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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.


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About clairebeautiful

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  1. clairebeautiful

    Is Healthy Eating a Basic Requirement for Christians?

    I like this. I totally agree. I think it is easy for Christians to find strict rules about drinking (Baptists and others are adamantly against it) and of course illegal drugs... but FOOD is one of the most abused substances in the church. It is hard for me to sit under a fat preacher. Like anything else, if you purport to be a preacher and teacher of the word of God, self-discipline is key - and maintaining a healthy weight, well, to me, that's job one. Overeating and food addiction is a much overlooked "sin" in my opinion. All that said, when Jesus came, he mentions that he came to fulfill the law. If you go through the sermon on the mount, you will see where he sort of takes all those nit picky old testament "rules" and suggests there is a deeper element to everything, and at its core, it is responsible living. Most important: love God. Second most important: love people. And in everything else, be personally responsible and ascribe to holiness. STRIVE FOR HOLINESS. Not a small command. Doesn't mean we have to be vegetarians, but I think it also means we aren't to be drunks, liars, or lardish cows either.
  2. clairebeautiful

    Seminary- What to do

    What is the housing market like where you are right now? What are the odds you will sell your current house at a profit (or even just break even). Not a seminary wife or anything, but I did put my husband through law school when we were basically already poor. My two cents: God made it pretty obvious that he was supposed to go to law school and all the right doors opened. Lots of unexpected and seemingly bad surprises hit at the same time and things STILL worked out. The mortgage situation is a tough one. Can you get approved for a loan WHILE HE IS STILL EMPLOYED and get moved in and then plan for him to go to school? Can you downsize if you sell your current house so you can afford a new house at a lower rate (bigger downpayment possibly, lower monthly payments). Can you rent? Can you keep your current house and be landlords and use the rent money you MAKE to rent for the time he's in seminary? Can he get loans that will supplement your living expenses while he is a student? (This is what we had to do.) Not to throw another kink into your stress, but what are your healthcare options? Currently, things are bleak... that would be something you might consider as well.
  3. clairebeautiful

    Voting for Trump

    Oh my gosh. Thank you. I'm so tired of my facebook feed blowing up in favor of "THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE" no matter what that means. I swear people are true to things they can no longer even define. I'm voting for Bernie. He might be proposing many socialistic options that would put the country 3 trillion billion further in debt, but in his lifetime, he's never been a liar. I think our system of checks and balances is going to work out all the extremes that the conservatives are so worried about, and I just can't back a candidate that is a liar. (Both Hilary and Trump, guilty.) I'm going to go on a major digression here though and say this: I'm pretty tired of the American population (mostly conservatives) who only vote based on social values. I'm anti-abortion. I'm pro-2nd amendment. I'm even pro-capitalism and fiscal responsibility. All that said, how much power does a president really have when it comes to abortion in this country? It is unendingly frustrating that Christians (mostly) will declare their HATRED for a man because he is pro-choice, and never clear their glasses to consider anything good that he may have done. I've typically voted convervative in my lifetime. I'm registered independent, but I tend to run conservative. That said, I've been in support of Obama since day 1 and I think history will show that he was one of our better presidents. And I don't care who disagrees (my entire sunday school class and half my facebook friends, haha.)
  4. clairebeautiful

    What's your hobby?

    I'm currently a full time stay at home mom, with 4 kids under the age of 9. It is weird to be asked about "hobbies" because I don't get a lot of time to myself. I like writing. I also like reading. Currently, I'm getting into gardening, but more for the actual veggies than the pursuit of planting and growing things. (I actually have an online garden journal, so maybe the hobby is still writing, hah.) I also enjoy figuring out ways to entertain my kids that is fun for me as well. It is more of a necessity, but it becomes a hobby when it is fun. I like to find new places to take them, make things with them, do cool puzzles or projects with them... now that 2 are literate, we read together and talk about books, which is totally fun.
  5. clairebeautiful

    More care to live and serve

    I don't know. I think you are hitting the nail on the head for the primary reason in America that so many have turned away from church - the building and the congregation. The American church has lost sight of its original purpose. Mega churches and those we see on TV, those we drive by on Sundays that look like stadiums... they really do seem to be all about money. My own pastor (I do not attend a mega-church by any means) lives in the most expensive neighborhood in my small town. There is a lot of money floating around many churches... ...but it is often difficult to see the fruit of the funds. We have jumbo trons, and the latest technology (and smoke machines!) for a "Worship Experience" - but meanwhile, the majority of the evangelicals are raging republicans decrying across social media "DOWN WITH BERNIE - HE'S A SOCIALIST." And I think: isn't the church supposed to be socialist? Wasn't Jesus, basically, a socialist? When did gathering our money and sitting on it become the way of the American Christian? How are we helping the poor? How are we helping the sick, the children, the widows, those with mental disabilities, teenage moms, the homeless. I can stand behind a ministry like those of Francis Chan, Jenn Hatmaker, and others. There are some churches left in the world putting their money where Christ's mouth was. But the bigger picture of Church is sadly running it's own reputation into the ground.
  6. clairebeautiful

    Dreams and premonitions.

    I absolutely believe in the power of God to speak to us through dreams. It is all over the Old Testament. Not only that, it is still pretty prevalent in many cultures, just not more modern cultures like Western Europe and America. We recently had missionaries come "home" for a time of update and prayer to our church. They minister in Asia - mostly to Muslims. The number one request on their prayer list is to pray for God to speak to these people in dreams, because it is "what they are expecting." They are taught, since childhood, to take their dreams absolutely seriously, and to expect to hear from God in that way. No, I don't believe in Internet dream interpreters. Nor do I believe that as a modern Christian with the Word of God readily at my disposal, that I should be LOOKING for God in dreams as a primary communication. But I don't discredit that it happens still and is real.
  7. clairebeautiful

    Godly Women

    SO TRUE. And so sad. I fought it, as a high school English teacher - this cultural phenomenon to get the the shortest answer possible as quickly as possible. Now, I'm working on raising children of my own who are in the habit of enjoying the journey more than the destination. We have become a society of easy answers, quick answers, and finality. We're all about winning, even when we don't fully understand the fight. What happened to the mindsets of the ancient philosophers... those great men (and I'm sure women too) who just wrote pages and pages of stream of consciousness. It's boring. Right? We're bored. Hard to re-learn how to slow down after moving quickly for a while. Hard to hear, "It goes by too fast," when we are constantly running and feeling behind. A good reminder in our spiritual walks as well as everything else.
  8. clairebeautiful

    Have You Finished The Bible?

    I was also going to suggest the One Year Bible. It really is about 10 minutes a day - and if you don't want to invest, there are free printables that allow you to check off what you've done. I went to a Christian HS, where we studied the entire NT in depth over the 4 years of Bible class. Then I went to Baylor, where New Testament and Old Testament were required classes. Before my freshman year in college, I'm not sure I had read the ENTIRE Bible. But it is a difficult pursuit. I had the idea this year to read the entire bible in 100 days. Reading THAT much each day to keep up changes the mindset from one of study to one of big-picture perspective. I don't think it is a bad thing at all. But for me, the desire to read through the Bible isn't an ongoing thing. Some years I want to do it, and others, I'm content to stick to a few books that I know and love and want to linger in. Anyway - good for you in the goal. I do think that having a big picture perspective of the entire thing is foundational and a backbone it is always worthwhile to revisit.
  9. clairebeautiful

    Godly Women

    HAH. I believe it. My husband and I both were raised in the church - both went to Christian colleges... for the most part, we've both ATTENDED church of some kind for the majority of our lives (save the occasional year here or there where traveling or jobs prevented a regular Sunday off). But we've both had our qualms with Paul, off and on, for a couple of decades. I think the biggest thing killing the church is THE CHURCH - and the people inside. It is really easy to take a hard line on everything and preach, perched atop this "Biblical foundation" - by itself, fine. But attached to the ever-present Christian smugness, yeah, you got a recipe for poor attendance, disillusionment, and a whole lot of unproductive conversation going on. When it comes to salvation - I'm good. I've done drunk the kool-aid. When it comes to faith, and believing the Bible is the Word of God, again, I'm on it. But I'm not about to be one of the Christians who is afraid to ask the hard questions. I'm also okay with not receiving answers in this lifetime. I think too many Christians want to have hard and fast black and white answers to everything, and I'm just not one of them. I'm totally okay to say that there are plenty of things we're not going to fully understand in this lifetime. And I'm also okay with saying that Christian A and Christian B are allowed to disagree, and we might still end up next-door neighbors in Heaven. According to my friend Jesus (you know, THE reason we're all here discussing this) there are just two great commandments: love God, love people. We're called to be salt and light, not the judge and the jury (OR the legislature trying to rework all the laws).
  10. clairebeautiful

