My former pastor – now director of Pure Desire Ministries
I highly recommend this video to everyone. Pass it along to others. It is a great introduction to Nick Stumbo’s month-long series on the topic.
Nick is my pastor and a speaker at national Pure Desire conferences.
Listen to the Jan 3rd sermon.
Check out is book on Amazon
Setting Us Free Paperback – 2013
John Stumbo, President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance
A patient church: One way you can identify a congregation weak in love is that it retaliates in anger. Angry boards drive out one pastor after another. Angry congregants make life unpleasant for the worship team. Angry congregational meetings more closely resemble a feud than a fellowship.
A loving church is a patient church because it knows how lovingly patient the Lord has been with us. Love extends to others the grace it has received.
A kind church: It is commendable when one human does something kind for another, because showing kindness is a direct expression of the One in whose image we have been made. Even the most godless people reveal their origin when they act in kindness toward others. God, Designer and Creator of all, cares about those other than Himself and expresses that care in countless ways, even to those who scorn Him. Kindness is one expression of divine love.
Kindness is more than merely being nice. It carries with it the idea of moral goodness—good manifested in such a way that another human is served in a meaningful manner, often at some cost to the giver. Cruelty delights in someone else’s pain and loss; kindness delights in their well-being and profit.Did someone in our community have a better day, month—life—because they crossed paths with our church family? Do we serve for the profit of those besides ourselves? That’s what love does.
A humble church: By “humble” I don’t mean a church with a cheaply built and poorly maintained facility. Instead, I’m referring to a church that isn’t envious, boastful, or proud (1 Cor. 13:4). Would a church ever be envious of another church? Yes, sadly, the comparison game is often played. Churches that have had a rich history but are now in decline are often blind to their own ineffectiveness as they continue to boast of their past. Pride runs through some churches like the weary carpet in their hallways. Members feel superior over society and other churches around them, unaware that their “salt” is losing its “saltiness” and will soon be trampled as worthless.
The humble church doesn’t keep turning to its history or its accomplishments. Rather, members keep turning to their Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King. The humble church realizes that we need Jesus every moment, every service, every decision . . . every everything. The humble church prays naturally and frequently because it wouldn’t think to try to just run a program, meeting, service, or ministry on its own good ideas or abilities. The humble church knows its power source. We have God among us, or we don’t have anything. We abide in the vine, or we waste away.
The humble church is grateful for the spiritual gifts and abilities represented among its members but isn’t “wowed” by them. They are, however, very impressed with the Gift Giver. They are wowed by the mysterious Father, Son, and Spirit.
by John Stumbo, President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, in his article in the Alife magazine.
Love is not about “look at me; see what I can do.” It’s not about how smart I am, how cool I act, how witty I can be, or how much God has used me. It’s not about how big my ministry is, how many books I’ve sold, how many books I’ve read, how many likes I get on Facebook, or how many people like me at all. Love isn’t about how much I’ve sacrificed or how hard I’ve worked. It’s not about my talents, my interests, my success, my anything.
Love isn’t primarily about me.
Oh, certainly, I do love myself—and I should. Self-loathing is unhelpful, unhealthy, unwise, ungodly . . . ungodlike.
Clearly, my love for myself is quite well established. Every day I feed and clothe myself. Many days I don’t even think about feeding or clothing others, but I never miss a day for me. I’m often quite delighted with my ideas, my plans, my wishes, my whims, my wants, my ways, my who-do-you-think-you-are-by-doing-it-some-other-way responses. I’m quite patient with myself. I put up with behaviors in me that I scorn in others. I’m rather kind to myself, buying or doing things for myself on a consistent basis. I protect myself, trust myself, place more hope in my ideas than yours. And I’ve been doing all this for a very long time. I’ve persevered for me.
I love myself, and to a measure, that’s all fine and good. But, as a Christ follower, my call is to live—and love—beyond me. I’ll keep feeding, clothing, and believing in me, but how eager am I to do that for you?
A Life of Love
As Christ followers, we are all called to live beyond ourselves. Pity the person whose world is no bigger than their own whims. Blessed is the person whose heart has been made large by the love of God. Redeemed by a loving God, we are recipients of God’s love. Imagine! John’s heart nearly explodes as he writes, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!” (1 John 3:1). Loved by God, loved by the Creator, loved by the King, loved by Love Himself. With good reason and great clarity, Paul teaches, “as dearly loved children . . . live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . .” (Eph. 5:1–2).
Live a life of love. What would that look like?
Love is patient with the person who doesn’t get the point the first or the fifth time.
Love is kind enough to do for another person at any moment what we wish others were kind enough to do for us.
