Monday, March 26, 2007

Whatever Happened to Love?

This morning as I finish up today’s message, I can’t help but wonder, how many of us have said “I love you” to someone else. Were the words real? Do they really have meaning? Do we realize one of the greatest complaints of those who aren’t Christian about those who say they are is we speak empty words and when we say, “I love you,” we don’t mean it. Do we care? If we don’t care, how can we say we love God when we can’t even love the fellow human he created? I must admit, there are so many who claim to be followers of Jesus that have hurt me by telling me those empty words, “I love you.”

Whatever Happened To Love
Slam Original © by Mike Furches/Barry DeFleron

Whatever happened to love? Whatever happened to caring for each other?
What happened to building up instead of tearing down?
Whatever happened to, whatever happened to love?

You say you love me you say that you care
Come on now punk I got brains beneath my hair
I know what’s a happenin I know what’s real
You talkin at my back with all kinds of zeal.

You say this and you say that,
Expect me to believe you well that’s just phat
Who do I believe? Well you’re not one,
You’re just pretendin to have God’s son.

You say you know me sayin it’s not true
Just answer me this if you dare to.

Whatever happened to love? Whatever happened to caring for each other?
What happened to building up instead of tearing down?
Whatever happened to, whatever happened to love?

Jesus came and then Jesus died
It’s because of him that we won’t be fried.
He don’t ask all that much of us
Just love him and other’s and not make a fuss.

Sometimes we talk sometimes we pretend
But that won’t hack it in the very end
You say you love me show me that it’s true
Come on now show me by the things you do.

You don’t like hearin what I have to say
Well just answer me this rhyme right now today.

Whatever happened to love? Whatever happened to caring for each other?
What happened to building up instead of tearing down?
Whatever happened to, whatever happened to love?

A good friend of mine by the name of Barry DeFleron wrote the Chorus or repeating Stanza to this slam when he wrote and recorded a song, called, Whatever Happened to Love? Truth is, it is one of my favorite songs of all time. I have actually done this slam with a band and love doing it. It is much different than the version Barry did, and outside of the chorus or repeating stanza, there is little in common, other than the overall theme.

My question today is; what kind of excuses do we make to not show others love? Do we ever say things like: “I don’t have the time?” “You don’t understand what they did to me.” Or, “Well brother I love them but you know, I can only do so much?” I suspect those things sound all too common because they are things we have said and done ourselves. I know I have.

1st John 3 in the Bible makes it clear: A follower of God is to love one another in word and deed. I realize this is a repeating theme for me lately, but maybe there is a reason. One is that I am tired of Christians using the words, “I love you” and never going out of their way to show love. Anyone remember the old saying, “Your actions speak louder than words?”

1 John 3: 1-3
Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world do not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are. My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is. This hope makes us keep ourselves holy, just as Christ is holy.

Once in Heaven our imperfections will be gone. We will be like Jesus, until then we need to remember that we are not perfect. This isn’t an excuse but an observation that says we need to work on those imperfections.

There are several things we need to realize as we are work on our imperfections.

God has adopted us as his children. This means we have a father we need to honor and respect. Our goal is to become more like the father each day.

We become like Jesus through life. We will be like him in Heaven. While we won’t obtain perfection until Heaven, we can become better. In my own life there are things I do wrong. The older I have gotten, the more I have worked on them, and the less I do them. We should all have that as a goal, be more like Jesus by doing things we know to be wrong less.

There is not a lot of insight into what Heaven is like in the Bible. Human language is so limited it can’t even begin to describe Heaven. That doesn’t change the fact that it exists. There is a reward for the effort.

If we are obedient to Jesus and His teachings we will experience glimpses of Heaven. This is one of the most profound facts I have discovered. Heaven is about more than just a place, it is a place where we will have certain attitudes and be perfect. The joy of Heaven can be experienced here on earth along with the fellowship. Remember the words of Jesus, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” We should be, and can be, working towards those things.

1 John 3: 4-8
Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law. You know that Christ came to take away sins. He isn’t sinful, and people who stay one in their hearts with him won’t keep on sinning. If they do keep on sinning, they don’t know Christ, and they have never seen him.

Children, don’t be fooled. Anyone who does right is good, just like Christ himself. Anyone who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. He has sinned from the beginning, but the Son of God came to destroy all that he has done.

We can not continue to practice sin; we must practice being like Jesus. The truth is, we keep on doing things like saying we love God, and each other, when in reality we don’t do the things needed to show love. It isn’t just in the area of love, it is many areas where God has been clear about what to do and what not to.

Jesus has no sin, because of that, he can advocate on our behalf. That doesn’t mean we can sin more though. We have to strive to show we really do love God. Don’t say you love God, or others, and continue to practice sin and do the things that God clearly says is wrong.
If unwilling to change and stop the sin or wrongs we do, you don’t have a relationship with God. We can’t keep having things both ways. Either we love God and will do what he asked, or we don’t.

Part of being born again is receipt of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will make the desire to continue sinning unacceptable in our lives. I would go so far as to say, there things you are thinking about right now that you do you know in your heart is wrong? You know you need to change things. Those thoughts, concerns, come in part from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help if you let Him.

