relationships

John Mark

It’s definitely safe to say that Acts is now one of my favorite books in Scripture. There are so many characters at play and it is really so exciting, yet it makes me mad at the same time, because I desire to see the work of the Spirit more frequently in the [Western] church and believers to be used by God in the magnificent ways that He used the apostles. But that is another post altogether. Subsequently, there is one character that I want to point out that appears a couple times in Acts, then resurfaces a few more times in Paul’s epistles. His name is John Mark.

When we first meet John Mark, we learn of his mother, a Christian woman who lodged Peter after he escaped prison. Afterward, he goes off with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, which is when the story gets interesting. We learn about two chapters later that John Mark decided to go back home, for reasons unknown. I have heard many say that it was because he found the work too hard and or it was more involved than he realized, but there is also the possibility that he went back home to care for his mother, whichever reason it was, we don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, his departure caused a split between Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) later on; Barnabas wanted to welcome him back and bring him along on the missionary journey, but Paul wasn’t having it, thus Barnabas and his cousin went in one direction and Paul another.

So, what’s the point.

After considering the reactions of Paul and Barnabas, I can understand why each felt the way they did and can’t say either of them was wrong for their choice. As we deal with people in living out our purpose, we must not only recognize that people don’t always think like us or agree with us,  and like Barnabas our perspectives can be influenced as well by family. Again, this doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, however, this story does compel us to develop not only wisdom and discernment, but compassion and patience as well when dealing with people, because even though John Mark’s reason for leaving them was deemed inexcusable, it teaches us that sometimes people just aren’t ready for what we hope or don’t see themselves as we see them. For, John didn’t leave the faith, as some assume, he left his assignment. Unfortunately, people will walk away for one reason or another, and we have the choice to trust them should they return or leave them, which is when discerning the voice of God comes into play.

Ultimately, we see that both Paul and Barnabas did what they thought was right, and God honored them both, even though they were separated for a time; whatever work Barnabas did with John paid off because not only did he end up in prison alongside Paul some years later, but Paul had also requested his presence in ministry, validating his value in the work of the Lord.

It’s not clear in Scripture when exactly Paul and Barnabas and John Mark all reunited, but the Spirit was obviously present in the development of their relationship. The point I desire to make in all of this is that God is one of reconciliation and restoration, in His timing and His way, and he does allow the people we work with to come in and out of our lives for seasons, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying for them or condemn their choices because of  a difference of opinion. Furthermore, some individuals do require extra grace and extra encouragement as they are figuring their way out and trying to honor the Lord and do what He has purposed for them to do, and if God has called us to extend that grace, then we must, because we never know what blessings we may forfeit if we turn someone away who disappointed us. How many times have we failed or disappointed God and He still keeps His arms open? But again, our journey may require us to not allow someone in our close space to protect us and protect them, like Paul, but if the Lord brings you back together, we must trust Him.

To be honest, I don’t know if this made sense. A lot was going through my mind when the Lord first illuminated John Mark’s story to me, and I wanted to get it all out before I forgot. I may come back and add to this blog so come back here in a week to check lol. Nonetheless, I think this disciple’s story reflects so many of us and those we know who aren’t ready to walk in their calling, especially if it connected with our own, but God’s grace is sufficient, so we must be mindful and not discourage those who decide to take time to do work through their things, because when God burden’s their heart enough and that fire is finally lit inside of them, the demons in Hell will tremble.

People are interesting and relationships are complex when you mix personalities and personal experiences together, and that’s what makes this race we run so beautiful, because each variation of our colors and beauty creates a breathtaking reflection of the glory of God. So, with wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, be yourself for a purpose.

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Simply Put…..LOVE

simply putThis piece I contemplated doing for some time now, because I wasn’t exactly sure how I would integrate it in the theme of “purpose,” and on top of that there is so much that I could say. Thus, it was a matter of what should I say and what angle should I take in talking about “love,” I truly enjoy talking about love and relationships. Nonetheless, when you live a purpose-filled life and your intent is to get married or preserve a marriage relationship, there are basic things that need to be considered so that the person God put in your life on purpose to help you fulfill His purpose for your life never has to guess or doubt your love.

So as a disclaimer, this not about general love for other people, but specifically that eros love between you and the person God created just for you. I am not looking to bash either men or women in any sense, or point out red flags, or even give my own preferences, or an advice column of “what ifs,” or tell you that God wants you to get married (God has to show you his purpose in that area), or give a list of things to look for in a mate. Instead, this is just my Biblical translation of the non-negotiables, or basic blueprint, of what your love should look like. Oh! One more thing, I’ll try not to make it too long, and if you think it’s getting lengthy, please hang with me until the end.

Ladies first.

