On The Journey, Judy Bowman

Keeping it simple

We can take something as simple as “love your neighbor” and make it incredibly complicated. Those of us who follow Jesus Christ know that love is the heart of His message and He went about showing us how to live that love during His ministry here. We see Him healing sick people, bringing dead people back to life, comforting folks who are grieving and befriending folks most people avoided, like tax collectors and lepers and adulterers. And He ate and drank a lot, with anyone He could find. Loving other like Jesus loves seems pretty simple when we read the Gospels, but when we look around today, sometimes it feels like Christianity is more of a business than a love affair.

And that’s understandable since any time a group of people come together for a common purpose, an organization will grow up to provide oversight. Girl Scouts have troops, baseball players have teams, churches have pastors and bishops. But I’m not talking about churches or denominations. This is about how we Christians, as individuals, have made our faith overly-complex. I’m pretty sure none of the twelve Apostles had advanced degrees in theology. And yet they took what Jesus had taught them and the grace He shared with them — and changed the world.

Love your neighbor. That’s what Jesus did. His neighbors were the people He came across in His daily life. They were His family, the folks at the synagogue, the fishermen and farmers and shepherds that He encountered each day. They were the sick people who came to Him to be cured and the Pharisees who came to Him to condemn Him. He met them in the moment, where they were, with an openness of heart. He listened to what they had to say. When they were in the wrong, He corrected them. Remember, “go and sin no more”(John 8:11). How about “you serpents, generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?”(Matthew 22:33). He cut through all pretense and social convention to meet their needs.

How do we love like He loves? This is one of the great questions we should be asking ourselves every day. It never gets old to ask it. And it never feels as if we know the full answer. Maybe the answer is one of the things St. Paul was writing about when he said, “For now, we see through a glass darkly…”(I Corinthians 13:12). While that may be true, right now, we’re here on earth, trying to love, trying to get it right. So I have a challenge for all of us this week. This week, we’re going to love like Jesus.

Let’s talk less and listen more. When we’re tempted to judge, let’s remember our own sins and lay that rock back down. When we see a problem that we can solve, let’s solve it. Pick up the trash, hold open the door, meet up for lunch, visit the nursing home, and make that overdue phone call. Connect with the friends and family and neighbors that we’ve been neglecting. Mend the fence. Right the wrong. Forgive the slight. Help someone else when it isn’t convenient or easy. And then keep that helping to yourself. Be a pushover this week and see how it makes you feel. As St. Ignatius prays, “Lord, teach me to give and not to count the cost.” Just for this week, let’s try not counting the cost of our love — either in time or in energy or effort. Just for this week, let God keep score of how well we’re doing.

“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, He will NOT ask, “How many good things have you done in your life?” Rather, he will ask, “How much LOVE did you put into what you did?” — St. Teresa of Calcutta

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Pleasant Valley Baptist sends a special invitation for you to worship with us each and every week. It would be our honor to have you join with us.

Pleasant Valley Baptist has resumed normal in-person service meeting times, Sunday at 11 am and 6 pm with Wednesday Bible study at 7 pm. All services will be available on Facebook as well. Continue to act wisely and be safe.

Pleasant Valley Baptist had a wonderful worship service and dinner recognizing and celebrating all veterans on this past Sunday. Many veterans were in attendance. The Rolling Thunder group presented the Table representing the missing in action who have served our country preserving our freedoms. Each item of the set table was explained as each has a special representation of the missing. There continue to be some 80,000 missing in action. They also presented the flag ceremony explaining what each color and character means as well as each of the 13 folds of the flag in triangular folded form. The special guest speaker was Sgt. James Bode, Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient. Sgt Bode was encouraging of the times in which we now find ourselves. God and the Bible are the answer to the problems we now face. It must start with the church consisting of all who have put their faith in Christ. We must understand we are nothing and can do nothing to have the hope of eternal life. Apart from faith in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in our stead we have no hope. All are sinners, all need Christ as Savior. Whosoever will repent of their sin and receive Christ will be saved. Pray, confess your sin, by faith, believe and accept Jesus and His finished work of grace on the cross as payment for your sin. We need only to believe and receive in faith.

Pastor Flood brought the message from Ephesians 6:10 addressing the warfare we face. Sadly, more often than not, we endeavor to fight the events of our lives in the flesh. We fail to realize it is a spiritual warfare we face. The devil blinds us and goes about seeking whom he may devour. We are no match to fight against him in our own strength, but are more than conquers trusting in God and His Son. We must fight this war in the Spirit not in flesh and blood.

Pray for our country. These are times never experienced before. Living in the last days before the return of Christ in the air for all who have placed their trust in Him, the true church. Pray for God’s mercy, wisdom, and help. Pray for our President and other leaders. God raises men up and puts men down. America is experiencing the results of choosing to turn away from God. Our hope is God and as a nation we must repent. Let revival begin within each of our hearts. Pray for revival and souls to be saved.

Continue to pray for members Mike Cross, Denise Pitts, Betty Pitts, Larry Armstrong, Pastor and his family, myself, Glenda Smiley and all who need our prayers. Pray for our shut-ins Dot McAllister and Lula Petty, health needs. Pray for those who have recently lost loved ones. Pray for our churches, missionaries, and evangelist. Praise the Lord always.

Join us Sunday mornings at 11 am and evenings 6 pm for in-person services. Sunday services are available on Facebook and YouTube with Wednesday Bible study on Facebook at 7 pm.

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