Poetry Saturday—Love In Triplets

The Father says, “I love you, child.”
But those by baser things beguiled
ignore the witness of things wild.

The Son extends His hands to say,
“I love you, child; come, walk My way.”
 We nail His hands, then turn astray.

The Spirit, armed with saving grace,
“I love you!” says, right in your face
and takes your heart in His embrace.

So when that small, bright bloom you see,
that lure waved by the Deity,
then from those leaflets, one in three,
receive God’s love, unhurriedly. —T. M. Moore, Bricks and Rungs

An Ordinary Simple Christian

“An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life—what I called Zoe or spiritual life: he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.” —C.S. Lewis

What If We Had Higher Expectations?

Humans are hardwired by God to be in relationship with Him and with others.

  1. God is a Triune God so each part of the Godhead is in relationship with the other parts—John tells us in his epistle that God is love, meaning there is both a Lover and a Beloved.
  2. We are created in God’s image—we are made to love and be loved.
  3. God affirmed our need for relationships with others—see Genesis 2:18.
  4. Relationships with others give us a return on investment, help in trouble, encouragement in dark times, and protection from attack—see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
  5. Christians being in healthy relationships with others is a testimony to just how powerful God’s love is.

Sadly, Brennan Manning pointed out that Christians “have come a long sad journey from the first century, when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, ‘See how these Christians love one another!’”

When I read this, I don’t want to throw in the towel, but I want to reclaim this awe and wonder! 

One of the things that will quickly kill relationships is having low expectations for the other person or for the relationship itself. This can be counteracted by having higher expectations for other people and for our relationships with them.

John Maxwell noted, “People rise or fall to meet our level of expectations for them. If you express skepticism and doubt in others, they’ll return your lack of confidence with mediocrity. But if you believe in them and expect them to do well, they’ll wear themselves out trying to do their best.”

Consider the high expectations that God had for a relationship with us. If He had low expectations, one of the best-known verses in the Bible would be, “God thought a few people in the world had something worth saving, so He sent a handful of angels to tell us His story.”

Instead, the verse tells us: God so loved the entire world that He sent the very best that He had—He sent His One and Only Son!

  • Jesus died for us when we were unworthy of His love
  • Jesus gave us all His authority to represent Him in the world
  • Jesus empowered us with His Holy Spirit to be His witnesses
  • Jesus told us that our love for others would be a blazing sign to that we were His

Since God has this high expectation for us … what would happen if we had the same high expectations for everyone with whom we came into contact? What would happen if we believed the best for everybody, and then gave all that we could to bring the best out of them? I think that once again people would exclaim with awe and wonder,

“See how these Christians love one another!”

We will be talking more about Relationship Builders & Killers this Sunday and I would love if you could join me!

Love Re-members

love-re-membersChristians often talk about God in terms of the “Trinity.” That is, the One True God revealed in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp, especially since the word Trinity doesn’t specifically appear in the Bible. But make no mistake, just because the word isn’t there doesn’t mean it’s not true. Consider…

  • God’s Three-in-One nature is first exhibited when man is created (Genesis 1:26).
  • When the prophesy is given about Jesus being born in human flesh, He is given all the titles of the three Persons of the Godhead (Isaiah 9:6).
  • At Christ’s baptism we see Jesus in human form, we see the Holy Spirit descending as a dove, and we hear the Father’s voice announcing His approval of His Son (Matthew 3:16-17).
  • Jesus Himself said He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to the Christians (John 14:16).
  • And just as Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His followers to baptize people into all three Persons of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19).

But I think the best expression of the Trinity is revealed in three simple words. John talks about how all three Persons of the Trinity are involved in the life of a Christian. And then he sums it all up in three words—

“GOD IS LOVE”

Each Person of the Godhead is encouraging and illuminating and pointing to the other Persons in the Trinity. Love is perpetually being received and given. We humans are created in God’s image … we are created to receive and to give God’s love. That’s why John tells us that we know and rely on the love God has for us (that’s the receiving part), and that whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (that’s the giving part).

When Adam and Eve sinned, they were dis-membered from God. As a result, every human in their natural state longs for connection with God and others, but feels separated, isolated, unloved, and even unlovable.

Love re-members! 

Jesus came to be broken and crushed and to feel the pain of separation from God. It was out of this brokenness that He could do the work of re-membering us to the fullness of the Trinity.

When Jesus shared His last supper with His disciples, He took bread (which is made from broken wheat kernels) and wine (which is made from crushed grapes). He told us as often as we eat the bread and drink the wine we are to remember how He was broken and crushed for us.

Remembering Christ’s work on the Cross re-members us to the fullness of the Trinity. 

Sin and satan want to keep us feeling separated, unloved, and unloveable. But when we were the least worthy of His love, God—Who IS love—was broken and crushed to re-member us to Him.

