Friday, June 11, 2021
You have to realize that relationships have limits. You say, "But Vince, if relationships have limits and I have love-needs, and they can't meet my love needs, then where do I turn?"
Friday, June 11, 2021
Proverbs 20:6, Proverbs 18:24
Today, I want to talk to you about this truth: all human relationships have limits. I think you know that, but I think we sometimes forget it in the heat of relationships. Sometimes we put too much on people. We want people to meet needs they can't meet. We want people to love us in ways they can't love us. We want people to be something for us that they can't be, and the problem is not them. The problem is in our expectations. Relationships are important, you have to have relationships. The worst thing you can do to a human being is to put them in solitary confinement in prison. But you have to realize that relationships have limits. You say, "But Vince, if relationships have limits and I have love-needs, and they can't meet my love needs, then where do I turn?" You turn to the lover of your soul, to God, to Jesus Christ.
The rest of that verse says this, "But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Nobody knows for sure. But this seems to be proverbs doesn't necessarily do this a lot. But it seems to be a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our brother. He's our father, he's the Son of God, he is our Savior, but He is also our brother in a certain sense. He is the lover of our soul, and he will love you in a way that no human being can. Are you making sure that your most important relationship needs are being met by Jesus Christ and not by human beings? Because humans can't do it. And they'll let you down and they'll hurt you not because they're intentionally doing it, although sometimes they do, but because they can't. Only Jesus Christ can. Are you letting Jesus Christ love you? You know, to become a Christian is the way you start letting him love you. And if you are not yet a Christian, you can't experience the love of God. When you say, "Jesus Christ, you are God. Jesus, I am a sinner, I sin, I mess up, I make so many bad decisions that hurt you, others myself, my family," and when you believe he died on the cross in your stead, in your place for your sin, and you receive him into your life by faith alone you become a Christian. Then you have his love, then you have the love of God. And you will have your deepest love needs met through Jesus Christ. You need your human love needs met, but there's a limit to that. Jesus Christ is infinite. And he'll meet your deepest needs in ways you never dreamed possible, because he's the lover of your soul.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that might throw you through a little bit of a loop, but it's really important. It's the concept of relational distance.
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that might throw you through a little bit of a loop, but it's really important. It's the concept of relational distance. Here's where I'm coming from. First of all, the Bible says that if you are a Christian you must love everybody, you don't get a choice. God loved you unconditionally. We love as he first loved us. If he loved us unconditionally, we have to love people unconditionally. You don't get a choice in this. Unless you want to be disobedient to God, you have to love all people, but not all people are truly lovable. So what's the rub? You have to love all people but not all people are lovable. What's the rub? The rub is this. There are some people you must learn to love from a distance.
I want to talk to you about a passage in the book of Acts. I found it very fascinating. It's the account of the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. They're really good friends and they're getting ready to do a missionary journey. In Acts 15, they have a Christian fight. I'd like to see that on pay per view. Let's get ready to rumble! Paul versus Barnabas the Missionary! Anyway, enough of that. So the Apostle Paul and Barnabas are getting ready to go on a missionary journey, they have a Christian fight, and we are witness to it in Acts 15:36-40. It says, 'Sometime later, Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers and all the towns where we preach the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.'
So, in other words, Barnabas said, "Come on, let's take John Mark." John is also known as John Mark, he wrote the Gospel of Mark. Paul said, "Nah, I tried that already. He deserted us." There are two things happening that maybe you wouldn't read or know from the text. First, they have different personalities. Paul was more of a task achievement guy. He loved people, but he had to get the job done, the mission that God gave him - see Acts 20:24 where he says, "Nothing else, but the mission God gave me." Now Barnabas' name literally means Son of Encouragement. He was a little bit more on the people side. So he asks Paul to give John Mark a second chance, but Paul said, "I gave him a first chance, it didn't work." That's the first thing.
Here's the second thing, John Mark was Barnabas' cousin. So he knew him a little bit better, and there was maybe a little familial pull there. But listen to this, starting in verse 39, "They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord." They didn't even do the missionary journey together. You know, it's interesting, the Bible never says who's right or who's wrong. The Bible never even says if they totally patched things up, although there are some suggestions that they at least were friends. But here's what probably happened, at least, as a result of that occurrence: They were friends from a distance.
