Sunday, April 6, 2014
Pastor Joe Wittwer
Love Does
#4—The Love Awards! 


This is the fourth and final week in our series, “Love Does.”  Today is the Love Awards.  We’re going to have some fun, tell some stories, and give some cheers for all you love commandos!

Where’s the Love Video

So welcome to the Love Awards.  For the past 3 weeks, we’ve been talking about what love does, and more importantly, we’ve been doing it!  I kicked it off by telling you that love is a verb.  Love does!  Love is doing what is best for others no matter what it costs you.  Love is more doing than feeling, more action than emotion. When God commands us to love, He isn’t asking you to feel something for someone, but to do something for someone. Love is a verb. In fact, this week in our Bible reading plan, we read a great memory verse for Love Does.

1 Corinthians 16:14 Do everything in love.

Do everything in love.  Let everything you do be motivated by love for others—by wanting and doing the best for them!  Love is a verb.

Then Michael challenged us to love one another—love starts here.  We are to love each other so that the world will know we belong to Jesus.  Then Josh challenged us to love the other—those who are different from us, disagree with us, or disappoint us.  By the way, Michael and Josh did great!  They are two of the six pastors you’ll be hearing from while I’m gone this summer on my sabbatical.  You are in good hands!

Jesus said that people would know we are Christians by our love.

ILL: In his book, Speaking of Jesus, Carl Medearis tells about polling random people and asking, “What do Christians do?”  85% of those polled said the same thing: “Christians are against things.  They fight us and judge us and hate us.” I’d like to change that! I think Jesus would like to change that!  Wouldn’t it be awesome if 85% said, “What do Christians do?  They love us.” 

And how will they know we love them? By what we do. Love does.  So this whole series has been about getting out there and loving people! 

I asked you to send in some stories, and you did, and today, we’re going to give out some Love Awards!  In fact, we got so many great stories, that we are passing out Love Awards to different people in each service!  Now some of you have expressed concern about this.  Didn’t Jesus say to do our good deeds in secret?  Yes.  Jesus made it clear in Matthew 6 that if we do our good deeds to be seen by others, we’ve got our reward.  If your motivation is to get applause on earth, there will be no reward in heaven—your reward was those few seconds of applause on earth.  Bummer for you.  So today, we’re going to steal some people’s heavenly rewards!  No.  I honestly don’t think any of you did good just to be noticed, or that you are tooting your own horn.  In fact, many people shared their stories reluctantly, or asked to be anonymous. Many others nominated other people for a Love Award.  I believe that instead of being Matthew 6 glory hogs, you were more like the light-shiners in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I think you loved others for their sake, not yours; to do good for them, and to bring glory to God.  You let your light shine so that God is glorified. You weren’t glory hogs, but light-shiners.  So we’re sharing these stories to honor God and to inspire and encourage you to love more! God will be glorified. And some of you will get a well-deserved pat on the back, and that’s ok!

Besides, Jesus gave out Love Awards.  When Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus poured an expensive bottle of oil on his feet, the disciples all scolded her.  Jesus said, “Leave her alone.  She did something beautiful for me, and from now on, wherever the gospel is told, people will tell what she did!”  That’s a major Love Award!  So we’re just following Jesus’ example!

I received over 100 nominations for Love Awards, and every one was deserving of a Love Award.  However, I only have time to tell a handful of stories in each service.  So if your story isn’t told, please know that I read it and we have a Love Award for you too!  How did I choose the recipients for these rewards? One thing: variety. I wanted examples of young and old people, big tasks and little tasks, individuals and groups, at work and at home.  I wanted you to see that love does is for everyone, everywhere!


Our first Love Award winner is a mom of three young kids.  She wrote:

I was pushing all three kids on the swing set, when this conversation ensued with Matthew. He was giggling at me as I struggled to push all three children.

Matt, (3 y/o) asked, “Mom, is that hard?”

Me: “Yes!”

Matt: “Super Dooper Wooper Hard?”

Me: “Yes!”

Matt: “Are you doing what’s hard for you and good for me?”

Me: “Yes! What’s that called Matt?”

Matt: “Mom, that’s called wuv.”

I’ve complained about how much pushing I do on the back yard swing set. But now I see it through his little eyes. I’m loving him in the very simplest of ways.

Shelley Wyrick wins a Wuv Award! In fact, I think all the moms deserve a Love Award—let’s have all the moms stand and give them a huge cheer!

