Monthly archives: September, 2016

It’s A Virtue

 

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If you were brave enough to ask those closest to you if you are a patient person, what would they say?

 

Ouch! That one could be painful.

 

I recently asked my kids on a scale from 1-5 with five being most patient, where would you rate me on that scale? As I held my breath a little as I awaited their response, our eight year old, Garrett, piped up quickly, “Zero!” Wow, I know this can be a tough one for me, but yikes, am I really that bad? Luckily, he couldn’t last another minute until he burst out into laughter as he let me know that he was joking. Big sigh of relief! He then told me he landed on a 3 ½ for me overall. Our fifteen year old, Lauren, being the biggest sweetie that she is spoke up and gave me a 4. They’re so forgiving. So gracious. Most days, I wouldn’t give myself that rating.

 

Can you relate?

 

We are living in an instant gratification society. We have access to any information that we want or need via a small hand-held device that can fit in our pockets or the watch on our wrists. We’re used to getting what we want when we want it. When we don’t get what we want, when we want it either from circumstances or people, that’s when impatience raises its ugly head.

 

 

Impatience. Whether it’s looking around us or looking in the mirror, we see it every day. The impatient person is always wanting others to be considerate of them, but doesn’t return the favor to others. Impatience is rushing others. Impatience shows the selfishness in our hearts; it makes everything about us.

 

 

On the other hand, patience looks very different. Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church puts it this way, “Patience is the decision to move at someone else’s pace, rather than pressure him or her to match yours”.

 

Patience makes everything about them. Patience is not complaining. Patience is handling others weaknesses with kindness. Patience is not being easily angered and being gentle. Patience isn’t rushing and hurrying those around you. Patience is often times keeping your mouth shut.

 

Looking at 1 Corinthians 13, isn’t it interesting how Paul starts the love chapter with, “Love is patient”. Patience is vital to loving well; it is the foundation of love with all the other demands building on it.

 

Being patient is about loving others. The more we love others, the easier it is to be patient with them. The more we love others, the less it is about us.

 

“Patience is dying. Patience comes when we let go of ourselves, our desires, our agenda, our goals, our control. Patience is where we remove ourselves from the center of our universe and the throne of our hearts and we surrender to God. Patience requires us to die to ourselves, to let go of our selfish desires. Patience requires us to pay attention, to focus on something besides ourselves. Patience is when we value others ahead of ourselves, love others more than ourselves.”

 

– Pastor Tyler Edwards, Carolina Forest Community Church
“Do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love.” – 2 Peter 1:5-7

 

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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.


A Year Of Love

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“The word ‘love’ has begun to move from being overused to something real and alive.”

“One of the greatest impacts for me was the delivery of truth through story.”

“For unbelievers, it can be a catalyst for a relationship with Christ; and for believers, a deeper one.”

“Seeing what love is not written on the whiteboard is powerful.”

“For me, a shift has taken place from having a flowery view of love to a solid definition.”

“This Scripture has come alive for me for the very first time!”

“I’m understanding how selfish I’ve been in my loving.”

“I place bricks between me and others without realizing it.”

“The definition and clarity brings peace.”

“I can’t believe how pervasive the lies are from culture. They’re everywhere, all the time.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell us this before?”

“I want to follow God’s design of the ‘one plus one for life.’ I’ve done it culture’s way all my life and it’s gotten me nowhere.”

“This is what it’s all about!”

Over the past year, we’ve heard these words come from the many people who have experienced Love Defined in various contexts. While we cannot know the full impact of the invested time, these words and the stories behind them give us a good idea of the personal and relational effects of continuing to let God’s voice provide the clarity needed to have lifelong, fulfilling relationships. We are encouraged by them to keep going, to keep helping people more fully understand and radically embrace God’s highest ideal of love.

A year’s worth of small groups, retreats, and coffee shop conversations has further highlighted what we already know:

  • Since relationships are a God-designed reality, we all benefit from knowing how to best love one another.
  • Since culture’s influence is pervasive, we all must continually look to God’s definition of love so as to not be confused.
  • Since the source of our identity will dictate how well we love one another, we must repeatedly return to what God says about us…for their benefit.

What we also know is that none of us outgrows the truth and application of God’s clear definition of love. Maybe you don’t know God at all. Maybe you’ve walked with Him for 50 years. The call is still to love Him and others, and there’s always room for growth.

We typically like to challenge you with these blogs to join us in living out one of love’s demands. There are two challenges this week and they are different. Did one of the quotes above stick out to you? Did it hit home? Did it cause you to wonder what your relationships could look like if you loved the way God intended? First, pray for the one who spoke those words. You won’t know their name, but the prayers will still be heard by our God who loves them. And second, join us for an upcoming Love Defined retreat or small group. You could end up saying some of the same words…and your relationships could be altered, too!


Perseverance

 

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Perseverance.  There are no visions of rest and relaxation when you see this word. No lying in the hammock sipping lemonade here. Think of the words that correlate:  press on, push forward, stretch yourself, a no pain no gain mentality.  As we all know, to say that perseverance is hard work is putting it mildly.

