Monday, September 1, 2014

Greek Words for Love

One of the biggest difficulties we face in understanding love is the fact that we use the term so loosely.  We LOVE Oprah.  We LOVE hot fudge sundaes.  We LOVE our spouse.  Unfortunately, many of us are more emphatic about our love for hot fudge sundaes than our spouse.  We too often gage our love according to our feelings.


In the Greek language, there are five different words for our word LOVE.  I want to look at them to show you a broader aspect of what love is.  You will see that there is much more to love than our feelings of the moment.  Feelings are not mentioned in any of these definitions.

Stergo (also called storge) is the Greek word that represents the love for our children and our family.  It means ‘to be devoted’.  Although there are exceptions, we don’t usually divorce our family members.  Some family members may intentionally go for periods without talking, but in a crisis, they will usually join together.  We may not always like the members of our family, may not always “feel” like loving them, but we will always be there for them no matter what. 

Stergo is the love that should be prevalent in a marriage relationship (in my opinion).  We should be devoted to our spouse NO MATTER WHAT happens.  Our love for them should come ahead of our families.  If our love is unconditional for our families, it should be even more so for our spouse.  Many couples seem to have difficulty applying stergo love to their marriage relationship. 

The next Greek word for love is phileo, which means affection.  Phileo also applies to friends and acquaintences, so it is not a deep, passionate love.  It means to be well-matched, loving, compatible or complementary of each other.

Phileo cherishes and shares great affection.  It is a love of relationship - friends who enjoy closeness and companionship.  Dear friends share each other’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, plans, dreams, time and interests.  A marriage without phileo will be unsatisfactory, even if the couple has a great sex life.   

We should apply phileo love to our spouses as easily as we do others.  Too often we are kind to a complete stranger, yet come home with anger and impatience towards our spouse. 

Phileo is used as the root of many words.  For example, adelphos means brother in the Greek language.  When added to phileo, we have the word philadelphia, or brotherly love.  Anthropos means mankind.  Compounded with phileo gives us the word philanthropia or philanthropist, someone who loves mankind.


Stay tuned as I continue with more Greek words for love on the next posting.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Listen

Do you ever wonder if God is listening to you?  We all go through stages where we feel as though He is nowhere near us.  We wonder if He hears us as we pray our long list of requests to Him.  We easily get frustrated when our prayers go unanswered and time slips by.  Is He really there for us?

But let me ask you, are you listening to Him? 

John 10: 27-28 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” - as spoken by Jesus.

Many of us forget that our relationship with God is a two-way relationship.  Yes, He will answer our prayers, but He wants to know us, and He also expects us to follow His plan for our lives.  We can’t do that unless we spend quiet time listening for His voice.

Think about your relationship with your children.  When they listen to you, behave accordingly and do what you ask, you are ready to give them anything.  You pleasure in bringing them joy and in blessing them with positive reinforcements. It’s not the same when your children defy you and ignore what you have to say, though.  Then, the last thing you want to see from them is a list of “I wants”.  

God desires to bless us when we heed His word, when we listen to what He has to say.

As I’ve mentioned often before, our relationship with God closely parallels our relationship with our spouse.  How quick are we to bark off a list of requests to our spouse and get angry and frustrated when they don’t take action?

But how carefully do we really listen, in return, to our spouse?

Everyone wants to be heard.  In our own selfish desire to get our spouse to listen, we often forget that marriage is two-sided.  They also need to be heard.   

When couples come to us with problems there are always two sides of the story, and each person seems to get lost in their pursuit of self-justification of their particular side.  Communication has gone to the wayside, and they haven’t listened to each other in quite a while.

We also do that with God.  We get caught up in justifying our behavior when we haven’t been listening to Him.  Our prayers aren’t answered because we haven’t communicated with Him. 

It all boils down to the biggest struggle we face as humans – our SELF.  We want what we want when we want in spite of someone else’s needs or agenda – even Gods.

Once we realize that this life isn’t about our selfish desires, then we are free to completely serve God and listen to Him wholeheartedly.   We are then ready to fulfill His plan for our lives which will always include putting other’s needs ahead of our own, especially our spouse.  That means we must take the time to listen and find out what those needs are. 



Monday, August 18, 2014

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast!

I drove to Atlanta last week for a speaking engagement.  I do not like driving on Interstates, but the back roads would have added at least an hour to my trip, and I just wanted to get there.  I dislike Interstates because I become a different person behind the wheel.  I start out with every intention of going the speed limit and staying in the far right lane.  That way I can relax and have a peaceful drive. 

And then I have to pass someone. That’s when my alter ego takes over.  Suddenly, passing only one car is not enough.  Driving becomes a competition, and I have to get ahead of everyone.  I become Speed Racer.  I push my speed to the limit as I weave in and out of the passing lanes to get in front.  There is no relaxing when I drive this way.

As I fought through traffic in Atlanta, I realized how tense I felt.  It reminded me of my life, a number of years ago, when I was always on the go, staying busy every moment and rushing from one event to another.  I navigated through a crowded highway of people, all competing to get ahead.  It only caused me great stress and lessened my time with my family and with God.

People are so busy these days and have little room in their schedules for relationships.  When you eat most of your meals out of your car on the way to a child’s event or get home too late for dinner with your family, you may have too much going on in your life.  The world will tell us, though, that we need to stay busy and lead “productive” lives in order to be successful.

Just what does “productive” mean?  One definition says, “Doing or achieving a lot: working hard and getting good results.”  Who in the world determined that "work and achieving a lot" are more important than time with family and friends?  Is it our need for more “things” that drives us on the passing lane to get ahead regardless of how it affects our relationships?  Let’s face it – friendships and family need to be nurtured at a slow pace – in the right lane.  Who has time for that these days?

I made the choice a number of years ago to slow my life down.  I stopped “doing and achieving a lot” and focused on my family, my marriage, and my relationship with God.  Shouldn’t that be more important than anything else in our lives?  Jesus never told us to “Buy as many things as possible, or go to as many sporting events, or meetings and church events as you can.”  We are all here on Earth to reach out to others, especially our own families.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37,39 that the greatest commandments are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Your family should, obviously, come before your neighbor.)

If we base our lives on these two commandments, along with God’s plan for our lives, we will not waste time on outside activities that really have no importance in the big scheme of things.  We will live the life that God intended for us.

The best decision I ever made was to slow down and stay in the right lane of life.  I could allow Jesus to direct me at that pace.  When I was so busy “doing”, my speed was too fast, and I had no time to stop and hear God’s voice.  Now if I could only stay in the right lane of Interstates.  Traveling would be so much more pleasurable. 

Do you feel like you are running a race to get ahead in the world?  How does it affect your family time and your time with God?

I’m including “Satan’s Convention” which I have published numerous times before, but it is always worth a repeat.  This was written BEFORE computers and cell phones!

 Satan’s Convention – author unknown

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken".
 "So let them go to their churches; let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"
 "How shall we do this?" shouted his angels.
"Keep them busy in the non- essentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles".
"Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work! Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their home and see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."
"Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, mail order catalogs, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes. Keep skinny, beautiful models on the magazines so the husbands will believe that external beauty is what's important, and they'll become dissatisfied with their wives. Ha! That will fragment those families quickly!"
"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders.  Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. Keep them busy, busy, busy! And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions."

It was quite a convention. The evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get more busy and more rushed, going here and there.