Love Is A Choice

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has on one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:12-13

Love Is A Choice

Love is a choice. Either you choose to behave lovingly toward others . . . or not; either you behave yourself in ways that enhance your relationships . . . or not. But make no mistake: genuine love requires effort. Simply put, if you wish to build lasting relationships, you must be willing to do your part.

Christ’s words are clear: we are to love God first, and secondly, we are to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). These two commands are seldom easy, and because we are imperfect beings, we often fall short. But God’s Word commands us to try.

The Christian path is an exercise in love and forgiveness. If we are to walk in Christ’s footsteps, we must forgive those who have done us harm, and we must accept Christ’s love by sharing it freely with family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers.

God does not intend for you to experience mediocre relationships; He created you for far greater things. Building lasting relationships requires compassion, wisdom, empathy, kindness, courtesy, and forgiveness. If that sounds a lot like work, it is, which is perfectly fine with God. Why? Because He knows that you are capable of doing that work, and because He knows that the fruits of your labors will enrich the lives of your loved ones and the lives of generations yet unborn.

Do you want love to last? Then you must understand this: Genuine love requires effort. That’s why those who are lazy in love are often losers in love, too!

– Steve Arterburn

No man truly has joy unless he lives in love. – Thomas Aquinas

It is when we come to the Lord in our nothingness, our powerlessness and our helplessness that He then enables us to love in a way which, without Him, would be absolutely impossible. – Elisabeth Elliot

Love is extravagant in the price it is willing to pay, the time it is willing to give, the hardships it is willing to endure, and the strength it is willing to spend. Love never thinks in terms of  ‘how little,’ but always in terms of  ‘how much.’ Love gives, love knows, and love lasts. – Joni Eareckson Tada

To love another person is to see the face of God. – Victor Hugo

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11 NASB

Accepting Yourself

Oh Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. – Psalm 130:8

Accepting Yourself

Many people seem to go about life with a kind of bravado . . . bold confidence and self-assurance. The truth, however, is that most of us wish we were different somehow. If only you were as outgoing as Jack . . . if you were as physically fit as Mary . . . if you had the financial sense of Tom . . . a full head of hair like John . . . or the quick wit of Connie. While it’s okay to admire good traits in others, often this desire to be like someone else is actually a form of covetousness, or envy. So, how about learning to accept yourself as God has made you.

Before you can truly accept yourself, however, you need to see the truth about yourself, recognizing both the gifts and the limitations that God’s given you. If you don’t, you will constantly struggle to be someone you’re not.

One way to appreciate how God has made you is to read Psalm 139. The psalmist rejoices, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-and how well I know it.”  (139:14)

Each of us is unique and special . . . embraced and accepted by God himself . . . even though not one of us is perfect. Spiritual renewal cannot begin until you’re willing to accept yourself as God made you. Once you accept the truth about yourself your focus can change . . . and you can bring great glory to God himself. He, after all, is the one who made you, and He is the reason we live.

– Steve Arterburn

I am somebody. I am me. I like being me. And I need nobody to make me somebody. – Louis L’Amour

The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.– Mark Twain

It’s Not About You!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

It's Not About You

The first sentence of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life is this: “It’s not about you!” Do you believe that? Does your life reflect that? It’s a struggle for me, and I bet it’s a struggle for you.

Consider these situations: You’re in the checkout line and the older gentleman in front of you wants to write a check, but can’t find his checkbook. He locates his checkbook, but now he has no pen. Finally pen in hand, he inquires about the date. The clerk noticing his out-of-state check calls for approval. This short “in-and-out” errand adds additional minutes to your packed schedule. It was probably the most inconvenient experience you’ve gone through. There ought to be a law! Or in the words of my mother, “It’s always something!

Or what about your restaurant experience with the hamburger and no ketchup because the waitress forgot. She is off talking, ignoring your request, and crying about something. The serving station has ketchup but it is her job. So you sit, tap your fingers on the table, and shoot darts at the lady crying at the back of the restaurant.

Did you think to say a kind word to the gentleman to help settle his nerves, or tell the waitress that you hope things get better. You might even leave a bigger tip or offer to pray for her. It’s not about you! Look outside yourself. It’s what we’re called to do. Try it. See if God doesn’t affirm you for it.

