Crazy Little Thing Called Love

How to Love When You Don't Feel Like It

Most of us believe that love feels great. You know, the way you feel when you read the words in a Hallmark card. The cards shows you pictures of cupids shooting arrows into people’s hearts (or two cute penguins checking each other out).  You’re made to believe everyone falls in love and lives happily ever after. But lets face it, love doesn’t always feel good! In fact, sometimes it feels a lot like an arrow in the heart. Country artists know this about heartache and make a fortune singing about it.  Are you at wits end right now in some of your relationships. Lets face it, loving is easy, until there are actual people involved! So, what is the solution?

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Maybe you’ve tried to feel good about someone and it just didn’t work. Try as you might, the ugly feelings just wouldn’t go away. In fact, you felt worse, because guilt kicked in. We’re so good at criticizing ourselves. We say things to ourselves like: “I’m just not a good Christian”. Or, “I’m a terrible pastor, or spouse, or daughter”. You get the idea.

The problem with guilt is….it leaves you feeling guilty. Right when we’re supposed to be loving others, your sight turns inward. Sometimes you feel helpless. The last thing you want to do while feeling helpless, is love someone with all your might. Guilt also tells us to overcompensate. It makes sense to take the kids to Disney to make up for all the missed ball games and daddy dates throughout the year.

Jesus never meant love to be so complicated.

Few places in scripture tell us how Jesus felt around difficult people. What we do have are records of how he acted and behaved. We too, are leaving a record for the public as well as our loved ones. The question is, what kind of videos are we leaving? Are we known as someone who loves well?

Instead of examining our own feelings, what if we took our eyes off of ourselves. Why not focus on the needs of others? After all, our feelings deceive us, right? We’ve all had those days when we FEEL like we’re dying, when in fact we’re healthy. We’ve all felt insignificant, when in fact we are helping many people.

When we take loving actions, sometimes the feelings will follow…sometimes, not always. Feelings are never to take the place of real love. We love our wives, whether we feel like it or not. We work and provide for our families whether we feel like it or not. We take care of our bodies, especially when we don’t feel like it. If you wait for loving feelings, you may be waiting a loooooooong time!

What if you decided to just obey God’s command to love Him and others.

That kind of obedience brings a blessing. It’s not a matter of how you feel, it’s a matter of taking action! Love takes out the garbage. Love does the dishes. Love listens. Love turns the other cheek. Love goes the extra mile. Love blesses those who persecute her. Love takes an active interest in the lives of others, especially those most unloveable. Love is a verb.

This is the mature love the Apostle Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. He teaches us that love is supreme. Gene Getz put it this way, “Love is the capstone for faith, because love believes all things. It is also the capstone for hope, because “love hopes all things”. Love is the greatest, because it “never fails”

There was a man named John in the New Testament who learned how to love.

The son of a wealthy fisherman, John left his nets to follow Jesus. The bible tells us John was an angry man. He and his brother were the ‘sons of thunder’.  John also wanted power. His mother made a special request of Jesus. She wanted him to give her sons prominent places of honor in Jesus’ kingdom. She wanted them to be his left and right hand men. To make matters worse, she voiced her petition in public. Still, Jesus had a special love for John despite John’s faults! You or I would have unfriended John, but Jesus took pains to lead and teach John.

Because of the love Jesus showered upon John, he went on to write The Gospel of John. He also penned first, second, and third John as well as The book of Revelation. How was all of this possible, you ask? The answer is simple. Love, love, love.

John learned how to love by being the direct recipient of love. And not only just any kind of love, but the love of the master! John chose to love others after experiencing the life changing love of Christ. A man who longed for power, prestige and peace found all these things. But he found them by going around the barn. He found them when he discovered his position in Jesus. He learned God really loved him despite his weaknesses and lack of social graces.

John later wrote: “These things have I written into you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may know that he have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God”. (1 John 5:13). Wow! What better way to say ‘I love you.’

John loved us so much,
he left us these beautiful words
to remind us how much God loves us!

Loving God and others isn’t measured by the depth of our warm fuzzy feelings. Yes, feelings can be wonderful, but they’re not always trustworthy. True love trusts God’s command to love him and others despite our feelings. Even when it doesn’t feel good.

Do you have a time when you loved someone despite the fact that they weren’t loving towards you?  What were the results?

Really? FREE Resources?

Here are some FREE resources you might want to check out! Prayerfully, they will inspire you and help you reach the next level in some of your endeavors.

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www.capmembers.com/file.cfm/media/blogs/documents/concepts_of_the_strategic_coach_6AF_30BD7502D9C06.pdf. When you access the link, it will appear to be a blank screen. Simply scroll down and you will find an article based on an $8,900.00 training class! The section on how to spend your days is especially interesting and useful.

www.gutenberg.org. Tons of FREE books, both new and old, including classics! You may never have to buy another ebook again!

www.paidtoexist.comThis is a FREE ebook called The 0 Hour Workweek. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but have enjoyed what I’ve read so far. This is a helpful resource for entrepreneurs, especially those who are interested in creating an online presence.

www.productiveflourishing.com– This website is for those of you who are looking for ways to be more productive. Remember, productivity isn’t just about working, you are productive when you achieve the results you are looking for in any area, be it fitness, rest, or play.

www.roscoelilly.org This blog has helped me tremendously. This is the rare site with both informative content as well as a crisp presentation. Subscribe today and watch your life transform before your very eyes!

www.haguebaptistchurch.com– Go to the messages link and ‘click’ the ‘Launch Media Player’.

More resources are on the way.  While you’re waiting, I hope you enjoy some of the links listed above. Feel free to share these links on Facebook or Twitter, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well on any useful links you might have.

Remember the Incredible Hulk?

How to be a cool leader

If you want to make a mess of things as a leader, just be like the Hulk.  Every time you get angry, just fly off the handle and destroy stuff.  Flip tables.  Throw a car.  Tear down a building like Wreck it Ralph.  By now, you realize I’m being sarcastic.  I hope.

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When you boil it all down, leadership can be broken down into three categories. Those who curse, those who bless and curse, and those who bless. Abraham Lincoln falls into this last category. His Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, a lawyer and politician, once referred to Lincoln as the “original gorilla”. How would you respond as a leader to that kind of opposition from one of your direct reports? Would you curse or bless them? Lincoln chose to bless. As a result, a close working relationship developed and when Lincoln was finally laid to rest, Stanton was quoted as saying: “Now he belongs to the Ages!”

So how do you continue to bless when those under your leadership turn up the heat? I wish I had a simple, one-size-fits-all answer for you, but I don’t. Leadership forces you to sometimes build the plane while you’re taxiing down the runway. What works today, may not work tomorrow. Every situation is different and dynamic. What shouldn’t change is your reaction. That’s why it’s important to decide ahead of time how you are going to respond in any given situation.

In the book of Romans, you learn that you are to bless and curse not. Simple, but not easy, grasshopper. Seasoned leaders have an advantage called experience. Especially with certain individuals. You know who they are. Maybe a face or two is coming to mind. Whatever you do, decide to take the high road ahead of time.

Someone once asked General U.S Grant what he thought about one of his soldiers. Grant responded with kind glowing words. When he was done, his inquirer said: “But you know, General, that soldier can’t stand you!” Grant responded, “I’m sorry, I thought you asked me what I think of him, not what he thinks of me.” That’s a leader who blesses and curses not.

When your race is over and the results are in, may the people you led say you were a blessing to them. They may not agree with you, and they may not like you, but that shouldn’t change your attitude toward them. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with what people under your leadership say, think or do. Trust me, not all of it will be complimentary. In fact, there is a time to rebuke, correct and discipline. That’s what love does, right? Love compelled Jesus to do some of these things. He turned over the tables in the temple, called Peter Satan and told him to stand behind him (not highly recommended unless your Deity), called hypocrites ‘whitewashed tombs’ and more….all in the name of love. That means as a leader, as you go about leading and blessing others, you should always have the right motives.

To examine your motives, ask yourself “Why?” Why am I a leader? Why does this person push my hot buttons? Clarify your motives. The verse I’ve kept at the front of my mind for a couple of months now is from the book of James, “You all must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19 NLT). It’s amazing what you’ll hear people say when you just listen.

So how do you lead diligently without cursing? To lead diligently means to be earnest and prompt. But if you’re like me and you don’t always have a quick answer, be honest with people. Ask them if you can have some time to think and pray about the issue at hand. In most cases, issues will take care of themselves with the passage of time. In the meantime, the grace period will give you the necessary time to process the information you’ve received and act accordingly.

Whatever you do, remember to be a blessing and not a curse to those you lead. That’s not just my idea, God thought of it first. To recap, leadership will try the best of us. Despite our best intentions, there will be those who openly oppose us. But that shouldn’t stop us from leading with diligence.  To do so, listen carefully, hold your tongue, and whatever you do, don’t lose your temper like the Incredible Hulk.  After all, anger is a dragster with no brakes or parachute.

