Is Loyalty Dying Among Christians?

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When I look back on the people that have come in and out of my life … the enemy wants the losses to overshadow those who remain loyal friends.

We know when people pull away … when they are for us or not.

It’s obvious by their speech, actions, and heaven forbid … even in their Facebook activity (that’s a truth said in jest by the way).

It’s difficult when we realize the loyalty we give … is not always matched. And that’s okay because we know too well how human we all are.

But loyalty – that true kind that eptiomizes God in every sense of the word … has been on my mind for some time. Recently in a meeting with one of my pastors, he hit on the subject -reiterating how important loyalty is for Christians to practice.

Loyalty comes in many forms.

There is loyalty to God that says … no matter what … I’m going to be faithful to you Lord.

This determined faithfulness to His statutes and commands, compels us to do the right thing … even when we don’t feel like it.

There is a persistent, unwavering commitment to our spouse that hangs tough when life is less than perfect.

In fact, this kind of loyalty builds character. It’s a determination much like a tenacious hound dog that won’t let go of a bone.

There is a loyalty that a mother hen gives to her children.

A mother’s devotion will take on a herd of bullies even if it means being smashed like a bug in the dirt. NOBODY messes with my hairy, man, babies … and that goes for my daughter-in-law and grand-kids as well.

Then there is the sibling allegiance – like the kind my boys have.

They may aggravate and irritate each other but by golly … nobody’s gonna’ mess with any one of them … or there will be a hellacious problem.

There is steadfastness to an Alma Mater … our favorite learning institute …  or die hard dedication to our favorite sports teams … and even to our preferred hobbies.

Then there is devoted constancy to the church … to God’s man in the pulpit … and to the body of Christ over all. This kind of loyalty guards against fickleness or offense.

Loyalty is vast in variety, but the one that’s wrestling in my heart of late … is the loyalty of a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

It’s a beautiful picture of walking through life’s valleys with those you value during the hard times and even the good times.

And as I’ve tried to wrap my flawed brain around what loyalty really is and means in regards to friendship … I keep thinking about what loyalty isn’t. Those descriptions are much easier to name and recall for obvious reasons, aren’t they?

You see, we all can find a reason to abandon someone … when it’s not convenient … when we’ve been hurt … when there’s no apology … or when we just want to sit on the fence and not get involved.

But the truth of that is… we can still be loyal in neutrality if we desire to. And perhaps we don’t realize when we’ve walked away from loyalty? Or, maybe we justify it by flawed reasons?

Then for some reason we think loyalty is about shifting the relational balance and standing in one’s corner. But that’s not true loyalty. It’s not about taking sides … it’s about faithful friendship, period.

But as I search the bible looking for examples of what it means to truly be loyal … I keep hearing the Spirit say … “It’s all about the love, Mel.”

“It’s all about the love.”

That’s a thought that makes me think … well if it’s all about the love … then the people that abandon us never really love us, is that right God?

Maybe … probably … maybe not.

So, if we don’t feel this love to the core … then either we don’t love like Jesus loves … or we allow the enemy to draw our intentions away … making us abandon God, and each other.

In fact, I believe the loyalty we give is equal to the love we have in our hearts. This truth is making me examine some wounded places deep in my soul.

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We can always find a reason to walk away … whether it’s a righteous one can only be determined by the Holy Spirit … but the flawed words of man should never pull us away.

I’ve finally realized, if loyalty is all about love … then I need to adjust my love meter, I guess.

The truth is … there are times when it’s easy to be loyal, right?

Like when it’s not costly or when it’s righteous … when we feel it to our core. I guess that’s the love part the Holy Spirit uttered to me.

But the point is … we are all so stinking flawed … we blow it in this love and loyalty thing.

If there is anything God has taught me at all in the last 12 months … loyalty matters because it’s a reflection of God’s Covenant love.

If you’ve never studied God’s Covenant love … then you will never understand true love or loyalty.

So … I want to love better, period.

And loving better doesn’t mean that I dive in without boundaries … but it does mean that I love … without judgement … without hypocrisy … and without giving up the desire to want God’s best for those that abandon me.

Loving better means I don’t take sides and I sure as heck don’t wag my tongue.

Loving better means I forgive … and I move on to heal.

Loving better means I don’t look back.

And finally, loving better means that even if my love and loyalty is not reciprocated … I love anyway … without offense.

Loyalty may be a dying character quality to the world … but Christians can show the world a better way – if we truly love what’s important … and what’s most important is God … and each other.

