Love in 2018

Several years ago, I was invited to speak at a big Presbyterian church in Ohio. The church had had some problems. Apparently the former pastor had been secretly letting a group of homeless men into the church at night so that they would have shelter during the freezing winter months. He was secretive about it, because he knew the church members would not like it.

All went well until one of the church women came early one morning to set up for a bridal shower luncheon.  She was greeted in the church kitchen by a homeless man with nothing but a church-owned towel wrapped around him.

Turns out that the pastor was also letting the men use a washing machine meant to clean church linens for just such occasions as the bridal shower luncheon.  The guy had striped down naked to wash the only clothes he owned.

That was the week they fired their pastor.

I was invited by the interim pastor to come and speak.  He had been the interim for four years at that point. He told me that when they first hired him, he evaluated the situation at the church. And as he did, he came to realize that the members simply didn’t know how to love.

They didn’t know how to love each other.
They didn’t know how to love their pastor.
They didn’t know how to love those in need.
They didn’t know how to love God.
And they certainly didn’t know how to love themselves.

So every sermon he had preached the entire four years he was there had been about love.

In 2018, I am going to spend the year blogging about love. It’s what the world needs.  It’s what the church needs.  It’s what I need.

So scroll down to see the latest posts. Or join me daily by following my blog or liking my Author Page on Facebook.  Note: On Facebook, you’ll have to not only like the page, but go under “following” and default “show first” or “notifications on” – otherwise Facebook won’t send you the blog.

Love (and I mean it!),

April

LOVE

Loved Just as You Are.

“Through Jesus we have received grace … this includes you! You are invited to come to him.” — Rom 1:5-6

Many churches teach that Jesus was exclusive and that his love is only meant for Christians. But Paul writes about this Jesus who was waving his arms and yelling, “Over here… everyone is invited!”

Jesus, though he was Jewish, wasn’t tied exclusively to the Jewish faith nor was he trying to start a new religion. Jesus didn’t care if you were Jewish or Gentile. He didn’t care if you were male or female, gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor, successful or a complete failure. He extended his grace to everyone and loved us just as we are. His love was and is unconditional.

Everyone is invited to follow to him. He loves us “Just as We Are!”

April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

Clothe Yourself in Love!

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” — Col 3:14

Okay… I get that my shirt isn’t what Paul meant when he wrote to “clothe yourselves in love,” but how cute is that shirt?!?!?

Other translations say to “put on love” because it is “the uniting bond of perfection.” Loving each other doesn’t mean we agree on stuff.  But loving each other means we unite in something larger than our disagreements.  We can still hold strong views, we can still speak the truth, but we do it in love. Love is what makes our differences seem more like harmonic notes than conflict.

And over time, love creates perfect harmony where there was none.

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April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

Love and Theology don’t Always Mix

In fact, all of your theological concepts may only serve to cool the fire of love in the will. — Teresa of Ávila

Both the Christian mystic, Teresa of Ávila, and St. Francis felt the same way about theology – that those who became engrossed in figuring out the mysteries of God, often loved less than they should. St. Francis felt so strongly about it that he forbade the brothers in his order to enter into formal seminary studies.

Think of Calvin, of Luther, of Knox. They are generally touted as great theologians, but they each behaved in unloving, often violent ways when people disagreed with their theology (or politics). They aren’t the first or the last to value theology over those they were called to minister to. Is this Christ at work?  I don’t think so.

If you have to choose between your theological (or even political) beliefs and loving someone else, then always choose love.  It is the fire of love that gives us the will to do good.

April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

Love in the Kairos

Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all
– Galatians 6:10 

Several words to think about…

Opportunity –  Its the Greek word, kairos.  It means “a propitious moment for decision or action.” It’s holy ground. It’s the time and space where God has planned good works for us to do.

Whenever – that means every time the Spirit presents us with the opportunity.

Let us – It is super hard (and lonely) to accomplish good alone.  We are meant to work together.

Good of All – Shalom (wholeness and peace) only happens when it happens to all of us.  No one can experience Shalom when others are suffering.  But the word here for “all”, doesn’t just mean all people, it means all things!  Creation (the earth, animals, plants, etc) are included – St. Francis got this right!

