Life Is Short – Love Well

You may be thinking that I should say “Life Is Short – Live Well“, but my friends, the key to living well is to love well. How many of us truly “love our neighbor as ourselves“? How many of us truly love our spouse and other family as ourselves? Do we REALLY place their needs and interests ahead of our own desires?

As someone who hasn’t always loved those dearest to me as myself, that is one of my deepest regrets in life. Unfortunately, I more often put my desires ahead of my family’s needs far too many times but I can’t live that way any longer. There is way too much at stake, and just because I lived that way for many years doesn’t mean that I am doomed to live that way for the rest of my life. I have the opportunity to love well, so I don’t want to squander that opportunity.

I am no stranger to death and dying. When I was five or six years old, the teenage son of my dad’s work partner was badly injured (burned) in an on-the-job accidents. The father was badly burned and had a very long recovery, but the son died of his injuries a few days later. My grandfather McFarland died on my eleventh birthday. We lost a dear family-friend in 1973 as they were prepping him for a surgery that would have given him a new lease on life and returned him to the tennis court. Since then, I lost a brother to cancer in 2011, my dad in 2013, and my mom this year.

I was a bagpiper for several years, and during that time, I played services for everyone from a 15-month-old baby, all the way up to people who were in their 80’s. Regardless of who I helped bury, I was affected by each one, not as a disconnected-observer, but as someone who identified with their grief. Death leaves an indelible-mark on our hearts, one that will never go away.

Yes, life IS short, even if a person lived along full life, because God didn’t design death into His original blueprint for mankind. We were meant to live, not die, but the Fall brought death into the human-experience.

Make no mistake about it, “loving-well” is NOT the “easy-path“. It is tough, it is costly, but it is supremely worth it in the end. Our supreme example, Jesus Christ knew from eternity-past what it would cost Him to show God’s love in this way. He knew, before He was incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, that a “cross-shaped-shadow” would follow Him from the moment He was conceived until He died on the Cross. Yet, “for the joy that was set before Him“(Hebrews 12:2), He did it all, for me, and for you. What was the “joy that was set before Him“? That “He would bring many sons (and daughters) to glory”(Hebrews 2:10). He could bear suffering as our sin-bearer more than He could bear eternity without His chosen-ones – us. How would YOU like to know your destiny before you were even born. Jesus did, and He carried out God’s plan anyway.

How did Jesus command us to love each other? 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35). “As I have loved you”… How did Jesus love His disciples (and us)? He gave His life for us. 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13) “Lay down our life for our friends”? Yes, that is what true love means, putting their needs ahead of our own, and even being willing to lay down our lives for them.

How can you “love well“? Start by holding your money and possessions loosely. He who dies with the most toys does NOT win, he just dies, and leaves those toys to others. Live modestly and within your means. You do NOT have to go into debt for the latest goo-gaw or play-pretty, and trying to “keep up with the Jones” will only result in more headaches and grief. Use your “spare” money to help someone less fortunate than you, and do so gladly. The Jones don’t care, but God does. Do what you do out of love, not because you “have-to“.

Perhaps the hardest part of “loving-well” is “being-there“, and I mean really “BEING-THERE” for those you love. Being “present“, “in the moment“, is very difficult when what they need most is a “listening-ear“, someone who will truly LISTEN to them with understanding AND without judgement. What we think or what we believe is NOT their “reality“, so unless you are asked for your opinion, don’t offer it. Keeping our mouths shut is one of the hardest things in the world, but we have been given TWO ears to listen, but only one mouth, and it MUST be connected to our brain. Don’t speak before you think – a LOT about what you are going to say.

That is what it means to “love-well“.

In Christ,
Steve

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Would John the Baptist Be Welcome?

God had been silent for about 400 years when He sent the last Old Testament prophet to Israel to proclaim the eminent arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. That prophet was the man we know as John the Baptist. John, who was born to quite elderly parents, was empowered by the Holy Spirit while he was still in his mother’s womb. If John the Baptist were to reappear today, would he be welcome in your church? Would he be welcome in your pulpit?

