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August Newsletter-Amp Breaker Box

Long, long time ago. My hair was brown and my waist size was a bit exaggerated from sitting behind a desk for hours a day at a past job. Jane and I were asked to quote scripture for some very close family friends’ daughter’s wedding. I’ll never forget it. The tie was a bit tight, and the shirt size gave me a pretty good red face. We rotated back and forth quoting 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, reading verses 4 through 7:

‘Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…’

I remember sweating through that moment (Jane as ‘cool as a cucumber’), me hoping to remember my short little lines. Truth is, I was excited to do it. That scripture had already found a unique home in my life and its role for me was much bigger than that one moment. Years earlier, I had put two and two together about that scripture; especially marrying it with 1 John Chapter 4 and John’s insistence on hammering it home that God is Love. John emphasizes the statement 5 times in that chapter alone.

It’s pretty strong language. The kind of language that might cause us to change our minds about what we think of our God, kind of language. In the 1 Corinthians Love verses, Love is referenced over a dozen times. By the time we had been invited to read those scriptures, it was common for Jane and me to replace the word Love with the word God. I remember in earlier bible studies discussing that kind of thinking about God. Many times I’ve expressed it like this: If God is Love, if 1 Corinthians is, by definition, Love, then God is patient, not centered upon Himself but others, loves to forgive, is saddened by our choices to hurt ourselves by not taking His wisdom into account, He loves Truth (Jesus is Truth for us), bears our scorn, believes in us, hopes in us, endures all for our sake. Love/God in the earth never fails.

In those studies I looked at how the Gospel is similar to a house electric breaker box. I think my electric box at home has 40 or so breakers that distribute power to different circuits throughout our home. All those circuits are blessings for us. Each breaker delivers things we need or enjoy. Flip one of those breakers off and whatever is assigned to that circuit does not function. A unique part of any breaker box is the main breaker. If that breaker was switched off or lost its power source, all 40 of the other breakers fail. Simply, the main breaker controls what happens in all 40 other breakers. To me, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the main breaker in the Gospel breaker box. If something is to get through to bless our lives, the main breaker is God’s Love. To empower the 40 other blessings to be discovered in the Gospel, each has to pass through the main source breaker: Agape. Anger, hate, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, etc. trip that main, blocking the flow of further blessings down the line. None of us are perfect at preventing that from happening. However, having to go less and less to reset that breaker makes for a more pleasant life. For over 40 years I have tried to pass my definition, or expression, of Who God is, what He does, through the main breaker of 1 Corinthians 13. (It’s always saddened me that the world system stole the word ‘love’ and mutated it, misrepresented it, and created a different vocabulary, stripping it of its scriptural meaning. The word correctly describing something beautiful and wonderful has been slanged into simply a physical expression.)

It’s sometimes hard to get our mind wrapped around that kind of idea, that Love, about the God we worship. Many times it’s easy to think the Father is not patient at all, actually keeping a big record of all our mistakes, and He’s just waiting to pounce. And, because we know us very well, our awareness of not being trustworthy sometimes makes it hard for us to believe He can be trustworthy or caring for people such as us.

I’ve stated before in these letters, God doesn’t seek His own when encouraging us to worship and pray but is seeking for us to discover and find the great benefit to our lives if we do those things. Personally, He’s the Creator of all life and doesn’t need to be encouraged or praised to keep His Spirit up. He doesn’t have good days and bad days. But God knows the mysteries and secrets of our entering into those activities and how they bless our lives. We tend to become double-minded in our thinking about God. And according to James 1:3-8, wavering in our faith can make us unstable. One minute He’s doing the wonderful for us, the next minute, perhaps His mood changes, and watch out! One very important scripture that visits this same conversation is ‘Love casts out fear.’ (1 John 4:18) That’s the remedy to many of our imaginations or separation or rejection because of our weakness. God is Love; knowing that casts out fear.

(WARNING: grandparent statements to follow!) Jane recently went to St. Louis to help our daughter and husband with their 2 year old little girl, Chloe. That family had just had a baby boy, and well, you know, grandmothers to the rescue. I had to drive there to pick Jane up the next weekend and while there I got a good sampling of ‘Chloe the amazing’. I’ll not list all the things I mean by that statement but I’ll bring up one particular moment. We were outside, Chloe in her swing, and Jane and I were rocking her back and forth. In that one moment, looking into Chloe’s smile and eyes, the whole universe of God’s Love for His children seemed to just open up. There was an uncontrollable, not reasoned or logical or even deserving, flash of how, in Christ Jesus, God sees children of God. He continues knocking, inviting, hoping, trusting, wishing, and loving. God Hoping His children will see Him for who He is, believe what He has done, come to Him and find Rest and Peace. In a simple single word, His vibe is we would ‘embrace’ God is Love. He is calm about you, kind about you, not jealous of anyone, does not act unlovely, does not seek His own encouragement but gives that to you, forgives, loves righteousness found in Christ. His invitation bears all, trusts, hopes and endures. We have been alerted that double-mindedness about those ‘God characteristics’ makes the word of God of no effect, sterile, unproductive, dead as a winter.

Watching Chloe swing and joyously receive the compassion of her grandparents opened a window into the Gospel Love proclaimed in Father, Son and Spirit. All the hopes, dreams, grace, emotions felt for Chloe were being pictured in my mind.

Is it possible to love unconditionally? Humanly, with that Chloe swinging experience, I just answered that question. Spiritually, don’t you imagine if the creature can muster up that kind of response that it’s entirely possible with the Creator? Do you think the ability to do that comes from…evolution? Jesus in his wisdom advised that there is only one Good– the Father. We don’t just carry around Love because we’re simply super kind people. I mean, have you read or watched the news? As a people we’re pretty despicable many times. No, Agape is not of ourselves, any good is because we have been seeded with, and we carry around, His Love to share, care and create relationships.

A few years ago I made a very significant commitment. My intention is to try and not say anything about God here on earth that I would not say about Him while entering the gates of Heaven. I suppose the easiest way to say that is I try to characterize the Father using the same words the Son used to express Him. Jesus knew God better than any other person, Old or New Testament. How I characterize God is critically important to the Peace I’ve found in being ready to be face to face with Him. The world is full of religions with thousands of different expressions; mine is based in those few verses- 13: 4-7. I try to bracket that with Philippians 4:8. ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ The Greek word for think in that verse is defined as: to occupy one’s self with reckoning or calculations, to reason, to consider, to conclude, (significantly: to settle it!).

In the original language used in 1 Corinthians, charity is used. (Hear this, it’s very important.) It’s a love expression unknown to writers outside the New Testament. It’s used to express love in its fullest conceivable form and only exhibited by Christ; a love expressing God’s relationship to us and a love expressing the kind of relationship of The Father to the Son. (E. W. Bullinger’s Lexicon) He’s the Giver of Life, He’s Good, He sent Jesus to express Himself to us! He is patient, kind, isn’t arrogant, doesn’t act selfishly, He’s eager to forgive, loves righteousness and gifts it to us. God bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all for our sakes. God never fails. He’s the kind of God that would give His only Son to establish the relationship with us and invite us into a personal lifelong journey of Joy, Peace, and Rest. If I err about the heart of God I hope to err on this side of that Gospel equation.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters

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