Flying to Israel Tomorrow!

 

Today Linda and I are packing for Israel. We’ll fly to Tel Aviv Thursday morning with Josh and Beth Bentley (Josh is one of the pastors at our church). How excited we all are to be doing this! We’re also grateful for our church family who are sending us on our way with love, prayer, and even some gifts – thank you!

We’ll land in Tel Aviv on Friday morning (they are seven hours ahead of us). We get on a bus and off we go! We’ll travel up the Mediterranean coast and head for Tiberias. We’ll stay on the Sea of Galilee for three nights, then off to the Dead Sea. Three nights there, then off to Jerusalem for 5 nights.

When we’re in Jerusalem I’m going to find the place where the man born blind was begging (John 9). I want to walk from that place to the Pool of Siloam, which has been excavated. There, at that pool, the man washed the mud from his eyes, and could see. I’ve preached four messages on this story, and feel endeared to this man. His refusal to be intimidated by the Pharisees is moving. He’s no theologian, but he knows more about God and Jesus than they do. And one thing he knows for sure; namely, that he was blind, but now he can see.

This man, to me, is “Everyman” and “Everywoman.” Slowly, his blind spiritual eyes begin to open. He knows the person who healed him is named Jesus. Then, he tells the Pharisees, as he’s being interrogated by them, that he thinks Jesus is a prophet. Later, he ends up lecturing them, and states that Jesus, this prophet, is “from God.”

Finally he’s kicked out of the synagogue community. Jesus finds him, and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he?’ the man responds. Jesus says, “He’s standing in front of you.” The man falls to his knees, and maybe to his face, and says “I believe!” And he worshiped Jesus.

For this man, Jesus now became more than a name and more than a prophet. He’s even more than “from God.” The Real Jesus is the Son of Man. And what’s that? Daniel 7 tells us. Daniel had a vision of someone like a “son of man” entering the presence of the Ancient of Days (that’s God the Father). There, the Ancient of Days anointed the son of Man (= Jewish Messiah) with authority, glory, and sovereign power. Daniel sees all peoples from all races falling on their faces and worshiping the son of Man. Finally, we’re told that His kingdom shall last forever and never end.

The blind man was found, and healed, and delivered, by Jesus the Son of Man. It all happened in Jerusalem. “Jerusalem” is more than a name to me. It’s more than a home for prophets, and more than the “holy city.” Jesus walked and healed and spoke and died there. And rose from the dead there. So I will worship the living Son of Man, ask Him to do some more healing deep in my imperfect heart, and be changed in ways seen and unseen.

Love 13.13

(Eagle in Monroe on the River Raisin, 2/8/08)

1 Corinthians 13:13 says this about love. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

“Faith, hope, and love” are the “Big Three.” Among them, “love” is #1. Love is the greatest.

So – what is love?

  • love is patient
  • love is kind
  • love does not envy
  • love does not boast
  • love is not rude
  • love is not self-seeking
  • love is not easily angered
  • love is not proud
  • love does not delight in evil
  • love rejoices with the truth
  • love always protects
  • love always trusts
  • love always hopes
  • love always perseveres
  • love never fails
  • without love one’s life is just white noise
  • without love a person is nothing and gains nothing

A long, long time ago a band called “The Beatles” sang the words “all you need is love.” In one sense they were correct. Because love is the greatest. But I don’t think they really understood. God is love. God is the maker and creator and author of real, authentic love. Real love has properties like the ones listed about. It’s even greater than faith and hope. The love of God – it is the greatest!

Love 13.1-3

(Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor)

From God’s perspective, how important is love?

Love’s importance is seen in the very nature of God. God IS love. The very being, the very essence of who God is, is love. Therefore God cannot not-love. Whatever God does is an act of love and demonstrates God’s love.

So what does this mean for you and me? We get an answer in 1 Corinthians 13: 1-4. This says:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

A life without love, without real, authentic God-type love, is just a bunch of background noise. No matter how gifted or talented or smart or religious or spiritual you think you are, if you don’t have God-type love your life registers a “zero.”

Even if you are the most giving person, even becoming a martyr, if you don’t have God-type love, nothing has been gained.

Does this seem impractical, or impossible? Who could love like God loves? I know I don’t. Does this mean that my life, and maybe your’s too, amounts to nothing?  I think the point to be made is this. For God, love is premier. God IS love. The heart of God IS love. So, minimally, love is important to God, right? The recognition of the supreme value of love to God is a call to align my heart with the heart of God, which is a good thing. I can see the truth of these verses. Intuitively, I know that love is more important than personal giftedness or personal accomplishments. I’ve seen the damage I have done when I’ve not acted in love, but acted in self-interest, toward others. So, God I cry out to you – give me a greater heart of love, a heart more like Your’s!

Love 13.8a

(The River Raisin)

What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13.8 says that “love never fails.”

Love’s report card contains no ‘Es’ or ‘Fs.’ Real love gets straight ‘As .’ Pure love always gets the right answer. The love of God manifests his omniscience. The love of God takes perfect pictures, writes Grammy-award songs, produces Oscar-winning films, creates Louvre-like art, concocts chef-quality cuisine. God’s love makes no mistakes. God’s love is perfect. Perfect love casts out fear. Therefore there is no fear in love. Love never fails at what it does best; which is, to love. Love never fails.

Love 13.7d

(My back yard, after the wedding )

What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13.7d says that love “always perseveres.”

Love hangs on. It doesn’t give up on people. Love has staying power. Though others leave, love stays. After the tornado hits, love remains. Love keeps pushing for the God-outcome. Love’s a friend who is always faithful.  Love never leaves nor forsakes. Love doesn’t shoot the wounded. Love embraces and won’t let go. Love never lets go. Love sees the possibilities of God and looks to them. Love is purpose-driven. Love never says “I’ve had it with you.” Love says, “With God, all things are possible.” You’ve never had a real friend until you’ve had a friend who loves like this. Even death can’t stop love. Love never takes a time out from persevering. Love always perseveres.

Love 13.7c

(Dixon Road) 

What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13.7c says that love “always hopes.”

Love expects. Love’s not into wishing. Wishing is passive; hoping is active. Hoping love expects something good to be born. Hope prepares a space for the promise to dwell. Love gives hope to others. Love hopes for others. Love says “you can.” And, “you will.” In this way real love is prophetic. It gives a future. Love does not dwell on the past, but looks ahead. Love is a cheerleader for the beloved. Love sees the beloved succeeding. Love’s not into failure. Love does not despair. Love is not a pessimist. Love’s optimism is realistic. Lovce inspires to excellence. Love always hopes.

Love 13.7b

 

(Monroe) 

What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13.7b says that love “always trusts.”

Without trust, love suffers. Mistrust wounds loves. When trust is broken so is love’s heart. Love goes into cardiac arrest when unfaithfulness happens. Trust is the oxygen of love. Trust allows love to breathe. Without trust, love can’t breathe. Love and trust are inextricably interwoven. Love and trust are two threads in a tightly-knit fabric. Trust is the foundation of all authentic love. Love wants to trust. Real love demands trust. To trust is to risk; therefore, love is a risky thing. Because trust and control don’t go together. Love can’t be controlled. Therefore, love always trusts.

Love 13.7a

 

(Dixon Road) 

“Love” is a much-misused, much-overused, much-misunderstood word. What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13.7a says that love “always protects.”

Therefore, love is safe. Love’s a safe place. Love is a fortress, within which one asks, “What shall I fear?” There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. Love shelters. Love has protective wings. Love builds a home in the shelter of its wings. Love guards. With love, all is well. Love provides refuge. Love settles down in the storm’s eye. Love weatherproofs the soul. Love is a shield over the heart. Love is a helmet over the mind. Love forms protective armor against fiery arrows. Love survives. Love never lets down its guard. Love never sleeps on its watch. Love doesn’t go A.W.O.L. Love’s on duty while the beloved sleeps. Love always protects. 

Love 13.6b

 

(Dixon Road) 

What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13:6b says that love “rejoices with the truth.”

Love is happy when things come into the light. Love dances when the light turns on. Love is elated and ecstatic and blessed and up and euphoric and parties in the midst of truth. Love would die for the truth. Love requires truth; without truth, the balloon of love deflates. Love grieves in the midst of lies. Love doesn’t wink at falsehood. With love, what you see is what you get. Real love is cloaked in truth and authenticity. Where phoniness and facade are, love is not. Love is rarely found in media presentations. Real love is a rare treasure that, when found, prepares the fatted calf. Love celebrates the return of truth. Love and truth boogie together. Love rejoices with the truth.

Love 13.6a

(Monroe, Summer 2007) 

What is “love?” 1 Corinthians 13.6a says that love “does not delight in evil.”

Love doesn’t enjoy seeking the beloved fail. Love doesn’t stare at suffering. Love doesn’t dance in the middle of unrighteousness. Love gets no pleasure out of others’ pain. Love is pained by evil. Love hates evil. Love loves people while hating evil. Love delights in whatever is good, whatever is pure, whatever is true. Love doesn’t think on on evil. Love doesn’t waste its time meditating on evil. Love doesn’t get a kick out of tripping over a crack. Love doesn’t live or get energy from or feed off the moral failures of others. Love’s dissatisfied with the media. Love doesn’t watch soap operas. Love aches for Britney Spears. Love does not delight in evil.