Lord, May our love be evident to you and each other … by our loyalty to do what’s right.

love mel

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The Sum of our Hurts #Relationships

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Relationships have a way of packing on the hurts. They add up with each offense, snub, direct or indirect injury, and pretty soon we find ourselves hiding in retreat.

Walls go up and we keep a safe distance. Then as time passes the enemy comes around to taunt with memories and regrets.

Pulling further away is the reaction the Devil is going for. He wants to keep us isolated for obvious reasons.

I’ve been so guilty of letting hurt feelings dictate my waning desire for friends. I’ve declared at times that I don’t need friends … but the truth of the matter is … God wants us to have friends.

Over time the guilt builds that I could have done more or I should have done this or that. But in truth … I know there have been times I have loved well.

It’s a vicious cycle that the enemy wants us to wrestle with. He wants us to walk away and give up.

He uses our imperfections to overwhelm us but kicks our victories to the curb.

These emotions can prick the heart and bleed for days.

At some point we have a choice to make. We can pull away even further or we can dig our heels in and refuse to lose any more ground in this relationship merry go round.

The Devil wants us to hop off at every turn, every slight, every instance someone withholds good from us … but the Lord wants us to hold on for love’s sake … even when the turning is infuriating, exhausting or disappointing.

The beauty of real love is endurance … an endurance that exudes a beautiful fragrance of acceptance no matter what happens.

We’re not always going to be treated right … we’re not always going to be loved … we’re not always going to give love with excellence … but the important thing is … we can’t stop loving.

The sum of our hurts should be viewed as a beautiful tapestry that gets more colorful and rich with every stitch.

It’s not a perfect tapestry that would win awards or bring a great price … but it’s one that will warm the soul … and bring a smile that proves it worth.

Relationships are a big barrel of emotions. Sometimes the good ones rise to the top and sometimes they don’t … but we decide which emotions fill the brim.

And we must never forget … nobody is perfect, nobody has it all together, and nobody can be everything to everyone.

We are flawed beyond flaws.

The Amish people are beautiful artisans. Every exquisite piece of art they carefully make is always given one simple and often unnoticeable flaw … they do this on purpose. It’s to be a reminder that no matter how beautiful a piece can turn out … there is only one who is perfect … and that is our heavenly Father.

Love forgets the imperfections … even when it hurts.

So look for the places of redemption in the relationships that make you ache.

Love without expecting love in return … and leave the rest up to the Lord.

If we will simply love … He will take the sum of all our hurts … and cover them with His perfect love … and He never disappoints because He is the ultimate friend.

Father, help us discern the emotions that can harm our relationships …and teach us to love with endurance.

love mel

The Sisterhood of Messy Hearts #Grace

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She was the funniest girl in school with the coolest clothes. Everyone wanted to sit by her at lunch, but she decided who did. She formed a club and chosen members met on Friday nights at the skating rink.

Then her parents got a divorce. She told fewer jokes. The trips to the skating rink stopped.

I found her crying one day, and my sixth grade heart hurt because her world was falling apart. I could have been a good friend. Not like the one’s talking behind her back … but she wouldn’t let me.

Just like the popular girl in sixth grade, big girls have holes in their hearts too. We all have secrets, heartaches, betrayals and shameful details.

Wary of trust, a wall goes up blocking sweet connection on a Jesus level.

That’s exactly what the Devil wants when it comes to sisters in Christ.

When he separates us … he causes unity to fade.

With the fading of unity … the kingdom’s work is stalled.

So what is the solution?  What can we do?

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If we really want change … we have to be willing to change.

The scriptures say …

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Philippians 2:3

The Greek interpretation for the word esteem means to lead … or go before. This made me think about not only putting others before myself … but taking the lead in loving my sisters first … before they love me.

I ache for this holy sisterhood to bond through the beautiful redemption process … to be real on a come to Jesus level … to find sincere connection and genuine grace.

What could happen if we all take the lead to love first?

What would that look like?

Perhaps a good starting place is putting our sister’s feelings before our own, letting selfishness fall to the wayside.

What if we put away all unfavorable perceptions and think only the best about our sister … instead of judging her in specific measures?

What if we forget previous clashes and renew our thoughts?

What affirmation for her if we’d speak truth in kindness, encouraging and praying for her.

What if we keep secrets in perfect trust and serve her in ways glorifying to our Father?

