Text Size: Zoom In

Focus Check

In thinking back on the last conversation, it seemed to me that we actually stayed within ourselves as “friends” better in talking about different perspectives of prophecy (which can be such a divisive issue) than we did in dealing with the role and meaning of love.

Ironically, sometimes love can be so intuitive that even a little child can recognize it. But then there are those times—when, in the middle of talking about something that we regard as “a can of worms”, it takes a bit of work to try and connect the dots– to see what we’ve lost sight of.

For example, here are some of the dots I try to connect when I realize that things are getting a bit messy in the middle of irritable conversations about love.  Seems important to me that when Paul wrote that the whole law could be summed up in one word  (Gal 5:14), he didn’t stop there (Gal 5:22-23).

In another letter, and while dealing with a whole series of “in house quarrels” he was even more specific about the kind of love that was desperately needed. Insisting  that all religious talk and action is empty noise unless done in a very specific way, he went on to describe the kind of love he meant when he wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1Cor 13:4-7).

Admittedly, these are just words that appear in one paragraph of the ongoing story. They don’t give us the whole picture. We can still honestly wonder, “Yes, but what does patience look like in different situations? And isn’t one person’s patience counting to 10 to avoid self-destructing, or even just avoiding–rather than enduring for the sake of love? And what about kindness? Can’t one person’s kindness be another person’s cruelty?” There’s an old proverb that says something like that (Prov 12:10).

Am thinking that it’s in those times, when we lose our way, and sense that there’s something incomplete about our understanding of Christ-like love that we need to stop and do the work of connecting the dots between the marks of Christ actions (John 13:12-18); his love (John 15:13; John 19:16-18); wisdom (James 3:13-18) and results (Gal 5:22-23).

Somewhere, between the dots, there is the kind of love that we all long for—and that, even at this late date—as it comes into focus–can help us to avoid bringing out the worst in one another while talking about current events, the Bible, Jesus, the Spirit, prophecy, or anything else that is worth thinking about.

PS The picture above is taken from a plaque that I keep on my desk. Some people see strange looking hieroglyphs. Others see something else. Turns out to be a matter of perspective.


Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+17 rating, 17 votes)
Loading ... Loading ...
71 Comments »

71 Responses to “Focus Check”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    6.5 inches of snow yesterday and warned of a 6-10 potential tonight. Seems like I can’t remember when I haven’t had to deal with it, except for those pleasant days last week and the promise of spring.

    Repeatedly I keep stating that there are opposites to every thing, up, down, in out, black white and yes love and hate.

    Believing that all things we know come from God, then it makes sense to believe that God’s love is above our ability to comprehend on a level that He does. However there are things which the Bible records that God also hates.

    Things that He hates, not people that He hates.

    When we look at the news and see the mug shot of some child molesting, torturing, murderer, how do we look upon this individual? Is it with disgust and anger or with pity and love?

    God looks upon this creature with sorrow and died on the cross so that even this person can be forgiven.

    I fear I fail in that area of God’s love. Yes I can understand that such a person is a tormented soul and somewhere in their make up a monster was created, and I can understand that under different circumstances they may have been a better human being, but the thing they did and the things they are capable of doing I hate and my first reaction is to exterminate this kind of person from the community of mankind since I can not exterminate the offence from the community of man.

    Does this mean I fail to love as God wants me to?

    I have come to understand that all offences against God are the same; that a child molester is not seen as worse than a liar or adulterer or thief or any number of *lesser* offenses.

    I have used a child molester only because most all of us would be repulsed by the actions of these people.

    Yet what about offences that one group inflicts upon another. In the name of defense or of vengeance or even in the name of their religion. All fall short of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves and of forgiveness.

    Where does this place us in the community of man? Are we to remain silent when we see God and man offended by others, or are we to act as both a spiritual voice and physical deterrent against the evils around us?

    Jesus told the men who were about to stone a woman to death for adultery that those among them without sin to throw the first stone and so no one threw any thing and went away unsatisfied.

    We may say that this is different because it was *only* adultery and it seems the man who was a party to it was not being condemned as well and Jesus *judged* correctly.

    Not recorded is what would have been the result had this been a murderer or child molester or any number of more disgusting offences against people?

    It is also recorded that God corrects those He loves, so is *tough* love seen as the same as *agape* love.

    Having said all this then if a group of people come together in order to inflict suffering upon another group, how is this seen, individually or collectively? Are then the individual guilty of the offense or only the group?

    Can love come from a group as it can an individual?

    Sorry getting long again, it is about that time for me to fade away into the duties of my day, so I say God’s speed as we all study Marts new topic.

    Steve

  2. bubbles says:

    Please remember to pray Deb this morning. Her surgery is scheduled for 10:30 EST.

  3. swwagner says:

    Where I live it is already up to 35 degrees. The sun is bright and we are expecting a high of around 65 degrees…just like yesterday and the day before that. The snow is melted and the ground is practically dry again.

    Ah, love! We all fall so far short of the ideal. My prayer is to give totally of myself for the good of mankind to the Glory of God. I fail miserably everyday. I am so thankful that the blood of Christ covers my sins.

  4. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It seems to me we need the Christian disciplines daily to keep our focus on Jesus. Healthy doses of Scripture, prayer, worship and service keep our hearts open to the immensity of God’s love in Christ. It is an overwhelming and all-encompassing love – often overriding misgivings, short-sightedness and spiritual immaturity on our part.

    Am always amazed at how likely I am to underestimate the greatness and goodness of our God!

    Prayers going up for Deb this morning (PST)!

    Blessings,
    Maru

  5. oneg2dblu says:

    Anyone need a focus check?
    Need to feel His Love?
    Just check what our youth are hearing and receiving through this youtube video,”How He Loves Us,” with Kim Walker.
    Turn up the volume, and bring tissues!
    Be Blessed,
    Gary

  6. SFDBWV says:

    Mart love your ink blot test picture, but I have to tell you, that is the cleanest desk I have ever seen.

    Steve

  7. phpatato says:

    Mart please tell us what your perspective is on your desk plaque. I have been all day looking at it trying to figure out if there is a word in it. To me, Yes Steve, it’s only an ink blot test. Please lessen my “frustration” and tell me what you see. :-)

    After reading this post, my mind went immediately to the Golden Rule. Doing (or saying) unto others as you would want others to do (or say) unto you goes hand in hand with love. If I wouldn’t want something done or said to me, then out of love and respect, I shouldn’t do that to anyone else. I don’t like myself when I see the results of someone bringing out the worst in me whether it’s anger, malice, or hatred etc. I would have to know that they wouldn’t want me to do that to them. So as my dear Mom always said, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Measure what you say or do beforehand because once it’s said, it can’t be “unsaid” and once it’s done, you’ll be looking for ways to say sorry. And as Elton John’s song goes…sorry seems to be the hardest word.

    Brisk today. Wind chill is -21c but the sun is out.

    Pat

  8. remarutho says:

    Hello All –

    I also keep the famous “now you perceive it — now you don’t” sign in my office. Am guessing there are myriad “Jesus sightings” we miss in any given day!

    Events dove-tail and skip across the surface of the time-space continuum. We plod forward (maybe), oblivious to the wonders at work in and around us… :o)

    Blessings,
    Maru

    PS Maybe in heaven we’ll see the photo-montage of all those miracles we missed in our earthly lifetimes!

  9. cherielyn says:

    First of all, I prayed for Pooh & the surgeon today. Will be happy to hear from her, when she is able to visit us again & praying that all went well with the surgery.

    Mart’s “ink blot” says JESUS! Jesus is spelled between the strips of wood. I’m not that smart, though! My husband’s cousin, who is our neighbor, has one just like it. If the “ink blot” was standing up, it would be more easily read.

    Mike went to the Adult Family Home last Friday. Today was the first day of intensive packing at his apartment. A friend from church helped & will help again, tomorrow, as well. Mike is a hoarder, so it is a monumental task. We will have help moving furniture on the 16th. Hopefully we will be ready by then.

  10. s2inkzoo says:

    I too am praying for Pooh.

    I keep getting reminded of how I fall short of loving as God would call me to do (by my actions — not saying I am badgered). Funny, how this is another area that kids can do so naturally, but as adults we “study” it and have a hard time of putting it into practice.

  11. BruceC says:

    This is one of those tougher, more intricate topics. Not as cut-and-dry as Jesus being the only way to eternal life.
    I recall my wife and her sister having a talk regarding “the marriage of those with non-heterosexual leanings”. (Just a jab at political correctness LOL)
    Her sister said she thought it was ok because “God is love”. My wife said that while that is true; it does not mean that God approves of what people do. So I guess I am trying to say that the very definition of love can get twisted or even perverted.
    Does love mean that one has to constantly suffer verbal abuse from people for the sake of love? Or physical abuse? Does one have to allow others to continually put them down because of their faith in Christ when less contact may be the more loving way?
    These are all difficult questions to answer and something that all of us need help with.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  12. phpatato says:

    Thank you Cherielyn, both for revealing the “perspective puzzle” [whew!, I will be able to sleep now :-)] and for letting us know how you and Mike are doing. You sound like you have a daunting task ahead of you. Isaiah 40:31 I will continue to hold you both in my prayers.

