This is My Commandment…

by guest author Rita Patton

Love one another.  John 15:12

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. I Corinthians 13:4-8

Our pastor suggests to us each year that we might ask the Lord for a word for the year that we might follow Him more closely in word and deed. This year I prayed about my word and the Lord gave me LOVE.

Oh ok.  Uh, I think I do this, Lord, I really do love people. In fact I have certainly tried through the years to make loving the people a priority in the church families we have served in.  Love, really?

Then He added something – – LOVE WITHOUT JUDGMENT. What? Me? Well, I am not prejudiced? Partial? Arrogant? Petty? Phobic? Judgmental? ME?

I just read a book a few weeks ago by Bob Goff, Everybody, Always.  He is a lawyer that travels the word advocating for the persecuted and sharing the love of Jesus. As you can tell by the title of the book this is the way he describes HOW Jesus loved.

This caused me to really think about who does the Word tell us Jesus loved?

He loved his mother, his best friends, a circle of friends (men and women), a betrayer friend, a denier friend, the mentally ill and possessed, lepers, paralytics, tax collectors, widows, a centurion and his servant, adulterers, a bleeding woman, blind, ruler in the synagogue and his daughter, crowds, rich, poor, a thief, his enemies … believers in His Sonship and unbelievers. Supporters and scoffers.



LOVE is my word this year and I know I won’t be able to express love like my Lord did, but I truly am going to work on the WITHOUT JUDGMENT part each day and with each person I encounter.

GOD IS LOVE. (1 John 4:8)

What Does a Christian Marriage Look Like?

Part 6 – Love and Respect

Somehow in this age of gender confusion, we have tried to make men and women be exactly alike. Women clamor for equality (sameness) with men. They, we women, want the same pay and treatment and opportunities and expectations on us. Nothing wrong with that. But they/we also want men to be like us: more in touch with their emotions, more nurturing, less aggressive. In all this equality talk there has emerged this unspoken idea that women and men are the same. But I must protest on this one. A simple conversation with my male friends, sons, or husband quickly reveals that there are innate and inherent differences in men and women.

This shouldn’t surprise us. God’s word has it written clearly In black and white that there are differences. Although there are variations in extremes according to personality, women tend to want to be loved and men want to be respected. Our Creator God told us this before our enlightened society tried to make us all unisex.

Ephesians 5:33 instructs us to meet each other’s most important need. It states:

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

In his book Love & Respect Emmerson Eggerichs discusses these differing needs in the sexes and offers ways to live together in ways that offer understanding, respect and love that allows each gender to live to their fullest potential that their Creator made them to be. Upon reading this book several years ago, my husband and I had a discussion. It was more like a “Do you really feel that way?” kind of conversation. I had always assumed that every human in the world wanted to be loved more than anything. But he reinforced Dr. Eggerich’s research with his own anecdotal evidence; he could know I loved him, but if I acted in a way that he felt disrespected it ate away at him even though he was loved.

Ladies, I encourage you, do not expect the men in your life to be like you. Study men. Study their needs and reactions. Ask them their preferences and wishes. Respect them.

So what does a real Christian marriage look like in this respect? I’m afraid far to many of them are like mine was before I read this book – they are well-intentioned, but uninformed and misguided. They go on assumptions that the other spouse has their same needs, but this is not true. Men need our respect.

But ideally, men need us to see them as individuals and see how their personalities and longings and dreams play into the way they want to be treated. Isn’t that what we women want from them –  to be seen for who we are and treated honorably? Men want to be treated well and respected for their contribution to the world whether they work hard physically doing construction, or they seem to play at work coaching, or if they are an esteemed doctor, a truck driver, a hard-working contributor in a gigantic corporation, a craftsman, a journalist, a mechanic, or one of a thousand other things. Whatever they are, wise godly women should seek to give respect to the men in their lives.

Covid 19

Life before Covid 19 is something I think we all took for granted.

Many of us griped about our jobs. We didn’t like some of the songs we sang in church. We didn’t like what that person wore or how someone looked at us. Our lives were so busy, we didn’t stop to even have dinner around the table with family. Ballparks, ballet/dance, gymnastics, softball, soccer, tennis, pageants, football, travel ball; we were convinced we could do it all and we did.

Now, we’ve been ordered to stay home for 14 days. That’s it, 14 days and it seems like a lifetime to us. I understand it could be longer, but we really don’t know what to do with ourselves. How do we handle all of this downtime?

gratitude-1251137_1280I honestly think that in the midst of all of this chaos and uncertainty, God is calling us to intimacy with him. Yes, we have religion. We go to church, we read our bibles, we sing the songs (even if we don’t like them), but do we do it to check things off a list or is it because Lord is the absolute love of our lives?

Revelation 2:4 says, “Yet I hold this against you. You have left your first love.”

I pray we all get alone with God each day and ask him to search our hearts. Ask him to forgive us for not making him our first priority and letting other things get in the way. I pray we find our first love again. That we live our lives with enthusiasm, passion and purpose just as we did when we first came to know Christ.

We are getting closer and closer to the time when Christ returns and I pray we all are found spotless before Him. If you are one of those who have that intimate relationship with Christ, I pray that through FaceTime, Facebook, text messages or what have you, that you find someone to mentor and help them along the journey. I pray that once this is over (and it will be over one day), that we all understand what an honor and a privilege it is to get to attend church, to have a job, to be able to take our children to their activities and to have sister in Christ that encourages us and builds us up. I pray our children will see the fire we have for the Lord and they will want to know him and live for him. I pray we all come out of this stronger than we went in. Until Christ returns, may we all press toward the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus. May we forget what is behind and Press on for that prize!! Philippians 3:12-14


Jack Daniels’ Daddy

I like storytellers. I always have. When I was a kid my Aunt Sis was the best storyteller there was. Her stories beat out the librarian’s any day and I can remember aspiring to be half the story teller she was one day. She would fill my ears with stories of childhood play, teenage adventures, and long lost lore of family folks from Tennessee.

I hold those stories in my heart and they are a large majority of my memories. Many of the stories, I now tell have been influenced tremendously by the very ones I heard as a child.

Nowadays my ears tend to perk up when there is a storyteller within my hearing.

Recently I was doing what I do when a lady I’ve known for years was telling tales. She has never once met my oldest daughter, but constantly calls me by her name, Charlotte. She always calls me Charlotte, despite a name tag worn daily that spells out my name A-M-Y. I don’t mind it so much, I’ve come to view it as a term of endearment.

As she told her story to no one in particular she was laughing and talking about her childhood. It was familiar to me, a familiar tone, a tone of contentment in the story and I took note of what she had to say. She drew me in with a matter of a few words.

Holiday meals, her family had gotten so large they’d long ago stopped going to the old homeplace, a small house, that the 11 of them growing up could barely squeeze into. She’d laughed when she had explained the sleeping arrangements, in the two bedroom, humble abode. Indoor plumbing was not yet a required item for houses and the “11 of them and Mama and Daddy” had managed to make it with minimal in the way of necessities. I knew that tale, I had heard it before, numerous times, in the antics of my Aunt Sis.

She had numerous siblings and so many aunties, uncles, and cousins they had to find other accommodations.

abundance-1868573_1280She had said now they “had to rentaplace ” rent a place, all one word. She described paper lined folding tables laden with food that made my stomach growl and my mouth water just hearing her talk. They had a side table, a meat table, and hold up just a second, three dessert tables.

Red Velvet cakes, pound cakes, strawberry cake, pies, pumpkin, sweet potato, chocolate, apple, two or three banana puddings. I found myself trying to figure out how I might pretend to be a long lost cousin or something just so I could go and eat. I told her that and she laughed.

She started naming all the people’s specialties, Pearl’s potato salad, her Red Velvet Cake, she always made two, one for the dessert table and one to give to her Uncle J.D.

Her face shifted a bit, and I saw her meander down memory lane. Her expression softened her eyes distant, she said, “She ran out of names so she just started givin’ children initials. We got a A.C. O.C. O.J. and a Jack Daniels!”

She said her Grandmother had so many children she had run out of names. Her Grandfather was a godly man but that last one she named, made me wonder if he had found his inspiration in a moment of weakness and the bottom of a bottle. She said they had a fruitful life together and when he was considerably young, decades ago, he had been diagnosed with cancer. She said, “None of us knew it until he was real old and he saw his medical doctor who told him that he had cancer he was gonna die from.”

She said upon receiving the foreboding diagnosis, he did not act surprised and simply said to the young physician, “I already knew that, I knew it forty years ago. My wife and I got on our knees and prayed for God to take it ‘cause I had all these children to raise.”

The puzzled physician questioned the old man further, asking him about protocols, medications, maintenance and such. The old man listened and said he had taken nothing. The young physician with his extensive medical training knew the physical impossibility, the aggressive cancer his geriatric patient had would not have yielded its life taking ways for a year much less decades. Perhaps his patient misunderstood, the doctor clarified, “Yes, but what did you take?” The old man looked at his young physician in the face and said,

“I took it to Dr. Jesus.”

I thought about that, about the medical impossibility, perhaps the decades ago doctors had gotten it wrong, perhaps the then young man with the brood of children had not actually had cancer. Like the young doctor, I was more willing to accept the failures of medicine over the miracles of God. How many times had I done that myself, how many more times would I? How many times have I desired healing for myself or someone I love and needed help from the King with my unbelief? I have pondered on that, and have found myself asking the King more and more to help my unbelief.

