Loving the Unlovable

How to love the unlovable – Matthew 5:38-48 (photo, Timmy Gibson)

What is love, and how do we truly exhibit love?

I think we all go on these love craves during which we desire to show God's love as much as we can. We have an encounter with love and want to pour out love every second we get and then we then don't pour out His love as well as we should.

I believe God's love becomes a fad like a W.W.J.D. bracelet. They were a hot item for a while and probably made the creator a lot of money. They then, however, wore out naturally and spiritually.

Aren't we supposed to be all about God's love? The first place we can start being about God's love is in the home. How can we show God's love in the world if we are not showing it in our own home? What does this mean? It means spending time with your loved ones.

In the day and age of modern technology, we can be in a room together with one another, but are we with each other? No. We have our laptops on, phones within reach and a movie or video game on the TV screen. How is this showing love?

What about getting irritated with our family members? Should we snap, get angry, have sharp tones and comments and get irritated with what another person said or did? Is that truly showing God's love? I think that is where the W.W.J.D. bracelets come in. How would Jesus react to another family member? The answer is with love.

We need to learn how to extend and be love to those people who sometimes "drive us nuts," to those "we can't stand to be around" and to those who"drain us emotionally." But why do we even feel that way about "those people?"

I was talking to the Lord recently about whom the world would label "high maintenance people to whom we need to extend a little extra grace." I mean the people who don't seem to want to do anything for themselves or who ask you to pray for them all the time. How many times do you want to shout back at them: "Pray for yourself! You have two lips and a tongue!"

In all seriousness, why do we get irritated with them? Because we do not love enough and because we do not love as Jesus loves.

When will we get back to the place of compassion and love; of pouring ourselves out on people and truly serving them and being a channel of love? When will we do it right? When will we love like Jesus loved? When will we be a stream of constant love?

You know why those people do the things they do to us; because they need love. They are hurting, lonely, rejected, insecure, inferior and they need love. They need someone to pour into them. They need someone to invest in them and to say, "You know what, you are valued and loved, and you are important to me." They should be important to you because they are God's children. Aren't you supposed to love as He loves?

I challenge you to be love. You know who that person is who maybe you would rather have not bug you so much. Perhaps you would be happy if they were not in your life. I want you to love them abundantly. I want you to make them your love assignment. Be nice to them. Go out of your way to love on them and pray for them. Pray that God would give them a love encounter and that they would receive the love of God that comes through other people in their lives.

Make it a practice and a way of living to outlove the other person. Think about how much you are loved. I want you to pour that much love out, that you outlove the person to next you, who loved on you. Yes, a love mission. Learn to outlove the next person. Learn to be love; and when you think you accomplished your mission, when you think you have achieved love, ask the Lord to help you love even more, because it's all about L-O-V-E!

Kathy DeGraw is the founder of DeGraw Ministries, a ministry releasing the love and power of God. She travels hosting conferences, teaching schools and evangelistic love tours. Kathy empowers people to release and be love with her #belove campaign. Kathy enjoys writing and is the author of several books that educate, empower and equip people, including A Worship Woven Life and Flesh, Satan or God. Connect with Kathy at degrawministries.org.


If Christianity Bores You, Then You Haven’t Met Jesus

It's a true miracle to meet Jesus. (photo © Dr. Ashraf Fekry)

I used to think Christianity was boring, dull and hands-down a waste of time.

I was never a fan of going to church or getting dropped off at yet another youth group event when I was younger. It all seemed to be pointless and irrelevant to my current stage of life. I felt this way for the first 19 years of my life, that is, until I actually experienced Jesus for who He really was and not who I assumed Him to be.

I dropped my pride and finally let God in. Only then was my life transformed. This didn't happen overnight, but with persistence and humility, my relationship with God truly started to grow. 