The follower of Jesus loves by stepping into the kairos and working for the good of all people and of all creation.

2017 Solar Eclipse from Brasstown Bald, Georgia

 

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April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

 

Love Kindness

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8

Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.  It’s simple until you realize that you are supposed to love showing kindness to everyone – even your enemies. Even those you lead like your kids, people who work for you, etc. Go forth and be kind!
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Synonyms: mercy, warmheartedness, affection, warmth, gentleness, concern, consideration, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, selflessness, altruism, compassion, sympathy, understanding, bigheartedness, benevolence, friendliness, hospitality, neighborliness, generosity, charitableness.
April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

Love of Money

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. — 1 Timothy 6:10

It’s hard to love money and love others at the same time.  Other people are going to get in our way (and have to be dealt with) if our top priority is to amass a fortune.

We’ll get rich faster if we pay others less (even if its less than they can survive on) or ignore their needs for healthcare and education while padding our own pockets a little more. Hoarding our riches instead of investing in others is clearly the way to go if money is what we want most. But its end is devastating both personally and for society.

In the scripture above, Timothy warns that loving money may not only lead us away from the way of Jesus (who tells us to put the needs of others before our own), but pierces us with many pains.

Greed is never satisfied. It never gives real joy. It can even lead to criminal behavior,  debt, and misery. Worst of all, it keeps us from loving who we ought to love.

April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

 

 

Love Dismantles Injustice

Jesus gave himself for us to rescue us from all lawlessness (unjust world systems) and cleanse us (wash away all the wrongs these unjust systems have caused) so that we can be his people enthusiastically committed to doing good works. — Titus 2:14

Unjust systems create pain in three very different ways: The very soul of the oppressor resides deeper and deeper in a hell they create as they hurt others on behalf of their own agenda. The moral character of the by-stander is ripped to shreds as they do nothing to stop the oppressor. The hopes and dreams of the oppressed are stomped on as they are held back from being and achieving all God created for them.

But Jesus came to rescue us from both unjust systems and the pain they cause. In fact, we pray for this every Sunday when we pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom Come!  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  We have a lot of work to do, because from buying unjustly sourced goods to participating in racism (and everything in between), unjust systems own us.

So what do Jesus’ rescued people look like?

The oppressor not only stops oppressing, but is committed to the good works of making amends.  The by-stander not only stops the oppressor, but is committed to the good works of supporting the oppressed. The oppressed (and this is the hardest thing of all – the hardest thing God asks of anyone) does the good works of forgiving both the oppressor and the bystander – for by forgiving and loving the undeserving, they will be teachers and examples to the rest of us. They will lead us to a better world.

Love means that no matter what position we have held in unjust world systems, we are now enthusiastically committed to doing the good works of living out the Kingdom of God and dismantling injustice.

April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

 

 

Love Yourself

The ancient songwriter wrote, “I will praise God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa 139:14).

I believe that it is impossible to be all we are created to be if we don’t love ourselves. Plus – and it seems counter-intuitive – not loving ourselves is actually very selfish.

People who don’t love themselves seem to do one of two things.  They distance themselves by intentionally destroying or neglecting relationships with those who actually need them. Or they cling so tightly for affirmation from others that they strangle the life out of those who need them.

Let’s have faith that we are God’s masterpieces and have infinite worth to God! Let us remind ourselves a million times a day if we have to. One possibility is to write the verse above down and pray it every time we feel badly about ourselves.

Loving ourselves will allow us to love God and others in a healthy way.

Self Hug

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April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.

Perfect Love

 If we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us. —  1 John 4:12

The person who wrote the scripture above was concerned that there were a lot of fake Christians out there in the 1st century world. Early on, he writes “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (I John 4:1).

Two thousand and eighteen hundred years (plus or minus half a decade) later and fake Christians are still a big problem. There never has been a time when they weren’t. These fake Christians have committed all sorts of evil in the name of Jesus from the Crusades to Nazi Germany to Slavery to atrocities against Native peoples. The list goes on.

But in this scripture, John tells us how to distinguish the fake Christian from the real follower of Jesus. The real follower of Jesus loves others. It is that simple.

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April Love-Fordham is blogging about LOVE in 2018.
Find a link somewhere on this page to follow her blog.
April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables.