Category Archives: Relationships

Tough Love…

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?

Gallery

Love + Incarnational = Transformation

This gallery contains 2 photos.

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

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Simple Church – putting a number on it…

Ever feel like you are the only one?

Simple Church, Organic Church or House Church is no longer thought of as some fringe, obscure or illegitimate expression of the Church made up of hippies and those too strange to belong to traditional christian churches.  Let me take that back… some of us are strange.  However, there is a longing amongst many believers today for something more than the status quo, more than church attendance.  There is a growing desire to not change the structure of church but rather be changed people.  This is leading to a shift in how believers meet and gather.  It’s less about the building and more about the relationships and Christ being the center of communal life. 

So is this a passing fad?  It doesn’t seem so.  By the growing numbers it’s becoming a movement – a Jesus movement and is gaining acceptance even among mainstream traditional and denominational churches who are not only embracing it as legitimate but who themselves are now planting Simple Churches.

Give it to me. What’s the number?

One of Christianity’s most influential leaders, George Barna, who has both been a part of the movement for many years and has done extensive research share some interesting facts.  This is a recent article written by the Barna Group entitled “How many people really attend a House Church?”.  CLICK HERE

The Vision and The Journey…

the journeyNot all journeys begin with a vision, but every vision is the beginning of a journey. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I am talking about something that originated from the heart of God, not the desires of man.  We have all felt strong desires and placing them in beautifully crafted words and called them a vision.  Church leaders are notorious for this , the proof being captured in many churches’ three part vision statements.  I’m not slamming on the desires of Godly men who want to do good things, but there is a big difference between the visions of men to do Godly things and the visions from God that only He can give and fulfill. 

“That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  John 3:6

God fulfills His visions through us and by the resources He supplies.  We cannot see or understand the full scope of this kind of vision.  If we did, we would run away from it like Jonah or run right out thinking we can fulfill God’s vision.  A true vision from God frightens you and captures you at the same time.  You don’t go looking for it, it finds you.

It was a typical Sunday service.  We were going through the same routine we go through every Sunday.  As we came to our time of worship, I was engaged as I usually am somewhere between sorting out the last thoughts of the sermon I am about to deliver and half listening for any last minute promptings from the Holy Spirit and trying to worship.  All of a sudden I am arrested by God with a vision.  I am engulfed by what I see in the Spirit as everything in the natural fades into the backdrop till I am only aware of God and what He’s showing me.  And, this is all I see…

I was taken outside of our Church building as I watched a storm appear.  It was sudden with no time to prepare.  You could not see the storm, only it’s effects.  It was like seeing one of those storm stories about a hurricane or tornado on the Discovery Channel.  The power of the wind began to tear the building apart starting with the shingles.  Piece by piece the building tore apart, shingles, plywood, timbers and bricks, til all that was left was the concrete slab foundation.  Then as quickly as the church was torn apart and stripped away, God began to build it back.  Suddenly, I found myself back standing in our sanctuary singing our last song if worship.

I tried quickly to compose myself.  What now?  I sensed in my spirit that God was about to do what I saw, but I had no idea what that meant.  As I said before, it frightened me and captured me.  I heard the Lord say, “surrender.”

I made my way up front and stood before the people God had been so gracious to bring together as our church.  I felt compelled to share what I saw and what God said to me.  When I was done sharing the vision, I said to the church that I sensed God telling us to surrender, that if He needed to strip anything away, we needed to surrender and let Him.  If I needed to go, the building needed to go, any programs, any people, finances, ideologies about ministry or personal issues, then we needed to surrender and let Him.   I asked everyone to pray with me a prayer of consecration.

What came next, I would not have expected.  And, so the journey began…

Come along with me.

Run away church…

“…and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

Maybe there is something to learn from this young generation about Church.  When I was a kid I didn’t like going to church but I did like seeing my friends there.  I remember the old man who used to give all us kids a stick of gum every Sunday.  Isn’t it funny the things that matter to us.  For me, the greatest memories of my childhood church experience had to do with the relationships I valued and the people who showed value to me.

It’s all about the relationships.  God living in us, us living in relationship with Him, us living in relationship with each other revealing the relationship with Him.  So as I tell the church I have the privilege of leading and loving, “when we leave the building, the church has left the building because we are the church, not the building.”

Romance…

Listening to this strikes a romantic chord.  I think I need to go out and buy one.

Keep your love alive!

He who has an ear, let him hear…

Oh the beauty of diversity.  How different we are in every way, including our ability to communicate.  If you haven’t learned by now then you either don’t realize that people misunderstand what you’ve tried to say or you don’t care if you are misunderstood.   But, if we value relationship with the ones we are trying to communicate with then we will take the time to learn.  To assume you are heard simply because you think you are a clear and precise communicator is a self-delusion and maybe in some cases arrogant.  Either way it does not take into account the beautiful diversity of our hearers.  Communication is an ongoing process that may need to be revisited over and over til what we find is not that we have simply been heard and understood but rather we progressively and more intimately know our hearers as well as we are known.  To truly desire to be heard is to truly desire relationship with our hearer and that is a heart issue not just something wrong with the ears.