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Love's Bottom Line: Easter Shows How True Love Costs YOU

The headline might suggest this article is about romance, holding hands, walks on the beach or even the “little blue pill.” But it’s not.  No, this may be the least sexy article we have ever done on love and relationships, definitely not the warmest, and, if you take it to heart, it will cost you. How’s that for advertising?

 

Love's Bottom LineIn Gary Chapman’s famous classic “The Five Love Languages,” we learn about meaningful ways we love others, including words of affirmation, touch (men’s favorite by far), spending quality time, acts of service and giving gifts. And while these are important, there’s a type of love Jesus models that gives the truest accounting of love we all look for, we all want and we all need to learn to give daily. But it doesn’t get the headlines.

 

Unchallengeable, bottom line love requires sacrifice. The greatest love we can give is sacrificial love or, more practically, when we say “no” to ourselves in order to say “yes” to discomfort for the benefit of another. It’s that simple, that hard, and that profound to the other person.  Jesus prophetically explained love’s bottom line for us for all in John 15:13 when said:

 

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” 

 

In other words, sacrificial love takes all mystery and guesswork out of play and replaces it with a rock solid message: I am willing to set my own comfort and well-being aside to secure your well being and comfort.  That’s not to suggest, we go out and look to be a heart-transplant donor. Instead, we look for ways in our daily relationships where God would call us to sacrifice what we want (feelings), and love someone else sacrificially (faith).

 

Before Jesus endured horrendous torture and was crucified, he revealed a human nature desiring to live and avoid the painful consequences of God’s plan. He even asked God if there was a “PLAN B.” But instead choosing emotionally he sacrificially chose God’s will. In the greatest love moment of all time and eternity he chose faith over feelings.

 

 

Sexual Atheism: Christian Dating Data Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Malaise

The guy sitting across from me is a professing and practicing Christian. He drops by my office unannounced today to talk to me about his new online dating life. Specifically, he wants to talk about the over-willingness of Christian women he has encountered on several of his dates who want to jump right from a very public conversation and vanilla latte at Starbucks to very private whispers and physical exchanges between the sheets back at his place.

 

Sexual Atheism by Kenny LuckUsually this gender scenario is reversed, but the sex, love and dating landscape continues to move in a progressively liberal direction among Christians without any solid indicators that it will change anytime soon. Both sexes today, across all ages and Christian demographics, are prone to compartmentalize their faith away from their sexual life.

 

While Christian singles report praying and church attendance are highly desirable qualities in the dating matrix, a troubling and confusing dichotomy arises when the issue of sex before marriage presents itself. Specifically, single Christians enter a sexual fog. That fog clouds and hides the reality that an identity rooted in Christ should manifest itself in intelligent and hope-filled sexual restraint based on God’s promises and instead replaces it with fear and pride-filled choices based on some other promise they believe more.

 

In a recent study conducted by ChristianMingle.com, Christian singles between the ages of 18 to 59 were asked, “Would you have sex before marriage?” The response? Sixty-three percent of the single Christian respondents indicated yes. In my 30 years of youth and adult ministry experience, this is as unfiltered, direct and honest as a question and answer can be.

 

It is equally honest to say that nearly nine out of 10 self-proclaimed single Christians are, in practicesexual atheists. In other words, God has nothing to say to them on that subject of any consequence or, at least, anything meaningful enough to dissuade them from following their own course of conduct. It is the ultimate oxymoron. A person who at once believes in a wise, sovereign and loving God who created them and all things, can also believe simultaneously He should not, cannot or will not inform their thinking or living sexually. It reminds me of those famous red letters in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus says, “Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46, NIV). There is disconnect between identity and activity.

Madness on the March: How to Diffuse Emotional Bombs

As men across the country tune in to the bracket-busting big dance, the NCAA National Basketball Tournament this month, many will use games to take the a break from it all, phase out real life and put on the blinders so they only thing they see is the square box. For some, it will be a well-deserved distraction and enjoyable entertainment. For others, it will be an excuse to avoid what’s really going on inside and delay the inevitable.

 

Madness on the MarchAt Every Man Ministries, we know men because we are men. We talk about real-life stuff. Tough stuff. Embarrassing stuff. Challenging stuff. We know the deal. There’s one issue that doesn’t get much air time, but every man struggles with to varying degrees. And, every many probably deals with it differently. Once it’s unleashed, chaos reigns. The enemy has fire to fuel, and he applies liberally. Relationships get torn while sin is born.

 

Anger.

 

Some men rage, others suppress. Some shout, others pout. Some get aggressive, others passive aggressive. Some men throw a fit, others get physically fit. Some men ignore it, others embrace it. But one thing is for sure, if you don’t control anger, anger will control you. It’s madness on the march, trampling anything in its path.

 

We would all agree that getting angry rarely solves anything. But Jesus explains the seriousness of it in Matthew 5:21. From the Message translation, check this out:

God's Plans for Your Mistakes: When We Make Them, He Redeems Them

I think the greatest weakness God's man can have is being unaware of weaknesses.  Let me ask you: What is the most expensive mistake you have ever made?

 

God's Plans for Your MistakesI'm not talking about losing a deal, buying a lemon at the auto dealer, or purchasing a home that started depreciating the day after you bought it. I am talking about mistakes that cost you in your relationships, took a toll on your physical and spiritual life, or exacted a price in your life that you're still paying today. What comes to mind?

 

The next question is: What role has the consequences of this mistake played in your spiritual journey and service to the Lord?

 

Every Tuesday morning, my brother Chris teaches a Bible study for men on probation at a rehab center in Santa Cruz, California.  I called him the other  day to see how it was going and he told me about  a released felon who  told my brother (in different  words)  where  he could take this God  stuff and shove  it.

Big mistake, I thought, and not just because my brother can bench press over 300 pounds. My brother paused for a second and then tears mixed with love and righteous anger came flooding out of Chris's mouth as he addressed this guy in front of the class.

 

Porcupine Christianity: Why Non-Believers Keep Their Distance

“JOHN 3:16” reads the sign raised high by the rainbow-colored, afro-wearing man who uses televised sporting events to promote Jesus. Or, you’ve seen people carrying signs “REPENT” and handing out leaflets during major events that attract thousands of people, who typically are along for a good time -- not a sales pitch, of any kind. Sometimes, you’ll see well-meaning people standing on busy street corners holding signs about “KNOW JESUS, KNOW PEACE. NO JESUS. NO PEACE” and shouting, “Jesus loves you!”

 

Porcupine ChristianityWhenever I see people marketing Jesus like this, I just want to come up to ask them about their personal connection with their next door neighbors, or children, or spouses, other family and estranged relatives. Specifically, have they reached them in a meaningful way for Jesus? Are they living a life that attracts others to God, or repels them?

 

For every person who may have responded to these sign-holding, awkwardly-timed evangelists, there are thousands of others who immediately think Christians are weird. And, its human nature to draw the conclusion that if you were to become a Christian through one of these marketers, then you would think that you would also have to show up at events carrying signs. No thanks.

 

While I appreciate the heart to reach others with God’s love, His love is not what people sense. There is no relationship connection or context to support that premise. Not to mention, there is no dialogue, only a diatribe. I wish they would step back and ask, “Am I doing more harm than good?” Scary Question.

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