For a lot of people, the idea of Christianity doesn't bring much excitement to the table. The thought of reading a Bible, attending a church service or even praying makes certain individuals cringe. And let's not forget to mention those who claim to be believers, yet still think the wondrous life of a Christ follower is still not what it's cracked up to be. For the two groups I have previously mentioned, I beg to differ. 

A True Encounter

When one truly encounters the consuming love of Jesus, one's life is anything but mundane and stale. It can't be, as the love and power of Jesus is too marvelous to walk away from once tasted. Worship will become exhilarating, reading the Bible will become fascinating, and prayer will become a conversation with God that you can't seem to stay away from. The Bible says that we are sanctified (set apart) by the blood of Christ, and we must realize that one cannot truly digest this truth and not find the eternal joy that comes along with it. 

The Bible paints a very clear picture of what happens when someone belongs to Christ. The old fades away, and a new life will begin. Only through Jesus can we truly come alive into the existence and community we were created for. Life in Christ encompasses the totality of Christ Himself, which characteristically is anything but monotonous and mind-numbing. 

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:4-9).

A life in Christ brings purpose, restoration, grace and eternal identity. The adventure that awaits a follower of Jesus is one this world simply cannot match, let alone keep anywhere near to. Every day is a new experience, a new facet of God's glory, and another opportunity to deepen one's personal relationship with the Creator. There is always room for growth, which means there is always room for adventure. So if you think Christianity is boring, then you haven't met Jesus.

Understand that the Christian life isn't always going to be roses and sunshine. Everybody encounters doubt, anxiety and even fear—we wouldn't be human unless we did. What we need to remember is that even during these times of darkness and uncertainty, we have a light at the end of the tunnel to run toward. Jesus' Spirit, our comfort and peace, is an ocean of eternal euphoria.

The fear of rules and regulations are false. Don't let the talk of religion keep you from experiencing an unfathomable relationship with Christ.

Jarrid Wilson is a husband to Juli, dad To Finch, pastor, author, blogger and founder of Cause Roast. He's helping people live a better story. For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com. For the original article, visit jarridwilson.com.


When God Says Go

You will know when it's time to go just like God commanded Abraham (ECWA archives)

I still remember the response of my son's orthodontist upon finding out that our family was moving from Upper Michigan to Minnesota—"Oooh," he mused while inspecting, through squinted Scandinavian eyes, Seth's newly straightened teeth, "You're going to the flatlands, huh?"

"Yeah," I chuckled, "I guess we are." Because God had said "Go forth."

Our family had been happily settled into the familiar landscape of life as we knew it. We lived within miles of our large, close-knit extended family, and my husband was an elder at the local church that had become dear to us as well. He had been a teacher at a relatively young Christian school nearby and was in his second year as the school's administrator. Life was good, but our fledgling school was facing adversity.

The ministry from which the school rented space had decided to use that space for other purposes, and our school, faced with too short a timeline to get another building up to code, had made the decision to close. Around the same time, a relative from a church about a half hour north of the Twin Cities sent me a text that their church's school was in need of an administrator. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, back to the squinty-eyed orthodontist. You have to understand, here, that we "Yoopers" (a term for natives and inhabitants of Michigan's Upper Peninsula) are a unique breed—fierce, independent, proud of our mines and our ability to withstand frigid winters with over 300 inches of snow on a regular basis (eat your heart out, Boston). But tough as we are, we find ourselves weak-kneed when faced with the rugged, wild, majestic beauty of creation. Rolling hills, mountainous, ore-filled peaks, acre upon acre of untouched hardwoods, mile upon mile of Lake Superior's sugary sand and clear waters … even atheists in the U.P. call her "God's Country."

We loved our home, but God had said, "Go forth."

God's Provision

As I reflect back on those days, I can't help but think of Abram and Sarai and the Lord's command to them in Genesis 12:1:

"Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you" (ESV).

