Sunday, October 26, 2008


What is love? I'm not talking about the sweaty palms kind of love when you try to talk to a girl in Jr. High. But I want to know about true God inspired love. After all the two most important commands involve love. But what does it really look like? Unfortunately, the English language does not really do the concept justice - the same word is used for baseball, our country, your wife and God. In reality we love all of these things differently. But the Greek language is much more precise in speaking of love. As most of you know there are four words that we translate love, but only two of which we are really concerned. The first is phileo which is a love of friendship and which is usually in response to pleasure received from the person or thing loved. It is never the word used of God's love for us. That word is agape. It is a self sacrificing type of love which is derived from placing value on the one loved, not because of anything he did but simply a choice. It does not expect anything in return. It's most comprehensive expose of course is in I Corinthians 13. I have been studying it recently and have a few thoughts.

First of all we see that love is greater than the three main areas of our lives - speech, thought (prophesy, knowledge, faith) and actions. Secondly we see what it looks like in real life. It does not expect people to be perfect and offers forgiveness readily. It treats people with respect and gentleness as if they were important, paying no attention to their status in the world. It protects others' emotions, reputation and honor, even at the expense of ours. It gives the one loved reason to hope and it hopes for better things for them - it truly desires the highest good of the one loved, and not just the immediate happiness. It allows us to endure suffering, false accusations, betrayal, disappointment ect. because it is not based on getting anything in return.

Next we see what love is not. It has a balanced perception of self ( no righteousness of our own, but worthy in God's sight) and others (not perfect but loved by God) so that there is no need for comparisons or getting self worth by judging myself against others rather than God. Thus there can be no pride. By treating everyone as valuable and honorable, it cannot allow improper conduct. It does not expect others to act in any certain way, and thus it is not disappointed or hurt thereby leading to anger. Because it freely forgives, it does not talley up wrongs and blessings. It is not bestowed based on one deserving it by doing enough good, but is freely given as an act of the will, regardless as to whether it is deserved. Since it arises within the heart of the one loving and does not require a response from the one loved, it can never fail to accomplish its purpose.

Lastly, we come to a most interesting idea. When we get to heaven, many things of this world will pass away, even good things. Three things will remain - faith, hope and love. It is obvious that love will be important in heaven as it has to do with relationship, and there will be plenty of relationships in heaven. The Trinity had a love relationship before the world began and that will certainly continue. The more we grow in our love for God now, the closer we will be to Him when we are in heaven and will make it even better. Likewise, the more we learn to love others with true agape love here now, the more of a headstart we will have in heaven. I do not think that we will immediately be able to love perfectly but will continue to grow in that grace forever. What is troubleing is that faith and hope also remain. How is that if God is present with us? I think that it means that heaven is going to be a much more active and growing type of place than we can possibly imagine. We will still need to trust that God is good and has our best interests in mind and we will still need to hope for growth and maturity. I think it is saying that our progressive sanctification is not complete when we pass through the Pearly Gates, but will continue. How exciting is it to think that heaven will be such an active place of work and growth, without the constraints of sin, but with an atmosphere full of agape love. Are you ready?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hidden Treasure

My second blog of the night is about my weekend hike with Jason in Colorado Bend State Park. It is a neat little park just west of Lampassas in the Texas hill country. We drove to Lampassas Friday night and then got up early to begin our hike. The terrain was typical semi arid with abundant short cedars and we walked about a mile and one half to a little house sitting on a creek. To the right was a short trail to Gorman Falls. This is one of the more incredible hidden treasures in Texas. It is about 60 feet high and there is not a huge volume of water, but when you see it you feel like you are in a tropical rain forest. There are ferns and lush green moss with crystal clear pools. We had a great time exploring all over the falls and then from there we travelled up the creek to its source, Gorman Springs. It was a beautiful hike with lots of vegetation.

From there we hiked all around the park, about 10 miles in all, but it was mostly the same from there on. It was so great to be with my son and we talked about all sorts of things. He has become quite the hiker with a very good sense of direction and very good at picking up the trail. He is also unafraid and was a real joy to hike with. I feel so privileged to have a son like him. So if you are ever in the Texas hill country, stop by and see Gorman Falls for yourself.


