How’s Your Love Life?

If I do all the religious stuff expected of a faithful Christian, and don’t love others I have failed. If I attend every church service, take communion every week, say my prayers daily, do my daily Bible reading, give more than 10% of my income, and am not a lover of men, I wasted my time. If I am respected in my community, good to my wife and kids and don’t care about the needy, I am lacking.

Even if I surpass the usual church member and become a skilled orator, and give great prophecies, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, become a favorite on the lecture circuit, and become known as a man with great faith, I have accomplished nothing unless I am a lover. If persecution comes and I become a martyr for my faith, I have really done nothing unless I have loved along the way.

This is the bar set by Jesus, the fleshing out of the two greatest commandments, Love. It is pretty clear that loving God is more than being a model church member and being right about doctrine, giving more than others, and doing more than is expected by others. It is a very high standard indeed but is intended to be the “normal” Christian life.

Am I patient and kind?
Do I envy or boast?
Am I arrogant or rude?
Do I insist on my own way?
Am I irritable or resentful?
Do I rejoice at wrongdoing?
Or, do I rejoice with the truth?
Do I bear all things?
Do I always believe the best?
Do I hope all things work out for good?
Am I one who endures anything?

Does my wife think so?
God knows the truth.

If I, with God’s enabling, am able to become one who loves unconditionally I will not be a failure, ever. How am I doing? Ask those who know me best. I give myself perhaps a C+. God is at work in me though, both to will and to do His good pleasure. There is hope for me and there is hope for you.

Because the Spirit of Christ lives in us, who have been born again, we have the potential to be the person God wants us to be. Because He is in us the following should come out of us in our daily living.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

How is your love life? The answer is not “try” harder, but rather “rely” harder.

Learning to love,




Crazy Love

Today I finished reading “Crazy Love”by Francis Chan. If you want to stay comfortable just maintaining the status quo of your relationship to God I don’t recommend you read Crazy Love. If you are up for a challenge then by all means dive in.

How many times have you read the passage where Jesus instructed that if you “have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me”? And how many sermons and lessons have you heard and read on the same text? How many times have you considered that if you are not loving the unfortunate in tangible ways that you aren’t really loving God?

Is it possible that we have equated faithful attendence for worship and Sunday school, daily Bible reading, and giving with loving God? We can’t really pick and choose which of Christ’s commands we obey and still claim the religeous high ground, can we?

I warn you, Chan gets up front and personal in the bold way he presents the truth of what the Bible says about how we are to love God and others. It is a great book and will impact many hearts for the good of the cause of Christ.

Carol and I are at beautiful Lake DeGray in Arkansas, not far from Hot Springs with 49 other couple for a marriage retreat. This is our third time to attend a retreat in this location. The lakeside lodge is beautiful and the mood is positive and hopeful. Many couples have been challenged and blessed to have stronger, Christ centered marriages after having attended one of these weekends.

Our Dr. Joneal Kirby and her husband, elder Randy Kirby, one of our preachers and elder, Alan Robertson and wife Lisa, and elder Mac Owen and his wife Mary are wonderful teachers and role models for great marriages. We are so very blessed at White’s Ferry Rd Church with such a depth of talent and a host of great disciples who are sold out to Jesus. We are building families for time and eternity. Carol and I are blessed to call these great folks family.

 His peace,

Living to love, and Loving to Live

In Paul’s letters to the Galatians and in his first letter to the Corinthians his messages were to groups of Christians who were rife with problems. In the church in Corinth, you name it and they were guilty of it. Sexual immorality, divisions over favorite Apostolic leaders, law suits filed against each other, and even drunkenness and gluttony at fellowship meals, rudeness and selfishness in the worship assembly, and more, were the problems and character flaws of this group of immature believers whom Paul still called “saints”.

The believers in the region of Galatia had begun to abandon pure dependence on Christ alone for salvation in favor of circumcision. They were behaving as if under a witches spell. While in Corinth behaviour unbecoming followers of Jesus was glaring, the diluting of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ was the greatest offence of the Galatian brothers. He carefully defended his apostleship and masterfully laid again the foundation of their standing in Christ.

In both situations Paul’s inspired pen rebuked and pleaded, warned and encouraged, while pointing them to Christ who is himself the standing of our faith and practice as believers. In Galations Paul wrote,

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13,14)

Paul said to the Corinthians

 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Then in v13 Paul sums up perhaps the most read chapter in all of his letters by saying,

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”

Living to love, and Loving to live is both our mandate and mission. Love is our anchor and our attitude as we flesh out the Christ life, especially to those who are fellow followers of Jesus.

You might say “I have a Chistian duty to defend the faith once delivered to the saints, to teach sound doctrine!” Ok, but how’s your loving coming along? Are you clinging to hope, trusting that one day Christ will come and take you to himself? That is noble but how have you loved today?

Excellent theology and sound doctrine are commendable but they take a back seat to loving your brother. Being faithful in church attendence, saying all the right stuff, and doing all the right things are grand, but does the fellow who disagrees with you about some practice or doctrine feel the love?

If you are the most elequent speaker, know more about the Bible, are more wise than your peers, and give more generously, but are not a lover of those around you, you are nothing! You have the same utility in God’s kingdom as one ringing a cow bell in a symphony orchestra.

If you and I want to matter to Christ and his cause let our words be seasoned with salt and our manner marked with longsuffering and gentle kindness. Even if our enemies decide to say something about our ego driven lifestyle we should make them have to lie to do it. Ours is a call to live above the crowd and to those within and without to love them unconditionally with a pure heart and God’s help.

