Monthly archives: November, 2015

Contentment……The Key To A Rich Life

 

 

 

contentement

“Can you show love by giving thanks?”

Though stated in slightly different terms, this question gets asked a lot about Love Defined and, specifically, the definition Paul lays out. How come gratefulness doesn’t show up in 1 Corinthians 13? Add to that list a number of other principles, actions, or ideals, and one can begin to wonder if Paul, or God, left some things out. We would submit that neither Paul nor God has done such a thing.

This week, the Love Defined Team would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Verizon has other wishes for you, though, with their latest commercial vying for your dollars this Friday by extending a very “Happy Thanksgetting” this year. I pick on Verizon, but only with the recognition that they are just a symbol of all the companies wanting to see your smiling faces this week. Surely, the financial investment they make to get you and me to equate ‘stuff’ with ‘love’ and ‘fulfillment’ must be in the billions. But year after year, it never happens. Oh, the stuff may indeed pile up, but the love tank remains empty.

Though not strictly aimed at materialism, Paul writes that “love does not envy.” Rather, love is shown through a contented life. The challenge this week will certainly be to live this out at the mall on Friday, but look for other places God may be shining His light. The darkness of discontentment (i.e. the absence of love) can show up in relationships:

• When I’m frustrated with a family member, to what or to whom do I turn my attention?

• What thoughts do I think or words do I say when an argument breaks out in my marriage?

• When the kids are out of control, do I loose my patience or keep my cool and give thanks even in the midst of these exasperating moments?

We’re praying you choose contentment this week for the expressed purpose that it will be your key to unlock gratefulness. Whether with your things, your friends, or your family, be content. Not complacent, but content. And then let the gratitude flow. Happy Love-Giving!


The Truth Will Set You Free

The Truth

Have you seen the recent YouTube video of the little boy who was lying about eating a cupcake? Here is this totally adorable toddler with bright, blue icing all around his mouth.  When his dad asks if he’s had a cupcake, without the slightest pause, he says NO…repeatedly. Oh my, he is precious. The fact that he is lying with blue icing all over his mouth – screaming his guilt – makes him even cuter. It makes us chuckle. It’s cute. And those of us with kids could all tell similar stories.

Sometimes the antics of children can be, well, cute. But we grow. And we grow up. And we come to see what once was adorable for a child no longer is. Yep. This includes lying.

Lying is nothing new. The Garden of Eden, heard of it? Adam and Eve? Yep, the very first recorded sin involved lying. And lying is bad. I know. Mind blowing news – right?  Yet regularly we hear of individuals caught in less than truthful moments: politicians, news broadcasters, sports figures, pastors, coaches, doctors. Each story has its unique circumstances, each it’s unique failure. Yet underneath it all, they share one obvious question…

Why?

If we know it isn’t true, what drives the need to be dishonest? Why do we feel the need to exaggerate the truth or make people think we’ve accomplished something we haven’t?  Why give the impression that we are something we really are not?

We wear masks. We try to hide the real us. We try to gain acceptance from those around us by being what we think they would want us to be, or say what we think they want us to say…whoever they is.  We don’t want to disappoint. We don’t want to feel rejected. So we stretch the truth. We lie.

And we become the little boy with blue icing on his face.

But there’s a better way.

I Corinthians 13 teaches us that love “rejoices in the truth”Stop. Think about how big this is:  this is the section in the Bible commonly referred to as the “love chapter”. We’re told that true “God-type” love (agape in the Greek) is a love that is benevolent, willfully delights and finds joy in the one being loved.  It’s the ultimate love, one of deep, unconditional commitment. A love that doesn’t just endure what’s true, or look past what’s true, it rejoices in what’s true.  It recognizes that as a follower of Jesus, your true identity is not found in your wins and losses, or your feelings and circumstances. Your true identity is found in Jesus Christ! And your true identity doesn’t require a mask.

True love, God’s love, rejoices in the truth!  The truth that…

…you are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

…you are His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10, NKJV)

…you are established. (2 Corinthians 1:21 NKJV)

…you are sealed with His promise. (John 6:27 NKJV)

…you are redeemed. (Colossians 1:14 NIV)

Could it be…that part of why God rejoices in the truth of our messiness and ugliness and brokenness is because the truth of our messiness and ugliness and brokenness gives Him the joy of demonstrating his indescribable, unrestrained, un-earnable love?

Yep! The blue icing is all over your face, and mine. Throw your hands up to a Father who loves you!  He knows and rejoices in the truth: your identity is so much greater than the frosting on your face.

