Adult Team Blog

Choosing Unconditional Love

If something is unconditional, it is absolute. There are no restrictions. We can count on it. God’s love is unconditional. He is always there for us no matter how badly we mess up. Isn’t that reassuring? As Christians, we are called to show that same unconditional love to others.

When I became a parent, I gained a greater understanding of what that meant. I can be thrown up on, ignored, and lied to by 1 of my 2 sons and still love him just as much the next day. My sons’ choices may sometimes hurt deeply, but I never stop caring for them.

Over the years, I have learned to love others unconditionally as well. An old friend may fail to call for a long time, but when she does, I am just as happy to talk to her. My husband and I may have different opinions about our finances, but we work it out and remember that our relationship is far more important than any amount of money.

Remembering daily God’s unconditional love for us helps us give that same love to others. No one is perfect. We will be disappointed by those in our lives. We must choose unconditional love.

Loving Unconditionally

Loving unconditionally . . . what does that even mean?

The high divorce rate even among Christians testifies that most come to a relationship with the conditional “I love you if . . . ”

In a world where parents and children can divorce or at least attempt it, relationships become strained. Distant. People pull away from those who don’t fill in the blank properly.

Our love for God is often conditional if He doesn’t fill in the blank properly—properly to us.

Who then? Who can love that way?

I know a Father. You may know Him, too.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The awareness of God’s matchless unconditional John 3:16 love gives us cause to pause and offer thanksgiving for the One and to the One Who unconditionally says, “I love you” and—

forgives us.
leads us.
carries us.
sees us.
hears us.
heals us.
changes us.
fights for us.
died for us.

What does He unconditionally do for you? Fill in the blank.

Praying for Those We Don’t Want to Pray For

Not long ago, my son came home from school and told me that a little girl in his class called him a cuss word at lunch. We talked about how to show her kindness even when she said mean things. I also told him to tell me if it happened again and I would talk to his teacher. What really amazed him, however, was when I prayed for the little girl. We later found out that she has a parent in prison and has been going through a difficult time.

Prayer is important, even when it is for someone we don’t get along with or agree with. It asks God to intervene in the person’s life or in a situation and often changes our attitude toward the person.

Who in your life do you need to pray for today? A boss who is hard to work for? A neighbor who stirs up trouble? A co-worker who doesn’t do his or her fair share of the work? A friend who has gossiped about you? A politician whose political views you do not agree with?

Start praying today and see how God changes lives, situations, and your heart. By the way, the little girl hasn’t called my son a bad name again!

Praying for the Difficult

“I failed the parallel parking,” my daughter sobbed.

She had practiced on those poles day after day.

But what’s done is done. We rescheduled her test.

Walking out, I noticed that the parallel parking poles had been moved. No wonder she failed. I flagged the instructor down and explained the problem. She displayed no sympathy.

I began to dislike her very much. After hearing her explanation, I said, “That’s a shame.”

When hurt creeps in,

walk through prayer. I prayed for the instructor and the situation, mostly asking that I wouldn’t have to face her again when my daughter retested.
watch out for pride. I realized the instructor was right. My daughter should have been able to parallel park regardless of where the poles were positioned.
wait for peace. The day of retesting, the instructor saw me. “How are you?” she asked sympathetically with a smile, as though I were her best friend. “Much better,” I said. We talked and laughed together. I thanked God for enabling me to walk away with peace.

Shelli Littleton lives in Royse City, Texas, and blogs at ShelliLittleton.blogspot.com.

Losing Your First Love to Good Things

I’m guilty. While it may not appear that way to the world, I know it in my heart. You can go to church, pray, tithe, and even serve and still be guilty of losing your First Love, of placing Jesus second in your life.

When it happens to me, it doesn’t happen overnight or with conspicuous things like sinful relationships, drugs, or alcohol. It happens with good things.

The first time I noticed it was in college. I went to a Christian college, was dating a Christian guy, and was a good student—all good things but things that took God’s place in my life. God brought it to my attention, and I had to reprioritize. I had to make sure I was spending time with Him each day and listening to His will for my life.

