Grown Up Stuff – Dear Men…

When it comes to the doctrines concerning marriage and the man/woman dynamic, there is way too much emphasis placed on men.  The ideas of leadership, headship and covering are so overplayed and ill-defined, they have turned into something which is not really Biblical, at all.couplehands

In the matters of marriage and the boudoir, many men have been taught that they are in charge and the whole sexual experience revolves around them.  There are some doctrines that teach that he should get sex when he wants it and that his wife should always “be available” for her husband.

According to an article on alternet.org, if the man wants more sex, she should give it to him.  If she wants more sex, she needs to do without, among other ideas that have little to no scriptural basis (http://www.alternet.org/belief/10-most-absurd-sex-tips-christian-right)

No matter what scripture someone may mistakenly use, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that women amount to sex slaves for their husbands.  Nothing says that she is the only one to be “available”, regardless of whatever is going on in her life.  What crime is it for husbands to make themselves available for their wives?  Hint: None.

Listen to her.

Communication is key to the entire relationship.  When it comes to sex, more husbands need to listen to their wives.  Finding out what she likes or dislikes and finding ways to accommodate will not only speak volumes to her, but will make some improvements in your sex life.

Make yourself available for her.

When you come home and your wife is in an amorous mood and you turn her down, you risk making her feel rejected.  For most women, sex is more than just “getting off”.  It is a personal, intimate time with the man she loves.  So, when you can, shake off your day, focus on her and what she wants and go get with it.

Attend to her.

Go by her rhythm and pace.  Let her call most of the shots.  Do what she wants.  You won’t be emasculated – but you will be havin’ sex.  That’s right, boys…you gonna be “gettin’ some”.  She won’t take over and there are plenty of times you will get to express your desires.

Note…flopping on her like a sweaty, horny walrus is no way to take care of or satisfy your wife (Now you have a picture in your head that you can’t un-see).  This is the kind of stuff that makes it all about you and shows no regard for her, whatsoever.

As mentioned in my last post, let’s be careful to not make our desires into demands.  Men are particularly good at this.  It is likely a pride issue, that we want to be in charge and call all of the shots.  These male-centric doctrines are not helping matters, either.  So, let’s rehash some basics.

Husbands, love your wives.

We are encouraged to love our wives, “as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her”.  The key in this is, gave Himself up.  People often equate this with Jesus’ death.  But, it does not say gave up His life..it says, gave up Himself.  Everything He did was about others. He came to serve and not to be served.  For some reason, many of us feel we are to be served.  Not so.

We also read that we are to consider others more highly than ourselves. This doesn’t start when we walk out the door or are among the church folk.  It starts at home.  We are not the “big kahuna” and our wives are not subservient slaves.  The passages that are used to teach that idea are used in error, out of context and otherwise misinterpreted.

If you ain’t gettin’ none.

There are reasons and seasons when the well dries up, so to speak.  Other than health or getting older and the possibility of losing interest, sometimes there are emotional reasons, usually for women.  Now, setting aside past hurts and abuses, she may be presently experiencing an offense in the home. Ergo, fellas, if you ain’t gettin’ any, it may be your own fault.  Don’t, for one minute, think she should be putting out for you if you are messing up.  I am not talking about the kind of woman that would use sex as leverage – that is another issue.  I am talking about husbands who are being butt-heads or somehow neglecting something important to their wives. These are the kinds of things that strike a woman deep, to the heart, and it will affect how she feels about sex.

Take the kids off her hands, make sure the trash goes out, stop calling her mother a wart-ridden, pig-faced old witch, don’t make sex demands, pick up your socks and drive on the correct side of the road.  It is not about “keeping her happy” as much as it is just being a blessing to her.

As for performance.

It is normal that, once in a while, the engine may become sluggish.  Even in younger men. There are a few reasons for that, including stress and high blood pressure, some of which are better attended to with a medical professional.  But, let’s consider a few easy options for staying at optimal performing level.

  • Stay hydrated.  Water is essential to many functions of the body.
  • Reduce carbohydrates/sugar intake.  It all tastes good but can bog a body down
  • Drop a few pounds.  If you are overweight, this is a contributor to sluggishness
  • Get up and walk.  Exercise is good to get the heart pumping.
  • Take supplements, such as Ginseng
  • Whatever is good for the cardiovascular system is good for your little performer.
  • Adjust your thinking.  Distractions and stresses can slow the engine as well as contribute to “performance anxiety”.

