Monthly archives: August, 2016

Trust……It’s Kind Of A Big Deal

 

 

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Trust. It’s the foundation to the relationships in our lives.

 

When you think about it, it is most definitely true when it comes to our surface interactions with people.  From our babysitter, doctor, mechanic, realtor, banker, dentist, hair stylist, and even our pet groomer. The list is long. Before we seek their services, we want to know that we can trust them.

 

Have you noticed the topic of trust in the headlines lately?  The question is asked daily: which politician, both swarmed in controversies, can we trust more to lead our nation as President? Shareholders, unsure they can trust the choices of corporate leadership, have fading confidence in companies in which they invest.  A front page article declaring “The Double Life Of An Army General Will Cost Him His Career” (and so much more). A recent survey is showing only 41% of people have “reasonable trust” in what media reports. An Olympian swimmer misrepresents the truth, and trust is fractured in a way that not only reflects on him, but his team. And his country.

 

Trust is a big deal.

 

In our close relationships, trust has been earned. The more conversations you have with someone, the more connected you feel. The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them. The more you get to know them, the more you trust them.

 

The same is true in our relationship with God. Have more conversations with Him, you’ll feel more connected. Spend more time with Him, you’ll get to know Him. The more you get to know Him, the more you’ll trust Him.

 

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” – Psalm 91 MSG

 

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Leslee has been married to her elementary school sweetheart, Jeff, for 21 years. They have two children: Lauren and Garrison and one adorable dog, Potato. Their family loves taking walks, traveling, going to Disney World and just about anything that allows them to spend time together.


Love Always Protects

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Shielded. Secure. Loved. Protected…you know it when you feel it. And there’s nothing quite like it.

If you’ve ever truly experienced feeling protected, you’ll never forget it.  Some of us may recall childhood memories when we experienced that kind of protection from our parents. For others, you may think of a more recent event when a spouse or a friend provided this kind of love to you.

I Corinthians 13:7 talks about what God’s type of love looks like. Just one of the many ways that love shows itself is that it always protects. The word “protect” has a Latin origin (protectus) which means “to cover in front”. Not just to cover (as if that’s not enough). But, to cover in front…it takes the brunt of things. It’s also described as a bulwark…a defensive wall. Not a word you hear every day, but I love the imagery!  I immediately think of the truth in the words to the old hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God  where it talks about how God is “a bulwark never failing”.

Love. It watches out for others.  It strengthens what is weak. Shields what is vulnerable. Forgives what is provoking. This kind of love has the ability to cover someone else’s faults and weaknesses.  “Love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12) This is the kind of love I need. The kind of love I want to give away.

For some of us, this is familiar. We’ve experienced it again and again.  We realize that in order for us to be able to give this kind of love away, we need to see that we are the ones who are in need; we have plenty of vulnerabilities and weaknesses ourselves. We need God’s type of love in a big way in our lives. Psalm 46 puts it this way:  “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.”

Our cliff-edge of doom, sea storm and earthquake may not be literal, but it sure can feel like it sometimes. Maybe a diagnosis of a serious illness for ourselves or someone we love. A seemingly impossible financial situation. A betrayal that was a sucker punch to our gut.

Whatever it is, rest assured…God is there. In all our weakness. Fighting for us. Protecting us.

Because that’s what love does.

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Leslee has been married to her elementary school sweetheart, Jeff, for 21 years. They have two children: Lauren and Garrison and one adorable dog, Potato. Their family loves taking walks, traveling, going to Disney World and just about anything that allows them to spend time together.


The Truth In Love

  

 

 

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Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. –1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 

 

One of the demands of love is truth. On the surface, truth is an obvious requirement for any healthy relationship. We avoid lying to our spouse. We vow to teach our children what it means to be honest and trustworthy. But, notice Paul’s paradoxical phrase just before the language on truth: “Love does not delight in evil . . .”  In our modern culture, this is a far more difficult path for there are many ways that we unwittingly delight in evil.

 

Think about how we engage with others. How often do our malicious intentions or our false assumptions cause us to subconsciously choose a path of sinful behavior? In what ways do we fail to love in truth as Jesus commanded (John 14:23)?

