Three recent ‘loves’ come together

Three things happened recently, none directly related to the others, that cause me to bring them together, because of their subject.

One, Nelson Smith wrote a 475-page book that looks at every appearance of “love” in the NT, some form of the Greek words agapao/agape. I received a copy of it two days ago.

Two, Ron T. ends his remarks on the recent HuffPo article critical of the church with a thought on the nature of love. Seems to be a proper way to end a review of that article.

Three, I’m reading a Brazilian brother’s book on the love that transforms. He uses 1 Cor 13 as the basis for his work.

I don’t know the history of the copy of Smith’s book in my possession. It was apparently in some library, perhaps of some congregation. A library pocket and card, with no indication of ownership, are still on the inside back cover. The card is blank; no one ever checked it out. (It could be the second or third or fourth card, replacement for one or more previous cards, but I have my doubts.) The 1997 book is in very good condition, a sign that it was little used. (If the library card came from a private library, we’ll assume differing study habits rendered this simple work unnecessary.)

All that to say this: I can stand to study more and apply better the love of Christ in my life. Do we meditate carefully over a reference to love whenever it appears in a Bible text, or do we skim over it to get to the supposed important points more to our interest?

One post-NT writer said others observed of Christians, “See how they love each other!” Jesus said our mutual love is our badge to the world. “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another” Jn 13.35.

James pulls in the OT commandment, following the Lord Jesus, and dubbed it the royal law, the defining quality of our treatment of others: “But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” Jas 2.8.

Showing to everyone, friend and enemy, the love of God is the ultimate DNA test of sonship: “Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete” Mt 5.48 CEB.

Love lasts. All else fades. We may not be reading books or articles about love, but let us highlight it in our Bibles, see it in our heavenly Father, and imitate that selfless, sacrificial love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

#love #HuffPo #books

God loves you, regardless. His commands permit fellowship.

white-gloveGod loves you, regardless. His commands are conditions to enjoy his presence, for he is holy and whoever approaches him must be purified through obedient faith in the blood of Christ. His commands are not requirements for love. He loved you before you sinned, and after. It is his love that reaches out to you and invites you to obedience. His love comes before your obedience, not after.

Humans make behavior a condition of love. To earn love you must do this or that, or be perfect in some way. God does not do this. His commands put us in a position to receive forgiveness. His commands are themselves an expression of his love. Continue reading

#books, #corollaries, #love-of-god, #poetry, #success, #travel

A Fall wedding in the cold South—on Saturday

weddingOn Friday we’re off to cold weather, heading south, to the city of Curitiba. It’s almost winter time here, and people say it dips below freezing there. In the southern hemisphere, going south is like going north above the equator — it gets colder. And here, it feels colder, since houses have no indoor heating.

My assigned task is to give away a bride. Cosma’s parents are both deceased, and she invited me to do the honor. She lived in SJCampos for some time, and Vicki and I became close to her.

Unlike American weddings, The Missus and I will remain standing up front during the ceremony. Must wear comfortable shoes, I hear tell two suits will officiate. Continue reading

#books, #corollaries, #evangelism, #grandchildren, #jesus-christ, #weddings

Striking the right note

piano-note

Years ago, an elderly couple in a congregation whom we barely knew were often heard to say, “We just want to love everybody.” Their phrase has stuck with me across the decades.

I don’t know what they meant by it. Did they want to ignore the doctrine of Christ and be, back in that day, all-inclusive? Had they been hurt seeing some harsh attitudes in the body of Christ?

They were not prominent people in the congregation. Even their attendance may not have been as regular as one might expect. Back then, their phrase didn’t impress me much. It seemed to leave too much out. Maybe they meant to cut away beliefs or actions important to others. Maybe not.

Whatever they meant by it, they struck the right note. The Way is the path of love, if it is anything. One thing for certain, God just wants to love everybody. And not only wants, but seeks it.

God sent his Son for salvation. He sent his Spirit for transformation. He sent his Word for sanctification. All in the name of love.

Maybe that couple was on to more than I knew. Continue reading

#books, #corollaries, #discipleship, #leadership, #love-of-god, #prayer, #servanthood

Two new biblical commentaries for the library

On our way into Nashville this afternoon, we stopped by McKay’s used bookstore. It was our first trip to the store this time around. They had a lot of biblical commentaries. I picked up two, both appear to be brand new. Continue reading

#books, #commentaries

Must read: 50 shades of …

Must-read: Rick Kelley’s article on his blog, “50 shades of rationalization.” Don’t miss a single word of it.

#books, #holiness, #morality, #movies

Sorry, but it's not 'journey before destination'

So the perverse concept pops up yet again. This time in the epic fantasy novel The Way of Kings. The author devotes a whole chapter to three ideas, one of which is “journey before destination,” that one must consider or value the journey before the destination. Perhaps later chapters will tweak or deny the concept, but it’s doubtful.

We’ve written at different times on this postmodernist idea, most recently on Forthright Magazine. As far back as 2003. Continue reading

#books, #eternal-destination, #life-journey, #postmodernism