Love My Neighbor

love-your-neighbor

Let me just start right off by saying that the stick-figure craziness is a little . . . well out of control.  But, I figured I’d jump on the band wagon with a custom version of this little fad for today’s blog.   For many years, I’ve grown up hearing the about the love commandments from Jesus found in Mark 12:30-31.  When asked what is the most important commandment, Jesus answers by referencing old testament scriptures (Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18) when he said, paraphrased . . . Love God with everything and Love your neighbor as yourself.  That second quoted commandment is what I want to dive into today.

This past Friday and Saturday, we were hit with “winter storm Jonas” and it had a pretty significant impact on our area.  If you were on my block, you didn’t drive anywhere until late Saturday afternoon simply because of the 18 or so inches and no plow trucks available down our one-way street.  I got up on the morning, got Jax and I breakfast and around 9:00am, went to work shoveling and snow-blowing.  What’s this have to do with “loving your neighbor” you may ask?  Well, in this process several of my friends on the block came out to do the same.  At first, everyone was primarily taking care of their sidewalk, their own cars, drive ways . . . etc.  Even though it was still snowing, at one point I felt I had done most of my area and was just waiting until the plow came down the road to allow for cars to get through.  But since I was already dressed and snow covered, I started to remove snow from my next door neighbors walk.  You see, this house was bought in October by a young lady and her sister who lived with their parents about 45 minutes away from here.  The two of them, their father and some friends have been working hard for months on renovating this house.  Seriously . . . almost nightly for months.  So I thought I’m sure when they come today to work on the house, they don’t want to have to shovel a few hours just to get into their home.  So I started on the walk and my other neighbor on the other side of their house follow suit and started to use his snow blower on the other side of their walk.  Soon, my good friend Gary from across the street, came over and with his power-house snow blower took care of over half the drive way.  So when we were finished, they had virtually nothing to do when they got their.  A little while later, she came with her boyfriend expecting to be shoveling for the next few hours.  I was outside and the one owner almost came running to my house asking if I did this.  I said, well several of us did.  She just couldn’t stop thanking me and offering some sort of payment or gift but I said, “that’s what neighbors do.”  We take care of each other.  A little while later, she made a b-line for Gary and said something very similar to him.

Also during love neighbor billboardthe day, a neighbor a few doors down was outside working as well.  He and his young boy were shoveling and shoveling.  As I finished my area and my next-door neighbor’s, he asked if he could use my snow blower for a few minutes and I gladly responded, of course.  As he was using it, I went to the garage, got the container of gas and said to him, use it as long as you need to.  Here’s some extra gas if it’s needed.  A short while later, he comes over to my house thanking me repeatedly, trying to hand me some money for the gas used.  I said no, keep your money, “that’s what neighbors do.”  By the end of the afternoon, most of our block was cleaned out because several people put this principle into practice.  For me, it was easy to do this because I used to see and still see my dad doing this exact type of thing for his neighbors.  So, for me, it was a natural response to help neighbors in need.

Once early evening came, the city plow finally made it down our street and all the snow they moved from the middle now was piled up against our cars and front of our drive-way.  Our neighborhood crew made it back out and started to clear away that snow pile.  Although, this time something changed.  I moved my cars into our drive way but there was such a thick and big pile up at the end of my drive way that my snow blower was really struggling to get through it.  My good friend Gary, I mentioned before, comes over with his monster snow-blower and says, “I’ll takes care of the big pile while you remove the smaller piles.”  I believe I can speak for Gary (because he is a man of God and I know his character) and I can say his motivation was, “that’s what neighbors do.

At the end of the day, I was thanking God for my neighbors.  Those who I was able to help and those who helped me.  You see, I believe what you just read is this principle in practice.  Many people may read, hear or even quote scriptures without an understanding of what that looks like to be carried out in the real life.  For me, I experienced this on both ends that day.  I ended the day with such delight because of how God used me to bless my neighbors.  Even though I was physically exhausted, I was emotionally and spiritually invigorated because of God’s goodness.

Allow me to close this blog post out with a challenge.  What do you already have in your garage, cupboards or otherwise that can bless your neighbors?  How can you show God’s love to your block?  I will admit, I don’t always do this well, but this week, I had the privilege to to be a part of seeing this principle carried out by several neighborhood men.  I look forward to the opportunities for future ministry to my neighbors.  Shelley Ave in Altoona is blessed.

Crazy Ideas

Have you ever had an idea pop into your head that you eventually ignored because it simply seemed too crazy after you had time to think about it?  Yeah, me too.  Today I want to talk to you about this concept while giving honor to someone who did just that.  As you may or may not know, God had given me story lines for our Easter musical productions over the past 5 years that have been a modern, real life story parallel with the traditional Easter story.  But where did that concept start.  Well . . . from a crazy idea.

OrvilleYou see, a man by the name of Orville Ormsby came to me occasionally with creative and “out of the box” ideas for our musicals.  Around 2008-2009, he suggested we do an Easter musical that’s set in modern times.  To which I responded, “Orville, I don’t see how I can change our community established Easter productions with a modern version.”   Why am I telling you this?  Well, it was that crazy idea that planted a seed in me that would change our production ministry for years to come.  Although I haven’t written a story completely set in modern times, in 2010 I first wrote a musical that dealt with a real life (modern) situation and demonstrated how one could parallel that with the story of hope, healing and wholeness found in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  This had continued in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 with other modern stories that confront hard-hitting, real life situations and a biblical response to every one of them.

