Love is not Proud!

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This is from a blog I write with my wife.

“…It is not proud…” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Man, this was a tough one to read. Much like love being not a “boastful”, God reminds us through Paul that Love is not proud. Proud is defined as “feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.”

While I looked at boastful as outward displays and actions, I thought we would look at proud as more internal. It is similar to boastful in that it often is directed towards an audience, and is reflective of what one has in their hearts. But it also be the cause or the effect. It is a cause in that self pride can cause one to boast, and the effect because boasting can create pride.

Pride can also be dangerous, in that it can halt growth. Pride can cause one to be neglectful. Pride can cause one to be comfortable. When we admire our relationships to the point of pride, we can find ourselves believing that it if flame retardant or at least stain resistant.friendring

In pride, our marriages can also lead to idolatry! Yes, your marriage can be an idol. You can worship, cherish, and value your relationship with your spouse to such a way, that it stands before your relationship with God. We can experience distance from God, and find ourselves consumed and challenged in intimacy with God.

In 21 years of marriage, 25 years of friendship, we have found that the strength of our bond, and the pleasure and satisfaction found within it requires full time attention. And shamefully, we can also attest that there are periods where it has received part time attention and at other times is neglected all together.  We have also had to fight to maintain a balance between honoring our covenant, and worshiping our love for each other. We fight to maintain this balance, because its our love and commitment to God that allows us to experience 25 years of friendship and 21 years of marriage. Without God first, the stage for a broken relationship would be set.

But God, in His power, through His Word, and by
His Grace has sustained and directed us such that
we have been able to maintain purpose and perspective,
understanding that its not our love for one another
that seals our bond, but the love received from
Christ that allows us to look past faults,
and appreciate the full measure of who we both are.

It is His sacrifice and example that we seek to mirror, and in our flesh, our individual foolish actions that should destroy what God has joined together, yet we remain. We remain because God’s sacrifice is the model by which we are guided, and His interaction and treatment of us as His individual children that allow us to find comfort in that which is an earthly representation of His spiritual provision.

Knowing this makes us much like Paul; boasting in our weakness, and knowing that we about in grace. Because of this, we have very little room to boast. We cannot boast because with God most of marriages would have end years ago. It is through our faith that we have learned forgiveness and grace and practice it in our marriages.

#TQAYMYM  #PastorJDO3  #DrQDO

It’s Grace Not Guilt

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Long Intro.  Skip to paragraph 7 to get to the Blog Title

 

Today I had a great conversation with a brother in the field.  He was on fire about sharing his testimony and about chopping (sorry for the slang) it up about the gospel.  After sharing, he asked a question about “once saved always saved.”  Though we found commonality in thought on the scriptures, we found ourselves on a journey in theology, which lead back to a concluding thought that I want to share with you.Man In Prayer Christian Stock Photo

He said to me, “I work hard to earn salvation!  But no matter how much I do, I still don’t feel I have done enough!  Do you feel the same?”  Of course I answered Yes (And so should all of you).  Here’s a revelation to some, and a reminder to the rest of you!

No matter how “good I am”, I am not “I am!” 

I shared with him!  I know that feeling, and feel is often because of the conviction that sets each time I sin.  I know I am not worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made, nor am I worthy of Him being mindful of me in general.  In His selection process, I am aware that I shouldn’t receive an invitation or be listed as a reserve.  And in this, I am often challenge with that feeling of being unworthy and worse, GUILT!!!!!

Yep, there you have it.  Guilty as charged.  That guilt is often crippling, and leads down an alley of shame, and often back into the very sin that lead to that feeling of guilt.  Guilt can consume, and can keep us from walking in victory.  It makes those free live in bondage and distance ourselves from He who is Holy.

downloadOn the other hand, if you are able to live without breaking the law, this path leads to pride.  In the event that you reach a level of righteousness, one is fooled into believing that they have earned a spot based upon their earthly work, and not the work on the cross.  Just in case you too feel this way, please be informed that you will never be good enough on your own to have your name listed in the “haves!”  You will, in your own efforts, always be the “have nots”.  And one day, you will stand before the King and as a “have nots” you will have knots in your stomach as  you are judged without the covering blood of Jesus which maketh one able to stand before the Lord as righteous.

God is holy!  God is perfection!  We would have to be blameless to stand before His presence according to our own works!  And just so you are aware, you would fail; as would I.  There would be one thought that would catch all of us.  One selfish moment.  One refusal to help.  One denial of forgiveness.  One jealous thought.  One covetous moment.  One embellishment of a story.  People, something would prevent you from getting in!

Ok, now the reason I started this blog (sorry about the long introduction).  

shockedI thought to myself, as he drove off, “It’s Grace not Guilt!”  When Jesus was on the cross, he was dying for the sins of the world.  He allowed Himself to be the perfect sacrifice that paid the uncountable debt of the world.  He did this, not in capitalistic fashion.  His desire was not to make us indebted to Him, but rather to show us the depth of His love for us.  He released us from debt!  He didn’t pay off our debt to another, He paid off a debt owed to Him.  He also paid of the debts that would be created by us, for us.  He didn’t give us a new interest rate, nor did He issue to us new payment options.  He freed us!

