Conversation, Jesus, and Vulnerable Enough to Be Wrong

I could sit and talk with my husband about Jesus, grace, or the struggles of life for hours.

Do you have anyone like that in your life?

I think we all need at least one person we can spontaneously talk to about Scripture, about life.

Not to get all the theology right. Not with an agenda. Not to fill in our Bible study books, but to just talk.

I do love that my husband can answer my questions, find me good resources, and correct my rash heretical moments. Don’t get me wrong, being married to a pastor has its perks.

I love him more though, because he is safe.

I love him because he loves Jesus.

I love him because he listens and shares and dreams and puts a manly spin on the world that I would miss otherwise. I love him because he is vulnerable enough not to know it all, but desires to go deeper and learn more, every time.

It’s important to have places and people in our life we can be wrong with. We need people to wander around conversation with. People who can point out our issues, not because they want to be right, rather because you’re having a discussion and that’s what discussion looks like – a volley, a banter, an opening of minds and hearts.

The best part about doing this around the Bible is that the Bible is always right! The Bible holds Truth in Love in perfection, so we have somewhere to go to figure this life out…together.

What would life look like without genuine discussion?

Boring.

Sad.

Ranting.

Unsafe.

Really, many, many spaces and places we find ourselves today.

So, Dave and I invite you into our Scripture conversation in two short and thought-provoking episodes connected to the I Love My Shepherd and Grafted Heart Advent series –

Above All Names

Check out the two episodes below –

Above All Names: Old Testament

Above All Names: New Testament

Here are all the links you need for the Advent series:

Above All Names Advent Devotion PDF
Above All Names Printable Images
Above All Names Advent Reading and Writing Plan

Remember, all the devos and podcasts can be found right here on ilovemyshepherd.com and graftedheart.com each day of Advent! Subscribe to the blog to get them in your inbox each day. The Podcast can be found on the Podcast Page, iTunes, or Stitcher as they are released.

Who can you be vulnerable with enough to be wrong sometimes, to have real and meaningful discussion, to share a moment of safety in a crazy unsafe world?

Written in Iron Ink: Love the Sojourner

We live in a world that bats around the term “refugee crisis.”

Actually, we batted that around a few months ago and now we’ve moved on to something different.

That’s how we roll.

But what about all the refugees? What about the people whose lives are turned upside down by war, government mandates, religious persecution, violence, disaster, and all of the other unimaginables that my mind can’t quite grasp in my comfortable home in Nebraska?

God’s Word is clear about two matters that we address in this podcast with special guest, missionary Kim Bueltmann:

First, there are those whom God puts in our path that are in need of refuge.

Deuteronomy 10:19 invites us further up and further in to the matter:

 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 

We ourselves are sojourners on this earth. Everything we have, we borrow. What a remarkable thing that God allows us to share what isn’t ours to begin with! As Kim points out, God, as always, brings beauty and light, where Satan would try to only bring destruction. The refugee crisis is no exception.

Second, God invites us in.

Kim reminds us that He is gladly yes, our Rock, our Redeemer, but also our Refuge.

He has also been there. As we round the corner to celebrate the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, we remember all that we have been given and mostly a God who deigns to come to us, as a sojourner, a refugee, a baby in need of a pillow, the Son of God in need of a place to rest his head.

I could make this more complicated. I could give infinite reasons to care for refugees and to reach out our hands in love and in relationship to those who are immigrants, strangers in a scary foreign land, but I won’t. I’ll leave it at God’s Word of Hope:

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

We aren’t left to our own devices to love.

He is God of gods, Lord of lords, great, mighty, and awesome. Let’s see what He can do, in Germany and beyond.

Find a free “Love the Sojourner” phone wallpaper here.

Freedom in Love: People and all their opinions (Chasing Freedom 5:2)

People are difficult.

They have a lot of opinions.

Frankly, I am difficult. I have a lot of opinions.

I like dark roast coffee, thick and rich. I like it so dark and thick that a guy in our first congregation told me that my coffee had hair on it.

I think conversation is more important than time. I’ll choose talking over getting a move on every time and it drives people batty.

I don’t like words like conservative or liberal, traditional or contemporary, confessional or progressive. What do they mean? Very different things to different people, and so I find them troublesome and confusing, and they unintentionally create unnecessary assumptions.

See, I have a lot of opinions.