And know this: when we embrace and live in and rejoice in that truth, we’re able to love others the way we are loved. We’re able to rejoice in the truth of their identity as well.  And it’s so much greater than the frosting on their face.

 “Aren’t you glad that God’s acceptance isn’t based on our performance? We have nothing to prove. Cancel the audition.”  – Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church


The Power Of Forgiveness

 

 

IN THE METRO

Best-selling author Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art— accompanied by the subtitle “Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles”—encourages and challenges the reader to recognize the unrelenting Resistance that undoubtedly comes against any “inner creative battle” we may be facing. By “creative,” he means just about anything you want to accomplish—from writing a book to starting a business, from finishing your painting to running a marathon, from dieting to going back to school. We are all creative and there is always Resistance to creating: “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” There is truth here not to be ignored, yet Pressfield may not fully agree with where I take this. Most of his book describes Resistance and its relationship with many parts of life. What he doesn’t do is go further and say that in some cases, it is our fleshly nature or Satan himself that is causing the Resistance. The overall tone of The War of Art can be likened to a gospel letter. He wants the best for the reader, having been down the roads that he maps out.

If loving God and loving people are the two things we were created to do, then the most logical progression seems to be that we are most creative when we are, in fact, loving God and loving people. And yet, if we learn anything from Pressfield, there will certainly be resistance to this “inner creative battle.” It sounds like Pressfield and Paul could have been good friends. Paul knows there will be resistance to love, so he has to remind us to forgive: “Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.” It’s as if Paul is saying, “Start the conversation out with ‘I forgive you,’ and then ask, ‘what’d you do?'” This has to be ranked up there with the demands of love to which I respond, “No thanks, Paul. Not interested. You can take that one back.” The strength and origin for this does not reside in you and me, though. It is in Christ’s preemptive forgiveness, which He decided before the foundation of the world—”while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Decide now to forgive, so that the inner creative battle to love God and others can be won.


Gentleness

 

 

 

 

Gentleness

“Got an anger problem?”  Of course not.  That’s how most of us would answer that question. In fact, when we read in I Corinthians 13 that love is not easily angered we might be quick to think that, “Yep, that describes me!” But what if we looked at the phrase from a different angle?

I remember a time shortly after we moved to Florida; I decided to run through the drive-thru at a restaurant to grab a quick snack.  As I was waiting patiently in line, I noticed the reverse lights on a car that was parked next to my van. I lightly tapped my horn. Lightly, really. The next thing I knew, this lady flung her door open, started yelling all kinds of awesome things at me, and then proceeded to throw a cup of liquid in my window (which just happened to be rolled down to order at the drive-thru). Not a great first impression of my new town. I was shocked. Something so small just set her off.

I re-tell the story of the lady in the drive-thru from time-to-time and share my amazement at how quickly she flew off the handle at me and I always get the same shocked look from those I’m sharing it with. But, when I stop and think about it, I’m amazed at how quickly I can become easily angered at times about everyday things in life that are really so petty.

You know, all the important stuff like stepping on lego body parts in heeps all over, pillows and couch cushions on the floor as make-shift forts…dirty clothes that are on the floor beside the hamper instead of inside, the lady who takes my precious booth at Panera Bread when she clearly can see that I was waiting for it and we all know how difficult it is to get a booth at Panera! The way that people drive…oh don’t get me started with that one. The red lights that last what feels like an eternity, particularly when you’re in a hurry. I often take something that should be a 2 and make it a 10.

So, you’re not easily angered by the things I am? Great, give yourself a high-five! But, how about this…do you respond to everyday frustrations and circumstances with people by displaying gentleness to them?  That’s a tough one! As we try to demonstrate the love of Jesus, it’s not just a matter of avoiding what love isn’t, but demonstrating what love is. So, what is the opposite of responding in anger?  Love Defined has described it as responding with Gentleness.

Scripture talks about how God is “slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 86:15) and as Christ-followers, we are to be “slow to anger” (James 1:19). I heard this described in a way that has stuck with me, and I hope it sticks with you too.  “Love puts the brakes on anger, slowing it down for the sake of the one loved.”

So when you feel your blood pressure rising just a bit this week, take note of the circumstance. Realize that as the Love Defined family is focusing on this demand, Satan will be throwing all kinds of obstacles our way. So, get ready! Tap into God’s strength that will help us put the brakes on being easily angered and live everyday life with Gentleness.