Posts tagged ‘Love’

March 27, 2013

Will we Succeed in England?

heart-of-love-1328441023DAUSo Catherine and I are moving to England to plant a church.  It’s a long way to go and it’s a big step to take.  Obviously.  I was talking to the Lord the other day and I was letting Him know that I will certainly go and be obedient to His calling, but I really hope that it succeeds.  I asked God over and over, “will this succeed?”

Part of the question I was asking is to do with church size.  Back in the 1950’s when the church in the West began to decline, some scholars started to make the case that church growth matters.  Most of them were former missionaries.  Their writings became the Church Growth Movement, and their influence has been profound.  C. Peter Wagner is the best known of them.  The result is that among the Pentecostal circles that I move in it matters greatly that a church is growing, and by growing I mean attendances are increasing.  To be the pastor of a church that is not increasing in number is a professional problem.  Rick Warren says healthy things grow, so if a church is not growing then it has a health problem.  And the pastor is the number one person who is to fix the problem.  Because in evangelical circles (and especially Pentecostal ones) these days non-growth is thought to be a problem.

Broadly, I agree with that.  Does God care how big a church is?  Yes, but he cares about plenty else as well.  In short God has commanded us to be fruitful.  Some aspects of fruitfulness can be measured.  He commands us to baptise people in his name.  Baptisms can be counted.  In Acts there are a number of occasions where Luke gives us brief numerical updates on church growth.

But if we do mighty works in his name that does not necessarily mean that we have succeeded.  Paul says,

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  (1 Cor 13:2-3)

If we do mighty works in love then we will receive a great reward.

Our pastor, Matthew Wyatt preached from that passage just a few days after I was talking to God about this.  God gave me an answer to my question.  The passage goes on to say, “Love never fails”.  As Matthew preached he said, “If we operate in love then we cannot fail.”  He then paused, pointed at Catherine and I and said, “That’s a guarantee for you two.”

I was stunned.  God, you are so good.  What a brilliant prophetic word.  What a superb example of prophecy operating to encourage people, just like it is supposed to.  When I talked about it to Catherine later she was, “yeah, I didn’t really think anything about that.”  I then filled her in on what I had been thinking and how it struck me between the eyes.

So we are going to England to be fruitful.  The more who find faith, get baptised and get discipled the better.  God cares that we are fruitful.  But the most important thing is love.  God cares the most about leaders ministering in love.  If we minister in love then we will succeed.  We have detailed plans about being fruitful, but plan number 1 is to love the people we meet.  Love is the plan, and success – success in Gods eyes – will follow.

John

October 24, 2012

Five Love Languages

The other day I wanted to do something nice for Catherine.  I thought I might get a card and put some pleasant words in it.  I’m good at that.  I thought more and it dawned on me that a bunch of flowers would actually be what she would appreciate most.  I’d love to say that I give Catherine flowers frequently and generously…but that might be pushing it.

The reason that I went with the flowers is that I recalled the lesson I had learnt from the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Chapman’s book is one of the best books I have ever read.  I read it over 15 years ago.  I’m pretty sure that I only read it once.  But how often do you read a book so long ago that you can remember the whole outline of it, and it makes a difference in your day to day life?

Here’s the big idea of the book: different people appreciate different things.  Different people feel love in different ways.  What makes one person feel loved won’t make another person feel loved.  To love someone well you have to express your love for them in a language that they understand and can therefore appreciate.

The five love languages are:

Touch.  Some people appreciate physical contact.  For them holding hands, cuddling on the couch and quick hugs and kisses when coming and going from the house are very valuable.

Words of Affirmation.  Others like to hear their loved ones say the right thing about them.  An unsolicited complement is like gold.

Acts of Service.  For others hearing the words, “Is there anything I can do for you?” make all the difference.  Doing a chore for this person will make them feel fantastic.

Gifts.  Others value the thought and effort involved in buying them a gift.  It’s nothing to do with greed or materialism – they value the thoughtfulness and care.

Quality Time.  Others simply want to have time with their loved ones.  Hours = love.  Lack of hours = I don’t feel loved.

For Catherine, her number one love language is gifts.  When you give me a gift I say, “Cool – thanks.”  When you give Catherine the right gift she feels a million dollars.  It makes her day, week, month and year.

Catherine has a friend who one day, when fairly newly married, was sitting inside the house, getting more and more upset about the fact that her husband was spending the whole afternoon washing, cleaning and fawning over her car.  What was going on was that her love language is quality time.  She wanted her husband’s full and undivided attention.  She was thinking they should go out for a coffee.  That would have been brilliant for her.  She didn’t get it, so she was upset.  Meanwhile her husband’s love language was acts of service.  He was full of love for his wife, and decided to show it by cleaning her car.  To him, that’s what you do when you love someone – you do stuff for them.  But that’s not how she receives love.  Two people who loved each other deeply managed to get mad at each other when both trying to do the right thing.

If you know what your partner’s love language is then you can then takes steps to give them what they want, rather than what you naturally would do.  I am constantly saying nice things to Catherine, but it doesn’t do a great deal for her.  The flowers the other day were perfect.

Knowing your partner’s love language and making an effort to show them that you love them makes the world of difference.  These insights have been profoundly helpful to our marriage.  Even if you are not married they are still useful in relating to the people who are closest to you.

So this week take the effort to show love in a way that your partner will understand and receive it.  Don’t do what comes naturally to you – think about what your partner actually needs.  And if you don’t know which of the 5 your primary love language is, then check out Gary Chapman’s website here.

John

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