Is it Really Love?

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

Love is a word our culture loves to throw around without definition. We use it in a way that seems to say the essence of love is “always be nice to me and never tell me anything that I don’t want to hear.”

This is why any talk of sin and conviction and repentance is often instantly branded by some as “unloving” and immediately shut down. But is it? If “love does no wrong to a neighbor,” we must know and think clearly about what “wrong” really is.

Is it wrong to not warn a friend about to drink that the milk has already gone bad? Is it wrong to let a teenager drive the freeway without ever learning how? Is it wrong to let a small child play with a firearm?

Is it wrong to let an alcoholic have “just one more” when you know what it will do to them, and what they will do to their family after that? Is it wrong to do nothing about the sexual harassment of a coworker, when you know the pain it is causing them and the problems it is creating for the whole company?

Is it wrong to say nothing while a friend pursues an affair, when you know what it will do to their spouse and their children not just now, but forever? Is it wrong to embrace and condone lifestyles and patterns of behavior that you know are not only unbiblical, but also scientifically proven to lead to problems, pain, and ruin?

Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore, if your goal is simply to never offend, annoy, or cause pain, even at the cost of your neighbor’s well-being, perhaps by being “nice” you’re not really loving them at all.

Jesus is completely in control

Jesus Christ [is] the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.  (Revelation 1:5)

The world is run by rulers of all sorts and kinds.

Some are elected representatives, and others, self-appointed tyrants.  Some lead by example and others rule by force and fear.  Some act in ways that honor God and benefit their people, while others use their authority for selfish ends.

Yet, none of the rulers of earth truly have the final say.  Jesus does.

Whatever the political landscape looks like today, remember this.  Above every earthly power sits the exalted throne of the risen Christ.  Above the authority of every grand emperor or petty politician is the rulership of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

He is infinite in power, boundless in wisdom and altogether good.  So, even when governments seem to run unchecked and societies seem to come unhinged, you can take comfort in this liberating truth…

Jesus is in complete control.

–Pastor Phillip

God is the greatest authority

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 47

GOD IS THE GREATEST AUTHORITY

God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.  (Psalm 47:8)

Nations rise and grow strong, then weaken and eventually fall.  Societies grow and expand, then contract and inevitably collapse.  As surely as winter follows autumn and spring follows winter, all civilizations have their seasons, too.

But God remains in charge.

The highest authority over a people is not government, but God.

The last word in the destiny of a nation is not given by their president or prime minister, their king or their emperor, but by the greater sovereign who allowed them to come to power in the first place.

This means that wherever and whenever you find yourself in the flow of history, you don’t have to be afraid of what’s to come.  Good days or bad, easy times or hard, you don’t have to be a victim of the world around you if you’re part of God’s family.  You can be a victor as you hold fast to truth and walk in faith, hope, and love.

Have confidence in Christ today, whatever the headlines say.  Look to His Word and Spirit for your answers and strength, and as you do, you’ll find hope in this truth: God is the greatest authority,

-Pastor Phillip


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God gives you options to use

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 25

GOD GIVES YOU OPTIONS TO USE

“If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death.  But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them.  I appeal to Caesar.”  Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”  (Acts 25:11-12)

The heart of the gospel is spiritual, but the ways in which we live it out must be practical because we live in a physical world.  Each of us has been placed at a specific point in history, in a particular country, city, and system of government and economics.

Paul was in the same situation.  He did not stand outside the system of his day, but was an involved part of it.  God had placed him in the Roman empire as a citizen.  Because of that, he had options, and he used them.

Maybe it’s time for you to do the same.

Do you have situations in your life that are less-then-ideal?  Do you have relationships where wrong has occurred, or circumstances where a change needs to be made?

When it comes to trusting God and pursuing His purposes, don’t forget that while prayer is the most important thing you should do, it’s usually not the only thing you can do.  If there are practical options available in your situation, pursue them!  If there are tools at hand, use them!

You exist in a place and a time and a system because God put you there.  Even though it’s disheartening to have opposition, you can take heart and find hope in this truth: God gives you options to use.

Small-Graphic-[Counter-Culture]-Pastor Phillip

p.s. To learn more about resolving conflict well, check out message 02 from my teaching series, “CounterCulture.”  CLICK HERE to listen online.


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Don’t let politics derail your perspective

An Encouraging Word

DON’T LET POLITICS DERAIL YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Today my friend texted me in despair.

“I’ve given up on everything political,” he said.  “If things are going to change for the better, it’s going to happen by changing the hearts of men.”

How right he was.

Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision will forever alter the fabric of our society.  It will have far-reaching effects in our families, businesses, schools, churches and beyond.  It will impact our lives in ways we can’t see yet, affecting issues we haven’t even begun to imagine.

Even so, this thought gives me peace:
God is still on His throne.An-Encouraging-Word-WP-Logo-2015

“Of course He is,” you may say, “that’s why we need to __________.”  But maybe, just maybe, what we need to do most is simply breathe.

Government is neither a Messiah nor the Anti-Christ.  It never has been, and it never will be.  Both great and evil things can and do happen through political process.  It’s always been that way.  It will stay that way as long as humans are involved in the process.

But God is still on His throne.

If you rejoice in this decision and expect it to usher in a golden age of tolerance and diversity, it won’t.  If you mourn this decision and see it as the end of morality in America, it’s not.

This is simply a step.

For some it’s a step forward, to others, a step back, but it’s only a step.  It’s a big step, to be sure, but it’s only a step.

Don’t hear me saying this is not a big deal, because it is.  Don’t hear me saying there won’t likely be hard times ahead for the Church, because there will be.  I’m simply saying this…

God is still on His throne.

This decision changes everything for our country, but changes nothing for Christians.  Why?  Because the Christ we follow never commanded us to seek political solutions to spiritual problems.  Nor did He tell us to be disengaged, but rather to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  (Mark 12:17)

This means that all of us, whether we agree or disagree with the decision, have both an opportunity and an obligation to do what Jesus has always commanded us to do: deal kindly with those on “the other side” of our position.

It means as the sticky situations and uncomfortable conversations begin to increase, we must respond with wise and thoughtful dialogue, not foolish fear-mongering, name-calling, and doom-saying.

So, whether you feel elated or defeated by today’s ruling, take a deep breath today, and remember this:

God is still on His throne, so don’t let politics derail your perspective.

 

–Pastor Phillip

PowerPoint-Title-Card-[Counter-Culture]p.s. Do you want to engage helpfully on issues like these but aren’t sure how?  Join me starting tomorrow night at 6:00pm for an all-new outpostChurch teaching series called, “CounterCulture: navigating the war zone between culture and Christianity.”  We’ll explore what the Bible says about many hot issues of our day, and how Christians can respond well as we engage with the world around us.  (Can’t make it tomorrow night?  Listen or watch online at outpostChurch.org!)