Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Real Love

Real Love

A Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13—One of the Bible’s Most Famous Chapters

by David Sanford

If I talk a lot about God and the Bible and the Church, but I fail to ask about your needs and then help you, I’m simply making a lot of empty religious noise.

If I graduate from theological seminary and know all the answers to questions you’ll never even think of asking, and if I have all the degrees to prove it…and if I say I believe in God with all my heart, and soul, and strength, and claim to have incredible answers to my prayers to show it, but I fail to take the time to find out where you’re at and what makes you laugh and why you cry, I’m nothing.

If I sell an extra car and some of my books to raise money for some poor starving kids somewhere, and if I give my life for God’s service and burn out after pouring everything I have into the work, but do it all without ever once thinking about the people, the real hurting people—the moms and dads and sons and daughters and orphans and widows and the lonely and hurting—if I pour my life into the Kingdom but forget to make it relevant to those here on earth, my energy is wasted, and so is my life.

Here is what love is like…genuine love. God’s kind of love. It’s patient. It can wait. It helps others, even if they never find out who did it. Love doesn’t look for greener pastures or dream of how things could be better if I just got rid of all my current commitments. Love doesn’t boast. It doesn’t try to build itself up to be something it isn’t.

Love doesn’t act in a loose, immoral way. It doesn’t seek to take, but it willingly gives. Love doesn’t lose its cool. It doesn’t turn on and off. Love doesn’t think about how bad the other person is, and certainly doesn’t think of how it could get back at someone. Love is grieved deeply (as God is) over the evil in this world, but it rejoices over truth.

Love comes and sits with you when you’re feeling down and finds out what is wrong. It empathizes with you and believes in you. Love knows you’ll come through just as God planned, and love sticks right beside you all the way.

Love doesn’t give up, or quit, or diminish, or go home. Love keeps on keeping on, even when everything goes wrong and the feelings leave and the other person doesn’t seem as special anymore. Love succeeds 100 percent of the time.

That, my friend, is what real love is.

David Sanford serves as a lay teaching pastor at Spring Mountain Bible Church in Clackamas, Oregon ( He and his wife, Renée, are the general editors of the new Focus on the Family Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family (Tyndale House Publishers). Permission granted for churches to reprint this paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 in its entirety (including this notice). All other rights reserved. You can write to the author at

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moira Brown

My good friend Moira Brown, who’s interviewed me twice on 100 Huntley Street, “gets” the message of my book in a big way. One reason why: her own story.

There was no reason to suspect bad news when my uncle appeared at the door on January 6th, 1970. But as he walked with my mother to the living room, an invisible cushion of support came around me and a clear impression that “something’s coming, but it’s going to be all right.” Within minutes, my siblings and I would learn that our father had died suddenly of a heart attack while skiing on the very slopes where actress Natasha Richardson had a fatal fall this spring – Mount Tremblant in Quebec. At age 47, Dad was gone, leaving six children and a 39-year-old widow “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34 NIV)

It would be many years before I realized that the supernatural comfort and strength I experienced during those tumultuous days was the provision of my heavenly Father. Deuteronomy 33:27 was a thrilling discovery, identifying my mysterious “cushion”: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….” Those arms of love have guarded and guided me ever since.

You can read Moira’s whole article online at or As well, you can catch my second interview with Moira online at

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mike Paolicelli's incredible story

My friend Mike Paolicelli gave me permission to share his incredible story.

He writes:

I wanted to tell you about something incredible that happened Monday, June 1, 2009, while I was in for my chemotherapy. I know you probably read lots of "stories" and wonder if they are true. This one is true, and I happened to be in the thick of it. I think this will encourage you. The ending is amazing, if you are patient to through read it.

Monday marked my tenth chemo treatment. The nurse who attended me was someone who never treated me before. Our boys, Titus and Simeon, were with Janet this time around, to visit me at the start of treatment. This is a rare occurrence, for practical reasons, and because children are not officially allowed in the cancer infusion area (used for chemotherapy).

