This is the kind of phrase that makes for a nice Christian wall decoration or the theme of a contemporary worship song or an encouraging forearm tattoo, but what does it actually mean?
If we were talking about Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, I could understand. They won the championship. If we were talking about God’s love, I could understand even more. But if we’re just talking about love in general, as in the emotion or the motivation, I’m not sure I get it.
Is Paul saying that everything that is motivated by love will succeed? If so, what do we do with loving parents that struggle to raise their children, or loving pastors that struggle to build their churches, or loving spouses that struggle to hold their marriages together?
Thankfully, we don’t have to answer this question. It’s the wrong question. Continue reading
Back in college, I played for a choir and orchestra my senior year. We must have had a song that repeated the word “hallelujah,” because I remember the conductor taking time to explain how “hallelujah,” in the original Hebrew, meant unrestrained praise, and how we needed to think about the kinds of things that restrain us from praising God.
Imagine my disappointment years later when I discovered that the Hebrew verb, Halal (הָלַל), means “to praise,” and Jah (or yah) is short for “Yahweh.” No emotional adjectives leading to meaningful song segues. No adjectives at all. Just a simple and straightforward declaration of praise.
When I was younger, I was a little intimidated by the original languages. Whenever a pastor would pull out the Greek or Hebrew to make a point, a part of me wondered if my English translation was not enough. What was I missing in translation? Continue reading
In my last post, I asked how a group of believers that have been set apart by God and filled with his Holy Spirit act like everyone else, or even worse. On the flip side, how can so many people that reject God act with such strong moral conviction?
Does this undeniable reality undermine the claims of the Bible? Are God’s people no better or worse than anyone else? Continue reading
Take a look around. Notice the people who are always smiling, always encouraging one another, always standing up for peace, love and justice, making sure that the vulnerable are protected, the weak supported, and everyone that needs food or clothing or shelter is taken care of.
You guessed it. Those are the Christians.
Now look at everyone else, the pagans. They are ignorant, arrogant, greedy, hateful and vicious, wanting nothing more than to shake their fists at God, and spoil his good Creation. Continue reading
I have a great marriage. It gives me a deep sense of fulfillment, a sense of being loved and accepted. I never feel alone.
Sunday mornings are really special for us. I start by singing a few songs about how Laurie makes me feel and how beautiful she is. Then I spend a little time confessing my struggles from the previous week—things like wasting her money, flirting with other women, a few dates with strangers. Nothing too serious or unexpected.
After the songs, I talk about our marriage for about twenty minutes, reminding myself of how loving and forgiving she is, and how I need to be more committed. Then I sing another song to lock it in. Continue reading
When we talk about love, we tend to imagine something warm and accepting, something with big smiles and open arms, like a mother or a grandmother or Big Bird with Snuffleupagus.
People don’t usually look at a football coach and think, ‘man, that guy loves me,’ even though he probably wants nothing more than to see his players mature and succeed. You would expect your mother to keep loving you even if you drop an easy catch in the end zone with the clock running out. The coach? Maybe not. Continue reading
Why reach for this can of worms? What good could come of addressing a topic that has been debated for so long? Why not try to solve America’s political differences while we’re at it?
First of all, I have this crazy belief that, if interpreted correctly, the theology of Scripture should be consistent with itself. If we find ourselves favoring certain passages and ignoring others, we should recognize what we’re doing and be open to a broader perspective.
Second, I think it’s healthy to consider other points of view. Not because we can never be sure of anything, but because it’s important to practice being more open-hearted, if not open-minded.
If more believers would set their pom-poms aside and open themselves up to criticism, we might discover a fellowship that is more loving, humble and unified, approaching the Bible with more curiosity, relying more on the Holy Spirit for direction.
So, in the belief that we are one body, united in Christ by one Spirit, a Spirit that was given to lead us into all truth, let’s take a look at this thorny subject from three different lenses: Continue reading