Having already left their wealthy, populous, cosmopolitan home city of Ur, Abram, Sarai, and their family set off from Haran toward Canaan, the final leg of a journey that would total some 1,500 miles. With merely their possessions and a promise, they navigated rivers, mountains, and deserts—likely natural and man-made hazards of all sorts—until they were eventually set down in a territory unknown, one in which they were asked to trust in El Shaddai—God Almighty—who had assured what seemed laughable at best.

But they persevered, and He provided.
A covenant, in spite of their conniving.
A nation, from the depths of a barren womb.
A sacrifice, beneath a father's trembling, outstretched hand.

This is our God, too, and He had said, "Go forth."

A New Country

On a well-traveled highway from our Upper Peninsula hometown to a nearby city—and, yes, the isolated region's only Target—upon rounding a slight curve in the road, travelers are greeted with a break in the heavily-treed landscape, and all eyes are drawn upward from the four paved lanes toward an expansive blue horizon. And in that instant they are met by the big broadness of Lake Superior stretched out against the bright blueness of the sky. Its sight is a God-created quencher of thirst and fresh air for world-weary lungs.

But today I will drive the flatlands on the way to my straight-smiled son's soccer game. I will continue to learn what the Lord has for me in this new and unfamiliar terrain—straight roads lined with cornfields, acres sprawling with soybeans, amber waves of grain. I grumble at times that here, in the land of ten thousand lakes, I can go weeks without seeing one! Yet we will trust in His perfect provision in the midst of our imperfect "Go forth." We will thirstily look for grace as we navigate new ministries, new friends, and a new church family. And just as He did for Abraham and Sarah, El Shaddai will show His might. Jehovah Jireh will provide. He already has.

Has the Lord directed you to "Go forth" lately? Will you trust Him in unfamiliar terrain today?

For original article, go to www.ReviveOurHearts.com.


Place Jesus Back In The Manger. Celebrate Advent This Christmas Season.

There is no better time of the year to celebrate Advent than now. Walk through Advent with your loved ones.

Growing up, I loved Christmas season. December meant lights, decorations, gifts, family, and two weeks out of school. It was the most wonderful time fo the year.

But, as life transitioned from college graduation to marriage to children, an uneasiness swelled up in my heart as December approached. The things I enjoyed as an adolescent contributed to the storm of uneasiness as an adult. Parties. Gifts. Decorations. Even family outings were stressful, as we had to divide time between two families “appropriately” (whatever that means).

As a teenager, with no responsibilities, expectations surrounding Christmas were huge. Anticipation built as the calendar inched closer to Christmas Day. And the day never seemed to disappoint. As an adult, however, the anticipation and expectations always felt empty. Christmas day never lived up to its enormous billing. For several years, I battled a legitimate case of the “Christmas blues.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my boys open gifts. It really is better to give than receive. But, after the presents were put away, I found myself alone, disappointed, thinking, “Surely there is more to Christmas than this.”

Three years ago, while bracing myself for another underwhelming holiday season, I discovered something that changed Christmas.

I want to introduce you to the present that saved Christmas for me. I believe it will do the same for you.

What is Advent?

Advent is traditionally observed on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The word “Advent” simply means “arrival” or “coming.” For Christians, Advent refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ, God greatest gift to the world. For hundreds of years, God’s people waited eagerly for the Messiah. Then, in a small, sleepy town, in the most humble of circumstances, “the word became flesh.” The heavens opened, and God took the form of a man. The angels rejoiced! Emmanuel – God with us!

Today, much like the Israelites, we wait. Our hope is firmly placed in the inevitable return of Jesus. Advent is a time for remembering, rejoicing, watching, and holding to God’s promises.

Why should you observe Advent?

1.) Placing Jesus at the center of your holiday season adds meaning to everything else.

Family, gifts, decorations and holiday gatherings are shadows. Jesus is the substance. Shadows aren’t inherently bad. They are revealing. My shadow can tell you my presence is near. But my shadow is empty. If someone focuses on my shadow more than me, you would think they are stupid.

