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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Not Easily Angered & No Lists

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

***
A young man walks with a baby stroller with a crying baby inside. The young man speaks quietly, “Calm down George, don’t scream, George, quiet, George!” An elderly woman passing by stops and tells him, “I see you are really patient with your son George”…The man answers, “I am George”.

***

So who hear has an anger problem?  How many of you have the occasional outburst?  How many of you, if I asked you about a random person in your life, could name the last three things they did against you?  The section of this famous passage we’re focusing on today has to do with these two things.  Anger and keeping a list of things done against you.  These two things are discussed within the context of perfect love…the picture of Christ himself.

This verse specifically says that love isn’t “easily angered.”  Now, all through the Bible, anger is discussed.  David, in many of his Psalms, writes of God’s anger towards His enemies.  David also writes that God is slow to become angry but He is rich in love (Psalm 145:8).  In Psalm 103 David records that God’s anger is not harbored forever.  So we can see that God has an appropriate and righteous anger against things reflecting evil.  But His love overshadows that anger.  In James 1:19-20, James writes that we, as believers in Jesus, should be slow to anger because human anger does not produce things of God.  Human anger is selfish.  Human anger doesn’t fit well into the command ‘…love your neighbor as yourself.”  Can a person, a creation of God, feel righteous anger like God feels?  I believe we can, but David warns us about anger.  In Psalm 37 David writes that anger will only lead to evil.  Anger is obviously a very powerful emotion and feeling.  It seems to me, from what I read, that anger is something that God has the right to, but we as humans should stay away from.  Expressing anger may be the first step to our downfall…to the ruin of our reputation…to turning someone away from the Savior that we profess.  Anger is not pretty.  It usually leads to words and actions and regret.  Not only these things, but medical science has shown that our bodies don’t handle angry stress well either.  Blood pressure pills are downed by many an angry person each and every day.

People who are easily angered as well as quiet people who have a huge amount of patience are often plagued by the next “not” part of this verse.  Love does not keep an ongoing list of wrongs.  Let’s look at one event that I marvel at each time I read it.  In the book of Acts we have recorded for us the quick accusation, trial and murder of a follower of Jesus.  Stephen was a man picked by the disciples to become a ministry leader within the church.  Soon thereafter, Stephen was wrongly accused of breaking the law (Acts 6).  He stood before his accusers and told the story of how Jesus came to save the world from sin.  His accusers didn’t even let him finish when they quickly dragged him outside the city gates and stoned him to death.  As earthly life was leaving his body, he looked around and asked God to not hold this sin against those throwing the stones (Acts 7:60).  Jesus said the same on the cross as He looked across the band of people hurling insults at Him while waiting for Him to take His last breath.  This is the exact opposite of keeping a record of wrongs.  Forgiveness on the spot.

Jesus speaks to this when He talks to the disciples about prayer (Matthew 6:14).  Jesus forgives us.  Therefore, we should forgive others.  The Bible states that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).  It doesn’t say, “I love you…and oh…remember all those things you did against me?!”  Jesus, while explaining the new covenant through the last supper, explained that the wine was a reminder to us of the blood that washes away our sin (Matthew 26:28).  If God kept a record of our wrongs there’d be no way of us getting into Heaven.  Jesus provided us a way to have those sins erased.  Christ compels us to have the same attitude towards others and Paul writes about it here in this passage.

Love without anger and without lists is what we’re called to.  It matches the love of Jesus.  We’re called to let His light shine through us.  If we allow our anger or our list-making to get in the way, then Jesus can’t truly shine.  People won’t see Him through our actions or words.  They’ll see us…and we can’t be their way to eternity with their Father.  Help people see Jesus because He’s the way to Heaven…the only way.  Think about it, everything Jesus did was within the objective of getting people to Heaven with Him.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Proverbs 15:1 ~ A gentle answer turns anger away. But mean words stir up anger.

Questions for Growth – Ok…this list of questions will be tough for some of you.  If you are one who is easily angered, you’re probably slow to see your own anger.  It’s just what is.  Most people who easily blow a fuse don’t think they blow fuses.  So, what I ask is that you look in the mirror and see yourself not with any masks…but as Jesus sees you.  Maybe watch a movie or TV show and watch how angry people are received by others.  Watch how other people internalize anger that is directed at them.  This might give you a picture of what your anger does to those around you.

