What a privilege to host New York Times #1 best selling author Dr Gary Chapman at Ivy Church yesterday for two services and then a special afternoon event focusing on children and marriage at Ivy Sharston. Here are my notes from the morning talk. He told some great true stories to illustrate each point but if you want to hear those too please listen to the podcast which we’ll put up later in the week.
Gary said that ever since writing the book a question he’s been asked time and again is What’s God’s Language? The short answer is, he speaks all 5 of them!
When you look through the Bible you see that because God is love, people come to him because he spoke their love language. We are all unique, so he speaks our language to connect with us in unique ways:
Words of affirmation
Genesis 1: God blessed creation, and when he made people, he blessed them too…
A favourite piece of scripture for many of us who are Words of Affirmation types would be Is 41:10 ‘Do not fear for I am with you…’
Jeremiah was all about words. Look at 5:16– Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy
Later he said God’s Words were like ‘fire in my bones’ – he could not hold it in.
Martin Luther was trying to connect with God, but had no peace, had no assurance, only an expectation of judgement until one day when he read Romans 1:17 – ‘that was like paradise broke in my soul’.
For some of us it’s all about words, those words are what bring us to Christ. We often even know those words that got us and can name them as our favourites.
Think of Jacob wrestling with God, Moses’ face shining. Paul’s dramatic encounter up close and person with Christ on the road to Damascus, blinded by the light! Jesus touched lepers, the blind, children... God touches people in various ways. Some shake and cry as they feel his presence. God will get our attention! He knows how to grab us.
This means giving undivided attention. Some people have a different God experience, maybe they are the type of people who most enjoy a long hour and a half chatting with someone else- so when they start reading the Bible and Christian books, it’s as they spend a long time in his presence, they enter into the kingdom. (I thought of the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus with Jesus here). God wants this even more than we do! Look at the promise of John 14 ‘we will come and make our home with him.’
It’s universal to give gifts as an expression of love – and God is the ultimate giver. Every good and perfect gift comes from him. From the beginning to the end, God gives. Often someone who has been looking for fulfilment in all kinds of way unsuccessfully will be open one day to receive the greatest gift of his love for free.
Acts of Service
Acts 10:38 sums up the life of Christ when he it says he ‘went about doing good.’ Doing for others. The greatest expression of this love is seen at the cross. There’s no greater love than this. He paid the ultimate penalty for our wrongdoing, so we could be forgiven.
We don’t all have the same experience nor do we need to have to all have the same experience, but our response is the same; we love – because he first loved us.
After we become disciples, we want to love him back, and we tend to give our love back to him the same way we like to receive it;
Words of affirmation people write books and sermons naturally. They love singing, praising.
Acts of service people are first to volunteer for all kinds of loving service
Quality timers – spend lots of time alone with him (If that’s not your love language you will think it’s ridiculous amount of time)
Gifts people – love to give, to give back to God, to be generous to others. Freely, happily.
Touch people – watch them move a lot when they worship. You pray on your knees, wave your hands, you feel God!
So this should help us not judge anyone like we sometimes do. For example you might hear an Acts of service person say to the words people ‘That’s just words, what are you doing?’
HOW DO WE USE THIS TO GROW OUR RELATIONSHIP?
We are creatures of habit. We can get into a pattern easily, where what we did out of love, becomes mundane. We still do it but not like you did, not with love – you don’t think about God when you do it anymore.
Eg Words of affirmation– your words get samey. Routine. Saying the same thing over and over. So… How about learning a new dialect of your love language, how about praying the psalms out loud? Use different words, or an old hymnal or prayer book?
Acts of service. Go and rake the leaves for someone else. Or go on a mission trip.
Quality time – Mix it up. Change location, go outside. Read a different translation or devotional.
Giving – be imaginative! Try something new. Set yourself a giving goal. Tell God ‘I’ll give my biggest gain to you this year.’ Give those clothes to the charity shop.
Touch – try different ways to love people. Go to a nursing home and get hugging!
And why not try learning another language? To love God with.
The healthiest people learn to love with all 5 languages! So –
Words people – go and serve the homeless. Sit in silence with God. Stretch yourself!
Acts people – write a prayer.
Gifts – go and spend time.
Time people – learn how to give. Words or hugs?
Don’t just go through the motions. This is a relationship, and like any relationship it’s either getting better or worse. It doesn’t stand still. God wants our relationship with him to be vibrant. So don’t just do the same, or it gets stale.