Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

Tough Love: Is it Loving or Just Tough?

November 28th, 2012

In my previous post on love, I took a jab at the idea of “tough love.”  The post does beg the question of whether there is a place for “tough love.”  To paraphrase a friend of mine, “Does showing love mean that the person will always ‘feel the love?'”

A very pertinent passage is Hebrews 12:5-11.  The writer cites Proverbs 3:11-12.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

He then compares the Lord’s discipline to that of earthly fathers and finishes with a beautiful description of the purpose of discipline.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

So is someone being unloving if a person doesn’t “feel the love?”  Of course not.  However, there is a version of “tough love” where a person sees someone doing something they believe is wrong and acts in a tough and firm way.  The idea of intentionally showing love does not come into the equation because the purpose is simply showing the person how they are wrong in order to get them to change or conform.  Love becomes boiled down to “showing someone the error of their way” instead of the depth of care and long suffering that is fleshed out in I Corinthians 13.  It is this version of “tough love” that I was pushing back against.

Is there a focus on showing love and restoration in your supposedly tough version of love?  Would someone observing be able to see that you are showing love as you work towards long term restoration?  Is their an end goal of training and bringing about righteousness, or just showing guilt?

I’d like to share a story in which someone was undeniably tough but still loving.  A good friend of mine was fired by his boss.  It was a hard day for him and he cried, but he was regularly late for work and underperforming.  While a boss would be fine leaving it there, he chose instead to invite my friend to meet regularly for coffee to talk about things.  Through that choice to proactively reach out, a deeper friendship was developed that became very important to my friend.  Through showing love and care while being tough, a relationship was built, and an individual was influenced.

For some the love in “tough love” seems to be just the love it took to point out where someone was wrong.  However, through showing love to an individual while being tough, more can be accomplished.  This was how my friend was blessed, and I would argue as well it is part of God’s loving discipline.  Is your “tough love” simply tough, or is it intentional to show love as you are working to help the individual grow through it?  If your just being tough and not intentionally showing love, that’s fine. Just be willing to admit that and just call it being tough.

Supporting Orphans in Need During the Holiday Season

November 25th, 2012

During this time of year we often spend extra time remembering those in need.  One of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions was watching Scrooge at the Roanoke Civic Center.  One memorable moment in Dicken’s famous story “A Christmas Carol” occurs when two people raising money for the poor during Christmas time approach Ebeneezer Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge. “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?” “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.” “The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge. “Both very busy, sir.” “:Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.” “Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?” “Nothing!” Scrooge replied. “You wish to be anonymous?” “I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.” “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious temper than was usual with him.

This year my parents have decided to do something few would consider when it comes to helping those in need.  They have decided to adopt two children who are both HIV+ from Russia through Reece’s Rainbow recent recipient of the Cultivate Wines charity grant.  Talk about a big heart and going above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping others.


Grab This!
 This won’t be an easy journey for them, but they are committed and stepping forward in faith.  Please read their story and support them through prayer and financially.  Be sure to check out there various fundraisers.  We are all looking for ways to help those in need during this season.  Please consider making a donation to a very tangible and direct effort.  A donation of just $25.00 or $50.00 can go along ways to supporting Mom and Dad with the paperwork and travel expenses associated with this Journey of Faith and Love.

Is Being Right What is Most Important?

November 21st, 2012

A recent discussion online about evangelicalism made me think yet again on the question of whether there should be something more important for Christians than believing and doing the right things.  Ben Tribbett, one of the leading Democrat bloggers in the state, shared an interesting story.

Willie Deutsch, I’ll share with you a story that is non-political on why evangelicals have trouble reaching people. My mom is Jewish- my dad is southern baptist, and whenever I went to Roanoke as a kid I attended a southern baptist church with my grandmother. One summer when I was about 5 and visiting for a month and my parents were gone the youth minister came over to the farm. I went outside with him and he proceeded to tell me that my mother was going to hell, and he wanted to save me from doing so. He demonstrated this by setting up some sticks on the ground to represent heaven and hell and stomped on the “jewish” sticks. My grandmother was PISSED when she heard what happened- because even though she was a devout baptist, she didn’t like people speaking “ugly” about other religions or people. I was perfectly happy attending church with her until that happened and never liked it afterwords.

This story brought to mind I Corinthians 13:1-3 and the need for Christians to show love.  Here Paul rattles off a number of valuable actions.  Things like speaking in tongues, prophesying, having great wisdom, great faith, charity, even martyrdom.  All these are good.  But Paul declares that possessing them without love is worthless.

One of the qualities Paul mentions is understanding “all mysteries and all knowledge.”  Understanding right doctrine and right practice certainly fits within the description of “understanding all knowledge.”  Imagine someone who perfectly understands all theology, and how people should live.  Wouldn’t that be pretty impressive?  Paul says if the person doesn’t have love, he is nothing.  Paul believes that all of that knowledge doesn’t matter if the person does not possess love.

Think back to the story of the pastor I shared earlier.  One can argue with whether the pastor was “right” in what he said, but what is undeniable is that he was unloving.  This also answers the question of why love is most important.  What the pastor did turned Ben away from Christianity, and who can blame him for having that reaction?  If your presentation or discussion of truth is not couched in love, how can you expect the listener to be willing to listen?  (As an aside, humility when talking about truth is also a good thing.)  An unloving discussion of truth will burn the relational bridges necessary to be able to influence a person.  How can you expect someone to seriously consider an idea presented in an unloving way?  Even worse, what will they think of Christ, whom you claim to represent?

Before writing off what I am talking about, consider this: when you know someone thinks differently than you do, are you quicker to judge or to try to love and understand?  What about homosexuals?  Do we as Christians love them or judge them?  Abortion doctors?  Those who have had an affair?  Those who have committed other grievous sin?

Thinking closer to home… What about the Christians who don’t act exactly as we do? The church with a different style of worship?  Those who don’t have the same standards of modesty?  Someone who is an Arminian or a Calvinist or Premill or Postmill, or you name it?  Are you quick to judge and distance yourself, or do you love them as your brother or sister in Christ?

“But Willie,” you may say, “These things are important.”  I know they are, but to Paul believing the right thing is worthless if you have not love.

You may also say, “Willie, I’m just showing ‘tough love.'”  Really?  Does the way you are showing love line up with the way Paul describes love in the rest of I Corinthians 13?

Another issue is that of intentions.  You may feel love towards someone, and believe that your actions are motivated by love.  But are the actions themselves loving?  The description of love, describes actions.  It is great to have the best of intentions, but are the actions themselves loving?  Think back to the pastor.  He was probably very well intentioned in wanting Ben to come to salvation, avoid hell, etc…  The unloving way in which he displayed his presumably good intentions had the opposite affect.

Think about the “being right” v. “showing love” dichotomy another way.  It is the difference between being more concerned with what someone does than in developing a relationship or understanding why they do certain actions when responding to them.  When you are more concerned about outcomes than building a relationship, you lose the ability to influence.  When someone thinks you are more concerned with making sure you act or think the way you do, then you have lost the ability to reach them at all.  This is the dangers that Christians face when they value being right over showing love.

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For a related sermon, I would strongly recommend this one by Colby Garman entitled Love the Mark of Christian Maturity.

A Wonderful Honeymoon in Cancun

November 15th, 2012

If you haven’t seen me online much, or I’ve been a bit busy, it is because following the elections I was getting ready for a trip to Cancun.  My parents blessed Sarah and I with the ability to go to Cancun, and many others blessed us with the ability to enjoy it just a bit more.  Thank you to everyone, and here are some pictures from the first part of the week.

The following are a number of pictures from the first part of our trip in which we took two incredible day trips.  All pictures are unedited, and 99% of them were taken by my talented wife.  (Essentially the pictures look really good because she took them, or because she is in them.)  Here is a quick sneak peak for my loyal blog readers.


The lovely Casa Maya hotel where we are staying.


If you are going to attend a timeshare presentation, attending one at one of the best resorts in the world sure is worth it.  This is the view from one of the penthouses at the Villa del Palmar.  The ridiculous prices they gave us on excursion tickets also made it incredibly worth it.


The view of the beach and ocean from our hotel room. I have never seen an ocean so blue before.


The mixed drinks in Mexico are easily and consistently the best I have had yet.


…and I was very glad to enjoy them with my wife.