Even as we get older, doing a few things to take better care of ourselves will help us “take care” of our wives.  If you are having serious health issues and have difficulty changing with diet, supplements and/or exercise, your doctor may be able to help.  What we do to take care of ourselves should help with most performance issues.

Give yourself up for her.

Put personal agenda aside.  We don’t have to be the “great alpha male”.  Let’s serve our wives and do things for her and recognize that she is not second fiddle, she is not the servant to her husband anymore than he is to serve her.  This is not emasculating nor will it “put the woman in charge”.  It recognizes the woman God created just as He created her to be…ezer kenegdo (Some great teachings on that can be found).  Let’s stop taking advantage of the natural servant attitude that women have and remind ourselves how we can serve the Great Gift that God has given us.

Husbands.  Love.  Your.  Wives.

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Grown-up Stuff

Looking back at They Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage, I wanted to see if I could approach some of that aspect of marriage that only a few dare talk about.

shockedThat’s right.  That aspect.

Right?  Yep..that’s the one.

If you are unclear as to the aspect I am alluding to, let me just put it out there…sex.

You just cringed, didn’t you.  Either that, or your ears just perked up like a pug.

As I am writing this, I will try to be as forthright as possible without making anyone want to gouge out their eyes, jump off a building or volunteer for root canal with no anesthesia. I am not one to get too clinical, really.  If you want to get into some really exciting details, I highly recommend The Act of Marriage by Tim and Beverly LaHaye.  Virtually any book about the sex act is good, if you need to pick up on some details.

Let’s start with this…I do believe that sex is meant for the confines of marriage.  This is not a matter of legalism or prudishness.  Sex is an intimate act and is best to be explored, experimented and improved upon between two people who have made a lifetime commitment.  It is something that love and full commitment should be in the center of. What we do should be out of love, which takes away selfishness and considers the other first.

About selfishness.  Men tend to get selfish, greedy and thoughtless in relationships and often in the realm of sex.  So, guys, make sure it’s not all about you. Besides, if you are married to a woman who truly loves you, if you put her considerations and pleasures above yours, I will bet cold hard cash you will be paid pack in kind.  Yup.  You won’t be sorry.

Sex is an area that should be mostly about giving.  Oh, yeah, yer gettin’ something.  But, if it is more about giving, the getting often turns out to be more fun.  So, maybe we should go on with some of the myths which come out of the brilliant minds of “Churchians”, who had nothing better to do than to regulate just about everything.  There are many who, unfortunately, still hold to some made up regulations and consider them necessary for a “good Christian marriage”.

Made-up sex rules…

  • Only in the dark
  • All about the man’s pleasure
  • Wives should always “be available” for their husbands
  • Only for procreation
  • Only “missionary position” allowed
  • None of that oral stuff

When it comes to rules or preferences, this is something that is to be openly discussed between husband and wife. It takes communication.  Then, it comes down to what both agree to.  In other words, if a simple, tame, once a week amalgamation works for a couple, that is the direction they need to continue in.  If wild animal, chandelier-swinging, wild-ape, house-shaking nastiness works, by all means, enjoy it!  But, what if one likes it more tame and the other wants to crank it up a bit?  This needs clear communication in order to see where some experimentation might be in order.  No matter what, it should end in agreement and result in pleasure for both.

Don’t be afraid to do some research!  Get online, ask a trusted friend, read books and embarrassedarticles. Don’t worry who is giving the tips and advice – sex is sex, no matter who is telling about it.  Sure, it can get candid and raw, but you may pick up a thing, or two.  Just be careful that it is kept in the realm of research to be discussed and experimented with your spouse.

As for these supposed rules, they have no Biblical base, whatsoever.  The only mentions of sex are concerning adultery and fornication.  As for marital sex…no listed, mentioned, hinted, suggested, insinuated, inferred or secretly coded rules exist.  If there is any rule (if we may use that word), it is…do it.

Reasons for “holding back”.

It seems that sexual inhibitions are largely a woman’s issue.  It can stem from any of several reasons…anxiety, stringent upbringing, psychological trauma from some form of sexual abuse, fear of the unknown to name a few.  These really represent longer-term issues.  Shorter term issues would be anger (he hasn’t done that chore, yet), exhaustion (like, from those kids she’s with all day), illness, injury, recent stresses – these are all mood killers.  Men can be slowed down by most of these, as well (anger rarely has much effect).

Are you still here?  Great!  Please, make sure to leave any comments or questions, below.  I make no claims of expertise and we can all learn from each other.

Communication and Cooperation

A couple should be able to talk freely with each other.  Lay it all out on the table, so to speak.  Maybe he would like more frequency, while she wants more “grope time” before the main event.  Perhaps he has ideas that scare the color out of her hair or she thinks he should consider trying something different.  He desires, she desires.  Be honest, open and patient.  Then, see where you can reach some area of agreement.

Tip:  There is a big difference between desire and demand.  Express your desires and listen to the desires of your spouse.  But, do not make them into demands.

Then, when the opportunity is there, give it a go.  Try that new thing or improve on the old thing.  It is another way people improve together.  Of course, if that same menu works for the couple, that is just fine.  No rules.

Personal Rules

There are areas in life where individuals draw a pretty strict line and sex is no different. One spouse may refuse to try certain things for any number of reasons.  There are things that couples will agree on that are absolute no-go’s.  That is fine – we need to agree on where to put on the brakes, especially if there is a chance of injury of some sort.

Yet, people should pray about and consider pushing their personal boundaries. Sometimes, we have some boundaries because of what we have been taught or simply because of the fear of the unknown.  This may be where some of that research could be good.

I plan to go into another post on this topic…maybe addressing men on a few issues.  Let’s see where this goes.  Suggestions and feedback are quite welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Marketing of Jesus

We have all seen those brilliant “info-mercials”, showing how awful your life is without their gadinfomercialget and how wonderful it becomes with it.  It’s as if the extra 2 minutes taken for a task or the extra one foot you may have to walk doing things the way you always have is simply the worst thing ever.  Now, their new product will save you time and effort.  Then, when you take another look, you realize, it is not that big a deal.  But, the hype that goes with it sure makes it sound good.

Have we been hyping up the Gospel?

I began my walk with the Lord over 40 years ago.  For some of the readers, here, that was before you were born.  For one or two others, well, we are in the same aging boat.

Back then, programs and gimmicks for spreading the Gospel were becoming very popular. There were hundreds of tracts to pass out, evangelism classes and programs and all sorts of gimmicky items at the local Bible book store.  Each of these were to make everyone “effective witnesses” for Jesus.

I am here to say, none of it was ever necessary.  It was all hype.  Every tract, every program, every class and seminar seemed good on the surface, but was really only riding the wake of what the Lord was already doing.

One program was called, “I Found It!”, back in the late 70’s.  The church I was with at the time took part and I was part of the program.  First, you sat through an introduction and there was some training for the materials used.  Then, there were 3 levels of “outreach”; door to door, a phone campaign and (if phone contacts accepted) home visits.  You can’t get any more like a marketing program than that.  The program, for lack of any better term, was an overall failure.

We don’t need programs or tracts in order to be a witness.  A witness is just that.  What does a witness do?  Witnesses stuff.  We can only witness what we see, hear or experience. Then, we can testify based upon what we have witnessed.  Our witness is not based on a program or a seminar, but on what we have experienced.

There is also no sense in sensationalizing Jesus or a life in Christ.  You have probably heard some say how “life is better” or “without Jesus you are not truly alive”.  We have all seen the droves of people gong for an “altar call” at churches, revival meetings or evangelism meetings.  Often (not always), there is a teacher/preacher who uses rhetoric and flashy phrases, mixed with the threat-of-hell speech, countered with the reward-of-heaven speech which simply appeals to peoples’ emotions.minister cartoon

Yes, many people started their walk with Jesus from one of those meetings.  But, most of the people who we see running up for those “altar calls” wind up right back in their same old lives, not getting to know Jesus.  This is not the fault of the meeting nor the people. What it seems to be is an exercise in futility.