Love is happy for someone when he or she succeeds, gets a promotion, a raise, a great vacation, a nicer car, a nicer home . . . has another child, a happy marriage, good health. Love is happy for those who are living the dream we can’t seem to attain.
Hearts large with love are rare, priceless, divine. Such love doesn’t naturally arise from within us. A divine source—the divine source—is needed for such love. Frustrated is the person who tries to contrive or pretend such love.
You see, only the love of God can rejoice with those who rejoice in the very circumstances we mourn in our own stories—when they get what we can’t seem to have. Without that love, we do what all people do when others get to live the dream we can’t: we envy. Their good creates bad in us. We pity ourselves, take a victim role, cast blame, shake our fists at God, or seek to undermine that person’s success. Envy reigns when love does not.
Love is eager to give others the credit. It doesn’t need the spotlight, the kudos, or the bonus check. Love elevates others’ contribution, courage, creativity.
Love is not rude. It’s not self-seeking. It’s not easily angered. It doesn’t keep track of everything everyone has done against us. It doesn’t keep a “he wronged me” list.
Love doesn’t take offense. Love forgives because Love has forgiven us.
Love is free—free to not be offended, free to forgive, free to embrace, free to give another chance. It is free to speak truth, to have the hardest, most awkward, best conversations.
Love is fearless. Those awkward conversations require courage, don’t they?
Love is faithful. Anything less than love gives up quickly: “That relationship isn’t worth it.” What if God loved us with the measure of love we have shown others? Thank God for God.
Love is open-hearted, open-handed . . . open. Less-than-love closes, blocks, shrivels, recoils. Love enters where others withdraw, perseveres where others quit, believes where others doubt, adopts what others abandon.
Love is risky. Let others play it safe; love puts it all on the line.
Love is often confused with license: “Your love will allow me to be who I want to be in the manner I want.” No, that often is the most unloving thing we can do for ourselves, a child, or a friend.
Real love—the love of God—makes us more like God. Real love aligns us with who He is: His character, His desires, and His Kingdom. Real love doesn’t make me more who I want to be in my own volition. Real love makes me more in line with His desire as His creation. Love positions me with His purposes for me . . . who He designed me to be when He knit me together in my mother’s womb.
As a people, we seem to have two basic schools of thought out there as to how we should face problematic behaviors in our lives. The one school, made most famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, says that I am powerless against my addiction (step one of twelve). The other school, promoted by well-intended Christians and secular psychologists alike, says that I can do anything I set my mind to do. This approach feels quite Biblical, especially when you attach to it the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Sounds nice. Empowering even. “Me and Jesus” can take on the world!
Now, take the time to listen to his talk on that subject at http://www.easthillsalliance.org/podcast
Click on 3/1/15 How We Grow – Establishing Freedom
Then read Scotty’s Prayer from Everyday Prayers
A Prayer for Friends Struggling with Pornography
Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? . . . Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 7: 21– 24; 8: 1– 2 NIV)
Jesus, my heart goes out today for friends and their spouses whose lives are being assaulted by the ravaging and enslaving grip of pornography. I know of no other power sufficient for the task but the gospel. This is why I run to you today with grave concern, but also with great hope.
O Lord of resurrection and redemption, bring your mercy and might to bear in stunning fashion. Things impossible for us are more than possible for you. You have come to set captives free and to heal the brokenhearted. Pornography is creating an overabundance of both.
Jesus, for friends somewhere in the pornography continuum of titillation to addiction, we ask you to reveal yourself in the deepest place of their hearts. We ask for the holy gift of godly sorrow, not the short-lived remorse of worldly sorrow. For your noncondemning love has great power to deliver those who cry, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Rom. 7: 24 NIV).
Lead them to that cry, Jesus. They need a lot more than embarrassment and fear; they need contrition and hope. Where pornography has desensitized our friends, resensitize them so they can see and feel the horror of their entrapment and more so —much more so— the wonder of your deliverance. For our friends who are married to someone in the talons of pornography, dear Jesus, theirs may be the greater pain and struggle. No one but you can help them with the anger, the disgust, the wound, the shame, and the mistrust that goes with this story. Help us walk with our friends who are right in the middle of this dark vortex. Show us how to validate their feelings without confirming hurt-driven conclusions. Bring patience and perspective, forbearance and faith.
Only you can rebuild the trust. Only you, Jesus, can bring a willingness to hope again.
Only you can heal the places in our hearts that have suffered the greatest violation and harm. Absolutely no one understands all this like you, Jesus, and absolutely no one redeems these messes but you. We pray
Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith (p. 77). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.