Sarah looking beautiful as we head out on our boating and snorkeling expedition.


If you are in Cancun, you should take a trip with Samba Catamarans.  They do incredible all day trips which take you boating, snorkeling, swimming, shopping, and include a buffet and a chance to hold a shark.  You should also request the boat Mar.  The crew members were excellent tour leaders, and being on a small catamaran made for a very relaxing and enjoyable day.


Heading to Isla Mujeres from Cancun. We spent the day at the island and the waters around it. It is the northern part of the second largest barrier reef in the world.


Few things are as relaxing as being on a beautiful ocean with my lovely wife.


It is hard to capture in pictures the beauty of the blue water.


A picture of us with a nurse shark. We got a fellow tourista to get a picture since we rightly figured the tourguide was going to try to rip us off for a copy of the picture.


The dock at the inlet where we went shopping. Every tourguide brings you to his friends shops to go shopping. From the moment you try to leave the airport, Cancun is one big sales pitch, and they do an incredible and entertaining job of it.


…a beautiful place to relax in the middle of the day in Isla Mujeres.


Since many Mexicans sleep in hammocks, they know how make them very well. Mexican hammocks are much more comfortable and colorful than American hammocks.


…heading back from a colorful beach.


The sun setting over Cancun.


Our boat crew working hard as they let out all the sails and raced the other boats back to port.


Two worn out but very happy love birds.


The sun setting over Cancun as another catamaran sailed home. The colors were much more vivid in real life.


The map showing our route from Cancun to Chichen Itza in Yucatan, one of the wonders of the world.


The inside of a Mayan sink hole. We stopped multiple times to get a sense of Mayan culture along the way to the pyramid.


A Mayan burning incense. The water in the sink hole is kept very clean and pure. People are even asked not to wear sun screen if they are going to swim in the sink hole so that the water won’t become contaminated.


A Mayan weaving one of the hammocks. They are hand made and take about two days to make.


Mayans dancing while we enjoyed our buffet of local food. Mexicans and Mayans will do all kinds of creative things and ask for a tip. Tourists really do have a lot more money than most locals (many Mayans choose to work in the hotels for 5.00 dollar a day according to our tour guide.)


Some obsidian rock sculptures for sale. Obsidian is a very special rock to the Mayans. It forms from lava and is believed to be the blood of the earth. It is also said to contain energy and healing properties, and looks gold when in the light.


It is very interesting to see what Mayans think tourists will buy. At a different market I saw Mexican blankets with Patriots and other NFL and College Football logos.


A shot of the pyramid at Chichen Itza, one of the most important Mayan holy cities. The pyramid is an incredible architectural, mathematical, and astrological achievement.


The flower the Mayans used to paint many of the buildings in the city.


A happy couple at one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Encouragement

November 9th, 2012

I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”  I wanted to take a moment to thank those who have taken the time to thank those who have taken the time to encourage me over the years, and encourage others that your encouragement can help people immensely.  Encouragement for some is one of the greatest ways you can bless them.

I was cleaning out my backpack in preparation for a trip recently and pulled out a stack of sticky notes.  They were a collection of notes from my wing that I received probably three years ago when I really needed it.  All of my wingmates took the time to write an encouraging note and cover my desk with them.  Those notes have meant the world, and for three years I’ve kept them in my backpack where I fondly look back at them from time to time.

One of the most memorable times when someone encouraged me was a text I received.  In a world where I’ve sent and received thousands of texts, this is one of the texts I will always remember.  It was one of the darkest points in my life where I felt things were being ripped from me, and I could see no light in the tunnel.  Someone I was just getting to know sent me the following text, which brought me to tears, and did more to encourage me than anything else at that time. (Philippians 4:5-7)

Willie. Good to talk tonight.

Someone read this text at our group tonight and you came to my mind. I’m sure you know but it helps to hear afresh at such times.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus.

In His Grace

Thank you to the many times people have taken the time to encourage me over the years, it has meant the world.

God can use even a few sentences, a hug, or a simple act to encourage and show someone God’s love when they need it most.  As Christians we have a lot to encourage each other about.  God is faithful and never changes.  In times of darkness we very often need to be reminded of these essential truths.  Here is a great resource of verses to use when encouraging others.

 

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia