We’ve all heard the phrase “tough love”, maybe even experienced it in our adolescence as we clumsily navigated through some rebellious patch of our life growing up. Hopefully you are not still stuck there. It can be painful both as a parent and a recipient of tough love. I however, have been experiencing tough love of a different nature lately and this morning took a moment to meditate on it. What I’m dealing with is how love can be tough. It’s hard to love people sometimes.
I have had a number of instances over the last year and especially recently where I was deeply struggling to feel and be loving toward people. I have felt like the Apostle Paul in Romans where he said:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” Romans 7:18
Paul endured all kinds of things at the hands of other people and he struggled with doing the right thing, the loving thing. He reveals our inner conflict between the spirit and the flesh in us. I have a desire to do the loving thing but sometimes my mind is saying stick it to them. We have a tendency to justify our feelings or subsequent actions, because after all we were done wrong, they are being unreasonable or we are the victim. That all may be true but the conflict remains and reveals our true problem. To be true to the Spirit in us, we must love and be loving.
As I read Romans 5 I find the problem with and answer to my dilemma:
“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5
The demands of life and the demands of God are so great that I don’t have a chance to do right without Him. God knows the selfish and self-preserving nature of our flesh. We are without the hope of consistent love without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Without Jesus and the gift of His Spirit we do not have the capacity to love the unloveable. We will revert to our flesh and flesh will always protect flesh. It defaults to self-preservation.
However, even as a believer we will have to believe the promise of God’s love. Through His Spirit He has poured out His love in our hearts giving us His capacity to love even in the harshest of conditions. Love is tough, but its impossible without God’s love. So before we begin to excuse our unloving behavior by what others have done to us, we need to draw deep from the well of God’s love and remember that even in moments of injustice and persecution God gives us the capacity to manifest the love of Jesus through our mortal flesh.
Love may be tough, but not impossible.
Who do you need to forgive today?
Posted in discipleship, Inspiration, love, Questions, Relationships
Tagged christianity, conflict, disappointment, discipleship, forgiveness, God, Holy Spirit, injustice, Jesus, life, love, persecution, Relationships, religion, spirituality, tough love
You may say, “God has nothing to do with this.” I beg to differ.
So, what are you doing with what God has given you? What do you dream about?
Creativity… an amazing gift from the Creator….ENJOY!
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I was reflecting this morning on the effects of revelation on one’s life. Paul speaks several places in scripture about the revelation of Christ and His gospel and their impact upon his life. This revelation had a death and life … Continue reading
As I woke up this morning I felt an incredible sense of gratitude for the journey I am on. Life is a marathon, not a 50 yard dash and learning to live in the moment is an art, not a science. Every canvas is the same. It doesn’t look like much, kind of plain. But the moment the master artist puts his hand to the canvas, with each brush of color the canvas comes to life. To the canvas and those who watch the artist at work, each stroke makes no sense till the masterpiece is done. Learning to live in the moment and enjoying the journey is all about trusting the Master as He adds color to our life. Each moment is necessary to the vision in the Master’s heart and mind.
Put your trust in God’s vision for your life. You don’t have to understand every moment, just look for the Master of the moment. Our peace and joy in life’s circumstance is in the presence of God and the trust that each moment is necessary for our completion. You will miss the beauty of each stroke and color if you are more concerned with understanding why He is doing it rather than embracing what He’s doing.
Trust God’s vision, He will complete it.
Don’t worry, He knows what He’s doing.
Enjoy the beauty of each moment, He’s in the moment.
Be patient, it’s a journey.
Posted in discipleship, Inspiration
Tagged Art, christ, circumstances, discipleship, God, gratitude, Jesus, journey, life, marathon, religion, trust, vision
“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24
Though you may not see, the Son is always behind the clouds. Just wait.
I got up this early morning from a sleepless night. I had to be at the Endodontist first thing. I have a tooth that was crowned a few years ago and it seemed to be giving me trouble. My dentist said I might need a root canal. For a week I’ve been thinking something was not right with the crown, but what do I know, I’m not the dentist. I hate going to the dentist.
When I walked out of the house it was a gloomy overcast day. The sun was nowhere to be found. But, I know it’s still there. It’s amazing how the look of the weather can affect your outlook of the day. Depressing looking days have a tendency to depress. We can forget the sun is always there behind the clouds.
As I sit here writing this the sun is breaking through the clouds. It was there all the time. We cannot always see it when we want, but with patience it always comes.
Don’t worry so much when you see the clouds in your life. Even if it tarries, wait in hope. Though all we may see is clouds, the Son is always there. Our hope is in someone greater than what our eyes can see. Jesus is always there. Wait on Him, His timing is perfect.
When I was at the Endodontist, he said he believed I needed an adjustment on my crown and a little antibiotic would take care of it instead of a root canal. It seens to feel much better. And, it cost me $95 instead of $1000. What a blessing.
Posted in discipleship, Family, Inspiration
Tagged christianity, Clouds, crown, dentist, discipleship, endodontist, Family, gloomy days, God, hope, Jesus, life, patience, religion, Romans, Romans 8, root canal, sleepless nights, Son, Sun, waiting
“Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 ESV
In I Corinthians 12:22-27 it tells us that God places the members of the body where He desires and bestows greater honor on those who lack it so that there is no division in the body and that we can have the same care for one another. If one member is honored we all get to rejoice together as well as if one suffers, we all suffer. The church, Jesus body is meant to have a shared connection and sense of responsibility, a mutual care one for another. What happens in the lives of others should provoke a shared loving response instead of jealousy, envy, covetousness, or reveling in loss. If in the Spirit, it will produce the same care.
