Loving Others Radically

What does that look like?  Loving others radically.  It sounds a little overwhelming and intimidating if I’m honest.   But I want to live that way.   Last week our Bible Study challenged my small group college girls to go out and love others radically.  Last night they came back with some great and inspirational stories.

One of the girls just started talking to a guy in her dorm that was always alone.  She said he seemed a little different and was never really talking to anyone else.  He plays the piano, so one day she just started talking to him and he invited her to come sit down and listen to him play the piano.  They are now friends, so the speak, and she says hi and makes a point to talk to him.  Who knows what that has done for him, but she made the effort and got uncomfortable to make someone feel loved.

Another one of the girls saw a woman crying  in a parking garage and just went and sat by her and asked the woman if she could pray for her.  The lady was an older woman, maybe in her 50’s and told this young lady she was surprised to hear that from someone so young.   They prayed together and then parted ways.  Only God knows how that affected that woman, but it might have been just what she needed.  Instead of just avoiding the lady and staying comfortable, this young lady did something, she didn’t say no to the Holy Spirit.  She loved someone radically right where she was.

We have to remember that God loves us radically and through that we need to be sharing that love with others. Every single day.  I know I need to work on this.  I need to search out those opportunities and just let the Holy Spirit lead me.  That is how we glorify God and further His Kingdom.

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Celebrating Christmas

Yesterday at church, one of our pastors spoke about lifting our eyes.  Lifting our eyes and not being concerned with ourselves, but being more concerned with those around us and what we can do to help them.  To love them.

I think especially during this time of year we can all get a  little too caught up in our list of “to-do”s and easily miss out on so many simple opportunities to help others, to serve, and to just love.  To spend quality time with our kids and talk about what this time of year is really all about.   Gathering friends together to help feed the homeless.  Baking cookies to bring to an elderly neighbor.  Giving money to those who need it more than we do. 

I’ve really been re-thinking how I view Christmas this year.  I want it to be so much less about buying and more about giving.  Giving of my time, my heart, my hands and my love.  I want it to be about sharing my life with others.  I want it to be about getting to know people better, reaching out more.  I want it to be more about my incredible Savior.  I want to celebrate His life through my actions.  I don’t want to make the malls and stores and bazillionaires more money while throwing away mine.  I want to pour into those who need my help, who need my encouragement, my care and my understanding.

God has been speaking loudly to me lately.  He is wanting me to get uncomfortable again.   He wants me to get out there and HELP people.  Casting out all fears and just washing some feet for a while.  

Isn’t that what Christmas should be about?  Shouldn’t we be celebrating the life we all should follow?  Imitating the perfect role model. 

I mean really, can you see Jesus at the mall buying gifts and fretting over what he should buy his neighbor or his boss?  No, he would be helping, serving, loving and teaching.  So simple and so much more important than anything we could ever buy.

When I was looking for a graphic to put at the top of this post, I came across this blog post from last year at this time.  I love it, so I wanted to share it. 

Letter from Jesus

Crazy Love

I recently read the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.  My mother-in-law, Margaret, let me borrow it.  I loved it. I especially love the way Francis writes, it’s as if he is just talking directly to me.

If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it.  It is quite convicting and calls us to live the life God intends for us to live.  It’s about NOT being lukewarm Christians.  I personally do not want to be a lukewarm Christian, I want to be ALL in.  And I need God’s help with that.  I truly do.  It’s hard to give up everything for God, but I want to do that with all of my heart.  I want my entire life to be for Him and to show him glory every single day.

Here are a few quotes from the book.  As I said it’s quite convicting.  Francis doesn’t sugar coat much.

  • ” I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns.  Thorns are anything that distracts us from God.  When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions or commitments are piled on top of it.”
  • “Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.  They desire to fit in both at church and outside church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives”
  • ” Lukewarm people do whatever  is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty.  They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them.”
  • ” Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but beside that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever.  They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong”

Wow, right?  It’s convicting stuff, and I love it!  I do NOT want to be a lukewarm Christian and this book has called me to live exactly how God instructs me to live.  I must obey his teachings, not just the ones I like.  And I must always give Him glory in everything that I do. 

I will close with this last quote that really sums it all up:

  • ” As long as we are pursuing Christ, we are satisfied in Him.  It is when we stop actively loving Him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating towards other means of fulfillment.”