The second time I noticed it was as a young mother. I was taking good care of my 2 precious boys, but I wasn’t giving God quality time in my life.

What good things in your life may be causing you to lose your First Love? Work? Travel? Family? Reevaluate your life today and make sure Jesus is still in first place. 

Finding Your First Love

When the grievous realization swept over me, I cried like a child.

All the puzzle pieces seemed to magnetically come together. That person I loved so much who just couldn’t seem to forgive me had become an idol in my life. Their forgiveness had become too important, all-consuming. Their lack of love and forgiveness could reduce me to tears in an instant and had left God in the shadows.

Why?

That person’s forgiveness would make me feel loved.

That person’s forgiveness would relieve me.

That person’s forgiveness would somehow save me.

Somewhere along the way, I had taken God, my First Love, off my heart’s pedestal and replaced Him with another—an idol.

And with that realization, freedom swept over me.

God reclaimed His proper place, as my heart made way. And I ran into His arms because He first loved me and His love is enough.

Shelli Littleton lives in Royse City, Texas, and blogs at ShelliLittleton.blogspot.com.

Feed Your Neighbors, Next Door and around the World

Global Hunger Relief

October 11 is Global Hunger Sunday. What has our group done to focus on the needs of the hungry?

We are a small group. Averaging 30–35 in attendance any given Sunday, we realize huge projects may be beyond our means. But we don’t let that stop us. For the past several years, we have taken steps to help the hungry in our community—our closest neighbors.

October is the month we begin planning and collecting food for our annual Thanksgiving baskets. These baskets contain the makings of a generous Thanksgiving dinner. Our goal this year is to prepare 15 baskets, which will be given to families in need in our community.

But it is not enough.

What can we do to focus on the needs of the hungry—the ones who live in the global neighborhood?

I think it may be time for a hunger experience, one designed to heighten awareness of the severity of world hunger and inspire us to reach out and help.

Brokenness: The Seed of Compassion

Compassion isn’t something we possess on our own. It is often born of deep brokenness in which we experience the unspeakable comfort of God.

When our son was diagnosed with severe autism before age 2, I had only a surface grasp of God. He was a feel-good God to me. He was the God we begged to remove our problems, the God whose job it was to make us comfortable.

But my relationship with God became intimate, soothing, and more precious in the years that followed. I learned Who God really is through His Word. As I trusted Him more, God revealed His sovereignty over all of life. While I walked through the dark valley of suffering alongside our son, I experienced sides of God not visible to the naked eye:

  • God showed me such love that it overshadowed the heartache of the hour.
  • God showed me He was for me, not against me.
  • God took my prayers and answered them according to His will.

The time of suffering would prepare me to minister to people. Because of God’s compassion, I now feel compassion for others and it has been woven into nearly every act of ministry or missions I’ve been a part of.

Working Together to Make Missions Successful

The most beautiful thing about missions is not simply that it exists but how God gets His work done and invites us to join in His mission. Using His people, God instills in us a desire to serve Him, different talents, and passions and a focus on the gospel.

One of my favorite missions projects is Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse. I love watching how many different types of people it takes to get thousands of shoe boxes packed each fall:

Connecting with the World around You

I was blessed to be part of a volunteer team that ministered at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. I enjoyed the international setting and the nations coming together in one place.

The Olympic missions experience taught me much about families.

Regardless of ethnicity, religion, income level, and country of origin, people desire some of the same things for their families. They seek

  • love
  • food and water
  • truth
  • kindness
  • security
  • relationships
  • things to do together

Believe it or not, the 2 things I did most as a volunteer along the River Thames were take photos of visitors and paint faces of young excited travelers. Visiting and connecting while helping with such simple tasks was a fantastic experience. I met many global neighbors I could love and help.

Missions engagement requires a willingness to connect—through everyday life activities—and build relationships with others. Proximity is a main ingredient for missions. Who is physically close to you? At work? At play? At home?

Look around. Whom can you connect with today?

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