But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:22b-24

Perfect Rest

What causes you to have the best sleep? There is nothing better than having nice, soft, clean sheets to help me sleep. The last time I changed the sheets, I must have pulled out a set of sheets that we had not used for a long time. They were stained and had a few holes in them. They didn’t have that soft, silky feel that I like. My husband commented on the sheets and I told him that I would retire them when I took them off the next time. When I changed the sheets again, I folded the old sheets and sent them on their way to where sheets go when they retire.

I had placed the clean sheets on the bed but had not gotten back to put them on the bed when my husband said he was going to go relax and read. I said I needed to put the sheets on the bed so he helped me. It is always funny for him to help with the sheets. photography-of-bedroom-1034584First of all, this bottom sheet has elastic all the way around so it is hard to tell which way it goes. We got tickled as we readjusted the sheet for the proper fit and finally got it on. Then it was time for the top sheet. We have always placed the sheet on the bed and then said, “I have this much. How much do you have?” Then we will readjust so the top sheet and then the quilt start out even.

It really doesn’t matter how much my husband starts with on his side of the bed because I usually end up with the sheet and the blanket. When you have a husband who travels as much as mine has over the years, you get used to wrapping up in the covers and then having to readjust when he comes home. There was all the difference in the world in the feel of the new set of sheets. Rest came easily that night.

Ah! Peaceful sleep. 

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NAS

“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 4:8 NIV

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29-30 NIV

What wonderful rest that must be. Jesus’ rest. I have heard of Beauty Rest mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets, but just imagine Jesus Rest. How amazing is that. 

Th next time you change your sheets, remember to ask Jesus for that Perfect rest that only he can give. 


Words. Words. So Many Words

I recently got on a word kick… wanting to know where words come from, how they started out, how they are changed over time. Words that meant something centuries ago aren’t nearly as meaningful in the 21st century simply because they are removed from the context in which they my were originally spoken. I have a list of words like that and perhaps I will expound on it one day.

I’m fairly sure that words have always been important to me but when it comes to the Love language preference and expression… words of affirmation makes the list but is super-ceded by some other expressions of love. I’ve found myself more and more immersed in the world of words and it’s left me to ponder.

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine, we are co-laborers in ministry and friends of over a decade. She’s a real life writer, she has a journalism degree and she wrote, writes (present tense) beautifully published pieces. She is no stranger to a byline.
I read her words and I’m in awe. I find myself wondering how she can take such disjointed, separate things and weave them together to create a mosaic of literary beauty. It fascinates me and in some regards I’m a teeny tad envious of her abilities. (For the record she’d absolutely blush, and humbly deny what I’ve just said about her… she’s just like that.) She is the embodiment of a gracious, humble, writer.

So on that spontaneous morning as we sat around the table I almost fell out of my chair when she called me a writer. I laughed that loud obnoxious unexpected laugh, the one that can give way to the snorting laugh because I was so surprised. I adamantly denied her accusations. We talked of words and she made a statement that has left me to ponder the words, the writer, the wordsmith.

“So many words. Words. Words. So many words.”

In the context of our conversation we had been discussing the words written, words read, and words said.
So many words.

The value of them contingent on the context in which they’re expressed. I have always been a tad verbose and the more words the merrier. Alone they mean less than they do when woven together to formulate sentences and paragraphs, complete and coherent thoughts. There seem to be many words and I found it more and more difficult to muddle through them and pick out the ones of value. The words that matter.

The King addressed words once. In Matthew 6:7 he said, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.Ouch. Are my words numerous and empty? Are they words just for the sake of words? Or are my words beneficial like those of Ephesians 4:29? Good for building up.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Words have power. They can build up and tear down, they can be beneficial or not.

I recently had a conversation with another friend. I had asked her a question. Finding myself in a frustrated situation, I asked her, “Do you not just want to say something? Don’t you ever just wanna be like, yelling your disappointment with the person you are frustrated with?”

To which she said to me, “Yes, of course I do. That is our human nature, but as I walk with the Lord, I have come to realize that I would rather have a season of silence, than to say something I would regret.”

That has resonated with me and I am coming to the realization that often times fewer words are better and Words. Words. So Many Words, may not be the best thing after all.


Let My Words Be Few by Philips, Craig & Dean

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ephesians 5:2

Companion Dog

Almost 2 years ago I inherited my “Grand dog” when my daughter moved out of the country. He’s a bouncy ball of fur, and I’m his favorite person.

