As I mentioned last week, Bob Goff came and spoke at our church yesterday. As expected, he delivered in amazing ways, and I even had the opportunity to meet him. He is so friendly!
Listening to Bob Goff speak is like hooking your head up to a firehouse and turning on the water full blast. I took quite a few notes as Bob shared. I may dissect them later, but I thought the best way to start reflecting on Bob’s message might be to simply share my notes. Here they are:
All this in 30 minutes, and it went by so quickly.
This coming Sunday, my church is hosting a guest speaker, and I am pretty excited.
I love the pastors at my church and what they bring to my church week after week. Sometimes, they need a break, and they look for someone to fill in. The leadership and worship planning teams did an unbelievable job planning for Justice Day at my church this Sunday. I’m not sure how they did it, but they arranged to have author, speaker, lawyer, and founder of Restore International, Bob Goff, in to speak at all three services at my church this Sunday, January 11, 2015.
I came across Bob a few years ago when friends in the blogging world introduced me to his book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World. The book itself tells the story of Bob and his whimsical pursuit to live out God’s love in every day life. Love Does is one of the best books I have read in the past five years. You can read the review I wrote about the book by clicking here (and you can get your own copy of the book by clicking on the link below).
If you happen to be in and around the Philadelphia area this Sunday, I would encourage you to find some friends and come up to Christ’s Church of the Valley in Royersford, PA. Service times are 9:00AM, 10:15AM, and 11:30AM. Hope to see you there!
A Hispanic woman and her three small children set out on a long journey to a city forty miles away. They had one large suitcase with rollers which contained all their belongings. They didn’t have a car or a cell phone. They simply had their suitcase and their tiny legs. She had just enough money to pay a taxi to get to them to the city. She couldn’t call a taxi though without a cell phone, so they set out on their journey walking along an old railroad track that had been converted to a recreational path where bikers, runners, and walkers could be found in multitudes especially on beautiful, sunny days. Secretly, the woman hoped she would find someone who could help.
Shortly after beginning the journey, she saw a woman on a bicycle approaching from the other direction. As the bicyclist came closer, the Hispanic woman began waving her arms in an effort to get her to stop. It was not hard to miss the waving arms and the three small children, but the woman on the bicycle stared straight ahead and even appeared to speed up as she passed the Hispanic woman and her three kids.
Not giving up, the family continued down the trail. A third of a mile later, the woman noticed a runner coming towards them. He was drenched in sweat, but he was going slow enough that woman felt more confident that she could get his attention. She waved her arms, and the runner slowed to a stop. He removed one of his earphones which was connected to the smart phone which he held in his hand. In her broken English, the woman proceeded to ask the man for some help calling a taxi. The man was clearly perturbed – “How dare this woman interrupt his workout?” He made up some dumb excuse as to why he couldn’t help her. Then he put his earphone in and ran off in the other direction.
The woman was starting to get a little concerned. She still had a long way to go, and no one seemed interested or available to help her. The small family walked slowly down the trail toward the city. After walking a mile or so, they came to a small park. This was a good place for the family to take a break. The kids made their way to the small playground in the park while the woman found a nearby park bench where she sat down and began to pray. She needed to find help soon or she would be forced to find cover in the woods along the trail for the night.
After a few minutes of prayer, she opened her eyes and looked up to check on her kids. They were still busy playing on the playground. Just past the playground, she noticed an older man resting next to his old ten speed bicycle. The man looked a little disheveled with tattered clothes and a face that hadn’t been shaved for several days. Tied to his bike were a sleeping bag and a black garbage back filled with who knows what. This was clearly not the person you’d expect to provide any assistance.
The Hispanic woman decided it was time to get moving again. She rolled the suitcase over to the playground equipment, and she began gathering her children. The old man stood up and walked toward the woman. Unsure how to respond, the woman froze and looked away. As the man drew closer, he removed his weathered hat, and he spoke softly, “Can I help you?” Startled, the woman looked down. Could this man really help? Could she trust him? Remembering her prayer just minutes ago, she explained her situation to the man. The man smiled, and he told her he could help. After a few more exchanges, the man asked the woman to stay in the park for fifteen more minutes. He explained that he would be right back. With few other options, the woman agreed and told the children to head back to the playground. The man got on his bicycle and rode away. Should the woman stay and trust this old man, or should she take her kids and walk on down the trail? She wrestled through with this question as she waited for the man to return. About fifteen minutes later, a yellow mini-van with the letters T – A – X – I prominently displayed on the sides and roof of the vehicle pulled into the park. The old man stepped out of the driver’s side, and he invited the young family into the taxi as he opened the side doors. He loaded the suitcase into the back, and they were on the way to the city.
This story has haunted me for a couple of months. I was the runner in this story, and this happened to me early in July before I went to Guatemala. I’m not sure what happened with this woman and her small children, but I trust they are okay. I kick myself, because I could have done something to help this woman and her children. I had a smart phone. I could have looked up the number to a taxi service and called on her behalf. I didn’t have any money on me at the time, but I could have run home, grabbed my wallet, and returned to give her money to help pay for the taxi service. But I didn’t. It was inconvenient at the time. I was late for something that probably didn’t matter that much, and I was in the middle of a long workout. I’m willing to travel to Guatemala to help those in need, but I miss out on opportunities like this right in my own area. When will I learn that these types of interruptions may actually be God-given appointments? The words of our mouth have to be more. If they don’t turn into actions, we are simply blabbering. I don’t want to be a “blabberer.” I want my faith to be real. I want it to be shown by my actions. I want to have a mission mindset right where I live and work. I can’t change the past, but I can look toward the future. May God keep my eyes open for these opportunities, and may I keep my hands ready to serve others right where I am.
It seems like God is hitting me over the head with a message recently. Following Christ and sharing His love is so much more than words – knowing words, memorizing words, and studying words.
While I think it’s important to read, study, and understand the Bible, I think it’s so much more important to put these teachings into action – into following Christ with our hands and feet. This message has been hammered home in a few different but obvious mediums.
First, I was catching up on my blog reading on Saturday morning when I came across this video in a blog post by Ryan Tate at Discipulus. In the video, Francis Chan shares some simple but obvious thoughts about discipleship – what it is and what it is not.
What’s up with equating “Bible study” with knowing God anyway? Wouldn’t it be a horrible thing if we studies the ones we loved instead of bonding in deeper ways by doing things with them? I’d never want to get married to a girl no matter how much I studied her. I’d rather take her sailing or fishing or eat cotton candy with her on a Ferris wheel. I don’t think knowing what her name means in Greek is going to help me love her more. In fact, they have a name for guys who just study things about a person they like but don’t do anything about it – they’re called bachelors.
So I started getting together with the same guys each week and instead of calling it a Bible study, we call it a “Bible doing.” We’ve been at it for fifteen years now, and I’ve found there’s a big difference between the two. At our Bible doing, we read what God has to say and then focus all of our attention on what we are going to do about it. Just agreeing isn’t enough. I can’t think of a single time where Jesus asked His friends to just agree with Him.
Finally, I was in church on Sunday morning when our guest pastor, Paul Williams, asked the question in his sermon – “What if we loved our neighbor as ourselves?” In Paul’s sermon, he used the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to point out that anyone and everyone is our neighbor. Then he used the story of the Rich Young Man (Matthew 19:16-30) to remind us that we’re to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and part of this is learning to love ourselves. Finally, Paul turned to Matthew 22:15-40. In this passage, the Pharisees and Sadducees are having a conversation with Jesus. (These men were known to have the Bible (The Old Testament) memorized knowing every single law that was supposed to be followed. At the end of this passage, Jesus answers questions thrown out with a famous passage, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how much we know about the Bible if we’re not loving God and loving others with all we’ve got.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Three times nailed over the head in a matter of 24 hours. Do you think God was trying to tell me something?
