Why The Hallmark Kind of Love Fails

There are several standard plots in Hallmark movies.  They are far from realistic in some ways, though I can’t help watching them often, especially this holiday season.  These movies represent typically a woman longing for unconditional love.  She finds different kinds of love through the course of the film.  We all cheer in the end at what the man and woman both find, and truly it’s an “Awwwh, I want that moment” for most women watching,  but let’s a take a look at the Hallmark kind of love.   

The Hallmark Kind of Love     

  1. It is friendship love that falls short of the deepest desire for enduring true love.   

In practically every plot we see the longing of the woman to be married to a perfect prince, to sweep her off of her feet.  In the beginning of the movie we see that she’s so in love with the idea of marriage, that she stays in a relationship with the perfect guy.  He doesn’t “ruffle her feathers” about anything. He doesn’t challenge her. He is so much like her in his personality, goals, and interests, that there’s really no adventure or tension in the relationship. She’s been with this guy for a long time, not seeing that he is really not what she needs to be with the rest of her life. She doesn’t realize that loving someone and being in love with someone are not the same.  She only really has “friendship love” with her boyfriend.  The boyfriend has to be the one to break up with her, often right at the moment that she thinks he is going to propose to her!! She is mortified.  After the relationship ends, the Hallmark girl is hoping to find true love, but is often a bit jaded, and not sure it will ever happen for her.

2. It is romantic love that is based on feelings. 

When the girl meets a new guy who is nothing like her last boyfriend,  she often clashes with him. He might get under her skin in some ways because he does not totally agree with her on some things.  However, the more she’s around him she becomes more and more attracted to him. They start to develop some friendship intimacy and she is actually kind of taken off guard by how much she starts to like him. He falls in love with her, and she falls in love with him through some really beautiful life experiences. They find that though they are different, they really enjoy being with each other.  Then, there’s some kind of complication that causes her to either run from him or him to run from her. A friend or family member talks them into running back to each other because they know that they have found true love. They talk through their differences, he explains his heart for her, and it all works out beautifully because they both “feel” ooey-gooey after only knowing each other often for only a few weeks! 

Who doesn’t want to feel ooey-gooey and in the euphoric state of being in love?!  We all do!  We all want that, but that kind of love is nothing like the love of God, which never, never, never, fails.

Why do we need the unconditional love of God?

  1. His love is committed to us for eternity. 

Since I’ve watched so many of these movies I have begun to realize how many analogies there are to our relationship with Jesus as the lover of our souls. We have often been mesmerized and “in love” with the world or a person, only to find the world or the person dumping us or letting us down and leaving us. We feel as if we will never find anyone who will truly love us.  However, the love of God is committed to for eternity.  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.  We are yoked to Him in covenant when we have made Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord of our lives.  Covenant is not broken even with death.  He doesn’t break His covenant of love even if we run away from him for weeks, months, or years.  He is always waiting with open arms.   That’s a powerful love.

2. His love transforms us into better people.  

The love of Jesus will come running after us, even if we are running from it.   He is not like any other lover.   He is gentle, kind, and has many qualities that we don’t have. He challenges us with new ideas and new ways of looking at ourselves, our lives, and other people.  He even “ruffles our feathers” a bit because we don’t always think that what He thinks is right, but we can’t help but be intrigued by His suggestions, ideas, and sense of adventure!  When we begin to give our heart to Him and open up to Him, and start trust Him, then His love transforms us.  

3. His love is always present, every minute of the day and night. 

In every human relationship we can not always be with that person.   They are not present every second of the day.   Well, His love is always near.  After Jesus died, God sent the Holy Spirit as our counselor to live on the inside of us.  He is present at all times to teach us all things we need to know.  To comfort us, support us, calm us, give us joy, every minute of the day – and EVERY TIME we call out to Him.   What kind of person can be there for you like that?! No human being on the face of the earth can or ever will be able to do that.

There’s been some seasons in my life when I think I got so focused on the cares of this world that I stopped connecting with the love of God.   And sometimes when things weren’t going right, just like the Hallmark girl, I ran from being in the presence of my Lover and no longer was listening to what He had to say to me every day.    I’m not currently in a relationship with a man on this planet, so as a single I have to stay connected to His love, or I become lonely, hopeless, depressed, fearful, and even angry.    Oh, but when I do stay connected with that love, I look at my singleness in such a different way, and I am fully alive, fully aware that I already belong to One who gave up His life for me.

He’s waiting for you!

Maybe you’re the Hallmark character who has run from The One who loves you. Maybe you are in a season where you are upset with your first love, Jesus.  He is waiting for you with open arms. He wants your heart again. His love for you is everlasting and unconditional.   You may need to start wherever you are, even if your life is a mess because you have left Him out of the picture.  This time really give Him your whole heart and soul.    He will never leave you or forsake you.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

 In the movie I watched last night the couple at the end had to re-introduce themselves to each other.    Maybe you need to say, “Hi, Jesus, it’s me _________________. I need you in my life.”

He’s waiting for you.  Your First Love is waiting.  And this man is full of unconditional, agape love.  He never ever gives up on you. He keeps no records of your wrongs.  This man has written your name on the palm of His hand and knows how many hairs are on your head.   This man gave up His life for yours.  This is way better than the “Hallmark” kind of love.  No comparison, period.

Jeremiah 29: 11‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Song of Solomon 2: He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.

Song of Solomon 7: 10 I am my beloved’s, And his desire is for me.

Get Out of the Boat!

get-out-boat-image-only-for-blog-post24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”   28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.  (Matthew 14: 24 – 32 NASB)

Peter gets out of the boat, and starts walking on the water.  He actually gets out of the boat. Out of all the disciples, he got out.

First of all, he either had some serious faith in Jesus, or he was just a crazy daredevil-type of guy who just wanted a thrill!  I think it is the first option.  

Peter seems to show the desire to do the impossible through the power of God.  He didn’t just want to stay calm in the midst of the storm, when Jesus tells them all to not be afraid, he wants to take it a step further.  He has his eyes fixed on Jesus so much that he forgets about the storm – the boisterous wind and waves.  He gets out of the boat and starts walking, and then he SEES the wind and waves.  He was focusing on Jesus, but he had a “moment” when he stopped looking at Jesus.  At that point he cried out for Jesus to save him!  Of course, Jesus puts out his hand and rescues Peter.  

What principles can we glean from Peter’s experience?  

One look away from Jesus in the storm can make the “wind” and “waves” of life suddenly appear to be the scariest thing ever.

What “wind” and “waves” do you have in your life that are trying to engulf you?

If we are bound up with fear, then our eyes are not on Jesus. We have to approach the throne of God and surrender all of our fear to Him.  We have to think about what we are thinking about!  We don’t have to think every thought that pops into our head.  If our head is leaning towards the the negative, then we need to expose our minds to the Word of God and His promises.  “Fixing” our eyes on Jesus means – fixing our eyes on God’s Word, and what He says about our circumstances.

I often take just one Scripture to meditate on in any given day, that helps me to combat any recurring negative thoughts that keep trying to pop into my head.  Look at this one…

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)

The word “fixing” comes from a Greek word that means looking away from all else, to fix one’s gaze upon.  Hello!  Now, that’s the challenge! This is do-able, or why would the apostle Paul mention this?!  It even sounds like a command! —- Fix your eyes on Jesus, or else you will sink!  

I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m really there every day.  I start “sinking” every time I take my eyes of Jesus.    The longer it takes me to focus my eyes back on Jesus, the farther I sink!

The good news is, when we do focus on our eyes on Him, He actually takes care of the rest – He perfects our faith.   The perfecting of our faith is on the inside of us.  The building up of our “muscle” of faith is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is about us “working” the Word.  When we work the Word, the Word works!   

Peter’s faith muscle was big enough to get him out of the boat, but it wasn’t quite built up enough yet to walk on the water for very long, so Jesus had to grab him.   The moment Jesus grabbed him, the wind and waves stopped.  

I have had so many moments like this in my life.  I’m going along, stepping out in faith, doing some things that are risky, trying to walk on the water, and then “BAM!” all of a sudden I start focusing on myself and my ability or on the “wind” and “waves”.  It might take me anywhere from a day or two to a couple of weeks to get myself to call out to Jesus in the midst of my “sinking” feeling.   And then I see Him reach out and grab my hand and lift me out of the fear that is trying to take me under.   Every time He does this, there is a calm that comes to my soul.