 

When I think of perseverance, I always picture a runner about three-fourths of the way through a marathon. Covered in sweat, blisters on the feet, aching muscles, a perfect picture of pure fatigue with a perplexed facial expression that declares, “Why again am I doing this?”.

 

Been there?

 

Although, I’m personally not a runner, I have experienced these scenarios figuratively speaking in life. Each time I find myself smack dab in the middle of an overwhelming, seemingly endless situation that requires my resolve. These are the times that take everything in me to fight another battle, love the unloving, to initiate the conversation, to take another step in the right direction toward someone.

 

I won’t lie.  I often find myself with the same perplexed facial expression the runners exhibit asking myself the same question, “Why again am I doing this?” There can only be one reason we do this. I Corinthians 13 challenges us with the demand to persevere in our relationships. This can be downright frustrating, impossible and painful at times; but we are called to press on. This is how Jesus loves. This is how we love.

 

We’re called to love for the other person’s sake for sure; but, we’re also called to love for our own sake as well. Think about the struggle when persevering in a relationship. The struggle is real. (no pun intended) At times, it can be quite the process. Think about the struggle; but think about the gift.

 

We persevere…we press on and “fight” well. With blisters and sore muscles along the way. Persevering…the struggle, changes us. We learn. We grow. That right there is a gift.

 

Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. On the Fourth of July in 1951, she attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. The challenge was not so much the distance, but the bone-chilling waters of the Pacific. To complicate matters, a dense fog lay over the entire area, making it impossible for her to see land. After about 15 hours in the water, and within a half mile of her goal, Chadwick gave up. Later she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself. But if I could have seen land, I might have made it.” Not long afterward she attempted the feat again.

 

Once more a misty veil obscured the coastline and she couldn’t see the shore. But this time she made it because she kept reminding herself that land was there. With that confidence, she bravely swam on and achieved her goal. In fact, she broke the men’s record by 2 hours!

 

None of us will be swimming the English Channel today. But, there’s some of us that are struggling in a relationship – perhaps a friend, family or co-worker. You’re wondering if you should just quit. Feeling so emotionally drained and fatigued. May I encourage you to keep going?  Even through all the misty fog. You’re not alone. Don’t turn back now. The coastline seems so far away, but could it be that the land is right there within reach?

 

“Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners,

so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.” – Hebrews 12:3

 

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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.


An Argument For Hope

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Love always hopes. Really? Always? That’s a long time, don’t you think? God, in having His word penned for all generations, does something we are advised not to do, especially in arguments with others, and that is use the words ‘always’ or ‘never.’ And yet, in His “argument” of defending His own nature, in describing His own essence, and in defining the love we’re to show, He says love always hopes. A faithful Bible teacher once told me (and everyone else in the room), “they who read it slowest, get it.” So, take a moment to slowly digest what God has told us: Love…always…hopes. It’s really more profound, deep, convicting, and encouraging than the attention we give it.

 

As profound, deep, convicting, and encouraging as it might be, though, do we collectively know what it even means? In who or what are we hoping? For what are we hoping? And why even hope at all, much less always?

 

First, we are not to hope in people. Our hope is in God alone. This God-hope means we wait for Him in relationships; we act as though He’s able to change our relationships; and we trust He’s moving in their life as well as ours. He has more invested in your relationships than you do. That’s God-hope. When our hope is properly placed in God, it then becomes quite practical and quite evident in how we speak to and act toward others. To further clarify, God-hope is not in people, but it is for people. It is hope in God for their growth, maturity, and progress.

 

Why should we hope? Take the antithesis of everything in the previous paragraph and we can quickly see why we hope. Once a God-hope fades, perseverance dissolves, patience disappears, contentment diminishes, and forgiveness dies. The Garden Wall is crumbling. An always-on hope is crucial.

 

Later in Jesus’ ministry, a few of His disciples argued over who was to be the greatest. Think through this. It’s been almost three years. The disciples have seen amazing miracles, but also just as amazing humble responses and acts from Jesus. Never once had Jesus demanded attention for attention’s sake, a crowd to simply be seen or heard, or to be crowned king. And the disciples are seen standing in the shade of a tree disputing about who would be the greatest. Remember that time Jesus overturned some tables? This seems like an appropriate table-throwing situation. Instead, [love is like that, by the way—lived out instead of the alternative], Jesus not only shared how to be the greatest, but that they would, in fact, be great. Instead of prideful finger-pointing, Jesus humbly responds with gentleness. Is that a love that hopes? Absolutely. He understands they’re still growing and maturing, and so he teaches, encourages, and even communicates gratitude. How hopeful is that!

 

So, how would you describe your character right this minute? Now, contrast that with how you’d be able to describe it if you always demonstrated hope within your relationships. What would change? Interestingly, in the middle of the disciples’ dispute, not one of the them spoke up to say, “None of this matters, guys. Jesus is the greatest!” Seems like that would have broken up the argument. Our God-hope, indeed, begins there, that Jesus is the greatest and can do wonders in our relationships.