Christian Love in February
February is a month that celebrates love. While our culture may place a heavy emphasis on romantic love, we as Christ-followers are supposed to be good at love. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
The New Testament is filled with commands to love. Many verses equate loving God with loving others. I John 4:16 says, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” I could easily fill this space with verses about love.
In light of this major biblical theme, here are three thoughts about Christian love for this St. Valentine’s season.
First, Christian love strives towards health. The healthier our love is, the more Christ-like is our love. Dysfunctional love is not of God.
To be fair, we cannot love perfectly, so there is some dysfunction in all our relationships. The family member we love so dearly can also test our ability to love well. We put conditions on our love. I will love you unless you are not there for me when I need you.
Long term marriages are rare today and long term healthy marriages are even more uncommon. Some cultural expressions of family love are demanding while too many Western families stop talking to each other.
The calling of God upon our lives is to grow in love and grow in healthy love. May God help us all grow in healthy love.
A second thought on Christian love is that we are to love the needy. The most common Greek word for love in the New Testament is ‘agape’ which is a giving, sacrificial love.
The Bible says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (I John 3:17-18) True love costs us time, energy and money.
It is human to take care of needs within our own family. It is God-honoring to show tangible love to an acquaintance or stranger. God blesses His people so that we can be a blessing to another.
While every Christian is called to show love to people in need, we cannot respond to every need. Helping the homeless in NYC is commendable, but some help makes a difference while other help may just feed an addiction. We are called to generosity and wisdom.
A third thought on Christian love is our calling to love even our enemies. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:43-45)
The true test of your Christian love is your ability to respond well to someone who hates you. When your enemy claims to also follow Jesus, a loving response is very challenging.
We live in a time when many have lost faith in God and His church. Those who do not share our faith will take notice when we love well. May God help us to grow in healthy loving relationships, love those in need, and even love those who hate us.
Presidents Day Quotes
The following are quotes are attributed to Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, for whom we celebrate Presidents’ Day, Feb. 18.
Abraham Lincoln said:
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”
“It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.”
“Take all that you can of this book upon reason, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man. (When a skeptic expressed surprise to see him reading a Bible)”
George Washington said:
“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
“When I contemplate the interposition of Providence, as it was visibly manifested, in guiding us through the Revolution, in preparing us for the reception of a general government, and in conciliating the good will of the People of America towards one.”
Annual Membership Meeting: Feb. 10
On Sunday February 10th we will meet for our Annual Members Meeting following the morning worship service. Note that the date was changed from the 3rd to the 10th.
The purpose of the meeting is for the members of Fort Lee Gospel Church to hear a report of 2018 church activities and look forward to plans for 2019. Included will be the election of Governing Board members and a financial report.
While most people today consider attendance as equal to membership, it should be noted that formal membership is important. Our church functions with a series of checks and balances that help keep us accountable.
Fort Lee Gospel Church maintains an active membership which elects a Governing Board to oversee the leadership and business of the church. Plan to join us February 10th.
Youth Group Changes
In a smaller church like ours Youth Ministry changes form year to year. We seem to have one or two students in each grade and the group has been small over the last couple of years.
This year we have developed a leadership team for our youth along with a slight change in our format. The group has been better attended recently but we have yet to come close to reaching our potential.
The Youth Group meets on alternating Saturdays (Feb 9 & 23) at 6:00 PM. There will be time for singing, games, Bible study and a meal. Some special events and outings will be planned in the weeks ahead.
The teaching time is divided into age based groups as the group includes those from 6th Grade through college. Pray that God strengthens this ministry in the weeks ahead.
February Events at Fort Lee Gospel
11:00 AM Worship Service Our weekly service including worship through singing, prayer, preaching and fellowship. Nursery and three children’s classes are available.
9:00 AM Chinese Worship Service The Chinese worship service is led by Pastor William Cheung. He can be reached at 914-282-3399.
1:30 PM Korean Worship Service Contact Pastor Jaedoo Lee for further details at (646)464-2448.
5:30 PM Spanish Worship Service Contact Rev. Esteban Canales at 973-510-8834 for more details.
7:00 PM, Feb 17 Evening Service Our Sunday evening service usually meets on the first and third Sunday of the month. We will only meet once in February.
12:30 PM, Feb 10 Annual Business and Members Meeting See page 2 for details.
1:30 PM, Feb 10 & 24 NYC Nursing Home Ministry A group leads a service twice a month at a nursing home in NYC.
12:30 PM, Feb 17 Church Dinner Our monthly meal will take place after the worship service.
1:15 PM, Feb 17 Seniors Ministry A group leads a service at an assisted living facility in Teaneck.
12:30 PM, Tuesdays Men’s Lunch & Bible Study We meet for a meal before we study the Bible and pray together.
7:30 PM, Tuesdays Bible Study The group is going through the “Purpose Driven Life” study.
6:00 AM, Wednesdays Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
6:00 AM Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting combining personal and group prayer meets every Saturday.
2:00 PM, Feb 2 & 16 Women’s Bible Study This group meets on alternating Saturdays.
6:00 PM, Feb 9 & 23 Youth Group For those in 6th grade through their teens.
Church Discipleship Goals
The 12 Sunday messages from January through Palm Sunday will be centered around the six goals below. This list was developed 7 years ago and continues to be a guide for what is important for us today. Our hope is that this list would reflect who we are becoming in Christ.
- Our congregation spends daily time engaging God through prayer and the Bible. Josh 1:6-9 II Tim 3:14-17
- Our congregation has their character shaped by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gal 5:13-26 John 13:34-35
- Our congregation understands their spiritual gifts and they are ministering in their giftedness. Eph. 2:10 Romans 12:1-9
- Our congregation are actively engaging nonbelievers in conversation about faith. Matt 28:16-20 Acts 1:8
- Our congregation are involved with some justice or compassion ministry. Matt 25:31-46 James 1:27
- Our congregation understands biblical stewardship and they are using their time, treasure and talents to build God’s kingdom. I Tim 6:6-19 II Cor. 9:6-8
It is the prayer of our church that we would make a difference in this world, both locally and globally. We will never be fully the people described in these goals, but they stand as markers towards where God is leading our congregation.
The Story of St. Valentine
It seems that there is nothing Christian about the way our culture looks at February 14th – St. Valentine’s Day, but it is a day named for a Christian martyr from the third century. The details of the story may not have happened exactly as reported, but a man named Valentine was a godly man who courageously died for his faith in Jesus Christ.
Valentinus lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. At that time is was a crime to be a Christian which lead to Valentinus’ arrest and imprisonment. The jailer recognized that Valentinus was an educated man and asked him if he could teach his blind daughter, Julia. Julia was an attractive young girl with a quick mind. They spent hours together as Valentinus taught Roman history and described nature and the world to Julia.
Valentinus also talked about faith in Jesus and one day Julia asked if God really answered prayer. Julia asked Valentinus to pray for her that she might see. As they prayed, there was a brilliant light in the jail cell and Julia was miraculously healed of her blindness.
On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote Julia a letter encouraging her to keep the faith and he signed it, “From your Valentine.” It is believed that he was executed for his faith on February 14, 270 AD.
Be reminded that “love comes from God” and “God is love” (I John 4:7,8). The world can only imitate and distort true love. May we never settle for the shallow understanding of love that our society portrays, when we serve the author of true love. May God’s love encourage and sustain you this Valentine’s Day!