Monday, February 25, 2008

God loves me, now what?

1 John Chapter 3:10 says that if we do not love our brothers, we are not of God, that’s setting the standard high and setting it early. In fact, these verses even say that we demonstrate that we are the children of God by our love, and, conversely that we are the children of the devil by our lack of the same.

Verse 11 says that we have seen from the beginning that we are to love, that the story of Cain and Able demonstrates to us that love for our brother is something that should be automatic, that fratricide, murder of your own brother is shocking and obviously from Satan.

This verse also says that we see into the heart of Cain by this action, his deeds were evil and he was even motivated to kill because his brother’s deeds were righteous. It seems hard to believe that that would motivate murder, but when we think about it, murder happens for a lot less reasons than that.

Verse 12 then says that we see that when the world hates us, it should not be shocking, as Cain hating Able should not be.

We need to take joy in knowing that when we have love in our hearts for our fellow believers, that in itself demonstrates that we are part of the family of God.

I’ve heard people say in the past, “I love Jesus, I just can’t stand his wife.” Or, “I like what Jesus stands for, it’s just that I can’t stand being around Christians”. This is a cynical attitude that just can not be a part of our thinking. If we apply that to any of our relationships, we can surely see that that relationship is going to end in a permanent parting. If we give ourselves wholeheartedly to that relationship, knowing that it is worth salvaging, we can have hope in seeing it survive, and rejoice in knowing that we are demonstrating that our faith is real. The same holds true with our relationship with our brothers and sisters within the church. We need to give ourselves wholeheartedly to that relationship.

Well, how do we know what this love looks like? Verse 16 says that we are laying down our lives for the brethren. We are to look like our Father, this morning we looked at the love God has for us. We must take that love and pass it on.

Verse 17 cuts right to the heart of the matter, offering up a practical situation. We have
the ability to meet a genuine need, and we refuse to, and not even because we don’t have time or don’t notice, but because we don’t feel any compassion in our hearts. In fact the verse goes farther saying that we close the door of our hearts on them. They have come knocking, and we’ve looked out the upper window, closed the blinds and pretended we’re not home. Now I do that on Halloween, but I don’t think too many people are in need of candy. If I do it for true needs, I prove that the love of Christ has not really made it into my life.

Notice what it is that we are being asked to give up, “this world’s goods” – stuff. Stuff we can’t take with us we are being asked to give away in order to prove that the eternal “stuff” really works.

Verse 18 calls us on a human trait that I feel is too prevalent. We claim our love, and we don’t demonstrate it. Words are too easy. Actions speak louder.

Chapter 4:7-16 gives us an interesting idea, the way the world gets to see God is through our reflection of His love.

Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Remember this is agape love.
The opposite is also true according to verse 8.

Verse 11 says then that we need to love as He loved us. This is not God’s expectation, instead it is a natural response based on understanding that we have been loved.

Verse 12 says that we demonstrate God’s love by our love for one another. I wonder what the world sees; I wonder what they would say about our love? Are we selfless, selfish, or inconsistent?

Verse 20 calls it as it is. These are not my words, I would never say this, how could I? How could any human? 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This tells us somewhat what we base our love on, interactions.

Verse 21
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.


Now what? We can’t sit and debate the merits of the word “must”. We just have to obey. We must go out and make right, we must go out and live peaceably. “As much as it is within you, live peaceably with all men”

Many of us think we have no opportunity to serve as missionaries, we lament our timid personality, we regret our stammering tongues, our slow mind our poor grasp of scripture, but, one consolation we can get from the Scripture is that we are told that “they will no we are Christians if we have love for one another. God is giving us a way to shine light in our dark world we were thinking about his morning by simply living in love.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

God loves you, He really does

Here are a few notes I typed up getting ready to preach last Sunday. I thought I'd just throw them out here, unedited, so enjoy or endure as the case may be. I'll add Sunday night's later.

We’ve just passed through Valentine’s Day. For many of us, it’s the time when duty demands we do something, anything! For others it’s a commercialized event to be avoided. For others it’s a painful reminder of what was or might have been. For others its great fun and candy and hearts, but most of the people who feel that way are under the age of 12 and are downstairs this morning. For all of us, however, it surely makes us stop and think of love.

For me, the review of love began a few weeks before Valentine’s Day and was not related to the day. As for many men, my wife got me thinking about it. She was the one who thought we needed some work in our relationship. Guys, if your wife says you need work in your relationship, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, we need to listen. Usually four weeks later I realize that something’s broken or missing, she’s noticed when the crack first developed. I remember sitting down recently, trying to plan something special for Sabrina during a time when we were not seeing eye-to-eye on who knows what. The absurdity of being at odds with the one that I only wanted to do good things for really challenged my heart to rise above the petty selfishness in my heart, the part of me that makes me want to fight back, to react with such childishness.

I turned to the scripture to see what love was all about. And eventually found my way to 1 John, so please turn with me this morning to that book and chapter 3.

The first thing we observe from these chapters is that God reveals his love to us by making us his children. Now, many people are children in the world, and most of us were children at some point, very few are so old that there is no one around to confirm this fact! But being a child and being blessed because we are a child is a different matter. Not all children today are glad to be here. None of asks to be born, and sadly some wish they never had been.

In Africa, the projection is that there will be 18 million orphaned children by the year 2010, their parents dead from AIDS, in some countries they tote machine guns like our children carry backpacks, 200 million are malnourished. Some places they have to live with the regret of touching mines that were never meant for them, dealing with the loss of limbs or scarring.

