12 Days to a "Better Christmas" (Round 2)

As Christmas draws a bit closer and we start to anticipate the joy or for some the dread for gathering, let's focus on how we can make it our best Christmas yet by practicing the guidelines the Bible has laid out for us to go forth in peace and goodwill. Here are a few more topics we have covered on social media this week: 

Day 5 Self Control

Here is an excellent article on the topic from "Desiring God" by David Mathis who writes, "In Jesus, we have a source for true self-control far beyond that of our feeble selves." Our self control can produce an environment of safety, of trust, and of faith amongst our friends and family. Let's look to Jesus to help create that loving environment. How lovely would Christmas be if everyone knew they could trust you for a good time. 

Here are two more notable quotes from the article: 

“True self-control is not about bringing our selves under our own control, but under the power of Christ.”

“Christians can be the people on the planet most hopeful about growing in self-control.”

Day 10 Patience: 

A true story on patience...1 Samuel 13:8-14. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. 11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” 13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”

Do not fret. Have patience. Do not act out of fear or anger or your own selfish anxiety. Even if it is over a parking spot at the local mall...patience is a virtue and the key to a lovely Holiday. It will all work according to the Lord's will. 

Day 4 Joy

Sometimes it really is this simple: 

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, wonders of His love.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart
Prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Happy Holidays and let's get ready for the best Christmas yet. 

12 Days to a "Better Christmas" (Round 1)

The holidays can be a complicated and complex time for many. It is full of emotions, stress, joy, and even failure to connect or act out of kindness. We want to encourage all to embrace a "Better Christmas" this year by practicing 12 Days of Christ like behavior that will radically change how you treat others and how you treat yourself. Whether we are in a parking lot frustrated with another driver or dealing with a difficult family dynamic in desperate need of boundaries...lets start here...well, we started on Tuesday with Surrendering. 

Day 1  Surrender

Let's start here. Surrendering all to Jesus. It is His, all of it...and He gladly carries it for us. We need no longer to fret or worry about tomorrow. Give it up and He will renew you. Here is a famous hymn written in 1896 to remind us that in His presence we will daily live. What a relief. What a joy. What a gift...and it is not even Christmas yet. 

Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896

  1. All to Jesus I surrender,
    All to Him I freely give;
    I will ever love and trust Him,
    In His presence daily live.
    • Refrain:
      I surrender all,
      I surrender all;
      All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
      I surrender all.
  2. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Humbly at His feet I bow;
    Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
    Take me, Jesus, take me now.
  3. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
    Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
    Truly know that Thou art mine.
  4. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Lord, I give myself to Thee;
    Fill me with Thy love and power,
    Let Thy blessing fall on me.
  5. All to Jesus I surrender,
    Now I feel the sacred flame;
    Oh, the joy of full salvation!
    Glory, glory, to His Name!

Day 2 Gentleness

"To keep your attitudes and actions meek and gentle, you will need to swim upstream against the culture’s current of rudeness and roughness." Here is a great article on the topic. 

Go against the grain and watch your environment shift. Showing gentleness is not a weakness but a sign of great strength. Gain inner strength this season by showing gentleness instead of dismissive brutality. Your fellow man will not just appreciate it, but will most likely join you in your gentle spot. 

Day 3 Faithfulness

This is both an attitude & action shown toward God and toward others. When you are loyal and steadfast, your rewards are many. Gaining trust and showing love through faithfulness allows beautiful relationships to stay nourished and grow. What a lovely way to spend a "better Christmas" than knowing the gift of friendship will blossom in the new year to come because of faithfulness. 

Here is an in depth study on faithfulness

Til the next round! Keep practicing these traits for a "Better Christmas". 

 

 

Encouragement and Reflection

While we are busy with the holiday season sometimes it seems an impossible to time to stop and breathe and maybe, even perhaps realize how much we need the love and encouragement of Christ to keep moving forward. Yet as the year is coming to a close, this truly is the season to stop and soak up encouragement as we head full speed into the new year. We thought we would share some scripture here to encourage and cause reflection. We also look forward to this new year, your new year. 

Romans 8:1-2 NIV

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a]free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:35-39 (MSG)

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Galations 2:20 (NIV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galations 2:19-21 (MSG)

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Isaiah 44:22 (NIV)

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
    your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
    for I have redeemed you.”

Isaiah 44:21-23 (MSG)

“Remember these things, O Jacob.
    Take it seriously, Israel, that you’re my servant.
I made you, shaped you: You’re my servant.
    O Israel, I’ll never forget you.
I’ve wiped the slate of all your wrongdoings.
    There’s nothing left of your sins.
Come back to me, come back.
    I’ve redeemed you.”

23 High heavens, sing!
    God has done it.
Deep earth, shout!
    And you mountains, sing!
    A forest choir of oaks and pines and cedars!
God has redeemed Jacob.
    God’s glory is on display in Israel.

Lamentations 3:58 (NIV)

You, Lord, took up my case;
    you redeemed my life.

Matthew 9:36 (NIV) 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Emotions

We are in that season of the year where most Americans are wrapped up in emotions or strong feelings and yet so many of those same Americans are trying to ignore or even suppress these emotions. We are here to remind you that emotions and feelings are indicators that should not be ignored. Even our Creator had many of our same emotions and expressed them audibly and visually for others to witness (See Bible Versus Below.) All sorts of emotions (feelings) come to the surface during stressful and even joyous occasions depending on family life, financial situation, past relationships, or sordid decisions in past holiday seasons. We want to make sure you are taking time to consider what they mean and how you should manage them instead of ignoring, suppressing, or praying they just simply go away. We need emotions and are created to have them...

Like the dashboard on a car, our emotions are indicators, which tell us something about how we are operating and what we might need. How fast or how slow we are going in the wrong or right direction or perhaps there are holes in our tires and they need to replaced or patched. Our brain and our body has a dashboard with dials and gadgets and lights and needles to let us know what is going on internally. We must pay attention to our dashboard.

Indicators or feelings are not good or bad, but are pleasant and unpleasant. Again, we need to pay attention and do our best to understand why and how these emotions arise and how best to handle them when they do in order to have our engine running the best it can run. Being your own best version is managing your emotions and being clued in to when, why and how they are happening. We have the dashboard and we just need to watch the indicators. 

