The Purpose of this Blog

To challenge others to step out of their comfort zone and show the world the love of Jesus Christ through random acts of kindness.

Jesus teaches about salt and light

"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world - like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don't hide your light under a basket! Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:13-16 NLT)

How it all started

It was a cold December morning in Chicago. Air temperature 18 degrees. Wind chill zero degrees. I was travelling North on IL 53 just South of Palatine Rd. It was 9:30am.

I was in the left lane as I made the slow curve around Arlington Race Course when I saw a car pulled off on the right shoulder, hazard lights flashing, the left rear tire was flat. As I blew past I noticed exhaust from the tailpipe - the engine was running - and the silhouette of a woman in the drivers seat. There was no way that I could get over three lanes to stop and help, so I continued on.

This is nothing new - it happens every day. I see people broken down everywhere I go. I tried to make myself feel better by reasoning that she has already called someone, and that help is surely on its way. But the Spirit wouldn't let me go, not this time. The weight on my heart was too much to ignore.

I had heard a message not too long before this, and in the message was a quote from Dr. Edward Everett Hale which said,

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

I am an industrial equipment mechanic by trade. Although I don't do a lot of automotive repairs, I am fully capable of changing a flat tire. I can do this. So, why am I refusing, in my mind, to help this person in need? I decided in that moment to change my course and do the one thing that I can do.

I managed to get over and take the next off-ramp. I took a few back roads and made my way back to the highway. It was 15 minutes before I saw the car again, hazards still flashing. I pulled in behind the car, threw on my insulated cover-alls, and approached the driver.

I startled her when I knocked on her window. She wasn't expecting anyone. She was talking to her mother on her cell phone, and she was crying.

She had been sitting there for two-and-a-half hours, and no one had stopped. She had called for roadside assistance and was promised a tow truck by 12:00 noon - another two hours from now.

It was wicked cold outside, so I told her to stay in the car while I put on her spare. I don't think that I ever changed a tire as fast as I did that day.

She was ready to go in no time. She thanked me and then handed me her phone. Her mom was still on the line. Her mom couldn't believe that there was still someone in the world that would stop and help, purely as a random act of kindness. I told her that I had to stop, because I could.

Jesus said that we are to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. Salt brings out the best flavor in everything that it touches, and at the same time, acts as a preservative to keep things from spoiling. Light takes away the darkness. We turn on a light so that we can see. And, in the same way, these random acts of kindness should shine out for all to see, so that everyone will give praise to our Heavenly Father.

How many people drove past that young woman? Three lanes of highway traveling at 55 miles an hour for two-and-a-half hours - it was tens of thousands. How many were Christians? How many, just like me, convinced themselves that there wasn't anything that they could do, or that help was on its way? I'm not saying that there is something that we can do in every situation, but if we can do something, than we should do something.

Since this incident back in December 2009, I have made it a point to be more aware of my surroundings, of people in need, of lives that I can touch and give glory to our Heavenly Father.
My challenge to you is to do the same. As Dr. Hale said, I can't do everything, but I can do something. And, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." So, find something that you can do and do it. It may be just a smile and a hello, or an offer to help carry a package. We are so pre-programmed to ignore and avoid getting involved that just simply acknowledging a person is all that they are looking for. Whatever it may be, just one simple act of kindness, might be the first of a thousand steps that will lead a person to Christ. Let Christ's light shine through your action and see what happens from there. And just as easily as it may be the first step, it might also be the last... and, a soul is saved.

If you do touch a life in some way, please let me know.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ordinary People

Everyone loves a hero.  We watch the evening news, patiently waiting for a story about an ordinary person who did an extraordinary act.  It gives us hope.  It makes us feel good.  We hold these people up on our shoulders, have parades in their honor, and give them the credit that they deserve for what they have done.

In the midst of all of the well deserved hype, we often forget that our new-found hero is really just an ordinary person - no different than you and I. 

There are everyday heroes, such as our military personnel and all of the first responders, who's job description is to perform extraordinary acts everyday.  These people are heroes by nature, and deserve all of our praise and honor.

