What Love Looks Like

I remember my pop would get dressed on Sunday morning, perk a pot of coffee, and slip on his gardening shoes. He’d find his car keys, then drive to the local country store to buy a paper. I guess it was more a habit to get a newspaper than to turn on a TV channel. Sundays were always quiet.

As he flipped through the news, I played on the flagstone porch floor whose mortar joints I used as roads. For hours I built and constructed a world all of my own. It was a painting better described as Norman Rockwell… a father’s face buried between the worldly events and sports, and a child at his feet building miles of dreams in his head. This is what love looked like to me at home.

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Romans 12:10

The serene scenery of swans swimming across the waters of the Tred Avon River lent itself to the ducks which lined the dock in search of food. It was a different world in those days. The infrastructure and landscape were ever changing. It would not be long before we could drive over the waters of the Chesapeake, instead of taking a ferryboat.

This morning I flipped from Google to Yahoo news and read the commentaries of discernment. The world is full of hatred – an opposite ingredient of what love looks like with God in your world. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to live in a place without the condiments of love! We are God’s prodigies who live in a society of recreational love with very little significance to the word.

The Bible has over one hundred scriptures directly related to the fundamentals of love. I can find what love looks like everywhere in my world. It’s from my sweet wife giving me a cold glass of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon; my cockatoo who comes to me in his time of need; hanging up a fresh towel for my wife on a hook near the shower; turning down her corner of the bed at night. Love isn’t just an expression of “I do’s,” but a state of mind.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

Ephesians 5:25-26

What love looks like outside marriage may involve the special squeezes or a smile from our grandchildren; a neighbor getting the mail for a someone housebound; baking a dish for the less fortunate; donations or volunteering to help others. Giving of yourself, even if it’s inconvenient, means more than all the money in the world. A lesson on the definition of loving one’s neighbor is in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). We are to have compassion and love towards each other, irrespective of the parameters which divide us.

So, what does love look like to you? Have you searched your heart, or is the wallet more important? Love is a verb meaning affection based on admiration. It begins when selfishness ends.

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:31

It’s another perfect morning, and I give God the glory and love. My gorgeous bride prepares breakfast for her hubby. I think about the many wasted years I wish I could do over, for we missed so much living separate lives. How can I ever show her how much I love her? It’s easy, you know…  I stand beside her, and God is our center. I never want to let go of the immense feelings of love I have for her!

Dana and Anne’s Wedding Celebration


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Ego Avenue

The giant oaks turned golden in the fall, shading the avenue of homes trimmed of gold. The walkways of washed aggregate and stained concrete floors in the garage smell of money. An oriental rug lies squarely beneath the oil plug of the minister’s Rolls and Bentleys. It’s a lovely life – a weekend cabin in the foothills of the Castiles, a yacht swaying at the dock of their favorite country club. Their lifestyles are of the rich and famous. Do I need to tag them with names for you or the descriptions of these church leaders who appear on TV and radio, bearing witness?

Have you ever tried to contact these evangelists personally even if you are a member of their congregation? Several of these ministers started following my blog last year. I tried to respond to some of their emails, but a computer-generated nonresponse system returned it. One such minister put an email address at the bottom of his correspondence with an enticing note to always feel free to connect with him. Are you kidding me? This is a man who is a public servant of God, and he lies about his contact information on his website and newsletters! It makes me wonder…

I used to collect mail from a rather sizeable religious outfit who films daily television and documentary shows. I’d call it a church, but it was all about money. I never met the soft-spoken old man who read from the pulpit, though he wasn’t there when I entered the building. He hides behind the silver screen while anointing his son to be the Senior Pastor.

Another younger notoriety wears his sacred cross, but is more concerned of the welfare of his structures, which he owns, than of those whose dollars helped to build it. An example of his personal greediness was during a hurricane which hit his area two years ago. Homeless people, seeking comfort from the storm, stood outside in nature’s wrath because he wouldn’t open his church doors. Perhaps he was afraid of damages incurred – a chunk out of his own pocket which might affect the mortgage payment on his $10.5 million home.

I could continue with my tirade, but Christians are smart enough to observe who indeed professes to do the Lord’s work. There was only one minister I knew who was genuine and a spiritual adviser to many Presidents. His money filtered through to the crusades he conducted in 185 countries on six continents. He passed away last year and now works for Christ in a different capacity.

