Archive for love

Relationship Killers and Choosing Love… Featuring Paul Beverly

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Our Daily Bread with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2019 by paulthepoke

Thinking about my post I shared from a few years back, if you truly want a relationship to work you can NOT be selfish, controlling, or jealous. Those 3 things are what pop in my head immediately because I see it way too often. These 3 things are poison to a relationship. Each person needs their own identity, not just so & so’s wife or so & so’s husband. If one feels they aren’t trusted & not valued, their heart will slowly withdraw from the relationship.

If you want happiness in a relationship, Give without expectations. Trust wholeheartedly. Listen with sincerity. Forgive easily. Love unselfishly. Be proud of your partner. Do not place blame. Do not point out faults. Make their happiness as important as your own. Want every day to be a little better. Give them space when needed. Hold them close when needed. Never stop dating. Don’t be too proud to seek counsel or attend a marriage seminar. Seek God together.

Make your relationship amazing…. Have a happy week my friends!!!

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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Tread Gently… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Gospel with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2019 by paulthepoke

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 those of goodness and love and grace. It takes a 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, like the man in this story, 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

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Neck Bones and Taters… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , on July 5, 2019 by paulthepoke

There was an older black woman who lived off Prospect, and every year around the holidays she would holler at me. She called me “Blondie.” She had a large bowl of neck bones and taters with amazing tiny peppers. The peppers weren’t hot, just spicy enough for flavor.

She’d always tell me, “Now, honey, you can keep that bowl, but don’t you be leaving it out just anywhere. If you can make it back this way, just leave it on the steps. If not, then at least find it a home in a trashcan. You eat all of that, honey, ’cause you ain’t nothing but skin and bones, a walking skeleton. I say now, go on now and eat all of that, and God bless you.”

Those neck bones and taters were amazing. Year after year, she never forgot me. Once she even walked down the street about two blocks from her house because she said one of her boys had seen me out there. She always reminded me to eat every bit because I was just skin and bones. She always offered me a warm smile. She always made a point to touch my hand and look me in the eyes when she spoke to me.

One year she put $5 in my hand and kissed my cheek. Another year she tossed me a pair of gloves and an old jacket and cautioned me not to catch a cold. She even told me I had a lovely smile. I never knew her name, and she never asked mine, but I did feel human each time I heard her voice. I wasn’t invisible to her.

In the wee hours of many nights, doubtful thoughts would drift through my mind, tormenting me for a while. Would someone eventually find me? Did anyone even know I was alive? Would someone look for me if I were dead?

Everyone else who offered me food or other such necessities had strings attached—I could have it if I provided sexual services for them. After all, I was a prostitute, and my purpose in life was for their pleasure.

My neck bone and tater patroness, however, never forgot me and never asked for anything from me. When she saw me, she simply acknowledged my humanity. I always felt that, for some reason, she loved me just as I was. Somehow, this woman, if only once or twice a year, gave me just enough hope and genuine compassionate care to keep me going. Her gentle concern ignited small embers of hope and made me question if there might be more to my life, after all.

From time to time I would wonder: Did she watch for me so she could speak to me or bring me food? Was she the one person in her home, with her family, who truly knew I existed? Did she ever wonder about me? Did she wonder if I were cold or hungry or alive or dead? It seemed like she thought of me. Maybe I did exist. Maybe she alone had the ability to see my invisibility.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Dear Christian: Starting Today – Starting With Me

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Michael Stone with tags , , , on May 1, 2019 by paulthepoke

Featuring Michael Stone

The words ring in my ears sometimes. “You need to write!” I cannot even begin to count how many times I’ve heard that over the past twenty five years. I probably even heard it a lot before that, but those years are so much of a blur that I wouldn’t recall.

From time to time I’ve actually tried to write, then lost focus and just quit. I’ve done it on paper in a spiral notebook, on our laptop while on the road in Kenya, and again in Kansas City, and again in Charlotte, and again in Orlando. I even copy and pasted what I wrote while in Orlando on an online message board. Every single time that I’ve tried to start writing, I’ve also abruptly quit writing. Now I’m inspired to try it here on the God In A Nutshell Project. We’ll see if I can be disciplined enough to follow through this time and actually write whatever else Divine inspiration brings to mind.

We all desire to see positive change in the world. What do we do about it? The Holy Spirit tells me that it starts in my heart, in my mind, with me – with me allowing Him to mold me into who I was created to be. I will be changing the world – starting with me.

“If MY people who are called by MY NAME will humble themselves and pray, and seek MY Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 (my paraphrase)

Notice that Scripture states clearly that GOD is calling HIS people to turn from their wicked ways, to humble themselves, and to pray. In this context HE’s not speaking to the lost, but to those of us who call ourselves by HIS NAME. “Christian” means “like Christ”. I don’t know about you, but I’m nowhere near like JESUS the CHRIST. I mean, I’m a man, I have a heart, a spirit, flesh and bones, and a desire to serve HIM but, like most of us, I believe, we sever more than we serve. We’re so spiritually dyslexic that we see the letters, transpose them, and cause more division than unity. 

Our first and most important commandment isn’t to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News…”, as much as we’d like to think that it is. Our first objective, and the only commandment that JESUS the CHRIST gave was to love HIM with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our strength, then to love one another….AND to LOVE OURSELVES! 

We have this self-pleasing culture here in western civilization. I’ve even seen it in 3rd world countries, so it’s a human thing. We may see it as self-love, but it’s a poor substitute for love. It’s not love at all. It’s just selfishness. It’s pride. Pride in no way can be compared to love. The verse from 2 Chronicles that I mentioned earlier calls us to humble ourselves, not to be proud. When we are humble, we can actually receive all that the LORD has for us…INCLUDING HIS LOVE. The whole key to the world changing and turning right-side-up is for GOD’s people, people of THE WAY, “Christians”, to humble ourselves and fully receive HIS love. Only then will we truly love one another. The Bible even tells us that our love for one another is how the world will know us. Only then will we serve instead of sever.

I love how Donald Miller puts it in his book, “Blue Like Jazz”. “I AM THE PROBLEM!” We look at things in our republic, and in the world, that do not at all line up with TRUTH, and we attack those things in our self-righteous indignation. There’s no love in that. We have to deal with our own hearts first. We need to let the HOLY SPIRIT move in and clean house. We need to totally receive the LOVE that the LORD has for us. When we do that, HIS love will just naturally pour out of us, and things will change. It starts with me. The problem isn’t abortion. The problem isn’t the homosexual agenda. The problem isn’t anything but my heart. Attacking symptoms of the worldwide lack of love will not change anything. I need to start with my heart. We all do. Nothing miraculous comes from activism. Miracles come from love, and that’s an action worth taking. 

“Receive, receive, receive the love of JESUS. Wrap up in HIM. Wait on HIM. Become intimate with HIM. Get to know the true love of the FATHER. Let the HOLY SPIRIT speak to you. Be still and wait.” I just keep hearing those words in my spirit. I pray that I will finally be able to pick up that simple key of love. It’s not enough to know it in my head. I need to KNOW it in my heart…to intimately know the love of the FATHER. ABBA…Daddy GOD. I need to intimately know the fear of the LORD. YHVH is as terrible as He is loving. Like C.S. Lewis put it, He is dangerous, but He is good. In JESUS’ name, FATHER, please help me receive all that You are. I’m so empty and lost without the fullness of YOU!

You know, I could read an article by someone else, and totally want to write to that person and try to help them receive GOD’s love, the whole time not knowing it myself. That’s so sad. I honestly believe that, for the most part, the Church is in the same position. We all want to help, but we’re not fully equipped, because we rely on too many other things other than JESUS in our daily lives. Our jobs, our bank accounts, our cars, our pickup trucks, our hobbies, our “stuff”. All of that crap violates “have no other gods before ME” when we allow it to consume our time, our priorities, and our lives. Most of us would say we’d surely die for JESUS, but we fight kicking and screaming if we lose any of our “stuff”. How can we die for HIM when we are so selfish that we won’t even live for HIM unless we can have our “stuff”. What a total chaotic farce.

I want to lay it all down. Whatever HE wants to give back to me is fine, or if HE gives nothing back, I want that to be fine as well. HE knows what I need. I really only know what I want. I put GOD in a box way too much! HE’s not my little “jack-in-the-box” that I can crank up when I need HIM, then shove back down and close up when I want control. Why, oh why do IDO that??!!??

OK, this is the start of the journey. I need to be in the Light. We all do. We’ll see how this goes. I truly do purpose to intercede for the world… as well as for myself. JESUS is at the right hand of the FATHER always interceding for each of us. HE sets the example. I need to follow HIS example. I believe that we all do…starting today.