Paul feels like a brother to me, because he is a man of opinions too. And he’s not afraid to share them. He began Galatians 5:2 yesterday with “I, Paul…”

I like that he doesn’t hide behind another source, but is willing to take the heat for his thoughts, even when he is proclaiming the Gospel. “I’m saying this…not someone else, not the elders, not Peter, but I, Paul.” This is wise and we can learn from Paul in this. Why?

Because opinions were made for relationships, and more than that, relationships were made for love.

In our section from Galatians today you can hear and almost feel the affection of Paul jumping off the page. Don’t get me wrong. He’s pretty hot tempered. He’s pretty opinionated. He’s got some stuff to share, some Truth to dispense. But he begins with love, ends with love, and there’s a whole lot of it in between. Please read Galatians 5:6-15. Note anything that sounds like love to you, whether a word, desire, or tone:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

These are some of my favorite words from Paul, mostly because of the great vulnerability you find in his heart for the people.

“None of it counts, but Jesus…but faith in Love!”

“You were doing so well…what the heck happened?”

“I have confidence that you’ll see Truth here, because I know you all. I know your heart for Christ.”

It’s a segment that lends itself to paraphrase because you have been there. You have sat with someone who you want to convince so deeply of Christ and His great love, of His Truth working in love, that your heart is breaking. It’s easy to sit with Paul as he writes to the Galatians and understand his zeal, but don’t miss his love and enduring affection. It’s the suck-your-breath-in emotion, of longing for something better for someone, of not only sharing an opinion, yes, but hurting because they hurt, so much so that you can feel it in your chest.

This is the best place to be to share an opinion. Should we share the Word with people every day and every way? Yes! But the rubber hits the road and we can be heard in relationship with someone that began at one point, shared a lot of love in the middle, and is open to the Truth because of all the love passing back and forth.

The Greek root word for emasculate in Galatians 5:12 is apokoptó, meaning to smite, cut off, mutilate, or emasculate. Translators choose emasculate here because Paul is a wordsmith of great cleverness. This feels tongue in cheek to me, and so while you may not have noticed or set it aside as a point of affection earlier, hear it now. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Paul is joking, because he’s so fired up, but certainly we can classify it as tongue-in-cheek. Paul is proclaiming that the Judaizers, the false brothers that trouble the Galatians so, would do to themselves the very thing and more that they so strongly insist from the Galatians, whom Paul loves.

It reminds me of my mom, when I would share my high school woes. “They should just go catch a duck!” she would say, or something else odd like that. Bottom line, I understood the point – they are trying to catch something, or someone rather, and you don’t need to be it. It was kitchy and thoughtful and always made me laugh, which was half the point.

Paul’s message is similar- don’t let them catch you. They don’t value you. God values you and He gave you freedom.

Love looks like freedom.

I don’t say that lightly. You can’t run around and proclaim freedom on the street corner (well, you can, but it just may not be very effective) because there is not relationship. Proclaiming love and freedom outside of relationship says, “Do whatever you want! Be whatever you want! No worries! Sin away!”

Love in relationship says, “Ack. This is unsettling you. Do you see how it’s hurting you? I want more for you.” (Galatians 5:12)

That is an opinion that can be heard. That speaks with purpose. That showers love.

As Paul tells the Galatians, we remind ourselves, “Use your freedom wisely.” (Galatians 5:13) Aka love, love, and love some more, always in Christ.

Sometimes, church bodies like to bite and devour one another, mine included. Opinions, because they are connected to the Word of God, and they value the Word of God, get louder and more aggressive all the time.

Your church body may seem similar. It’s been going on since Paul was a pastor. There’s nothing new under the sun.

Paul’s wisdom still holds true:

May love consume our zeal.

May it come at the beginning, at the end, and be found flowing like mad in the middle. May all our opinions be spoken and grounded in a love that carried a cross, walked out of a tomb, and ascended so the Spirit could move in us, bring freedom to us continually, every day.

Brothers and sisters, drink dark roast coffee or light roast, be on time or five minutes late, share the Word in season and out of season in its most unadulterated form, but do so in love, always, always in His love.


Discussion questions:

What strong opinions do you have on silly or big things?

What difference do you see in the way we share our opinions online or in other public ways versus sharing in relationship and conversation? What good do you see in either? What difficulty?

How does love change zeal? Where have you seen this done well?