Love Is …
About the Guest
Has Valentine's Day become a little predictable at your house? Then why don't you focus on the real meaning of love rather than retailers' idea of it? Barbara Rainey joins her husband, Dennis Rainey, to talk about her resource designed specifically with the month of love in mind.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Has Valentine’s Day become a little predictable at your house? Then why don’t you focus on the real meaning of love? Barbara Rainey talks about her resource designed specifically with the month of love in mind.
Love Is …
Bob: The Bible says that love—real love—is not arrogant, and it’s not rude. Barbara Rainey says each one of us is, maybe, a little bit more arrogant than we realize.
Barbara: I’ve never really thought of myself as an arrogant person, but it means when you’re thinking about yourself first. Well, it’s like: “Okay; well, I do that. Everybody does that. We all think of my own interests, my own desires, and my own wants first before we think of somebody else's.” It’s just very convicting to realize how unable I am, in my own power, to love well.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Do you ever have trouble loving one another well in your marriage or in your family? We’ll see if we can give you some help on that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thank you for joining us on Tuesday edition. I’m going to turn right to your wife, at the beginning of today’s program—is that alright with you?
Dennis: That’s fine with me. I like looking at her! [Laughter]
Bob: Barbara Rainey joins us on FamilyLife Today. I’m wondering: “What is the most memorable Valentine’s Day?” You’ve had 41.
Dennis: No, no, no, no, no.
Bob: You’ve had 41—
Dennis: If you’re going to ask her, I’m going to call Mary Ann! [Laughter]
Bob: I’ll tell you what Mary Ann would say. I just want to know—
Dennis: It was the pizza! Or was it the cookie?
Bob: The heart-shaped pizza.
Dennis: Or was it the heart-shaped broccoli? [Laughter]
Bob: Yes! [Laughter] The sad thing is that the most memorable Valentine’s Days, in our relationship, all came before we were married; okay? You guys didn’t have any Valentine’s Days—
Barbara: —before we were married.
Dennis: We didn’t. That’s exactly right!
Barbara: —which explains why I don’t remember any. [Laughter] We just didn’t do much for Valentine’s Day.
Dennis: Let me just head this off at the pass because this is going to deteriorate very fast because you’ve got a good eyewitness here. [Laughter] I was going to—now, I’m not saying this was really smart—but I was going to give her a rose for our first Valentine’s and, then, follow it up each successive year—
Bob: With another rose?
Dennis: —with another.
Bob: Yes? Is this one of those it-was-the-thought-that-counts kind of things or what?
Dennis: It was. Well, it was until Barbara said, “You know, I would much prefer that you express your love to me the other 364 days of the year in various ways than going and buying a box of chocolates or a cheesy—or a cheesy [Laughter]—
Barbara: —“or rose”; yes.
Bob: So are you saying acts of service is more your love language than gifts on Valentine’s Day?
Barbara: More than roses; yes.
Dennis: Oh, yes!—in the yard—acts of service. [Laughter]
Barbara: Or around the house—I’ll take either. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes, no doubt about it. The point was that, for her, the idea of now being married 41 years and getting 41 roses was—she’s shaking her head!
Bob: Yes; “Not interested.”
Dennis: That’s not her deal.
Dennis: I think we need to find out what does communicate love to our spouses and then get on that page with them and exploit it.
Bob: I did—there were a couple of things that I did when Mary Ann and I were dating. One year, I bought a box of 32 kids’ Valentine’s cards. I wrote a different message on each one. I stamped it, and I mailed all 32.
Barbara: Nice! You know, that would cost you more now. [Laughter]
Dennis: That was back when—
Bob: It would cost me more; yes.
Dennis: —postage stamps were—what?—a nickel a piece?
Bob: Seven cents, I think.
Bob: She was living with two girls who were her roommates. When she gets 32 Valentine’s, she’s the hit of the house.
Barbara: Oh, yes!
Bob: But, then, every year on Valentine’s Day, with our kids, we used to have a Valentine’s treasure hunt.
Dennis: Well, it is a holiday that is a family holiday—first, I think, for married couples—but I think we can seize this day for really doing some great teaching with our children.
That’s what Barbara has grabbed hold of here.
Bob: That’s what you’ve been working on for a while. Where did the idea come from to do this? Do you remember?
