Monday, June 25, 2018

A Thank You Is Great, But Encouragement Is Remembered

     Yesterday, I received some wonderful encouragement on my website ( https://jesusalive.cc ). After reading it, I got into the shower and felt lead to write a blog about it. My original title was "A Thank You For The Thank You's," and I wrote a whole blog on that. However, after I finished, I realized I missed a BIG point. So, this here my second attempt.

     The story began a few days ago. I received the following comment from a man regarding one of the studies I wrote for the website: "Thanks for the write up. I stumbled across it as I was writing something else. I(t) saved me a good deal of time in research. Many thanks, Stone." I replied back, You're welcome. Glad I could help. Thanks for taking the time to let me know it helped."

     I am always thankful when someone takes the time to thank me for something I have written, or to let me know it has helped them, I should also add it doesn't happen very often. JesusAlive gets around several thousand visitors a day. Out of those, I would say I get one or two "thank you's" a week. Honestly, I don't do what I do for the "thank you's." I would do what I do even if no one ever said "thanks." I don't do what I do to make money (although I am very thankful for those who give). I answer people's Bible questions, and write Bible studies to use my spiritual gift of teaching to impact and further the Kingdom of God. Ultimately, if I feel God is pleased, I am pleased.

     One thing I haven't shared very often is that I started JesusAlive for one primary reason: I wanted to leave a legacy for my children, their children, and generations to come. Have you ever wished you could have a conversation with your grandparents, great-grandparents, or maybe even a parent who is now deceased? Well, that was my goal. I wanted a place where they could go to learn from their parent, grandparent, uncle, or whatever I was to them, about the Bible, and to get Godly counsel. I figured people would come to the website and read the studies, but I honestly had no idea if it would ever go anywhere, However, I have been blessed and amazed to see God using it, and I give all thanks and glory to God!

     But, back to my point, when "Stone" thanked me, I appreciated it. However, to be honest, after a few days, I probably wouldn't have thought about it again. But, "Stone" didn't stop there. When someone makes a comment on the site, I receive an email letting me know. In return, when I respond, they receive an email. Stone received that email. Here was his response:

"I almost let your thanks slide into the trash bin, but it weighed on my mind a bit, You made me feel like I was the only guy to respond or at least you only got a few, which being real honest, in today's society, being courteous in response to someone helping seems to be rare. Don't be discouraged if not too many people respond to your work. This is what came to my mind shortly after I read your comments." He then posted (Lk 17:11-19)(read this!), and followed it with: "Believe not for a minute your words do not reach out and touch many more lives than you know. Because of those like you who reach out to others, even ones you don't know, we all have the ability to accept the Son and become children of the One true God. Even barbarians like me, saved by grace. Thanks again, Stone"

     What a GREAT encouragement! Again, while appreciated his first "thank you," the follow-up encouragement is what I am going to remember. I believe this is a lesson for all of us. Hopefully, as we go through our day, we "thank" people for various things: the waiter who serves us, the person who holds the door for us, the delivery person who drops off a package, etc... At some point, we usually offer "thanks" to those who are feeding into our lives, who are encouraging us, who are blessing us, who are listening to us when we need to talk.

     However, how often do we go beyond this? How often do we take the time to offer some serious encouragement, a compliment they will remember? THIS is what can really change a life!

     I will share one more personal thing about me. My "love language" is "words of affirmation." In short, the primary way I feel love from someone is through compliments or encouragement. I didn't choose this for my love language, and probably wouldn't have if given a choice, but it was how I was created. I should also add that it is a terrible love language to have when working in ministry, especially when your primary ministry is writing studies to share online with nameless and faceless people.

     Working in ministry can sometimes be discouraging, and I am no exception. You might also be surprised to learn that I have a notebook, and I often write out or print out encouraging letters and thank you's I get. When times of discouragement come, I can read these. So, in closing, I want to say "THANK YOU" to each of you who have offered me a "thank you," or encouragement, or a compliment face to face, in a letter/card, on the website, or on social media sites where JesusAlive has a page. What you have written or said may well be in my notebook 😊. May we all go beyond the simple "thank you" to offer words that might be life-changing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Note To "Christians" Who Hate Donald Trump

     I write this just a few days after yet another famous actor spewed out his hatred of President Donald Trump at a Hollywood awards ceremony. For this speech, he received a rousing ovation from his fellow colleagues. In my lifetime, I have never seen such hatred poured out upon any President (or perhaps any person at all). We see this unrelenting hatred displayed daily on the news, on late night t.v. shows, in our newspapers, on social media, and more.

     None of this is really that surprising. However, what IS surprising is the number of people who call themselves "Christians" who are displaying this same hate. We should expect "hatred" from those who are not Christian. If a person is not a Christian, they belong to Satan (Eph 2:2)(Col 1:13)(1 Jn 5:19)(2 Tim 2:26), and Satan "is" hate. He hates God, he hates Christians, and in fact, hates everyone (see: 1 Pet 5:8, Jn 10:10, 2 Cor 4:4, Rev 12:10). In turn, those who belong to him have this same hatred within them.

     However, a Christian is the opposite. How many of you remember this old Christian song: "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love?" Love defines a Christian. It becomes a part of our DNA when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It defined the life of Jesus while on Earth. Notice His words in (Mt 5:43-45): "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. (44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (45) That ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven..." 

     Jesus carried this love for His enemies all the way to the cross, praying for those who had put him there (Lk 23:34).

     Putting it bluntly, the Bible is clear that one cannot "hate" AND be a Christian.

(1 Jn 4:7-11)(NASB) Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (8) The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (9) By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. (10) In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. (Also see: 1 Jn 2:9-11, 3:10,14-15)

     I was not a fan of former President Obama. In fact, I believe he took a stronger stand against Biblical principles (i.e. supporting same-sex marriage, abortion), than any President in history. (And, godless Hollywood loved him for it). Did I "hate" President Obama because of this? Did I take every opportunity I could to attack him? Did I make fun of his personal appearance (as many do of Trump)? No.... I prayed for him. The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1-3). (Note: It is virtually impossible to sincerely pray for a person you have hatred towards.) In fact, I wish I could have had a chance while he was in office (or even now) to sit down with him and share what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To show him how Jesus could transform his life. 

     We can "hate" things that the Bible calls sin (I speak of this here), but we cannot "hate" the person who practices them. While I vehemently disagreed with President Obama and most of his decisions, I cannot hate him.While you may disagree with things that President Trump says (some things he says makes me bristle), or does, or his policies, a "Christian" cannot hate him. Do you believe that you "don't really" hate him? I urge you to consider your words. I urge you to consider what you post on social media. The Bible tells us that the words that come out of our mouth show what is in our heart:

(Mt 15:18) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth the heart; and they defile a man.
(Mt 12:34) O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
(Lk 6:45) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
(Prov 23:7) For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he...

     I urge ALL who call themselves Christians to examine themselves (2 Cor 13:5). Do your words and actions show love? Do they reflect Jesus? If they don't, perhaps you need to consider if you truly have a personal, saving relationship with Jesus.

(Eph 4:29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

*** P.S. This blog applies not only to "Christians" who hate Donald Trump, but who "hate" any person.

We Are Family!

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