This past week, we had a memorial service for Orville as he passed away early this year.  My heart was heavy but I was reminded of a man who had some great, yet crazy ideas and, although may often been dismissed, his crazy idea was the foundation for what we created in our musical productions and eventually played a part in my current effort to produce a movie.

So the next time you have a crazy idea, embrace it.  We may not always be able to see our crazy ideas come to fruition but one thing I know is every creative effort I’ve had started with some crazy ideas and concepts in the beginning.  Don’t just follow the paths that others suggest or have already established.  Blaze new trails with crazy ideas.   Henry Ford , the inventor of the modern automobile, said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  As we know, what he created instead was something that changed history.

In closing, I want to give honor once again to Orvlle, my friend, who inspired me to think out-of-the-box with “crazy ideas”.  I hope he inspires you to do the same.

Trust-your-crazy-ideas.-

Limitless

Whenever I look at my plan for accomplishing anything challenging, I often look at it in one of two ways.  One, what can I do?  What abilities or skills do I have to make this or that work successfully.  And the second perspective is the spiritual approach, what can God do?  For some reason these two thoughts often seem mutually exclusive.  Rather than thinking I have to do it ALL on my own or thinking God will do it ALL, why not pair the two concept together.

I look at the story in the bible of Peter being called out of the boat by Jesus.   Matthew 14:29 says [Jesus said] Come.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. After Jesus spoke to Peter and called him, Peter could have easily analyzed his personal limitations and said, Wait . . . I can’t do that.  But as we know, he didn’t.  In his strength, he moved towards the edge of the boat, picked up one leg at a time and stepped out of the boat.  It was at THAT point, the supernatural kicked in and he walked on water.  Regardless of what happened after that, Peter experienced the supernatural after he did what he could in the natural.

I believe God places abilities, knowledge and resources in every single one of us.  Yes, I realize we have limits on each of those.  But let me submit to you today that I believe we must exhaust what has inherently been placed inside us to the end of all of our options . . . then we’ll see God be the difference maker.  Look at it through this track and field illustration.   In a 4 x 100 relay, 4 people must be involved.  Person 1 runs to the best of his ability 100 meters but must pass the baton to the next person to complete the task.  Person 2 and 3 the same.  At the close of the race, the 4th person, also known as the anchor, is the final person in the race.  Hopefully he will make up the difference needed and accomplish success.  I look at our journey as God being the anchor in a relay race.  We must do ALL we can do to get to the end of our 100 meters, but realize God is there, with his hand out ready to receive the baton and finish what you and I can’t on our own.

When God puts something on your heart that seems too massive to comprehend let alone accomplish.  Realize you’re not in this journey alone.  Yes, you are required to get out of the boat, you are required to run your 100 meters but once you do the possible, you will see God be the God of the impossible.

Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

go as far as you can go

Dare To Be Great

greatness

When beginning a new year, we often aspire to new goals and resolutions only to be disappointed a few weeks or months later when we fall short.  Well, I am challenging myself and you to something very achievable.  This is something much more mental than physical so it will not take any additional time away from family but will actually enhance your time with your family.  It will not be a new hobby or career but will potentially provide the opportunity for promotion and success.  Okay, now I’m sounding like an infomercial.  Allow me to explain and give a little back-story on this.

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a Catalyst leadership conference with Andy Stanley and  and Craig Groeschel.   Of the many nuggets I walked away with was one that really stuck out and I’ve taken it a step further.  Towards the end, it was shared whenever you have to make a decision, think, “What would a great leader do?”  As you can probably already glean from this, I accepted this challenge and even took it a step further for me personally.  Just like leaders should ask themselves this question, I believe we should ask ourselves similar questions in different areas of our life.  For example, “What would a great father do?”,  “What would a great employee do?”, “What would a great manager do?” . . . etc.

As we make decisions with this as our initial filter, we will ultimately make decisions motivated by greatness.  One thing that is often an argument with achieving greatness is we sound arrogant or selfish when we think this way.  But, as I see it, quite the opposite is true.  When we make decisions based upon how difficult the challenge is and if we consequently want to tackle it or not is a text book definition of selfishness.  Achieving greatness in whatever you do is a principle that promises to be rewarding.

As a Christian who grew up in the 1980s, this concept was around then with the WWJD campaign.  Whenever making decisions, ask yourself, What Would Jesus Do?  Although a valid filter, I wanted to make this more specific in the areas of my life.  Asking WWJD is still a valid question, but if you ask yourself, “What would a great Christian do?”  then you are applying your personal viewpoint on what that looks and sounds like today into your decision.  My viewpoint may be slightly different than yours and that’s okay.  You don’t have to argue or debate what a great christian is because, in your mind, you already have that definition.

As we begin another year, lets all be challenged with this idea. Fill in the blank with whatever you do during each day.  Ask yourself, “What would a great (fill in the blank) do in this situation? . . .  then do it.