Saturday, December 27, 2008

Created2 Love or What is Love?

What is it about love that causes us to go to great risks? And How do we really know what love is anyway? We throw this word “love” around like its candy at a parade. Which makes me wonder if we really understand it at all. We love pizza or chocolate or we love football. Go Dolphins! The other day we were talking about, the Office & someone said, “I love that show.” What? You love a TV show. But we also love our children, boyfriend or girlfriend, our spouse and God. It’s no wonder we’re confused.

Still everything we do revolves around love. “The world moves for love, it kneels before it in awe.” – William Walker, The Village. People spend their whole lives searching for love. We write songs about it. We write books about it. My brother just published a book of poetry motivated by love. We talk about it all the time. We even define our church by it – our mission and our very existence as a church is about starting a transformation of faith, hope and LOVE.

Yet with all this focus and attention on love it’s still really hard to find. So, what is love and where do we go to find it?

1 John 4:7 says, Dear friends, let us love one another. John is going to use this phrase 3 times in the next 5 verses – so it must be important. And the first thing we can do is rule out the misconception that love is a feeling. Yeah, it feels good and we love it (pardon the pun) but this is an imperative. Therefore, it can’t be a feeling because you can’t command someone to feel something that they don’t feel. Well, you can try but that doesn’t mean they are going to feel it.

So, that leaves us with only one other possibility – love is a choice. It’s an act of the will. Can love grow in us and can we feel it with every fiber of our being? Yes. But we either love or we don’t. It’s a decision we make.

It’s a risk we take but it’s a risk worth taking otherwise we face a life of solitude and loneliness. See, I don’t think the opposite of love is hate. I think its isolation. Hatred is certainly antithetical toward love but it’s not the end result, it’s only what leads us to isolation and loneliness and that’s the worst thing a human being can experience because we were created2 be known by love.

When we risk loving someone one else we’re putting our heart on the line, no matter who they are – whether they’re our parents, friends, or siblings. There is no guarantee that they’re going to love us back. But we love because the reward is worth the risk. There is no greater experience than knowing you are loved and finding yourself in communion with others.

This is the risk God took when He created us in his image and likeness. He gave us a free will to choose to love him or not. He said, “You can eat from that tree but I wish you wouldn’t because I love you and I want what’s best for you.” And even though we reject Him, he chooses to love us, no matter what.

Back to 1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Now we know where love comes from and where to find it. It comes from God. We’re always looking for it in other people or in things (money, fame, power) but if we want to find love we have to go to the source. We have to start with God.

We’re only capable of loving one another because love originates in God. We couldn’t love if it didn’t first come from somewhere outside of ourselves. None of us would take that risk. No one would allow themselves to be that vulnerable.If you’ve ever experienced rejection you know what I’m talking about and you know that it hurts. The capacity to love comes from God not from us. Since, love comes from God, all acts of true love are reflections of God’s nature. This means that whenever anyone does something out of love God is known even if that person doesn’t claim to follow God because God is known by love.

To be continued…

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Note to Self

Yesterday, November 21, will be a marker. There is one hope and His name is Jesus.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm Going to Start Writing My Book

I've had this on my mind for quite some time, years in fact. I am not sure if it will be good but we will see. The title is going to be: The Seven Deadly Pastors. I'm sure there will be a subtitle but I haven't decided on that yet. Anyway, over the years of working in the church I have worked for 6 different pastors. This was over a 15 year span. As you can imagine, I have seen a lot of good things and a lot of really really bad things as a result of my tenure in the church.

I know what you're thinking, "I thought the title was 7 Deadly Pastors and you said you worked for 6 pastors. Yada Yada Yada" Well, the 7th will be the surprise at the end.

What do I hope to accomplish? I want to look at the role of pastors in the community of Christ. I want to look at the systems that we've created that have done a disservice to pastors and congregants. I don't want to hurt anyone at all but I hope to be honest about the humanity, loss, pain, joy and hope for the church. It's getting run through the ringer and a lot of that is it's own fault. But I think there is hope and even as I wrestle with what all this means I hope that on the other side we can become what God wants us to be for the world.

Well, there you have it. Wish me luck. I just need Barna to endorse my book like he endorsed Pagan Christianity guru Frank Viola. I'll even put him down as a co-author. He doesn't even have to write anything for mine either.

Let's see. Maybe if I start smoking a pipe it will help me get started.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Revisionist History - Start 'em Young

My son had to do a book report on one of our presidents. All the kids literally drew a name from a hat in the front of the class. My son drew, completely by chance, the 40th President, Ronald Reagan. My wife took my son to the local library to pick out 2 sources needed for the report. Mind you, this is 3rd grade. They picked 2 big picture type books with 2 page summaries of every President. If you have kids, you know the type of books I'm talking about.

