Thursday, August 29, 2013

A little grace

There is a song on the radio right now which has lyrics that I really appreciate. The line is the bridge and goes “My sin has been erased. I’ll never be the same”. They remind me of another powerful bridge in a great worship song called Here I Am To Worship, which says “I’ll never know, how much it costs. To see my sin, up on that cross”. To me, both lyrics are reminders of just what I have been given, by grace, from my savior. Something so powerful that I will never again be the same person, the same hopeless wreck of a man. But all of this got me thinking, specifically about whether or not I truly grasped what it meant to be saved by grace.

I began to work around in my head, a metaphor that would help explain what it all meant. I needed something very powerful but something that would be understandable, especially something relative, so I could imagine and truly fathom this awesome gift. As I pondered on this I realized that most likely, very few Christians truly understand what it means to be saved by grace. To be fair, I’m not sure there is anything else in life that could really come close to comparing so how would anyone know except from reading the Bible, searching their hearts and asking God to reveal this fundamental truth. No other event in life could ever compare to something so earth shattering as what Jesus did for you and I and yet, we throw around the term of being saved by grace but we don’t seem to live it out.

So, do this for me. As you read this, I want you to imagine that you are sitting in a chair. It is no ordinary chair however. You are sitting in the chair at the prison for those who are about to be executed. You are on death row and you have about 5 minutes before you are injected with the lethal dose that will kill you. You are strapped down completely including your ankles, your thighs, your waist, your chest, your wrists and across your forehead. You have also been blindfolded; you are immobile and blind. There is no escaping this, no stay of execution. You are guilty as charged and the penalty is death. As you sit there, waiting for the inevitable, you are fully aware that this is warranted. There really are no arguments to be had for you as you deserve this punishment. You wonder where you will go after the injection but you already know that answer and while it scares you, there is nothing you can do. Your eternity is sealed.

You begin to think about the injection. Will it be instant or will it take a few minutes? Will there be a little pain or a lot of? You sit there, strapped down, unable to move, anticipating the prick of the needle. Finally you hear the medical examiner declare that it is time and without so much as a warning, the needle is in your arm. You feel the pain of the shot and you tense up, hoping you can fight it, then your body releases as something takes over.

At first you are confused because this shouldn’t be pleasant, but within seconds you can’t help but realize that it feels as if you have been injected with liquid sunshine. For the first time in your life you feel joy like you have never experienced, you feel hope and you feel love. This euphoria is beyond anything you can explain, it is something that completely takes over every sense of your being. A smile forms on your face and you feel as if you could fly.

You open your eyes to a new day. You realize you should be dead but you’re not and instead you are very alive. You struggle to grasp what was in that syringe but there really are no good explanations. You have been given new life, a second chance. You know you don’t deserve it, you deserve instead to be punished, to be put to death for everything you have done, but instead, for some unknown reason, you were spared.

This is what Jesus did for you and me. He gave us a second chance. He was the unknown substance in the syringe. He took our place in that chair and in His death and resurrection he filled us with a hope that only comes from knowing what He has done for us. And He did all of this because of His great love for us. If you have ever struggled to grasp what it means to be saved by grace, know that Jesus did something for you that you truly cannot repay, you didn’t earn and you didn’t deserve. And yet, that single act of love should propel us forward with a similar love. That same love can be shared and Jesus asks us to do exactly that.

Sit back and close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to know you were seconds from death.

Now, open your eyes and see the people around you who are awaiting that same sentence because they have no idea what Jesus did for them. These people are on death row and they are living without hope. Let’s spread a little grace.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A little rain

I made a lot of mistakes today. This is an apparent declaration, but it could be any day really, it’s just that today seemed noteworthy enough to write about it. As I reflect on this past day I know the places that I lacked either sense or knowledge or both. Earlier today, I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon I heard. In fact it was convicting enough that I listened twice. Usually I skip the second time but today was different. I needed to hear it a second time, to let it seep in and maybe take root.

You see, I am one of the worship leaders at the church I attend and we have 2 services each Sunday. Because both services are identical, I am there for both. Typically, I sit and listen to the first sermon but escape outside of the building for the second. For some reason, today was a day that needed something extra, especially in light of my mistakes.

