Be A World Changer in One Minute

So often I look at the dreadful status of the world around me and sigh and wish that I could change things in a significant way. This moves me to join with organizations that are making a difference either through participation or through contribution. That is not a brag… I’m far away from being able to brag about myself in this matter.

I wonder how often we fail to make a difference in the world because we’re always looking at some IMMENSE problem that demands a GIANT solution? What if we could change the world in one minute or less in a simple way?

I don’t know if she knew this was going to happen but Ashley C. Ford (Twitter @iSmashFizzle) did just that back in December. One area that touched her heart was the unpaid lunch debts at the schools around her. So she just made a suggestion in a tweet:

A cool thing you can do today is try to find out which of your local schools have kids with overdue lunch accounts and pay them off. (LINK)

Depending on your experience with Twitter, you may know that thousands of tweets float by in the universe every hour and you won’t see the vast majority of them. But sometimes they catch your eye.

At the time Ashley had  66,000 followers.  Enough of them saw and retweeted so that this simple suggestion began to grow wings.  By now that tweet has been retweeted more than 13,000 times.  Every time it is catching someone’s eyes. 

Lindsey Bell noted that Kristina Arwood, a resident from Evansville, Indiana, helped raise $20,000 to pay off lunch debts in her area. She told CBS News, “It really hit home for me. . . . I grew up on free and reduced-price lunches, but even that 40 cents was hard to get together with four kids. There were times I wouldn’t eat because I didn’t have money and didn’t want to be labeled as the poor kid.” (LINK)

The Today Show ran with the story and you can read some of the amazing results of this tweet HERE.

What touches your heart? What is it that catches your breath when you hear about it? 

I’ve been blessed to know a number of these influencers. One person I’ve never met in real life but who has had a great influence in my world is Mike Ellis. He’s one of those who doesn’t let anything keep him from reaching out and helping others. Another world changer is Aaron Reddin who was inspired to love the homeless people of Little Rock. His world changing idea was to buy a van and stock it with stuff the homeless need and take it to them. This has grown as others have gotten on board. Or Mike Baumgartner who refurbished an RV and turned it into a kitchen and goes where disaster strikes to make food for victims and helpers…and this has also evolved.  Quincy Gardner has gathered around him an army of helpers who come to the aid of people truly in need. 

Stack of Cards from Love in the Mail Group!

I once had an idea that if I could get 100 people to agree to send 1 card with 1 dollar to 1 person per week that we could change the lives of 52 people per year. So I started a group on Facebook called Love in the Mail. We’ve sent cards and dollars to over 100 people now. We still don’t have 100 participants, hovering around 70. But to me that’s a simple plan, a simple idea, that makes a big difference. Let me know if you want to join in!

The one thing all of these people have in common in the beginning is that they had an idea of a way to help someone and they just put it out there. There is, in most people, a heart of compassion that needs an outlet. 

So what idea have you had that might change the world in one minute? Why not just tweet it out or share it on Facebook or call a friend and ask if they want to join in? I have a little project right now that I’m about to ask some friends to join in and help. Maybe I can help change someone’s world in one minute. 

I’ll be watching for your world-changing idea!

You should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you – Jesus, Matthew 7:12

Thanks for reading. JD

Disappointment

11.06.14Disappointment is a common human experience. What person cannot look back upon his life and discover disappointments either within himself or with others? Something about the human spirit that God created tends to heal up our disappointments and drive us to hope once again.

When I think about the disappointments I have experienced at the hands of others, I visualize some situations that were hard to forgive. Sometimes it takes years.

One of the healing remembrances for me, however, is to consider the ways I’ve disappointed others. Seeing the splinter in someone else’s eye is hard to do with the plank so deeply embedded in your own.

In some sense life is a roller coaster of trust and disappointment. We become accustomed over time to the rise of faith, and the fear of falling. While we are in the throes of fearsome twists and turns we swear we’ll never do it again. But how many people get off of the ride and get back in line? In truth one of the most debilitating things in life is to be hurt and to simply live in it. There are no easy answers when disappointment leads to bitterness, and bitterness to defeat.

Disappointment hurts. But it is not without merit. From each occurrence of disappointment we learn more about our own discernment and strength. We gain insights that we didn’t have before. We wouldn’t ask to learn this way, but we should not curse it.

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Disappointment with others and self are powerful. Disappointment with God can be a shattering experience. When the last and ultimate safety net doesn’t seem to be there anymore, how do we relate to God? Apostle Paul uses a term that’s hard for me to embrace. He takes about learning to ‘rejoice in our afflictions‘. That doesn’t come natural for any of us. Paul points us to the healing balm for disappointed hearts.

…We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~Romans 5:3-5

When you’re disappointed, remember that God’s love is overflowing in your heart through the Holy Spirit. The hope that is produced through your struggle will never disappoint you. When we see the world as God does … filled with broken people who need His love and salvation … we cannot stabilize our hearts in wounded zones. We will emerge from a time of reflective healing into new gains in wisdom and strength.

If you are burning from disappointment right now, do not despair. Endure. A blazing work of God is transforming your burden into new levels of leadership, compassion, and devotion to Him.

Thanks for reading, John.
  

Crushing The Spirit

6.3.14
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.  Proverbs 15:4

The expression of emotions, thoughts and ideas can be a landline or landmine. They can connect people and bring new energy to the heart … or they can explode and destroy the hearts of others.

I sometimes see parents in the marketplace speaking so nastily … sometimes cursing … to their children and it hurts me. Can we even imagine how it is hurting that child? How will that child replicate the crushing words and  hurt others?

The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? Proverbs 18:14

I’m sure you’ve noticed in social media how quickly people say crushing things to one another. It is easy to sit behind a screen and type out malicious words that are meant to cut deep into the heart of another person.

This happens when teenagers (and younger children) bully one another on the internet.

This happens when people write untrue things about others. Once it is posted no one can estimate how many people will see it. The hurt spreads.

This happens when people allow sarcasm and criticism to fill their responses to others.

I think the worst I’ve seen is the responses to news stories. People think because it is a news story about someone who was caught doing something wrong that there is no more need for boundaries and they can say whatever they like.  Some people are tried and executed online within 30 minutes of a breaking news story with very few details.  In a close second are political posts.

When people who are not Christians post in that way, we have no expectation that they will follow the guidelines of the Bible for communicating. But when I see Christians posting in hateful ways it really confounds me and causes me to be embarrassed of a brother or sister.

To those who have been hurt by the painful words someone has written your way, I encourage you that God is mindful and near.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

To all of us I want to send a reminder. You are to speak life and encouragement to others. Bring healing and hope to those who read your words.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

Don’t be guilty of crushing the spirit of another person.

Thanks for reading, John

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Is February for Failure?

CASimpleLoveANote-vi34-1It’s February. You know, the month when your new exercise equipment begins to gather some dust. It’s the time when those New Years resolutions seem like they were made a long time ago. What were we thinking, anyway? Yes, for those of us in certain quarters of the South it is time for Mardis Gras (otherwise known as ‘Fat Tuesday’ … can I get a witness?) Oh and if you aren’t lured in by the giant donut known as ‘king cake’ you are bound to fall into the chocolate lure of Valentines Day. This is not to be associated with the Valentine Day Massacre, unless we are speaking of destroying our eating and exercise plans. Yes, February is a short month, but a deadly one. I don’t know if we could have stood 31 days of it!

Well, maybe not for everyone. There are those among us who are the strong and the proud, unwilling to yield and who quickly rebound from failures. I’m glad, because I need you. I need to see that it is possible and that healthier goals are not out of reach. In case there are readers who are wondering if they can make it through February and into March, I wish to affirm that you can, indeed, make it. February does not have to be failure in the least. It can be a time of victory. I’m choosing to believe it.

A friend said to me today, “I know you can do it.” For that moment I believed him. I’m going to hang on to that.

Time passes quickly. We are in the second month of 2013, a year that has not made a great impression so far. I have too many friends who have stood at the graveside of their loved ones in such a short time. Instead of falling into new habits, I seem to be falling into old ones. Escaping the ruts of life is no easy task. But it’s not impossible.