Glimmers of Hope

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2019 by paulthepoke

Hope simply deals with possibilities. If something is still possible, even in our wildest dreams, if there is still a glimmer of hope, it is worth hanging on to for as long as it exists. —Peter G. Doumit, What I Know about Baseball Is What I Know about Life

In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable to illustrate the kindness and compassion He wants His followers to extend to those around them, particularly those who are often invisible in society. He says, “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)

Who are “the least of these” today?

Not much has changed since Jesus spoke those words. There are still the “invisibles” around us. They aren’t truly invisible; we just make excuses and justify our choice not to look.

Photo: Shutterstock, Pikul Noorod

“The least of these” could include a good friend who you know is struggling with something, but whose struggle you’ve not wanted to wade into with them. However, “the least of these” may also include a whole population of society you may not interact with often, or perhaps you only interact with professionally.

Jesus’ expectation of us is to be so full of His love that we love like Him by default. That means we allow our eyes, as well as our hearts, to be moved by compassion to action. Feeling sad or feeling sorry isn’t enough. We must be moved enough to be His hands, His feet, His smile, His words, His deeds.

Compassion is free, except that it demands what’s most valuable, our hearts. We must be careful to not close our hearts off to what we don’t understand. Sometimes the very thing we have guarded and protected most is the thing God purposed for us to share. Perhaps the thing you have tended with care and passion is meant to give hope to someone else.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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Reminder, Saved By Grace… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2019 by paulthepoke

Everyone be blessed!

JUDGING OUTSIDERS IS UN-CHRISTIAN
Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church. Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others. Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us were saved by the good we did but by grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

So what can you do?
1. STOP JUDGING NON-CHRISTIANS. START LOVING THEM.
Very few people have been judged into life-change. Many have been loved into it.

Mark 12:30-31 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

2. EMPATHIZE WITH NON-CHRISTIANS
Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t a Christian, what would I be doing?” Chances are, you might be doing exactly what the non-Christians in your neighborhood are doing. Understanding that and empathizing with that completely changes how you see people. And they can tell how you see them.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

3. HANG OUT WITH NON-CHRISTIANS
Jesus did. And caught plenty of disapproval for it.

Mark 2:15-16 And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?”

4. PRAY FOR UNCHURCHED PEOPLE
How many unchurched people do you pray for daily? How many people you disagree with do you pray for daily? It is impossible to hate someone you genuinely pray for daily.

Luke 8:1-2 Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out…

5. LIVE OUT YOUR FAITH AUTHENTICALLY
Your actions carry weight. Humility is far more attractive than pride. When a non-Christian sees integrity, it’s compelling. I just have a feeling if we in the church loved the world the way Jesus did, the world might come running to Christ. And then the change we long to see might actually begin to happen.

James 1:22-24 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Created to Crave Community… Christine McDonald

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , on February 8, 2019 by paulthepoke

Every single day, our lives are filled with opportunities to connect with others in meaningful ways. In times gone by, neighbors were friends who chatted over the backyard fence, played board games on Saturdays, mowed each other’s lawns, and borrowed sugar and eggs. Today we are surrounded by people all the time, yet we exist in a world where we share a mutual unspoken expectation to keep to ourselves. We have separated ourselves from our fellow humans into a world of isolation and superficial contact. Yet we are commanded to love our brother as ourselves.

https://crypurplemovie.com/

What would happen if we defied that isolating expectation and began to notice those we interact with? What could happen if you looked the cashier at the grocery store in the eyes with a smile and asked, with genuine care, how his or her day was going?

God has hardwired us to need one another, to respond in kindness, and to crave community. Somewhere along the line, the church seems to have lost that concept, or at least the fullness of the concept. Paul says in Romans 12:4-5, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” We are to be as one. Yes, we are hardwired by God to crave community!

Look around. Who have you trained your eyes to ignore out of discomfort, or even because of things deemed too painful to consider? Those who are different from us (this may include those who are homeless, those who are prostituted, those with disabilities, or those from a different ethnic or socioeconomic background) are sometimes the ones we are most comfortable blinding ourselves to. Yet they are the ones most in need of being seen.

God has promised that His grace is sufficient. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) He has equipped us to see even those we may be afraid to notice. But they need you. And believe it or not, you need them.

Lord, open our eyes to see those you’ve called us to see today. Help us to step out of our comfort zone and look beyond ourselves. Help us to see your passionate love for others in such a way that we are compelled to love in the same way you have loved us.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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