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
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I stopped by my Grand Mother’s house today to pick up some flowers she wanted us to have. Granny Hobbs is 91 now and for as long as I can remember she has given everything away. My daughter asked me, “Why … Continue reading
For those of you who are a part of The Dwelling Place, here is a great short message by Francis Chan on Freedom in Christ and Grace. Francis Chan: “Grace, Grace, Grace” (This and other massages at http://www.cornerstonesimi.com)
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
Having lunch today with my wife at TGI Friday’s, (great salad by the way) I was deeply saddened and angered as I sat by two older women. One of them was speaking with great authority and let me say venom, spite, disrespect and self-righteous pride, about her church and specifically her Pastor. I don’t think she could have found many more ways to verbally tear him down. I’m glad I was almost done with my great salad when she said “I think we are just going to fire him.”
I wanted to walk over and ask, “What church do you attend, so I can know where not to go.” I had many other thoughts, but had I said them, someone might be writing a blog about me right now.
No one knows the burden of a Pastor but a Pastor and/or his wife. How can people become so arrogant and unloving? According to Barna Research, in 2008 there were over 1700 Pastors that left formal ministry every month.
Let me encourage you to take heed to the passage in Hebrews and Paul’s encouragement. Repent if you have been guilty. If justifying yourself is at all running through your mind right now or this blog personally offends you – you need to repent. Make it your aim to make your Pastor’s labor on your behalf a joy. Go out of the way to serve him as he serves you. Love him with the kind of love Jesus died to give you.
Posted in Church, love
Tagged christianity, Church, encouragement, God, Jesus, Leadership, leaving ministry, love, Pastors, religion, self-righteous, spirituality
Listening to this strikes a romantic chord. I think I need to go out and buy one.
Keep your love alive!
We have been teaching a series called “Going Deep” over the last few weeks and it has been an awesome experience for me because it has been shaping me as I teach it.
The thing I have been pondering is how we mostly present Christianity as a belief system instead of a way of life. Our faith was intended to be a way of life. God models this for us. We know 1 John 4:8 says “God is love.” This is our belief. But, in Romans 5:8 God Gives us His way of life, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We know the bible says God is kind and we believe it but Romans 2:4 says “the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” Our belief system has to always be fleshed out. It has to become for us a way of life.
In our series about “Going Deep”,we looked at Acts 2:42-47 where the believer (system) devoted themselves (way of life). They devoted themselvesto fellowship and breaking of bread which requires a great deal of humility and vulnerability. Let’s just say this is RISKY BUSINESS. I shared in our series how we will have fellowship to the degree that we are known. This means the risk of exposing ourselves, being real. It questions “If I let people know this about me, what will they think, what will they do?”
That said, I was privileged this week to be invited to lunch by a new friend. When we settled down to eat he said the reason he wanted to have lunch with me was to expose himself. He said he wanted to tell me about his life so we could know each other deeper. WOW!!! The courage it takes to let it all hang out. My experience has been, you never know how people will react when you open up to be known. I am so blessed, both as this persons friend and as a pastor. I am blessed to go deeper as a friend and like most pastors, we are blessed when people “get it.” It takes a great deal of faith to live the kind of life, but is is our reward, our inheritance in the saints.
Hang in there with me, I need to catch up the last two weeks of this series here on the blog. (Breaking Bread & Prayer)
Here are the links for the first 3 parts of this series “GOING DEEP.”
Pt. 1 GOING DEEP
Pt. 2 GOING DEEP
Pt.3 GOING DEEP
Posted in discipleship, love, Mission, Missions & Missional, Relationships
Tagged Acts 2:42-47, being real, breaking bread, christianity, courage, devoted, discipleship, exposure, faith, fear, Fellowship, friendship, going deep, Jesus God Religion, kindness, life, love, rejection, relationship, risk, Risky business, The Dwelling Place, The Dwelling Place CC, Tom Cruise, vulnerability
Last week I started a new teaching series at The Dwelling Place entitled “Going Deep.” It was prompted by something I posted a few days back where I said “Going Deep is our part, going Big is God’s part.” As I was reflecting on Acts 2 I noticed something that jerked me back like a dog on a leash.
We have a tendency as church pastors and church planter to give in to the pressure to produce. Much of our insecurities can be manipulated by the pressure of perceived expectation, that we must make it grow. Since we are the experts, we must do something to make that thing get bigger. After all it is the consumers measure for success. If it’s not succeeding then we are not succeeding. Let me say to all of you in ministry, “What a load of CRAP!” Success? I remember what my Father said to His firstborn, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” This is it. I am my Daddy’s son and He loves me.
Moving on. After finishing a previous series where we looked at what our mission was, I was tempted to work up a mission statement, package it well, capture it in a clever statement and then….jerrrrrk. I saw it.
“And they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers……praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42,47
The new believers devoted themselves……it produced favor and the Lord added to their number.
Devoted in the Greek means “to be earnest towards.” It is a compound word for “forward” indicating a direction and movement towards; and to be strong, steadfast or endure. In the context of verse 42 it means these new believers were moving forward in a stronger and more earnest relationship with Jesus, their leaders (Apostles) and each other. In other word they were GOING DEEPER in Scripture and teaching of the Apostles, deeper in fellowship, deeper in the practice of faith and deeper in prayer together.
When we enter into this deeper devotion and a missional, incarnational focus on those around us, it will produce favor. Going deeper in relationship and love with God and people is an attractive thing. When you find something you really love, don’t you want to tell someone or share it with someone. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” If you don’t want to share the experience of what you have, you might want to check and see if you had it in the first place.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
God cannot be contained. When we try to put God in a box and contain Him, it becomes something other than God. It just becomes religion and not good religion at that. Life has to have room to grow or you kill it. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
Posted in Church, Church Planting, discipleship, Leadership, love, Mission, Missions & Missional, prayer, Relationships
Tagged Acts 2, Apostles' Teaching, Breaking of Bread, christianity, discipleship, Fellowship, God, going deep, Incarnational, Jesus, Leadership, life, love, Missional, prayer, religion, The Dwelling Place, The Dwelling Place CC