S2: E:2 – Be A Friend

Welcome to the B.L.E.S.S. podcast, where we join Jesus, where He is already at work. We dream of the day when every home in America is adopted by one or more persons living the Pray, Care, and Share lifestyle. Your host is Gary Kendall. Catalyst for Love KC and the National Prayer Mobilizer for Blesseveryhome. Gary works with founder Chris Cooper, and the team at Blesseveryhome.com, to equip you to live on mission where you live, learn, work and play. If you haven’t yet signed up to adopt your neighborhood, you can do so at Blesseveryhome.com. Now let’s turn our attention to this episode of the B.L.E.S.S. podcast. 

Gary: Welcome to the podcast, where we follow Jesus, where He is already at work. The season that we’re in now, Season 2, is a season following the content that’s on “The Online Discipleship Course” you can find at LoveKC.net

This course details how we can love our neighbor as our self and how we can adopt our neighborhood. As we’ll be talking about today, “neighborhood” can be expanded beyond what’s geographically related. So we’re in Episode 2 of Seasons 2 today. And like last week, Brooke McMahan joins me. 

Brooke: Hello. 

Gary: Welcome, Brooke. 

Brooke: Great to be here! 

Gary: I’m glad you’re here. We’ll be talking about being a friend today. Maybe it should go without saying, but it needs to be said, that if we’re going to share God’s love we have to learn how to be a friend. We must learn how to share God’s love in a way that people accept and understand. It is coming to them in love; like a friend would love them. That’s our goal for today. 

If you’re listening, it’s likely because you care about your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your relatives. I’m guessing that you want them to find true life, both here in this world and in eternity. I know you would love to know what to say to reach them. 

I hear that all the time, “I just don’t know what to say,” is what people say to me. So keep listening; we’ll get there together. I’ll give you a hint right from the start, though. Friends don’t want a salesperson. They’re not looking for a TV evangelist. They need you. Your friends are very skeptical of the institutional church, perhaps because the culture has claimed the dominant narrative. We’re out to change that. But I do know everyone wants to belong to a community of friends. 

Brooke: Absolutely!  I was a junior high youth pastor years ago. I can tell you that if I didn’t care for those kids and get involved in their life, they really didn’t care what I had to say, even if it was truth. So many times, a person just needs to belong and know that they’re cared for before they believe. They may be more open to a cup of coffee with you to talk about life than they are to an invitation to church. Maybe in today’s world, we reach our friends and our neighborhood first and invite them to church after we have a relationship. 

Gary: Many times that’s true. My friend Rob Wagner says, we need “feet under the table.” What he means by that is, your friends and my friends need an invitation to put their feet under our tables or to share life or a meal together. They need to be invited into my home where they feel welcome. Maybe I would even give them “refrigerator rights” to help themselves. But when people have that kind of relaxed relationship, they sense then that the things that we’re speaking of are true to life. It’s a privilege to provide influence into their life. 

They may invite us over to their house, too. That’s when we know we’re really getting somewhere with them. 

It’s possible that as you listen today, you might be the only Jesus follower in your friend’s life. Now, I don’t say that to put stress on you. But the apostle Paul says, always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks. Be ready to give the reason for the hope that you have but to do this with gentleness and respect. God wants to use us. We always remember that people are not projects. We have to understand that we’re not doing this for ourselves, but are being available to God and to them. God is the one who’s given us our story. He’s the one who allows us to share the story. There’s no other good substitute for that. 

My question for the listener is, “Are you prepared? Are you ready to share your story?”

I have encouragement for you today, it’s easier than you think. It starts with being a friend. 

My mom used to say, “Gary, to have a friend, you must be a friend. If you’ll be a friend to others, and you’ll always have plenty of friends.” That sounds like a mom, doesn’t it? 

Friendships are fertile soil for the Gospel, which is often called the “Good News.” Brooke and I work together at a co-working space where there may maybe as many as 20 businesses or entrepreneurs. It’s wired with everything anyone needs for success. There are private offices, cubicles, enclaves for meetings, and even two kitchens. It’s a generous, shared space. It makes for a family feel even while you’re at work. 

One day, I was sitting there working two tables away from these two guys who were having a conversation. One of them said to the other with a surprised tone, “Hey, you know, I met this guy the other day. He seems to want to be a friend.” 

The other guy stopped what he was doing and looked at him, paused, and said, “Well, that’s cool. Did you know him from your school days?” That was the next question. 

The other guy, the first guy, replied, “No, he just kind of keeps hanging around, and seems to have a genuine interest.” What stood out to me about this conversation was both guys seemed to think that was a positive thing. After it was over, I thought, Well, who doesn’t want a friend? 

What do you think? Do people want friends these days? 

Brooke: Absolutely. We were made for friendship and relationship. We were made to be known as well as know others intimately. I believe, not only do people want friendship today but they are desperate for it because there are not many authentic relationships like we used to have. 

Social media makes us think we have a lot of friends, but really, everyone feels so disconnected and is longing for deep friendships. The busyness of our culture doesn’t help with that. 

Recently, I had a younger woman, about 15 years younger than me, reach out to me. She’s been looking for someone older to teach her about things, about women, relationships, and life. I’m happy to do that. I look for opportunities to be able to do this. I love the cross-generational and different ages. 

A friend doesn’t always have to be your age. I look at these generations coming up. So many of us haven’t been like fathered or mothered, taught how to follow the Lord, or even life skills. Everyone could use a friend regardless of how old they are. 

Gary: I agree. Some people will seem to have a lot of friendships, but they don’t go very deep. Other people will have two or three friends. I think that all of us would agree that friendships are really the thing that makes life feel like life’s worthwhile and purposeful. We know we’re loved through our friends. 

In the Bible, there’s the story of the good Samaritan. In this particular story, we’re going to guess that these people were not friends or probably didn’t even know each other, but that’s just at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story, my guess is they were on their way to a friendship. 

Sometimes friendships don’t start with affinity. They’ll start by availability. In this story, it’s a good reminder for all of us to keep our head up and pay attention to the needs of those around us that are within our sphere of influence, because God’s love may be wanting to break into their life. He might choose to do it through us. It’s possible that some kind of event that happens might actually draw us together. 

Brooke, I wondered if you’d read that story for us. 

Brooke: Sure, I’d be happy to. Starting in verse twenty-five, “On one occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 

‘What is written in the Law?’ He replied. ‘How do you read it?’

He answered. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.’

‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this, and you will live.’

But he wanted to justify himself so he asked Jesus, ‘And just who is my neighbor?’

Jesus replied and said, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road. When he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.’ But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said. And when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 

‘Which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’

The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ 

Gary: Thanks, Brooke. There are so many talking points in this story in Luke, Chapter 10. When I read this, one of my first thoughts goes to race relations. Maybe that’s a subject for a different podcast. But I can also identify with the busy schedule of the religious characters. Unfortunately, I probably have missed a lot too by being busy. 

Brooke: Same here. 

Gary: But then other questions come to my mind. I wonder how the Samaritan knew how much money to leave with the innkeeper or if he just gave her a blank check and said, ‘Take care of this guy, and whatever it is, I’ll take care of it.’ When I think about all those things, I probably would then fall into the category of overthinking this parable. 

These parables are typically designed to make one simple, short point. In this parable, I do believe that Jesus is not necessarily trying to tell us ‘who’ are our neighbors are, as it’s commonly understood, but maybe I think He’s telling us ‘how’ to neighbor because neighboring means help whoever needs you. If we understand the story this way, then anyone could be a neighbor. Anyone in need could be a person we reach out to. 

But also, we shouldn’t miss the fact that Jesus might be saying we should love our actual neighbor. You know, our real neighbors are those who live next to us geographically. That could mean that it stretches us because maybe we have a neighbor who has a furry friend that leaves deposits in our yard. If you’re mowing your lawn; you have to watch out. Or maybe we have a neighbor who is loud and thoughtless at times. And truth be told, they might think the same about us, by the way. There may be a neighbor who’s driven into your yard and left ruts, or maybe your neighbors have friends that come over and take up all the parking places along the street. In reality, my neighbors don’t do any of these things, but I know that neighbors commonly do. 

So I guess the question for the listener today is, Have you ever thought that Jesus, when He’s talking about neighbors, might mean your actual neighbors? And do you remember that one of the two great commandments is to love your actual neighbors?’ We talked about this a little bit on the podcast last week. That’s a new thought for many people. 

Brooke: It’s a great opportunity because of the consistent close proximity. There’s a potential every day, and continual engagement you could have to those who are literally 100 feet from you. Garage doors don’t help with that so sometimes you might even have to reach out somehow or go out of your way to talk to them. 

We can make this story so aspirational and about helping someone in need, that we don’t stop to think maybe Jesus is saying to love my next-door neighbor as myself. But let’s be real: Loving your actual neighbor can be messy and very personal. You can’t love your neighbor as yourself from a distance. Neighboring requires involvement and investment. I love the way The Message translated John 1:14. In The Message says, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus modeled incarnational living for us. He lived in love, and He calls us to follow His example. What if we all did that? How would love change our world? 

Gary: Probably pretty dramatically. I’m guessing one thing’s for sure we wouldn’t need mass evangelism tactics, right? Love doesn’t need a marketing pitch. We have an advantage when it comes to loving because whether we’re good at it or not, we can invite the Holy Spirit to live through us, and His love can flow through us. For all of the things we don’t know and the ways we might even feel bound up, it’s amazing how once we allow the love of God to flow through us, it does. Sometimes we just have to get out of the way. It’s more often about letting it happen than trying to make it happen. That’s good news for all of us. 

Many non-Christians know disciples of Jesus, but not every disciple of Jesus is committed to love. Because of this, one of the things we keep talking about in this online course is that we want to live a life of love and we want love to be our lifestyle. 

So we love God as Great Commandment says but then we also love our neighbor. As we do, the story of Jesus becomes real and personal to the people in our circle. I think folks will listen because everyone longs to love and be loved. It’s the basic nature of life; our human nature. 

One of the things that’s been helpful to me is to think about the word neighbor in terms of geography, but also not to get limited by that. If we define neighbor as a person with whom we live, learn, work or play, then our sphere of influence is manageable. How cool would it be if, in every neighborhood, people were waking up every day being loved by a neighbor, being loved by someone living out the love of Jesus?

Brooke: That would be transformational. 

Gary: You think about all the challenges in our world. I mean, we all have neighbors. At the most basic level, if love were happening there, people would go out of their neighborhoods feeling blessed instead of thinking about all their problems and coming home again to places of love in circles of friendship. 

People say sometimes, could it be that simple? I think it really is. I think what’s simple is the concept, but whether it’s easy or hard is what it takes to apply that concept. I love the fact that the message of Jesus brings life, but so do the methods of Jesus as well. That’s powerful. The message and methods are combined. 

If we look at the way that Jesus lived life in the Gospels, it’s really fun to see him engaging with people, whether it’s a single woman by the well, taking children on his lap or engaging with a know-it-all Jewish leader who thought he had it all together or the Pharisees or Zaccheus the guy who no one else really liked, the wee little man.

Whether it was a widow, a child, or the know-it-all, Jesus seemed to always have the ability to connect with them, even with the people who had a past. 

Brooke: Which we all have. 

Gary: We could probably talk for a long time. If we would live the way that Jesus lived, our methods and our message would work together. When that happens, I think we would create a compelling lifestyle for others. That’s really what it means when it says that we are to be disciples who make disciples as well as this being a process that goes on. It’s a lifestyle that goes on until the whole world knows. 

The most basic DNA starts with loving God and loving your neighbor. The good news in all of this is that we’re wired for it and don’t have to go to school to be able to love. We can improve love. Some people have a better start at it than others by the love that they’ve received. When we find a lack, we ask the Holy Spirit to help us and lead the way. And He will. Great things happen because of that. 

Brooke: That’s right. We do certainly need the Holy Spirit and His leadership. He will lead us and guide us if we’re listening and have our antennas up. But then comes the hard part that we need to obey. The key characteristic of a disciple isn’t all the knowledge and things we learn but it’s obedience. 1st Corinthians 8:1 says, that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. We can’t equate discipleship with knowledge. Disciples imitate their leader. 

I’m going to point this question to you, the listener, ‘In what ways are you practicing the methods of Jesus?’ 

Gary: That’s a good one. It’s obedience-based discipleship that we’re talking about, not knowledge-based. 

I want to go with your idea, Brooke, where you’re saying you’re directing a question to the listener. I want to add one of these next few thoughts. I want you to think about your neighborhood for a moment? Some neighborhoods have fences or lawns that adjoin. You might live in an apartment complex, or maybe you live on more of a farm where your next-door neighbors are a quarter-mile away. There are lots of different living arrangements. We share this big blue and green ball we call Earth. Some of our neighbors share geography with us, as I mentioned before, but also if we’re going to expand the definition of neighbor, it could be those within our sphere of influence. So what about your neighborhood? If you’re thinking about it now, I want to encourage you. Just take a moment as I’m talking here and think about the place to which God has called you to minister to serve. 

There’s a word in the Greek that helps us define this a little bit further. And that word is Oikos. This word, Oikos, when translated, literally means house. Maybe a better way for our purposes here is to say a household. Oikos can describe a group of connected people. So it could be a person’s immediate household of people who live in their family. Maybe it’s also the friends who hang out there could be, as was the case in the days of the New Testament. Those who were slaves or other people who came and went into the households served there. We might just say it could be immediate family, or it could be extended family. It could also be neighbors, co-workers, or friends. 

The word Oikos might include maybe 40 people with whom we have pretty regular contact. This is our posse. If you want to say it that way, our sphere of influence and this word pops up in a lot of different places. 

A quick little Bible study here: After casting a mob of demons out of this one man, Jesus told the one who was delivered to go back to his Oikos and tell his story.  Jesus was not inviting him to go on a campaign tour to share a testimony. He is sending it back to the people who knew him best. 

Another way this word was used how the apostle Paul told the jailer that trusting Christ would bring salvation to him and his Oikos. As someone turns to Christ, they’re going to affect their friends or their sphere. Another time a government official, another time a synagogue leader, and still another time, a tax collector came to faith in Jesus. Each time the word Oikos came up and the blessings of salvation extended to their circle of friends. I want us to think about our circle of friends. Who are the people that live around us? 

Brooke: That sounds like how God created it. Just as we go about our business, even going to the grocery store or coffee shop where you see the same people all the time and just investing in them whatever that looks like could be so impactful. There are all kinds of opportunities. 

So, let’s be honest with ourselves, we’re tempted to live in a singular, separated individual way in cocoons of our own making. We have what sociologists call ‘crowded loneliness.’ There’s terror on the news and in our schools. We have deadbolts on the door. We’ve got fences to keep people out. Our electronic devices compete for our attention every waking moment. Even online chats can turn into arguments. We over-medicate to numb ourselves from life’s accumulated losses. This is the state of humanity right now. We’re desperate for community and clueless about how to create it or cultivate it in our own lives. 

The Bible reminds us that community is often the best arena for the Good News of Jesus. Faith tends to fill a household overflowing into the whole sphere of influence. Jesus can still move into a neighborhood through you. 

Gary: This idea of creating a circle of friends and ministering to them is really attractive. I’m compelled by Jesus’ example. When I realize that to do what Jesus wants me to do is follow a fairly simple lifestyle, it’s encouraging. I want to keep my head up, and my eyes open, but I want to keep my ears open. I want to look to the needs of people around me. 

It’s funny how sometimes you can just look into someone’s eyes and see whether they’re kind of in a relaxed state and in a place that’s satisfied and happy. Or sometimes you can just look at someone’s pupils and see they’re really small and tight. You can just tell they’re uptight and you know something’s going on. Sometimes you can just ask how they are. It starts a conversation. 

As you already said, Brooke, screen time can consume us in public spaces. We always have our head looking down at our phone. When we do, we just miss so much. Every once in awhile, my wife and I will sit in a restaurant and look around at the tables to see how many people are sitting there together and on their separate devices. It’s scary, actually. I feel sad sometimes when I see that. We need to be present. 

Brooke: I wonder if we are ignoring the Holy Spirit because we’re on our phone. I wonder how many times He could be drawing us into communion with Him, but we are distracted and totally miss His invitation. 

Gary: Yeah, we miss it. For the listener, I want to ask: ‘Are there people you see regularly in your world? If so, how do you communicate with them? How do you reach out to them? How do you include them in your circles of friendship?’ It could be the parents of other players on your son’s soccer team. Maybe you see them every couple of days if you’re in season. Perhaps it’s the barista at your favorite coffee shop. 

I go to a Starbucks not too far from my house. I’ve gotten to know nearly everyone there. When I go in there, I regularly have conversations with them. It’s kind of cool. We pick up right where we left off. Some of those conversations lately have been around prayer, following God, and other kinds of things like that. It’s fun to go pick up on those. Many times they give me my coffee free which is a nice side benefit. 

There’s a good, healthy pattern about trying to sit in the same table at a restaurant or meet the same waitresses or waiters so that we get to know them more than just as the person who serves us and begin to realize they have a name. They have a life. We start to care for them. These are all ways that God can use. And sometimes we are just there at the right spot at the right time. And God just drops something into our head or heart to say to them. Then a conversation begins. This is what God’s after! 

So much of this connecting can be very natural, once we’re aware. I want to encourage the listener. When this podcast is over, would you take just a few minutes, maybe five minutes, and ask yourself the question, who does my Oikos include? Then even invite God to bring to your mind people in your sphere of influence. You could write down their names and say a word of prayer as you write them down even and consider what God might have in store for them. 

Ask God to enliven your mind and speak to you about them. It’s amazing how He does it. It’s so fun, how that you can have an experience with God when you’re praying. It’s an enlightening experience to have God bring things to your mind you wouldn’t know otherwise. 

We should also say that you could have the same experience where you’re not praying, and you’re not hearing, and that’s not all that unusual. What a difference prayer can make!

I would say to the person listening today, Is there a particular group of people you feel called to? Sometimes people will tell me, “I feel called to refugees,” or I feel called to…and they’ll name a certain kind of group.

I wonder, where is your mission field? That’s something to noodle on, something to pray about. Maybe write that question down and ask God, “What’s my mission field?” 

Brooke: I love that, Gary. It’s being very intentional. It’s taking time to ask these questions when you realize God does have a mission field for you. There are people out there He is waiting for you to encounter. Being intentional makes a huge difference. 

The apostle Paul said, God created all the nations throughout the whole Earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall and determined their boundaries. Acts 17:26 tells us He determines where we will live and the people we would be in contact with. God wants to use you in your neighborhood. He has a purpose in your job. Let Him use you. 

I would again say just to have your antennas up and be expecting. You never know who God is going to have you run into or talk to you. God places people on your heart because He loves them and wants a relationship with them. Your mission is to share that love with them. 

Gary: That’s actually one of my favorite scriptures, Brooke. I don’t think it is a scripture that talks about predestination. Some will say, ‘Oh, well, that scripture means that God’s just decided everything ahead of time.’ I don’t look at it that way. I think it was a co-creating thing going on that God gives us plenty of choices in life. 

I’ve certainly experienced that my whole life. I’ve made some bad choices. But He didn’t give up on me. He kept working. However, I’ve also seen His protective hands around me in my life, stewarding me, shepherding me, or guiding me in the right places, at just the right times. 

I think what He’s saying is that God does place us in different parts of the world, maybe on the city block, to be a part of His witness to the world. I think He can do that without forcing us; without overcoming our will. He’s co-creating. He wants to co-create with each one of us. 

In this process, presence is more important than perfection. I’ve had perfectionist tendencies in my life. I’m trying to get over those. I just am so encouraged when I think about presence over perfection. I don’t have to get every word right. I don’t have to be right at all times. I do need to be real, though. I need to be genuinely interested in the life of the people around me and interested in their pursuits. 

Take time to listen. Ask open-ended questions. Reserve judgment. Invest yourself in others. Lean into the concerns around you and then move forward at the speed of trust of the Gospel. 

If people sense that I don’t have an agenda for them except whatever’s in their best interest, it’s amazing how they begin to trust, and share, and their guard comes down. If I have the patience to know that God’s working before me, after me, and around me, then I don’t have to make it all happen. I can let it happen. 

I really sense He can use these opportunities, and He does. I’ll tell you this quick story. One of my neighbors, Lorenzo Castañeda, is a follower of Jesus. He was thinking about moving from our neighborhood. I tease him when he tells me this story, ‘You’re gonna leave us! ‘He had this piercing question come into his mind. He believed it was from Jesus. He has a humorous way he tells the story. He just had this thought that he believed came from God. It was. It began with the word ‘really. Are you really going to move before you ever invested in your neighbors? Wow!

He said it hit him so powerfully that tears came into his eyes immediately. He realized what he had lived in the neighborhood for years, but he and his wife, Kassie, really hadn’t invested there. Almost all their investment was at their church, and yet they had very little investment in their neighborhood. 

Within two weeks of this epiphany, this realization, Lorenzo and his wife went out intentionally into their neighborhood to do very natural kinds of things. They greeted a couple that had moved into their neighborhood. As they were having a conversation, it went deeper than than they expected right away. They ended up praying with them that night in their home prayers of encouragement. They didn’t expect that at all. 

There was another couple they took some cookies to. They knew they were having a hard time. Several different things happened within about a week’s time. He thought, ‘I have lived in my neighborhood this whole length of time, however long it was, and not had hardly any interaction with my neighbors. Then, in a week, once I’m intentional, I see God just tees the ball up.’ So that’s really cool. Now they’ve adopted their neighborhood as their mission field. If you listen to their story, you can go to a podcast #3 in Season 1. The title of it is “Yes You Can.”

Brooke: Some of us have been taught that following Jesus equals going to church on Sunday as if that’s our highest calling. Or we think discipleship means joining a Bible study group. We may think If we use our spiritual gifts in the church, we’ve reached the zenith of spirituality. But the life God wants for us is so much more. 

We might learn something from the practice of dieting. To become healthy some people go on a crash diet, go Paleo, do the South Beach, Mediterranean, or DASH. You can count calories and protein, workout, or whatever and chances are, you will lose weight. But then what? 

Unless we make the long term changes to our lifestyle we revert back to the longstanding patterns. We all know that the best way to stay healthy is to address our lifestyle choices, eat smaller meals more often, drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, exercise early and often. And cut back on the sugar! Too many lose 20 pounds on a diet, but then they gain back 30 after they return to their lifelong routine. They’ve never committed to changing their lifestyle. 

Gary: I know that’s big for you, right? 

Brooke: It is. I enjoy eating healthy and being healthy. I just to be able to be healthy so I can do the will of God.

Gary: You’re a good advocate for others on that one, too. In a similar way, Brooke, to adopt your neighborhood and love like Jesus loves inside your circle of friends is a lifestyle. It’s a mindset. We could make up a lot of things or think up a lot of things today about how to help a person do it and try just to hand them out like bullet points, but the reality is we didn’t get where we are overnight. We’re not going to get into this special place where we’re headed overnight, but can make choices every day and travel in the right direction. When we do, we will look back at some point in time and realize, “Hey, I’ve traveled a long way. I’ve made a lot of progress here.” 

We want you to start with this kind of a paradigm shift of living life for others and not to think of our spiritual life as a list of do’s and don’ts, but to think of it more as a lifestyle that includes loving God and loving others in every area. We could call that spiritually healthy living. 

In the next few chapters of the book, as we go forward with these podcasts, we’re going to talk about how to go deeper into this lifestyle. We’re going to talk about three aspects: prayer, care, and share. You’re going to see numerous stories of best practices and illustrations, but again, I want to just warn you ahead of time. Don’t think about them as tactics to learn. Think about it as a lifestyle to live. As we do that, it can become as natural for us as breathing. 

Brooke: Yes, because prayer, care and share go together. The three elements are not linear, but they wrap around each other, each one feeding into the others and drawing from them. It’s like baking cookies. The flour by itself is fine. The eggs and butter are fine, but you need all of the ingredients. You can’t make cookies having only one or two ingredients.You have to combine everything. When you do, it makes a delicious cookie! So let’s look at each one individually and we’ll be sure to put them back together in the end. 

Gary: Yes. So what kind of cookies are you baking, Brooke? 

Brooke: Chocolate chip! 

Gary: I like it. So think about it from another view. We’re using illustrations, but I think about it another way, too. We have to have the right heart, and then we have the right tool. These first two chapters, we’re talking about the first two podcasts. If you go to the online course, you’ll see the first two lessons are really about the heart. It’s where we start. Because if you don’t have the right heart, it doesn’t matter what kind of tool you have. You’re not going to put it to a very potent use. But if you have the right heart and the right tool, you can be very effective. 

One tool that I’ve found that gives me a lot of accountability for remembering to pray for my friends and neighbors, it literally walks me around my neighborhood, is the website of Blesseveryhome.com. That’s one of the reasons why we named it the B.L.E.S.S. podcast. 

When you go to Blesseveryhome.com and set up an account to be a Light, you set up a new username and password. Then add in your email address in and your physical address. You’ll get a confirmation email back telling you that you can begin your account. So watch for that. Sometimes it goes to spam. It depends on the server that you use. If you’re not seeing your confirmation email in about a minute, I would say check your spam. 

Once your account is confirmed then you’re going to receive a “Daily 5′ e-mail.”  Literally it walks you around your neighborhood. I also add in friends and co-workers from the Plexpod so regularly their names come up before me. There’s a prayer that’s there so I can pray for them in many different ways. I don’t have to just think of the same prayer every day because there’s one that’s right there for me to pray. It keeps me on point. It keeps me accountable. 

If you want to sign up, you can also watch the two-minute video by movie producer Stephen Kendrick. It’s a great overview. He does a great job challenging us to adopt our neighborhood. So I’ll encourage you, if you haven’t done that yet as a listener. Get started today. 

Be a friend and then live like Jesus with your circle of friends and love your neighbor as yourself–your actual neighbors and any that God brings into your sphere of influence. And then this is the good part, watch Jesus go to work. I like to say His fingerprints are everywhere, but we don’t always see them until we start looking for them. 

Once you do, the Holy Spirit will tee up the ball for you and give you words when you need them. You’ll end up living your life and your faith more confidently, and you’ll know what to say to your friends about Jesus. If you wanted to listen to the vision behind how Blesseveryhome.com got started, you could go to podcast number one. It’s the story of Chris Cooper. He’s the founder of Blesseveryhome. So I encourage you to do that. 

Well, Brooke, we’re going to move into the bonus content here. And in that, I want to encourage you to go to the video link and watch the longer story of Lorenzo and Kassie, my neighbors. They it’s fun to hear them both tell the story in different ways because they both learn Lorenzo and Kassie both have different parts of that. Each time we do a lesson, there’ll be bonus content like that night. I encourage to look at it will add as we go. So this won’t be the last content. 

If you want to invest in this online course and helping others to learn to share their faith, you can do that through Love KC.net/donate. We don’t charge anything for these materials, but we do encourage you to pay it forward to others. 

So, Brooke, that’s it brings us to the end of lesson two. Thanks for helping with this podcast today. 

Brooke: Hey, thanks. Thanks for letting me be here. 

Gary: Yeah. Look forward to see the way that God uses it. Well, thanks for joining today as we join Jesus where He’s already at work, where we live, learn, work and play. God bless you and go get some great conversations with your circle of friends. 

Thanks for joining in today for the B.L.E.S.S. podcast. People often ask what do the letters stand for in B.L.E.S.S.? We like to think of B.L.E.S.S. as a lifestyle where we – B – Begin with prayer. L – Listen to God and to others. E – Eat together. S – Serve and S story. Share your story and the story of Jesus. 

We not only pray that every home in America will be adopted by a disciple who lives this lifestyle, but also those that do, will join their efforts to build missionary communities where we live, learn, work and play. 

If you haven’t yet signed up for Blesseveryhome.com, you can go there now. You can find more from host Gary Kendall, including ways to connect outside of this podcast at Love KC.net. Thank you for being a part of this B.L.E.S.S. podcast today. We invite you to subscribe to like it, share it and write a review. 

Now let’s join Jesus where He is already at work.