  • Do you have an anger issue?  Be honest?
  • Do you easily want to throw out words or phrases when someone creates a scenario that makes you angry?
  • What would 30 seconds of second-thinking on your part do for the person you’re about to blast?
  • How would some of your relationships change if you could get past what someone else has done to you…either intentionally or unintentionally?  What’s holding you back from forgiving them?  You might not be able to forget…but you can definitely stop from holding something against them.
  • If you are an easily angered person or one who keeps lists, can you imagine what life might be like for those around you if you were to walk with the love Paul writes about?  What would change……?

Truth Spoken

February 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Truth spoken outside of love falls on deaf ears.

No Room for Bullying – Not Rude & Not Selfish

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

No Room for Bullying – Not Rude & Not Selfish

1 Corinthians 13:5

  • I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.
  • How about never? Is never good for you?
  • It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • I’m already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  • Ahhh… I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again

Funny?  Maybe for bumper stickers.  But may I say that if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a phrase such as these, you know how it feels.  Is it any wonder why Paul wrote about rudeness and selfishness when he discussed the perfect love of God?  These two topics are complete opposites of the command for us to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  It goes against Paul’s exhortation to ‘consider others better than’ ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  God is in the business of valuing people and lifting others up.  Rudeness and selfishness do nothing to lift or love a neighbor.

Bullying happens when someone acts or speaks for their selfish need.  It really has nothing to do with the other person…but in the end has everything to do with the other person.  The person who is intentionally rude or intentionally selfish has a need for power.  This person wants to be heard, wants to be laughed with, and possibly thinks that the only way to success is through getting just what they need.  In reality, the potential is that they take life and peace from those around them.

There is a sadder truth here as well.  The one who is rude and selfish might have never been told that they have eternal worth…so much so that someone died for them.  Maybe they’ve been told over and over that there’s nothing important about them.  Maybe their environment has been nothing but hell.  They’ve grown up not knowing that they were created to be a best friend of God.  So they act out accordingly, mimicking what they’ve seen and heard.  Doing wrong things defensively thinking that it’s helping them.

Let’s move to the one who is on the receiving end of selfish acts and words.  I’ve seen so many kids through my years in ministry whose faces are always downcast.  They eat up the attention our ministry leaders give them.  They talk nonstop because someone actually took a few minutes to ask them how their day was or to tell them they were wearing really cool shoes.  And yes, when I say kids I mean all the way to college age and even older.  Truth is there’s no age that selfishness or rudeness doesn’t affect.

Can you see what the lie is here?  Satan has told many of us, somewhere along the line, that getting a laugh at the sake of someone else is OK and worthwhile.  We’ve been told that what we want in life is more important…maybe more so than anyone’s needs…and it’s OK.  We’ve been lied to.

Here’s the truth.  Perfect love is not rude or selfish.  The other truth is this…and this is the hard one…it’s a choice to not be rude and not be selfish.  Some people may say this, “But I have weakness to be sarcastic.”  Maybe this, “I’ve always been driven to get what I want.”  Paul makes no allowances for a personality test we may have taken years ago.  Love is love.  It is what it is.  And God wants us to look more and more like his son Jesus so others get to see Him and maybe want Him.  For some this choice to not be rude and to put away selfish tendencies is going to be hard, but that doesn’t mean we give up or not work hard.  Remember the end goal in God’s eyes?  God wants us to be in Heaven with Him forever…and to take as many people as possible with us.  The more we love others like 1 Corinthians 13 calls for, the more God has a chance to use us as an open and willing servant.  Open hands and an open heart…just like Jesus.  That’s the truth.  : – )

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Have you been bullied, talked down do, and trampled on because of someone else’s selfishness?  How did that feel?
  • Have you bullied, been rude, trampled on someone to get what you want?  How did that feel?  What was the look on the other person’s face?
  • Do you have personality that loves rude sarcasm or rude jokes?  How can you change that…today?
  • Do you have a personality that is easily broken?  How can you lift your heart even though you may have people around you who regularly beat you up?  (Quick hint:  The Bible has the story about how important you are.  The church isn’t perfect, but it’s a group of people struggling with the same things you do.)
  • Do you have a friend who can be honest with you when you let something slip that is out of place?  If not, who could that be?  Will you talk to them this week to watch your back and call you out if you fall?
  • Try memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  The Bible says that if we can meditate on God’s word enough, it will be there for us as a reminder of how to live daily.  And memorizing also gives the Holy Spirit more things to use that we’ve planted in our own brains.