  13. BruceC says:

    s2inkzoo,

    I am not so sure that kids love naturally. They do that for parents, siblings, or relatives; but I remember as a kid myself that some could downright hate one another.
    They have to be taught to do what is right because doing wrong(sin) comes to all of us so easily.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  14. s2inkzoo says:

    Good point BruceC. As I look through the list of “Love is”:

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs”

    I am reflecting that these are things that are not natural to the child . . . or to us. How many infants are patient in getting their diaper changed or getting fed :)

  15. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Positive to the negative, negative to the positive creates friction. When one’s light shines on a negative situation or one’s evil destroys one’s good intent, results can change lives. That’s why it’s essential to keep plugged in to our power source. (God, His Word, fellowship, willingness to be led, etc.)

    If your “loving” actions are for show, it’s dry and face value. Many times you can look at that passage and feel that way because you just don’t feel like loving anyone at the moment. True, meaningful love and actions need to be rooted in God.

    I’m just being tested on this! I know what it’s like to go through tragedy alone and a chance to be reunited with actual caring friends is on my wanted list. Recently, there was someone looking for an acquaintance of mine that just had a tragedy. What great joy and love that would have brought to both if there was a reunion, so I walked the extra mile to help. I was ignored and teased by another who could have eased my attempt.(Grr) I don’t understand why people are like that and it’s a dart that’s been thrown at me many times. Plus I thought he was an old friend, so it made it worse! Because this person (others as well) are not walking with the Lord it appears, I know this is why I have some of the darts. It’s the negative to the positive. My first thoughts are the negative: Lord, teach them through intense tragedies like I had to learn! However I know that’s wrong, a bitter root and they are probably not saved. Thankfully, the love of wanting them saved has been firmly set. This is the good root of love from God that produces the positive.

    Here’s something I’ve experienced that you may need to know someday: When you’ve been left alone and have willingly chose to plug in to the Lord, you will grow leaps and bounds, filled with joy at times and will be a shining light to others along the way. I, nor you, would trade that, the positive friendship with God, for anything in this world.

  16. Bill says:

    Praying for Pooh (Deb) this morning. Her surgery is scheduled for about a half hour from now.

  17. SFDBWV says:

    On several different occasions I have enjoyed a series of science programs related to how the brain tricks us into seeing what isn’t there. Mostly it deals with what the brain preconceives should be there and of course the wonder of illusions.

    Remember about 25 years ago the three dimensional art one had to relax their eyes to see in amongst a bunch of multicolored squiggled lines, some could see it right away and some could never see it.

    Last night on PBS was a story of how to train yourself to make your brain work for you instead of you working for your brain. The one comment that caught my attention was when the orator stated that the brain is not you, but rather the brain is there for our use.

    I thought what a profoundly spiritual comment coming from a neurology specialist.

    Looking at Marts desk picture all I still see are stick figures; is it because I strain to see something else or because can’t relax my mind enough to see what others can easily see? I don’t know.

    Regarding the subject, I had wondered about groups of people, and if we are able to actually love a group or is it truly restricted to loving only the individual.

    God it seems honors His promises to Abraham through Abraham’s descendants even though they didn’t do anything to deserve it. In fact as a group they become so bad that God punished them severely time and time again, but promises to restore them; as a group.

    We just talked about God’s promise to Egypt as well as His warnings and punishments; as a group.

    Certainly it is not fair to say I hate any group of people when individually I am certain I can love one on one.

    However we train ourselves to encapsulate people into groups of those we either love or hate.

    Must get going, my morning was taken up by last nights very wet snow storm.

    Steve

  18. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… I had seen this one before and knew Jesus was the answer.
    Instead of just seeing chaos in our mist, if we step back from it and refocus things properly we find an order a more reasonable arrangement and a peace in it that was not found initially.
    For me, if I squinted or refocused on that plaque, the background which is at first darker suddenly becomes the lighter and the message or the letters appear they give us a more defined and newer perspective.
    Just like when we truly repent and fully surrender ourselves to the Lord, he then changes our dark background into His Marvelous Light.
    Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
    To me, without our first having that personal relationship with Jeus Christ, the meaning of that verse has no real power, for the words would be out of focus to those who now live in their own preferred darkness.
    Like the closing line in today’s ODJ, we must both believe and obey or our thinking and our actions will continue to be unfocussed and in chaos with the word of God.
    Gary

  19. foreverblessed says:

    It is love from God’s perspective, that counts, we humans can twist love any way we want it, I never understood this proverb: Prov 12:10 but it is all perspective: when the wicked thinks he is merciful, he is still cruel. At this moment there is a court case of a man in Belgium, who abused children, little girls, he would keep them in sheds, and forgot to feed them, so they starved to death. It has been a great ordeal in Belgium. Now the guy has served his ears in prison, and wants to be freed. He has done nothing wrong, he thinks. It was not his fault the girls died is his own view.
    Indeed Steve, we ought to grow in the way we look at these people, as God does, Jesus also hang on the Cross for his sins, and is waiting for his repentance. I should pray for him instead of thinking how evil he is. We do not know, we may have ended up the same if we had grown up in his envirement. God has been a shield around me, He has prevented many things happening to me, because of His Grace towards me, and I didn’t deserve it, but maybe because of prayer of my ancestors, or who else that prayed for me. We should pray more for others, those people that God lays on our heart.

    But about love, how ever can we think that we can love as God does by ourselves? What a great mistake that is. It was my mistake, not living out of faith from moment to moment that anything I do, should be in faith in Him who would give me His Spirit, the gift from above.
    “He gave gifts to men, even for the rebellious (just a note, but so noteworthy)” Ephesians 4:8

    The heart the God looks for is a broken and contrite spirit. Isaiah 57:15. (like Gary wrote, just above)
    A person who knows that he does not know how to love fully as God does, a person who knows that he needs to be in contact with God to be able to love as God loves. Attached to the Tree of Life, God’s Spirit flowing through us, giving us faith, patience, mercy, grace, and all the other attributes that are from God. I need to grow in dependence on God, in asking Him everyday, actually from moment to moment: Give me more faith, give me more love, grace.
    Have my eyes focused on Him for more of these qualities. And at the same time stop myself thinking negative about so many things around me being wrong. Still focus on Jesus will keep my mind and heart pure and sane.

    ( a side note: about Eph 4:8, when you look the original Psalm 68:18
    it says the other way round: God received gifts from men, even from the rebellious
    I was wandering what that would mean.)
    Praying for Pooh, and for a young lady who lay on the street just an hour ago, an accident with a scooter. She laid on her side, the head on a pillow, crying out of pain. The ambulance came and brought her to the hospital, if anyone has a prayer for her too.

  20. Bill says:

    Regarding Mart’s post…

    It seems strange to me that we have to split hairs and carefully (and properly!) define love. Christians seem to have to make sure we’re talking about God’s love, not man’s, that it’s defined by this or that verse, that we…

    The list goes on.

    We place so many rules, restrictions, and barriers around our love that we’ve managed to reduce it to law. We’ve become Love Dispensers, who only emit love when the proper coinage is dropped in the slots.

    Mart, you wrote:

    “Seems important to me that when Paul wrote that the whole law could be summed up in one word (Gal 5:14), he didn’t stop there (Gal 5:22-23).”

    As you know, Galatians 5:22-23 says:

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (ESV)

    Are you suggesting that love (like the other fruits of the Spirit) is a law unto itself, that none of the fruits of the Spirit can be contained by or trumped by the law? If so, does that literally mean what it seems to mean — that if a person embodies those attributes then he/she is living a life above the law, and pleasing to God?

    One of my favorites passages in the Bible is this:

    “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

    “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:7-21 ESV)

    “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” I believe that. Literally. Without qualification.

    I believe Atheists who love are experiencing God. Buddhists who love are experiencing God. Hindus, Muslims, Wiccans, Satanists — whatever — who love are experiencing God. They may not know it, and they certainly wouldn’t like it. But if God created human beings in His image (He did), and human beings have the capacity to love (they do), then every human being who loves does so showing forth one major attribute of who God is. They don’t have to be Christians, either. They already have God within them. That love may even lead them to a more full understanding of who God is, and what Jesus accomplished for them. But even if it doesn’t, they are still experiencing a small piece of God when they love.

    I believe Christians forget that non-Christians experience love — and every other fruit of the Spirit — every single day. Christians do not have a lock on “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” In fact, I know Christians who rarely, if ever, embody those characteristics.

    If non-Christians can (and often do) embody every positive attribute the Bible says Christians should, what does that mean?

    I think it means it’s time Christians quit being spiritual snobs, quit believing they’re the only ones who lead positive lives, and have something worthy to say to the world. I think it means if the world can love (just as deeply, and just as profoundly) as Christians, then HOW MUCH MORE should Christians love…and WITHOUT ANY BARRIERS AT ALL? Christ placed no limit on His love. His was the ultimate — selfless and to the death. If He is our example, what does that mean we should do?

    It means, at the very least, we shouldn’t argue about what love is, or isn’t…who can express it and who can’t…who deserves it and who doesn’t…and what verses about love really, truly mean.

    In many ways, the world loves with more consistency than we do. And that has to shame Jesus no end.

    I say we quit trying to define love, nail it down precisely, qualify and quantify it, and just BE it.

    @foreverblessed, you wrote:

    “It is love from God’s perspective, that counts, we humans can twist love any way we want it…”

    I think this is a risky position to take. Why? Because you forget that humans are God’s vessels for love on earth. We will never, ever be totally free from the propensity to sit. And there will always be horrific examples of Christians doing evil things to sons, daughters, spouses, members of a congregation, etc. — all in the name of love.

    History is replete with examples of Christians who have exemplified a kind of love twisted so severely that it no longer resembles love.

    You wrote:

    “But about love, how ever can we think that we can love as God does by ourselves?”

    We will NEVER love as God does. Ever. No matter how hard we try. Why? Because we are not God. Only He can love as He does. We will forever be imperfect. (Besides, loving as God does means to the death. How many of us are willing to go that far, or ever have the opportunity to do so?)

    Therefore, I believe it is wise to abandon thoughts of trying to do anything perfectly, especially love. We are not called to a perfect love. We are commanded to love. Period. God knew we’d do so imperfectly. That doesn’t matter to Him. So it shouldn’t matter to us.

    Obviously, this post is just another opinion of mine. Everyone here is free to disagree with me.

    Bill

  21. BruceC says:

    Sorry Bill; but I have issues with some of what you said.

    “I believe Atheists who love are experiencing God. Buddhists who love are experiencing God. Hindus, Muslims, Wiccans, Satanists — whatever — who love are experiencing God. They may not know it, and they certainly wouldn’t like it. But if God created human beings in His image (He did), and human beings have the capacity to love (they do), then every human being who loves does so showing forth one major attribute of who God is. They don’t have to be Christians, either. They already have God within them. That love may even lead them to a more full understanding of who God is, and what Jesus accomplished for them. But even if it doesn’t, they are still experiencing a small piece of God when they love.”

    The Word says that before knowing Christ we were enemies of God. It also says that when we put our faith in Christ then the Holy Spirit dwells within us. That Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and therefore God, the Spirit. Those who have not confessed Christ do not have the Holy Spirit. Therefore God does not dwell in them. They may be showing love but it is not the same as having the Holy Spirit within and showing His love in Christ.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  22. Bill says:

    Bruce,

    I never wrote that non-Christians have the Holy Spirit in them. Not once. That would not be a theologically sound statement. I also did not write that God dwells in non-Christians. I am suggesting that there’s *something* of God’s personality in every human being on the planet. There’s something indwelling every human being that is reminiscent of God. It is not God. But it is clearly something that makes human beings different from all other creatures.

    That’s because every human being on the planet is made in God’s image and shares characteristics with God, love being perhaps the chief quality.

    The only way you can write “They may be showing love but it is not the same as having the Holy Spirit within and showing His love in Christ” is if God did not create us in His image…and the Bible did not say “God is love.”

    Are you suggesting that non-Christians do not love, are not capable of love, and do not experience love the way Christians do?

    Are you suggesting that if you take two people, one Christian and one non-Christian, and put them side by side and have them both say, “I love you” that you can tell who has Christ in them and who doesn’t?

    And are you suggesting that you’ve seen Christians “out-love” non-Christians in word and deed, demonstrating a superior kind of love that is clearly different from that of non-Christians?

    I haven’t.

    I don’t think there’s any discernible difference between the love shown by non-Christians and the love shown by Christians. And I think it’s pointless to split hairs to make the distinction. What possible difference can it make — especially to non-Christians? They don’t care what kind of love is embracing them, feeding them, clothing them, giving them shelter, a listening ear, and a helping hand!

    I think Christians talk a lot about “His love in Christ.” I think Christians like to think they have a superior kind of love inside of them. But I have yet to find a Christian who actually DOES have some super love inside that enables him or her to rise above the norm, to be Mother Teresa, MLK — or Jesus.

    I think we Christians have talked far too long about a theoretical love…and we’ve spent woefully too little time demonstrating love. That’s why the world thinks we’re a bunch of hypocrites. We don’t walk the talk.

    When Christians cease to boast about Christ’s love inside of them and, instead, put feet to the street and actually SHOW the world what it LOOKS LIKE, then I think we’ll be living out the mission Jesus gave us.

  23. narrowpathseeker says:

    Bill, while I am often enlightened by some of your keen insights, occasionally disagree or sometimes don’t quite understand what you are saying, I have to say your post at 12;14pm today was very unsettling. I know we can all vary in interpretation or opinion and I am quite aware that I don’t remember but a small fraction of all that I have learned and forgotten. Maybe, I misunderstood what you wrote, but if you were saying that we don’t need Jesus to become like Him, I’m sorry but I have to strongly oppose that “opinion”.

  24. Bill says:

    Hi Narrow,

    Rest assured. I did not say we do not need Jesus. We most definitely do. I apologize if I gave you the impression I thought otherwise.

    Also, I apologize if my posts are too confusing or “out there.” I try to be clear in my communications. If I am misunderstood, then the fault is mine. I have to try harder to be more clear. Or less “out there.” :)

    Bill

  25. phpatato says:

    I’ve been having trouble with my internet server so I’m not sure why but, I’ve been all morning trying to access any site of RBC. I’m surprised I got here now. However, Mart’s picture is only an x in the top left corner as are the icons under BTA in Action. Something has happened that the page wasn’t downloaded properly. Am I the only one experiencing this?

    Has anyone got any news on Deb (Pooh)?

  26. BruceC says:

    ph,

    I may have some problems also. I could not find Our Daily Bread for today until this afternoon. It’s possible that there may have been server problems.

    Bill,

    Maybe if you were a little clearer on your view we would see what you are getting at. Yes all humans can love. Emotional love. Just our physical existence shows an “image of God” and also our eternal spirit which will live on forever in either the presence of our Lord or the lake of fire. Again, another trait of God. But; and I may be wrong, I don’t think that was what Mart was aiming at. Of course I could be wrong about that.
    And yes, you are correct that many Christians(and I have met quite a few) don’t show the kind of love spoken of by Christ and the Word. Sometimes I think that comes from the wrong perspective that faith in Christ and being forgiven means we are all on the same level all the time.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  27. Mart De Haan says:

    Sorry about some of the web issues that we had earlier. Our tech team was making some Web Server changes and it took a bit to work out the bugs.

    As to the discussion above, the mutual testing seems to be really worthwhile.

    Who can deny, as Bill says, that non-Christians often do a far better job loving than followers of Christ– in part, as he says, because of the image of God that lingers in us all.

    Seems to me that Paul’s description of love (1Cor 13), while being directed to followers of Christ, has application to anyone– in or out of Christ. Whether expressed through the lingering image of God, or the very present Spirit of God– if it is real love, it should resonate with what Paul is describing.

    Having said that, what this discussion seems to be forcing to the surface is that it is important to recognize love wherever it shows up… while recognizing that followers of Christ have also been called to a higher love (to live as we’ve been loved).

    In either case, when words become like rocks, it may be time– to get a reality check by looking at the law/standard/description of love. Even though law can’t produce love– it can, to some extent, be a measure.

    Having said that, God may be able the only one who can really see patience, kindness etc. for what they really are– as expressed through our varying temperaments, experiences, and journeys.

  28. remarutho says:

    Good Evening Mart & Friends –

    Kept getting the “bad gateway” message this morning when I tried to log onto the BTA site. Gave up and then got busy.

    Your second post, Mart, brings to mind Jesus’ words to his disciples in the fifteenth chapter of John’s gospel. He basically says that he welcomes us into the circle of mutual love between him and the Father. It is mysterious and touching that he says he loves us with the love with which the Father has loved him. Then, wonder of wonders, he says that loving obedience produces joy — fully mature joy.

    Jesus laid down his life for obedient, joyful love. It seems to me this is a mighty exalted love. (John 15:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) His love keeps us focused on him, not ourselves.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  29. SFDBWV says:

    Still had problems getting on this morning and was about to give up and move on when the site suddenly appeared. Sad especially since it is that time of month when the BTA message goes out on email.

    In the story of the “Good Samaritan” it was the Samaritan who showed real love toward another human being when he aided the victim of abuse.

    In that story Jesus is showing that love comes from a compassionate heart and that it transcends nationality and yes religion.

    Clearly most all animals and some people have and show the capacity to love. People though have an added twist to this ability we can decide whether we are willing to show love or not.

