Scars of Love

“In a daring attempt, Dr. J.Mark Pool left his very important dinner in order to save his daugther’s life.” This account by my son –  perhaps a bit exaggerated – was about one of three trips to the hospital this week with our children. Johnna Katherine (6) fell and cut her lip on Tuesday, Jennaleigh (4) fell and cut her forehead on Wednesday, and on Thursday Jane Maddy (2) had a cast put on in preparation for an upcoming surgery. As a mom of six pretty rambunctious kids, I feel blessed that we made it nearly eleven years with no stitches or broken bones. However, in three days we tried to make up for lost time! More than once this week, I have stopped to thank God for His great love and protection over us. However, I must admit that I found myself worrying my girls would have a permanent scar on their face.

If we are honest, we ALL have scars. Some are visible, while some we keep hidden. They are the marks that show a glimpse of what we have gone through. Sometimes, we hide them deep in our hearts and in our minds – scars of rejection, of disappointment. Scars of broken dreams, of deep regret. Scars of loss and hopelessness.

Do scars serve a purpose?

Yes.

  • Scars remind us of God’s comfort

When we see our scars, we see the comfort of Christ¹ and that He covers us with His steadfast love. Our scars are visible reminders of His never-ending love and forgiveness.² 

  • Scars serve as a testimony

Most of us try to hide our scars. We cover them up with make-up or hide them under clothes. But by sharing our scars (our testimonies) we can bless those around us. One of my favorite songs comes from a verse in

Revelations 12:11,“We will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.”

In His hands, our scars speak of His goodness, not our failings. 

  • Scars remind us of God’s deep love for us

God loves us so much that He did not spare even himself the pain that scars bring He took on our sin, our pain, our suffering – each leaving Him scarred simply because of His great love for us.⁴  

My husband broke the news to me gently when he assured me that all injuries leave a scar. The skin always heals with a scar; there is no other way it can heal. If it weren’t for a scar, you would never heal from your hlovedurts.

It is hard to say if both of my girls’ scars will be noticeable in a few years. I hope not. But when you see yourself and your scars, do you see beauty or ugliness? Do you see pain or grace? In the light of His love for us, His comfort, and the testimony we have; we can see our scars as beautiful.

According to Zechariah 13, the resurrected, glorified body of Jesus will still bear the crucifixion scars. Why? I wonder if it is because God himself likes to be reminded of the pain He has been through. I think God sees the scars on His Son, and He finds them to be beautiful.⁵ His scars are the ultimate testimony of His love and comfort.

¹ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ² Psalm 86:15, ³ Isaiah 53:4-5, ⁴ Romans 5:8, ⁵ John 15:13

About the Author: 
Jessica Nixon Pool is blessed to be married to her best friend, Mark, for 15 years. She is further blessed to be the homeschooling mother to six amazing children. Jessica holds a BA from the University of Alabama, and Masters of Science in Family Studies from Texas Woman’s University. Before staying at home with her children, she worked in marriage and relationship education. God has given her a heart for teaching healthy relationship skills to others through marriage and parenting education. Together, Mark and Jessica currently teach a nearly/newly wed seminar at First Baptist Dallas.

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Fairy Tale Love 

Have you ever thought about why princess fairy tales are so appealing to little girls (and maybe even some of us big girls)? I am sure it has some to do with ball gowns and tiaras, but I think there is something deeper that attracts us to these love stories. Intricately woven within these tales of adventure and romance is a kind of love story that appeals to a deep longing in our hearts. This is a longing created within us from the very beginning. It is a longing for unconditional love. You see, we don’t love the story of Cinderella because the prince falls in love with a beautiful girl at the ball. We love it because he chases after her and loves her even in her rags. This is the kind of love we long for, the kind that is willing to fight dragons, climb towers, and defy cultural norms, the kind that cannot be stopped.Fairy Tale Love

We long for this kind of love, because we were created for it. We have a Creator God who was willing to lay down His life to save us. Our God chases after us relentlessly, and forgives us continuously. He has seen us in our rags, at our weakest moments, and yet, He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

However, it can be hard to accept God’s love for us as truth. If you have ever struggled to believe that God could love you despite the dragons of sin and the rags of guilt in your life, please know you are not alone! Our enemy, Satan, loves to feed us the lie that there is no way God could love us when we have failed Him. The truth is however that God offers us the love we have longed for and promises that nothing can separate us from this love.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

I can’t read those verses without getting excited! Paul says that he is “convinced.” This word literally means he has been taken from a place of disbelief to a place of belief.  He has become convinced that when we surrender our lives to Christ Jesus, there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love. For those of us who need specific details, Paul is kind enough to list things that cannot keep us from God’s love:

  • Death
  • Life
  • Angels
  • Demons
  • Present and future situations
  • Physical and spiritual powers

And, just in case there is any confusion, he covers it all by saying “no created thing” can separated us from God’s love. What a difference from that little voice in our minds that tells us we cannot possibly be loved unconditionally.

The love that we long for is not just a fairy tale, it is the reality of God’s love for us. We did not earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9), and we cannot lose it. We simply get the joy of living in it! May we live our lives today in the confidence and joy of the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love!

About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas.  She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources.  

John 3:16

I oftentimes find myself wondering why it is so important for a person to feel loved. Though we may know God places a high enough value on us to send His Son Jesus to die for us, I know personally that I am still tempted to feel unlovable when others chose someone or something else over me. Rejection is a hard thing for anyone to experience, and unfortunately it usually happens in many different degrees to all of us regularly. Regardless of who does the turning of affection or attention elsewhere, it can potentially shake us to the core causing the affected one to doubt their value or worth as a person. So what is the solution? How can a person determine if the words in John 3:16 are affecting their life? For me, I have a test that helps me determine whether or not I am dwelling in the truth or embracing a lie. It goes something like this:

  • Is there a lack of peace?
  • Is there a sense of anger?
  • Is there a heart to serve or am I wallowing in self-pity?

