Bob Goff: Love People Like the Rules We’ve Made Up Don’t Apply.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.

ROMANS 12:10

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

Birthdays are the only time we celebrate people just because they exist. They don’t have to do anything special that day—no book launch or graduation or job promotion or space shot. We celebrate them because they were born.

I love birthdays so much that I’ve started doing away with the birthday system where we only get to celebrate people one time a year. Think about it: Jesus performed thirty-seven miracles, depending on how you count them. Our friends are the thirty-eighth miracle. Now, that’s something to celebrate. Those closest to us are a gift every day—fall, winter, summer, and spring. They make bad days more bearable with their comfort and attention. They make sweet moments all-out celebrations because their presence amplifies our joy. Whose idea was it to only set aside one day a year to bake them cakes and shower them with gifts?

That’s why I make it a point to send friends balloons on random Tuesdays or flowers at the end of a mundane workday or a package full of surprises, just because. Sometimes I throw a dinner party with Secret Santa gifts in July. I’ll get on the grill and Sweet Maria will bake a cake and we’ll shower a friend with affection because they were born and they bring us such joy. It’s not to cheer them up or affirm their achievements; it’s just to tell them they’re a gift to the world.

Break the rules that say you have to contain your love to specific days. Pick a person and celebrate them today. We don’t need to wait for permission to throw a party.

Who can you celebrate today? What will you do?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Enough is enough. It’s time to let Christians sing again.

Following the success of the vaccine role out, it’s time for churches to open up the doors and let the music play, says Sam Hailes, Editor of Premier Christianity magazine:

At the start of the pandemic I was asked whether I thought churches would comply with the restrictions being placed on them. “Yes, they will,” I said, “but not indefinitely.”

Most leaders have been willing to close their doors temporarily (when case numbers have surged), and require their congregants to wear face masks when attending services. Desperate times have indeed called for desperate measures. But as the pandemic peters out, the ongoing ban on Christians singing is provoking consternation from across the denominations. John Stevens from the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches has said its “disappointing to see government asserting restrictions are still necessary” while Dame Sarah Mullaly, the Bishop of London, has promised to challenge the government and “press for ongoing appraisal of choral and congregational singing”.

We recently considered the controversial question of whether Christians in the UK are persecuted. Personally I think ‘persecution’ is the wrong word. But I have some sympathy with those who consider the indefinite restriction on congregational singing a breach of our religious freedom. How else can you explain the fact that I could walk into a pub right now and sing my heart out, but I can’t do the same in my local church? Why can fans return to football stadiums and chant “Inger-Land, Inger-Land, Inger-Land”, but Christians cannot sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?

14 things you (probably) didn’t know about Christianity, but really should

Nobody gets to heaven by being good, faith is not a blind leap and there’s much more evidence than you think. In this article from Premier Christianity magazine, Church leader Andrew Haslam clears up these and other common misconceptions about Christianity.

Most people I talk with who are not Christians have a lot of deep misconceptions about this religion. In a way, this is odd, given our rich Christian heritage in this country. But it also provides some great talking points in this otherwise (often) awkward subject of conversation. So, here’s my list of fourteen things you probably didn’t know about the Christian faith, but really should.

1. Churches are not buildings, and the buildings are (almost) unnecessary

A church is the people; a particular group that has come together to form a family despite often having zero things in common. This means that you could knock down all those old church buildings in Britain and the actual church (the group of people) would not be wiped out; arguably, it would flourish.

Continue reading “14 things you (probably) didn’t know about Christianity, but really should”

Bob Goff: If We Avoid Being Identified With People We Disagree With, We’ve Traded in God’s Brand of Love for Popularity.

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

MARK 1:38

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

A few of my best friends happen to be creative geniuses. Think Einstein with a paintbrush or a Moleskine making word-pictures. I’ve learned a lot about the power of well-told stories from them, but even better, I’ve watched them live beautiful lives. They’ve taught me we’re all constantly telling a story with the things we share online, the people we hang out with, the way we engage or react to the events around us, and the words we use. Brands are what cowboys put on cattle, not what we call our love. The way they engage their lives is more like a watermark. It’s something you only really see when you hold it up to the light.

These days, I pay more attention to people’s patterns than their statements. Some are like an all-night television show—all theology all the time. Others focus on business and making money. We each have our own metrics for how we define success and contribution to the world.

Have you noticed that someone will say something a certain group thinks is great but another group will tear it to shreds? Or maybe someone will have a bad day, and their tribe will send love and support for all to see, but those who have a different worldview are slow to encourage. They might even be a little combative or give off the impression that they are quietly delighting in the headwinds someone else is facing. It goes beyond these things.

Jesus invited us to walk in a different way. He wasn’t concerned with who people saw Him associate with. He was an image bearer, not an image maker. He was seen with religious leaders and loose women at the same events. He didn’t care about money or status. He cared about the state of people’s hearts. He showed us how to tear down the walls that divide us.

If we avoid being identified with people we disagree with, we join the crowds. We’ve traded in God’s brand of love for popularity. We’re just one more voice calling for Barabas. Be like Jesus instead. Stand in silence if you need to, but offer words of hope to all, whether you agree with them or not. Jesus was more concerned with seeing other people than managing how they saw Him.

What would be different if you cared less about your image and more about loving others?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love

Bob Goff: Don’t Be ‘Right.’ Be Jesus.

These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

ISAIAH 29:13

Here’s a page from Bob Goff’s book of daily reflections, Live in Grace, Walk in Love:

We all know what it’s like to watch board game night with friends devolve into civil war. The beginning is always promising: someone brings up Pictionary or Charades and you split into teams, ready to laugh. Then it all takes a turn when someone with a competitive streak takes charge. Maybe they were cut from their middle school basketball team or have an axe to grind because they lost a board game when they were five. Whatever it is, the competitiveness fills the air in the room like a thick fog.

Rules emerge that no one knew about. Even the rules have rules. It’s no fun anymore. It quickly becomes obvious to everyone that being right isn’t as important as being together. What happened? It’s simple. The purpose of the game is to enjoy one another, not to win. If someone takes it too seriously, they ruin it for everyone.

Life works the same way. We can be so consumed with being “right” that we miss the opportunity to just be together. Humble people stay quiet when speaking up might cost them a friend. They know life isn’t a competition. There’s no winner or loser in God’s family because everyone has access to infinite love and grace. There are no more chips we can collect or play money to hoard. Don’t trade a dozen great relationships for a few unverified rules.

Here’s a pro tip: Don’t be “right”; be Jesus. Be the one who brings people together and is self-aware enough to know that the purpose of our lives is to lift everyone up, not put people down.

What would change if you cared more about being loving than being right?

Bob Goff: Live in Grace, Walk in Love