Please listen to the full show online when it is convenient for you! (Though we do recommend sooner rather than later.)

Lean into your emotions: Jesus did and so can you. 

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Mark 15:34 The Message (MSG)

 33-34At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o'clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

John 11:35 The Message (MSG)

34-35"Master, come and see," they said. Now Jesus wept.

Luke 22:44 The Message (MSG)

41-44He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

Luke 24:25 The Message (MSG)

25-27Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him

Mark 9:19 The Message (MSG)

 19-20Jesus said, "What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here." They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth. 

Mark 7:18

The Message (MSG)

 18-19Jesus said, "Are you being willfully stupid? Don't you see that what you swallow can't contaminate you? It doesn't enter your heart but your stomach, works its way through the intestines, and is finally flushed." (That took care of dietary quibbling; Jesus was saying that all foods are fit to eat.)

More on Thankfulness: Keep going.

As we venture deep into the month of November, which so many equate with a time for thankfulness and reflection, it is time to also be aware that it is not just cultural but Biblical. Why would God instruct us to be grateful?

Why would we not be grateful? This is a discipline, a discipline of our mind, our will, and our nature. We are hard wired by sin to complain, lament, bemoan, commiserate; regarding any circumstance we are experiencing. Even if we win the lottery we’ll complain about taxes and how many “new” friends we have.

The lead of Jesus was to thank his father daily, eventually even thankful for the “cup” that would not pass from his life. Imagine what our lives would be like (if they even were to exist) if we had a complaining Christ, a bitter Jesus? Let’s make this Thanksgiving a hallmark event in our life, a commitment to live differently, love differently, and think differently.

15. Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

16. Romans 1:21

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

6. Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Keep going...God has commanded us to do so. 

 

Thankfulness: Let's start now.

We know and understand biblically how vital a spirit of gratefulness is...and because God is so good, we now know from science that following God's commands to be grateful improves our lives ten fold. Here is an excerpt about Professor Robert Emmons of UC Davis: 

"Studies have shown that people who regularly practice feeling thankful have a leg up when it comes to their health. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, has been a leading researcher in this growing field, termed “positive psychology.” His research has found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” as a permanent state of mind experience many health benefits.

Emmons’ findings, along with those from other researchers such as Lisa Aspinwall, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, suggest that grateful people may be more likely to:

 Take better care of themselves physically and mentally

 Engage in more protective health behaviors and maintenance

 Get more regular exercise

 Eat a healthier diet

 Have improved mental alertness

 Schedule regular physical examinations with their doctor

 Cope better with stress and daily challenges

 Feel happier and more optimistic

 Avoid problematic physical symptoms

 Have stronger immune systems

 Maintain a brighter view of the future

With that list of benefits, who wouldn’t want to try it? To get started giving thanks, consider integrating some of the steps below into your daily life."

Sources: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/giving-thanks#54

Here are some verses to study as you contemplate your days and weeks ahead and how to start the pattern of true gratefulness: 

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Romans 1:21

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile

in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

We look forward to hearing about how a spirit of gratefulness has improved your health, relationships, and most importantly...your relationship with Christ. 

Listen on Sunday at 4PM MST @Faithtalk1360 as we discuss this topic and more. 

Generosity: Are you generous?

Let's make generosity simple, because it truly is...give what you have. If you have money-give it. If you have time-give it. If you can give approval, spread it around. If you can offer acceptance-offer it. If you can smile, you should. Say Thank you. Have patience. Be generous with your compliments. Its nothing more than giving...

The most powerful forms of generosity are usually practiced in our closest, most intimate relationships. It is here where we love generously, get over transgressions quickly, provide patience, accept someone where they are, pray for them instead of complain about them...we find mercy and compassion for their condition whatever it may be and we do it freely and willingly. While we are doing all things generously in our intimate relationships, we must remember to not use generosity as a tool of control, entitlement or reciprocation. Generosity is a Godly act and is act of love. Love them as God loves: without strings attached. Without expecting anything in return. 

Additionally, for those whom you are most generous and most concerned about in your "generosity circle", trust God is doing good work in them. Trust that God is for more concerned, more aware, and more committed to their behavior than you could ever be-be sure to address the plank in your own eye before addressing the splinter in theirs. Generosity is not about control or behavior modification, it is freely given out of love and service. 

We are discussing generosity in depth these next two weeks on Conversations with Cinthia. The first show in this series is airing this Sunday at 4PM MST on Faith Talk 1360. 

 

Part 2: Love A Man Well (Notes)

We wanted to share one portion from the copious notes and sessions Cinthia has shared on loving a man and the gender differences she sees in her practice. Here are some excerpts from her notes and we hope they will help you process why it is important from a woman to control how you communicate your emotions in your relationship with a man. Please listen to the radio show on Sunday on Faithtalk1360 4PM MST for more, but this might help set the stage for one important aspect of the broadcast. 

Here are the notes: 

Communicating Emotions: One of the things that comes naturally to women is how they express their emotions. When they talk to their girlfriends, women just have feelings, they’re big and perhaps kind of a dramatic, and in a passionate manner. Woman can even be somewhat reactionary. This is how I (Cinthia) am when I am speaking: You can really see things on my face. It comes really naturally to me to be really animated. I use my hands, I get tearful, my voice rises. I use lots of analogies; I’m really, really verbal; I talk really quickly and that doesn’t always go over well with men. I have to do things in order to moderate and adjust this. So I need to speak slower; I use less words; I take some time and am careful about how animated I am, and moderate intensity. There are a lot of feelings and they are often. 