If I can answer “yes” to any of the above, it usually means that I am not dwelling in the love of my Father. Neither am I accepting it for myself, nor am I extending it to others. Though the love of another is certainly a precious gift that deserves to be treasured, God’s primary desire for His children is to love others, not to seek love for themselves. Loving another when I don’t feel loved in return is perhaps the most meaningful act of worship that I can offer to the Lord (Mark 12:30-31). It is also a spiritual test, for it is God who said that when we love others, He abides in us (1 John 4:16).

Only GOD’S GREAT LOVE shifts lives in such a phenomenal way that all else pales in comparison. And even if we still naturally desire to be loved by others, I think it of great value to remember why God’s love is so desirable—why God’s greatest act of love is seen in a Savior and not in something else.John 3:16

1. It was what we needed
2. Knowing and following God is the abundant life.²
3. Everything else can be taken away from us, but our position as a recipient of God’s love is secure through Jesus Christ. ³
4. God’s character can be trusted and His love is pure – not self-seeking.⁴

God, help us to “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). In the meantime, help us to love generously – as you did.

¹John 1:12, Romans 5:8, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, 1 John 3:16
²Philippians 4:19, John 10:10, Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10
³John 10:27-30, Deuteronomy 31:8, Romans 8:38-39, Isaiah 54:10, Hebrews 13:5-6
⁴1 Corinthians 13:5, Hebrews 6:17-19, Matthew 10:29-31, Romans 8:32

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Lyndsay has a blog dedicated to sharing and celebrating the work of Christ through her experiences as a missionary, world traveler, knowledge seeker, and recipient of God’s lavish grace.

The Love of God

As I write, snow is falling and birds are flocking to the bird feeder. I love the birds, but it’s a one-sided relationship. They can’t imagine that I would love to hold and pet them. Instead they have great fear of me and fly away. They show no appreciation, yet I still refill the feeder.Love of God

I think of how much I act like those little-brained birds. I miss many of God’s gestures of love to me, neither acknowledging or thanking Him enough, nor realizing the extent of His love.

The love of God is a concept we struggle to comprehend or fail to appreciate in this life, yet a little child can grasp its meaning. Even the mentally and emotionally challenged can understand, as shown in the following words, penned on the wall of a cell in a mental institution by a former patient:

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.”

Often people express the love of God in music, not from happiness, but from victory over grief. “It is the fruit of much mental suffering,” to quote George Matheson. In a night of deep anguish, he wrote “O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee.” Elizabeth Prentiss, frail in body and grieving the loss of two children, wrote “More love to Thee, O Christ.” Charles Wesley, who experienced much tumult in his ministry and also the personal loss of 5 of their 8 children in infancy, wrote many songs on the love of God, including “Love Divine, O Love Excelling” and “Jesus, Lover of my Soul.”

In their grief, these song writers, along with many other song writers, turned to the Bible. There they found that God declares His love loud and clear – a love that is eternal. The Apostle Paul prayed that we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19). He also wrote that nothing could separate us from that love (Romans 8:28-29). When early Christians started to get a little off base theologically, John the Apostle took them back to the basics: “God is love. God’s love is revealed in that God sent His One and Only son into the world so that we might live in Him” (1 John 4:9-10).

To think that God loved us so much, He sent His son to save us.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10

About the Writer:
Ruthe Turner serves as the Director of Truett Memorial Library at First Baptist Dallas, where you can find much more information pertaining to the Love of God, as well as stories behind the songs we sing in church. Please visit us, or see our website at http://www.firstdallas.org/library.

Practically in Love

As I reflect on years past, when my husband and I were newly married and our hopes were high and our future was bright, it was easy for us to say and even show “I love you.” But after 10 years of marriage and 2 kids later, the masks have come off and the real people have emerged, which is not always a pretty sight. For us, “I love you” has taken on a new meaning and it often shows itself in not so romantic ways (even though my husband has always been the type of guy who likes to go all out for his girl). He loves me when he comes home and sees me in those baggy sweat pants and the same food stained college T-Shirt that I’ve had on for the past 2 days. In the same way, I still love him when he walks straight past the sink of dirty dishes and overflowing trash can, as if they didn’t exist.

Practically in LoveAs Christians, I would venture to say that we have no problem with the idea of loving God. His amazing grace urges us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.  The struggle comes in those everyday situations when we have an opportunity to represent God’s love to others, especially to those who don’t know Him. It’s easy to love the lovable (for example, my husband), but it’s much more difficult to love those who give you no compelling reason to do so.

When we raise holy hands to show God how much we love Him, let us also strive in our daily walk to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus tells us, “By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13: 35

Here are some practical examples:

  • The difficult co-worker or fellow committee volunteer: Could you bring them a latte on Monday morning or pray with them when one of their family members is sick?
  • The boss who puts unrealistic expectations on you: Could you avoid bad mouthing them and instead work in a way that shows you are working unto the Lord?
  • Your children: Could you show a little patience and understanding when they are having their most unlovable moments?
  • That waiter who gets your order wrong when you only have 15 minutes to eat: Can you show him a little grace instead of frustration?

About the Writer:
Gabby Brown is a daughter of God Most High. She is married to her best friend and she is the mother of two amazing little boys. She leads the adoption ministry at First Baptist Dallas, and supports her husband in his role as teacher of the Growing Roots Sunday School class.