From Matthew 28…

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

It is really quite simple.  In Acts 1, verse 8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Let’s highlight a few things…

  • Make disciples.  Jesus simply taught people.  This doesn’t mean we have to hold Bible Study or the like.  But, when opportunity arises, we should be open to share what we know.
  • Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  I am impressed how many people teach stuff that Jesus never said.
  • I. Am. With. You.  Always and forever.  His Spirit dwells in us.
  • You will be my witnesses.  We tell what we have witnessed…what we know, what we have seen, what we have heard.

There is far more simplicity in sharing the Gospel than what we have been led to think. What is the Gospel?  Good News.  What is the Good News?  Jesus.  Not that He saved us from Hell, nor that He made a way for us to get to Heaven.  But, that He made a way for us to get to the Father, to know Him even as we are fully known.

The Lord has really given us everything we need to share the Gospel…His Spirit.  Then, all we need to do is share, as we have opportunity.  We start by sharing ourselves, as a friend, with the love of God working through us.  As for whether a person is “reached” or decides to follow Christ, really has nothing to do with us.

Jesus said in John 15, “You did not choose Me…”.  It is not up to us to convince anyone.  For us to do that makes us take on a job that is not ours and a position that we are not qualified for.  That job belongs to the Holy Spirit.

When we manipulate, cajole, sell, convince, beg, plead, scream and yell in order to “win souls”, what we are doing is taking the place of God’s Spirit.

I am not about to say the programs are bad or that they are completely useless. Unfortunately, we often look at new and better ways to preach the Gospel, when all the while, we have all we need to share the Lord with others.

~Let me be a little picky about some wording.  We do not “witness to” anyone.  We use the term “witnessing”, but this is also not accurate.  We are witnesses of what the Lord has done for us and Who He is.~

Here it is…Jesus loves me, this I know.  Repeat.  If Jesus loves me, he surely loves everyone else.  My life should reflect this.  My walk should reflect this.  Our job, if you will, as believers, is to imitate Him and do as He commands.  We are to love one another, love Him and love our neighbor.

With love in – I will say it again – the nucleus, what we say and do will be out of genuine concern and compassion for others.  If we share the Lord with them and they are not interested, love dictates we don’t shun them or blow them off, we don’t treat them like they are sitting on a ledge overlooking Hell and will drag us with them because we associate with them.

It’s not up to us.  Not up to pulpit pounders.  Not up to “street preachers”.  None of us have to stress and strain to make sure people “get saved”.  We are to simply imitate Christ and share as we have opportunity.  It may be to one person.  It may be to a crowd.  It is always up to the Spirit.  More of us are like Stephen (less the stoning thing) or Philip than we are Peter or Paul.  Let’s relax a little and make ministering more organic and way less mechanical.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Once Upon a Church

churchdoorSome brief church stories.

I have attended a few churches in the past 40 years, from a small Presbyterian congregation in Irvington, NJ, to an Assemblies church in Newport News, VA, to a few here in southern NJ.  It has been the few I have attended in the last 25 plus years that opened my eyes to some very important issues that are serious issues in the Church, at large.

First, let me mention that little church in Irvington.  That was the place the Lord used to get my attention in His direction.  The pastor, Wade, was loving and patient and didn’t judge those to whom he ministered.  I have nothing but great memories of those days and the people I got to know.  Wade, particularly.  For that matter, we are still in touch through social media and he has a blog, here. (The Lazarus Project, The Horizontal Church – Take a peek, if you wish.)

Since Then.

The church that really opened my eyes to some issues was a small congregation from the Cherry Hill, NJ area.  We were part of that one for twenty years.  We were deacons, my wife was on the music team, I ran the sound board, our kids did various stuff. About fifteen of those years were spent under a pastor who became more proprietor than pastor…more of a manipulator than minister.  In the last 5 years we were there, his demanding ways became more rigid and his doctrinal views were questionable, at best.  There are a few brow-raising details…but, to make a long story short, we left that church.

What happened after that was we have been basically shunned.  We left nearly nine years ago, and no one from that church ever has called or emailed to see how we are.  We knew most of those people for twenty years. Our children basically grew up in that church.  One family I knew from north NJ and we go back to the late seventies.  How much have I heard from them?  Nothing.

Now, I know what you are saying.  I could call those folks too.  Well, I did.  One family welcomed my calls and we talk from time to time.  Others, it was rather cold, awkward…as if I had some sort of communicable disease or something.  Even the couple I knew from forty years ago has had nothing to do with us.