So How Do You Picture Jesus?

February 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus. ~ Mother Teresa

When Jesus comes, the shadows depart.  ~Author unknown

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” ~ Kevin Max

“For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.” ~ Brennan Manning

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35

He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8

 

***

Standard Publishing released a drawn image of Jesus that most everyone who grew up in the church would probably recognize.  I can’t remember the exact year, but it was in one of their VBS programs of the late 70’s or early 80’s.  Many people would, without a doubt, recognize the picture of the Last Supper painted by Da Vinci.  Even more recently was the picture that Mel Gibson created for us in the movie The Passion of the Christ.  We all have images of Jesus that we’ve seen throughout our lives.  Some are familiar to the masses and some simply familiar to us.

Paul pens a picture of Christ for us.  In the passage of Scripture contained in 1 Corinthians 13, he writes of what love is and what love isn’t.  He has just written of what the body of Christ really is…the church…and then writes of what it is suppose to look like.  Love.  We are to love as Christ; and if we do that successfully people whom we love will see Jesus rather than ourselves.  Our love for others will be a picture of Jesus for them.  The church’s love for others will be a picture of Jesus to the world.

Think for a second the pictures friends and neighbors and co-workers get as they witness you throughout a day.  Do your choices, thoughts, words or facial expressions point to Jesus?  Now I know that we can’t all be perfect, but on that point do people see a repentant person as well.

If we are to show people Jesus, not just by “preachin to ‘em,” we need to daily be aware of how people see us.  Here’s Paul’s checklist of Jesus’ attributes to be shown in our lives:

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Not Envious
  • Not Boastful
  • Not Proud
  • Not Rude
  • Not Self Seeking
  • Not Easily Angered
  • Not Keeping Records of Wrongs
  • Not Smiling at Evil
  • Rejoicing In Truth
  • Protecting
  • Trusting
  • Hoping
  • Persevering Knowing Love Will Never Fail

So how do you live each day?  I’ve been trying harder to evaluate myself regularly.  Sometimes the days have been crappy.  Yes, I could have used a stronger word there.  Some days are better than others…to my surprise.  I’ve been on a Bible reading plan through www.youversion.com and it has shown to be very helpful.  I’ve also jumped into some challenging debates and discussions through an open religious forum on the world wide net.  I’ve found myself persecuted and made fun of but also challenged.  When I can remember that the people I’m in discussions with aren’t making choices about me or making fun of me, it’s helpful.  Jesus said that if we are persecuted, made fun or written off, its really Him that they are rejecting.  That helps me to form my words and phrases in a way that maybe Jesus would (see checklist above).

I guess the point is this.  Our job, our mission, is to take people to Heaven with us.  In order to do that, we need to watch our P’s and Q’s.  When Jesus asks us to believe in Him, it’s not just a rational decision.  It’s submission.  When we are able to submit our whole life to Him, people will be able to see Him even through our sin and imperfection.  This is the work of the church.  When we follow Paul’s checklist, we give an image of Jesus to other people.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Bragging and Arrogant Pride

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

***

Bragging about old times
two men were boasting to each other about their old army days.
“Why, my outfit was so well drilled,” declared one, “that when they

presented arms all you could hear was slap, slap, click.”
“Very good,” conceded the other, “but when my company

presented arms you’d just hear slap, slap, jingle.”
“What was the jingle?” asked the first. “Oh,” replied the other offhand, “just our medals.”

***

 

Ever get into one of those conversations that headed the direction of the joke above?  You tell your story and your friend seems to think they need to ‘one up’ you.  After they’ve had their turn, you’re ready with yet another story that will top theirs.  Sometimes we do this in jest, but other times we really do this because we absolutely want our story, no matter how far the truth is stretched, to be the best.  We boast and it gets out of hand.

 

I’m sure that most of you know someone who is a lot of talk.  By this I mean life seems to be all about them.  For some reason, they’re always better.  They have the better job.  Their car, no matter what kind, always outdoes someone else’s.  Better gas mileage.  Seats smell nicer.  Oh, and they always get the best deal at the grocery store.  Their kids are smarter than anyone else’s.  Their dog is too.  They can run fast and cook the best hamburger.  They have stylish hair…even if there’s not much of it.  This might be an extreme, but I know you know someone like this.  Hmmm…is it you?

