Re-Defining LOVE.

Author: Bagande

Author: Bagande (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Better is open rebuke, than hidden love” – Proverbs 27:5

Have you noticed that these days you’re not allowed to ‘love’ those who you trust, or care about… When you do with other guys it’s either a bro-mance, you’re gay… when you have a close relationship with someone of the opposite sex people automatically presume it’s a sexual relationship.

The reality is that it’s not the case… and it shouldn’t be like that.

Why can’t we LOVE each other?…

and why does it HAVE to be a sexual thing?

I love my family… I love my friends… I love my workmates… and why should I be made to feel ashamed at that?

Why do I feel I need to hide that?

Here’s the thing… When we don’t love one another we fall into the trap of disobeying a commandment of Jesus… we are to love one another.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

So what does that mean?

What is LOVE?

If we have been to a wedding we have most likely heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (often called the LOVE verse)

“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

You see when we read through this list it’s very easy to see how ‘the world’ or society has changed lust and given it the title ‘love’ – but it’s clear to see they are two very different creatures.

There is NOT ONE part of 1 Corinthians 13:4 that says “Love is getting what I want” or “Love is about sex” or “love is purely physical”

So why have we made it ALL about these things?

Love is patient… it waits for the OTHER person

Love is Kind… it uplifts, it makes OTHERS feel good about themselves

Love doesn’t envy… it doesn’t worry about who you’re with because Love always trusts

It always protectsalways trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails

You see LOVE isn’t about YOU… Love is about OTHER people… and what you can do for THEM to lift THEM up.

It’s not about SEX… so why make it all about that?

The 60’s ruined the words “I Love You” it was almost abused with the ‘Free Love’ movement…

So lets claim it back!

Lets start telling people “I LOVE YOU” with out hiding it… without it being about something more than it is…
Which is one person caring greatly for another person… there is nothing wrong with that right?
So why do you feel ashamed at that?

I

LOVE 

YOU

It’s a colourful… bright… powerful phrase… that brightens dark places…

Lets not be ashamed of loving others anymore!

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Sola Fide…

Image of "Dawn: Luther at Erfurt" wh...

Image of “Dawn: Luther at Erfurt” which depicts Martin Luther discovering the doctrine of Justification by Faith. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There comes a time in our lives when we have to reevaluate why we’re doing things… especially when we’re talking about the relationship between US and GOD
You see it’s easy for us as Christian to forget about living in faith isn’t it?

We go to church…

We read our Bible…

We say our prayers…

We do good things for those around us…

And we read spiritual books and listen to Christian music…

The problem is not that we do these things… but that we don’t do them with faith in God.

It reminds me of the famous reformer Martin Luther… in a book of his life called “Here I stand” by Roland Bainton he was quoted as saying this:

“I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I”

But then Luther came across Romans 1:17 “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”Sola Fide – by faith alone… and from this came the rallying cry of the protestant reformation (the reason we have other churches other than Roman Catholic).
Even Luther came to the point when he realised there wasn’t anything… nothing at all… he could do except have faith in the Lord… give his whole life over in faith.

However the simple truth of Sola Fide… of living by faith alone isn’t based on the one verse in Romans… in fact it is scattered all throughout the Bible… if you don’t believe me, have a read of these verses below and just reflect on them…

  • We are Justified through faith… (Rom 3:30; Gal 2:16)
  • We receive Gods promises through faith… (Heb 6:12)
  • We stand fast through faith…  (Rom 11:20)
  • We are children of God through faith… (Gal 3:26)
  • The Holy Spirit is in us through faith… (Eph 3:17)
  • We receive righteousness through faith… (Rom 3:22)

We live through faith and we die through faith… everything else is just pointless… it’s meaningless… It makes no difference how ‘good’ we are… or how ‘good’ we think we are
When you give your life to God you’re dying by faith to one life… and it’s raised to life by faith in the resurrection of Jesus in our new life.

Sola Fide… Faith alone…
There isn’t any other option…

Do you have faith or are you playing a dangerous game of ‘playing Christian’ and going through the motions?

 

 

 

I’m just a beggar searching for gold…

I’ve had lots of people comment about my blog’s over the years…
are you telling me I should do this?
Or should I do that?

Here’s response to that… my story isn’t necessarily YOUR story. My journey isn’t necessarily YOUR journey. Please don’t read my blog as the answer to all your questions on life and your relationships with God and those around you.

I merely make observations on life, a lot of the time based on what I’m personally going through or thinking about at the time.

HOWEVER… if I may say this: If God has prompted you to think about what I’ve said then pray to him, read the Bible and talk to people you trust to speak into your life… but if God has placed something on your heart that just keeps prodding quietly at your heart, whatever you do, don’t let it rest until you have discovered what God wants to say to YOU.

The reason some of my stories resonance in some of your lives so well is best summed up by King Solomon… often regarded as the wisest guy who ever lived Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before… nothing is new under the sun”

You see it’s not that I’m smart or know whats happening in your life… but because there is nothing new – what I’m going through or thinking about may be what you’re going through or thinking about.

So please read my words not as Gospel but as something that may help prompt God to stir in your life… and then go to God and let him reveal things to you.

I’m just a beggar searching for gold like everyone else.

Christians: Don’t read this if you’re not ready to deal with stuff…

sin city effect

sin city effect (Photo credit: Salva Boada)

This isn’t going to be one of those nice feel good type of blogs… so if you’re not prepared to think about making some hard decisions then turn off the computer now and walk away… we’re gonna get serious!

I’ve been trying to sort my life out, it’s been a long process… but growing fruit is like that isn’t it?
I’m just starting to see the fruits of it all come into a new season now… but it hasn’t been easy.

Can I be perfectly honest with you?
I’m not going to sugar coat it… I’m a hypocrite – if I was to be perfectly blunt.
I never meant to be… I just became one… it wasn’t a planned move… it wasn’t a clear pathway I chose to go on… it wasn’t even waking up one morning thinking “I think I’ll be a hypocrite today”... I just became one.

You see Christian’s are REALLY good at coming up with excuses why they do things… In fact we’re starting to become famous for it… as an example – we are called to “Love” yet Christians are more known for what we are against than what we are for…
We’re part of the crew that gets drunk with everyone else… yet we say we’re “in the world but NOT of it”… We make excuses for living with our partners before we’re married, when we know the Bible says not to do it… but because it’s not a ‘direct command’ we think we have discovered some great cosmic loophole… We say that our bodies are a temple of the Holy spirit but we go out for a quick smoke at lunch time, or don’t eat properly or exercise regularly.

Lets start to get real people…

I know we all make mistakes… heck I’ve got be to pretty high up on the ledger as far as mistakes go… however fruit needs to grow, and we need to make sure we are starting to put ourselves in an environment for it to do that.

Now I was happy to continue my  little life of having my feet in both camps… until I re-read this verse.

“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.  And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
….  Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. ” – 1 John 4-10

Hold on… so if I know I’m doing wrong yet I still choose to do what is wrong… I don’t really know who Christ is???
But I’ve been a Christian all my life you may shout,  however according to this verse… and plenty others within the Bible… you may have the ‘label’ of Christian… but you’re not a Disciple of Jesus… you’re not a follower… you’ve just got the label and go to church… you’re a casual Christian…

And just when you thought… but the things I’m doing are fine… Jesus didn’t COMMAND it… actually he did!

We get blindsided by this one phrase…

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” – Matthew 16:26

Lets face it… we’re hypocrites… and we’re selfish…

It’s sucks aye?

We’re so into making sure we’re HAPPY that we forget to look to the only one who can free us… the ONLY one… and what for? Our own selfish desires??? Our own comfort????

“But surely God wants me to be happy??”… no he doesn’t!!

God wants you to be so much more than just happy… “Christ came to give life… and life in ALL it’s fullness…”(1) or in some other versions “ABUNDANTLY.” He GAVE his only son as a sacrifice to FREE us so that we can be MORE than just happy and we’re willing to look for loopholes so that we don’t feel guilty about it???

What do you do with a scripture life 2 Timothy 3:16

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

It doesn’t say “pick and choose scriptures that make YOU feel comfortable” does it???

We don’t want to give up what we have because giving up hurts… we have to die to who we once were... and dying isn’t fun (ask anyone!) … it’s often painful, and you have to give up so much… but the plans and the promises of God are so much more worth it…

Are you a person who ‘just goes to church’ and maybe sometimes reads the Bible or are you someone who is making a commitment to want to follow Jesus’ command and actually become a follower

But here’s the thin… that means a death... death to what you’re clinging too… making excuses for…

I’m not here to judge… not my job… and it’s not my intention… I’m most likely more of a sinner than most of your who read this blog… however… I want to give my life over FULLY to what God wants for my life…

however if you are feeling uneasy… if you are feeling angry at me for writing this blog… if God is just quietly poking at your heart… then it may pay to give over your dirty laundry to God… he’s the only one who can deal with it.