Sometimes, you're going to have to learn to be a friend from a distance, to love from a distance. There are some people I really don't want to engage with. They're toxic, they're dark, they're evil, but the God of heaven and earth says I'm called to love them. So, I have to love them from a distance. Is there anybody in your world that you have to love from a distance? Love from a distance. Give that some thought, because you are called to love everybody, and the two errors are either that you think to love means to pretend nothing happened. Wrong. The other error is to believe that love means you're not going to engage them even if they didn't hurt you, and you never can do anything. Wrong. Love from a distance is the answer.
Let's pray. Father, we all have people that drive us nuts, but those are the people who you have called us to love. Help us to learn how to love them. If needed, help us to love them from a distance. I asked this in the strong name of the lover of our soul, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday, June 7, 2021
We don't always do relationships so well. If we are great at relationships, then why is the world such a mess?
Monday, June 7, 2021
Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 19:2
Relationships are super important. I have found more and more that people need biblical help on relationships. We don't always do relationships so well. If we are great at relationships, then why is the world such a mess? It's a mess, in part, because people struggle with how to relate to each other. So today, I want to talk to you about this truth. This is a little bit of a challenging truth, it's going to challenge your views on relationships. Here it is: Not everyone is a close friend. You know, there are three levels of relationships. You have acquaintances, friends, and close friends. I would define a friend as somebody who you might see semi-regularly, you can share a little bit with them, and you remember things about each other. Close friends, or companions, are really tight relationships. Here's what I want to say. Sometimes you can treat an acquaintance like a close friend and you get in trouble. Or you can treat a friend like a close friend, or a companion like an acquaintance. You have to know and correctly define your relationships. Not everybody is a close friend. In fact, here's what I want to warn you. I believe this because I have found this to be true. You have fewer close friends than you realize. We tend to think we have lots of close friends, but they're not as close as you think. I think you have less close friends. I think most of us have less super close friends than we think. There are exceptions, of course. Where do I get that from? Here's a couple passages of Scripture that speak to this from the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 12:26, "A righteous man is cautious in friendship." Why is a righteous man cautious in friendship? Because not everybody is a companion or a good friend. They might be a friend, they might be an acquaintance, so you're cautious. Remeber that you have to pace relationships. Don't go too fast. Don't go 10 miles when the first time you meet somebody you should only go 100 yards. Here's another one - Proverbs 19:2 says, "Zeal without knowledge is not good." In other words, you may be zealous for a relationship, but if you don't know that person, it doesn't work out. By the way, that speaks of anything. Zeal without knowledge in any area of life is not good. So who are your closest friends? Are you sure they're your closest friends? Who are your friends, or your acquaintances? You probably have no more than 5 to 10 really, really close friends. I heard one person say that a close friend is someone you call at three in the morning with something you need to talk about, and not one time in that conversation do they say, "Do you know what time it is?" That's when you know you have a close friend. So, just be careful with your close friends. Not everybody is a close friend. Don't expect to have massive numbers of close friends. By definition, a close friend is a small, tight knit group.
Let's pray. Father, it's so important that we understand our relationships. And it's so important that we understand that not everybody is a super close friend. We may wish it, we may want it, but it takes two to form a close relationship. Help us to know who those close relationships are with, and who they are not with. Help us to accept that. Someone we thought was a close friend is just a friend, or someone we thought was a friend is just an acquaintance. God, help us to be pleasantly surprised that a friend was really a close friend who loved us more than we ever realized. Help us to discern that and accept the close friends you've given us, and to do everything we can to be close friends back to them. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Friday, June 4, 2021
Relationships are what life is all about. The people who have the best relationships are always learning how to relate better, and we all can learn to relate better to people.