I didn’t know much about dogs. I had grown up in the generation where you kept a dog out in the yard and tossed scraps to him for food. So my daughter had to educate me on his routine, his commands, his particular food, his immunization schedule, his exercise schedule, all the no-nos about him, and that he was a companion dog. OK. Aren’t all dogs companion dogs? You know, the whole “man’s best friend” thing – that says companion to me. But no. As I read the informative dog book she provided, I found that certain breeds are companion dogs, not lap dogs, or guard dogs, but companion dogs.

dog-3010442_1920As I’ve gotten to know sweet Poppy over the course of this year, I see why he is that type. He loves to be around me. When he wakes up in the morning he lays on my bed until I get ready to go to the kitchen and he follows me. If I’m feeling bad, He snuggles right up against me or climbs up on my side to sleep. If he goes outside, he wants me to sit out on the porch while he lies in the sun or chases squirrels. If I walk out of a room, he follows. He loves for me to play with him. He sits on the bed and watches me fold clothes, follows me to the bathroom, and is up on the couch before I can even get seated. If he’s sitting beside me, I am required to be petting him unless he dozes off. He wants to be with me, to be my companion. He adores me, my touch, my company.

Are we like a companion dog in our relationship with our Heavenly Father? Are we constantly longing for God’s touch on our life? Is our favorite place resting by His side? Do we jump up and follow wherever we see Him go wanting to be in the room with Him?  Do we want to hear His voice and do we run quickly to Him when He speaks? Do we long to have Him with us as we lay beside Him with no agenda? Do we love to soak in the sunlight of His Word?



May you find yourself becoming God’s companion this year.

The Tabernacle & Me

Each year as I begin again reading through the Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus, starting my yearly journey through God’s Word, I come to some point in between Exodus and Deuteronomy when I say to myself, “What does this have to do with my life?” (I know that’s self-focused thinking, but that’s what I do.) Generally it’s when I’m reading a long list of “begats,” or numbering of tribes, or detailed descriptions of something unfamiliar to me that I can’t seem to visualize.

This year it happened in Exodus. As I was reading through chapters 35-38, about the construction of the tabernacle and all its furnishings, curtains, and articles, I once again had a what’s-in-it-for-me thought. As I read that particular day, I started asking myself, “How can I apply this?” “What do you want me to learn, Lord?”

And you know what? When we ask, He listens and answers.

I recalled how the tabernacle was the place where God came down to dwell among His people in His Shekinah glory. It was God’s house on earth. I remembered it was Holy and set apart and consecrated. And those thoughts made me think of these New Testament verses:

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:16

altar-4003119_1920I began to notice in the Exodus description, the rich materials that were used: the finest woods, rich beautiful fabrics, gold and precious metals and jewels. Not only were the materials the best, the craftsmen were the best at their craft as well. The men called upon to do the metal-work, the weaving, the hand carving and such were all noted to be very skilled “experts” in their area. Even the people themselves were called upon to offer their best gifts to be used in the construction and decoration of the tabernacle. They brought materials from their own personal wealth: jewels and yarn and spices for the incense. Not surprisingly, they brought it willingly; Exodus 35:29 specifies that it was a freewill offering. No one was compelled or taxed or forced; they offered to God things to make a perfect dwelling for Him among them.

So we ask: Father, how do these chapters from Exodus, about the building of the Tabernacle, impact our lives as your temples here on earth?

  1. We offer God our best. Not just our best material possessions – which is a given – but the best job we can do, the best/first of our time, energy, intellect, and passions. In so doing, we seek to become the best, the purest, a worthwhile holy gift to give to Him.
  2. We work heartily at whatever our hand finds to do. (Ecclesiastes 9:10) Seek to learn, organize, prepare, train – to become better, faster, more expert in any area where He gives us a job. I’m not just a mom, I’m creating a home and training these little ones. I’m not just putting words on paper, I’m using my skill to craft winsome and enlightening prose that God will use to touch others. I’m not just a singer, I’m a worshipper leading others to the throne of God. I could go on, but you get the picture. Are we reading up in our area, keeping up with developments, seeking training, honing our skills, doing improvement exercises in order to give our best self to the effort?
  3. We bring gifts to Him. Tithes and offerings and service in His house and to His people. Beautiful, precious gifts, not our leftovers. Intentional gifts that require much of us.
  4. We give willingly from our heart. If I, as a grown adult, am still giving my tithe just because I’m supposed to, I probably have an issue in my heart. As we grow with Him through the years we give to Him out of love. The giving brings joy. Our heart is in it and we desire to give. In fact, we probably even wish we had more to give! Pray: Father, help me want to give out of a willing generous heart. Amen.

So as you go about your day today, remember that You are God’s Temple – a beautiful temple that He is building brick by brick for His glory. Decorate your temple. Take care of what is furnishing your heart. Make yours a finely crafted temple, made of the finest materials, given to Him from a willing heart!