Love Is From God

 

Love is an amazing thing. The book of Proverbs talks about this (30:18-19): There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don’t understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship in the heart of the sea, and the way of a man with a woman. This is a good passage for young couples today, because it has to do with love, and it has to do with science. Of course, the ancient proverb doesn’t ask any scientific questions outright. It looks at the world simply.

With amazement. But if you know anything at all about science, you know that amazement is not one of the principles. The very things that amazed ancient people, science can now explain. Like “the way of an eagle in the sky.” No doubt a bird in flight seemed magical at one time, but now we know there’s no miracle involved. The lift force is created by the action of air flow on the wing. Flying is science—just like snakes. The verse says that a snake slithering across a rock is amazing, but any seventh-grade science student can tell you that serpentine movement is an effect of scale friction and dynamic weight distribution. Science, people, explains it all.

The proverb can’t understand “the way of a ship in the heart of the sea,” because Archimedes had yet to explain the principle of upthrust or buoyancy. It gets less amazing when you know the science. But wait. The proverb counts not three but four amazing, incomprehensible things; and the fourth is when a man loves a woman. Surely, when we get to women and men and love, we’ve left the purview of science. Now we’re talking the magic that happens between a boy and his girl.

Scientists now tell us, however, that love isn’t magical at all. The human experience of love is not mysterious, and it’s not even limited to humans. Prairie voles and Eurasian beavers fall in love and are monogamous for life. Neurobiologists tell us that what we describe as love is actually a set of natural behaviors common in response to neuropeptide expression. Turns out love is science, too. Of course the biblical proverb doesn’t ask any scientific questions. It looks at the world simply.

With amazement. Science, however, doesn’t deal with amazement; and because it doesn’t, there are facts of our lives that science can’t talk about. Science describes, but it can’t explain. And when something can’t be explained, we stand amazed. Love is one of those things. We can tell a love story, but love itself can’t be told. There’s mystery and magic with it, amazement. It’s amazing, because love is from God.

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Gospel Goodbyes

 

I’ve heard them called “gospel goodbyes.” It’s the goodbye that must be said when serving the Lord leads us in separate directions. No matter what you call it, it’s still goodbye. And sometimes goodbye is a hard word to say. This month we mark the official start of Journey Church. It’s thrilling to see a vision become reality! It’s gratifying to see real ministry take root in a community with real needs. It’s beautiful to see individuals and families from our congregation respond to God’s call for them to go—to take the risk, to let their hearts be broken, to put their hands to the work of the gospel.

Already, they have counted the cost and made the commitment. They have placed themselves into the Father’s hands like seeds for planting. What God is about to do through them is going to be spectacular. As pastor, I couldn’t be more excited or proud. But I’m really going to miss them. The team being sent from among us—they are family to me, just like the rest of you, brothers and sisters. I’m going to miss seeing them every week. I will not have a front row seat to watch their children grow, to see the Holy Spirit fan gifts into flame. I know it’s inevitable, that people come into our lives only for a season.

Friendship remains, but seasons change. And goodbyes must be said. Saying farewell to our launch team also means we say goodbye to the Betts family. Like most of you, I knew from the start that Matt was meant to be a pastor. There was something about the way he preached, something about the way he loved Jesus and the church, something about the contagious joy that he brought to the work of ministry. He has become my right hand, close as a brother. At the same time, Dawn has become integral to the worshiping heart of this congregation; and in the last 18 months or so, her own heart has been set afire with vision and passion.

She was dreaming the dream of Journey Church before many of us. And as Journey Church launches this month, it is Dawn who takes her place at the worshiping heart of this new body. Together with their girls, Dawn and Matt have sacrificed much for the life of Woodburn Baptist Church, and they are placing a lot on the line now for the sake of Journey Church. For the sake of the gospel. And for the gospel’s sake, we say goodbye. Lord knows our goodbyes are never forever. Journey Church of Bowling Green is obviously not that far away. We’ll stay close, we’ll see one another out and about. (For that matter, Matt Betts will probably still borrow my weed-eater every week.)

But now we necessarily loosen the bonds of relationship, so that we all remain free to follow Christ and love him first. It’s one of love’s supreme acts, to bless and release others, that they may continue to grow, to be and to do all that Christ intends. In heaven we’ll be together forever, but down here, life is too short, and the work is too important. For now, the gospel is all that matters.