He’s Important to Me

I volunteer at a teen residential facility, leading spiritual initiatives as a sort of a chaplain. Earlier this week I visited the thisismyprayerforyouedited-640x360students hoping to encourage them and inspire a walk with Christ in them. A father of one of the young ladies was visiting that day. She brought him to me and introduced us and told her dad that I was the spiritual guy. I explained to him what that meant so her father would understand the role of our Sunday Spiritual times. Then the young lady told her father that I was important to her and explained why. She self-harms and I encourage her not too. I basically told her I don’t like it when she it hurt, even if she is the one hurting herself and asked about how long she had gone since the last time without harming herself. She told me and added it had been four days this time. I encouraged her to go for the goal of one more day than the last time and then we set the goal of one more day each after.

I am important to her because I don’t want her to hurt herself. honestly, it hurts my heart to know that she would purposely  hurt herself. She wants to have a relationship that builds and holds her up. One that she can trust and rely on for support and help. Knowing her background, she has the love and support she needs, but a couple of things have blocked her understanding (besides the confusing messages our world, media and her friends give). One is her understanding about herself which got sidetracked at some point and another is her parents, though they love her, haven’t learned how best to make that understood in her life.

I am not casting blame here, I am citing reality.

One of the things that provided an open dialog between this young lady and myself is that I told here I have prayed for her. She had been struggling one day when I was visiting about 6 months ago and it took her back. She asked in surprise, “You pray prayfor me?” She was shocked. I told her that I do. I told her I prayed for every one of the students there and especially when I know she is struggling, I pray for her more. Apparently, that touched her. She responded, “No one ever prayed for except my mom.”

What she doesn’t realize is that there are others who pray for her besides her mother (and father) and me. There are coaches, who are saints (i.e. Christians) who pray for her as well. I’ll bet there is other family and maybe family friends praying for her.

What she is realizing and God seems to be using me to help bring this realization into her life, is that she is important, even extraordinary (thank you Aaron Chambers*). God loves her and cares for her. People love her and care about her. She is learning that when she feels safe, it is with people who are people of God. She understands that this God-thing is real and it is reaching deep into her life and bringing here hope and even joy, when she remains in her understanding of God’s love. She is realizing, “For God so loved the world,” that God loves her.

Due to confidentiality, I cannot tell you anymore, but I ask that you pray for her. God will know who you are praying for even if you do not know her name or where she is. He knows because he cares, because he loves her too.

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*Remember Who You Are, Unleashing the Power of an Identity Driven Life, by Aaron Chambers, Standard Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2007, citing chapter 9; http://www.standardpub.com/Products/24324/remember-who-you-are.aspx

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What’s This Fruit About?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:19-23

The fruit of Spirit is about what takes place in a person’s life as God does his thing in you.

Paul notes the contrast between the ways of the world. The world is sinful. The ways of the world destroy souls, relationships, hope, even life. But the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, etc (see passage above or pic on the left) is the way of life (eternal life).

It’s about God enabling you to be separate from the world’s terrible way. Think of ancient Israel. God intended for Israel to be different. God told them when they entered the promised land to remain separate from the idolatrous people who lived there.

They were to run them out; they were destroy their sacred places, including the idols; they were his people representing God’s holy way. The 10 commandments and their explanation in Deuteronomy (starting about chapter 5) show their relationship with God and how his character is holy and those of  idolatrous people are unholy and do not accomplish the righteousness that God is and of those who are in a relationship with him.

I shared about the second commandment with some teens yesterday, do not have or worship idols (Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10). Some of them are Christian, there is a Jewish kid, a Mormon, and a handful of agnostics and an atheist or two, and some that aren’t anything. We talked about the principle of idolatry since we don’t see people worshiping idols like Israel witnesses with the Egyptians and those they would encounter worshiping the Baals and Ashtoreth and Moloch and the like in ancient Israel when they entered the land of Canaan. What are the modern idols that we might worship in America today?

  • Money
  • Celebrity
  • Relationships
  • Objects (cars, electronic devices, etc)

They mentioned several other items. Even the teens that aren’t Christian. They understood the difference. But being godly, living the life of the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit may be another thing for people.

When a person who is an immersed believer in Jesus Christ, they have God’s Spirit in them (Acts 2:38). If the Spirit is not there, there is no salvation. The Spirit however, as he works with our spirit, enables us to be godly, to produce the fruit of godliness. Being in this-worldly world, and yet living without the power of worldly influence controlling our lives.

If we were to try to picture this, it might be like the pic just to the left. God reaching down out of heaven and holding us up against the powerful influence of the world. It is because he loves us and chooses to save us from the hellish penalty of sinfulness (John 3:16).

Another way to envision this is to realize the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) and the complete teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. Read it and apply it and live it.

If the fruit of the Spirit is what your life is like than you are living the Sermon on the Mount.

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Love Reasoning

It seems that I lately I am dealing with more and more with divorce than ever before.  In each case, there are real issues and if patience, forgiveness, reconciliation were to rule, the issues can be worked through and resolved, but I really believe that there is a level of pride in each case that keeps one of the people in these marriages from resolving issues and remaining husband and wife.

In nearly every case that I have ever dealt with as a pastor or as a friend, they claim that they love each other.  But love is not leading their hearts and minds, but emotions are ruling (love is emotional but not an emotion).  Their feelings are blinding love reasoning.  Let me explain.

Dictionary.com defines love mostly as affection, emotion, even sexual fulfillment ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/love ).  It’s all about a feeling guided by emotion.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary includes the same sort of definitions as Dictionary.com, but has a broader definition that comes closer to the Bible’s teaching and definition of love.

4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person’s adoration of God ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love ).

A Biblically accurate definition of love is “sacrifice.” 

Love is not an emotion as I’ve said before.  Love has emotional responses of hurt and anger and affection and joy and passion and many things that the dictionaries define as love.  They’re defining the emotional response.  See love is a choice.  It is something that grows.  Several young people who I have taught and counseled feel that they don’t have a choice in love.  They may be drawn to another person because of their looks, the way they respond to them or any other number of things, but they can’t help but love them because that is love.  Love is a choice and love is sacrifice.

Who better to define love than God.  John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:16).  And God’s definition of love is this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down their life for their friends” John 15:13, see also 1 John 3:16 (my paraphrase).

What is the ultimate sacrifice?  Dying for someone else.  We see it with soldiers fighting to protect family and country.  We see if with people who save a drowning person but die in the process, or someone who pushes a person out-of-the-way of a speeding vehicle and are run down and killed by the same vehicle.  We see it in Jesus dying on the cross.  God’s love in the death of Jesus Christ the only unique Son of God.

The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them” (John 15:13, Contemporary English Version).

The cure for troubled marriages is to make love like God’s love.  To sacrifice self, my wants, my emotions, my will to the other which will lead to forgiveness, to change, to reconciliation.

Love looks out for the total well-being of the other.  It is not self-seeking, which is what is happening in each of the failing marriages that I mentioned above.

Church issues, friendship issues, any separation or break-down in relationships will be cured by Godly, Biblically defined love.  See how the definition of selflessness and self-sacrifice is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   8Love never fails.

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