Mainly, I think I felt disappointed by the performance of the group, mostly my contribution. We are a newer group with some newer members who are doing their best, especially now that we have navigated away from using back up tracks to play and sing to. We have been live for a few months but new musicians have begun to take their places. With those advents, there have been some growing pains. Today was one for me. I want nothing more than to make a joyful noise but it is a day like this that leaves me wanting to simply relent and suggest that I’m not cut out for this. However, I love being up there. I love to sing and now I am having even more fun learning to play guitar and do the 2 together.

As I sat in our cafĂ© following our second set, I had an image pop in my head of trying to erect a thousand ladders in order to reach God so that I could talk to Him and explain my morning of mistakes. As I sat there with that image, I realized that no matter how many ladders I stacked up, I didn’t need a single one because God had come right down to my level and He didn’t seem to mind my mistakes, or at least not as much as I did. For a moment, I actually seemed OK. But like usual, I picked that baggage back up and decided to hold onto it for a little while longer.

After I got home, I had lunch with my son and we both changed so we could go for a mountain bike ride on a trail we both love. We arranged to meet a friend of mine at the trail head and we set off. When we got there it began to rain but seeing blue sky coming, we decided that the rain would only provide us with an opportunity to get a little muddy. We saddled up and took off on what should have been a 1 hour loop. About halfway into our 11 mile ride, sickening clouds began to form all around us and lightning touched off on 2 sides. We rode on hoping to escape most of it, but we anticipated a little rain. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.

As we turned onto a new section of trail and made our way uphill through a winding area, the rain began to fall. Within 30 seconds it was hailing, the wind was gusting to 60 mph and the rain was coming down so hard it created flash floods on the very trail we had been riding on. We sought refuge under a spindly Juniper tree and I shielded my son from the most intense quarter sized hail and wind gusts. But after standing there for about 5 minutes, we agreed that we had no other choice than to make a run for it. Oddly, I had not pulled my headphones out of my ears and music continued to play. The first song that came on as we began to make our way out of there, was Oceans From The Rain.

We headed back the way we came; riding in what had now become a surging creek instead of a trail. We managed to make it about a mile and a half when my friend’s tire blew out. I know that my face was probably covered in mud so it might have been tough to tell just how exasperated I was at that moment, but I remained calm and knew that what we would have to do at that point was to have my son and I ride back to the truck and then return for my buddy.

My son and I wrestled with washed out trails and roads to make it back to the truck. When we got back I realized I had locked my key inside but with a bit of quick thinking I was able to get in. Obviously that could have been disastrous, but I began to piece together that ladder image again in my head and realized that everything was going to be OK. I had been thoughtful in having both of us grab a sweatshirt just in case, plus I had a large towel, so when we got back we were able to dry off and put on something warm. Fifteen minutes later we had my buddy securely in the truck and we were out of there.

As we drove back towards town, we remarked on the massive pools of water that had formed in the wake of the storm. Several roads appeared to be washed out as well and we were happy to be headed home. After warm showers and clean clothes we were able to really break down the ride and how it had all happened so fast. In the end, my son was able to say that our ride had been epic. And as I took that in I realized that even though I ride myself so hard for mistakes, not everyone feels the same way, or sees things the same way.

This morning was certainly a challenge, but as I gained perspective on the day I was left holding onto something much bigger; God is so much greater than all these little trivial thinks I stack up. So what, there was a little rain in my life this morning and then there was a literal ton of it this afternoon. In lieu of that rain, God made something bigger for me; an observation that He is greater than all of it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It used to be

It used to be, that you could hop on your bicycle and ride all over town with your buddies. Somewhere, there was a corner store where you could get soda and candy. Also, possibly in the same location, there was an arcade where you could spend hours playing your favorite video games. In between there and where you lived were parks and schools and trails and all the places your friends lived. All told, if you were like me, you put thousands of miles on the tires of your bike during a 3-4 year period in your life. What’s funny to me is that those places were found because you explored them with your friends. Your parents didn’t drive you there first. They didn’t ride around with you to check out the trails and parks to make sure they were safe. They didn’t take you to that arcade and show you how to play Galaxian. Or at least I hope not.