Remember last Sunday Josh told us we’re to love our neighbor, even if the neighbor is someone with whom we disagree, or dislike, or who may even mistreat us. Our next Love Award winner exemplifies this kind of love for neighbors.  He has an elderly neighbor who can be a little cranky. Last fall, he was cleaning up her leaves along her curb.  It created some dust, and she called the cops on him!  The police quickly cleared him of all wrongdoing! Later, he was working in his backyard and had Christian music playing on his radio.  She called the cops again!  They showed up with a sound monitor and once again cleared him.  Some other neighbors told him that they used to try to help her, but stopped because of her cranky disposition, and he was inclined to agree.  But the next day, when she asked him to shovel the snow from her walk, he happily agreed to do it.  Then she asked him to roll her garbage carts out to the street each week, and he happily agreed to do it—for a lady who called the cops on him!  She offered to pay him, and when he refused, she asked what she could do for him.  He said, “I have something I’d like you to read.” She agreed to read the Bible. For loving that cranky neighbor who called the cops on you, this Love Award goes to that wily love commando, Burl Peters!

Jessica Dixon nominated her parents as the recipients of our next Love Award. Every Monday night, Jessica and her husband, Zach, go to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) from 6-9:30.  Jessica’s parents both work full time jobs. And they are not churchgoers, so BSF isn’t exactly in their wheelhouse.  Yet every Monday night, after a full day’s work, they come over to watch the kids so Zach and Jessica can go to BSF.  I said they watch the kids—that would be Abigail (5), Gracie (4), and twin boys David and Elijah (3).  That friends, is a handful.  That is love!  This Love Award goes to Richard and Laurie—super grandparents! Jessica and Zach, would you deliver it to them with our esteem!

Our next Love Award goes to a whole group of kids. Maddyson Harris is a Life Center Kindergarten Owner.  Maddyson was in the hospital recently with kidney failure; she is going to need a transplant.  As the kindergarten class here at Life Center was praying for her, another kindergartner, Ellie Weitz, was moved to make a gift bag for her while she’s stuck in bed.  But Ellie wanted every kid in the class to make bags for kids in the hospital.  So Ellie and her mom got together all the supplies needed for us to make up the bags. They also came up with the idea to make a prayer blanket for Maddyson.  All our kindergartners last Sunday put their handprint on the blanket and prayed for her.  It was quite an awesome weekend, all because of a kindergarten girl who understands that love does!   Let’s hear it for Ellie Weitz and the kindergarten class—winners of a Love Award! 

The recipients of this next Love Award are college students who love to bake cookies for their neighbors.  These young ladies contacted a women’s crisis shelter and asked if they could show some love. So they baked up these delicious cookies, rice krispie treats and snicker bars, and took them to the shelter.  They also made handwritten cards with words of encouragement and love for the ladies. They call themselves the Jesus Cookie Committee and plan on doing this twice a month.  I call them love commandos!  This Love Award goes to the bakers of Jesus Cookies: Diana Mikheyeva and the Jesus Cookie Committee!

You can use your job to show love. Our next Love Award goes to a couple people. A mechanic who serves on our Blue Collar Crew got a Blue Collar request right after the “Love Does” series started. A Life Center owner’s vehicle wouldn’t start and had been worked on elsewhere and eventually diagnosed as a bad flywheel (flexplate), no small job. Since he wasn’t real familiar with this particular car, he thought that someone else would be better suited for this job and almost responded that he would not be able to help. But whoever sent the Blue Collar request form had the foresight to write, “Love does” at the top of the form. He saw that and his attitude changed quickly and now he had to secure this opportunity before someone else did! The next obstacle was figuring out how to get the vehicle from North Spokane to his shop. Wouldn’t you know, they had a new couple join their Life Group the next day. They happen to own a towing company, and graciously and quickly agreed to get the vehicle to his shop. He wrote, “Thanks to whoever wrote “Love does” on the request form, the vehicle is on a hoist and in the process of being repaired, and I am thankful to be able to be a part of helping our local community. God is good!”  He is good!  I love that these folks used their jobs to show love.  This Love Award goes to Greg Linafelter the mechanic and Rob and Eva Moore of Rouse’s Towing who towed the car.

Linda Waud nominated her beautiful granddaughter, who is turning 10! For her birthday, this year this young lady decided on her own that she doesn’t need any more stuff and she asked her friends to bring non-perishable food for Union Gospel Mission to her party instead of bringing gifts for her. She has always been concerned about the homeless people we see around town and after hearing about the idea of goodie bags a few weeks ago, she wants to make up a supply of those both at her home and at grandma and grandpa’s.  She’s a 10 year-old love commando; this Love Award goes to Hanna Faught.

This next Love Award goes to a Life Group who hosted 20+ Sudanese refugees from World Relief to a BBQ and Bunco party.  Yvonne wrote: “It was so much fun, we laughed, shared information about ourselves and heard extraordinary stories from them. Amazing how God can orchestrate hearts to collide when backgrounds and beliefs are so different. That’s what’s cool: God’s love knows no boundaries.”  Indeed it doesn’t!  Who is my neighbor?  The person in front of me, whoever they may be.  Anyone!  I just want to know how you managed the language barrier in that Bunco game! This Love Award goes to the Bunco playing, refugee loving Life Group of Wil and Yvonne Wilhelm.

Mike Cummins nominated our next winner.  This young man has overcome a life of addiction and crime by the power of Jesus, and now he’s on the streets helping young people find and follow Jesus, and get out of drugs and gangs.  Mike bumped into him at Jack in the Box downtown, buying tacos to pass out to those on the streets.  Then I saw him under the bridge doing ministry there. Now, he is trying to get a basketball tournament going for those that want to play Hoopfest, but are not able to afford to pay the fee.  He is the leader of Reble Ministries, a love commando with a colorful past, this Love Award goes to Sean Blair.

Here’s a long distance one.  John lives in Canada and comes to Life Center when he visits his daughter and her family. He heard about Love Does and wondered what he could do.  He met a young man across the back alley who makes a lot of racket playing drums in the garage.  John wrote, “I’m 72 and he is a late teen with colorful tattoos and piercings.”  You get the picture: oil and water. This young man approached John as he worked in his garage, hoping to borrow a battery.  John asked what he was working on and discovered he was building a long skateboard for a friend, but had nothing to work with. For the next three days, John provided the workspace in his garage, the materials, and the tools that enabled the young man to finish his project.  John wrote, “With his interest in music I think he would enjoy our worship band at church and we made enough friendship that I look forward to inviting to come with me soon.”  You gotta love it!  So this Love Award goes to Papa John Asmundson, skateboard building love commando!

Here’s another at work award.  Alicia Wigert, a fearsome love commando herself, nominated this young school teacher. She is a special ed teacher at Audubon Elementary.  She decided to throw a “Just Because” party—you are loved “just because”—not because of anything you do, but just because.  During lunch, they decorated the class, had “Just Because” cupcakes for everyone, and handed out notes to all of the kids thanking them for what they bring to the class and telling them, “our class wouldn’t be the same with you in it!” This Love Award goes to Jordan Isitt, school teacher extraordinaire, and to Alicia Wigert who assisted her!

I love this one.  This husband, a truck driver, felt challenged to show his wife some love.  He said that she does so much for him and the kids, he wanted to show her love in a tangible way.  He wracked his brain for a couple days and finally it came to him: a foot massage.  She’s asked for them, but in his words, “I’m not much of a foot guy.” So he’s helping her by helping her feet!  This Love Award goes to that truck-driving, brain-wracking, foot-massaging love commando, Scott Hamilton.

This next award goes to a whole family.  This family buys a couple bus passes a month and either donates them to the women’s shelter or if they see a family at a bus stop with young kids, they offer them a bus pass that’s good for 30 days from the first swipe.  This Love Award goes to the bus love commandos—the Meese Family.

Kim Hatch nominated our next winner, a doctor who not only helped him physically, but spiritually.  When this doc invited Kim to join his Life Group, Kim admits that he was nervous; he’d never been involved with a close-knit group of men and wasn’t sure he could live up to the expectations.  The doc wouldn’t take no for an answer and continued to invite him, and Kim says, “When I realized that he would never give up, I agreed to join. That was three years ago and I have been not only accepted but have been encouraged by the group.  Dr. Craig Bone has been the most influential Christian on my goal to live a Godly life.”  So this Love Award goes to a never-give-up inviter who not only repairs hips, but changes lives, Dr. Craig Bone

Here’s a well-deserved Love Award, nominated by Joe and Carrie Murphy. Evidently, last Sunday, they dropped off their 6 month old daughter, Maddie, in the nursery. When they arrived to pick her up, she was smiling and laughing in the bouncy chair.  When the nursery volunteer picked her up, big smiles, but when she handed her to mom and dad, big tears.  Evidently our nursery volunteers do love so well that the kids don’t want to leave.  So here’s a Love Award to all our wonderful volunteers in the nursery and Adventureland.  (Have them all stand.)

Tyler and Andrea Barkstrom nominated their son Keegan.  They wrote: Our 7 year-old son Keegan is an example of what my husband and I try to strive for. He has been friends with Kaden, a young boy in his class with special needs for two years. Not a day goes by when you don’t see them playing together at recess, holding hands walking around the field for Bloomsday training, or Keegan helping Kaden with schoolwork. Kaden’s dad said that Keegan is like a “big brother”. If we could all have such a tender heart the world would be a better place.  This Love Award goes to Keegan Barkstrom for showing love by being a good friend.

Karen Hudson nominated these next two young ladies, both very busy high school students. On most Thursday evenings, you will find these two downtown, at Shalom Ministries, feeding the homeless. They have even received permission from their school golf team coach to leave practice early so they can be there to help.  I love it! This Love Award goes to Kailyn Hudson and Madison Letho!

