Friday, October 16, 2009

Love is Worth Fighting For

“Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
And then commit to never leave

If we try to leave, may God send His angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for”
Love is Not a Fight by Warren Barfield

Some people think it is unreasonable of Christians to ask couples to honor their marital vows and stay together not only “for better,” but also “for worse.” Nobody is saying that you should stay in an abusive relationship, but people today give up far too easily. They convince themselves that because they don’t feel butterflies anymore every time they see their partner, they have “fallen out of love” and that gives them license to leave or start having an affair. When children are involved it is particularly troublesome and sometimes selfish.

But in reality God is not asking anything of you that He has not been willing to commit to Himself. After all, His salvation is the ultimate act of love. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. When you come to faith in Jesus, you enter into a loving relationship with Him. Once that relationship begins, God makes a commitment to stand by you “for better or for worse.” “My sheep listen to my voice; … no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand.” John 10:27-29.

Let’s face it. You are far from perfect. But even though you mess up again and again, God stands by you. He doesn’t abandon you. He refuses to let you go. So if you ever find yourself wishing you could get out of your marriage for anything less than infidelity or abuse, remember the words of Warren Barfield. “If we try to leave, may God send His angels to guard the door. No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

God's Fight Song

"While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being." Psalm 146:2

I am sure you've heard of the six days of God's creation. He made the heavens and earth, calling each thing he made "good." When he got around to making mankind he called it "very good." On the seventh day, God rested.

I sometimes joke that sometime after that God created football (the American variety, that is), and it was "awesome." I am a huge football fan. I set myself up for disappointment every weekend, though, by rooting for so many different teams. In the college ranks I cheer for my alma mater Delaware, the University of Nebraska (where I spent much of my childhood) and the University of Virginia (where one of my brothers went to school; my other brother went to William & Mary, but since they are in the same conference as Delaware, they don't get my loyalty even though I went there myself for law school).

In the NFL I've been a Dallas Cowboy fan since I was a young child, but I recently also started cheering for the Baltimore Ravens since they drafted Delaware QB Joe Flacco. The end result is that it is almost inevitable that at least one of my teams is going to lose each weekend. As I said, I'm setting myself up for disappointment.

Most football teams have a fight song. Its a song that's used to cheer for your team. I could still recite the Delaware fight song on demand (but for the sake of your own ears, I don't suggest you ask me to sing it). No matter what my abilities are to carry a tune, though, when Delaware scores a touchdown, I will belt out that fight song along with the band as loudly as you can imagine.

Well, God doesn't really have a fight song (although when I recently delivered this message in church, a friend proposed that "Onward Christian Soldiers" could be His fight song). But we do sing for Him in very much the same way as we sing for our sports teams; at least we are supposed to. You see, when we sing hymns in church, or when the choir sings an anthem, we aren't just singing for our own benefit. This isn't like singing in the shower because we think our voices sound better with the bathroom acoustics. We are singing to our Maker. It is like a prayer set to music. We use hymns to praise Him, to thank Him, to petition Him, or just to express our love for Him.

But in many churches you can hear the crickets singing louder than the congregants. People bury their noses in their hymnals and mutter the words to themselves if they are even singing at all. Some people just mouth the words thinking that with everyone else around them singing, no one will notice that there isn't actually any sound coming out of their mouths.

I'm sure that there are many reasons for this. One could be that people are self-conscious. They don't think they can carry a tune and don't want the person next to them to hear out of fear of embarrassment. But I wonder, will those same people belt out a fight song with reckless abandon when their team scores a touchdown, regardless of who hears it?

Who do you cheer for more loudly, God or your team? The irony of it all is that you are the one on the team and God is the captain. Be thankful that He picked you when God and Satan were "picking teams."

So sing loud. Sing proud. Boldly declare what God has done for you. It doesn't have to sound melodic. Simon Cowell will not be judging you. Sing praises to the only judge that matters. The beauty of it all is that He's not judging your singing either. In fact, thanks to His grace, you won't be facing the inevitable condemning judgment at all. So the next time you find yourself cheering loudly for your sports team, take a moment and ask if you were that enthusiastic for God on Sunday morning.

God bless.