A similar thing happens during the holiday season. The events surrounding this season are good. For the most part. But they’re shadows. The joy of seeing family. The anticipation of Christmas day. These are shadows, designed to point you to the substance, Jesus Christ. If you focus more on the shadows than the substance, you won’t discover the fullness of this season. Jesus is the only one who can satisfy the weight of enormous expectations.

Observe Advent because it focuses on the substance, and adds meaning to the shadows.

2.) The demands surrounding this season can be overwhelming.

The increasing demands during the holiday season can be overwhelming. If you’re like me, you have something going on almost every night. Combining a packed schedule with life’s normal demands, and the result is often exhaustion and stress.

By the time the calendar flips to December 25th, you’re excited returned to the North Pole. You say, “I love the Christmas season, but I’m glad it’s over.”

What if you arrived at December 25th wanting more? Is it possible that your “I’m glad it’s over” attitude is a sign? It was for me. Advent focuses your thoughts around Jesus Christ, the only one who renews your tired heart and weary mind. Advent releases you from the burden of this season’s demands by aligning your sights on a manger, not a calendar.

3.) God can be trusted. His promises are always true. 

When you focus on the shadows of Christmas, you miss something huge. The promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.1 Corinthians 1:20

Every promise finds its “yes” in Jesus. In other words, the birth of Jesus reminds you that every word of God is trustworthy. If God’s people could grasp this one reality, Satan wouldn’t have much of a kingdom on earth. If Christians could believe, I mean really believe, that EVERY word spoken from God is true, we would change the world. Overnight.

But if you’re like me, I read the promises in Scripture, I hear the promises from the pulpit, I pray the promises to God, but I don’t believe the promises. I don’t actually believe every word in Scripture is true. If so, I would let go of my comfort-driven, fear-controlled life. I would not care whether someone ridiculed me or killed me. To live would be gain and to die would be Christ. As it is, I wrestle with the promises, allowing my flesh to win most days.

Advent is about the arrival of Jesus. Emmanuel, “God with us.” Visible proof of a promise-keeping God. And, in a culture predicated on fear and a season driven by speed and materialism, we need this proof.

How do you place Jesus at the center of this season?

In case you missed the first link, here’s how to receive your free Advent daily devotional.

I know the transformative nature of Advent. I want you to experience a similar transformation. So, I created an Advent daily devotional guide. Everything you need to center your heart and mind around the substance of Christmas, Jesus Christ, is included in this guide.

This year’s theme is “Standing On The Promises.” If you sign up, you will receive a devotional every morning in your inbox, beginning November 29th, the first day of Advent (if you sign up after this day, you will receive your first devotional the following morning). Each day’s devo includes:

  1. A truth about God to guide your day
  2. Scriptures building on the day’s truth
  3. A reflection centered around the day’s truth and corresponding Scriptures
  4. A prayer as you prepare to transition into your day’s activities

In addition to the daily devotionals, each week has a theme undergirding the overall theme and tying together the daily readings.

Here are the weekly themes.

If you take a few minutes every day to soak in the divine truths of Christmas, I think God will do something amazing in your heart. Even if you love the holiday season the way it is, I challenge you to try Advent. I believe it will change how you see Jesus forever..


We serve a promise-keeping God. And one day, in a moment, Jesus will return. This time, death, brokenness, sin, and Satan will be forever divorced from God and every person who loves Him.

Until then, we wait. But we don’t passively wait. We wait with eager expectation, anticipation, and hope. We serve a God who ALWAYS keep his promises. That’s a gift worth opening and proclaiming to others!

I love you all. To God be the glory forever! Amen.

Frank Powell is a blogger and a devoted follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.He is married to Tiffani Powell, also a passionate follower of Jesus. They have two children, Noah Riley Powell and Micah Grayson Powell. You may read the original article on his website at frankpowell.me.