Love in 2018

Several years ago, I was invited to speak at a big Presbyterian church in Ohio. The church had had some problems. Apparently the former pastor had been secretly letting a group of homeless men into the church at night so that they would have shelter during the freezing winter months. He was secretive about it, because he knew the church members would not like it.

All went well until one of the church women came early one morning to set up for a bridal shower luncheon.  She was greeted in the church kitchen by a homeless man with nothing but a church-owned towel wrapped around him.

Turns out that the pastor was also letting the men use a washing machine meant to clean church linens for just such occasions as the bridal shower luncheon.  The guy had striped down naked to wash the only clothes he owned.

That was the week they fired their pastor.

I was invited by the interim pastor to come and speak.  He had been the interim for four years at that point. He told me that when they first hired him, he evaluated the situation at the church. And as he did, he came to realize that the members simply didn’t know how to love.

They didn’t know how to love each other.
They didn’t know how to love their pastor.
They didn’t know how to love those in need.
They didn’t know how to love God.
And they certainly didn’t know how to love themselves.

So every sermon he had preached the entire four years he was there had been about love.

In 2018, I am going to spend the year blogging about love. It’s what the world needs.  It’s what the church needs.  It’s what I need.

So scroll down to see the latest posts. Or join me daily by following my blog or liking my Author Page on Facebook.  Note: On Facebook, you’ll have to not only like the page, but go under “following” and default “show first” or “notifications on” – otherwise Facebook won’t send you the blog.

Love (and I mean it!),

April

LOVE

Lord, I am Having Trouble Loving!

Dear God,

Today I am having trouble loving. My problem is with the authorities who are separating the immigrant children and their parents.  But not just them, I am having trouble loving the citizens who support the authorities who are ordering this to happen.

Today, these are my enemies. I want to pray for their demise. Surely they are who Jesus spoke about when he said,

“…the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…” (Mat 8:12 NRS)

Gnashing of teeth!  That is what I want to happen to them.  Jesus must want it too! I am angry just like Jesus! But wait, Jesus also said,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;” (Mat 5:44 NRS)

Forgive my lack of love. Forgive my desire for retribution. Forgive my lack of desire to pray for all those who practice and support the evil against these families.

Give me strength to love. Give me compassion for the enemy, because if you don’t, I can not find it in myself. Give me strength to stop judging and condemning. For that is not my job.

You have given me the job of speaking truth while loving–even the enemy.

Make me unafraid to speak truth–to call out this evil, but to do it because I want the enemy to know there is a better way for them to live–a way where they can share the blessings you have given them.  A way where they can live in peace and joy instead of selfishness and greed.

Let your love shine through me. Make me good at being your daughter.

Amen.

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God Living in Us

boy helpsIf we love one another, God lives in us and God’s love is made complete in us.
— 1 John 4:12

This little guy saw an elderly woman–a complete stranger–trying to climb some stairs.  His mom stopped the car so he could help her.  Another stranger filmed it.

ABC news tracked him down through his mom’s license plate.

Look out for ways to love one another today! Be someone’s hero!

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Be the Adult who…

Your gonna meet people at work, in your neighborhood, at the gym, even at your church Who are SMARTER than you.
Who have a nicer car, a bigger house, a better looking spouse than you.
Some might even be better and younger looking than you.
Some might have more money in their 401K than you.
IT DOESN”T MATTER!!!
You can be the one who always loves!
And that really means something!

Be the Kidd

April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Possessions and Love

Once St. Francis was asked why the Franciscans desired to give up all material belongings.  He answered…

“My Lord, if we had any possessions we should also be forced to have arms to protect them, since possessions are a cause of disputes and strife, and in many ways we should be hindered from loving God and our neighbor. Therefore in this life we wish to have no temporal possessions.” — St. Francis in The Legend of the Three Companions.

How do what you and I own hinder us from loving God and our neighbors?

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

 

 

Love is a Match in a Windstorm

This article is a reprint of an article written by Brooke Sexton
and published by the Simple Way in their May 2018 newsletter. 

At a recent Passover Seder, someone said that love means embracing complexity. I didn’t think that was true 20 years ago.

I thought (as The Simple Way name suggests) that love was simple. You just love.

