Posts Tagged ‘Relationship’

Clock“My son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love.”

“Wherefore O my Lord?”

“Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so in adversity I do not displease.”

“The prudent lover considerest not the gift of the lover so much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every gift.”

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

prudent – adj – acting with or showing care and thought for the future

Kempis has uncovered the weak lover.  The one who falls away in the storm, seeking only for consolation.  He has proclaimed the strong lover.  The one who stands fast in the face of temptation and whose love does not rest on the whims of circumstance.  Now we find that there is yet another quality of love that we are called to in our Imitation of Christ.  The Lord turns his conversation to the prudent lover.

How often we mistake the gift for the lover.  This is the sign of imprudent love.   The gift is wonderful and amazing.  We wrap ourselves up in the gift.  We hug it and caress it.  We proclaim the gift to the world.  It thrills the soul, but like all gifts it fades in value.  The storms of life batter the gift and the sands of time wear it down.  Suddenly that thrill is gone, that tingle that we called love has faded away and because we have been so focused on the gift instead of the lover, prudent love that might have been is never found.

Jesus speaks of this love in Matthew 13:5-6.

5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.

The gift of the Gospel is heard and perhaps even believed but the faith that springs up is in the gift, not in the giver, not in the lover of our souls.  So when the circumstances of life arise there is no depth to hold our faith because our eyes are not on Jesus.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

As great as the gift is (For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord .Romans 6:23) it is only great because it opens the path for us to focus on The Lover.  If we take our eyes off him….

As is so often the case, the qualities of our vertical relationship with God speak into our horizontal relationships as well.  The gifts of our life both given and received should conduits of intimacy drawing us into relationship with others.  When the gifts are the focus, the love is compromised and when the circumstances change one finds that it is not love at all.  We are all to often ready to believe that gifts (given or received) are enough but there is no endurance in gifts when they do not bring clarity of focus on the lover.

The prudent lover looks to the future, not to the present or the past.  The actions of the prudent lover are framed to sustain and grow intimacy over time with the beloved.  This is the focus of a steadfast relationship, one that will stand the test of time.  It is this kind of love that Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Be prudent in love, setting ALL gifts lower in value than the lover who gives them.

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HeartCross“My son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love.”

“Wherefore O my Lord?”

“Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from thy undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. The strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth not the evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I please him, so in adversity I do not displease.”

“The prudent lover considerest not the gift of the lover so much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the affection more than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but in Me above every gift.”

Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

I briefly touched on love and the Hupomone life (sounds like a bad comedy form the 70’s…but it’s not) in an earlier piece. When I read this paragraph from The Imitation of Christ, I thought it time to open the topic again. Thomas a Kempis in his dialogue with his Lord and Savior examines the quality of Hupomone love. Though written in the 15th century it stands as a challenging definition of love.

“Wherefore O my Lord?” protests our protagonist. It is perhaps our arrogance in self-reflection that most aptly defines our lack of prudent love. We are like the unprepared virgins, not realizing our lack of oil until it is too late….or until the Lord Himself calls us out and we stop our frantic efforts to listen carefully to His words. Kempis utilizes this conversation milieu throughout this work. It is more than a literary it device. Kempis highlights the need for us to be in constant communication with God. It is only when we accept conversation with Him as a lifestyle that we move forward in our imitation of Christ. This is more than Sunday mornings and perhaps Wednesday nights. It is even more than daily devotions and scheduled times of prayer. These are not bad but perhaps consider them disciplines of faith as opposed to conversations of love. We often do them out of a sense of duty not a heart of love. A discipline can become mechanical and void of meaning. A loving relationship and the conversations that must accompany it are filled with meaning and actually feed life into the disciplines. We are called to be in relationship with God 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. When do that we are well on our way to imitating Christ.

Hupomone Love listens to the Words of our Lord and recognizes the truth of His assessment. It is an everyday, every hour, every minute relationship.

“for a little opposition” The Lord uncovers our instability in love. The word circumstance comes up again and again in our Hupomone discussion. Whether it is our love for God or our love for those around us when a little opposition raises it head, how quickly we fall away. Interestingly enough Kempis says “little opposition”. When the sky is falling and disaster raises its ugly head we tend to cling to our Lord and Savior and band together to battle the incoming doom. It is the “little oppositions” that send us running, too often to places we should not be. We drop the armor of God for the tranquilizing pillows of consolation. When we take our eyes off of Jesus and begin to look at the circumstances of our lives as guides then we forfeit the effectiveness of His promise to be with us always (notice I said effectiveness, the promise stands and the truth of it is eternal). It is when we have fled in the face of these little things that we are to crash and burn when the world throws its weight against us.

Hupomone Love does not fall down or drop its armor at the first sign of trouble.

Having expressed His assessment of the writers love, God moves on to the qualities of prudent love. Join me next week as I continue to consider this conversation with God and The Proving of a True Lover.

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I started this series some time ago but never finished it.  So I am going to present both a question and a series of answers over the next few weeks.  

The question was actually posed to me some time ago by a young German woman.  I had befriended her and her husband in an online game that I was playing.  She quickly became aware of my faith and one day as we chatted about life she abruptly posed this question.

 Why do you serve God?  What does he do for you?

My mind quickly went to all  the theologically correct answers that I had learned over the years but quickly discarded them.  First of all I don’t think her English was up to taking in a bunch of “Christianese” (and my German was certainly not up to conveying anything other than hello and thank you).  Secondly my guess is that perhaps somewhere she had already heard the platitudes.  She was looking for something more intimate, more personal.  She really wanted to know , why did Sam Guidry (or Flamefanner as my gaming friends know me) choose to serve this god.  I gave her an answer.  I do not even recall what it was, however it set me to thinking and so I give you:

Five Reasons that I serve God

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.  One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.  On the glorious splendor of your majesty, And on your wonderful works I will meditate.  Men shall speak of the power of your awesome  acts and i will tell of your greatness.

Psalm 145:3-6

Reason 1:  God Never Ceases to Amaze Me

David served God as perhaps no other.  Yes he got to be king but he certainly did not serve God because his life was smooth and easy.  As we read his words here our first reason rings loud and clear.  David never ceased to be amazed by God.  He knew the Scriptures,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Genesis 1:1- Pretty amazing

“So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind and drove them(the locusts) into the Red Sea”  Exodus 10:19

“…and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong East wind all night and turned the sea into dry land” Exodus 14:21

All amazing stuff but this Psalm is not the words of a man who experienced God only from the pages of Scripture, David had an intensely personal relationship with God.  God never ceased to amaze him.  In the same way Scripture speaks to us of His incredible acts throughout history.  Gideon defeats the Midianite nation with 300 men.  David slays Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” 1 Samuel 17:4  From little things like floating axe blades (2 Kings 6), to Jonah and the Whale, to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord, his death and resurrection.  Scripture amazes us with the deeds of a God who takes an active interest in His people.

God takes a young hot headed prince of Egypt and makes him the Spiritual leader of His people.  The shepherd boy is anointed to become king.  The arrogant, self indulgent businessman becomes an urban missionary….oh yeah, that’s me. (and not of course found in Scripture)  I could spend yours reciting the amazing things that we find in Scripture about our God.  I could spend hours telling you all of the amazing things that God has done in my life (some of which can be found recorded on the pages of this blog).  Some are big things but many are just day to day blessings that rise out of the nature of a personal relationship with God.

I know that if you take the time to get to know my Lord and Savior that you will be amazed too!

Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”  

Joshua 3:5

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What a Friend

This article from Fortune magazine a few years ago is all about the pitfalls of trying to be a boss and a friend.  I can confirm much of what is said in this article having made that mistake numerous times in my 25+ year career in management.  Perhaps these types of interpersonal issues are why we have so much trouble engaging our relationship with God.

Some can engage God as father.  Too often this can be based on the world view of fatherhood that their own personal experience has laid on them instead of the biblical view of His role in our lives.  This casts a fractured picture of God, one with many personalities.  Depending on the experience they have had this engagement is very similar to the boss or co-dependent or manipulative or aloof or even cruel.

Some can engage God as the boss, following the letter of the law.  They struggle with a judgmental policy bound God.  They tend to order the relationships in their life on this scale.  It is a cold place to live, one that is based on performance instead of relationship.  It recognizes the sovereignty of the almighty without a biblical view of His love.

Some can engage God as savior.  They are constantly looking for rescue.  Often as soon as they perceive the rescue has happened they disengage…until they need rescue again.

Some can engage God as friend.  In the absence of the fullness of who He is this engagement is shallow.  Just as our friends disappoint us when they do not act as we expect, we can become disappointed with God when he doesn’t come through the way that we want.

We need to understand that while God uses human types within Scripture to describe the way that he interacts with his children, he cannot and will not be limited by those types.  A recent list of the Hebrew names for God that I read had seventeen!  Each one represents an aspect of the way that God interacts with man.  Many sitcoms are based on the premise of people trying to interact at multiple levels and struggling or even failing.  The father who is the boss.  The friend who is the employee.  The family member who is the partner in business.  God does not have these struggles.  He wants and solely has the capability to be it all, Father, Lord, Savior, Best Friend.  We lose so much when we get trapped in our own definitions and apply them to our relationship with HIM!

