7/10/16 - Tweetables - We Love God

The Bridge Life Connection

Tweetables: We Love God                                                                               Sunday, July 10, 2016

Speaker: Carmen Dickerson - Member of Leadership Team, Ministry and Strategic Leadership, Next Generation Volunteer Group, Hospitality Team, Information Table, Rail Underground Renovation Project

Today I'm here to start a new series - Tweetables: Small Passages with Big Meaning. If you didn't notice, I am not the Lead Pastor Justin Douglas, nor am I the Next Gen Director Chip Hitz. Both of those gentlemen are out of town, so today you have me {applause}. If you don't know me, my name is Carmen Dickerson {raucous applause}. You guys are way too generous. {Carmen laughs} And I am going to bring you the beginning of our new series today.

So first, as a teacher, I feel like I need to define what Twitter is. So Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short, 140-character messages called Tweets. And so if you are not on Twitter, it's like Facebook, it's like Instagram, different things like that. So it's just a way for people to share information with each other. And Tweets can only be 140 characters, so it can't be very long. There's no whole big essays on there. It's only 140 characters, so it's very small. It has to be a message that is concise.

So, I use Twitter often. So if you look, teachers as a whole use...I'm a teacher...we use Twitter often, and data shows that out of the half a billion Tweets that go out per day, 4.2 million of those Tweets are related to education. So a lot time that I am on Twitter, I use it in a way to communicate education information, idea-sharing about projects, different things like that. So if you look up there {projection screen}, you'll notice it tells a little bit about me. It tells you that I'm a middle-school teacher, special education teacher in Pennsylvania. I'm a new teacher induction co-leader. I am also a middle-school math teacher. Up there it also says I'm a STEM junkie. What that means is, as a teacher that's the science, technology, engineering, math. I like that kind of stuff, so I put myself as a STEM junkie. And then also a little bit of personal information...I am a single sci-fi nerd. That's how I describe myself. Okay? So I follow lots of people who are like me.

So some of the people that I follow are other teachers, friends, and then of course the Kardashians {audience laughs}. Kim and Khloe, not Kourtney because she's annoying. Nobody wants to follow Kourtney. But then there are people who follow me. There are people out there who also follow me. If you look, I follow a lot more people than the people who actually follow me. But there are different ways that we do it, so we use it in education, and we use it to share ideas with other educators, we share ideas about projects, information, different things like that.

We can also use it for social reasons so that you know...I love to share this information...I follow a group, and this is the name of the group, it is called Black Girl Nerds. That is the group. I follow it, I love it. It's awesome because it is a whole group of women who are exactly like me, who are sci-fi nerd girls who are like me, and we can share ideas, and it's super cool if we did watch all of the Marvel things, we could talk about it and it's awesome. So that's one way that Twitter can bring people together by sharing information.

Also another way to do it is we share some information with just people that you love and things like that, so I follow a lot of my friends' children just to see what they're up to and things that are happening in their lives. So that's the social aspect that comes out too in Twitter. There's also...the other part that I like is the news and information. For example, Lower Dauphin...I work for Lower Dauphin School District...so they send out alerts on Twitter. So here's a funny story: one day we're in math class, and a little girl comes up to me, and she says, "Miss Dickerson, we're getting out early today." I said, "No, we're not, that's ridiculous. What are you talking about?" She goes, "It said so on Twitter," and she showed me her phone. And I was like, Lower Dauphin actually Tweeted out the information about our early dismissal before they even told the staff. {audience laughs} So I was like, "Okay, I guess we are getting out early today." So that is one way to communicate information.

There's also another one I like is 511PAHarrisburg. And all that is is PENNDOT giving out information about like traffic jams and things like that. So if you're outside and you're like 'What's going on?' You can pull up Twitter and pull up that. They tell you what's going on also. Another one of my favorites is VisitPhilly because it's close to us and sometimes there are fun things going there and I want to know what's going on, and they just post lots of fun like...festivals and street fairs and different things that they have like that. So, another way of just sharing ideas.

So I'm giving you all this information so that you know a little bit about Twitter. I'm not trying to sell it to you; I don't have stock in it. If you want to, you can give it, but I just want to let you know about it. So and also if you want to start following me, it is I am @trekkieangel, just in case you want to start following me. You don't have to, but if you want to. Okay?

Another big thing that we have to bring up is hashtags. Hashtags came about during this whole Twitter age, and let me tell you what a hashtag is. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify a message on a specific topic. So there are different hashtags that people follow. If you click on that hashtag, it'll be a bunch of people who all want to talk about whatever that one topic is. Okay, so up here, I have other little hashtags that I may have followed and different things like that. And so I want to give you an example of perhaps hashtags gone wrong. So sometimes hashtags go a little bit wrong, and I want to show you a little bit about that. I have a little short video for you to watch. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57dzaMaouXA]

[Knock knock]

Jimmy Fallon: Hey, Justin, what's up?

Justin Timberlake: "Not much, Jimmy. #chillin What's up with you?"

JF: Just been busy working. #riseandgrind #isitfridayyet

JT: Hey, check it out. I brought you some cookies. #homemade #oatmealraisin #showmethecookie

JF: Sweet! #don'tmindifidon't Pretty good. #gettinmycookieon #imtherealcookiemonster #nomnomnomnomnomnomnom

JT: Delicious, right? #ididitallforthecookie #lollollollollollollollollollol

JF: #classic By the way, did you watch last week's episode of Duck Dynasty? #quackquack

JT: Naw, lately I've mostly been watching Netflix. #orangeisthenewblack

JF: Ah, nice. I've been watching a lot of Barney the Dinosaur. #purpleisthenewblack #iloveyouyoulovemewereahappyfamily #im38 #dinosaurs #howdidtheygoextinct #meteor #iceage #speakingoficeageijustwatchediceageondemandtheotherday #funny #rayromano #debra [in Ray Romano voice] Debra! Hey, by the way, Halloween's only like a month away.

JT: I know.

JF: I mean, do you know where you're going to be? #lifedecisions #sexyghost

JT: I think I'm going to go as a Ninja Turtle. #gottaberaphael #leonardosucks #theturtlenottheitalianrenaissancepainter #monalisa #isshesmiling? #speakingofsmilingijustsawmydentist #bling #dentalcare #cavityfree #thatshowwedo #wegohard #wecantstop {singing}

JF: {singing} We won't stop.

JT: #werunthis

JF: #trueplayasforlife

JT: #isitworthitletmeworkit

JF: #putmythingdownflipitinreverseit

Carmen: So that's how hashtags have gone wrong, so don't do that at all, please. But I, [Pastor] Justin's not here, so I get to...two of my favorite guys, Justin Timberlake {laughs} and Jimmy Fallon...so of course I get to watch them when I'm up here. He's not here, so that's what you get. {audience laughs}

Alright, so today I want to talk about our topic which is our Tweet, there is a Tweet that we have, our Tweetable, and it can be found at Matthew 22:37. And I'm going to read that to you. It says, "Jesus replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.'" That's it. Under 140 characters. I counted it, it's about 105 characters, so it's really small. But there's a lot going on in that little verse.

So what I want to do first is I want to tell you what's going on during this passage when He's saying that. If you were here before, you might have remembered that at this time Jesus is being persecuted. There are people who want Him out, want Him away, want to kill Him, get rid of Him. So Jesus is in the temple, and He is teaching to a group of people, to a larger group of people, and prior to this verse, the Sadducees... they are the upper class, they are the teachers...and they had already asked Him a question and Jesus had shut them down. He was like done. And so everyone was like, 'Okay." And so the Pharisees see that. They were like 'Wow. Jesus just shut down the Sadducees. What are we going to do?'

So the Pharisees were like, 'Okay, let's ask Jesus a question. Let's us...we'll do it, we can do this.' So they want to ask Him a question, and so the question they asked Him was, 'Teacher, what is the best...most important commandment?' And so Jesus said this commandment. This was the one that He said was most important, and it was almost as if everyone should know that. Jesus was like...in my brain, when I hear this, Jesus was like, 'DUH. It's this.' And what Jesus was actually doing was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. So He was quoting a Bible verse from the Old Testament, and He was saying that that one was the most important. And again, it's something that everyone should've known. So that is where this whole context is. So that is why Jesus is saying this. So this verse isn't even really new. It already sort of existed. Jesus...a lot of people were not really sure why He didn't exactly say what was said in Deuteronomy, but He is sort of saying that this is the most important thing is for us to love God.

So what I want to do today is talk about what that means. So we're going to unpack it a little bit. So I want to talk about the different ways that...how we can love God so that we all are aware of different ways that we can love God. One thing you need to know is that different people have different ideas on how this verse should be broken down. This is completely one of the ideas that I like. If you go out there on the Web, you talk to theologians, probably each one will have a different idea. So when I did my research... this is the one that I felt most clicked with me. The one that I thought was like, 'Yeah, that makes sense. This is what I feel is going on.' So I'm going to break down each of the different loves.

So the first one says "Love with all of your heart." And so what it says...one way we can interpret this is as the heart is equal to or equates to your conscious mind. Alright? So what you're almost thinking about. So your heart is that conscious mind. And what we need to know is that when we do something like that, love with the heart, it takes effort and it takes intentionality.

So what I'm going to do, and just so you know, I told you I'm a teacher, I like to teach with analogies; it helps my students to understand what's going on, so I'm going to give you an analogy. So my analogy for this one is coffee. If you think about coffee, the first time you drank it...or let's think of a four-year-old. The first time you probably drank hot, black coffee, you probably didn't enjoy it. You probably weren't like, 'This is the nectar of the gods. Why was I drinking milk? This is ridiculous. Give me coffee for the rest of my life.' People usually don't think of that when they drink coffee for the first time. It's a very strong beverage, it's very bold, okay? So it's something that...it's going to take intentionality to like it. Sometimes you might put a little milk in it, a little cream in it, but over time you may enjoy it. But it's going to take effort. It's not something that comes immediately. Okay?

Another analogy is...that I want to share with you...is my students. As a teacher, most teachers love their students, and I love my students. I love them all. And this one year, it's about two or three years ago, I had this little girl...she wasn't quite little, she was middle school...and I gave her the same amount of love that I gave all the rest, and she needed more, and I just did not...it just wasn't working. I was trying; it wasn't working. My heart was like, 'No thank you. I don't...mm-mmm, no thank you, I don't want that.' So I talked to my friend Teresa who is a guidance counselor, and she said, 'Carmen, she needs love.' So I was like, {exhausted} 'Okay, alright.' So literally in my brain I always think of like I'm downshifting, and so I'm like I have to kick this like, everybody else gets 100%, she's going to need 250, 250%. So I had to intentionally dig down and find the love for her. I had to find areas where I could really connect and find the good in her. And it took effort. It wasn't...all the other kids, right, it was fine. 'I love you, I love you, you're a nice person.' No, it took intentionality for me to love her. It took effort and took purpose. But...I was able to do it. And so that's what I want you to know with the heart. It's not always something that comes immediately. It takes effort; it takes intentionality. So, that's the heart.

Alright, the next one I want to talk about is your soul. And your soul, when you think about it, they equate that to your unconscious mind, so that can also be your spirit. And your soul and your spirit, those words can be interchangeable. And I really like the verse in Genesis 2:7, and it says, "And Jehovah God formed Man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Man became a living soul." So, God gave us a soul. He breathed that soul into us. So everyone has a soul, and everyone has a soul that was given to us by God. That's that part inside of you, that unconscious part.

So when we go back to that story about that little girl, my soul was not in love with that little girl. My soul...mm-mmm... didn't...it wasn't there. My soul was like, mm-mmm, mm-mmm, I don't...mm-mmm. Sometimes you can think of your soul as your life, your personality, your inner self, your identity...that's that part that helps to dictate. And so going back to the coffee analogy, some people in their soul, they're just never going to love coffee. They never will, no matter how much effort or intentionality they put into it, they just won't like it. And that's fine. Okay, but that's your soul, that personality, is what defines that. So we can love God with our soul. Alright?

The next one is all of our mind, and the mind equates to your conscience. And I'm going to read the definition for conscience. "Conscience is the inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to rightness or wrongness of one's behavior." It's your moral sense. So your conscience is that thing in you that is telling you what is right and what is wrong.

My example for this one is...I'm just going to call it the handicapped tag. My parents are here; I told them I was going to show them out. So my mother has...if you know me...she's had some medical issues, so she has a handicapped tag. And so whenever I drive her around, she always wants to whip out her handicapped tag and say, 'Oh, park there; I have this handicapped tag.' And I say, 'Mom, I'm not handicapped.' I say, "Mom, I will drive you to the front door and carry you in, but I'm not handicapped. I'm not going to put that on my car because I'm not handicapped.' She's like, 'Well, I...' I say, 'I appreciate where you are, I understand where you are, and I will do whatever it takes to get you to wherever you need to be, but I can't put that on my car.' So that's that part of that conscience that is saying like I knew for me that was wrong. Other people might not sense that as wrong, but for me it wasn't right. And it was just so funny... we were yesterday...we were in front of Café Fresco and there was a handicapped spot, and my Dad's like, 'Oh, we should've brought the tag,' and my Mom said, 'Carmen wouldn't let us park there anyway.' {audience laughter} So that's that conscience, that inside part of you that is telling you what is right and what is wrong, and that is what's also used to help love God.

What you also have to know about your conscience mind is that it can be corrupted. So part of you, if you...and again, let's go with the handicapped tag...is if you're around people that are telling you it's okay, it's okay if you just park there, it's okay...you start to feel like it's okay. Or whatever that thing is that you know in your soul, in your mind, is wrong, it can be corrupted. It can be changed to be something that isn't good or something that you know goes against what you feel is true and right. So you have to be very careful and nurture it.

My one friend told me a story of there were two girls that went to college in the south. And both grew up in this area, both lived in Christian households, both went to church every Sunday. So the one girl went down and she went to school and she went to church on Sundays and she belonged to like Christian organizations, and she had a great time there. Another girl from the same area around here, she went down there, and she started to party and she was with a lot of different groups, and so she didn't last very long at that school. She knew it wasn't right, so she left. And so she communicated, 'Oh, that was a corrupt university, that university was corrupt, and it was wrong.'

But you have to see that not one place or one area is inherently bad or wrong. It's what you bring into it. So let's call it the University of Tennessee because...not that I'm saying it's wrong, but let's just use that as an example...University of Tennessee is not inherently bad or corrupt. Some people might feel it is, but some people might not. Okay? So whatever it is, whatever you bring to the table, you have to know that your conscience can be corrupted, it can be weakened, so you need to put yourself into areas where it can be strengthened and it can be revitalized.

Okay, so with all of that, I have a picture of what I feel like it looks like, and I sort of created this picture. Again, remember I'm a teacher. So here's how I see it working, all three of those working together. And again, I'm going to use the example of the little girl. So in this example, my soul...that little girl who was giving me problems...my soul was like, 'Uh, we don't like her. Let's go. She is annoying.' Okay, my soul was not in it and wanted to pull my heart with it. 'You don't have to...that's work. Don't do it.' Okay?

So the heart and the soul can be connected, but it's that conscience, that big conscience, that is holding it up and telling me what is right and wrong. So in my heart, I knew that that little girl, no matter how she tried me, she needed love. She needed more love than the other children. She needed it 200% instead of the 100%. So that conscience helped to grow those others, so it sort of pushed the soul to say, 'Hey, you know what needs to be done.' So the soul said, 'Okay, I have to get with this.' The heart had to put some effort into loving that little girl. The heart had to. Had to put praise into that little girl, effort, recognizing everything wonderful that she did and see the good in her. That's what the heart had to purposely and with effort had to do that. Okay?

What did happen was, by doing that, the soul learned to love that little girl. It wasn't forced, it wasn't fake. it was genuine, and it was real. And that little girl became one of my favorite children because I put a lot of energy into her. And my soul legitimately loved her. So if you use your conscience to help you guide where your soul and your heart need to be, that will definitely help you with your loving relationship with God. Okay?

So today I want to give you a couple of take-home Tweets. That's what we're calling them, take-home Tweets. So the first thing that I want to tell you is we have to understand that the goal of this verse is to tell us that Jesus wants us to have a loving relationship with God. That's His biggest thing. He could've picked any other verse. He could've said 'Thou shalt not kill.' He did not pick that. He wanted us to know that the most important thing for us is to have a loving relationship with God.

So our number 1 Tweet is to have that loving relationship with God. That's what He really wants from us. And I did put hashtags with all of these so #relationshipgoals. So you just want to make sure that that relationship is what you're having.

I had a little girl when I was growing up who lived in our neighborhood, and I was probably like 10, so she was maybe 8. And I remember one day we were together and we were talking about nightmares. I don't even know why we were talking about nightmares, but we were talking about nightmares. And we both went to the same church, our fathers were both deacons, and she told me...I was talking about nightmares, and she told me, 'Well, you know what I do when I have a nightmare,' she said, 'my Daddy said to just ask Jesus to not have any nightmares.' She said, 'So I just say, Jesus, can I not have any nightmares tonight?' She goes, 'And then I don't.' And I said, 'What? That is awesome. I didn't know you could do that.' She's like, 'Yep. just say, Jesus, I'd like not to have any nightmares.' I was like, 'Okay.' And I will tell you from the age of 10, that's what I did, and Jesus helped me. I just said, 'Jesus, I don't want to have any nightmares tonight,' and He does that for you. But you need that relationship first. You need to be able to trust in Him and know who He is.

For example, if you're at the grocery store and you're in line, and you turn to the person in back of you and you say, 'Hey, I have a meeting tomorrow, it's real early. Will you call me around 6:00 a.m.?' That person will look at you like you're crazy! They look at you like you're crazy because you don't have a relationship with that person. They don't know you; they don't know why you're asking that. That would be strange and weird. But if your sister is behind you in line, or if one of your friends is behind you in line, well that makes a lot more sense because you have a relationship with that person. So your goal is to create that relationship with God. God wants that relationship. So that's your first one is to create that relationship.

The second one is to read the Bible. #redwords You're welcome, Ray. My Dad, when we were talking about this...my sister and I are going over what hashtags are - my sister and I are like Justin and Jimmy up there. We're like, 'Ha ha ha, we're hilarious.' And my Dad says '#redwords.' And we're looking at him like, 'What are you talking about, Dad?' He goes, "No, no, no, don't you get it? Because then Jesus, when he talks in the Bible, those words are red, so then you should say #redwords." We're like, 'That has nothing to do about the pancakes we're talking about right now!' And then of course, he just kept saying '#redwords' all day long. So I'm including #redwords in there for my father. But it's also true. One of the ways to grow that relationship with God is to read the Bible. My advice to you is to start...if you're new to it and you're new to starting this relationship...start with the New Testament. That's the easiest one to start with. That's easy; you'll know who He is, you can understand Him. Jesus is a great person to figure out, and again He's the one who's talking with the red words.

And then there's other verses. One of my personal favorites is Jonah. Jonah is a great book to read. What I like about Jonah is it talks about how Jesus isn't going to ever give up on you. God will never give up on you, okay? And if you want to get to know God, just read Jonah. It's four chapters; it's very, very short. Piece of cake; read that. And the first three verses are awesome, too. I love the first three verses. Spoiler alert...no, I'm not going to give anything away any spoilers, just read it. You're going to like it. Okay? So -read the Bible.

The third thing that we're going to do, point 3, is be in relationships with people who love Him. So you could only grow together if you know there are people out there who love God, it's going to be easier to grow in that love. When I, let's say, go to see Star Wars, I want to be with people who love Star Wars, who know Star Wars, who can talk about Star Wars. We talk about every episode. We love it. I want to be with people who do that. Not my friend Tam, who knows nothing and keeps saying, 'What is that sword they keep bringing out?' And you're like {exasperated}, "Ahhh, it's not a sword, it's a light saber. Ohhh!' Okay? She doesn't get invited to Star Wars movies. I still love her, but she doesn't get invited. You want to be with people who know and share, okay? So if you're going to be in a relationship with God, you want to be with people who know Him. The easiest way to do that is to come to church. Doesn't have to be this church, it can be any church. You have to figure out where you feel the most comfortable. So go to a place where people are already in a relationship, are starting a relationship with God, so just go to a church. There are people there who do that.

Next one is four: Look for Him in nature. And you can just go out and meditate. I love to look at the clouds and know that He did that. Look at a flower; He did that. Look at the birds and know that He did that. All of those things, God did those. He had a purpose for those, and it helps you just talk to Him and figure out what was Your purpose with that? Another way to see Him...I always see it when I work with kids. Sometimes when you see kids and they're little, there's no filter there, so you have to know that the things that they're doing has to be generated by like a greater power...by God.

