Monthly Archives: June 2014

Love-Hate Relationships

These days everybody wants to talk about love. People act as though it is a sin to talk about hating anything or anyone.

Go to most churches on a Sunday, and you will hear the word “love” at least once. That is the way it should be.

Go to many movies, and you will hear about love, often in a more vulgar sense or almost always in a selfish sense. Sometimes you will get to see hate acted out.

Go to a stadium, and you will see love demonstrated vigorously (sometimes for no reason). But you will also see some hate (for the opposing team).

Go to a psychologist, and they will encourage you to love yourself and your family and your community. But they will put the censor on any reference to that “h” word like it is a four letter word. Well it is, but so is love … and lust. (These two “L” words are often confused by a psychologist, but we will talk about that at another time.)

If you love someone, you hate others, at least in a relative sense. If you love someone, you are drawn to him and repelled from all others. At least this is true if we are talking about the highest, deepest, and most extensive of loves.

The Love of God should fill our lives. But, we cannot love God properly, unless there is also some relative hate for all others. Jesus taught this.

Where in the Word did Jesus get the idea that we should hate?

The Psalmist says, “I hate them with a perfect hatred.”

Wait a minute, Jesus said love your enemies? There is no room for hatred if there is love, right?

The more proper question is, “Who is our first love?”
It must not be for ourselves.
It must not be for the church.
It must not be for our family.
It must not be for our spouses.
It must not be for our wealth or status.
It must not be for anyone … other than God.

The Lord is our first Love.
Shema Yisrael …
All who do not love the Lord are anathema, accursed.

Whoa, buddy! What are you doing!! Calling down curses on people?

I am simply referring to the same Holy Bible that says, “Jacob have I love, but Esau have I hated.” The Holy Spirit inspired it, and He will help us understand it, as He teaches us.

So often, you will hear people mixing up the love commands (not love command, singular, but plural.)

Our first love is for God and God alone.

NOBODY shares in the full glory of God except the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One Lord.

Muslims call such replacing the Love for God with lesser loves shirk. It is a great evil.

However, the Love of God is such that God is willing to pour out His love into our hearts. As we hate sin and even the garment stained with sin, we will be drawn to love the Lord with pure devotion.

We will humble ourselves so deeply that it will appear to be a kind of hatred. We will appeal to the God of Heaven for His mercy moment by moment, because we will know that without Him we can do nothing. This is what it is to despise oneself: to delight utterly in God.

But if we so humble ourselves, he will lift us up in due time.

To hate your wife is to put intimacy with God ahead of intimacy with your wife. This will sound weird to some, but we must kiss the Son lest He be angry in His wrath and we perish in our way.

But if we are intimate first with God and most intimate with God, then we will enjoy the times we spend with our families all the more.

Perhaps you are by now eager to hate your mother and father and sister and brother that you may get them back. I think you get the picture, your family must be formed around your identity as a child of God the Father. And if you love God, you will certainly seek to repay your debt of love to your parents and the rest of your family by sharing the Gospel with them and all that they need if you have it at all in your power to help.

However, there is more, perhaps you will be like those who only get to see their family occasionally, if at all, because they have chosen to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth to reach the nations.

Ah, you will say, the nations must be hated because they do not love the Lord, and so they must. We must never love any ethnic or pagan so much that we hide the truth from them out of a counterfeit sensitivity that leans more toward those you have gone to reach that towards the God who sent you. Yes, we must love God more than the lost.

But if you love God, you will certainly want to see His name honored among the nations. A love for God will most supremely mean that if it is your first love, you will seek to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all nations. If one group will not hear, you will go to those who will, till some from all have heeded the Hope of Heaven’s Reward: Life in Christ.

Perhaps you harbor a little hatred for your enemy, pure hatred rather than perfect hatred. I would urge you to repent and love your enemy as you know you should. You may receive no reward in this life. Don’t worry about that. Look to the joy you will have on the last day when you will have a clear conscious when you cared nothing for honor in their eyes, but cared more for the Honor of God among the wicked.

How do you honor God? Truth in love. Think, act, speak with all integrity and compassion, patiently and kindly fixing your eyes on God, the Author and Finisher of your faith, the Foundation and Goal of your hope, the one who loves you enough to send His Son to die for you and is worthy of supreme love to the end.

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Short Shorts, Sin, and the Incarnation

Scott Mackintosh took on shame so that his daughters would live honorably.

Scott Mackintosh took on shame so that his daughters would live honorably.

Almost a year ago, the above foto of Scott Mackintosh went viral. He dressed down, way down, to communicate to his daughters, one in particular, that “modest is hottest.”

Scott was not above humbling himself in what many would regard as humiliating. He did not aim to humiliate his daughters, but humbled himself of his rights as a the “Best. Dad. Ever.” in order to help his daughters choose the path of honor.

There are some fathers in the world who will beat their children if they do not dress in a full burqa. There are some fathers and mothers who might make their kids wear a sign and stand on a busy intersection. But real men make their points in humility.

