Tag Archives: love

The Only Answer To Accusations of Hatred and Fear

by admin

I’ve written several blogs in the last few months, but they sit in my drafts, not quite making me happy enough to post.  Like that’s their job.

Onwards.  Today I have been thinking about love.  For years, I have struggled with too much emotional investment in political discussion.  I’ve allowed myself to get very upset when people have voiced opinions that I don’t just agree with, but are on their face nonsensical.  Full disclosure: I consider myself a rationalist, but I concede that I may not be right about everything.  There is a difference between disagreeing and being wrong.  Most times, disagreement is fine.  But when someone holds an opinion based on how they feel, and not on reason, I have a huge problem with that.

Anyways.

That wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about is that despite that emotional investment, the world still seems bent on sliding into irrationality and dysfunction.  Once again, the tides of public discourse seem to be turning judgmental and stereotypical.  The Twitter-like process of reducing everything to soundbites and 140 characters means little is given deep consideration by anyone.  Rarely do people think through the consequences of their thoughts, feelings, and actions anymore.  The results are predictable.  And the worse for us all.

My instinct is to ask the question, how to fight this rising tide of ignorance and, well, hatred?  And the answer was in Scripture all along.  Love.

There is no argument that will convince the BC Law Association that Christians are just as capable as anyone else in society in representing the legal profession, in fairly and competently working for their clients, as well as any atheist or any Muslim or any Buddhist.  There is no argument that will convince voters that a Christian candidate for political office will give as much consideration to constituents of other faiths as they would their own.  There is no argument that will convince the media that people who believe the Bible are not secretly waiting for their chance to seize the reins of power and herd everyone else of unlike mind into concentration camps.  The very irrational belief Christians are accused of having is held by those who hate them as well – regardless of proof to the contrary, people will fear what they do not know and hate what they fear.

There is only one answer that will be heard: love.  If we want to represent Christ fairly, we must simply love.  We must do good.  Not just when it’s convenient.  And not just to each other – which is something Christians all too easily slip into.  We must love our neighbours – and unless we live in communes, our neighbours are of every creed, race, gender, orientation, colour, and TV show preference.  We must love them so ridiculously, so disarmingly, that they look at us funny.  We must put that question mark in their mind: why are they being so nice to me?  We must keep it up, keep on, stay focused, until finally they give up and scream at us: “WHY ARE YOU SO KIND?”

And then… only then will they hear the truth about why.

1 Peter 3:15


Parenthood: the Best Road to Maturity

by admin

They say that you don’t really grow up until you have kids.  That may not be true in every case, but so far in this life, the most immature people I have met have been without children, and the most mature people I have met have been parents.

Why is this?  I don’t think it’s a mystery: selfish people are inherently unattractive.  People, in general, don’t like self-absorbed, me-first people.  The definition of maturity is the ability to both think and act in the interests of others, and to look beyond immediate benefits to yourself to the benefits of others as motivation for action.  (It’s not a perfect definition, feel free to correct me, but I think it hits most of what maturity is.)

Little handHow do you get it?  Well, something, sometime, somewhere, needs to intrude on your own me-first orientation to the point where you want something for someone besides yourself.

In short, you need to love someone.

Human beings are capable of having sex, but for obvious reasons, sex can be had for intensely selfish reasons, without any pretense of love.  But something mysterious happens when a child is born from you.  Many men manage to avoid this something mysterious, by denying paternity, or by simply absenting themselves from proximity to the woman who will bear the child.  Few women, however, manage to avoid this strange, unexplainable connection to the live they bring into the world.  It is pure.  It is innocent.  It is undeserved.  This thing has done nothing to deserve love.  In fact, for the next oh, about 12 months after it is born, this creature will be the most selfish, self-absorbed, unfeeling parasite on their parents’ lives ever to exist.  But that inexplicable feeling occurs nonetheless.

And it persists.  Parents will love their children forever, despite this.  At some point, that love gets modelled to their children, and those children in turn will pass it on to their children, and so on.  But for some reason, this love never truly blooms fully until a person becomes a parent.

You can love someone and not be a parent.  But nobody you love outside of parenthood will abuse you, use you, and take over your life to the level that children do.  Nobody will have permission to spend your money, time, youth, and energy for their own sole benefit like your children.  Parenthood taxes you.  It beats you down.  It drains you.  It stretches you to your emotional and physical limits.  But NOTHING else teaches you maturity like it.  Nothing.

A parent must.  They simply MUST love their child.  Or that child will literally die.

They must take joy in their child. Or the parent will abandon the enterprise of parenting.

I was working on my laptop...

I was working on my laptop…

They must find peace in parenthood.  If you can find peace amidst the chaos of screaming, pooping, throwing, barfing, smashing, running, jumping, singing, babbling, whirlwinds of growth, then you can find peace anywhere, anytime.

They must be patient with their child, like they have never been patient before.  Think about it: the longest you do ANYTHING in your life up to about the age of 30 is the 12 years of school you complete to graduate.  But the first few years are really so new and interesting that it takes at least until Grade 4 to really begin to hate it.  By then you only have 8 years left, and that’s not so long to wait.  On the other hand, you have a child, and you WILL be parenting, 24/7 for the next minimum 16 years.  If that doesn’t teach patience, I don’t know what does.

They must be kind.  I fail at this all the time, but my children really do respond to kindness unlike any other form of interaction.  It must be practiced, and practiced.  I actually feel bad for my older kids, because I didn’t have much kindness with them, while I find I am a lot kinder to their younger siblings.

They must be good.  Why does anyone have to be good to anyone?  You can be a noisome prick to the world, but you can’t to your kids.  It is in this area that goodness must be practiced, or you will one day lose your children.  They will either have had enough of you, or they will be taken from you.

They must be faithful.  Science has already demonstrated that one of the biggest contributors to children’s success as adults is stability.  Your choices as a parent to be faithful to them, to always be there, to be faithful to your spouse, demonstrating what it means to stand by promises, to be faithful to your job, your community, these things all contribute.  Not only that but YOU will be much better off for demonstrating faithfulness to all these things.

They must be gentle.  Oh, this one is so hard for fathers, and even harder for fathers to do with boys, because we are by nature rough and tumble.  But young boys need a gentle hand and will flourish when shown that there are other ways than simply brute-forcing your way through life.

They must be self-controlled.  Parents must learn to set aside their needs at times for the good of their children.  Many people I have met put off parenthood for this reason, but I would argue the reverse is true: if you put off parenthood because you don’t want to be self-controlled, then you are building habits that will not break when you do finally “get around” to parenting.  Having children younger means you have had less time to get into ruts, and are more flexible to adjust your life to them and their needs.  And the earlier human beings learn self-control the better – for everyone!  Nobody ever suffered in life for being self-controlled, yet in our society today nothing is more anathema.  It is one of the strangest dichotomies of the 21st Century.

A little slice of heaven...In case you haven’t noticed, I did in fact use Galatians 5 as a template for maturity.  I don’t particularly care if you are a Christian or not: I defy you to point out for me how these 8 descriptors fall short of describing the mature human being.  I dream of living in a world populated by the mature.  That would truly be…

A little slice of heaven…

Heaven.

photo credit: Chemophilic via photopin cc


Why Marriage Vows?

by admin

I saw a friend share a short piece on how to tell if you are with the right person.  The piece got me thinking, so I dug around Google to find out the source of the article.  I found it on this blog.  So go ahead and read it – it is a solid bit of writing that points out, if I can so cheaply summarize, that the question, “Am I married to the right person?” is the wrong question.  It is a common question but it only gets asked because the person who asks it has failed to answer this question: When the initial infatuation wears off, am I
Happy Couple
willing to learn to love the person I am with?

This insight is brilliant.  Because in my humble opinion (and I say this with a great deal of sensitivity), barring extreme situations of abuse or massive cataclysmic events in your relationship, most marriages that fail or struggle do so because of that question.  We seem to forget the vows we spoke before God and witnesses that we committed to love that person for the rest of our lives.

We confuse the physical hormonal responses of infatuation with love, and then fail to do the basic logic necessary to realize that you can’t command your dopamine receptors to shower you with pleasure signals at the mere presence of that person – because you can’t command glands to secrete anything into your body.   If love is being “in love”, then it will end.  And therefore it is simply wrong and an outright lie to marry anyone.  If you believe that being “in love” is what marriage is all about, then you will break your vows and divorce.

But the vows we say are predicated on a different understanding of love.  We say, “Do you promise to love… until death do you part…” because inherent in that statement is the understanding that you can’t promise to feel love forever.  But you can promise to choose to love.  Love is a choice.

And if it’s a choice, then there is no excuse to ever ask the question, “Am I with the right person?”  Because it is irrelevant.  You are with who you chose to be with.  You are with the one you chose, willingly, to love for the rest of your life.

Angry CoupleThis leads me to the biggest thought to come out of all this.  That is another truth about the nature of love.  The nature of love, the act of love is to put another’s needs before your own.   Read the rest of this entry »


Loving Your Blessings, Ignoring the Blesser

by admin

“Do you love this God who is everything, or do you just love everything He gives you?” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love (2008)

As I was reading the above lines, I was struck by the two levels this idea speaks to.  To the Christian, we easily take for granted the relationship God wants with us.  Like children, we often sink into a place where we love being blessed by God, we love the miracles of God, but we grow cold to God Himself.  Children love getting stuff, love food, love their rooms, love their games. But when the gravy train ends, how easily do they turn on us, saying things like “I hate you!”Tech Toys

But what struck me the most is this is really the human condition.  God rains down gifts and blessing on those who are far from Him and those who love Him alike.  And those who are far from Him think, “I don’t need God – look at all I have!”  Those same people who see no need for God because of their wealth look at the poor of this world, the homeless, the people living in squalor in the 3rd World.  They look at these people who appear abandoned by God and they say, “There is no God, because if God is love He would never let people live that way.”  Somehow in their minds they manage to ignore the God who gives to them in abundance and then blame that same God for withholding blessing from others.

