Had a very interesting meeting this morning in which the person leading read 1 Cor 13:4-7 to us. Then, she replaced love with Jesus and that was easy–how well he fits as the one full of love. But then–she had us go around the room and we had to replace love with our own name. Wow, how the translations changed as a number of us had to modify the verses to fit the reality of our own lives. And yet a calling to live a life of love at a higher level than before. Thank you my sister!!
So, try it–read 1 Cor 13:4-7 and replace love with your own name. Read it out loud. I had to read it with my wife in the room and that is even harder!!
Poem by my friend John that he composed for his wife over the last months of her life.
I touched her face.
I touched her face today
Soft, concerned, deep.
Memories flood my soul
I touched her face that day
Soft, radiant intriguing.
My wondering heart asked
Would she have me share life?
I touched her face again
Soft, longing, tender love.
Two became one and
We journeyed through life.
I touched her face on Africa’s plains
Hearts of joy, full of life.
Lives were touched, nurtured
As we lived as one.
I touched her face with gratitude.
Family growing, life overflowing.
Sons, daughters and grandchildren
Laughing, loving, learning life.
I touched her face one day
Soft crinkly brown eyes.
Shared joys, losses suffered,
We walked hand in hand.
I touched her face again
Soft, gentle connection
Her eyes opened a heart of compassion.
Grateful, I touched her again.
I touched her face today.
Life’s trials and uncertainties
Weighing on our hearts.
We stepped forward hand in hand.
I touched her face achingly
Lifes cares and fears pressing in.
The journey’s rough in this place.
We hold each other with uncertain hope.
I touched her face once again.
My heart grieving all her pain.
He touched her face
And folded her in His healing embrace.
I touched her face.
Amazing quote by John Fischer, “It’s hard to love sinners when you are trying so hard not to be one.” Read his full post for Feb 19, 2010
Brings up thoughts on grace, law, hypocrisy, respect and of course love. Reactions?
Happy Valentines Day. Enjoy the followng. Some serious but mostly not.
Gary Thomas states this as well as anyone in his book Sacred Marriage:
What if God didn’t design marriage to be “easier”? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness, our comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place?
Any situation that calls me to confront my selfishness has enormous spiritual value, and I slowly began to understand that the real purpose of marriage may not be happiness as much as it is holiness. Not that God has anything against happiness, or that happiness and holiness are by nature exclusive, but looking at marriage through the lens of holiness began to put it into an entirely new perspective for me.
Marriage Qualities you learn
On their 50th wedding anniversary and during the banquet celebrating it, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.
“Tell us Tom, just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?” an anonymous voice yelled from the back of the room.
Tom responded, “Well, I’ve learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, meekness, forbearance, self-restraint, forgiveness — and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need if you stayed single.”
Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy
Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime
A man will pay $20 for a $10 item he needs.
A woman will pay $10 for a $20 item that she doesn’t need.
GENERAL EQUATIONS & STATISTICS
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.
Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
PROPENSITY TO CHANGE
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, and she does.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED
Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, “You’re next.” They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.
The Frog and the Princess
The frog said to the princess, “I was once a handsome prince until an evil witch put a spell on me. One kiss from you and I will turn back into a handsome prince and then we can marry, move into the castle with my mom, and you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel happy doing so.”
That night, the princess had frogs legs for dinner.
God is “kind to the ungrateful and to the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36 ESV)
This post follows the one I started on Feb 3 2010.
John Fischer in his catch of the day for Feb 2, 2010, wrote about the lack of kindness and civility regarding the political issues of our day. He says, as a result, “the hope for gentle debate and reaching a more complicated, but equitable consensus is unlikely.”
Most people would have no problem with his comments at this point. But, then he writes that the church
“has taken sides along with everyone else and lost its authority to speak into the deeper levels of these issues. The gospel, which values every human being and every human being’s right to freedom, justice and equality has lost its middle ground. While the truth should be speaking into both sides, it is being heard only in one.”
While it is certainly okay and right to have a position on the various issues of our day, as Christians should we not, of all people, be able to reach across the barrier of whatever issue is being discussed, to value and love those who hold another, even opposite, position from our own? Again, from Fischer,
“We must remember these are real people we are talking about—people who like us, need Jesus. Making an enemy of someone for whom Christ died is not consistent with the message of the gospel.
. . . We can represent the love of Jesus to everyone. And we can listen and learn even from those with whom we might disagree.”
The expression of mercy was important in the ministry of Jesus. Twice (Mtt 9:13, 12:7) Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 in which we are told that it is better to show mercy than it is to offer a sacrifice. There at least five passages in which people beg for mercy before Jesus or God in the gospels. Four of these are found in Matthew (9:27, 15:22; 17:15; 20:30-31). Luke also gives us the parable in which the tax collector cries out, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14) Needless to say, all who request mercy in these examples are shown mercy.