He knew as He died that we would never be able to repay Him for the sacrifice He made.  He did not put us on a payment plan, and to send His Pastors and Prophets to collect payments.  His death was done of His own free will, not out of compulsion, but from a cheerful heart.  One that desired to be in relationship with mankind despite Our constant buffoonery.  He could have come to judge us, but He placed down His gavel, and extended an olive branch, choosing to amend His covenant, as opposed to destroying each covenant breaker.

This is what Paul continued to highlight in His presentation of God’s activity in His life and in the life of all those He taught.  Grace is undefinable, in that the type of Grace shown to us by God is undefinable and limitless.  It is by grace that we have been saved, not works, he reminds us.  Knowing that some of us would grow in Christ, defeat and overcome, get closer to the mark, and foolishly believe we are the mark itself.  We are pressing towards the mark, meaning we are moving towards it and facing resistance from the devil, and self sabotage from our weak flesh and wavering minds.  We are towards as to obtain, with the understanding that the mark is unattainable, but worth fighting to get.  We press towards it, knowing that we will near, with the realization that we will never stand on the “X”, we can only stand on the Cross! 

confused person

As the vehicle drove off, I sat and thought about how Christ wants us to live after His sacrifice.

Though not equal, I thought of the guilt I have heard expressed from those who have been saved by others.

 

The child who is guilty about life because their mother
died in child birth, choosing to die in birth, rather than
live without bringing forth life.  The case of a child
whose mother died in child birth, choosing to allow
her child to live, instead of choosing her own life.

These situations exist today.  We hear accounts from surviving veterans who witnessed one giving their life to save theirs.  We hear the guilt in their voice, as they continue with life, challenged with being happy, because they can not forget the sacrifice.

This was not God’s plan, nor His intent.  Again, It was Grace, not Guilt!  His love was on display on the cross.  It is this love that should compel us to accept the sacrifice.  It’s His love that should lead to obedience.  It’s His love that should lead to conviction.    This is why our discussion about John 3:16 was so key, and why so many of us rest upon this verse.  It’s not that its our guarantee that we can sin in volume, but its our understanding that He loved us before we followed Him, was patient with us while we accepted Him, and is long suffering with us while we submit to Him.

 

#PastorJDO3

 

Church..No Hazing Policy

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For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” I Corinthians 12:13

Over two decades ago, I was tormented by the words to a chant. If I close my eyes, I can still hear it…

“I’ve got a feeling, that somebodies trying to sneak in my frat…….”

I cringed each time I heard it, first because it wasn’t true and second because it came from the vocal chords of those who had achieved entry and couldn’t keep the organization on the yard because of foolishness. They got in, and then made it increasingly difficult for others to follow, some of which would have been great lights for the group. Sadly, some took pride in this foolishness and felt making the organization more challenging to enter made it more exclusive and somehow made them look more accomplished.worship-fast

It is interesting that some organizations allow people to rule today and destroy tomorrow. Ok, why this intro? Why this text? include those with this perspective.

As I spend time in the confines of the church walls, there are times when I hear similar chants. They come from the same type of people, and cause the same amount of damage. Practices of “blackballing” and “hazing” from the pulpit and from the pew work against the Gospel Message, often excluding and causing many to drop out of the process leaving with #churchhurt , accepting the head and rejecting the body. This often leads to new movements; feeding sheep directly into the hands of the wolves. It has increased Spiritual Streaming and lead to a Broken Body that’s forced to operate with missing members (gifts, talents, labor, resources).

This is why the intake is so key, and why the process has to be uniform. And from time to time, members must hear the Gospel to be reminded that we are all beneficiaries of the same corporate buyout and experiencing the same painful merger!

Paul, Christian Royalty, states “For we…” Let’s take a second to acknowledge the Paul includes himself in this “we”. Though he was a “Jew” and a “Pharisee” he relabeled himself “slave”, “bond servant”, “chief sinner” and “we” keeping his perspective on who he was, who he is, the purpose of the Gospel and the work of those who follow Christ. Though a focal point of many, Paul chose not to elevate himself, and chose to step down, like Christ from any throne, and dwell among and serve God’s people.

Are you a part of the “we” or do you see it as “I” and “they”?

Most of us are preaching and teaching to the they. This is obvious in some cases because our presentation of the Gospel includes judgement not just love and compassion. The humility Paul had is one we must also carry. Though He has obtained, he was eager to add to the flock daily. And though ministering across the country side, Paul thought of himself as one who was no better than those He was speaking too.  And so must we!

IMG_1065Paul didn’t measure his experience to others. Though he was knocked down, heard God’s voice, blinded, and confirmed by the Apostles, Paul acknowledges that his entrance was the same as others. “We were all baptized by one spirit…”. Regardless of who preached, who taught, and who baptized us, Paul writes, it was “…one spirit…” that was present and received by us all.

