Archive | May 2012

Comfort in the Chaos–My Philosophy as a Substitute Teacher

As I write this I’m actually in a classroom with papers scattered here and there, chairs somewhat disheveled, and a semi-organized pile of class-work on the desk in front of me.  I am a substitute teacher and I have the responsibility this week of covering for a sweet young teacher whose family has suffered a tragic loss.  As a result of this sudden tragedy the teacher was not able to leave detailed lesson plans because she, and rightly so, could only be concerned with getting to her family and uniting with them in the crisis they had just encountered. 

From the start I realize that I cannot do very much to help her with the grief and heartache, regardless of how much I would like to.  What I can do is attempt to make this period of sorrow as bearable as I am able in the area I am able by doing the best I can filling-in for her in the classroom and providing a degree of continuity for the students.

This is the role of the substitute, or as some have identified the position, a guest-teacher.  Most often I am called on to cover for a teacher who might have an appointment, or a training event.  In these occurrences I usually find well organized and detailed plans.  The instructor has had ample time to prepare for their absence and at times even negotiate benefits or consequences with the student in reference to their behavior.  On occasion a teacher falls ill and needs coverage with limited warning, plans are often emailed to the school secretary or a colleague of the teacher to deliver to me. 

Then, in situations such as this, there is no warning and the pain and grief of the circumstance do not provide for the provision of plans as the teachers life is thrown into chaos in the crisis.  The substitute’s role here is to do all I can to make sure that the teacher has nothing to worry about here, and to provide the kids with continuity in the class room. 

I am thankful for the experience I have had in preparing lessons and teaching, and I am especially grateful for the relationship I have with the school and faculty here and for the support that they provide to each other—especially visible in the concern for this teacher and her family—and to the guests in their building.

Many Blessings and Prayers for the Teacher I’m Covering and her Family!

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The Difference Faith Makes

By the time you are reading this article I will have had the privilege of uniting two very good friends of mine in marriage. It’s a wedding I thought would take place several years ago, but I am grateful to be part of it this weekend.

The new husband, Tim, is truly a man after God’s own heart. From the moment he became a follower of Jesus Christ he has sought to learn and know more on a daily basis. His incredible FAITH has seen him through incredibly difficult times, including a battle against a cancerous tumor in his brain. Financial struggles, family issues, and personal challenges have faced Tim in the years since he met Jesus in the shallow end of my swimming pool. Each one was hard, but FAITH in Christ, even as a new believer, held Tim up and carried him through.

The new bride, Mary, has also had her share of struggles through the years. A single mom,  she was left to raise two young boys on her own. Again, it was FAITH, not just knowledge or belief but dependence and trust, that carried her through, and she has been a remarkable mom and faithful follower of Christ.

Hebrews chapter 11 talks about FAITH so much that I have subtitled this section of Scripture “FAITH-BOOK.” Over and over again the phrase “by faith” is repeated. As the author unpacks the stories of some of the patriarchs of Judaism we see the critical role that FAITH played I their journey. The fact is that we need FAITH in our lives. This is so much more than just knowing about God. FAITH that will carry us through is true dependence and trust.

Face tomorrow and the next day BY FAITH.

Avoiding Ignorance Where it Matters

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Yesterday I wrote following some contemplative moments in a third grade class.  Today I write following a day subbing in a High School math class, and I feel really ignorant.  It’s ironic that the majority of times I fill-in for High School or Middle School classes it tends to be in the Math or Science departments because that has always been my weakest subject pairing.  Today I got to “teach” in the pre-calculus and Geometry classes. 

It was my responsibility to administer a worksheet simplifying expressions in one class and an end of unit exam in another class.  As I handed out the papers to the students I had a nervous stomach fearing that inevitable moment when a hand would go up and one of these scholars would have a question about their work.  I cannot express how relieved I was when another adult entered the room who knew math.  She was able to answer the questions and help the students as they needed her to.  The very apparent truth is that I am ignorant about the things they were working on.  Not that I hadn’t done them, I had, but it had been years…many years, and those memories are archived away in some recess in the back of my mind

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Most of the students had little or no trouble doing what was expected.  They are using this stuff everyday while they are in school.  The formulas, operations, and all came naturally and quickly to them.  As I took a copy of the test and tried my best to work out some of the problems personally (and in secret so I wouldn’t embarrass myself) I only succeeded in further confirming that I had no idea what I was doing.  I couldn’t even make a close guess on some of the multiple choice answers because none of them were what I had come up with.

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It strikes me that this is why it is so critical for us—followers of Jesus Christ—to make it a daily habit of reading and studying our Bibles and regularly praying and communicating with our Heavenly Father.  I am actually ok with being a little ignorant when it comes to understanding Pre-Calculus and Geometry—that isn’t really limiting me very much.  But, I don’t want to be ignorant about the God Things in my life, that would have very significant negative impacts on me.

The AWANA verse comes to mind—glad I’m not ignorant there. 

2 Timothy 2:15
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.

If I were pitted against these students in a Math challenge I would be slaughtered.  They have been studying this and working it almost daily for this past school year.  I would not be able to be “approved” in this area and I would most assuredly be “ashamed” of my grade.  This class of high school students have—for the most part:

    • Studied Diligently
    • Advanced and been approved by their instructor
    • Have no fear of being shamed by my performance over theirs
    • They know how to handle the knowledge they’ve acquired

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Likewise, therefore, when it comes to the Spiritual things, we have to be careful to make a daily practice of them.   While we are here this is our homework and classwork.  We read and study the Bible to learn, know, and follow the will of God in our lives.  We spend time in prayer and communion with God to discover more about Him and about ourselves.  We practice what we find to become more and more proficient at it.  Like the formulas and equations these kids have mastered we memorize Scriptures so that we can recall them when we need them.

In the end, this is the area I most desire to be approved and not ashamed in.

I Love Watching My Grandchildren Learn

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“But I am concerned that one day I will say or do something and have her mimic me to my shame instead of my delight.”              – Papa Dave

I am watching in awe the growth and development of my grand-daughters.  Over the past weekend we spent some time with each one.  It amazes me what they are learning and how fast they are growing.  My oldest just turned one recently and her cousin will join her ranks in another two months.   Like every proud grandparent I have pictures galore.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

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When I think about how much they have learned in the short time they’ve been with us it leaves me reeling.  Today I’m even more stunned because I’m working in a third grade class.  Obviously the contrasts between the development of these 8-9 year olds is far advanced over the toddlers, but this is just a few years away.  These two little girls are going to learn so much in the next few years that it makes my head spin.

Something else I notice about them is that they love the learning process.  Amaria and Jaydan both reach, touch, taste, grab, see, listen, and shake anything they can get their hands on.  We are constantly having to pull things from their remarkably strong clutches.  In mere microseconds mystery items move from the floor to the fingers to the mouth.  They are not phased in the slightest by how gross we might think something is…they are exploring and learning their world, and they love it.

This Leaves me with a Couple Thoughts:

First, I wonder when and how we lose that passion for exploring and learning.  The excitement of those little ones seems a distant memory for even these young elementary students.  Obviously I’m glad that they have outgrown the fetish of putting everything they touch in their mouths…that would just be nasty.  But I would love to see them mentally stretching for things that are just out of reach, grabbing things that are new and interesting, and as eager to experience and explore as they were when they took those first cautious steps.

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Sadder still is that at my age—young as I am—I too have lost much of the passion for exploration and learning that I know I must have had before my first birthday.  I enjoy learning things, but my interest and excitement doesn’t hold a candle to the brightness that crosses the face of my grandchild when she has learned something.  I want to recapture that enthusiasm in my own explorations.

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Second, I need to be more mindful of the lessons I am teaching.  Today I have come to the personal realization that, because they are learning so quickly, and because they are learning so thoroughly, I have to be extremely aware and careful of the lessons I am passing along to them.  The things I do and say in front of them will quickly become a part of their experience and education.  It’s a humbling and terrifying thing.  As I think back I remember how swiftly the language and demeanor I passed along to my children became part of who they are.  It’s true, they will more quickly do what they see you do and say what they hear you say then they will do or say what you tell them to do or say. 