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the phrase, “Pride goeth before a fall.”  What exactly is this boastful pride that the Bible says has no place in true love…the love and character of God?  My guess is, that if we look closely again at why we are called to love and Paul’s description of it, we will gain a new perspective.

 

We are called to love God and love our neighbor.  Everything from the Old Testament and New Testament combined..even the life of Jesus himself, is summed up in these two commandments.  Pride or arrogance has no home among these two instructions.  Paul writes that love doesn’t boast and is not proud…and I believe the idea is simple.

 

The boastful person or the prideful person is about themselves.  Boasting has the intent to draw attention to oneself.  Pride carries the intent to think highly of oneself.  Someone might say that it is good to be confident, but strength through confidence doesn’t draw attention intentionally.  There is a quiet confidence that is clothed in humility.  Jesus carried the confidence of who He was, what He could do and what His purpose was.  Inside of that confidence, people were drawn to Him…and He was all about letting them know who He served and how they could know Him better.

 

Pride doesn’t point to Jesus.  Boasting pulls attention away from God.  God Himself said this in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

23 This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

It’s all about getting people to know God.  In the end, it will not matter how many quarters we can catch from our elbow or how many hot dogs we can eat in a 5 minute period.  In the end it will not matter how much money we made or if our car was new every 3 years.  In the end it won’t matter if our clothes were permanent press or 100% cotton.  It won’t even matter if we lived the American dream.  God’s dream for us trumps any other dream we can conjure up for ourselves.  In the end it will only matter if we loved God with everything we have and if we loved our neighbor as ourselves.  If we love God we will believe in and follow His son.  If we love our neighbor, we won’t brag or be proud of “us stuff.”  We will see and recognize their accomplishments and their needs alike and try to be a part of their life…so much so that they see God through us and are drawn to Him.  Love does not brag and is not proud.

Can you picture your church family as one that grabs hold of this concept and puts away verbal bragging and self pointing pride?  What would a church family be known for if bragging and pride were not part of the vocabulary.  Those one up stories would stop at the first story…and it would be the other person’s story.  And we might follow with a phrase like “that’s great!” or “wow, you did that?” or “that is so cool!”  It would be about lifting them up…even if we knew they are bragging.  In doing so, in being kind and patient, we will exude the character of God for His children.  In time, people will notice and wonder why we are different.  The church family that does this will absolutely be known in the community…not by the name on their sign at the foot of the driveway, but by their love.  And Jesus verified this in John 13:35.  Let’s move forward as the church on the planet with strong confidence in who and who’s we are…bringing more and more with us to our home in Heaven.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • Are you prone to feeling like you need to ‘one up’ people around you?
  • Can you now get a sense for how you sound when you have the next best story?
  • Can you see how it can interfere with your purpose for taking people to Heaven?
  • What will be a couple of phrases you will put in your back pocket to pull out when you have the “need” to tell a better story or when you’re driven to brag or be proud? What kind of phrases can you create and reiterate that focus on God or the other person?
  • Is there a person who is boastful or overly proud that you are regularly in conversation with?  How will you approach them differently now so that they might see God’s glory through you?…maybe not immediately, but in time with patience?

Green with Envy

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 13:4 “…love doesn’t envy…”

So who here has been envious before?  I think we’ve all traveled that road before.  Some of you might be in the middle of an envious journey right now.  Why do you think that envy is listed here in Paul’s description of perfect love…God’s love?  What do you think envy has to do with the love God wants us to have and live out?

Let’s make a quick review.  All through the Bible we hear about God’s love.  We also hear how He wants us to love others.  We know that in Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus was ask what the greatest commandment is and He responds with two.  We are to love God with everything we have and we are to love others as ourselves. Paul, here in his letter to the Corinthian church, describes for us what this love looks like.  Envy is not a part of God’s love, therefore, we a called to rid our lives of envy as well.

Ok, as the saying goes, this is easier said than done.  But let’s look at the benefits of not having envy. You might worry less about that rust spot on the car.  You react differently when you see that person in the fashion commercial.  You might see your savings account go up faster.  Certain things that keep you in a worried state of mind might just go away.  You ask what do I mean when I say these things?  When you see other people’s cars, those cars that are brighter, faster, sleeker, and smell newer, you don’t begin to be that other person or have what they have.  Whey you see that fashion commercial with the supermodel, you might stop wondering if everyone in your office area thinks you weigh too much or have the wrong hairdo.  When you see the newest gadgets and gizmos other people have, you might not run out and buy one of them just to keep up.  When you lay your head down at night, you might not worry about all the things you need to do or change to be as hip as those people you’re going to be with the next day.

