A Story of Love In Action

When you think about love what do you think about? Hearts, flowers, holding hands? Well today I’m not talking about romantic love, I’m talking about loving your neighbors. I’m talking about what scripture means when it says in Mark chapter 12, verses 30 and 31. Here is what those verses say:

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

Let’s talk a bit about loving your neighbors. This year at TFC we have a student who struggles with mobility. She uses a walker and it is really a chore to get around a campus as large as ours. One of our staff members put out a request through social media to locate an electric wheelchair for this student. Let me tell you what happened.

Our Stephens County Sheriff, Randy Shirley, saw the request and made some contacts on his own. He located a beautiful red electric wheelchair that had barely been used. He contacted the owner, made the donation arrangements, and picked up the chair. The Sheriff’s Office cleaned the chair, charged the batteries, and delivered it to the student here at TFC. I only wish you could have seen the student’s face when she took her first ride in that chair. Her life was just changed.

All of us at TFC want to thank our Sheriff and his staff for demonstrating to all our students what loving your neighbor looks like in action. In a world that now records law enforcement conducting their daily business and looks to criticize their every move, it’s too bad someone didn’t record this special delivery to our student in need. I do know this…our student recorded it. She recorded this in her memory and she will never ever forget the love and kindness shown by our Sheriff’s Office.

They Really Said That?

The world is full of gossip…it’s everywhere. It’s not just at work anymore. With the use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, gossip has spread like wildfire.

Eventually, someone is going to talk about you in a way that hurts and they most likely will not do it to your face. It may be something they say to a friend who just needs to make sure they tell you. It may be something they say on social media. Face it…it’s going to happen to you. Your first instinct might be to get revenge but we know that is not a Biblical response.

So how do you handle the drama and gossip in a Biblical way?

First, when someone wants to gossip to you about someone else tell them you’re not interested. I can tell you this…people who gossip about others to you will gossip about you to others.

What does scripture say about gossip? It says a lot! Here are three verses that address the issue of gossip:

Proverbs 20:19 says:

A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.

Ephesians 4:29 says:

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

How do you handle it when someone is talking about you? Let’s look at Matthew 18.

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

Sometimes people tell me this scripture doesn’t apply because no sin was committed. However, it’s usually the gossipers who say this. I think it’s very clear from the verses I just spoke about that gossip is sin.

So, dealing with drama and gossip is pretty straightforward in scripture. Proverbs makes it simple…don’t hang around with gossips. Second, if someone does gossip about you, go to them and follow the Matthew 18 principle. You might be surprised how much can be accomplished by talking with someone face to face.

It’s pretty evident that God dislikes gossip. Run from it, don’t be a part of it. Instead, as we read in Ephesians, Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Hey…I’m Off to College!

College freshmen…this one is for you. It’s almost time to be dropped off to start your first year of college. I have been watching parents and new freshman go through this ritual for almost twenty-five years.

The scenario looks like this. A car that is completely stuffed comes through the entrance to the college. In the car are mom, dad, and as many brothers and sisters as can possibly fit. Mom and dad look apprehensive. You look a bit nervous but are trying to portray that cool college look. You know the one I mean.

You arrive at the residence hall and begin unpacking. Mom wants to see the dorm room. Dad is making sure everything gets unpacked properly. The brothers and sisters simply follow along. You are looking around to see who is watching and to also make sure you continue to maintain that cool factor through this entire process.

Soon mom wants to get the dorm room organized…new sheets on the bed, towels hung up, and pictures on the wall. Dad is pretty quiet just walking around looking at everything. A part of you feels a little bit embarrassed that your new dorm friends will think your family is a bit weird. You might even want your parents to stop helping so much.

May I give you some advice? Of all days just let your parents dote on you today. Let them get your room set up, let them go to the store for you, let them talk with everyone in your dorm. Your parents need this. Today is hard on them. They are saying good-bye to you. They have spent the last 18 years taking care of you and when they drive away from your dorm today their lives, like yours, have changed forever.

Make it special for them. Let them take a million pictures. Let them pose you for the pictures, let them hug you; let your dad give you his last bit of advice. Let them love you. Let them pray for you. It’s a tough day for them too.

As you think about the excitement of the future your parents will be remembering the day you were born, when you were six and broke your arm, when they taught you to drive, your first date…it will all come rushing in on them.

So today, hug them when you don’t have to. Tell them you love them. Thank them for shaping your life. Thank them for the years of investing in you. Thank them for sending you to college.

…and right before they leave tell them you love them…again.

Hey…I’m Off to College!

College freshmen…this one is for you. It’s almost time to be dropped off to start your first year of college. I have been watching parents and new freshman go through this ritual for almost twenty-five years.

The scenario looks like this. A car that is completely stuffed comes through the entrance to the college. In the car are mom, dad, and as many brothers and sisters as can possibly fit. Mom and dad look apprehensive. You look a bit nervous but are trying to portray that cool college look. You know the one I mean.

You arrive at the residence hall and begin unpacking. Mom wants to see the dorm room. Dad is making sure everything gets unpacked properly. The brothers and sisters simply follow along. You are looking around to see who is watching and to also make sure you continue to maintain that cool factor through this entire process.

Soon mom wants to get the dorm room organized…new sheets on the bed, towels hung up, and pictures on the wall. Dad is pretty quiet just walking around looking at everything. A part of you feels a little bit embarrassed that your new dorm friends will think your family is a bit weird. You might even want your parents to stop helping so much.

