Valentine’s Day & Loving Christ

Not Necessarily (and even most highly unlikely) the Same Kind of Love

I detect a theme!

I’ve already gone on record that I’m a curmudgeon; at least when it comes to just about any holiday that not simply supported by, but clearly driven by Hallmark and the nations jewelry industry. An example: Kay Jewelers’ latest TV commercial has a young couple sitting in a restaurant, being observed by an older (middle-aged) couple. The older of the two men comments on the younger’s rookie attempts to impress his date on Valentine’s Day, but quickly withdraws his critique when he sees the young man hand his girl a box from Kay’s with diamonds in it (earrings, I think). To which, the elder wife says, “We were like that once..” and her husband says, “We still are” and he’s getting ready to pull a Kay’s jewelry box out from under the table. Thank you, Kay’s! I don’t stand a chance now.

Another example: The girls over at girltalk are heaping the burning coals of guilt and inadequacy and they’ve been doing it for several days (let me quickly say, I subscribe to their news feed and appreciate much of what they have to say, especially when it’s coming form one of their husbands). There have been a few suggestions for us Valentinian-challenged males to try to emulate and romance our wives, sweeping them off their feet and truly putting “love” back into our relationships because it was clearly missing/lacking/absent,decaying/dead&buried prior to this special holiday. My grief over many of the suggestions comes because of the outrageous cost (I’m a small church pastor with a working wife and also do part-time work as well) involved, all for the simple sake of letting your wife know you love her. Well, ladies, I can’t brag. I can’t boast. I will not call myself a romantic. I did get my wife exactly what she wanted (she asked for it) and she’s very content about it (either that, or she’s got me buffaloed like crazy): I got her a dozen hot-pink roses for under $25. There in a vase on the table and she loves them. I’m letting her fix a marvelous dinner tonight (I wanted to take the family out, but she loves to cook these special kind of meals). The menu includes a new recipe for shrimp scampi and a mocha almond cheesecake, specialty coffee (I’m buying that today, and no, Ann won’t find out because she barely knows how to turn the computer on let alone get to this blog!) and our children! So there. (And just so everyone doesn’t think I’m hopeless: last year I hid about 100 heart-shaped post-it notes with I Love You written on them in all the most remote spots in our house. Some where in boxes that she would only open 1-2x a year; some were in the coffee jar; others were in cracker boxes. You name it, they were there and she was finding them throughout the year. So there, once again).

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me get to the rest of what I wanted to post today:

There’s a theme running around out there in the blogosphere. I don’t think it’s intentional, but it is wonderful.

Betsy Childs, at Slice of Infinity, posted something delightful today: “To Be Where He Is” Here’s a snippet:

But when the Scriptures speak of the desirability of eternity, they do not emphasize the fact that we will be able to eat whatever we want or that we will be able to buy whatever we want. They tell us that eternity will be good because we will be in the presence of God.

Take the promise from the book of Revelation that one day a voice from the throne will announce, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). When Jesus talked about heaven, he said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”(John 14:2-3). You see, the “prize” is not a heavenly mansion or a crown, but getting to be with the one who loves us.

Yes, and Amen to that!

Then, Jim at OldTruth, posted a message from Thomas Vincent, a Puritan (had to be a Puritan; you’d never hear this from Saddleback or Willowcreek or from Hallmark or …, well, you get my point). Title? How Much Do You Love Christ? Oh, how my heart was stung by my lack of love for my Savior. How my heart did burn, though at His love for me and the glory that radiates from Him as the Son of God, the Savior & Deliverer of sinners. You simply must read the whole thing, then break forth in prayers of praise and confession. The words from Jerome ring clear:

“If my father were weeping on his knees before me, my mother hanging on my neck behind me, my brethren, sisters, and kinsfolk – howling on every side to retain me in a sinful course, I would fling my mother to the ground, run over my father, despise all of my kindred and tread them under my feet, that I might run unto Christ”

I’ve also been reading from Piper’s “God is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself” He wastes no time getting right to the point in the Introduction (page 15 to be exact):

The critical question for our generation – and for every generation – is this: if you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the good you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

Do I believe this? Do I teach this way? Do I preach this way? I trust that it is so and that I be found faithful of preaching the Gospel which is Christ and God Himself. I’m currently going through a 12-part series based on John Owen’s “The Glory of Christ.” Owen contends that beholding the glory of Christ is one of the greatest privileges that believers are capable of in this world, or even in that which is to come. He then lays this out with such clarity and such conviction that I’ve take as my guiding proposition for this entire series: Only those who gaze on Christ by faith while in this world will ever see His glory by sight in the world to come.

My prayer is that I see the glory of Christ and love it as much as I am possibly able to do in this life. And that I am granted by God to proclaim this Christ and His glory with every ounce of my being, at all times, but especially when in the pulpit before the largest crowd I get the privilege of addressing each week: the flock at Cornerstone EFC in Rochester. And (my grade school grammar teacher would have fits with all the “ands” but she’s not here to critique this is she!)… and, my hope-filled prayer is that each one of them falls so passionately in love with the glory of God in the face of Christ that our little world right here is changed. Make it so, Lord Jesus, make it so.

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