Tag Archives: love

The condescending love of God

Lovey77

by J. Randal Matheny, editor

In the practical and ethical section of his letter to the Romans, Paul lists the many marks of the true Christian. He starts with this phrase, “Love must be without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9Romans 12:9
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9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good.

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, NET). All the rest, as they say, is commentary.

At one point he writes, “do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:16Romans 12:16
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16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Don’t set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Don’t be wise in your own conceits.

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b). Love means leaving self to the side and dropping one’s own interests and desires, in order to serve one’s neighbor.

Human ambition wants to scale the ladder of importance in the opinion of peers. Divine ambition descends to another’s need, ignoring and discounting exaltation.

“And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty hand” (1 Peter 5:51 Peter 5:5
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5 Likewise, you younger ones, be subject to the elder. Yes, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to subject yourselves to one another; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

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b-6).

Christ’s example outshines all the others. He gave up the heavenly glories in order to become human and bring salvation to humanity. His action was necessary to demonstrate God’s love.

“By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him” (1 John 4:91 John 4:9
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9 By this was God’s love revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

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“Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father” (John 1:14John 1:14
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14 The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

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John affirms that God’s glory is seen in him who left heaven and set up his tent –- his life -– as the meeting point between us and God.

Man’s invented gods, besides being stronger and greater than he, were remote and distant, often disinterested. In Sophocles’ “Oedipus at Colonus,” the king says that “the gods are slow, though they are sure,in visitation, when men scorn godliness, and turn to frenzy” (BGB 5:128).

The chorus in “Helen,” by Euripides, asks, “What mortal claims, by searching to the utmost limit, to have found out the nature of God…?” (BGB 5:308).

The true God, however, has always been near those who seek him. This was his trademark among Israel. In Leviticus, he appealed to Israel to be holy so that he could remain among them.

“I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12Leviticus 26:12
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12 I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you will be my people.

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But for exceptional moments, God did not take a human form in the Old Testament. Some scholars believe Jesus Christ appeared in temporary human form as the angel of the Lord, since he receives honor from men. Whether by Christ or the Father, they were brief appearances to individuals for specific purposes.

In Euripedes’ “The Bacchantes,” Dionysus opens by saying, “I have put off the god and taken human shape” (BGB 5:340). George Theodoridis translates it as, “Yes, I have taken the guise of a common man, me the god, Dionysos.” And a guise it is, since he uses his divine powers to take revenge on his family.

The true God became man, not as a temporary disguise to get the best of his creation, but to share his condition and rescue him from slighting his Maker.

In Philippians 2, Paul uses Christ’s incarnation (his coming to earth in human form) as an example of humility among Christians.

“Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well” (Philippians 2: 3-4Philippians 2: 3-4
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3 doing nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself; 4 each of you not just looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

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To give extra punch to the commandment, he says,

“You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8Philippians 2:5-8
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5 Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross.

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I am a Christian because God came down in human form. He made himself a man in every way, in order to show his love. Such a love as this deserves our purest and complete devotion.

Westboro Baptist: Learning from a bad example

Arlington33

by Richard Mansel

A soldier fighting terrorism dies a hero and an extremist group pickets his funeral to protest homosexuality.

What does his death have to do with homosexuality? Nothing at all, unless we’ve allowed hate to corrode our minds and hearts and make us irrational.

Westboro Baptist, a hate group from Kansas, protests military funerals to force the government to give up their support of homosexuality.

Ironically, Westboro’s delusional behavior brings sympathy for the sin they hate. In other words, Westboro Baptist is promoting homosexuality as much as anyone in America.

As New Testament Christians (Acts 2:38-47; 22:16Acts 2:38-47; 22:16
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38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 40 With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. There were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. 43 Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 All who believed were together, and had all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. 46 Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved. 16 Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

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; Romans 6:3-4Romans 6:3-4
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3 Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

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), we combine the lessons learned from the world with a voracious study of Scripture and we become wiser in our walk for Christ.