It’s going to be hard… it’s going to hurt…
But Gods plans are so much better than anything I could ever come up with…

Have you got the courage to look through your life and start to make those changes… because that’s what repentance is… a TOTAL turn around… the other direction… not looking back.

It’s time to stop making excuses for your sin.

I’m a slow learner… be patient.

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m an idiot…  or very slow at best.

You see I’m a fixer… I like to solve puzzles… I like discoveries… I like to help the ones I love out… I like to share insights I have with those who have been brave enough to share their feelings…

My problem is I can’t shut up!

I know it’s a problem I have but I can’t help it… it doesn’t help especially when you’re trying to nurture a relationship, and then on top of it all… I’m a communicator… I talk through things… I work through things via blogs… songs… talking… you know anything I can do to… well… communicate!

GREAT… so not only can I not shut upI can’t shut up… because it’s part of my thinking process.
I’ve been married for 13 years and you would have thought at least some time during this time I would have cottoned on to the fact that sometimes the loved ones in my life don’t want the solution… they just want you to listen to them…

I’ve been there, and watch as friends eyes glazed over as I gave another analogy to try and describe why they should do this… or shouldn’t do that… I see it happening… but do you think I can stop myself from projecting the equivalent of  noise pollution into the environment?   – of course not!! – why? – because THAT my friend would make sense!
And I’m a slow learner!

I’m very blessed  to have amazing wonderful and polite people in my life that I love very very much… however they are so polite… they let me dribble these words filled with theories and stories of love and loss… into their personal space… when I am being the equivalent of a talking ass with a theory!
What it deserves sometimes is for them to tell me to “just shut the heck up!”… and they would be well within their rights to do so.

I think part of the problem is that I get nervous when people talk to me about stuff… I’m not as confident as I try and make you believe… when someone tells me something that they want to get off their chest… or they are struggling with I start to think to myself “is this a trap???” – I need to know the answer to this one… they need to hear this!

I heard one guy say to his wife when she started to tell him something “do you want me to empathize or do you want me to help?” 
He said his wife has never once said “I want you to help!”

I am powerless to fix my friends… no matter how many opinions I give… how many strongly worded arguments I give… how much I plead for them to listen to my words… or how much I want them to.
I’m just a guy who loves them very much but I’m just that… I’m just a guy… I’m a good communicator… but I’m just a guy.

I can try and ‘fix’ my friends… I just can’t… no matter how much I really want to
I can try but all that will happen is things coming to a place where they just escalate into a place where they won’t listen… they can’t listen… because all I have is become a wall of sound rather than a bed of peace… a brick wall rather than a bed of roses.

A couple of weeks I talked about how I have realised how small my heart was… now I’m figuring out how smart I thought I was… and how much I still need to learn… the first being to just be quiet… but I’m a slow learner.

I can’t fix things that are between them and God.

Only the Holy Spirit can change peoples hearts…
Only God can heal things that can’t be seen…
Only God can change someones situation… and I’m just to be there to lend an ear… I’m there to cry with them… hug them… kiss them…  walk with them, share their pain… I can’t walk their walk!

So if it’s that easy why is it so hard???

I love you… I want the best for you and me talking is how passionate I am about you… but if you need me to shut up please tell me… just say Goose I just need you to listen this is something that I’m struggling with… I don’t want your help… I want your empathy.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NLT)

wow that’s humbling… I can plant a seed… I can water the soil… but I can’t make it grow…

ONLY GOD can make things grow.

 

 

Changing Course…

KFC

KFC (Photo credit: Marufish)

I’ve been in a creative space lately… I’ve been doing a lot of thinking… and often when I think… I blog… it’s a great way for me to put the things that I couldn’t put into a song down on paper (even if it is electronic) and just be able to go back to read later on…

I have been thinking about a phrase that I heard Andy Stanley say:

Direction – Not intention – Determines our Destination

Wow… I remember hearing that about 4 or 5 years ago and it didn’t really have an impact… however I recently just heard it again and it almost leaves me breathless…
What have I squandered due to ‘good intentions’?
Does this explain the ‘How did I end up here’ scenarios I find myself in?

