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Archive for February, 2008

I was thinking about this topic.. and I came up with some ideas.

1. We have little faith. This is the obvious one. It’s the point Jesus drove home over and over again. “Why do you have so little faith?” Maybe this is not a rhetorical question and rather something we should ponder.

2. Our faith lacks childlike simplicity. Have you ever listened to a child praying? The prayers are beautiful and simple. This kind of prayer reveals a real trust in God. A lot of knowledge, theology, and experience only hinders faith. Remember, it was to a religious leader that Jesus said “you must be born again”.

3. We don’t keep on asking. Prayer isn’t always immediately answered. God answers prayers the same way I reply to emails. Sometimes you get an a reply right away, other times you’ll get it months later! But Jesus made it clear that we should keep on asking, even if our prayer doesn’t get answered right away. We also can’t lose faith in the meantime. If we pray for a few days and then start indulging in negative thoughts and doubting that God wants to answer, do we really have faith? And while you’re praying you might want to consider fasting too.

4. We ask with wrong motives. Don’t you hate when you ask God for something and at the same time have an inkling it’s not the right thing to ask for? It’s our human nature to desire, and not everything we want is in our best interest or in God’s plan. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask, as God wants to hear what is on our heart, but we should also examine our hearts to find out if we asking with right motives.

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Defining Love

Last night in a small group discussion I asked how would people define love. I think one friend answered “unselfishness”, I have to admit I like that for a one-word definition!

Here is my favorite definition, from The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck:

The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

Here are some other thought-provoking ideas: Misconceptions about love, from The Road Less Traveled. Hope this will inspire you to read the book.

Falling in Love

Of all the misconceptions about love the most powerful and pervasive is the belief that “falling in love” is love or at least one of the manifestations of love. It is a potent misconception, because falling in love is subjectively experienced in a very powerful fashion as an experience of love. When a person falls in love what he or she certainly feels is “I love him” or “I love her.” But two problems are immediately apparent. The first is that the expereince of falling in love is specifically a sex-linked erotic experience. We do not fall in love with our children even though we may love them very deeply. We do not fall in love with our friends of the same sex — unless we are homosexually oriented –even though we may care for them greatly. We fall in love only when we are consciously or unconsciously sexually motivated.

Dependency

The second most common misconception about love is the idea that dependency is love. This is a misconception with which psychotherapists must deal on a daily basis. Its effects is seen most dramatically in an individual who makes an attempt or gesture or threat to commit suicide or who becomes incapacitatingly depressed in response to a rejection or separation from spouse or lover. Such a person says, “I do not want to live, I cannot live without my husband [wife, girlfriend, boyfriend], I love him [or her] so much.” And when I respond, as I frequently do, “You are mistaken; you do not love your husband [wife, girlfriend, boyfriend].” “What do you mean?” is the angry question. “I just told you I can’t live without him [or her].” I try to explain. “What you describe is parasitism, not love. When you require another individual for your survival, you are a parasite on that individual. There is no choice, no freedom involved in your relationship. It is a matter of necessity rather than love. Love is the free excercise of choice. Two people love each other only when they are quite capable of living without each other but choose to live with each other.”

Self-Sacrifice

Whenever we think of ourselves as doing something for someone else, we are in some way denying our own responsibility. Whatever we do is done because we choose to do it, and we make that choice because it is the one that satisfies us the most. Whatever we do for someone else we do because it fulfills a need we have. Parents who say to their children, “You should be grateful for all that we have done for you” are invariably parents who are lacking in love to a significant degree. Anyone who genuinely loves knows the pleasure of loving. We have children because we want to have children, and if we are loving parents, it is because we want to be loving parents. It is true that love involves a change in the self, but this is an extension of the self rather than a sacrifice of the self. As will be discussed again later, genuine love is a self-replenishing activity. Indeed, it is even more; it enlarges rather than diminishes the self; it fills the self rather than depleting it. In a real sense love is as selfish as nonlove. Here again there is a paradox in that love is both selfish and unselfish at the same time. It is not the selfishness or unselfishness that distinguishes love from nonlove; it is the aim of the action. In the case of genuine love the aim is always spiritual growth. In the case of nonlove the aim is always something else.

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God knits together each one of us in the womb, and what comes out of the womb is a perfect human, a beautiful creation of God. We can see with our own eyes that this is true, that every baby is born perfect (I won’t go into birth defects now, but I would argue that we see as a defect isn’t always a defect in God’s eyes). But this perfection doesn’t doesn’t last for long. The eyes of infants are full of light, but we see eyes of strangers around us that are dull with pain or despair. On this earth we’re subject to all kinds of evil, mental sickness, and physical sickness.

What sculptor wants his creation defaced? If a sculptor creates a masterpiece, even in his own image, and then later finds it marred and disfigured, he will say “an enemy has done this”. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, was this God’s will? Joseph says to his brothers: “what you meant for evil, God meant for good”. God allows suffering, wars, and illness. But He also rescues, redeems, and heals.

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