Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In our 40 Days of Love journey as a church we have focused heavily on 1 Corinthians 13 - "the love chapter" in the Bible. There, Paul gives a great definition of love. One of the characteristics of real love is that it is "not easily angered." Last Sunday we talked about anger and in the message I shared a couple of lists. We went through the material quickly and several people asked for a copy of the lists. Here they are:

When you remember the cost of uncontrolled anger you will be more motivated to manage it. You’re less likely to get angry if you realize that there’s always a price tag to anger. The Bible says, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22, NIV). How about these verses:

• Pr. 15:18 (GN) “Hot tempers cause arguments.”

• Pr. 14:29 (LB) “… anger causes mistakes.”

• Pr. 14:17 (GN) “People with hot tempers do foolish things.”

• Pr. 11:29 (LB) “The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.”

What do you lose?...reputation, respect of others; your job; the love of your family; your health. When you say, “He’s such a pain in the…” and name your favorite anatomy part, it’s true. When I swallow my anger my stomach keeps score. Your body was not designed to handle anger. God didn’t mean for you to carry rage around inside of you. When you carry anger constantly in you, you get sick. There are all kinds of ailments people could get out of the hospital from if they weren’t carrying guilt, resentment, or anger. Remember the cost whenever you’re tempted to lose our temper.

Sometimes I hear people say something really mean or unkind to a kid or a husband or wife and you hear them say, “Oh, I don’t know what got into me. That’s not like me.”

Oh, yes it is. It’s exactly like you. Your mouth just reveals what’s in your heart. If it wasn’t in your heart it wouldn’t be coming out of your mouth. The problem is in your heart. If you’ve got bad water in a well, painting the pump isn’t going to do any good. You’ve still got bad water in the well. Your mouth just betrays what’s inside you.

• You find somebody with a harsh tongue, a cutting tongue, it reveals an angry heart.

• You find somebody with a negative tongue, you know they’ve got a fearful heart.

• You find somebody with a boasting tongue, you know they’ve got an insecure heart.

• You find somebody with a judgmental tongue, they’re always judging everybody, you know they’ve got a guilty heart.

• You find somebody with a critical tongue, they’re always nagging and being critical, they’ve got a bitter heart.

• You find somebody with a filthy tongue, you know they’ve got an impure heart.

On the other hand, if you find somebody who’s always encouraging…they have a happy heart. You know what’s on the inside of them. If they’re always speaking in a gentle way you know they’ve got a loving heart. If they’re always being loving and controlled in their words you know they’ve got a peaceful heart.

What we need is a heart transplant. You need a new heart. David says this in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10, NLT). That’s what you need to say today: God I need a clean heart.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love Week Reflection - Home

I remember reading a Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy interrupted Schroeder, the piano-loving intellectual. She was infatuated with him and wanted to catch his attention. So Lucy hinted at her interest by asking, “Schroeder, do you know what love is?” Schroeder abruptly stopped his piano playing, stood to his feet, and said precisely, “Love: a noun; to be fond of; to have a strong affection for or an attachment to a person or persons.” Then he sat back down and resumed playing his piano. Lucy sat there stunned and then murmured sarcastically, “On paper, he’s great.” We can talk theories for a long time about love but there must be dedication to application in our homes.

I once heard someone joke that home is the place where family members go when they are tired of being nice to other people. Some homes seem to work that way. A salesman spends his day treating clients with the utmost kindness, often in the face of rejection, in order to build his business, but he is inconsiderate and rude when he comes home to his wife. A doctor spends the day being caring and compassionate with her patients, but she comes home exhausted and blows up with her children.

Walter Burghardt wrote, “Lovers can be impossibly impatient: ‘What in God’s name took you so long?’ Lovers can be unbearably unkind: ‘Don’t bother me now: The Rangers have the bases loaded.’ Lovers can be jarringly jealous: ‘That smile is reserved for me.’ Lover can be maddeningly rude: ‘How can you possibly be so clumsy?’ Lovers can and do insist on their own way, take their irritations out on the nearest and the dearest, believe only what they can see, hope for what is satisfying to them individually, endure only as much as they must.” (When Christ Meets Christ, 1993).

As a foundation for family…we need to first understand that God loves us and we must dedicate ourselves to loving one another…and beginning that process and focusing that love at home. First Corinthians 13 says, "Love is patient and kind..."...even at home.

Country Music and Love

As I understand it, the songs listed below are all actual titles/lines from country music songs. It may explain why Valentine's Day creates such stress and confusion in relationships. They may have also contributed to the confusion about what love really is supposed to look like. The Bible defines love this way (you can compare this with the country music versions):

Love 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. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

That's what real love is supposed to look like in all our relationships. Here's the other side of the story:

All I Want From You (Is Away)
All My Exes Live in Texas
Heaven's Just a Sin Away
How Can I Miss You if You Won't Go Away?
How Come Your Dog Don't Bite Nobody but Me?
I Bought the Shoes That Just
Walked Out on Me
I Got Tears in My Ears From Lying on My Bed Crying on My Pillow Over You
I Keep Forgettin' I Forgot About You
I'd Rather Pass Another Kidney Stone
Than Another Night With You
If the Jukebox Took Teardrops
If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me
If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?
I've Been Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart
My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend and I Sure Do Miss Him
Shut Up and Talk to Me
Thank God and Greyhound She's Gone
There's a Tear in My Beer
Your Negligee Has Turned to Flannel Nightgowns
You're a Hard Dog to Keep Under the Porch
You're Going to Ruin My Bad Reputation
You're the Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly

Love One Another

We are in a series at church called "40 Days of Love." We are exploring how to live out a life of love in all our circles of influence and relationship. We love because God loves us. How does God love us - extravagantly, extremely, and beyond all we could ever earn or deserve. How does the Bible call us to love one another?...the same way God shows His love to us. What does that even begin to look like?

There once was a church that decided to reach out to the college campus located right across the street from the church. So, they printed up some brochures and placed them around the college campus inviting the students to worship with this congregation. Most of the congregation was skeptical, but went along with the idea.

Well, on Sunday morning the worship service started. People in the church looked around and just as they suspected, there were no college students. After the time of singing, the pastor started to preach and a young man, obviously a college student, walked through the back door. He was wearing tattered jeans and a t-shirt. He was scanning the room looking for a place to sit, trying not to disturb the service. No one moved to help or offer him a seat. Finally, he simply made his way down the aisle and plopped down on the floor in the middle of the aisle. The pastor wasn’t quite sure what to do, so he just kept preaching. Finally, after a couple of minutes one of the old elders got up. He was a long time member of the church and started down the aisle in his coat and tie. People in the congregation thought, “Finally, it is about time someone in leadership went and told the young man that this was inappropriate for a worship service.” The elder reached the front of the church where the college student was sitting. And, without saying a word, he sat on the floor with the young man and stayed there through the rest of the sermon.

I love stories like that because they are about unexpected love. So, how about it? Who could you surprise with your love this week? Who could you ambush with grace and kindness? Go for it this week. When you feel the prompting, say “yes.” You are never off track when you are expressing love to people.