I had such a joy this week. My Grandmother, affectionately known to all as Granny Hobbs turned 90 on February 3rd and we threw her a surprise Birthday party on Sunday to honor her. We invited all of her family and friends to come and celebrate with us. This may not seem significant to those who take Birthday parties for granted. However, this party was more significant than any of us knew.
You see, my Granny Hobbs is the most generous person I’ve ever known, though as a child growing up, I didn’t realize how generous. I like many children today only know it as love from the one who always gives us stuff. Everyone who knows her has experienced her generosity. She shows up every Sunday with candy for all the kids, not just mine, I mean all. She always honors a new birth with some outfit. Whenever I go by her house she always loads me up with stuff she thinks I or my family needs. She gives to everyone. Growing up she took in every stray dog or cat. I pray for the owners of her previous home because she and I have buried probably more than 30 animals in her yard over the years. I know TMI. I could go on and on with stories of how she has given value and honor to others.
You may wonder where that generosity comes from? Maybe she was blessed by people always giving to her over the years. I’m reminded in Mark 12:42 “..but she out of her poverty put in everything shed had.” My Granny Hobbs was born in 1919, one of nine children, very poor. She got married to John Whitfield Hobbs who became a captain in the Army and shipped overseas in WWII. Shortly thereafter she found that she was pregnant with my father. My Grandfather never came back home. My father never met his father. She shared with me one day about standing at the train station waiting for the arrival of the pine box that contained my Grandfather. My Granny Hobbs raised my father as a single mother til she met another serviceman and became engaged. He too was sent overseas in the Korean War. He was killed before they were married. She never remarried. My grandmother worked a number of jobs over the years determined to make it. She went to work for Corning and worked there till retirement. I remember when I was young, she would come get me and take me with her on the weekends to shop the yard sales. She would then take what she bought and resell it at a local flee market and a consignment booth she rented out. I also, remember the first TV my wife and I had when we got married, it was a Black and White that Granny Hobbs bought for $25 at a yard sale. Since then she has owned her own business, Granny’s Country Crafts, and even the last two summers worked at a suvournier shop on the boardwalk at the beach. I think so she can still have extra money to buy stuff for everyone else.
All this really hit me when I went out to walk her into our church where we had told her we were going to have a small gathering with my brother and sister’s family. She does not like to be the center of attention. When I walked her in everyone sang Happy Birthday. I pointed out my father and mother, her brother, sisters, cousins, friends and old coworkers. They all stood and honored her. It was hard to hold it together as I saw her tears. My daughter says I’m a cry baby. Granny Hobbs would have never asked for anything, though as she leaned over she said I’ve never had a birthday party given for me in my entire life.
We honored my Granny Hobbs, but I feel I was honored more. It was more of an honor for us to honor her. It truly is more blessed to give than receive. But after all I learned this from my Granny Hobbs who always gave all she had even when it was from her poverty. This she gave her son, my father who has always modeled it for me and I pray will also be my legacy. She always sees the needs of other and thinks not only of her own needs but everyone else’s. The lessons I have learned are endless.
And by the way, I experienced the presence of God and a more profound sense of church than most of the church meetings I’ve been in, including my own. There are some deep questions we need to ask ourselves after that statement. But it will have to wait til the next post.
Honor one another!
Posted in Family, Inspiration, Leadership, love, Mission, Missions & Missional, Relationships
Tagged birthday, care, christianity, generosity, giving, God, Granny Hobbs, honor, I Corinthians 12:22-27, Jesus, Relationships, religion, Romans 12:10, sincere love, spirituality
If you remember learning about icebergs in Elementary or Middle School you know that what you see sticking out of the water is only a small fraction of the whole thing.
Over the last 2 years I have walked through a major change in ministry. God began some things in the church I serve that have caused me to take a fresh and new look at my faith, my theology, my walk, and my views of what the church is and does. This has been an incredible journey of discovery. However, not everyone around you is ready to take the journey or handle what you discover. Like Jesus in John 6:66, many of His disciples turned away because they could not handle what He was saying to them, and they quit following Him.
For most, if you asked about or mentioned church, their first thought would picture a building located at some specific address. You know the question, “where do you go to church?” If this represents the iceberg above the water, what is below the surface. If all we experience is what we see on the surface, we miss the beauty of all that is below. Sadly, many believers will spend their whole life just on the surface and want nothing else or reject the notion that anything under the surface should be explored.
Let me prophecy (throw stones if you want), there is a shift happening – a global shift. As I have cried, prayed and searched, I am finding there are more people walking the way of Jesus than you will find warming a pew on Sunday. They are living in intentional communion and community with Jesus and other believers. They are committed to be the church, not just attend church.
The church as we have known it is in crisis. Our culture is changing and this current and next generation of spiritual seekers are looking for something more than church attendance. They are looking for more than religion. They want more than a life of lip service. For them, what is on the surface has no meaning without all that’s underneath.
What’s on the surface just doesn’t cut for me anymore. I’ve got to have what’s underneath. The truth is, the surface no longer satisfies and looses meaning without the beauty of the depths of Jesus and all that the church should really be.
Time is short, ‘ve got to leave off here. I will probably revisit this in my next post. I hope I have stirred something in you. If so please leave a comment. I cannot be the only one feeling this. I know I’m not.
Posted in Church, discipleship, Inspiration, Leadership, Mission, Missions & Missional, Questions, The Dwelling Place CC
Tagged changing culture, christianity, Church, Church in crisis, discipleship, God, going deep, iceberg, Jesus, Leadership, Missional, prophecy, religion, spirituality, the way of Jesus