Envy robs us.  Envy robs us of peace and contentment.  Envy keeps us in a ‘wanting’ state of mind.  Envy of people and things can be seen in heard in many commercials we see and hear…some of it not hidden at all.  Some companies even say it…”You’ll be the envy of all your friends”…if you buy our product and think negatively of yourself until you do so.  Envy keeps us thinking about us.

Now, lets jump back to the great commandment as it calls us to love God and love others as ourselves. If you have envy in your life, it’s extremely hard to “love others as yourself.”  You’ll spend more time on you.  You’ll spend more money on you.  You’ll see the people around you in stereotypical boxes…haves and have nots.  Your world may very well be designed around your envy of another person’s life rather than your own.

What does lack of envy open us up to do?  Love.  Wait…can it be that simple?  Yes.  When you stop envying others and their things, you think more about their needs…and your ability to meet those needs.   When you’re thinking about how you can meet their needs, you’re heart may very well be lining up with the heart of God.  Envy is selfish.  Love is always about the other person.  Envy robs.  Godlike love gives…and gives…and gives.  And when God can begin to give through a humble servant, that servant experiences contentedness and peace like they never have before.

Saying all this helps me think that getting envy out of our lives with help people see God through us in a much less hindered way.  In effect, God will be able to use us and our lives to bless other people and eternally change their lives. Picture a church family who doesn’t envy.  Picture what they look like through the week.  Picture how they serve their local community. Wow!  If all of us can get on the same page about getting envy out of our lives, our ability to change our choices to love others will drastically change.  I believe that others will truly see God and His grace.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,

ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Are there areas of your lives that are driven by envy?  (money, things, personality traits, etc.)
  • What do you think would change if you didn’t have envy in the specific area that you struggle with? (more time, more savings, less stress, less worry, more ability to serve)
  • Do you see other people who’s lives are directed by envy?  In what ways do you see them weighed down?
  • Do you see people who are not directed by envy?  How are they more open to serve and be directed by God?
  • What will you do this week to turn this around if indeed this is an area that holds you back from doing well with Jesus’ commandments to love the Lord and love our neighbors?

Kindness Changes Things

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

  • A mistake made by many people with great convictions is that they will let nothing stand in the way of their views, not even kindness. ~ Bryant H. McGill
  • A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve. ~ Joseph Joubert
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ AESOP
  • The words you say mean nothing, the way you say them means everything. ~ Eileen Parra
  • Great persons are able to do great kindnesses. ~ Miguel de Cervantes
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.  ~ Seneca
  • The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on – including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning. ~ C.S. Lewis

Do you remember the Liberty Mutual commercial from a couple years ago?  It was titled, “Do the right thing.”  I know I’m getting old, but the first time I watched that my eyes became just a little weepy.  If you don’t remember, one person was walking down the street and helped a mom and little baby…the baby had just dropped something from a stroller.  Someone noticed the action of this man and then later saw where they could be kind as well to someone who crossed their path. Each person who saw kindness done by someone else had new eyes for where they could be kind in their day as well.  It was a great commercial because I think that it created the sense in many of us that says, “I can do that.”

So let’s review where we’ve been the last week or so.  We’ve jumped into the ‘love chapter’ of the Bible…1 Corinthians 13…and we’re specifically focusing on verses 4-8 and 13.  But let’s go back just a bit more.  Jesus used the word love in His great commandment response in Matthew 22.  Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).  So here we are now looking at Paul’s definition of love.  Last week we looked at patience. This week kindness.  So what Paul is saying is that being kind is part of loving our neighbor.  But what does kindness look like? Again, Paul does not say that this is an option of being loving…he writes that it simply is part of love.  If we are to be successful in loving our neighbors, family and even enemies with God’s love, we need to find out how we can become more kind to others.

Some people think kindness is like humility or that it even shows weakness. Illustration:  When someone is up in your face and on your case a lot, kindness might be seen as a “backing down from a worthwhile fight.”  Ironically, being kind in that situation takes a lot more will power and control and strategy than simply responding with what you think is right.  Have you ever noticed that opportunities for kindness come when we’re busy, run down, defensive, broke, basically not ready?  Many times, when I have the chance to be kind, I find myself in a struggle.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s the right thing to do, but I just don’t want to right then.  LOL  A bit selfish wouldn’t you say?

There’s a phrase that we’ve all heard.  Random Act of Kindness.  I’m all for random acts of kindness…it’s just that I’m learning, I think, that in order to be kind as God is kind, we need to not be random in how we choose to have an attitude of kindness.  If we get out of bed and choose to be kind throughout the day, then those random acts will become less random and more usual.  Do you know people who live out kindness?  I’m sure we all do.  They always have a good word…even when they’re down.  They always have something to give…even if they’re at odds with the person receiving.  They always have time to share…even though they may be very busy.  They give kindness even to people who we might think don’t deserve it.  Kindness seems to always be the opposite of selfishness to that person.  They’re not random about their kindness.  It’s almost like they look for ways to be kind.

Let’s look at what kindness can do?  It makes one feel noticed.  It helps one feel like their personal need wasn’t hidden in the dark.  It can help a person feel cared for.  Many people feel like they might not deserve kindness when they receive it.  Have you ever noticed that consistent kindness can soften a heart even to the point of repentance and sorrowfulness?  Remember, Paul is giving us the definition of love. Kindness is a part of love.  Perfect love comes from God.  If all of that is true, then God gives the perfect kindness…and many of us probably know that because God doesn’t have to be kind to us.  None of us deserve it.

So the question is, how do we become more kind?  My thought is this.  We first look to see how Jesus was kind and imitate Him.  We choose, each morning to wake up with kindness on our heart so that when those opportunities come, they’re not interruptions, but places where our kindness…God’s kindness through us, can be plugged in.  And we have to always remember that it’s not about us.  It’s always about the other person.  When we can act out kindness in this way, God is the one who is glorified.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Are you usually a kind person to those around you?  Are you naturally kind?
  • Is there someone in your life or regularly in the path of your life that could use kindness?
  • How will you ‘do kindness’ to them this week?…even if they don’t seem to notice or care?
  • What will help you wake up each morning choosing kindness as the attitude of the day?

Patient Being

January 6, 2012 Leave a comment

A simple tests to determine your preparedness for children:

MESS TEST:  Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Now rub your hands in the cat’s litter box, then on the walls. Cover the stains with a coating of crayon. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

TOY TEST:  Obtain a 55-gallon box of Legos (you may substitute roofing tacks or broken bottles). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not shout expletives as this could wake a sleeping child.

GROCERY STORE TEST:  Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you to the grocery store. Keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

FEEDING TEST:  Obtain a large plastic jug. Fill halfway with milk. Suspend the jug from the ceiling and start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of applesauce into the mouth of the jug while pretending to be an airplane. Once you’ve succeeded, dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

FISCAL TEST:  Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Leave it there. Now proceed to the nearest grocery store and arrange for your paycheck to be directly deposited into their account.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT:  Find a couple who already has a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve on both their disciplinary practices and their exercise of patience. Feel confident that you have all the answers. Take note of their expressions. Now run — fast.

If you’re a parent, you’re both laughing and crying after reading the above.  If you’re not a parent, you’re just laughing…because you think it might just be a joke.  Believe me…I laughed…but I laugh only because most all of the above is so true.  Parenting can teach patience in huge ways.  The Bible says that love is patient.  So if love is patient, what does that look like?  Are you a patient being?  Let’s define patience.  Then Encarta World Dictionary defines it this way:

Patience –  the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.

From this definition I see two pictures.  One could be of a child waiting in line at the amusement park to get the chance to ride the spinning tea-cups.  Or maybe a child waiting their turn to go to the bathroom…knees together, hands crossed, jumping up and down.  The other picture I see is of an athlete who patiently puts in time, sweat and pain as they wait for the big race that will test their preparation.  One has to wait for something to happen.  The other has to keep moving and putting in the time and effort knowing that with each passing and possibly exhausting moment they get closer to their goal.

In Mark 12:30-31 we are called by Jesus to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”  The church is called to love God and love others.  We are the church.  In order to love well, we need to pay close attention to what love is.  Patience is the first word Paul writes in his definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13.  By Paul’s standard, perfect love includes patience, so we really don’t have the option of simply writing it off as “not one of our gifts.”  I’m usually a patient person.  But ask me about patience when I’m tired or have a migraine or am stressed out and you’ll not see ‘love.’  I hate to admit it but it’s the truth.  Ask my family.  But Jesus doesn’t ask me to love God and others just when I’m feeling well, am well rested or even when I’m stress free.  Paul states that patience is part of this love Christ calls us to and there should be no off/on switch.  If we’re not good at it…we should be compelled to get better.