Barbara: I don’t know that there was a particular idea. I just think it was that I know families talk about Valentine’s. I know that kids are thinking about it because they’re going to exchange valentines in their classes with their friends.
My real motivation was to equip moms and dads to be able to talk about it at home in a meaningful way—and to teach their kids the essence of love—where it comes from, why we fail at loving, why we’re not good lovers, and how we can learn to love in a relationship with Christ. It just makes sense to help moms and dads do that as the country is naturally thinking about Valentine’s anyway.
Bob: You created 15 paper hearts that fold up like a book.
Barbara: Like a card—yes, they fold in half like a card.
Bob: Alright. On the front, you’ve taken one of the characteristics of love found in
1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.
Barbara: That’s correct.
Bob: And, on the inside, you unpack that a little bit with some descriptors and with a story.
Barbara: Yes, a story.
Bob: It’s all designed so you can take the card—you can share that characteristic—read the story. Then, you’ve got a chain with clips on it so that you can make a—
Barbara: It’s a garland.
Bob: —a garland. Is that what it is? Thank you. I was looking for the word!
Barbara: It’s called a garland. [Laughter]
Bob: It’s a garland that you would hang over the fireplace, or a doorway,—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —or in the kitchen / somewhere on the cabinets.
Bob: It just talks about love.
Barbara: And it’s a reminder for everyone in the family—for February 1st through February 14th and then, hopefully, beyond—that this is what love is all about. As you add the hearts, one day at a time, through the first two weeks of February, you’re adding to the descriptors of what love is all about, what it looks like, and how we can be more loving.
Bob: Now, when you came up with this idea, one of the first things you had to do was dig a little deeper into 1Corinthians 13.
Barbara: A lot deeper!
Bob: And what stood out to you as you really spent time in that passage?
Dennis: I’ll tell you what stood out—I got a new wife!
Bob: Oh, really?
Barbara: Oh, no, no, no. It’s not that dramatic—I wish! [Laughter]
Dennis: I have to say, truthfully, maybe new/all-new is—
Bob: A little overstated?
Dennis: Yes, a little bit.
Barbara: Yes, that won’t happen until heaven; sorry.
Dennis: But I have noticed a change—in just our relating back and forth with each other—in Barbara. I think she absorbed this from the Scriptures, and I think God’s Spirit is using it in her life. She’s ministered to me as a result of that.
Bob: Now, you did have to dig in.
Bob: When you dig in, God does a work in your life; doesn’t He?
Barbara: Yes. I think what stood out to me was how guilty I was of not being able to do any of these things. I mean, I’ve always known that patience was an issue.
I had a hard time with being patient with my kids. I have a hard time being patient with my husband. I just think, naturally, we want what we want—and we want it when we want it—so that one was not too much of a surprise.
But some of the other ones were more of a surprise as I got into what it really means to be—one of them says, “Love is not arrogant.” I’ve never really thought of myself as an arrogant person—but it means when you’re thinking about yourself first. Well, it’s like: “Okay; well, I do that. Everybody does that. We all think of my own interests, my own desires, and my own wants first before we think of somebody else's.”
It’s just very convicting to realize how unable, in our own power—how unable I am, in my own power, to love well.
Dennis: I wish we had had something like this—
Barbara: Oh, I do too! Oh, my—it would have been so helpful.
Dennis: I’m not talking about the kids—forget the kids for a moment.
Barbara: Alright; I’m thinking of the kids; but yes.
Dennis: I’m thinking about our marriage.
I wish we had had this to start off our first Valentine’s Day, as a couple, where we could begin to center around: “What is this love that we’ve expressed to each other? What does it really look like?”—
Barbara: Yes, that would have been good.
Dennis: —and, “How can we become lifelong students of what the Scriptures teach about love, and reprogram our brains from the get-go, and begin to express that to one another?”
I mean, I wish, at this point, Bob—that right now, we’re looking at—it is, as you said, a garland, where these 15 cards are hanging—but I kind of wish, at this point, we’d had it like a wheel of fortune, where you can spin it. I could get one for you, Bob, and one for you, Barbara, and me—and just take a look at it and say: “You know—here’s one for you to focus on for the next 24 hours. Just work on this one.” In fact, why don’t I do that for you? [Laughter]
Bob: Oh, you’re going to pick one for me?! See, this is—[Laughter]
Dennis: Tell me when to stop as I pick them up, Bob.
