My FAVORITE Super Bowl Commercial ~ PRO LIFE!
Just in case you were wondering...yesssss!!! This one made me cry.
"It might not be easy, but it'll be amazing."
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” ~ Hebrews 13:1-3
“As Brothers and Sisters”
Family is the strongest natural relational bond we know. When they go well, familial relationships provide great joy and stability. This is how it was meant to be. We all know that, in reality, this is often not how it is. We all have our dysfunctional family stories. In fact, the very first sibling relationship ended poorly. Unfortunately, thanks to human nature (see below), strife and discord often characterize these relationships, leading to division and sadness.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” ~ Psalm 51:5
But when the writer of Hebrews instructs us to “keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters”, the author had in mind a beautiful godly love indicative of healthy family relationships. Think Joseph, forgiving his brothers for ditching him in a pit…Miriam watching over her brother Moses as he floated in a basket on the Nile…the fellowship of the Acts 2 Messiah followers:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” ~ Acts 2:42-47
Wow, what a model to live up to! May it be so for us!
Have you ever hosted a stranger? This is a very unusual and potentially mystical event, according to the apostolic writer to the Messianic Jews.
One day many years ago, when our children were young, a bedraggled-looking man was walking along our street. It was cold out; he had on a trench coat and was huffing a backpack. We invited him in. He sat in our kitchen for a few minutes. We offered him a warm beverage and a snack. We talked briefly and he did not stay long. I just remember thinking, “We have a complete stranger in our kitchen, someone who appears homeless.”
I can’t recall the conversation, just that we chatted a few minutes and he warmed up. No idea who this man was and we never saw him again. An angel? Maybe? Who knows?
More recently, last summer, I looked out our front window and saw a man on a bicycle sitting in our front yard, under a large tree. It was pouring rain. I had seen him biking around town before, but had never met him. I ran outside and invited him to park his bike in the garage and come inside until it stopped. He wouldn’t come in, but I stood in the garage with him until the rain abated. We chatted briefly. Angel? Probably not. Either way, an interesting interaction.
“Remember Those in Prison”
We have a family member who was in prison for almost a decade. She had a couple of federal drug possession convictions and then had a third strike and was sentenced to ten years in a maximum security prison by a wicked judge who eventually stepped down before being disbarred. I wasn’t particularly close to this family member but decided to do something outside my comfort zone. I wrote letters back and forth with her for years. I even travelled to a far-off state and visited the federal penitentiary where my cousin was incarcerated. This was not comfortable. That was not the point.
"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
Mentor a Prisoner
The Crossroads mentorship program connects people inside prisons with people on the outside, like you. These mentors help their students study and understand the Bible. They also write letters to their students to remind them of God’s unconditional love. Link for more HERE.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” ~ Hebrews 10:24-25
I share these stories, not to brag but to spur. It’s good to be spurred on and I'm thankful for the myriad times I have been spurred on. Just in the past two months, multiple family members—my sister from another mother and my sisters in my local congregation—have blessed me, with meals and messages for a hungry belly and a hungry soul. So many have spurred me on to love and good deeds! Have you spurred lately? How are you spurring? Let’s spur!
“Liking” is A Feeling...“Loving” is An Action
I was recently convicted. My conscience—my inner God-given voice—told me that I was thinking wrongly. I had developed a decades-long bad attitude that the Holy Spirit was calling me out on. Years ago, I heard some good ole’ Baptist preacher call this “stinkin’ thinkin".
Like King David, the Psalmist, I cry out:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." ~ Psalm 139:23-24
“Shawn, I have never asked you to like anybody.”
This notion of liking is wrong and my sinful nature had casually justified it. I like raspberries and dark chocolate. I don’t like sardines. But what about my feelings for people? Sure, there is a lot of behavior I don’t like, in fact a lot I loathe. But when it comes to the actors, the people behind the actions, where in God’s word am I given license to loathe or dislike people?
Yes, in the two verses adjacent to the above, King David asserts:
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. ~ Psalm 139:21-22
But then THE King of kings and THE Lord of lords says this about my responsibility toward my enemies, toward those I dislike. In a statement as stunning as it is succinct, Yeshua/Jesus tells us to:
“…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." ~ Matthew 5:44
The fact is, THIS is the reality of Kingdom living. If I am to submit to my King, I am to live according to his Word…to love those who are unlovely, unlovable…to love those who hate me, whose aim it is to hurt and destroy me. And, if I am really honest, I am not always lovable, lovely, and yet I am loved.
Yeshua/Jesus continues…(I am using theologian Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, The Message, for emphasis:)
“If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” ~ Matthew 5:46-47
And so, is love just a feeling? Of course not. Love is an action.
God gives us a striking example of what love is in Exodus 23, verses 4 and 5:
“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.”
And ultimately, Yeshua/Jesus shows us the pinnacle of love in his atoning and sacrificial death for us. Rabbi Paul, talking about our Messiah’s love in Romans 5:7-8, describes it clearly:
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Lord, forgive me for not loving as I should and help me to love—in word and deed—like you. Give me opportunities and help me show hospitality to strangers. Help me remember those who are in prison and those who are mistreated, as if I were suffering.
"Those who are mistreated”
Vaccination is a hotly-contested subject that can ignite great passion. In the interest of informed consent and consistent ethics, the following hyperlinks provide evidence-based information about vaccine ingredients and testing. Cell Lines Used for Viral Vaccine Production
See The Personhood Alliance’s official position on vaccine ethics HERE.
Excerpts of Personhood Alliance's resolution:
"The production of a vaccine or any medical therapy derived from the remains of a human being intentionally killed is wholly unethical and should be made unlawful. The Personhood Alliance affirms the inalienable right to life of pre-born human beings, regardless of the manner of conception, and thus, their right not to be trafficked, commodified, and/or experimented upon. The Personhood Alliance also affirms the rights of all people to refuse medical treatment and to reject violations of their and their family members’ bodily integrity, moral conscience, and Constitutional protections through forced or coerced vaccines.
The Personhood Alliance affirms that, while the family, the Church, and the State have distinct spheres of authority, the State is subordinate to the family and the Church in matters of vaccination. Therefore, we acknowledge that Christians of all stations have a duty to reject unethical vaccines, to inform others of the connection between abortion, human trafficking, and biomedical science, and to publicly demand that ethical alternatives be produced, tested, and brought to market by pharmaceutical companies and public health officials."
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice." ~ Proverbs 31:8-9