Simply put, Paul said it best, the best way to love a man, or make him feel loved, is to respect him (Ephesians 5:33). Respect means recognizing the fact that he is a man, not a woman, thus, the very way he thinks and lives is completely different, and loving him first and foremost means to appreciate who he is as a man, without trying to change him into a woman. Respect implies that you don’t talk to him like you are or he is crazy or do any thing that would make him feel less of a man. All in all, just let him be the man, be the leader, and respect and honor the position that the Lord put him in, which means you submit, and if you believe that God put you two together, you should be able to trust and be obedient to the leadership of that man. Respect means acknowledging he is not perfect, and never will be, but you still stick with him no matter what (1 Corinthians 7:10),  you stay with him through all the mess that any relationship goes through. He needs to know that no matter who else walks out of his life, even if it is his own mama, you will never leave, no matter how mad or frustrated either of you are. Looking at the definition of respect, the idea is that you hold a person in high esteem, or in high regard, which means treat him with dignity, and frankly in this case, treat him like a king. When you respect the man God has for you as a king, there are things you do to make sure the king is taken care of, so while he is out striving to be the Psalm 112 man, you are to be the Proverbs 31 woman and take care of the home (whatever that means), which should be the most peaceful place and your man’s favorite place to go. Furthermore, that respect includes each part of that man, his visions, his dreams, his personality, his family, and his preferences, so be considerate of what he likes, as well as understanding and considering his feelings. Also, be his helpmeet (Genesis 2:18), that means as a woman do all you can to support him, encourage him, pray for him, help him be the best man God has him to be at home, at work, in relationships, in his visions, with his health, with his gifts, with his talents, his mentality, his emotions, etc. His life should be better because you are in it and he should be proud to show you off, which means what you look like and how you carry yourself should make him look better, even when he isn’t around, as would a queen, and I’ll leave it there. Since he found you, make sure he never has to doubt he found a good thing (Proverbs 18:22). Long story short, when you respect him, you love him the most.

To the gentlemen.

After all that, you may wonder how to make your woman feel most loved, and Paul explained that too: you love her (Ephesians 5:33). It may sound redundant, but love is what any woman desires, especially one that is in committed relationship. What does that love look like? She has to be the number one woman in your life, the only woman in your life, not your mama or your friends (male or female) (Genesis 2:24), and she needs to be assured of that. Likewise, the Bible calls what you found a good thing, so treat her right like a good thing; take care of her like you would a good thing (Proverbs 18:22); protect her like a good thing; be kind to her in word and actions, and esteem her like good thing. In loving her, she needs to know that no matter what you will not leave her and that your commitment to her is true and sincere (1 Corinthians 7:11). As the leader of the house, your responsibility is to give yourself to her and do what you can to make her stronger, better, wiser in her spiritual walk (Ephesians 5:25), and when you love her, you are to appreciate her as a woman, just as Adam would’ve appreciated Eve after so much time had passed before God created her; Adam understood the blessing she was, respected her, dignified her, valued her, and loved her. In the same way, submit to her (Ephesians 5:21), implying that you listen to her, value her opinion and who she is to you, and be considerate of her needs, loving her as much as you love yourself. Above all, loving her means knowing her (1 Peter 3:7), or rather taking interest and learn all you can about the specific woman God gave you. For example, know your queen’s love language (gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, personal touch, or acts of service), know her shoe size, her favorite candy, her pet peeves, her little habits, her clothing sizes, her favorite earrings, her favorite store or brands, her favorite foods, her biggest dreams or desires; know her time of the month, her birthday, what makes her smile, and what makes her cry; know when she wants to be held or be left alone; know her favorite song, her favorite book, her favorite movie, the size of her family and the type of childhood she had, and her favorite hobbies. You get the point, because I can go on and on, and of course all this takes time, but these are the basics. Long story short, to love her, you love her.

Overall, when you are in a relationship, the way to keep things smooth, is remembering it’s not about you, it’s about the other person, and like you blow out your candle in a wedding ceremony, problems start when you decide to relight your candle that you blew out. Now these things mentioned are fairly straightforward for any serious relationship, married or not, except the idea of home. God’s will is not to be living with or having sex with anyone other than your husband or wife, not your boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance, or person you think you will marry. Home and sex are specifically for those that say “I do” (1 Corinthians 7:1; Songs of Solomon 8:4; Genesis 2:24). Still, for those that are, your bodies are no longer your own. Therefore, give you husband or wife what he or she wants, otherwise that’s how the enemy like to creep (1 Corinthians 7:2-6). If you respect him, respect his need and desire for sex, or if you love her, cater to the love her body desires.

Well, if you made it this far, thank you for going all the way and sticking with me on this one. Hope you got something out of it. Now if this applies in any way to you or your current situation, simply put, go and love on purpose.