Love Is, Love Is Not

Screenshot (295)

1 Corinthians 13:4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered it keeps no record of wrongs. Loves does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It is clear to see that what many try to pass off as love is really selfishness.

My Advice – Keep this as the standard of love that you aspire to with a mate, a friend, family and fellow Christians.

It’s the Gospel, Stupid!

screenshot (350)

Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – In the spring of 1991, following an immensely successful invasion of Iraq, President Bush’s (the first one) approval rating was 90%.  He was considered unbeatable as he looked ahead to his reelection bid the following year.  Then, the economy began to sour, and by late summer of 1992 (just weeks before the election) 64% of Americans disapproved of his job performance.  With this dramatic reversal of fortune, the Clinton campaign’s slogan became “it’s the economy, stupid!”  The slogan’s intent was to keep the campaign focused on the real issue of that year’s presidential election – the economy, President Bush’s Achilles’ heel.  They could have lost their way and become side-tracked on less important or even non-essential issues and lost the election.  The slogan was meant to be the rallying cry to get them back on track to what was important in order to win the election. It did and they did.

I think evangelical Christianity is in need of a similar slogan today to get it back to its “prime directive” – It’s the Gospel, stupid!  My intent here is not to throw rocks at someone else’s “glass house,” because I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian.  But what does the term evangelical Christian mean anyway?  Here is an excerpt from someone else’s musings [with some editorializing by me thrown in] that might prove helpful ( from https://www.gotquestions.org/evangelical-Christian.html):

“In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some [perhaps an understatement], the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to ‘right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.’ There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political [political maybe, moral certainly] beliefs. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation [or gives them a monopoly on morality].”

“The term Christian essentially means ‘follower of Christ.’  The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.”

“A Christian is called [actually commissioned by Christ] to share [evangelize] the good news [Gospel], to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of [not dictate to] purity and integrity. If these callings require [require may be too strong of a term] political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So, back to my musing.   It’s the Gospel, stupid!  Gospel is a word that is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell denoting “glad tidings” or “good news” (Baker encyclopedia of the Bible).  Among other definitions, stupid means  not intelligent, not sensible, not interesting or worthwhile (Merriam-Webster).

Evangelical Christians need not be apolitical, nor should they compromise their convictions or beliefs in the name of political expediency.  Speaking the truth in love is not mutually exclusive.  We should not speak the truth in an offensive or hateful manner, nor should the truth need to be silenced or watered down in order to keep peace and love.  While we cannot keep the world from hating us (Jesus said they would because they hated Him), nor finding the Gospel offensive (Paul said many would), we need not be hateful or offensive such that others find the “good news” to be “not intelligent, sensible, interesting or worthwhile” because of how we proclaim it.

My Advice – Let’s share what’s in our “lunchbox” with love and concern.  Let’s not beat others over the head with it in arrogance or self-righteousness.  It’s the Gospel, stupid! Let’s stay on task (get back on track).  Let’s help win the “election” for the lost.  Let’s keep our feet “beautiful” by bringing “good news,” proclaiming “peace,” bringing “good tidings,” and proclaiming “salvation.”  After all, its the only “campaign” with eternal consequences.  Our God reigns!

 

Too Intellectual

1 Corinthians 8:1Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Sometimes, the more we know, the more arrogant we become. Then our head gets in the way of our heart and drives a wedge between us and God. We must not allow ourselves to become too intellectual for God.

My Advice – Don’t let your education go to your head. Let your heart, and your love of God, be your primary guide, not the knowledge of the world.

No Separation

Romans 8:38-39I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – What can cause God to stop loving a Christian? Absolutely nothing, not now, not ever.

My Advice – Never believe that you’ve done something that has made it impossible for God to love you. Nothing can separate you. Never believe that you were saved in the past but you’ve done something since to change that. Neither the “present nor the future” can change that.

In the Shadow of the Cross

Screenshot (335)

John 1:1, 15In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV 1984)

Isaiah 59:2 – Your iniquities have separated you from your God. (NIV 1984)

Hebrews 9:22The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NIV 1984)

Leviticus 17:11For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement…it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. (NIV 1984)

Incarnation – This is the Christian doctrine that the second person of the Trinity assumed Continue reading “In the Shadow of the Cross”

Where’s Brother Waldo?

Screenshot (232)

Romans 12:18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – All too often, whenever a potentially divisive issue is discussed, either the truth is compromised in the name of love, or love is compromised in the name of truth, as if the two (love and truth) were mutually exclusive. They are not. The reason we know they are not is that Christians are called to speak the truth in love.

  • Truth – Being prepared to speak the truth is more than merely knowing what we believe. It also means that we are able to provide clear reasons for why we hold the beliefs and convictions that we do. If we cannot do this, the truth may not be compromised (the truth remains the truth), but our credibility can certainly be questioned.
  • Love – We should also be prepared to communicate the truth in a gentle and respectful manner whenever called to do so. While we would expect the same from those with opposing beliefs and convictions (especially if they too are Christians) this is not always the case. When this is not the case, it is not an excuse to throw love out the window. For even if we are equipped with the full knowledge of the truth and can eloquently and convincingly communicate it “in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, [we are] only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We merely end up winning the argument while losing the heart. In essence, “[we] gain nothing.
  • Truth and Love – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle [beliefs, convictions], you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
  • Conscience – We must remain faithful to both the truth (as the Holy Spirit instructs us in the truth) and love (as our Savior modeled for us). This is really the only way we can keep a clear conscience and maintain our credibility with others.

As we Christians watch our views become ever more unpopular in an increasingly polarized culture, the temptation to defend ourselves in vitriolic, even hateful, ways will grow. As we interact with others virtually or in our communities, we must remember our call to live like Jesus. We must not adopt secular rules of engagement regardless of whether culture is religious or irreligious.Ed Stetzer

Screenshot (297)

My Advice – Always do your best to take the high road.

 

He Is and He Will

Zephaniah 3:17 –  The Lord God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – These are all things that God desires for us. His might saves us so He can delight in us, love us and rejoice over us.

My Advice – God has richly blessed your life. Show your gratitude to Him by continuing to live a life that He delights in and rejoices over.