Sadly, some have stumbled upon pride, not in themselves, it in their church and even their Pastor.  Though an honor, there is no significance in the one who baptized, rather the significance is in the Spirit that is received.  Paul took the time to squelch foolish arguments, as such, choosing to find common ground in One Lord, One Spirit and One Baptism.

So too should we! Let’s put aside foolish discussions and traps for pride.  Let’s be humble and honest about who we are and what we have been called to do.   Our hope lay in Christ.  Save His sacrifice, we would be uncovered by His blood and exposed as who we truly are, unrighteous.

Because of this, churches should have a no hazing policy.  There is no reason, brother should persecute brother and. sister sister.  Our judge is God, and none of us are deserving, God shed His blood foe us all.

#PastotJDO3

It is not Self-Seeking

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This is from a blog my wife and I write together.

“…it is not self-seeking.” 1 Corinthians 13:5

Self-Seeking is defined as “having concern for one’s own welfare and interests before those of others; self-serving.” 

Our love is to model Christ, and what characteristic to adopt more than being selfless.  God’s love for us is infinite, and was displayed to us by death on a cross.  He stepped down from heaven and walked the earth with us, as it was in the beginning with Adam.

God created a man that He could display love too, and aide in experiencing creation and the creator.  In this, He did not hold back, giving man the freedom of choice, and a mind that could process, create, communicate, serve and most of all love.  He gave this, knowing that man could and would be selfish with the allotment of power and freedom.  In any love relationship, vulnerability is created because there is the potential for pain and disappointment.friendring

This is why this instruction to be selfless is a large pill to swallow.  When one enters a covenant and chooses not to have concern for their “…own welfare and interest…”, one makes themselves even more vulnerable.   This, because our instructions are to always place the needs of those we love in front of our own.

So what is your place in the relationship?  Sadly, because most of us would say first, we find the national divorce rate at 50%.  This is not new!  In the beginning, the adversary pressed Adam and Eve to make a choice: God First?  You First?  They chose to put themselves first, forever changing they relationship dynamic.

This continues today.  Couples continue making decisions as though they were individuals; choosing to please themselves, rather than to consider their partner.  Like God, we must face the partaking of the forbidden fruit from one another.  Even in this pain, God demonstrates to us the power of love by entering into a quest to build up our relationship with Him.  He makes the sacrifice to restore the relationship, giving opportunities for repentance and pouring grace and mercy where their should be judgement and punishment.  And because He made this type of sacrifice, so should we.

To keep our marriages healthy and whole, we must model God.   If we approach our relationships in an abusive manner (abusive; using the other person), then our marriages will suffer the strain of selfish behavior.  Our minds must place our individual will aside, and consider the will of God and the desire of our spouse.  Though this could lend one to abuse, if both individuals would seek to serve one another, we could experience balanced unions that reflect the divines love in and for us.

 

 

#PastorJDO3  #DrQDO  #TQAYMYM

Love is not Rude!

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This is from a blog I write with my wife…

Love; “It is not rude,” 1 Corinthians 13:5 says.

What an important revelation this is. It would seem a little unnecessary to state on paper, but upon watching and listening to the state of married couples everywhere, it has been determined that instruction is very needed.

Marriage includes many ups and downs, and amidst these highs and lows, couples are still interacting with each other. During these times, men and women will continue to communicate, and must be careful to watch and measure each word, especially during the lows.

Rude is a default setting for many.  When covenant has been broken or strained, it can be challenging to restrain the old man, and respond with the new man. Our relationship is defined by love, which is compassionate, and considerate, selfless, and refreshing, not rude and or destructive.friendring

Why then is rude an options? Because covenant requires trust, and trust requires one to have a level vulnerability with the covenant member.  It is this vulnerability that makes the pain felt and the frustration experienced more intense, and stirs passion and damages and destroys hope, which extinguishes faith.

This abrupt shift can cause one to swing from the left to the right; leaving one pendulous between love and its opposite pole hate.  Swinging between these emotions can cause one to guard their tongues in the morning and loose it at night. God warns us about the power of the tongue, and instructs us about the purpose of our words.  A broken heart, left without a filter, can relive and release emotions from the past enough to cause one to bypass forgiveness and place all their chips on vengeance.

Worse, many continue forward in covenant, with the wrong guard over their heart.  As opposed to guarding ones heart against offense, one can because to guard against hurt and pain.  One hurt in the past can place barriers in place to keep them from being vulnerable again.  This prevents not only forgiveness and healing, but wont allow for love to exist and to thrive.  One can not rest and find peace in trust, if their heart is protected by being removed from the equation.

We must understand that a heart removed for the equation is broken covenant.  In addition, a tongue and actions seasoned with the spice of rude, will lead to further offenses.  One can not maintain covenant and can not heal hurts where there is either an abundance, or regular actions.

#PastorJDO3  #DrQDO  #TQAYMYM