Embracing Your Inner Blockhead Again

I’m the guy who missed the football in gym class and ended up on his butt. I’m the one whose kite always got stuck in the tree. I’m the one who walked to bat and the whole out field moved in. Heck, I even played Charlie Brown in our eighth grade school musical.

Now Charlie couldn’t kick a football. He couldn’t throw a baseball. He couldn’t fly a kite. He never could talk to the little red-headed girl. His dog belittled him and Lucy Vanpelt called him a “block head”.

Yet there is one quality, at least, which the Brown boy had in spades. He never gave up. Every year he walked to the mound with a renewed determination to win the pennant. Every year at camp he promised himself “this year I am going to talk to that red-headed beauty”. Every year he trusted Lucy to hold the ball again. He charged ahead with abandon believing this time would be different.

The apostle tells us, “ Love ‘always perseveres.’” I Cor. 13:7 NIV

The word is hypomenō- 1) to remain

a) to tarry behind

2) to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee

a) to preserve: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ

b) to endure, bear bravely and calmly: ill treatments

Love in us is that thing which refuses to give up or give in. It won’t recede even when it has to back off. It is the grandma who loves the grandson in jail and keeps sending him Scripture letters. It’s the parent who keeps praying for the salvation of the prodigal even after the child has told him “I don’t want to hear it anymore!”.

Love like this almost always looks like foolishness to those on the outside.

“Just give up.” the voices of the crowd say.

“It’s too much for you. You’re going to make yourself sick with this thing.” the masses intone.

If you have a Lucy Vanpelt in your life then perseverance has probably earned you the epithet, “idiot” or “blockhead”.

Now I’m not talking about boundariless co-dependence. I am talking about faithful perseverance. While on the outside the two things may look a little alike the roots are as different as ginger and strawberry.

Co-dependence like most “love look-alikes” is based in self. In a co-dependent relationship the enabler holds on because of what letting go says about her.

Perseverance is other centered. I persevere in the relationship not because of what I will ever get but in hopes of benefitting the other person. When such benefit becomes my sole motivation then I can persevere without ever worrying about earning something back on my investment.

Now if perseverance is the quality of a block-head, then I say “Let us Embrace our inner block-heads. For to such belongs the Kingdom of God!”

The Great Oak and the Mighty Cable Again

Love “always hopes.” I Cor. 13:7

” I hope I get the job. I have bill collectors calling me all the time.”

“I hope she recovers from surgery. But chances aren’t good.”

“I hope I get the Gameboy I want for Christmas.”

“I hope I win the lottery. It would take care of so many problems.”

It is amazing to me how many of the terms associated with love have been redefined and weakened with time and use. It is no wonder “love” itself is a term so loosely thrown around in our society.

So what is hope? First as it is used here in I Cor.13:7 it is a verb. It is something we do. When I love someone, in acting out that love, I hope.

The word is : ἐλπίζω elpizō – 1) to hope

a) in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence

2) hopefully to trust in

Today when someone says “I hope so.” it is usually in the sense of a wish or a fond longing.

Most people really mean “That would be nice.”

But to hope is really to confidently expect and wait for something you know is going to happen to come to pass. Our kids are hoping when they stand out on the corner waiting for the school bus to show up on those chilly winter mornings. We are hoping when we write a check on Saturday against our direct deposit that goes in on Fridays.

Now in order to hope we have to have a hope. 

      I love one of the Hebrew words for hope,  tiqvah . While it is usually translated as “a hope”, it can also be translated as “a cord”. How neat is that? Hope is a cord. Now what do cords do? They tie us to things.

Picture yourself hanging off a sheer cliff a hundred feet from the ground below. Between you and a fall that would bring certain death is only the strong rope tied about your waist and the anchor above. Your hope is the cord and the thing it is tied to above your line of vision.

Let’s make the obvious observation then that the problem with many people is that they have tied themselves to a dead birch tree with a ball of kite twine. Their hope is placed in something that can never support the weight of their lives. If I am climbing down a hundred foot cliff I want a mighty, powerful climbing cable wrapped snuggly around my chunky form. Further I want that cable wrapped around a great big oak tree in the prime of life. In short I want God the Infallible, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent as my Tiqvah.

When Paul writes “love always hopes.” He is saying that love is a God thing. He is saying love is powerful because it ties itself to The Great Oak with The Mighty Cable of Jesus Christ.

When in love I hope, I am actually involving God in the working out of my relationships. Further I am believing that He will take care of those issues in my “love life” which are beyond me. In this way I am able to do the next two things on Paul’s “love list.”

Send me your thoughts!

Trust Is a Must Again

According to the New King James version of the Bible love “believes all things” I Cor. 13:7

The NIV says love “always trusts”. I Cor. 13:7

Even the RSV tells us love, “believes all things”. I Cor. 13:7

I have to admit I really struggle with that. It wouldn’t be so bad if the Word was “love trusts the trustworthy.” or “love believes the things that are true.”  But that is not what the Word says. It says love “pisteuō pas”. Love believes everything!

So what? We are supposed to believe everything we hear? We’re supposed to trust the hoodlum on the corner with the keys to our car while we are delivering groceries  to the homeless? We’re supposed to believe the religious claims of every televangelist just because we are loving people? Well that’s ridiculous. Anybody who tries to get you to believe that this is what the Scripture means is definitely not to be trusted even though you have to “always trust”!

The trouble comes in translating the Greek to English. Here is what pisteuō means in its fullness:

to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in

a) of the thing believed

1) to credit, have confidence

b) in a moral or religious reference

1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul

2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith

3) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith

2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity

a) to be intrusted with a thing

In short pisteuō   is the condition of faith. Paul is saying that a true lover “faiths” all things. In other words a lover approaches every situation with an attitude that is full of  faith.

The New Living Translation captures it best when it says, love “never loses faith.”

We cannot love without having faith, a trust that there is Someone out there who has the power to intervene no matter what the situation is. If we do not have faith then love eventually will degenerate into desperation and then despair in the hard times.

Love that walks in faith cannot fall apart when the situation gets difficult because it is attached to a power that is stronger than the fragile framework of human emotion.

Love doesn’t trust the one it loves in all things. It trusts God in all things.  So even when the one you love isn’t trustworthy or believable you can stick it out because you trust in the Great Power as you walk with your beloved through life.

Paul is not saying you parents should leave your daughter at home alone with her boyfriend because you have to trust the kids in order to show love. He is saying that even after the worst has happened and you are dealing with an unwanted pregnancy you can hold onto a positive attitude and walk in love towards your child. Faith can help you still believe the best even in the worst.

“Love never loses faith!” I cor. 13:7

What I Learned About Love From My Front Porch Again

I had a pretty good garden this year. I had a bumper oregano harvest. The bergamot was amazing. I’ve already made a gallon of spaghetti sauce out of my tomatoes and a gallon of raspberry jam. I even had plants growing under my porch!

Both the bittersweet and the anise hyssop were complete surprises because they popped up by themselves with certainly no coaxing from me.

Now I have tried hard to grow anise hyssop in the past. I love the licorice flavored tea the leaves produce. But all my attempts to grow this supposedly simple-to-grow herb, have met with failure or  with stunted little twigs which hardly supply a cup of tea.

Then last year I was walking up my drive and lo and behold there it was peeking out from under my porch, anise hyssop! The plant in the picture at the right is easily three feet tall at two years old. It has already run off two babies which are  taller and hardier than the three-year old midget plant I have in my formal herb garden.

I cut the bittersweet back the other day so I could make some fall wreaths. Some of the vines were ten feet long!

I have learned that some things just grow better in a sheltered environment.

Paul wrote, “It (love) always protects.” I Cor. 13:7 NIV

The Greek word means:

to deck,to thatch, to cover

a) to protect or keep by covering, to preserve

2) to cover over with silence

a) to keep secret

b) to hide, conceal

1) of the errors and faults of others

3) by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear.

You know people are like anise hyssop and bittersweet. They grow best in a sheltered environment protected from the nastier elements of the world.

The Lord knew this and so He said things like this:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Prov. 18:1

The love of the Lord is a protection against the cold winds of life. We are called to be like the Lord in our love, always protecting. We are called to protect our loved ones dignity, privacy, and holiness.

I am interested in the fact that Paul chose to say “love always protects”. He did not say “love always rescues.”

