#3 Free from Fear

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There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

– 1 John 4:18

Fire and brimstone – scorching language used as fear mongering tools for so long by preachers to instill fear into people’s hearts, driving them toward a religion twisted by guilt. Today, we’ve mostly left the hotbed of angry, condemning religion, but for many fear and guilt remain, whether as whispers of smoke in our souls, burned there from a dispirited youth in the church, or soldered into our hearts through experiences that have left us burned.

But what if true religion isn’t about shame and fright? What if it speaks something quite the opposite to us – that we are free from all that which weighs us down?

The world can be frightening. Depression, loneliness, judgment, violence – all these can invade our lives and make the very act of living difficult, impossible even. But in this, there is always hope, in the arms of one who has been there and suffered it all for our sake, and in whose perfect love there is no fear.

Pray | Come to God about those things that haunt you – the specters of abuse, neglect or anything else – and ask him to help you depend on his love in overcoming the pain

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: 1 John 1:5 / 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 / Psalms 23:4 / Deuteronomy 31:6 / Isaiah 41:10

Act | Accept your flaws and imperfections, making a step toward accepting forgiveness and mercy from a loving God

#2 Returning Love

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You took the broken pieces, and made them whole.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

– Ephesians 2:8

Romantic relationships sometimes feel like purchasing a product.  If the item is broken, or not as advertised, or fails to live up to our expectations in any way, we return it and get our money back.  When a problem occurs during dating, we might consider “returning” our mate and starting again.  The more difficult the issue or the more issues there are, the more likely we are to call it quits and say, “this transaction just didn’t work out.”

Unfortunately, this idea extends beyond dating.  Cohabitation, marriage, friendship, and even family can break down when people disappoint, hurt, and otherwise fail to meet expectations.  And what happens when we’re treated like a purchase?  When we’re dumped, passed over for a promotion, or ignored by friends, as if we don’t matter?  It’s painful to be on the receiving end because it makes us feel like a defective product.  Who could love me?

Real love is not a transaction.  It’s not “I’ll give you this if you give me that.”  Instead, it’s about loving a person for who they are, no matter the circumstances and at great personal expense.  Scripture tells us that this is how God approaches His relationship with us.  Even though we failed Him, over and over again, He loves us to the utmost expense, to the point where He came to die in our place.  God bought us, defects and all, but decided this: He’ll keep and treasure us forever.

Pray | Tell God about the broken relationships in your life and thank him for his enduring love for you
Read | Read and meditate on these verses this week: Zephaniah 3:14-17 / Psalms 86:15 / Romans 8:37-39 / Luke 12:6-7 / Ephesians 2:4-10
Act | Take a step toward healing a broken relationship this week through a message, phone call, or something more

#1 Imperfect Love

 

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we are bits and pieces of imperfect love

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:38-39

A happy nervousness.  An electric energy.  Non-stop smiling.  All relationships start the same way, with a forever kind of hopefulness.  But ultimately, they almost all devolve into something unrecognizable, transformed by hurt, pain, anger, or disinterest.

How have you acted in your relationships with others?  When things go awry, do you blame them?  Or do you share some of the fault?

Because we’re human, because we’re imperfect, our relationships are all destined to contain some brokenness.  We disappoint those we’re closest to, again and again and again.  But there is one model of perfect love, of an epic kind of love that never fails, for this lover will never stop reaching out to us and will always be there to put together the bits and pieces of our imperfect selves.  And his love is everything we need.

Pray | Tell God about the kind of love you seek – from a bf/gf, parents, or friends – and then honestly talk to him about how well you’ve loved him
Read | Read and meditates on these verses this week: Romans 8:38-39 / I Corinthians 13:4-8 / I Peter 4:8 / I John 4:16-18 / Deuteronomy 10:12
Act | Work on forgiving others for the hurt they’ve caused you, knowing that we also pain others – God most of all

Welcome + Love

The moon, the stars, the mountains and seas – the world is full of beauty and wonder.  Humanity, the crowning jewel of this allure, with intellect and the ability to do wondrous deeds, is also capable of violence, hatred, and apathy.  Within our own souls, we see the possibility of doing endless good, but war with our selfish desires and with painful pasts (and presents) that lead us in becoming something less than we should be.

All You Shining Stars was created by turtlequeen and twwk as our humble attempt to say, yes, there is a way to become more than we are.  Each post, subsequent to this one, will feature an original manga-style illustration, followed by words of encouragement and, we believe, wisdom, to encourage you on a journey away from the things that pull us down and toward an infinite love that cannot be earned – only received.

This blog will be thematic, as we present posts over a period of weeks or months, or perhaps through an entire season, based on many facets of a single idea, emotion, action, or truth.  The first of these will be that enigmatic but most real of concepts – love.

We hope that as you begin 2015, you’ll consider joining us as part of your journey.