Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Love is....Selfish?

If you have spent any time around church, you have probably heard 1 Corinthians 13.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;2 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

So at this point you may be wondering where I got my blog title. After all, it doesn't say anything about love being selfish, just the opposite. Well, to understand where I am going, we have to understand a little Koine (or Biblical) Greek. Stay with me here. In Greek, there are several words we would translate "love" and the one in 1 Corinthians is common in the Bible, it's the word Agape. Agape could be translated "unconditional love" or "Holy love" because it's a love that is unconditional and unending. This is in contrast to the greek word, let's look at a few. First, there is Storgy which we could call family love, parent love or motherly love. Pretty self-explanatory. Phileo, the base of Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, it means just that, the love of close friends. We could also call this Platonic love. In our current society, when we say love we are often talking about Eros, where is where the word erotic comes from. This is romantic, sexual love.
There are other words that are similar or synonym that mean things like attachment and lust, but we are going to stick with these four. Now what is interesting is the word that we use the most in our day and age isn't found in the New Testament (the Old Testament wasn't written in Greek, it was written in Hebrew). The word we would most often use for love if we spoke koine is not used in the most popular Bible passage about love, yet we often think about romantic or sexual love and use this passage.

I'm going out on a limb here and saying most people who get married do so because they feel eros for their partner. There is passion and attraction and desire. The problem, of course, is the title of my blog. To be specific, Eros is selfish. Eros is emotional love, it's feelings and those feelings are awesome. We get the euphoria, we get the excitement and we love it. We love to feel love. In contrast, Agape isn't much of a feeling. Even Storgy is less of a feeling and more of a commitment. Unconditional love does not have any conditions, which is why we call in unconditional. The love God has for us is never ending. When we are His in Christ, we are covered in unconditional, uncompromising and unbreakable love. Just like verse 7 says above, it bears and believes and hope and endures all things.

So, do your relationships sound like that? I hope so, but most of them don't. What if the person you say you love (romantic or friendship or brother or otherwise) betrays you? What if they turn their back on you, break a promise? What if they don't live up to your expectations? What if they hurt you? This is real stuff folks because you get hurt when people you love or say love you hurt you. If you lash out, get angry, break promises and get revenge, it wasn't love. In my life, I have been hurt and I got angry and I wanted to get even and it's because I didn't love. When I had was something else.

What we have too often is a feeling, and that feeling is selfish. Even if we want the other person to be happy, is that happiness so they will, in turn, make us happy? Relationships, and I mean all of them, need a dose of Agape. They need some unconditional love, I don't care if it's your spouse, your kids, your friends and family, your neighbor, your boss, and coworkers or the guy you bump into on the street. We need to begin to apply 1 Corinthians love, which means we will be patient and kind and seek the good. That means regardless of how they act or how they treat us.

Think this is hard? It's incredibly hard, because deep down in our flesh, we are all selfish and we want to be loved and happy and fulfilled. To love someone even when they hurt is is so hard. We desire to hurt them to soothe our pride. Remember, love is not prideful and it does not boast. I invite you to read 1 Corinthians with fresh eyes, let's change our love to include more Agape.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Back Surgery Part 2

Well I have been scheduled for another back surgery. In case you haven't been caught up, here is the deal. In September I began to have pain in my left leg. The pain and pain grew so by the end of October, I could barely walk, couldn't sit and couldn't really drive, or function to be honest. My doctor did an MRI and said I had a massive bulge in my l5 disc. They did a micro discectomy to remove the bulge and the pressure it was putting on the nerve roots. It worked, the pain was gone for about a week.

Then it came back. The way my doctor explained it that removing the big bulge created a big cavity and the disc just bulged right back to where it was, path of least resistance and all. It's right back on the nerve root and the pain is right back in my hamstring. Had another MRI and looked at things with the doc. We have a surgery now scheduled to take care of the issue.

Since there isn't much disc material left, and there is pain beginning to develop in my back, the next step is a fusion. I am not excited about getting my vertebrae fused together, but it seems to be the best option with what I'm dealing with. They will separate the discs and put some bone in the space, but a steel mesh around it and close it up. The bone then all fuses together and instead of two vertebrae, there is only one bigger one.

