the friends who say (indirectly) that I’m stupid for believing in God and not in “science.”

How do we develop that love? How often do we put ourselves last and other first?

Let’s all try to develop that kind of love this week, that Christ-like love God wants us all to have.

 

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Hate = Murder

How dislike, jealousy, covetousness, bitterness grows into actual hate. What do we do about it?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about loving one another. I mean, I even have several posts already written (and in the process of being written) that are all about this idea of brotherly love.

I’m currently reading a book by Karen Ehman titled Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.

While I read part of me thinks, “Oh yeah, I know this,” or “Oh yeah, I can do that.”

But truth be told, I’m actually struggling.

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

I’m blinded by dislike/jealousy/bitterness/envy/competitive spirit/fill-in-the-blank-here that I feel like I am walking in darkness.

And even worse, these fiery feelings have been fanned for so long that for the first time I feel like it’s breeding into actual hate.

And that’s some really dangerous ground.

1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

A murderer!? Who has no eternal life? YIKES.

So what do I do about it? How do I handle these feelings?

I know I’m being tested. I know I have to trust God and talk to Him about this every day…

But instead of these feelings going away, I feel they’re becoming more grounded in my heart.

WHY? What’s going on?

Am I doing something wrong? Is there more I could do?

This has to change. No matter how we may feel about a person, those who claim the Christian name should not express hate, AT ALL.

And yet, it’s burning in my heart.

I’ve been given this advice: You don’t have to like a person, but you do need to love them.

I know I need help.

Until next,

em

Somebody Change Me

I don’t care how you do it, just change me.

Have you ever wondered if you needed to change?

Does anybody ever think that?

I mean really, who admits there is some part about them that is flawed and needs fixing?

And what do we do about it when we do admit we need change?

A lot of people just tell themselves and the world “Hey, that’s just the way I am. And all ya’ll just have to deal with it.”

But then you have those others who only focus on the things they need to change. The ones who find flaws in almost every part of their character.

But who tells them they need to change? Who defines what are acceptable and unacceptable traits?

Do we let people tell us what we need to change, or do we find out for ourselves? But it’s not like we can just ask ourselves in the mirror one day “Hey what do I have to change today?”

What do we change, and how?

What traits are just a part of who we are?

And where do we find freedom?

If I Died at a Concert, Would I Go to Heaven?

I’ve often asked myself this question. It’s a legitimate concern for me because I love music and I love going to shows. I love the feeling music alone gives me, and the power of performances is like nothing else.

So in light of what happened at a concert in Manchester recently, the question popped up again: If I died at a concert, would I go to heaven?

(*Note: I’m not at all giving any kind of judgment to any of those people who lost their lives at that concert in Manchester. My heart aches when tragedies like these occur. I don’t know their lives nor their hearts, and I’m not here to sentence anyone—that’s not my job.)

I’ve gone to countless shows. I’ve even seen one band nearly 20 times alone.

Here’s the thing though.

Within the last maybe year or so, I’ve really felt my concert-going days would soon be over for me. I felt God was calling me to set my mind on things above, and going to shows was something I had to let go of. If I’m honest (though through gritted teeth), I think it’s a pretty clear conviction for me.

Though yes, I’ve tried to ignore it. There are many, many concerts I want to go to this year. If I go to one of these concerts and end up dying, what does that mean for me? Where will I end up? Would my Christian life up to that point not matter? Did I just damn myself by that one decision, that one choice to go?

Is it dangerous to do something we know we shouldn’t be doing? Where do justice, grace, and mercy come into play?

Does ignoring our convictions and rationalizing them away end up leading us to an inevitable path of destruction?

 

Challenge Me

Podcasts have become my thing as of late (especially since I’ve been fasting from my music, more on this in a later post).

I listened to one where the host talked about personal growth. She said there isn’t real growth in someone unless that someone perseveres through challenges.

I liked and hated this statement.

I liked it because yes, I’m all about growth and progress.

I hated it because, man…have I really grown that much, then?

I feel as if I want to give up right away when something becomes too stressful or challenging. I’m like a dandelion instead of an oak. Dust instead of stone.

I find comfort in running away from what scares me or from what is difficult.

Already I was thinking of excuses, thinking of instances when not persevering might be appropriate: Well what if _______ is really not for me and that’s why I’m struggling through it so much? That’s a good enough reason to quit, isn’t it?

While I do believe that has truth (e.g., grad school for me) I think there have been some things I shied away from purely because I didn’t want to struggle through them. I hate struggling. I mean, who doesn’t?

So I kind of cringe when things that are supposed to be encouraging and uplifting have the opposite affect on me. (Ughhh I really don’t want to watch this motivational video because I know I’ll feel a direct rebuke to my own drive and motivation.)

I know, what a baby I am right? Everything in life doesn’t come easy. You have to work for things and work through things.

One of the things I have psyched myself out of is parenthood. I’ve written about this one before, see my Panic on the Streets of Parenthood post.

Time after time I’m reminded of why I do not want children. Here are a few reasons:

  • I like sleep.
  • I like freedom to get a taro slush with boba at 8:30 p.m.
  • I like only having to cook for two people.
  • I like not having to worry about supporting another life form aside from my cat.
  • I like the idea of bypassing the teenage phase entirely.
  • I like not having to add an extra person into my love-o-sphere and therefore have to worry about that person all the bloody time.

I can go on.

But that last one is a biggie.

Call me a crazy Christian, but I believe our time here on Earth isn’t going to last much longer. And I also believe that things are going to get a heck of a lot worse than they are. And if I believe that, why the davies would I want to bring another being into this crazy, evil world?