The truth is I grew up in a pastor’s family. I was known as the Bible geek in my freshman English class for knowing all the answers to the Bible questions. I’ve even prided myself on the knowledge I’ve gained and retained along the way. Knowledge is okay (and is important for maintaining a sound doctrine and for reminding us of Biblical truths and standards), but action is even more important. James states it well:
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17
I get so tired of all the political back and forth at this time of the year. One side is trying to find the candidate who is the most Christian. The other side is trying to find a government who will fix everything and create programs for our neighbors. Wouldn’t it be a different world if Christians actually stepped up and loved their neighbors with action and not just words. I think this is a challenge for all of us – including me. And that’s how I’m being stretched right now! I want my faith to be more than words.
How about you? How are you loving your neighbor? Is your faith and love for others based on words or based on action?
A couple of months ago, I gave away Love Does to a lucky reader on my blog. I hadn’t read the book at that point, but I had heard some good things. Now that I finished the book for myself, I can see why Love Does deserves all the attention.
Love Does is a collection of stories from the ordinary life of author, lawyer, and big thinker, Bob Goff. In Love Does, Bob takes readers into an extraordinary world by matching up things that we might consider ordinary with thoughts and actions that go beyond normal. I love this! It’s part of my goal for my own blog – to see God’s love through the ins and outs and ups and downs of daily life. I think Bob does a wonderful job seeing God’s love in the things that happen in and around is life.
Love Does inspires readers to quit studying and talking about love. It inspires readers to put love into action. Love becomes an action word – a verb – when we open our eyes to see love lived out in every opportunity and moment. Bob challenges readers to put down the books about love and to stop all the theoretical talk about what love means. He challenges readers to go out an put love into action.
Bob’s stories are meant to be shared, are meant to inspire, are meant to encourage action. Love Does is a book that I will come back to from time to time for reminders and inspiration. And I recommend Love Does to anyone who desires to discover an incredible life in an ordinary world.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Last week, I announced that I would be giving away two prizes to lucky winners. The winners were selected randomly, but their chances increased based on interaction on the blog and other social media platforms. This was the first time, I’ve tried something quite like this, and I’m happy to say that the results were promising. I added several new subscribers to the blog and new fans of the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook Fan Page. There were also new commenters on the blog this week, and The Stretched Blog received several plugs this week via Twitter. Overall, the blog experienced the third highest week of traffic since the beginning of the year. I will definitely be trying this type of giveaway again.
Okay, I’ve delayed long enough. Here are the winners of this month’s giveaway:
(Mark entered by being a fan of the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook Fan Page.)
(Tim entered by being a subscriber of The Stretched Blog.)
I’ll be reaching out to the winners this week via e-mail to confirm mailing addresses. Thanks to everyone for entering this month’s giveaway!
What would you like to see me giveaway next month? What other giveaways should The Stretched Community check out?
This month, I’m trying something new – a giveaway! I’ll give away Platform by Michael Hyatt to one lucky winner, and I’ll give away Love Does by Bob Goff to a second lucky winner. Both of these books were recently released and are on my “to-read” list. You can increase your chances of winning by taking the following actions:
(1) Subscribe to the Stretched blog. On the right side of the main page, there’s an easy place for you to enter your e-mail, so you get Stretched delivered to your e-mail everyday. I’ll give you 5 points for this task. (If you’re already a subscriber, you’ll automatically get 5 points!) I won’t share your e-mail with anyone else.
(3) Post a link to this blog on Twitter. In order to get credit for this task, you must include my twitter handle in your tweet – @jonstolpe. I’ll give you 2 points for this task. I’ll throw in 2 points each day that you tweet this between now and the end of the contest.
(4) Leave a comment on this post. Finally, I’ll give you 2 more points if you leave a comment on this post. The best comments will answer one of these questions. What is something that you have won in the past? What do you think I should give away next month? What is on your “to-read” list?
You have one week to enter this contest. I will announce the winners next week.