You Are Loved

In this final installment in our series, Hard to Love, we land with both feet on the biggest and most consequential truth there is: God loves you. Read on and marvel with me at how great our God is that though we didn’t want Him, He loved us still. Let this love fill you to a fullness you’ve never known before and pour out of you onto the people around you…even the ones who are hard to love.

You Are Loved

Have you ever watched somebody get something they didn’t deserve?  How’d you feel about that?  Did it inspire you?  Did it sicken you?  Were you pretty well ambivalent about it?  I would guess that most of us, depending on the exact details, would tend toward feeling inspired by such a story.  This becomes especially true when the person goes on to live up to the expectations of the gift.  Perhaps the most classic example of this is from the beloved story by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, which Lisa and I actually got to see on stage back at the beginning of the month.  It was absolutely amazing.  The hero of the story, Jean Valjean, is set down the path of righteousness he walks all the way to the end of his life by the wildly unmerited gift of a Catholic priest.  The 2012 film adaptation starring Hugh Jackman captures this scene really well.  Take a look

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The Hard Truth

In this second-to-last part of our series, Hard to Love, we finally have to come face-to-face with a hard truth. I said last week that the goal of this series is twofold: To help us understand how to love the hard to love people in our lives, and to give us the motivation of the wonder of God’s own love for us to give us some impetus for loving them. We’ve taken care of the first part. In these final two installments we’re going to tackle the second. But, before we can marvel in wonder at the love of God, we have to understand why it’s so wonderful. That’s not so easy. But, it’s absolutely essential. So, take a deep breath, and keep reading. You won’t want to miss this because it’ll make next week even better.

The Hard Truth

Have you ever heard of “face-palming”?  It’s typically used as a humorous expression of shock or exasperation at something that strikes you as surprising or, more often, idiotic.  Just so we’re all on the same page here, for a proper face-palming you start with your hand open wide.  You then bring your hand up and your forehead down simultaneously such that your palm smacks audibly on your forehead.  This is followed by slowly moving your hand down the rest of your face as if wiping something off of it.  The expression has become commonplace enough in our culture that there is a face-palm emoji, and if you were to do a YouTube search for “face-palming,” you could actually find quite a few entries.  I know this because I did it…and found this little gem from the movie Naked Gun 33 1/3

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Love’s Transformation

Knowing we’re supposed to love the hard to love people in our lives, even knowing the theological reasons for that, is one thing. Actually seeing it in practice is something entirely different. This past Sunday as we continued in our series, Hard to Love, we took a look at a remarkable story of the kind of transformation that can take place when we let love loose into our hard to love situations. You don’t want to miss this.

Love’s Transformation

Let me start this morning with a tough question.  In fact, I want you to close your eyes in order to answer this one.  How would you respond if your child was murdered?  That’s an emotional question, I know, so go ahead and feel that emotion for a minute.  Let me show you a picture.  This is a picture of Mary Johnson and her son.  In 1993 Mary’s son, Laramiun Byrd, was 20 years old.  One night he went to a party with some friends.  As perhaps many young men are wont to do he did a little bit of fronting at the party to the benefit of his ego and his image in front of his friends.  Now, this might not be such a big deal on a normal night, but this particular party was also attended by a 16-year-old young man named O’Shea Israel.  O’Shea took up Laramium’s challenge and did a bit of fronting of his own.  After all, he couldn’t be made to look bad in front of his own friends.  Things digressed from there and the next morning Mary got a call asking if Laramiun had come home the night before.  He hadn’t.  Not long after some officers arrived to let her know that he had been murdered at the party.  In an instant—perhaps just as you imagined—her world completely fell apart. 

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How to Talk to Dummies

In this second part of our series, Hard to Love, we’re shifting gears from why we should love the hard to love people in our lives (because God does) to how to become the kind of people who can do that. Sometimes we find ourselves hopelessly divided from the people around us on the biggest issues of life. If we’ll let these two things be our guide, we will find a way forward.

How to Talk to Dummies

Have you ever tried arguing with a wall?  I know that’s kind of a silly question, but humor me.  How would it work arguing with a wall?  Well, as long as you take the position that the wall should stand there holding up the roof and dividing one space from another, it’ll go pretty well.  You’ll win.  Piece of cake.  Now, if you were to take any other position than that things probably wouldn’t go so well for you.  Okay, if you were to bring a sledgehammer to the argument things would probably go in your direction by sheer matter of force, but beyond that, if you were to take up a position other than the wall was taking the two of you would simply not reach any sort of agreement or even a happy medium. 

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Hard to Love

This week we kicked off a brand-new teaching series called, Hard to Love. Do you have anyone in your life who is hard for you to love? If you do, this is a series you will not want to miss a single part of. Together we’ll talk about why and how we can better approximate God’s own love for everyone in our lives, not just the people we like. We’ll see why doing this is so powerful. And, we’ll be reminded that in doing it we’re only ever giving what we have ourselves received. Keep checking back here each of the next few Mondays to catch the next part of this critical conversation.

Hard to Love

Do you remember some of the phrases your dad said a lot when you were growing up?  Every dad has these.  It’s part of the secret dad creed (but if you tell anyone I’m afraid the consequences will be quite grave so just keep this between us).  One of the things I remember my dad saying a lot to me was, “If you mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns.”  The point, of course, is that if you pick a fight with something or someone bigger and stronger than you there’s a good chance you’ll lose.  I learned this the hard way on a few occasions.  We had a friend of the family named Jerry who we saw every now and then who was always fun to mess with, but he wasn’t much one to go easy on you just because you were a kid.  One Christmas the family was all gathered at his house and I was being a bit bolder than wisdom would have suggested was prudent and quickly found myself locked in a closet, beating on the door, and screaming to be let out.  In messing with the bull that night I definitely got the horns. 

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