Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

A Message About Love

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photo credit: “Love One Another…” ~ digital paint effect ~ [Explored] via photopin (license)

“1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

I know a lot of clanging cymbals. I know plenty of Christians who are bankrupt in the love department. I’m sure that I’ve been one a time or two in my life. Yes, I’m quite sure that I have, but something has happened to me.

There’s been a change of heart here. You see, for so long I depended so heavily upon the apologetics and study of my faith and the Word of God (not entirely a bad thing), but I often failed in the love department. I failed to see people hurting. I failed in compassion but excelled in the “calling” of giving advice. I had a quick answer for everyone but not a heart of discernment as to when to share that advice and when to be a silent encourager.

As God has shown me to see His hurting people through His eyes, my heart has softened to the plight of the suffering and lost of this world. My eyes see more clearly now that there are people within the church who are in pain but suffer in silence for the sake of an obligatory smile on Sunday morning. Well-primped and properly-dressed Christians fill up the pews and all is right in the world….only it isn’t. Very little is right in this world because the enemy of our souls is constantly on the prowl, looking for whomever he may lie to, cheat, harm and break. Death and sickness plague us. Adultery and immorality are ever present. We rejoice in the Lord and His blessings, but may we never forget that this world is moaning as it awaits redemption and renewal.

With all the suffering that there is in this world, we need to be all the more abundant in love, compassion, grace and bearing one another’s burdens. We need each other. We need love. There’s no question that we need to study God’s Word and know His precepts also, but fellowship and love within the body of Christ must never be side-show attraction or a secondary concern in the body. Disconnected believers are easily brought down. Isolated Christians have no one to see when they are falling and no one to pull them up when the cares of the world pull them down.

Clanging cymbals. They do everything right, don’t they? They know the Bible. They live pure lifestyles and their tithe is 10.1 percent. The words on their lips are goodness and their homes are fortified. They do everything right….except love. They do everything well…except that which is most important.

“Faith, hope and love; these three abide, but the greatest of these is LOVE.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

We learn so much about love from this chapter in 1 Corinthians. My heart cries out to my fellow believers that we need to understand love more. We need to give it more freely. We need to be willing to get our hands dirty to wash the feet of those who have walked a thousand miles in pain and hardship. We need to love til it hurts. Love is sacrifice. Didn’t our Savior teach us that? We need to love like Jesus did….laying down our lives and giving all of ourselves.

Don’t be a clanging cymbal, dear one. Don’t excel at having all the right answers but fail at loving with a pure and dedicated love. Agape love. Unconditional love.

When I die someday, whenever the Lord wills that to be, I don’t want it to be said of me that I was a Christian who knew all the right answers. I don’t want it said to me that I was a good tither or had an excellent church attendance record. I cringe to think that my mourners would speak only about the Lord’s gift of music in my life.

Oh Lord, may they remember me as one who loved! Jesus, may I love so fiercely that people would never forget it. May my love comfort Your children and draw in the lost! May I love without reserve! May I love without bounds! May Your perfect love be perfected in me that I might be worthy of being called a Christian at all!

May we love deeply. May we love true. May our love be a sweet, sweet sound to the Father and may our love drown out the clanging cymbals.

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The Way She Looks at Us

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My daughter is five years old and she has this obvious draw to words of affection and affirmation. She is quick to remind us how much she loves us and delights in being showered with affectionate words. She also will often prompt us to give each other words of affirmation, smiling broadly as my husband and I tell each other that we love one another. I see this look in her eyes and it is like a window into her precious heart. It’s the way she looks at us when my husband and I communicate love and honor that shows us how important it is to her that we love each other.

Being affectionate with your spouse isn’t just about you or how you feel. There is so much that we communicate to our kiddos without even realizing it as we hold hands, cuddle on the couch, or embrace when he comes through the door after work. Words and acts of love blesses our children in several ways, whilst also building up the relationship and keeping affection alive. Here are a few of the ways our “public display of affection” and words of affirmation bless our children:

  • Children love to see their parents in love with one another. They are blessed knowing that Mommy and Daddy love one another and are happy together. Happy children are usually raised in happy homes, where love, honor and respect flow freely and openly.
  • There is security in a happy marriage for the children. Seeing their parents in love gives children a sense of safety and stability. In a world where half of their friends will come from families of divorce, children need this reassurance. Words and acts of affection reassure them that their family is safe from the pain of separation and divorce.
  • Children are always watching and learning. Displaying a happy marriage, with hugs and kisses and hand-holding and words of affirmation, will set a wonderful example of marriage for the kids. By the grace of God, may they go on to be happily married in a God-centered home one day too.
  • The affectionate and loving couple are much less likely to be that couple that says unkind words to one another, especially in front of the kids. Children are often quietly observing as couples share harsh words in angry tones during times of conflict. This is confusing and upsetting to little ones, who love both Mommy and Daddy. Those angry words hurt children, even when they aren’t directed at them. Let the loving and kind words flow while biting back those harmful words and looks.

When my husband I speak words of love and cuddle up together on the couch, my daughter looks at us with such joy, peace and contentment. She is secure in our love for one another. She delights in our happiness and her little cup runneth over. Being affectionate with your spouse shouldn’t only be for the kids, but blessing them is certainly a good reason to keep words of affirmation and acts of affection a part of everyday life.

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The Difference Between Sincere Concern and Judgement

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Will Montague via photopin cc

I was at a women’s conference this weekend with some wonderful ladies. One of my friends and I had a great conversation about the difference between sisters showing sincere, genuine concern for another sister and simply passing or holding onto judgement. It was a great chat and she and I came to the conclusion that this is often and issue of the heart, and therefore there are a few points I’d like to share on this topic.

We should have concern for each other. As sisters in the Lord, we certainly should care about what another sister is going through. When we see her struggling, hurting or going through trials, we should be moved to compassion and be compelled to help if possible. What that help looks like will depend on the circumstances, but often the help we give is in the form of advice and counsel. Hopefully we seek to help with exhortation and edification from God’s Word. Sometimes it can be in the form of words of affirmation, and others times there is a call for loving and carefully prayed-over rebuke. Whether or not we should care is not the question. We ALL should care about our sisters. Sometimes we feel we have the answers. Sometimes we’re right that the answer we have is a good one. Regardless, we need to be aware of our own hearts.

Definition of Judging: I want you to understand that there are different definitions and uses for the word “judge.” Here are some of the definitions:to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose, to approve, esteem, to prefer, to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure to dispute.” 

This can often lead to confusion in the Word. Sometimes God tells us to judge and sometimes not to judge. We need to look at language and context to make sure we are understanding it correctly. We judge all the time. A judge is someone who is determining what is right. We judge whether or not this or that is correct, right or good. We are called to do this. We are also called to judge whether or not sin is present and not to judge others when we ourselves are guilty of the same sin. So what kind of judging am I talking about? I’m addressing the issue of judging what is not sin but rather passing some sort of sentence or classification of someone based on that person’s choices, preferences, decisions, etc. In other words, it is having a heart that looks down on another believer because our opinions, preferences choices or convictions are different. This kind of judgement is never encouraged in the Word.

1. What’s the difference between judging and offering genuine concern?

It’s an issue of the heart. It’s all about the heart. If we are dealing with an issue that is not necessarily a sin issue, then we need to be very careful about allowing our hearts to cross over into judgement. There’s one easy way to determine whether or not our hearts are in the right place. We ask ourselves, do I think I’m a better Christian because I don’t do what she does? Do I judge her Christianity based on her choices in non-sin issues? Am I looking down on her?

Looking down on a sister is wrong. We are not to do it. We are supposed to be walking in love. I can genuinely feel concern for a sister, and I can not agree with her decisions, without having a heart full of judgement because I will remember my own humanity. I will consider that we all have shortcomings. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas of struggle. We are also all works in progress. God is molding us day by day. We are in different stages of our walks with the Lord. The point is, we are the same. We are equal in the Father’s family. Even if my sister makes a lot of bad decisions, or what I perceive as bad decisions, she is no less a daughter of the King and fellow heir in the kingdom. She is no less beloved of the Father. She is no less justified.

I will also guard my heart against judgement by remember that God has gifted and called us all differently. What may work for me may not work for another sister. God has made us with different personalities and the ability to minister to different types of people. He never intended for us all to look or sound the same. He made us unique and colorful. He loves his daughters….ALL of them! We need to look on our sisters in the Lord as He Himself does. We need to appreciate them for what they bring to the body. When we see ourselves as different, better or above other believers, we are allowing our hearts to harden and become cold. God is not pleased.