Please feel free to share some of your responses and thoughts on this topic on Facebook and Twitter!

“Lead with dilligence.” Romans 12:8 “Bless those who persecute you: bless and do not curse.” Rom. 12:14

 

The master in the art of living

draws no sharp distinction between

his labor and his leisure,

his mind and his body,

his work and his play,

his education and his recreation.

He hardly knows which.

He simply pursues his vision of excellence

through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine

whether he is working or playing.

To himself, he is always doing both.

—James A. Michener

How to Be Rich!

Unearthing the gift of giving in Romans 12:13

As a good friend recently reminded me, if you’re reading this blog its probably because you want to grow. Your drive is above average. You want to be all that you can be. You want to leave a dent in the universe. O.k, maybe that’s going a bit too far. But if you want to be more of a giver and you’re looking for more than a guilt trip, welcome aboard.

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Dr.‘s take our vitals, to diagnose our health, so lets start with a great question. Where are you on your path as far as giving is concerned? Are you on a path toward being more or less generous? Again, this is not a guilt trip, just a check up.  Here are four tips to help you move in the direction of generosity, if you want to take your giving to the next level.

Learn the principle of sowing and reaping- The bible says we harvest what we plant. It also says if we plant bountifully, we will harvest bountifully and if we plant sparingly we will harvest sparingly. You want a great harvest don’t you? Why not start today? Determine and purpose in your heart to invest in the work of the Kingdom no matter what. Others will benefit when you do, but so will you! Once you understand the principles of giving, you’ll never again regret one penny you’ve given away. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.  Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts.Mal. 3:10-11 (NASB).

Come to the realization that it’s more blessed to give than to receive! Acts 20:35. Jesus himself said this and Paul reminds us of this fact. The return on investment is not always tangible, though often it is. But who can put a price tag on that feeling or knowledge you experience when you bless someone else? It’s like bing cherries, you can’t eat just one. These investments will pay dividends for years to come, long after other purchases have rusted or disappeared.  Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”  Matthew 6:9 (NASB).   Besides, the ironic thing about money is that unlike time and energies, you can always get it back. Lose every cent you have today and you can recover it (check out Job 42:10- 13). However, pass up on an opportunity to give in a certain situation and it is gone forever. Remember it’s more blessed to give.

Sacrifice some of your own comforts and you will have something to give to others. That doesn’t mean you should give away just leftovers. But if giving to others generously is a problem, start by denying yourself. How much car do you need? How big a house? How many mobile devices? How much cable? How many tattoos? It’s not that you can’t have nice things. Lots of Christians do. But if giving is a challenge for any number of reasons, create some margin in your finances and you’ll take a rewarding step in the direction of being more generous. After all, you do want to grow don’t you? Growing means every area, not just the ones that feel good. Pastor/Teacher Andy Stanley says that if you make more than $48,000.00 a year, you are in the top 1 percent of all earners in the world. You’re rich. Right up there with Mark Cuban and Bill Gates! The problem is that most of us have a tendency to raise our standard of living every time we receive more, instead of living below our means and making eternal investments.

Study the scriptures. In them you’ll find that God commands us to give. In fact, Paul calls giving a sign of grace. “But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.”  2 Cor. 8:7 (NASB). The more you see how generous God is, the more you’ll want to be just like him. After all, that’s what kids do, right? God is so generous, He allowed his son Jesus to leave glory and die on a cross for every man, woman and child who ever lived. Maybe that’s why Jesus talked about money more than any other topic. Here are some facts: 1) Money is the subject of nearly half the parables Jesus told. 2) One in seven verses in the NT deals with this subject! 3) The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 verses on faith, and more than 2,000 verses on money. 4) 15 percent of everything Jesus ever taught was on the topic of money and possessions. 5) Jesus talked about money more than he did on heaven and hell combined.

If you want to grow, be rich. Get this area in your life nailed down and a lot of other areas will fall into place. It’s like anything else in life, we can talk about it until we’re blue in the face, but we have to experience it to fully understand. If you want to be more of a giver, start giving. Remember, it’s not all about getting rich, it’s all about being rich! God promises you’ll never regret your decision to step in the direction of being more generous.

“He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; (Romans 12:8)

“Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality” (Romans 12:8,13)

A Little Honey

Part 4 of our study in Romans 12

A Little Honey

It was the Spring of 2014.  The office was neat and orderly. There were two black leather chairs facing each other next to a well-filled bookcase.    Little did I know it, but I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life forever.