In this instance with Peter, the “wind” and “waves” immediately stop when Jesus pulls him up out of the water.   In our lives the “wind” and “waves” on the outside may or may not stop when we call out to Jesus, but the wind and waves on the inside can always immediately stop!

We need to remember, too, that a little faith is all it takes to get out of the boat.   Jesus can take it the rest of way.  If our faith falters, Jesus can catch us.  He truly is the perfecter of our faith.

Jesus asks Peter why he doubted Him, as if to say, “You don’t have to doubt me for a single second.  I got you. My hand will always be here to save you.”

We can have full assurance that we CAN get out of the boat, and we CAN walk on the water.  And one day we may just walk for a long distance without sinking at all!  Hallelujah!

We have to believe that our day is coming soon to “walk on the water”.  For now, we may just need to be like the other disciples and start with the “be not afraid” part before we step out of the boat.  That’s okay if that’s where you are for now.

I’ve been one of the other disciples a lot in my life, but I would like to be like Peter, even if I start sinking sometimes.  How about you?!

You can get out of the boat. 

You can walk on water. 

 

 

Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman

Our Heart, His Heart


An excellent wife, who can find?  For her worth is far above jewels. 

Proverbs 31:10 NASB

“Excellent” in the Hebrew means strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army.   A woman of strength, might, efficiency, and wealth, who is strong like a member of an army is worth more than jewels or money.    If men would realize this, there would be a lot less choosing based on solely on looks, and a lot more choosing based on Godly character.   In God’s eyes I am a woman who is worth more than jewels or money.  Do you walk in the knowing that your Heavenly Father sees you as a gem?  

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  Psalm 139:14 NKJV

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

 Psalm 139:13  NKJV

[ The Redeemer of Israel ] But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.   Isaiah 43:1 NJKV 

Oh, Beloved, the Lord wants you to rest in this Truth.   He formed your inward parts.    He knows how to keep you well spirit, soul, and body.

 The heart of her husband trusts in her,  And he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil.  All the days of her life.  Proverbs 31 NASB

“Heart” in Hebrew is the inner man, mind, will, understanding, soul, and seat of courage.   Emotional and spiritual intimacy is implied here.   This is great to think about in terms of marriage, but as a single person, Jesus is our husband.

Do you connect with the heart and mind of God?  

Does God entrust to you the secrets of His heart?

Do you open up and really share your heart with God, too?

A man should be so relaxed and trust in his wife that he can share his hopes and dreams with her, and she should feel the same way about her husband. This is the same with our Husband Jesus.

Have you hidden any places from God?

Are you submerging any fears?

Are you trying to conquer something on our own, without letting Him in on it?

Intimacy is constant in-to-me-see.  It is a daily relationship.   It takes time.   It takes honesty.   It takes getting away from busyness and separate ourselves to be with our Lover, our husband, Jesus.  He wants to share the secrets of His heart with us.  He wants to share His vision for our lives to us.    He wants to be able to entrust precious promises to us and see us trust in Him so much that we are patient as He fulfills them.

A husband may quit sharing his hopes and dreams for the  future if the wife continuously questions and doubts that it can come to pass.  Your Husband wants to continue to shares His hopes and dreams for you with you.  If you have stopped dreaming of a bright future, and have lately been more focused on the negative circumstances of your life, then begin to be quiet more and listen to the heart of God.  

A confident woman is one who accepts the dreams that her Husband Jesus shares with her!    She longs to be with Him, to hear her Husband’s heart.   She wants to slow down and take the time to be with her Husband.  It is her priority.   Beloved, make your sharing your heart with Him a priority.  It will make all the difference in your life. You’ll never be the same.

 

Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman

Part 1: Speaking Like the Daughter of a King

          For so many years I have looked at Proverbs 31 as a chapter for married women.  Yes, it details the habits and character of a married woman.   However, this chapter contains so many qualities and character traits that single women can develop before marriage, so that when married, they will be already ahead of the game.  Moving from singleness to marriage ought not be a huge struggle for a woman who is allowing the Word of God to shape her character.   Whether you read this blog on your own, or go through it with a group of women, it is my hope that you directly apply this to your life.  Take time to journal and/or discuss with others.  As we begin, daughters of the King, let’s remember that if we have asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and surrendered our lives to Him, then we are already in covenant with the Lord and one with Him, in much the same way as a husband and wife are one.