So I could worry about her? So I could dread every waking moment we are apart? So I can deal with a potentially wayward son who after years of our caring and nurturing decides to damn us both to hell?

Like I said, I can think of countless reasons I don’t want to be a parent.

But then God showed me something. He planted a thought. And that was this: “Yes, parenthood is indeed a challenge. But it might be the challenge you need in this life.”

A challenge that I need to persevere through.

If God is leading, He will provide the strength for me to do it.

Wow. What a load of fear removed from my shoulders.

I don’t need to be afraid.

I trust God with my life. I trust God with the life of my children, should it be His will for us to have any. I will trust in Him.

And those challenges just might be what I need.

 

Hey Jealousy

If there is one thing I would give up in a heartbeat, it’s jealousy. It completely ruins everything. Ugh.

I’m sure you’ve had your own experiences with it…

You know, like that time she showed up with the guy she stole from you (who, by the way, she actually introduced to you in the first place.) 

Or the time you caught him MySpace flirting with other girls when you thought you were the only one he was dating.

Ha ha, okay, okay before you start laughing at me I realize that maybe those experiences are totally high school, but jealousy can still happen in even more mature circles, right? I don’t know, though, can jealousy and maturity go together? I know I feel completely immature when I feel jealous.

But jealousy goes beyond the dating realm, of course. It can extend to other relationships and to almost everything else.

Why is she so much smarter than me?

Why does he get everything he wants with such ease?

Why is she so inexplicably charming and good at everything?

For me, jealousy and rejection go together. If I’m not the better choice, I’m losing my grip. If I’m not the one people are jealous over, I’m not succeeding.

How incredibly terrible is that way of thinking?

Why is that jealous urge always there lurking in the murky waters of my soul?

Is it lack of self-worth?

Is it lack of confidence?

Insecurity?

I don’t know if it can be chocked up to any few terms, but I do believe jealousy is a part of my inner demon that needs to be SLAIN. SLAIN I SAY.

I become a total irrational, irate, unjustified mean girl when jealousy takes over.

And what am I going to do later on when events out of my control take place that I already know have the potential to flare up my jealousy?

Am I going to give in, or move beyond it?

Only time will tell, and I can only pray to God to release me from this prison. It’s completely and utterly miserable up in here.

Titus 3 says the mercy, kindness, and love of God is what enables us to do good things. Am I allowing those good traits to manifest in my life, or am I choosing to hold onto my bad ones? Am I giving all my struggles to the only one who can relieve them, or am I trusting in myself?

I’ve heard people say *YOU* are the only thing you can trust in this world. I’m here to say otherwise. If I trusted in myself, I would not be in a good place right now.

I really want to know, though: How have you handled jealousy?

Until next,

em

So You Think Confidence?

I saw her walk through the door, earbuds popped in, a smile on her face and calmness I couldn’t match. Meanwhile there I stood, hands sweating, hair pinned back, barely remembering to breathe.

I wondered, how is it that she can walk in here with such confidence? She’s probably been here longer than I have, and that would explain it…

So in passing, I asked her.

To my surprise, she’d been there just as long as I had.

What, you’re like a pro! I told her. Why is it that every time I come in here I feel like I can’t breathe until I leave!?

She’s about my age and I wish I walked around with as much assurance as she did that day.

It’s no secret, I, as well as lots of other people, am afraid of making mistakes.

I mean I really, really, really just don’t want to mess up. Sometimes in a moment of decision I end up just standing there trying to decide if I should ask for help or figure it out on my own. People probably think I’m so weird. I am, but still ;P

I want to be thorough, yet time efficient. I want to be a problem solver, yet don’t want to make mistakes. How does one find the right balance?

I guess all this comes with time, comes with learning and growing and getting older… and just doing. The more you do something, the better you get at it and the more confidence you gain.

I also never really understood how truly related experience is with age until one day it just clicked. All the people I talked to, all the stories I’ve heard and the advice given to me all came together, and it finally made sense. I find myself always trying to be on the same level of someone twice my age with twice as much experience, and that just won’t happen. I am learning to accept life as a learning process, and not beat myself up for not being who or where I think I should be, mainly in comparison to other people. The key is to keep trying and not give up, and definitely not compare myself to others.

That in itself is liberating.

I don’t want to go through life living as if its just one big competition, but I do want the kind of confidence I see in others. Confidence in my jobs, in my faith, in my abilities, in my blogging…

How do I get there, how do you get there?

Speaking of confidence, I can’t continue this post without addressing something else: confidence in one’s own beliefs.

I’ve come to the realization of just how important it is to know what I believe, to know why I am a part of something and why I want to share certain things with others. What makes what I believe so special? Why should I invite others to have similar beliefs?

Part of what has been churning inside me for months now was realizing how utterly unable I was to give reasons and answers to things for which I should have reasons and answers.

It’s one thing to say I believe in something, but another thing to explain the reasons why. That takes some effort, but it will be worth all that effort in the end.

That moment was a flashlight into my own conscience, a beacon to remind me to do some real searching that I failed to do before. It was also a reminder to put my confidence in Christ. I lost sight of that, of my Anchor. The best advice I received on this topic was this: Learn, study, find the answer. If you trust God, He will provide the way.

And I think that’s how I can gain confidence all around: trust, in God and how He has lead me thus far, and how He will continue to lead me.

As I’m writing this I’m reminded of something new I’m going to be starting next week, and I could use all the confidence (and heavenly guidance) I can get. I also need to gain confidence in my blogging, because we all know the internet is rife with cyber psychos, and I’m just waiting for my turn to get bullied.

Confidence.

So, how do you stay confident?

Until next,

em