by Art Greco
Lead Pastor - Outreach
Any healthy and growing life is, in some way, acquainted with the idea of inventory. I mean, if you want to be improving and maturing, inventory and evaluation is a sometimes painful but always helpful necessity. For instance:
Did you know that each time Pastor Ben, Pastor Jeff, or I preach on a Sunday, we go back and evaluate the message that week, watching, listening, and taking inventory of what was effective and what could have been done differently? It’s not at all uncommon for one of us to be certain we said (or didn’t say) something, only to watch the message later and realize we were mistaken. Fortunately/sadly, recordings don’t lie or hide the facts.
Example: Last Sunday in the first gathering I went down a rabbit trail about climbing the stairs of a great cathedral. When I couldn’t remember the name of the church (it was irrelevant and unnecessary anyway) I asked the congregation for help. “What is that great, famous cathedral – the one on an island - in the middle of the river?” I remember hearing someone say, “’St. Paul’s” and thinking, No. St Paul’s is in England, not France. Even though my rabbit trail took place during an illustration about Cromwell and England, I was certain I hadn’t said anything at all about London. In my mind, I was talking about Paris and had even SAID, “Paris.”
Then came Tuesday – time to evaluate my weekend of ministry and, in particular, take inventory of my message. If you were there for first gathering (and listening) you know what I heard from that “recording that didn’t lie of hide the facts.” To my dismay, though my mind had said, “… that great cathedral in France…,” my lips had uttered, “…that great cathedral in England …” And as a result of that sermon evaluation, the reason for the dissonance I was feeling in the room at that moment during the sermon (a moment for which I was unknowingly forgiven and over which we all laughed – thank you very much) was made clear.
My mind may have been thinking “Paris and the River Seine,” but my lips were communicating, “London and River Thames.” Because I looked back and reconsidered my sermon, I was able to replace a falsehood with a fact. I thought I was being clear when, in reality, I was adding to the confusion.
That’s the power of “inventory” – the force of honest evaluation.
Read I Corinthians 13 in its entirety. Then read Psalm 139 24-25 and consider the following questions:
- Which of I Corinthians 13’s “characteristics of true Love” seem to come most naturally for you?
- Which of them is the most difficult for you?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand why each of those answers above are true of you.
BE A BLESSING
When you read I Corinthians 13 and the description of love recorded there, does someone come to mind – someone who, in your experience anyway, models those things for you?
If they are still with us, would you consider calling them and telling them?
If they are with the Lord, pray and thank God for them, then ask him to give you a little more of what made them so loving and special
Inventory is often best done and most effective when employed with someone who knows you well and is deeply trusted by you. Get together with a person like that and read the following version of the section of what was on the cards provided for you in Sunday’s bulletin. Pause after each line and take turns asking how you perceive each other with regard to each point - whether you see each other as moving toward each quality or away from it. THEN GO OUT SOMEWHERE AND BUY EACH OTHER DINNER.
Love is patient – IT CAN WAIT
love is kind. – IT RESISTS THE MEAN STREAK OF FRUSTRATION
It does not envy – IT IS SECURE IN ITSELF
it does not boast – BECAUSE IT HAS NOTHING TO PROVE
it is not proud – IT IS HUMBLE
It does not dishonor others – TREATS ALL HUMANS WITH DIGNITY AND DECENCY
it is not self-seeking – LOOKS BEYOND ITSELF WHEN MAKING DECISIONS
it is not easily angered – THERE IS AN INNER PEACE AND CALM WITH LOVE
it keeps no record of wrongs – TRULY FORGIVES
Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth – TRUTH AND LOVE – ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER IS NEITHER
It always protects – IT SERVES AS A PROTECTIVE ROOF/COVERING FOR ITS OBJECT
always trusts – LOVE ALWAYS HOPES FOR AND ASSUMES THE BEST MOTIVE
always hopes, always perseveres – IT OUTLASTS EVERY EVIL THE WORLD HAS TO THROW AT IT
Love never fails – YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON TRUE LOVE TO ACT IN GOD’S BEST INTEREST.
But now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE – IT’S THE FOUNDATION FOR FAITH AND HOPE.