Not called to hate: Bankrupt without love

rusty gate
rusty gate Image source: Google

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”–1 Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message

What do you think of when you hear the word “love”?

You love Jesus.

You love your spouse, your kids, your sister, and your friends.

You love Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

You love your cat.

You love the This is Us TV series.

You don’t love bad hair days, gaining back the 15 pounds you lost last year walking and jogging, new wrinkles showing up in the mirror, catty women, and drama.

iced coffee
iced coffee

As I sit here writing at my laptop with an iced coffee, pondering the meaning of the word love, I realize that I so often fail to hit the mark, God’s way. In fact, much more often I’m like that creaking rusty gate in the above-mentioned passage in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Squeak, squeak. Rust corrodes and destroys. (Wince.)

Without God’s love in my heart, the Bible says that I’m getting nowhere. Bankrupt. Not a pretty thought.

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Sometimes I think that maybe I have a heart of ice. Ray has sometimes called me la belle dames sans merci–the beautiful woman without mercy. It is the name of an English ballad by poet John Keats, considered a classic with numerous interpretations.

In the poem, there’s a bleak wintry landscape and a broken knight. The beautiful lady is a femme fatale who attracts lovers only to destroy them with her supernatural powers. She destroys because it’s her nature to destroy. Not exactly a compliment from my husband, although I like when he calls me beautiful!

La belle dames sans merci by John William Waterhouse
La belle dames sans merci
by John William Waterhouse

No, I don’t want to be a femme fatale. I don’t want to hate anyone, either. God is love, and I am called by Him to love others, too. (1 John 4:8)

I want to be a woman of love, and yet even as I type this, I think, “Do I really? Am I willing to do what God requires of me to unconditionally love Him and others? Or am I too comfortable in my own skin of apathy, or even worse, of hate?

frustrated woman
frustrated woman

Hate is such an ugly word, isn’t it? Certainly not one with which a Christian–a Christ believer and follower–should be associated. And yet, I confess it out loud, now to the entire world.

I struggle with feeling hatred sometimes. I have for my entire life. I especially struggle with it at times in anger toward my husband Ray (and I can think of a few other people right now, too! And just so you know, Ray has struggled with feeling hatred toward me at times, too!)

Former first lady Barbara Bush recounted a time when Ruth Graham, wife of world-renown evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by a writer if she had ever considered divorce. “Divorce? No. Murder, yes.”

happy woman
happy woman

Maybe you can’t relate to me or Ruth Graham at all. I commend you for having a happy, free heart oozing over with God’s unconditional, reckless love and you having your life way more together than me.

You might even question if I am really a true Christian if I feel hate. Am I the only Christian who battles the sin of hatred?

No. Recently when Ray and I were in a marriage counseling session, the Christian therapist told me about a recent situation where she and a loved one were arguing loudly in her home, and she felt hatred for this family member. 

Did she stay stuck in the sinful stew of hatred in her heart? No. This gifted, anointed Christian therapist decided instead to leave the house, drive off [fast] in her car, and go get a large Diet Coke at Sonic to chill out for awhile. She came back home and they talked about it again more calmly now, reconciling. 

I admit that I felt secretly relieved when she told me this story! So, I’m not alone in this struggle! It’s a human dilemma.

The Bible addresses hatred in many verses. Some examples are:

  • 1 John 4:20
  • 1 John 3:15
  • Leviticus 19:17
  • 1 John 2:9
  • Ephesians 4:31
  • Galatians 5:20
  • Mark 7:21-22

What’s interesting is that the audience for most of these passages are Christian believers!

How do you overcome this evil weapon of hatred if you struggle with it, too?

  • Come to God. God is love. He is the One who can and will teach you how to love others.
  • Repent of the sin of hatred. Satan, who is God’s and our enemy, wants you to hate God, other people, and yourself. Ask God’s forgiveness for the hatred.
  • Ask God to fill you with His agape (unconditional) love and for victory in the situation.
  • Choose to forgive the person for how he or she hurt, angered, or offended you. If needed, ask forgiveness of the person you are struggling with hating if you have sinned against him or her.
  • Spend time daily reading and meditating on the Bible, praying, worshipping, and in fellowship with other Christian believers to help you in your walk. You are not alone.

I’m now writing a new non-fiction book: Metamorphosis: Transformed From Hate to Love, which will be available for sale soon at Amazon as an eBook. If you subscribe to my personal mailing list here at BethJones.net, you’ll be first to hear about its release. This is the beautiful cover for the eBook:

eBook cover
eBook cover

Just sign up at the top of the page on the right-hand side with your name and email, and confirm your subscription. You’ll also get a free gift when you sign up!

You can find the other books I’ve written here at my Amazon Author Page

Have you struggled with hating anyone? Leave your comments below. 

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Lessons from an ice storm

There has been an ice storm here in Kansas City, Missouri. Not as bad as the epic Central Plains one in 2002, which left up to over 2 inches of ice over affected areas and knocked out electrical power to more than 650,000 residents and trees shattered under hundreds of pounds of ice. Still not fun, though. I miss my hot coffee. 

coffee and Bible
coffee and Bible

As I write this in my journal, I’m sitting here on our loveseat in the front entry room in my comfy blue hoodie, pj pants, purple Hello Kitty slippers, and huddled under a soft blanket and colorful quilt that Ray’s grandmother hand-made to stay warm, since the electrical power went off about 8 AM today.

Red chair and loveseat
Red chair and loveseat in front entry room

After I read my Bible and prayed for safety for our family and all affected by the storm, I crawled under the blankets and went to sleep. Just as I was dozing off, the power came on. When I woke up, it was off again. I joked with our daughter Heather that maybe I should just stay asleep.

Ray's grandmother's hand-made quilt
Ray’s grandmother’s hand-made quilt

It’s really no joke, though. Our daughter Heather has to drive to Overland Park, Kansas, for work today and our daughter Leah has to work in town, too. My husband Ray is working at the ER and he says the electrical power is on and off all over town, and they are very busy. It makes me think of Third World nations like Haiti, which has frequent power outages and only 25% of the population has energy supply.

2017 ice storm
2017 ice storm

While the leaves encased in ice on trees look beautiful, like Narnia’s winter Wonderland, the ice is wicked, especially to drive on.  Our neighbors’ plant looks dead. The ice instantly kills.

our neighbors' plant
our neighbors’ plant

However, one thing situations like this do is create absolute dependence on God. There’s nothing I can do but wait (and I’m such a control freak sometimes, so it’s hard!). I can’t fix the power. Ray can’t fix the power. 

branches with ice
branches with ice
Are you plugged into God’s power?

It makes me muse, how much power of God do I have in my life? How much do you?

“…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”–Acts 1:8

Do we read and meditate on the Bible, God’s living word?

Do we spend time with God in prayer and worship?

Asian woman praying
Asian woman praying

Do we lean on God and trust Him when storms come?

heart of ice Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/
heart of ice
Source: http://timoelliott.com/photos/2013/01/17/a-heart-of-ice/

Are our hearts filled with the warmth and holy fire of God’s love, or are they cold, distant, and unresponsive to Him and others, encased in ice like the trees’ leaves?

leaves encased in ice
leaves encased in ice

Today I pray for my family’s safety and all those affected by this ice storm. I pray electrical power is quickly restored and protection from car wrecks. And I pray that you and I will be plugged into and empowered by the Spirit of God in 2017.

Lessons from an ice storm.

trees with ice
trees with ice

While I believe in preparation, I love this quote I found: 

“It is a lifelong failing; she has never been prepared. But how can you have a sense of wonder if you’re prepared for everything? Prepared for the sunset. Prepared for the moonrise. Prepared for the ice storm. What a flat existence that would be.“–Margaret Atwood

The power just came back on. Making my coffee now.

***

Me with my first book, Walking with God
Me with my first book, Walking With God

Do you need to get plugged into God? Read my book on prayer Walking With God, available at Amazon as an eBook. Click here to learn more or buy now.

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My new theme. The cherry tree.

cherry tree
cherry tree

At the end of every year–and sometimes several times during the year–I get restless and want to change my website theme. It’s usually a fast and unexpected decision, too. Like tonight, for instance. I didn’t even know I was going to do this and suddenly I did!

The truth is that if you have a website and you aren’t happy with your theme, you’re not going to want to WORK there.

I loved my last theme, but I was beginning to feel jittery again, so I found a beautiful new theme (this theme is by Out The Box) and installed it. What do you THINK?  I’d love to hear your opinion. 

smart phone
smart phone

If you are reading this blog post or visiting my website on your phone, you’ll need to switch to the Desktop version on your phone to see this theme. But you really need to be on your computer or laptop to see its beauty fully. (I’m not sure about being able to view it properly if you’re on an iPad.) 

The navigation is pretty much the same around here, and hopefully you won’t have much trouble. I’m also planning to create a new freebie this week for subscribers to my website’s personal mailing list, so stay tuned. 

But why did I choose a cherry tree as the picture on the home page?

Image resource: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3543/3490306309_c00d52c690.jpg
Image resource: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3543/3490306309_c00d52c690.jpg

According to Google, the significance of a cherry tree in Japan goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry tree represents the fragility and the beauty of life, reminding us that life is overwhelmingly beautiful but tragically short. 

A cherry tree takes 3 to 4 years to produce its first crop, and 7 to fully mature (seven being the perfect number of God). They are a difficult tree to grow and keep alive. A tree  may be in bloom for only a week or two.

Like our lives which go way too fast (including THIS year!). So savor the moments, especially this Christmas.

Live well. Laugh often. Love much. 

 “You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? It is like fog. You see it and soon it is gone.  What you should say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”–James 4;14-15, NLV

I hope you like my new theme. Please leave your comments below of what you think about it!

 

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