Protecting really is being just like a porch. My back porch is not moving all around the back yard trying to cover this plant and that plant. It sits and waits for the seed to fall under its shelter. Then it does its job. It protects the seed so it can grow hidden away from the wickedness of the world.

God is the same. He doesn’t race around searching for people who aren’t trying to be found. He loves all, but if someone wants help they have to come into His presence to get it.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to You. ” James 4:8 says.

In our love we are called to protect like God does. This doesn’t mean being an enabler for a loved one who is going down the tubes because of an addiction.

Protecting does not involve sitting by and footing the bill for your credit card enslaved husband when he runs short of cash. It means  getting him help. It means keeping his confidences when he comes clean about the real reason he is spending thousands more than he has, rather than telling your sister and your mother and so on and so on…. It means being like my porch covering him so he can strengthen and grow to be the man God wants him to be.

So let’s follow the way of love. Always protect.

Rapid Fire Again

In his letter to the Corinthian church Paul machine guns the following qualifiers of  real love. He says, “It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” I Cor. 13: 5,6 NIV

These are pretty self-explanatory on the surface. But as the adage goes they “are easier said than done”.

” Love is not Self-seeking.” How many times have I mentioned throughout this study that love is about others and not-self. The truth is, though, we never have a chance to test out our level of selflessness until we have to give up something we really want for what someone else really needs.

Selflessness is the wife and mother who gives up the career she loves for the family she loves. Selflessness is the husband who stays at the job he dislikes in order to keep his kids in sneakers. Selflessness is the grandma and grandpa who give up their retirement years to raise the grandkids.

Love is not easily angered.” The New Living Translation puts it, “Love is not irritable”. Paul is taking love beyond action and into the realm of attitude. Not only is love other-centered, it is happy about it!

Love is the wife and mother who gives up the career she loves for the family she lovesand yet retains her sweet spirit. Love is the husband who stays at the job he dislikes in order to keep his kids in sneakers and never complains about it. Love is the grandma and grandpa who give up their retirement years to raise the grandkids and who count themselves blessed to have the privilege!

     Love keeps no record of wrongs.  ”Logizomai”  is the word Paul uses. It’s an accounting term referring to balancing the books in an office, making sure all the debits and credits match. Paul is saying that love takes “wrongs done” off the books so that there needs to be no balancing done with an equal and opposite reaction from you.

Forgiveness means letting someone go without punishment even though they deserve it. Love “let’s it go.” It looks so simple in print but to live it out is another matter.

Love keeping no record of wrongs is the spouse forgiving the repentant cheater and moving on without divorce. It is the abused child reconciling with the parent who has successfully gone through  anger management. Keeping no record of wrongs is love ferociously battling in the warfare of life that is this world.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  I think there is an interesting correlation between this verse and Matthew 24: 10-12 Jesus said:

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…” Mat. 24:10-12

The time Jesus is referring to is the here and now. We are seeing in our society the dampening of love, as wickedness increases.

People in leadership tell us to let go of old-fashioned ideals and join the rest of the world in the 21st century. False prophets abound and declare that the only way to true cultural peace is tolerance and acceptance of all views and mindsets.

The greatest problem with this philosophy is that it is a lie. Embracing and delighting in wicked choices causes love to grow cold. Without love there can be no peace.

So love rejoices when the truths of Scripture win out and undo wickedness in men. For then love can freely grow.

So love call us to self-sacrifice, to keep a sweet attitude even in the worst of circumstances, to forgive the unforgivable, and to fight against increasing cultural pressure to accept things we know are wrong.

I don’t know about you but that seems a pretty tall order for me to fill. How can I do it? Why would I want to?

Well I can’t make myself this kind of lover but God can. Further He does. As I open my heart to His Word through study and prayer God changes what I cannot change myself and I find more power in myself than I first thought possible. (2 Peter 1:3)

As to why I would want to walk this pathway of self-sacrifice, love is its own reward. It is the one power in the universe that will never be undone. To have love is to have everything.

I will pursue the way of love. How about you?

C.cada Update June

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when your out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone.- Rick Warren
From the album “Broken Branches” JE Lillie

C.cada is our church artist community. We meet once a month to pursue our art and encourage one another in the work for Christ. Here are some of the things we have finished this month.

