Love Is… (1 Corinthians 13)

I know that loving people is hard. It can be exhilarating and bring us so much joy, but it can also bring us heartache.

Last week Katie and I were with one of our mentors, and he said, “The people God has placed in our lives are there to activate what God wants to transform.” That is hard because everyone in my life isn’t always easy to live with. They can be messy, difficult, get in the way and get on my nerves. I can do the same to them as well. That is what relationships are like.

I want to encourage you to continue thinking through how you can bring love to your relationships, especially the most important and closest ones to you.

If you aren’t familiar with 1 Corinthians 13 on love (a very popular wedding passage), let’s remind ourselves:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Love is patient. We are impatient people. We want food fast, internet fast and we get annoyed when Netflix buffers. We are also impatient relationally. This plays out by being demanding, bulldozing people and pushing too hard. It’s the worst with those closest to us, pushing them, expecting them to be what we want, to do what we want. Yet love says, “However long it takes for you to get your act together, I’ll be here.” Our culture says, “If they don’t change fast enough, if they hold you back, move on.”

Can you imagine Jesus saying, “You aren’t changing fast enough, so I’m done with you”, or, “You aren’t responding to me fast enough, so we’re done”? This is difficult, especially if you are a control freak in your life.

Love is kind. Kindness is actions, words, emotions and so much more.

In your relationships, do you use your presence and words to show kindness, or do you tear the other down? Kindness often is keeping your mouth shut when you’d love to open it. Not in a way to cover sin, but in a way to say, “That isn’t a big deal; I’ll let that go.”

Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. Envy is a longing for something that isn’t currently ours. Boasting is puffing ourselves up, focusing on ourself and our needs over the needs of others. Arrogance is thinking we’re better than we are. Rude is controlling the agenda and everyone around us.

When we envy others, boast, are arrogant or rude, we push people away.

Often we do these things to be right, but also to protect ourselves from getting hurt. If I envy you, then I can blame you for my problems. If I boast, I can put you down to make me feel better. The same is true of being rude. If I’m arrogant, I protect myself from getting hurt. If I’m not proud, I’m willing to open up my heart to hurt, yes, but I also open up my heart to love.

All these emotions and actions do is isolate us. In this passage Paul is inviting us to let go of these desires.

Love does not insist on its own way. Many times love is self-seeking and about what we want.

Why do we insist on our way? For protection, fear, pride, anxiety, control, just to name a few. Love gives in relationships; it doesn’t take.

Love doesn’t insist on perfection. In our photoshopped, air brushed culture, we insist on perfection. We take and re-take selfies. We only post our highlights or our low lights in a way to get love. Think the next time you post something, are you posting it for affirmation? Most of us do.

But love says, “I’ll accept you. I’ll walk with you.” Love says, “I won’t have an independent spirit.” This doesn’t mean you are co-dependent, because that’s unhealthy, but do you bring an independent, “I’m going to do what I want when I want” spirit to your relationships?

At the end of the day, this is empathy and a willingness to see from the other person’s perspective in a relationship.

Love is not irritable or resentful. We all know people who are resentful and always irritated. They keep a list of wrongs in relationships, reminding people of past hurts. They also always expect the worst in relationships.

Do you know where this comes from? It comes from their family of origin, but often it comes from the picture they have of the relationship.

For me, I am often my biggest critic. Every situation I am in with anyone, I have a picture in my mind of what that interaction and time will be like. What this does is prevent me from enjoying the moment. I have to constantly battle this. Multiple times a day I have to remind myself, “This is good enough. The world won’t end.” When we let go and enjoy, we more easily let go of hurt, we more easily let go of things that didn’t go the way we wanted them to go.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. This goes with the last one.

Do you rejoice over the mistakes of those closest to you? Being able to say, “I told you it would go that way”, which puffs us up to show that we are right. We look at people who make mistakes in our lives and think, “How did you not know that would go that way?”

This also gets into the area of being historical in relationships. Do you find yourself saying, “Remember when…”, “You always…”, or “You never…”? Don’t miss this: No strong relationship is filled with the words always and never.

But what if the other person in my life is hard to love? What if my spouse is difficult? What if my child is hard to get along with? What if my parents or in-laws are always getting into our relationship?

Paul ends with what I think are the hardest parts of this passage, because they cost us the most.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. This is the hardest part of love. This last verse shows us not only what God’s love towards us cost Him, but it shows us what love will cost us. It also shows us how strong love is.

Love can bear all things when we love the way God loves us. Love does not give up hope. Love is not naïve, but love is powerful. The love that Paul has been talking about in these verses is love that can bear all things, believe all things and hope all things.

But what if the other person doesn’t love like that?

Love endures all things. That’s why Paul ends with love endures all things.

You have the choice to endure all things, in love, even when things are the hardest and the darkest. Even when facing your hurt is painful, even when that person hurts you emotionally, you have the choice to love.

Will they return that love? Maybe not.

We love those around us the way we believe God loves us (1 John 4:19), whether we believe in God or not.

For example, if we believe God is indifferent towards us, this is how we approach most relationships. If we believe God is holding out on us, we will hold out on those closest to us in relationships. If we believe God has a short fuse, we will tend to have a short fuse. If we believe God doesn’t care what we do, this is how we will treat those closest to us.

How do I know this?

1 Corinthians 13 is a picture of God’s love toward us. All of these remind us of what God’s love is like.

God is not impatient or unkind with us. He is not pushy. God does not say to us, “Do you remember when you…”, or, “You always…” Instead, we are told that when we take the step of following Jesus and confessing our sins and need for Jesus, God remembers our sin no more. It is hard when we are hurt, carry around shame and regret and guilt from past relationships to see the truth. We are so used to seeing that relationship and all relationships through the lens of pain. Yet Jesus sets us free from our shame, regret and guilt. He is the power to overcome those experiences.

But why is love so hard?

Because, “The people God has placed in our lives are there to activate what God wants to transform.” So, as you read through the list in 1 Corinthians 13, you begin to see what God wants to transform in your life through what is difficult for you to live out.

Think of one thing, one relationship, and work on that. Change and growth take time, so don’t feel like you need to fix every relationship you have. That’s not possible. Give yourself permission to take your time. God isn’t in a rush.

How to Forgive, Let Go & Deal with Hurt in Relationships

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Forgiveness is tough. In a sermon, giving forgiveness sounds so easy and clean. Yet in real life it is difficult and messy. The reality, though, is that we forgive as much as we believe we are forgiven. Whenever we withhold forgiveness we deny the power of the cross. Whenever we say, “I can’t forgive that person”, or, “I can’t let go of that situation”, we deny the power of the cross. We deny the power of what God redeemed us to do.

Before walking through giving forgiveness, let’s look at what forgiveness is not.

In his book Rumors of God, Jon Tyson said there are six myths about forgiveness:

  1. Forgiving is the same as forgetting.
  2. Forgiving is the same as reconciling.
  3. Forgiving is the same as excusing.
  4. Forgiving will make you weak.
  5. Forgiving is a simple act or decision.
  6. Forgiving depends on the perpetrator admitting wrong.

Forgiveness is letting go, canceling what is owed to you, letting go of the control the offender has over you. It is giving up revenge, and as we see in Romans 12:19, it is leaving it in God’s hands.

As you walk through this door and grant forgiveness, here are a few of things to keep in mind:

1. Forgiving someone does not mean pretending it didn’t happen. Forgiving does not mean forgetting, as the old saying goes. Those scars still exist. They are still there. Forgiving means acknowledging it happened and the pain associated with it. It is facing the hurt.

2. Giving forgiveness means bearing the other person’s sin. There is a cost to forgiveness. You must bear their sin. The cost of forgiveness is always on the person granting forgiveness. This is why forgiveness is so hard. C.S. Lewis said, “Forgiveness is a beautiful word, until you have something to forgive.”

3. Forgiveness is possible because Jesus bore your sin and the cost of your forgiveness. When we look at the cross, we see how Jesus bore our sin, knowing we would fail again and again. Yet, he forgave us. The power of this moment is what enables us to forgive the way Jesus did.

In Honor of Valentine’s Day

love, valentine's day

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share the top 10 marriage and relationship posts that Katie and I have written over the years. Thanks for learning and growing with us over the years. Bookmark this page to use as a resource you can come back to. Katie and I hope this helps take your marriage to the next level.

  1. Lies Couples Believe About Marriage
  2. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  3. 10 Questions You Should Ask Your Spouse Regularly
  4. 18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife
  5. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  6. 10 Ways to Know if You’re Putting Your Kids Before Your Spouse
  7. When You Manipulate Your Husband, You Lose Him
  8. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  9. Surviving a Hard Season in Your Marriage
  10. When You Aren’t in the Mood for Sex

Happy Valentine’s Day!

How to Figure out God’s Will

God's Will

Every time you say yes to something, you say no to something else.

