Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Love 11/16/2011

Tonight's discussion got off to a slow start and then rocketed into high gear really quick.  It was all triggered by a question I got through the form on the blog.  The question was, "Is it possible to be 'in love'?"  I believe this was springboarded from last weeks discussion that brought out the idea that love is a verb, an action, a choice.  So can you be "in love"?  Then the questions started flying related to this.  How long do you date someone before you say you love them?  Does love at first sight exist?  Then someone threw out this one:  Is it possible for gay people to be in love?  To which I said, "No" and a huge discussion ensued.  I'm sure this will spark some very interesting comments.  I look forward to hearing from all who read this.

Love Defined

The critical key to answering any of these questions is to first define what love is.  We threw around some ideas that came from what we've experienced and the things we've seen or learned.  But if we are to define love we need to look to it's creator.  To do that let's look at the word of God.  Specifically 1 Corinthians 13.  The whole chapter gives a great discourse on love.  You should check it out.  For definition purposes we'll look to verses 4 - 7.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

The Test

So let's apply the test with these verses.  In the case of a gay couple or even a heterosexual couple who is living together unmarried or the teenagers who are having sex before marriage let's put them all to the test.  Could they be patient and kind to each other?  Yes it's possible they could.  Could they avoid jealousy, boasting, pride and being rude?  They could probably avoid those things.  Are they demanding their own way?  Yes they are demanding their own way.  In all three cases they are rejecting God's directives in their lives and choosing to live their own way.  Therefore they are demanding their own way.  Therefore that is not real love.  True love would never cause or allow another to continue in a relationship that is clearly living in sin.  True love would never want one to live in a relationship that would send them to hell.  They would want the greater good for the one they love.  Therefore in all of those situations it is not possible for them to really live in love with the one they are in relationship with.

I know there are many out there who would disagree with this point of view.  The problem is that we are allowing a sinful world to define love.  Love was created by God.  God is love (1 John 4:7-8).  His very nature and character defines love for us.  His word says that you can have no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13).  That's what Jesus did for us when He dies for our sins.  Love is not selfish.  Love would never lead another into a sinful relationship.  That's the opposite of love.  As Christians we need to speak up and stop listening to this sinful world's definition of love.  We have the truth and it's about time we got loud about it.

In Love?

That was the bulk of the conversation.  Not to leave out the original question.  Can you be in love?  What about love at first sight?  To look at these we have to remember that love is a choice.  It is an action that you choose.  It is not a feeling that comes over you.  Yes we have affection or attraction that draws our attention to an individual.  But to love someone only requires a conscious choice to do so.  I guess that would mean you can love someone at first sight.  Can you be "in love"  I would say yes you can.  It again would be something you choose to do.  It's not something you fall in and out of though.  I am madly in love with my wonderful wife.  Why am I madly in love with my wife?  She hates it when I say this, but it's for no reason.  If there was a reason attached to my love, then that would mean my love is conditional.  If I were in love because she's beautiful (which she is) then if that changed would I then not love her.  If I loved her for her intelligence or compassion or creativity (which she is amazing in all of those as well) again that would not be love because it would be conditional.  I am madly in love with my wife because I choose to be and that's all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do Difficult Things (junior high) 11/9/2011

Confronting Mom or Dad:

Last week we talked about Matthew 18 and the way it applies to our relationships and conflicts.  This week we talked about the same principles in a much deeper and greater consequence.  What if mom or dad is doing something that the other doesn't know about?  What if they are involved in something that could potentially cause divorce?  Do you tell the other parent?  What do you do?  First off, this is a situation that I pray no student ever finds themself in.  Unfortunately this will happen to some in the world we live in.  The advice on this conflict is still the same.  Follow the principles of Matthew 18.  You go to the one who has committed the offense privately and confront in a loving and honest way.  In other words if mom is doing something she aught not do, you go and tell her she needs to come clean with dad and stop it.  If she does the right thing that is the end of it from the confrontation side and hopefully the beginning of a healing that needs to take place.  However in that conversation with mom you let her know that if she doesn't tell dad in a certain amount of time that you are going to let him know what's going on.  This has to be one of the worst things a student could ever have to do, but it's the right thing to do.  Hopefully the difficult confrontation will lead to your parents talking things out and working through it and not just ending things.  However, know this one thing:  If the outcome is bad, it is NEVER your fault for confronting.  However, if the outcome is good, you can take some credit for intervening in a godly way and doing the right thing even though it was difficult.  Side not on this one.  If the confrontation is too big for you and too difficult to do on your own.  This is a serious matter that needs to be done.  You could talk to your pastor or youth pastor about it and they could help you with it.  I don't believe that would be going outside the bounds of scripture if you need someone to help you do the right thing.  If you don't have a youth pastor and need help with something like this send me a message in the contact form on this blog.  Be sure to include your email so I can get back to you on it.  As always make it a matter of prayer before anything else.  Prayer is our biggest weapon in times like this.


Then we dealt with a question that was emailed.  Is it ok to get a divorce if you just fall out of love with someone?  To answer this question we first have to look at what love is.  More importantly what part of speech is love.  I know if you look it up you'll find that it's a noun and a verb.  For our discussion here we are dealing with the verb form.  Love isn't some funny feeling that you get when you're around a hot guy or girl.  It's not chills that run up and down your spine.  It's not butterflies in your stomach.  Love is a verb.  It's an action word.  It is a choice that we make.  The Bible never commands us to marry the one you love.  It tells us to love the one you marry (Eph 5:25-30).  Based on that alone I answer this question with a resounding NO!  God created marriage to be for life.  You can't just decide one day that you don't love your spouse.  If you do, you are making a conscious choice to disobey God.  You can't fall out of love.  However, you can decide to love your spouse.  Put your effort into that and you'll be surprised what God will do.

Friends and Bullies:

Finally we wrapped up with a discussion about friends and bullies.  What do I do if my friend stands by and does nothing when I'm bullied?  What do I do if I see my friend being bullied?  Unfortunately in the first case you really can't do much of anything.  You could ask your friend why they don't stick up for you, but you really can't make them.  They could be in fear of being bullied themself.  Or maybe they just don't like confrontation or don't want to rock the boat.  There could be numerous reasons why they don't speak up.  You just have to tough it out through that one.  However, if you are the friend watching on the sidelines, you have a responsibility to act.  Do something to defend your friend.  Maybe not physically fight, but speak up.  Help in some way.  Jesus was the ultimate example of a friend.  He gave up His life in order to save us.  That is the biggest thing you can do as a friend (Jn 15:13).  To stand by and do nothing is wrong.  The Bible says that when we know of something good to do and choose not to do it then that is sin (James 4:17).

In all three of these situations we talked about very difficult things to do, but they are the right things to do.  Sometimes following God isn't easy, but it is always blessed.  Follow God's will for your life today.  You'll be amazed at how He will bless you.

Yikes, Do I need to tell people about Jesus?! (High School 11-9-11)

“When do you start really sharing your faith with your friends?” was the question asked on Wednesday night.  When do we make Jesus an important part of our conversation with the people we meet?  And how do we go about leading someone to Christ so they can become a Christian?   Joe wanted to get us talking about when “Do” we talk about our faith with our friends and people we come in contact with on a daily basis. 

If we are truly followers of Christ, then we will want to share His story with others.  Sometimes, it is hard to share our faith for many reasons like; we don’t want our friends to think we are freaks, we may be shy, maybe we don’t know what to say, or maybe we are afraid we will say something wrong.  The reasons are endless for why we don’t share or faith.  However, if we really love Jesus then we will share Him with others even if it is hard; because we know how great His love is for His creation (Jn 3:16) and to be obedient to His Word (Matt. 28:19).

John 3:16

 16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 28:19

19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

If we know information (The Good News) that will help those around us live full and happy lives why would we keep that to ourselves?  Doesn’t that seem a little selfish?  At some point in all our relationships (friendships, co-workers and acquaintances) they should find out that we are a Christian.  Of course, it should be evident in the way that we live and conduct ourselves.  But, we need to speak about our God to those around us.  God’s word says that we need to be a light in the darkness. 