– Steve Arterburn

Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ’s love in your life today? – Billy Graham

It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it. – Audrey Hepburn

Love Your Neighbor

Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. –  1 John 3:18

Love Your Neighbor

If you’re like me, you live a life in community, but your community isn’t likely one to include your neighbors. I know people who have lived in their neighborhoods for years and still don’t know their neighbors’ names. Busyness blocks out the world immediately around them.

A friend of mine recently shared a story with me. She said that she’s lived in the same neighborhood for twelve years and never really reached out to any of her neighbors. Having learned that one of her neighbors was battling cancer and leukemia, she thought that the time had come to express care, concern, and love to her.

So, she wrote a note, wrapped up a little stuffed bunny, and approached her neighbor’s house. Her heart was pounding. Was she opening herself to ridicule? She knocked on the door, wondering how this little gift and expression of care would be received. When the neighbor came to the door, she could tell that this hand delivered expression of love really moved her. The whole 10-minute process, doing exactly what God wanted her to do, was a blessing to both and an expression of the love of God to her neighbor.

Do you need to step out of your comfort zone and express love and concern to someone? Just look around you; the opportunities are there. We just close them off in our hurry to have a day without interruptions. Express some care and concern for someone today.  Lend someone a helping hand. Spend time (and money if necessary) to be an agent of God’s love. You know you need to do it!

– Steve Arterburn

The Lord commands us to do good unto all men without exception, though the majority are very undeserving when judged according to their own merits… [The Scripture] teaches us that we must not think of man’s real value, but only of his creation in the image of God to which we owe all possible honor and love. – John Calvin

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. – A. A. Milne

Size Doesn’t Matter

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1

Size Doesnt Matter

We live in a culture that values things that are large, extravagant, and impossible to miss. For this reason, we’re tempted to look at the struggles in our rather ordinary lives, and consider our victories insignificant if they’re not acknowledged or recognized by others.

But that’s just not true. Victor Hugo, the great French playwright who penned Les Misérables, rightly said our ‘greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes, obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes.’

It’s not the size of the audience, or the amount of applause, that determines the value of your achievements. Live your life before the one true God. And live it with faith, hope, and love even though you’re not getting accolades for it. Remember, your true character is what you do when no one is looking.

– Steve Arterburn

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” – Will Rogers (1879-1935)

New Life Live: January 1, 2016

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From the Archives of New Life Live, This Show Originally Aired January 1, 2004

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Topics: Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Eating Disorders, Separation, Divorce
Hosts: Steve Arterburn, Dr. John Townsend, Dr. Henry Cloud

Caller Questions:

  1. When I can’t get a grip on my mood swings at the end of the year, how can I tell if it is God?
  2. After my eating disorders in college, how do I teach my kids about eating choices?
  3. My husband doesn’t love me, but he won’t leave until I accept it; should I give up?
  4. My 28yo daughter had a second child out of wedlock; how do I get over my anger that she turned out this way?
  5. Am I being greedy by not wanting to give my husband 50 percent of our assets?

Suggested Resources:

Download the Tip Sheet – Six Steps to Leave Your Baggage in the Past
Clara’s Wisdom Travel Mug

You Can Do This   (option for God Will Make a Way)
Boundaries
Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle

Subscribe to the NEW LIFE LIVE Podcast via iTunes or streaming audio from Stitcher, the Smart Radio App.

Facing Our Fears

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for  I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.Isaiah41:10

Facing Our Fears

We live in a world that is, at times, a frightening place. We live in a world that is, at times, a discouraging place. We live in a world where life-changing losses can be so painful and so profound that it seems we will never recover. But, with God’s help, and with the help of encouraging family members and friends, we can recover.

During the darker days of life, we are wise to remember the words of Jesus, who reassured His disciples, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27 NIV). Then, with God’s comfort and His love in our hearts, we can offer encouragement to others. By helping them face their fears, we can, in turn, tackle our own problems with courage, determination, and faith.

