What Love Looks Like..

Currently, my husband and I are counseling a few folks regarding relationships. In the course of conversations, we hear similar themes play out time and again. The theme of “If he/she really loved me, they would not act this way, do this or that” .. To which, the other responds, “If you would stop doing this or that, I would stop too”… and around and around we go.. The blame game. The ole, if you do x, then I will do y song. The deal maker, the bargaining, negotiating etc.. You name it, we’ve really kind of heard it all. blame game

When I hear couples speak in such a way, I have to inwardly cringe, then, smile recalling that before I became grounded in the Lord, and put through some serious situations in my own relationship, my husband and I could and would act the same way!

Then I take a deep breath, pray and say what God has put on my heart to say to the individual, couple etc.. 

I am so very thankful that Jesus Christ did not play the blame game. I am grateful that He sacrificed Himself and gave up dimensions of His being that we may never know about! All because He extended to us LOVE in place of blame and took away our sin and shame! THAT is what LOVE looks like my friends. THAT is LOVE. To put aside pride, personal feelings and just forgive. To extend grace and mercy to those who don’t deserve it.

THAT is LOVE. Christ-like LOVE. 

Christ_CarryingCross

This photo is the closest I could find and doesn’t even come close to accurately depicting the suffering of Jesus according to scripture.

When I challenge folks with that kind of love.. I often hear.. “They did this and that to me! Could YOU forgive THAT?” To which, I respond, “Yes! Because, I have been forgiven, I too forgive those who trespass against me!” “I have and will continue to forgive because Jesus Christ, was taken to be scourged, beaten to the point that His face no longer bore any resemblance of a man, then the Roman soldiers wove a crown of thorns (not just rosebush kind of thorns) Jerusalem thorns which are very long, thick and sharp! Felt the need to smash it down on His already beaten and bloody head and brow…

THEN

made to carry a heavy wooden cross to the point of collapse so that Simon of Sirene had to take it up and carry it for Him! Then to be laid on said cross and NAILED to IT! Hanging there, scourged, beaten, practically disemboweled, lungs crushing under the weight of hanging there… He suffered in AGONY!

Let’s pause a minute.. I can’t see through my tears.. My heart is aching and burning, Forget the clean, peaceful looking crucifixes of Jesus on the cross.. They are not reality. In my very humble opinion, too much artistic license has been taken to “clean up the cross” so to speak. It gives a sanitary and far too watered down image. It does no one’s soul any good to look upon a peaceful Jesus hanging on a cross…  OK now back to the article…

And died for me. Me! Jesus Christ died BECAUSE OF ME and FOR ME! An undeserving, sinning, wretch! My sins helped hang Him on that cross” So YES!!! I CAN AND DO FORGIVE!! Anything less is unthinkable. Ilovedyouatyourdarkest

When we do not forgive others, we are telling God what He did, by sacrificing His son for us, wasn’t enough. Nope.. sorry God, not good enough… WHAT?! I would hate to be you when you stand in front of Him at the end of your days. (Just sayin’)

So now that I have painted that picture.. What do you think? You think you are still in a position to point a finger? Not forgive? Not live in peace with your loved ones? Friends? Even strangers? I will leave it there and let your own conscience and convictions take it from here…..

Selah (Think Upon These Things)

Until the spirit moves me again, Love one another in His name..

Patti (Yeshuazgirl) <><

 

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The little Things

Have you ever wImageatched horses in a field? Sometimes a small, sweet lazy horse will stand up to a larger, dominant horse trying to get their hay. I’ll bet you would never expect it, and you may not believe me but, it’s true and the same holds true for us. In the story of David and Goliath, a twelve year old shepherd boy defeated a twelve foot man with a single stone and his sling shot. Nobody expected it, no one could believe their eyes but it was true!

David ended up becoming king of Israel. When he faced the giant, he picked up five smooth stones, not because he doubted one stone would kill the giant but, because he wanted to take care of Goliath’s four brothers too but, they fled. No not the stones, the brothers fled 🙂

There is a saying that “God does not call the equipped, He equips the called”.

So stand strong and face the giants of your life with courage! Know that Jesus is the rock that you stand on and His word is the sword that you fight with. You are never weak when you have faith in the savior like David did!