For love,


Come over and help us!

This encouraging report and plea for help comes from the Hemley Road church of Christ in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. This very poor congregation was birthed after the devistaton of hurricane Katrina. They began as the Bayou Relief Project and now against all odds they are making steady progress rebuilding lives in their community. Below is the email report as I received it. My wife Carol and I gladly recommend this congregation to you.

Subject: Hemley Road C of C Summer/Fall Report

Greetings from Bayou La Batre, Alabama and the Hemley Road C of C Family!As God has blessed this community here in BLB, we just wanted to share this with you! Here is some of what has been occurring with our every so rapidly growing congregation.
1. 15 kids from the BLB church went to church camp with kids from the El Campo, (TX) church in south Texas. Two of the older teenage boys were baptized.
2. A group of the middle school kids along with their leaders from the White?s Ferry Rd. Church in Monroe, (LA) did a 3 day VBS for the BLB kids and children in their neighborhood in mid-July. With virtually no advertising, more than 75 kids came each day. Since that time, two new families have been attending.
3. Several groups from around the country have been at BLB this summer, working on community relief projects and on the church facilities. The upstairs area of the main building has been re-furbished and showers have been installed downstairs. We are now able to provide beds for 2 dozen volunteers.
4. The church in Ada (OK) sent a youth intern to work with the BLB church for the summer. Tyler is a student at Oklahoma Christian University. He plans to come back for a week in October and again at Christmas.
5. Tragedy struck the BLB church family in early August when the husband of one of the members was swept overboard from a shrimp boat during a storm. The young man was the father of 3 children. Since that time, 13 of his family members have started attending services and are studying the Bible with us on Sunday evenings. Royce and Carol Ogle will be starting our grief support groups facilitation, and plan to meet with the families in September and help us begin an ongoing Grief Share Group. They are now able to meet in the main auditorium ? although there is no air conditioning. We’ve even had a wedding in there this summer.

Mid August our church kids started school. We were blessed to receive school supplies from El Campo C of C in El Campo, TX and a check for uniforms from South 11th and Willis C of C in Abilene, TX. Even with school occurring, we are averaging 50 or so children, with a high of 80 people at church on Wednesday nights. With this growth we have of course been picking up all of these people. We were blessed with a van from Central Church C of C in Ada, OK. With the increased number of trips and vehicles that we have been blessed with, as well as the wretched increase in gas prices, we are really suffering in keeping the vehicles running. If anyone would want to donate money for gas, that would be a blessing. Any money could be sent through the El Campo C of C elders earmarked toward our funding.

With Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, although we were not directly impacted by the storms, we might as well have been. We experienced constant flooding and wind damage to our community. Much of the damage however, has impacted the livelihood of the people down here in BLB. As you know, the fishing industry is what holds BLB and the surrounding areas together. However, the flooding and other damage here has not allowed the industry to get back for several weeks now. People are not able to work, therefore, their day to day pay is null, and they are not able to survive and afford food or anything else. There is still a need for food and personal care and baby items for our NEWLY FINISHED FOOD and PERSONAL CARE PANTRY. Thank you to the churches and friends of HR C of C that have donated thus far for this emergency situation. South 11th and Willis C of C, Hope Christian Church’s Genesis Community, and a friend from Louisiana have all donated food or money for our pantry. If anyone would like to make donations to that, please please please, let someone in your church family know so that we can continue to supply food and personal items to the people of BLB. As a result of our food pantry, PRAISE GOD, that we have 4 new families coming to church. We have created a very welcoming and inviting church family here where we encourage people to come as they are.

The needs of the infant Hemley Rd Church of Christ are many. The entire area is very impoverished and we believe it will be several years before our church is completely self sustaining. We are so very grateful for our many friends and supporters from across the country. And as we say, nearly everyone who spends any time down here falls in love with the BLB people and the mighty work God is doing down here ? both in growing our new church and being a source of the Lord?s light in our community.

Of course, there is an ongoing need for people who can come and preach and teach on the weekends. We pray that at some time God will send a couple who can come here and work in this ripe mission field and be supported by a home church or other independent means. God has blessed us thus far with preachers and teachers and we would like to name them and pray for more like them. They are Martin Fu, Fred Franke, Omar Smith and his wife Sandra, John Ash and his wife Donna, and of course this summer, many of you from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, N. Carolina, and many others from all over have helped with the preaching and teaching. Last night the teenagers had a special treat from Boston, MA. Our very own Manny Carneiro taught our young and impressionable teenagers.

Among the most urgent needs are:

1. The installation of a baptistery ? estimated cost $7000
2. Air conditioning for the main building ? around $12,000
3. Funds for the parking area gravel or asphalt – $5000
4. Air conditioning for house of church property – $4000

If anyone would like to support us for 2009, please contact the elders at the El Campo C of C. Their information is as follows:
El Campo Church of Christ
311 E. Calhoun
El Campo, TX 77437
Phone: 979-543-4279

Please ask your church to pray for the sweet people of Bayou La Batre. Our needs at this time are great. We just replaced the radiator and the water pump on our new van and we have to pay for the insurance on the vehicles and building this upcoming week. Please keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the money to keep up these functioning parts of our rapidly growing church.

I apologize for the length of this message. I will try to do an up to date report from our church on a more frequent basis.
God Bless. Daphne German
Secretary for the HR C of C


Billy Spaulding
Board of Trustee Chairman