John didn’t appear in a three-piece-suit with shiny shoes and slicked-back hair. He lived off the land in the wilderness, had long hair and a beard, and looked like what many would call a “bum“. He didn’t “look good” and he probably didn’t smell much better. Would he be welcome in your church? Would he be welcome in your pulpit?

John didn’t come proclaiming a “gospel” of prosperity or “name-it-and-claim-it” religion. He came proclaiming repentance from old ways of living and self-righteous ways of thinking, and that the kingdom of God was at hand. Would he be welcome in your church? Would he be welcome in your pulpit? Would you welcome and heed his message? What was his message?
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”  13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.”

14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”

15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 16 John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Luke 3:7-17)

Does this message seem vaguely-familiar? John the Baptist was giving applications to the “Tall Orders” God gave through Micah the prophet almost eight-hundred years earlier:
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you,
But to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

Jesus Christ would later sum up these “orders” when some Pharisees confronted Him:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

The Jews staked their claim on being children of Abraham, but that wasn’t good enough. Injustice was rampant in Israel, and even though God had condemned it almost eight-hundred years earlier, things still hadn’t changed. John’s message of repentance required more than just mere words, it required concrete actions.

We can show our love for God by loving our neighbor, not just in word-only, but by tangible actions. When my neighbor-gal came home at 11:30 one night and couldn’t walk into her home by herself because of the pain in her broken foot, she needed REAL help. She also needed to borrow my walker again, so real help was both helping her get into her home and putting my walker into the trunk of her car. Mere words of consolation would not have done for her what she needed done. Help required action. I am no “shining-star” in this, but I do try to do what I can, when I can.

John baptized people in the Jordan River in the same way new converts to Judaism had been baptized for hundreds of years, naked, and all the way under. Would you allow him to baptize you?

If John the Baptist wouldn’t be welcome in your church, you are in “good company“, because the religious-establishment of his day didn’t like him or his message either. They were particularly incensed that he was baptizing people. He hadn’t graduated from “Jerusalem Theological Seminary” and hadn’t gone through all the steps to become a “recognized” preacher. He didn’t have the right “credentials“, even though he was a prophet, and he was operating outside of their “system“. Of course Jesus Christ didn’t have the right “credentials” either, even though He was the Incarnate Son of God.

Even if we wouldn’t welcome John the Baptist into our church and pulpit, we should welcome his message. We can learn a lot from John’s simple message of repentance:
Abandon our self-righteous attitudes and admit that we can’t fix ourselves.
Love God with all of our being.
Truly love our neighbor as ourselves.

In Christ,
Steve

Who Is My Neighbor?

Do you REALLY want to know who your neighbor is? Almost two-thousand years ago, a man asked Jesus this question, but the answer he got caught him off-guard.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Who is my neighbor?
The man who asked this question was an expert in the Law of Moses, a lawyer, and he was under the mistaken notion that if he used the Law as a “checklist“, God should be pretty pleased with him. He thought that he could earn his way to heaven by his own efforts. “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus did humor him a bit, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”, before He dropped the bomb on him. Yes, the man knew the Law, but… 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus quickly reminded him that keeping the “rules” wasn’t good enough, because he still had a serious “heart” problem. “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

This is where it gets messy, because there is more to “love” than mere “good-feelings“. As Jesus told this Parable, two “good” people, a Priest and a Levite, passed the injured man without helping him, because helping him might make them “unclean“, and besides, it was “below their pay-grade“. They were “holy-men“, not field-medics. Besides, the road was dangerous, and they sure didn’t want to put themselves in any danger. Perhaps they mumbled a prayer as they scurried by, but they certainly weren’t going to get THEIR hands dirty. Sorry, but the injured man WASN’T THEIR PROBLEM.

The Samaritan didn’t consider helping the man below HISpay-grade”, and he went out of his way to take care of the man’s immediate needs AND to make sure the man was well cared-for while he recuperated. Imagine taking someone to an Emergency Room, them being admitted to the hospital, and picking up the tab also. I have taken a sick person to an ER several times, but I don’t have the resources to pay their bill. This was sacrificial-love.