There is a song I learned years ago in Sunday School that admonishes me to:

  • O be careful little eyes what you see
  • O be careful little eyes what you see
  • There’s a Father up above
  • And He’s looking down in love
  • So, be careful little eyes what you see
  • O be careful little ears what you hear
  • O be careful little hands what you do
  • O be careful little feet where you go
  • O be careful little mouth what you say

What I’m mindful of today is that it isn’t just the little eyes, ears, hands, feet, and mouths that need to be careful, but even more so those who are bigger, older, more mature need to be keenly aware as well.  We hold so much sway with these little ones.  Right now it’s a fun game to hold my hands up and watch my grand-daughter mimic me.  But I am concerned that one day I will say or do something and have her mimic me to my shame instead of my delight.

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Today my grandchildren will learn more than I will learn.  In ratio they will probably easily learn 10 or 20 times what I will learn.  My hope and prayer is that the lessons they learn will be positive and helpful.  I know they will learn some of the uglier and more painful lessons of life eventually, but in the meantime I hope that I can help provide them with lessons that will see them through those harder lessons.

Enjoy the Learning!

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C.O.R.E.–E is for Equipping: It’s all About Me

C.O.R.E. – E: Equipping – It’s all About Me

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Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the TRAINING OF THE SAINTS in the WORK of ministry, to BUILD UP the body of Christ, 13 until we all REACH UNITY in the faith and in the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S SON, [growing] into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.
14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us GROW IN EVERY WAY INTO HIM who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love BY THE PROPER WORKING OF EACH INDIVIDUAL PART.

Reviewing the CORE –

C – Christ – It’s all about Him!

Jesus Christ has to be at the center of all that we do as His followers and as the church. We do what we do for Him and because of Him. We should constantly be striving to have “the mind of Christ.” To think, love, and act as Jesus would in our daily lives. It’s not easy, but it’s what we are expected to do. When we don’t think like Christ…act like Christ…love like Christ…we leave the world confused and vainly searching for life and hope without any idea where to find it. When the people of the church are living like Jesus it will stir things in people, cause them to wonder and question things about themselves and others, and ultimately enable them to find their way to the source of hope found in a relationship with Christ.

O – Outreach – It’s all about Them!

Our purpose for being the church is to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by our Lord upon His departure. Go…make disciples…share His story. When the church is focused on making disciples and sharing His story we see the impact it can have in live, homes, communities, populations. When the church is silent and stagnant we see the destruction that can come instead. Today there are more vacant churches around in large part because the church as a whole has lost sight of the need to focus on outreach as corporate bodies and individual members. We need to remember that we are here for the people who are not yet here.

R – Relationships – It’s all about Us!

Jesus commanded us to love each other like He has loved us. He declared that this is the way that people around us will know that our faith is genuine, when it is authenticated by the love of Christ expressed by and toward one another. There are no short-cuts to this, we either have true AGAPE love or we don’t—it can’t be faked. Most of the people around us have seen plenty of Christ-followers and churches acting in ways that are not steeped in love. When they see genuine love it will rock their world. Love that is characterized by; grace and mercy; compassion and passion; generosity and action; sacrifice and selflessness. They can deny our claims and statements as much as they want to, but it’s impossible to deny a life characterized by this type of love.

1 John 4:7-21
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

We Conclude this Sunday with: E – Equipping – It’s all about Me!

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Imagine for a moment a stream of people who are in line getting the things they will need for a long journey. There are tables stretching toward the horizon and people picking through the things on the tables in hopes of getting all they will need for the adventure. How silly would it be to decide that I don’t want to wait in line so I’m going to skip it? How far on the road would you make it without the supplies?

For many this is how they approach the Christian journey. Once they are saved they believe that they have all they need. While it’s true that you only need to be saved to have eternal life in heaven, there’s so much more to be experienced and done if you will make being a Christ-Follower part of your daily life. In addition there is victory and strength for life that can only be found in this abiding relationship as a disciple.

