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What does God think of our praise to Him?

A major part of our worship services are given to praise.  We praise God in many ways: clapping our hands, raising our hands, saying words of adoration and exaltation, dancing, running, leaping, playing instruments, singing, and other forms of exuberant physical displays of worship.  Praise leaders often call us to praise the Lord, loud and with enthusiasm.  We are exhorted, encouraged, incited, pushed, prodded, commanded, ordered and led into praise sessions.

The human response to this activity is varied.  Some people respond positively, others reluctantly.  Many people think of their circumstances, their feelings, their attitudes or the events in their lives as the incentive or disincentive to praise God.  Some people, however, dismiss the exhortation to praise God altogether as a waste of time.  They resent being pressured to actively demonstrate their worship to God by physical actions.  They think it is silly, unnecessary or even garish to engage in open praise.  The operative question then, is not what do WE think of praise, but what does God think of praise? 

Human Praise

  • We like to be praised.
  • We like to give praise when it is deserved.
  • We are prone to make celebrities out of people.
  • We build monuments, have celebrations, give trophies, name buildings, etc. after heroes.

Praising God in the Scriptures.

First mention of praise is Genesis 29:31-35

 31  And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. 32  And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. 33  And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. 34  And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. 35  And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

Praise is the acknowledgement of the blessings of God. (Gen. 29:35)

Praise according to Jacob.

Genesis 49:8-12 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9  Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. 11  Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12  His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Praise is Royal.  The name Judah and the Hebrew word for “praise” are very similar (29:35), and Judah did live up to his name. He founded the royal tribe that gave Israel their kings that ultimately brought Jesus Christ into the world (Heb. 7:14). Judah was a conquering tribe and a ruling tribe, and it stayed faithful to the Davidic line when the nation divided.

Praise is like a Lion.  Since God appointed Judah to be the royal tribe, it is likened to a lion, the king of the beasts. (See also Num. 24:9; Ezek. 19:1-7; Micah 5:8; Rev. 5:5.) Jacob compared Judah to a lion’s cub, a lion, and a lioness (Gen. 49:9). Who would dare rouse a lion when he’s resting after feeding on the kill, or a lioness while she’s guarding her cubs?  Praise is more powerful than we think.

Praise has a Promise.  The name “Shiloh” in verse 10 refers to the Messiah (Num. 24:17). The phrase could be translated “until he comes whose right it is [the scepter, i.e, the rule],” because the word Shiloh means “whose it is.” The ancient rabbinical scholars took Shiloh to be a name of the promised Messiah, who alone had the right to claim rule over God’s people Israel. 

Praise is Lavish.  The description in verses 11-12 certainly goes beyond Judah’s time and speaks of the blessings of the Kingdom Age when the Messiah shall reign over Israel. Nobody in Old Testament times would use a choice vine for a hitching post for his donkey, because such an act would certainly ruin the vine and probably cause the loss of the animal. Nor would the man’s wife waste their precious wine by washing clothes in it! This is the language of hyperbole. It describes a land so wealthy and a people so prosperous that they can do these outrageous things and not have to worry about the consequences. During the Kingdom Age, when the Messiah reigns, people will enjoy health and beauty (v. 12), because the devastating enemies of human life will have been removed.  Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) - Old Testament - The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch.

God is worthy to be praised. 

Psalm 18:1-6 (KJV)
1  I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. 2  The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3  I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. 4  The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. 5  The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. 6  In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Revelation 4:8-11 (KJV)
8  And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
9  And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10  The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11  Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

How are we to praise God?

Psalm 150:1-6  Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. 2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. 3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. 6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 42:1-5   As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  2  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  3  My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?  4  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.  5  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Should praise be spontaneous or deliberate?

Spontaneous.  Acts 3:6-9  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

Deliberate.  Psalm 100:1-5 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Does the architecture of Scripture describe the desire of God for praise?

Architecture refers to the way something is designed and built.  A church building is designed for assembly, preaching, prayer, baptisms, fellowship, teaching and worship.  But architecture applies to more than buildings.  The scriptures are designed for many things, one of them is praise.

1 Chronicles 16:1-6  So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God. 2  And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. 3  And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. 4  And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel: 5  Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals; 6  Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.

Isaiah 6:1-4  In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. 4  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

When you inspect the architecture of the scriptures, you must conclude that praise and worship is an integral part of our relationship with God.

Does God expect us, as saved and redeemed people, to offer praise to Him?

Psalm 107:1-16 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. 2  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; 3  And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. 4  They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. 5  Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. 6  Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. 7  And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. 8  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 9  For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. 10  Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; 11  Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: 12  Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. 13  Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. 14  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. 15  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 16  For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

We must not withhold praise from God.

