Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

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“WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD?” – June 14

June 14, 2013

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Cool SSWhen I was a teenager, I bought myself a sweet ride.  It was black and shiny.  I added chrome rims with wide, low profile tires making speed bumps a hazard.  I bought a stereo that was more for the listening pleasure or displeasure of those outside the car.  I swapped the original steering wheel out for a small custom chrome wheel that made sharp turns a work-out.  I fussed over that car.  I washed it.  I buffed it.  I polished it.

I was so cool cruising the streets of my small,  rural town in my ’69 Camaro.  It was more than a mode of transportation from my home to school.  It served a purpose that was beyond a mechanism to speed the activities of my day.  My car was a representation of how I wanted my little world to see me.

However, there was a problem with my car.  It was a problem that was beyond my financial abilities to fix.  My Camaro rolled off the assembly line with a deficiency that belied its exterior.  My Camaro was powered by only six cylinders.  This is not the standard Camaro.  Chevrolet did not build the Camaro brand on six cylinder cars like mine.

2010 Camaro

2010 Camaro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Camaros are known as muscle cars.  The title does not come from having the same amount of horsepower as a family sedan.  Muscle cars have the kind of power that will pin you to your seat with each stomp of the accelerator.  They have an enticing guttural purr that speaks of their latent power even while idling.  A muscle car earns its moniker by what cannot be seen.  My Camaro did not earn any such moniker.  It had no muscle under its hood.  That is probably why my parents allowed me to buy it.  My car was a sham.  It looked the part, but it was not what people thought it was.

I would go on the Friday night cruise and drive really slow.  Often, I would find myself sitting next to real muscle cars.  They would rev the engine of their real muscle car and I would feel horsepower envy through my very being.  I was forced to play a cool indifference in my refusal to race; like they were a contender not worthy of a response from my beast.  All the while, I knew that I had a kitten under the hood.  I hated the appearance of power without anything to back it up.

My car was all show and no go.

I wonder how often I have lived in a manner that my faith is more like a poser for the real thing just as my Camaro was.  How often has my faith been all show and no go?

The Christian life is a response.  All that we have has been given to us.  We were saved despite ourselves while we were yet enemies of God.  There is nothing that we can earn through the practice of our faith.  We walk in a newness of life due to the grace that has been shown to us by our Father in Heaven.  The only appropriate response is love.  All other responses are a jumbled confusion of conflicting motives.  Motivation originating from anything other than love is just another example of our old flesh trying to get back into play.

The power plant that drives the actions of a child of God is a heart in love with their Redeemer. 

It matters greatly what is under our spiritual hood.  We can be motivated by many things but love is the only attitude that unleashes the full power of the Spirit in our lives.

I am hesitant to even suggest the number of Christians who are living under-powered lives.  I know my own heart.  I know that my own selfishness slips into the motivations for many of the activities that I choose to do for the Lord.  I can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons.  I have done that.  I struggle not to do that.

I think this is terribly common among us who are striving to follow Christ:

I have seen teachers whose ministry is contingent upon appreciation.
I have heard indifferent worship given between snippets of the last week’s events.
I have known elders who operated with an ongoing list of  wrongs done to them.
I have seen ministry leaders whose staffs feel beleaguered and taken for granted.
I have watched obedience offered to please a parent.
I have heard offerings being given in order to purchase privilege.
I have known accountability resulting in writing off a person who made a mistake.

Many of us look really good from the outside.  We have all the appearance of power but what we really have under the hood is suspect.  I think that it is very good to check one’s motivation.  I think it is good to listen to what our lives sound like.

Why are you going on that mission trip?
Why are you helping at Church?
Why are you giving your money?
Why are you giving your time to ministry?

If you are doing it for any reason other than out of love for your Redeemer, then you are probably doing it in your own power.  Consider how severely under-powered you will be and it will still gain you nothing.

Power is something that cannot be faked.  At some point, our poser bluff will be called.  Maybe, now is the time to check what you are running under your spiritual hood.  A swap of motivations can be as easy as falling upon our needs in confession and crying out for help to our Father who has been waiting for the right attitude to flood us with the power of His Spirit.

