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A Valentine Message – Love That Goes Beyond a Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, a day highlighted and promoted by every florist, candy shop, card producer, and teddy-bear manufacturer in the country. Without sounding like a Valentine’s Day scrooge, the underlying message is:

            Roses are red, violets are blue;
            If I don’t buy you something, my love is not true.

In case you’re wondering, I DID buy my wife flowers, candy and a teddy bear, even though she told me not to, because, as she said, “It’s just a waste of money.” Wow. I sure love my wife.

Almost every “chick-flick” I’ve watched with my wife (which is part of being a sacrificial husband) makes love appear to be all about one’s feelings. Rarely are love and marriage portrayed as commitments we make and actions we choose.

As C. S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,

“[Being in love] is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be `in love’ with someone else. `Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity; this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run; being in love was the explosion that started it.”

In a study on marriages conducted by psychologist Carol Dweck, couples who believe that love is “instant, perfect, perpetual compatibility, and `meant to be,’” have a much higher likelihood of divorce than couples who believe that “a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences” (Mindset, 151-152).

When a couple says, “If we need to work at it, there’s something seriously wrong with our relationship,” they, in fact, have something seriously wrong with their relationship. Relationship researcher, John Gottman, says, “Every marriage demands an effort to keep it on the right track; there is a constant tension . . . between the forces that hold you together and those that can tear you apart” (ibid., 153).

Jesus gives the most practical marital instruction ever: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV). And, by the way, in case you’ve forgotten, your spouse is your friend.

So, buy the candy, flowers and teddy bear. That’s fine. But make sure you keep your commitments and choose actions of servanthood and sacrifice, for it is on that kind of love “that the engine of marriage is run.”

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Are YOU the Biggest Obstacle to Fulfilling Your Dream?

How do you turn a dream into reality?  Footsteps.

My youngest son, Luke, has been dating a girl for the past two years, but his interest in her extends back an additional two years.  My daughter, Anna, has had an interest in serving children, and God has led her on a path to Costa Rica and now to Australia.  My oldest son, Will, and his wife, Michaela, feel called to serve as missionaries in Cambodia.

Just like my kids, we all have dreams, vision, aspirations, desire.  We want “liking someone” to turn into “loving someone.”  We want a dream to work with kids to become a reality.  We desire to serve here or abroad. 

But no dream, vision, aspiration or desire comes to fruition with taking the first step.

God promised the Israelites they would inherit the land of Canaan.  To receive the blessing, they had to step across the Jordan into the land of unknown.  They had to take responsibility. 

Luke would not be dating his girlfriend right now if he hadn’t taken the step of asking her out.  Anna would not have served with children in Costa Rica if she hadn’t stepped up and followed through.  Will and Michaela will not reach Cambodia if they don’t take the necessary steps of preparation. 

I wish I could shout from the mountaintop so that all would hear, “YOU may be the biggest obstacle to fulfilling your dream!  Not your parents.  Not your education.  Not your finances.  Not your boss.  Take responsibility!  Stop whining, blaming, fearing, dreading, and step into the future God has for you.”

Seek help.  Don’t go it alone.  Find a mentor.  Develop a plan.  Create a timeline.  And then . . . take the first step.  You’ve heard it said before, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I like the way Tony Evans puts it, “God’s activity in your life is tied to your footsteps” (Kingdom Man, 137).

You will have doubts, you will hear naysayers, you will face obstacles, but you must push through them by a strength that transcends your perceived limitations.  What was the Source of strength for the Israelites to step across the Jordan?  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, NIV).  God with us, Emmanuel, is the Source of strength to start moving our feet.

Luke had self-doubts: “She’ll never go out with me.  She’s out of my league.”  Anna had self-doubts: “I can’t make it in Costa Rica.  I don’t know the language.  I don’t know the culture.”  Will and Michaela had self-doubts: “We’re not going to be able to raise support to serve in Cambodia.  Why would people support us?”  If they hadn’t pushed through those doubts and taken their first steps, they would not be dating, serving, and preparing; they would be dreamless adults, consumed with fear, living in meandering mediocrity.

What’s holding you back from fulfilling your dream?  Maybe it’s not something or someone around you.  Maybe it’s something inside you.  Pray.  Seek the Lord.  And then start moving your feet.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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