Archive for love

Our Daily Bread, Manipulation & Control… Featuring Paul Beverly

Posted in Our Daily Bread with tags , , , , , , on August 12, 2018 by paulthepoke

wire hangersUsing manipulation & guilt to control someone doesn’t make that person strong, it makes them an insecure weak jerk. God didn’t make you to be controlled. Do not allow anyone to have that power over you. Control does not equal love.

Not everyone will be for you & that’s okay. Do not give them or their words power over you. Their assumptions do not define you at all.

freedom-converted

Those that love you & matter see you for who you truly are. Be happy in that. You can’t defeat hate with more hate, spread love.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Proverbs 21:6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged.

Have a loving week my friends!!!

 

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Street Love

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , on August 3, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine Clarity McDonald

Christine has been recognized by the Missouri Senate for outstanding civil service in the state of Missouri.

On the streets the help we offered each other might seem odd to folks on the outside looking in. But on the streets, we were everything to one another.

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller

 

We all know the feeling of being worn down as our body fights off a common cold or the flu. All you want to do is the very thing you need to do, which is rest. We know that the best thing we can do is stay in our nice comfy beds, curled up under the blankets until our symptoms pass.

But what if you didn’t have a bed? Or a roof to sleep under? What if, when winter hit, you didn’t have so much as a winter coat or blanket? That pesky common cold now becomes a huge fight for your life.

Even in the worst of circumstances, we instinctively seek out comfort. Have you ever thought of where a homeless person goes when they are fighting for their life in this way?

As you journey with me through this next story, put yourself in my shoes. Allow yourself to feel what I felt.

Matthew 25:34-36 Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.

 

winter day

Men and women who survive life on the streets share a bond like no other. This bond is an unspoken connection, commitment, respect, and love for each other that isn’t the same as the relationships we build outside of the life. The help we once offered each other out on the streets looked very different from what those outside of the life might understand.

The help we offered might look more like a hit of dope if someone was beaten or raped, or a shared sandwich. Or it might even look like a ride in a car or a night’s sleep in a hotel room to shower, if one of us had access to such a rare thing. Sometimes we watched over one another as we slept, particularly if we were sleeping outdoors or in an empty building. Sometimes we shared quarters for the dryers in the laundromat to get warm or dry off our clothes. I could go on. On the streets we had each other’s backs, because no one else in the world did…

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

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It’s All About Perspective

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Awarded by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for Outstanding Civil Service.

“The self-righteous scream judgments against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.” ― John Mark Green

 

Just cause you say you are of the church a leader of God a Christian with some folks just don’t mean that much at all…

Have you ever wondered how two people can stand side-by-side witnessing the same event, yet report seeing two totally different things? Our past experiences shape how we interpret nearly everything around us. People from strong loving families often have a more confident view of themselves as well as the world they interact with than those who grew up with less support.

Oftentimes these experiences also define our perceptions of who God is, as well as what our purpose is on this planet. Those who have been raised in the church may not always be aware of how far apart their understanding of Jesus and salvation is from those who have only ever been hurt by the world.

Jesus bridged this gap time and time again throughout Scripture. His anger and “judgement” were never directed toward those who were clearly lost. After all, they already felt like they were as far from God as they can get. They saw their need for him. Instead, we see his anger and cutting words repeatedly hurled against the religious leaders of the day who used the law to oppress people instead of freeing them or leading them back to their Creator. Such leaders had no idea of their own need for saving; hence they had no grace for others.

In John Chapter 8, we see Jesus intervene when a group of men wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery. We don’t know precisely what her story is. Was she a willing participant? Was she someone who had been used by others? What we do know is that while she was “caught”, there was no man being condemned alongside her. Whoever she was caught with wasn’t even part of the story. The man who stood up for her, however, was the only perfect and blameless being to ever walk the earth.

If anyone had the authority and was justified in condemning this woman, it was Jesus. He was, after all, the Son of God. But instead, Jesus addressed her accusers, challenging them, “…but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (Verse 7, NLT). Jesus alone held that right; yet when all of them had left, one by one, he turned to her and offered her freedom.

When we encounter those who need this Gospel, yet have been cast down by life over and over again, are we offering them freedom? People know who they are. Even without ever picking up a Bible, people know when their actions are morally objectionable. What Christ offers is more than a light to illuminate the darkness. His light offers freedom. This freedom does not require that we be changed before we accept it. In fact, we can’t. The changes we require to be clean and holy in His sight can only be made by Him.

Perhaps our job as believers isn’t so much about raising a mirror to people so they see their sins. Perhaps, deep down, they already see them. Perhaps our responsibility is to show them God’s reflection of love, grace and freedom. Perhaps, through our words and actions, consistently and patiently, we can offer them hope.

