Everybody Looks for Love

You know the song, it goes, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” I think they do mainly because people don’t have a clue what real love is all about. Love is “more than a feeling” and is actually an active word. First Corinthians 13:4-7 mentions a lot about love in action. Christians understand that real love is not experienced until they acknowledge and receive the love of the Father through Jesus Christ.

The tragic thing about living a life without Christ is never knowing how much the Father loves each person. The Father demonstrated his love for us when we were least deserving. While still active sinners, he actively saved us. He gave us his only Son who “died for us.” It is truly an understatement when the Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Let’s look at one single verse: Romans 5:8.

The Proof of His Love (“But God demonstrates His own love toward us”)
God proved his love for us. The Bible says, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). There is something in all of us that longs to be loved, and God loves us so much that he sent his Son. You are an individual, loved by the Lord, and the love you can voluntarily return to him is indescribably valuable to Him.

The Phenomenon of His Love (“in that while we were still sinners”)
The phenomenal thing about the love of God is that it is expressed to us not when we were perfect or deserving, it came to us “while we were yet sinners.” Jesus came and clothed himself in human flesh. He became what we are so that we could become like him. He was forsaken so that we might never be forsaken.

The Price of His Love (“Christ died for us”)
Jesus died our death so we could live His life. He took our sin so we could take on his righteousness. The price he paid to demonstrate his love was awesome. Every lash of the whip, every sound of the hammer, was the voice of God saying, “I love sinners so much I am making a way for their salvation.”

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Some Good Advice

I read about this good advice from which we can all learn. It is a quote from Mother Teresa (Missionary, 1910-1997). Imagine people living this way!

  • People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
  • If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
  • If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
  • Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
  • For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Forgive, be kind, be happy, do good, and give your best. What more could you give in life and who matters more than God? When it is between you and God, will you follow this path of honor? Mankind has the ability to choose an honorable path or the world’s path. Be a person of honor. Take the path that leads to an honorable destination.

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Dealing with Conflict at Work

We are involved in relationships all the time, and sometimes it can get messy… at home, at school, the neighborhood and at work. I have read books about how to cope with difficult people but sometimes you just might need a little practical counsel on what to do when conflict arises at work.

When facing a situation at work when people disagree over a project, course of action or decision, we sometimes find ourselves fighting to win. It can become a test of wills.

Rather than digging in the heels and insisting on our own way, an alternative is to stop for a moment and view the potential outcome in terms of what is God’s way, what is best for the organization. That is for whom we are all working, right (Colossians 3:17, 23)?

I recently read a few tips on how we can get to God’s best for the organization:

1. Stop being so defensive: Being overly defensive does not score points. Instead, it makes you look desperate and immature. Usually what is perceived as a personal attack is nothing more than an attempt to make an improvement, or it may possibly even be a legitimate point of view. Remove your ego from the situation, and see if it looks any different when you start to view the facts.

Okay, sometimes it really is a personal attack. But the rest of these tips will still work.

2. Maintain a calm tone of voice: It’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of emotions, especially when the person on the other side begins to raise their voice, use aggressive hand gestures or hostile body language. You will do much better if you can maintain a calm, confident approach, even when you are in the epicenter of outburst. Take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, count to five, and keep your cool. Controlling your voice is the key to controlling the situation. You might be surprised at the respect this will win from the other observers in the room.

3. Don’t retaliate with criticism or personal attack: In your mind, view the experience on a higher, spiritual plane instead of a simple conflict between two alpha-managers. Instead of retaliating, begin to ask probing questions, and get at the heart of the opposing point of view. Turn the conversation towards what is best for the organization, not about who will win.

4. Acknowledge the other person’s idea as legitimate: One of the most counter-intuitive things you can do in the heat of an intimidating argument is to build up the other person by giving them credit for their opinion, even if you strongly disagree. Usually that is what they are after anyway, to soothe their own ego. Try complimenting the other person on the validity of their idea, and it may very well diffuse the negativity and lead to a more productive discussion.

5. Look to God’s outcome for the situation: If God is truly present in your life and in your organization (which He is), then you must trust that he has a purpose and an outcome that is bigger than you or your co-worker. Picture yourself as the conduit for God’s grace and purpose to pour into the situation at hand, and see how that changes your attitude and the outcome.

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Why the Steve Jobs Biography?

I recently discovered that Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of the Apple empire, spent a lot of time toward the end of his life allowing research for his own biography. Why you might ask? Check out this article, re-posted here:

When Steve Jobs official biography was announced, everyone wondered why the notoriously private Steve Jobs would let Walter Isaacson interview him over 40 times, let Isaacson talk to family and friends and pretty much have unprecedented access to Jobs’ entire life. Turns out Jobs had a very personal reason.

Isaacson saw him a few weeks before Jobs passed and finally asked him that very question, “Why had he been so eager, during close to 50 interviews and conversations over the course of two years, to open up so much for a book when he was usually so private?” Steve Jobs responded:

“I wanted my kids to know me,” he said. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

With all the things Jobs did in his life, it’s nice to see his heart was in the right place at the end.

Another writer in the Daily Mail (from the UK) goes on to say that the book is ultimately a love letter to his family. He wasn’t there for his family, but now his children will be able to read all about him in this posthumous biography in order to get to know their dad.

Steve Jobs left behind over $6 billion in personal assets. That’s more money than many of us will ever see in our lifetimes combined, but none of his huge fortune will buy a relationship with his children now. Steve Jobs made choices which earned him a lot of money, but apparently he alienated his family in the process. How sad.

Can you imagine the regret you would feel if you spent your last days apologizing to your family for not being there? With all of the advanced technology, Steve Jobs never created an app that would build a relationship with his children.

This story is shared for only one reason: don’t buy into the lie that your job, hobbies, money, financial success, business, fame, pleasure or prestige are worth sacrificing your relationships with your wife and children.

Too many of us fathers make these same poor choices. Maybe your father made poor choices as well, so you are merely passing on the family tradition.

Steve Job’s position at work has already been replaced, and Apple will continue to grow and develop new products for our enjoyment and productivity, but his family lost an irreplaceable person. Don’t be that guy.

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Reflecting on Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. A young lady asked me at church yesterday if Valentine’s Day is for girls or for guys. I said I thought that it was for girls because they need to hear how much they are loved by the ones who love them. Men are rocks and don’t need to be on the receiving end of flowers, chocolates, cards and hearts. My wife and daughter are the treasured women in my life, so my goal is to let them know how much they are loved. But men also need to hear how much they are loved, in spite of their faults, failures and denials. I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Luke 6:27-36 regarding that we are to love our enemies. Here is the key portion of Scripture for me:

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!” (Luke 6:32)

Valentine’s Day is a day set apart for celebrations of romantic love, but let me offer my thoughts on this passage that focuses on love.

The origins of this holiday are somewhat unsure. Several men named “Valentine” (Valentinus) were recognized as martyred saints by the church. One of these was buried near Rome on February 14. Medieval tradition held that this particular Valentine, a priest, was marrying Christian couples in a time when the Roman emperor prohibited young men from marrying. For this crime, he was arrested and killed by the Roman government. In recent times, an addition to this story claims that Valentine, before his death, sent a love note to a young girl whom he loved, signing it, “From your Valentine.”

Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that any of the historical saints named Valentine actually did any of these actions that might be associated with romantic love. Apparently, the connection between St. Valentine and romance was popularized by Geoffrey Chaucer, the 14th-century English writer and poet. Later writers on the saints embellished Chaucer’s story, leaving us with the Christian saint who honored marriage and sent the first Valentine’s Day card.

I grew up hearing very little about St. Valentine. February 14 was simply a day when we did special things to express affection for our friends and family members. The “big event” happened at school, when we would exchange valentines with our classmates. As soon as I got home after school, I’d dump out my pile of valentines to see if any of them included special notes from any of the girls in my class or perhaps finding those little candy hearts.

At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with Jesus’ call to love. Our Valentine’s Day traditions seem to be completely disconnected from what we read in Luke 6:32: “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them.”

Yet, in a way, my childhood Valentine’s Day practice did express love like that of Jesus. I did not give valentines only to my friends or to the girls I hoped would like me in return. My fellow students and I were expected to give valentines to every person in the class, including those whom we didn’t care for, those whom we judged to be “weird,” and those we might have considered to be our “enemies” on the playground. We even gave cards to the kids who did not participate. Ironically, our valentine exchange was more a reflection of the kind of love Jesus commends in Luke 6 than it was a celebration of exclusive, romantic love.

I think it’s fine to be reminded to express love to those who are most special to us. If Valentine’s Day encourages spouses to say “I love you” to each other and friends to celebrate their friendship, that’s great. Certainly the world would be a better place if people expressed their love more often. But Jesus encourages us to love, not just those who love us back, but also those who do not love us at all. We all have people in our lives, at work, in the store, perhaps even in our families or our church. Our calling, as followers of Jesus, is to love them and do good to them, not in order that they might respond, but so that we might live each day in obedience to our Savior who loves us.

God help us to express our love for those who are closest to us, but, even more pray that God help us to love others as he has loved us.

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