Tag Archives: love

Love During a Pandemic: A Special Message of Hope

Dear Friends,
We are praying for God’s peace and wisdom for all as we endure a very challenging season. This is a moment for hopeful realism, for faithfulness under pressure, sober thinking, and eternal hope. I encourage us all to read Psalm 46 and Hebrews 12 – in these “shaking” moments, God is working, refining our character and allowing the Church to be a beacon of spiritual power and sanity.

Here is a special work by Kathy, entitled, “You See Broken; I see Mended” The “I” is the Lord, who brings the power of the Cross to bear in every situation.

This painting was being finished with another theme – that of heavenly power and purity. In the process of moving it, it was torn. At first, it felt like everything was ruined…but Kathy saw an opportunity and wove a cross into the painting. One of God’s names in Yahweh-Rapha, the Lord our Healer. The Hebrew term for healing includes the image of mending by stitching. God love to take the scars and tears and create a wellspring of compassion and wisdom. 

Friends, today we have an opportunity to share faith, hope, and love in a world paralyzed by fear. Yes, we need to follow sound guidelines and navigate health concerns with wisdom. But we have many channels open – from personal conversations to virtual communication. Above all, we can affirm and demonstrate hope and share Christ with all around us. We are not immune to suffering; however, we serve a Lord who suffered and triumphed over all sin and sickness, sorrow and sadness and in his resurrection, Jesus offers a preview of the glorious future awaiting all who place their trust in him! (Hebrews 2-5; 11-13)

Let’s stay faithful to our local church in this moment. We do this by attending the online services, generously giving, and being available to help those in need. Our pastors and communities need us more than ever. Let’s stay faithful in prayer and support of the ministries we care about. These organizations are serving sacrificially and our generosity matters.

Understanding this hour: the spiritual warfare is real!

As we grow in character, experience new depths of community, and work for the common good, it is important we remember that we have an adversary, who, unlike our wonderful Lord, is out to deceive, dehumanize, destroy, discourage, and distort present circumstances. Our best posture in humble confidence in our Advocate, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. We combat our enemy with love and truth: exchanging deception for integrity, dehumanization for affirming God’s image in all, destruction with creativity, combatting discouragement with hope, and confronting distortion with pure hearts and skillful hands, bringing beauty to brokenness.

May the Lord bring his comfort and peace to you during this unique Lenten Season.

Rightly Ordered Loves, Part 3: Sexual Sanity

When historians look back at some of the moral currents of the early 21st century, they will call it an “era of anthropological confusion.” It is good that we are no longer imprisoning consenting adults for private activity and that there is robust dialogue of gender and sexual identity and practice.

I have forthright opinions of sexual identity and morality; however, these are not the focus of this essay. Persuading folks that disagree with my Christian convictions is better done in civil, personal dialogue or in lengthy communication. Here I want to argue that all sides of the current disputes on gender and sexual identity and practice are missing an important factor as they seek to persuade, or, in some cases, coerce conformity to their understanding of what is moral and tolerable.

The mistake our entire culture is making on sexuality is profound: we have made Eros the Almighty and sexual pleasure the defining characteristic of human identity. This is tragically deficient anthropology, reducing identity to one’s current sexual proclivities. There are great complexities involved in how people feel and think about gender and sex, and no one should feel marginalized. We do, however, need to dialogue on these issues, especially regarding the education of children, without labeling and libeling those who disagree with us.

If agape love is our starting point, then other loves will find their place. Agape compels thoughtfulness concerning our loyalties and pleasures, our motives and our practices. At this juncture I am only calling for thoughtfulness about sacrificial love. Agape sees people as made in God’s image, worthy of dignity and respect. Agape love helps people not objectify others or abuse people for pleasure. Friendships rooted in mutual interests are possible without the intrusion of unwelcome erotic demands. Comradery in a cause can include people of all orientations and persuasions as they sacrifice for the common good.

We are more than our erotic passions, wonderful as they are (in boundaries of morality and mutuality). Choosing self-restraint is not repression, but a loving decision. People of all persuasions can offer their best efforts toward the common good. There is still a place for debating gender and sexual issues in an environment of love and respect. Even where we radically disagree, a commitment to sacrificial love allows us to unite for noble causes.

Will we stop bowing before idols of immediate pleasure and choose noble pathways of love and service? Can we debate without rancor and stop labeling and libeling? Our preferred future depends upon a social compact of principled liberty for all.

Hope for Peace

Peace among nations is a noble goal worth pursuing. It is also impossible without the other facets of peace being in place. Treaties are mere scraps of paper without transformation of hearts and minds. As we pray for our leaders and for concord among all cultures, here are some pathways to peace essential for human flourishing:

Personal peace with God and oneself. Conflicted, guilty and wounded hearts are underneath so much pathological activity and strife. This peace comes when individuals are reconciled to God and with their own pasts.

Peace among families. In 1967, Neil Diamond wrote and recorded a powerful song, Husbands and Wives, containing these words, “It’s my belief/pride is the chief/cause of the decline /in the numbers of husbands and wives.” It is time for spouses to decide ahead of time that they will remain faithful in body and spirt to their partners and their children.

Peace within and among churches. The local church is Jesus’ Plan A for his mission and the hope of the world…and all too often a place of discord and power struggles. May the faith, hope and love of the Gospel bring humility and mutual respect among all members.

Peace among diverse classes and cultures, educational backgrounds and ethnicities. Global ideals are only as strong as their local applications. When we make friends across classes and cultures and work for the common good, there is a ripple effect that becomes influential across the street and around the world.

And the key to all these facets of peace? A decision on the apart of at least 2 people to think of God’s glory and the good of others before themselves. In other words, letting love and humility, courage and wisdom win out over ambition and ego.

May this Advent find all of us at peace with Christ and fostering peace in our families and neighborhoods. We do not need the State house, the Beltway or the UN to lead the way – it begins in our hearts and homes.