In the 1970's there was a group called Three Dog Night. Well tonight may be a three blog night. The first has to do with my grandson, Jayden. He was with us this weekend as his parents were out of town. Right now he is in a bit of an insecure stage with separation anxiety. It is not unusual and will pass but for those who are not in his safety net is can be frustrating. He will not allow me to hold him and sometimes even cries when I come into the room. Now nobody loves Jayden any more than I do (well maybe his parents and grandmothers) and it is my heart to just take him up in my arms and hug him and love on him. I want to lavish him with gifts. I want nothing but his good and his joy and happiness.

Then it dawned on me that that is exactly how God feels about us. How He wants to take us up in His mighty arms and love us and lavish us with gifts. But how often we shy away from Him and look on Him with fear rather than love and push away from Him rather than run toward Him. We treat Him as a thing and not a person to have a relationship with. So what does that mean for us? How can we respond to that and redirect our energies toward relationship.?

First we need to have a new understanding of who God is - that He is good and desires our highest good. He is not a celestial policeman. When we can understand that deeply in our soul, we will rush toward Him with our praise, thanksgiving and our hurts. Secondly we need to allow God to love us. How do we do that? One way is to rest and wait in His presense. Another is to open ourselves up and allow His people to minister to us. Still another is to allow Him to misister to us through His Word. Thirdly we need to able to receive from God His gifts. How little we receive because we do not ask or when we do, we ask with wrong motives or for selfish interests.

So I encourage you to examine your life and see how you view God, are you allowing Him to love you and are you receiving His gifts. May you experience His love in a new and rereshing way.

Monday, October 6, 2008


This blog is in response to three things. First is a study we did in lifegroup about our role in mission with specific reference to our role in our community. Secondly I am responding to my son-in-law's question posed to me about the role of the Christian in government. Thirdly it is appropriate in view of the upcoming elections.

This is obviously a big topic and people have written books on the subject. Don't worry. The first area is how we are to respond to our government officials. It is pretty clear from Scripture that we are to be under the authority of those over us ( Titus 3: 1-2, Rom. 13: 1-7, I Pet. 2:13-21). There is not much to argue about there except in cases of injustice and civil disobedience, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion.

The second idea is how involved we should be in the political process. This is relatively new since for 1700 years very few people had the ability to be involved. I maintain that part of loving people is to love the community in which you and your neighbors live. Jerimiah 29:7 says for us to seek the peace of the city to wherever He sends us. Christians for centuries have done this as evidenced by all of the hospitals, orphanages, ect. that have been built by Christians. However in recent times that has become blurred as our government, in the name of compassion, has taken over the role of defender of the poor. Unfortunitely, the Church has been only too willing to give this responsibility up. Thus people on the outside do not see a clear distinction between Believers and nonbelievers. At the same time, Christians have begun to hide behind the "walls" of the church, huddling in our groups and not engaging nonbelievers. How much better would it be if we were the ones who ran for the city council or school board, served in our neighborhood associations, PTA, and numerous other organizations alongside our nonbelieving friends and neighbors.

Lastly I need to address the more recent idea of conservative evangelical Christians equating their ideals with American patriotism. We need to realize that government is not the answer or the way to change the moral behavior of its people. The answer to these problems is the gospel and we need to be about the business of introducing the gospel to the people. There seems to have been some melding of the current Republican party with the "Moral Marority" and the "Religious Right", as if our goals were the same and this was the way to achieve them. While I agree that generally Republican idealogy is more in line with mine, it is important to realize that Republicans do not have a lock on truth, patriotism or morality. In addition, in practice most of the elected Republicans have sold their souls and do not vote the idealogy. I think we would even be surprised at Jesus' reaction to all of this were He here. He would probably be a lot more liberal than we would like to admit. The worst thing that happened to Christianity was in the 4th century when the Roman government merged with Christianity and for a thousand years it lost its idenity and uniqueness. In America we need to be careful to avoid selling ourselves to politicians and hoping they will do what we do not have the gumption to do.

Now I am not saying that we need to stay out of the political process, only that we do not trust in it. We need believers to run for office, we all need to be informed and vote, volunteer for candidates, push for righteous legislation and social justice. In the words of Jesus, we need to give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.