Love Does

Dynamic Force Starts with a Spark!

“Live your life in such a way that it demands an explanation!”

Sparkler
(Courtesy of unsplash)

That is one of my favorite quotes from college.  One of the Missions professors would always state it before he began his lectures.  It struck a chord with me…

Every year for the 4th of July my wife and I drive home to Illinois to spend the holiday with her family.  It is always spent, weather permitting, playing croquet and bad-mitten, sitting on the screened-in porch, enjoying grill food, and water-skiing out on the lake.  Usually we would spend the night of the 4th lighting off fireworks in the cul-de-sac outside the house or going to one of the surrounding cities to enjoy their show.

This year, however, was different.  We had to leave before all the firework events began because I needed to be back in Ohio to lead worship the next morning.  Our trip landed us just outside of Indianapolis at prime firework time.  As we were driving toward, through, and out of the city we were on the edge of our seats.  To the left, right, and front of us were all manner of exploding bursts of light in dazzling blues, greens, reds and whites.

As I drove away from the city it got me thinking.  Does my life explode with love?  Does the dynamic pressure of my actions cause people to stop and stare in amazement?  Does it cause people to want what I have?

If you held a spark to the love that I possess would it sizzle out or would it explode with such force that it knocks people over?

Jesus had a way of doing that. He rocked the foundations of what people thought love was.  He broke down barriers and caused the world to stop and stare, and over two thousands years later we are all still staring.

It has been three years since I graduated from Lincoln Christian University and I still use that quote.  It makes me want to reflect Christ in everything I do so that people will see what love is.  I want my life and love to spark into such a dynamic force that people demand an explanation.

Do your actions demand an explanation?

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Faith the Size of a Lemonade Stand

Recently I was driving to the bank on my lunch break when I came across two girls sitting at the end of their driveway behind a small table.  They had two pitchers of lemonade placed on the table and a small chalkboard easel with prices listed on it sitting off to the side.

8493KLE87D(Courtesy of stocksnap.io)

I smiled and continued on to my destination, but seeing those two girls got me thinking…

Does my faith reflect what it takes to run a lemonade stand?

Lemonade stands are usually exciting new opportunities for kids during the summer months when school is out, and it is also a good way for younger children to score some spending money!  I doubt that when those two girls decided to have a lemonade stand they had a strategy meeting, a financial goal, or even a statement of purpose drawn up.

I bet they grabbed a table, some chalk, and told their parents, with grins the size of bananas, that this is what they wanted to do.  I think the thrill of the people coming and purchasing a nice cool cup is all they needed.

That is what faith should be; getting caught up in the excitement of God and just doing something.  How often do we miss out on amazing adventures and new experiences because we wanted to map out every detail?  How often have we allowed our hesitation to get in the way?

I don’t want to miss out anymore.   I want my faith to reflect a love that does.  I want to get caught up in the excitement.  I want to take the lemons that I have been handed, make some lemonade, and wait for the blessings to come rolling in!

What lemons have you been handed in life? What are you going to do with them?

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3 Things Tragedy Taught Me About Church

Tragedies strike when we least expect.  They sneak up from behind and flank us before we have a chance to respond.  They are real, hurtful, and devastating.  They cloud the sun and wilt the flower.  They are the anti-joy and hope-stifling things nightmares are made of…

Tragedies, as defined by the Miriam-Webster dictionary, are disastrous events that cause great sadness.

photo

Our service had been planned in advance, I had just returned from a week-long vacation, The Pastor had planned to take the weekend off, and our guest speaker had his message prepared.  Sunday was shaping up to be a true celebration of Christ and His Love and Faithfulness.  Then Friday happened.  That evening I was alerted to an urgent prayer request.  I read the email with unbelief and sat staring at my iPhone screen stunned.  A three-year-old child from our congregation had passed away.

In two days the service was scheduled to be a Celebration of Family Service centered around God’s love and His Faithfulness, and was to be followed by an all-church brunch.  The leadership team discussed ways to assist the family and congregation with their grief.  Would we keep the service the same?  Would we alter aspects of what was planned?  Are their counselors who can offer support?  On and on the questions continued to burst forth from our minds as we tried to grasp the reality of the situation.

