Is Love a Fancy or a Feeling? Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

valentinecandyHow would you finish this statement, “This is how we know what love is…”? Today is St. Valentine’s Day and I am sure he was a pretty cool saint, if for no other reason, for giving his life for his faith. However, most of us don’t think of faith when we think about Valentine’s Day. We think about love, romance, or if you are from the School of Spanky on the Little Rascals, you may think about the He-man Woman Haters Club. We love little sayings on candy and cards to help us figure out what to say and ways to define our love.

How do we know what love is? Hartley Coleridge asked, “Is love a fancy or a feeling?” How would you answer that question? He quickly answers, “No” to our fancy, feely world of love. Coleridge goes on to say,  “It is immortal as immaculate Truth.” Love is immortal as immaculate Truth. Take time to let that sink in. Is there an everlasting, perfect love?

Shakesphere analyzes loves and says, “…it is an ever-fixèd mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken.” Where is this immovable, everlasting, perfect love? I believe the answer comes from the pen of one who experiences this love first hand. He wrote the conclusion of the statement, “This is how we know what love is…” John, the beloved disciple of Christ, finishes this statement, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” There you have it, the immovable, everlasting, perfect love of God displayed through the death of Jesus… for you. Jesus perfectly displayed, “I love you.” There is no need to try to figure out what love is because Jesus defines it with His perfect life, death, and resurrection. If you are looking for love, He is the One you have been trying to find. He did not write it on a colorful candy heart, He wrote it on His heart. He wrote, “I died for you.”

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

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A Cup of Cold Water In Jesus’ Name

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. Matthew 10:42

People try to classify Chick-fil-a as hateful because they love God, love people, and love the Bible. The following video shows what I saw Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 when I showed up at our local Chick-fil-a. The atmosphere was electric, the spirit was loving. The people there were either supporting the American Constitution, loving Dan Cathy, loving Jesus, loving the Bible, or all the above.

This video shows that Chick-fil-a  has taken the high road on this Pro-Family Values issue. Some try to label CFA as hateful but all of the hateful stories I have seen are coming from the homosexual side of this issue. The man in this video thinks he took away from CFA and from this nice young lady. Actually this man took nothing from this company or from this young lady… but gave the company and this nice young lady an opportunity to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. I’m proud that the Cathy’s motto was Read Mor Bible, and Be Mor Jesus, before it was Eat Mor Chikin.

Chick-fil-a is a rare bird, an endangered species. I am proud of the Americans, and the Christians who showed up on Wednesday to support them and to say, I hope we don’t let this special bird die off because it’s as sacred to our heritage as our American eagle.

The Lord is My Master

What are sheep like? I have never been around them long enough to know. What I do know about sheep, I had to study about them. I have no personal experience with them. This past week while sitting in class at Reformed Theological Seminary our professor referred to The 23rd Psalm.  It also has been titled the Shepherd’s Psalm.

Shepherds take care of sheep, which is common in Israel. It is as common as Americans owning and taking care of dogs. I started to think—which is a dangerous thing for me—what if the 23rd Psalm was about dogs rather than sheep. I started to think about my son’s Border Collie, and the Labrador Retriever I used to own. What if The Shepherd’s Psalm was The Master’s Psalm. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy.

The Lord is my Master.

He gives me everything I need.

He makes me lie down in my comfy bed 
right beside my bowl of cool water.

He directs my mind and my will.

He leads me in obedience training so He can brag on me for His glory and namesake.

Even though we go on walks with all kinds of danger around me, I will fear nothing 
for my Master is with me.

His collar is around me and He has hold of my leash.
 They comfort me and make me feel safe.

He prepares a dish full of food in the presence of every pesky flea and irritating cat I know.

He anoints my head with shampoo and Frontline. My bowls overflow.

Surely My Master’s love for me and His friendship are with me all the days of my life.

And I shall rest in the house of my Master, next to the AC vent, forevermore.

Mom

What comes to your mind when you think of your mom? I want to share with you some of my favorite memories of my mom, not only because Mother’s Day is approaching but because there is no one like Mom and she needs to know.

This past week my mom was able to come down to Florida and visit us and even though she is getting to the age where she rather just sit and hang out, we were able to go out to eat, go shopping, and even take a boat ride around the lake. The hanging out part brought about a lot of old stories and memories from days gone by, and gave me an opportunity to reflect on the good memories of mom through the years.

Taking Mom and Jack on a boat ride around the lake. May 2012.

One of the things I remember about my mom, and being a single parent, is that she was a worker. She worked at grocery stores like Big Star, Pantry Pride, Harvey’s, and Piggly Wiggly. Not only did she work outside the home, she worked at home. She would always make sure my brother Allen and I had some Manwich in the refrigerator to warm up for meals, or some frozen chicken pot pies or pizzas to cook while she was at work. My kids still joke about when they were little and my wife would go out of town, that it meant frozen pizza or Chicken Pot Pies for dinner. Hey, it’s what I grew up on. I joke about introducing my wife to Nestle’s Quik chocolate milk, and she introduced me to things like broccoli, and cauliflower.

The other thing I remember about mom is that she made sure we got to where we needed to go. School was a given but she hauled us around in that Plymouth Fury III during the late 70’s and early 80’s to midget football practice, softball games, and to the Tallulah Massey Pool. I recall wanting to go to the pool, which was all the way cross town but close to the grocery store where my mom worked. My mom started work before the pool opened but made sure I got there. She got to work, sent me across the parking lot to McDonald’s for breakfast, and let me sit in the car and listen to the radio until the pool opened. I had to walk a block to the pool but mom made it happen.

My mom, my sister Debbie, my brother Allen, and I on top of Stone Mountain during the 70’s.

One of my favorite memories about my mom and my Aunt Verdie is that they made sure we got to go on some type of vacation. Often times it was a trip to the beach or to Six Flags and Stone Mountain. As a kid I did not realize the effort they had to put into these trips to make them happen but these two ladies made it happen. They were willing to take off with a bunch of kids to make sure we had a good summer.

My mom gets a lot of praise for her good cooking. Layered chocolate cakes, Red Velvet cakes, and great southern cooking are a breeze for her to pull off with success but what I admire most is her just being herself… self-sacrificing, loving, and very seldom thinking of herself.

I don’t know what you think of when you think of your mom, but I hope, if you are able to, you tell her how special she is to you because there is no one like Mom.

Two Sets of Youth

“Darwin decided he was claustrophobic so he sat down and started to think…” were some of the funny lyrics I recently came across as I was converting some old 8mm videos to mp4s. The video clip is a song to the tune of “Two Sets of Jones” by Big Tent Revival. A couple of my students back in 1997 decided to write a song about me tearing the wall down between the junior high room and the senior high room. This was a feat one does not attempt in student ministry their first few years but I had been the youth pastor for seven years and was feeling good about my chances of creating a larger meeting room. So with the help of one of our members and some of the youth hauling off the trash, we took out the wall.

What was special about this was getting a song written about me. It may be the only song ever written about me. My claim to fame in life may be tearing down a wall in a youth room.

What was inspiring about this song was the point these two students brought out at the end of the song. “Is there a wall between you and another, and are you willing to tear it away?” The good news of the gospel is that Jesus has come to reconcile (to make friends again) us to God. Not only that, Jesus also gives us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). The wrong that is between you (and another) God’s love will remove it. The division will crumble just like the wall fell.” The question is, “Will the wall come down?” The choice is yours. “Do what you say you believe. Then you will learn of real love and be free.” Hootie Hoo!!!

Price Tag

I still drive the second car I ever bought and I have been driving it for twenty-one years. Most people would not give me a thousand dollars for my 1990 Dodge Colt and even though it has a Mitsubishi motor in it, pushing 200,000 miles, I wouldn’t blame them. However, I wouldn’t take a thousand bucks for it because it’s much more valuable to me because the value is not only what someone is willing to pay for it, but also the potential value which is found in what the car can save me over it’s lifespan. Whether it’s getting me 38 miles per gallon of gas or keeping me from buying 4-6 new cars over a twenty-one year period. Now, I don’t know what you can do with the price of 4-6 cars but some folks could pay off their house, go back to school to work on a masters degree, or give more to charities. The list is really endless but ultimately, it gives what Dave Ramsey calls Financial Peace and the earlier you have it, the better off you are because of it’s value.

The same is true for Spiritual Peace. What do you think you are worth to God? Think about the items you buy while shopping. How is the cost determined? An item is worth what an individual is willing to pay for it. What is God willing to pay for you? What is the price tag on your life? The price tag on your life does not have a dollar sign. It has a name and the name is Jesus. You are worth Jesus to God. You need to let that sink in for a moment. In fact I would encourage you to get an index card and put on it, “I am worth Jesus to God.” It is a pretty amazing fact. For you creative types, you can make a price tag, and put Jesus on it and hang it up somewhere as a reminder of your worth. Heck, you may need to wear it sometime.

The amazing thing about this is that the good news does not stop there. We not only have great value to God, we also have potential value to our Heavenly Father also. He loves you so much He gave Jesus for you. He also loves you so much He wants to bring spiritual peace to every area of your life. He does not stop there He wants you to be a source of spiritual peace to others.

Remember today that you are worth Jesus to God. Have you accepted the Price God has paid for you? Are you allowing Him to bring peace to all areas of your life? When you do, you will find you will become a source of Spiritual Peace to those around you.

 

 

 

For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20

You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 1 Corinthians 7:23

 

 

 

 

Nothing

Have you ever had a song or part of a song that you can’t get out of your head? Recently, I could not get Nothing out of my head. Don’t laugh; it’s a song by The Script. The songwriter says,

 

“I wanted words, but all I heard was nothing.”

 

The song echoes the pain of silence. The same silence that many call golden. Silence may be golden in some cases. It can even be therapeutic. It’s a blessing to the young mother who has a free day from the little ones because of grandma. It has a healing aspect for the busy executive that finds relief from a mountain biking trip in the middle of nowhere.

 

Silence is anything but golden when we want words, when we need words from the ones we want to so desperately hear from. The songwriter is basically sharing about heartbreak from silence, and the measures we go to hear love through words of admiration. I believe many go through the same kind of heartbreak when God seems to be silent in their lives.

 

How do you react to silence? The songwriter contemplates extreme measures by asking, “Am I better off dead? Am I better off a quitter?” A more important question is: How do you react when God is silent? Asaph begs God not to be silent. (Psalm 83:1). David does the same in Psalm 109:1. Man has struggled with the silence of God for centuries. The problem is not with God’s actions, or lack there of, but our reaction. This is one of the reasons God became one of us in order to show us how to react to His silence. Jesus asked a powerful question while dying on the cross. He asked, “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken me?” And He heard nothing. Jesus was quoting Psalm 22 where the psalmist declares God as holy. He declares God as worthy of our trust, even in His silence (Psalm 22:3-4).

 

We all have to figure out if we are going to reject God, because of His silence, or if we are going to trust Him. We are never better off quitting God. We are definitely never better off dead to God or declaring Him dead to us.

 

Let me encourage you with the truth that God is there and He loves you deeply, even in the silence. You can exhaust all your options to try to get God to speak. You may even turn to things of the world for relief from the silence but it all comes down to developing the spiritual discipline of realizing, by faith, there is Someone waiting on you, even in times that feel like He is saying nothing at all.