Love Love Love

I love pizza. I love The Bulls. I love winter. I love my wife. I love donuts.

One of these things is not like the others.

We talk about love a lot, or at least we say the word “love” a lot. We talk about the things that we love, the places we love, the characters on our favorite T.V. show that are now “in love.” But I fear that in our love-soaked speech we have actually missed, or at least heavily diluted the true meaning of love. We have overused the word without actually understanding what it means, or who it should be connected to.

So, with that in mind, here are a few verses that will help remind us of the true meaning and true reality of love.

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus did just that, He died for us showing greater love to us than we deserve, which leads into the verse below.

Romans 5:8 – “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

At just the right time, while we were His enemies, while we were weak, while we were completely unlovable…Jesus loved us in the most powerful of ways.

1 John 4:7-8 – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.”

If we have been impacted by God’s love, then it ought to be evident in our lives.

1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”

We can only understand what true love is because God first showed us that true love.

Today, I had the privilege of preaching the good news of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’ love, at Pacific Garden Mission. It’s a wonderful ministry that serves men, women, and children who find themselves in the midst of some of life’s hardest circumstances. (If you would like to know more about this rescue mission click here.)

Today, as I shared the good news I, of course, focused on the word love. It’s fitting since Valentine’s day is right around the corner. (Hint-hint, guys it’s tomorrow and yes, you’re welcome for the reminder.) The encouraging thing is that God doesn’t need a special day out of the year to profess His love for us, and He certainly doesn’t need a reminder.

Anyway, while I was down at the mission I was reminded of this incredible truth; that no matter who you are, no matter what your background, God loves you. God loves people who are struggling with homelessness just as much as those who are sitting in mansions. God loves us and none of us, myself included, deserve it.

We cannot afford to think about love without thinking about God. We are foolish if we talk about love without talking about the cross. And we cannot understand love without understanding what Jesus did for us.

So, I hope that this little blog of mine impacts the way that you think about love. I hope that we can even rethink the ways in which we use the word. It’s not just a word that we should use flippantly, nor is it something that we should take for granted. Love is a gift from God. Love is what Jesus did on the cross. God is love.

Romans 8:38-39

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Also, to be clear, I love my wife waaaaaay more than I “love” donuts. 😉

The Wait of it All

“There is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us.”

“We have done everything we can…all we can do now is wait.”

This is what I usually say to well-meaning people who, with a smile on their face, ask me about our adoption process. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the questions at all. In fact, the other night I asked my wife if she ever got frustrated or saddened by questions that reminded her that we don’t have a baby yet. She said no. We both can see the love and genuine concern that people have for us that leads them to ask these sorts of questions. We don’t mind thinking about it. We don’t mind talking about it.

But what we do mind is the waiting.

It’s hard to explain the feeling – a sort of excitement and expectation mixed with frustration, joy, hope, and a bit of disappointment.

But I think what bums us out the most about waiting is that we can’t control it. We can’t do anything to make it go faster. We just have to wait.

If you know my wife and I, then you know that we and doers. We do things. We get things done. Go-getters are often a step behind us because we have already gone and gotten.

And that’s why this period of waiting is so important for us. It’s why it is so good for us. God will/is/has been teaching us lessons about the waiting, and through the waiting, whether we like it or not.

I did a quick search and found the word “wait” in one form or another in the Bible upwards of 135 times. The most common words from Hebrew that get translated into the English “wait” would be: קוה and יחל. Now, I know those squiggly lines may not mean much to you so let me just tell you what they mean. קוה means- to await, hope; to wait for. יחל means-to wait; to cause to hope. You don’t need to know Biblical Hebrew to see the common theme of hope.

In the New Testament the three most commonly translated words for “wait” are: προσδοκάω, ἀπεκδέχομαι, προσδέχομαι. Their definitions are in the same order- wait for; look for; expect – await eagerly – and wait for; look forward to. Here also is a common theme of eager expectation. I would even say that the Greek words help to “sum up” and complement the Hebrew.

Waiting, more specifically, waiting on God, has to do with hope which is an eager expectation of what will most assuredly come.

So why does the Bible talk about waiting so much? Well, there are a few reasons, but I will just highlight two in this short time.

First, the Bible talks about waiting a lot because it is a natural part of life on earth and we ought to know how we should respond in a God-honoring way.

Psalm 37:7-9  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. (Emphases added.)

While we wait we still need to continue to live our lives, and the quality of how we live our lives needs to be worthy of the Gospel by which we have been saved.

Second, waiting teaches us about God and His genuine care, steadfast love, and kindness towards us.

Romans 8:15  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Psalm 33 20-22  Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

God loves us with a love that is far beyond our own comprehension. But there is one thing that we can be sure of, even as we wait, God has not and will not forget about us. He will not forsake his own adopted children. If you are like us, in the midst of a wait, be encouraged. He is our shield. He is our help.

He is greater than the wait, and He is using this time to teach us and to draw us closer to Him and to one another. It kinda hurts, but I’m really thankful for it.

Proverbs 3:5-6

What’s In A Name?

I recently was having breakfast with a very good friend and he asked, “So, why do you call your blog “The Sidebar? What’s the meaning behind it?” I explained it to him and now I feel as though this would be a great time to explain it to you as well.

You see the definition of a sidebar is something along the lines of a ‘thing’ that is written, spoken, or given in addition to something else. Let me put it this way, have you ever been talking to a person and all of a sudden, a thought pops into your head and you interrupt yourself? Something like, “Hey, look at that beautiful German Shepherd—by the way, did you know that German Shepherds are the second most popular dog in America?”

This additional information usually is connected to the original thought and provides helpful details. In websites and newspapers, sidebars help to support the main articles and provide a roadmap for reading the whole issue.

Sidebars are secondary to the main point but helpful nonetheless.

So, why would I want my blog posts to be secondary to something else? Because the Word of God is always the primary, everything else comes after.

If you read and enjoy my posts, praise God! That’s awesome! I am so glad and thankful that you take the time and effort to read what I put together. But please, and hear me on this, please don’t let these Sidebars be a substitute for the real thing, for the main thing. The main thing is and needs to always be the Bible, God’s written word to us. His love letter to us, the people He created.

Psalm 119:9-11 is a passage that is a good reminder of why we ought to be soaking in the Bible on a daily basis.

“How can a young man [or young woman, or old man, or old woman for that matter] keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

We read the Bible in order to draw us closer to God, to keep us from sin, and to guide us in the way of life. The incredible man, D.L. Moody is credited as saying, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

It’s called The Sidebar because it is secondary to the main thing but still helpful. There is another reason why I chose this particular name.

Have you ever sat down with a friend to enjoy coffee and some deep conversations when all of a sudden something that is said catapults your mind in a completely different direction? You begin talking about one subject and by the time you walk away the conversation has changed topics a dozen times.

If you are anything like me then this probably happens to you a lot. It’s not a bad thing. People and things remind us of other people and things. One idea makes us think of another related idea. It’s just how our minds work.

That is the goal behind a Sidebar. As we face various situations, issues, and events may our minds would be continually drawn back to the truth. What if everyday situations would cause us to focus, or refocus, on something relatable and far more important. What if we continually related the real-life situations we face with the real-life biblical truth. These connections between everyday events and the truth we find in God’s Word are not hard to make when we allow God to work in our lives.

Romans 12:2 challenges us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I hope that this quick little Sidebar in your day has drawn you to focus on the incredible God who loves you and the awesome Word He has given you. That has been and will continue to be the goal of this blog.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8