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God Is Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I don’t think I’d be too off the mark in surmising that so much of human bad behavior stems from a need to be loved.  We seek fame and fortune to be noticed, to be loved.  We have affairs to feel needed and loved.  We engage in all sorts of sexual immorality in seeking love’s bliss.  We get petty and petulant because we feel slighted or unloved.  We gossip to draw others into our inner circle to feel important and adored.  When we feel lacking in being loved or even loving ourselves the doors open for the devil to whisper his sweet nothings to us.

It’s love we so desperately seek in so many wrong ways from the wrong sources.

Praise God that He first, created love.  How could He not?  The earth, sun, oceans, and garden were a thing of overwhelming beauty created for man to enjoy.  A gift like that can only be made out of love.  God is Himself love.  He gives Himself freely to us, even when we reject Him.  He waits patiently in this time of grace, for us to turn our eyes to Him.

There’s no magic formula or check to write for this true love.  Even when we are acting out in our most sinful ways, He gives us yet another opportunity to let Him love us.  Yes, let Him love us.  Too many of us push God away – possibly out of shame or guilt or a feeling of worthlessness.  I, myself, have stood harshly judging my reflection.  I have struggled accepting God’s love.  My past can sit like a demon shadow in front of me, pulling me into darkness.  But more often lately I’m looking at the face in the mirror asking God to help me love myself as much as I know He loves me.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

My greatest hope for my daughters is that they won’t take as long as I have to look in the mirror and know how well they are loved by God.  He will never leave them.  He won’t gossip about them or betray them.  He won’t judge them harshly.  He will love their fresh, young faces the same as He will love their old and wrinkly ones.

Love is an emotion that has drawn thousands of poets and scribes to try and describe.  It’s not a simple thing.  It seems bigger than all the other feelings we have at our human disposal.  It’s complicated and beautiful.  Just like God. 


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The Unexpected Warrior

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Matthew 3:21

During my senior year of high school, I decided to try and live out my dream of becoming an astronaut.  I met with an Air Force recruiter and was excited to take off on this new adventure.  And then I told my parents.  It was my father that said to me, “You are a lot like your mom and your mom couldn’t handle the military. She dropped out after about a week.  You two don’t like to be told what to do.  So, it’d be best to drop this idea.”

From the outside I exuded confidence.  But on the inside, I was terrified about what people thought about me. I always obeyed my parents out of fear of the repercussions.  And so, I gave up my dream.  I assumed everything my father said was correct.

Imagine if Jesus had so little courage.

His own family thought him a little wacky.  I mean if you announced to your family that you were the Messiah…. But unlike me, He knew where His identity resided – in God.  

So often when we think about courage and courageous people we think of military and political warriors.  And while we can be eternally grateful for people that go off to war to fight for our freedoms and people like Martin Luther King who make big waves in Washington DC, if we stop there we might be inclined to not step up to the plate when it’s our turn.

Jesus wasn’t a military warrior.  He didn’t fight to change laws.  He didn’t work hard to get elected to lead a nation.  But what He did do, from the first day He declared Himself the Messiah, was choose to lay aside any and all standing with man to serve God.  He knew from that day it would be soon to die on the cross.

“His was the courage of the mind, the heroism of the heart.  It was a sober and reasoned thing.  He deliberately counted the cost and paid it.”

Charles Jefferson, The Character of Jesus

In other words, He knew without a doubt who He served and who had His back. Every single decision He made, the words He spoke were for the glory of God.  He knew people would hate him.  He knew people would misunderstand Him.  And He knew He still needed to speak.

In my BSGs study on Revelation we recently looked at chapter 11 in which two witnesses are assigned by God to give some final admonishment to the people.  A final plea to turn to God.  Throughout their 3 years on earth the world attempts to destroy these witnesses through any means possible – they are true “warriors for God.”  And until God said it was time to go, they were protected.  We were asked that week who are powerful witnesses in our present generation?  Who would you name?

Although I don’t know him personally, I do believe one such powerful witness is of the famed Duck Dynasty clan, Phil Robertson.  This rough looking, old man has been much maligned by our media and culture.  But to hear his salvation story can only show God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness. 

You see, Mr. Robertson was a child of the 60s.  When he went off to college in 1964, he had a wife and child at home.  The message proliferated at college was of the “sex, drugs and rock n roll” variety.  No rules, no obligations.  He took to that message like a duck to water and was frequently drunk, doing drugs, and cheating on his wife.  When he graduated and got a job this lifestyle continued.  He also felt his family was holding him down.  And so, they left him one day.  For two weeks he partied until the cows came home.  Then he realized he was miserable.  He had not only lost his job as a teacher but also a bar he owned.

He begged his wife to take him back.  She would, if he cleaned up his act.  God softened his heart and Mr. Robertson sought out a Christian mentor.  With the strength of God behind him he pulled himself from his old life and began a one reborn.  

“And so, I devoted my waking hours to studying the Bible.  I pored over the onion-skin pages and began to mark them up.  I consumed the Word of God as if it were food and drank deeply from its waters of wisdom.”

Phil Robertson, The Theft of America’s Soul

When I read this, what came to mind were the Navy SEALs that train not far from my house.  To be a SEAL, an elite member of the US military, you need to eat, sleep and devote every waking minute to training.  Their goal is to be the best soldier possible.  But what about us average Christians?  What is our goal?  Will we be like Phil Robertson and wholly commit ourselves to the cause of God?

Fast forward in Mr. Robinson’s life and we land in the middle of the show Duck Dynasty.  It was a reality show following around his family – a family of backwoods hunters and fishermen from Louisiana who own a duck call business.   During this show the family became warriors for God.  While their producers would almost demand they do or say things outside the morals of their faith, they would stand strong.  They were willing to lose all the money offered them.  They prayed and spoke of their faith throughout the show.  And they garnered millions of fans.  And enemies.  They were called backward, stupid, far-right crazy, mostly because of their commitment to their faith.  

“It’s been 43 years since my encounter with God and I can tell you, I’m not running from anyone or anything; I’m not enslaved to the ‘isms’ of the world.”

Phil Robertson, The Theft of America’s Soul

We can make excuses for why we won’t stand our ground and stand up for God – I might lose my job, I might lose my friends/family, I might be called any manner of names.  Doesn’t that all come from a fear of man rather than a trust in God?  Phil Robertson wasn’t famous and then got a TV show.  He was a man making duck calls who became famous for being funny, principled, a family leader, and God-fearing.  

Many of us probably aren’t ready to be a full time warrior for God.  We must practice the first two steps so they become a natural part of us.  When we can naturally say a prayer for those who would hurt us, when we anticipate and readily step forward to fill a need that Jesus places before us, only then are we certainly more prepared for this step.

I follow a Christian pastor on Instagram.  He has a series of YouTube talks where he delves into our culture’s most pressing topics.  After reading how he lovingly and with wisdom responds to some of the vitriol he receives I realized, I’m not quite ready yet for the bigger battlefield.  I need to chew and gnaw some more on God’s Word.  God has been testing me along the way with mini quizzes.  Small opportunities to stand for Him.  My training to be a Warrior for God continues.