Psalm 30:10-12  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. 11  Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12  To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Luke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12  And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13  And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14  And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. 15  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16  And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Hebrews 13:13-16  Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14  For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16  But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Praising God is never a waste of time.  The structure of a church service must be designed to give praise a prominent place.  It is not just a preliminary to the main event; it is vital to the mission of the church.  If you come late so that you hear the preaching, you have missed half the service.  Preaching is not ministry to God; preaching is edification for your soul.  Praise and worship is what you do for God in the church service. 

Because praise is scriptural, significant and powerful, we should then perform it with conviction, sincerity, enthusiasm and excellence.  Actually, praise is a dynamic interaction with the presence of God. 

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.



Ten Things I Know About Love…and I’m Still Learning!

        I am working on a third book on the topic of leadership.   This one is entitled, “Loving and Leading in Ministry.”  I want to share a little of this with you tonight because, in the end, nothing is as important as our love for God and His love for us.

        Christ’s divine essence, his miraculous power, his authoritative teaching, and his mission to redeem the lost form the essential Jesus for the believer.  But, the pathos of Christ draws the human heart to Him more than any other attribute.  His love for all people and people of all ages forever binds us to him on a higher plane.  From children to the elderly, from beggars to kings, from rugged fishermen to quiet homemakers, from thieves to saints, from scoundrels to pietistic  religionists, the attraction of love is the hands-down number one reason why people identify with Christ. 

        Countless attempts have been made to capture the meaning of love in a rainbow of forms and definitions.  Poets, composers, philosophers, crooners, and ordinary folk have all tried their hand at it.  Only One perfected it. 

Jesus loves me, this I know,For the Bible tells me so,

Little ones to Him belong,They are weak but He is strong.


Jesus loves me when I’m good,When I do the things I should,

Jesus loves me when I’m bad,‘Though it makes Him very sad.


Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me,

Yes, Jesus loves me, The Bible tells me so.

1.      LOVE IS POWER.  Love is the most powerful of all emotions, human and divine.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (KJV)
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Song of Songs 8:7 (KJV)
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”

1 John 4:15-21 (KJV)
15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Love has the power to make a life marvelous; it also has the power to make life miserable.

All She Had Was A Broken Heart

         A pleased smile crept across his mother’s face as she read the valentine card.  He wanted to get her something to ease the pain of her recent divorce.  Laying the card in her lap and opening the box, her expression slowly changed into a puzzled look as she saw the broken pieces of chocolate in the box. 

        “I’m sorry, Mom” he explained. “The store was about to close and the lady said that all she had left was a broken heart.” 

She hugged him and brushed away her tears.  “Oh, that’s okay,” she replied.  It’s perfect.  Just perfect!”

        The broken heart is the universal image of lost love.  English poet John Donne first articulated it with these verses:

If it had gone to thee, I know
Mine would have taught thine heart to show
More pity unto me; but Love, alas!
At one first blow did shiver it as glass.

2.  LOVE IS DECEPTIVE.  Everything we call love is not actually love.

        Infatuation:  foolish, all-absorbing passion.  (Samson &     Delilah)

        Fascination:  powerful attraction.  (Demas)

        Obsession: the domination of one’s thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, (David 7 Bathsheba) (Amnon)

        Romance:  a baseless, made-up story, usually full of   exaggeration or fanciful invention; a romantic spirit, sentiment, emotion, or desire.

        Crush: an intense but usually short-lived infatuation, usually by immature youth.

        Fondness:  tenderness or affection; a likeness or weakness for something

        Urge:  an involuntary, natural, or instinctive impulse.


Evil Urges lyrics

What is what? Man they got us so scared
Thinkin we so evil way down under there
Whooo! I made a nasty decision
To love whoever I want, just a whenever I can

Greek words for love: Eros:  Physical love; Phileo:  Brotherly love; Agape:  Divine love; Stergo:  Family love.  These different definitions were not a problem for the Greeks because they were actually different words, not the same words with different definitions.  In English, however, we need to be careful that we don’t confuse the definitions.

3.      LOVE IS MANIPULATIVE.  Words and symbols about love can be highly manipulative.

        Perhaps a dozen roses.  An engagement gift.  A whispered “I love you.”  A longing look.  These expressions, as symbols of love, wield intoxicating power.  They release the totality of a person’s emotions.  This is where the danger begins.  Masters of manipulation know how to shower victims with gifts and mouth the right words sans sincerity.  That’s why discerning people analyze claims of love before validating them. 

        He swept her off her feet.

        He had stars in his eyes.