Bob: Yes, you just pick whichever one!
Barbara: Are you going to point?
Bob: You just pick whichever one.
Dennis: I’m not going to—
Bob: Annnnnddd—Stop! [Laughter] Which one did you pick for me?
See, this is what I’m imagining—because he’s describing this—he’s just pulling one off the chain for me—but I’m thinking of a husband and wife playing this little game and the husband going: “Yes, Sweetheart, I’ve got one for you! [Laughter] You read this one!” [Wife responds]: “Oh, yes? You read this one!”
What did you pull off for me?
Dennis: Well, as God would have it—
Dennis: —“Love is not irritable or resentful.”
Bob: Are you going to read it now?
Dennis: “Irritable means easily-angered,—
Bob: I guess you are—
Dennis: “—which is unlovely. It means without Jesus’ love in your heart, it is impossible to love difficult people. Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that can lead to resentment.” That’s a good one because we have to forgive, and forgiveness means you have to give it up. You have to give up the right to punish.
“All of us are susceptible to anger when tired, or hungry,”— hungry, Bob / hungry?—
Bob: Why? Why? What?!
Dennis: “—or stressed.” I’ve traveled with you—from the time we land, you’re looking for a Cheesecake Factory.
Bob: I am. There are certain places where you need—
Dennis: I’m not saying you’re irritable, but it’s important: “…or when we’re stressed; but even then, we must choose love. Love forgives wrongs.”
You know, that’s really a good reminder because every relationship must forgive when they have been wronged.
Bob: So you are saying this is what I need to focus on for the next 24 hours?
Dennis: Well, it’s the one that I pulled off. I wasn’t looking. You saw—
Bob: It was just random—you were not looking.
Dennis: It was totally random.
Bob: Yes. It was divinely-ordained. [Laughter]
Dennis: It was!
Barbara: That’s right.
Dennis: And do you remember what the story was on this one, Barbara?
Barbara: I don’t know; but if you remind me of it, I will remember.
Dennis: “In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg Murray and her little brother travel through time on a quest to find their scientist father who vanished during an experiment.”
Bob: This was about the Tesseract. I remember this story; yes.
Dennis: Do you want to go ahead and finish the story?
Barbara: Well, it’s a great little story because it’s a make-believe story about other worlds, and other planets, and time travel, which is fascinating to kids and adults alike. What happens is that Meg is trying to rescue her brother and her father. She is confronted by this creature that’s called an It. It’s very vague who the It is; but it’s clear, when you read the book, that the It wants her to be angry. She gets angry, and she gets irritable, and she’s frustrated. Then, she realizes, all of a sudden, that that is exactly what he wanted her to do—the It wanted her to be angry / the It wanted her to be irritable.
Then, she realized that, if she chose love, it made the It frustrated. That was not what he could handle. She learned that choosing love was a better choice than choosing anger.
When she chose love, her father was released; and she, and her brother, and her father traveled back to time and landed back in their own backyard.
Barbara: It’s a really sweet story. It is make-believe; but it still is the truth that we’re always better off when we choose love rather than being irritable, or angry, or impatient with other people. Love is always the best choice.
Bob: You know—I was leading devotions with our staff on 1Corinthians 13, just yesterday morning. I made the statement that most of us think that the opposite of love is hate.
Bob: But, if you read 1Corinthians 13, the opposite of love is self.
Barbara: Yes; that’s right.
Bob: It’s really the focus on us because all of these attributes have, at their core, a self-focused, self-centered orientation that is the enemy of love. Paul David Tripp, in The Art of Marriage®, says, “We were made to live upward and outward, but most of us live inward.”
Bob: We’re focused on us—our thing—instead of being focused on God and others. That’s what 1Corinthians 13 points us back to—we’ve got to live upward and outward.
Barbara: Yes—which is why we have to know Jesus Christ / it’s why we have to depend on Him and learn from Him in order to love because He’s the only person who has ever lived who did not live focused on self. Every other person, who has ever lived on the planet, has been absorbed with self, which is why we don’t know how to love well.
So it’s important that we know Him, and that we know His Word, and that we read His Word—and allow it to transform us—so that we can actually begin to, in a very small way, learn how to love well.
Bob: And that’s so important for moms and dads to recognize—first, for themselves and, then, for your children. Jesus is not our perfect moral example, where we say: “Here’s how He was. Now, you try to act like Him.”
Bob: But Jesus was—instead,—
Bob: —at the very—He is life! He is the power to do this. I think of the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, when he says, “I want to know Him, and I want to know the power of His resurrection.” Paul is saying: “I can’t do this. I’ve tried. I tried to live the righteous life all on my own—did not get there. It doesn’t work. It’s meaningless, but I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection because it’s Him living through me—it is the only way I can get this done.”
Barbara: It reminds me—when we were raising our children, we had a family that lived next door to us, at the time. They had a son who was a very angry child. He was always being mean to our kids. I remember, as a mom, it was initially just frustrating to me. Then, I would find myself being angry with him. When I would see him, I would just feel this anger at this child. He was really doing mean things.
Dennis: He threw a rock over one of our kid’s heads one time—
Dennis: —and we’re not talking about a little bitty—
Barbara: —it wasn’t a pebble.
Dennis: —it wasn’t a stone.
It was a rock the size of a loaf of bread.
Bob: It could have hurt your child.
Barbara: Very seriously hurt our child. He was an angry child. He didn’t have a good background. He was troubled, and he was difficult. But I remember thinking: “Jesus wants me to love him. I don’t want to love him! I don’t like him! He’s not nice to my kids; I don’t like it when he comes over to our house!”
But I remember—it was one of the first times I had ever done this—I remember, saying to myself: “This is somebody that God wants you to love. The only way that you’re going to be able to love this person is to ask God to love him through [you].” It’s exactly what you’re talking about—I did not have the capacity to love this child. I naturally loved my children, but I did not have the capacity to love this boy. I asked God to love him through me. I was amazed, that within days, I remember that anger was going away. I actually started kind of liking this kid.
It was such a transformation in my heart—I went: “Wow! It’s really true. God really can give us the ability to love when we don’t have the ability to love.”
Dennis: And I’m thinking of working for Bill Bright, for more than three decades, and listening to a message he gave over, and over, and over again. He had a number of messages. You sometimes wondered, “Bill, haven’t you learned anything different recently?” but he kept going back over certain messages over, and over, and over again. One was about the Holy Spirit—another was about the power of forgiveness.
One of the most memorable messages I heard—I must have heard it 15 times from Dr. Bill Bright—was how to love by faith. It was just what Barbara was talking about—how you love the unlovable by asking God, in faith, to love that other person through you. Bill Bright used to say: “You know, I’m an introvert by personality.
I’m not naturally, and don’t come across as, a loving person; but I’ve asked God, over my lifetime, to help me be a great lover of people. I want to be known as a person of love.”
That one thought—for me, Bob—lodged in my heart. It really goes back to
1 Corinthians 13, where it says [paraphrased]: “If I speak with the tongues of angels, and I have the faith to move a mountain, and I can do all of these miracles, but have not love, I’m a zero. I’ve missed life—
Dennis: —“because if you miss God’s love, you’ve missed life.”
Bob: And I think it’s important that, in that passage, to recognize that Paul is not saying, “If you lack love, you are somehow spiritually-diminished.” He is saying, “If you lack love, you’ve got nothing!”—it’s not that you have less—“Gifts, minus love, equals zero,”—
Barbara: Zero; yes!
Bob: —not “…equals a little less than the gifts.”
Dennis: Well, there’s a reason for it because, in Galatians 5, when Paul was talking, he described the deeds of the flesh—that is what we’re talking about here—it’s anger, strife, conflict, lust, and all of these things.
Dennis: But then he goes to the fruit of the Spirit—which any person, who knows Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, has the Holy Spirit. Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit”—be filled with the Spirit—“the fruit of the Spirit is…” What is the first one he mentions?
Dennis: “The fruit of the Spirit is love.”
Dennis: So you can know you are a Christian / you can know you are a follower of Christ when you’ve begun to notice God is changing your attitude toward some people who are difficult to love. Some of them may be family members. [Laughter] I mean, if you have a big enough family, you’re going to have a child that is an irregular child—he is not going to be easy to love because he’s going, probably, to be a lot like you.