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The Abiding Truth of Equipping Discipleship

John 15:1-11
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Abiding in Our Relationship (John 15.1-11) – We are Connected

  • Abiding Connection – Living With, Dwelling, Staying, Committed
  • Equipping Connection – Getting what is Needed: Nutrients from the roots
  • Producing Connection – Bearing Fruit Identified by our Relation
  • Preserving Connection – We avoid being cast off as worthless

Abiding is Our Requirement – The Word Disciple Indicates we Must

  • You don’t have to be engaged in the discipleship process
  • But why wouldn’t you want to be?

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Abiding is Our Responsibility – I have to Personally Engage

  • Churches provide opportunities, but you have to follow-through
    • I think one of the saddest things is that in a day and age when we have more opportunities for Christians to be equipped and to be engaged in Bible study and communities of faith growing more and more like Christ we find a lack of participation in personal and collective discipleship. The evidence of this is painfully apparent.
  • Some Ideas:
    • Get on a Bible Reading Plan
    • Get Involved in a Study
    • Don’t Miss any Opportunity for Growth as a Disciple

Abiding has Real Results – Rewards for Following Through

  • As long as the Tree is rooted and receiving nutrients it’s logical to expect fruit.
  • As long as the believer is rooted and receiving nutrients we can expect growth.
  • The growth and fruit (or lack of) in our life identifies where we are rooted.

A Final Thought: Avoiding the Frustration of Childish Christians

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

A Review as a Preview–THE C.O.R.E.

Reviewing the CORE

Don’t Lose Sight of the CORE

“There is an old story about a lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline. Once a month he would receive a new supply of oil to keep the light burning so that ships could safely sail near the rocky coast. One night, though, a woman from a nearby village came and begged him for some oil to keep her family warm. Another time a father asked for some to use in his lamp. Another man needed to lubricate a wheel. Since all the requests seemed legitimate, the lighthouse keeper tried to please everyone and grant the requests of all.

Toward the end of the month, he noticed his supply of oil was dangerously low. Soon it was gone, and one night on the light on the lighthouse went out. As a result, that evening several ships were wrecked and countless lives were lost. When the authorities investigated, the man was very apologetic. He told them he was just trying to be helpful with the oil. Their reply to his excuses, however, was simple and to the point: “You were given oil for one purpose, and one purpose only – to keep that light burning!”

A church faces a similar commission. There is no end to the demands placed on a church’s time and resources. As a result, the foundational purposes of a church must remain supreme.”

  • (illustration from: James Emory White, Rethinking the Church (Baker Books, 1997), 27-28.)

There are many programs and ministries in the life of the church, and most of them are very good.  However, a quick tour through the our area and the counties surrounding us will reveal that there are many churches that are nearly vacant if not totally closed.  At a time when the need in our world for the light of Christ is so great and countless souls are searching for something solid to believe in and find hope we discover that many of the once bright shining lighthouses have closed. 

This is why I believe that we need to consider and stay committed to the CORE Values of the church.  There will be different methodologies and teachings, but these four elements of the CORE are nonnegotiable.

C – Christ – It’s all about Him!

Hebrews 1:1-4
1 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways.
2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe.
3 He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
4 So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.

Jesus Christ has to be at the center of all that we do as His followers and as the church. We do what we do for Him and because of Him. We should constantly be striving to have “the mind of Christ.” To think, love, and act as Jesus would in our daily lives. It’s not easy, but it’s what we are expected to do. When we don’t think like Christ…act like Christ…love like Christ…we leave the world confused and vainly searching for life and hope without any idea where to find it. When the people of the church are living like Jesus it will stir things in people, cause them to wonder and question things about themselves and others, and ultimately enable them to find their way to the source of hope found in a relationship with Christ.

O – Outreach – It’s all about Them!

Matthew 28:18-20
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Our purpose for being the church is to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by our Lord upon His departure. Go…make disciples…share His story. When the church is focused on making disciples and sharing His story we see the impact it can have in live, homes, communities, populations. When the church is silent and stagnant we see the destruction that can come instead. Today there are more vacant churches around in large part because the church as a whole has lost sight of the need to focus on outreach as corporate bodies and individual members. We need to remember that we are here for the people who are not yet here.

R – Relationships – It’s all about Us!