Shunned.

Then…

We attended a rather large church for a couple of years.  It was a bit of a drive, but worth the trip.  Met some great people, there.  Unfortunately, we were having transportation issues and decided it more prudent to go to a church closer to home.  We kind of just left. Funny thing was, virtually no one noticed we were gone.  Well, one guy emailed me after about a month and I was able to explain things.  But, I was part of a greeting team and the team leader called me a few months after we had left to ask me to head up the team on Sunday.  I informed him we hadn’t been there in X-amount of time – he had no idea.  That team served once a month and no one on the team noticed my absence.

Forgotten.

Finally…

The church we went to next we only attended for about a year.  I attended a couple of study groups and we got to know a few folks there.  We stopped going.  Not one person wanted to know what happened or where we were.

Unnoticed.

Now, don’t think I am trying to get anyone to feel sorry for me or my family.  No need to. This was not meant as a complaint forum.  Just some brief stories to show that we need to consider something Jesus said.

Love one another.

It seems that we have lost the idea of what it is to love one another.  There is also confusion between loving our neighbors versus loving one another.  To put it simply, our neighbor is pretty much everyone.  One another is those with whom we fellowship as believers.

As I have stated several times, love is putting oneself aside for another.  It is putting another ahead…to consider another more highly than ourselves.  When we shun, overlook or forget someone, unless we have a memory issue, we are basically putting self interest above others.

We say we fellowship.  Do we?  Is fellowship just sitting next to each other while listening to the pastor drone on about stuff?  Is it about those covered dish gatherings?  I think it is more…it is about relating with one another.

Just a thought…one thing we need to be careful of is calling or talking people to “convince” them to stay among the congregation.  That is just a marketing ploy.  What we need to do is love, no matter who they are, where they are or why they may be leaving or thinking of leaving.  We should love one another in spite of viewpoints, quirks, ideals, hobbies, habits…just love one another, period.  Can’t do it?  Pray and ask the Lord to work love through us.

After 20 years…

One would think that, after twenty years, that bonds would have been made.  After raising all of your children with that place and having taken part in all sorts of different aspects and activities, one would think that the bonds would be stronger than the fact that you might leave their midst.  But, when we forget how to love, we place importance on things that are less important than what Jesus told us is.

One another.

To be fair, there is the passage about not to fellowship with those who embrace sin or false teachers.  I will probably approach that one, at another time.

 

 

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They Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

If we go back to the days of “Married With Children”, we may recall Al and Peg Bundy and how they were not exactly the poster couple for a perfect marriage.  Honestly, they were not a reasonable example of decent humans.  But, that is comedy, slightly exaggerating.

The opening song for the show was Frank Sinatra singing, “Love and marriage, love and marriage..go together like a horse and carriage…”.  Not a bad analogy.  A carriage would just sit there, if not for the efforts of the horse.  Besides, marriage and carriage rhyme, so it works for the song.

Let’s just step back a bit.  Let’s say, forget concentrating on a good or a better marriage. Don’t even worry about the dynamic of the married relationship.  Forget your vows for a moment.

What?!  Have you lost your mind?  Did you wake up on the wrong side of your brain?

No, I assure you, I have a point to make  (No answer for any questions concerning any possible loss of my mind).

Here is the where I am going with this:

“3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)weddingrings

If you ask me, this is how love works in a marriage.  I have heard the old 50/50 arrangement, which has been later debunked, showing how we should have a 100/100 arrangement.  That one sounds really great for a marriage.  But, there is a problem with the 100% arrangement.

Can’t do it.  At least, not all the time.  Barely part of the time, some weeks.  We also have to figure, what is 100%?  This could set us up to hold our spouse or ourselves to a standard that is too difficult to attain or maintain.

Now, enters grace.  Being human, screw-ups are going to happen.  Personality quirks will show up.  Off days will happen.  Wrong words will be said.  We need to have grace for ourselves and grace for our spouse.  This is not an excuse to not change…loving your spouse should include changing horrible habits or repenting of other offenses.  However, it also means that if your spouse does not change, you exercise grace and forgiveness.

