Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Dinner with Dr. Gary Chapman

If you have ever heard of or read the book, "The Five Love Languages" you are familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman's work. He has written a plethora of other marriage/counseling books on different topics. Two other books he's written that I'm interested in are, "The Five Languages of Apology" and "The other side of love" which is based on anger.

Well, I'm a little more than familiar with Dr. Chapman than some since he's a pastor at my church. I've gotten to meet him several times and chat with his lovely wife, Carolyn. Basically, he is the real deal. If you want to hear a godly man preach on a Sunday, he can bring it like no other. I really enjoy him speaking about theology as well as communication needs. And in case his counseling demands dwindled, he'd make a great stand-up comedian as well.

Last night, our church held its annual Valentine's Day dinner, but this time Dr. Chapman was the guest speaker. Not surprising, his theme was on love. But it was not primarily on love in the context of marriage or parenting, but simply living as a loving Christian.

I am ashamed to admit this, but as we left I told my husband, "that whole message was convicting for me."

Based on one of his latest books, "Love as a Way of Life," he went over the seven different facets of love: kindness, courtesy, humility, forgiveness, patience, generosity, and honesty.

Some of those traits are easier to come by than others, but I personally struggle with courtesy (being "friendly-minded"), patience ("forgetting is not a sin"), and generosity ("making time for others").

Last time I heard Dr. Chapman speak, I fortunately had paper and pen to jot down my thoughts. Last night, however I didn't, so I'm going off memory here! Perhaps the things I remembered, were the things the Holy Spirit wanted me to cling to.

Courtesy: Chapman explained that the word courtesy in Greek comes from two words "friendly" and "mind." Thus we treat others like we would our own friends. His examples included allowing someone else to go in front of you at the checkout line, giving up a parking space for someone, offering your seat to an elderly person, etc. I realize that several of these traits are interdependent upon one another....i.e. if I am impatient by nature, I probably will not have a penchant for being courteous...because after all, it's all about me!

Patience: Oooo, how I struggle with this, and how I know our baby will teach me in short order! The way Chapman described it in context of examples almost described grace. Once again, you gotta give someone grace in order to be patient! He gave the example of a husband losing the car keys for the third time in a week, and the wife huffing, "Why can't you just hang it on the key hook?!" And this point he made hit me like a load of bricks: "Forgetting is not a sin." Whoaaa Nelly! Back that thang up... Okay, so I never realized until last night that I practically equate forgetfulness as a sin. Hmmm, where is that Scripture verse anyway? (Oh riiight, there isn't one). Not only should we be patient with others, but patient with ourselves. We are only human after all. And only one perfect Person has ever walked the earth before.

Generosity: I know I could do more for people, so why don't I? It's not merely a financial issue, it's one of time, service, and words. There are people in my life who I love devoting time to like Brent. But there are others which, let's face it, I've been holding back on. (Cue the music "Let your love flow...") Do they not deserve it? If we argue points of merit, then Christ's death for each one of us gives more emphasis on how great His love truly must be. As Christians, we can't settle for doling love out only to those who are kind to us, instead of those who are unkind. We must be generous with everyone.

Dr. Chapman tied all of the seven facets of love into Jesus' words, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" (Matthew 22:37-39) And also, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35) If you asked someone, "What's your idea of a 'Christian?'" What do you think they would say? Love?

Maybe perhaps now you can tell why his talk was convicting for me. May we love others as Christ has truly loved us.

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