John 13:34-35
34 “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.
35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus commanded us to love each other like He has loved us. He declared that this is the way that people around us will know that our faith is genuine, when it is authenticated by the love of Christ expressed by and toward one another. There are no short-cuts to this, we either have true AGAPE love or we don’t—it can’t be faked. Most of the people around us have seen plenty of Christ-followers and churches acting in ways that are not steeped in love. When they see genuine love it will rock their world. Love that is characterized by; grace and mercy; compassion and passion; generosity and action; sacrifice and selflessness. They can deny our claims and statements as much as they want to, but it’s impossible to deny a life characterized by this type of love.

Last Sunday I shared this bold prediction that bears repeating:

If a church –and by that I refer to every individual believer—will strive to live a life of love—CHRIST LOVE—in their lives and in the church then the make-up of the congregation of that church will include many of the same types of people that flocked to Jesus during His ministry on earth.  The hurting, the sinful, the filthy masses of mankind will begin to make their way to the church because these people…and all people…are hungering and thirsting for real love. When they find that they will flock to it and they will eagerly tell other people who are searching like them where to find it.

      • It won’t be about compromising values on things that are sin.
      • It won’t be about making it comfortable by watering down the message of Scripture
      • It won’t be about changing the way or why we are doing things
      • IT WILL BE ABOUT PEOPLE LONGING FOR LOVE DISCOVERING REAL LOVE

We Conclude this Sunday with:

E – Equipping – It’s all about Me!

Don’t miss it this Sunday as we discuss the importance of availing yourself of opportunities to grow and mature as a follower of Christ and the critical nature of discipleship if the church is to be all she is intended to be and we are really going to have an IMPACT in the world around us.

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Living Waters Community Church, Springfield, Vermont

C.O.R.E. – R–is for Relationships: It’s all about Us

 

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The C.O.R.E. of Who we Are

(This is Part III in the series of messages based on the CORE Values of LWCC)

What is “The C.O.R.E.?”  Simply put: this is what I believe to be some of the non-negotiable make-up of the church and the life of a Christ-Follower.  There are far too many churches and people who have allowed a variety of things to rip them from the basics of the faith and today they find themselves confused about their identity and purpose.  It’s my prayer and hope that by sharing this series of messages we’ll be clear on who we are and what we’re to be focused on.  Through that understanding we will not be swayed by other good things to forsake the best thing in following Jesus Christ.

The Core Values of Living Waters Community Church:

  • C – Christ: It’s All About Him
  • O – Outreach: It’s All About Them
  • R – Relationships: It’s All About Us
  • E – Equipping: It’s All About Me

Over the next few weeks we’ll be unpacking this in greater detail to discover what it means for our church fellowship and what it means for each individual believer.  Today we continue by taking a look at the clear command given to us by the Lord Jesus, to love each other with an authentic and visible love.

C.O.R.E. – R: Relationships – It’s All About Us

John 13:31-35

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself and will glorify Him at once. 33 “Children, I am with you a little while longer. You will look for Me, and just as I told the Jews, ‘Where I am going you cannot come,’ so now I tell you.

34 “I give you A NEW COMMANDMENT: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A NEW COMMANDMENT WITH AN ANCIENT TRUTH

WHY THIS PART OF THE C.O.R.E. IS ESSENTIAL

  • The Reality of Our Experiences in Churches
    • Fighting Faithful
    • Battling Believers
    • Christians Cutting-Down Christians
    • Judgmental Jesus-Followers
    • Selfish Saints

Church everywhere are wounded and they bleed with the broken hearts and souls of people who have come expecting to find love and hope only to be stabbed by some harsh word or cut-down by a carnal attitude. Where love is anticipated we discover a lack of love, and the truth is:

The only holes that are not filled in are pot-holes on the roads.  Where something is missing in our lives there is something else that will fill the gap.  Where love is lacking there are carnal and negative elements that will flood in to fill the void. Selfishness, jealousy, greed, anger, hatred, judgmentalism, carnality, etc… These things spill over onto and out of the lives of the church community. The results are: a stunted church, a skeptical community, and a grieving Spirit. Consider what the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit is as given in Galatians for a moment:

Galatians 5:19-26
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Jesus commanded (COMMANDED: not suggested or urged, but COMMANDED) His followers to love one another. We’ll pick this apart today because it’s so critical for us to understand and to employ in our lives. My prayer is that by the time we depart we will have been adequately convinced and convicted of the need for love—real love – Christ Love—in our church relationships, and really in every aspect of our lives.

