Peace Is Flowing Like a River

On a Via de Cristo weekend, the speaker chooses a hymn or Christian song which everyone sings right before their talk.  This was the song I chose for my Environment talk, and I think it expresses the idea that when God’s peace, love and joy is inside of us, it will overflow and affect everyone we’re around.  Enjoy listening!

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The Motive is Love

“If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Without love for God and for others there is no true piety.  All our pious actions are worthless if they are not motivated by love — love for God and love for others.  This is what Jesus was trying to tell the Pharisees and what Paul is teaching us here.

God is love.  If we, as followers, are to reflect His nature to the world, we, too must be loving. Not just to our family and friends, but to everyone we meet, and yes, even to those who seem completely unlovable.  Not to earn God’s approval, not because He needs our love, simply out of gratitude for the grace and mercy He extends to each of us.

This goes back to Beth Ann’s post about personal piety.  Truly pious people are not looking for a reward.  They don’t need to attract attention or be held up as shining examples of sainthood. Pious people have internalized Christ’s character.  They are humble and unassuming. They are focused. The engine that drives them is simply love. Guess what?  If you think you’re pious, you’re not there yet!

Will we ever become truly and 100% pious? Not in this life.  That’s why Lutherans think of piety as an ideal, and sanctification as a process.  The more we study, pray and worship, the more we walk and talk with Christ, the more like Him we’ll become.  Love will be our motive.

 

God of All My Days

This song has been getting a lot of air play recently for good reason.  Casting Crowns has this song that points to piety or living your whole live toward Christ.  Just listen.  I’m sure it will touch your heart.

Life of the Beloved — Book Review

In this little book, Henri Nouwen, who was a Catholic priest, educator and writer takes on the task of trying to explain spiritual life to his secular, Jewish friend.  For Henri, that life begins with understanding that we are created, loved and chosen by God.  We must experience His love and feel gratitude for how He has blessed us;  then we pass that love and blessing along by serving others. Society constantly encourages us to compete, to excel and to compare ourselves to a worldly version of “success.”  Often this means we see ourselves as failures, or we force ourselves into a mold that looks good to our culture, but doesn’t fulfill our deepest, God-given desires and abilities.  According to Nouwen:

“Spiritually you do not belong to the world.  And this is precisely why you are sent into the world.  Your family and your friends, your colleagues and your competitors, and all the people you meet on your journey through life are all searching for more than survival.  Your presence among them as the one who is sent will allow them to catch a glimpse of the real life.”

Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World by [Nouwen, Henri J. M.]

In the epilogue we learn that according to Henri’s friend, the book is a failure.  He tells him, “you do not realize how far we are from where you are.”  However a number of Christian friends assure him to “trust what is there (in the book) will bear fruit.”  It becomes the basis for a course on “The Life of the Beloved” at the Servant Leadership School of the Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. Nouwen muses about how ironic it is that he tried so hard to write something for secular folks and the ones helped by it were searching Christians.  The point, I think is this:

“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him in the heavenly places that in the coming age he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:5-10

He made us, He loved us, He chose us, and He will use us in ways we would never expect.

Love Lifted Me

“…Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid;  and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord save me!’  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him …”  Matthew 29-31

I’ve never walked on water, but I’ve certainly had the experience of trusting God, and then almost in the same moment doubting and becoming anxious … only God’s love can lift us up and keep us from sinking during those times of fear.

The original version of this beautiful “love” hymn was written in 1912.  It was the joint effort of James Rowe who penned the words, while his friend, Howard E. Smith, composed the music.  Row worked for many years composing hymns and editing music journals for various publishers.  Sing these words when you are in need of God’s sustaining love.

Godly Relationships

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;  I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

From the beginning, God intended us to be in relationship with others.  He said it wasn’t “good” to be alone.  He also made man “in the image of God”( Genesis 1:27) and God Himself is a relationship — Father, Son and Spirit.  It’s a relationship founded on love according the apostle, John:

“…the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.”  John 3:35

and producing love, according to Paul:

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love….’ Galatians 5:22

In fact, Scripture tells us that God is not only loving, He is love.

It seems to me that if God is love, and He made us to mirror His image, and He created us to be in relationship with one another — then His desire is that all our relationships be loving!  I’m not always a logical thinker, but this is where logic leads me.  I guess that means acting in love, even when we don’t feel love.  How do we do that?  Well…..

“Love is patient and kind;  love is not jealous or boastful;  it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way;  it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. ”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

It’s not easy, but I think if we pay attention and keep these verses from Corinthians in mind, we can become more patient, kind, courteous and humble;  and those few changes in our behavior will allow God’s love to shine into all our relationships.

 

 

Love the One You’re With

Love The One You're WithDoes anyone out there remember this song?  I looked it up and it was released in 1970 by Stephen Stills and became a number one hit.  I used to make fun of it … I mean how pathetic can you get,  saying, if you can’t have the person you really care for, just give up and love the one you’re with — any old person, it really doesn’t matter.  However, thinking about it from a Christian perspective, isn’t this exactly the kind of preposterous love Jesus calls us to?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:43-48

We’re to practice agape love, the kind of love God shows to us and the rest of the world.  So love your neighbors, love your enemies, love your coworkers, love your fellow church members,love those who are different and unlovable, the people who really annoy and irritate you and yes, love the one you’re with!