Loving Others


Tonight was our church’s annual “Chili cook-off and Dessert auction”. I love this event. Its always fun.

We gather around and sample the chili’s that have been submitted. We laugh, we talk, we tease, we praise. Its a good time.

Then comes the dessert auction. This year we raised $900 on 14 desserts.

The money goes to support our mission trip — this year we’re traveling to Orange, TX, to repair damaged roofs. Orange was hit by hurricane Rita in the summer of 2005. They still have a lot of damage.

I like that we can engage in a fun activity that helps promote work in God’s Kingdom and the Body of Christ. I hope all churches can experience both the love and fellowship we have and the pure joy of service that comes from helping the people who need it most.

TallSkinnyKiwi posted this link, worth considering. The call is to “Take The Pantry Challenge”.

In this world where waste is common, and in North America where our poor would be upper-middle class by most of the world’s standards, maybe this is a way for us to reach out by first reaching in. To see what its like to live only on food that is in your pantry you get an idea of just how hard it is when you have little/no choice in what you will eat. Secondly, you get to see just how well off you really are.

The money you would normally have spent on filling your own pie-hole could be spent helping out those in need. What a great idea. Give up some of our abundance to alieviate someone else’s poverty. I point you to here and here for
proof that this is not a new idea.

Maybe they’ll know that you’re doing this for Jesus. Maybe, you’ll meet Jesus while your doing this. Just a thought.

Added 18 Jan: Well, the news teams finally realized that this was severe weather.  Check it out here.

This last Friday, ice hit Texoma. We had an ice-storm that lasted deep into the night. It came and went all day Saturday AND Sunday! The net result, well, see for yourself…

is_it_snow

That’s ALL ice — even the parts that look like snow! The road is one huge sheet of ice.

Cars are sliding everywhere. On Monday, my wife and I went to Altus, a city (it probably doesn’t deserve a name that makes it sound so big) that’s about 35 minutes from our town. As we were driving down the ice – er, um, road — I saw a car on the side of the road.

It was very obviously stranded. There were two people inside, as I saw when I drove by. I did not stop. I’m not sure why. But now, I feel like I denied Christ. In Matthew 25, the famous (or is it infamous) parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus says that when we reach out to those in need, we are reaching out to Him. In Luke 10, Jesus tells us that ANYONE in need is our neighbor and, like the good Shiite -er, Samaritan — we are to reach out to them.

Remember the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our neighbor is that person stranded in the car, am I too busy to help myself? Then why can’t I take time to help them? Our neighbor is the person who has no one to visit them in the hospital, the jail, or the nursing home. Am I too busy to reach out to them? Not if I treat them as I treat myself.

I, for one, indulge myself. How come it’s so hard to indulge others? I need to love others AS MUCH AS myself, not just a lot. I don’t know about you, but this is something I’ve truly got to work on!

on and on and on.

Busy time of year for all, but especially for pastors.  Double the visits (in AND out of the office), double the coordination for worship service (guest singers and all), double the extra-curricular (church functions, school functions, life — maybe that should be treble or quadruple the extra-curriculars!), normal exegisis times AND shopping (not this man’s favorite activity!).

I have found that this year my calling is to be particularly nice to folks in the stores.  Eases tensions, brings smiles, makes me want decaf :-).

Well, Sunday is the church’s party, and the unveiling of this years Christmas play — only this year it ain’t a play, it’s a MOVIE!  That’s right, we filmed a movie.  Tomorrow I get to start the film editing.  The filming is over, the audio is done, splice and dice and make sure it’s nice!  Oh, and I’m learning how to use Moviemaker!  Good fun!

May you be a smile in a sea of anger and a calm, upbeat word in a world of seasonal angst.  May God shine not only upon you, but also through you.

Shalom!

I’m seeing more and more posts and comments on the tragic killing of Sean Bell in NYC. Julie Bogart has a good post here that is worth the read.  The whole incident really got me thinking.

I would like to say that the reason the news of this event was so slow to get to the southwest (Texoma) was because we are above such things as racial divides.  I really would like to say that.  But I can’t.

