Friday, 14 February 2014

How do You Define Love?

“Biblical love is an affectionate disposition that motivates the lover to consistently act for the welfare of another, whether or not the other deserves it or reciprocates.”  Robertson McQuilkin

Robertson McQuilkin
The above definition comes from the pen of a man who exemplified what it means to love sacrificially.  Robertson McQuilkin retired while at the height of his career as President of Columbia Bible College, to care for his wife Muriel who was suffering from Alzheimers.  The definition comes from his book entitle An Introduction to Biblical Ethics. In the very beginning, he explains that as Christians all our behavior must be based on love.

Here is a husband that understood (at least) two things.  Marriage is a covenantal union and love is unconditional.  “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health” are words that appear in most wedding ceremonies.  Robertson’s Board of Directors told him it was time to put Muriel in an institution.  The College, which is now a university, was experiencing significant growth.  I presume much of the fund raising was done by Robertson.  He was clearly doing the Lord’s work.

Robertson had his priorities straight, “Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself.”  God first, Muriel second, Columbia Bible College third. 

This story was brought to my mind the day before Valentine’s Day. It provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on how much I love my wife.  How many of us would give up a high profile, powerful position, one of fame and prestige and money to care for someone who rarely remembered your name?   I dare say, not many of us.

In his resignation speech Robertson said, and I paraphrase, “I don’t have to take care of Muriel, I get to take care of her.”  He went on to extol Muriel’s positive qualities, the one’s he remembered and treasured.

Luke 9:23
During one of our Pre-marriage classes I usually read an excerpt from McQuilkin’s resignation letter and it always brings a tear to my eye.  Such a love doesn’t even begin to measure up to the inexhaustible, unconditional love that our Lord and Savior has for us. 

This is a good time for a self-assessment.  Do you love your wife/husband so much that you would give up all that is important to you to care for them?   That is what we are called to do “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, pick up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

It’s Mine, It’s Yours, It’s Mine, It’s Yours… Part II

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:5-8 NIV

Look I don’t ever want to doubt God in any area of my life.  Furthermore He has given me no reason to ever do so.  As expressed in Part I of this blog, I usually surrender everything to Him intellectually, at least everything I think to take to Him.  And I will tell you that the outcome is in good hands, that I have no fear, that I am confident that what is best for me and my family will in fact happen, even if it is not exactly what I have in mind.

Okay enough rhetoric already.  I’m certainly not convincing God that I take my concerns to Him and leave them there and I’m probably not convincing you either.  Now I do have some peace about most things I take to him because of my self-talk.  I keep reminding myself that God has never broken a promise “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19.

Faith by definition is an active confidence that God will do what He has said he is going to do.

Today’s translation basically says that when I pray to God, He will hear me and if “I remain in Him and He remains in me” I can ask whatever I want and it will be given me.” (John 15:7)  If I fail to believe that He will answer my prayers then I am “double minded and unstable in all that I do.” 
It is a little like the man who said to Jesus, “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)  I believe with all my heart, mind, soul, spirit and strength that God is supreme, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.  I believe there is absolutely nothing He can’t do and I believe He loves me and my family more than I could ever comprehend.  I believe!  However there are those times when I need help overcoming my unbelief, which usually has to do with the unknown outcome of some aspect of life.

Monday, 10 February 2014

It’s Mine, It’s Yours, It’s Mine, It’s Yours… Part I

If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

Wisdom, as James understands it, is the ability to live life well and make good decisions. Wisdom doesn’t come from old age or hard knocks. Wisdom begins with knowing and depending absolutely on God, who is never stingy when it comes to wisdom for those who seek it. He supplies all the wisdom we need when we ask. But when we try to go it alone—without God—trouble is around the corner.

The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.  The Voice James 1:5-8
I love this translation of James one, verses five through eight in The Voice translation. Verse six in the NIV translation reads, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt…” which is a little clearer to me than “anchored by your single-minded commitment to God.  And this is an area that I often come up short.  Oh, I’ll tell you that God is in control of all things, for intellectually I absolutely believe that.  I’ll tell you that God has a plan for my life that is far superior to any plan that I might conceive and once again I truly believe that on an intellectual level.  We are in the process of putting our home on the market.    Obviously we want it to sell the day we put it on the market for the full asking price.  However we acknowledge, at least in our prayers that, if and when it sells is up to God.  The price is up to God, after all it is His house not ours.  We have prayed about our relocation, i.e. where and how does He want to continue to use us in ministry work.  And we want to hear from Him, but we have also devised our own plans just in case.  Just in case what??

At times there is a delicate balance.  God has given some of us a good mind and he expects us to use it.  So it is not like we are waiting or should wait for God to bring a listing agent to our door.   The wrestling match begins when we claim we have turned it over to the Lord and asked for peace and yet this tinge of anxiety keeps creeping up.  I hate that!