Hope my blog blessed you!

Rebekah Grace Cianflone Age 10

Choosing Your Words Carefully

Have you ever said something that you wish you could take back? You’re probably wondering, “How do I stop that?” The answer is to choose your words carefully. You might have heard something similar to this before (“Choose your words wisely.”)

Do you know why you do and say things that you don’t mean? One reason is that sometimes you may not think about what you’re going to say and just blurt stuff out.

The other reason is you let a bad thought sit in your head which means you’ll start saying it, and it can lead to you actually doing it.

So if you have a bad thought, ask God to take it away. Also remember to “think before you speak” (as my mom likes to say). It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Haste makes mistakes”? When you’re in a rush to say something you don’t give yourself time to think about what you should say.

That’s when you blurt out something you don’t mean and hurt other people’s feelings.Image

If you find yourself starting to say or do something wrong, then stop! But always remember that God will forgive you even when you blurt out something or do wrong. So from now on, remember to choose your words carefully, you’ll be glad you did.

May God bless you!

Rebekah Cianflone Age 9

The Lord’s Lead Line

Using Your Time Wisely

Traffic is driving outside and there isn’t a lot going on. Not much to see or do. It’s cloudy and damp out there, and boring in here.

Of course this is to be expected, considering it is spring and rain comes with spring so I can’t go outside. The beginning of the season was more like summer. Then the rain started.

Although they say “April showers bring May flowers”, it stinks having to be inside a lot. So here I am gazing out the window in front of me, wishing for it to be summer. Writing and waiting until dinner. I then remember that the most important time is now, because now is all we have.

If we waste that short period of time, we cannot get it back. Like when you burn wood to fuel a fire. Once the wood is burned, it cannot come back for more use.

Now take a moment and think, ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this?” and

wasting time

 “Is this what the LORD would have me do?” When you use your time wisely, you will be happy you did; especially later on when you can’t change what you did earlier in life.

Think about the benefits of using your time wisely, and the consequences of wasting it. Which seems better? To me, using my time wisely is the best and wisest thing to do.

I hope you liked my first ever blog article! 🙂

God Bless!

Rebekah Cianflone Age 9

The Lord’s Lead Line

Yesterday No Longer Matters

True, it is important to learn the lessons of the past but, it is not good to get hung up on past mistakes. ImageForgive yourself and others and then move on. Strive to make better choices in the future. That’s really a key thing for living life in general right? Simply, do your best to make the right choices most of the time. One of the chief mistakes that we, as Christians make all too often is that we consistently beat ourselves up, condemn ourselves for non-Christ-like behavior. So many of us try to be too perfect and then become discouraged when we make mistakes or fail in some way.

God’s word tells us that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.” (NKJV) What does that really mean? It means simply that Jesus finished everything on the cross so live in peace. He forgives you so you should forgive yourself.

It is not right to simply use this fact as the “safety net” or rather as an excuse to willfully sin. Making continual choices to sin and know that God will forgive you anyway. That is not how it should be. There is a balance in everything. Walk in grace but, do not abuse it.

Romans 6:1-4 says, “1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the newness of life.”  (NKJV) Meaning that once you accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and savior, your old self dies and you are a new creation! Isn’t that amazing?!

My pastor loves to teach simple truths and I love that about him. One Sunday he taught on this very subject.

Image

My pastor used the example that when a caterpillar goes through metamorphosis and becomes a butterfly, people do not say, “Oh look, there goes a converted worm” – they call it by its new name, because it is a wholly and completely new creation. No longer is it a caterpillar but, now a butterfly, just as we are a new creation in Christ Jesus.

That is the best example I think I have ever heard to explain how we are made new once we become believers in Christ.

Once we have become a new believer in Christ, and begin our walk with the LORD, it is almost like when you get new clothes, you’re so excited to have the new clothes and you tend to be more careful with them as to not “mess them up”.  Reading the instruction label on how to care for them in the wash etc… You are careful for a while but, then “forget” or the new thing becomes not so new and we stop being so excited or careful – just like our walk with the LORD.

When we are first saved, some of us go bonkers, completely on fire for God not knowing an epistle from an apostle but, still wanting to share Jesus with everything that breathes! Then over time, that fire diminishes and becomes more like a low glow instead of a roaring flame. Some Christians condemn themselves for that diminished flame and do not recover well – they may feel like they are lacking in their spiritual life or not truly walking with the LORD because they cannot seem to recapture that “first saved euphoria”.

