Love

Arthur Brooks on Rejecting Contempt: “If you have contempt for ‘them,’ more and more people will become ‘them.’”

"We are called to find common ground where it genuinely exists, improve our own arguments, and win over persuadable Americans by answering hostility with magnanimity, understanding, good humor, and love. We cannot do that while hiding in our narrow ideological foxholes." - National Review

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Pastors Need People Skills

Editor’s note: This article is part of Dean’s Pathways to Preaching series, aimed at young men considering pastoral ministry. I believe there’s plenty here also for “not-young” men, already in ministry, perhaps as a reminder (2 Pet. 3:1).

With any vocation, a set of skills is necessary to do your work. Is this true for pastors too? Doesn’t God enable a pastor to do his work? Yes, He does. He makes you able to do what you could not do in your own knowledge and strength. But there is a human side to pastoral work as well. A pastor grows in his understanding of how to do pastoral work and in his skill at performing the work.

My focus here is not so much how to preach, how to share the Gospel, how to perform a wedding, etc. Of course you need to learn those too. What I’m talking about here are finer points of conducting yourself in your pastoral responsibilities. One of these areas is people skills.

Some people skills can be learned, but …

There must first be a genuine love for people in your heart.

I was talking with a neighbor couple recently about my work. I explained to them I am equipping a new generation of pastors. The sweet, elderly lady said, “Oh, they need to love people!” She’s right.

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Love & Hurt Feelings – Refresher

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

Insurance companies amaze me. One little speeding ticket or a minor fender-bender, and everything changes. Your monthly payment sky-rockets. They no longer trust you. Simply for doing the human thing of making a mistake, you henceforth are placed on insurance detention. They not only record the minor mishap, but your previously good relationship with them goes sour from merely one mistake. One little blunder results in a tarnished relationship.

Too often we can be the same way in our relationships with one another. Someone commits a few small sins against us and look out; like the graceless insurance company, the relationship gutters. We place them on our spiritual detention list for relational prosecution. We are no longer trusting, but suspecting. We are no longer caring, but gossiping. We are no longer inviting, but ignoring. We are no longer loving, but judging. And we are sinning.

Love … does not take into account a wrong suffered. (1 Cor. 13:5)

In the Greek, there is one word translated, “take into account.” It describes someone who keeps a mental record of events for the sake of some future action (Louw & Nida, 1:345). The word also was used in ancient Greek as an accounting term; the act of keeping track of debts and expenses. The idea, then, is that love does not act like a meticulous accountant who precisely records and holds onto every wrong-doing of others. Love does not cling to its hurt feelings.

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Who Defines Love?

I get frustrated when people flip-flop about the meaning of words in the midst of a conversation. This is not usually intentional; we may not even notice. I label these words as “slippery.” They take on multiple meanings or auras in our society, and their definitions are particularly subjective or floating.

For example, when I speak of our church, I am talking about the people, our church family. If I say, “I think we have a wonderful church,” I mean, “We have a wonderful group of people who participate in church life.” But the average person on the street—and many Christians—think I am talking about our church building. Others, who advocate a secular society, define church as “religion,” as in “separation of church and state.”

This confusion intensifies when we talk about emotionally charged words, like “passion,” “worship,” or even “faith.” One particularly slippery word is “love,” the focus of this article.

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Reborn for Unfeigned Love - 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

This outline continues a series preached in 2002. For my own edification (and hopefully yours), I’ve restudied the passage and made some improvements to the outline. This one is probably now a two-part sermon, maybe even three.

Intro

An old French proverb (14th century) says “love and a cough cannot be hid.” Certainly it’s true that ultimately, like a cough, you can’t really keep love a secret if it’s the real thing. Remember Jesus’ observation: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples …”

As Peter wrote to the suffering believers of his day, he reminded them of their foreignness in this world, their belovedness to God, their new birth, their responsibilities. He urged them to live with a healthy, sobering fear of the right things instead fearing suffering itself.

In the final verses of the portion we know as chapter 1, Peter calls believers—even suffering believers (maybe especially suffering believers)—to genuine Christian love. In the process, he reveals four truly great opportunities believers have in the area of love.

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The "Midas Touch" of Good Will

The term “good will” is one I love. Webster defines good will as “a friendly or kindly attitude; benevolence” or “cheerful consent; willingness.” It is an important term, one that can affect our entire disposition and approach toward life.

The fictitious King Midas had a magical touch that turned everything to gold. Believers do not have a “Midas Touch,” but exuding good will comes close. I have seen good will on the part of one marital partner literally save a marriage. I have seen Christians take giant spiritual leaps ahead because someone believed in them, expressing good will. Few of us realize the untapped power available to them when we have an attitude of good will. Embracing good will makes us a blessing to others.

I think of good will as a positive attitude that expects the best from others, sometimes despite previous disappointments. It is wishing well to another, hoping things will prosper for that person, or giving that person a fresh chance to deliver the goods. It is certainly foolish to trust someone who has proven inconsistent or obstinate; good will is not for every situation, but it is for most.

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Home, Sweet Home

Two weeks ago, my kids headed off to school. One week later they were back home, sick with the first round of school-bourne illnesses. I got the call from the school nurse around 11:30. My eight-year-old son had a fever—slight—but just enough to send him home. By bedtime, the rest of us were beginning to show signs too. Unfortunately, it was the kind of sickness that was just bad enough to make you miserable but not bad enough to knock you out completely. The kind where you can’t muster enough energy to go about your normal routine but you’ve still got enough energy to bicker and fight. The kind that brings out the worst in you—irritability, whining, helplessness.

And that was just me.

As difficult as last week was, I found that it reminded me of the importance of home. Stripped of the externals—the housekeeping, the pinterest projects, the car pools—the purpose of home became clearer:

The fundamental purpose of the home is to teach us how to live in relationship with God and with each other.

Every day, as we interact with our spouses, parents, children, aunts, and cousins, we are learning the basics of how to interact with other human beings. So when my family is at our worst, when we are not loving or kind or patient, when we have “one of those” weeks, I remember exactly what I am fighting for.

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A Tour of Love, Jewish-Roots Style

Never underestimate the importance of love. Although all creation will glorify God by hook or crook (Rom. 9:22-24), our love for God and others is the volitional focus of the Christian life (Col. 3:14). There are too many passages to site, but reading 1 John or the Gospels (Luke 10:26-28, for example) should make the point.

I am not going to tackle the Hebrew word hesed, nor the Greek word agape. There is a place for that, but today we are going to look at love in relational fashion.

We were created to love. Love affects our entire being, even our physical health. For example,

The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for 20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and places they had lived…. [A]fter only 25 days, the experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant reduction in cholesterol. (Affectionate Writing)

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