If you feel lonely, separated, isolated, unloved or unloveable, I urge you to remember what Jesus did for you. He loved you enough to be broken and crushed for your re-membering to all of God’s love.

Check out this video where I explain this amazing thought in more detail…

6 Quotes About Understanding Sexual Sin

Focus On The FamilyEarlier this week I shared some quotes from a Focus On The Family (FOTF) reading plan I completed on YouVersion regarding the problems with pornography. Here are some additional quotes from a related FOTF reading plan called Understanding Sexual Sin.

“Sexual sin distorts the image of the Trinity mirrored in our marital relationships.”

“If our sex lives are meant to function as reflections of the image of God, it stands to reason that they should be shaped by the qualities of the Trinity. Three primary principles apply here.

1) We may never use another person as an object, sexual or otherwise. The members of the Trinity never relate to each other as objects or things to be used. Instead, they relate to one another in love, each seeking to serve and enhance the goodness and glory of the others.

2) We must keep sexual relations within the bounds of a loving and committed marriage. … This sexual embrace within the bond of marriage mirrors the nature of the relationship between the members of the Trinity as nothing else in creation can. Ideally, the marital bond is designed to be loving, permanent, exclusive, and self-giving.

3) We must respect and honor the God-designed differences between male and female. Male and female are not simply cultural constructs. They are God-created characteristics of humanity. Together, they personify the Trinitarian nature of God in a fundamental way…. The differences between male and female provide the fullest picture of the image of God in creation.”

“Biblically speaking, sexual immorality (Greek porneia) is any sexual activity that takes place outside of marriage. This includes adultery, premarital sex, and extramarital sex. Scripture teaches that both are off-limits for Christians (see 1 Corinthians 6:9; Acts 15:29; Hebrews 13:4).”

“It’s a mistake to confuse normal sexual attraction with lust. Sexual attraction is natural. … True lust involves a choice and an act of the will. To a certain extent it’s a conscious decision to pursue the desirable object instead of simply allowing it to pass by. It’s a willingness to give in to the natural impulse.”

“Pornography represents a departure from God’s design for sex in that it depersonalizes real people, strips them of their dignity, and turns them into sexual objects.”

“It is never wise to give more weight to feelings than to rational conclusions and clear biblical teachings. Feelings don’t make you who you are. Beliefs, values, and conscious commitments do.”

10 Quotes On The Difference Between Christianity And Islam

Nabeel Qureshi wrote a couple of outstanding books to help those in the West better understand Islam (Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and Answering Jihad).

Answering JihadIn Answering Jihad, Nabeel invests several chapters in looking at the differences between Christianity as displayed in the Bible and Islam as displayed in the Quran. Here are some of the more noteworthy quotes I pulled from this book. The references in parenthesis in these quotes are references to a chapter and verse in the Quran.

“Christians believe Jesus is God, but the Quran is so opposed to this belief that it condemns Jesus worshipers to hell (5:72).”

“According to Jesus, God is our Father, yet the Quran very specifically denies that God is a father (112:1-4).”

“Islam roundly condemns worship of the Trinity (5:73), establishing in contrast its own core principle of Tawhid, the absolute oneness of God. Tawhid emphatically denies the Trinity, so much so that it is safe to say the doctrine of God in Islam is antithetical to the doctrine of God and Christianity. … The Trinity teaches that God is not a person, but three Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. To assert that the God of Islam is the same person as the God of Christianity becomes almost nonsensical at this point, as the Christian God is tripersonal, two persons of Islam specifically denies in the Quran.”

“The Trinity is an elaboration of Jewish theology, not a rejection. By contrast, Tawhid is a categorical rejection of the Trinity, Jesus’ deity, and the Fatherhood of God, doctrines that are grounded in the pages of the New Testament and firmly established centuries before the advent of Islam. The earliest Christians were all Jews, incorporating their encounter with Jesus into their Jewish theology. Nothing of the sort is true of Muhammad, who was neither a Jew nor a Christian. Islam did not elaborate on the Trinity but rejected and replaced it.”

“Christians worship the triune God: a Father Who loves unconditionally, a Son Who incarnates and Who is willing to die for us so that we may be forgiven, and an immanent Holy Spirit Who lives in us. This is not who the Muslim God is, and it is not what the Muslim God does. Truly, Tawhid is antithetical to the Trinity, fundamentally incompatible and only similar superficially and semantically. Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God.”

“The warfare the Quran commands is not due to any evil action, but rather due to the beliefs of non-Muslims, such as the Christian belief that Jesus is the Son of God (9:29, 30).”

