Martin Luther King’s life should motivate us to serve others

We celebrated Martin Luther King Day Monday on his actual birthday.  His life, although flawed like the rest of ours, showed that He loved God and wanted to exhibit the fruit of His spirit noted in Galatians 5  For those of you who didn’t read my last blog post, I share that this verse will be a focus for me as I try to live out my One Word for 2024 prayer. Here is what I wrote a couple of years ago on how we can be motivated to live better lives with a heart of service.  
On this day do you remember? There is a reason that Dion’s song, “Does anyone here” remains one of my favorites. When we fret about where our world is today, look back. I was 11 when JFK was killed and 16 when Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were also assassinated. It was a very divisive and scary time. My question on this MLK Day is not do we remember these men, but in our remembrance, how does it motivate us to be better men and women?In preparation for the MLK King Day in 2022, I had the privilege of helping our local newspaper find people to share their thoughts on what Martin Luther King’s life meant to them. Here is the link should be interested in what was written Dr. King lived a life that left a legacy for all to follow. It causes us as Jeff Burton writes, to “ask ourselves, how is it today that I can act; what can I do to leave this place better than I found it; to do our small part to inspire others for good” Nathan Walton, in the publication noted above, asks, “What story are we telling?…..This day gives us an opportunity to tell a new story for our own moment” As we look back this MLK quote should help to move us forward.  “We have come a long, long way but we still have a long, long way to go.”Former City of Promise ED, Mary Coleman writes that our story needs to be one where we have learned from the past so we can be exhorted to help make a brighter future. She asks, “Where do we go from here? Will we choose chaos or community in a unified manner that King describes as persevering togetherness.” Yes! There is my 2022 Word. Unity. Uncompromised Never-ending Intensity Toward YES! We can be motivated by others to make our story one that sets an example for those around us. It can be a story line that causes Breakthrough by lifting up others and like MLK, motivating them to pursue peace while making a positive difference in the world versus creating divisiveness and selfishly ignoring those who need our help. Dr King was in no way a perfect man. But he was a man who believed he was redeemed by His Creator and called into a work that would ultimately cost him his life. This gives me hope as I hope it will you. It teaches nothing is impossible for those who love God. Luke 1:37 promises us “that we have the privilege of serving a God who can literally do anything, and there is nothing that is impossible for him.Therefore let us strive to live out the beatitudes noted in Matthew 5:1-12Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you..Like Dr King, When we live our life this way, we will leave our personal legacy that others will continue because of the way you motivated them.Please subscribe to this blog so you can receive an email notification when new content is posted. I can be reached by email at [email protected]

Do not be discouraged. Do not allow yourself to despair.

Psalm 27:14 simply states, “Wait for the Lord. Be Strong, Take Courage. Trust in the Lord.” Over the last year, I am guessing, like me, many of you have struggled with trusting God given all that is going on in the world. Every time it looks like things are settling down giving us a glimmer of hope, we hear that the virus is mutating, virus cases continue to spike, and despite the promises, the vaccine continues to be out of most of our reach. Whether it is being lonely, out of work, knowing people who are sick; These things are creating angst in all of us. I would like to write that these challenges will be soon be over. Instead, I want to share what I have learned during this self-isolation season of my life.
As I try to embrace the uncertainty of these days, one thing has become quite clear. The Bible’s call to trust God and serve others is what lifts me out of the feelings of despair or discouragement. Writing this blog post is a great example of this thought process. There was lots going on this weekend and I just didn’t feel like writing. I asked, “what do I have to say about remaining thankful in all things?” What I have to say is finding ways to serve others can make the difference as it lifts you out of your own pity party when you see what you do for others can make a difference. Here are a few messages I received over the last couple days that what we do for others can have a positive impact while also lifting our own spirits.
“A little reflection on Christian love…..You are a precious friend. I will always remember you and Dottie’s love and support.”

“Michael. Thanks for your steadfast communication with me.” “The Lord used you right on time this AM. One day I will explain how this meant more today than you can know”

“My mother truly appreciates your thinking of her and the support”

The scripture says in John 15:10,11 “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” The commands Jesus is talking about are found in the Gospel of Matthew 22:37-39. Jesus replied: “‘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.’

I have found that encouragement comes from knowing God loves me. I then try to focus on sharing that love by serving others as He has commands. It has worked for me. I pray and believe it will work for you too!

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For what are you longing?

In a world where we rarely agree any more one thing is for sure. We all long for this time of sheltering in place and social distancing to be over. Living our lives via Virtual zoom, FaceTime, youtube, etc. is wearing on us all. How that happens and when is a different question but it is impacting every one of us. Some feel strongly we need to stay the course and not have folks venturing out to fast. Others have lost their patience and are saying enough is enough. Like the newscaster in the movie, Network, they are acting upon their feelings “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more.” They are going to take their chances with the hope I won’t come down with Covid19 or give it to someone else. They are willing to risk “the long term consequence for the short term opportunity of being with friends again”.

My hope is we won’t be too quick to judge others. That we will extend grace to one another understanding we are all dealing with something that is new. When faced with adversity, we all are not going to react in the same manner. It is no surprise that one recent study shows, 30% of us show symptoms of clinical depression. It begs the question, for what are we longing as we wait? If we can get our arms around that question, I think it can help us persevere through and relate better with those around us. It certainly did for me as I battled back from Guillain Barre Syndrome during the spring months of 2019. Little did Dottie and I know we would once again battle through another type of adversity during those same months in 2020. Hopefully what we have learned will in some way help you during this challenging and stressful time. Which brings me back to the importance of longing for something.

When things were at their worse, we chose to focus on staying in the present with our motivation being what’s next? What can we do next? Longing for an unknown future did us no good. All we could control was what we did in each moment that would hopefully make me better the next day trusting in verses like Psalm 46:1,2 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way  and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” As an example, I went into the hospital on March 1, 2019 and we honestly never asked when the experts thought I would be able to go home. We sensed longing for something given our uncertain situation would just lead us into discouragement. We chose to stay focused on OK this is where we are right now, What can I do next to get me a little bit better tomorrow.
I believe there is a parallel between this thought process for my GBS recovery and how we all should be dealing with this season of Coronavirus. Taking it moment by moment, day by day helped keep us from spiraling down into discouragement. Interestingly enough, the last two weeks in rehab were the worst. Why? Because once they told me I would go home on 4/25, I lost my in the moment thinking. All I could think of was going home. My rehab room felt like a prison. Sound familiar? Most of us have handled this stay at home order well but we now can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is causing all of us to lose the discipline of staying in the moment. We are losing our patience because we desire and want something we can’t control which creates angst & frustration.

Staying in the moment is essential when we face a challenge but thinking of and serving others can also help you through this difficult time. When we start succumbing to the desire for a “pity party” try getting outside yourself by doing something for someone else. My good friend Bill Clark shared in a recent blog post that understanding we are all in this together is critical. “Romans 12 “the body” United upward, inward, outward. indispensable every part matters. Each of us matter. Interdependent and connected as there are no such things as an isolated walk w Christ. Most of the Yous in the Bible are You all. Therefore resentment and bitterness is like a cancer. We are the body to shine the light of Christ. We are to follow Him so he can lead us outward to serve and care for one another so the world can see what God is like. Others are to encounter God through us.

I long for the world to be a better place than it was before Covid19. A world where we learned a slower pace is good for our health. A world where we see we are all in this together with a keener awareness of those in need. A world where we believe and stand together knowing each one of us is precious in God’s sight. A world where we don’t think as much about our rights but instead, as we venture back out, we think about how our actions are impacting those around us. It won’t be easy but if we try it moment by moment “What can I do next to serve someone” mentality we will have done our part in making our community a better place.

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