Some years ago, my wife and I were having a tough time with life and each other. Honestly, she was kinda tough, at the time (turned out it was a hormone-tweaking medication, which when stopped, all was right again) and my reactive temper just made things all the more…lively.  One time, just after a bit of a blow out, our old pastor happened to call.  He could tell I was out of sorts, so I explained that things were heated between my wife and me.  Then he asked me, “What if she never changes?”

That question stuck with me.  What if she never changed? Well, if I love her the way I should, she would remain as my wife and I would have to allow grace to reign over the situation.  I would learn to be patient, kind, etc.  I am glad that she did get back to her old self after getting off the medication, but it was rough for a while, I have to admit.

It took me years later to realize that loving my wife is a matter of giving up myself, in the manner which Christ loved the Church.  When we add percentages of effort, we put expectations on ourselves and our spouse that will become too strenuous.  But, if we take days, moments and situations as they are and respond with love, we are on to something.  When we put the other above ourselves, they receive a value as more than just a spouse, but as a treasured person.

If I may be honest, I still don’t have any of this down pat.  Not even close.  But, I am learning more than I did in years past.  It took me about 28 years of marriage before I was even in the right direction!  By God’s grace, I am getting there as we are closing in on thirty-one years.

What have I learned?  Here are a few things.

  • My way should just take the highway, or at least a detour.  Especially true for men…that word, “submit”, is not all that it has been taught (previously posted this idea in one of the Equality or Equity posts)
  • We need grace for our spouse as much as anyone.
  • We need to make greater efforts toward pleasing our spouse. (this one still has a long way to go, with me.  Oy.).
  • We need to pray about and be sensitive when things are “not right” with the other.
  • We need to be wrong.  Yup.  Humblin’, ain’t it?
  • We should have some basic understanding of what makes the other gender do what they do, think how they think, etc.  I highly recommend Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, video series, by Mark Gungor (Available through markgungor.com, or you may be able to find it on Ebay or Amazon).

Do percentages really matter?  Honestly, the idea of each partner  contributing 100% into the relationship is more the way it should go.  But, it is not so much seeking for each one to put in their fair share, as it is each one acting in love.  Never mind anything except how you are loving your spouse.  If love is the nucleus, we don’t make our main concern over what we are getting, as what we are giving.

Husbands are reminded in scripture to love their wives.  Why aren’t women reminded to love their husbands?  They don’t have to be.  Women give of themselves rather automatically.  Men tend to charge through life, thinking of our own agendas, demanding our own way in some way or another.  Women tend to their men, the household and the rugrats, while still making time for other relatives and outside activities.  Men, we need to consciously seek ways to bless our wives.  We need to step away from ourselves, our agendas and not be demanding.

Love should always be the nucleus.  Maybe you notice a running theme, in these last few posts.  I am going to hammer at this idea of love, as this is one thing that has taken a back seat in too much of the Church.  I think that, for too long, we have forgotten what love is and how we need to walk in His love.  We often use a word we have no idea what it really means.  We say we love someone, but it may not go past personal fondness or that mushy feeling we get in our gut.  Love is not just the way we feel.  It is what we do…it is about the other person.

 

 

 

 

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Others, Before Me…Part 7

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Curly

There is little in life that shows love like a pug.

Paul had a great way to list three important things, listing one as “the greatest”, without really diminishing the importance of the others.  In my mind, I think the easiest way to look at this is to start breaking down each of these words…faith, hope and love.

First, I notice that it says these three abide, or in other versions, they remain.  No matter what goes on, who said what, what the law says, how rich or poor we may be…there is still faith, there is still hope and there is still love.  No matter what, they will never be out of style, dysfunctional or illegal.

Now, quickly, let’s take a brief peek at faith and hope.

Faith

In its simplest definition, faith is belief.  However, in my studies, it is not the level of belief which is just mental assent. Faith is belief that is completed by action.  This makes the scripture, “Faith without works, is dead”, make some sense.  Faith can only be complete, or alive, by acting upon it.  And, even then, it is based on what the Lord says – not on what we conjure up and stamp the Lord’s name on.

Hope

One friend of mine put it this way…hope is the emotion of faith.  It has been defined as joyful expectation.  It is not a wish, as we so often use it, like, “Hope to see ya soon”, or, “I sure hope you feel better.”.  Hope is really based on what has been set to happen.  When the woman is expecting, she has hope for a new baby.  When God makes a promise, we have hope in the manifestation of what He promised.