So for today, I’m declaring that February is not for failure. We really must choose to be watchful over our lives. Whether it is food or faith …. habits or hangups … I know you can do it. I heard a wise person say that recently. I believe.

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Sunset To Sunrise

Below is an article I saved many years ago. I thought I’d share it with you as we approach Resurrection Day!

~John

Sunset to Sunrise by W. T. Allison

It could well be said of the early followers of Christ, “They came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun and found it empty,” and life was never the same again. Christ had turned their sunsets into sunrise.

At SUNSET, it seemed that the universe did not care what happened to the Righteous One; at SUNRISE, the disciples knew that the tomb could not contain the Lord Jesus.

At SUNSET, the cross seemed a horrible implement of execution; at SUNRISE, it became a reverent and holy symbol, before which the world kneels in adoration and rises with inspiration.

At SUNSET, the grave, sealed with an immovable rock seemed to be conclusive evidence that death was at the end; at SUNRISE, man was given hope that he can outlive death. The empty tomb represents victory for every child of God.

At SUNSET, hopelessness abounded; at SUNRISE, hope did much more abound.

At SUNSET, a Galilean rabbi was dead, Jesus of Nazareth; at SUNRISE He was truly the Christ of God, the risen Lord of Glory.

At SUNSET, the obscure disciples were a timid, discouraged, disillusioned, weary lot; at SUNRISE, they were transformed, confident, courageous crusaders who went forth to defy kings, to proclaim Christ, and to change the world.

Resurrection Sunday was a day that changed the world. If you can catch the spirit, power and significance of this day, it can change your life and can turn your sunsets into sunrise.

Thomas was not going to believe that Jesus shad been raised form the dead. He replied, “Except I see, I will not believe.” Then the risen Lord appeared, and Thomas, falling down, cried, “My Lord, My God.” Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you believe; blessed are they who have not seen me but who believe.”

If you will only believe the resurrection of Christ, it will turn all your sunsets to sunrise. He arose!!!

From the church bulletin of the Creekwood Church of Christ, Mobile, AL, date unknown.

Out of the Loop

I can’t remember who shared the above video on Google + yesterday, but I am afraid that I identify with it too well. Just mentioning Google + probably has a number of you saying, “what’s that?” Well, those of you except the ones who are caught up in the loop.

There is no end to the communication available on the internet. If Facebook somehow slows down for you, switch over to Twitter. You can’t keep up with Google + if you have enough people in your circles. Texting, emailing (are there personal emails any more? I seldom get one!) … it’s an awful lot of connectivity. My Luddite friends roll their eyes and try to figure out how to read a text if one arrives on their 1999 model phone.

The truth is you just can’t be in touch with everyone all the time. We just thought we were “surfing the net” when we used to go from website to website. Now we’re surfing the virtual relationship social networking world where we send out sentences to thousands of potential readers.

I got out of the loop for a while today when my friend Darin called. I see Darin once a year at Tulsa Workshop. Darin does some amazing work for Christ at New Heights Church near Oklahoma City. I was happy to spend some time with him on the phone today just talking about a lot of great things. He really encouraged me and the time was a blessing. I didn’t have to key in any words, Google any phrases, or “like” anything he said. I “liked” the whole thing.

In a recent edition of Dan Williams‘ email called Preacher Stuff (which is wonderful!), he shared an article about the lost art of letter writing. When is the last time you received a hand written letter?

Maybe we don’t get out of the loop enough. I mean, we may not all be completely immersed but we all certainly spend enough time on the net. I will be honest – I love it. I love all the connections and sharing of information. I enjoy keeping up with friends that I do not get to see. My 30th high school reunion was last weekend. Though I did not get to go, I enjoyed the pictures and posts about the event. So this is a long way from dumping the internet, but it is an encouragement to step out of the loop. For a while every day… the real world is all around you!

As someone put it (somewhere on the internet!) … an email or facebook post can never take the place of a hug.

Now I’m going to go post this link on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Stumble Upon, Tumblr …

Heading back in,

John