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Cristina Rutkowski Ford

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In 1995, Gary Chapman released his book "The 5 Love Languages" and it took the Christian world by storm.

It’s sat comfortably on the New York Times bestseller list since 2009, since then finding an audience with believers and nonbelievers alike. You may have even read one of the spin-offs: "The 5 Love Languages of Children", "The 5 Love Languages for Singles", "The 5 Love Languages of Apology", or "The 5 Love Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace".

“The 5 Love Languages” (geared toward couples) has, by far, had the most success, however. Since its release it’s been utilized by marriage counselors, praised by pastors, and helped countless married couples find depth and intimacy in their relationships.

Sound too good to be true?

Maybe partly.

The book operates on the theory that there are five primary love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. We each have one or two dominant ones, and it’s important to understand them, how they rank, and how they need to play into our relationships. But unlike most personality profiles, it equips you to “read” not just yourself, but the person right in front of you—allowing you both to love (and be loved) in the way you really need.

As with anything that comes from the human mind, there are some subtle flaws lurking beneath what looks like a foolproof approach. And according to pastor and author Tim Challies, understanding these flaws won’t discredit The 5 Love Languages...it will allow you to use them better. Here’s what Challies shares in his vlog, “The Problem with Love Languages”:

1. Love languages can mask selfishness.

“It’s possible that I am actually using a love language that you appreciate, in order to manipulate you, so you give me love,” Challies shares. “In other words, I will speak your language so that you speak mine, or I will speak your language to the degree or the extent that you speak mine.”

According to Challies, this can enable a “back and forth” pattern where we (perhaps even subconsciously) tap into another’s love language in order to “primarily...feed our own desire to be loved.” Instead of studying the languages to learn to give to one another, we focus on receiving love from one another.

2.  Our love “languages” are actually love desires.

And as Challies points out, our desires can’t always be trusted.

“These languages simply show how I desire to be loved. As we look at the Bible, we know I can’t trust my desires. I’m a sinful person. My desires are deeply flawed, because I myself am deeply flawed. My desires may simply point to my idols; those things I’m convinced that unless I have this, I cannot be happy, I cannot be joyful.”

Challies does provide some insight into ways we can redeem these flaws, using the love languages in a way that’s God-honoring and constructive:

  • Use them to help you understand the variety of ways there are to love and be loved.
  • Pay attention to how our loved ones actually want to be loved. And realize (and appreciate) that this is usually the way their love toward you will manifest.

"The 5 Love Languages" was never meant to replace the gospel. But does this mean we should dismiss it as a resource? Not at all. I would actually encourage you to pick it up, read it, and take it in. Don’t let skepticism keep you from embracing the life-changing impact of a book like this. Just be aware that it’s not foolproof, and we need Jesus in every step of the process.

I think we can all appreciate Challies’ closing thoughts:

“Now, how do I know that love languages are flawed but can be redeemed? Because Jesus Christ did not speak the language I wanted, He spoke the language I needed. That is the heart of the gospel. He spoke in the language I needed most, that proves to me I cannot trust what I want. Instead, I always, always need to look to Him and to His word.”

Amen.

Article Date: November 16, 2017

Cristina Ford is editor of Crosswalk.com

Image Courtesy: ©Unsplash

It has been a hard season. For me, and for many of you too, I’m sure. Circumstances in my personal life, in my community, and in my country seem to keep getting more and more challenging, and I find myself struggling to keep my head up and my heart strong through it all.

It feels hard to have hope sometimes, doesn’t it?

When I think about holding on to hope despite discouragement and disappointment, I’m reminded of a verse in Proverbs.

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

I know that heartsick feeling all too well, yet the promise of the second half of that verse seems harder to remember when I’m in the thick of hard circumstances.

“At first glance, this line doesn’t seem like it could be a comfort to those of us with sick hearts,” writes Rachelle Windham in her Relevant article “God Has a Purpose in Your Disappointment.” The picture of the “tree of life” is more beautiful than we might realize though.

“That same symbol is used in the Garden of Eden as the promise of provision, in Jeremiah 17 to illustrate a man whose trust is in the Lord, and in Revelation 22, which describes another tree of life that bears fruit in the new earth,” Windham writes.

This verse sums up so much of the struggle of having hope-- it requires wholehearted trust in the Lord’s goodness, faithfulness, provision, and his promises. It can be so hard to have faith in the unseen and to stick it out for the long haul, holding on to the belief of good and glorious things to come in the future.

“Our hope will ultimately find their restful bliss in Christ and His redemptive plan,” Windham writes. “He alone has the power to forever wipe away tears. He alone has the ability to satisfy the deepest longings of our souls. Only Jesus can heal our sick hearts. The beautiful part is that the deferment only adds to the bliss of fulfillment. It’s worth the wait.”

But how do we wait well? How do we hold on to hope faithfully? How do we trust God completely, especially when we are discouraged?