We become like Westboro when we lose our perspective on reality. Homosexuality, child porn, abortion and pedophilia are repulsive sins but nothing should lead us to lose our spiritual focus (Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2
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12 1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

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We must never allow hatred for sin to open a door for Satan (1 Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8
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8 Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

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). The devil feeds that hate like a fire and we go from a Christian sharing what the Bible teaches to Eric Rudolph blowing up an abortion clinic.

Hate steals our soul and destroys everything in its path. It doesn’t care about anyone.

We must never forget that every sinner has a soul (Genesis 1:27Genesis 1:27
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27 God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.

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; John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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) and we cannot close the door to them. We fight against God when we turn away souls.

Homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27Romans 1:26-27
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26 For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error.

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), but hating homosexuals will condemn us to hell. God hates sin but he loves all sinners and wants them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 12 Peter 3:9; 1
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9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Peter’s Second Letter 1 1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 seeing that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue; 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control patience; and in patience godliness; 7 and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, The word for “brothers” here and where context allows may also be correctly translated “brothers and sisters” or “siblings.” be more diligent to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble. 11 For thus will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you; 14 knowing that the putting off of my tent comes swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 Yes, I will make every effort that you may always be able to remember these things even after my departure. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 This voice we heard come out of heaven when we were with him in the holy mountain. 19 We have the more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day star arises in your hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. 21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit.

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John 4).

We must never allow extremism to steal God from our hearts. The price is too high.

Oneness of humanity

Puzzle-pieces5132

by John E. Werhan

From the garden of Eden, God has desired all humanity to be unified. He made Adam and Eve to live and take care of the garden provided for their substance (Genesis 1-2).

The problem of division arose when Satan lead Adam and Eve to sin against God (Genesis 3). Because of Satan, the unity of humanity was jeopardized.

This became evident with the division between Cain and Abel, which resulted in the first murder. Even today God desires humanity be unified but Satan’s influence is evident in the division that plagues our society.

Satan is active today in the division of humanity. Peter warned,

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8
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8 Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

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Paul writing to the Galatian Christians noted the actions that promote such division, “…enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying…” (Galatians 5:20-21Galatians 5:20-21
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20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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These eight actions are truly manifest in those who are currently promoting division in our own society. It seems that they either do not know or do not understand the outcome of their actions. Paul makes it clear in the Galatian letter,

“…that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21Galatians 5:21
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21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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God does not want division of humanity. This is why He sent His only Son to die for the sins of humanity. When one puts aside the actions of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21Galatians 5:19-21
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19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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) division will become unity. Paul wrote concerning the true Christian,

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:26-29Galatians 3:26-29
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26 For you are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.

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If there is to be peace in our society, all humanity must turn from living for Satan to living for God. As long as individuals live for Satan and manifest the deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21Galatians 5:19-21
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19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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), we will have the destructive division that is plaguing out society.

Where has “agape” (Love) [the desire for the very best for others] gone? If “agape” (Love) was manifest by everyone in our society, we would not have all the troubles we are currently having.

May we all seek the true peace that comes from truly loving one another as taught in God’s inspired word.

Why affection is so important to marriage

kissing122

by Richard Mansel, manaaging editor

Thomas and Maggie sat in marriage counseling. Maggie dabbed at her swollen eyes as she cried about Thomas’ refusal to be affectionate to his wife of 32 years.

The counselor asked Thomas why he was cold towards her.

“That’s silly stuff. I won’t do it.”

“Maggie, did Thomas kiss you when you were dating?”

“All the time! I had to fight him off. Thomas even kissed me on our first date.”

“Did he hold your hand?”

Maggie smiled. “Absolutely! He was so romantic, bringing me flowers and candy.”

“Thomas, what changed?”

Thomas frowned. “Isn’t it obvious? I was a kid then. Look at me now!”

“Thomas, do you still love her?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“This is stupid. I’m leaving.”

Thomas slammed the door and Maggie was crushed.