Indeed, this is a small picture of what Jesus did for us. He who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. In Christ, God touched the unclean and became “contaminated” in the world’s eyes. He was humiliated in the world’s eyes. He was scorned by the world. But Jesus had a higher aim in view: the salvation of the world.

The Lord Jesus was instrumental in creating the world, and though the whole universe was formed at His command, the people He had redeemed from Egypt rejected their Savior. Jesus used this rejection to bring righteousness to the nations. Jesus became utterly sinful, a blasphemer in the eyes of the Jewish establishment, in order that all the peoples everywhere might join in praising the Holy Name of God and call God, “Our Father.”

Our Father in heaven did not remain austere and distant, but drew near. The Lord spoke severely against sin, but all the same he spent time with sinners. Jesus made it possible for the wretched rebel to reconcile: He revealed our sin and redeemed us from it. Jesus healed the defiled by touching us and telling us to clean up our act.

Jesus did not confirm us in our sin, or merely “tolerate” sinners. He called sinners to follow. To be holy. To be like Himself in mindset.

Joy, Peace, Righteousness … all are available in the Holy Spirit.

What sin are you deceived by?
What rebellion are you clinging to?
What wrong have you not sought to right in your life?
Where is Jesus inviting you to repent?

Do it. He is worth it.

The Father’s embrace is waiting. The Fame of our King is worth you calling on the Name of Jesus. The Fullness of the Spirit is available to all who turn at His gentle rebuke.


Categories: Good News, Holiness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Believe in Yourself

It seems like every Disney movie I recall had the same mantra: believe in yourself.

This is the rave of pop-psychology. Believe in yourself loud enough & long enough and you will achieve whatever you want.

This is misplaced confidence and leads to destruction.

Often, those who are most confident of themselves are the least loving, least trustworthy, least kind people I know. They have a form of courage, but lack the humility to temper the pride that leads to destruction.

If you believe in yourself, you are believing in a lie.
If you believe in yourself, you are believing in a mere mortal.
If you believe in yourself, you are believing in a sinner.
If you believe in yourself, you believe in someone who makes mistakes.
It is a mistake to believe in yourself.

So who can we trust and how can we get along if we cannot believe in ourselves.

If we will humble ourselves under God, He will lift us up … in due season.
If we cast ourselves on His mercy, He will support us and come to our aid.
If we cry out for mercy, He will direct our steps.
If we look to the King, he will be the source of our confidence.
Jesus is our authority, not ourselves.

I once met a person who called himself a king. To take on titles other than those which lower ourselves in the esteem of others is foolishness. This is why I avoid calling people pastor or missionary or apostle. Perhaps some people who use these titles indeed have been entrusted by the Lord with a measure of authority, but to use that title, it to take on more authority to oneself.

Jesus himself said we should call ourselves brothers. There are not brothers at large and a few big brothers to tell everybody like it is. NO! There is one elder brother, Jesus. There is one Shepherd, Jesus.

The word shepherd (pastor) is used once to describe what some were given to be. But nowadays, anytime a saint gets religious, they want to be a pastor. An apostle. An evangelist. A teachers. Is it not enough to be a saint. A saint is merely someone who is set apart for God. This word is used more to describe God’s people in the Bible than the word Christians.

Oh, people will clamor to call themselves “like Christ” (for this is what Christian means), but are they willing to be called like Christ? Are they willing to be cursed by the world and slandered and spit upon and to have their beard torn at and their bodies beaten? This is what it means to be a Christian.

True Christianity is not merely measured in terms of assent to propositional truth. Rather it is measured in terms of obedience in the face of great cost to the implications of the Truth.

If you cry out to the Lord Jesus in truth, will you obey him whether by living or dying?

If you believe God is your Father, will you treat all others who name the Name as your equals and fellow heirs with Christ?

If you claim to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, will you manifest the Spirit’s life in the most excellent way, in love towards your most cruel enemies?

You say you love, but do you really?

If you are not willing to rebuke a wicked sinner in the hopes of turning him to salvation, though he may also turn on you beat you into the ground while you are uttering blessings and kind words to them … do you really love?

If you are not willing to stand for the most helpless unborn baby and offer to open up your home to that child, do you really love?

If you are not willing to silence gossip with a call to kindness in speech and mercy in conversation, do you really love?

If you are not willing to wait years for those you pray for to repent, if they harden their hearts, do you really love?

These are hard questions, and I must confess, I fall far short.

Like a child trying to help his father clean up the dirt and dropping in shy of the waste bag, we often make a bigger mess than we help.

Lord, have mercy, not only on us, but on all. Lord, show so much mercy, that those who reject the knowledge of God will come to realize that they have ignored YOUR mercy and not just some abstract principle of mercy. Show so much mercy, that even the hardest of hearts will be softened at your gentle voice.

Lord, show mercy on me most especially, for I, the greatest of sinners, am most in need.

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