What’s love got to do with it?

Valentine’s Day is (for many people) about love.

  • But is there a way to know what love really is?
  • Can we fall in love and fall out of love?
  • When someone says, “I love you,” is there a way to know if he means it?

When couples want to be married, they tell me they love each other. When they want to divorce, they tell me they no longer love.

  • Are we victims of love?
  • Can we train ourselves to love?
  • What is love?

Love is indispensable to marriage, family and community. Relationships are miserable when love is absent. But we need an objective way to understand what love looks like. In Scripture, husbands are commanded to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25); Older women are to train younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4) and communities of Christians are to be distinguished by their love for one another (John 13:35).

The best available description of love is found in fourteen qualities of love listed in I Corinthains 13:4-8. This is one of the most quoted Scriptures in wedding ceremonies. To protect true love, we should often visit this description of it.

“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.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV).

This is God’s prescription for great relationships!

Did you notice how love is anti-rivalry? It is protective of the one loved. It repudiates destructive conflict. Playful rivalry is not bad, but when a relationship deteriorates, some form of divisive rivalry is almost always involved. Let’s take a closer look at each quality of love.

1. Love is patient: It is bears long with others. It restrains anger when provoked.

2. Love is kind: It reaches out in acts of care and concern for others. Love patiently forebears and (in kindness), actively pursues the good of the one loved. Loving people are distinguished by kindness.

3. Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. An envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the one envied.

4. Love does not boast: Love corrects the desire to call attention to yourself. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It does not need a stage. It does not seek an applause.

5. Love is not proud: not puffed up; not arrogant; not full of oneself. A loving person does not think more highly of himself than sober judgment permits (Romans 12:3).

6. Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude. It is respectful of others.

7. Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.

8. Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered and short-fused.

9. Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation.

10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: Love rules out gossip, slander, and delight in the downfall of others.

And loves grand finale reminds us that,
“love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.” Love brings everything under its influence — “there is nothing love cannot face” (NEB). “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT). Love is tenacious and faithful; brave and noble; love never fails.

Love is “the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31). “These three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).

Scripture reminds that God’s love was put on display when he loved the undesirable – “when we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus, the Creator, became a creature; the King became a servant; the Shepherd became a lamb; the sinless one was made sin for us; the High Priest became the sacrifice. This is love.

Let’s make a habit of evaluating our relationships based on the 14 qualities of love in I Corinthians 13.

We’ve printed these qualities of love (along with an eight point communication covenant) on laminated cards for easy use. Simply email your mailing address to office@millersvillebiblechurch.org and we will send several copies to you as our gift. Ask for the love cards.

Steve Cornell

6 Links worth seeing

‘Kids Are Resilient’ and 7 Other Lies Divorcing Parents Should Stop Believing 

  • As a former divorce mediator, and current couples and family mediator, I have heard every excuse that            parents use to feel better about breaking up their family. In this article, I’ve outlined several of the most common lies that you might be telling yourself if you’re considering divorce.”

For years I pleaded with God to make me straight, So why did my prayers go unanswered?

  • “…. when I grew up pleading with God to make me straight, I had no real interest in God Himself. I wasn’t praying for God to do this because I loved Him or wanted to live my life for Him. I was actually pretty unconcerned about Him, to be honest. I wanted God to take away my same sex desires for my own benefit – so that I could fit in, be normal, be one of the guys, and even so that I could just have sex with girls like all of my friends were. < — So I obviously wasn’t worried about being sexually moral. I just wanted to be sexually normal.”

My Marriage Wasn’t Meant to Be

  • “Once you marry, you are meant for the person that you married and no one else. You didn’t marry them because you were meant for them, you are meant for them because you married them. There is nobody else. There is no other ‘right’ person at that point.”

Why are moms so tired?

  • “Mothers of young children – particularly stay-at-home moms – tend to get a bad rap. Why doesn’t she do her hair more often? She seems to have a disproportional amount of yoga pants. I’m not sure why she refers to herself in third person. Sure, mothers may sleep a little less and be busy at home during this season, I have another theory on why we can be so tired even when it seems (to the outside world particularly) like we never do much of anything. Why are moms so tired? I have a theory on that.”

Ten ways to thrive in the face of pastoral challenges

  • “We must remember … that wherever God calls, He also enables. God did not call us to be fruitless and unprofitable. He has a plan and purpose for His leaders, and leadership can be more effective if we follow some very practical and thoroughly scriptural guidelines.”

23 Things That Love Is

  • “With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, here’s a gospel-centered reminder about how to love. But, you don’t have to be romantically in love to find this list practical. Every healthy relationship requires love and sacrifice, so if you’re a parent, child, sibling, neighbor, pastor, or co-worker, this list is for you.”

Steve Cornell

How can I know he means it?