And then the other one I wanted to say was the...which one was it...good things happen. Things that are happening in the world where you're like, 'Yes! Thank you, Jesus.' And I bring up Malala Yousafzai, who is a girl, a Pakistani teen who is fighting for education in her country, and the Taliban shot her, and she still lived, and she's still out there trying to fight for her cause. So when things like that happen, and she is not brought down, you have to think you know, 'Thank you, God.' That is because of You. You are out there trying to do good things for us.

The next one is number five: Talk to God. #pray I liked #areyoutheregoditsmemargaret I don't know, there's some old people out there who know that one. Thank you very much. It's a book from the 1970s. Everyone who's a little younger than that, Google it. It'll be fun. But what you need to do is have a conversation with God. Start off small, just start talking the way you would normally talk. It doesn't have to be some prayer with thy and thous or anything like that in it. Just talk to Him.

And then what also you could do is, if you want to look for a little bit more structure in a prayer, just Google it. I was going to think of...give you some ways to do that, and then I was Googling it, and I was like, 'Oh, that's a great idea.' I'd go another page, 'Oh, that's really good, too.' 'Oh, that's awesome.' So I don't want to tell you what's going to work for you, you're going to have to find out how a prayer can be structured to work for you. So if you need to Google it and look at other people's advice, or just start to have that conversation and get to know Him, if you just talk to Him, God wants that relationship. He wants you to talk with Him. So definitely just start a conversation.

The sixth one is: Love God by serving others. And with this one, all of us are God's children. He loves all of us. So when we do something kind or generous for each other, God appreciates that. For example, if you're a parent and say your child needs bone marrow and someone donates bone marrow for your child, you're going to have a relationship to that donor. You're going to care about that person. You're going to have strong feelings. You're going to want that...you're going to have strong emotions for that person. And that's how God is for us. He wants that for us, so by serving others, by being out there and helping others, it's a way of connecting to God, getting a little closer to God.

The last one I'm going to talk about, number seven, is: Be aware of that love relationship and make it important. A lot of times, you'll start a relationship, it'll be there, it'll be great, and then you sometimes just take it for granted. You just assume, 'Oh, yeah, she's my friend. They're good, I haven't talked to her in a couple of years, but that's okay.' What you need to do with God is to remember once you start that relationship, which is what He wants, is to keep making it important, keep putting time in it, keep praying to Him, keep talking to Him, keep learning about Him. And one way that it gets tripped up is when you get caught up in yourself. That's always with me. I always get farther away from God when I get more inside myself. When I'm like, 'Oh, I'm angry at this person, I'm so angry, and ohhhhh,' I'm not thinking about God or having that relationship when I have all of this anger or animosity in my brain. So sometimes you have to step out of yourself and help yourself to remember that God is there and He wants to have that relationship with you.

Let's see. Alright, Twitter is a way to share messages with people all over the world. And with Matthew 22:37, it's a verse that Jesus shares with everyone, the entire world, He shares it with the entire world, to let us know that the Lord wants a loving relationship with everyone on the planet. Let us pray.

Thank You, Lord, for letting us gather together here today. Thank You for bringing us all in this building. Thank You for letting those who aren't with us...Lord, thank You for letting them be where they are, but thank You, Lord, for letting us gather together today and just learn to love You, learn to start to love You. And we thank You, Lord, for loving us. We don't deserve it. We didn't do anything to deserve it, Lord, and no matter what we do, You love us. You never, ever give up on us, Lord, and we thank You for that. Lord, help us to grow in our relationship with You. Help us to do all of those things. Help us to pray and serve and love and see You in nature, all of those things, Lord. Help us to do each of those so that we can grow in a relationship with You. Help us to love each other, Lord. In Matthew 22:39, Jesus tells us that the second-most important verse is to love your neighbor as yourself. So, Lord, as we leave this place and we leave this gathering today, Lord, help us to know that loving You is the most important thing. But the second most important thing is to love each other as ourselves. Lord, give us the strength, the patience, the empathy, to love others the way that You have always loved us. We love You so much, dear Lord. In Your Son Jesus's name, amen.