We continue to sin because we are not perfect. The nature of Christ dwells in us and makes us uncomfortable about sin. This is a follow up of what I mentioned above. We have to use the tools around us, in part the Holy Spirit, to change the things that are wrong.

If we don’t want to change the things we do wrong, we don’t have a relationship with Jesus. This is a bold and hard statement to hear, but truth. I’m not making a judgment on you being good or evil, anything like that, but an follower of Jesus will want to do what is necessary to be like Him.
The nature of Jesus is not the same as ours. We won’t want to do the same things as in the past, we will have different areas of concern, a different focus. We will in fact be a different person.

We have our own natures. We have the nature to do wrong, kind of like the parable of the scorpion and the frog. It is hard to change the way we are, in fact, on our own, I question if it is possible. It is why we must rely on God to help. Some of us are afraid to ask God to help because deep down, we know He will change us. We like being who we are, and don’t want to be who God wants us to be. I can relate to that at times, it is a scary place. I can tell you from experience though; it is the best place to be when at the place God wants. I have never been happier. This don’t mean things are always great, they aren’t, but they are better than they used to be.

Christ’s nature is to stay away from sin. He gives us a new attitude and purpose in living. This don’t mean we won’t mess up, but the more we become like Jesus, the less we want to do the things we know are wrong.

1 John 3: 9-13,
God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power lives in them and makes them his children, so they cannot keep on sinning. You can tell God’s children from the devil’s children, because those who belong to the devil refuse to do right or to love each other.

From the beginning you were told that you must love each other. Don’t be like Cain, who belonged to the devil and murdered his own brother. Why did he murder him? He did it because his brother was good, and he was evil. My friends don’t be surprised if the people of this world hate you.

Our actions indicate who belongs to God and who don’t. Unwillingness to change indicates we aren’t a new person, no matter how many times we have raised our hands or prayed a prayer. Going forward at a crusade doesn’t make you a Christian any more than eating a Big Mac makes you a hamburger.

If you don’t struggle with sins you commit and have a desire to change those things, you don’t belong to God. This is a hard cold fact, one that makes life difficult. We live in a world that says, “Be yourself!” “Do it your way!” and on and on.

We should remember Jesus’ two commandments. Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind and strength love your neighbor as yourself. All of the commandments are centered on loving God and each other. It is not on loving me, or loving self. This is not to say we shouldn’t love ourselves, we should, but we are third in the order of priorities.

Others will see us as a goody two shoe, religious fanatic, Jesus Freak, and more. When this happens be happy, it is one of the indications the Holy Spirit is in us. I also believe, that as much good as we do, as much as some around us respect who we are, they will still be opposed to us because of the false premise they have of Christianity, from observation of those saying they love Jesus, when in reality are nothing like Him. They oppose us because they oppose anything having to do with God. There are others though, who even though they see us in a negative light, can change their perception from us being different than those they associate with Christianity.

Doing what is right with God makes others feel guilty and ultimately they dislike us for making them feel that way. We have to be careful. One of the mistakes many make is trying to be the Holy Spirit in making others feel guilty for being who they are. I firmly believe it is my job, our job, to love; the Holy Spirit will convict others of sin. There are times we may be used, but it has to be done in love.

1 John 3:14-16
Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life. But if you don’t love each other, you are still under the power of death. If you hate each other, you are murderers, and we know that murderers do not have eternal life. We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other.

Loving each other is proof to the world and ourselves that Jesus lives.

Hating others is equivalent to murder according to the teachings of Jesus. Sure we say we love, but we seldom show love. We have a hard time with each other. We debate over being Baptist or Catholic, over dunking people when baptized or sprinkling them. These things often blow-up into what we say is love and disagreement, but in reality looks to others like war. I have to believe those on the outside looking in are often times correct in their assessment.

V. 16 If we want to see the real example of what love is: look at the cross, Jesus said, “If you are to be my disciples you must take up your cross and follow me daily.” Here is the crazy thing, Jesus took up the cross because of the love he had for humanity. He knew what the cross meant. He also states we should take up the cross, not for the punishment we receive, as much as the difficulty we are about to face. I will be the first to confess, it is not easy to love, in fact, it is almost easier to hate, but that is not what the cross was about. It was about love, a love so powerful that Jesus asked God to forgive those nailing Him to it.

1 John 3:17, 18
If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God. Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, not by merely talking about it.

Feeling sorry for someone is not love. Telling them that you love them is not love. When we say we love someone, we had better mean it and show it. It is one of the things that burden me, individuals need bibles, I can’t afford to provide. How do others show love?. Individuals need food, I can’t afford to buy. How do others show love? I could go on and on. We show love in practical ways, it is high time those who say they are followers of Jesus starts showing the world around them they love them Whether they be American, Canadian, French, Iraqi, Iranian, Israeli, Pakistani, Indian, or Palestinian.

Most Christians don’t know these 2 verses exist, (1 John 3:17, 18). They bother us, make us feel uncomfortable but the Scripture does not change. The truth is we look across the ocean, and not across the street. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with looking across the ocean; just make sure you see the neighbor in need across the street on the way to the beach front for the view.