If you have not walked in the shoes of someone who has been exploited or marginalized by society, tread carefully when speaking about the hope of Christ. Be mindful of their past experiences and formulated ideas of Christians, people of faith, or believers. Their lived experiences may not have been that of goodness and love and grace. It takes one thousand good things to replace one bad thing, so tread lightly and gently, my Christian friends. You never know what brokenness someone might have experienced – even at the hands of a person who claims Jesus as Lord.

Tread gently, therefore, when speaking about the hope of Christ to those who are leaving the life, or those attempting to restore their lives from brokenness of any sort you don’t know. Many other “Christians” they have interacted with were antithetical representations of the gospel of Jesus. If this is all they know, then the concept of God and hope and goodness is a much more difficult sell!

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

 

Love, Condoms, & Moral Indignation

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is the current Director of Outreach, Advocacy and Curriculum for Restoration House.

http://restorationhousekc.com/

Amos 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. -God

A few years ago, I operated a street outreach. We went to the streets and parks where I myself had existed for nearly two decades. We took sandwiches and basic hygiene items to the women and men in that area.

I was contacted by a TV news show who wanted to join us. The news crew had done food service during the holidays, but always in an artificial environment. They had never actually gone to the streets where the many who avoided the long feeding lines dwelled.

We brought bean burritos from Taco Bell that night, as well as water and condoms. As I handed the condoms out, the reporter stopped everything. She turned off the microphone.

I knew the deal. I had heard it before from women of faith who had joined us on these outreaches. The ladies who had so much church. I suppose, that they forgot about the human in us all.

I listened as they ranted all the reasons she couldn’t be a part of us giving out condoms. I had heard all the reasons, so I’d just hear them again. My mind raced, thinking maybe she had a new reason. She didn’t; nobody ever did.

“We are promoting their actions of prostitution” or “We can’t promote prostitutes to sell their bodies out here” were reasons commonly cited. But I was geared up and ready. Goodness knows I had given this speech at least fifty times.

 

If you are one of those individuals who might have concerns about giving out condoms in ministry work, then please continue to read this. Give this a fair shot of thought. Consider for a moment that maybe your moral indignation isn’t as productive as you think it is.

We all know by now that I was prostituted. As a formerly prostituted person, my voice provides a different perspective. During my exploitation, I was rarely in a position to go to the store to purchase condoms. If I was working for my “man” or “pimp,” my priority was to make my funds as fast as I could so I could eat and avoid drama. To state it bluntly, condoms were a luxury I couldn’t afford.

Additionally, it wasn’t uncommon for a trick or John to pay an extra twenty bucks to have sex with you without a condom. Statistics tell us that about 68% of all tricks are married or in a “committed” relationship. Do you think their loved ones at home have any clue they are paying for a prostitute to have sex with them, much less without a condom?

The prostitute might turn twenty dates in a 24-hour period, not to mention the times she has been raped. Keep in mind that her man or pimp has other girls he is having sex with – other prostitutes who are having unprotected sex with many others. Are you doing the math here?

A girlfriend or wife learns she is pregnant, and during this joyous announcement from her doctor she is also informed of another piece of highly unexpected – but far from joyous – news that she is now HIV positive. This is an extra “gift” contracted from her husband or her boyfriend – the john who purchased sex from a prostitute. Of course, this means he is infected as well. So, stop and think of how this woman and her unborn child’s life are forever affected by the man’s urge to purchase sex from a prostitute.

Please note. I am not saying all prostitutes have HIV. I worked the streets for nearly two decades and am HIV free! But I have friends who have died of AIDS and some who live with it daily.

This is yet another reason we must end the purchase of human beings. This cycle of exploitation and suffering affects not only the purchaser and the prostituted individual. There are also innocent victims who are affected who play no role in the event yet end up suffering from it.

If we are truly attempting to connect to the humanity of this complex issue, then offering condoms for the prostituted persons we encounter is not only responsible help; it is loving help. Withholding something that could save a life simply because of our moral objections to its use doesn’t stop the activity. Nor does it convict the buyer or seller of sex. All it does is place additional conditions on love and help, therefore devaluing both love and help until neither is recognizable.

HIV is only one of many damaging effects these acts have on unintended victims. The collateral damage abounds in so many ways we can’t easily see. If we are going to truly help, we must be careful of misapplying our moral objections in ways that further compound, rather than help, the problem.

Our ministry is not only for the buyer and seller, but the unintended victims whose lives can be unknowingly changed forever by someone else’s choice to pay for another human being for their own sexual gratification.

 

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

Collateral Damage

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , , , on July 6, 2018 by paulthepoke

Christine McDonaldFeaturing Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is appointed by the Missouri Attorney General for the Trafficking Task Force.