Why Love is the Greatest.

Looking up the word, greatest, in the Greek, it comes out to be…hang on to your seats…greatest.  Didn’t expect that, did ya?  Other than that, the idea of being most important came across.

The beginning of this chapter mentioned how whatever we do, without love, there is useless noise or activity.  Love is the utmost importance.  In 1 John 4, we read, “…God is love.”

We can remember why Jesus came to Earth..”For God so LOVED the world…”

Love is the nucleus of all the stuff…and more…in Chapter 13.  Love should be at the nucleus of all we do.

Love brings us mercy.

Love brings us grace.

Love gives of oneself.  For instance…”Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave HIMSELF up…”.  When the crowds came after a tired and worn Jesus, He stopped and spent time to heal and teach them.  He had compassion on them.

Compassion is borne out of love.

People are built to give and receive love.  In this broken world, there are too many who have been denied love for any manner of reasons.  Who will give them the love they need? Who has enough love to give them?  It should be those of us who know how much God loves us all.

Once we acknowledge and embrace His love for us and rely upon Him to allow His love to work through us, we have an infinite amount of love to share.  Actually, most of us know that love has a bottomless supply.  But, we somehow tend to run out of it…as our patience wears out, as we neglect being kind, start becoming arrogant…you get the picture.

Jesus never did.  Well, as God in the flesh, no wonder.  But, He lives in us, so (humanness notwithstanding) we can love much because He loves much.  he said He would never leave nor forsake and said He would leave The Comforter and we are also told that our bodies are a “temple of the Holy Spirit”.  So, yeah…He lives in us.  His love can shine through.

His love is with no condition.  There is no perfection required.  For that matter, there is no gettin’ nothin’ right required.  We don’t have to change to please Him or get Him to love us more.  We cannot impress Him.

No matter how we dress, speak, look, walk, think, act, make decisions, no matter who we hang out with, what we drive, where we live, where we were born, whether we live in poverty or wealth, if we are good looking or not…we are loved.  All of us.

All of us.  Everyone.  It’s just that not everyone knows it.

We need to be that love.  We need to be Jesus to people.

We don’t need to be the next preaching dynamo or the super spiritually gifted tongue-speaking prophet of the ages.  Without love, all that stuff is, frankly, garbage.  Honestly, I feel there are those who use these gifts on their own steam in order to impress and compel people, to essentially “sell” the Gospel, too often for personal gain. This is not love.

Love seeks to bless others.   Love does not seek its own.  Love puts others before self.   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

The greatest is love.heart

 

 

 

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Others, Before Me…Part 6

There is one verse that is outstanding, to me, in 1 Corinthians 13…verse 11…

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

The paragraph in which this sentence lies seems to cover a little territory.  I know there are great commentaries covering it, but this once sentence just jumps out at me.  It reminds me of what a person who walks in love is.

Mature.

Not like over 50 mature.  Old…like, well, okay…me.  We may be old, but maturity is not necessarily about age.

I have four grown children and three grandchildren.  Watching the stages of maturity has been a front-row adventure.  One of our grandchildren is 6 months old – and yes, she is totally cute!  We have a grandson who is a year and a half and another granddaughter who just turned 4.  Yeah, they are super cute, too.  At each of their stages, they all have one thing in common.  Their main concern is themselves.

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Our first grandchild, a tad over 4 years ago.  The old guy is me.

As for our grown children, they have mostly grown out of that self thing.  The three who are married now consider their spouses and their children.  They even deny themselves something they want so their families can have what they want or need.  But, when they were the ages of their own children, they were just as self-needy.

There is nothing wrong with that, in a small child.  Our youngest granddaughter can do nothing for her self.  She depends on Mommy and Daddy to feed, change and entertain her. She needs these things and they lavish them upon her.  But, in about 15 or 20 years, she should have grown out of this stage.  Our daughter’s son is a year and a half…he gets around and can entertain himself, but still has his needs he depends on Mommy and Daddy for.  Even our four year old granddaughter has demands for food, entertainment, etc.

Love puts others, first.  Immaturity is about self.  Therefore, it stands to reason, to love without reservation, selflessly and without condition is mature.

One more post to go in this series.  Hope ya’ll ain’t bored, yet.

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