Jesus asked him “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?

Jesus was looking for a direct answer, but the man couldn’t stand to even say “Samaritan“, so he said “The one who showed him mercy.”

Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”, which isn’t just a “suggestion“, it is a command. Jesus was calling for sacrificial-love, not just lip-service.

My neighbor…
Jesus wasn’t just calling for a “feel-good” love, the “warm and fuzzy” variety, He was calling for ACTION. This is a “get your hands dirty“, “boots on the ground” kind of love, and it may be “inconvenient“, time-consuming, and may involve long days and short nights. It is self-giving love.

The answer to this question has far-reaching implications, because, as Jesus taught us, our “neighbor” isn’t just the person who lives next door to us. Yes, the person who lives next door to us may be the “neighbor” we should help, but that isn’t the limit of our love, and rather than repeating what I have written already, I invite you to read “Have You Done It For Jesus?“.

I also invite you, my readers, to tell the stories of people you have loved sacrificially, so that we can all be encouraged by how God is working through you in someone’s life. We are neighbors, even if we are on opposite sides of the globe.

Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
Steve

LGBTQ Issues

Many Christians are getting bent out of shape because non-heterosexuals are making big gains in rights in our society. I believe that Christians have the wrong emphasis. I believe that the Church has the wrong emphasis. God has given US, His children, a code of conduct which applies to how WE live our lives. He never gave us permission to sit in judgement on those outside the Church for not keeping His code of conduct, but God did say “Love your neighbor as yourself“, and that command DOES apply to US.

Jesus was often seen in the company of “sinners“. The Pharisee’s two biggest gripes about Jesus were that He associated with “sinners“, and that He didn’t meticulously keep their “rules“. Jesus met people in their places of need, not with condemnation, but with love and grace. The Incarnate Son of God, the eternal Word made flesh, chose to associate with the “scum of the earth“. What part of that do we not understand?

As I have read the Apostle Paul’s epistles to the various churches, most of which were in heathen cities, I was struck by the fact that, while he gave those believers a code of conduct, he never authorized them to go on a “clean-up campaign” in their neighborhoods. We also never read where Paul himself undertook a “clean-up campaign” in any of the cities he preached in and established churches in. Paul simply preached the Gospel, the Good News, and left the results up to God.

Paul did not denounce temple-prostitution, even though it was rampant in those heathen, idol-worshiping cultures. He simply told the believers that they were not to be part or party to it. Paul also didn’t denounce the pedo-homosexuality that was rampant in the Greek culture. He simply told the believers that they were not to be part or party to it. Paul also never told those believers to not go to the gymnasiums, which were centers both for fitness and learning, all of which was done nude. Paul also never told those believers that they could no longer go to the Roman bathhouses just because they would see other nude people and be seen nude themselves. Paul never pointed those believers down the road to prudery. Paul preached the Gospel, because that is what the Great Commission is all about. Paul didn’t try to “change” people, because that is God’s job, not his.

I have several friends who live with people they aren’t “married” to, but my job is to love them, not judge them. I have several friends who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or even try-sexual. If you aren’t familiar with what it means to be “try-sexual“, it simply means that a person will try anything sexual. My job is to love them, not judge them. I also have several friends who are polyamorous, which means that they have more than one intimate relationship. It is my job to love them, not judge them. If you think that I should disassociate myself from these people, you don’t understand either the Great Commission or God’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself“. I may be the only “Gospel” that these people will ever see if I love them and love them well. They might refuse any attempts to “evangelize” them, but nobody in their right mind will ever turn away love. God ALONE is the judge of all the earth, and He has NOT, nor is He hiring “associate judges“.

Rights…
Why are we still, as a nation, bickering about who should be “allowed” to have certain “rights“? The US of A was founded on the principle that “ALL men are created equal“, and yet we still have some classes of people who are more “equal” than others. We also have some classes of people who are less “equal” than others, and the latter includes LGBTQ people. The US of A is NOT a theocracy, even though our founding fathers were mostly Christians. Why did it take an act of Congress for women to get the “right” to vote? Why did it take an act of Congress for people of color to get the “right” to vote, and a host of other “rights“? Why do we still have ANY citizens who are denied equal rights under the law? The answer is that certain people still believe that they are more “equal” than others, and some of those “certain people” are Christians.