All of us were standing at the entrance to the infusion area, awaiting my turn, and doing our best to keep our healthy boys' talking away from other patients. Simeon was particularly talkative, and loud at times, making it difficult if not impossible for him to stay much longer without causing significant distraction for the other chemo patients. My attending nurse came up to us and said, "Would you like a private room where you and your family can sit?" This never happened before. We took her up on her offer, and away we went. The rest of this would not have happened were it not for Simeon -- but God was actually working through him. Were it not for Simeon's being out of character at this moment, the rest of this story would not have happened.

Eventually, it was time for the family to leave, and for me to begin my first chemical injection, commonly called "The Red Devil," because of it's appearance like red kool-aid. The injection must be given gradually, in the back of my hand, over about a 20 minute period. Just before giving the injection, this nurse, whom I don't recall ever seeing before, said, "So, I hear you are a pastor?" I responded affirmatively. Then she opened up.

"I'm Catholic. But I have so many questions, and I want more," she offered.

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?" I queried.

"Sure," She said.

"On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is I am absolutely sure, and 1 is I am absolutely unsure, would you say that your sins are forgiven and that if you were to stand before God today, He would let you into heaven?"

"I'm a 5," replied the nurse.

"Would you like to know for certain your sins are completely forgiven?" I asked.

"Yes, I would," she responded.

"Suppose you owed someone $5,000,000. How would you feel?"

"Terrible!" She laughed.

I went on, "But suppose that person came up to you one day and said, 'This is your lucky day! I'm going to entirely forgive you of $2,500,000 of that debt you owe me.'" I then asked, "Would you be happy?"

"No," she replied. "I'd still owe $2,500,000! That's still too much!"

"Exactly!" I said. "How would you feel if God only forgave you some or most of your sins, but not all of them? When Jesus was on the cross and said 'It is finished', he didn't wink. Jesus either died for all your sins or you are still in your sins, guilty before God, dead spiritually, and separate from Him."

Then I asked her the key question in life: "Have you ever given your life to Christ for the forgiveness of all your sins? You may know that Jesus died the sins of many, but what about you? Do you realize that your sin was enough to send Jesus to the cross? Have you accepted what He did on the cross for you?"

She quickly responded, "No."

"Would you like to?"

"Yes!" she said. I then motioned to her to come and sit next to me. It was there and then that she closed her eyes as I led her in prayer to acknowledge Jesus' death for her, the forgiveness of her sins, and she invited Him to be the Master of her life. Jesus became her Lord and Savior for the very first time. This is what it means to have Jesus as one's personal Lord and Savior. Amazing.

When we finished praying, I asked her what time it was. She looked at her watch and I said, "Remember this day and this moment. This is when you crossed from death to life." She smiled. Then I read her Ephesians, chapter 2, and explained that though we all have heartbeats, we are all dead -- spiritually dead, and in need to be made alive by God. This is what God did for her, made her alive, the moment she accepted Christ. And there I was, part of her story, involved, yet witnessing the greatest miracle of all before my very eyes: the resurrection of a dead soul to life with Jesus Christ. Does it get any better than this?

Then she said, "I'm just worried about my husband. He may not be interested." I told her to not worry, but to pray and simply share what happened to her that day, her story.

It just so happened that I had a copy of the first in our current message series at Renew with me (I never do). It's the first message in our series "Rediscover Jesus Christ." I gave it to her and she was all excited, as well.

To think, my sickness and my son's loudness led to this amazing event. Don't think for a minute that God can't or doesn't use your difficulties for a purpose larger than yourself. He does.

This nurse was "ripe" for God's picking. She had been prepared by God. There are others just like her all around you. Are you sharing your story with others? Are you looking for God to use you?

Mike Paolicelli
Pastor & Visionary, Renew Church
President, Godfactor, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2009 Mike Paolicelli. Used by permission. Permission granted to freely share with family and friends. All rights reserved.