A year later, the counselor saw Thomas in the park holding hands and kissing a new woman. Clearly, he had forgotten he was too old for affection.

A marriage without affection is like being frozen. We must be connected intimately with our spouse. Skin hunger is a very real thing.

Living without that connectivity leaves us empty. We cannot be one flesh with another person without affection. Being married roommates is desperately sad.

God commands us to be intimate. We are to be one in every way with our spouse (Genesis 2:18-25Genesis 2:18-25
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18 Yahweh God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground Yahweh God formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field; but for man there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 He made the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, into a woman, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She will be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh. 25 They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

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). Solomon begins his ode to passion in marriage, with the Shulamite woman saying, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

We must never let the passion die in our marriage. Marital love cannot breathe without affection. Our bodies are not ours and we must be fully engaged with our partner (1 Corinthians 7:1-51 Corinthians 7:1-5
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7 1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But, because of sexual immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection owed her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife. 5 Don’t deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

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Start today with a touch, a hug and a kiss and rediscover what you have lost!

Do our children know we love them?

Parenting326

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Children psychoanalyze everything we do as parents, and they are always watching. The atmosphere of the home becomes a barometer that feeds or stifles their suspicions.

The adage, trust but verify, certainly applies. We tell our children that we love them, but our actions have greater power than words. Our investments matter more than our currency.

Children are fearful in a world saturated with broken homes because they see the emotional scars of their classmates and they fear being rejected.

Harsh words pierce the psyches of our kids and can do long-term damage. Model Christ’s heart by showing them unconditional love (John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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; Romans 6:5-11Romans 6:5-11
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5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him; 9 knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! 10 For the death that he died, he died to sin one time; but the life that he lives, he lives to God. 11 Thus also consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Assure them that they will never stop being loved, no matter what they do. When they do something wrong, that behavior is wrong, not them. Never call them a bad child. That is like a knife-blade.

Be firm against misbehavior but gentle with their hearts. Help children see that they will make mistakes because that is the nature of humanity (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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). If we cannot avoid making mistakes, we cannot expect them to do so.

As a result, when they do something wrong, it is separate from their person. We still love them as much as we ever did. If they mess up their room, criticize their behavior, not them.

Reinforce this distinction to them as they grow older so it becomes portable. Be sincere and open with them.

If they know they will be valued no matter what, they will hopefully feel safe enough to be their very best and pass this on to their children.

By utilizing unconditional love, learned from Christ, we have built a legacy of grace from above and we have changed a part of the world (Ephesians 6:4Ephesians 6:4
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4 You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

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; Proverbs 22:6Proverbs 22:6
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6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

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Eavesdropping

Snooping Businessman Holding Glass to Wall

by Stan Mitchell

I picked up a book written by Dale Jenkins recently entitled “A Minister’s Heart.” It is packed with wise, heartbreaking, encouraging (and sometimes funny) advice. I’m glad he wrote it, and I intend to buy several copies and give them to some young preachers I know.

But I have a question.

Would you “ordinary” Christians like to hear some of these items? Would you like to know how the church looks to a preacher? Any preacher of at least two years experience knows exactly what brother Jenkins means when he says:

  • At least three times, you’re going to wince when a guest speaker comes in and your arch enemy says clearly so that you can hear it, ‘Now that’s the kind of preaching we need!'”
  • “You are going to bury your best friend and mentor.”
  • “You are going to wonder who counsels the counselor” 
  • “You will be scolded for not visiting someone when they were in the hospital, even though they never told anyone they were going to be in the hospital.”
  • “You will have at least two people say that they hate you. You will have to preach a message of ‘truth in love’ to those same people.”
  • “You are going to have to defend your kids for doing something that if any other church member’s kid did, it would be overlooked.” 
  • “You are never going to make as much money in ministry as you could have using your skill set in the corporate world.”
  • “You will study 20 hours for a deep, meaningful, inspiring sermon only to be told that it was a ‘nice little talk.'”
  • You will be told in every church where you preach that the ever elusive ‘they’ are not happy with your work.”
  • “You will have every aspect of your work and personality critiqued and criticized. And you will wonder, ‘Should I just quit for the good of the kingdom?’ Don’t quit.”

