Creative Love in Action

The book of Hebrews has some interesting encouragement for all of us. The writer says this: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25, NLT) Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message:“Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.” And, I think this is a beautiful thing, not just to read, but to actually experience. I know this, because a few weeks ago, I experienced some inventive and encouraging practical love.

As some of you might know, being handy is not a skill that I have. I mean, my tool set is mostly from Ikea and used to put together Ikea furniture. So, handy isn’t something I “really do.” Some guys from Bethany wanted to encourage and welcome us into this family here. So, they did it in an amazingly creative way. They talked with us, showed up and built us this amazing sandbox. They wanted to be as inventive as they could in encouraging love and helping out. They found a way to use their gifts (and they are totally handy) to encourage us.


I can tell you this left a huge impact on our family’s life. Not only do our kids now have a place to play and get totally dirty, they also have a daily reminder that we are loved by our new church in our backyard. It’s something Krista and I look at daily, and feel appreciated and loved.

So, I mention this because I believe in making heroes out of the right people. And, the true heroes in our lives are people who take these verses seriously and live them; who find creative and inventive ways to encourage people, and show love in practical and real ways.

So what about you? What gift do you have today that you could use to encourage someone? Maybe it’s not with a sandbox, but what about surprising someone with a coffee, a conversation, a new book or a date night by watching their kids? How can you put love into action in creative ways? Because I can tell you personally that when you do, it changes lives. Because when some guys from our church did that for me, it changed our life.

OrthoKardia the Missing Link: Or Why Christians Don’t Look Like Christ

cross_jesus_wood_216556On Sunday we looked at this statement from the EMCC’s “Seven-Fold Way of Following Jesus”. And it says, “I am learning to be like Jesus in terms of my attitudes, behaviors, and character”. And this is really key because the world doesn’t need more information about Jesus, it needs more people living like Jesus. But here is the snag in our modern Western world; we think that the key to people living more like Jesus is learning more about Jesus. But knowledge does not translate directly into action. There is a missing step. And we know this (Just think about whether you flossed, exercised, or walked to work today. We all know this is a good thing to do, we just don’t do it).

So we looked at three terms on Sunday. Orthdoxy – which means right beliefs (or knowledge). Orthopraxy – which menas right actions. And lastly, the missing link between the two – Orthokardia – which means right-heartedness.

The point is that right actions flow out of a right heart not just the right knowledge. And this is something that Jesus actually teaches in Mark 7; that evil things flow out of an evil heart. And good things flow out of a transformed heart. This is why the heart is such a key image in the Bible. This is why all the Old Testament promises in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:25-27 talk about God giving us a new heart, so that we can live differently.

The point is that if we want to live like Jesus, we need a heart like Jesus. A heart transformed to have the desires he does, to have the inclinations, and longing that he does. And this is exactly what we get when we decide to follow Jesus. We get a new heart, or as Paul puts, we are a new creation. We are made new and different so that we can live in a new and different way. When we decide to follow Jesus, our old selfish heart is gone, so that we might follow Jesus in a new way.

And that’s what we looked at on Sunday, because, before we will ever live differently, we need to know that we are different. And we are different if we have decided to follow Jesus. So we can actually learn to live like Jesus in terms of our attitudes, behaviours, and character.

And we landed and focused on one simple next step to learn to live more like Jesus. It sounds silly and trite but it isn’t. The next step is simple: pray to Jesus. Pray to Jesus asking him to help you live more like him. Pray to Jesus asking him to reveal areas to live more like him. Pray to Jesus asking him to empower us to live more like him.

The point is that when we pray, we focus our hearts, minds, and souls on Jesus Christ. And when our hearts are focused on Jesus, then they can direct us to live like Jesus. We cannot learn to be like Jesus on our own, we need his help and the Holy Spirit. So praying isn’t a simplistic answer, it is the answer. Without prayer we won’t be able to learn to live like Jesus. But with prayer we can not only learn to know how to act, but also be empowered to act through Jesus.

So we ended with one simple challenge. To pray this week to learn to live more like Jesus in terms of our attitudes, behaviors, and character. And to ask Jesus to reveal one attitude, one behavior, and one character piece to start to work on, practice, and learn.

And my honest belief is that as we ask Jesus to lead us to live more like him, he will answer that prayer. And as he answers that prayer and we live more like him, we just might end up answering some of the prayers of the people around us. And that is a pretty cool thought.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: I am learning to be like Jesus in attitudes, behaviors, and character

Teaching Points:

  • “I am learning to be like Jesus in attitudes, behaviors, and character”
  • Our impact on society has a direct correlation with the level of Christlikeness in our lives
  • It is much easier to learn lots about Jesus, than to live like Jesus.
  • Christians are educated beyond our level of obedience
  • The world doesn’t need more information about Jesus, it needs people living like Jesus.
  • Merely believing the right things does not ensure Christlike behavior…We want to master the information; [the apostles] longed to master the life. Bob Roberts
  • Orthodoxy: Right Belief
  • Orthopraxy: Right Actions
  • Orthokardia: Right-heartedness
  • Simply believing the right things about Jesus does not mean you will live or act like Jesus.
  • The “heart is deceitful above all things”. (Jer 17:9).
  • Before we will ever live differently, we need to know that we are different.
  • That if we focused on telling people more who they are, we wouldn’t have to tell them so much what to do
  • Pray to Jesus for help
  • Rarely does transformation happen without revelation

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Had you ever thought about “right actions” flowing out of a “right heart” before? What did you think of it? Was the idea that you are a new creation new? Freeing? Hopeful? How does that change how you see yourself? How might asking Jesus for help to live like him – help you? What attitude is Jesus asking you to focus on? Behaviors? Character? Who can help you to grow in them?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids today about accepting Jesus, and how it means we become new. Ask them what they think Jesus was like in terms of his attitudes, behaviors, and character. Get them to pick on thing that was Jesus-like and to make it your goal as a family to practice it this week (being kind, generous, loving etc). Talk about it at meals and make it a focus and learn to be like Jesus together.

Challenge for the Week: Be like Jesus in terms of your attitude, behaviors, and character.