Now, if I were to ask you to summarize the greatest achievement of each President and we got to Ronald Reagan what might you say? First thing that pops in your mind if you're honest? That's right - the Cold War. Maybe, the famouse speech in Berlin, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!" The collapse of communism in the face of a strong U.S. foreign policy and new found freedom and human rights for millions of people. I posted this picture lest you forget.

Each book hinted in one small paragraph that Reagan worked with Gorbachev to reduce nuclear weapons. Neither book had the words "Cold War." Hmmm?

However, each book spent 3 to 5 paragraphs bashing "trickle down economics" (tax breaks for the rich and the cutting of welfare programs) and the Iran Contra Affair. One even had a big old picture of Ollie North testifying in front of Congress (one of my favorite surf spots is named after Ollie). Each book only had 10 paragraphs. Now, I admit that Iran-Contra was scandelous but that this dominates the discussion on Reagan in these books is scary.

Oh yeah, it also mentioned that he was the first President to be divorced and remarried.

Thankfully, my son was most excited about the fact that Reagan starred in "Bedtime for Bonzo" and that the co-star in the movie was a chimpanzee.

P.S. By contrast, there is one paragraph in one book and a sentance or two in the other about Clinton having sex with Monica Lewinsky in the White House. "But the "Comeback Kid" survived even that ordeal." and "...but even this (Lewinsky sex scandal) failed to diminish Clinton's favorable job-perfomrance ratings in opinion polls."

Hmm? I wonder who's writing these texts? I wonder?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Win for Women

I still have no idea how my mom did it - raising two little rambunctious boys on a receptionists salary. She made our lunches, got us on the bus, worked all day, came home, cooked us dinner, helped us with homework, put us to bed and cried herself to sleep. The victim of an unfaithful and abusive husband, my mom did it all. She taught us about unconditional love and prayed for us every day. In the end, I think we turned out alright.

You know, it's been hard to find men who would step up and mentor me in my life. Most of the men who had the opportunity to mentor me have failed miserably - from my father to the pastor's for whom I've worked. In fact, two of my greatest mentors were women. Both Wanda and Rachel believed in me and took an interest in my life, family and career. They encouraged my abilities and openly routed for my success. On top of that, I'm married to the greatest woman I know.

I'm a fan of women in leadership.

Last night was a win for women everywhere. Yes, I'm talking about Sarah Palin. She was brave, articulate, witty and honest. This is really an historic moment in this country. Congratulations to all women, it looks like you have a champion. Now the choice is up to you.

P.S. If Barack Hussien Obama becomes president, how will he have time to be a good father and husband to his small children and wife?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Please Don't Take Offense

After a long weekend, my wife and I put the kids to bed on Sunday night, plugged in a DVD, and plopped onto the couch. I'm not too ashamed to say that we like to watch romantic comedies once in a while. Last night, we watched Definitely, Maybe. Plot: the parents are getting divorced and the father is telling his 9 or 10 year old daughter about his love life including all the sordid details.

Anyway, I got to thinking that I can't remember a recent movie (romantic or not) about a family that actually stays together. We watched the Spiderwick Chronicles the other day and that involves a family that moves to a spooky house because the mom and dad are getting separated.

I know that Hollywood has been trying to normalize divorce for a long time but haven't we gotten the message already? We understand: People get divorced and let's not make the kids feel any worse than they already do. But why do we normalize bad behavior.

At what point, in our culture, will we ever celebrate people who keep their commitments?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Where's My Apology?

Do you ever find yourself apologizing for things you didn't do or when it isn't necessary? What is that? This happened to me twice this week. I had two people rip into me and I end up apologizing to them. I'm not sure what was going on for them that day. Maybe, they were having a bad day or or work was stressful and they chose to take it out on me.

I like to keep the peace and I confront (I don't like confrontation) if I have to but why do I say I'm sorry when I don't need to? Is this a sign of weakness? A character flaw?

I'll tell you what isn't a character flaw - admitting when you are wrong and seeking forgiveness. I'll always try to do that.

Come to think of it, neither of the people apologized to me. What is valued when we fail to seek forgiveness? Pride? Arrogance? A product of bad parenting? A product of a society that doesn't take responsibility for its actions and that always thinks it's somebody else's fault? How did we get this way?

Well, I won't hold my breath, I will not lose sleep over this and I will stop whining but I will try to save my apologizing for when it is warranted. I think it will be more meaningful and I also think that it won't feed the pride of those who refuse to apologize when they need to do so. I'm not trying to be mean, I am just trying to be prudent.

One think I will not apologize for is living, working, having strong convictions and passions, being a person seeking integrity, staying optimistic and positive and functioning at an optimal level. That would be a slap in the face of the One who made me.

You are encouraged to join the movement to admit when you are wrong, seek forgiveness, give forgiveness and not to feed the pride of those who won't.

Stay strong and courageous. Peace.