Here in Canada, they find our twelve year olds lying in the woods, they live lives of silent torture and sadness neglected by busy or abusive parents. But here, in 1 John 3:1, we have a vivid picture of why these other scenarios, on an earth racked by wrong, are so angering to us, so worthy of righteous indignation. We have an expectation of what it should be like to be a child. We have an ideal of how we want our children to grow up. Best of all worlds for our children is for them to be able to say, “God is my Father.”

Here we have the ideal father: involved, all knowing, all powerful, limitless resources, caring, perfect. Truly, the scripture should say, “behold what manner of love the Father has for us!”

Verses 16 and 17 tell us that we know how to put love into action because God first demonstrated his love for us by dying, sacrificing, laying down his life for us.
I recently read a new book from Annie Dillard, The Maytrees. In it, she writes of a couple who struggle to know if they are or ever were in love. Do we ever wonder about our own level of love? I’m not speaking of romantic love even here. I’m talking about our love that we have in us from the Father for our brothers and sisters. Do we wonder if we are showing our love? What is love? Am I in love? Was I ever in love? Have I fallen out of love? The answer to those questions must be filtered through the truest example of the love of God we know. Jesus gave up his life for us. We are shown the true love of God, and therefore true love, by seeing, thinking about, understanding more fully what Jesus did when he gave up his life for us. It seems as though “Jesus love me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” stands as true today as it did back in Sunday School.

Chapter 4:7 takes us to another level. Notice that love is of God, that God is love as seen in verse 8. Anything less, anything false, anything trying to disguise itself as love, but really is for personal gain, is not from God, is not God at work in our lives. Self needs to be eliminated from our relationships. What must rise to the top is service, sacrifice, true love. You will notice so many times through scripture the phrase “one another”. Serve one another, pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens, confess your sins to one another, love one another. Allowing yourself, allowing ourselves, to live for others, frees them up to live for us.

Verse 9 tells us that God’s love is shown to us by Jesus coming to the earth and trading his life for ours, giving us eternal life in exchange for our old existence. Notice that the verse even implies that we had no life before Jesus. And spiritually that is true. The scripture says that we are dead, outside of the blood of Jesus paying the penalty of our sin. We must have the punishment we are owed taken on by Jesus in order to open up the opportunity for us to get to heaven and eternal life. In fact, verse 15 and 16 even says that we prove that we know that God loves us by believing Jesus died for us. We have to stop paying lip service, and act, we must stop saying we know God loves us and prove it.

Verse 19 says that we love Him because He first loved us. This is true of genuine demonstrations of love anywhere. True acts of love, though often too hard to believe that they are true, will lead to loving acts in return. When we realize that God loves us, we can only react with genuine love. If we don’t respond to Him with love, it is because we don’t believe that what we are seeing from God is love.

Tonight we are going to look at the other part of love that is covered in these chapters. How the love we have for one another is played out, how the love of God is to play out in our lives, as we reflect him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I've just sat through yet another amazing episode of LOST. TV can't get any better than this. If you haven't watched the show, turn away now, this is bound to become the babbling of a rabid man.

I've only ever really been addicted to tv once, I think. Back about ten years ago, Jimmy Smits character was slowly dying of cancer on NYPD Blue, for about a month, I couldn't miss it, had to know how things would turn out.

LOST is a totally different thing though. The characters are great. I find the back history of them to be as interesting as the events playing out on the desert island. But that's not all. Character driven literature and movies and apparently tv are the most intriguing type to me. The characters here might just do it on their own. But its not what keeps me coming back. The layers and the themes and the double crossing and the mysteries and the new characters with new information all add up to an awesome combination.

Most important to me though is the spirituality. Man of Science, Man of Faith was the name of an episode in the second season I believe. It pitted Jack Shepherd (his dad is named Christian Shepherd, no "hidden" meaning there) a doctor forced to be the leader after the crash of Oceanic flight 815, against John Locke (originally a British philospher/political thinker) a former box company employee who was in a wheelchair before the plane crashed. He believes that the island has healed him of his paralysis. Jack believes nothing of the sort, though Locke tells no one of his wheelchair past besides Walt a 10 year old boy... come to think of it, why don't people remember that he was in a wheelchair before the plane crashed... hmmm... Now in the fourth season, John and Jack (same name, could this come into play later???) are still facing off. One wants off the island, Jack, and the other feels he must stay, Locke.

Locke shows the zeal of many spiritual people by being willing to do nearly anything, even murder to keep his island "as is". He knows that something special is happening, though no one seems to know everything, no one we've met anyway.

This season we've met at least one guy named Abbadon, a name often referring to Satan, the word itself meaning "deceiver".
Redemption is a very important part of this show, thinking specifically of Charlie's death last season, but seen also over and over with many characters. The notion of a "list" keeps coming up, that some people are chosen and some are not, that some are good and others are corrupted... all these things and many other small moments add up to a thought provoking, fun, engaging television show.

It's not for the faint of heart. There are lives lost, people live very human existences, experience all the good and bad that humans do. Then again, you get to enjoy Sawyer's nicknames and Hurleys humour.

Anyway, I thought I needed to post why I'm "obsessed" with LOST. There is more, its late, but I have to get it out.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I'm free

But I won't make an official post yet.

This is just a little way for me to waste a little time and say that I'm done report cards, done exams, done other major things like um, well house stuff and uh, well, the weekend is coming (PA day tomorrow) and Sabrina and I are going to get a chance to get away for a day. Feels good, I'm crashing and the sleep is going to be good!