May I give you some advice? Of all days just let your parents dote on you today. Let them get your room set up, let them go to the store for you, let them talk with everyone in your dorm. Your parents need this. Today is hard on them. They are saying good-bye to you. They have spent the last 18 years taking care of you and when they drive away from your dorm today their lives, like yours, have changed forever.

Make it special for them. Let them take a million pictures. Let them pose you for the pictures, let them hug you; let your dad give you his last bit of advice. Let them love you. Let them pray for you. It’s a tough day for them too.

As you think about the excitement of the future your parents will be remembering the day you were born, when you were six and broke your arm, when they taught you to drive, your first date…it will all come rushing in on them.

So today, hug them when you don’t have to. Tell them you love them. Thank them for shaping your life. Thank them for the years of investing in you. Thank them for sending you to college.

…and right before they leave tell them you love them…again.

I Lost A Friend This Week

I lost a friend this week. She had been sick for the past year, suffering tremendous bouts of pain throughout the process of dying. The long battle with her health had been evident. You could see the tiredness in her face. Finally, as her husband held her in his arms she died…that fast…that quickly. It was over.

But that is not the end of the story. Something very special happened as my friend departed for her heavenly home. What was it? She smiled. Remember the tiredness I told you about that was visible in her face? It was gone and was replaced by a smile. Now what would make someone smile in the moments before death? Well something sure did. None of us smiles for no reason at all. Here’s why I think my friend smiled. It’s really very simple. She saw Jesus.

I’m reminded of a song written in 1941 by Ester Rushthoi. The song is titled, When We See Christ. Here are the words from the chorus of the song:

It will be worth it all

When we see Jesus!

Life’s trials will seem so small

When we see Christ.

One glimpse of His dear face,

All sorrows will erase.

So bravely run the race

Till we see Christ.

Whatever pain you are experiencing is only temporary. Remember to bravely run your race. Whatever earthly race you are in right now be brave and courageous. Run it with your focus on Christ.

Whatever we are facing right now we can take comfort in this statement from the song. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.

Have You Seen This Painting?

I have a special wall in my office. The wall houses paintings that TFC students have created for me. It’s a special place because it reminds me of the talent and kindness of our students.

When visitors come into my office they often look at various paintings on the wall and ask me who painted each one. I take time and tell visitors about the students and the story behind the paintings.

I also have another wall of family photographs. Again, visitors who stop by my office look at the photographs and someone usually finds one they especially like and inevitable ask me who took the photograph.

Throughout my travels I encounter folks who simply don’t believe in God. They are atheists. Over and over they tell me there is no evidence of a God. Now, how do paintings and photographs in my office relate to the belief of atheists? Let me tell you.

I have spoken and written about the issue of common sense before. The paintings, photographs, and no belief in God are all related to simple common sense. Those with no belief in God look at paintings and assume a painter. They look at photographs and assume a photographer. They look at creation and say there is no creator. They assume the world was created by chance. What? Why would you look at all of creation and not assume a creator? Here is where we find the common sense disconnect. We look at simple things (like paintings and photographs) and take a common sense approach. However, on issues of faith, some folks get so busy arguing scientific and theological positions that they become either unable or unwilling to see clearly what is obvious and right before their eyes.

A painter created the paintings on my wall. A photographer created the photographs on my wall. The God of the Bible created our world. To reach any other conclusion is hard to support. Where there is a creation there is a creator.

Don’t forget your common sense when you look at issues of faith and creation. The answer isn’t always complex.

Maybe It’s Not All About Me

This week I was in Minneapolis, MN on business. As I was walking through the city I suddenly found myself in the middle of the gay pride weekend…one of the largest gay pride celebrations in the country. There were thousands of folks celebrating the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage as well as the LGBT lifestyle in general.

The dress for many of the folks at the parade I can only describe as ridiculous. One man passed me wearing only bright colored gold short-shorts and rainbow colored wings. The language I encountered on the street by many of the gay pride participants was course and sexually suggestive. There was little consideration for others and the tone there can be summed up with this sentence. It’s all about me.

When I returned home I had the opportunity to attend the closing service for a group on the campus of TFC called Worldview Academy. Worldview Academy holds week-long camps all over the country and their Georgia camp is held at Toccoa Falls College. The camp consists of twenty-five hours of classroom training in Christian worldview as well as practical exercises to re-enforce the classroom training. This isn’t a “let’s have fun” camp. This is a Christian worldview academic training camp for high school students.

As I watched these students I couldn’t help but contrast what was happening at Worldview Academy to what I had just observed at the gay pride parade. These Worldview Academy students realized life isn’t just about them. Life isn’t about being the center of attention. Life is about following biblical mandates including the biblical mandate of serving others while telling them about biblical truth. These Worldview Academy students weren’t afraid to speak about the power of grace while also speaking biblical truth. Our conversations about biblical worldview need both of these components…grace and truth. One without the other produces an unbalanced perspective.

I was again reminded that here in Toccoa, Stephens County, the State of Georgia and throughout our entire country there are folks committed to living Christ-like lives. Don’t ever think you are alone in your service to God. There are millions of believers committed to living Godly life and telling others about biblical truth and grace. It’s time for all of us to take a committed stand for Christ and biblical truth. The world needs to hear about the power of a Christ filled life from you.