Cinthia account: 

It’s so funny to me when I’m teaching women about men and I say to

them, ‘Do you understand that the scariest thing to a man is a woman’s

feelings?’ They will go to war, they will go to Afghanistan but they

won’t take on their wife having a "bad" feeling. Because they just don’t

know where it’s going to go. They don’t know how to fix it. They don’t

know what’s happening. It starts to then be about them and they are

not a good provider, a good husband, a good lover, a good friend, a

good father or whatever it is. It is very scary. Men come into my office

and they are white-faced because they know they are getting

something. Inevitably, it makes no difference. It cracks me up. A

couple will come into my office, sit down, and I will say, ‘Ok, How are

things?’ The man inevitably, always looks at the woman and says, ‘I

think we’re OK?’ Or he responds, ‘Are we OK?’ The woman will say,

‘Yeah, we are, we had a few little issues.’ then she’ll follow up with, ‘You know what I’m

talking about honey.’ And he’ll always respond, ‘I’m not sure’. This is because

(Thank the Lord) men are really hard-wired to forget. They don’t truly do not

remember. They don’t track information the way women track. Whereas, I can bring

something up from two years ago as a reference point for me as to

why I feel the way I feel today. I can say it to my friends, I can say it to

clients, I can say it to my husband, you know ‘this is why I’m so-and-

so, because when we did this and this at this restaurant...’ He will look

at me and go ‘What are you talking about? What?’

 

What women need to understand about men, when woman do that to a man: express emotions without processing and expect them to remember it all...it goes nuclear. If women do not present their emotions well, men feel totally bombarded. They feel ambushed. They are broad-sided out of left-field and they automatically think they are now in the one-man-down position. They don’t remember and do not have that in their little weaponry like women do. If women are not careful, it’s like a loaded gun. When explaining to men the reason women do this is that it creates an emotional reference point for them. That’s all women are doing. Some women bring it up to be accusatory and keeping score but what really is happening to women emotionally is they are building this emotional grid for themselves, so they can say, "wow, it’s like the same thing, the first time you brought me flowers I’ll never forget how I felt." The guy will be respond, ‘Oh, really, when did I do that?’ They just don’t register the information in the same way. They can feel really, really ambushed when women start bringing stuff up from the past because it is an immediate trigger "Oh no, I thought that was resolved and now I have a big emotional issue I’ve got to deal with. I thought we’d put that to rest but now she’s bringing it up again, re-igniting it again," And what a woman is saying to the man is not necessarily re-hashing it. A woman is trying to give a man a frame of reference as to why that was important to her and why the issue that’s happening today is making it harder for her. Because she remembers what happened to her a year and a half ago when they had that experience.

So, if a woman can give him a little frame of reference and say this is why we are talking about this, "I’m not trying to ambush you" or be honest and say , ‘Yeah, I faked you out. I told you it was resolved and I’ve been carrying it for a year and a half." Yet that is just mean and harmful to your relationship. Men do not do well with this and it is detrimental. Deal with the issue as it rises. Therefore, men start to act very afraid, thinking that they were ok and then finding out that we’re not ok...its a precipice of the unknown. They feel like the rug is pulled out from under them and they can’t trust anymore. So, it’s really important that women address men and are upfront, "Yes, this is resolved." If a woman brings it up in the future, it’s only as an example for why I feel the way I feel. It isn’t because it’s unresolved. If it’s not resolved, a woman really needs to be honest and communicate to the the man that "We probably can’t talk about this anymore but we will have to talk about it again because I’m not ok with "xyz" that occurred." Men are more literal, and compartmentalize, so they can be offended when I refer to the past as a way to explain the present. The past does not explain the present issue at hand. 

We would love to hear feedback and cannot wait for you to hear the show! 

 

Forgiveness: Part 2 It's Too Risky Not To

We know from science and Biblical law that the unforgiveness of others will develop into cancer and poisonous applications both literally and figuratively. Forgoing the forgiveness of others is a form of torture where we are lamenting and perhaps recreating offenses over and over instead of healing and moving forward mentally and spiritually. It is an extremely unhealthy preoccupation. It says in Matthew 18:23-25 that you (the one who does not forgive) will be turned to the torturers! Not only are we torturing ourselves but we will be turned thrown to them either way. Do we want to endure this cycle for our own pride? Our own sense of entitlement to lord over others? For our own pleasure? Is it really worth it? Is it working? Are you healing? 

Again, with the risk being so high physically, spiritually, and mentally is it worth the constant replay? Is begrudging someone feel like a win? Instead of the anguish, let us forgive as we have been forgiven and avoid the reality unforgiveness can cause. 

How do we then forgive? It is not always easy and perhaps we do not "want" to, but we must. WE simply must. It really can be done in 3 steps: 

1. We make the choice. We choose to forgive as we have been forgiven. If the "feeling" doesn't come, choose anyway. God promises to heal you and your heart. 

2. We depend on God to help us do it. He is always listening to our cries for help. 

3. We obey the Bible. 

Do this and you will be well. Do this and you will have peace. Listen to the show for more on this issue and a more in depth discussion.

 

The Ignatian Way: 5 Steps

There is a certain pattern or process of prayer that mainline Christians sometimes forget about or frankly, know nothing about that is used by our Catholic brethren...it is called the Ignatian Way or Ignatian Spirituality. St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits and some pray in the way that was taught and passed down through the Jesuit Brotherhood. While their are various sects and religious versions who follow this way exclusively, we thought it would be a good reminder and possibly a way to reboot your prayer life this week. 

"The most influential spiritual movement of the modern age is Ignatian spirituality, an approach to the spiritual life based on the insights of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatian spirituality teaches an active attentiveness to God joined with a prompt responsiveness to God, who is ever active in people's lives."

Our interpretation is to put yourself in the place of those saints in the Bible who suffered for his name sake and cried out in prayer. Daniel in the Lions Den, for example, and praying as if you were Daniel. It is powerful position of humility and trust. And then follow the process below. 

Here are the 5 steps of Ignatian Prayer: 

  • Recalling that one is in the holy presence of God
  • Thanking God for all the blessings one has received
  • Examining how one has lived his day
  • Asking God for forgiveness
  • Resolution and offering a prayer of hopeful recommitment

You can read more about St. Ignatius and be inspired. 

 

Forgiveness: Part 1 Are you Paco?

Here is an excerpt from a blog written by Duane Vander Klok for Walking by Faith

Ernest Hemingway’s short story about the broken relationship between a

Spanish father and his teenage son, Paco, highlights this desire.

Paco ran away from his home to Madrid, and his grieving father looked

everywhere for him. In desperation, the father placed an ad in the Madrid

newspaper that read,

“Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office tomorrow at noon. All is

forgiven. I love you.”