 

Scripture makes the demand of love in truth very clear within multiple contexts. Still, we struggle. We struggle not because we are bad people. We struggle because we live in a post-modern society that values all truth as relative. If all truth is relative, how am I to exercise love in truth?

 

Jesus himself experienced such relativism as Pilate commissioned him to the cross based on popular opinion (John 18:38). Throughout history, truth has always been relative to the masses. It was relative to Nazi Germany; it is relative to ISIS now. But, when truth is destructive, it ceases to be truth. Any truth that embodies destructive acts can only destroy love and impart evil.

 

As Christians, we know this because Scripture informs us that any “truth” that divides us from God is not truth. It is evil posturing as truth.

 

Love is a simple path, but not an easy one. Fortunately, we have a bold and courageous example. We live love in truth by way of the cross. We live in the one who paid the ultimate price, and we are called to love the world as Jesus loved.

 

And, there is more good news. We are evolving beyond a post-modern perspective on moral relativism to a place where love in truth matters. Across multiple sectors, people from all walks of life are standing up to shout that some things are just not morally acceptable.

 

Acts of destructive violence, in any form, are not acts of love, no matter your race, religion, or culture. Murder and mayhem cannot be tolerated in a moral society.

 

When we unite and seek out love in truth in our own hearts, families, and communities, we advance the reality of Jesus’ demand for love in mighty and purposeful ways. We have the potential to change the course of today’s destructive forces. We need not fear those who oppose us. We have the power to fight the darkness in love and truth. We can embrace diversity and still hold true to who we are as Christians because the foundation of our faith is centered on a God of infinite love.

 

As we move into what some are calling a post-post modern society, however, we are also called to “unlearn” existing paradigms. Love in truth requires that we broaden our minds, that we open ourselves to a whole new way of being, that we transform how we respond to those we look, act, and think differently from ourselves.

 

Jesus emphasized the two greatest commandments: We are to love God first and foremost, and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

 

In these complex times, we would do well to restore our hearts and minds to the basics of how Jesus himself loved. Here are but a few reminders:

 

  1. Jesus embraced diversity and loved the marginalized.

 

Jesus ministered to prostitutes, healed the demon possessed and the blind and taught us to embrace other cultures. He intentionally selected people from diverse backgrounds to demonstrate his unconditional love. Was he preparing us for the many challenges of a diverse global society?

 

How can I put aside my own need to be right in truth such that I embrace others in ways that help them come to know the unconditional love of Jesus?

 

  1. Jesus forgave the unforgivable and kept no record of wrongs.

 

As mass shootings have come to be the norm, we have repeatedly witnessed this profound level of forgiveness. Congregants from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston demonstrated such forgiveness just days after their own massacre. Jesus modeled forgiveness so that we would not be be poisoned by our own hatred and anger. We must forgive as we are forgiven. When we open ourselves up to the greater love of humanity and forgive, we multiply the cycle of peace and forgiveness.

 

How can I extend the grace of forgiveness to others as it has been extended to me?

 

  1. Jesus did not retaliate.

 

There are many examples in Scripture of how Jesus could have demonstrated his strength and power. Instead, he stood his ground and lived out his purpose with peaceful acts of love and grace. The difference between love in truth and love for our own sake lies in our intention. When we examine our intentions in the moments behind every act, we quickly discern whether we are loving in truth or simply living for our own sake.

 

How do my egocentric desires and my need to be right cripple my capacity to love in truth? Even when—no especially when—others cause me great pain and harm?  

 

Jesus has prepared us for the relativism of modernized truth. He has shown us the way and the light of love. We are called to demonstrate the unconditional love of Jesus, and in doing so, we have the opportunity to create heaven here on earth—just as Jesus prescribed.

 

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Sharon Spano, PhD., CSP is a certified integral coach, business strategist, and scholar-practitioner who works with business leaders and entrepreneurs to maximize potential and increase bottom-line results. She is also the founder of Spano & Company, Inc., a human and organizational development firm based in Heathrow, Florida.