We joke about the state of things in the world today on a regular basis, when compared to when we were young. Like the old joke about having to walk uphill both ways to school, in the snow, with no shoes on; we love to reminisce about those days. For those of us that have kids, we let them venture out so far but in this day and age we send them out with a phone so they can call if there’s trouble. Right now I’m making this face that wonders where all these phones were when we were kids. Oh, right, they didn’t exist….that’s it. I guess there were rudimentary bag phones back then but can you imagine slinging that over your handlebars? And don’t get me started about smart phones. If we would have wanted a computer with us it would have required hooking up a trailer. And then, if we wanted power to said computer, we would have had to hook up a second trailer for a generator! Hopefully you appreciate the visual I created.

It seems to me that things were much simpler then. I am sure my parents could echo the same sentiment, of looking back to a time when there were less pressures and stresses and no schedules to keep. Of course, this would suggest they could remember back that far. We can all do it to some degree and make comparisons of then versus now. Of course, my kids think the weight of the world is on their collective shoulders because they have to pack their own lunches each day for school. I think we call those, ‘first world problems’, and truly, I think my kids often lose sight of just how good they have it. Oh crap, I probably sounded like my dad just then.

What I remember the most though, is how much fun we had. There was always a group of us and we did so many things together. We climbed fir trees that were as tall as skyscrapers, we swung on rope swings that probably should have hurt us badly, we raced down steep hills with no helmets, we played tackle football in the snow, we biked and skated on homemade half pipes, we rode five to six miles away from home at age 12 just to go fishing, we drove golf balls across a baseball field just to see if we could clear the busy street on the other side and we played Jump 21 like there was a championship on the line. We did all of this and more and at the end of each day we went home, got some food, slept and did it all again the next day.

More than anything, I wish I could bottle those experiences and give them to my kids. Personally I have nothing against video games since I enjoy them myself, but as a kid, they didn’t exist, so they were not a draw for us that would have kept us inside as opposed to out. Truth be told, we might have all been gamers had Nintendo been around when we were 11 but honestly, I am thankful we didn’t have that distraction. This is not to suggest that my kids just sit at home and play games all day. Fortunately, I am still incredibly active so my kids are so by proxy. We have biked, hiked, run and camped together more times than I can count. My kids both love to play hard and be outside, but they are also drawn to the electronics of their generation. The allure is strong and at times I wonder if the benefit of convenience is outweighed by the toll it takes on a soul that doesn’t experience what the world has to offer beyond the glow of a screen. Balance continues to be the key to such things.

A couple of days ago, we let our son walk to the store with his buddy. The store is about a mile away and the two of them have shown themselves to be rather responsible so this seemed to be a good opportunity. My 10 year old did just that. He got a soda, walked home and it was as if this were a regular occurrence. And this did my heart good, for it reinforced the idea that kids do well to “fly away” for brief moments only to quickly return to the nest, and that by doing so they not only develop proper independent thinking skills but they discover the freedom that comes from being outside the immediate vocal reach of their parents.

Maybe this is all just a rite of passage and what I am seeing now is the beginning of my son finding some new freedoms. For him I am excited and I look forward to the next couple of years as he discovers little things that will set his generation apart from the next. I’m pretty sure Galaxian won’t be involved.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I like food

Think of that one thing you really like to do. You know, like running, or shopping, or driving your car really fast down the hill into Prineville. I like those things too but what really gets me is food. I like to eat. No really, I really like to eat. More than just the necessary eating too, you know the kind where you put food in your mouth for sustenance because it’s what you need to survive? This is more like Imelda Marcos and her obsession with shoes. If you need to Google that, I can wait. Go check that out and come back, I’ll be here, waiting.

Glad you made it back. During the downtime I got hungry so I fixed myself a snack. It happens all the time and I find myself snacking a lot. But what I really crave is trying all different types of food. I love eating at different restaurants; although I certainly haunt my favorites, just ask the fine people over at Smith Rock Brewing, or Madeline’s, or Baldy’s, etc. Food to me is more than just this thing I ingest. I like to think of it as a hobby, or maybe a sick obsession. I’m not sure which but I will keep you posted.

Did you read that part about how Imelda’s shoes have been destroyed over the years by storms and termites? Sheer craziness I tell you. At one point, the woman had more than 3,000 pairs of shoes and had to leave a huge portion of them behind in 1986 when she and her husband fled the Philippines. This is a warning for all of us. Whatever you do, don’t hoard shoes. Also, don’t hoard food; eat it and enjoy it, especially with others. While it’s true that I really like food, I really really like eating food with friends and family, especially good food. There’s something special about eating good food with good friends. It actually dispels the notion that you can’t please all the people all the time. In those moments, everyone is happy.

The truth is, food makes me happy, or at least most of the time it does. I’m still on the fence about Brussels Sprout, you can keep all the coconut, and mixing peaches with shredded cheddar cheese and Miracle Whip is wrong. Seriously, stop trying to convince me, it’s messed up. However, after that short list of inanity, if you offer me food I will probably eat it. If you hint at food and make the mistake of letting me know where it is, I will probably eat it. If I know it’s there, and you know it’s there but you don’t want me to get into it and then you go in the other room, I will probably eat it. If there is good food to be had, you will surely find me ready to help make it go away.

Basically, life is too short to eat bad food. You won’t catch me at a fast food restaurant, but instead you will find me at nearly every sit down place in town. I love getting to know the people who work at each place, getting to know their menu and what they do differently from everyone else. Every restaurant does at least one thing to set itself apart from the others. All it takes is a visit to discover the value of a given eatery and I could impart about nearly every joint in town but I’d like to think you would rather do that on your own. Besides, I can’t chew your food for you, and, well, ew.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Going deeper

I’m sitting here contemplating what to write and as I do I am bombarded with text messages from a guy talking about men’s group and worship team practice and so on. This is funny to me because as I recognize the pattern of communication it adds only to the notion that we are not as connected of a society as we would like to believe. The guy that is texting me is a really great and I know his name and the names of his wife and kids, plus I know a few minor details about him, like what he does for work and where he lives. But after that, he is like so many others in my life; he is distant.

Recently, I have divulged my desire for deeper relationships, stronger friendships and stronger bonds with a few guys around me. I have shared the struggles involved in finding anything like that to fill a void in my life. My belief is that we are made craving a deep, devotional kind of yearning for relationship that can only be found by crying out to God on a regular basis. However, beyond our relationship with our heavenly father, there is still a need for relationship here on earth. We are called to be in relationship with each other as we seek to disciple those who are new to the faith and love everyone we come in contact with. But the New Testament provides us with a few key examples of a deeper kind of relationship that we seem to forget about.

The first, and most obvious, is the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. For 3 years, Jesus poured into 12 ordinary men. The bonds that were formed took place over time and were not instantaneous. But the bonds became so strong that most of these men would go on to write in detailed depth about their experiences, conversions and personal impact of having spent that time with their Lord and Savior. Jesus was devoted to his disciples and they were devoted to him. Yes, Jesus was the teacher, and yes, his disciples were his students, but these were not your average student/teacher relationships. The relationships that were formed were in essence those of a brotherly nature. Jesus, acting as the older brother, instructed the 12 on how things should be. Those must have been interesting times, to be sure.

Having someone in your life to act as an older or younger brother is ideal, and can certainly include a blood relation as opposed to someone in your church or small group. This same example can be seen later in the Bible as well with Paul and Timothy, who exemplified not only a brotherly love but also that of a father and son dynamic. Paul and Silas were another good match-up, providing us a glimpse of a strong bond between two men who were similar in age. These examples are perfect in understanding the dynamics and growth patterns of relationships as they relate to our own lives, but how do we get there?

The key is time. I cannot have coffee with someone once or twice and suddenly expect to know everything about them and think we are going to carry on deep and meaningful conversations. It’s not to say it hasn’t happened, but the chances are slim. The 3 examples listed above all illustrate a simple truth when it comes to building lasting relationships, and that is that these things take time. And not just a few hours here and there, but nearly every day, nearly every hour, there is a consistency of conversation, interaction and intimacy that takes place. It has to be more than the occasional lunch meeting or the once a week get together to watch a sporting event. And if I hadn’t experienced this so recently, I wouldn’t be stating these things as anything more than suggestions. However, every time I have attempted to forge a bond, it either works because enough time was invested, or it fails because of the opposite. And these bonds can and will fall away as well, based on the investment of time. If time is taken away from the relationship, it withers and dies.

As I think about the time involved, I am also aware of the personal commitment that must take place. Part of that comes down to your comfort level as well, but consciously, a person must commit themselves to a relationship, regardless of the level of that relationship. Personally, I have found that my commitment is internalized but my actions speak for themselves, as I place myself in regular contact with another person. Early on in life, we make connections with people who we call friends. Those friendships are typically forged in a classroom or on a sports field and occasionally in a youth group. However, at some point we make a conscious decision to stay connected with someone through friendship, otherwise we simply walk away because we no longer accept the commitment.

As life goes on we either choose to make the time for those commitments or we don’t. It is not possible to have a close friend who you never talk to. Close friends communicate regularly and carry on conversations that go beyond things like the weather. I find that women are more successful in maintaining relationships than men and I also find that a lot of men yearn for friendships that go beyond the pale, but lack any understanding on how to go about finding one. Even in my case, I have reached out locally for the last couple of years but have yet to find any sort of deeper connection. What’s interesting to me is that even when I talk to a guy who says he wants to be able to connect and have broader conversations that go past the water cooler, he lacks the follow through and commitment it takes to maintain it.

I have talked to many a guy recently who all seem to agree that men are simply not wired for regular day to day connectivity with other guys. Apparently we lack the gene that women have, in order to talk to each other about more than our jobs. Personally I call hogwash on that idea and suggest that our society has created a stereotype and too many men fall victim to believing it’s true. We have added just enough activities in our lives to keep us so busy that we have little time for anything outside of that narrow list. We have been raised to believe that men are tough, and strong, and don’t show emotion, but the truth is that the toughest, strongest men are the ones who show emotion and then use that emotion to lead others. One of our greatest strengths we have is our hearts, provided we use them for good.

It’s true that any good and close relationship is going to require finding commonalities and being willing to respectively discuss the things that are not common. Part of any good relationship is being able to share viewpoints from differing angles, this is just a small thing and yet it is a beautiful one. But having deep conversations with someone doesn’t usually happen right away so typically, guys aren’t willing to invest the time necessary to make that connection. Instead, we keep things at arms reach, never really getting to know the other guys around us very well. We keep quiet in groups unless there is farting and burping, and then we’re in. Otherwise, conversation is kept to easy topics, like sports and cars. Depending on the area you live in, you might openly talk about food or beer, and while those topics can lead to getting to know someone, usually simple facts are exchanged, not issues that plague us when we’re alone.

Guys need a way to connect at a simple level but one that allows for consistent and honest dialogue. A way to talk openly about things like our fathers, our kids, our spouses, our jobs, our faith or lack thereof, etc. There are so many things that guys would share if they felt there was a good place to do so, but instead our society chooses to dehumanize and emasculate men to a point where all that is expected is an adult who does his chores and stays out of trouble. So men keep everything bottled up and then our society has the audacity to ask why men lose it and do so many of the stupid things they do. Women have the audacity to ask why men never act their age and seem so immature.

Guys need to connect with other guys, it’s a simple precept when put into action, but guys are afraid to do so for fear of being shunned by their counterparts and being looked at oddly by their spouses. Men should not be made to feel less than, for taking the time to get to know other men around them and then having another strong male counterpart to bounce things off of. There is no question that steel sharpens steel and when two guys have a chance to help hold each other accountable, they both become sharper. When guys support and encourage other guys, they become stronger leaders and contributors in their homes and everywhere else. And this only happens when we get to know each other on more than just the surface. It’s going to take going deeper.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Set apart

What specifically do we do as Christians, tangibly, that sets us apart from the average person who doesn't follow Jesus but say they strive to live a good life? Think for a moment on one person you know (hopefully you know at least one) that claims to be a good person but has no faith in any God whatsoever. Now consider that you two are observed together for an entire day. Make it a normal day where typical activity occurs, like work, running errands, driving in traffic, interacting with a spate of others, etc.

Now, imagine this observation has been videotaped and is now being watched by a third party that has never met either of you. Would there be a noticeable difference between the two of you? Would an impartial, unbiased observer be able to discern that you are a Christian? Would the observer question the status of your friend?

These are significant questions for you and me if we are indeed followers of Jesus. In John 13:34-35, Jesus told his disciples “Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other”.

Without any understanding of scripture, it might be easy to suggest that your friend loves you and you love your friend so therefore you are both actually doing exactly what Jesus preached to his disciples. The truth, however, is that Jesus loved his disciples (and us) in a radically different way. Jesus came to pay a debt that we could never pay. His sacrifice was (and is) the greatest example of love that has ever been shown to mankind (you and I). That kind of love is not something we are used to demonstrating to others.

Our love for each other must be noticeably different. So much so that anyone watching will be inclined to want to know more. In fact, our love for each other should transcend even the love Jesus showed us! John 14:12-14 is clear. Jesus tells his disciples that they will do even greater things than he did! You and I are included in that epiphany, that we will do greater things than even Jesus did, can you believe that?! We are called to do great things but I think we lose sight of our calling because this world convinces us otherwise. Without clear direction and focus, we not only fall short, we lack discipline, foresight and a clear understanding of our commission from Jesus.

To be set apart is to be placed outside of the natural boundaries of the world around you, specifically for a purpose. We as Christ followers have been set apart from the world to do the work of the Father, to do the work of Jesus, to be his hands and feet and to seek and save the lost, as Jesus came to do (Luke 19:10). Our command has always been straight forward but we seem to lose sight quite often. This is evidenced by how we treat each other, let alone how we treat those outside of the church. If the world is to experience the love of Jesus, it is going to come from His followers. But what does that look like?

The radical thing about how Jesus demonstrated his love for us is that Jesus saw past the messy, dirty, messed up lives of those he came in contact with and offered them love. And not just any love, but eternal life kind of love. Grasping the breadth of that kind of love takes some concentration, but I believe that we are called to do just that. Again, we have been set apart by Jesus, to do the work of the Father, living in His will, to do something Big, Bold and Beautiful; we have been called to Love one another.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say to simply love those who look like you (see Matthew 5:43-48). Nowhere in the Bible does it say to love only those who are in your circle of friends (see Luke 10:30-37). Nowhere in the Bible does it say you should have an attitude of selfishness (see Philippians 2:1-5). In fact, the Bible is chocked full of illustration after illustration of God’s love for us, imploring us on to love as he has loved us (see John 3:16). We should literally get carried away with loving one another, caring for each other and reaching out to meet the needs of everyone around us.

This all comes down to the intent of your heart. You must examine your heart and your mind, as Paul instructed, to be singularly focused on Jesus. With a focus like that, you will not be able to help how you treat others, how you reach out and love them, regardless of what they look like or who they represent in your life. Your intentions change when you become a Christ follower, from being a servant of the world to being a servant to others for Christ and his kingdom.

Being set apart is unfortunately one of those “churchy” euphemisms that we throw around expecting everyone knows what we’re all talking about. It’s true that God has set his people apart, to be holy and to do the work that Jesus has commissioned us to do, but saying all of that is very “churchy” isn’t it? Do you share with you un-churched friends about how you’re “set apart”? Probably not. So instead, let me ask you this; what are you set apart to do? The will of the Father, yes indeed. But what is the will of the Father?

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus was crystal clear what is most important. Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. And what did he say next? Jesus said that it is equally as important to love your neighbor as yourself. This has to be one of the most pivotal verses in the entire Bible because it does not mince words, it is succinct, it is to the point, it is essential and it is from the mouth of Jesus. We have been set apart to love one another and we are called to do so in nearly the same way we love our Lord!

In another place, Jesus defined who our neighbor is, specifically noting that we are all neighbors, even those we do not know, and especially those who we might not consider talking to ever. Our calling to love one another is not only our commission, but it is what will actually constitute the very body of Christ, otherwise known as the church. The church was not formed by disillusioned people, but rather men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything for each other. That is radical thinking compared to the kinds of churches we see here in America and even abroad. The Acts church model is one of love, and in that act of love we see blessing upon blessing that is bestowed to God’s people.

We have to get to a place where we no longer see political affiliations but instead see a brother in Christ. We need to look past differences and instead find commonalities and build bridges. We need to get out of the comfortable spaces we reside in and step out and build relationships with those both inside and outside of the church. All of this will take time and will especially take bold commitments on the part of followers of The Way. But, Jesus said we can do it. In fact, he was so bold as to say we would not only do it but we would do even greater things, in his name!

You and I have a purpose. Our purpose is to love Jesus and love each other. Stop putting caveats on your love and open your eyes to a world that desperately wants and needs to be loved. When that happens, the world will not only see what love is, but more importantly, they will see the difference.