The Three Sisters- From the album Broken Branches- JE Lillie

All of our artists do double duty, making money at things other than their art work. Charlotte Dorais (pronounced Doray) is our church administrator. This is a picture of her private studio. In the background you can see a mural she has done for our upcoming VBS, “Sky”.

Here are more of Charlotte’s original works.

Stolen Mountains By Charlotte Dorais

Port Porpoise ME by Charlotte Dorais

Nova Scotia Harvest by Charlotte Dorais

Nova Scotia Sheaves by Charlotte Dorais

If any of this inspired you rise up and pursue your art! God put the passion inside of you to be used. Take the time to bring Him glory!

Honorbound Again

      Every Christmas churches around the world reenact the story of the birth of Jesus. Proud parents look on as little Johnny leads little Sally down the church aisle pretending to be Joseph to her Mary.

     Year after year as the tradition plays itself out people are touched by the sweetness of this young couple, lost in an unfriendly Bethlehem. Congregants smile and maybe shed a nostalgic tear as the children/magi gather around the altar to bring homage to the Christ child and his mother.

    In every portrayal I have seen Joseph is left off in the corner. No one is looking at him, not the shepherds, not the magi. Joseph’s job is done when he gets the girl to the stable. But what a job that had to be!

     “Love is not rude.” I Cor. 13: 5

      Now that may seem rather a violent segue to you: Christmas story… Joseph… “Love is not rude” On the surface they don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other. Just bear with me.

     “Love is not rude” is actually, “love is not aschēmoneō.

      Here in 21st century America being rude means being impolite.   

     When your mother says, “Don’t be rude!”, she means “Stop burping at the table” or “Quit picking your nose in front of Aunt Rosie. She’ll never pay for those piano lessons you want so much.”

      But in first century Corinth, When Paul wrote “Love is not rude.”, the word had a much different connotation. Rude to Paul was unseemly behavior that not only brought shame and reproach to you but to someone else as well.

     Paul was saying, “Love does not engage in behavior that puts other people in a dishonorable light.”

  In First Corinthians 7:36 Paul uses the word aschēmoneō  when he is explaining how an unmarried man should treat the girl he is betrothed to.

    “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, [fn] if his [fn] passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry–it is no sin.” I Cor. 7:36 ESV

      Paul is teaching that a man needs to marry his fiancée if his passions are strong and that he should not bring disgrace upon her by behaving in inappropriate ways with her outside of marriage.

       You see love cannot bring disgrace on other people because it considers not only the wants of others but the honor of others as well. It is not love when a young man takes his girlfriend to bed and ruins her reputation. It is not friendship when a buddy asks you to break the law so that you can join his gang. It is biblical rudeness.

     Let’s  go back to Joseph. In the eyes of all Nazareth Joseph had the right to not only divorce Mary (even though they had not been officially married breaking of an engagement required a legal divorce in their culture) but to have her stoned to death. But Joseph was loving. He was not rude. He did not want to expose her to any dishonor if it could be avoided.

    In the end and with a little prodding from God and His angels Joseph took away Mary’s dishonor and Jesus’ by becoming the earthly husband and father Heaven had appointed him to be.

    Joseph was a man who protected the honor of his wife and the  child she bore. In that way he was not rude. In that way he loved greatly.

     What are some of the ways you can preserve the honor of those you love? How do you keep yourself from being rude?

The Bloat Again

I hope you are enjoying this reblog of the “Ferocious” series. I will be responding to all comments when I return from Holland. Thanks for reading along.:)

Have you ever eaten a dozen uncooked cookie balls? I have! Right now my stomach feels as though it has a bowling ball in it.

I actually considered putting this post off until tomorrow when I won’t be feeling as though moving to the computer will off-set the rotation of the planet… Duty has won out, but only just!

“Love does not boast. It is not proud.” I Cor. 13:4″.

Boasting and pride are like uncooked cookie balls. They feel good going down. Once they are in, though, they start to swell inside your spirit until there is no room left for anything else but selfishness.

Love cannot dwell alongside pride and boasting because love is other centered. Pride and boasting are entirely about aggrandizing self.