    Jesus “commands” us to love one another and adds the onus of guilt if we do not.

    So many say they love when in truth they do not. This is shown in how they act and live.

    Hezbollah lobs rockets, mortars, or whatever armament they have into Israel hoping they can kill any Israeli, whether woman, child, old or young, soldier or civilian it makes no difference to them.

    They hate an entire group of people for who they as a group. Yet I am certain that even these agents of evil are capable of loving, but rather selecting who they love.

    Jesus says to us it is easy to love those who love us in return, but commands us to also love those who hate us and revile us.

    How many of us truly do that? Very few I am sure.

    There have been a few stories and so movies about enemies who became marooned together during war and through mutual survival became friends; and so changing their entire outlook on the reasons they fought each other at all.

    Sadly there are people who can hate and never let go of it even unto death. The story given by BTA on the monthly email is about Samson a man who was a failure as a man and even in death his suicide was intended to inflict as much death as he could on his enemies. This is completely contrary to what Jesus tries to teach us and what His death on the cross represents.

    If we have any sensibilities we can understand how easy it is to hate a group of people, but love a person from that same group.

    Is it plausible to believe that all Israeli’s hate all Palestinians, or that all Palestinians hate all Israeli’s? Or that every single person in every Islamic country hates every single American?

    It becomes easy not to love a group of people rather than an individual.

    The Story of the “Good Samaritan” shows that sympathy and kindness is a form of love and that if we just treat others with respect and kindness we are showing love to that person.

    God shown us the ultimate act of love on the cross, yet He also shows us love when we feel the sting of His rebuke.

    We are capable of doing both, giving our lives for another and telling people what they do not want to hear for their own good.

    Both a form of love.

    Steve

  30. phpatato says:

    Steve you said…”The Story of the “Good Samaritan” shows that sympathy and kindness is a form of love and that if we just treat others with respect and kindness we are showing love to that person.”

    Isn’t that just practicing the Golden Rule? I think it is.

    Guess there’s a snow event making its way to the Northeast portion of Can and the US. I’m glad that spring is just around the corner. Stay safe and warm everyone.

    Pat

  31. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… you’ve made many good points all are meeting us where we are at some level. Especially your point of telling another what is best for them.
    That type of love, tough love, is probably the most misunderstood, and certainly the hardest to both dish out or hear, but it is love in the purest of forms.
    It represents the caring for another when not caring would be a so much easier path.
    It is one of the reasons why so many of the actual words of the bible that condemn or clearly warn will never be accepted or understood by man who has his own thoughts about who, wha,t where, and when to love.
    But, Christ says,”If you love me you will obey my commands.”
    The spiritual application is quite relevant, 1 John 4 that defines love, clearly does not include other spirits, religions, or other gods.
    There is no mention of Mohammed, Buddha, or Krishna as being able to lead us into this type of God-given spiritual love, it comes through Christ only, according to my bible and the teachings I’ve recieved.
    It does not come from this world an its desires, it comes from and serves a higher place.
    The world has many loves but this one can only come from a relationship with Christ, and then it is dispatched by His loving Father.

    So what type of love are we trying to define here, simple human love of the pagans, driven by the things of the world, or one from a higher place?

    Or are we now concluding that all love, any love, is the love of God?

    How about the love of money, or the love of the world?
    Does it all now qualify as love from God?

    I believe we have so watered down the word that is has no power to save us, if we believe anything we want. Gary

  32. SFDBWV says:

    Yes Pat the “Golden Rule” is to treat others the same way we want to be treated. So the Samaritan was the better brother in that even though he did not share a common nationality or religion with the injured man, whereby blood brothers of the injured man simply walked past him, “The Good Samaritan” showed compassion on the injured man and so fulfilled Jesus’ commandment to love.

    Love is always a “Golden Rule”.

    We have already acquired 30 inches of snow for the month of February here and praise God we are going to miss this storm they are calling for up in the north eastern US and Canada.

    Spring weather will be here in a couple weeks, the ground hog and I believe so anyway.

    Gary one of the great tragedies of Christian believers are those people who choose out of Scripture what they want to hear and ignore all they don’t, they have invented their own brand of Christianity.

    It is evident even in Scripture as Jesus has to talk to seven churches and not just one in Revelation.

    Steve

  33. narrowpathseeker says:

    Steve, I have found that in the love verses hate battle that we all have to fight, that to plug into the power source with prayer, the minute a weakening thought attacks me, is the only way I have any chance of winning the war. It doesn’t matter how many battles I win….there is always another to fight.

    I start the day with the Lord’s Prayer everyday now on my knees and resist the urge to put it off until I’m fully awake and have some awareness of what day it is or what I have to do that day. I lift my hands to “Hallowed be Thy Name”. While it MAY be that I am still weak and groggy, I choose to believe that the sensation of lightheadedness and swaying is me being refilled with the Holy Spirit to guide me through the day.
    I pray for our world leaders, and everyone that comes to mind as the day wears on. While I am still a far cry from being Christlike, I feel that prayer and staying in prayer throughout the day for enemies as well as those I truly love has me on the right path. I am sharing this here, not only to remind everyone of the importance of staying plugged into the power source, but in hope that IF I FORGET this that one of you will remind ME. Much like our wireless phones, we need to get recharged and if we forget, we can’t function as intended.

    I was thinking about uprooting some weeds and how if you get a good grip at the bottom and pull slowly but surely, that the entire root comes up. A quick yank leaves most or all of the root and the weed will spring up again….so slowly but surely the Lord is uprooting my ugly roots.

    I hope we hear good news from Deb soon.

  34. narrowpathseeker says:

    Steve, as Pat said, we are expecting a record storm here in the Northeast with up to 2 feet of snow, and the stores are packed and the shelves going bare from people preparing for it. I started thinking of you…don’t you get that much snow in your area on a fairly regular basis?

    Pat, I hope all is well with your daughter and grandsons.

  35. phpatato says:

    Thank you Narrow. My daughter is fighting a sinus infection and the boys are, as normal, awake all hours throughout the night. I know her being so sick is because she is functioning on very little sleep. She only wakes her husband if she is desperate (usually when both boys are awake and crying) as he works in a high risk job that requires him to be alert for safety sake.

    Please pray that this “season” of no sleep will soon pass. I’m trying so hard to help but it is beginning to wear me down physically but more emotionally.

  36. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pat, I am sorry things haven’t gotten better. I forgot, how old are the boys? Having had 6 children and done a fair share of baby sitting for 18 grands and greats, I must have some potential solutions in my memory. I will continue to pray for you and your family as well as for a memory boost of how I dealt with any similar situation. Right now to the best of my recollection, I cried a lot right along with them, but I am sure at some point I did something else that worked…I just have to remember.

  37. narrowpathseeker says:

    Cherielyn, thank you for your insight on Mart’s plaque that reads Jesus. I don’t think I would have recognized that on my own. Also, thank you for being your pleasantly humble self and revealing how you knew it.:-)

    I hope Mike is adjusting well to his new home and that you are enjoying some relief in being somewhat free of worry for his well being and safety.

  38. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… you said who can deny?
    “Who can deny, as Bill says, that non-Christians often do a better job loving than followers of Christ- in part because of the image of God that lingers in us all.”
    I am shocked at the length we stretch ourselves to not offend anyone, ever!

    1 Peter 4: 1, 2, 3, 4, NIV
    “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, (of following Christ) he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil desires, but rather the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past,(before following Christ) doing what pagans choose to do- living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.”

    If that can somewho be construed to look like some love image of God, please tell me where it says we should desire to behave as they do.

    Are we saying that Pagans are doing the will of God because, as Bill says, non-Christians often do a better job of loving?

    Loving who?

    Apparently, we are not talking about Christ according to the word of God.

    Why are we now placing such acclaimation on any Pagan behaviors?

    Something is amiss here, for we are no longer focussing where we should be, in following Christ alone, and in obedience to the will of God.

    If Pagans have this greater earthly love, good for them. But, they do not possess the godly characters of those who possess the Holy Spirit, those who are given the fruits of that Spirit, or many Christ followers are taught wrongly and not following properly.

    All this side-stepping just to honor some earthly love above the greater Spirit that is only given to Christ followers?
    Whom do we serve with this kind of teaching?

    If God is love, we should not be servants of love, but of God.

    Let us not start making love our pagan idol.

    In my eyes, there is a huge difference. Gary

  39. BruceC says:

    Starting Friday AM to Saturday AM we could get 6-12″ of snow and possible winds. But that can change if the storm takes a different track. We have had two mild winters in row, this year and last. So far I have had my blower out once and last year not at all. We usually have feet of snow on average every year like Steve does.
    But I am grateful it has been mild so far. A friend of ours from downstate said there is a “feeding” frenzy at the stores. When I was a boy in north New Jersey we had many snowstorms and people never acted this way. Too much hype these days in all areas.
    Will be praying for all.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  40. Bill says:

    Gary,

    You clearly don’t have much respect (or use) for non-Christians, do you? You seem to think they’re all evil, nearly untouchable, riddled with sin, wallowing in the gutters, boozing it up, whoring…

    Do you honestly, sincerely, truly think all non-Christians are doing that?

    And are you honestly, sincerely, truthfully going to tell us that no Christians have ever done that? (I can think of very prominent ones, such as Swaggart, Bakker, Haggard, Crouch, Foley, countless priests…).

    It is not possible to believe that all non-Christians are wallowing in their own puke in a gutter somewhere. It’s simply not possible. The Bible doesn’t say they are. It says SOME were. THOSE particular people to whom 1 Peter is addressed were.

    Why do you insist on painting non-Christians with a broad brush, making them seem to be the devil incarnate compared to Christians?

    And why must you insist on twisting people’s words in these posts to fit your argument?

    NOBODY (let me repeat that…NOBODY) here said “Pagans” are doing the will of God. NOBODY. (Just for good measure, there’s a third utterance.) In fact, I don’t recall anyone but you using the word “pagan.” Is that a word you use when you speak to non-Christians? Do you say, “Hello, Tom Pagan…Hi, Nancy Pagan…Greetings Mr. and Mrs. Pagan”? When you’re with your fellow church members, do you see a group of non-Christians and say to yourself, “Those poor pagan slobs. They’re going straight to the pit of hell”?

    Are you here to tell us that you’re that disrespectful, that contemptuous, that discourteous toward non-Christians?

    What I wrote, and what Mart wrote, states a simple, irrefutable fact: Some non-Christians do a better job of loving than some Christians do. That is a fact, born out by anyone with eyes and ears to see and hear. You can mis-cast the conversation. You can yank scriptures out of context. You can paint non-Christians with the ugliest brushes you can find. But none of that will change the truth.

    Non-Christians are just as capable of love as Christians. That’s a fact. We are made in the image of God. God is love. Human beings — Christian and non-Christian alike — have the capacity to love. Non-Christians don’t always use their love in moral ways. But, sadly, Christians don’t always, either. (Or haven’t you read the latest statistics regarding the divorce rate for Christians, or the number of Christian teens who have babies out of wedlock?)

    I’ve personally known Christians who are self-centered, stingy, aloof, and haughty, who’d rather die than associate with “sinners.” And I’ve personally known non-Christians who’d give you the shirt off their back, the last dollar in their pocket, and the last can of food on their shelf.

    Who are you trying to convince with your posts — all of us? Or yourself?

    I don’t think I could live in the kind of world you see with your eyes. It’s way too dark for my tastes.

    Bill

  41. SFDBWV says:

    Bruce you are right, they certainly do *hype* the weather and have elevated the people at the Weather Channel to idol status. What on earth did we ever do before the advent of TV?

    I came along at the last of the Radio era and can recall listening to some of the classics of radio; then our TV screen was our imaginations.

    When I was a kid growing up here in my little town we never had snow days, never. The school was here in town, the teachers lived here and if the kids that lived in the outlying area couldn’t get to town they were excused for missing, but those of us who lived here just put on our five buckle Arctic’s , scarf’s, toboggan’s, gloves and went to school.

    Automobiles in those days weighed 3,000 lbs or more and was made of steel; we put chains on and if a link broke that clap clap clap sound they made, made little difference as it hurt nothing.

    In fact people really didn’t go anywhere they didn’t have to, as money was tight and people conserved all they could.

    My goodness how times have changed.

    I am sure every generation can say that, but it is my turn to feel that sad sensation that something wonderful has been lost and in only a few decades be forgotten.

    Oh well looking backward always seems a mixture of sadness and warm memories as we sometimes forget the unpleasant things of yesteryear.

    May not be along the subject of love, but certainly along the lines of matters of the heart.

    Steve

  42. SFDBWV says:

    Reading along the thread of comments my thoughts turn to a matter the misunderstanding or disagreement going on between Bill and Gary brings to the table.

    If charity, generosity, kindness, sacrifice, sympathy, concern and love are attributes to every human where ever in the earth, then what is difference between that love and Christian love?

    Mind you I am not talking about the acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and Hope of all mankind; I am talking about love.

    I am not talking about sex as many people confuse sex with love; always a mistake.

    I am talking about brotherly love, true concern for other people not just yourself.

    I agree and understand there are people in every segment of society that are self oriented only as well as those who are self sacrificing for the betterment of another’s; so what separates one love from another?

    Could it be that there is no separation? That love of that type is the same and universal in all of God’s creation?

    Could it be that Jesus’ teaches us what was forgotten from our creation and underscores its importance to He and to the Father?

    Could it be that because people chose to not love and allow hate and anger in to their souls that Jesus condemns that and makes it a commandment that we love selflessly?

    Is it possible the only real difference between Christian love and brotherly love outside Christianity is where the Christian gives credit for it and the unbeliever does not?

    Thank you Bill and Gary for taking me on a journey of discovery.

    Steve

  43. oneg2dblu says:

    Bill… again you open with a personal attack, showing only your humanity.

    But, I was showing and quoting those pagan behaviors that are cited in the scriptures.

    Whether you choose to believe them as written, is your option, and probably also where you base your opinion, but they do tell us that pagans are enemies of God.

    So, they do not serve God, they do not know God either, according to the scriptures, found in John 17: 25, 26, NIV.

    Now, I’ll go back and read the rest of your opinion.
    Gary

  44. Bill says:

    Steve,

    I never fail to enjoy your posts. I mean that, brother.

    Your two posts so far this morning contained wonderful phrases and insights. I especially enjoyed this paragraph (from February 8, 2013 at 7:38 am):

    “May not be along the subject of love, but certainly along the lines of matters of the heart.”

    There was something poetic about your words that made me sit back and smile to myself.

    Regarding your second post this morning (February 8, 2013 at 9:18 am), I can contribute this…

    First, your final questions. Wow. So profound! I believe there are no more important questions to ask and answer than those at this time in our history. I believe life-changing and widespread changes could occur if those questions are pondered.

    Second, as I’ve mentioned several times, I am not a biblical scholar. I enrolled in seminary once, but did not attend for financial and philosophical reasons. I am like all of you — a believer who has spent many years reading the Bible, attending church, talking to Christians and non-Christians alike, and observing life. So my posts here are merely opinions. My words carry no weight of authority.

    That said, I would like to take a crack at answering your questions.

    You wrote: “Could it be that there is no separation? That love of that type is the same and universal in all of God’s creation?”

    I believe there is no separation. I believe wherever humans express love — through word or deed — they are expressing an aspect of God’s personality. Even some non-human creatures (like apes and their kin) seem to have the capacity to love their offspring. And what about ducks and penguins that seem to nurture their young, and seem to mourn when a young one is lost or dies?

    I think love is the universal language, a “matter of the heart” that transcends language barriers and expresses a profundity of God’s character that is both sublime and grand.

    I believe when people express love — and witness it being expressed — they are experiencing a very tiny part of who God is. Without love this world would be a very dark place. In fact, I think it would be hell.

    You wrote: “Could it be that Jesus’ teaches us what was forgotten from our creation and underscores its importance to He and to the Father?”

    Yes. I think so. If there’s one plumb line, one unifying thread that stretches from Genesis to Revelation — expressed most powerfully in Jesus’ life and, most especially, His death — it’s love. I think people have the capacity for love — very deep, profound, exquisite love. But I think they forget it, get hard of heart, become angry, tired, sad…and it’s through encountering others who love them (I’m not talking physically) that they are recharged, renewed. Each time that Duracell moment occurs, they are renewed because God is love. He is the life giver, the One who demonstrates that (a) love exists, and (b) how it looks when practiced.

    Somehow, Christians and churches have become of the Law, imposing McChristian-like standards on everyone, forcing believers (especially new believers) into a mould of predictability, conformity, until they become catechism-spouting robots that have little resemblance to the grandness and goodness that God intended when He created us.

    You wrote: “Could it be that because people chose to not love and allow hate and anger in to their souls that Jesus condemns that and makes it a commandment that we love selflessly?”

    Yes. If we did not have the capacity to love as human beings, and if even Christians were not capable of hate (non-love, if you will), then Jesus’ commandment to love would make no sense.

    You wrote: “Is it possible the only real difference between Christian love and brotherly love outside Christianity is where the Christian gives credit for it and the unbeliever does not?”

    Yes. And I’m not even big on “giving credit for it.” Pharisees did that. They liked to make a show of their deeds.

    I always go back to the life of Jesus. He didn’t always tell people who and what He was. He just did stuff. He healed. He fed. He (especially in the Sermon on the Mount) told people how to live exemplary lives. But he wasn’t “showy,” and I don’t think he was ever “preachy.” He just demonstrated what God’s will is for us — to take care of each other…Christian and non-Christian alike. He showed us how to be humble, how to be compassionate, how to love.