        Boy crazy/Girl crazy

        Bit by the love bug

 1 John 3:18 (KJV)
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Words can trigger emotions that grow into powerful, sometimes irrational forces in our lives.  Do not use words that you don’t mean; do not believe words that are spoken casually or insincerely.

4.      LOVE IS PROVEABLE.  The test of true love is action, not words.


        Love is too important, too conceptually dangerous and far too powerful to be embraced without putting it to the reality test.  It cannot simply be taken at one’s word.  Proof of love may sound cold but it enjoys a sound, biblical basis.  In two separate places, Paul wrote:

        I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 2 Corinthians 8:8.

        Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.  2 Corinthians 8:24.

        Those who hedge proving their love give reason to doubt its authenticity.  Nowhere is talk more lavish—and cheaper—than in the profession of love.  In the practice of leadership, followers must see love in deeds, not in words only or else leaders will soon marginalize their effectiveness.  Also, touchy feely love that emphasizes handshakes, hugs and emotional openness becomes suspect when the leaders’ decisions contradict his or her overt actions.

The larger the organization, the less the leader is expected to demonstrate a hands-on type of love.  Rather, followers look for love in direction, vision-casting and daily decision-making.  This may have been one reason why Jesus performed one of his notable miracles, the feeding of the five thousand.

        That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and it is getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

But Jesus replied, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”

        “Impossible!” they exclaimed. “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish!”

        “Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. And he took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God’s blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave some of the bread and fish to each disciple, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers.  About five thousand men had eaten from those five loaves, in addition to all the women and children!  Matthew 14:14-21 NLT

        Jesus had to pack the totality of his earthly mission into forty-two months.  He didn’t have time for anything that was aimless or without purpose.  Why did he feed these five thousand people?  Scholars say that He needed to emphatically demonstrate His power to counteract all doubt of his divinity.  But He accomplished this in many other ways.  I am convinced that the greater motive behind this magnanimous act was His genuine compassion for the crowd.  He literally could not bear to wave off the needs of people when He had the means to meet those needs.  The truth of His love burned a hole in His heart.

        When the leader loves with no personal, material benefit, it always delivers a powerful impact on followers.  People are smarter than we often think they are.  Empty promises, self-serving actions, ingratiating gestures and pronouncements of love that are void of meaning eventually nauseate people.  True love thrives in actions, not words.


5.      LOVE IS MANAGEABLE.  Love can and ought to be managed.

                You can learn to love. (Ruth and Naomi)

                You can refuse to love.  1 John 2:15-17)

                You can regulate or restrain your love. Matt 5:44.

                You can prioritize your love.  (Seek ye first…)

                People who do not learn to manage their love can get in deep trouble. (Questions I ask in pre-marital counseling…)

6.      LOVE IS PREDICTABLE.  You are most likely to love whoever or whatever you are closest to.

Neighborhood, school, circle of friends—these comprise the people you may end up loving.  Also, whatever your pastime, hobby, leisure activities, habits—you are likely to love those things most.  (Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together…)

7.      LOVE IS SELFLESS.  You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.

        For God so loved the world that He gave…

8.      LOVE IS DOMINANT.  Love is holistic, not compartmentalized.

        For example, if you love the woods, you do not necessarily love the individual components that make up the woods.  You may not like the bark on the trees, the thistles, the wasps, the dirt, etc.  You man love a person, but not necessarily every feature about the person.

Galatians 5:13-17 (KJV)
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

9.      LOVE IS TRANSFORMING.  Love will make you into a different person.

        Andrew D. Urshan, one of the early pioneer Apostolic preachers, was extremely serious about his relationship with Jesus.  He never missed an opportunity to preach a sermon, whether he was behind the pulpit or sitting at the dinner table.  He had a favorite comeback to anyone who said they loved chocolate cake. 

        “No, no,” he scolded.  “You like chocolate cake.  You love Jesus.” 

        I shared this story with my congregation on one occasion to make the point about the power of love to change people.  A lady came up to me afterwards with an unexpected response. 

        “Pastor,” she said, “I have a confession to make.  I do love chocolate cake—and it has changed me!”

        We had a good laugh, but it is true.  Genuine love has an inherent power to transform lives, convert circumstances and alter attitudes.  This is the best thing I know about love.  It will make you become what you have never been before.  You will embrace that which you previously abhorred; it will reconfigure your opinions and turn your reverse into forward.  Love will make a no into a yes. 

        Even beyond that, one will become what he or she loves.  Love does not happen in a vacuum; abstract love is no love at all.  Whatever or whoever you love has a real, tangible effect on you.  This transformational power of love is precisely why the Bible strongly warns us about the influence of the world in our lives. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. I John 2:15.  Also, II Timothy 6:10.  “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”  Those who love the world will become like the world.

        Likewise, sustained love for God transforms us into His image.  The more we love God, the more like God we will become. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God … but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”  I John 3:1.  Love is the catalyst that transforms mortals into Christ-likeness. 

10.   LOVE IS COMPELLING.  Loving God is the most important mission in your life.

At twenty-five years of age, Billy Schnee died of Duchene’s disease, commonly known as muscular dystrophy.  I preached his funeral.  Among other things, I said:

“I stood beside Billy Schnee’s hospital bed when we knew that the end was near.  I decided to preach his funeral sermon to him then, although I didn’t tell him what I was doing.  I told him that he must not think that his life was wasted or in vain.  He had a powerful, positive effect on everyone who knew him because he brought out the best in them.  God used him to develop grace, love and compassion in his family and friends. 

“The greatest tragedy of this entire episode would be for us to fail to recognize God’s hand in creating divine attributes in creatures of clay.   As surely as Moses picked up a rod and caused the sea to roll back, as surely as David picked up a sling and felled the giant, so also God picked up Billy Schnee and brought forth marvelous graces and heroic deeds from ordinary human beings like us.

        “Billy taught us patience through the laborious task of caring for him.  Billy taught us peace through his calm reaction to daily challenges.  Billy taught us thankfulness because he showed such gratitude for his care.  Billy taught us happiness through his refusal to complain.  Billy taught us appreciation for so much because he had such appreciation for his limited opportunities.  We cannot measure Billy’s life by what he did, but by what he caused others to do.”

And what did Billy cause us to do?  Love him.  We were helpless to do anything less.

Love makes you do what you had not planned to do.  It makes debtors out of people who previously didn’t owe a dime.  It makes virtual slaves out of those who moments earlier boasted of their freedom.  It leads self-possessed people into immense sacrifice.  It turns miscreants into martyrs, stubborn hearts into silly putty, and brutes into puppy dogs.

        “Leadership,” according President Dwight Eisenhower, “is making people do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”  The key is to find a way to make it happen.  You can inspire faith in your followers; you can give them hope; but the superior method is to love them.  Coercion, deception, fear or even financial reward cannot compel people to act with the same fervor or dedication as they will when they are loved into action.

Love compelled Jesus.  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8.  Genuine love always compels us to cross the grain of fleshly impulses.  It has often been noted that no nail was strong enough, no Roman soldier big enough and no crowd was cruel enough to crucify Jesus.  Only love could keep Him on the cross.

Love compelled Paul.  In the second epistle to the Corinthians, he goes through a litany of sufferings he sustained for them, all because of love.

Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:  But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned…As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.  II Corinthans 11:24-28.

Leaders who are compelled by love transfer their love to their followers, causing them to love as well. 


Character Flaws or Destructive Sins?

David is one of the most beloved characters in the Bible because of the Psalms, the benevolence with which he ruled over Israel in its golden age and his place in the lineage of Jesus Christ. At the same time, he is viewed as a pathetic despot because of his sins of adultery, lying and murder.

We know that the human nature is flawed because of the sins of Adam. Romans 7 refers to the law of the flesh. Yet, we also understand that the flesh is imperfect and is loaded with character flaws. What should the sincere Christian do when he or she encounters these imperfections? Are they sins to repent of and overcome, or are they merely character flaws that should be accepted and overlooked?

Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

How frustrated should we be over our idiosyncrasies, our faults and our personality quirks if they cannot be designated as sin? Does God intend for us to become perfect while we are still in the flesh? Here is what Paul wrote to the Galatians:

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

While this seems like a dilemma, there is a very important distinction between flaws and sins.  A flaw is a natural result of living in the flesh. A sin is a deliberate transgression against the knowledge of the scripture and against the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Not all flaws are sins, but all sins are flaws. People who want to rationalize away their sins often categorize them as mere flaws.

We should not be so dismissive of traits that we label as character flaws. Once those traits have been identified as a violation of the scripture, we must then admit that they are actually sins that need to be washed away by the blood of Christ.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

By examining a list of supposed character flaws, we can get a better grasp of the behaviors we call character flaws.

Character Flaws Character Assets


1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Obadiah 1:2 1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. 3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? 4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. 5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes? 6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

Saul: 1 Samuel 17 And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?

arrogant, insolent unassuming, humble

boastful modest, humble

conceited,self-important humble, modest

exaggerating honest, realistic

falsely prideful modest, humble

intolerant tolerant, understanding, patient

inflexible, stubborn open-minded, flexible

self-important humble, modest

superior, grandiose, pretentious humble

vain modest, humble

Contentious  Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Judas Mark 14:4; Peter John 18:10.

aggressive, belligerent good-natured, gentle 

angry forgiving, calm, generous

argumentative, quarrelsome agreeable

attacking, critical fair, self-restrained

competitive (socially) cooperative

contrary, intractable, pigheadedreasonable

contradictory, oppositional| reasonable, agreeable

gossiping closed-mouth, kind, praising

ill-tempered good-tempered, calm

rude, discourteous polite, courteous

Irresponsible Prodigal Son; Luke 15:13; Proverbs 14:7; Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

apathetic interested, concerned, alert

careless careful, painstaking, concerned

irresponsible, reckless responsible

fantasizing, unrealistic practical, realistic

forgetful responsible

lack of purpose purposeful

lazy, indolent industrious, conscientious

procrastinates disciplined, acts promptly

undisciplined, self-indulgent disciplined

wasteful thrifty

Fearful 2 Timothy 1:7

apprehensive, afraid calm, courageous

avoidant faces problems and acts

cowardly brave

fearful confident, courageous

dependent accepts help but is self-reliant

indecisive,timid firm, decisive

shy outgoing


Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

2 Corinthians 11: 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.


blocking honest intuitive

cheating honest

deceitful guileless honest

denying honest accepting.

dishonest3 honest

defensive open to criticism

falsely modest honest, has self-esteem

evasive, deceitful candid, straightforward

disloyal, treacherous faithful, loyal

insincere, hypocritical sincere, honest

masked, closed honest, open, candid

lying honest

manipulative candid, honest, non-controlling

rationalizing candid, honest

stealing honest

treacherous trustworthy

untrustworthy, unreliable, trustworthy

Lack of Self-Control

2 Peter 2:10; 2:18; 3:3;

compulsive free

dirty, poor hygiene clean

impulsive, reckless consistent, considered actions

gluttonous, excessive moderate


Romans 2:1-6

controlling lets go, esp. of other’s lives

critical non-judgmental, praising, tolerant

cynical open-minded

judgmental broadminded, tolerant

justifying (own actions) honest, frank, candid

projecting (negative) clear sighted, optimistic

Rebellious Saul: 1 Samuel 15:23; Romans 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

defiant, contemptuous respectful

disobedient obedient

Selfish Absolom 2 Samuel 14:25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 2 Samuel 15:2 And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. 3 And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. 4 Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! 5 And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. 6 And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

faithless, disloyal reliable, faithful

disrespectful, insolent respectful, reverent

impatient patient

inconsiderate thoughtful, considerate

indifferent, apathetic, aloof caring

possessive open-minded

loud tasteful, quiet

self-centered caring of others

self-justifying admitting wrongs, humble

self-pitying grateful, realistic, accepting

self-righteous humble, understanding

self-seeking selfless, concerned for others

selfish altruistic, concerned with others

slothful (lazy) industrious, taking action


Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 1 John 2:9-11.

hateful forgiving loving, concerned for others

resentful, bitter, hateful forgiving

sarcastic praising, tolerant

spiteful, malicious forgiving

unkind, mean, malicious, spitefulkind

unfriendly, hostile friendly

vulgar polite

vindictive forgiving


Jude 1:10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

enabling setting boundaries, tough love

depressed, morose hopeful, optimistic, cheerful

hypersensitive tolerant, doesn’t personalize

insecure, anxious self-confident, secure

isolating, solitary sociable, outgoing

over emotional emotionally stable

superstitious realistic, no magical thinking

tense calm, serene


Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers

Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard

envying empathetic, generous, admiring

greedy moderate, generous, sharing

jealous trusting, generous, admiring

lustful healthy sexuality

Negative, Disbelieving

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Pessimistic realistic, hopeful, optimistic, trusting

resisting growing willing to grow

self-destructive, self-defeating self-fulfilling

self-hating self-accepting, loving

thinking negatively being positive

suspicious trusting

Various Flaws

nagging supportive

narrow minded open minded

obscene, crude modest, courteous

perfectionistic realistic goals

stubborn open-minded, willing

sullen cheerful

unfair fair

ungrateful thankful, grateful

unsupportive of others supportive

useless, destructive helpful

violent gentle

willful accepting of the inevitable

withdrawn outgoing

wordy, verbose frank, to the point, succinct

We are to go from glory to glory in living our life. God tries us as in the fire in order to bring out the best in us.

Here is the difference between worldly philosophy and psychology versus the purposes of God: The world seeks to identify our faults and failures so that we can understand ourselves and accept ourselves as we are. God reveals the flaws and faults in us so that we can address them and overcome them. Much, much more can be said about these imperfections in the Christian’s life, but it all comes down to this principle.