“Warfare in the Old Testament is not about subjugating inferior peoples. Yahweh does not promise the Jews that they are the best of people and that their enemies are less than they are. He makes this quite clear in Deuteronomy 9:4-6. … The Quran, by contrast, envisions Muslims as the best people: ‘You are the best of all people, evolved for mankind’ (3:110). It teaches that Jews and Christians who do not convert to Islam are the worst of all creation: ‘Those who do not believe [in Islam] from among the Jews and Christians and the idolaters will go to hell. They are the worst of creatures’ (98:6; see 98:1-5 for context). This is why the Quran in 9:33 commands Muslims to fight Jews and Christians, so that Allah may cause Islam ‘to prevail over all religions.’”

“Muhammad’s life moved from peaceful to violent in a crescendo, reflecting the trajectory of the Quran, and he died just after conquering the Arabian Peninsula. His words in the canonical collections were, ‘I have been ordered by Allah to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger. … [O]nly then will they save their lives and property from me’ (Sahih Bukhara 1.2.25). Muslims are commanded to follow Muhammad’s example, and his example was jihad.

“By contrast, the stories in the Old Testament do not enjoin Jews or Christians to fight today. Though commands to fight are recorded in the text, no Jew or Christian is commanded to memorialize these battles as ongoing conduct. They were a part of the history of Israel, certainly, not a mandate or continuing command going forward.”

“Violence has a very different place in Islam and Christianity’s theological frameworks. The final marching order of Islam is jihad. The final marching orders of Christians are grace and love.”

But I especially love this thought from Nabeel: “One can both love Muslims and insist that the God they worship is not the same as the Christian God.” Amen!

Other quotes from Answering Jihad are here and here.

Additional quotes from Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus are here.

10 More Quotes From “Answering Jihad”

Answering JihadNabeel Qureshi has given us a very timely book in Answering Jihad. He cuts through the confusion and misinformation to give us an informed, clear look at the teachings of Islam in regard to jihad.

I already shared one set of quotes from this book (which you can read here). Here is the next set of quotes I found eye-opening.

“At the risk of over-generalizing, this common understanding of Islam boils down to this: True obedience to Allah will result in Muslim dominance.”

“I have heard many people, frustrated by the increasing frequency and scale of Islamist terrorism, suggest that Islam needs a reformation. What they may not realize is that radical Islam is the Islamic reformation. This might sound shocking, but consider: Just as the Protestant Reformation was an attempt to raze centuries of Catholic tradition and return to the canonical texts, so radical Islam is an attempt to raze centuries of traditions of various schools of Islamic thought and return to the canonical texts of the Quran and Muhammad’s life.”

“Violent expressions of Islam adhere more consistently and more literally to the foundational texts of the Islamic faith, the Quran and the hadith. Peaceful versions of Islam must reinvent traditions from Muhammad’s life in order to be internally consistent, or they must ignore them outright.”

“Instead of fearing Muslim immigrants, we should embrace them and be the element of change we wish to see. … I suggest friendship rather than fear has a better way forward.”

“Christians believe Jesus is God, but the Quran is so opposed to this belief that it condemns Jesus worshipers to hell (5:72).”

“According to Jesus, God is our Father, yet the Quran very specifically denies that God is a father (112:1-4).”

“Islam roundly condemns worship of the Trinity (5:73), establishing in contrast its own core principle of Tawhid, the absolute oneness of God. Tawhid emphatically denies the Trinity, so much so that it is safe to say the doctrine of God in Islam is antithetical to the doctrine of God and Christianity. … The Trinity teaches that God is not a person, but three Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. To assert that the God of Islam is the same person as the God of Christianity becomes almost nonsensical at this point, as the Christian God is tripersonal, two persons of Islam specifically denies in the Quran.”

“One can both love Muslims and insist that the God they worship is not the same as the Christian God.”

“In the Christian worldview, the exemplar for followers of God is no mere man but God Himself. Since God cares for those who are His enemies, even blessing them with rain, Christians ought to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them, so that they can follow God’s example. This contrasts with the teaching of the Quran, where Allah tells Muslims, ‘O you who believe! Do not take my enemies or your enemies as allies, offering them your friendship when they do not believe’ (60:1). Of course, that is not to condemn the Quran, as it is counterintuitive to love one’s enemy. The Christian command may make little earthly sense, but it is the explicit teaching of Jesus.” 

“Even though Muslims are often raised with the teaching that ‘Islam is the religion of peace,’ when they study the texts for themselves, they are faced with the reality that Muhammad in the Quran calls for jihad. They will stand at the crossroads for only so long before they choose what path they will take—apostasy, apathy, or radicalization. As Muslims make that choice, it would benefit the whole world if they did not make it alone, or worse, with radical recruiters. We need to show compassion for Muslims and befriend them.”

Be sure to check out my review of Answering Jihad, and then pick up a copy for yourself.

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