PRAYER: Lord, you know my heart better than I do.  You know that I do so much from the wrong motivations.  I know that I am probably more of a clanging symbol than a beautiful melody to your ear.  Father, help me.  Help me to walk in a love for You and for my neighbors.  Forgive me for allowing my selfishness to get in the way.  Forgive me for all the right things that I have done out of the wrong motivation.  I don’t want to be fake.  I don’t want to pretend to be living in the power of your Spirit.  I want to know the real thing.  I will to live in your love and your power.  Strip me of any motivation that is not pleasing to you. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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LOVE OF YOUR LIFE – Feb. 14

February 14, 2013

“So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.” I Kings 11:6

Education is the answer to our society’s problems.

That statement is often explicitly made or it is implied without question when leaders wrestle with the difficult blemishes of human communities.  Our communities are awash in violence, unkindness, hurt, heart-ache, lost dreams, and crushed hopes.  Education is the remedy in which many will place their confidence.

If people are informed, then they will be able to restrain themselves.

If people have better decision-making skills, then they will make better decisions.

If people know the consequences of their actions, then they will make right choices.

If people know the help that is available to them, then they will choose not to participate in destructive activities.

 I am not opposed to education.  I do believe that we should inform and educate individuals on the ramifications of their actions.  However, I think that we should be realistic about how effective education can ever be.  Our society’s problems are not due to social-economic conditions nor are they due to a lack of information.  Our society’s problems are due to a heart problem.

Education cannot solve a heart problem. 

Solomon was the smartest man ever.  People came from around the world to listen to his wisdom.  God educated Solomon on the cause-effect of his actions:

“And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish you royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your Father, saying, “You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.”  But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all people.” (1 Kings 9:4-7)

That lesson seems pretty clear.  I don’t think that it is possible to misunderstand God’s lesson to Solomon.  Solomon was a smart man and he had a clear and concise lesson.  If education was the answer then Solomon would have made the right decision.   Solomon did not make the right decision.  “So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.  Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem.” (1 Kings 11:6-7)

The man who was responsible for building the magnificent temple to Yahweh is at the end of his life building places of worship for false gods.  How can that be?  He is a person who knows better.  He is informed.  He knows simple cause-effect logic.  He wrote books on wisdom.  Yet, he makes these horrible decisions.

Education is always trumped by a rebellious heart.  Solomon proves that.

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds

Romantic Heart form Love Seeds (Photo credit: epSos.de)

Humans will always do what they love most.  Solomon loved women.  Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  That is a man who loves women.  That is a man with a serious problem.  We are told that Solomon clung to these women in love.  He loved these women more than he loved God.  He was more concerned about pleasing these women than being obedient and pleasing to God.  He was willing to sacrifice his throne and the entire kingdom of Israel to have his appetite for women satisfied.  He gave up everything for what he loved the most.

Solomon’s rebellious heart trumped all his intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge.

We should not be foolish enough to think that we cannot go down the same road as Solomon.  Jesus told us that the greatest of all commandments, “you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37)  We must be careful of what we allow our hearts to love.

We should not miss what Jesus is teaching.  The most important thing that any follower of Christ should be doing is making sure that they are obedient to the most important commandment; the great commandment in the law.  If you are going to get any of the commandments right, then get this one.  It is the great one and it has to do with what you love the most.

I would imagine that Solomon, while he was building the temple in Jerusalem, never thought that he would do what he did on the high places.  He did not guard what he allowed his heart to love.  This is why we are told to examine ourselves.

We do what we love the most.  That is why the great commandment is to love God with all that we are.  When you love God more than anything else then following Christ is merely doing what you love.  We do what we love the most.

What do you love?  What do you love the most?

Is there someone who you love more than God?

Is there someone who you would compromise your faith to keep?

Is there someone who you want to please more than God?

Where are your affections?   Your heart will always trump your mind. 

Be careful of where you allow your heart to wander.

PRAYER: Lord, I know my heart and I know that it is prone to wander.  Father, keep me bound to you.  Lord, show me what I am allowing into my life that is drawing my affections away from you.  You are my all in all.  Lord, soften my heart so that I will seek you first in all that I do.     Amen

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