Here are a few simple ideas for when life gets hard and you’re struggling to believe in God’s promises:

  • Journal your gratitude. Using a simple journal like this one will help turn your focus from your frustrations to gratefulness instead. Spend a few moments each day writing out a few things you are thankful for-- even if they feel small and insignificant. Over time, your attitude will begin to shift and you’ll start to notice a difference in your outlook on life.
  • Spend time in prayer. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider doing a 30-day prayer challenge-- the prompts and Scripture passages for each day will help you focus on different ways to draw near to the Lord as you communicate with him.
  • Share with a trusted friend. Sharing your struggles, doubts, fears, and worries with a loved one will help you to feel less alone in it all, and will bring comfort and encouragement. Often, others are going through similar things, and we’d never know unless we take the first step to share our own stories! Call up a friend today or get a coffee date on the calendar, and open up about what you’re going through. Chances are, you’ll both leave feeling more empowered to face the struggles of life knowing you have someone else in your corner.
  • Meditate on Scripture. The voices in our heads can get loud and overwhelming, but the more time we spend reading the Word of God, the more his truth will seep into our minds and hearts. Start with one verse to memorize (there is a whole collection of Bible verses on hope here!) and spend time each day reading over it and reminding yourself of what the Bible says to be true.

“No ache will be wasted,” Windham says. “It all has a purpose. If you feel like you’ve been hit with one disappointment after another, know this: God is going to cash all that in one day.”

As we wait, through hard seasons and challenging circumstances, we can plant seeds of hope knowing that the Lord will bring them to life in abundance in his perfect timing. No matter what we are going through, no matter how we are feeling, the Lord has a purpose and a plan for it all. We can confidently have hope in him.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Publication date: November 15, 2017

Rachel Dawson is the design editor for Crosswalk.com.

I remember my first experience having a living space without my parents. It was my second year of college and I had moved off campus with two roommates. Although our apartment was much more suited to practicality than to homeyness, it seemed like a whole new world of exciting possibilities to me to be able to manage this whole house with only two friends helping.

I can’t help but smile when I think back on that time in my life. Although I had regularly done chores and household tasks before then, that was my first experience truly being in charge of a household, including the tasks of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the bathroom, and a myriad of other everyday tasks. I smile when I think of this new experience because what was so new then quickly became mundane and routine.

Now, when I think of the household tasks that need to be done, even in the small apartment where my husband and I live, the list is long and it often feels like I am racing the clock to fit them all in every week.

It often feels like, what with work, social events, church activities, and other life commitments, I can barely keep up with loading the dishes into the dishwasher and sweeping the floors.

Jenna Fleming addresses this feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed due to household tasks in her article for Revive Our Hearts titled “Home: A Place to Manage, Not Master.”

Fleming starts off by sharing a typical scenario in her home life: her alarm rings at six a.m. and from there she is catapulted without feeling ready into a whirlwind of making breakfast, getting ready, cleaning the kitchen, and attempting to get her energetic kids ready for school.

She then contrasts this chaotic (but very relatable) scene with how she would ideally like for her mornings to go:

“I get a head start in the mornings before the kids, always one step ahead. Quiet time, coffee, a load of laundry, and a shower would have already been checked off the list. I would be refreshed and cheerful, ready to start the new day and cook a fine breakfast for the family, other than the usual popping a waffle in the toaster. ...Ah, sheer serenity,” she writes.

Perhaps this is the kind of scenario you feel like you are always striving for as well. I know I often feel like I am just trying to get that one step ahead. But reading Fleming’s story made me realize something: since I can even feel overwhelmed and stressed by all I think I need to accomplish in the home, and I don’t even have any children yet and my husband is very helpful with housework, then it will likely only get “worse.”

What, then, is the solution?

As Fleming has come to realize, we don’t need to strive for perfection. Instead, we are free to do what we can and be content with the reality of life’s messiness.

The reality is that God has called most of us to simple, everyday tasks (as I write about here), and we have an opportunity to glorify Him even in these seemingly thankless and never-ending things on our to-do lists.

He has called us to work as unto Him and not for our own glory, but He also promises to be with us, even (especially!) on those difficult mornings.

As Fleming reminds us, “Home is a place to manage, not master...Manage is not control.”

She goes on to say that, what God may be requiring of us is simply to let go of holding so tightly to our to-do lists and to make our homes a place of respect and kindness, to make sure our children feel valued and noticed.

This is truly a better mark of a well-managed household than spotless floors or folded laundry. And perhaps, if you’re like me, this is something of which you need to remind yourself often.

“Glorifying God through loving those in our care is at the heart of managing the home, though it's often messy and full of mistakes. I think this is what Paul meant [in 1 Timothy 5:15 and Titus 2:4-5]. We don't direct our family like chess pieces but serve them as gifts from God to be treasured and loved,” concluded Fleming.


Do you struggle with striving for perfection and needing control when it comes to the running of your household? How can you surrender this tendency to Jesus today?

 

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/NeONBRAND

Publication date: November 14, 2017

Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com