What Is Love? (A Valentine’s Day Blog)

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more). For those of you who don’t know the reference, I’m talking about the 1993 hit song “What Is Love” by Haddaway, which you may recognize from the Will Ferrell/Chris Kattan comedy “A Night At The Roxbury“.

Where am I going with this today and on Valentine’s Day, of all days?

Haddaway was recently interviewed and was asked the question, “So, what is love?”. He responded, “People always ask me what I meant… I meant that ‘what is love’ needs to be defined by everyone by his own definition. It’s unique and individual. For me, it has to do with trust, honesty, and dedication.”

And that’s the truth, isn’t it? People want to be loved specific ways and they also express love to others in different ways. I was reminded of a story I heard on Christian radio not too long ago. Last summer, Nabisco released limited edition Swedish Fish Oreos across the country… Chocolate cookies. Fruit flavor. Cream filling.

I know.

To each his own, right? Everyone enjoys something different, even if that “something different” is actually something disgusting. Likewise, you might love to receive Godiva chocolates today. Or Lindt because of the colorful wrappers. Or Russell Stover… because you like to inflict pain upon yourself. Whatever the reason, the point is that in the end you’re satisfied… for the time being.

So why is it so hard to be satisfied by love? It’s because we all carry our own definition and prerequisites for love. We have our own expectations and bars set in place. But as Christians, it’s simple. No matter what, God is the very definition of love. He’s the epitome of satisfaction. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

If today’s a day where you can spend time with a loved one, fantastic! Love selflessly and in a way that brings glory to God.

If you find yourself “alone” today, you’re not! God is always with you despite the Hallmark holidays that may make you feel unloved. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” Show & share that love to someone!

It’s easy to think that love is an individualistic mentality of feelings between one another, but the love we should be focusing on is the all-encompassing, multi-ground covering, completely satisfying love of God. You might respond differently to love, compared to others… in fact, people might not even know what it takes to make you feel loved! But God’s love is a perfect match every time for every person’s unique needs.

Love isn’t in the number of roses you receive or the enormity of a teddy bear. It isn’t in titles or cute nicknames you give someone. What is love? God is love.

Reflection Song: Here Today

Advertisements

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

2016 was an interesting year, wasn’t it? It was full of ups & downs for entertainment, politics, and, I’m sure, for your personal lives as well. But it’s important to stay rooted in what helps you stay rooted in God. And so we thank you for joining us for another year of quick thoughts on our site. We hope to bring you new music in 2017, but in the meantime please enjoy our ten most visited entries of 2016:

1. Lent, Week 5: Prepare The Cross
2. Lent, Week 1: An Early 40 Days (Prepare Yourself)
3. Christ Is Risen!
4. Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart
5. Almost God
6. Good Friday?
7. Advent 3: JOY
8. Prepare The Way (Palm Sunday)
9. Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection
10. Advent 4: PEACE

And here are our top posts from previous years. Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

2015
2014
2013

Advent 3: JOY

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” – Luke 1:46-47

Parking for Christmas shopping. Trying to pick out the right gifts. Standing on line to checkout.

Some things during this season (or other times) just don’t make us so happy. But Christmas isn’t about being happy. It says in Luke 2:10 that the angel brought good news of great joy that Jesus is born! So what’s the deal with joy?

Happiness could be more of a feeling or an emotion. It’s temporary and mostly momentary. But joy is more of a state or attitude of the heart. It’s a bit deeper. We can be happy and grateful for who Jesus is but because of what Jesus did, we are filled with great joy inside and out. Knowing Jesus brings us joy, so you could even say that joy is happiness in Christ.

The fact that Jesus lives in us (and us in Him) should bring us great joy because not only did Christ arrive in Bethlehem but His Spirit resides in us as well. What an amazing truth and honor! Emmanuel is God with us, and Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. That’s the kind of power that doesn’t just make us feel happy, but causes us to live out lives of joy… joy that is an outcome of a humble baby changing everything. A baby who is our Savior.

