As Christ So Loved the Church


Last week I listened to several programs from Focus on the Family in which Fred Stoeker talked about his struggle with pornography and how he was able to overcome the addiction by God’s grace.

Not only was he able to overcome the addiction…but God who is able to do abundantly, exceedingly, more than we ask or imagine…changed the course of his family. While Fred’s father was addicted to pornography and passed that sin along to his son…Fred was able to draw a line in the sand and say no further. His son Jason is a man who is committed to purity and stands along with his dad in living and promoting purity.

It was an amazing story. I felt many emotions while listening to the program. I felt deeply grieved and saddened. No more so than to hear about pornography’s hold on Christian males and young people (both men and women). It’s significant and the ramifications are huge for the body of Christ. It renders the men and women that God has called to serve Him ineffective because they are caught in sin.

Any of us who has been caught in sin’s web know how effectively Satan uses it to trap, condemn and bind us. When we are trapped in our own sin…we don’t want to confront people in their sin…because we know that we are hypocrites. We are unwilling to take a stand for the truth because we are deeply embedded in our own sin. We don’t want to serve because we feel unworthy. There is always the nagging doubt…what if someone finds out?

Fred then made a comment about how God instructs husbands to be the leaders of their home and to love their wife as Christ so loves the church.

That thought…of a husband loving his wife as Christ so loved the church…took hold of me. What would that look like…if a husband really loved his wife that way?

What would it look like if Christians loved people as Christ loved the church? How would it affect our actions and how we treat people? What would our words be like?

Obviously, I feel inadequate and lacking when I measure myself against that standard of love. But then I thought…would I want how I love people to be the measure by which Christ loved me?

If Jesus Christ had the measure of love that I have…would He have gone to the cross? Would He have loved me…who denied Him and sinned against Him for far too many years? Would He have forgiven me of my sin?

In my sinful imperfect self…my love is very far from loving others as Christ so loved the church. Yet…as I submit myself to Jesus Christ and the Father’s will for me…if I yield more and more, day by day to the Holy Spirit…if I seek to know God through the study of His word and through prayer…I can grow in sanctification.

As I love God and yield and submit myself…He will help me to grow and learn how to do what’s impossible to do without Him. This side of heaven…I’ll never achieve that perfect love. But that shouldn’t stop me from doing what God has commanded me to do. To have that perfect love…to love as Christ Jesus loved…requires that I deny myself daily.

But oh… to think how marvelous heaven will be…when all the saints around us are able to love with a more perfect love. Love untainted by sin and selfishness.

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An Unexpected Hero

Eighteen years ago when I first met Mike…I wouldn’t have guessed that one day…I would consider him a hero.

Today…as I look at what he has accomplished over the years…he’s become one of my hero’s. The quiet kind…that live an ordinary life of excellence and perseverance. Not looking for applause or recognition…but someone who has a passion for excellence that he applies to everyday life.

Not to say that Mike is obsessive compulsive…but by golly when he does something it has to be done right. And when it’s not…it wouldn’t be unheard of to see Mike edit, correct, change, revise…or start all over again. Not just the big things like properly documenting an investigation, installing cameras or preparing an emergency manual. But things as simple as wrapping up a power cord to put in his well organized computer bag.

When it comes to training and showing people how to do it right…call on Mike. If you need a manual to aid in training…call Mike.

When I found myself ready to pull my hair out…because a less than conscientious employee was turning in another sloppy report or file…I could always find an understanding soul to commiserate with when I talked to Mike.

After a while…we all just learned to accept these quirks as Mike just being Mike. I use to like to tease him and tell him we were going to get him therapy. But honestly…when I grow up…I want to have that same passion for excellence that Mike does.

I probably I realized how extraordinary Mike is when tragedy struck his family…leaving him as a single parent. Without hesitation…he stepped up to the plate. A devastating experience for anyone…but he committed himself to being the best dad that he could be to his beloved daughter. Through love…they got through it together…and still do.

You might think that one so neat, tidy and organized is way too serious. Let me assure you…that’s not so. Mike is a fun loving guy…and always appreciates a good joke. When you get the likes of Mike, Peter C. and Kris together…watch out. Add to that equation…the instigators Robert or Louis…you’d better take cover. You’re likely to be the next target of their latest joke!

Through all these years…Mike has had a deep desire to go into law enforcement. Ever since I first met him…I knew he’d make a great cop! If I ever turn to the dark side…and had to be arrested…I’d want to be arrested by Mike.

Not only is Mike a man of excellence…he is a practical soul. Leaving a company that you’ve been with for over twenty years…is not an easy decision. Even if it means pursuing your dream. Not a lot of folks have that kind of courage.

However…when our company was recently sold…Mike decided to make that leap. He decided to pursue his dream…and go into law enforcement. Not only do you have to apply…you have to undergo background checks and numerous tests to make sure you are fit to serve. So…after he applied…then came the waiting game. After many months…I was so excited when Mike shared the good news…that he had been accepted into the Sheriff’s program.

Then came the hard part…many weeks of training. Lots of folks enter the program…but not all finish. It’s a tough program that weeds out those aren’t able to cut it…or decide it’s not their cup of tea. Mike’s a practical man…and did not over estimate his chances of success. He knew he had a tough road to hoe…but took it one day at a time.

This week I received a note that Mike is graduating from the Sheriff’s Academy and will begin working in the field he’s aspired to for ever so long. Timing is everything…and unfortunately…I won’t be able to attend the ceremony. But I’ll tell you…I’ll be there in spirit and bursting in pride for this man who is my friend and my hero.

Phrases like…simply the best…seem contrived and over the top. But when you hold that phrase up to the pattern of Mike…it’s a very close match.

May the Lord protect you as you serve and protect our community…in this, your life long dream fulfilled. My prayers are with you. Congratulations Mike!