We cannot help but “mellow out” over time and I think that mellowing is just a natural part of maturing as a Christian. I am not referring to mellowing to the point of needing to take your pulse, but rather a calm and gentle sort of mellow, a quiet confidence, which one can only develop by years of walking with and trusting God.

Even the most mature Christians do not always walk perfectly with the LORD. Paul the apostle writes to us about this in Romans 7:14-15 “14 For we know that the law is spiritual but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (NKJV)

Apostle_Paul_Vatican1

So you see, even the apostle Paul who walked with Jesus literally, still sinned, still made mistakes and in the scripture above, is writing about his own struggles in his life. So be encouraged beloved! It’s OK to make mistakes but, do not stay there! Don’t condemn yourself, forgive and move on. Seek to walk closer with the LORD daily and you will stumble less and less over time.

So my dear brothers and sisters, yesterday doesn’t matter. I encourage you to forgive yourself and others, learn from your mistakes, live, love and move forward leaving the mistakes of yesterday behind. Walk with God’s word as the lamp unto your feet illuminating each step. Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (NKJV)

I hope that you have been blessed and encouraged by this article today.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Patti Cianflone

The Lord’s Lead Line

The Illusion of Self Esteem

i-love-myselfRecently, I saw a picture with a quote from a well-known Christian author and speaker.

Paraphrasing the quote, it said words to the effect of “being sure to speak more sweetly to oneself”. I must say that I respectfully disagree. Now I am not saying that you should berate yourself unless of course you feel as though you deserve it, and that is how you keep  yourself in “check”. Just kidding.

No but, I am going to illustrate how most people get too wrapped up in self-esteem. Personally, I do not believe in “self” esteem. I believe in being confident in who God is molding me to be.

To be made more into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  You see, I believe that our identity should be in Christ alone therefore there is no need for the “self” in esteem.

Besides, doesn’t God’s word say to esteem others higher than oneself? Philippians 2:3 says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”(NKJV)

Hmmm… so where does self-esteem fit in there and mesh with God’s word? If anyone has an argument for that I would love to read it.

Often times I hear parents say that their children suffer from low or bad self-esteem and that they are reading such and such book, following such and such speaker, author or psychologist. Some parents are spending scads of money on therapy all to help their children have a better self-image or self-esteem.  self_esteem_pills

I understand that parents want their children to have a healthy image, be confident, productive members of society and that is all fine and good but, when the focus on self takes over, that is where the problem lies. I think that by and large, as Christian parents, of course, we try to do what we think is best but, are we truly instilling the word of God in our young ones from early on?

Are we truly investing the time to do a family bible study? Do we quote and use scripture appropriately to correct, encourage and strengthen our families? I know that sometimes I do a poor job of it and work and pray hard to do better all the time.

One thing that gets in the way of family time or time with God is the media.

Television, video games and the Internet… are all as I call them, “time stealers”. They all stealthily and incrementally steal chunks of time from our lives. They lull us to sleep and plant the seeds of wordly ideas in place of Godly ones.

There is a children’s song sung in Sunday schools everywhere that goes something like, “Be careful little eyes what you see, careful little ears what you hear”… Well, I have news for you, being careful with those things should never cease being important no matter how old you are.  God’s word also admonishes to guard our hearts and minds.

We can only discern what God’s ideas for our lives are if we take the time needed with Him in His word and listen for His still small voice. The world is noisy, the world’s voice and ideas about who you should be and what you should be eating, wearing, thinking and doing are easily heard. They fill our every sense, just about every minute of every day.

God’s voice is quiet, gentle, patient and loving. God requires us to be still, be quiet, to be in His word to know His character and discern the plans that He has for us. His plans are far better than anything we can conceive of for ourselves and are most certainly better than anything this dying world has to offer.

So whose voice will you listen to? The voice that says, that you have to consider yourself better? Or will you listen to the voice that spoke everything into being and tells us to esteem one another higher than yourself?

I truly hope that this article has encouraged you and blessed you this day.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Patti Cianflone

The Lord’s Lead Line