Friday, February 13, 2015

23 Things Love Is


  1. LOVE IS... being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
  2. LOVE IS... actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
  3. LOVE IS... making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
  4. LOVE IS... being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
  5. LOVE IS... being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
  6. LOVE IS... a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
  7. LOVE IS... being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
  8. LOVE IS... making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
  9. LOVE IS... being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
  10. LOVE IS... being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.
  11. LOVE IS... being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
  12. LOVE IS... being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
  13. LOVE IS... recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
  14. LOVE IS... speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person’s character or assault their intelligence.
  15. LOVE IS... being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
  16. LOVE IS... being unwilling to ask another person to be the source of your identity, meaning, and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of theirs.
  17. LOVE IS... the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.
  18. LOVE IS... a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.
  19. LOVE IS... staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn’t seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.
  20. LOVE IS... the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.
  21. LOVE IS... being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
  22. LOVE IS... refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
  23. LOVE IS... daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace. Copied from Paul Tripp

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When Things Are Bad--Does My Faith Hold?

“If you obey Jesus you will have a life of joy and delight.” Well, it is not true. Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go to the other side of the lake,” and they were plunged into the biggest storm they had ever known. You say, “If I had not obeyed Jesus I should not have got into this complication.” Exactly. The temptation is to say, “God could never have told me to go there, if He had done so this would not have happened.” We discover then whether we are going to trust God’s integrity or listen to our own expressed skepticism. 

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” (Psalm 51:17)—that of a spirit God has made glad by a great forgiveness. The sign of this kind of broken heart is that the saint is untroubled by storms, and undismayed by bereavement because he is confident in God. 

Reflection Questions: When things go badly, do I see it as an indication that I have been mistaken about God’s leading or about God’s love? Am I prepared to accept that perhaps neither is true? What better explanation is there? 

Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." So they launched out. But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?" (Luke 8:22-25 NASB)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Church: Family or Store? by James Emery White

Vol. 10, No. 93

On Halloween, a member of our church’s staff came to our door to trick-or-treat with her three kids.

It was their 17th straight year.

Her oldest son is taller than me and stopped dressing up long ago. In fact, he drove the family to our house.

The daughter is probably on her last year (she dressed as Katniss Everdeen – that should be a hint).

The youngest may have a couple more years in him. Tops.

Their mother has been a part of the church for even longer – twenty-two years, to be exact. She was actually at Meck’s very first service on October 4, 1992, and was the very first person to become a Christian through our services.

For whatever reason, it made me think of two different ways of viewing a church: a family or a store.

If church is a family, then you relate to it as a son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister. Deeply biblical ideas, I might add. When the Bible talks about Christian community, these are the metaphors it falls back on.

If a church is a store, then you are nothing more than a consumer. There is a retail outlet and a customer, a provider and a receiver.

It strikes me that these are the two ways that people can view a church.

Family...or store.

If it’s a family, they stick with it. Work through it. Stay in it. There are deep blood ties. It’s not about what you get, but what you give.

If it’s a store, then it’s a consumer decision. Who has the best prices? Most convenience? Quickest access?

The great danger, of course, is when churches intentionally posture themselves as “stores” in competition with other “stores”. This is not only biblically misguided, it is theologically heretical.

And will not serve in the long run.

Open the front door wide, to be sure, but never fail to remember that who you are at your most foundational level is “family.”

And make sure you help people become that family.

James Emery White

    
Editor’s Note


James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon.  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit www.churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This Thanksgiving “get to Him” and give thanks.


One Thanksgiving season a family was seated around their table, looking at the annual holiday bird. From the oldest to the youngest, they were to express their praise. When they came to the 5-year-old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks to the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good. After that rather novel expression of thanksgiving, he began with a more predictable line of credits, thanking his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying the turkey. But then he went beyond that. He joined together a whole hidden multitude of benefactors, linking them with cause and effect. He said, "I thank you for the checker at the grocery store who checked out the turkey. I thank you for the grocery store people who put it on the shelf. I thank you for the farmer who made it fat. I thank you for the man who made the feed. I thank you for those who brought the turkey to the store."
Using his Columbo-like little mind, he traced the turkey all the way from its origin to his plate. And then at the end he solemnly said "Did I leave anybody out?" His 2-year-older brother, embarrassed by all those proceedings, said, "God." Solemnly and without being flustered at all, the 5-year-old said, "I was about to get to him."
Well, isn’t that the question about which we ought to think at Thanksgiving time? Are we really going to get to him this Thanksgiving? The Psalmist said, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth, O seed of Abraham, His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!  (Psalms 105:1-6 NAS95)

This Thanksgiving “get to Him” and give thanks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

10 Ways the Enemy Gets the Upper Hand in a Church

Reposted....

Let me start this post with a clear caveat: Satan will not ultimately win as he attacks God’s church. Jesus broke the powers through His cross (Col. 2:15), and the enemy will eventually be cast into outer darkness (Rev. 20:10). In the meantime, though, the devil strategically attacks us. Consider these ways he seeks to get the “up”per hand.

  1. He wants us to mess up in sin. The results of our sin are numerous. Our witness loses credibility. Our prayers are hindered. Our joy wanes. Relationships often suffer. The world looks at us and sees no difference– and the enemy temporarily wins.
  2. He wants us to cover up our sin. He did it in the Garden of Eden, and he still does it today: if we sin, he wants us to hide like Adam and Eve did. That way, we never confess it and turn from it. Likewise, the enemy wants the local church to ignore the sin among its members.
  3. He wants us to get hung up on difficulties and discouragement. “You’ve served God faithfully,” he says to us, “but what good has it done? You’re still struggling and lonely.” He delights when we cower in the cave like Elijah (1 Kgs 19), forgetting God’s previous blessings and focusing on only the trouble at hand.
  4. He wants us to clam up in evangelism. God has only one plan to get the gospel to our neighbors and the nations: believers tell the story to others (Rom. 10:9-16). It’s the enemy who points out reasons for us not to share the gospel. Maybe you’ve heard messages like “You’re going to lose your friendship” or “You really don’t know enough to do evangelism.”
  5. He wants us to bow up over position and power. The enemy who himself sought the throne of God is pleased when we guard our turf and protect our positions in the local church. “You’ve served in that position for years,” he reminds us, “and why should you give it up? Nobody can do it as well as you can.”
  6. He wants us to break up. This strategy, too, started in the Garden, where Adam turned on Eve and blamed her for his wrong. From the beginning, the enemy has sought to sever marriages, families, friendships, and congregations. He knows the church will hardly make a difference when we shoot each other in the back.
  7. He wants us to build up our own kingdoms. He does not mind when we talk about the kingdom of God as long as our real focus is our own kingdom. “Serve God,” he says, “but make sure others know just how much you’re serving Him. In a ‘humble’ way, be sure to get the word out about the size and influence of your ministry.”
  8. He wants us to cloud up the message. Without question, the enemy rejoices when the gospel message is decidedly and clearly forsaken. At the same time, though, he is pleased when the message is subtly changed so the gospel disappears while still sounding like a biblical message. The cloudiness of the message thus keeps non-believers from hearing the truth.
  9. He wants us to give up on prayer. He points out unanswered prayer, reminding us that God has at times not heard us in the past. Why would we then seek God’s presence and power today?
  10. He wants us to get puffed up with ego. In fact, this strategy is the root of the rest of these strategies. When we reside on the throne of our lives, the enemy is at least temporarily winning.