God seems to delight in showing mercy to people. As He does so, He receives much glory. (Romans 11:32-36; 15:9)
Because of God’s mercy, we are to offer our bodies to him as living sacrifices. We are to recognize that we have a ministry because of God has shown mercy to us (2 Cor 4:1). Our salvation comes because of the mercy (and grace) of God. (Eph 2:8-10, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3) It seems to be valuable for us to continually go back and remember that once we had not received mercy from God. (1 Pet 2:10)
If we say that we will show mercy to others when they beg for mercy, it would be helpful to read 1 Tim 1:13-14; which says that Paul experienced the mercy of God even when ignorant, in unbelief and while acting as a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man. It might also be worthwhile to consider that God demonstrated his love and mercy to us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). I don’t know about you but I continue to desperately need the mercy of God every day (Heb 4:14-16). Interestingly enough, God’s wisdom is said to be full of mercy. (James 3:17)
To be honest, I don’t know all the ways that we are to show mercy and love to those who disagree with us, who are on the opposite side of political issues, to our enemies. But, I am pretty sure that we are to show them mercy and that we are to be the ones who initiate expressions of mercy. Here are some ideas:
- Show respect by listening to them (even when they do not listen to us)
- Communicate love not hatred (even when they express hatred of us and our position)
- Be kind and tender hearted, assuming the best of others (see Eph 4 here)
- Avoid name calling (avoid being contentious, seasoning every word we speak with grace)
- Agree to disagree
If others can come up with more specific ideas from their context, I would appreciate the sharing of your ideas.
It may be helpful for you to know that the impetus for this post comes out of discussions I have had on political issues with friends and watching/reading the news. I admit to being a Republican and of my disagreement with a lot (if not most) of what our President has been doing. However, I have been uncomfortable with what I have been hearing coming from the mouths of evangelicals about the political scene today. So, when I read a post by John Fischer this morning based on Luke 6:32-36, I started to write.
Surprise, surprise! Each time I read that God is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” in Luke 6:36 I am aware how much the church (and I am including myself here!) does not appear to practice this. Actually, Jesus does not tell us that we are to be like God in this respect. However, he does tell us to love our enemies, do good to our enemies and lend to our enemies without expecting to get anything back
in return. Hmmm, maybe this is being kind to the ungrateful and wicked?
What Jesus does tell us here in Luke 6:36 is that we are to “be merciful just as Your Father (in Heaven) is merciful.” The word here oiktirmon is an adjective and is found only in James 5:11 where James is trying to encourage perseverance for those experiencing suffering and says “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” From hileos and eleos (other words for merciful), Jesus tells us that the merciful are blessed because they will be shown mercy (Mtt 5:7), we learn that Jesus is a faithful and merciful high priest (Heb 2:17) and are warned that we will experience a judgment without mercy if we have failed to be merciful ourselves (James 2:12). Read Matthew 18:23-35 for a sobering parable about someone who failed to show mercy and forgiveness after having experienced it themselves.
Most interesting is in Jude in which we are commanded to “Be merciful to those who doubt.” That kind of makes sense since in 1:22, we are told to “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” And regarding the false prophets, Jude writes in verse 23, “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude is not saying to agree with these people nor even to condone their behavior but he is telling us to be merciful. Why? Because God has been merciful to us!
So, if we are to show mercy to our enemies, what about those on the opposite side of a political issue than us? If you think that does not sound fair or wise, I suggest you read the parable in Matthew 20:1-16. God seems to anticipate that some may not like the idea of his showing mercy to certain people and so he states in Romans 9:15-18, “I will show mercy to those to whom I want to show mercy.” Please take up any issues on this with God!
TO BE CONTINUED!
And here are some interesting stats on how men and women view each other in an online dating service?
Found these on Michael Hyatt’s blog but he pointed the way to the original source, Kent M. Keith. Here they are from his web site which includes an explanation on why these were associated with Mother Theresa. Keith wrote these when he was 19! You can also check out his universal moral code.
The Paradoxical Commandments
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001
Lovely words from John Fischer about a beautiful blind woman together with a nerdy looking fellow. From his Dec 3 post. I am reminded of the words of Jesus saying that it is those who are blind that will see and that those who think they see are the ones who are really blind.
What did she see in him? Everything. Everything that’s important about who a person is, what love is, and what a real man is. She saw everything she needed to know about him.