I have heard the tired old argument against same-sex marriage that “If we legalize same-sex marriage, we will be opening the door to legalized polygamy.“. What is so “bad“, so “wrong” about polygamy? Polygamy was practiced throughout the Old Testament, and Jesus, the Messiah’s “father“, King David was a polygamist. Prophesies foretold that the Messiah would “sit on the throne of His father David“, and Jesus was called “King David’s greater Son“. Sorry to pop your theological-bubble, but there is only ONE place in Scripture where monogamy is the “Gold-standard“, and that is for church officers, Elders and Deacons. So much for the vaunted “Traditions of the Elders…“.

The Church…
Would a same-sex couple be welcome in your church? How about a trans-sexual? How about a cross-dresser? How about a biker? How, and whether we accept these people, who are “different” than we are, is a matter of the heart, whether we have a heart that loves God above all else, and a heart that, in gratitude to God for the love that He has lavished on us, loves our neighbor as ourselves. I wouldn’t be welcome in many churches because I have a beard, and my hair is way more than “shoulder-length“. I am “different“, and in many churches “different is bad“.

Final thoughts…
You have the right to associate or not associate with people who are “different” than you, but you don’t have the right to NOT love people who are different than you. It is not coincidental that several of my recent posts have been about love. God has been working on me, and I can’t help passing on what I am learning about love to you, my beloved readers. How am I doing? Not good enough, because I flunked a test just last night, when I didn’t greet and warmly-welcome someone who seemed to be “different” to a group I belong to, a group where, in some ways, I am also “different“. I knew what I should do, but I didn’t do it, and in so doing, I failed to love them as I ought. I am still a work in progress.

I know that there are many Evangelical Christians who would take strong exception to what I believe, but that is between them and God. I have been there also, but God hasn’t allowed me to stay in that place. My wife and I lived in an RV park which was owned and managed by a same-sex couple, and there were several other same-sex couples in that park. I had to learn to love them, and to love them well. I am now in a meetup group which welcomes people from all sexual-orientations, sexual identities, and relationship statuses, including polyamorous. Oh, and there are a few atheists, Wiccans, and assorted and sundry other kinds of people. I believe that God has brought me into that “Samaria” to not only teach me some badly-needed lessons, but also to be salt and light in that diverse community. I am not a “closet-Christian” in that community, as anyone who reads my community profile can easily see, and it hasn’t gone un-noticed. Someone in the group asked me about it at a meetup just a few days ago. Am I being “salt and light” in that community? Only God knows for sure.

Are you “loving your neighbor as yourself“? Are you being “salt and light” in your community? I pray that you are.

God bless!
Steve

And The Greatest Of These Is Love

The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Love: Everybody wants it, everybody needs it, but far too few know how to do it. Do it…what do you mean “Do it“? Did you think that love was simply a warm, fuzzy emotion? Yes, love can be a warm, fuzzy emotion, but it is a whole lot more. The second great commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself“. If you say that you love your neighbor, but never do anything to show it, your “love” is pretty hollow. “Love” is a call to action, a call to show by your actions that you love your neighbor.

Love” requires boots on the ground. “Love” requires that you get your hands dirty. “Love” often requires sacrifice, and the ultimate example of “love” in action is the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

We will start with our Lord’s example, and then I will give you some “boots on the ground” and “dirty-hands” examples from my own journey and others I am acquainted with.

Jesus Christ…
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The Incarnation, God becoming a human, a man, was no “accident” or “Plan B“. It was perfectly-planned and perfectly-executed, and the Plan was “on the books” before God even began creation, let alone before Adam and Eve’s first sin. When Jesus Christ was born, a cross-shaped shadow loomed large over His manger. From the moment He took His first steps, He walked in the shadow of the cross. Jesus was born to die, and He knew it. As much as He agonized about His pending crucufixion, He wouldn’t have had it any other way. He would have nailed Himself to that cross if it was necessary.