Beloved brethren, I have allowed you to look over the shoulder of a more experienced preacher as he counsels a younger preacher. Perhaps you have seen by eavesdropping this way how the world looks to the gospel preacher.

I know there are false teachers. I know there are preacher “head cases.” I know young men make young men’s mistakes. But a young man with a good heart is worth preserving.

Could you do this for me, please: Be conscious of the effect your words and actions have on a young man. Understand that if he survives his young years as a preacher, he might become a massively important servant of the Lord in the mission field, in the US, or in a place that trains young men.

Satan wants these young people to quit the church in large numbers. Would you please do everything you can to disappoint him?

“Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease, night or day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31Acts 20:31
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31 Therefore watch, remembering that for a period of three years I didn’t cease to admonish everyone night and day with tears.

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Preachers are responsible for the congregations they serve; congregations are responsible for the preachers who serve them.

The whole story

womenfriends3333

by Paula Harrington

I was talking with a sweet woman recently about her work day. She had gotten confused taking people’s orders, forgotten to give back change, and spent too much time lost in her thoughts.

Many of her customers had grown irritated with her but she had politely apologized for her behavior and gone about her day. She started to silently weep as she proceeded to tell me the whole story.

Her younger sister had lost her fight with cancer the night before. She would have given just about anything, she said, to be able to go to that big town a few hours away and sit with her brother in law that day, but bills were calling and she knew if she took any more time off work, she would lose her job.

I wept with her as she shared her story. Later as I thought back over our time together, I vowed to be more patient with those I come in contact with. Everyone is wounded. Everyone is broken and too many don’t know the hope that is found in Jesus.

Our schedule, stressors, plans, and achievements often wrap us in a cocoon of selfishness. We don’t plan it that way, but life has a way of keeping us focused inward.

However, Jesus instructs us to seek him first and then others (Matthew 6:33Matthew 6:33
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33 But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.

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, Mark 12:30-31Mark 12:30-31
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30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

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Today, as you venture into this big world, take the time to be kind to others. Have patience with them and remember that there’s a good chance their worlds are spinning out of control. Love them and offer a listening ear and caring heart.

The world needs love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. People need a friend who will walk beside them and tell them that there is a better way, a better place, and a better life.

Be that friend.

What do you want?

momdaughter444

by Paula Harrington

I recently encountered a skeptical soul who wondered why my congregation was helping his family. His exact words were, “Why are y’all so nice? What do you want?”

I explained that we didn’t want anything other than to show them the love of Jesus. With a raised brow and the wisdom gained from his twelve years, he explained that people don’t help other people without wanting something in return.

He knew that wasn’t how the world works and he knew the world well. He wasn’t belligerent or arrogant. He just found it awfully hard to understand people who would get involved with another, help them, and love them for no apparent reason.

What do you want?

The Lord asked this question to those who hunted him down in the garden. Who were they looking for (John 18:4John 18:4
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4 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were happening to him, went forth, and said to them, “Who are you looking for?”

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Was it someone who had loved the unlovable, touched the untouchable, and listened to those without a voice? Was it one not only religious, but compassionate and merciful, or one who spoke words of light in a dark and lonely place? 

Those soldiers and officials couldn’t be looking for someone like that because people like that didn’t exist. Right?

What does your congregation want? Are you known in the community for…

  • Loving, serving, and making a difference in the world around you?
  • Being locked tightly behind double doors?
  • Getting involved with others because they look and act and sin differently from you?
  • Being so set in your ways that you refuse to bring others in?
  • Do you want to be left alone as you go about your Sunday and Wednesday routine?
  • Do you turn a blind eye to the needy, hurting, and lost?