If you’re looking for joy this week, spend more time with God & get to know Him more. The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord! So maybe you need to allot more time for Him. Or if you’re finding it hard to be joyful because of difficult times, give them up! James said to consider it joy when we face trials. Having faith and trusting in God fills us with joy and peace. We’re given so many reasons and so many opportunities for joy.

So be more than happy or “merry”. Be joyful so that the world would see the true source of our joy: Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Messiah!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!”

Reflection Song: Only You

Advent 2: LOVE

The holiday season is known to some as the “Season of Giving” because there are so many opportunities to give to those who are less fortunate. Clothing drives, food drives, toy drives, you name it. There’s always a way to help make someone else’s Christmas more memorable.

It reminds me of 1 John 4:8 which says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Hopefully during this Christmas season, you aren’t kind or generous for the sole purpose of it being Christmastime, but because inside you is love. This stems from the One who loved us first, our great & mighty God. A couple of verses later says just that: that it isn’t us loving God but because He loved us that He sent Jesus Christ. (1 John 4:10)

In fact, O Holy Night touches upon this as well… “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.” Wow!

It’s amazing that not only has God shown love, but He IS love!

So this Christmas, let’s remember that God’s perfect love in the form of His one & only son Jesus is born as a sign in your life. Not because of our love but because of His great & massive love. As we get to know God more through Jesus Christ, let’s spread that love we get to experience firsthand. Let’s be filled with gladness from that fact as we continue to prepare & anticipate His birth. Keep trusting in Him and love others just as He loves us.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.1 John 4:16

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

Lent, Week 5: Prepare The Cross

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, stores were marking all the red & pink chocolates on clearance and slowly stocking the shelves with purple & blue chocolates… eggs, bunnies, and for a second I got thrown off by chocolate crosses.

“What’s that doing there–oh wait, that’s right…” Last I checked, Easter is still an important holiday in Christianity. Often times we associate the cross as means to Jesus’ resurrection, which overshadows the actual purpose of a cross: death.

Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

What does it mean to prepare your cross? When Jesus says to take up your cross daily, it means to be ready to die in order to follow Jesus. That’s pretty heavy! But it’s part of surrendering ourselves to the Lord. And that’s what we should be doing in this time: intentionally living each moment, preparing that cross.

Billy Graham once said, “It is possible for us to stand on the wrong side of Easter and look at the cross all our lives and never be redeemed or saved.” Don’t let the cross be overshadowed by all the things going on as we approach Easter. Remember the cross, its meaning and its significance for us.

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Top 10 Posts Of 2015

It was a great year for movies, music, and of course our blog! We’d just like to take a moment to extend our gratitude as we head towards the new year. It may have come and gone all too quickly for you, but we hope you can continue along this journey with us as we share posts with you in 2016. Here are our most visited entries of 2015:

  1. It Is Finished
  2. Smiling Galaxy Cluster
  3. In The Light
  4. Temple Of Legos
  5. Perfect Love (A Valentine’s Day Blog)
  6. Love God, Love Others
  7. Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit of The Spirit)
  8. Christ Alone, Cornerstone
  9. Epic
  10. God Our King

And here are our top posts from previous years. Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

2014
2013

Love God, Love Others

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

We’re so honored to lead worship wherever we go and yesterday was no different at the leadership seminar across the bridge (George Washington, that is). It was such a blessing to see church leaders, new and old, encouraging & showing love to one another.

This was the core of the seminar: love. And all throughout the day, I witnessed small encounters of love between others. Whether it was during the games, at the appreciation dinner, or in worship, love was evident and displayed. If we can’t love ourselves and one another, how are we to go out into the world and show that same love?

I believe that when we focus on loving God and our relationship with Him, everything else will fall into place. Loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s difficult loving others on your own but when the love of God is working through you and you’re reflecting that love, the rest will come naturally.

It’s a game changer for sure, but where do we start? Well, we’d like to challenge you this week as Thanksgiving approaches (fast) to really consider what you’re thankful for. God’s blessed us all with so much and we take these things for granted more often than not. Why not simply start by loving God and loving others with a gratitude that is a response from God’s blessings? For many of us, today may be Thanksgiving Sunday at your church. Let’s be thankful and let’s show the love of God in all things!

