Love is a Verb

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Valentine’s Day.  A day that you see all the couples you know posting sweet little notifications across social media.  I have seen more pictures of candy, food, babies, and couples spending time in the candle light today than I ever thought I would.  None of that is necessarily a bad thing either.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to show someone how much they mean to you, however, like almost all of the “major holidays” anymore, it seems to have become way too commercial.  It is all about how much money you can spend and the more you spend the more you care about the person you are spending on.

My wife and I got married on February 6, 2010, and when we set that date, knowing how close it was to Valentine’s Day, we made an agreement.  I cannot remember who’s idea it was, and really it doesn’t matter.  We agreed that with our anniversary being only a little over a week before Valentine’s Day, we would basically combine the two celebrations.  Even before we set our wedding date, we did not go out of our way to celebrate the holiday anyway.

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Here is the way I look at it.  If I have to go all out one day a year just to prove to my wife that I love her because I have not shown her that love throughout the rest of the year, then I have not been the husband that I should be anyway.  Am I perfect at treating my wife well, and always showing her how much I love and care about her?  Absolutely not.  None of us are.  But again, if I look at it like I can just do something on one day of the year and then not have to worry about it again for another 365 days, I have failed in a big way.

Being a Christ follower is trying to live a life full of love; Love for fellow human beings and also a love for Jesus.  Showing our love to others is all about service.  Jesus says in John 13:13-17; 34, 35;

13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them… 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We show our love for God by serving our fellow man.  Why?  Because that shows that we are trying to be Christ followers with the way that we live. 

But it can’t be just a one time thing.  Or a once a year thing.  It has to be a lifestyle of service.  Just like I cannot just take one day a year to try to prove my love and care for my wife, we cannot just assume that one act of service is enough to show how much we love Jesus and our fellow man either.  I am not talking about earning the love of Jesus.  That is something that is freely given.  But we should be progressing through our relationship with Jesus in such a way that it produces the works of service in our lives.

If you are a Christ follower, then you should be finding ways to serve God and others in your daily lives.  There is nothing wrong with a big service project like a mission trip, but what are you doing in your neighborhood?  How are you showing what God has done in your lives to those that you are around on a daily basis?  I think we all have room for improvement, and will until the day that we get to see Jesus.  Don’t get down on yourself if you mess up, but let’s all find ways that we can serve one another and show the love of Christ in our lives!

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On Mission?

Though I live in NM now, I spent most of my life living in East TN.  My wife and I love it here in NM, but there will always be part of our hearts in the hills of East TN (and Southern OH as well).  That brings me to some very heartbreaking news from my home town.  Actually it is from my high school alma mater, which brings it even closer to home for me.  I went to Daniel Boone High School in Gray, TN, the home of the Trailblazers.  While there are definitely things I do not miss about high school, once a Trailblazer, always a Trailblazer.

This past week, news broke across my social media pages about another tragedy within the ranks of Daniel Boone.  Three students were injured in a bad car wreck, one in critical condition in ICU.  I say another tragedy because just five months ago, a high school couple was in a wreck, killing the 16-year old female passenger on her birthday.  This community has been through a lot this school year. 

Just a day or so ago, the student that was in ICU in critical condition succumbed to his injuries and passed away.  1,400 miles away, my heart is breaking for these students, staff, faculty, and all those affiliated with Daniel Boone.  I did not know either of these students that lost their lives in these tragic accidents, but I know current students that knew them.  The one good thing that I can say about this whole situation is that the community has rallied together and are supporting one another.  Boone Strong has been popping up all over my social media feeds as a reminder that we are all one.  In fact, as I write this, I am changing my profile pic on Facebook to Boone Strong for the next week.

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This has all be a reminder of something that we all to often forget; Life is short and we have no idea how much time we have left in this world.  I am not trying to be discouraging or “doom and gloom”, but the reality of our lives is that the next minute is not guaranteed for any of us.  Life is fragile, but it is also a huge blessing.

So I have a challenge for you.  What are you going to do with the time you have remaining?  Are you just going to “go with the flow” and live with a purpose?  Or are you going to step up to the idea that as a Christ follower, we have a mission and should be living this “Life on Mission”?  We are currently going through the series Life on Mission by Tim Harlow at Central Christian Church here in Carlsbad.  It has completely changed the way I look at living my life.  I want to live my life on mission for Jesus more than I want to do anything else.

The reason this is so important is that we do not know how much time we have left.  We might be gone tomorrow.  But your friend, neighbor, coworker, family member, significant other, or whoever else you are close to might be gone tomorrow as well.  Do they know Jesus?  Have they given their life to Him and allowed Him to become their savior?  If not, have you shared your story of a loving relationship with our savior with them?

If we are a Christ follower, then we have a mission of sharing Jesus with as many people as we can.  The best way we can do that is through building relationships with those that do not know Him yet, and earning the right to share Him with them at some point.  Let the tragic loss of a couple of teenagers five months apart in East TN be a reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us.  Are you on mission?

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Thick Skin

Every time you turn around anymore, someone somewhere is being “offended” over something.  I put that in quotations because I think we have lost sight of what is truly offensive in this world anymore.  It seems that you cannot even express a difference of opinion with someone without someone taking offense at the fact that your opinion is different than theirs.  And i am honestly sick of it.  I am tired of feeling like I have to “walk on egg shells” because someone might not like what I have to say.  It sickens me that I start to write something on here, and talk myself out of it because I might “offend” someone.

Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing to do with purposely going out of my way to write something offensive.  But I am tired of feeling like I cannot have an opinion on something because if I differ with someone then they might get their feelings hurt.  Since when did everyone have to agree with you for you to like them? 

If you know my mother-in-law at all, then you know one thing.  She is one of the strongest Christians I know, and tries to live that life as well as she can.  I have never heard a “cuss” word out of her mouth, and rarely hear anything negative come out of her mouth at all.  I bring all of this up because the other day she shared a photo on social media of a pun.  There are a few of us that like to share puns between us.  It is just something that we get a laugh out of and a way to stay connected during our busy lives.

What she did not realize at the time was that the group that originally shared that particular photo had the acronym “lmaof” in it.  I will not spell it out here, but if you are not familiar with that acronym, some of the letters stand for cuss words.  She did not see it before she posted it, I did not see that after she posted it.  That is until she commented on the photo apologizing if she offended anyone.  I saw that comment and started asking what was offensive, because it was just a clever little pun that did no harm.  She pointed out the acronym and said that someone else pointed it out to her.

In other words, because of a little acronym that she obviously had not typed or posted herself, someone else was offended by it and pointed it out.  Like I said earlier, if you know my mother-in-law at all, you know that she was not the one that posted the acronym.  She shared the photo because of the pun, and that was it.  But because someone was offended by it, she felt the need to apologize about posting a funny photo.

Guess what Christ followers.  We live in a world that does not know Jesus, and because of that we cannot expect the world to live by our morals.  There is going to be things going on around us that we do not always agree with.  People are going to use language we do not like.  People are going to drink, listen to music we do not like, watch things we do not agree with; and that is ok.

Stick with me for a minute here.  Yes, we are called to try to live righteously, and that is something that we should strive for.  But the way we do that is through a relationship with Jesus.  If someone does not have that relationship with Him, or is very new in that relationship with Him, then they are not going to have everything in their life cleaned up.  Guess what?  I have been a Christian for over half of my life at this point, and I still do not have everything in my life the way it should be.  This is a daily struggle, and a decision we have to make daily to trust Jesus and let Him clean us up.

If we, who are trying to follow Jesus and be Christ followers, do not have it all together yet, how can we expect the world around us to live it out.

Here is what I am getting at.  Instead of being offended by the foul mouth neighbor who seems to cuss every other word, why not get to know them.  Build a relationship with them.  Learn to love them because Jesus loves them.  Then, once you have a relationship with them, maybe, just maybe, you can introduce them to the one that has changed your life and taken away your sin.  I am not saying that we have to agree with and condone bad behavior, whatever it might be, but if we are truly living our mission out on this earth of introducing others to Jesus, then getting offended every time we turn around and see something that we do not agree with cannot be the best way to share Jesus with someone.  Let us all get on and stay on a Life on Mission.

Thoughts From a Crosseyed Jesus Freak

Know Your Audience

Many of you remember a few months ago when we started handing out pens that had “Central Christian Church” printed on them along with the address of the church.  The idea behind it was to give out the pens to friends, family, and others that we come in contact with to get the church’s name out in the community.  We still have a bunch of pens left, so if you need more to hand out, please let me know, but that really is not my point in this article.  We ordered the pens from a company that specializes in advertising through things like pens, notepads and various other small gifts like that. 

Since we made the initial order, the company has sent numerous samples of items they are trying to get us to purchase with the church name on them.  Most of them are not cost effective for us, so nothing has happened since the pens.  Another sample came in the mail just earlier this week, and I got a really good hard laugh out of this one.  I opened the envelope, and saw, with “Central Christian Church” printed prominently on the product, a “deluxe bottle opener with cork screw”.  This is something that you would easily see in a bar, but that I just could not see a church giving away in the community.

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Don’t get me wrong.  I know there are reasons for a bottle opener, whether you drink alcohol or not, but it isn’t something that I would ever expect any church to give away.  My point is this; this company forgot something very important in sales (and in sharing your faith with others).  They did not keep their audience in mind when they created this sample (at their own expense) and sent it to churches.  I’m guessing grocery stores, bars, and other similar businesses would have been more receptive to something like this, and possibly even purchased some of the bottle openers to give away.

Here is the bigger point I want to make.  We are in the middle of a sermon series right now looking at living a life on mission.  That mission is sharing Jesus with other people, as much as possible.  This past week, we talked about connecting with others, building relationships with them.  In other words, getting to know someone before we share our faith.  That’s what we can learn from this company not understanding their potential customers. 

We have to know our audience before we know how to share our faith.  The message of Jesus and God’s love does not change.  But how we share that can change depending on who we are talking to.  Jesus was great at knowing His audience before He shared with them.  He taught mainly in parables, or stories, and they hit on subjects that would have been very familiar to those that were there to listen to Him. 

Paul even did this.  He would start at different subject areas depending on whether he was talking to fellow Jews, or if he was talking to mainly Gentiles.  All we are asking each other to do in this is to live a life on mission of moving people toward Jesus.  Get to know others that don’t know Him yet, build a relationship with them, and once you know your audience, tell your story of what God has done in your own life.  Let’s get on mission!