But this is not the only blindness going on here. The girl is also blind to something else. She is blind to her own beauty. She doesn’t know she has cover-girl looks. She has nothing with which to compare herself. She doesn’t know that she conforms to what society is currently calling “beautiful.” All she knows is that someone loves her strictly for who she is, and in that love she reveled.
In this, she is like all of us, for we do not know our own beauty as God sees us, and perhaps it’s just as well, since we wouldn’t want to become arrogant or self-serving in our relationships. Our value comes from knowing that we are loved by God, and that alone is all we need to know.
Several of our speakers last week tried to help us understand what is happening in the brain during various emotional interactions. One part of the brain, the amygdala was called “fear central,” I suppose since that is the part that regulates emotions. Another described how anger takes over during “amygdala hijacking.” Just read an article in which a less than fully functioning amygdala led to poor impulse control.
The interesting point–there may be a link between a less developed amygdala and those who do not have two care givers in the home. Love actually makes a difference in our neurological development! I am sure this will not go well in some circles! The problem–tests were done on small rodents called degus. The article quotes the scientests,
Of course, the frontal cortex—where thinking and decision-making take place—is more complex in humans than it is in other animals. Thus, says Dr. Braun, it is important to be “really careful” about extrapolating the recent findings to human populations.
“The minute you get into stuff with extensive social and environmental components, the social differences between humans and animals are massive,” says Simon Chapple, a senior economist in the social policy division of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the 30-country grouping of the world’s largest economies.
It remains an “open verdict” whether single parenthood causes these bad outcomes, or is merely associated with them, says Dr. Chapple.
But the bottom line
“The bottom line, says Dr. Braun, is that parents need to fuel their children’s brains with talk, touch and sensitive stimulation that involves give and take.”
Parents, she says, “are the sculptors of their children’s brains.”
Following is a paraphrase from Deut 7:6-8 (reading from New Living) for meditation
Simply, because he loves you . . .
you are a holy person
who belongs to YHWH your Elohim
Of all the people on the earth
YHWH your Elohim chose you
to be his special treasure.
You see, he lavished his love on you . . .
Here is a book that I think I will NOT read–it may be well-written and it likely has some compelling data but I am not sure that there is much new in the author’s conclusion.
Unlike some other nations, Americans, according to Andrew Cherlin, place a high value on both relationships and individualism. Which is more important? Writing about Cherlin’s new book, The Marriage-Go-Round, Ellen McCarthy says, “We revere the institution of marriage, but put personal fulfillment above almost all else.”
Even though 90% of Americans eventually marry, the divorce rate is around 50%. McCarthy quotes Cherlin,
“We keep asking ourselves ‘Am I happy? Am I getting what I need?’ And if the answers one day come back negative, we’re more likely to leave a relationship,” explains Cherlin, who is on his second marriage.
Doesn’t make sense? Read Paul’s words in Romans 1.
31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.
The result–lots of lonely people out there.
Just did a quick read this morning of an Oswald Chambers’ book, The Love of God. Actually, it is a series of small books written in the 1930s but put together in this volume in 1973. We are sorting through old books in our library and in our center and I thought this is one might be an interesting read. There are a couple of posts here.
First, what is love? In thinking about “God is love” from 1 John, Chambers provides the following definition
Love is the sovereign preference of my person for another person, embracing everyone and everything in that preference. 21
Now that I think about it, we talk a lot about love but few would ever give a definition. I think that the definition of love given here entails a level of committment that few would mean when they say, “I love you.”
In the previous chapter, Chambers had commented on the phrase from Jude 21, “keep yourselves in the love of God.” He makes a point to say that Jude does NOT say “keep on loving God,” because “none can do that.” Of course, we are to do both, aren’t we? “We love him because he first loved us,” says John in 1 John 4:19. Maybe it is an order of priority, one that we evangelicals easily get mixed up? Chambers writes,
When once you have understood the truth about your heart’s own sinfulness, think not again of it, but look at the great, vast, illimitable magnificence of the love of God. Oh may we be driven, driven further and further out into the ocean of the love of God! only taking care that nothing entices us out again.
May we all enjoy floating or soaking in God’s love this day!
More from Brennan Manning’s Abba’s Child
“If God is viewed primarily as omniscient, growth in wisdom and knowledge becomes the foremost priority of human existence. If God is envisioned as all-powerful, seeking authority in order to influence others is the way to become like God. If God is viewed as immutable and invulnerable, grantite-like consistency and a high threshold for pain is the way to godliness.67
For Manning, I think His primary view of God is that of compassion or love.
I find the following discussion on tenderness by Brennan Manning in his book Abbas Child to be challenging. Maybe I am afraid of tenderness?