Work

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Sometimes we look at our jobs and if we are not working in ministry or at a church we do not feel as if we are working for the Lord.  That is a misconception.  This verse shows us that.  It says “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”  We are to work hard at whatever it is we do as if we are working for the Lord. I do not think God is too concerned with what our “work” is, but how we do it each day.

Are we working diligently and serving others?

Are we setting a good example?

Are we putting our hearts into what we are doing?

Are we being good stewards with the money God has allowed us to make?

I think if we need to focus more on our day to day and how we are working. We need to serve others right where we are. This doesn’t mean we cannot also be serving others in our church and be involved in ministry in our “off” time, but we need to realize that we are “working” for the Lord in every single thing we do, no matter what!

Light

A few weeks ago I had a post about “Being the Light“.  Well on this past Sunday our pastor spoke about this topic and he gave us an acrostic for the word “LIGHT”  that I wanted to share with you.

LLive Laughter – enjoy life and laugh a lot.  Psalm 126 says “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,  “The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us,  and we are filled with joy.”

I – Initiate Influence – Opportunities to influence others and spread God’s word will not just land in your lap.  You must seek out ways to serve others.   Hebrews 10:24 says”And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

G – Give Gifts – Be generous with your time and your money.  In 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 Paul says ” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

H – Heal Hurts – Help others.  Use your past to help others with their present.  This is one of my favorite verses regarding comforting others.  It is found in 2 Corinthians also.  1:3-4.  It reads ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Amen.

T – Tell Truth – Tell your story and how Jesus has changed your life.  Tell the truth about Jesus to others.  Let them know why you choose to follow Jesus.  1 Peter 3:15 says “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

In a dark world, choose to be the LIGHT.  You CAN make a difference!

Be The Light

We had a great Easter weekend this past weekend.   On Friday night we attended a free Good Friday celebration at the Long Center here in Austin.  It was called “For The City” and 5 churches (including ours) put it together.  It included the worship bands from each of the churches along with the pastors.   The evening included a lot of great inspiring music and 4 shortened, but still powerful, sermons.  The main theme was that we need to be good examples of Christians in our city and to serve others.  We need to be different for Christ and do all things for the glory of God.

We were reminded of what Jesus did for us on the cross and that we need to be living our lives for him, not for the world.  We, as Christians, need to be loving and kind to those around us.  We need to reach out and help as many people as we can.  We need to be the light in a dark world.

The only way we can do that is to allow Jesus to live through us, and the only way that can happen is if we die to self.  We must die the slow death to self to allow Jesus to take up full residence in our hearts and to live out his will through us. 

What can I do today to be a light in this world?  That should be the question I ask myself every morning when I wake up.

Being Present

I feel like God is trying to get a message across to me, in fact I know He is.  So often I get caught up in thinking too much about the past and what I get accomplished and worrying about the future and all that I still need to do that I sort of just float through the present somewhere between the two.  Yesterday I read Gail Hyatt’s blog about this very subject and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Her blog is great and encourages you to “look at your feet” when you feel this way to remind you where you are and that you can only make a difference right where you are at this very moment.   It is about working within the moments we are given and not to look back or worry about the unknown, just do the best with the very moment you are in.

Then, last night we received our new issue of Relevant Magazine and I was reading an article entitled “I Just Wish I Knew God’s Will”.  It is a good article that talks about how we need to obey and follow God’s lead which most of the time includes action, not just sitting around waiting on God.  He is usually waiting on us.  🙂  One particular quote in the article stood out to me. It said “God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today in this moment than about what we intend to do next year.”  I love that!  In other words…obey what God is leading you to do RIGHT NOW, not what you “think” he wants you to do in the future.

Be present, be available, and be willing to hear and obey God in this very moment.  Today. Right now.  This very moment.  If you forget, just “look at your feet”.

“What Difference Do It Make?”

I just finished reading my complimentary copy (from Thomas Nelson) of “What Difference Do It Make?” by Ron Hall, Denver Moore and Lynn Vincent. 

This book is the sequel to “Same Kind of Different As Me” by the same authors, and tells about the difference one couple made in a homeless man’s life and how it snowballed to affect so many others.  Not only can you see what it has done in the lives of the authors, but the book contains a lot of stories from folks that read the first book and were inspired.  These people wrote to the authors with their own stories of making a difference and some of those stories are shared in this book.

It is a beautifully written, intriguing book.  I laughed and I cried and most importantly my heart was convicted.  I am inspired to find all kinds of ways to serve and to help others in any way I can.

I will be recommending this book to all my friends and family, in fact I already put my copy on my husband’s bedside table as a hint that he needs to read it next.