How to Spell L-O-V-E

love spellingThere are many ways to spell l-o-v-e, but I think there are three (3) that are most significant. First of all, l-o-v-e is spelled a-c-t-i-o-n. When you ask most people to define love, most likely they will define it in terms of descriptive feelings. But did you know that in the Bible the word “love” is not found in the adjective form, but rather only as a noun and a verb? In other words, love in the Bible is not something that is felt, it is something that is and something that is done! John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) The use of the term “love” in the verse is not a description of how God felt about the world, but rather about what God did! The Bible also says in 1 John 4: 8, 16: “God is love.” Again, the term “love” in both verses, is not descriptive, it is not used as an adjective to describe God, but rather as a noun to tell what God is! How do you spell love? In the Bible, love is not something that is felt, but rather it is something that is done and something that just is! In the Bible l-o-v-e is spelled: a-c-t-i-o-n.
The second most significant way to spell l-o-v-e is t-i-m-e! Time is one of the most valuable assets we have in life. There are many today who think money is their most important asset, but time is even more valuable than money! The value of something is determine by its uniqueness and limitations. Time is more valuable than money because, all things being equal, you can always get some more money, but once you spend time, it can never be replaced or recovered! That is why it is a tragedy to waste time and it should be a crime to kill time! Since time is so valuable, we can use it to express and spell love. Why? Because people tend to spend time on and with what and who they really love! If a person is spending “money on you” but “not spending time with you,” their love for you might be suspect!
The third most significant way to spell l-o-v-e is a-t-t-e-n-t-i-o-n. This is closely related to time, but not quite the same thing. Attention is not the same as time because it is possible to spend time with a person or thing while at the same time, not paying real attention to that person or thing! That was the rationale behind the old R & B hit that said: “Your body is here with me, but your mind is on the other side of town!” There are other significant ways to spell l-o-v-e, but in my opinion, these three; action, time, and attention, are the most significant. Now tell me; how do you spell l-o-v-e?

Are You An “Old Testament” Christian?

Not Old Testament

Recently I heard someone describe themselves as a “New Testament Christian.” I laughed inwardly when I heard it because I didn’t think there was any other kind of Christian a person could be! I had the same reaction when I first heard someone say that they were a: “Born-Again Christian!” I mean, aren’t all Christians born again? Now, I wasn’t too critical of them because I understood what they were really trying to say. They used the term: “New Testament Christian,” but what they really meant was: “New Testament saint,” because there were no “Old Testament Christians” in the Bible! Every Christian, who is truly a Christian is a “New Testament” Christian because there were no “Old Testament Christians” in the Old Testament! People who were saved during the Old Testament era were technically not “Christians” at all because at that time Christ had not come!
However, in a practical sense, I think there are many in the church today who are indeed attempting to be “Old Testament Christians!” Let me show you what I am talking about! In the Old Testament era, people were saved based their trust or faith in what God was “going to do.” The Bible says that Abraham believed God (concerning what God had told him in regard to the future promises) and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). Therefore, Abraham had a saving-faith-relationship with God based on Abraham’s faith that God was “going to do” what God said God would do. Abraham, along with all the other Old Testament saints, was saved based on faith in what God was going to do. He and they looked forward to the time when God would send a Redeemer to come and redeemed mankind.
Now, while the Old Testament saints were saved based on faith in what God was going to do; the New Testament saints are saved based on faith in what God has already done! You and I, that is, those of us who are saved today, are saved based on our faith, trust and belief in what God did through the sacrificial atoning work of Jesus upon the cross and the resurrection. The Christian is saved by grace based on faith in what God has already done through His Son; the Lord Jesus the Christ on the cross.
Now, not only is the Christian saved by faith in what God has already done, our salvation is also complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10-14). In other words, there is nothing that God needs to do as far as our salvation is concerned, that God hasn’t already done in Christ! Now this brings up an interesting point, which is the basis for my assertion that many today are attempting to practice “Old Testament Christianity.” If we are saved based on our belief, faith, and trust in what God has already done through Christ and we are indeed complete in Christ, then why do I constantly hear people who claim to be Christians today praying and believing God for what God is “going” to do? When Jesus was on the cross, before he died, he said: “It is finished!” In reference to our salvation, there is nothing more that God needs to do! Now, the blessings of God are part of the salvation of God. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3-7; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. . .” (ESV). Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:2-3: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (NASB) Do you see what I see? Paul said that we have been blessed (already) in Christ with every spiritual blessing! You might be saying at this point: “Yes, we have all the spiritual blessings, but I need a physical blessing!” But the physical or material blessings are derivatives of the spiritual blessings! Whatever is now physical or material had its inception in the spiritual! It is the spiritual that produces the physical! There is nothing physical or material now that was not spiritual first! Now, Peter said that He (that is God) has (that’s already, note that it’s in the past tense) granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Do you see that? According to Peter and Paul, God has “already given us” every blessings and everything we need for life and godliness! Now, if God has already given us everything; what is there left for God to give? And if God has already given everything, then God cannot give what God has already given!
So, the real problem today is not that we lack the blessings of God. The real problem is that we’ve been blessed but we don’t know how to access the blessings! We have the blessings in our account, but we don’t know the account and PIN numbers; we don’t know how to gain access! And in most cases, we don’t know how to translate the spiritual blessings from the spiritual into the physical! As a consequence, we’re are praying and waiting for God to bless us, while at the same time God is waiting on us to appropriately act on and respond to the blessings we already have! In a practical sense, many Christians today are acting and living as if Christ never came! They relate to God in the same way (with the exception of offering the burnt offerings!) as did the saints in the Old Testament who had not yet received the blessings of the Promise! It is because of this ignorance and spiritual immaturity in reference to the fact that God has already blessed that many Christians are constantly and insistently asking God to give them what God has already given them! But bless God today! Jesus did come and die over two thousand years ago! The coming of Jesus was so influential that it changed the way we count time! His coming change the way we tell time from reckon time from B. C., to A. D. However, those who are still praying and waiting of God to bless them are still living in B. C., and are in a practical sense; Old Testament Christians!
Now, you can listen to some of the so-called modern-day-prophets and keep fasting and praying for God to bless you if you want, but to constantly ask God for what God has already given is a vain attempt to be an Old Testament Christian. And when you stop to think about it, it really is theological nonsense to keep asking God to give what God has already given! But, as for me, I’ve read the Bible and the Bible says that, in Christ, I have already been blessed with every blessing I will ever need! Therefore, the real issue for me today is not in trying to get blessings from the Lord; the real issue is learning how to manifest (translate from the spiritual to the physical) blessings I already have!

The Failure of Success

sad successThere are a countless number of people in the world today who are driven by the quest to obtain success! They dedicate all of their mental, spiritual and physical energy to the task of obtaining material success. Now while the apprehension of success has been touted to be a worthwhile endeavor, most who sincerely engage in the quest usually are disappointed in the end. They are disappointed, not because they fail to achieve a measurable amount of success, but rather because they do indeed become successful! Now you may ask: “Why would anyone who achieves success be disappointed?” Well, they are disappointed because they discover that success is not all that it has been reported to be! The person, who makes the achievement of success the ultimate goal and reaches it, discovers the failure of success!

What is the failure of success? The failure of success is in the fact that success was not designed to be the end or the goal of life! In the New Testament, Jesus put it this way when he asked the question: “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Now the traditional interpretation of the question is that Jesus was asking what good is it for a person to gain all of the material success in life and then die and go to Hell. But I think there was more to that question than just the eschatological interpretation we have traditionally given it! Jesus could have also been asking: “What good is it if a person is successful but loses themselves in the process?” Jesus knew that success, as we commonly define it, was a failure! That is why he replied to the man who asked him to settle a property dispute he was having with his brother: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses!” Jesus already knew what many spend a lifetime to discover: Success does not satisfy!

But why is success a failure and why doesn’t success satisfy? Success is a failure and it doesn’t satisfy because we weren’t made just for success; we were made for significance! The ultimate purpose of our sojourn upon the earth is not to accumulate; but rather to contribute! Not to gain, but to give! The ultimate goal is not how much we can count, but rather in how much we count! Success is a failure because the real goal is not to make a living; but rather to make a life! And how do you make a life? You make a life by making your life count! And you make your life count by making a positive and lasting impact in the lives of those around you and even in the lives of generations to come!

People today are frantically engaged in the pursuit of success, but what they really want is significance! People just want to matter!  People just want to make a difference! Now if you make a positive difference in the lives of others by being successful, then that’s good! But if your success only benefits you and yours, then your success is really a failure! For in the end, the measure of a man’s life will not be in how successful he was, but rather in how much of a difference he made! Not in how much he gained; but rather in how much he gave! Not in his success; but rather in his significance!

What Are You Giving Up For Lent?

lent is for lifeWhat are you giving up for Lent? This is a question that is being asked by many practicing Christians this time of year. I hadn’t given the question much thought until recently when it dawn on me just how trivial many have made the season of Lent. I mean, think about it! First of all Jesus said that when we fast we are not to make it public knowledge. In other words, the fast should be a private thing between the believer and God. Now, I know that there is some historical and biblical precedent for public fasting, but I think most modern Christians, particularly those in the West, really don’t understand the biblical concept of fasting. In the Bible, people fasted, not so much to give up something, rather to make themselves more available to God and for his service. However, many Western Christians are using this season to fast by giving up sodas, sweets, and other non-essential things in a vain attempt to identify in some small minute way with the sufferings of Christ. But can the suffering that Christ endured really be compared to the slight inconvenience of sodas or chocolate for forty days? We observe the season of Lent in such a trivial sacrifices, but I wonder are such small inconveniences really indicative of the real spirit of the season?

Jesus gave up his life, and we think we are really doing something special when we give up sodas for forty days? The call of Jesus involves more than just a ceremonial, trivial, token 40-day fast during the season of Lent. The Lord calls us to live a life of sacrifice! The dedication and perseverance that many display during Lent was not intended to be seasonal; it was intended to be a life-style!

Now, I am not advocating that there should be no fasting or sacrifices during Lent, all I’m saying is that I think we should be more serious about what the season really means. I think the spirit of the season would be better served, not just by giving up sodas for forty days, but rather by understanding Jesus calls us, not just to a season of sacrifice, but rather to a life-time of sacrifice and dedication!

Keeping It Real?

kid keeping it realWhen I talk with many young people about the lyrics of the rap-songs that glorify the violence that has infected many of our urban communities, their response is that those songs are not part of the problem, but rather that they are just “keeping it real!” In other words, what they are saying is that the rap artists and the rap lyrics are not part of the problem; they are just telling it like it is!

But, even if they are just telling it like it is, or as they say; “keeping it real,” the very act of focusing on and glorifying the negative experiences of our urban communities is, in fact perpetuating the problem! The very act of “keeping it real” is what in fact, helps to keep it real! Now, I am not advocating we completely ignore the reality of the situation by closing our eyes and pretending that it does not exist. What I am saying is that I think there is no really positive purpose served in constantly verbalizing how bad things are! In fact, as I stated earlier, the more we talk about the way things are; the more we keep things the way they are! There is no solution to the problem in glorifying the problem!

So, instead of the rappers and the like, trying to “keep it real,” why not rap and sing about an alternate reality? In other words, instead of focusing, singing and rapping about the way it is, why not focus, sing and rap about the way it ought to be, or the way it could be? It’s just a basic human fact; whatever we focus upon, we attract and it expands in our life experiences! Rapping and singing about the violence in the streets breeds even more violence! It really is serving to “keep it” real!

Think about it! Why keep it real when you really don’t like the reality you have? Instead of keeping it real, let’s work on the dream of making a better society real! We can do that by no longer financially supporting the negative messages that are being broadcast on the airways. The average person thinks there is nothing they can do, but if the records, albums and CD’s don’t sell, the artists, producers and record companies will not make money! If the public decides to no longer tolerate and support the negativity on a massive scale and the radio stations find the moral courage to no longer broadcast toxicity in the name of art and free speech, I guarantee the messages will change!

You say, you’re keeping it real? Well, it doesn’t take much to talk about what is, but it takes insight, foresight, creativity and vision to talk about what ought to be and what could be! Why focus on keeping it real when the same energy could be better used to make a new reality?