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Leading up to that day, I’d been pastoring for almost five years.  I’d completed an advanced seminary degree.  I’d read lots of  books and was pretty sure I was just destined to be an unsuccessful pastor.  That’s when  I met my mentor.

We decided to work on three particular areas.  Homework involved reading prescribed books and completing various assignments.  We met every other month or two and reviewed each session.  My mentor listened and asked thought provoking questions.  When asked, he would share his personal views, otherwise he would let me do most of the talking.

I’m pleased to admit that amazing things have happened because of this relationship.  Not only did I study the books my mentor gave me to read, I studied him and watched how he led his church.  I listened to his sermons.  Followed him on Facebook and Twitter.  I even read his thesis from Liberty University….twice!  You get the idea.

Lets face it, we all need a little guidance, coaching, accountability and help from time to time.

It’s not that we don’t know the answers.  Often we do.  But what we need is Jesus with skin on.  Someone who not only knows the truth but lives the truth.  Someone who encourages us like a parent; coaxes us, prods us to stick with it.  Someone who shows us the path and tells us we can do it.  We all have weaknesses and there is always someone who can do something better than we can.  But sometimes we need someone who will tell us EXACTLY what to do given a particular situation.

These people aren’t always naturals.  While my mentor possesses above average gifts, he is a reader.  That encouraged me.  I’d never met anyone who read as much or more than I do.  I figured if he can do it, so can I.  He learns from others.  He creates opportunities to glean from those who excel in his field.  I took a leaf out of his book and met with a successful church planter during one of my vacations!  The planter also turned out to be an avid reader.

Encouragers rejoice in hope; they are patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.    Do you have anyone like this in your life?  If you don’t, maybe it’s time you found someone.  Someone who can laugh in the face of difficulties.  Someone who endures the hardships and setbacks in life while still moving forward.  Someone who prays like everything depends on God, yet works like everything depends on them.  A pioneer who is fast on the tracks of another pioneer.  Some one who in the words of Bill Hybels is always tinkering and tweaking.

Encouragers make their own luck.  And they’ve also discovered the harder the work, the luckier they get.  More than that, they realize despite how hard they work, the results are up to God.  Encouragers trust; seek; lead others to cooperate.

People with the gift of exhortation see the big picture.  They see and encourage people to execute the steps necessary to reach their goal.  They press or prod.  But they do it in such a way that most of the time the other party never even realizes what is happening.  Notice I didn’t say they manipulate.  That’s far from what they do in the sense that we think of that word.  What they do is lead.  And they lead with wisdom and tenderness.  They are like loving fathers and mothers.  Encouragers earn our devotion and  faithfulness.
Encouragers are wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  They’ve learned from experience what works and what doesn’t.  They’ve learned that a little honey goes a lot further than vinegar.  They are realists.  They have a tighter grip on reality then some of the rest of us.  They don’t just hope, they chart a course.  They are not harsh taskmasters who focus on results at the expense of people.  They are task oriented, but they also own people skills.  Encouragers know how to motivate and inspire others.

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So what’s your dream?  What steps do you have to take to achieve it?  If you’re unsure, talk with someone who’s been down the same road and weathered the storms of life.  Chances are they didn’t succeed because they are any luckier or more deserving than you are.  Ask to meet with them.  See if there’s any chemistry.  If there is, ask if they’d be willing to meet once a month or so to talk.  Offer to buy them lunch or coffee.  Give them a gift certificate or a cash gift.  Buy them a book or offer them a perk or reward.  Not because you owe them, but because they’re worth it.  Because you care about them and their endeavors.  Encouragers will help you pursue your dream.

Be selective.  It’s not just anyone you’re looking for.  You’re looking for someone who has a good track record.  You’re looking for someone who  cares about you and is willing to press you to take the necessary steps.  They’ll also be patient.  Encouragers will overlook your shortcomings.  Encouragers have been where you are and realize growth is a process, not a prescription.  They know the landscape.  Encouragers have the battle scars to show.

It’s not that you don’t know the truth.  Chances are your mentor will tell you what you’ve already heard a million times.  The difference is your mentor will help you to apply what you’ve learned.  Once you begin to apply what you’ve learned, you’ll seek life-change in other areas.  Once you’ve changed your life, you’ll attract and inspire others.

Remember, a little honey goes a long way.  Next week we’ll look at what it looks like when someone has the gift of giving.  Until then, have a blessed week and GO THE DISTANCE!