God knows that the strength that comes from wrestling with our fear will give us wings to fly.”  ~ Paula Rinehart

His hand on me is a father’s hand, gently guiding and encouraging. His hand lets me know He is with me, so I am not afraid.” ~ Mary Morrison Suggs

Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcome. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated.” ~ Charles Stanley

Facing our deepest fears means making peace with our seen self and with our unseen self.” ~ Sheila Walsh

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me. Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect love, a love that casts out fear and gives me strength and courage to meet the challenges of this world. Amen

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 1

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STEP ONE – Stopping the Denial
In this article, I will focus on Step One and stopping the denial. While we may have a bundle of good excuses tucked away in our memories to justify every aspect of our problems, we can’t get well until we stop kidding ourselves. Renewal begins when we allow the facts to be the facts. While you may not want to say the words out loud, you may actually be struggling with a love hunger. Take a look at the following story for insight into your own.

Marybelle lived through four years of an abusive marriage relationship. She anticipated a husband like her living father. Because of her great respect and admiration for her father, she never anticipated her husband deceiving and running around on her. When she discovered his adultery, the truth nearly destroyed her. The man had been critical, demanding, unemployed much of the time, and a real cad on top of it all! Obviously, Marybelle’s need for love and appreciation became enormous.

Then, a year after the divorce, Marybelle’s mother discovered she was dying of cancer. Marybelle’s childhood family had been the center of her life. Nothing was more fun than sitting at Sunday dinner around a table piled high with food. Through the years her mother remained the center of the family constellation with all the brothers and sisters circulating around her. During the two years of her mother’s illness, the center of the circle disintegrated. When her mother finally died, Marybelle’s life dropped into a black hole. She described her constant eating as an attempt ‘to fill up a bottomless pit at the center of her life.’ The demise of Marybelle’s marriage and death of her mother filled her with a fear of emptiness. This void, which was really a lack of love, drove her to eat compulsively.

*****Renewal begins when we allow the facts to be the facts.*****

What about you and your story? While admitting a need for love can be extremely difficult, it is the first step out of our addiction. We may have to probe and push to get in touch with the truth, but honesty is the way to start climbing out of the pit.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

A Divine Appetite

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord… Hosea 10:12

A Divine Appetite

Unlike physical hunger, our appetite for God is endless. Once you’ve satisfied your physical hunger you no longer want to eat. In fact, the sight, smell, or even the thought of food can almost make you sick after you’ve eaten your fill.

But the opposite is true of our appetite for God. The very act of satisfying your appetite for God intensifies it. That’s precisely why Scripture tells us to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ To come to His banquet table.

Experience for yourself that He satisfies completely. And when you do, something wonderful and life changing will happen: you’ll find yourself wanting more of Him, and less of what you’ve been using as a cheap substitute for Him.

It all starts with surrender . . . surrender to the fact that you’re not God, He is. And His ways aren’t our ways. And trust Him every day, that He knows what He’s doing.

Steve Arterburn

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” – Billy Graham (1918- )

Relinquishing Prejudice

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. – 1 Peter 3:8

Relinquishing Prejudice

Have you allowed your upbringing or experiences to prejudice you against a particular group of people? Women? Men? The poor? The rich? Asians? Jews? Black or White?

Prejudice leads to hatred and a lack of compassion toward others.  To the contrary, God’s people are to be known for their love and compassion. Surrendering your life to God means recognizing and relinquishing your prejudices.

Take a look at the Old Testament figure, Jonah. He hated the people of Nineveh for their cruelty toward his people, the Israelites. He would’ve loved to have gone to Nineveh and declare God’s judgment against them. But God told Jonah to go and warn them of destruction so they might avert God’s wrath. Jonah wanted no part in this mission of mercy. He tried to run away, but God placed him in difficult circumstances. When he reluctantly obeyed and preached to the Ninevites, they changed their ways. And not surprisingly, Jonah was upset at God’s mercy on the Ninevites.

God practically had to force Jonah to let go of his prejudice and hatred. This was necessary so he could share God’s mercy with the people he hated. Your spiritual transformation will be stunted until you let go of your prejudices toward any people group. Seeing your own prejudices doesn’t come easy. You need to ask God and those close to you to help you see areas of prejudice in your life. Once you see them, confess them and ask God to change your heart.

– Steve Arterburn

“We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” – Maya Angelo

“Prejudice is a product of ignorance that hides behind barriers of tradition.” – Jasper Fforde