When we started The Simple Way, I could see the path clearly. We would love. We would love each other, our neighbors, our enemies. When things were hard, we would love more. When we were hurt or vulnerable, we would love like Jesus loved and trust in the resurrection.

One of our dearest friends from those early years passed away recently. Casey was the perfect example of a good man addicted to heroin. I can’t count the number of times he cleaned the kitchen when I was exhausted from a day of cooking for whoever had come to the door.

Sitting on the steps, we would talk as much of my struggles and relationships as we would his. We drove him to countless rehab facilities and welcomed him back over and over again. We visited him in jail and went with him to identify his wife’s body at the coroner’s office. He held me when I cried, and he stole the Cuisinart my parents had given me for Christmas.

It was complex.

After a couple of years at The Simple Way, I would have told you that life and love were simple but hard. Now, I tend to think they are complex because we are.

I don’t think my young adult self was wrong. I’m thankful for the open trust she had, the community that held her up, and the love she was able to give and receive. But it wasn’t until I embraced the messiness, the unfairness, the ugliness, and the bittersweetness of loving people that I was able to actually do it.

Casey got out. He got clean. He moved away and got a job. Then, he reunited with his daughter and married again. Every morning, he would get on Facebook and greet the day and his friends with joy.

I’m thankful we shared our lives together for a season or two. Grateful he stole things from me and that he helped me. He taught me love does not grow by being subservient to the idea but by engaging with the person. He taught me how to light a match in a windstorm.

— Brooke

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Love speaks through the discarded clothes of refugees.

The picture is of an art installation at Canterbury Cathedral. Suspended from the ceiling are the clothes of refugees collected by the Anglicans who met the refugees on the beach with fresh dry clothes. There is a light at the center that glows when the natural light is dim.

“God has chosen to tell the story of humanity through the story of a refugee — Jesus was a refugee whose parents fled persecution… And it was in seeing the discarded grave clothes of Jesus in the tomb, that convinced the disciples that Jesus was risen… My prayer is that the discarded clothes will enlarge our hearts…”

— Canon Revd Nick Papadopulous

There are millions of Hispanic refugees in America who have fled starvation, violence, and joblessness.  They need a homeland.  What if we greeted them with clothes instead of a wall? It would be like greeting Jesus, wouldn’t it?

There is a short, but excellent video about the installation
that you can watch by clicking here.

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

What is Love?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. — 1 John 3:16

Putting your life on the line for someone else… wow!  Now that’s love. But most of us won’t ever be put in that situation.

But have you ever needed people to just stand up for you? Have you ever needed people to just step in and give you a hand? Have you ever been hurting and just needed someone you could trust to talk with?

And no one showed up.

This is love: you are there for those who need you — not just when it is convenient or easy. But you are there because they need you.

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Made for Love

“We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family, God’s family.” — Desmond Tutu

You are God’s masterpiece. So am I. So is your neighbor. So is your enemy.  Make sure you live this truth.  Make sure everyone who meets you knows how delighted God was when they were created! How much God loved them. How they have infinite worth to God. And treat them as such!

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Be Best

Be Best? Be Your Best? Be The Best? Or why not just Be Perfect?

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” (Mat 19:21)

Being The Best by definition means that there are others worst than you.  It’s a competition that isn’t always supported by loving your competition.

Being Your Best is a bit better, but it’s complex.  No one has time to be their best at everything. How do you decide where you will put your time and effort? Does it matter that you are doing your best at learning math, but not your best at loving others?

So… heck with being best.  Why not just be perfect? Jesus tells us how in the verse above. What he has to say is a summation of the radical love that Jesus calls us to — giving up what I have for those who need it.

Be best? Be perfect? Or Love Radically?

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on the Wipf and Stock Website.

Love has the Final Word.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Live differently with me! Refuse to accept unjust world systems as normal. Let us make room in our hearts for unarmed truth and unconditional love. You have my permission to hold me accountable to this!

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April has written a unique Disorderly Parable Bible Study series for groups and individuals that teaches the lessons of scripture through modern parables. On Sale: Kindle Version is $2.99 for a limited time on Amazon. Paperback is 40% off by entering “Parable” at checkout on Wipf and Stock Website.