Strangely the root of pride and boasting is usually not a huge ego. So many begin down this path because they are looking for something they don’t have, self-worth. Rather than coming to find their identities in Christ men and women across the face of the planet have decided to create their own personas through shameless self-promotion.

The word used for boasting in I Corinthians 13 indicates not only self-promotion but exaggeration. The saddest thing about pride and boasting is that they are not based in reality. Both behaviors always lead the perpetrators to think things that are untrue of themselves. That is why pride can only come before a fall. The one who swallows pride always elevates himself to a higher position than he can maintain.

The remedy for pride and boasting though is love. When we begin in love to think of others more highly than ourselves, pride and boasting vanish as quickly as the bloat before Pepto-bismol or Premarin.

Further when love begins its work inside us the roots of inadequacy that foster pride and boasting are swallowed up in an abiding satisfaction that cannot be undone.

Let us love with passion then!

The Green Monster Again

In Massachusetts when we talk about “The Green Monster” we are usually referring to that giant green wall in our world-famous ball park plastered with the names of Fenway’s sponsors.    The rest of the world, though, knows there is a different green monster (or green-eyed monster depending on your upbringing) that is far more dangerous than a foul-ball into the bleachers.

Paul writes in I Corinthian 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy.” NIV

Note that this is the first place in the definition where Paul tells us something about what love is not. That’s significant. Love is not a lot of things, but the first thing love is not, is envy. The first thing love does not participate in is ungodly possessive envy.

Envy is defined as:

ζηλόω  (zēloō)- 1) to burn with zeal a) to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger1)in a good sense, to be zealous in the pursuit of good  b) to desire earnestly, pursue 1) to desire one earnestly, to strive after, busy one’s self about him 2) to exert one’s self for one (that he may not be torn from me) 3) to be the object of the zeal of others, to be zealously sought after  c) to envy


Now as we look at the definition “zeloo” is not always bad. Even in Scripture  “zeloo”, envy or jealousy, has its place under the direction of the Spirit.

Paul writes just one chapter later: “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” I Cor. 14:1 NIV

That is “follow the way of love and “zeloo” spiritual gifts.” What?… But Paul you just said if I am following the way of love I will not “zeloo”.

Well dear reader there needs to be an understanding that there is a righteous “zeloo” and an evil “zeloo” in all of us, a Jekyll and Hyde, a two-faced coin.

The righteous “zeloo” is called zeal and the evil “zeloo” is called envy… same plant different root.

Righteous zeal has its root in Christ. For example Paul writes:

“I am jealous (zeloo) for you with a godly jealousy (zelos). I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” 2 Cor. 2:11

Here Paul’s jealousy is motivated to protect the Corinthian’s  and keep them from evil so that Christ might have a pure church. Paul’s motive is the Corinthian’s best. His heart is other centered.

James however writes about “zeloo” this way: “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet (zeloo), but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

Evil “zeloo”, envy, has its root in self. It is not interested in the best of others. It wants what it wants and will do anything it has to to get it.

The husband who is wickedly jealous of his wife will lock her in and not let her out to see friends. The wife who is wickedly jealous of her husband will accuse him of an affair not because there is any evidence but because she is feeling insecure about herself.

At its root selfish envy is about fear and inadequacy. That is why love cannot have envy as one of its components because as the Scripture says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

God help us to be zealous for You and content with that!

I hope you are enjoying the “Ferocious” series. Today I might be hanging out at the Corrie Tenboom house!

Pastor Wrinkles: Chapter Charts Pt. 96

Today we leave the Pentateuch and begin chapter charting the historical books! Let’s see what fun we can have with Joshua!

Deuteronomy chapter 34 sermon topics/titles:

1. You Can Look But Don’t Touch: Deut. 34:1-4

2.Dying At Full Strength: Deut.34:7

3. God Knows Where the Bodies Are Buried: Deut. 34:5

Joshua chapter 1 sermon topics/titles:

1.4 Commands To Prosperity: Josh. 1:6-8

2. The Importance Of Advance Notice: Josh. 1:10-15

3.Aping God. Josh. 1:16-18

So tell me what you see. Do you think the Reubenites, Gadites and Manassehites were being honest with Joshua in verses 16-18?