June 3, 2008 Leave a comment
Reflections on life as a disciple of Jesus Christ
February 14, 2008 2 Comments
How much better can you start your day than time with your sweetheart and then going to chapel and explaining love to 100 pre-k to 8th graders in 5 minutes or less?
I want to share two verses that you all know very well but I think are at the heart and soul of love. By the way, this does not reflect the content of my talk to the kids!
1 John 4:7-11 – “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Love is not an attribute of God on par with omnipresence, omniscience, etc. Those things describe God. Love is different because God is love. A man can be tall or short, large or small but those things have a different quality than to say that man is alive or has life. Both can be true descriptors but the quality is different. Love is different than how much God knows or how long he has existed, or where he is located in space and time. Love is the very core of who God is.
When Jesus was asked what the most important part of the whole Law was he didn’t point to a commandment or an ordinance. He didn’t point to any of God’s covenant initiation stories. He pointed to love.
Matthew 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
What does it mean for all the Law and Prophets to hang on these two commandments? The word hang, κρεμαννυμι (kremanumi), is a word that is typically used for something that physically hangs on another (eg – Gal 3:13). To hang on something is to depend on it.
“As objects hang on a nail, and falls if the nail does not hold, so that they are essentially dependent on it, so the details of moral conduct or individual requirements of the Law are dependent on the law of love…It means that the love of God is seen to be the sustaining basis of all human attitudes and actions.” TDNT, 3, 920.
If the nail of love slips from the wall all that it holds will tumble with it. Loveless obedience is not anchored in who God is because God is love. When Kittel can give you a warm and fuzzy Valentine’s Day you know you are a nerd.
September 27, 2007 7 Comments
In the midst of all the grief and emotions of last week we were sitting with Missy’s parents in our living room. We decided it was time to eat, even though none of us really felt all that hungry. After discussing some possibilities we decided we wanted some vegetable soup. As Missy’s mom got ready to go to the store to get the ingredients we received a phone call from a friend at church. They told us to have a look on our door step and that something had been left for us. Would you believe it was a container of hot vegetable soup?
September 26, 2007 7 Comments
Yesterday’s Oprah show had the results of an online poll from Oprah.com showed that 50% of respondents felt pornography had affected their sex lives and 72% said the effect had been a positive one. Something tells me the sample of respondents was not very representative of the general population. The show was pushing to re-label pornography “erotica” changing the connotation from something sinful to something natural. Dr. Gail Saltz was one of the featured experts. You may recognize her name from being a Today Show expert on mental health. She was endorsing the use of pornography with the following disclaimer, “The problem is, it can be a double-edged sword in that anything really pleasurable can become kind of addictive.” Kind of? With all of the mental health studies documenting the devastating effects of pornography how can she, as a mental health expert, endorse its use and modify “addictive” with “kind of”? That is like saying crack cocaine may in some instances be addictive but that shouldn’t keep someone from trying it because it can sure make you feel good too. That is a crazy thing for a health professional to say. If that isn’t strange enough the show also featured a couple who have an open marriage but are somehow not swingers and say they are not into “casual sex”? Her husband described his wife as having “more love in her life [that]…doesn’t take anything away from what the two of us have.” I am getting the feeling we no longer even understand what the word love means any more.
“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.”
September 25, 2007 Leave a comment
I thought that was a pretty good statement. When we are committed to letting our love for God and others go into action to win the lost good things will certainly follow. Remove any of the four and all the rest will fall apart. Remove the commitment and lose the consistency. Remove the commandments (love of God and neighbor) and lose your compassion. Remove the commission and lose your connection. Put them all together and watch the church be the church.
August 30, 2007 7 Comments
This is a VERY powerful video that will give you chills. It starts a little slow. Just make sure to watch the whole thing. This is a great demonstration of spiritual warfare and the power of Christ.
August 30, 2007 4 Comments
In most churches the majority of the prayer requests are about physical health. One reason for this is because physical problems are more obvious and painful. Why is it that most church goers don’t make very many confessional or spiritually focused prayer requests? One reason is probably because sin is not visibly obvious and doesn’t physically hurt. Its effects might but sin itself doesn’t. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a prideful thought and you got a stomach ache for a week? But it just doesn’t work that way.
Sin and Responsibility
I think there is another reason we stay away from making confessional and spiritually focused prayer requests. We tend to request prayers for the things that we have the least responsibility for. This is especially true of men. We don’t mind praying for a broken arm or an illness that we caught. Why? Partly because we don’t typically blame people for being sick and we don’t look down on them for their body failing them. We can continue to uphold our manhood and show strength of character when we have a cold or the flu or cancer. When we are physically sick people show a lot of compassion toward us.
Receiving Confessional Christians
What happens when we request prayers for sin in our lives? Men may feel a chink was taken out of the armor of their manhood and character. They may feel that people will look down on them and perceive them to be weak. Instead of a caring and loving reaction some people reject and avoid that person. When we sin we bear responsibility for our poor decisions. To make prayer requests about our sinfulness may not be met with the same love and compassion that we received the last time we had the flu. It may be met with contempt and bitterness by other Christians and the result is that no one will want to try that again.
How to Improve
How do we make this better? All Christians need to start from the humble posture that even though they too may not have felt safe to express their sinfulness to another Christian, they are in fact fellow sinners. Before we look on other people as unworthy, we need to remember that we stand right next to them in unworthiness. Instead of looking at those who admit they are weak and saying, “Aha! I knew it. You are so weak and are a miserable excuse for a Christian.” We need to be saying, “We are a lot more alike than I thought.” A high horse is a safe place to criticize. It is hard to criticize with your arm around someone.
I spoke with a brother a few weeks ago who said he came forward 10 years ago to have prayers for sin he was struggling with. Over the following months and years not a single person called, wrote, or asked him how he was doing with his struggle. He finished his story by saying, “I will never do that ever again.” I think that is sad. It is also very avoidable. We can avoid it when we stop comparing ourselves with others and start comparing ourselves with God. When we do that we will realize that we too are unworthy and sinful. We will respond like Isaiah when he came into the presence of God, “Woe to me! I am ruined.” And God will respond to us as he did with Isaiah, “your guilt it taken away and your sin atoned for.”
When we look with contempt at those who are contrite and repentant, we put our own forgiveness in jeopardy because it shows a profound misunderstanding of what God has done for us through Christ. ” Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Col 3:13. Let us also remember that those who confess may be the strong ones and those who criticize or shun may be the weak, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Cor 12:10. Let us also remember to keep people who come forward or ask for help in our prayers on a regular basis. It often seems something magical takes place on Sunday morning during the closing prayer where the names of those who came forward are erased from our memory and it is replaced with the thought of where we are going for lunch. Receiving a contrite brother or sister appropriately means we take the time to remember them in our prayers on a regular basis and that we follow up with them to see if they need any further support. I know I could do a lot better with this than I do.