If you find that you are filled with character flaws, do not simply shrug your shoulders and excuse yourself. Apply the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost to your life so that you can grow into the image of Christ.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.



The Greatest Commandment

A few weeks ago I told you that I was far more impoverished than I thought I was. The reason for this was that I surveyed my library and found very few books on love. How could this be? Love is the foundation of everything we believe about God, about salvation and about being a Christian.

Tonight, I am going to confirm my poverty even more. The few books I do have say very little about love, especially about the love of God. In fact, some of them find fault with the concept of love. Here are two titles: Can Christians Love Too Much?  Love Is Not Enough

Other books focus mainly on love in the context of marriage or of romantic relationships. “The Five Languages of Love”, by Gary Chapman deals with marital love. “Essays on Love” is a series of articles on romance and marriage. “I Loved A Girl” devotes its pages to a Christian response to an immoral relationship.

The only other book I have on the theme of love is Eric Fromm’s classic, “The Art of Loving.” He writes it from a philosophical and psychological perspective and distances himself from a theistic view. While he makes many good statements about love, he only deals with it in a secular, humanist sense. To treat the all-important concept of love without an understanding of God lacks credibility for a Bible believer. In fact, all research into everything we believe—not only about love, but all subjects—must begin with God and flow outward. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God—.” That defines our starting point for life.

Where To Begin? Definitions.

Charles C. Ryrie, in his book, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, says the following:

God is love (1 John 4:8). What is love? This is one of the words used the most and defined the least in our vocabulary today. Here is one way of arriving at a proper concept of what love is. When young people think of love they think first and quite naturally of a pleasant emotional experience. And this is love, but it is not the whole concept. When those same young people grow up, marry, and have children, they soon learn that they have to discipline those children. The couple that first cuddles a baby and then soon after corrects that baby who, for instance, reaches out to touch a hot stove, is expressing two aspects of love.

So any definition of love must be broad enough to include both the cuddling and correcting aspects of love. Therefore, we might tentatively propose the definition that love is that which seeks good for the object loved.”

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary says,

LOVE; (1):strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternallovefor a child>(2):attraction based on sexual desire:affection and tenderness felt by lovers(3):affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests<lovefor his old schoolmates>.

A teenage girl writes this: “What is the real definition of love? Love has many different meanings to all different types of people. There are many stages of love at different ages and different types of love. My definition of love is caring about someone so deeply that your life would be very different with out them there would always be a little piece of yourself missing if they pass away or leave you. Your life is incomplete when they are away and you would do anything to protect them or to make them happy. When I think of love I think of a couple sitting by the ocean holding hands and kissing. The feeling of love is “that I can’t eat, I can’tsleep, reach for the stars, world series kind of stuff”. But this definition and the way that I portray and believe in love differs from yours, the classrooms, and probably many other people. “Love is an incredibly powerful word. When you’re in love, you always want to be together, and when you’re not, you’re thinking about being together because you need that person and without them your life is incomplete” (Sophocles).

“My definition of love is what I personally think of it. The definition that I gave is what I think of when thinking of a couple (being in a relationship with another person.) This is my interpretation of love as an 18-year-old female. But when I was a little kid I thought of love in a completely different way, and when I am older and wiser I will probably think of love differently also. As an a teenager I realize that I have not experienced the real meaning of life yet and that I have not seen all there is to see in the world so how could I understand the “real” definition of love? How can anyone really know the real definition of love? I believe that love is one of the hardest words in thedictionaryto actually understand and know the true definition.”

Why is this so important? We must begin with what the Bible says about love. The first place love is mentioned is Genesis 22:2.

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou LOVEst, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Most of the uses of the word love refer to relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters and friends. Sometimes it is used to show affection for food (as when Isaac is said to love venison).

The first time we see love in connection with God is Exodus 20 when the ten commandments were listed.

1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

This scripture does not offer much analysis as to the nature of this love. Next, we read about the love of bondservant to his master.

Exodus 21:5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

Then, we read of neighborly love.

Leviticus 19:17-18 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

Reading further, we are taught to love strangers as well as neighbors.

Leviticus 19:33-34 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.

34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Finally, we come to a full definition of what it means to love God. It is remarkable that we find the fullest definition of the love of God in the same setting as our fullest revelation of the essence of God.

Deuteronomy 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

We cannot extrapolate or isolate the concept of love outside of the context of God. True love is so integrated with and reflexive of the nature of God, that it cannot be considered as a stand-alone virtue. This is precisely what the secular humanist has tried to do. When love is divorced from its relationship with God, it becomes a mutant. Without God, love has no justice, righteousness, holiness or true meaning do define it.

