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...because they're sitting in my parking spot

"Could you call the police and have them remove the homeless people from the front of the church? I just had to swerve around them because they're sitting in my parking spot."

No lie. This happened at a church just last week. The end of the story is, the two homeless individuals were escorted off the property! How do we think Jesus would have treated these people? I regret that at church, the impression of Jesus these people received was of rejection. How about giving them something to eat? Inviting them in to sit in the worship service? Since when do we as the church think we are too good to serve others? I must question our very existence? If we do not exist to serve Christ, we are simply another social club. Not to mention, we each are only one choice away from being in a situation such as that. We should watch out that we avoid cockiness - we are not guaranteed an easy life.

At another church, a man in a baseball cap walked in and sat in the back of the sanctuary. On the way in, he was stopped by three church members who questioned his wearing of the cap inside the church building. He explained to them he recently had cancer spots removed on his head and is required to wear a hat, much to their disapproval. Little did they know, that man was the well-known speaker for the weekend and international missionary. Are we really more concerned about a man's baseball cap than whether he is welcomed at a place where he could come to know Jesus if he does not already know him? I am speechless.

So this is Valentine's Day week. I like to make every special occasion as fun and exciting as possible (on a budget, of course), so the girls and I have been working on a few projects. There is enough garbage in the world that love is desperately needed and people will take it from anywhere! Let us be living representatives of the love of Jesus! He loved on people, touching them, hugging them, spending time with them, regardless of their social standing.

So far, we have delivered princess valentines to our friends at the gym we attend, teachers at church, and delivered a big card to our friends at our local Chick-fil-A. Yes, the employees get paid, but they are genuinely kind and relational to us. We feel like family there and we appreciate that they go above and beyond. We also made pink chocolate chip cookies to deliver to some other friends around town too. By the way, desserts must be chocolate, or at least contain chocolate, to make them worth eating. These cookies are the best of both - pink with chocolate! Yum!

Every single person has a story. If it is the angry customer who yelled at you in the store, the person who cut you off in traffic to get ahead, the neighbor who snubbed you, or the person you work with who constantly criticizes. It does not excuse the behavior, but to realize that person is struggling with something in life helps to understand their negativity is a result of hurt. Maybe they have financial hardships, health problems, lost someone they love, have no support from home. Maybe they never had parents who cared. Sometimes people respond with the only way they know how. Sometimes that is hatred. Sometimes people just do the best with what they have and all they know.

Instead of getting involved in some juicy story about someone, investigate for yourself and search for truth, not just a shocking story because it is more fun to believe. I understand the difficulty, but if we could respond in a loving way, it just might change someone's day and maybe even life. God had grace for us and our depravity when He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for all our mess-ups. We, as flawed people, should exercise the same grace to others. Most of us have probably heard that before but do we extend grace to people regularly in everyday life? Make it a point to be aware of others TODAY who may need grace. Change the way you think. Change the way you live your life. Retrain your brain to 1) become aware of peoples' need for grace and 2) actually practice grace.

Love Challenge: Find someone this week to show love toward! Follow through. Make the effort. Rarely will people give time anymore. Be a blessing in someone's life. Christ gave his life for you!



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