The next Love Award winner rented a large lawn aerator to aerate his yard last week.  His neighbor was in his driveway watching so he asked him if he would like his yard done as well, and he did.  So our love commando did his yard, front and back. The neighbor wanted to pay him. He said, “No way, I need the exercise and you’re a great neighbor and I enjoyed doing it”!  Our love commando has been praying for this neighbor for several years, and believes that one day, he’ll come to Jesus.  This Love Award goes to lawn aerator evangelist, Vern Page.

Our next Love Award goes to a couple who does lots of selfless things for others. Most recently, last Saturday, they spent the day creating a playroom for the kids at Anna Ogden Hall. It’s on the floor where the kids live so they have a place to go instead of running the halls.  He could have been watching the NCAA tourney, instead they were loving the kids.  This Love Award goes to Don and Lori Bradley.

Frank and Janice Johnson nominated this next young lady.  She’s a 16-year-old Life Center owner who volunteers nearly her entire summer to teach kids how to ride horses at Cocollala Lake Bible camp, and tells them about Jesus’ love while they are up in the saddle. She also volunteers as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach, and loves to help Pastor Zach Saugen up in Adventureland!   She’s a love commando on horseback or the soccer pitch or in Adventureland—this Love Award goes to Bethany Johnson.

This award goes to a man who is using his abilities to serve others on a regular basis.  He was once a barber stylist in California; now he shows love by giving free haircuts to the homeless once a month at City Gate.  This Love Award goes to a hair-cutting love commando, Lenny Munguia.

Here’s a combo winner. This wife and mom started the week by heading downtown, kids in tow, to run some errands.  The kids love to plug the parking meter, so mom had a surprise ready.  She pulled out a bag of quarters, and they walked for several blocks plugging random meters.  She did it for two reasons.  “First, I know how much my boys love to plug meters. Second, as a mother of five children (one of whom is living with autism and another is five weeks old) I know what its like. No matter how hard you try to return to your soon-to-be expired meter, you fail. One kid may have to use the bathroom at the very last moment. Maybe a kiddo fell and hurt his knee while hurrying to the car. I just prayed that one of the meters we added a few minutes to kept a busy mom from getting a parking ticket.”  Good start.

A couple days later,
she messaged an estranged friend.  She learned that this friend and her husband are expecting their first child. That night as she was preparing her newborn for bed that evening, she realized the baby’s PJs had no longer fit. Her first thought was to clean out the drawers and get rid of all the outgrown clothes.  That’s when she thought of her estranged friend, and put together a bag of clothes for her new baby.  She said, “in the end, I was the person in need. I needed to mend our broken friendship. And this was the only way I knew how to start.”
 There’s more.

The next day, she was talking with a friend who had an extra ticket to the morning session of the NCAA basketball tournament at the Arena. It was on her husband’s bucket list.  She bought the ticket in a heartbeat, and won 12 million wife of the year points! She wrote:
”This week, I loved my children and strangers, myself and an old lost friend, and my husband and his bucket list.”  A pretty darn good week.  This Love Award goes to that meter-plugging, friend-mending, ticket-buying love commando, Maria Jennings.

The winner of this Love Award is a couple who are helping a co-worker. This co-worker is a grandmother who is raising her granddaughter alone.  The baby is 5 months old; the mama has drug issues and is in jail. This couple buys diapers, wipes, baby bottles, and clothes.  They also baby sit and love this little girl as if she were their own grandchild. They have the co-worker over for dinner and do what they can to lighten her load.  These love commandos are Malinda and Jesse Marroquin.

A family friend nominated the next Love Award winners, a pair of young sisters, ages 12 and 10. When these girls heard that the kids in an orphanage in Zambia didn’t have shoes, they set to work. They did odd jobs for neighbors to earn money to buy baking supplies, then they baked goodies and sold them to neighbors and friends.  They also continued doing odd jobs (dog walking, baby sitting, raking leaves) until they collected $330.  When they heard that another donor had purchased the shoes, they weren’t discouraged. Instead they got a list of other things the orphanage needed and had a blast shopping like only girls can! For their selfless gift of time and service, this Love Award goes to Bradyn (12) and Julia (10) Allen.

Ralph and Abbie Oscarson nominated their 6 year-old grandson Ethan, saying, “He gets “love does”. This is his kindergarten valentine card he gave to us.”  This little guy really is a love commando!  This Love Award is for Ethan.

I’ve got one more Love Award to give, but instead of telling you the story, we’re going to watch it.  Take a look at this.

Jacob Larson Video

This Love Award goes to that inclusive love commando, founder of Building Bridges, Jacob Larson!

Thanks to everyone who nominated someone or shared a story—and I know for every story I read, there are dozens more untold. Let’s keep on loving people. Let’s do it so that one day, when people are asked, “What do Christians do?” they will say, “They love us.”