This truth has had an enormous impact on how I live my life, how I make decisions, how we do our calendar as a family and how I lead Revolution Church.

But how do you know what to say yes and no to? That’s the most common question I get from someone who has read my book or has heard me say this in a talk. Honestly, it’s different for each person.

Too often we focus on what we want to do in the next day, week or month and then make a decision based on that. Let me frame it a different way for you: What kind of person do you want to become in the next month? In the next half year? One year from now, who do you want to be?

Will this involve doing something? Yes, but it changes the context.

For example, if a year from now you want to be closer to Jesus than you are today, a stronger disciple, then you will make the choice to say yes to community, yes to serving in your church, yes to reading your Bible, and yes to inviting people to church. That will then determine what you say no to.

Often we hope that something will happen. We will simply become kinder, more generous, thinner or smarter without putting in the work or even be willing to make a choice towards something. If you want to become a person who is known for ________, then you will have to make decisions for that to happen. A wish and a hope are not enough.

Take your marriage or another relationship. What if six months from now that relationship was stronger? It would mean that what you are doing right now would have to change. You would need to make more of an effort, you would have to say yes to giving time and energy to that relationship and saying no to something else (ie. golfing, sleeping in, working too late).

We often think we have no power over where our life goes, what our marriage becomes, the relationship we have with God or how kind we are. Yet we do. Every day we make decisions that get our life somewhere.

Here’s the problem: we never sit down to ask, Where do I want to end up?

Circles of Relationships

Breathing-Room

Many of us find meaning in our relationships. They shape so much of our lives. One of the reasons that we end up being tired, overwhelmed and stressed out has to do with relationships and the number of them. We often join groups, teams, committees, or make volunteer commitments without much thought. Slowly our circles of relationships begin growing to the point that we know many people but lack true community.

I want you to think about every relationship you have (serving team at church, small group, PTA, children’s sports teams, work, neighbors) as a circle. You will have multiple people in a circle, but each commitment of community makes up a circle. Even if you think you don’t spend much time with it or you don’t have friends in it, like a child’s sports team, it’s a circle.

The reality is your circles all take up time. Each time you add a new circle or a circle expands because of the commitment that circle requires, you are pulling away from another circle, and you only have so much time to go around. Many times we haphazardly add circles and then lack community. For men, as we grow older, this becomes an enormous problem.

While men don’t do relationships the way women do, we need them just as much. It seems that as men get older, because of the time they give to their career and their children’s activities, they begin pulling away from friends to the point that when a man turns forty, he can’t think of anyone to call for a beer or to go fishing.

If that’s the case for you, it means you have allowed your circles to get out of control.

In our family, when we talk about adding a new circle, we also take one away. This limits the number of circles you are a part of. We believe community is that important. And yes, this means we will miss out on things, disappoint people, and even anger people.

The other reason we run out of space in our lives as it relates to relationships has to do with the ones we choose. While hopefully you start to think through how many friends and circles of relationships you can be in, this will change as you get older and your kids get older.

We often spend time in the wrong relationships.

We end up at meetings and gatherings that we don’t want to be. We have coffee or meals with people we’d rather avoid, but for some reason, when we got invited, we said yes.

Why?

It could be fear, a sense of duty, maybe our job demands we say yes. If you can say no, why don’t you?

A few years ago Katie and I made a choice that we would spend our time with people who were life giving. If you stressed us out, ran us down, were not life giving, we didn’t want to spend time with you. That may sound mean, but with a growing family, a growing church, we don’t have a ton of time to “just hang out” with whomever. We have to be intentional about our relationships.

This is something that doesn’t get talked about enough. We talk about being intentional with our schedules, money, careers and our kids, but what about who we spend time with?

The people you spend your time with, do they challenge you, encourage you, breathe life into you, spark you to greater levels in your life? If not, why are you giving them a lot of time and energy?

The flip side of this is sometimes you become that person for people. You are the spark, the energy giver. That is okay as long as that isn’t the primary source or your relationships.

When it comes to Breathing Room, you only have so much time and space. You only have so much relational energy and time on your calendar. You have to spend it wisely. You have to think through who gets it and prioritize.

*This is an excerpt from my brand new book, Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living More. Click on the link to purchase it.

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How You Destroy Relationships

Breathing-Room

In Galatians 6:2 Paul tells us that community should be a place where we carry each other’s burdens. Many people struggle to have healthy community because of one simple issue: pride.