2. Is this a sin issue?

Not every struggle is a sin issue. We need to remember that sometimes the issue isn’t sin at all. The problem is we often have in the church is one of people trying to force their personal convictions on others. As sisters in the Lord, we can be very strong when it comes to our opinions. Perhaps the Lord has put a conviction on our heart that may be less than black and white in scripture. We should always obey what the Lord has put on our heart to do, but that doesn’t mean we pressure others into following us. If it’s clear in the Word, that’s a different story. Some issues that may arise where this is a concern would be over healthy eating habits, whether or not to drink alcohol, what to watch on television or whether to watch it at all, homeschooling versus public education, clothing choices, head coverings, etc. We need to be very careful that we are not judging or looking down on a sister who does not share our convictions, but rather to walk in love and respect.

Let’s consider for a minute the issue of food. There are plenty of opinions on what people should or should not be eating. There’s no doubt that much of what we eat today is unhealthy and full of chemicals and such that was no where on that Garden of Eden diet that Adam and Eve enjoyed so long ago. Many are becoming more educated on the issue of food, what’s in the food, what foods provide to our bodies, etc. and in doing so are becoming self-made experts on healthy eating choices. I think that’s really cool. I have several friends who are really into health, and I love being able to go to them with questions. They are so helpful in providing good information on everything from vitamins and herbs to healing the body with natural resources. I see it as a type of ministry, to help others.

Here’s the catch, however. With all of this emphasis on eating healthy, it can open the door to some serious judging. It’s important that we always remember that it is not what we eat that makes us “better” or “worse” Christians. The Bible does not put a strong emphasis on food, except for the several times that Paul exhorts the church NOT to judge on the basis of what someone eats. Do not look down on them. Do not be deceived into thinking a person who eats pizza everyday and weighs 400 pounds is any less of a Christian than the one who runs ten miles a day and eats a vegan diet.

Now, should you be concerned about a friend who weighs 400 pounds and eats pizza or fast food for every meal? Sure. Of course. It’s very unhealthy. So how do we offer this concern without judging? First of all, we make sure our friendship is based on something deeper than mere niceties. We are sisters in the Lord. We invest in one another. We don’t just smile at them from across the sanctuary every week and then walk up to them one day and exhort them to change their eating habits immediately. We build a relationship. We listen to them. We try to understand where they are coming from and how they are struggling. We show COMPASSION. We are not flippant. We do not dismiss their feelings, nor their struggles. We treat them with honor, respect and affection. We see them as equals in the Lord and we certainly recognize that we, too, have areas of struggle. Once our heart is in order, we can help our friend. We can minister to her and bless her.

3. Do I judge based on my own opinions?

Another way in which concern can cross over to judgement is when a sister does not follow or take our advice. We are so confident in our opinions. When a sister is sharing her trial, we may have an idea of what she could do to resolve the issue. There’s nothing wrong with offering advice, when we feel led by the Spirit to do it and feel it is a good word and good timing. If, however, our sister doesn’t take the advice, we need to not judge or look down on her. We need to, instead, continue to pray for her, love her and be okay with it. Just let go. We might be wrong. We might not understand the full scope. God may be leading in another direction for reasons we can see. Offer advice, but don’t judge if it’s not received the way you want.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:11-17

4. Am I the right person to help?

It’s always good to ask the Lord if you are the right person to help your friend. You know, sometimes there are reasons God may use someone else to minister to that sisters. Perhaps He knows you will struggle with having a judging heart. Perhaps He knows you won’t be able to understand where the sister is coming from or going through. Perhaps He has a plan to use someone else that will be more effective. If you feel God telling you not to intercede, obey. There is a reason. If you are not called to minister to this sister, then make sure not to carry judgement away with you. Simply put it behind you and move on in love, unity and peace. God has called us to be one, just like Jesus prayed.

5. Walk in love.

It is so easy to judge. As I write this blog I’m reminded and convicted of times I have entertained a judgemental heart. I have allowed genuine concern to move into judging, placing myself somehow above my sisters in the Lord because I do this or that. I think we need to be very careful. This is the heart that tears us apart rather than brings us together in unity. We need to love one another. We do need to help one another, but our hearts have to be in the right place. I’m no better a Christian than you are and you are no better than me. Whether or not we see everything eye to eye is irrelevant. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not of our own works. We are equal members in the family of God. We are holy because HE is holy. We are righteous because He is righteous. Let us walk forward in love and support of one another with sincerity of heart.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

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Teaching Your Kids to Look Down on Others

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photo credit: Celestine Chua via photopin cc

Being a parent is such a huge responsibility. I can say with confidence that teaching my daughter to love and follow the Lord are at the top of my priority list as a mother. Preserving her purity and training her up in the Word are of the utmost importance. I want to instill in her a love for the things that God finds beautiful in a woman – purity, meekness (power under control), prudence, patience, modesty, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, grace and mercy. These are virtues that I long to see her grow into as a young woman someday.

In order to instill those virtues, I teach her God’s Word, pray over her and give her real life examples. Those examples may be good and bad examples….what TO do and what NOT to do. However, I think it’s very important that in giving her examples, I am not teaching her that it is in any way okay for her to look down upon, condescend, despise or judge those brothers and sisters who are not convicted in the same way that we are on these issues. In other words, I do not want to raise a snotty young woman who is quick to offer disapproval to anyone who isn’t like her.

When I use the dreaded word “Judge”, by the way, I understand that some will confuse what that means. The Word talks a lot about judging. The Bible doesn’t tell us not to “judge’ in terms of identifying sin. We judge all the time. We judge what is right and wrong. We are to judge rightly. However, we are not to judge in the sense of passing a judgement or sentence, and we are not to condemn or despise someone, looking down on them. That’s the judgement both I and God’s Word forbids.

Here’s an example. The Smith Family are great. They are Christians and seek to follow the Lord in all they do. In the Smith Family, the girls have decided that they led to wear skirts or dresses everyday because they truly feel that God is honored in it. There’s nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is how the 12 year-old Fanny Smith reacts when a new girl her age comes to church wearing jeans and a t-shirt. She wears a look of shock and distaste on her face. She refuses to make eye contact. She immediately sees herself as a “better” Christian and labels the other girl as being “carnal.”

Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe after years of wearing skirts the Smith Family suddenly feels the Lord put on their hearts that they don’t need to dress that way all of the time and they discover a new liberty in Christ. Will others who continue to wear dresses and skirts teach their children to look down on them? Will the Smiths judge the skirt-wearers for being stuck in “legalism”? Where will the judgement end????

There are plenty of other examples. Parents who emphasize healthy eating may inadvertently teach their children to look down on overweight brothers and sisters. Perhaps the parents look down on them too? Homeschoolers may teach their kids to look down upon public schoolers and vice versa. Sigh

You know, when I aim to raise my daughter in the Lord, my number one lesson to her is not whether or not the Bible teaches that women should wear skirts or headcoverings or eat only organic or homeschool. You see, those are secondary issues. They are dead end issues. I want my daughter to be used by the Lord for wonderful and awesome things. I want her to be a light in this world to a lost and dying population. I want her to shine forth the love and grace of the Lord Jesus to all who come in contact with her. I do not want her to be an uppity, antisocial child-young person-adult, who looks down her nose at anyone who isn’t just like her. Where’s the love of God in that? Where’s the graceful heart of the Lord in that?

So do we stop teaching our kids to walk in their convictions? Absolutely not! I know the standards I want to set for my daughter, and I pray that they are a blessing to her as they guide her into adulthood someday. However, I want to teach her at the same time that we are called to love one another and to accept one another the way Jesus does. We are called to friendship with other believers. We aren’t to stand in a corner or with a small group of like-minded friends and just watch as other young people stand alone or leave. We aren’t supposed to be so heavenly minded that we are no good to the people here on earth. We learn from Jesus, whose own disciples questioned Him for eating with and ministering to sinners. Jesus showed them a love and acceptance they couldn’t resist and they were changed.

Teach your young ones that, in order to minister to someone, we must first be willing to love them unconditionally. We must pray and work to empty our hearts of this type of judgement. We need to reach out with open arms, regardless of the way another looks, talks, dresses, eats, smells…haha…whatever! Teach our kids to be like Jesus, who didn’t sin but loved sinners. Amen?

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14

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