 3“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.  Song of Solomon 6:3  (NASB)

4“He has brought me to his banquet hall,  And his banner over me is love.  Song of Solomon 2:4  (NASB)

5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you..  
Isaiah 62:5  (NASB)

          Let’s take a look at the first three verses of Proverbs 31:

1The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:

 2What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?

3Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.    Proverbs 31: 1 -3  (NASB)  

            In the first part of this chapter are some really strong words that most scholars believe are the words of King Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba.  They proceed the whole virtuous woman section.  Perhaps the purpose of these verses is to tell the virtuous woman for what type of man should be waiting, and define how she could be one who is worthy of being that man’s wife.  Solomon’s name was believed to be Lemuel.   This wise woman advises her son to stay away from selfish, ungodly women, and wisely choose a wife.  I can’t help thinking that I want to be chosen by a “king”, and I want to know what qualities “kings” look for in a woman they want to marry.  Also, what qualities can I teach the young women I encounter to seek after in their development into womanhood?  Some of these qualities are listed in these first few verses, and they come straight from the mouth of this wise woman.  

           Solomon’s mother’s first piece of advice is to make sure her son is aware that there are women who take the strength of men, instead of giving them strength.  Ouch!   I can be a woman who takes the strength of men!   I can be a woman who destroys the kingly qualities in a man.  Yikes!   How can I do that?!  I can manipulate and try to get my selfish way in situations where they should be leading.  I can demean men with words and comment negatively and disrespectfully on their leadership instead of humbly trying to help them improve. I can condescend men with my words behind their backs and in front of their face. Okay, I just stepped on my own toes.  Did I step on yours?

          There is nothing wrong with being a strong woman and having opinions, for I am one of those, but women can be masters of manipulation.   We can fling our own opinions and constantly wear our feelings on our sleeves in order to get our way and receive sympathy from men and others.   However, we can also gain the attention of men through humbly and respectfully leading.  We can express our opinions and kindly speak of things that we are discerning without condescending anyone in the process.    We can earn the respect of men and women, and instead of taking the life out of them, give life to them.   We must esteem others more highly than ourselves, both men and women.  

          In an earlier chapter in Proverbs, we see a warning about not ruling our own spirit.   

 28Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit.  Proverbs 25:28 
(NASB)

         Well, now! A city broken down without walls is a city open up to the destructive forces of the enemy.   It is wide open to be attacked by the enemy because it thinks it can handle protecting itself without any reinforcements.   We don’t “rule over” our own spirits when we don’t have control over our mouths.   Words that come out of our mouths are an indication of what is in our hearts.  They may be an indication of an attitude that says, “I don’t need God,” or “I know more than you,” or “I got my act together more than you do.”   When I become convicted in my heart that I might have said words that are harsh, I have to have a “come to Jesus” moment with myself and repent.  I evaluate what thought pattern I have been allowing that is causing me to speak that way.  I used to beat myself up a lot over any ugly words that came out of my mouth, but I’ve learned that God doesn’t want me to be under condemnation.  He loves me no matter how ugly my mouth can be at times.    The Holy Spirit is able to help me control my mouth.  Just sheer will-power is not going to do it.  I need Him, to help me keep the words of my mouth pure.    Ladies, He is so honored when we make the choice to repent and change our thinking.   That’s really what “repent” means anyway – “to change one’s thinking about a matter”.   He can help us change the bitter thoughts of our hearts and mouths, to be sweet like honeycomb.  

24Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (NASB)  

          People who use pleasant words that are sweet like honeycomb are not usually ever lacking for good friends and company.  People are drawn to us when we are full of life-giving words.   I am already a daughter of the King of Kings, so when I look at these qualities, I ask myself,  “Am I speaking and behavior like the daughter of a King?”  I would like to ask you the question, too.   Are there any ways that you respond to men that are destructive?  What attitudes of your heart have led to this kind of behavior?  We can give the Holy Spirit permission to help us with the words of our heart by listening to His still small voice on the inside. When Jesus ascended to heaven after He was resurrected, He sent the Holy Spirit to abide with us.   He is our Helper and will teach us all things, including how to speak like the daughter of a King.  It’s really not so hard to tame the tongue when you practice listening and obeying to the Spirit.    

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  John 14: 16 – 25 (NASB)