The surgery is on Jan 23rd, so if you wouldn't mind saying a prayer for me and my family. I'll be in the hospital a few days with a drain in my back. It will be an interesting experience to say the least. Here we go with round two. Last time I had a repeat surgery it didn't turn out so well, so here is hoping for a better experience.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Time for 2017

I have shared on Facebook my theme for 2017, but for those of you who are not my friends on Facebook, I want to share it and unpack it a little. My theme for this year is "Make Much of Jesus". It's not original or cute. Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song about it. You can hear it here. It may not be original, but it's meaningful. I want to share what it means to me and I hope you can join me in this year to make much of Jesus.

Much has been made of lots of things. Much was made of this election this past year, and it was a very tense political season. People went into deep mourning and depression when Hillary lost. Some of us would have been in a pretty deep depression if Hillary would have won. It has really divided the country, which was already divided. Pipelines and terrorists and debates about whose lives matter. Police shooting civilians, police getting shot and people were angry. Those who are not angry are offended and voicing their offense. Everyone is mad.

People are hateful. If you have been on social media for more than 30 seconds, someone has taken a shot at you. I have been forced to change my blog comments so they no longer allow anonymous comments. The only comments I get is people hiding behind anonymity to take a shot at me. At least tell me who you are when you tell me I'm awful. Don't be rude and a coward, that's just sad. It goes farther, people create fake facebook profiles just to bully and harass people. How sad is that, as a society we have begun to create false identities so we can hide while being cruel.

People are scared. We are scared of the future, scared of each other, scared of the unknown. The world is in bad shape with terror and economic instability the future looks uncertain. The cost of living is rising faster than the increase of wages and the government seems to be getting larger and making things worse. We are freaked out about what is happening in our world and we are feeling overwhelmed.

We have made much of the problems, much of the pain and suffering. We have made much of so many things that we are suffering. We need to change focus and make much of something better. It can't be another person, they will fail us. It can't be a thing, it will break and rust. Money gets devalued and is fleeting. We will be failed, abandoned or hurt by everything in our lives. Everything and everyone except Jesus.

I will have to have another back surgery most likely. I am struggling financially because I've been off work. I'm not looking for sympathy because many have it so much worse. I have problems, you have problems and life is hard. The only way life makes sense is to look through the lens of what Jesus is doing. Jesus is the answer to the deep, longing and nagging questions. Jesus is the hope, the proof, the answer and the goal. If we make much of Jesus, we can make less of the struggle and the pain and the deep ache. Make less of me, make less of you, let's make much of Jesus.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Danger or Glorified Sin

I was talking with a counselor once about how sins often breed other sins. We were talking about the sin of adultery specifically, that when a person commits adultery, the other person in the marriage is much more likely to commit adultery, because it becomes an option. I found it interesting how my counselor friend shared that often the sins of one person opens the doors for others.

There are some things that we would never consider doing, and it seems like no one could do anything, we are afraid of the consequences and the price. One day our friends try it and they live to tell the tale, they may even enjoy it. They didn't die, lightening didn't strike and no one died. This happens with teens with sex. One teen has sex and tells their friends about the experience. It then is no longer a big, strange thing, but something their friends are doing.

It seems to be part of human nature that when someone tries something, we want to try it too. We have to realize that if someone makes a mistake, commits a sin and does the wrong thing, we may not always see the consequences. We may not see how it effects them, it may seem like there isn't a cost. There is. If someone introduces you to a new way to sin, it's not an open invitation. There is still a cost and a price to be paid.

In the same way, we have to be careful how we talk to others about our sin. Just like with the married couple and adultery, we don't want to make our sin an option for someone else. We don't want to make it seem like we "got away" with it or pulled a fast one on God. The truth is, even if there isn't any visible cost, our sin always has a price and it causes problems. It disrupts relationships and causes problems, even when it's hard to see. It's important not to glorify our sin and share it in a way that can cause others to stumble.

When we confess our sins to others, there are things to remember. You should confess and have accountability with a person or people, but we need to choose wisely. You shouldn't be random in your confessions. It should be a mature believer, someone you trust and depend on. It should be someone who won't lead you into temptation or cause you to stumble, and in the same way not to cause others to stumble. We have to make sure we don't cause others to fall, but instead support them in the areas we have learned lessons and failed. Never brag about your sin, or get caught in a competition to see who has sinned the worst. Paul shared that he was a sinner, but did not give specifics or list all the ways he sinned. In the same way, we can acknowledge we are sinners without giving specifics. A man can share that he struggles with lust without painting a mental image of who he lusts after. A woman can share she struggles with jealousy without listing all the things she wished she had that she was jealous of. A couple can share they need prayer for some issues in their marriage without airing all of their dirty laundry for the world to see.

Let's be open, let's stay accountable but we wise about it. Let's make sure we are concerned and cautious about others. Let's not make our sin an option or others and ensure the sins of others doesn't become an option for us. It's a lot of work and takes diligence, but it will be worth it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Most Important Role

I've been a lot of things in my life. I've been a Pastor, Youth Pastor, Education Pastor, Associate Pastor, Campus Missionary, Teacher, Speaker, Coach, Consultant, Operator, Technician, Manager and a whole list of other things. They have been great positions for the most part, but there is one role that is looming over me and I feel the responsibility. I cherish it, but also don't underestimate it. It's the role of being the head of my family. I'm a husband and father.

I haven't always been the best at this role. I've messed up, said and done things I regret, I've dropped the ball and just blown it. The job keeps changing, I started with no kids, now there are three. They keep getting older and it gets more complicated. This year I have one is Elementary, one in Middle School and one in High School. It's no longer simple questions, the questions and problems are much more complex. I'm trying to walk beside my wife as we navigate teenage years. Teenage attitudes. Issues that come up.

Marriage keeps changing too. When we started it was just her and I and we had no idea what we were doing. Now it's been 16 years and she knows what she is doing but I'm still pretty clueless. I try to be helpful but I fail at that. I am thankful that I have a very forgiving wife. I know I have blown it often as the Spiritual leader of the house. I don't pray with her like I should, I have struggled with that our entire marriage. I don't really talk with her about the Bible like I should either. I have tried, but I often end up on things that are more theoretical than practical. Theories and ideas and all sorts of Woven things about time and predestination.

I am not the perfect dad or husband. I mess up but I know that I have to try and I have to do my best. I can't just cut out or cop out or fade out. I'm dad, no one else is going to have that role for my kids because they are my kids. I can't resign or get fired or get fired and tell everyone I resigned. I have to get better. On the plus side, I found out if you read on your chosen field for an hour a day, you'll be an international expert in like 7 to 10 years. I will keep reading all I can about being a good dad and a good husband. I have a good number of books read, so I'll just keep at it.

How about you? Are you the perfect mom, dad, husband, wife, son, daughter, employee, whatever? We live in a day when it's just easier to quit, cut and run, quit and give up. You can't, and you shouldn't. Let's try a little more, give a little more, tolerate a little more and work on that patience thing. Don't buy the lie that if you leave, things will be better. It rarely boosts moral to lose someone from your life, so let's keep going. We can survive, we can thrive and we can do this. You can do this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Update on my Back/ Leg Issue

Well, I had surgery on my back, a micro-discectomy. It did the trick, my leg pain was gone. . . for about a week. Then it began to creep back. It's back in my hamstring and my foot is tingly again. Again. I am having another MRI to figure out what is going on. Hopefully it's just scar tissue and a few injections will take care of the issue. Thanks for all the prayers and support, I really appreciate it. In the mean time, I am chilling at home, writing and reading and being in pain. It's not the best way to spend time, but I'm trying to make the most of it.  I'll keep you all up to date as I find out what is going on. Can't wait for that perfected resurrection body!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Indie Authors, Sharing for Change

Bring a writer gives you an awesome ability to read and talk to other writers. This is one such occasion to read a story that is so much more. I'll let the author, Ang King tell you:

About Black Sheep

About Black Sheep

How does one write a foreword to their life story? I guess I’ll give it a try. I’m not even sure why I decided to write my story, but maybe someone needs to read it.
What is Black Sheep about? About me, well part 1 about me.  You’ll read about my abuse history, memories, and recovery. I plan to write more about my Spiritual Journey in part two but am considering combining the two.
I wanted my story out there, I wanted to let other survivors know they are not alone and to give them a voice. Part of my narrative I am really talking to God.
I hope my book lets others believe they are not alone. Thank you.

You can find her book here.