The next morning, 800 hopeful men named Paco were standing in front of the

newspaper office!

Are you Paco? Are you in desperate need of forgiveness? Does your heart ache for the relief? This process, a gift given to us ultimately through Christ, is a beautiful perfect gift that not only benefits the recipient but the person granting the forgiveness in a multitude of ways. 

But before we confirm whether or not you are Paco, let's get straight to the point: have you forgiven yourself through Christ who grants it to you freely without score? Without score, without holding onto hurt, and with your focus on letting go have you forgiven yourself? Do you have a willingness to forgive yourself to gain a long lasting internal peace. Is this you? Have you truly forgotten to forgive yourself? Paco's father may forgive him, but he must forgive himself in order to gain. 

Harboring unforgiveness in your heart weighs you down and takes up a large amount of precious real estate of your mental and emotional state. Your mental health, social health, emotional health, physical health all rely on your ability to forgive yourself. Christ has already forgiven you, its your turn. 

Boundaries: A reminder.

Airing our show from January again this past Sunday, it was meant to be a reminder on how vital boundaries are for ourselves and for those around us. It is imperative that healthy boundaries are a part of our every day decision making process. We highly recommend listening to the show on our radio page. 

One thing in particular, we wanted to extract here is the importance of not just setting our own boundaries, but the importance of respecting the boundaries of others. Boundaries are foundational and all encompassing and they aren't just about protecting us, me, ourselves. Whether it is a spouse, a family member, or even a co-worker, are you practicing simply this:  "What you value, I will respect."  Even if you don't agree with someone's values, respecting them and their values is a healthy necessary boundary in relationships and can help a relationship grow and flourish. 

Again, ask yourself : Am I ignoring others requests? Am I punishing someone for their choices because they are not my own? Am I imposing unnecessarily? Am I respecting and/or accepting someone's "No"? Whether I like it or not? Boundaries are respecting the self will and choice of others, just as God accepts ours. Boundaries are in word and in action. Start practicing boundaries today by respecting those around you by respecting their value choices and decisions. 

All the details and more are in woven into the show. Let us know if you need anything further on the topic. Connect with us anytime. 

 

Cohabitation: Adult Children at Home

We wanted to share a few notes before Fall and now that school is in full swing around the country about adult children living at home. It is the start of a new era of adult children living at home and sometimes without the intention of moving out. "Launching" your children as really changed this last decade, the world is a very different place. You are not alone in raising adult children at home. 

We wanted to talk about how that might impact your home and your new role in parenting. But most importantly, we wanted to emphasize how you are never done parenting and your life is forever an example for children into their adulthood. How you live in your 50's, 60's, 70's, onward is an example of how to live in each of those stages to your children as they approach those years in their own lives. How are did you handle your marriage? Tragedy? Change? Boundaries? Victories? The journey never ends. 

Listen to the show for a full discussion on parenting when adult offspring are living at home. If you have any questions or need further resources. Please connect with us any time. 

 

 

Invisible Wounds - Melinda Means

This past Sunday, Melinda Means the author of Invisible Wounds, was on air with us discussing her book and her own journey with chronic illness. We were enlightened and encouraged by her story. Her journey to disclose her illness but not wanting her illness to become her identity is discussed on the show. While some of her fears became a reality once she did share, the outcome of her disclosing her illness has outweighed those fears. She shares it has been priceless to be free by being open and not being isolated and alone anymore with her "secret" and "pain". 

We were encouraged by her sharing and wanting to bring light into the dark places. Isolation and darkness is where fellow believers and Christ are able to shine and deliver. Please share where you are and be prepared for healing to take place when you seek out Biblical light. 

Melinda shares in the segment this: "God even if you don't heal me and I am still going to love you and serve you..." because He has a plan for your "little light to shine". Listen to the second half of the show to hear more. www.conversationswithcinthia.com/radio

We also love this quote from her: "Embrace the race you've been given." -Melinda Means. 

Visit www.melindameans.com for more. 

 

Notes: Loving the Unlovable and Agape Love

Here are some notes to accompany the radio broadcast, Conversations with Cinthia on FaithTalk1360, where we discussed loving the difficult and unlovable people in our ives on Sunday. Whether they are a family member, a friend, or a politician on the screen during this heated election cycle "Agape Love" is something we need to embrace and practice on a daily basis. 

What is agape love? 

The Greek word agape is often translated as simply the word "love" in the New Testament. So how then is "agape love" different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Unlike our English word “love,” agape is not used in the Bible to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Nor does agape mean charity, a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin. Agape is truly sacrifice. 

Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character. Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The Apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. But it is important to remember that God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to beloved, but because it is His nature to do so, and He must be true to His nature and character. God’s love is displayed most clearly at the Cross, where Christ died for the unworthy creatures who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The object of agape love never does anything to merit His love. We are the undeserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son into the world to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and to provide eternal life to those He sought and saved. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves.

In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially. A good example of Agape Love is the Good Samaritan. Remember to use this proverb and truth when dealing with those you feel are difficult in your lives. You are to practice "agape love". We do not know someone's story, sin, or struggle, but we what we do know is how Christ, who is love in and through us, practices complete sacrificial love and we are to do the same. Pour out His sacrificial love and drown others in it...whether we believe they deserve it or not. 

 

Welcome to the New Site Blog: Conversations with Cinthia

We are so excited to have our site up and ready for action. Our blog will now be updated regularly and we are looking forward to interacting with everyone who visits and hoping you stay for awhile. More importantly, we are hoping and praying that the messages here on the blog and the messages broadcasted on our radio show (which you can listen to here on our site!) will be encouraging and be the cause of true love in your life. 

We are also excited to be working on a new book! We are hoping to have it out soon and it will touch on so many topics here including gender roles. Anything you absolutely need to know? Drop us a line and let us know. If it doesn't make the cut in the book, it might be a topic we cover here on the blog. 

Additionally, we are engaging with friends through speaking engagements locally and globally. It never ceases to amaze me how many people crave the truth and are eager to learn and how much more there is to write and say about it all. If you are interested in having a speaker or training for your next event/retreat/training we are eager here to start that conversation. Please connect with us here

If you have any feedback or need any more information about radio, speaking engagements, or counseling services please connect with us at anytime. 

I Want To Know What Love Is

All you have to do is listen to the radio for a few minutes to get the sense that love is central to our human experience. Whether you listen to country western, rock, or pop music, singers always croon about the love they feel, the love they lost, or the love they hope will come about. I think of songs like “Always and Forever,” “When Will I Be Loved?” “Endless Love,” and “All You Need is Love,” but there are thousands more. If you’ve ever listened to a favorite love song over and over after a break up, you know what I’m talking about! Love is powerful. The other day I heard the song, “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner, and it got me thinking. There are people who come and go through my offices every day that would love to know the answer to that question, because love is really what it’s all about. It’s why we’re here, it’s what motivates us to get up every morning, it’s the thing that we crave for ourselves and those around us.

Since love is so  important, it is no surprise that there are hundreds of biblical references for what love does and what it is made to do. Depending on the version you use, the average use of the word “love” in the Bible is 588.7 times! And that doesn’t even include variations of the word, such as “loving” or “loved.” But you get the point. Love is central to our human experience, and it is first and foremost on God’s mind when He created us.

Love is the most paramount, the most important, the most salient, the most enduring thing on this earth. Yet the hardest part for us as humans is to know how to love and love well. Loving well must be preceded by knowing what love actually is. Is it this idyllic, sentimental, and often sexual thing that the world shows us, or is it something more? Unfortunately, as you already know, the world falls very short of knowing how to love well. On the contrary, the world is marketing it, replacing it, selling it, exploiting it, and misrepresenting it.

What really is this thing called love?

The bottom line is that we can only know what true love is when we go to the one who IS love. God is love (1 John 4:8). Because He is all truth, we can find and actually experience true love only through him.

And who better to tell us how to love and love well than the One Who Is Love?

We can read in His Word that love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). In the preceding verses, we learn that love is patient, love is kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

That’s the kind of love that we need to practice on both ourselves and those around us.

We can see this kind of love demonstrated by the love of a parent, or a friend that sticks closer than a brother, a spouse that loves for richer for poorer and in sickness or health. That is the kind of love that mirrors the love of God, that causes growth, the kind of love that truly endures.

What else does the Bible say about love?

Our love as Christians is to be both a response to God’s love and a reflection of His love. We see this admonition in the entire Chapter of Roman 12, where he talks about being a living sacrifice (12:1-2), humble service in the Body of Christ (12:3-8), and love in action (12:9-21). These scriptures remind us to be sincere in our love, to be devoted to one another, to honor others above ourselves, to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction, to help those in need.

The Bible uses three different Greek words for love: agape, eros, and phileo. 

Stay with me here—I know you’ve probably heard about these three types of love before, but I think the following explanation and/or application may be a different than what you’ve heard.

The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. God does not merely love; He is love itself. Yet God’s love is not a sappy, sentimental love such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. God loves because He is love, He loves without condition or expectation simply because He is love, it’s like breathing for Him. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely, and His love is displayed most clearly at the cross, where Christ died for the unlovely and unworthy. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for those He loves. In the same way, we are to love others sacrificially, we are to love because “love” lives in us, we are to be love to those around us because we have in us the One who is true love.

Jesus gave the parable of the Good Samaritan as an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us, or even hate us, as the Jews did the Samaritans. Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will. But this type of love does not come naturally to humans. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another.

The second Greek word for love is phileo. This word speaks more of the warm affection shared between family or friends and can be more associated w ith the emotions or the heart. We feel love for our friends and family, a love that motivates us to want to treat them kindly and help them succeed.sacrificial love

The final Greek word for love, or eros, is where we get the English word erotic. Eros is the word used to express sexual love or the feelings of arousal that are shared between people who are physically attracted to one another.

All three types of love—agape, phileo, and eros—should part of the perfect godly expression of love for our spouse. All three work together to help us grow and make true love deposits, just like a bank, into each other’s lives. We will obviously not love everyone with eros; we can, but we should, we need to, and we must love others with agape and phileo love because it’s a commandment. 

If I am to love effectively, and deeply as God loves, I MUST begin accepting God’s love toward myself so that I have it to give to others. Because the love from God is sustainable, I can continue to love well; furthermore it is authentic, which enables me to love others authentically and with wisdom because God knows better how they need to be loved than I do. 

How do I love God, myself, and His people? 

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Think about your heart as a home. That’s where you live, that’s where God lives with you. We are born with the need for love; in fact, without it, we will die. The term for this is “failure to thrive,” when babies who are not seen or cared for and not shown love, they fail to thrive even if all of their physical needs are met perfectly. Everyone around us is born with that same need for love.

Because we’re made in the image of God, we have an inborn capacity to love. We need to take this inborn capacity to love and use that desire to receive true love from God then recycle it to others. We don’t create it—we get this from God.

I like to talk to my clients about emotional bank accounts, which other people can withdraw from or deposit into as we walk through life. One of the things we get from God is continual emotional deposits. It’s like a recurring deposit that we don’t even have to think about. The more I deposit into other people, the more God fills my emotional bank account back up with love so that it can continue to be withdrawn.

But I need to be monitoring my emotional bank account and realize that I control the deposits and withdrawals, not other people. First and foremost, I have to be practicing receiving God’s love, otherwise I will have nothing to give. We also need to be wisely managing on our account. The way I imagine this is through one of those trial subscriptions that cost only $2.99 for the trial, then hit you with a $49.99 charge after the trial ends. You’ve been there, right? (I can’t be the only one!) We have to be aware of those small withdrawals that can turn into big ones if we’re not paying attention. That’s what happens when we don’t manage our own bank account.

How do you like it when you deposit something and they attach a fee to it? No one likes that.

We need to ask ourselves, “How can I make deposits of love to those in my life?” I want to continue to deposit love into that friend’s life so that when they go out into the world and have hardship, they have those reserves to draw from. I do this with my friends, my spouse, and my children. We also need to evaluate our own internal homes and know if we are prepared for the outside world that may hurt us or abuse us or worse. We, too, need that reserve of love to manage the world outside of us that offers very little love.

How do I love God, myself, and His people? 

I care about what God cares about, and I care for what God cares for.