Why, if we’re not a patient person, would we want to focus on the hard task of getting better?  Look at the possibilities.  Our impatience could turn someone away from God.  Our patience might help someone see the grace of God.  Literally, someone’s decision for Heaven or Hell might rest in our patience…our love toward them.  I’ve seen patience in the prayers someone says earnestly day by day for their lost family member…some 30 years plus.  I’ve seen patience in a mom and dad who continue to raise and care for their mentally and physically challenged child who is over 50 years of age.  I’ve seen patience in the church member who is present in corporate worship knowing their spouse isn’t on the same page and is at home not caring about religious activities.  I’ve seen patience in the employee who continues to work in a stress filled rat race environment knowing that they may be the only ‘peace of God’ their co-worker has ever seen in life.  I’ve seen patience in the Sr. Higher who comes to their teen family group consistently all the while being downgraded by their parents for believing in God.  I’ve seen patience in the person who is battled with health issues and never blames their Creator but constantly searches for how their story might be helpful to someone else.

Patience isn’t just a virtue.  It’s a character trait of God.  We are asked to be patient, a part of Godly love, because our God is a patient God.  How many times could He have just written us off as not worthy, a consistent failure, untrustworthy, hypocritical or without love?  Probably daily with me.  But even though I was still in my sin, He has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for my faults.  That’s patience.  He doesn’t give up.  He waits.

Now, there will be an end to all things this side of Heaven.  But His patience will endure till then, and He asks us to operate our lives with the same level of patience.  How can you be more patient this week with the specific purpose of showing someone God’s love in a different way than you have before?  Maybe it’s in the words you use.  Maybe it will be the thing that you give up in order spend more time with someone else.  Maybe it will be the extra things you do knowing that in time God will reward you for them…even if you are not recognized for them in the here and now.  Patience.  Tough?  Yes.  Worth it in the end?  Eternally.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Who do you need to be more patient with this week?
  • How will you show patience to that person?
  • How will you prepare for your ‘time of patience?’  What do you need to pray for ahead of time?
  • Are you ok with God showing you…maybe in BOLD FACED LETTERS…where you are weak in the realm of patient living?  If yes…be ready.  : – )

Love Who?!


How Do I Love My Enemy?

  • I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.  ~ Nelson Mandela
    • If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22

Please click on the links below and read before going any further:

The news articles above leave me speechless.  Another one that I remember hearing, but couldn’t find reference to on the net went like this.  Parents of a child who was murdered forgive murderer…spend time with him weekly…pray for him…say that want to treat and spend time with him as though he was their own son.  Yes.  The news story was saying that the parents considered this enemy of theirs as their own…and he felt the same way after a time of healing.

Can you imagine?  Jesus asks us to love our enemies.  Let’s break this down.  Love in the Bible is not shown as a feeling…it is shown through action.  Jesus’ love for his creation was shown through His miracles.   Do you also remember His encounters with the woman at the well?  How about when He asked Zaccheus for lunch?  How about when He washed His disciples’ feet?  Jesus’ love for us was delivered through the cross and empty grave.  James writes that we should take care of orphans and widows to show are love for God…our pure religion (James 1:27).  James also writes that our faith, without works, is dead (James 2:14-26).  Love is not something you simply have for someone…proof of love is in what you do for them.  Jesus asks us to love our enemies.  Since it’s not a feeling…what does that look like?

Last week we looked at being nice to people who are against us…this week Jesus just continues this theme.  Not only should we be amicable, beyond the norm, to those who want or take from us, but now we are being asked to have a completely different attitude towards those that think evil towards us.  Did God ask any less of Jesus himself?  No.  While on the cross, Jesus forgave the men who drove the nails into His hands (Luke 23:34).  Last week we looked at how we should be meek, having a quiet strength, when taken advantage of.  This week we’re looking at the intentional, forward looking, proactive stance we should have for those we know are against us.

Jesus has a way of going deeper though.  He asks us to love our enemies.  If they need something, do something good for them.  But not only that.  We’re asked to think about them even when they’re not doing anything against us.  We’re to pray for them.  Personally, I don’t want to think about people who don’t like me.  I’d like to forget about them.  Jesus didn’t forget about His enemies though.  He died for them…and continues to work through His body, the church, to bring them over from the dark side.  Oh wait…we’re the church.  Ahhh…so now it’s making more sense.

