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The Beautiful Impact of Loving Your Neighbor

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 4, 2022 6:00 am

The Beautiful Impact of Loving Your Neighbor

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 4, 2022 6:00 am

Patrick Linnell explains how serving and loving others is not a small thing in God’s kingdom. Through the “Grace Bomb” movement, acts of kindness to strangers have had far-reaching results—even bringing people to a relationship with Christ.


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I was really struggling as we walked through the aftermath. It just felt like every day was a struggle.

It was hard to breathe sometimes. It was hard to just function day to day and it was so lonely. When Carrie learned of her husband's affair, she felt betrayed by God. She lost hope until she heard a focus on the family podcast.

The reason why I listened to it over and over again is because it felt like I was sitting down with a friend who was telling me like I've been there and it's okay and you can do this and I promise in the end it's going to be worth it and it just broke me in a good way. I'm Jim Daley. Working together, we can heal more broken marriages like Carrie's and give families hope. Please call 800 the letter A in the word family. That's 800 a family or donate it.

Focus on thefamily.com slash hope and your gift will be doubled. If the creator of the universe is preparing good works for us to walk in, that means that on Monday at your work on Tuesday at the airport on Wednesday at the soccer sideline or in the Starbucks line or at the Safeway checkout or you name it, there could be an opportunity that is just waiting to be stepped into. That's Pat Linel, our guest on Focus on the Family, talking about the excitement and the joy that comes with surprising someone with kindness, the kindness of Christ. Today we'll speak with Pat about that, about growing in our walk with Christ as we serve others. We thank you for joining us.

Your host is Focus President Jim Daley and I'm John Fuller. John, we've all had, I hope, someone surprise us and do something kind for us. I mean, for me, my football coach in high school, it was so awesome and he took me at Christmas to his mom and dad's place in Southern California and we hung out at the beach together over Christmas. It was a little cold, but other than that, it was just so nice for him to notice me, you know, with the orphan kid living with his brother.

So that was something I'll never forget and just, you know, just hanging with them. It was a great thing, but those acts of kindness can leave such a deep impression for a lifetime and they can also be kind of that key that encourages you to keep going. Hopefully it's coming from a Christian person who knows the Lord, that's awesome. And that also is a great testimony and witness to the Lord. Serving and loving others is not a small thing in God's kingdom. I think it's the main thing perhaps in God's kingdom to love your neighbor as yourself and our guest Pat Lenell has come up with a very unique way of expressing that. I'm looking forward to talking to him about it. I am too and Pat has captured his approach to life in this kind of living in a book called Grace Bomb, the surprising impact of loving your neighbors. And we have copies of that here at the ministry.

Just stop by the show notes or give us a call. 800 the letter A and the word family. Pat, welcome to Focus. Fellas, great to be with you today.

So good to see you. And you and your wife, Kristen started dating in high school, I understand. I'm always interested in meeting, Gene and I were out of college, about one or two years when we met. So, I mean, the high school sweetheart thing just seems like the perfect romance. You know, she and it turned out to be the perfect romance. I was good answer. Well, I was so out of my league when it came to Kristen because she was smart, athletic in all the honors classes.

I was struggling to maintain like C average GPA and I didn't play sports and I was seriously, I was seriously out of my league. Have you ever asked her what she saw in you? She saw potential. She saw potential. That's good. She said that kid could do something with his life one day. She obviously has a great heart.

Yeah, great heart, great vision, and man, we're coming up on 19 years. Congratulations. Okay, so what, I mean, one of the things, one of the stories in the book is you were at a Bible study, I think, and this great idea hits you, which is the grace bomb. Yeah.

So tell us how that came about. Okay, so I did not intend to get into vocational ministry. I did, you know, the Lord goes, okay, that's the one I want. Yeah. Vocational ministry. Yeah, I think that's true.

It's when you say I will never. I was like, that is so not me, especially the way it came about. Oh, yeah, I got the business degree. I was thinking, wouldn't it be nice to have a Porsche and a three-car garage and a tennis court in the backyard? It would be.

That security would be nice. But yeah, we ended up going to a small group Bible study and although I had grown up going to church, this was the first time I ever saw young adults taking their faith seriously, like just taking Jesus's words seriously and it blew my mind. I had never been to a Bible study and if I'm a hundred percent honest with you guys, we were expecting when we went some Bible nerds or some really strange folk waiting for some comments to fly by. We weren't sure what we were going to get ourselves into. Sure. However, they were the most down-to-earth sensible like successful young people and Kristen and I just started growing like weeds in that environment that led to me getting into a vocational ministry and having the opportunity to start preaching the Bible and when you preach the Bible you you run into time and time again, this mega theme of God's grace, right?

You can't miss it. It's disruptive and it changes people's lives and it wrecks things but for the good, you know, think about the people's lives are just wrecked by God's grace and then put back together and I'm also a visual presenter. So I'm a little ADHD maybe but stick figures and props. They help me concentrate and so I would draw things and explaining this concept of God's disruptive grace. I just drew a little cartoon unexploded ordinance and said here comes God's grace bomb.

It's going to land on Saul and it's going to change his life forever. He's going to become Paul and you get the idea and that little phrase and that idea started to take root in the congregation that was the seedling for this concept of God's disruptive grace and then later on it became something altogether different, but that was the origin. Yeah, that's so cool.

Sometimes that seems incompatible, but I think I get it. You know, this is a wonderful concept to you know, deliver grace bombs. Yeah, you know, we live in a world of photo bombs and bath bombs and even some people still saying hey, you're the bomb older people older people. I'll say it from time to time to for you know, well, that's nice of you, but we're talking about disruption, but of the best kind and this idea of grace bomb is really a redemptive contrast because we're taking something that men made for evil. God's going to use it for good and the little disruption of your day getting stopped in your tracks by someone doing something surprisingly awesome for you, you just you just have to halt and say well, wait, what was that? Why did that happen and how cool to know or to come to find out that that happened because kindness has a source yeah, and his name is Jesus and grace bomb gently implicates the source of kindness and I think what I like about it, we're going to unfold this as we go. But what I like about it is a it's a bit of structure for you to remember to be on the lookout for an opportunity to deliver a grace bomb.

I mean, that's what you're really driving at. Let's go to a story that illustrates this. I think it's a great story about you and your daughter doing a little date night, but you turned it into the grace bomb night date night, right? So what happened and what took place in that example?

Yeah, that was a beautiful little story. I did not feel like going out or hanging out with people and in general, I feel comfortable with you guys like kind of extroverted we can chat, you know, we're in a cozy studio and people are out there but in real life. I'm very introverted kind of shy that shocks me.

Yeah, I'm out and about my heads down on my phone. Honestly, I grew up in a neighborhood where strangers were danger and you kept yourself and that was deeply ingrained and so I didn't want to mix it up with my neighbors. But the cool thing about this story that you're talking about is Scarlett who was seven years old at the time. She we go on a daddy-daughter date because she asked to and I said, okay, let's go for it. But then on the way into it was McDonald's. That's where I was taking her. She stopped in the middle of the parking lot and said dad, we should grace bomb somebody and that was the first time I know that fell that night.

Huh? And so we we paid the check for the meal some elderly folks at McDonald's and that was fun and you know cool for Scarlett to be a part of to see their expression and just to know that that was a really fun thing to do and that was the planned grace bomb. That was the plan one there. But then what we didn't see coming was later that night. We take the kids off to their little Bible camp and Kristen and I go on a date night.

But because of Scarlett, I had one more grace bomb card in my pocket. We go out to this place called Chad's Barbecue. And if you're ever in Maryland shameless plug the best wings in Maryland or in Edgewater, Maryland little place called Chad's Barbecue serious. No kidding.

God blow it. It's an unpaid announcement unpaid and they're always the best kind right? So, you know, like this place has to be legit. So we sit outside and our server comes up to us and she said all the last young couple that sat out here. They skipped out on the check and Kristen and I both waited tables growing up.

So we know how that felt and the server said, you know, it's not just that I have to pay the 50 bucks, but I feel like they just let me down as a human being. I just got ghosted and I thought we had a rapport in a relationship. So I looked at Kristen, Kristen looked at me and we both had that nudge that tug on our heart and then this would be a perfect opportunity just to drop a little taste of grace in this woman's life. So all we did it was very simple. We just paid our bill and by God's grace, we had the ability to cover the cost of the check that walked out. We left a little grace bomb card a little encouraging note and that was it. We just we left as far as I knew that was the end of the story, but it wasn't the end of the story for the Lord because two months later, I go back into Chad's barbecue in to go line head down on the phone like I do as my introvert self and the owner I've never met before Chad.

He's shouting out above a line of people saying, hey, I know you you're that guy you did that thing. Thanks for doing that thing. That was really cool. And as he's doing that his wife Christy walks over doesn't work there just happen to be a little God moment. She said yeah, everybody was talking about what happened that night.

We're so thankful that you did that for our server. But then she said I'm a realtor and I love putting ideas out into the community to make the world a better place. Would you mind if I take grace bomb and I share it with my business network and here I am in a to-go line trying to get wings and I said Christy, I don't know your story, but if you want to perpetuate the conversation of grace out there in the world, go for it.

Do whatever you want. So I found out later what Christy did. She took $100 bills gave him to her whole staff said I want you guys to go out grace bombing people use these little grace bomb cards and come back. Tell us your favorite story. She took the favorite stories put them in a letter and distributed that letter to her entire business network encouraging them to make the world a better place by grace bombing and I found that out and I thought look at what the Lord does through this little step of faith initially started by a seven-year-old girl and I was seeing how these intentional acts of love can ripple out far beyond what we think but I was also seeing the depth of what God could do because six months after that I was preaching in a church was a Palm Sunday.

I look in the back for the first time ever. I saw Christy Christy comes up after the gathering. She says hey remember me. I'm joining the church and I just wanted to let you know it had a lot to do with the grace bombing things that were happening because 20 years ago I walked away from God and I haven't spoken about him to him since and I had come to find out that 20 years ago Christy was in a youth group heading towards Jesus when the leader of that youth group was tragically killed in an act of gun violence at 3 a.m. and a Dunkin Donuts in Maryland and she thought to herself how could a good and loving God let that happen. She started to walk away a few years later. She was newly married fresh wind in her sails her parents had this long-lasting marriage. That's what she was anticipating and she had an unforeseen divorce and it sent her in a 20-year silence between her and the Lord until about the time. Check this out that a little girl came running up to her dad's car one to go on a daddy daughter date and then grace bomb somebody and it was not lost on Christy that Scarlett had everything to do with how that night went because later Christy was baptized as an adult and she specifically asked via Facebook Messenger if Kristen and Scarlett would be there for her baptism. She hands Scarlett a gift prior to getting baptized. It was a bag and inside the bag was the starfish poem where the kid on the beach sees thousands of starfish and the grumpy old guy is there saying you're not going to make a difference for any of those and the little kid just picks up the next starfish tosses it in and looks up at the grumpy old guy says well, I made a difference for that one. That's the poem and Christy looks at Scarlett and I can remember it as plain as day and she said Scarlett you're like the little kid in that poem and I'm like that starfish never stop taking Jesus seriously. Wow, that's so good and as a dad, I was like come on somebody like talk about just a memory that is going to be entrenched in my daughter's soul and it all started because she just wanted to take a simple step of faith and we did not see that coming.

Yeah, and how cool is it now? You know a couple years later Christy and Chad are on our board of Grace Bomb Mount Providence and there's they're like serial Grace bombers. They're just they're loving the Lord and just blessing people like crazy. It's really cool to see how does the element of surprise kind of lift this up a bit. You know, I've tried to do that at times pay for coffee for the person behind me or in front of me, whatever it might be. Yeah paying for somebody's meal across the restaurant. Yeah, I mean it's a good thing to do.

I never formalized it. I didn't call it the Grace Bomb, but they are fun things to do and sometimes you get a reaction sometimes because you don't go up and tell anybody nobody knows and that's a good way to do it as well. Yeah, but speak to that idea of the element of surprise. Well, everybody loves a good surprise, but you never see it coming from someone that you don't know perhaps because Grace Bomb in your neighbor. It doesn't necessarily mean your next-door neighbor. It could be anyone in your walk of life in your everyday life.

And so when something hits you out of the clear blue sky, it does make a difference when you don't see it coming. So for instance, I can give you a birthday present. Remember, it's your anniversary.

There's a producer today. It's her birthday. Happy birthday actually.

Yeah, Ashley. There's some expectations of it's my birthday, you know, let's let's let's celebrate. Let's celebrate but when I get loved on when it's not my birthday, not my anniversary and it feels good and it's out of the blue, most people never get to experience that and the potency that we get to experience the fun and the joy as a believer is giving someone that kind of taste of grace with that little element of surprise whether it was just kind of creative and you knew something about them or you met a need in the moment that you saw how cool to tie that feeling with the person of Jesus because currently our cultural climate looking in towards the church is these guys are a bit cold a bit critical a bit judgmental a bit hypocritical and they're not seeing us as the ones where it's our birthright to drive the cultural conversation of kindness in the world. And so we get to change that by God's leading edge of grace but also to your point Jim like surprising grace.

Yeah, let's get creative. You know, Pat, what's interesting someone once said to me that they felt hell will be where God's character just does not exist. There is no love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, mercy.

It's everything opposite of those things and it's interesting in the world. I mean people that don't know the Lord that express love and express kindness are tapping into the character of God. That's who he is and so when you're doing these things you actually are exemplifying whether you know it or not the character of Christ. Yeah, and that's what's so awesome is he is all of this.

Yeah, he is and you're right. There, you know, there's a lot of trendy popular kindness movements today and there's nothing wrong with that because we're created an image of God and whether you're a believer or not that gives you inherent dignity value worth. Can you imagine if we lived in a world that we just embraced that like just the first couple chapters of Genesis.

We just live by that the world would be a better place. But now as believers, we are called and commissioned and empowered to be this leading edge of grace and just to find the permission to be that in the world like for the majority of believers because I've been in the church world. You know, I love the bride of Christ. I've been a pastor for a long time. I want to see her thrive in the world, but for most church people they're looking to the pastors and the staff to be the ones who are out there grace bombing or telling me what I have to do. But what's so cool about this simple concept is in some ways it gives you permission. Sorry to do the things that were already there already for your taking like this is our identity in Christ and we should not be waiting for the pastors to do that. No, I mean we're being fed on Sunday so we can go out. That's right.

Do these things. Yeah, that's right. This is focus on the family with Jim Daley. What passion we're hearing from Pat Lanell about this concept of grace bombs. His book is called grace bomb the surprising impact of loving your neighbors.

Contact us today for your copy 800 the letter A in the word family or stop by the show notes for all the details and and Pat I just got back from a trip. Unfortunately, I didn't have the story in your book that would have motivated me but you have a story about somebody in an airport a woman who's not feeling well. Yeah, it was a simple act of kindness.

Yeah, it was and this is from a lady named Monica and why I remember this stories because it was one of the very first stories that got shared on grace bomb org and it was she shared it and she said listen, I was at the airport waiting for my flight. I had a terrible cold. I felt so crummy and you know, Jimmy mentioned the element of surprise, right? She said then a complete stranger comes over to me and hands me a bag and inside the bag was an iced tea ginger ear plugs some throat lozenges and maybe Kleenex and he wished me to have a great day and that's awesome.

Yeah, that's a lot of effort. Actually a lot of creativity and and the element of surprise like he noticed her. He was aware of her.

He was waiting for his flight to he did something about it. You know took that step of faith because who knows what she would have how she would have responded but how she responded is so telling because she said this was one of the best surprises I've ever had in my life now for her to have shared that story with us means that she knew because that guy left a little grace bomb card along with it. She knew that Jesus was somehow involved with this one of this best feeling she's ever had in her life and it can be that simple. You know, we're told Paul says in Ephesians 2 10 we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God is prepared in advance for us to walk in that little phrase if the creator of the universe is preparing good works for us to walk in that means that on Monday at your work on Tuesday at the airport on Wednesday at the soccer sideline or in the Starbucks line or at the Safeway checkout or you name it. There could be an opportunity that is just waiting to be stepped into and how awesome is it just to walk into walking our purpose.

It feels good. You know, let me ask you this because I'm sitting there, you know, obviously there's a lot of enthusiasm that comes in doing this and it's interesting that that root word for enthusiasm is in Theo God in you. So, I mean you're full of enthusiasm God in you and what prevents this I guess here's the better way of saying it directly. Why do we become Christian curmudgens? Yeah, instead of a joyful heart that does these things in the name of Christ, which is great.

Yeah, what a different reputation the church would have if you know, if we had 40 50 80 million people run around every day doing this. Why can't we have that but I guess what yeah, but what prevents us? Is it just our flesh? Is it what keeps us from doing this?

Some of its internal some of it systemic. I think so. I would give you two reasons.

They're just hypothesis. So to take it or leave it but number one, we're scared. I'm scared.

I go out. I love the Lord. I think the Bible is true.

I think his resurrection was real. I feel secure and where I'm headed and I believe that wholeheartedly in my life, but to think about bringing that up with a neighbor in some way, I initially start to back down. What are they going to say? What are they going to think?

Am I going to have all the right answers? What if they press me on this? What if they press me on that? What if they label me as the right-wing Christian? What blah blah blah and then what is that going to mean for my promotion? All of these fears start running through my mind and I think fear can grip us on the inside, but I think there's also a systemic thing because as Christian curmudgens, I think part of the dynamic and I can say this from what I've seen in my own experience. So I was at a church for 15 years. Love it.

Still go. You know, we're doing some different things with grace bomb and again want the best for the bride of Christ. But as a professional, if you will, minister and a staff person, I saw the congregation becoming dependent on what I was telling them to do in how to love their neighbors and break the ice with people. So we have these typical things we would do a couple times a year and it was almost like I checked the box.

We did our outreach for our neighbors and I never really got to exercise the muscle that was atrophied. And so the concept here is we're Spirit indwelt believers. Every one of us, we all have muscles of faith to flex, but most of us we just haven't worked them out enough to get a little bit more comfortable outside of our comfort zone and sometimes the system of subtly depending on the church leadership to kind of tell me what to do. I think that can be part of the problem as well. Yeah, no, I think that's so good. I mean one of the things you mentioned in the book is Jesus being the ultimate grace bomber. I think that would put a smile on his face. Actually, maybe that is the distinguishing mark, right?

I think the Lord is like, yes, do it. Yeah. Because so many people in the book is so full of stories where it arrests the person's attention.

Like what motivates this person to be kind to me? Yeah, absolutely. And then they start asking questions about it, right? To themselves or to you? That's right.

Like what motivates you to do this? Why are you being nice to me? People so don't expect it. That's right and it's so there for the taking so readily available and you're right. I do think Jesus is the master bomber.

That's so funny to think of him that way. You know, one of the ways that we tell people the grace bomb is load, listen, let her go. So grab some grace, grab some grace bomb cards, be loaded.

You're going to be a little bit more aware of your neighbors. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We are indwelt believers. He will illuminate the truth that he inspired in our everyday walks and then we let her go. We drop that grace bomb, but Jesus loaded, listen and let her go too.

He loaded by drawing near to us. He in his incarnation, the second member of the Triune God takes on flesh, gets in it with us, feels all the pains, all the drama, all the feels of of being in it with us. And so he loads, he draws near, he prepares and he is aware and then he listens, he listens to the Father. I'm going to carry out this mission that you sent me on to atone for the sins of the world.

And yes, in my humanity, it's hard and I don't want to go to the cross and he's praying for strength and the Lord strengthens him and he drops the ultimate grace bomb when he spreads out his arms on that Roman cross and he dies for us, fellas. He let her go and praise the Lord that happened. Absolutely. We wouldn't be here talking about this with lights and microphones if that didn't go down.

It's the difference. Yeah, that's why it's the greatest story ever told, right? It is the greatest story ever told and it's a must-tell story and we must tell it and I think when it comes to loving your neighbor, we get to tell it, but we get to lead out with kindness, you know, we talk about the high points, but you did have a some stories that illustrated the low point. You had a neighbor that the Lord put on your heart and you did one thing of kindness, but time went by and something happened.

What took place and what was that a lesson for man? I probably miss more opportunities than I step into in this whole grace bombing adventure and that was in our first house. We moved into a lady who was a shut-in and almost every day we were we were wondering like how is she doing? What's going on in there and for years we didn't really make much of an attempt and then we left some flowers on her doorstep and we didn't get a real warm fuzzy response and so we just let it lie. Right and before we knew it the food trucks that used to come delivery groceries to her were replaced by the ambulances until the last ambulance that unfortunately took her to the hospital where she passed away and I realized like wow, that was permanent. Like there's no there's no second chance right there and it just stuck in my crawl because I just we probably knew that we could have in love been a little less busy and stepped out and we kind of missed but you know in some respects and I hear that and it's the right heart but like the Lord, there's so much need in this world.

You have to pull back and you have to replenish yourself to he did that, you know, he didn't just go from person to person to person. That's right Pat. This has been terrific.

I think the thing to do here John is to say hey, let's kind of go at this together with the focus listeners the viewers. Why not give it a roll if you need to we'd love to get a copy of Pat's book, Grace Bomb and get that into your hands and if you make a gift to focus for any amount, we'll send it to you as our way of saying thank you and if you can do that monthly, it will help more families and when you give to focus, God will use your support to strengthen families and right now through a matching opportunity, your gift will be double dollar for dollar. So thank you for helping us to have twice the impact for families. Donate today and stop by our website to learn more about Grace Bomb, the surprising impact of loving your neighbors and this whole movement that Pat is part of.

Stop by the show notes for the details or give us a call. We'll tell you more 800 the letter A and the word family 800-232-6459. Pat, this is so good. Thanks for being with us. It was great to be with you guys today. Happy to be here.

On behalf of Jim Daley and the entire team here. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Just like a warm fireplace when it's cold outside the joy the Christmas season gives comfort and draws us closer to loved ones. I'm John Fuller and Focus on the Family is excited to let you know about our Christmas Stories podcast. Each episode brings heartwarming conversations to bring your family closer together and remind you of the hope we have in Jesus. You can enjoy that podcast at focusonthefamily.com slash Christmas Stories. That's Focus on the Family dot com slash Christmas Stories.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 04:10:16 / 2022-11-09 04:17:44 / 7

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