To carry someone’s burden, to help with what weighs them down, you have to be close enough to carry it. Many of us do not have anyone close enough to help carry something. This is what I call waiting to build community until you need it. This ensures you will be alone and carry your burden by yourself. You have to build community before you need it, not the other way around. You have to get past your fears, open yourself up to others, and let them in.

What’s interesting about Galatians 6 is that Paul says it is possible to sin in two ways:

  1. You can sin by not carrying someone else’s burden when they need you to.
  2. You can sin by not allowing someone to carry your burden when you need them to.

The first one, most people would agree with. When you see some- one who needs help, you should help. If you are able to help, do so. If you don’t, you are selfish and mean. That point isn’t as big an issue, although maybe that is a struggle for you because of pride and selfishness (Gal. 5:25–26).

The second point may be what catches us off guard. What if we try to do it ourselves? What if we never ask for help? What if we never open ourselves up to community and the care others can give us, or allow someone to carry our burden? We are sinning as much as the selfish, prideful person who won’t help.

Why?

Both have missed community and relationships. Both have pride issues and think they don’t need help or others. Both lack humility.

*This is an excerpt from my brand new book, Breathing Room: Stressing Less & Living More. Click on the link to purchase it.

Like this post? Sign up to never miss a post and get chapter 1 of my brand new book Breathing Room: Stressing Less, Living More!




How to Catch Your Breath in December

book

Right about now, if you are like most people, you are wondering how you will survive December and get everything done that you need to. The list seems endless. Parties, gifts, people, food, traveling, more food, TV specials, plays and recitals. The list is endless. People are coming and going. If you are in college, you have finals on top of everything else. This is on top of what you normally do in life.

Deep down, we know this isn’t the way we should live life and it feels wrong at Christmas, but stopping to catch our breath seems silly. Impossible. UnAmerican.

It isn’t and deep down, you also know that.

Here are 7 ways to catch your breath this month so that you head into 2015 not exhausted, but refreshed, ready to tackle the New Year:

  1. Schedule some down time. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I believe that if something is not scheduled, it does not happen. We do things out of habit and planning. Including wasting time watching TV or surfing the internet. Put into your calendar days and nights when nothing is happening. If you don’t, you will run from one thing to the next and not enjoy any of it. 
  2. Say no to something. If you schedule down time into your schedule, chances are you will have to say no to something. This is hard to do. We like to say yes as much as possible, not miss anything and be at all the parties and get togethers, but we can’t and shouldn’t. If we say yes to everything, we will miss the important things. We will miss moments with our kids, friends we really care about and miss out on memories.
  3. Have a food plan and stick to it. One of the areas that causes a lot of frustration for people come January 1st is how much they eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Don’t simply show up at the party and eat, have a plan. Here are a couple of ways: Take something healthy to the party. There won’t be a lot of healthy options, so bring one and eat it (think of the memory each year now when you and your friends laugh about the fact that you are the one who brings hummus to the holiday party). Another one? Don’t stand by the food. If you are away from the food, it makes it harder to overeat. The hardest one? Limit how much dessert you eat when you are at parties. And finally: get rid of leftovers as quickly as possible, even if you have to throw them out. 
  4. Go to bed at 10pm as often as possible. Sleep is one of the most overlooked but important areas of our lives. I know, you think you can survive on 4 hours a night and a Coffee IV drip plugged into your arm, but you can’t. You will crash and that crash will happen sometime soon and ruin your holidays or at least make a dent in January when you need get going for the new year. Get to bed. Don’t watch as much TV and if presents aren’t wrapped, put them in a bag and call it a win. 
  5. Don’t wait til January 1st to exercise. In January, health clubs everywhere will be packed. New Years Resolutions will be made to lose that holiday weight you put on. What if you didn’t wait until January to get into shape? Put it into your schedule now. If you workout regularly now, don’t quit over the holidays.
  6. Plan fun memory moments. Christmas is a great time to make memories. The tree, decorations, TV specials, buying and wrapping gifts, plays, the food, the songs. All of it creates moments with family and friends in ways that other times of the year do not. Don’t miss this because you are busy doing other stuff. Spend time reading to your kids, TiVo the Christmas specials and watch them, listen to Christmas music all month, take some special daddy (or mommy) dates with your kids. Make this time special and pack in the memories.
  7. Make your goals for the New Year. Don’t wait til January 1st to make your goals for the New Year. Notice, I didn’t say resolutions. Here is a simple process I use to help you set goals you will actually reach. Don’t make 10 goals this year, make one. What is the one thing that if you accomplished would make the biggest impact in your life and family? Do that.

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