The Greatness of Sacrificial Love.

This is part 3 of the series “God’s love is the Greatest Love.” For the previous post, click here.

 

img_2821

 

We mortals make much ado about our sacrifices in the name of love. I’ve heard countless people say they would take a bullet for Jesus or their family. On the other hand, they don’t want to give up Sunday sports to go to worship or put down  their iPhone to have a meaningful conversation with their kids or spend a little less on themselves to help a brother in need.They say they would give up their life, but they are unwilling to make even small sacrifices for others. They would die for others, but not necessarily live for others. Real love does both.

Continue reading

The One Thing I Hate to Do

This is part 2 of the series “Do I have to carry THAT cross?” To read the original post, click here.

img_2324

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. or what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Matthew 16.24-26, ESV

I am a selfish creature.

I do not make the statement with pride, but rather confess it, to my great shame.

Like most humans, I enjoy my own particular flavor of comfort. I love sipping my homemade iced chai, surrounded with whatever music suits my mood. My favorite find is a book to get lost in. I warm with pleasure when I find myself in a protective bubble of like-minded people, close friends, beloved family, and familiar faces.

I’ve been abruptly called away from these creature comforts, oh so many times. Continue reading

Justice is weeping today.

lady justice
Photo from Wikipedia.

I don’t normally discuss politics or national news on this blog; I typically devote all my articles to learning about God and how to walk with Jesus. I hope you’ll indulge me, just this once, in a short commentary on current events.

Brilliant flashes of colorful fireworks set the faces of my children aglow beneath the darkening Texas sky. We reveled in our new-found Texas freedom and the love of country that swells in this region of the United States. I was thankful to live in this nation, in spite of the issues that plague us.

That was Monday.

Monday feels like an age ago.

This week has been traumatic for Lady Justice and her best friend, Wisdom. They weep unrestrainedly at the black events of the past few days.

On Tuesday, the FBI washed their hands in Pilate-like fashion of the blood of Americans murdered in a preventable, yet cowardly attack in Benghazi. Carelessness by a top official was treated as no great offense. It only resulted in sensitive information falling into the hands of our enemies. It only contributed to the death of a few Americans. It only compromised our national security. It could have been prevented, but, in the words of the offender, “what difference does it make?” My dear, it makes all the difference in the world when you ask for the privilege to lead people whose lives apparently matter very little to you.

The FBI admitted to the commission of a crime, but refused to take legal action. Why?! Only God knows. I’ll spare you my little theories, for that is all that they are.

Justice wept bitter tears.Wisdom cried aloud in anger.

Last night, the country witnessed a cowardly attack on law enforcement. Eleven officers were shot and five were killed.

Five people.

Five people are dead.

Five circles of influence shattered.

Five sets of families are left with a gaping hole.

Five oceans of tears.

Six people.

Six people with survivors guilt.

Six people who will suffer the life-changing agony of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Six families who have to relearn how to live with the one they love, because that person will be forever changed.

Put yourselves outside of your life and into the shoes of these people. Imagine how you would feel if that was your father, fiancee, or friend? These families are suffering, and all the news can talk about is how two police shootings sparked this deadly attack.

STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!!!!

How about we talk about compassion for those left behind? How about we send messages of support during their time of grief? How about we make sure there is funding for counseling for all those involved?

How about we talk about the trickle down effect of disregard for law? How about we realize that our country has given evil far too much license? How about we focus on our very broken (and corrupted) justice system? Instead of criticizing cops, what if we were to give them what they needed, which is leadership that upholds the law instead of undermining it (and administers appropriate discipline towards them when necessary)?

Our President responds with shock. How touching. Maybe if he hadn’t undermined the authority of law enforcement throughout his tenure, we would not be seeing the tragedy that unfolds before us today.

On Monday we celebrated independence. On Tuesday, the powers that be rendered our independence to be unmerited. On Thursday, we experience tragedy.

There is a new kind of tyranny at work today, and our country is enslaved by it—the tyranny of the entitled. They demand everything without the willingness to give anything. They overturn justice. They call evil good and good evil. Nothing is ever enough.

The men and women who stand in the fray, protecting us from things we can barely imagine, are the ones being vilified. The criminals who disregard justice, on the other hand, are exalted as paragons of virtue. Many good men and women are walking away from these jobs as protectors because they do not feel the sacrifice is worth it any longer. What we will get in their place is what many think already have—a corrupt, gestapo-like force.

The leaders of our country consider themselves above the law, even though they are supposed to be beneath it, upholding it. When we allow those in power to flagrantly disregard truth and justice, the citizenry will follow suit.

God, who is righteous and just, sees all these things. He will ensure that, one way or another, Justice has her day. We may never see that day while we live on this earth, but we have confidence that He will carry it out in His own good time.

 

Thanks be to God that we are just passing through and belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken. This week has been another reminder of the fragility of governments and of life. Put your trust in God.

Take time today to pray for the families of the fallen. They need and deserve our compassion.

Three mechanics of monetary giving

image

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs…

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

1 Timothy 6.10, 17-19, ESV

Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money certainly is!

Money tends to bring out the worst side of people, and Christians are not immune. Currency is necessary to spread the gospel and is not, in and of itself, evil. Trouble arises when people selfishly withhold their money, give to be praised by others, or give in order to grow their prominence and influence within the church.

How much one gives to the church or to anyone in need is not a matter of quantity, but the quality of the heart with which it was given. We must all carefully examine our own hearts and minds, knowing that God sees what nobody else can.

When I was a young adult, I didn’t how much I should give or how to work it in to my life effectively. I gave rather sporadically as my limited funds allowed and was rather ashamed of my inconsistent giving. My intention was always to give more, but then some unexpected expense would arise and I’d have to hold back. This is what I have learned in the intervening years: effective giving happens through intentional planning rather than good intentions.

So, how do we do this without being Ebenezer Scrooge or living in a commune? Continue reading

The Effective Prayer 5.25.15 – Families of the Fallen

image

Each week, we turn our focus to praying for a specific person or group of people.

If you missed the original post on effective prayer, read it here.

Effective prayer is a learned habit requiring discipline and diligence. To that end, I am encouraging you to write down the people you are praying for. Part of building and maintaining habits is to have reminders and tracking tools. Making a list isn’t self-righteous or sacreligious. It is a tool. We devote time to counting calories, monitoring money, checking Facebook, making to-do lists–is prayer of lesser importance?

For other posts regarding prayer, click on “prayer” in the categories tab.


Focus for this week: Families of the Fallen

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

~John‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ NKJV

6 years ago, I got a phone call from a friend and brother in Christ. What he told me absolutely shocked me: one of the members of our church had been killed in Iraq—on Memorial Day. His convoy had been hit by an IED. He was due to be home and retired in just a couple weeks. Without warning, he was gone.

We raced over to the coast to be with his family. My heart grieved for them. His wife, one of the most joyful and radiant people I know, was sobbing, heartbroken. Through tears she told us about how he had gone over there to help rebuild. They’d had plans to celebrate his retirement upon his return. Now, suddenly and unexpectedly, he was gone. He also left behind three young adult children. They too, were in shock and grief. No words of comfort and no amount of hugs could ever fill the chasm so violently created in their lives.

He died serving. Now he is safe in the arms of Jesus where no IED, no evil fanatic and no other pain can touch him. We draw comfort from the knowledge that he is with the Lord.

His sacrifice brings into sharp perspective the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice. My friend and brother in Christ along with millions of other Americans have died to preserve our freedom, and to secure freedom for others enslaved by cruelty, oppression and tyranny.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God allowed Himself to be tortured and killed in a very cruel and violent way. He didn’t have to die. He could have chosen to walk away. But He did not.

He died serving.

He died to secure our freedom from eternal death.

He died so that we might live.

Every week, we observe His death when we take the Lord’s Supper. We remember.

Today, millions of Americans are remembering the people who died serving our country. But what of the loved ones left behind? They have lost someone very important to them. They have sacrificed as well.

My friends have grown even closer together in the wake of their loss. They are there for one another. They have drawn comfort from the Lord. Today, they remembered his death. 6 years to the day. They have picked up and continued to live. They honor his memory every day as they live full, godly lives. They are amazing people.

In your prayers this week, please pray for those, like my dear friends, who have lost family and friends serving the country. I think sometimes the families are forgotten, but they should not be. They live with their sacrifice.

Pray for the Lord to give them comfort in the way that only He can.

Pray that He will renew their strength so that they can keep on going.

Pray that they will turn to God in their times of deep grieving and sorrow.

Lastly, offer thanks to God for brave men and women who are willing to serve others to the end. What would the world be like without people like them?

The effective prayer of a righteous person avails much. Let us pray together to great effect this week.

In loving memory of Duane G. Wolfe.