Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What Is Love Anyway?

Do you remember that Howard Jones song from the 80s "What Is Love?" I think he was really on to something when he wrote it. Is this kind of love possible? HoJo thinks not. He thinks that we will always doubt this kind of love. While we may doubt it, it IS possible through Christ.

God's love is perfect and therefore, seemingly unbelievable. And yet, that is why it is so amazing! In truth, we really don't need to doubt God's love. And as we accept it, we can tap into His love for others through the Holy Spirit. I didn't say it was easy, but it IS possible.

I love you whether or not you love me
I love you even if you think that I don't
Sometimes I find you doubt my love for you, but I don't mind
Why should I mind, why should I mind

What is love anyway, does anybody love anybody anyway
What is love anyway, does anybody love anybody anyway

Can anybody love anyone so much that they will never fear
Never worry never be sad
The answer is they cannot love this much nobody can
This is why I don't mind you doubting

And maybe love is letting people be just what they want to be
The door always must be left unlocked
To love when circumstance may lead someone away from you
And not to spend the time just doubting

Amazing Love!

As a worship leader, I love Valentine's Day. While many either see it a wonderful time (when they are connected with a loved one) and others see it as a miserable time (when they are missing a loved one), Valentine's Day is an annual reminder to me of God's true love.

With Valentine's Day approaching this Thursday, the obvious road, then, is to take a look at our Father’s love. Thanks to Shane Yancy over at Nailscars.com who was looking up the definition of love online. Here are some of the top responses.

Love: (n)
  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. sexual passion or desire.
  4. a personification of sexual affection, such as Eros or Cupid.
  5. a strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for anything: such as a love of books.
  6. in the game of Tennis, a score of zero; nothing.
Is it any wonder that our culture gets so confused about love? The word of God, on the other hand is very clear:
  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
  • Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
  • God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit... Romans 5:5
  • God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
  • ...neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39
  • But because of his great love for us, God, … made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions Ephesians 2:4-5
  • I pray that you … may have power … to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ... Ephesians 3:17-18
  • How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1
  • This is love: not that we loved God, but that he [first] loved us. – 1 John 4:9
I am overwhelmed at the idea that God's love for us is unwavering and unchanging, and all His thoughts toward us are through the lens of His amazing love!

Hebrews 11 tells us that He is not ashamed to be called our God. In His perfect and amazing love, He is not ashamed of us. He loves us. And He is proud to be our Father.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The True Meaning Of "Valentine"

While there are many factors and histories contributing to the origin of Valentine's Day, here is one from my friend, mentor, and fellow minister in Christ, Doug Lee - who pastors a multi-cell church in Southern California called "The Fountian." This story helps us as believers distinguish the true meaning of "Valentine." Doug wrote...

I just got back from the Hallmark Store and was amazed at the variety and sizes of Valentine’s Day cards, gifts and knick-knacks one could purchase for their “loved one.” I began wondering if this whole Valentine’s Day was just another racket that the greeting card industry invented to drum up some business (yeah, they got my $30, too!)

But I remembered that Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with hearts, cupids and little candies that say “Would you be mine?” Valentine (or “Valentinus” as he was known in the 3rd century A.D.) was a real, flesh and blood person. He was a follower of Jesus who lived during the tyrannical reign of Claudius II, emperor of Rome. This emperor hated Christians and made it mandatory for all Roman citizens to worship the twelve Roman gods. He also made it a capital punishment (penalty of death) not only to be a Christian, but to even associate with a Christian.

However, Valentinus’ love for Christ was greater than an emperor’s wrath. He proclaimed Christ freely and boldly. As a result, he was arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to death.

While he was awaiting his sentencing, Valentinus’ jailer came to him and asked him if he would tutor his daughter, Julia, who was blind since birth. Being a learned man and filled with the love of Christ, Valentinus was happy to help his captor’s daughter. Julia was a quick learner and discovered the world through Valentinus’ eyes – which was the world through Jesus’ eyes.

Inspired by his faith, Julia asked Valentinus, “Does God really hear our prayers?” Valentinus answered, “Of course. He hears every one.” She went on to explain how she asked God every morning to give her sight, so she could see this wonderful world Valentinus told her about. Valentinus told her, “God does what is best for us if we only believe.” She exclaimed intensely, “Oh, I believe!”

At that moment, a brilliant light flooded the prison cell. Julia shouted, “I can see! I can see!” And Valentinus cried, “Praise God!” and worshiped Christ.

On the eve of his execution, Valentinus wrote a letter to Julia, urging her to stay close to Jesus. He signed it, “From your Valentine.” He was then executed on Feb. 14, 270 A.D. Julia planted an pink blossomed almond tree near his grave and carried on the message of Christ’s transforming love to others.

That is what Valentine’s Day is all about. It’s not about getting “twiterpated” or having a romantic evening with your significant other. It’s about love; true love. It’s about love that emboldens a man to not deny truth in the face of death. It’s about love that turns enemies and captors into friends. It’s about love that heals the blind and transforms the marginalized. No human love has this capability or power. Valentine’s Day is about no other love than God’s love.

So celebrate this day in the spirit of Valentinus and Jesus: forgive your enemy, do a random act of kindness, pray for a hurting person. This is the type of love our world so desperately needs. Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

(P.S. I got this story off of a Hallmark Card! - touche!)

Thanks Doug!