And because we are terribly flawed and we will fail her … we humbly ask for forgiveness … as we forgive.

You see in order for this sisterhood of messy hearts to flourish in Christ … grace must go both ways.

Oh what beauty is found in grace.

What hope is exchanged in love.

What redemption is mined from humility.

The meekness of a messy sisterhood can be a beautiful tapestry of merciful grace … if only we’ll take the lead to love first.

So tell me sister … will you take the lead?

“I Am Just Like Her…..Messy Enough To Need Prayer”

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“I could never put something so personal on Facebook.  Can you imagine what people would say about me?” I asked.

My husband and I were having this conversation years ago, about someone who had posted a prayer request, and  the request revealed a lot of personal things some might see as dirty laundry.

I felt sorry for the sweet girl, marveling in her bravery.

“We are supposed to confess our weaknesses to our brothers and sisters and ask them to pray for us….you know like the bible says in James 5:16?” he said.

“But sometimes I think we can be guilty of judging one another and praying at the same time,” I replied.

“Yea, I know…..I don’t think men struggle with that like women might,” he said nonchalantly.

I am ashamed I could relate to what he meant.

As sister’s in Christ, sometimes we can be pretty hard on each other.

Why are we women so apt to gaze into each others life and clearly see the wrong and reason out the circumstances, chalking it up to sin failure?

Does it make us feel better to see someone else struggle too?

Could it be a coping mechanism the devil has taught us to use in order to compare our sin? Maybe we feel better about our own sin when compared to others.

For years I missed the whole point of the scripture in James.

The reason behind confessing is to hold us to a standard of accountability.

Gosh its tough to admit we even need accountability isn’t it?

It was for me.

We don’t like to admit to ourselves much less another Christian our character flaws or sin. Heck, we have trouble confessing to GOD.

We are supposed to be Christians….not sinning Christians…..at least this is the world’s view of the church.  It would be taboo if we admitted to each other we struggle with judging, gossip, jealousy or hate etc….yet James tells us to.

The plain and simple truth is I am a sinner. If we are breathing….we are all sinners.

The accountability I got from my brutally honest husband was the catalyst to help me face my sin.  The pride and judging issues had nagged me for years.

God started convicting me about looking at the negative in a prayer request.

This sweet soul was hurting…..regardless of the why or how she ended up in the situation resulting in a prayer request….she was in pain.

GOD took me back to a time when my own decisions resulted in a time of pain.

Something inside me clicked.

I related to her anguish.

I am just like her…..messy enough to need prayer.

If we are honest….we all have areas in our life making us messy enough to need prayer.

When I judge another…I am putting myself in GOD’S place of authority.

I imagined GOD asking me point blank…..

“So you think you are HOLY enough to do my job?”

Now I ask him to help me focus on my own messes, and not my sister’s when entrusted to pray.

Since I have been praying this simple request over the last few years….there has been sort of a revolution in my heart.

GOD is making me more compassionate…..something I struggle with.

I’m finding my prayer life is more enjoyable….easier and sweeter.

I am experiencing real freedom through GOD’s grace and mercy.

And it feels good.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  James 5:16

To be righteous means to be right with GOD.

I want to be right with GOD….everyday.

I long for my prayers to accomplish much in my own life as well as those who ask me to pray.

How about you?

GOD make us accountable, trustworthy, prayer warriors….and make our bonds of sisterhood stronger than any snare Satan can set.

A Special Day

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This is a special day for me.

My first guest post blog is featured on the women’s devotion website Incourage.

I am amazed GOD has even brought me to this opportunity in my writing journey. This journey started as a little girl writing poems, songs and short stories.

As I became a teenager, I found comfort in writing my prayers, revealing the most intimate details of my thoughts to my heavenly father.

Through the years, GOD started speaking to me in between the lines of my written prayers.

As the words would unfold on the page, I heard the HOLY SPIRIT telling me specific directives, convicting, comforting and encouraging me.

Now the words I write are how I work out my salvation.

Many will never appear on a blog site, but I write them anyway because I am desperate to hear from the LORD.

Please take a moment and click on the link Incourage and read my post about friendships and perceptions, entitled “She Scares Me.”

It’s a true story that happened in the hallway of my church not too long ago, yet the lesson I learned from the HOLY SPIRIT will stay with me for the rest of my life.

A special thank you to the creative staff at Incourage for this humbling opportunity to share my heart with you.

May you find fun, favor and the father in all of your friendships.