But what about the average Joe that finds himself in a situation that requires action?  And, he takes action.  And, to someone, he is a hero.

We all have that potential in us.

When Christ began His earthly ministry, He surrounded Himself with a group of guys that would be His disciples - His students - His friends.

He could have chosen the elite of society.  There were Lawyers, and Doctors in the first century.  There were Politicians, Religious Leaders and Military Commanders.  There was Royalty that He could have chosen from.  But He didn't.  He chose a bunch of ordinary guys, that would ultimately do extraordinary things.

We know that Peter, James, John, Andrew, and Philip were all fishermen.  We know that Matthew was a Tax Collector - a despised Jew that worked for the Roman Government.  The others, we don't know for sure, so we have to assume that their occupation wasn't worth mentioning.  In the first century, a Shepherd was the lowest job title that one could have.  But, in all fairness to our sheep herding friends, God chose the Shepherds to be the first to hear the angelic announcement that the Messiah - the Savior of the world - was born in the small town of Bethlehem, some thirty years earlier.

Throughout biblical history, God seemed to always choose ordinary people to do His extraordinary work.  God chose Abraham to be the father of a great nation that would be the family of God.  Abraham, for all practical purposes, was a nomad - a man without a nation - a nobody.  Yet God blessed him and made him into one of the few nations in the history of the world that has managed to keep its national identity for over 4000 years, the nation of Israel.

God could have chosen Egypt to be the nation that would bring the Savior into the world.  Egypt, at that time was a growing, powerful nation.  Their engineering skills were legendary throughout the known world.  But, it wasn't God's plan.  If there is one thing that God knows about us humans, it is our propensity to worship idols.  It wouldn't have taken long for the blessings of God to be taken for granted, and for us to start looking at Egypt with glazed eyes saying, "Look how awesome Egypt is!  Look how they have become such a great and powerful nation.  They always were one step ahead of everyone else.  They did it all on their own.  They are a self made nation."  And God would have been forgotten as the reason that they became great in the first place.

No, God chose an ordinary man so that all the world would know that it was God that was behind it.  And, He chose a group of twelve social outcasts to bring His message of Salvation to the world, so that all the world would know that it is the truth of God.

If God could use these ordinary men to bring His plan to the world, just think of what awesome things He can do with you and I.  All that is needed is faith, and a willingness to trust in God's leading.  But, as we know, that is where it starts to become difficult.

Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, "The call of faith is often a call to step out into the unknown." 

Abraham was a very wealthy man, in his day.  He owned livestock.  He had servants in his household, and he had a large extended family.  Yet God asked him to leave his family behind and "go to a land that God would show him."  It would have been one thing if God would have laid out Abraham's travel itinerary - first you'll go here, then you'll go there, and finally you will settle here.  But, He didn't.  He asked Abraham to simply pack his bags and go.  God would show him the way.

I can't even begin to imagine how much faith it took to do something like that.  Is God calling you to do something extraordinary?  He could.  Would you be ready?  Would you go?

Abraham's call was huge.  But, what if God put on your heart to help care for the elderly lady that lives across the street?  Or, babysit for the single mom that lives two doors down?  Would you do that?  Could you step out of your comfort zone, to the realm of the unknown?  Could you go, and then wait for God to lead you?

The bible is filled with stories of ordinary people, that with God's power, did extraordinary things.  Most of the time, they never knew just how extraordinary their act would become.  Theirs was one small part of God's great plan.

Are you ready to do your part?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Who is my Neighbor?

From my dining room window, I heard the sirens and saw the emergency vehicles race to the intersection near my house.  This was about two weeks ago.

I was running late that morning.  Typically, I would have been at the intersection at that exact time.  And, on a typical morning, so would one of my neighbor, "Cliff", who walks his dog every morning.

There is no crosswalk at this intersection.  When the timing is perfect, as it is most mornings, I would trip the light so that Cliff can cross on a green.  But, I wasn't there that morning.

The police officers were racing to gain control of the traffic.  The paramedics were working feverishly to save the person lying in the middle of the intersection, while the firefighters were darting back and forth to the ambulance, bringing the tools and equipment.

I was in my truck and around the corner in a matter of seconds.  To my relief, Cliff and Smoky were standing off to the side.  They had witnessed the accident.

It was a young man who was riding a motorcycle that, somehow, struck a semi-trailer.  Unfortunately, the young man was pronounced dead at the scene.

I felt guilty.  I was overjoyed that it wasn't my neighbor, but I began to feel terrible knowing that this was someones son, or brother, or husband, or father.  He didn't live on my street, but he lived on someones street.

In Luke chapter 10, an expert in Jewish religious law came to test Jesus by asking Him, "What must I do to receive eternal life?"  Jesus asked, "What does the Law & Moses say?"  The lawyer responded, "You must love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength - and love your neighbor as yourself."  Jesus said, "You are right - do this and you will live."  But, the lawyer needed clarification (as they always do), so he asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" 

Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  A Jewish man was traveling when he was attacked by bandits.  He was stripped of his clothes and money, beaten and left for dead.  First a Jewish priest came by, but because of his social status, and rules of ceremonial law, he refused to help.  The text says that he crossed to the opposite side of the street to pass by.  Next came a Jewish temple assistant.  He stopped and looked at the guy, but offered no assistance.  Maybe he didn't want to get involved.  Maybe he didn't know what to do, or where to start.  He sounds a lot like us.  Last came a Samaritan. 

Now, you need to understand that there was a multi-century old hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans.  A Jew would be ceremonially "unclean" if he even rubbed the garment of a Samaritan.  But, in Jesus story, the Samaritan was the one who helped the Jewish guy. 

In the end, Jesus asked the lawyer, "Which one of the three was this man's neighbor?"  Obviously it was the Samaritan, but the lawyer couldn't even get himself to say it.  He answered Jesus, "The one who showed him mercy."  Jesus said, "Now you go and do the same."

Are we prepared to "go and do the same"?  Are we prepared to help someone that we would normally, never even acknowledge?  That's what Jesus has asked us to do.  And, actually, in the original Greek text, the word "go" is in the imperative sense, meaning it is a command - not a suggestion.

More and more flowers keep showing up at the intersection.  This man was loved.  I pray for his family as they go through this time of grief.  We don't know them, but they are also our neighbors.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Creative Giving

My wife and I were enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning, on the outside patio of Graham's 318 coffee shop, in Geneva, IL.  Kathie was sipping her drink.  I had gotten up to go inside when a man showed up with dozens of bouquets of flowers, which he started handing out to all of the ladies.

He explained that they were "day-old" flowers and where to be thrown away.  So, he gathered them up, placed them in the trunk of his car and went around handing them out to anyone who would accept them.  He felt that nothing brightens up a woman's day like a bouquet of flowers.

When he was asked why he was doing it, he simply said that it was a random act of kindness.

He had already gone when I came out of the store.  I wish I could have met him.  Maybe we will see him again.  What an awesome idea. 

By the way, the bunches of flowers had Trader Joe's stickers on them.  I understand that Trader Joe's is very generous this way... Just in case you might want to do this yourself.

God bless you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back again...

I decided to restart the blog that I had set aside... I can't believe it has been two-and-a-half years now.  Though I haven't written in a while, I have still continued to help those in need, in any way that I can. 

The purpose of the blog is to encourage and challenge all of you to step out of your comfort zone and do something for another person.  We are so conditioned to mind our own business and avoid any kind of involvement, that people in need are often ignored.

What is it that makes us look the other way and ignore a person in need?  The most popular answer that I've received is that the person in need wouldn't accept our help anyway, thus creating an awkward situation.  It would be embarrassing - both for the person in need as well as the person offering help. 

Sometimes, we feel like there is nothing that we can do.  We're not mechanics, or rescue professionals, or policemen.  What help can we possibly be?

But, it's not about all of that.  One thing that I have discovered in the past few years of consciously being aware of other people in need, is that most of the time, you don't need to do anything - you just need to be there. 

Years ago, I came across a woman and her daughter that were broken down on a stretch of road that wasn't very well traveled.  They had called AAA, and were promised a tow truck within the hour.  There wasn't anything that I could do for the vehicle, but still, I was concerned about the two of them being stranded alone.  It was late afternoon and the sun was starting to set.  It didn't seem right for me to just drive away, leaving them behind.

I asked if they would like me to stay with them until the tow truck arrived.  Putting myself in their position, I was the proverbial "creepy guy" that comes along when you break down on a deserted road.  They had no idea who I was, and I'm sure they felt very uncomfortable.  Talk about an awkward moment. 

The woman didn't know what to say.  Later, she told me that she didn't want to be out there alone, and was happy that I suggested that I stay, but in my own vehicle, until the tow truck arrives. 

When I first arrived, I had told her that I was a mechanic.  When the tow truck was ready to leave, she handed me her husband's business card.  Her husband owned a machine shop.  On the back, she had written, "This is the guy that stopped to help Nan and me."  She said that if I ever needed any machine work, I should call him.  Her husband and I became good friends.

It was terribly awkward.  She rejected my offer to help.  But still, I did what I thought was the right thing to do.  It wasn't a big deal.  All I did was sit there for about forty-five minutes.  If it was my wife and daughter, I would hope a guy like me would come along.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and offer some help.  It might be awkward, and you might be rejected.  But then, you might just have the chance to show Christ's love through a simple, random act of kindness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Generous Mr. Lovewell

The Contemporary Christian Rock Band, Mercy Me, chose to name there latest album release, "The Generous Mr. Lovewell". A tribute to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who above all, knows how to love - well. What a great title.

The Apostle John was an old man, maybe in his nineties, when he wrote his first letter. And, in this first letter, he felt that it was necessary to remind his children in the faith that it was all about love. He reminded them of what Christ said, "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:34-35 NLT)

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Don't just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other." (Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

We need to be "doers" of love. Sincere love requires concentration and work. Sincere love can help others become better people. It shouldn't be applied sparingly, it should be poured out generously.

As a body of believers, we should have a positive effect on the people around us. We should let the world see that we have Christ's love inside us by generously showing that love, just as Christ poured it out for us. Love should come easy for us. The God of all creation is living inside of us.

He is the author of love, and after all, He is "The Generous Mr. Lovewell."


Isaac is a man that is full of wisdom... a wise soul, as some might say. Although his delivery may be, at times, "rough around the edges", his advice is always right on. I work with Isaac a couple of days a week, and always look forward to our conversations.

I overheard him say to a young woman, as she was passing by, "Smile!" She mumbled her reply. He kindly explained to her, in a way that a favorite uncle would, that if she continues to walk around like a "mope", soon enough it would become her nature. "There goes that mopey girl!"

He continued, "No one wants to hang out with people that look like they are about to bite your head off." "Why don't you smile, and let the world know that you are a good person, you know, someone that they would want to be with?" This time, her reply came in the form of a single-digit, hand gesture.

There had to be something about Christ that made him appealing to the masses. There had to be something about the way He presented Himself that made these rough, tough fishermen, and tax collectors, drop everything and follow Him. They trusted Him before they even knew Him.

Maybe Isaac was right, maybe it was His smile. We should all smile more. Could it be that simple? That, one of the ways that we would let Christ's light shine through, would be a smile? Afterall, it is a trademark of a kind person. And, if our new nature is to include; tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love (Colossians 3:12-14 NLT) than maybe a smile is a good place to start.

It is probably the easiest thing to give to someone else.

He loved, so He gave.

Jesus said, speaking of Himself, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

He loved, so He gave. We think of love as an emotion. And, emotion is one of the definitions. But love, true love, is an action. It is something that we do, not just something that we feel. Love is something that must be shared. Love reaches out and draws others in. Love is self-sacrificing, not self-centered. Love is given freely, with no expectations. Love is giving.

Jesus showed us how to give by showing us how to love. He is the author of love, and He “does” love extremely well.

So, in the spirit of love, today I gave. I chose a Christian relief organization that is working with the earthquake victims in Haiti. I made a small donation, knowing that God will put it to good use according to His will.

Have you given anything today?