If those last two sentences are all you take from this blog, that’s enough.

They are that important.

Love is feeling and intention put into action. I need to honor my master, to care for what he cares for, to care about what he cares about. That means all people, and that also means me! The correct order for love is receiving love from the One who is love, experiencing that love, loving Him back, and as I learn what love is, and how God loves, then I am able to care for me and to love others well. 

Notice I said “care for me.” This is so important, so don’t miss it. If I allow for abuse in my inner home, in my internal world, how am I prepared for the world of abuse and heartache outside of me? Caring for myself is an act of love, it is sacrificial. I don’t know about you, but I know it’s sacrificial to me because I just don’t want to do it.

The next step from sacrificial love is phileo love, and He wants me to be friends with myself. I accept myself as a friend. I’m with myself 24/7 and don’t want to be my own enemy.

We are so valuable to God, and through Him we have tremendous and inexhaustible resources. Again, I need to honor my master, to care for what he cares for, and to care about what he cares about. That means all people, and that means me.

Yet love sometimes hurts. True love, the kind that drove Christ to die on the cross for us, will hurt at times. Love hurt him, scarred him, wounded him, and marred him. However, the hurt that is true always produces fruit and growth. Hurt resulting from dysfunction, foolishness, selfishness, and narcissism only injures and harms. True love, real love, always produces fruit and growth, even if there is hurt, because love never fails.

In order to discover to true nature of love, we need to go to the source of that love and fill up our inner homes with His deposits of love. Then and only then are we capable of filling up the love deposits of others.

Only then we love our neighbors as ourselves.

Only then can we care about what God cares about and care for what God cares for.

Only then will we be true reflections of God’s love.

Only then will we be able to know love and to love well.

And that’s the kind of love I want to know.

Stop Trying So Hard - You Are Already Worth More Than You Think

Have you ever felt “less than” or not enough? Do you feel as if you will never meet the expectations of those around you? Are you constantly striving, exhausted, always living the “if only, then…” way: If only I achieved success, got that promotion, reached my goal weight, found love, etc., then I would be valued, worthy, good enough. Are you kidding?  you are thinking to yourself, I think those thoughts all the time!

We all do. Those thoughts certainly haunted me throughout most of my adolescence and young adult life. Being adopted, I always had this feeling that I was not good enough and had to prove that I was worthy of love and acceptance. Yet all of that striving and trying to be “enough” on my own led absolutely nowhere. I was on a spinning wheel of trying to measure up to the world’s system of valuing performance-oriented behavior, a system that requires you to show people who you are and what you can do in order to convince them of your value. 

I have to have the right kind of job.

I have to look a certain way.

I have to drive the right kind of car.

I have to build the illusion that I have it all together.

It’s deceptive because, for a while, you feel as if you are successful and valued on the outside. You feed on the accolades and the compliments and the measuring sticks of your success, but it’s never enough. In truth, “performance-oriented behavior” is a trap that keeps genuine fulfillment just out of your reach.

I experienced some outward success in my younger years but struggled with stress and disillusionment. The fruits of my performance-oriented behavior, though nicely dressed with the trappings of success, were not fulfilling. I was left feeling more driven by anxiety and compulsion, immeasurably worse off than when I had begun. I felt lost and very far away from my purpose.

I had finally reached the end of my own abilities. I stepped off the spinning wheel and took one step back to God. After running from Him for so long, I offered up my life, not even sure it was worth anything to Him. It felt so small, messy, imperfect, and unworthy. Surely I had messed up my life and purpose with my own efforts. I couldn’t comprehend that it was me that was of enormous value to God.

The moment I realized my value is when everything changed.

It turned my world upside down. As I began to comprehend my value, I came to understand how God thought about me. He chose to create me; and He chose to create you! In Psalm 139, we see David beautifully depict God’s ever-present interest in us. He searches us out and knows us, He sees our every action and lovingly created our innermost beings. He chose us. David exclaims in Psalm 139:6 that “such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” We are incredibly loved and valued.

Choice is one of the biggest components in love. It’s easy to feel love, but it’s another thing entirely to choose to love. From love comes the subsequent valuing of something or someone. God thought about us, wanted us, chose us, and acted upon that choice. There is great value in this understanding. The valuing of something is always indicative of the effort, time, and sacrifice, the price applied, the belonging to, and the determination to be sought out and acquired.

God thought about you, chose you, and wanted you! Just let that sink in for a moment.

Yet there is an even greater truth about His love. We have guaranteed value to Him—value that cannot be earned or revoked. The words guaranteed and value touch on the idea that humans have two very important emotional and psychological needs: 1) to feel they are important, special, that they have worth (value), and 2) to be able to depend on these feelings as true (guaranteed, security). This is why God reiterates over and over again throughout the Bible how very valuable we are, that we have great worth, and furthermore, that we can believe this with complete confidence.

On the contrary, our world establishes value based on what you do, who you know, how you look, what you own, or how much money you have and that value can fluctuate as easily as the stock market changes from day to day. God’s economy doesn’t work that way! He created us and knew before the beginning of time what purpose He had for us. He was willing to put in the effort to bring His vision to completion, to commit to the process, to know there was a diamond in the rough of great value. He is not depending on us to ensure our own value—the Creator, the Purchaser, the Committed One determines the value of the object. I am reminded of Philippians 1:6, that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (NIV). When He thought us and bought us, He knew what he was getting into with us. What a relief! We can relax and simply follow Him, trusting that He will complete the work in us.

God is not fixing us up to make us valuable; he is fixing us up because we are so valuable.

As we begin to fully understand WHO establishes our value—our God and Creator—we know that nothing else matters as far as our true value is concerned. Our value is intrinsic. It does not come from anything we can do or create. It originates from our Creator. We are made in the image of God, which instills value in and of itself.

I love to use the analogy of a $100 bill. If I were to give you a crumpled-up hundred-dollar bill, would you still take it? Of course! What if I gave you a $100 bill that had been in the parking lot, stepped on, stuck with chewing up gum—would you still see the value in it? What if that same $100 bill was in a dumpster, would you search for it? I don't know about you, but I would put plastic gloves on and get busy looking!  Because no matter where that hundred-dollar bill has been, no matter what filth it has on it, no matter how many times it has been crumpled up, it's still worth $100!