That, my friends, is “LOVE” in action.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Our turn…
It is three AM. You are sound asleep after already being up too late, and the phone rings. It is a neighbor, gasping for air, gasping out “HELP!”. She is having an asthma attack. She lives alone, and you are the only person with a key to her door, who also knows how to set up her nebulizer. Will you get up and help her?

Three friends are taking a red-eye international flight to another country. Two are staying there, and one is coming back home. They could leave the car at the airport, but… Are you up to being up most of the night to make sure that they get to the airport safely and on-time, so that you can bring their car back home, rather than leaving it at the airport?

She is in excruciating pain, and badly needs to go to the Emergency Room, but it is almost midnight. ER’s are NOT your favorite places to “hang out“, but she needs you. Are you willing to forego maybe the whole night’s sleep to make sure that she is taken care of properly?

She needs a series of three back surgeries, but all of her “friends” are “too busy“. These surgeries will require that you drive her to a hospital which is an hour away, and wait all day until she is released from the hospital. Oh, she also has to be there at six AM. She is also going to need extensive after-care, because these are out-patient surgeries. Part of that after-care is being available at all hours of the day and night to help her out of bed, into the bathroom, and back into bed. She also needs something to drink, medications and food. What if she pukes up everything she eats and drinks? Are you up to it?

They don’t have anywhere to go for Christmas, and you have already invited a house-full of family for Christmas dinner. If you open your home to them, it is going to mean more mouths to feed, and more, more, more of everything else. Are you up to it?

The stress had been piling up, and you need a break, a “mental-health” day. Half-way to your favorite resort, the phone rings. A friend is calling to tell you that a mutual friend had just been taken into emergency surgery, and she doesn’t really want to sit in that hospital waiting-room alone. Other plans that you had made for that weekend didn’t pan out either. Will you turn around and go back home so you can go to the hospital with her and help keep vigil and provide moral support?

You are ready for bed, and the phone rings. A friend went to a party, drank some liquor, and then took a pain pill, so she is wasted, her head is spinning, and she doesn’t even know where she is at. She is trying to drive home, but has gotten turned around and nothing looks familiar. She is lost, and you are her only life-line, because all of her other friends have gone their own separate ways. Will you help her get home, and go find her if necessary?

It is almost midnight and time for bed, but the phone rings, again. She has gone to a party, and even though she hasn’t drunk too much, someone else has, and needs a ride home. That person lives on the opposite side of town and in a bad neighborhood to boot. She has already dropped her passenger off, but now she has to get home, and she is scared out of her wits. Will you stay on the line with her, helping to calm her down, until you see her car pull into her driveway?

Do you know someone who has had to reschedule an important surgical-procedure because everyone they know is “unavailable“? That person is going to have to be at the hospital before six AM, they live forty-five minutes from you, and the hospital is an additional hour away. It is going to be a very long day. Will you be their designated-driver?

Thoughts…
Do you see a common thread throughout all of these stories? They all are related to a need, a need for care, concern and compassion, a need for “boots on the ground” LOVE. This is more than just warm fuzzies. It is action, and some of these actions require some self-sacrifice. I have been on one side or the other of every one of these stories, and when I have been the “giver“, it hasn’t always been easy, and when I have been the “receiver“, it brings moments of profound gratitude. It doesn’t matter which is which, because God is the score-keeper, not I, and He always keeps perfect score.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself“, and our responsibility is to follow His example. When we asked God how much He loves us, Jesus spread His arms out and was nailed to a Roman cross on our behalf.

When we “signup” to be part of God’s “love task-force“, He doesn’t promise that all of our tasks will be easy. He also never promised that they would be at convenient times, or would have definite start and end dates, because need doesn’t keep a schedule. The work may be tiring and difficult, but the “retirementpackage” is out of this world. Have you “signed-up” to be part of God’s “love task-force“?

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Steve