When God Dances

The Blessing of SMALL Things

Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane IsaacHurricane Isaac hit (such an appropriate word) on Tuesday (28 Aug ’12) when we started getting a lot of tropical storm force winds in our area. It was not too bad but things got worse.

On Wednesday morning, it was clear and windy so I decided to cut a tree near my home since it was hollow at the base. Better to be pro-active and drop the tree in a safe location than to wait and let the storm drop it onto my home! We dropped the tree and had the brush cleared by about 9 AM. Right after that, we started getting some pretty heavy bands of rain coming through.

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Forgive and Forget?

Over the years, I have had difficulties with church leaders.

Forgive meSome have treated me with disrespect, some have lied to me, others have gone behind my back to cause me harm. I have also had troubles with secular bosses and coworkers, with church members & church “bosses.” I have been disappointed by friends and family.

Still others, some of whom do not even consider themselves to be Christians, have helped me, encouraged me, and came to my rescue. What it has taught me is that the problem is not with a particular religious belief, or the danger of power or authority over others. The problem is that we are all humans – and we all make mistakes

Although some of the people who did me wrong probably did not intend any harm to me, many others probably did. And they most likely do not DESERVE my forgiveness.

But, I must admit…. I have failed God, my church, my wife, my children, my friends, my boss, my leaders and just about every other person that I have ever had any contact with – and in many of those cases – I don’t deserve forgiveness either!

Thankfully, Jesus died so that God, in His mercy could forgive me – even though I do not deserve it. And, because of the forgiveness of God in their lives, most of my Christian friends have also forgiven me.

Bottom line: To harbor unforgiveness does nothing to punish the other person. It only poisons me with a root of bitterness. Most of us do not (normally) nurse animosity against others. If you are experiencing a memory of past wrongs, reject it and renounce it as forgiven.

Someone has wisely said, holding unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Be blessed today as you forgive all of those past wrongs!

5 Elements of Love

Walking my daughter down the aisle

Walking my daughter down the aisle

On the 15th of May, 2011,  I was honored to conduct the wedding ceremony for my youngest daughter,  Katrina.

I love my new son-in-law and consider him to be my newest son.  But I did give him some words of warning encouragement about treating my daughter well!  Coincidentally, I mentioned that I do have a shotgun in my home (grin).

I also believe that Aron and Katrina have a deep love for each other.  However, with so many marriages ending in divorce these days, something must be broken in our present-day concept of love.  So, during the ceremony, I offered some advice about what might help couples “stay in love. ”

First,  here is a quote from 1st Corinthians 13, verses 4-8 (from Eugene Peterson’s Message Bible:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. Love never dies.

That is a powerful description of love. But this is poetry and lest someone claim “poetic license” was used, I feel that I should elaborate.

Here is a short summary of what I believe are the five elements of true love:

  1. Attraction: All humans (and even the animals) experience the natural attraction for another and the base desire to reproduce. Often it is based exclusively on physical appearance and is sometimes called “love at first sight.” For some, this is the extent of love as they know it and after sexual union, they are off to another “conquest.” Others may move from the initial attraction mode to a deeper experience. Those who do not, tend to express their “love” in a way that seems to say, “I will love you as long as you please me.” With that attitude, they are certain to “fall out of love” in a very short time.
  2. Emotional Attachment: This is how many dictionaries define love. It is certainly an important element in true love but emotions are subject to a wide variety of external influences. Some have surmised that the line between love and hate is very thin. And what can cause one to slip from emotional love to hatred? It could be something as simple as a misspoken word or a misunderstood action. It could be the result of the actions of a third party. At a ball game, the actions of the players result in our emotions running the gammot from exultation to near grief. If we are to experience true love, we must go beyond our fleeting emotions.
  3. Passion: Here, we are not speaking about erotic passion (although that kind of passion does have a place in the marriage bed). Any focused and long-term zeal might be called a passion. The zeal for doing things together is more in line with the concept of passion in love. We must never stop wanting to be close to our mate and to experience everything together.  But neither should we live so as to smother or stifle the object of our affections. We must be self-controlled and balanced in our passion. If not, the same pressures that case burn-out in over-zealous workers may lead to a total loss of passionate love. From the opposite perspective, the overly jealous mate may be so controlling as to cause the other to loose true passion in the relationship.
  4. Intimacy: Again, the secular & base definition of “being intimate” is so much less than true intimacy with our marriage partner.  The “world” knows that all these things are needed to make love last. By re-writing the definitions into purely sexual terms, they assure that the number of divorces will continue to increase. The intimacy that is meant here is the closeness and caring that is defined by the agape’ love of Christ. It is that care that is self-sacrificing and puts the needs of the other before our own needs. As Peterson says (above), “Love cares more for others than for self.” This kind of intimacy will cause one to be willing to suffer great personal loss in order to bring care and comfort to the other.
  5. Commitment: To some extent, each of the previous elements could be considered as external. (Intimacy probably does not fit this generalization.) To a greater or lesser degree, each of these elements are dependent on other people and their actions. But in the Bible, we are commanded to love – regardless of the actions of others. That is an internal decision that we must make. It speaks to your mate, “If your mind gets feeble and you don’t even recognize me any more – I will still love and care for you — Till death do us part!” Perhaps that is the element of love that is most absent in the multitude of marriages that end in divorce.

THAT is the kind of love that “never dies.” So, to my “bride” of 47 years, “I CHOOSE to love you – until death separates us.

Updated on October 7, 2011 to add a few additional ideas and to correct some grammatical errors.

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Insatiable!

Insatiable – the word seems to describe the very fabric of our society today. It is defined as…

Not satiable; incapable of being satisfied or appeased; very greedy; as, an insatiable appetite, thirst, or desire  en.wiktionary.org/wiki/insatiable

It describes our individual (and collective) appetites for excitement, food, money, drugs, technology, entertainment, power, ego, sex, and prominence (and possibly every other desire that can be imagined). While much of the world struggles to just survive, in our society we work several jobs in order to have more than our neighbor. The collective motto seems to be, “He who dies with the most toys, wins.”

However, the REASON that people are never satisfied is that what they are searching for things that cannot satisfy. The deepest need/desire of a human being is to have intimate fellowship with our Creator.

One of the most unforgettable Scriptures is Jeremiah 31:14. In the King James Version it reads,

Jer 31:14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

This applies to me (and you if you have been born again) – since Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we have become a nation of priests. Each Christian now has direct access to God as a priest. The word “satiate” is used to describe feeding until the receiver stops eating. That means that every child of God has a blessed promise that our Father will MORE than satisfy our desires!

When we receive God’s love in our hearts, we become satiated. We can stop seeking the ever more elusive “high” that adrenaline, power or other drugs can never deliver!

Be blessed & pass on the blessing…

 

Emotional Book

What is the most emotional book that you have read?

I just finished reading “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper. I found it compelling and extemely emotional. I cried almost throughout my reading. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK!

Here is a summary from the publisher:

As he is driving home from a minister’s conference, Baptist minister Don Piper collides with a semi-truck that crosses into his lane. He is pronounced dead at the scene. For the next 90 minutes, Piper experiences heaven where he is greeted by those who had influenced him spiritually. He hears beautiful music and feels true peace.Back on earth, a passing minister who had also been at the conference is led to pray for Don even though he knows the man is dead. Piper miraculously comes back to life and the bliss of heaven is replaced by a long and painful recovery.For years Piper kept his heavenly experience to himself. Finally, however, friends and family convinced him to share his remarkable story.

You can buy the book in most outlets. Click here to see a list of sources from a Google search.

Christians disallowed as foster parents in UK?

Christian Foster ParentsIn a very sympathetic article yesterday, a Telegraph reporter stated that “two High Court judges upheld the decision of Derby City Council not to approve the [Eunice and Owen] Johns family as carers.” I found this troubling and posted a link to a similar report on my Facebook page. If it can happen in the United Kingdom (England), then it may soon be the case in the USA as well.

However, today, I located a link to the Court’s decision (here) where I found that the Court actually declared in  item 34,

We are simply not here concerned with the grant or denial of State ‘benefits’ to the claimants. No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not ‘fit and proper’ persons to foster or adopt. No one is contending for a blanket ban. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. No one is seeking to force Christians or adherents of other faiths into the closet. No one is asserting that the claimants are bigots. No one is seeking to give Christians, Jews or Muslims or, indeed, peoples of any faith, a second class status. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law, to our polity and to our way of life, that everyone is equal: equal before the law and equal as a human being endowed with reason and entitled to dignity and respect.

This seems to be in direct conflict to the reports that I read yesterday. Indeed, the final paragraph (109) states, “For the reasons given in [107] we have concluded that we should make no order.” Although, in paragraph 108, the Court does conclude “ that the attitudes of potential foster carers to sexuality are relevant when considering an application for approval,” I do not believe that the Court would allow that such attitudes be restrictive upon Christians or any other group (c.f. para 98-99).

This is a difficult question and all of the “legalese” makes understanding the Court even more difficult, it does not appear that the UK will begin any anti-Christian process. I do not know whether the Johns will be able to continue as foster parents or not. But if they are denied, it would appear that such a decision is based upon much more than their Christian Faith.

The continual encroachment upon the principles of the Christian Faith is something that we do well to monitor & report. However, we must always uphold the highest standards of ethics and accuracy before “crying wolf.”

Do you believe that the previous reports were accurate? Your comments are always welcome.

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