Aside from the unreasonableness of such ideas, I have a response to both.  If you don’t need God because of your blessings, then don’t be mad at God for taking them away.  You never gave thanks in the first place to the one who gave them to you.  And they will be taken away one day.  Nothing lasts beyond this life but your soul.

As for the poor of this world, God never made them poor.  Evil men and women made them poor.  The decisions human beings account for something like 90% of the poor in the world.  Exploitation is the biggest threat to humankind, not earthquakes, not tsunamis, not “Acts of God”.  A few misguided people point to natural disasters as God’s wrath poured out.  I don’t see them that way.  I see them as opportunities God gives us to love Him by loving each other.  These are our chances.  These are our turns to be God’s hands and feet, loving people and meeting their needs, serving selflessly.  Being like Jesus – there is no other time in life that it is so obvious what people’s needs are, how can we pass them up?

But to the question. Poor girl

Could God rescue all the poor of this world?

Yes.

Why doesn’t He?

He is.

What do you mean?

He sent YOU.

I say this with an absolutely straight face to every person I have know that takes issue with God’s heartlessness for allowing suffering.  He has given YOU eyes to see the poor of this world, that is why YOU are mad at Him.  The problem isn’t God.  It is YOU for not recognizing what God is asking of you.

If every atheist who complains that God doesn’t exist because He ignores the poor actually answered the call of God to the poor, we wouldn’t have them.  Atheists or poor.  The problem isn’t with God.  He has given us everything we need for heaven on earth.  The problem is us, selfishly holding back from truly answering His call to the least of these.

I’ll close with one more quote from Francis Chan’s book.

“Imagine how awful it would feel to have your child say to you, ‘I don’t really want you or your love, but I would like my allowance please.'”

90% of humanity says that to God every day.  We all want His blessings and begrudge Him for not giving them.  But we don’t want to know Him.  Because if we did, we might actually begin to care for someone more than ourselves.  Better to stay bitter and ungrateful, keeping the fiction alive that we know better than God the way to our own happiness.


Woman At The Well Part 1: Thirst and Avoidance

by admin

One of the first times I ever spoke was on John 4 – the woman at the well.  It’s a fascinating little anecdote from Jesus’ early ministry, and it holds a number of unique insights about both Jesus’ purpose, method, and outcomes, as well as a couple of unique insights about human nature and how people deal with stuff in their lives.

It’s a very contemporary story, because the woman Jesus encounters sounds very familiar to us.  She’s an intelligent, independent woman.  She has been educated.  She is up on the issues of her day.  She doesn’t sound like an undereducated, burkha-wearing middle eastern woman of 2000 years ago that most people imagine.  She isn’t a beaten down woman.  She isn’t a woman who is enslaved.  She follows her heart.  She makes her own decisions.

What plays out in this story is something many women and many men can relate to, because while the above description sounds quite modern, she carries burdens that most of us don’t carry today.  So I am going to do a series of posts here on this story, drawing out 6 fascinating truths from John chapter 4.

The first detail I want to point out is – the story begins with thirst.  And avoidance. Read the rest of this entry »


Marriage Tip #1

by admin

It has been a passion of mine to learn as much as I can about marriage and how it works, and how I can strengthen mine for about 8 years now.  Hence, I read a lot of stuff on marriage, and attempt to put that understanding into practice.  I must admit, I am not as good at rolling out some of these ideas as I would like to be, but nonetheless a few have stuck with me.

One foundational truth was taught to me a long time ago.  This foundational truth has the potential to guard your marriage against a host of forces that would pull it apart.  It is a truth that is hardly ever mentioned in romance books, movies and stories – in fact it is almost antithetical to the typical Hollywood love story.   I don’t know how I learned it, I don’t recall any of my family expressly teaching it to me (although as I look around at the remarkable – in many ways bizarre success rate of marriages in my extended family, somebody must have been teaching something somewhere).  It has been the bedrock of my marriage, and informed me from the very start what I am going to have to do to get and stay married.

It is this statement: love is a choice.

Read the rest of this entry »


Missional (Relational) Vs. Attractional

by admin

A funny thing happened in the middle of my sermon yesterday.

I didn’t write this down but as I was talking about relationships being the heartbeat of the first church in the book of Acts and reinforcing that this must be a value for us as Grasslands Church, it struck me.

The debate about missional vs. attractional is a little artificial.  When we consider John 15:15, Jesus says “they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another” and think about what Peter said in 1 Peter 3:15, we are to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in us, it seems plain to me that to be relational as a church body IS attractional.  That to put the correct focus on creating a community that truly loves one another, that is self-sacrificing to the point where there are no needs amongst the brethren, a church like this is by its existence so revolutionary and counter-cultural that people not in it will deeply desire to join it just for what it is.  That our love for one another will draw people to Christ.

So there it is.  Relational or missional IS attractional.


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