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Psalm 103:13

“If you then that are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”  Matthew 7:11


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The secret to living the Christian life is to become best friends with the Holy Spirit. He has all the right qualities for that role and will not disappoint you- Charles Stanley

I posted this quote from Pastor Stanley’s InTouch Ministries devotional some time ago while Allana and I were deep in the treatment for her Leukemia.  It has been percolating in my brain since then.  The importance of this statement has become clearer and clearer in my life, though the topic languished here in the draft file.

As we walked the difficult road of cancer we greatly appreciated the observations and comments about our faith and commitment to Christ through the trial.  The truth is we don’t see it.  We didn’t then and we don’t really now.  We do not feel overly special, or faithful and certainly not holy.  Yet we see the impact of our lives and are humbled by it and blessed to see the Holy Spirit working around us in the lives of God’s people and in the lives of those soon to join the family!  So what is the secret.  Well it is not so secret.

The Holy Spirit is our Best Friend.  Friendship takes time to cultivate.  I think that too many times we think that we have all the time in the world to become friends with the Holy Spirit and that we do not need to become close with the Holy Spirit until the S*** hits the fan.  The reality is that if we wait until we decide we need the friendship of the Holy Spirit to cultivate that relationship we are in for a tough time of it.  This is just another view of the Hupomone lifestyle.  If you read the Intro to Hupomone you will see that the Greek word mean “remain under” or “remain about”.  This is the only way that a true friendship will develop.  It is the result of persistence, perseverance, steadfastness (all words used to translate Hupomone).

Many Christians believe that Acts 2 was the beginning of the relationship with the Holy Spirit for the disciples. However if you read the Gospels carefully you will find Jesus intentionally leading the disciple into relationship as a part of guiding them into relationship with Himself.  Even in the Old Testament we find the Holy Spirit in relationship with men like David, Moses, Elijah and others.  Luke notes that Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied about his son.  He also notes that Simeon who greeted Mary, Joseph and young Jesus had the Holy Spirit upon him.  No Acts 2 was not the beginning of the relationship for the disciples, it was the culmination of the relationship.  In fact it was the culmination of the relationship for all mankind.  The cross bridged the gap between man and God allowing the Holy Spirit to enter an new level of relationship.  The disciples would hold on to the Holy Spirit as their best friend, most even to their deaths.

“As Moses, David, and Mary discovered, getting to know may include walking with Him through life’s darkest valleys.  But in these times, we gain tremendous insight into the Father’s character.”  Dr. Charles Stanley

 Is the Holy Spirit your best friend?

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TLH Steps and Walkway

They sure look pretty!

I hope many of you have had a chance to see the new steps put in by Bill H. and Stevenson Building and Supply.  We are so very grateful for them.  Of course I have had more than just an opportunity to look at them.  I have walked up and down on them.  I have sat on them.  I have even dropped things on them and I can tell you that they are solid.

However the pretty white color that makes them look so new and beautiful is deceiving.  While it is great to spray the new concrete with this beautiful sealer, it is not the sealer that gives the stairs their strength and makes them sturdy and safe.  If the concrete under the white sealer is bad, the stairs are going to crumble.  It is the quality of the concrete that determines whether the steps and walkways will endure the tests of time, weather and abuse that is sure to come.

Our Christian lives are like those steps.  We can apply all of the sealer that we want but if it is not being applied over the solid rock of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior then eventually our lives will crumble because the sealer will not be enough to hold us together.  We can attend every church service there is, serve our community and behave in every way like the ideal christian man or woman but without the rock of Jesus and power of the Holy Spirit underpinning all of those “do’s” it is like a foolish man building his house on a pile of sand (Matthew 7:24-29).  Matthew ends Jesus’  illustration with this statement:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (Matthew 7:28-29)

It is Jesus that gives our Christian lives authority.  This is the authority that gives substance to all the things that we do.  Without it all the doings collapse under the weight of eternity just as our steps and walkways would collapse if the concrete was faulty, or if say we tried to build the steps from sand or clay.

However there is a reason that Bill sprayed a 5 gallon bucket of concrete sealer on his work.  I don’t want you to think that all the things that we are called to do as followers of Christ are meaningless.  If we do not take care to seal our relationship with Christ, over time we will be worn down.  This is perhaps more insidious and destructive than the collapse of poorly constructed steps. It begins with the best intentions and then is slowly worn away because we accepted Christ into our lives and made him the base of our steps but then we don’t follow his guidance.  We do not apply the sealing works of His Word, of prayer, of fellowship with other believers, of love, of discipline.  Without these we will soon succumb to the lies of the enemy and he will destroy our effectiveness as children of God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.  (Galatians 6:10-13)

If we lay steps of the Solid Rock and then apply the seals of the Word, prayer and obedience then I am confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

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