“For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity. For every woman forced into unprotected sex because men demand this, we destroy dignity and pride. Every woman who has to sell her life for sex we condemn to a lifetime in prison. For every moment we remain silent, we conspire against our women. For every woman infected by HIV, we destroy a generation.” – Nelson Mandela

Collateral damage is what we call the loss, injury or victims incurred by an action or event who were never intended to be involved. Many times, when we venture out in a helping capacity, we have our sights squarely focused on the population we serve. Yet oftentimes, those individuals we serve touch the lives of many we may never encounter.

Compassion and love at their best grow and extend indefinitely. The things we do out of love for others can have a massive ripple effect across time and space. Likewise, the things we don’t do can carry greater, far-reaching ramifications. What if one simple, yet sometimes controversial, moment of service could save a life? Conversely, what if a misapplied moral objection costs a life?

When we consider human trafficking, exploitation, and prostitution, we tend to recognize the purchaser/exploiter as well as the person being used. However, there is another population that is inadvertently affected yet rarely lands on our radar. Sometimes our narrow view of the impact and our tightly-clung-to moral objections have unintended consequences.

human trafficking

When we think of serving and how we serve, the most important thing we can do is put on the love of Christ and remember how much He loves and would give all for just one person. We have to ask ourselves, is making a moral statement that will inevitably be lost more important than the individual?

Jesus was well known in His day for spending His time with those viewed as the biggest “sinners.” When the religious leaders of the day verbally lashed against Him for this, He told a parable about a shepherd who had one hundred beloved sheep and one ran away. In the parable, the shepherd left the 99 to go after the one. The Son of God did not withhold His presence from the “sinners” to make a moral statement. Instead, He left us all with a clear example to follow. He made it crystal clear that every one of those “sinners” was invaluable to Him.

Even while knowing His days were limited, Jesus didn’t spend His time with His family and loved ones. Instead He chose to spend time among the untouchables of His day. And though He – the perfect, Holy, God of the universe – had many moral objections to their actions, He didn’t let those moral objections become the focus or stand in the way of an opportunity to touch their hearts.

“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

 

Love Your Enemy, Featuring Paul Beverly

Posted in Our Daily Bread with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2018 by paulthepoke
terrorism
muslim militants

We have sadly become a selfish society. We only care about ourselves & certain others. We have those that bash our President because he wants to get along with Russia & North Korea. God didn’t say to hate your enemies, he said to love them. He also said to love your neighbors as yourself. Well, your neighbors are not just like you. They are black, white, brown, red, gay, straight, tall, short, big, small, or whatever. Jesus didn’t turn anyone away because they were different. He always taught & healed in love. God didn’t say we had to agree with or do what others do, only to love them. I’ve seen enough hate to last a lifetime, let’s love instead. Don’t bash what you dislike, but do praise what you love.

Mark 12:31 The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself, there is no other commandment greater than these.”

Luke 6:27 “But I say to you that hear, love your enemies. Do good to those that hate you.”

Have a loving week my friends!!!

Love Your Neighbor… ALL of ’em!

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , on June 13, 2018 by paulthepoke

Featuring Christine “Clarity” McDonald

Christine is commissioned by the Missouri Supreme Court for the Trafficking Task Force.

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. …He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Christine McDonald

The following is from The Same Kind of Human Seeing the Marginalized and Exploited Through Eyes of Grace, Christine “Clarity” McDonald

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.” Oftentimes as Christians we try expressing the love of Christ through kindness alone, but as Lewis stresses, kindness is but one attribute of love – it is not actually love itself. When we consider how we love others, what is our motive? Are we satisfied if we are just the seed planter? Are we satisfied if we are simply serving?

In the book of Luke we read, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35).

If this is how we are to treat our enemies, how should we treat those for whom we have compassion and want to see brought into His Kingdom?

homeless

Loving others is an act of obedience, but we cannot trick God. He alone sees our hearts. He knows if we are giving food to the hungry out of love, or if we are merely baiting the hungry so we can guilt them to repentance with our message… our message. God’s message is not one of trickery or condemnation, nor does it demand that broken people turn from their vices before crying out to Him. God alone can fill our empty spaces, cleanse us of our sins, and buff our rough places. He alone can draw us in.

The Lover of Our Souls draws us through compassion. He alone meets us where we are, wipes away our tears, and saves us. When we give to those who are in need, it should be the overflow of what we have been given, and it should be truly free. When we put a price or a demand on these actions, we are cheating the very ones who move His heart.

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40, NLT. 

The question is, how, then, are we treating Christ?

Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em! -Christine “Clarity” McDonald

 

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