    I think if we spent our lives mirroring Jesus’ life, we would not need to “give credit.” We would not need to “preach.” We would draw people to us like white on rice. People couldn’t get enough of us. They’d want to know who we are and how we do such things. Then we’d tell them. But I always cringe when I hear Christians telling non-Christians, “Now, I’m giving you this food because of Jesus.” A starving man doesn’t care if Jesus is feeding him or not. He just wants food. And I’ve been around enough soup kitchens to know that people play the system. They’ll listen to you say all the Jesus stuff. They’ll mimic some of it back to you. But they don’t really care. They just want to be fed.

    I think this topic is one of the most profound and life-changing Mart has ever posted on BTA. I think that’s why I’m so passionate about it. I believe this issue is critical. I think it has the power to change Christianity (for the better!) as we know it in 21st century America.

    So I thank you, Steve, and everyone else here who’s had the patience to wade through my comments. My goal is for others to say what Steve wrote at the end of his post:

    “Thank you Bill and Gary for taking me on a journey of discovery.”

    That’s all I can ask. Ponder this stuff. See where it leads you.

    Thanks for reading this. Have a great Friday and weekend!

    Bill

  45. oneg2dblu says:

    Bill… unfortunately the tone of the rest of your post lacks any real love as well. I’ll rest my case and let your words have their fullest measure of showing what you consider acting in love to be, perhaps it is Paganesque at best, for the spirit they show me is not very Christ-like.
    But, I may be wrong for focussing on your words instead of the real lamp to my feet, and light to my path.
    Gary

  46. oneg2dblu says:

    Bil…I should have said the tone of the rest of your post to me. Gary

  47. Bill says:

    Gary,

    I can assure you that I love you. I would not take the time to respond to your posts if I did not. I have an extremely busy schedule. I am behind on deadlines. My wife accuses me of spending way too much time reading and posting to Mart’s blog instead of finishing my work…playing with our cat…or even talking to her about her day.

    But I take the time, especially when it comes to what you post, because I think you’re wrong, brother. I think you’re missing not only what I’m saying but what Mart is saying, and what Steve is pondering. There’s a bigger picture that you’re not letting in because of your preconceptions and your own ideas regarding theology.

    I think you would be wise to read my post to you from February 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm. Its content addresses what you keep telling us about “pagans” and about love.

    I detest the phrase “speaking the truth in love” because it’s so often used to mean I can bash you over the head and justify it by calling it “love.” So I’m not going to apply that phrase to my comments to you. I was not speaking truth, anyway. I was speaking opinion.

    However, I want to make perfectly clear that I do not hate you. I may not understand you. I may dislike what appears to me to be a very narrow, dark view of scripture and the Christian life. But I love you as a brother in the Lord. In fact, even if you were not a professing fellow believer, I’d still love you. Why? Because you are a human being, created in God’s image. You deserve love, and respect, and compassion.

    I apologize if my tone offended you, or made you think I did not love you. That’s an error on my part that makes me wince. I need to find other ways to express myself so that love shines through.

    Bill

  48. oneg2dblu says:

    How about all the pagans and others who are so loving among us, who are so free to naturally love or hate, but also must ignore the greatest commandment?
    Mark 12:30, ” Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
    Because they lack any god-given faith, or spirit to believe God they live in abject disobedience.
    Can pagans or any other humans who were created in the image of God, but are not called by God, and not filled with the Holy Spirit of God, but only in their own spirit love God?
    I think not.
    So, there are clearly many types of love, and not all are godly, in fact they may currently sold as images of real godly love, but they possess a deceived and dead spirit, for they are driven by the enemies of God, or those who are in the world, and clearly of it, unless they follow the Commands of Christ they both live, and love, in vain disobedience.
    Christ followers must be different, must make a stand for God and His Word above all other things, lest we be swayed by the loving world around us, into their mould.
    If so, we have not really overcome anything, but we have rather succumb to the world and its desires to have us, which they label as love also.
    Yes, pagans do love, but as I said earlier, who?
    Clearly not God!
    You can package pagan love any way you want, but I do not buy it or call it God-driven, according to the cword of God. Gary

  49. narrowpathseeker says:

    Inasmuch, as I don’t think I have as yet aspired to the “love” that genuinely loves our enemies, I probably should be still. However, since Jesus said that even evil men love those that love them wouldn’t that seem that it may be the same love but that we are called to love those that don’t love us or even hate us?

    I am also remembering that I have done “loving” deeds out of obedience to do good unto our enemies, when in my heart I still desired vengeance. I further recall in days of yesteryear before the Lord gave me a conscience(for the asking)that I did “loving” deeds to cover up the not so loving things in my heart. I wanted people to see ME as a “good guy”. While the “loving” deeds I do now that I would rather not do for those who do not love me, may be a step up, I don’t consider it the same Love that Christ calls us to. I LOVE doing good unto those that love me and I DON’T LOVE doing good to my enemies. I DO LOVE doing what I believe Christ wants me to do.

    However, I think taking control of my negative thoughts, confessing them, praying for our enemies, our leaders, as well as for those I love and asking Him to fill me with His LOVE for all is the ONLY way I will ever aspire to possessing the GENUINE LOVE of Christ. Since I have been doing that, my dark UNLOVING thoughts are fewer and more brief and I am hoping for the day that they don’t come at all.

  50. BruceC says:

    I am having problems with the copy/past part of my word program(not MS, but open office). I wanted to copy some of the posts made here to form a response. I am not smart when it comes to tech. And it could be that my internet connection is so weak today I just can’t do it.

    However in lieu of that I would just like to state that I think I am seeing a clash of two polar opposites. One that tends to be legalistic, and on the other one that sounds like universalism. Forgive me if I am off the mark. But this discussion has gotten to the point where I am going to bow out for now until a new topic arises; or the tone changes.
    I will pray for all.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  51. His Sparrow says:

    Me too, BruceC, every time the new topics come and the pragmatists “dig in” I loose interest.

    Love
    His Sparrow

  52. phpatato says:

    Bill and Gary

    Please cling to the belief that if both of you were in the same room, sitting in comfy chairs around a fire, with a coffee in hand, that this misunderstanding between the two of you would probably be straightened out with both of you in a AHHH I SEE NOW WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN TRYING TO SAY!!! moment….or at the very least, coming to a mutual loving understanding to agree to disagree. This medium of conversation is one of the toughest.

    In my eyes, relating to this topic, Bill’s view of love is the simple everyday Do Unto Others As You Would Want Done Unto Yourself kind while Gary’s view has gone into the more deeper and technical side of love . One is looking at the surface while the other is layers deep. Both are right. Bill’s classroom discussion is in Room 101 on the first floor while Gary’s classroom discussion is in Room 101 on the third floor. You can meet in the cafeteria at lunch.

    Blessings to Both with hugs from me

  53. phpatato says:

    I said Room 101 for both because I didn’t want one to think one was at just the basics while the other was elevated to a higher “grade”. You are both in the same course but on different floors. The course….Love 101. (just trying to inject some humour into this) :-)

  54. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All –

    Thanks for that, Pat! I have not found a place to put a 2 cents worth in for a while here. Love is a profound subject, especially when we recall that God is love (1 John 4:16). We probably won’t get our arms around it today — especially in this medium of virtual ink on virtual paper…

    God bless all here!
    Maru

  55. Mart De Haan says:

    I’ll change the subject soon.

    But, again I want to say how important our discussion and disagreement is. We can no more afford to miss the love of God in those who reject our faith in Christ, than we can afford to miss Christ as the source of all that is good and honorable in the world.

    If those who don’t believe in God lovingly self-sacrifice in behalf of others– as soldiers so often do on the battlefield– haven’t they shown the kind of honor and love that finds its source and ultimate expression in Christ? And when those of us who say we belong to Christ act in self-centered ways, aren’t we are acting in ways for which Christ died?

    When the Bible says that the glory of God fills the earth, can’t that same glory be seen in the hearts, and bodies of people whether they believe in God or not?

    This is the important truth of God’s general revelation. By acknowledging the love of an atheist, we aren’t dishonoring the God of gods. Rather, I’m convinced that we are seeing and honoring and wonder of a goodness that came from God even in those who deny his existence.

    In short, general revelation… in nature… and in all who have been created in the likeness of God… is what sets the stage for seeing the glory of God in the life and love of Christ.

  56. dja says:

    Amen, Mart! Thank you , Pat. I had a good chuckle:-) Steve, I so enjoyed your trip down memory lane because that’s how it was for me, and I do miss those times. Yes, at times they were hard, but I seem to remember appreciating things so much more.

    I have been reading the posts, but I have not written because I do not like debates, and there are times when I fear to make a statement because I don’t want to offend anyone or start a debate.

    Steve, when you write, I feel I want to say, “Amen, Amen, Amen” and what more could I say?

    As I was reading the “Christian love” vs “Pagan love” debate, I couldn’t help thinking about all the wonderful people the Lord has used to show love to me. Were they all Christians? No. For years, the dear man next door would send over homemade bread and stickybuns for our family. What a treat that was for our family. He was not a “professing” Christian, but Who worked in his heart to show all this love for us? I didn’t know his heart (or anyone’s heart), and wonder if he died not knowing the Lord. Our children struggled with that when they were little, knowing how wonderful he always was to them but also knowing that he wasn’t a believer. Thankfully, the Lord looks at the heart, not our outward appearances.

    Waiting for the snow. It should be starting soon. They say 5″-8″ in this area. I’m thankful that we are not closer to the east coast where they may get 3 feet. Hopefully, my children and grands will be able to come home tomorrow morning for a visit.

    Praying for Pooh. Has anyone heard? Because of the snow, my knee with the replacement is aching, but I’m use to it. I pray that the rehab will go well for Pooh. I know it will get better each week.

    I do pray for my BTA brothers and sisters. May the Lord bless each one of you and keep you safe.

    ~Della

  57. SFDBWV says:

    Bill I would like to thank you for your eloquent expressions of my ponderings. I think personally you did an excellent job in filling in the blanks of my post.

    I am somewhat surprised at the negative reaction from some in regards to examining the subject. In a blog titled “Been *Thinking* About” I would expect some thinking to go into the subject. Regardless of whether a mutually agreed upon consensus is reached.

    Just from an old *Grunt* I find it ridiculous to think that love exists only in Christians. I do believe though that through a Christian the purity of God’s love *should* be always seen and heard.

    Otherwise we are just giving lip service and following another *rule* believing love is something we *must* do and not actually experiencing its *power*.

    If all one does is talk and never listen there is little chance of learning anything and almost no chance of intellectual growth along the matters of what it means to be*Christian*.

    The temperature is dropping and it is beginning to snow a little, we aren’t supposed to get much more than 4 to 6 inches, nothing compared to what our friends up in New England will face.

    Good to hear from you Della, had written this and when I went to post seen your comment, stay safe and warm.

    Steve

  58. phpatato says:

    Mart….””””When the Bible says that the glory of God fills the earth, can’t that same glory be seen in the hearts, and bodies of people whether they believe in God or not?””””

    AMEN!!!

    State of emergency in Mass with 3ft expected and high winds. Stay safe everyone in the Northeast. We have snow but not near what they predicted but winds are a factor. Blowing snow and miserably cold.

  59. remarutho says:

    Remembering those still rebuilding and restoring from Superstorm Sandy — warming shelters — hot food — fuel for alternative heating. Praying for those who must deal with the blizzard moving that way.
    Blessings,
    Maru

  60. Bill says:

    @Steve, you’re welcome. LIke many here, I look forward to your posts. Always fascinating. This was one of your more eloquent and insightful observations:

    “I do believe though that through a Christian the purity of God’s love *should* be always seen and heard.” Wow. Love that.

    @Mart, thank you for your post (February 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm). You captured in fewer words and with more eloquence what I’ve been trying to say in this thread.

    @phpatato I appreciated what you wrote (February 8, 2013 at 11:54 am). Thank you. Love 101 is a remedial course for some, I think. I can always use a refresher, I can tell you that.

    Has anyone heard from Deb yet?

    Bill
    .

  61. Mart De Haan says:

    Thanks to all for your patience and willingness to spend time with this. Will change subject as soon as i can get something else up.

  62. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    This discussion is bringing out many different facets of God’s love and living out God’s love in a world such as ours. Following after Jesus is a kind of “connecting the dots” as you say, Mart. We are called, it seems to me, to do a self-check from time to time. Thanks for the exercise in self-examination.

    Mart, you wrote:
    “Somewhere, between the dots, there is the kind of love that we all long for—and that, even at this late date—as it comes into focus–can help us to avoid bringing out the worst in one another while talking about current events, the Bible, Jesus, the Spirit, prophecy, or anything else that is worth thinking about.”

    Keeping the bow of the boat aimed at our Lord and holding the tiller steady is working at his love. Agreeing with your statement above:
    1) We all long for the love of the Lord – unconditional, unchanging and poured out on the whole creation
    2) It is late in time – and we hunger for the peace only God can give in Messiah
    3) Christian conferencing, such as you foster at BTA, is vital to building one another up in faith

    Blessings,
    Maru

  63. oneg2dblu says:

    To all those I’ve offended, set on edge, caused such a heartfelt distress, all by being so overdone in my expression, and choosing to use scriptures to support my leanings, how dare I present such things.
    I wish I knew another way.
    Perhaps some day I will foster an everything goes, evertything is alright with God and us, your saved type of philosophy but I’m not there yet.

    Trust me though in saying the world is still tryng to mould me into its shape, and find like it finds, that any and all Love Wins!

    I just listened to Witney Houston’s, The Greatest Love of All, and I wonder how we could fall for such a worldly driven form of love as this.

    Thought I should mention it would make a great theme song for where I think we are heading here with this love thread
    that is so easily embraced by all.

    In this song, there is no mention of any biblical principles presented, so no restricting or confusing guardrails to get in the way.
    No need for Christ or God either, just a supporting of the greatest love, “the love of self,”{ it is the very love the wolrd wants us all to have. Go figure!

    Too bad it does not satisfy man’s greatest need, not love of self, but Forgiveness.

    Nor does it speak of the actual “greatest love” there will ever be, the love of Jesus Christ for a lost and dying world, which is only given by Grace for those who will suffer through it by maintaining a believing faith the He is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do.

    The heart of man however, is another story, the issues of the heart found in any worldly man will always corrupt God’s plan and His best for us.

    If not, then Christ died for something other than our love of self and the world.

    I wish someone else here would agree that only the love of God really wins, not the many loves of mankind.

    There is no greater love than laying down one’s life for another.

    That is exactly what we are supposed to do, to properly follow Christ, we must lay down our worldly loving lives of our sinful nature that oppose His Spirit, spirtually speaking.

    Teaching others that they can still live in their old sin nature and follow Chrsit is very confusing to those who have been taught and believed otherwise.

    Galations 2:20 Have a greatest love day! Gary

  64. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All –

    Have been given a good “Focus Check” this morning.

    E. Stanley Jones asks, “Upon what are you centering your life?” He suggests a daily search for the “freshness of God’s presence.” When that freshness is lost, we often “carve an idol.” In our time that idol, “if it is not state, race or class, it turns out to be just ourselves.” Sadly, self-centeredness leads to the disruption and falling to pieces of that very self. Among the Scriptures he cites: “…and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:15) quotes from “Abundant Living”, Abingdon

    – Maru

  65. oneg2dblu says:

    Maru… thank you for sharing these scriptural teaching on the ultimate damage that self love, self thinking love that corrupted man can bring into the wolrd, if not held in check by God’s Word.
    Yes, all mankind are created in God’s image and all mankind can love, and do love.
    But, not all types of love or god-driven, god-empowering, and biblically sound, some only serve to further carry man into his own deceptive destruction.
    So, God gave us some rules for the road, rules that need to be obeyed, or we like sheep, will lose our way.
    Not all raods, even those called Lover’s Lane lead to paradise.
    So, there needs to be a certain direction heeded if we are to stay focussed where we are being led, that is if we are being led by God.
    Would a loving God lead us down the wrong road?
    No, He would clearly warn us!
    He would even use others we encounter along our path to help us as well.
    Thanks Mart for allowing tough discourse to have its day, even in an age where the hard verses are so often neglected or ignored by many.
    Gary

  66. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All –

    When I ask the Father, “What does it take for those I care for and love to accept Jesus’ offer of wholeness and abundant,eternal resurrection life?” the Lord whispers back, “Daughter, dont’t ask. It’s none of your business.”

    My experience has taught me that cracking a person in the head with my Bible (meaning symbolically) is not the best way to share the love of Christ. I’m speaking only for myself here. Salvation offered as an intellectual proposition is mostly ineffective.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  67. phpatato says:

    Gary

    “”””I wish someone else here would agree that only the love of God really wins, not the many loves of mankind””””………

    Question: Why do you come here when it is so obvious that you consider the group of us who participate as heathens? Do you consider Mart’s blog a “witnessing field”? A harvest of lost souls that needs converting?

    Please answer this a simply as you can..because I’m kinda dumb. I find your answers really really deep and quite honestly you may lose me after the first sentence or two. And I do apologize for that. Keep it simple for me….please. I’m not expecting a Biblical answer, so a yes or no on whether you consider us heathens and a yes or no on whether you think you need to witness to us will do. Anything more will just add to my confusion and stupidity.

    Please know that I’m just trying to understand where you are coming from when you post what you do.

    Love Pat

  68. oneg2dblu says:

    Pat… I am not saying you are a heathen.
    Nor am I accusing anyone of being a heathen.

    To me, and according to the teaching of Paul, no heathens described on his list are allowed to enter the Kingdom of God, or are those who are deceptively living in their own darkness through those very behaviors ever be able to enter, according to Paul.