Matthew 5:14-17

 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

But how do I tell others about Christ?  I think some of the students were a little freaked out when Joe put them on the spot and said, “Lead me to Christ right now!”  It was good to challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort spot and tell Joe about the one who has saved us.   We came up with two different ways and I will add a third.
1.      Invite them to church and let the Pastor do it!
This can be an easy way of sharing your faith however; it cannot be something you solely rely on.  Each person we talk to may need something different.  They may need to know Christ right then.  They may not feel comfortable going to a church yet.  Reasons are endless as to why this cannot be the only way to share your faith.  But, it still is a good way and effective way of letting them hear about Jesus.
2.      Tell them the plan of salvation!
Maybe, you heard about the ABC’s of salvation in Sunday school when you were a kid…it still is a great reference in helping us to remember to lead someone to Christ.
A  Admit you are a sinner.
"There is no one righteous, not even one ... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Romans 3:10,23. (See Romans 5:8; 6:23.)
Ask God's forgiveness.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Romans 10:13
 Believe in Jesus
(put your trust in Him) as your only hope of salvation.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (See John 14:6.)
Become a child of God by receiving Christ.
"To all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 (See Revelation 3:20.)
C    Confess that Jesus is your Lord.
"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9 (See verse 10.)

3.      Share your testimony. (this is my personal addition)
Sometimes, just sharing how you came to be a Christ follower is all you need to say.  It is important to build relationships with the people that come into our lives.  We do that by being real and genuine.  If we honestly follow Christ then we will care about His people.   Not to get another “Tally Mark” that says, “I lead that one to Christ” like we are in some kind of competition; but, rather out of care we must tell others about Jesus’ big love for them.  To simply sum up, if you asked Christ to be a part of your life share how you did that!

It is then important to lead them to a “Bible” believing church, get them a Bible (have them start reading in John or the other gospels) and begin the process of discipling  (growing in their faith and knowledge of Jesus)
Whew that was long!!!!!  But, we had some really great discussion.  Let’s take the time this week and share Jesus with others and invite them to the Jesus Hut!
Get Joy!  See you next week! 
Pastor Christina

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Conflict Resolution and Friends 11/2/2011

Tonight we had some really good discussion about how we deal with conflict among friends.  Maybe even among enemies.  Well to start someone asked what to do when one friend is complaining to you about how another friend treated them.  What do you do?  Where is the line between gossip and just being a good friend who will listen when a friend is in need?  What does the Bible have to say about all this?  To find our answer we look to Matthew 18.  I know the scripture is intended for conflict among believers, but it's amazing how well biblical principles work even with our unsaved friends.  Try it some time.

Gossip vs Listening:
So my friend has a problem with someone else and they want to vent at me, now what?  Our first question to that friend should be, "have you talked to the person you have a problem with privately about this?"  If the answer is "no" then it's none of our business.  All we are doing is entertaining gossip if we continue to listen.   Matthew 18:15 tells us to go privately and point out the offense.  If they don't listen then you can take two or three witnesses according to verse 16.  The problem is that our culture would rather talk about people than to people.  If we would just follow this one step first we would probably resolve a lot more conflict, and live in peace a lot more.

When I Have an Issue:

What about if I have an issue with someone who won't listen or work with me in a group setting? The same rules apply. Go to the person privately and try to work it out. If that doesn't work then you bring along someone else (maybe someone in authority or who would have an objective view of the situation). If the situation still goes unresolved sometimes you just have to let it go. We could all use a lesson in the art of not being easily offended.

They Get Away With Everything:

What about when you're following the rules and someone else continually breaks them? Even worse, they never get caught. Guess what, the same rules apply. Confront privately if it offends you. Then bring a witness or two. If they still won't listen follow the advice of a really good friend of mine. He would tell you to go to Walmart, get yourself a ladder and GET OVER IT! Sometimes people are going to do the wrong thing. We are only responsible for what we do. We need to make sure we do the right thing. If we let bitterness take hold of our heart and we hold a grudge it's only going to hurt us. They won't have a clue that we are upset. Let it go.