    God Encounters

    To answer my own question though - as I ramble on... I've been praying for a dear friend for many years. She's not a believer. But she's a friend. And I love her. I've been praying for a crisis in her life that would open a space inside her to realize a deeper need. And I've been praying for the Holy Spirit to move in her - and through me, if necessary. So she's having a crisis. And I'm expectant, and ready, and on my knees. So that's what's happening here. Also - always - raising four young kids, there are daily battles and daily victories. The most recent is with my 9yo, who has had a major (positive) attitude adjustment in recent weeks, and I'm glorifying God as we move forward with her.
  11. clairebeautiful

    God Encounters

    I don't know if it is considered a testimony unless it is made public. (Semantics. Forgive me. I taught HS English for a number of years.) Anyway, I hope you receive strength and courage to share. Maybe not here. But somewhere. I feel like I'm sitting back and watching as the world evolves into this place of instant gratification, global connections, and the growing acceptance of TMI. Meanwhile, I'm surrounded by believers who are afraid to talk about the hope that lies inside them as it applies in the here and now. And I get it. Many feel unworthy. Many feel like their story pales in comparison to others. Sharing prayer requests in small groups has become the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon game, because it is so much easier to pray for a stranger with cancer than share that I'm dealing with hating my 3 year old, or whatever. This crazy thing called The Internet has created narcissists of us all, and amped up our insecurity tenfold, because comparison is no longer just in our heads. It's all over our screens. Anyway. I feel like there could be a shift in that insecurity, if more people would just let it go and start the movement.
  12. clairebeautiful

    Godly Women

    Nothing about the Proverbs 31 woman looks like a stay at home mom to me. I used to hate her. That Proverbs 31 woman. She's darn near impossible to emulate. (And that was before I was married and had kids and bills!) But I've come to realize a few things. First, the apostle Paul, God bless him, isn't my first source for life advice. The dude was single. He also had a blinding experience by Jesus himself (remember, the horse incident) which made him a complete radical. Understandable. But not necessarily a down-to-Earth, life like mine kind of guy. He writes in extremes. He was an extremist. But I'm just an average human, walking this Earth, and trying to live a life of joy and hope and commitment to Jesus. It looks different for everyone. And the Bible isn't necessarily a literal rule-book. I've been a working woman and now am a stay-at-home-mom of 4 kids under the age of 10. I've never felt more fully like I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, than I do right now. But I also know that this isn't the end all be all for me. I still have plans that go beyond raising my family. Everything in season. And I'm married to a complete and utter feminist, which is great. We have 3 daughters, and I love that they are being raised by a man who loves them unconditionally, but empowers them also.
  13. clairebeautiful

    God Encounters

    I'm always seeking stories of recent God/Holy Spirit encounters. I think Christians are often intimidated by the word "testimony" - taking it to mean the life-story you've got that points others to Jesus. When I think of the word "testimony" though - I hope that mine is ever changing. I don't have some great grand conversion story, personally, but I have a daily walk that is always changing and evolving, and I consider "What is God doing in your life right now," a very important question of my testimony. It is hard to get believers to talk about the here and now. So, let's go. No big long how you came to Christ originally stories. What's God doing in your life right now?
  14. Wow. This is interesting and amazing. We are living in an unprecedented time of history-making through the LGBT community. My church (a Southern Baptist church) is one of the loudest opposers of the LGBT agenda. In many ways, I don't like their approach to the subject at all. And I think many church-goers take on a similar stance that seems to stem from a place of righteousness, holier-than-thou-ness, and general ignorance. I am completely content to admit that this is one area on Earth that I do not understand and I'm okay with not understanding it. I'm not even ready to admit that I believe homosexual feelings are a sin. I can't possibly understand what it feels like, but if someone were to tell me right now that my physical attraction to men was wrong, I'd have a hard time unwiring that from my hard drive, you know? So anyway. Good for this dude. But I know this subject and debate is far from being solved on Earth. I think it is a personal matter that ultimately is going to be one of those things that lies in the heart of individual believers. Trying to convince people of what is right and wrong, in this context, to me, is futile.
  15. clairebeautiful

    From where should i consider to read the bible?

    The Gospel of John is always the most recommended as a starting place, but I like Matthew better. Always have. I also encourage you to soak up as much about Jesus as you can before you start delving into the letters of the Apostle Paul - who is arguably a bit more difficult in my humble opinion. (Paul and I could have some serious arguments.) I think reading a Proverb a day is always encouraging as well, as there are exactly 31. It is easy to go by the date and just dig in. They are short and sweet and full of wisdom nuggets.

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