This definition in Deuteronomy 6:5 was expanded a little in Joshua 22.

Joshua 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to LOVE the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. 

On basis of these scriptures, we can begin to understand the nature of love:

  • Love does not exist in the abstract. It must be understood in concrete ways and in context with reality.
  • Love is not an involuntary feeling. You have control over your impulse to love.
  • We are commanded to love God.
  • We are commanded how to love God.
  • We are to love God emotionally (heart), intellectually (soul/mind), and willfully (might).

These scriptures do not square with a number of ideas in modern society.

  • I fell in love.
  • I fell out of love.
  • I cannot love anyone.
  • I cannot love you.
  • I cannot stop loving.
  • I can love one person but not another.
  • I don’t know if I love you or not.
  • I love you but I can’t commit to you.
  • You are too complicated to love.
  • You are too demanding to love.

You can even find steps to take in order to fall out of love.

These statements come from selfish, secular, humanistic sources. Since they are so ingrained in our culture, Apostolic believers may unwittingly subscribe to them even though they have no basis in the scriptures.

The meaning God assigns to love is best illustrated in the stories of the Bible.

Each scenario presents a problem, shows the solution and then gives the results. From the human standpoint, the problem always seems insurmountable, the solution always seems unworkable and the results always seem disastrous. The truth is always the opposite of what it appears to human wisdom.

  • Abraham’s love for God in sacrifice of Isaac.  Genesis 22:12 (Love overcomes rivalry.)
  • Joseph’s love for his brethren. Genesis 45:1-15 (Love overcomes hurt.)
  • Ruth’s love for Naomi. Ruth 1:14-17 (Love overcomes insecurity.)
  • Esther’s love for her people. Esther 4:13-16 (Love overcomes fear.)
  • Hosea’s love for Gomer. Hosea 1:1-3; 3:1-4 (Love overcomes shame.)
  • Jesus’ love for Peter. John 21:1-17 (Love overcomes disappointment.)
  • Paul’s love for Onesimus. Philemon 1 (Love overcomes complications.)
  • Barnabas’ love for John Mark. Acts 15:36-40. (Love overcomes inadequacy.)
  • The greatest story of all time: Christ’s love for the sinner.

John 3:16, Romans 5:1-7

Here are things we know about love:

  • Love must have an object.
    • It cannot exist as an abstract thought.
      • 1John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
    • Love acts within a relationship.
      • 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
      • 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
      • 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
  • Love obeys a set of behavioral laws.
    • It respects the wishes of its object.
    • It always acts in the best interest of its object.
    • It always chooses to please its object.
  • Love will be tested.
    • “Wherefore show ye to them, and before the churches, the PROOF of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” 2 Cor. 8:24.
    • Romans 8:35-39.
  • Love can be misapplied.
    • For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. 1 Tim. 3:2.
    • 2 Tim. 4:10
    • 1 Tim. 6:10
    • 1 John 2:15-17.

1 John 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

  • Love is the only way we can ultimately embrace God. Without loving God, we cannot have a relationship with God.




Basketball, Life and God

(A little Bible study for men and boys in the Family Life Center gymnasium. Demonstrations by players and novices alike.)

The Ball 1 Corinthians 15:45

  • The ball is dead without air. God breathed life into you.
  • The ball is resilient. It bounces. You are built to take life’s challenges.
  • The ball represents your life. It is in your hands. You make the decisions.
  • Handling the ball carelessly or making bad decisions will hurt your game.

The Goal Philippians 3:13-14

· The goal is ten feet off the floor. High enough to be a challenge, but low enough to be doable.

· Most people can’t touch the rim. It takes work. Learn to jump. The higher you jump, the closer you can get to the rim. (See Lucky Break)

The Court Revelation 20:12

  • The court has boundaries. You must play within the lines.
  • You cannot move the lines according to your size, shape or speed.
  • You are judged by the lines, regardless of how you feel about them.



  • Shooting
    • There are proper techniques in shooting the basketball.
    • Your entire body is involved in the act of shooting.
    • Hand-eye coordination is critical to shooting. Keep your eyes on the goal.
    • How you shoot depends on how far you are from the goal. Heb. 12:2
  • Dribbling
    • Keep it going.
    • Learn to dribble with both hands.
  • Rebounding
    • Anticipate where the ball is going.
    • Rebounding is important on both offense and defense.
    • Remember, you have to rebound from adversity in life.
        • (Rick Patino: Lost infant son, lost bro-inlaw to traffic acc., lost 2nd bro-inlaw in 9/11 WTC, 3 seasons of losses as coach of Boston Celtics.)
  • Passing
    • If you don’t pass, you will get trapped.
    • Learn to pass correctly.
    • Learn to pass safely. Poor passing results in most steals.
    • Passing is sharing and communication.