And the same is true of our value to God.

Like the $100 bill, we cannot do anything to decrease or increase our own value. We have guaranteed value because God values us. It does not depend on us!! Let’s say that again!  We can rest and depend on the fact that He values us, therefore we are valuable. It is guaranteed.

Though we sin, our mistakes and blunders are seen through the eyes of love, attachment, and belonging. Our sin, though grievous to Him because he knows its consequences, is not reflective of our value, or our own authenticity, or why we were made. Think of the $100 bill again. Even if it had been used to purchase drugs or some other nefarious purpose, that transaction doesn’t devalue the $100 bill. It’s simply not being used for its highest, greatest good. It is the same with us and our value when we stumble. Our sin does not affect our value or His love for us; it only increases His sorrow.

If you ever question your value (and we know we all do), please know that at your worst, Christ died for you. Before you even knew you needed Him, before you even knew He wanted you, He valued you.

Romans 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Even when we were nothing, in terms of the world’s version of value, we were valued by our Creator. Before the world ever saw our value or acknowledged our worth, we were valued. Before we even knew Him, He valued us beyond measure. We were valued just as sunken treasure, or searching for a gold mine. He knew (and knows) our worth and works relentlessly to show our true value. As Romans 5:8 relates, even when we were at our worst with absolutely nothing to offer of value, Christ died for us. 

Wow. 

This truth about guaranteed value is revolutionary and so counter-culture. It is utterly inconceivable to our human minds that someone would love us in that state. But to die for us? Unimaginable.

Even in my darkest hour, when I felt I had absolutely nothing to offer Him, God scooped me up and called me “valued.” He took all my plans and missteps and striving and redeemed me with His love. He showed me that I was His child, bought and paid for with the sacrifice of His Son. I didn’t need to do anything to earn His love. Because I was His child, I had intrinsic value.

God was and is enough.

I was and I am good enough.

God wants us to move the knowledge of His love for us from our heads to our hearts so that we assimilate it into our identity. If the intellectual truth becomes integrated into our heart, then we can access it now—it makes sense. When it comes to my value I need to accept it the same way that I accept that Christ died for me and that Jesus is who He says He is. This is not easy, however. We as Christians can accept that Jesus is the son of God, rose from the dead, resides in Heaven, and lives in our hearts, yet we can still struggle with believing we are valuable.

We must accept that we are sinners who are highly valued by God and in need of a Savior.

As a result, we need to realize and accept: “I cannot regain what I have not lost.” We can feel devalued because of our behaviors, but our value to God cannot be altered. Regardless of how unlovely, how unworthy, how invaluable we feel, we must respond to the truth of God who says we are highly valued and very precious in His sight.

We must believe and internalize this truth about God’s guaranteed value of us, regardless of our sin or failures or feelings of unworthiness. Feelings should not be indicators of our value. I like to say it this way: “Feelings are very real, but not always true.” This insight revolutionized my life. When we feel condemnation, false guilt, toxic shame, we need to remember Scripture. We need to be reminded that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). God will never condemn His children; He corrects, He chastises, and He disciplines, but He never causes any child of His to feel despondent, alone, gross, unlovable, unwanted, or beyond help. The conviction of Scripture always produces life, not death or darkness. When the enemy wants to devalue your very existence by pointing out your sins and shortcomings, you need to refute it with the truth that you were so highly valued that God Himself died in your place.

When we let go of the lies and the feelings of “not good enough” and embrace the truth of God’s value for us and our redemption through Jesus Christ, we take a step toward living in His abundant grace.           

I encourage you to take a step of faith today, just like I did, believing the One who created you and values you. Allow God to scoop you up and call you “valued one.” Accept that He values you regardless of your behavior. Accept that God values you even if you don’t feel it or comprehend it. Remember, even when we didn't belong to Him or choose Him, He loved us and died for us all.  This is the proof of our inherent value.

It’s guaranteed, and on that you can depend! 

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. —Ephesians 2:8-10

More Than Just a Wedding: Family Issues, Gender Differences, and a Much-Needed Miracle

I recently was given the pleasure, as well as the honor, of officiating my niece’s wedding in Austin, Texas in the beginning of May 2015. What a beautiful place! In the message portion of the wedding ceremony, I expanded on the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. It is one of those well-known and oft-recited miracles in the Bible, but it took on a completely new meaning for me recently. One that rocked my world. Two things struck me like a flash of light . . . The first miracle ever performed by Jesus was for family. Not only for family was it done, but it was done at the request of a family member, for a family member. Let us not overlook that Jesus initially said no, and then relented (this will be important later). Secondly, I saw the interaction Jesus [as a man] had with a woman. The gender implications were huge, amazing, curious, interesting, and quite humorous the deeper I examined and imagined how the scene might play out.

Can you imagine Jesus at your family gathering? How would He act? What would He say? Would He keep to himself or draw people to interaction and relationship?

At the Wedding in Cana, we get a glimpse of Jesus (who we know is still God) being a human mortal man, interacting with the mortal woman Mary. We see Jesus as a good, mortal human man in an everyday setting. When he showed up, He was not acting as Messiah or in any divine capacity. It was not yet His time. Yet we see Him as this perfect example of a human man when responding to gender differences.

We can also see a poignant, intimate moment as Jesus behaves as a mortal man in a family interaction. Once His ministry is in full swing, we rarely see Jesus as anything but the Son of God. What a rarity in the gospel that we get to see this moment. Before revealing His divinity, He was perfect as a mortal man. At the wedding in Cana He is the Son of God but also the son of Mary. This family moment gives us a rare glimpse into Jesus as a man, a son, and as a God who loves. We can glean so very much from this small interaction.

Let’s read the story as if we were there. This event is an enduring one in the lives of humans. Weddings have been happening since long before Jesus came and will continue through the end of time—with the biggest wedding feast of all! This wedding in Cana is about the most human event He could participate in, and it is about as human as we will see Jesus. He and His friends (disciples) were simply attending a wedding as guests. Nothing more. He does not reveal His divinity until the end of the story.