The marks of an exhorter according to Romans 12:12: “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”

Your #1 Learning Need

The ABC's of teaching

 

Ahhhh…..the smell of September is in the air in the form of crisp Apples and freshly painted classrooms. It’s no coincidence then, that our current subject in our study of Romans 12 is the gift of teaching! I hope you’ve been blessed with great teachers throughout your lifetime. I know I have. So, who was the teacher who impacted your life most? What did they do that was so special? Chances are, it was more than what they did, it was who they were.

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Romans 12:11 teaches that someone with the gift of teaching is “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. (King James Version). We seldom think of teaching as a business, do we? But what if we did? Lets look at a passage from the Old Testament that illustrates teaching as a business. If you look in 2 Kings 4:1-7 you’ll discover a beautiful story. In summary, the prophet Elisha meets a widow who is indebted to her creditors. After discovering her need, Elisha asks the women what she needs and she says she only has a pot of oil. Elisha then tells her to go and collect pots from her friends and neighbors and to pour out the oil. When she fills the first vessel, the oil keeps pouring and she fills every last vessel.

Let’s pick up in verse 7, “Then she came (the widow) and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay the debt and live thou and thy children of the rest.”.

Attitude: When it comes to the business of teaching, people with the gift of teaching have the right attitude. Elisha was confident, God could help the women despite her desperate situation. That’s what teachers do. The season great teachers find themselves in is the best season, regardless of circumstances. Elijah encouraged the widow to take action. Some people would have said she was too old or her situation was too dire. Why bother, right? Aren’t you glad the teacher who inspired you didn’t give up on you despite your shortcomings. Their attitude is I will succeed regardless of the handwriting on the wall. Teachers are not ‘slothful in business, they are fervent in spirit’. Like flames of fire, difficulties and challenges are life-giving oxygen. The darker their night, the brighter they burn.

Beliefs: Teachers firmly believe there is value in serving the Lord. How do we serve the Lord? By serving others. We serve the one we can’t see by serving the ones we can see. Elisha gave the widow specific directions. He added value to her life….in fact, he helped her experience life to the greatest degree. And here’s what separates great teachers from average ones. Great teachers realize the importance of branding, and packaging, sales, and profits. Great teachers don’t package million dollar ideas in fifty cent cigar boxes with handwritten labels. There is selling oil and then there is action, researching the market, great packaging, finding the best market, sales. If you don’t believe that, look at their websites, their books, their products and buildings, the people they hire. Which begs the question- Are you putting in the required effort to be as effective as you possibly can or are you just meeting the minimum requirements? This applies not only to teaching, but marriage, employment, raising children, pastoring, leadership, fatherhood and motherhood, etc. Great teachers believe the time is worth the effort and teach accordingly.

Choices: Great teachers choose to go the extra mile in their endeavors. Chances are the teacher who impacted you chose to make a difference. They embody their teaching (John 1:14). Even today, you probably can’t remember a particular lesson, but you remember the teacher. Chances are they smiled, were warm (fervent), encouraging….like a warm fireplace on a cold Fall day. Not only did they choose to be great teachers, their lives were marked by great choices in general. Perhaps they traded a million dollars for the opportunity to enrich a million lives. Elisha could have said ‘I’ll give you ten bucks for the oil’ and sold it himself for a great profit. But great teachers thrive when their students thrive. They are quite happy to take the lawn seat while their students sit in the balcony.

Maybe you’re a teacher and you’ve gotten a little discouraged. Or, as a teacher you are wondering how you’re going to get through this next school year. You can be promised there will be obstacles and plenty of people who want to rain on your parade. Some of your students will be difficult and unruly. No wonder, then, Paul says teachers are not lazy, but fervent in spirit. Decide right now that no matter what happens you are going to not only exercise your God-given gift, but develop and burn brightly. Decide today that you will use the obstacles and difficulties you encounter as opportunities to study and grow.

When God allows a difficult person or situation to enter your life it’s usually so that you’ll learn and mature. If you accept the challenge, you’ll rise to new levels; refuse it and you’ll plateau. -Cory MacNeil

Finally, teachers are diligent as businessmen: they keep doing the same thing over and over again in new and creative ways. They are also warm, igniting and sparking others to reach for new heights through service. Ultimately, in the words of Rick Warren, ‘they serve an audience of one’.

What are your thoughts on teaching? If there’s something you’d like to add or comment on in this post, please do so on Facebook or Twitter. We’re better together!