I see the actions of these Bible scholars, who can’t live what they preach in front of millions. Most believers are aware clergy are the amongst the lowest-paid occupations. So, how are they living in mega mansions and in the lap of luxury? Do they ever use their personal income from TV appearances and other sources to give back to their communities? Or is preaching the Word of God just a business designed to make them a millionaire?

As I look down Ego Avenue and observe its evilness, I thank God for my health and my wife who keeps me in check. A simple Christian writer and life, I am blessed by the Holy Spirit, and I have peace in my soul. A few friends asked me if I was afraid of giving out my cell phone number which is written on my business cards. My honest reply was why? I’m no better than the mentoring I try to give to others. I meet many wonderful people from around the world – some famous, but most are common folk. I treat everyone the same. Spiritual leaders should be receptive and have personal contact with believers, especially with individuals they follow on social media.

To those who live on Ego Avenue and read my blogs, are you better than our Lord? After all, Jesus was a dirt poor man, and he was always reachable in desperate times. He laid the foundation for your obligations as a clergy member – to provide spiritual, moral guidance, and assistance to believers. If I’m wrong, then please correct me.

My examples of hypocrites and false witnesses, in the name of our Lord, only touch the surface of the United States. I’m sure dozens more exists in countries worldwide. Some may say security issues are dilemmas facing the famous religious leaders, but I highly doubt this. Too many other upstanding clergy submerge themselves in others’ lives unharmed. I think the root of the problem is simple – the love of money. Perhaps it should be explained as “delivering God’s word in order to become a millionaire.” Call it greed or narcissism; either way, God will place a harsher judgment on them. As someone once said, “Knowledge is a dangerous thing!”

Are there any “amens” to my point of view?

Kindness: The Graceful Virtue

Kindness and grace

Number five in a seven-part series on virtue

The virtue of kindness can be a confusing concept to understand because it can be defined in many ways. Perhaps the best way to understand kindness is to examine other words associated with kindness.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary uses two important words in defining kindness. Those words are affection and favor.

Kindness Is an Expression of Affection

If one demonstrates kindness to another, it expresses a level of affection toward that person. A fine example of how this is manifested in life is found toward the end of the book of Acts in the New Testament.

Kindness and grace

Paul and his companions had just survived a shipwreck and found themselves stranded on the island of Malta. Luke, Paul’s companion and chronicler, records the kind actions of the natives to their group in chapter 28.

After we were brought safely through, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Acts 28:1-2 [ESV]

The Greek word translated here as kindness is philathropia, the same word from which we derive the English word, philanthropy. It means a feeling of good, or fondness of humankind in general.

In other words, a kind person is one who shows an affection for other people in general. Thus kindness could be defined as an inner motivation to help others, even strangers, especially when they are in need.

As we notice in the passage, Luke was impressed by what unusual kindness these strangers showed by their actions. They welcomed them in and made a fire to shield them from the cold and rain.

Kindness Is A Demonstration of Grace

Kindness and grace

The word most often translated as “grace” in the New Testament is charis. Among the definitions of this Greek term is “favor.”

Paul the Apostle writes using this term in Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [ESV]

Grace given by God is more than mercy for sin, though it is certainly that. Grace is also a demonstration of the favor of God.

Kindness is directly linked to grace by Paul earlier in Eph. 2:4-7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ [ESV]

Kindness Helps Enable Grace

Kindness, as noted by Paul in the passage above, ultimately is an act of God. Moreover, it is an act whereby God displays “the riches of his grace.”

The ultimate act of kindness is given to us by God Himself. He sees the desperate need to be freed from death in our sin and ‘in kindness’ supplies grace to meet the need.

The Cross and kindness

How does God do this? Because of His ‘great love’ Jesus is executed and raised from the grave to pay the price for sin and offer the gift of grace.

The grace of God is offered because of the kindness of God. His kindness is shown to others in many ways through we who have already received His grace.

That is a key difference between faiths like Islam and Christianity. Islam demands submission through fear; Christ kindly calls to the heart in love.

Islam says to conquer and kill your enemies to advance the rule of Allah. Christianity teaches that force is to defend and rescue the helpless.

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4 [ESV]

The kindness that one shows to another in ways large and small provide an opportunity for the heart of another to be softened toward God’s grace. To paraphrase an old saying, “I’d rather see a sermon lived than to hear a sermon preached.”

A Modern-day Example of Kindness to Grace

I was attending a Christian music festival a few years ago and witnessed a moving testimony of kindness leading to grace. It was delivered by a young woman who identified as a lesbian.

She gave her story of how her journey into that lifestyle had come about, and I was impressed by her courage and forthrightness. More importantly, she testified of one particular church group and the kindness they showed to her regardless of her sexual preference.

Kindness and grace

She said that it began with an invitation to play on a church softball team. She was a bit wary, as she was also a gay activist who had already encountered other ‘christian’ groups that exhibited hostility to her.

However, she accepted the kind offer because she both loved sports and had a level of trust with the person who invited her. She ended up becoming pleasantly surprised with the treatment this team gave her.

She remembered that her manners were somewhat crude at that time. For example, she would often let loose with a string of profanity when she missed a play or made a mistake in the outfield.

Some of the young ladies on the team were disturbed by this and went to their coach, who also happened to be the pastor of the church. They asked him what they should do about this.

His advice was, “Just keep loving her, mistakes and all.” He knew God would work in her heart when she saw the reaction of loving kindness from His people.

That force of kindness through others did move this woman to seek God’s grace. She responded in sincere repentance and faith in Christ.

Through such kindness, God draws others to see His love and the greatest kindness of all, Jesus dying on the cross for each one. That is why kindness is the graceful virtue.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament, William F. Arndt and F. Wilber Gingrich, University of Chicago Press, 1979

Top Image courtesy of duncan c’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Art Gallery ErgsArt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Evans E’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Evans E’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of BK’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published at TIL Journal

A learning experience!

Hi friends,

How are you all doing?  I have been enjoying the festival of Diwali with lots of good food, bright lights and my favorite people.  Since it is almost the end of the year I am also going through my blog to see what all I have written and how I feel about them now.

Learning experiences

This year has been an important year for me in terms of blogging because I have started blogging regularly.  It all started after my recovery from an illness when I craved to write on my blog.

Today, I want to share some lessons I learnt from my illness.  It made me value everything a lot more.

The link to my blog post is:

learning experience…

I would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

Love,

Rashmi

 

P.s. Image created using Canva

The Best for Last

The Best for Last cover

It’s quiet and dark. God, I know, is ever-present with me. I awaken to welcome our Lord on this calm Sunday morning. What do I do in moments such as these? I write to you, my resting angel….

For you, my love….

What a gracious moment to reminisce! The things you and I accomplished this year, and God’s gifts, make it such a wonderful time to give thanks. I feel my heartbeat resting; no man should ever attempt the suicidal race against time as I do six out of seven days a week.

Someday, I pray to sail away with you my fair lady, hand-in-hand, to conquer a distant world awaiting us. Our toes will poke in the sand near the crystal clear waters. It won’t be long, my love, because our first anniversary is on the doorstep.

The Best for Last pic 1

In the meantime, I sit in sweats, enjoying the daybreak, and counting the moments. It’s one day closer to reminiscing our beginning of time – a reunion of sorts. We met as kids and were too young to realize the other’s needs. There were babies to raise and a whole life of mistakes to live. We never thought we’d find each other, or marry, after thirty-two years apart!

But, God, in His infinite humor, watched us go crazy. Little did we know He was saving the best for last! I have to smile and ask myself – how could one little week, in 1985, direct the course of two people reuniting and then creating such a perfect pair? Only through our Father! It’s the only possible way. Now, my little angel, we are infinitely heaven bound, together.

First, though, there are things we must do, here on earth. God anointed me to be a messenger nine years ago; so we need to spread His word and passion to others. Perhaps, we are Adam and Eve, His original creations, reincarnated to prove how real love shines in this world. It certainly explains my back pains for God took a rib from me to make my dream come true. Overjoyed, I am better for the ache!

The sun ignites the gray morning sky. It’s undeniable our Father planned to unite these two souls from the beginning. So, it is here I stay content in spirit, God abounding, and mother nature is dormant. Tomorrow, on our first anniversary, we will celebrate this blessed union. I can come forward to share an everlasting miracle with a world waiting to witness perfection in the flesh.

Jacob's photo 3

Today, I am alive, in love, and tranquil as the dawn. As my goddess sleeps, I pray our devotion will conquer all. It’s clear, God in His magnificent wisdom, saved the best for last – YOU.

Happy Anniversary, my love!


PLEASE BE SURE TO JOIN US SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH!

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Give the gift that keeps on giving….

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I thought I was done with you

woman and man holding hands while walking between rock formation

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

I thought I was done with you;
That is why I heaved such a sigh
Of relief;
How mistaken I am!
Your beautiful words again
Have mercilessly pierced my heart
With love;
Leaving me totally defenceless;
Why are you so irresistible?
What is this charm in you
That holds me captive to you?
Each time you extend a hand
Of love to me,
I find myself skipping excitedly
Like a little school kid
To grab it
As if it were a gold medal
I had won in the championship
Of the season.
Yet, it doesn’t take you long
To dump me on snow;
Tell me the magic spell that
You have to win my heart.
Can I have it too?
So I can pour on you and make you
Prisoner of my heart for ever?

A Real- Life Love Story Of A Sailor And His Queen

He went onboard for 6 months again. And that ‘Long-Distance-Love’ phase struck us again. But, the wait for the calls and video calls was worth it all. It was difficult for me but he always gave me strength. He made sure that he gave me all his time when on port and wrote to me each day without fail no matter how tired he was.  To read more please CLICK HERE:-

Let’s Teach Girls to Be Somebodies

Lessons in life tend to have the nasty little habit of tiptoeing up to you and gut punching you out of nowhere. I liken it to a bit of a realization brick aimed straight for your noggin, (…to put it gently, of course). I’ve recently had the pleasure of testing out that hypothesis of mine, and spoiler alert: I was totally right.

I wasn’t looking for a lesson on society that fateful Monday. But that Monday I got one anyway, and it came in the form of a conversation with my  seven-year-old niece a few months ago that really got me thinking…And not in the way I was happy about.

That Monday, I came down from school, my niece and my dad waiting for me by the car. She was bouncing up and down, in her little first grader way, smiling ear to ear. She proudly displayed to me her newest artistic endeavor of a rocket ship hurdling through space. “You can have it, Hannie! Do you want it?”

“I would LOVE it! It’s beautiful…” I smiled at her and got into the car, being sure to dote on it even more, in my typical proud-aunt nature.

While driving down the road, we fell into our normal discussions. You know, how our days were, what new things she was learning at school… when, all of the sudden she proceeds to tell me about the newest developments in first grader gossip- a little boy in her class liked her! I giggled and made sure to remind her she was far too young to have a boyfriend. Wait until you’re older!

“Like when I’m sixteen?” She asked, inquisitively.

“Maybe!”

“How old are you, again, Hannie?”

I inwardly cringed, knowing exactly where this conversation was heading. “I’m 18.”

“Well, then why don’t YOU have a boyfriend? You’re 18, you should have one.”

“You have to wait for the right person,” I replied to her. “I haven’t found the right person yet.”

“Well, why don’t you? You’re 18.”

This persistent question, after all was said and answered, struck me the wrong way. This is a seven-year-old little girl that seemed absolutely bamboozled, not even being able to grasp why someone wouldn’t have a boyfriend at any given time. We kept talking and it seemed she could not fathom the idea of being older and not having a boyfriend.

As the conversation progressed, it seemed this little seven-year-old had already bought into the dreaded lie that many of us women tend to fall into: That we *gasp* need a guy in order to make us happy or complete. If you don’t see that as a societal issue, then it’s okay. We’ll work on that.

By my niece asking this seemingly innocent (yet quite intrusive) question, it revealed something very alarming. A worldview forming already, filled to the brim with all-too-serious implications.

If these young girls continue to believe what society, and perhaps the people around them are teaching them, this will not bode well. The belief that we are not anybody unless we have somebody is a destructive lie being circulated around the populace. A majority of growing up and becoming comfortable with who we are as a person comes from times where we are single. In all honesty, in order to have a healthy steady relationship later on, we must know ourselves and be independent in who we are.

I want to challenge head-on this belief of always needing somebody.

I believe instead of indoctrinating girls that the end-all in life is to settle for quantity of guys and not for quality, we need to tell girls to wait for someone that is worth their time. Knowing yourself and your value is the only way a relationship will really work in the end.

Your sole focus should be on being a somebody, not on being somebody’s. (That’s how the quote goes, right)? I love it.

Many times we love to blame society as a whole, instead of recognizing society is made up of us- everyday people. This means we must make a stand and do whatever we can do to help girls around us, and better ourselves, with the right beliefs.

All those who consist within society (news flash: that’s everyone) need to take a good look at the consequences of what we teach to our youth. Now, I’m only 18, but it’s taken years to realize some of these things for myself, realizing I can be completely content at whatever phase in life.

If we pressure girls to simply be in a relationship for the sole sake of being in a relationship, then we are more often than not pressuring them to settle for people who do not treat them right, and do not care for the greater good of them as individuals.

OR, on the other hand, it pressures girls that every friendship with a guy needs to be, or become, something more.

Not so. I’m a firm believer you need some brothers to have your back. No matter who makes fun of you for it…because, believe it or not, people can be pretty cruel about that, too.

So, how do we teach girls to be somebodies? Or better yet, how do we re-teach ourselves, after years of continually finding our value in a relationship status (or lack thereof)?

Well, first off…

We are responsible for our own happiness

Yes, you will find your person that you instantly just click with! BUT- at the end of the day- YOU alone are the person that can make or break you. YOU are responsible for your happy. Do not base it off of anything or anyone you can lose. And do not base your happiness off of whether you are in a relationship or not.  That will only lead to disappointment.

Know Your Worth

If nobody has ever told you before, you have value. And our value has nothing to do with how great we are at things, or how pretty we are, or the fact that we can juggle ten oranges at one time. (Good thing, because I can’t even juggle a schedule).

Our worth is completely independent from us. So, what does that mean? It means we have worth because we are humans, beautifully and wonderfully made. That’s apart from anything foolish you’ve ever done, or said, or thought. It’s easy to say that…but to act it and remind ourselves that?

Hm. That’s when things get tricky.

You are your own person

You may think this one is a no-brainer, but a lot rides on the full understanding of this belief.

We are individuals responsible for our own happiness, growth, and feelings of being fulfilled in life. If you are looking to find your identity in someone else, that’s not going to do you well. (Oops, I spilled the beans). Yes, our significant others should be people we feel happy around, and that encourage us to be better than we were yesterday. BUT- there is a distinct difference of finding someone that make you happy, and finding your happiness in people.

If we look for a relationship like this, what happens when the hard times come? We run away…because aren’t relationships supposed to be sunshine and roses? Nope. The ones worth it, are the ones worth fighting for.

Before getting to know anyone else, you should know YOURSELF

Before going into a relationship, we should always have a firm grasp on who we are, our values, our beliefs, our intentions…all of it. If you don’t have a good grasp on any of these things, you’re more than likely walking into a relationship blind as a bat.

Be PATIENT

Remember what I said about earlier- the whole pressure from outside sources thing? Well, guess what. IT’S A HUGE DEAL. So, don’t let yourself get pushed around into going along with something for the sake of obligation, or pressure. You’re in charge of your own life, dear. Remember, never go along with something just out of the feeling that you “need a boyfriend”.

Patience is key. And hey- guess what! I’m learning this, too! College is coming up, and I’m going to have to take my own advice. So, you’re not alone if you’re reteaching yourself that you’re a somebody without a somebody.

Quality over quantity.

I hope this post got you thinking and that we can spread this message to all you beautiful souls! (Hey, guess what, fellas)? Honestly, this message that I just said…not gender specific. I recommend it to all humans! Just felt that it was on my heart to write this.

Hannah

 

Curious about the blog this post originated from? Just click that nifty ol’ link provided below!

https://wordsmithobservations.wordpress.com/

Do You Believe In ‘Fairytales’?

I don’t know whether you guys believe in fairytale romances or not but, I DO. I believe in it because I wanted it & I knew I deserved it. Despite all low moments of odds and disappointment, yes I still choose to believe in it. Because Love is like Magic it just doesn’t happen on it’s own, It’s being created.