  • Double-dribble, walking, carrying the ball, stepping out of bounds, etc.
  • Without rules, the game becomes a free-for-all.
  • Rules accents a player’s skills and understanding of how the game is played.
  • Referees are on hand to call and enforce infractions.
  • Never resent correction. It makes the game possible to play. (A T story)

Fouls and Penalties

  • Bumping, reaching in, blocking, charging, unsportsmanlike conduct, etc.
  • God will not overlook bad behavior.
  • Fouls hurt the team.


Plays and Strategy

  • You have to have a play in mind when you have possession of the ball.
  • Designing plays depends upon who is on the floor, your opponent, and the status of the game.
  • Your strategy is mainly determined by the score and the time remaining.
  • Free throws enter into a winning strategy. (See A. C. Green, “Stepping Out.”)

Your Team

  • Cooperation/Coordination. You have to learn to work with your teammates.
  • Assists. You may be more effective by passing the ball then by shooting.
  • Ball Hogging. You are not the only player on the team. Learn to share.


Your Opponent

  • If you had no opponent, there would be little challenge to the game.
  • Satan will always be between you and your goal.
  • Defending. You must defend against the actions of your opponent.
  • Out-smarting. You must learn to think ahead and around your opponent.



Lucky Break
Theme of the Week: Look for That Silver Lining
Monday, July 9, 2007

Key Bible Verse: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us (Romans 5:3).Bonus Reading: Romans 5:2-5

In high school I’d tried for years to dunk a basketball. It was my holy grail. Ironically, it took a broken ankle for me to first achieve that goal.

As a sophomore, I was just running down the court in one of our drills, and tripped over a line on the floor. I spent the next month in a cast, and remember questioning God. After all, He could have kept it from happening.

Here’s what did happen. That semester my classes seemed to alternate between the top and bottom floors of our three-floor high school. So after every period I was hopping up and down flights of stairs like a human pogo stick. When you’re injured in one place, you’ve got to draw more strength from somewhere else. In a process called remodeling, my right leg grew stronger to compensate for my broken left ankle. The brokenness actually increased my capacity. I dunked my first basketball while wearing a cast!

Like a broken bone that needs to be reset, God breaks us where we need to be broken. He fractures the pride and lust and anger in our lives, but He does it to remodel us into His image. And once we heal, we end up stronger than we were to begin with.

Stepping Out
Goal to Go
Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Key Bible Verse: Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Bonus Reading: Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1-2

Confidence only comes through tasting victory. To get confident, you have to set some kind of goal. My goal at OSU [Oregon State University] the day I got to campus was just to have the courage to play with those guys. When I reached that goal, my confidence grew. Then I could set another goal: to play them and actually score one time.

Maybe a goal for a young basketball player is to make 10 free throws in a row. When you try and you make eight, that gives you a sense that you can eventually accomplish what you set out to do. Maybe a goal for a new Christian isn’t to win 10 people to Christ in one day, but to admit to just one person that you’ve become a Christian.

If you don’t set goals, you can’t possible reach them, because even if you get there, you won’t know it. So set goals. Take practical steps to reach them, little steps of faith, courage and boldness. Face the challenge head-on. If you want to memorize a Scripture verse or a series of verses, go at it. It’s a step, and that builds confidence.

—A. C. Green in Victory

A T for the Tongue
Theme of the Week: Down with Putdowns
Monday, March 12, 2007

Key Bible Verse: Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything (Proverbs 13:3). Bonus Reading: Proverbs 15:28 21:23; 29:20; Psalm 141:3

As a young basketball coach I had a short fuse, especially when it came to dealing with men in stripes. It was hard keeping my mouth shut, and I often said things that got me in trouble. One game in particular, I thought my team was being treated unfairly and was quick to point it out. Late in the game, I stood up and yelled, “What?!” It was only one word, but the officials had heard enough. I got a technical foul that cost my team the game.

Controlling the tongue is a problem for many coaches and athletes. Many times, we create more problems with our mouths than with our actions. Why? In my case, it was because I wouldn’t think before I spoke.

Why does God want us to keep our tongues in check? When we speak before thinking, we usually do not honor Him with our speech. He would much rather we say nothing at all than speak too quickly.

It’s the most difficult thing in the world to tame the tongue, but God’s Spirit living in us through the work of Jesus can help us think before we speak—even in the midst of challenging situations!

—Jere Johnson in Heart of a Coach