Friday, June 4, 2021
Proverbs 25:19, Proverbs 17:17
Here's all I want to say: If you want to have great teeth, you have to have regular checkups to see if there are any problems. If you want to have great relationships, you have to check up on your relationships. That's why relationships are like teeth. And I didn't just randomly make that up, I get it from the Proverbs. The book of Proverbs has tons of advice on relationships. Look at what Proverbs 25:19 says. It says, "Like a bad tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in times of trouble." In other words, if relationships are like teeth, and you want to do checkups, sometimes you think you have a great relationship and it's not. you think that's a strong tooth, but man it's got a massive cavity or a small cavity that you haven't seen. You have to check up your relationships know where your relationship is, do a little trial tests to see how they respond. And you may sometimes find that you have overestimated that relationship.
Let's pray. Father, thank you for the reminder that relationships are like teeth, and we need to rely on the right ones, not the wrong ones. Help us to know how to give ourselves relational checkups like our dentists knows how to check our teeth for cavities. Help us have the discernment to know who we can rely on, and who we shouldn't in our relationships. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Do you think most people go too fast in a relationship or too slow today? The answer is too fast. Most people go way too fast - sometimes, people get into a relationship and they go from zero to 60 faster than a Lamborghini and that's not good.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Proverbs 25:17 NIV; Proverbs 19:2b NLT
Today, I want to talk to you about relationships like I did last time, and will for the next few times, because relationships are so important. They determine the direction of our life and the satisfaction of our life. With COVID and things opening up, relationships are kind of getting more back to normal, we're seeing more people, we're going to need skills and wisdom on how to manage relationships. So today, I want to talk to you about this principle, you need more "easy-does-it relationships". Easy-does-it, take it easy, calm down, and here's what I mean by that - sometimes, people get into a relationship and they go from zero to 60 faster than a Lamborghini and that's not good. A relationship that moves too fast, is not going to be a reliable, solid relationship. So when you start to make a friend by being a friend, which was our last life lifter, you have to learn how to pace a relationship.
Most people struggle with pacing a relationship. Do you think most people go too fast in a relationship or too slow today? The answer is too fast. Most people go way too fast. They go on a first date, and somebody wants to plan the wedding, it's a little too fast. I know somebody that met someone and got married within two weeks of meeting them, a little too far, too fast. And then sometimes people go way too slow. And so you have to learn how to pace a relationship.
Father, I pray that if there's anybody that may be moving too fast or perhaps even too slow in a relationship give them the wisdom to pace it. Give them the wisdom to know not to move too quickly, not to always be at the person's house or in the person's world, but to pace it, to have an easy-does-it view. Help them to know when to do one or the other. And we ask this in Jesus name. Amen. Hey, easy does it have a great day!
Monday, May 31, 2021
Life, it's all about relationships, our relationship with God, and our relationships with people. Today, I want to talk to you about the most important relational vitamin.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Thank you for joining me for this edition of life lifters. Our whole purpose on life lifters is to give your life a lift, there a five minute blast of encouragement, and scripture. You know, for these next few life lifters, I'm going to talk to you about relationships. Life, it's all about relationships, our relationship with God, and our relationships with people. And through COVID, we learned a lot more about relationships. For these next few life lifters I'll talk to you about relationships. We'll talk about different aspects of relationships to help you in your relationships with other people.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something really uncomfortable for me. Maybe it's uncomfortable for you as well. I'm talking about when someone you love and care about, maybe a friend, a family member, a co-worker, and they betray you—they stab you in the back or they say something hurtful about you.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Today I want to talk to you about something really uncomfortable for me. Maybe it's uncomfortable for you as well. I'm talking about when someone you love and care about, maybe a friend, a family member, a co-worker, and they betray you—they stab you in the back or they say something hurtful about you. Over the years, this has happened all too many times and I've learned to deal with it in a certain way. I want to share that with you today. It's dealing with it by separating the person from their sin.
We see this modeled by Jesus in Matthew 16:13. Matthew writes this: "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.'"
In that moment, Jesus really commends Peter for that. He prophetically shares what's going to play out in Peters's life as the church unfolds. What we see here is that Jesus replied with the following to Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven." So Peter listened for the voice of God. God revealed something to Peter and he listened. He had that seed planted in his mind and he proclaimed that truth back to Jesus.