The world is watching and expecting the church to be arrogant and judgmental. Blow their minds.

  • Love because Christ loved you.
  • Forgive because you’ve been forgiven.
  • Give grace when you don’t have to.
  • Don’t just go the extra mile; go out of your way to get there!

Love others so much it makes them wonder why. And when they ask what you want, tell them you want to be like Jesus because the world needs a Savior. Then, introduce them to yours.

Factors of good communication

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by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Communication is almost always listed in the grievances among dating and married couples who come to counseling.

As counselors try to help them through these struggles, three factors must be considered. When they are addressed and accounted for, the couple can begin to make progress.

First, communication must account for personality. Many people have a difficult time expressing their feelings. Instead, they may use other forms of speech.

A quiet husband may get up early, go to work, come home, cut the grass and take out the garbage. His wife gripes because he is not verbally expressing his love. However, he is speaking loudly through his actions and cannot understand her anger.

Someone is not going to become a completely different person in every aspect of life. At some point our personalities are set.

We can all learn to do better to accommodate our spouse. In the one-flesh marriage bond, our spouse is a part of our bodies and we care for them more than we do ourselves (Genesis 2:18-25Genesis 2:18-25
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18 Yahweh God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 19 Out of the ground Yahweh God formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field; but for man there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 He made the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, into a woman, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She will be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh. 25 They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

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Accordingly, it pains us when they are suffering. The effort made to express our feelings will be worth it in the end.

Second, communication must account for trust. We must feel safe as we open ourselves up completely to another person. This trust must be earned and it can be easily destroyed.

When someone has been hurt in the past, they will protect themselves at all costs. Their hesitation is understandable and they may have a difficult time trusting another person. The problem is that we cannot have a one-flesh bond without trust.

Third, communication must account for knowledge. When our loved one allows us into their hearts, we begin to learn more about them. The more we learn, the deeper our communication should become.

The selfish person cannot grow in this area because they do not see anything outside of themselves. We must allow our spouse true access, if they have proven themselves worthy.

True unselfish love will not allow us to hurt the other person without serious pain on our part (Ephesians 5:22-29Ephesians 5:22-29
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22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly;

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). We know everything about our partner, yet we love them anyway. We protect and cherish them and never share their personal thoughts or fears with others.

The groundwork for communication is too often overlooked and couples suffer, as a result. Successful communication requires a large sacrifice as well as courage and patience.

When we have the type marriage God desires, we will be more than willing to do the work required because the joy will be exhilarating.

Kindness is timeless

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Social media brings out the worst in so many people. Anger, hostility, rudeness and profanity have replaced civility and younger generations are accustomed to obscenity as the soundtrack of their generation.

Perceived humor in our day is built on innuendo and without it, this generation is practically speechless.

As we age, we see the trends come and go, and they become less important to us. We can ride the waves in a desperate attempt to remain relevant or we can try the timeless approach.

Regardless of what is considered cutting-edge in any year, the practice of kindness never goes out of style.

We spread flowers, not hate and nastiness, when kind, positive words emanate from us. In so doing, we change the people around us and bring light to dark worlds (Matthew 5:16Matthew 5:16
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16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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God’s people should make kindness a law in their lives (Proverbs 31:26Proverbs 31:26
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26 She opens her mouth with wisdom. Faithful instruction is on her tongue.

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Kindness disarms anger (Romans 12:20Romans 12:20
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20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

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) and transcends time and place so it is never out of fashion. Kindness touches the heart and soul of humanity as nothing else can. We need it desperately in a coarse and hateful world.

If every soul were treated with kindness, so much evil would be overcome. When we add Christ to a kind disposition, it is an unstoppable force for good (Colossians 3:12Colossians 3:12
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12 Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance;

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Spread kindness, goodness and love to the world and then share Christ with the open heart.

Kindness opens doors that anger would never see. When we lift others above their doldrums, they begin to see the world in a different light. In so doing, we create the possibility that Christ can finally be seen.