Bob: Do you think you’ll only have one of those?
Barbara: Well, if you only have one—it might be a brother or a sister—it might be an in-law—
Bob: There you go.
Barbara: I mean, there are going to be multiple opportunities.
Dennis: There are so many applications of this that we need to be tutored about how to love. That’s really what I love about Barbara—and what I love about what she has done here—she wants us to get in touch with what the Holy Spirit wants to do in our hearts.
Bob: One of the ones that is tricky is here, near the end, where it says, “Love believes all things.”
Bob: You read that and you go, “Well, that doesn’t sound smart—to believe all things.” What is the Bible saying when it tells us to believe all things?
Barbara: Well, simply, it means we always believe God / we always believe the truth—we always believe what He says. It doesn’t mean we believe everything we hear / everything we see. It means we believe what is true. The Scripture is what is true—God is what’s true. So, it is very simply meaning we always believe in God. The “believes all” doesn’t mean “believe everything”—it means “always believe.”
Bob: The hope here is that moms and dads would hang in their home, here, during the Valentine’s season or throughout the year, this garland that has 15 heart-shaped cards on it.
Bob: You can take these off, at any point. It would not hurt to go through this more than once; don’t you think?
Barbara: I think it might be a good idea to do it more than once, actually. [Laughter]
Dennis: Oh, my goodness!
Barbara: It would have probably taken our family once a month, forever, maybe.
Dennis: Yes. It might not be bad, after you go through the 14 days leading up to Valentine’s Day, to then begin to go through them, one a month—
Dennis: —and just review it. Talk about, as a family, how you can do a better job of exhibiting this to one another.
Bob: Yes, but just keep in mind that, like you said, one of these days, one of your kids is going to come up to you and say, “Mommy/Daddy, what about this one?!” [Laughter]
Dennis: Nothing like a little accountability. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s right.
If you want to go through these, in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, you’d better go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order the “How Do I Love Thee?” kit from Barbara Rainey.
It’s one of the new Ever Thine Home® resources that Barbara has created. You’ll get the cards that you can hang on the chain garland so that you can display it there in your home and use this as you lead up to Valentine’s Day. It’s just a great way to bring the Scriptures to life in a season when people are talking about love and romance. You can talk about what true love and romance looks like.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the “How Do I Love Thee?” resource that Barbara has created. Order it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” While you’re online, check out the valentine cards that Barbara has made for kids too. It’s called “Be His”—15 cards in a box that kids can use in a classroom or mail out valentines to relatives.
Order a box of “Be His” valentines from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or again, you can call to order at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Speaking of a couple who knows what real love looks like—we want to congratulate our friends, Joey and Michelle Rivera, who live in Southern California, and listen to FamilyLife Today on KKLA. They are celebrating 30 years of marriage today. “Congratulations!” to the Riveras. By the way, I think these guys have hosted an Art of Marriage® event—maybe a Stepping Up® event too—I mean; yes—“Congratulations!” to the Riveras on 30 years of marriage today.
We are all about anniversaries, here at FamilyLife Today. We are the “Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries.” Part of that is because we’re celebrating an anniversary of our own—FamilyLife is celebrating 40 years of ministry this year. We started in 1976—still going strong in 2016.
But it’s not our anniversary we’re focused on—it’s your anniversary because we exist so that more couples will have more anniversaries and more families will be rooted and grounded in what the Bible teaches about what a marriage and family is supposed to be.
I need to say a quick, “Thank you,” to those folks who help make all of this possible—those of you who are Legacy Partners and those of you who will, from time to time, make a donation in support of FamilyLife Today. We could not do what we do without you—so we’re grateful for your financial support of this ministry.
In fact, if you can help with a donation today, we’ve got a gift for you. It’s a copy of a conversation we had recently with Francis and Lisa Chan about their marriage. We’ll also send you a copy of their book, You and Me Forever, as a way of saying, “Thank you for your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.” You can donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—donate over the phone.
Or request the book and CD when you mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how you can share with your kids a faith that sticks. We’ll talk about what a sticky kind of faith looks like. Kara Powell will be with us for that. Hope you can be here as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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