As we experience the tenderness of God towards us, this tenderness, makes us feel secure and we discover that “we are thoroughly and sincerely liked by someone. . . The defense mechanisms of the imposter-sarcasm, name-dropping, self-righteousness, the need to impress others-fall away. We become open, real, vulnerable, and affectionate. We grow tender. 64
“The way of tenderness avoids blind fanaticism. Instead it seeks to see with penetrating clarity. The compassion of God in our hearts opens our eyes to the unique worth of each person.” 73
“The rhythm of relentless tenderness in the Rabbi’s heart makes loving terribly personal, terribly immediate, and terribly urgent.” 164
That last quote does not leave much wiggle room!
Do you think the Lord is trying to teach me about listening? Last week, the theme of the conference I attended was “Listening to God and to Others.” A few days before that I finished reading Doubt by Os Guinness and his chapter on listening to others who doubt had the most impact on me. There were the themes of “listening” to our context or to our culture in The Tipping Point and Culture Making, two books I recently finished. And finally, someone sent me a list, “10 ways to be a better listener.” Here are a few comments on listening to those in doubt from Guinness’ book, Doubt.
- Listening “is an expression of love in a form which is uniquely appropriate to the doubter.” 151
- Listening ‘helps us avoid being “reactionary.” If we do not listen to other people but only react to what they are saying, we will be guilty both of not taking them seriously and of missing the point.” 152
- There is a deeply concealed impatience, if not open arrogance, in the attitude characterized by instant replies and irrelevant judgements. Sometimes such answers are rude, sometimes they are completely wrong, but simply because we are looked to for an answer, we feel ourselves in a position of power where we need not stop to listen. Actually we may not have listened to another person at all, only to our own echo.” 152
- “People lose interest if not hope when they know they are not being listened to.” 153
- “Listening is the first great part of remedying doubt. . . Listen then with everything you have–with love, with acceptance, with concentration and with stillness, without impatience or inquisitiveness. This is the listening that in saying little conveys much. 155-56′
Thinking more about what CS Lewis wrote on charity or love in relationship to God. On loving God, Lewis wrote, “Act as if you did. . . If I were sure I loved God, what would I do? . . . Then, go do it.” Sooooo, if I loved God, I would
- obey him
- tell others about him
- honor his name and be hurt when his name was not honored
- enjoy being with him
- be grateful and thankful
- praise him
- enjoy and not despise his good gifts
- be aware of his presence, not ignoring him, listening to him, not always be the one talking
If God is a people lover, should we not be as well? Once again, some challenging words from John Fischer about his observations of a group of people on a plane, heading to Las Vegas. Following are his last few paragraphs but you can read his full post, Las Vegas Junket on fischtank.com
I find myself observing the out-going and fun-loving nature of these people and wanting to be a part of it. Sometimes I wonder if sinners have more fun. I remember when smoking was still allowed in the back of the plane, the smokers were always more talkative. At least it appeared that they were having more fun.
Probably more than anything, what I’m observing is the camaraderie of something shared in common. On the few occasions that I have traveled with a group, I remember being boisterous and a little cocky; there was strength in numbers. I think the truth is that people sharing something together have more fun.
My days of judging this kind of thing are over. I like these people. I wish I were going with them. More and more, I want to find out what I have in common with people. I am seeing them through the eyes of God who made them in His image and died in their place. Would He not want them to experience some joy here on His earth?
I’m beginning to realize that God is a people lover. I believe He enjoys it when people have a good time. Jesus certainly was one to enjoy a good party—celebrating Matthew’s induction as a disciple with his tax collecting buddies and performing his first miracle at a wedding reception. Our human experiences are worth something. Everything doesn’t have to be spiritualized to have meaning.
Prayer: God, give me pure eyes to see people as you see them and to love them with your love. Save me from ever thinking there are worse sinners out there than I am. Teach me to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.
C.S. Lewis said, “Don’t waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. ” (italics original in Christian Behaviour) Why? Because says Lewis, “When we behave as if we love someone, we will come to love him.”
Ok then, here are some ways I could do this
- listen to their stories
- join them in their world when possible
- express interest in their family
- support them when possible
- show them all the five languages of love
- show them respect and honor
- do what they want
- speak the truth to them
- walk with them
- don’t judge or criticize or slander them
- think the best of them
One line from Merton on Jan 13 from A Year with Merton.
How can I give love unless I have much more than I have ever had?
Is it true that if I am not receiving love from God and from others (or another way to put it, “allowing God and others to love me”) and receiving more than I am giving; what can I hope to give? What am I giving? Some poor, limited, imitation of burning Divine love that is intimate, intense and has life transforming power?