    To me, If those who are currently misled by any false teaching, or false doctrine that allows a false freedom to continue to sin, then those who freely sin because of that doctrine’s freedom can expect to hear, “Away from me you Evil doers.”

    To me, there is right living which is living within the Will of God and wrong living which is living outside the Will of God.

    Being saved or unsaved never changes those basic principles they still apply, as there are no concessions made for us to continue to live wrongly.

    Doctrinal beliefs can never change our wrong choices into right living.

    Unfortunately, some of today’s churches preach an absolute deception that your sin no longer matters if you’ve once believed you will never become an unbeliever, or lose your salvation.

    But, that is not scripturally sound advice.

    Paul and Christ never taught that, but modern teachers of OSAS do teach such things.

    To me, there are to many verses that say otherwise, there is over two dozen, and only that “one modern popular doctrine” of Eternal Security as taught by many today, make those verses all become null and void, or must change their original intent or context, just to support this doctrine.

    So Pat, I only wish to open up the full scripture to us all, and not avoid the hard lessons, or the wake up calls to those who are on the list of heathen behaviors.

    If they continue to practice the very things that God in His Word declares will not enter the Kingdom of God, or where one can lose their salvation according to the Word of God, but not according to this one doctrine then, there is something very wrong going on.

    Where suddenly our sin no longer has any ill effect upon the believer, but it certainly affects the rest of the world.
    Sin will always separate us from God.

    Please know this, I am not speaking about the Love of Christ here, nothing can separate us from that. I’m speaking about separation from God who will not tolerate any darkness in His Presence.

    The scriptures reveal that certain sins, false doctrine about salvation, and persecution all hold within there potential the possibility of negating one’s salvation.

    Here are three: Hebrews 13:9, Luke 8:13, John 6:66, NIV.

    Unless, I’ve been wrongly taught those verses that say one will not enter, or will fall away, and they are still valid.

    Sorry that was so lengthy.

    The bible is full of changed lives because God has blessed many and made himself known to them, but OSAS says you can’t and don’t have to change a thing, after you once believe, because your salvation can never be lost.

    Some teachers claim that there is no outward evidence ever seen by one’s salvation, saying that there can be saved and unsaved people continuing exactly the same behaviors with no need to ever change a thing.

    I do not believe we can take a Holy God into our unholy lives and continue to live as if He is not present, and remains there unaccountable.

    So, it is not that I think everyone else is a heathen, but if you are living comfortably in your old behavior, and that behavior is on the list of those who will not enter the Kingdom of God, but your doctrine says you’re safe, something has to change.

    I do not care what your doctrine says, right living is always the right way to go, and behaviors that do not qualify, simply do not qualify.

    I am not saying everyone here is on the list of wrong behaviors, but some clearly may be.

    They know who they are, so I do not need or want to point them anywhere but to the full word of God as a Wake up Call if needed.

    What I am saying is that if you believe your salvation can never be lost, then you are also saying you can practice the entire list of bad behaviors daily with no effect on your salvation.

    However, the bible says you are living outside the Will of God if you choose not to believe His Word.

    I have been given a heart for those who feel they are saved, but may also be caught up in a false thinking, by false teaching or a falsely held doctrine about their current behaviors and their eternal consecquence.

    Nothing else is going on here, there is no I’m better than thou, no pridefilled feeling of any superiority, just a sharing of the basics on current belief and deception found and followed in the churched today.

    If anyone wants all those verses, please let me know.
    Gary

  69. Bill says:

    Gary,

    A few comments and questions regarding your latest post.

    You wrote:

    “To me, and according to the teaching of Paul, no heathens described on his list are allowed to enter the Kingdom of God, or are those who are deceptively living in their own darkness through those very behaviors ever be able to enter, according to Paul.”

    Why is this relevant to Mart’s topic? In fact, why is most of what you posted relevant to Marts topic? It can only be relevant in your mind if you think we are all deceived — Mart included.

    You wrote:

    “Unfortunately, some of today’s churches preach an absolute deception that your sin no longer matters if you’ve once believed you will never become an unbeliever, or lose your salvation.

    “But, that is not scripturally sound advice.

    “Paul and Christ never taught that, but modern teachers of OSAS do teach such things.”

    Is anyone in this thread talking about Once Saved, Always Saved? You seem to talk about that a lot. Therefore, you must think (a) we believe OSAS and (b) there is no scriptural basis for it, which means entire denominations and millions of Christians will be going to hell even though they’ve professed Christ and have led lives based on the Bible.

    You wrote:

    “So Pat, I only wish to open up the full scripture to us all, and not avoid the hard lessons, or the wake up calls to those who are on the list of heathen behaviors.”

    Are you suggesting that only you have “the full scripture” and that all the rest of us — including Mart — are lacking “the full scripture” and are, therefore, deceived?

    You wrote:

    “I have been given a heart for those who feel they are saved, but may also be caught up in a false thinking, by false teaching or a falsely held doctrine about their current behaviors and their eternal consecquence.”

    Pat asked you a simple question, a simple Yes/No question. You assured Pat that you didn’t think Pat was a heathen, or that we’re heathens.

    Yet, your post went on to speak to us as if we are.

    I think we can all appreciate your devotion to God’s word. That comes through loud and clear. Where I think some of us part ways with you is in your belief that the opinions held by you and your pastor are the only valid ones and that all the rest of us are deceived and hell bound because we don’t agree with your opinions.

    Going forward, can we agree to disagree on this subject so that you don’t have to constantly tell us that we’re not getting it, don’t understand or embrace “the full scripture,” and are hanging precariously over the fiery pit?

  70. phpatato says:

    Gary..

    Bill quoted “”””Pat asked you a simple question, a simple Yes/No question. You assured Pat that you didn’t think Pat was a heathen, or that we’re heathens.

    Yet, your post went on to speak to us as if we are.””””

    I have to agree with Bill. Even though I read your quote “”Pat… I am not saying you are a heathen.””, I get the feeling that you are thinking that indeed I am. That I am nothing but a sorry misguided lost soul, who is caught up on the thinking that I can live a happy life full of earthly unremorseful sins because I can’t lose my salvation. Did it ever occur to you:

    *That the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sins as He does you;

    *That you do not have sole exclusive possession of Him;

    *That when I received Christ into my heart, that very action makes Ephesians 1:13,14 come alive…….”And you (Pat) also were included in Christ when you (Pat) heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you (Pat) believed, you (Pat) were marked in Him WITH A SEAL, the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our (yours and mine) inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”

    When I became a born again Christian, the Holy Spirit took up residence in my life. He now lives within me. He is my Helper and Advocate. He protects me, He encourages me and HE GUARANTEES MY INHERITANCE IN JESUS CHRIST…signed, sealed and delivered!!!!! The Spirit of God is my guarantee that because He lives in me, I can face tomorrow. Paul is NOT a liar and God DID inspire Paul to write those words of guarantee.

    Romans 8:16,17 – The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

    So I kindly ask you please….while you constantly continue to preach to us about our sinful, evil, unrepentant, heathen, OSAS life pleasures, don’t include me in your thoughts. Please don’t offend me any longer by including me in your sermon. So if you would kindly start out by saying…Pat this doesn’t concern you so please scroll past what I am about to say, I’d appreciate it.

    Lovingly requested, I anticipate your compliance.

    With Love, Pat

  71. oneg2dblu says:

    Pat… for relief of your current apprehensions, I’ll say to you now, my sermons are not directed at you.

    Please feel free to just skip over my every word if my words upset you so much.

    They are only directed to those whom they apply to.

    They will only convict those who know that they already stand convicted.

    If that is not you, fine.

    You operate in the faith of the OSAS according to your words, in that you will never lose your salvation. In spite of any teaching that Christ, or Paul, or John, opens to the possibility of one not reaching the Kingdom of God.

    Those verses apparently are not for you either.

    If that works for you fine.

    I operate under constant disciple and bearing with the directed obedience to the Word of God.

    That is my Cross to bear and my faith is built through every step of obedience I find in God’s word that is for me.

    If Christ says it is possible for some to fall away, I believe His words.

    I do not believe I’m safe at home, before I pick up the bat to swing.

    So, I report for duty daily, as present and ready for the game, not thinking the game is already over and I can just sit on the bench and watch the play from a distance, knowing the home team has already won.

    To me, there are different strokes for different folks.

    Perhaps each one of us builds our faith on a different premise, and mine is different for me, than yours is for you.

    But make no mistake, that either your faith or mine is only built upon God doing what God says in His Word, and doing what He says He will do, and that having this relationship with Jesus Christ is our only path to the Father, because Jesus always means what He says, and He only says what the Father tells him to say.

    So, their message is always of one accord, and of one Spirit, it is never changing, it is the same today as yesterday, and will be forever the same, according to the word of God.

    Matthew 7:13, NIV
    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.”

    In using that one verse alone to me says it all, as I am always accused of being very narrow minded. Praise God!

    Gary

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.