COMMANDED TO LOVE: THE C.O.R.E. OF WHO WE ARE

THE CLARIFIER: LOVE one another…

  • · We are expected to do a lot for one another in our relationships
  • · Some of the “One Another” statements of the Scripture include:
    • o Forgive
    • o Be Kind
    • o Rejoice With
    • o Pray for
    • o Show Patience
    • o Encourage
    • o Assist

· All of these are Built on the Foundation of Love (Agape-Love)

1 Corinthians 13.4-8 Offers us the Schematic of this Agape-Love

4 Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; 5 does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.

THE QUALIFIER: JUST AS I HAVE Loved you…

  • · JUST AS I HAVE: Who Do You Compare Yourself With?
  • · JUST AS I HAVE: The Ultimate Comparison for us is Jesus Christ
  • · JUST AS I HAVE: The Qualifier of Love Causes us to Evaluate
    • The Internal – Our Heart Motivation-is it “Just as I have?”
    • The External – Our Christian Occupation – Is it “Just as I have?”
    • The Eternal – Our Soul Salvation – Because of what He has done

THE FORTIFIER: You MUST love one another…

MUST  MUST  MUST

  • Does this sound like Jesus was leaving it up to our own choice?
  • Does this sound like Jesus was giving us options or conditions not to love?
  • But we are given free-will and we can choose not to do something if we want.
    • I can decide not to take the medication the doctor prescribes.
    • I can determine not to observe and obey the speed limit signs on the road.
    • I can disobey the rules and regulations where I work.
    • I can declare that I will not adhere to the vows I made on my wedding day.
    • And I can deliberately refuse to love select people
      • But for any and all of these acts of disobedience, defiance and disrespect there will be a penalty, a consequence, and the result is not desirable.
  • · Jesus tells us that this is
    • A New Command
    • A Modeled Activity (Just as I…)
    • Something We MUST Do
    • An Activity that will cause ripples around us (By THIS….)

THE AMPLIFIER: BY THIS all people will know…

  • Why did so many people flock to Jesus when he was alive?
    • Some for the Signs and wonders
    • Some for the way he put the authorities in their place
    • Some for the “newness” of this latest “craze.”
    • But I believe most because they experienced Love…REAL LOVE
      • The Prostitutes
      • The Adulterers
      • The Criminals and Thieves
      • The Demon-possessed
      • The Despised Tax Collectors
      • The Wealthy and Well-to-do
      • The Spiritually Confused and Seeking
      • The poor and outcast
      • The Diseased and Dying

  • Now, let me make a bold declaration and a clear prediction:
    • If a church –and by that I refer to every individual believer—will strive to live a life of love—CHRIST LOVE—in their lives and in the church then the make-up of the congregation of that church will include many of the same types of people, because these people…and all people…are hungering and thirsting for real love. When they find that they will flock to it and they will eagerly tell other people who are searching like them about it.
      • It won’t be about compromising values on things that are sin.
      • It won’t be about making it comfortable by watering down the message of Scripture
      • It won’t be about changing the way or why we are doing things
      • IT WILL BE ABOUT PEOPLE LONGING FOR LOVE DISCOVERING REAL LOVE
    • Can our community of faith at LWCC be that church?
    • We can if we keep love at the CORE.

Invitation

    • Maybe you have been looking for love in all the wrong places and it’s time for you to stop searching in all those things and turn it over to Jesus Christ for real.
    • You know that none of us can get it right all the time. The key is to recognize that and when we flop to quickly ask God for forgiveness and to get us back on the love track. We need to do this for our sake and the sake of the fellowship of the church.
    • Perhaps you have publicly “blown it” in the area of love. One of the hardest things to do is to go to someone and apologize and ask them to forgive you, but you might need to do just that. See, if love is how they will know we are His followers then what does a lack of love say about us? About our Lord?
    • Who needs to experience the depth of Christ’s love around you?