Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Love on Purpose

The other morning while driving to work I was, as usual, listening to K-LOVE. While I would like to set off on a whole rant of why you should also be listening to K-LOVE, I wont. Though, you should definitely check out their site and see if they broadcast in your area (yes, they broadcast nationally.) Anyways, back to the point I was beginning to make... a guy called into the radio station and said that he was struggling with all the killing and hurt taking place in our world today. He went on to say that he has started to do something about it. It is this: Every time the media gets filled with something bad that has happened, he makes a point to do something good. He used the example of mowing his lawn and then deciding to just mow his neighbor's lawn, too. Or picking up the tab for someone's dinner. 

I began thinking about how his call may have impacted all the listeners. You know, sort of putting even an inkling of an idea in heads. Imagine if each listener started doing the same? K-LOVE has a very large following. 

But, then... what if, instead of just doing 1 act of kindness for each "bad story" we hear ... what if we do an act of kindness for each individual that fell victim to the hate? For example, 3 acts of kindness - one for Montrell Jackson, one for Brad Garagola, and one for Matthew Gerald -- the 3 officers killed in Baton Rouge last week. 1 act of kindness for Philando Castile, killed by police in St Paul during a traffic stop. See what I mean? 

Purposefully doing something in honor of the victim, despite any and all differences. A life taken, whether right or wrong, is just that -- a life taken.  

If we choose to acknowledge the hate by turning a blind eye, we are not helping the growing situation, we are fueling it. God wants us to love each and every person -- unconditionally. 1 John 4:7 (NIV) says "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."  He didn't put any stipulation on who we are to love, other than "one another." 

In fact, we are to "Get rid of all the bitterness, rage and anger..." according to Ephesians 4:31. It does nothing but breed hate. And hate, my friends, is no bueno. 

I mean, imagine if just you and 2 friends did this. Your acts of kindness will impact all of those involved. Those negative feelings that hate has tried to grow will be counteracted by the positive charge of your act of love. The more acts of love, the more fires of rage that get extinguished. Its an old concept, yes... but it doesn't work if we don't make it work! It doesn't need to start with hundreds -- only one. You, me, that guy sitting across from you right now, your neighbor's cousin's uncle's mother's great Aunt Sally. Just one person can make the difference. 

Let's make love an action and purposefully act out LOVE!! Pinky promise? 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bold. Are you?

BOLD.
Adjective.
1. (of a person, action or idea) showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.
          Synonyms: daring, intrepid, brave, courageous, valiant, valorous, fearless, dauntless.

Would you consider yourself daring? brave? courageous? fearless? BOLD? And if you do, what kind of BOLD are you? Are you a bright, fluorescent, neon BOLD? Or maybe a light lavender BOLD?


And what could make you consider yourself BOLD? Maybe you are someone who likes to take risks. Maybe you like to wear palm tree capris with a bright coral shirt. Maybe you are the first one to speak up when a situation arises with your friends or family. Maybe you have taken a stand and fought for a cause. 


Whatever your reason, I have the ultimate BOLD move for you. Do you think you are ready? Picture this: 

It is Friday night. You have had a long week with the ups and downs of life. You came home, threw off your clothes and put on your PJs. Pizza has been ordered. You are now ready to plop down on the couch and catch up on all your shows you DVR'd through the busy week. As you are about halfway through the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, you hear something. You aren't sure that you really heard what you heard. It was faint, but you think to yourself...Did I really just hear God tell me to get up now and follow him? What do you do? How BOLD are you in that moment? Do you get up or shake your head and turn your focus back to your TV, brushing it off as delirium from a crazy week? 

Ok, ok. I know... that's not how it really works. Though, we have read in the Bible that Jesus told his disciples something similar. In Luke 9:23 (NKJV), Jesus says... "...If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." But what does that really mean? 

I'm sure we have all heard the phrase, "well that's the cross I have to bear," when referring to hardships in life. But, I have read that the cross, in Biblical times, symbolizes death. I know what you are thinking ... "So Shell, we are supposed to pick up 'death' daily?" No. its symbolic. See, we were made by God. We were made with a purpose. God has a plan for each and everyone of us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that -- "For I know the plans," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Knowing that, what do we still do? Right... we make plans. We decide our career path in life, we decide who we want to marry, how we want to spend our free time, etc. Do we always seek God in the things that we do? Unlikely. 

By picking up the cross (death), we are being told to put our plans to death and follow HIS will. HIS way. HIS purpose for our life. With that in mind, lets read the verse again:

 "...If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

So ... if you want to give your life to Christ, you will follow Him by denying yourself and taking up the cross (killing the plans that you selfishly made for yourself and follow His plans for you). And -- don't leave out the word daily.

Every single day, when you wake, you are to thank God for your new day and then give your life over to him -- let him guide you and use you for HIS purpose. Live each day for HIM. Let him shine a light so bright in you that all of your friends will need to wear sunglasses!

That, my friends, is the true definition of the word BOLD. It is taking a risk, giving up your life, being brave and courageous -- for Jesus. It is not being stuck in the worldly ways, but doing all things through Him. 

Let me ask you again... Are you BOLD?

Remember... "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:27 (NKJV)