Reflection Song: God Our King

God Our King

Day in and day out we depend on so many things: technology, schedules, our own strength… But when the storms of life hit us, who do we turn to? God, our King, is awesome in all the earth – the same God that breathes into our lives and our lungs, the same God that deserves the worship from our hearts and tongues. We should trust in Him and glorify Him above all.

The Bible says that even the kings of the earth belong to God (Psalm 47)! When we think of this King of kings who is all powerful, yet sends His Son to make us new, it’s just so humbling and amazing!

If you take a look at our album art for the EP of the same name, you’ll see the irony of the crown. Jesus, who should be crowned with honor and glory (Hebrews 2:9), suffered the mockery of the crown of thorns. We trust in God our King who cancels the record of our sins and makes us new through the grace of His redeeming Son.

God Our King
Words & Music by Andy Lee

Lord of heaven and of earth, You’re the last and You’re the first
You stand firm when all else falls apart
You’re my anchor in the storm, You’re my shield and You’re my sword
I will trust in all You say You’ll do

Majestic in power
The King of kings

From my life to my lungs
You’re breathing Your breath in me
From our hearts to our tongues
We give glory to God our King

Spirit of the living God, You give life that goes beyond
Any sin and every kind of grave
Make us one, it’s by Your love; Make us new, it’s by Your blood
By the grace of Your redeeming Son

You are, You are
Maker of all the earth
You are, You are
King of the universe

Because Of Your Love

We owe it all to God – our hearts, our words, our lives… every moment. 1 John 3 says that if we are children of God then we will do right because of His love for us. “What great love the Father has lavished on us!” (1 John 3:1)

And it’s because of this great love offered to us that we are able to offer everything to Him. Our song “Because Of Your Love” is a list of results of God’s incredible love for us as a response of worship.

Just as it says in Ephesians 2:4-9, we have been made alive with Christ because of God’s grace and love. So with these new & transformed lives, we now make Him our purpose and our focus. After all He’s done and all He does, how could we do anything less?

Because Of Your Love
Words & Music by Andy Lee

My heart is bursting with the massive love that You have for me
My heart is chasing after You, oh God, You’re the lover of my soul

It is Yours
After all You’ve done

Because of Your love I’m saved by grace
Because of Your love I’m unashamed
Because of Your love I say Your Name
Because of Your love, because of Your love I’m changed

My life is bought by the blood of Christ that was bled for me
My life is naught unless it’s lived for You, You captivate my heart

Every word and every thought
It is Yours after all is done
Every moment that I’ve got
It is Yours after all You’ve done

Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit Of The Spirit)

It’s the day after Easter and you’ve probably broken fast. Maybe you took that first sip of soda in weeks, or you finally got to checkout with your online cart full of things, or (like myself) you were able to dust off your Wii U and play it again. What’s different now, post-Easter?

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The point of these attributes is to contrast acts that are not of the Spirit – things like idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, selfish ambition, etc. And if you’ve been following us since the beginning of Lent, you would have noticed that each week touched upon a different attribute.

Today as we consider self-control on this day after Easter, think about how Jesus has changed everything for us. The old has gone and the new is here! As easy as it may be to jump back into old habits that we gave up for 40 days, we should think about the good that God intends for us because as Galatians 5:1 says, we are free… a liberty that includes a freedom from sin.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we should have better discernment of good from bad – a self-control that will continue to help us be free. And though what we fasted may not be a clear-cut good vs. bad, I’d imagine that the things we gave up were put on hold for 40 days because we felt the effects of constantly being exposed to them. But even if you didn’t fast something, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind when you think of this topic.

Jesus died and rose again so that in this Christian life we can oppose the things that go against this new life given to us. So we just wanted to encourage you, brothers & sisters, to persevere with the self-control gifted to you so that you can overcome and live for the glory of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, so let’s make the most of this post-Easter season… It’s a new day!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… – Romans 6:6

For more on the fruit of the Holy Spirit / posts for Lent:

Reflection Song: Only You