“He said I am sorry, but it’s at least the tenth time! I don’t know what to do. I know it’s my Christian duty to forgive and Lord knows I’ve tried! But each time I forgive him, he changes for a little while, and then returns to the same behavior. I have this gut feeling I am handling things the wrong way. He never really changes and I just become more angry.”

What should I do?

Unlike forgiveness, reconciliation of a broken relationship is a process conditioned on the attitude and actions of an offender.

Those who commit significant and repeated offenses must realize that their responses and actions affect the timing of the process. Those who are genuinely repentant will accept this fact with brokenness and humility.

Forgiveness and reconciliation should occur together in relation to minor offenses.

Relationships shaped by the gospel are ones where, “love covers a multitude of sins” (i.e. offenses)” (I Peter 4:8). People who withhold restoration over minor offenses are lacking genuine love based on God’s grace and forgiveness (see: Ephesians 4:32-5:1). Immaturity and manipulation will repeatedly threaten unity where this love is absent.

When we’ve been deeply or repeatedly betrayed, forgiveness does not necessarily require that one immediately grant the same level of relationship back to an offender. Even when God forgives our sins, He does not promise to remove all consequences created by our actions.

Being forgiven, restored, and trusted again is an amazing experience, but those who deeply and repeatedly hurt others must understand that their attitude and actions will affect the process and timing of rebuilding trust and restoring a broken relationship.

In the act of forgiveness (which is always required by God), we surrender the desire for revenge. We do this in the presence of the God who said, ““It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” (Romans 12:19). Forgiveness is first about God. Forgiveness is an act of worship.  

When forgiveness is genuine, an offended person will be open to the possibility of reconciliation. Forgiveness requires us to offer a repentant person an opportunity to demonstrate repentance and to regain trust (unless safety is at risk).

But when a person has repeatedly behaved in a hurtful and irresponsible ways, he must accept the fact that reconciliation will likely be a slow and difficult process.

Three considerations in the timing of reconciliation

  1. The attitude of the offender
  2. The depth of the betrayal
  3. The pattern of the offense (repeated offenses)

When an offended party works toward reconciliation, the first and most important step is to confirm whether the offender is genuinely repentant (Luke 17:3). An unrepentant offender will resent a desire to confirm the genuineness of his confession and repentance. He might even resort to lines of manipulation.

  • “I guess you can’t find it in yourself to be forgiving.”
  • “You just want to rub it in my face.”
  • “I guess I should expect that you want your revenge.”
  • “I am not the only one who does wrong things, you know?”
  • “Are you some kind of perfect person looking down on me?”
  • “Some Christian you are, I thought Christians believed in love and compassion.”

These lines of manipulation reveal an unrepentant attitude. Don’t be manipulated into avoiding the step of confirming the authenticity of your offender’s confession and repentance. When relationships are broken badly, it is best to seek a wise counselor to assist in reconciliation (but only a counselor who understands the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation explained here). 

Carefully and prayerfully use the seven signs of true repentance listed below. Words alone are not enough to restore trust in such cases. True confirmation can be found in the seven signs of true repentance below.

7 signs of genuine repentance

The offender…

  1. Accepts full responsibility for his/her actions (Not, “Since you think I’ve done wrong…” or “If I have done anything to offend you…”).
  2. Accepts accountability from others.
  3. Does not continue in the behavior or anything associated with it.
  4. Does not have a defensive attitude about the wrong he or she has done.
  5. Does not have a light attitude toward the hurtful behavior.
  6. Does not resent doubts about sincerity or the need to demonstrate sincerity (especially for repeated offenses).
  7. Makes restitution wherever necessary.

Steve Cornell

Good advice for adult children of divorce

In his helpful book, “Breaking the Cycle of Divorce: How your marriage can succeed even if your parents’ didn’t,” Dr. John Trent suggested that adult children of divorce (ACOD) face daunting challenges in both life and marriage.

“Statistically, studies have shown that children of divorce suffer from more depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of rejection, drug and alcohol abuse, delinquency, poor inter-personal relationships, and criminality than children from intact homes. Sixty-five percent of children from divorced families will never build a good post-divorce relationship with their fathers. Thirty percent will be unable to build a good post divorce relationship with their mothers”

Most ACOD are resolved to have strong and lasting marriages. But, as Dr. Trent says, they live with a “nagging fear that your marriage will fail — just as your parents’ marriage did.”

As an ACOD himself, Dr. Trent offers 10 helpful points for people who never had the benefit of seeing a loving, committed marriage modeled for them.  If you suffered wounds when your parents’ marriage ended that make it difficult for you to trust other people, and even God, despite these struggles, Dr. Trent  encourages you not to think that you’re doomed to divorce. You can break the cycle and build a healthy marriage.” Share his advice with others.

  1. Embrace the love that will never abandon you. Understand that, while people might let you down, God will come through for you. Accept the love that He offers you —unconditional love that you can count on, no matter what. If you haven’t already, begin a relationship with God through Christ. Make it a top priority to build a closer relationship with God each day. [If you need further direction on this issue go to our web site. There you’ll find a number of web links to ministries and organizations, like NEED-HIM, where you can find answers.]
  2. Know that you have a choice. Recognize that you aren’t a powerless victim. Know that what happened to your parents doesn’t have to happen to you, and that you aren’t a slave to your past. Decide to choose to respond to your circumstances in ways that will lead to a positive future.
  3. Face your fears. Take your fears out of the dark (lurking in your imagination) and bring them into the light by talking about them openly with your spouse. Pray about them specifically rather than just worrying about them. Seek and accept help from a close friend or a professional counselor to confront stubborn fears.
  4. Focus on positives instead of negatives. Ask God to renew your mind and help you reprogram your thinking about your marriage and life in general so you’re more positive than negative. Write several lists: one that lists ways you and your spouse are not like your parents, one that lists ways your marriage is not like your parents’ marriage, and one that lists your spouse’s strengths and positive attributes. Then post your lists in prominent places in your home or car where you can see them every day to remind you.
  5. Take small steps toward a big difference. Don’t worry about trying to make huge strides of progress in a short time; recognize that that is unrealistic. But be encouraged that making small, steady steps toward breaking bad habits and establishing good ones will eventually lead to a significantly more positive life for you. Focus on one issue at a time and keep stepping out as God leads you to do so.
  6. Find an accountability partner. Ask God to lead you to someone who will hold you accountable as you make changes for the better in your life. Consider a friend, family member, clergy person, or counselor. Meet with your accountability partner regularly to honestly share your thoughts, feelings, and recent behaviors. Know that support from a relationship like this can be a great source of encouragement and help to you.
  7. Seek professional help when you need it. If you aren’t making progress on your own in dealing with tough issues, don’t hesitate to get help from a professional counselor. Schedule some strategic sessions so the counselor can coach you through the issues. Realize that just a few short meetings can benefit you.
  8. Rely on God’s power rather than your own. Don’t try to wrestle with your struggles on your own. Instead, invite God to work in and through you, empowering you to handle everything that comes your way. Trust that whenever you ask for His help, He will respond —day by day, and moment by moment.
  9. Find a healthy marriage model. Look around for couples who have healthy marriages, and choose one to ask if you can build a friendship with them and study how they interact with each other. Know that observing a good example of marriage can give you: hope that marital commitment can endure for a lifetime, the expectation that commitment will endure for a lifetime, specific ways to relate to your spouse in healthy ways and build up your marriage, and ways to resolve conflicts without destroying your relationship with your spouse.
  10. Pass on blessings to the children around you. Decide that, even though you learned some unhealthy lessons growing up yourself, you will do all you can to be a good example to your own children and others (such as nieces, nephews, and friends of your children). Remember that children you encounter on a regular basis are constantly watching you, listening to you, and learning from your life.

“In candid and age-appropriate ways, show children how to communicate openly and honestly, be proactive and take initiative, make good choices, put the needs of others before their own, make and keep commitments, ask for and offer forgiveness, relate to and draw strength from a loving God. Ask yourself every day what kind of lessons the children around you are learning from your example, and what kind of legacy you’ll leave to future generations.” (Breaking the Cycle of Divorce: How Your Marriage Can Succeed Even If Your Parents’ Didn’t, by John Trent).

Steve Cornell

To do well in marriage …

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Important audio message —  just click here: When Two Become one 

When sinners say, “I do.” — Expect trouble! There are risks involved because there are sinners involved! But we can minimize some of the risks by better understanding the Creator’s plan for marriage. To this end, I offer a few important thoughts in the audio link above.

For ambitious learners, listen also to the message:What does the Spirit-filled Life look like?

Steve Cornell

View original

Why marriages don’t last

Sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University suggested that the majority of divorces occur within 10 years of the time of marriage because “most people who are unhappily married figure that out quickly.” 

There’s typically more to divorce decisions than happiness, but there is little doubt that our culture has elevated personal happiness to an unrealistic and deeply misguided level of importance. This likely contributes significantly to the pervasive reality of divorce.

Faulty expectations for gregariousness can make life a miserable story. It takes maturity to understand and grow through struggle, sadness, disappointment and hardship. Here’s a simple fact: Marriage is not supposed to make you happy; it’s meant to make you married.

Marriage is not about a feeling of love but an agreement to love. It takes work for marriage to work. Many marriages would improve if husbands and wives placed a greater value on the role of commitment reflected in their wedding vows. 

“Commitment is having a long-term view of marriage that helps us not get overwhelmed by the problems and challenges day-to-day. When there is high commitment in a relationship, we feel safer and are willing to give more for the relationship to succeed” (Dr. William H. Doherty).

Consider 5 commitments for a good marriage.

Steve Cornell