Just a few short verses later, though, we see a completely different story after Jesus commends Peter. We pick up in verse 21: "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!'"
Are you nuts, Peter? You don't do that! Can you imagine if Peter prevented Jesus from going to the cross? I don't even want to think about that. But I'm glad that this is what Jesus did. We see in verse 23, "Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns." And so we see here, Jesus rebukes Peter, but did He actually call Peter Satan? I mean, it sure sounded like He did. He knew Peters's name and we know that that was not Peter's nickname. So what's really going on there? Did Jesus call Peter Satan? I think the answer is no. I think what Jesus was doing was that He was speaking to Satan through Peter; He was speaking to Satan through Peter. There's an enemy that works behind each of us and that enemy is Satan. He's trying to trip us up. He's trying to tempt us. He's trying to get our sinful nature to act out on the temptations that he plants for us. So what Jesus did here is He modeled separation.
You see, Jesus separated the real Peter—the one that wanted to listen and obey the Lord— from the one that desires to listen and follow the kingdom of Satan. So here's the ugly truth. This not only happens to people around us who say and do things to us. This happens to us, as well. This idea of separation that Jesus modeled for us has been helping me in dealing with relational issues. It's opened up my eyes and it's helped me to take ownership when I'm the one who has sinned. It's helped me to truly forgive people when they have sinned against me.
So I want to encourage you to learn and understand that there is an evil force that often works behind us trying to trip us all up. Why do we have relational issues? Well, oftentimes, I think it's because we, instead of listening for the voice of God like Peter did at the beginning of this story, we end up following the voice of Satan and giving in to temptation.
Let's pray. Father, I want to thank you for this idea of separation that Jesus modeled for us. Help us to understand that there is an enemy that wants to trip us up and get us to screw up our relationships and screw up our faith. So Father, help us to recognize that when we open our mouth and when we act, let us take responsibility and ownership when we make the mistake of following Satan instead of following you, Father, and let us be quick to forgive those around us Father who do the same. Father, help us to encourage one another, as we forgive one another Father, and we thank you for this and we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. Thanks for joining us today. Don't just have a great day, but go and make a great day!
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Are you an ambassador? What is an ambassador? It's someone who represents a person or entity to another person or entity. So for instance, in the United States of America, we have ambassadors to different nations; we have an ambassador to Italy, to Ireland, to France and to other nations.
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Are you an ambassador? What is an ambassador? It's someone who represents a person or entity to another person or entity. So for instance, in the United States of America, we have ambassadors to different nations; we have an ambassador to Italy, to Ireland, to France and to other nations. What's the whole goal of the ambassador? To faithfully and accurately represent the nation that sends them before another nation, to make sure that our intentions are clear. Our desire ideally, is for a good relationship based on honesty and truth. The ambassador helps that communication flow between the nation they represent and the nation they're standing before to help them understand who they are, and to have a better relationship.
That's why I come back to my original question, are you an ambassador? So the question is ambassador for who? An ambassador to whom? Are you an ambassador for Jesus Christ? Are you an ambassador to other people? See, other people need to see Jesus Christ and you might be the only Jesus some people ever see, so you're called to be a great ambassador. Now, as I said, hopefully, you're an ambassador for a great nation. We're ambassadors, as Christians, for the living God who is perfect and holy, splendid and magnificent, amazing and wonderful. We get to be His ambassador.
What does that mean? That we represent Jesus Christ well. That we tell people about Jesus Christ, appropriately and at their level, when they're ready to hear it. It means we keep representing Christ well, so that ultimately, we can form a pact between God and the individual. It's called the covenant. It's called the New Testament. It's called the gospel, the good news message, that God wants to forgive people of their sin. Are you an ambassador for Jesus Christ? Do you live your life in such a way that you model and inspire grace and the good news of Jesus for others? Do you make it easy for people to want to become Christians because they admire the way you live? I know that sometimes there are people that don't agree with the way we live as Christians, but they do usually quietly, inside, respect us (and that's not the goal. The goal is only to respect us so that they respect and commit their life to Jesus Christ). But it all begins by being an ambassador.