John 2:1-11 states that when the party ran out of wine, Jesus’s mother (unnamed in John’s Gospel) told Jesus, “They have no wine,” and Jesus replied, “O Woman, what has this to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother then said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:3-5). Jesus ordered the servants to fill containers with water and to draw out some and take it to the chief steward. After tasting it, without knowing where it came from, the steward remarked to the bridegroom that he had departed from the custom of serving the best wine first by serving it last (John 2:6-10). John adds that “Jesus did this, the first of His signs, in Cana of Galilee and it revealed His glory and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:11).”

Let’s look at different translations to get a deeper, broader, and more intimate look at this interaction. I like to look at several translations, particularly for this one, as a way to hear the tone, the implicit emotions, and tenor of this particularly special, and very “telling,” moment in time.

In the Voice, Jesus says, “Dear woman, is it our problem they miscalculated when buying wine and inviting guests? My time has not arrived.” In the Message, He says, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.” The Living Bible: “I can’t help you now. It isn’t yet my time for miracles.” The Good News Translation: “You must not tell me what to do,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” New International Version:  “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” New King James Version: “Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”

The first revelation about this story? It was all about family.

We see in this reading that the first miracle God performed on earth was for a family situation, in a family, and for a family. God loves families, and we are His family. What we see in the story of Cana is that Mary had a need, and to her it was significant! She needed a miracle; if Jesus didn’t do something, it wouldn’t get done. Families are extremely important to God, and we are His family. He is willing and wanting to perform miracles in our families and our lives.

Yet Jesus did not initially want to do anything about the problem. Jesus said, “What concern is this of mine?” Maybe it wasn’t a concern of his, maybe he was looking at the bigger picture, and the need for wine was insignificant in the bigger picture, but is was very important, very significant to Mary, and so she went to the one person who could make it happen.

The directive here for us is this: We need to go to the one person that can make what “we think” is significant happen, and to believe that it is significant to Him. Go to the one person that has the ability to make happen what we need to have happen.

Why? Because we are his family, and He loves family.

Another revelation? Jesus modeled the perfect role of human man.

 This interaction was a unique glimpse into Jesus as a man. His statement, “This is no concern of mine,” reveals that He was not worried about the wine running out. He didn’t see the need and wasn’t pulled by the concern, but He did fulfill the need.

This was Him being the perfect man, because He was hardwired as a human man. Men, in their hardwiring, do not pick up globally on concerns the way women do. Their brains are constantly scanning for danger rather than relational or inter-personal problems. Woman are community-minded. Men are not. When Mary came to Him with her concern, He opened that box and made her concern His because she cared about it. Jesus was showing a gender difference, yet He showed it perfectly.

Mary trusted Him to take care of it or to let it go. She wasn’t going to fight it or contend, but she just wanted to let him know. She was willing to let it NOT happen as well. It was Jesus’s choice. He was not bullied, nagged, or provoked into action. He had Mary’s trust. No bargaining involved. No manipulation.

Jesus understood that the wine problem was of great concern to her, it mattered to her, so He made it His concern! Not only did He make it His concern, but He did more for her than she asked. He didn’t talk her out of the need, or belittle the need, or do it begrudgingly, but He gave her more wine than she needed and created wine that was of the highest quality.

This is Jesus role modeling for men; it is a lesson for men. There are many things that are of no concern to men, but are of GREAT concern to the women in your life. Jesus is considered the groom, and we are the bride. Men, if it concerns her, it needs to concern you. If she comes to you with a concern, and it doesn’t concern you, you need to make it your concern and help her.

Jesus helped Mary. He entered into her life and made her life important to Him; He helped her in what she was trying to achieve. Jesus was acting in the capacity of a good mortal man as He led and protected and provided for Mary. Men, for the women in your lives—you are the leader, the protector, the provider, the covering—all in varying degrees. . . follow the lead of your Savior and help her. You can be a good mortal man.

In the same way, we as women need to go the men in our lives and not expect them to always know what concerns us, or is important to us, or to even understand why it’s important to us. Furthermore, we shouldn’t be so easily offended or judgmental when they don’t understand or notice the things that we deem important. We must not attribute a negative character quality to a man simply because they don’t understand the importance of what we saw.

Mary didn’t get offended when Jesus said to her, “What concern is this of mine?” She simply stated her concern, and said to the head servant, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” She trusted who He was, and He didn’t let her down!  We can follow the example of Mary and be good mortal women and not complicate things unnecessarily.

Many times, we as women ask for help and then help the men in our lives help us! In the same way, how many times do we ask for God’s help and then “help” Him, and tell Him what to do for us? We are all guilty of this at one time or another.

However, Mary didn’t say, “It’s just not working; fix it,” or “I need beverages,” and then expect Jesus to know what type of beverage. He may have initially objected because it was not yet His time, but He did what she asked. And what is even more remarkable is that He went above and beyond what she what she requested, making it better and more impressive than she could have imagined! He did MORE than what she asked, immeasurably more (Ephesians 3:20).

This is love.

She made her request known, specifically known, and then believed in both His willingness and ability to do it. It was odd that she would go to Jesus for this concern, but she went to Him because she knew He was able to do it. Then He told the servants what to do.

When we go to Him first, He directs His servants in what to do.

Another revelation? We need to go to the One who can truly understand and address our concerns.

This is so, so important for us to understand. When we have a need or concern or problem, we must go to the one person that will make what we think is significant, significant to Him. Go to the one person that has the ability to make what we need to have happen, happen.

Jesus’s miracle—that came about before His time—met and even exceeded Mary’s need. He made her look good in front of everyone she cared about in her community, even though that was not her intention. She simply saw a need. Imagine how proud she was of her son as He stepped in and took on her concern. The abundant overflow of Jesus being a good man was how really good Mary must have looked when she was able to deliver the best wine at the end of the wedding celebration. His first miracle was one of excellence and abundance, which truly reveals the heart of God!

one_personGod wants to do immeasurably more than you can ask or imagine. You simply need to let your concerns be known and trust Him with the rest.

“Do whatever He tells you.” Make your concerns known to God, then believe that He will direct His servants to address your concerns, just as He did at Cana.

Ask for the miracle, and trust that He knows what you really need.

Family is important to God, and you are His family!