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    CAN MEN AND WOMEN BE FRIENDS?

    Last week I spent some time on a Christian college campus where I was invited to talk about men and women in ministry partnership. The young adults wanted to know, “Can men and women be friends—without being weird?”  Of course we can! In fact, we must.  We are called to act like siblings. Jesus told his listeners, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). We’re family. The apostle Paul told the Ephesian Christians, “You are . . . members of his household” (Eph. 2:19). All who believe in Christ are described as members of the family of God, made part of the Father’s household…

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    More Than Just a Day for Chocolate

    Do you happily celebrate Valentine’s Day or bitterly avoid it? In years past I revolted against this “Day of Love.” The only benefit in my opinion was the half-priced chocolate offered the following day. You might have mixed emotions the same as mine. But this year I propose a solution to transform this “Hallmark holiday” from one of stress and sadness to fellowship and friendship: Celebrate like a Mexican. Mexicans see February 14 as El día del amor y la amistad (The Day of Love and Friendship) and share cards and small gifts with close friends, family, and coworkers. Yes, much of the United States’ Valentine’s Day marketing has made…

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    Flowers for Jesus: Showering the Homeless with Jesus’ Love

    I am often reminded of a simple truth: It’s in remembering the forgotten that we have the most opportunities to share the love of Christ! As we spend time celebrating Valentine’s Day with our families this week, how can we share the love of Christ with others? A couple of years ago, I interviewed my friend Dalla O’Day (original post here) about a homeless ministry she started called “Flowers for Jesus,” while she was a student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I am so encouraged by her love for others that I thought I would share an excerpt from the interview below: As a college student, you started a…

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    What Lent & Valentine’s Day Have in Common

    You may have noticed something unusual about this Wednesday: February 14th. Besides this celebration of Cupid’s arrows, it’s also Ash Wednesday—the first day of Lent. Both holidays happen to coincide on the same day this year. Some of us view Valentine’s Day as the day for excessive chocolate eating, right? And Lent, of course, is often typified by fasting in preparation for Easter. At first glance, these special days may seem contradictory, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I appreciate the connection—particularly the one unifying word, love. If you’ve been around while, you know that chocolate and roses don’t define love. True love involves enduring sacrifice for…

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    7 Outreach Ideas for Valentine’s Day

    It’s no secret—humans crave love, even to the point of creating a holiday to celebrate it. A holiday where, per the National Retail Federation, American spending soared to 19.7 billion dollars last year! Just what are we spending our dollars on? Jewelry, an evening out, and flowers are the big-ticket items. But we don’t just spend money on our significant others. More and more people are spending money on things like appreciation presents for teachers, valentines for class mates, cookies for neighbors, etc. It’s a truly honorable thing to show appreciation for those closest to us, whether through homemade or store bought items. But this year, I encourage you to consider…

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    A Single Girl’s Revolt Against the Day of Love

    Many cultures and countries consider a woman over the age of 30 to be an “old maid” (in Spanish: solterona). So at the age of 34, I was definitely past my prime according to many. I disliked Valentine’s Day. Too many past disappointments and brokenhearted moments meant I just tried to survive until February 15. (Para español, lea abajo.) I ignored the flowers on my female coworkers’ desks. I ignored the male coworkers’ conversations about dinner plans. I ignored the heart-shaped cookies sold at bakeries. I ignored the stuffed teddy bears and candy boxes at grocery stores. I viewed Valentine’s Day as “The-Survival-of-the-Fittest” Day and I used various tactics throughout…

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    The Downside of Valentine’s Day

    Valentine’s Day has grown into a major event over the past few decades. I enjoy observing it with my husband each year, just like thousands of other couples do. Love is a wonderful thing to enjoy and to celebrate. So what is the downside of this day?   Millions of people feel lonely and deserted on Valentine’s. Some of you have been abandoned by your husbands and left to navigate life by yourself. Many of you singles have never found Mr. Right because you desire a godly husband who is walking with God, and such men are often difficult to find. Others of you haven’t had connections with men that…

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    3 Ways God’s Love is Different from Human Love

    If you’ve stepped into the grocery store recently, more than likely you noticed large displays of chocolate, flowers, and conversation hearts—iconic symbols of love. With Valentine’s Day approaching, I got to thinking. We set aside a special day to celebrate romantic relationships, but how often do we celebrate God’s love for us? At the very least, amidst all the celebration this month, I want my kids to realize at least three unique things about God’s love: God’s love for us is unconditional—God does not love us based on merit. We can never be good enough to earn God’s favor, nor can we ever be bad enough to diminish his love.…

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    God’s Perfect Unfailing Love

    Just got back from shopping with my daughter. There in the back of the store, a huge—I mean massive—red, pink and glittery sign directed us to its "lovestacular" section. My daughter and I scoured the area in hopes to find the perfect Valentine.    Only we didn’t. We found chaos along with chocolate, candy (of every kind), cards, stuffed animals and frustrated moms who waited as their kids picked out gifts for their friends. The disorder proved too much for us, so we left.     I couldn’t help but giggle at the sight of the "lovestacular" sign. It’s a great picture of the world’s idea of love. It’s messy,…

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    5 Verses for Valentine’s Day

    Sometimes it seems like we hear romantic love hyped up everywhere we turn—tv programs, movies, songs, and super market aisles brimming with flowers and heart shaped chocolates. And if our pocketbooks are any indication, many of us make an effort to show our love through our culture’s trademark gifts for our significant others. But I wonder, how versed our we when it comes to God’s definition of love? And how often do we take the time to read through some of the Bible’s passages on love. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I encourage you to spend some time with your family reading about God’s love for us and the love he…