Just a little over a year ago, here in SW Oklahoma, our sherrif threatend to “kill every f&%*ing n1663r in this county!”  You see, his daughter (15 years old) had gotten pregnant with a young (16 years old) black man.  Despite the strong evidence that his daughter initiated the encounters, he blamed the guy (I suppose most fathers would).  But, instead of a personal “how dare you” type of issue, he greatly expanded the scope when he labeled the problem as a lack of morality in the African-American community in the county seat.

Just today, I received an e-mail which spoke of “white pride” and questioned why “when whites have pride it’s racist, yet when minorities have pride, its okay?”  The letter was filled with a spirit of pain, disgust and anger.  I truly believe that the author, unidentified, was wondering about equality and reverse discrimination.

I guess the problem is that most people are interested in justice.  I hear the “church” calling for justice in the world.  I hear the family of Sean Bell calling for justice.  I hear the author’s of e-mail crying for justice.  I, for one, don’t want justice.  Justice brings pain and retribution, and continues the cycles of hate and distrust.   I want grace.

White communities across the US cringe when young, black males walk around in groups; they seem to see something menacing in their postures.   Young black males in white neighbor hoods walk in groups, it would seem as a defensive posture due to the tension THEY feel.

Al Sharpton is calling for changes in the police force.  For once, he and I agree.  (He’s been on my “with a grain of salt” list ever since Tawana Brawley. )  But I think it goes further.  He wants the police to change who they are, but that can only happen if the African-American community can change who they are.  The NYC police have an inherent distrust of blacks, but the blacks have an inherent distrust of police.  EVEN if the police were to change, to learn to trust black people, to learn to give them the benefit of the doubt, to learn how NOT to profile, if the black community keeps running from the police, if they keep trying to handle problems internally, if they keep treating the police as the enemy, the police WILL revert to treating them as criminals.

We need grace.  We need the police to own up to their mistakes and punish the guilty (even and especially when the guilty are police!), and we need the African-American community to give the police a chance to change.  That requires grace.  It requires building bridges of trust and respect.  It requires time and accountability.

God give us grace.  Help us to know that before Christ Jesus, we are equal.  Help us to trust each other.  Help us to love one another.   Give us grace.

The World’s view of love is a little different from the Bible’s view. As Christians, as followers of “the Way,” we are called uponto not only love Biblically, but also to transform our World to loving selflessly.

The World’s view of love is tainted. The World sells a lie which consumers absolutely love because of its “coolness.” Listen to some words from the last 30 years on the subject: “love stinks” ; “love hurts” ; “love bites” ; “it’s a heartache, nothing but a fool’s game” ; “love will only let you down.”

What does the Bible say? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your sould with all your mind and all your strength.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Love hopes for all things.” “Love believes all things.” “Love bears all things.” “No greater love has one than this, that they lay down their lives for others.”

We are the “salt of the world.” We are to penetrate, transform and preserve the world. Our love should distinguish us. Our love should make others marvel at the God we worship. Jesus’ Kingdom is built on love, and it is here, now!

Does love hurt? Well, it ain’t easy, but it doesn’t hurt in the way the world tells you. It’s a good hurt, a hurt that reminds us of the difference we made in someone else’s life. It’s a hurt that moves us closer to our Lord. Its a glorious hurt that, when you really get down to it, is no pain at all.

How can you struggle through one of the weakest conferences in NCAA football (Arizona and Oregon almost took them, and Oregon State DID), and still be a top 10 team, let alone be ranked higher than Florida, who has actually played FOOTBALL, or West Virginia?  Even with today’s loss, Michigan SHOULD be ranked higher (clearly the better team!).

But USC gets that break.  They also get a 1/2 yard spotting favor at home and 7 free points from the Refs! (That Steve Smith TD was CLEARLY a pick — only PAC-10 officials could have missed it).

Yet despite their pride, their swagger and the clear fact they none of it is deserved, I find God calls me to pray for them.  I was concerned when the WR (I should know his name, but don’t) stayed down for so long, and said a prayer.  I even have to pray for Pete Carroll while he’s bragging about his defense (who got lucky that Oregon couldn’t catch).

God calls us to ALWAYS pray for people.  Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  Just because I think their jerks doesn’t mean its true.  Jesus also says, “Judge not lest ye be judged!”

Are Pete and the Boys from Troy evil or good?  I don’t know.  I don’t get to know.  Its not about me.  My job is just to pray for them, to love them, and to hope that God will move me to a place where I can accept them for who they are.

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