If you think about it it doesn’t take long before you can think of some good intentions that were laid on the roadside… while you went down another destructive path that lead you to another ‘How did I get here moment’

Girls does this sound familiar?:
“I want to meet and marry a wonderful Christian guy, who will love me for who I am and wants to spend the rest of his life with me…”
Yet you go out with ANYONE who asks you out as long as they’re cute… and you’ve had enough drinks.

Or how about the guys:
“I want great sex once I’m married…”
But then he spends his time watching porn, or he ‘practices’ with anyone who will sleep with him…

Parents:
“I want to be there to see my grandchildren grow up…”
But you don’t exercise, you don’t eat properly and you neglect your health…

Christians:
I really want to know Gods will for my life… I want to have a real intimacy with him”
But every evening you watch TV, and ever morning you sleep in or read the newspaper… or more TV…

Obviously this is a very short list and I’m sure you could add your own set of intentions… however ALL of the illustrations above show how ‘intentions’ don’t make any difference if you are on the wrong track…

It’s the DIRECTION that makes or breaks were we end up…

If you want to loose weight don’t spend lunch time at KFC…
If you want to stop getting drunk ever Friday night… stop going to bars…
These things are paths and they ALL lead somewhere…

Here’s a Bible verse to end with… take it and stick it up on your wall and think about it OFTEN:

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”Proverbs 27:12 (NLT)

(Prudent often means a wise person who understands life)

There is no one like you… EVER!

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas A. Edison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a comment by Tim Keller… it was this:

“Your life is not a series of random events. Your family background, education, and life experiences—even the most painful ones—all equip you to do some work that no one else can do”

I’ve had this on my mind more and more… and the reason?
People seem to be convinced that because of the things that they did in their past means they don’t deserve to live a life that is better… or that they are destined for and I believe it’s a lie that we are fed that we start to believe… but it’s just that… a big fat LIE!

Now I could tell you millions of stupid mistakes I have made in my life… things that have hurt myself… others… things that may or may not be legal…
But here’s the thing, would I wish I hadn’t made them?… of course, the consequences were often painful… some still haunt me in one way or another even today… but would I prefer that I didn’t have them? No… not at all.

Why?

Because from my mistakes I learn way more than I ever could any other way and because of these mistakes I can help others who are in the same or similar situation… because I’m not just spouting theories… I’ve ACTUALLY been there… something that has often become very very valuable, and often more valuable than a certificate or degree.

In fact Thomas A. Edison was once asked if we was disappointed at failing over 9000 times when inventing the light bulb, and Edison’s answer was this “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Life doesn’t crush us… it helps mold us… however it comes with a warning.

“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do“ (Eph. 2:10).

You see God, the creator of the universe prepared everything in ADVANCE… there isn’t anything haphazard about it…  however (and here’s the warning) if you aren’t living according to HIS plans… then there is more and more chance that you won’t fulfill the awesome adventurous life that God had planned for you.

Paul when he wrote to the church in Rome said it like this:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28 (NLT)

There are two things that stand out for me about this verse… one is the word “EVERYTHING” – you see that is great news… it’s not just the fun times, or the happy times or the moments of achievement but EVERYTHING in between as well… yes even the bad times, the really painful times… those times that make your heart sink when you look back at it.

Now it is really easy to gloss over the last part of this verse… and I’ve even heard pastors miss this important part out of sermons “and are called according to his purpose for them.”

You see unless you are LIVING how God called you to be living… under his guidance it will seem like life is just some random set of events out to make your life more difficult – “how the cards were dealt”
However when you stop and look back and see how these so called ‘random events’ have made you into a better person… or made you perfect for a particular role… then you start to see a glimpse of Gods divine providence.

So do you know who you are? – Are you secure in the knowledge that you are where God wants you to be?

Are you living according to the purposes he has for you? – Because it’s only from HERE where ALL things become good… because our God is a God who can take nothing and turn it into something amazing.

And he’s created a path to put you in the perfect place to be AMAZING as a person with the specific set of skills that only you have… are you willing to follow that path and turn away from the destructive things from your past that are stopping you from being the person you are destined to be?

Here’s the promise if you do…

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) 

Don’t let your past define you