acceptance

Love in Action

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:12,13 When we talk about loving others, it’s important to remember that love is an action, not a feeling or an emotion. We show others who Jesus is by carrying what’s in our hearts into motion.  Now, love in action may look like caring for the poor and feeding those in need, but most significantly, it is demonstrated by building deep and bonded relationships with people who are otherwise disconnected and lonely. In this increasingly isolated world, the greatest thing you can do for your neighbor is to show them that they’re worthy of love and belonging; to prove to them that when they are with you,

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Servant Leadership

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” – John 13:14 What do you think about when you hear the phrase “love your enemies”? If you’re like me, it’s possible that you ask yourself the question, “Do I really have enemies?” If you’re a Christian and one who is serious about your walk with God, it may feel strange to define people as enemies — especially if you are trying to live at peace with everyone. But what happens if you replace the word enemies in that question with competitors. How do you love your competitors? More often than not in our modern world, we are dealing not with people who are out to get us specifically, but with those who are out for their own gain. They view everyone in the world as a competitor, and that includes you.

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Grace and Truth

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 Do you like things that are salty and sweet? I sure do. There’s something about kettle corn, salted caramel, and french fries with milkshakes that creates the perfect balance of flavors. Interestingly, I believe this is how grace and truth function in the life of a believer. The Bible says that Christ — the Living Word — came to earth full of these important, and seemingly opposite, characteristics. You see, whereas grace is unmerited favor, or getting what we don’t deserve, truth calls out reality and reminds us of what we do deserve. So how do these two coexist and complement each other? The answer is simple, and it’s found in the salvation we

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Connection Changes Things

“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV) Emotional isolation stifles the human soul. In fact, the first five months of life are foundational to the health of body, mind, and spirit, because that’s when bonding happens. When, as infants, we internalize the love of our mother or parent figure, we’re equipped to retain a sense of connection later on, even if our guardians are no longer present. The reality of having our emotional needs met enables us to be loving and empathic people who have healthy relationships with others as we grow older. Of course, because we live in a fallen world, many things can go wrong in this process, and a lack of attachment can lead to a host of difficulties trying to build and maintain life-giving bonds. If we’re not regularly internalizing the love of our

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Connection Transforms

“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV) Emotional isolation stifles the human soul. In fact, the first five months of life are foundational to the health of body, mind, and spirit, because that’s when bonding happens. If, as infants, we internalize the love of our mother or parent figure, we’re equipped to retain a sense of connection later on, even when our guardians are no longer present. The reality of having our needs met enables us to be loving and empathic people who have healthy relationships with others as we grow older. Of course, because we live in a fallen world, many things can go wrong in this process, and a lack of attachment can lead to a host of difficulties trying to build and maintain life-giving bonds. If we’re not regularly internalizing the love of our spouse,

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Jesus for the Defense

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5 I think one of the best ways to envision how Jesus, our advocate and mediator, intervenes in our lives is to imagine a courtroom in Heaven. Packed full of people and ripe with anticipation, everyone looks intently at the judge. The defendant is on trial for a multitude of criminal offenses, and the prosecutor is the mangy old devil. He snarls as each new witness takes the stand, and he determinedly accuses and builds a case against the suspect. In his closing argument, he passionately declares, “Your Honor, the accused is addicted to pain pills, she’s really jealous of the lady at her job, she’s mean to her kids, and she just said a horrible thing to her sister.” On hearing him, the room goes totally silent, and it’s clear

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Grace is Greater Than Guilt

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 1:14 Something I’ve learned as I’ve counseled people through the years is that shame always leads to sin and grace always leads to goodness. Nothing helpful comes from self-condemnation and guilt; rather, righteousness and holiness come from a base of grace, or an understanding that acceptance is not dependent upon behavior. The truth is that being emotionally healthy, grounded, and secure is only possible when we understand that in Christ, we are loved just as we are. God knew we were helpless to help ourselves, so He stooped down to us when we were still sinners and made us righteous by the blood of Jesus. This means that if we’ve said “yes” to our Savior’s redemption, we’ve already attained perfection in His eyes. And while

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Perfection Not Required

“On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” – Mark 2:17 It’s probably unorthodox for a pastor to say this, but I want to have a church filled with sinners. There are plenty of congregations filled with saints and people pretending to be perfect, but I don’t believe that’s what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. The church is not meant to be a country club of righteous friends who meet to pat each other on the back, but rather a gathering of thirsty, weary souls yearning for His Living Water. As disciples of Jesus, we’re broken people who want to be better, and we strive toward sanctification, righteousness, and Godliness. But most importantly, we receive the Lord’s love so we can love each other, especially

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Welcoming Samaritans

“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” – John 4:9 Yesterday, we talked about lepers, the first of four kinds of “untouchables” whom Jesus willingly touched. Today, I want to look at the second set of outcasts He welcomed to His midst, and those were Samaritans. Many of us who grew up studying the Bible, especially the story of the Good Samaritan, know that this particular group of people was hated by the Jews, but we may not understand why. The reason they were especially despised by the Hebrew people is because they were considered “half breeds.” They held certain Jewish traditions, but they had their own Torah and their own synagogue. In essence, they believed that their religion was the “true” form of Judaism —

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Find Compassion in Community

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24,25 As we continue to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think it’s more important than ever to become an active part of a church community. Thankfully, most congregations have adapted to the precautions demanded by this strange time in history, and many have online fellowship groups for those who don’t feel safe attending in person. Unfortunately, 2020 was a year of social isolation, and though it’s important to be prudent and cautious, it’s never good to be alone. In this age of technology, we’re blessed with numerous ways to connect with people, and while in-person interaction is always best, finding connection online

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