We are to love our enemies because Jesus already died for them…and He needs us to show them His love.  They might know about His historical death on the cross…but maybe haven’t seen His love in action.  We’re His hands and feet.

As I’ve said before, it’s a Kingdom thing.  We’re acting and reacting on the King’s behalf.  We’re suppose to look like Him…behave like Him…pray like Him…love like Him.  Verse 42 of our section of scripture confirms this.  We are to be Holy like God is.  No.  We’re not perfect.  But even though we’re not, we’re still asked to act like Him who is making us perfect.  Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”  Do your actions show this process of being made holy?  This question can only be answered by you and your Savior.

Questions For Leaders:

  • Do you have any enemies?  If so, who?  Be specific if you can.
  • Now that you’ve named a few, what will you do for them this week?
  • I know…that last question might have been a bit forward…Jesus was forward too.
  • Remember, without intentional thought and proactive planning, our ‘Love our Enemies Actions’ will never take place.  Jesus doesn’t say for us to react to them, He asks us to pray for them.
  • Does Jesus really think we can do this stuff?  Why?
  • Why do we hesitate?  What will get us past this hesitation?
  • In the context of this lesson, what does this verse really mean?  Romans 8:31 (NIV) “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

love-serve-spread the Word,

ed

Parenting C


**************
MURPHY’S LAWS FOR PARENTS
1. The tennis shoes you must replace today will go on sale next week.
2. Leakproof thermoses will.
3. The chances of a piece of bread falling with the grape jelly side down is
directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.
4. The garbage truck will be two doors past your house when the argument
over whose day it is to take out the trash ends.
5. The shirt your child must wear today will be the only one that needs to be washed or mended.
6. Gym clothes left at school in lockers mildew at a faster rate than other clothing.
7. The item your child lost, and must have for school within the
 next ten seconds, will be found in the last place you look.
8. Sick children recover miraculously when the pediatrician enters the treatment room.
9. Refrigerated items, used daily, will gravitate toward the back of the refrigerator.
10. Your chances of being seen by someone you know dramatically increase
 if you drive your child to school in your robe and curlers
*********
Families are great!  They come in all sorts and shapes and volumes and types of functionality.  God loves families!  They are meant to be a picture of He and His church….His family.  When we work and live and spend time together  well together we become a testimony of God and his people.  We help people see what His Kingdom is like.
Parents, we will all agree that “House Rules” are a necessity.  No throwing balls in the house.  Don’t jump off your bed with sharp objects in your hand.  Don’t take things from your sister’s bedroom.  Don’t play your music too loud.  Don’t be jealous.  Don’t change the ringtones on your parents or sibling’s cell phones without them knowing.  Obey your parents quickly without talking back.  Love each other.  Forebear your brother’s weird habits.  Don’t let the dog in, with muddy feet, just after your parents have mopped the floor.  Don’t put Saran Wrap on the toilet in mom’s bathroom.   Forgive each other when something wrong has been done.  Say you’re sorry.  Don’t yell at each other.  Respect and Love.  Keep God tops.   Submit to and respect each other out of your love for Jesus (Ephesians 5:21).
Picture this:  God has his family, not new to Him but He’s kinda new to them.  They have just escaped the wrath of Pharaoh.  They are now in the wilderness/desert with Moses as their leader.  They are the family of God…and God needs to create “House Rules.”  They need to understand the boundaries.
“House Rules” create safety for everyone.  They help us respect and love each other and the God who created us.  They just make sense.  However, we know that they are often hard to keep…and when we falter, we hurt people and we hurt Jesus.
God’s rules are set up so that we protect each other.  The 10 commandments are set up so that we, ourselves, are protected.  They are also set up so that we look different, act different, talk different, think different than the world around us.  The 10 commandments are born out of pure and Godly love.  When we can do our absolute best at following them, we look more like God to our family members and our church family members and to friends and strangers alike.  People are drawn to pure love…to God.  People are broken by pure love…by God.  Hard hearts are softened by pure love…God’s love.  People can find forgiveness in chaos when they are surrounded by pure love…Jesus’ love.
Can our families show this in this day and age?  Yes.  Is it hard?  Sometimes.  Will we fail?  Yes.  Is forgiveness available?  Yes.  Second chances are what God and His Kingdom is all about.
Work hard to have your family be a beacon of light for others to watch so that they can catch a glimmer of what God’s Kingdom looks like.
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