It was decided to leave the service as planned with minor changes to be sensitive to the mourning that would take place.  It was in that service, and the week to follow, where I learned 3 very important things about the Church.

1. God’s Love and Faithfulness are constant in all circumstances.

 Life will throw us curve balls and, occasionally, will knock us flat on our backs.  The situation was devastating and the family was hurting.  What the church did in response was to gather together and concentrate on who God is, what God did for us through Christ, and what God promises to do.  God is faithful to His people, and His love allows us to endure.

2. The Church is a family that both grieves and celebrates together.

The sense of love and togetherness was the strongest I have ever experienced.  This was The Church, this is what God wanted: A people who would gather together in the love and the sorrow.  A people who would come together as a family and mourn with and for one another.  A people who would love.  The people surrounded this family with prayers, meals, time spent together, love and unending support.  There were no debates, there were no theological discussions…it was simply love doing.  It was the Church.

3. Musical worship can express even the hardest of emotions.

Words are often not enough to express the loss, sorrow, and pain that comes with the passing of a loved one.  Music transcends the silence and allows us to express truly deep emotions.  Singing songs to God in a congregational setting, however, has an even greater significance.  Every voice is raised as one.  Every person with tears, tissues, uplifted hands, clenched fists, and folded arms.  Every child and visitor.  All are unified before the Lord, and all are sharing in the grief as the band plays.  The focus is on God and bringing Him all the pain.

Tragedies will sneak up on us, but The Church can hold fast to the love of God and remember His faithfulness when the clouds begin to roll in.

Categories: Christ, Church Life, Lifestyle, Love Does | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Partnerships

Acts 3:6-8

New International Version (NIV)

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.


Partnerships are characterized by two or more parties coming together with ideas and sharing the benefits of working together.  We form partnerships in school, at the office, on sports teams, and as the church.  We partner with one another to accomplish great and small things. Working together usually makes us feel good and each party walks away feeling satisfied and equally “paid”.

Peter was willing to trust in the partnership and authority he had with God, and in that authority he could do amazing things.  Just like Peter, when we partner with God we get way more than we could ever ask or imagine.  We get His Grace, Mercy, Love, and Holy Spirit.

We get the power to withstand hardship because we have Hope.  We the get the power to show others compassion because we have Love. We get the power of forgiveness because we have Grace and Mercy.  A partnership with God is unbalanced.  God will always give us more than we deserve, and He loves to do it!  He continually grants us His presence and continually guides us.

– God will always give us more than we deserve, and He loves to do it! –

May we remember the partnership we have with God, and let us be people who are willing to listen to His voice, respond, and give Him all the glory.

How will you respond to God this week?

 

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Love Does

Acts 8:27-29

New International Version (NIV)

27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”


Philip was not forced to stop and speak with someone from a completely different nationality than him, but he chose to listen to the Spirit’s prompt.  He chose to speak to someone completely different from him and he chose to do it out of love.  A love for Christ and a love for this stranger that he never met.  I think the words from Paul in his letter the church in Rome sum up our calling.

Romans 15:7-8

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

We, the gentiles, were on the outside of the promise until Christ came.  He welcomed us who were different and calls us to do the same.  We are the light of world, we are the sheep in shepherds clothing, and we are the vessels of love that God can use.  We only need to be willing to hear and answer the call to love.

That call could come in the form of offering the mow your neighbors lawn, pay for someones groceries, take out their trash, or stopping and getting to know the homeless person on the street.  Whatever the call, are you ready to respond?  Have you made room in your schedule to do love?

How will you choose to love this week?

** For practical examples, uplifting and wild stories, and God-honoring ways to do love I highly recommend the book Love Does by Bob Goff.**

Categories: Church Life, Devotional Thought, Faith, Lifestyle, Love Does | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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Ethan & Emilie

Embracing an Inspirational Life

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Jesus. Church. Culture.

Tales from the Great Adventure

a journal of living-like-we-mean-it, by Derek Maul