These verses for years have been among my favorites. I have it printed on the back of my t-shirt that I make available in concessions at presentations. I have had so many people tell me they didn’t know that verse was in the Bible when seeing the t-shirt. The sad truth is, it is even sadder the majority of Christians don’t know it either.

1 John 3: 19-21
When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God. But even if we don’t feel at ease, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence of God, we will have the courage to come near him.

What we do proves what we believe. Our actions indicate the reality of the relationship we have with Jesus. How many of us will start showing love to others? Will it be through supporting organizations like Compassion International who does so much to help the needy children on our planet? How about an organization like Habitat for Humanity who builds affordable homes for the poor? Maybe a homeless shelter in your community? How about a ministry like The Virtual Pew?

Then, as Keith Green used to say, “It is easy to give money, what of yourself are you giving?” In other words, ministries need people. People who will work at being effective to the world around them that need to know about real love. Not a love that requires us to preach before we give a glass of water, but a love that gives a glass of water, and lets that be the sermon. Believe me, when giving love in that way, people will ask why we do the things we do. At that point, we will have more effectiveness than we ever imagined. Remember those actions are not centered towards ourselves but others.

Jesus ministry was largely to the poor, and needy. I mention this because it has always amazed me at how God calls pastors to bigger, better paying jobs, yet, Jesus made an intentional effort to spend time with the down and out, the needy, the prostitutes, the drug addicts, the mentally ill, and on and on and on. Churches were also called into this type of service as opposed to bigger and better buildings and ministries. It is no wonder people don’t see Jesus in Christianity any more.

Sometimes we can’t trust our own hearts; we deceive ourselves, and others. Our actions, not our words are proof that God has changed our hearts and that He is greater than our sins. In other words, quit talking about doing something to show others love and start doing it.

1 John 3: 22-24
He will give us whatever we ask, because we obey him and do what pleases him. God wants us to have faith in his Son Jesus Christ and to love each other. This is also what Jesus taught us to do. If we obey God’s commandments, we will stay one in our hearts with him, and he will stay one with us. The Spirit that he has given us is proof that we are one with him.

V. 22 is often taken way out of context. The key to this principal is we have to obey God and do what pleases Him. This passage is about serving and loving others, not loving and serving ourselves and our desires. It amazes me how people have perverted this passage. We see what pleases God by seeing the illustration of Jesus life. Jesus didn’t build big fine houses for Himself; He didn’t buy the best of transportation available. Jesus was about serving and loving others. Those were the things that pleased God then, and will please God now.

Jesus is talking to His disciples, remember, Jesus stated, “If you are to be my disciples you must take up your cross and follow me daily." He didn’t give illusions of things being peachy and rosy. He gave an illustration that life was going to be hard and difficult. I know, fortunately or unfortunately, it is not easy to love those who have difficulty loving themselves. It is not always easy to help someone who is not willing to help themselves. But we have to try, we have to pray, and hope that the message of love gets through. We have to be different because the love and salvation that Christ offers is different. It is real, lasting, and life changing.

There is also a form of the restatement in these verses of the great commandment, Jesus is Lord God, love Him, believe in Him, love each other just as He has told us.

When we obey the Bible, we can live in fellowship with Jesus and each other. He is with us and we are with Him we know this because we have the Holy Spirit. We will be able to see a change, not just in ourselves, but in the lives of those who have made the same commitment to following the teachings of Jesus.

I recently had several individual make an offer of help at The Virtual Pew. One of those individuals was getting a little discouraged. For another one I lost their email and phone number (mail me back with it if I haven’t called you yet) and another was merely asking for some advice. The one I lost the phone number and email, I can’t get in touch with them without it. I have tried several venues and haven’t succeeded yet. With that person, I learned, respond quicker then you won’t have to be concerned with losing the contact information.

For another person requesting some advice; I went through various resources and didn’t just offer advice, I went out of my way to try and provide materials to make their request simpler for them. I went over and beyond the call in other words. I have a real appreciation of what they are doing and wanted to show it by the extra effort.

Then the person getting discouraged; I responded via email once I read their email, but after an hour or so I realized I needed to make a phone call and encourage them. I know they had done it for me in the past, and real love, the love of the Father would require I reciprocate the act of love in the same way they had loved me.

In two of the above 3 examples, I made the effort to go above the call of duty. Do you think real love does that? I know I have friends that have done that for me, many of those in the wrestling community, many of those not even followers of Jesus, but I am honored they have noticed acts of love I have displayed towards them. What are ways we can do that, go above the call of duty to show others around us that we love them?

There are those who know me from years ago, they might say, “That don’t sound at all like the Mike Furches I used to know.” You know what? They would be correct; it isn’t anything like the Mike Furches they used to know. Then again; I’m not the Mike Furches they used to know. I have learned to love better, learned to love more. I’m still learning, and hope I continue to make progress. I guess if I can say I know I’ve learned, I can say, I know you can to.

Keep on Loving, Keep on Loving More. As a friend of mine states, remember the ultimate command of all of the Bible, Love Him, Love Them.

Until next time,

Love Mike

Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual PewP.O. Box 17731Wichita, KS 67217

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