It says this in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21: We are there for Christ's ambassadors as though God we're making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf be reconciled to God. God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God. Romans 10 says, how will people ever hear the good news unless somebody tells them? Are you telling them, Ambassador? It's the best way to live. Being an ambassador for Jesus Christ is a tremendous honor and there is no greater joy than being such an ambassador before others that they want to follow Jesus Christ too. Some of the greatest joys in my life have occurred that way.
As you know, I've done a few funerals here, and it's always such a joy when people have come to Christ and put their faith in Him here at Lakeshore Community Church. I do those funerals with the biggest smile I possibly can have on my face, because I know as sad as their loss is, it is nothing compared to their tremendous joy as they spend eternity with Jesus Christ. Nothing greater.
So let me pray. Father, I pray that you help all of us be an ambassador, and that we would do what this text says, that we would be an ambassador for others, as though we were making an appeal. "We implore you before Christ to be reconciled to God". That's what the text says. I pray God, that you will help us to be that ambassador who represents you well, so that people can be reconciled to you. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I have to deal with so many people all the time throughout the week. I deal with people here at church in a work environment, nearly 15 staff members, other volunteers, and other people that come in.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
I have to deal with so many people all the time throughout the week. I deal with people here at church in a work environment, nearly 15 staff members, other volunteers, and other people that come in. On the weekends, like on Sundays, we're talking hundreds of people. Here's what I have learned. I have learned that if I really want to, I can take things that people say so literally and so negatively that I could be discouraged. I can also choose to give people what I would call "the benefit of the doubt". And I find I live better.
So let me give you an example. Somebody might say something, and then they say, "you know, that was a good message, Vince", and I could think about how come they didn't say it was a "great" message. Somebody could say something like, "I think you could have done better," and I can take it in the most negative way. What I find is that a lot of people can say things and you could take it the most negative way. Somebody can crack a joke and you can say "you attacked me." I have found that if nothing else, give people the benefit of the doubt. When you're not sure how to take something, take it the most neutral or positive way you can. Life goes a lot easier that way.
I get this from 1 Corinthians 13:7, which is one of the 15 traits of love in the Bible. This chapter is called the "love chapter". If you read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, you pick up 15 traits of love, and I want to focus on a few of them related to giving people the benefit of the doubt.
1 Corinthians 13:7 says this: "love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". Love always protects. Protects what? People and relationships. Love always trusts. Of course, you trust God, but you trust people to the degree in which you can. It says love always hopes. You're always hoping for the best in a relationship, and love always perseveres—it goes for the long haul. So here's what I want to say, when people say things or when people do things, and you're not sure, and there's any possible way that you can interpret it another way, interpret the most positive way possible. Somebody says something, just say they're having a bad day. Or maybe they really meant this, or somebody does something, maybe things aren't going their way. Here's the thing, just give people the benefit of the doubt.
Now, sometimes, you can't give people the benefit of the doubt, because there is no doubt what they did was mean and awful and vicious. And listen, it is what it is. You have to forgive them and you have to move on. Not forgive and forget, but forgive and release. So, give people a benefit of the doubt. Don't jump on every word and don't jump on everything—don't be jumpy. Let it go. Just let it go. Give people the benefit of the doubt. I know many times people have said, "Vince, you know, I said that to you. I hope that didn't bother you", and I go, "Not at all". You know why? Because I gave them the benefit of the doubt. So instead of taking something and running with it negatively, when you give people the benefit of the doubt, you're better for it and you give them room to be better for it as well. Do you give people the benefit of the doubt? It's a great way to live.
Let's pray. Father, I pray that you'll help us give people the benefit of the doubt. Lord, You gave us the benefit when there was no doubt that we did not love you. We were sinners and we turned our back on you. And I pray Almighty God because you gave us the benefit when there was no doubt that we were alienated from you and sinful. Help us to give other people the benefit of the doubt as well. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen. As you go throughout the day, don't take it the wrong way. give people the benefit of the doubt as long as you can.