Love Your Neighbour Skit

I recently gave a talk to children about Christ’s Command to Love our Neighbour.
I wrote the following skit to help get some points over and it went really well.  My son Isaac, and his friend Angus did a great job with this and the kids and grown ups laughed a lot.
So I’m sharing this for others to use if they want to….

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR SKIT

Storyline: A character called Sam Arratan has just become a Christian and needs to learn to love his neighbour and thus be a Good Sam Arratan.

Man:    Hello, are you Mr Arratan.

Sam:    Yes, I’m Sam. I’m Sam Arratan.

Man:    Nice to meet you, Sam. I hear you just became a Christian.

Sam:    Yes. Now Jesus is Lord of my life.

Man:    That’s wonderful. So that means He gets to tell you what to do. If you don’t do what He says, then He isn’t really LORD, is He?

Sam:    OK, I’m ready for my first instruction from Christ, since I have just made Him Lord of my life. What is it?

Man:    (Opens Bible and reads) “Love Your Neighbour just the same way you love yourself!”

Sam:    What? I can’t do that. My neighbours are mean and nasty.

Man:    Well, Christ’s command is to Love your Neighbour, so that’s what you have to do, no matter what your neighbours are like.

Sam:    I think I’ll move to some place where I don’t have any neighbours.

Man:    No, you will always have many neighbours.

Sam:    Not if I move to the country and live on a huge farm in the middle of the desert. Or maybe I could live on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean. Hmmm, or maybe I could live on the Moon.

Man:    You are Exasperating!

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan!

Man:    Well, Sam, Neighbours are not just the people who live next door to you, but all the people you meet.

Sam:    OK, I’ll become a monk and I’ll live away from everyone. I’ll live on top of a pole in the desert! That’s what Saint Simeon did over 1,000 years ago.

Man:    But, you’re missing something. God never asks us to do something without giving us the ability to do His will.

Sam:    So God can give me the ability to love my neighbours?

Man:    Of course He can, if you ask Him.

Sam:    So, how am I supposed to love people who I don’t like?

Man:    Well, firstly let’s discover what real LOVE is. It’s when you want what is best for someone else, no matter how hard it is for you to give it to them.

Sam:    So, I have to want what is BEST for them, even if it makes things hard for me?

Man:    Yes.

Sam:    Like, when I want them to get their broken window fixed, but I don’t want them to know it was me who hit the ball?

Man:    Yes. Or when you help them, when you’d rather be off playing with your friends or just reading a book.

Sam:    That’s going to be hard.

Man:    If God is helping you, it really will be quite easy and it will bring you great blessing as well.

Sam:    But how many hours each Sunday do I have to do this?

Man:    Oh, you don’t just do it on Sundays. You do it every day of the week.

Sam:    Mornings or afternoons?

Man:    All day.

Sam:    So after the sun goes down I can forget about it.

Man:    No, it’s ALL day, including the night.

Sam:    Like 24/7?

Man:    Yes, 24/7.

Sam:    So, when I get to 24 I’ll help 7 people?

Man:    No, silly. You have to love your neighbour 24 hours every day, 7 days a week.

Sam:    What about a Leap Week?

Man:    There’s no such thing as a Leap Week.

Sam:    Oh. I was just hoping.

Man:    You are SO exasperating.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan!

Man:    Well, Sam, Any time your neighbour has a need, you would help them if you love them.

Sam:    Well, that pretty girl down the street, I could love her.

Man:    No. Love isn’t that nice feeling you feel toward a pretty girl. It’s when you make a choice to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Feelings don’t come into it.

Sam:    I think they do. If I was raking the grass for my nasty neighbour, I’d sure have some FEELINGS about that.

Man:    Then you’ll have to die to those feelings.

Sam:    Now you want me DEAD!

Man:    No, it’s an expression. It means you have to give up those feelings and do what Christ asks you, no matter how hard it seems to be.

Sam:    Do you know where I can get a pole?

Man:    Oh, you’re just SO EXASPERATING.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. Sam Arratan.

Man:    Well, Mr Sam Arratan, I want to make you into a Good Sam Arratan!

Sam:    A Good Samaritan! Hey I know that story. It’s about a man who helped some poor sucker who got bashed up.

Man:    Yes, he wanted the best for the injured man, even though it cost him time and money. He put the injured man on his donkey and took him to the inn.

Sam:    Do you really want me to become a Good Sam Arratan?

Man:    Yes.

Sam:    OK, where can I get a donkey?

Man:    Oh, you’re SO EXASPERATING.

Sam:    No, I’m Sam. My name’s Sam …

Man:    ARRATAN. Yes, I know.

Sam:    So, I really have to love my neighbour, do I?

Man:    Well, it’s not my idea. That’s what Christ Himself commands us to do.

Sam:    Well have you ever had to love your neighbour?

Man:    Do you mean, have I ever had to want the best for someone?

Sam:    Yes.

Man:    Someone who is stupid and who really needs a lot of help.

Sam:    Well, yes.

Man:    (glares at him) What do you think I’m doing right now?

Sam:    So, you love me?

Man:    I’m trying to.

(discussion continues as they move toward the exit)

Sam:    Is it my hair? Or my good looks? Maybe it’s my muscles? I’m pretty intelligent too. I was top of my class in pre-school.

Man:    Oh, you’re SO EXASPERATING!

Sam:    No, I’m SAM. SAM ARRATAN. (exit)

Rapped in Love – A Christmas Poem

I be-lieve in the Baby in the Manger
I be-lieve he was no Stranger
To the people who are bad and the things that make us sad
Coz He came to Set us FREE.

Please believe in the Heavenly Save-ya
Please receive all the things that he gave ya
Coz real happy you will be, when you let him set you free
From the things you hide like the garbage inside
Which you carry from the start, as evil in your heart
Coz He came to set you free.

So at this time of tinsel and toys
We want you to remember the joys
That Jesus gives, to everyone that Lives
In this wonderful world God made.

Well it’s Christmas Time, so this little Rhyme
Will tell the tale of an itty bitty male
Born behind an Inn for a World of sin
So let the Story Being!

It all began Thousands of Years Ago
Just like the Bible Tells us so
When the world got distracted
And the mess was protracted
And nobody seemed to know.

All the people were so Proud
With opinions oh so loud
That they couldn’t hear the sound of the pain all around
Coz their eyes were covered with a shroud.

Well God above, Filled with holy love
Saw this mankind mess and decided to bless
All the people in need, like those filled with greed
So God’s holy plan was laid, coz the price had to be paid.

Now if you owed a Debt, or you stole or lost a bet
There’d be hell to pay, And they’d chase you all the way
Unless someone came along, who had never done wrong
And decided to be nice, and Pay off the Price.

That was God’s Deal, and the plan was real
But there was no one, ‘cept God’s only holy Son
Who could live without sin, with no garbage within
And could pay that ugly price, and not have to do it twice.

So God said, “Son, You are the One”
And I’m sending you to earth, to go through human birth
And grow up a holy man, who’ll fulfil my holy plan.
But I say with a sigh, In the end you’ll have to die.”

Jesus knew the Father’s love, coz he lived with Him above
And He knew he had to do, this plan and see it through
So he willingly said “Yes”, and so, you’ll never guess
He became a babe on earth, waiting for his birth.

Then on the perfect day, as his mother rode her way
To Bethlehem where they were gonna stay
It came the time for birth, so here upon the earth
The Son of God in a manger lay.

You see the inn was full and the best that they could pull
Was to shelter in the stable with the cows
So that’s where he was born, and on that very morn
He cradled in their trough for hours and hours.

And the Shepherds on a hill resting cold and still
Heard the sound of angel voices in the air
And they nearly died of fright to see such awesome sight
Which at any time has been so strange and rare.

The angel said, Don’t fear, but rather give a cheer
For I bring you news that’s wonderful and grand.
A saviour has been born, this very early morn
And he will bring God’s blessing to the land.

A babe is born today who has come to change the way
All the people live their lives and get set free
So go down into town and have a look around
A King is born and you’ll be first to see.”

What an awesome joy it was when they found the babe becoz,
It was just the way the angels said would be
So they bowed the knee and blessed the one who gives us rest
For the gift God gave to set the people free.

And that’s not all that came, for some men of pomp and fame
From a distant land came all the way to find
The baby born as King, who made the angels sing,
Who would heal the sick and give sight to the blind.

They brought their gifts and gold and to the king they told
How a star had led them from their distant land
And they came to find the child, tender still and mild
To bless him with the gifts they had in hand.

So that’s how God’s plan got started
And that’s how we got parted
From our sin and shame, coz when Jesus came
He paid the price for those things that aren’t nice
Which trapped us in pain, again and again
And forgave us so we can be Free.

I be-lieve in the Baby in the Manger
I be-lieve he was no Stranger
To the people who are bad and the things that make us sad
Coz He came to Set us FREE.

Please believe in the Heavenly Save-ya
Please receive all the things that he gave ya
Coz real happy you will be, when you let him set you free
From the things you hide like the garbage inside
Which you carry from the start, as evil in your heart
And He gives you His Joys, Which are better than the toys
Coz He came to set you free.

So at this time of tinsel and toys
We want you to remember the joys
That Jesus gives, to everyone that Lives
In this wonderful world God made.

Honouring the Pine Tree

There was once a lovely valley filled with pine trees, deep in the forest. Magnificent trunks reached from the valley floor and spread their glorious boughs in elegant grace such as eye rarely saw. In fact the valley was so beautiful that people from around the world made the difficult trip to be able to photograph this amazing sight.

But there was a problem with the valley. While all the trees in the valley, whether large or small, were of the most perfect shape and richest colour, creating mottled shades of green as they swept from one side to the other, there was one ugly tree which spoiled every vantage point.

Where the valley reached its height, just below the mountain ridge that circled it, there was a rocky outcrop. Suspended at the edge of those rocks, and hanging on precariously, was a runty and withered little tree which hardly ever had leaves. Its distorted trunk, if that is what you could call its short and twisted stump, was dried and poorly nourished. There was little water among those rocks and this ugly little excuse for a tree had never been more than an insult to all the others below it. Word had it that this tree had only ever produced one pine cone in its entire life.

The other trees often spoke in ugly tones about the runty bit of wood suspended above their glorious valley. They knew that the stunted tree insulted their kind and had to be the ugliest pine tree that had ever grown.

One day when the master Forester came by, the beautiful pine trees complained to him about the ugly tree.

“Why did you let such an ugly tree grow above our beautiful valley? We do not want that ugly tree there at all. We wish he had never even existed.”

“Is that your wish? The Forester asked. “Yes. Yes!” The trees answered.

“Well then”, said the Forester, “I can make it just as if that tree had never taken root. Would you like that?”

“Oh yes!” They rejoiced.

“Fine. I shall start cutting you down today.”

The trees were shocked. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, if that tree did not exist, then none of you would be here either. So I will have to cut you down.”

All the trees began to quake in horror and pulled their branches back from the Forester.

“Let me tell you what happened” the Forester continued.

“Many, many years ago there was a terrible fire that scorched this entire land. It killed all the trees as far as the eye could see. Every tree was burned to ash and this valley looked black and terrible. Only one tree could survive the inferno. It was just a tender shoot at the time, born with one small root pushing into a crack between huge boulders, high above the fire.

“I watched over that tiny plant and encouraged it to survive, but it was desperately lonely and afraid. There was little water and so it could not grow. Instead it twisted this way and that as it stretched to see the sun and to feel a few drops of rain on its face.

“After many years and many struggles that stunted little pine tree came to full growth. But its full height was less than your young plants here in the valley. With just one branch that lonely tree produced just one pine cone, on just one season, in all its many years above the valley.

“When the pine cone was ripe, the tree tossed it down into the valley below and pleaded with me to make sure that the seeds would grow. He so longed to have other pine trees to talk to and he knew it was his destiny to start that new generation.

“The one pine cone, thrown into the valley so many years ago, produced a few new trees, which produced many seeds to produce more and then more beautiful pines. So that first single pine cone led to every one of you trees that now stand so tall and grand. And it’s all thanks to that one lonely old pine tree who did the little bit he could.

All the trees turned and looked up to that stunted trunk at the top of their valley. They were silent. They had despised that old gnarled survivor, when they owed him their very life. One of the tallest and most beautiful trees leaned over as close as he could to that ancient old pine, and whispered, “Thanks.”

With that a whisper went through all the branches in the valley. “Thanks! Thankyou! Forgive me. Good job!” and “Praise God that you were there for us all!”

The old tree smiled a wrinkled smile of embarrassment. He didn’t want attention, but he did appreciate being given the honour that he was due. He shrank back toward the rocks and went on enjoying the view of all he had achieved in his limited and struggling life.

From that time on, when ever photographers came to the valley, the trees would pull their lovely branches out of the way to make sure every photo caught a glimpse of the twisted old tree at the top of the valley. And as people stood in the cool shade of the pine they often thought they could hear a whisper in the breeze that flowed up the valley to the rocky crags above. The whisper sounded like, “Thanks”.

The Battle Scene

He lay in agony for an eternity.
His cries of pain drowned in the tempest of deadly conflict.
Blood drained from his body as the sodden earth sucked warmth from his mangled frame.

He lingered for a day and half a night.
Delirious he sobbed and cursed and faced a thousand fears.
In the nether-land he halted, too weak to live, yet too strong to die.

The battle was abandoned.
All was fought in vain.
The violence and blood were now a crying shame.
The territory held by all the hated foes
Was still his own domain.
With no-one to oppose.

Nature’s lamp-light rose and cast its eerie pall across this dreaded vale.
And there a hand reached out to touch a cheek now pale.
An eye turned up to see what comforter had come.
Who smoothed away the tears upon a frame now numb?

In silhouette above he saw his deadly foe, now crouched in soft compassion.
Then only did he know that though men face and fight
And each believe he’s right
When death comes in the night
We face a common end.

The issue of our day, exalted to hold sway,
Is like a passing rage that tears across the stage.
Upheaval in its wake, it makes the strongest quake
Then once the thing is passed, peace returns at last.

Leviathan long gone, society moves on
And there returns again, awareness we’re just men.
Compassion stirs a hand and joins a brave new band
Who reach out to unite those caught up in the fight.

And so the wounded soul was lovingly caressed
Until he breathed his last and slipped into his rest.
Then grass began to grow where blood once flowed so free.
And life continues on, bequeathed to you and me.

Be careful of your heart and issues which hold sway.
For men still rise to fight on this a brand new day.
Be careful of the rage and cry that sweeps our land.
For God is over all, before whom you must stand.

His only is the fight and His alone the cause.
And we are mortal men who need to take a pause,
And listen to His voice and do His will again.
Remembering in all, that we are only men.
C.G. Field 2003/2008

The Reason Why

Have you ever been caught up in the emotion of an issue? Have you seen others get swept away by their feelings? Rage abducts nice people out of their comfortable existence and turns them into destroyers, willing to lose all for next to nothing.

People died thousands of years ago for causes that mean nothing at all today. People are dying today over issues that have no right to exalt themselves over people’s domestic happiness.

Oh, and yes there are some serious issues afoot. There is evil which needs to be arrested. I am not a pacifist, suggesting that all strength of will and purpose is somehow invalid. But I am concerned that many a battle which has left people bloodied, bruised, dying and dead, has not deserved the passion with which it was fought, nor the price which was paid.

The same is true in homes, where marriages and families are torn apart because of rage, intolerance, unforgiveness, depth of emotion, jealousy and so on. In the heat of the moment and the rage of the battle we can forget that our feelings are lesser things than God and His purposes for our lives.

How many people have ended up in prison, pain or deep regret because they were drawn into a battle that should never have been fought?

When the fight is over and the storm is passed we seem to be able to remember that we are but mortal flesh and that God is master of all. Would it not be better to have that in mind all the way through?

Stand Aside

People can often get in the way of what is best for them. This post explores that idea and will open your heart to your need to “stand aside” and let God be God in your situation and circumstances.

This topic was brought to focus for me recently when, due to a misunderstanding, I went to a meeting to lead the program and ended up on the sidelines. That incident was simply a misunderstanding, but the Lord used it to challenge my heart about the process of letting Him sideline me.

To help bring the issue to life I have written a literary excursion, creating a fictional case of someone being asked to ‘stand aside’. I trust this helps to give dimension to the issue for you.

A Literary Excursion

He said, “Stand Aside!” But I was in full swing. Seven thousand people sat in the palm of my hand. I had their rapt attention and I knew I could escort them into the spiritual glories they expected to see.

But He said, “Stand Aside!” I lost my place and stumbled to a halt, mid-sentence. Some people chuckled, thinking this to be one of my many cleverisms. I hung in indecision. The throng waited, attentive and expectant.

I had been building to a point for many minutes and had not resolved it. It felt wrong to leave the audience unresolved. And there was so much I could share that would illuminate their understanding, as it had done for other audiences around the world. This crowd had come to hear ME, not to have me stand aside.

Yet the voice persisted. “Stand Aside!”

I had heard the voice before, but never yet obeyed. Glad-handed accolades and large offerings followed my popular meetings, but I felt the salty sting, that I had let each audience down. The Master had something in mind and I did not know its dimensions. Letting go was not my natural style. My carefully crafted, finely honed display was worthy of the highest honours. Consistency and cogency underpinned my fame.

“I believe there is something unique which God wants to do tonight. And I believe I should have you stand in His presence and wait upon Him.”

With that I stepped aside and bowed my head. The crowd shuffled to their feet and a deathly silence engulfed the auditorium. My thoughts raced to see what I could do to enhance this moment. I had now taken the heroic step God had been pressing on me for almost a year. I had “done it!” and now I waited, expectant to see what God would do.

“Stand Aside!” He said again, making me conscious that I was still the only person on stage and thus I commanded their focus. My mind conjured an image of the towering presence of Jesus standing behind me, but unseen because my own presence distracted their view.

I stepped from the platform and stood at the front row, speaking soft words of devotion to the Lord, as encouragement to the crowd. Gradually others joined in. I earnestly wanted them to see the Risen Christ and to hear His voice, even as I did. “Lord I commit this crowd to You. They are Yours. Do with them as pleases You.” My silent prayer lifted them all before the Lord.

“Stand Aside!” He commanded. But What? Had I not already stood aside? Had I not already even left the platform?

But, Ah Yes! I was still leading them through my microphone. I was still asserting my leadership and influence through the very devotion I prayed to encourage their own.

I clicked off the microphone. Then I quietly moved backwards, away from any place where people might look at me or to me to lead them.

To my delight the audience gradually entered in. I heard people praying, some pouring out their heart in adoration. Others had tears for reasons I could not tell. Some knelt. The Lord began to do quite a reasonable job, without me.

I handed the microphone to the chap at the rear sound desk and simply watched the huge crowd. I was half inclined to pray earnestly that God would move powerfully on them all, but there seemed to be an echo of the command to stand aside, still reverberating in my heart. So I did nothing. I simply watched proceedings.

It felt weird to be in such a meeting and not to be controlling the pulse. I felt out of place with the Lord in control. That was the position I had always sought and held. I felt redundant.

While I couldn’t say it was clearly from the Lord, there was a sense to me, standing at the back, that I could stand down. I was relieved of duty. I was discharged for the day. I was not needed and my presence was not required. Hoping no-one would see me. I slipped out to the coffee shop and sat alone.

With these unexpected few moments of privacy I rang my son-in-law and congratulated him on his recent promotion. I rang my wife and she caught me up on a frustration that I needed to resolve for her. It would have to wait until my trip was over, but it was noted. After a quick “hello” to Bradley and a sweet catch up with Lee-anne, I wondered how God was getting on with His meeting.

Part of me wanted to go and peep back into the auditorium, but I felt restrained. It was not my meeting any more. It made no real difference to me what God did with His business and His people. The meeting, the church and the people were all His business. He wanted me out of the way, and so the rest is up to Him.

The silly thought even danced through my mind that Jesus might get stuck at some point and have to call me back in, because I could get through to these people in ways He could not. Then I was stung with the blasphemy of such a thought. “Lord, if You need my help tonight, then You are not King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I thank You for disposing of me and taking charge of Your people in Your church for Your glory.”

The overflowing gratitude with which people greeted me as they spilled out of the meeting encouraged me that God may have handled the whole thing rather well. But some chipped me for not finishing my story and resolving the piquant interest I had aroused. I made a mental note not to play my audience next time. I distracted them with my stories and took their eyes off the Lord.

“Next time”. Those words were pregnant with uncertainty. Would there ever be a ‘next time’? Just how serious was God about His command to “Step Aside”? I realised I had a lot of praying to do before I stood before a crowd again.

Are You Getting It?

How many pastors, parents, Christian friends or concerned citizens take matters into their own hands? Isn’t it the case that we send people to Bible Schools to get degrees so they will know how to preach, run the church, serve God and so on? We applaud people who are clever enough not to need God any more. We envy them and aspire to be like them.

Yet when we take matters in our own hands we risk displacing God in the experience of those we are trying to reach or help. We can completely block people’s view of Jesus and we can persist in doing things in human energy, while God is waiting for us to get out of the way, so He can do divine things with His people.

Coming Up

Juan Carlos Ortiz told me about his own experience in Argentina of learning how to step aside. I’d like to share that with you in a future post.

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” – and that deserves a review in light of the “Stand Aside” message.

Then there’s the old discussion of “God in a Box” and that relates to this topic too. When we insist on doing God’s work for Him, we have effectively put Him in a box that is smaller than our own talents and abilities.

Then we could discuss the issue of New Wine in New Wineskins. When we perpetuate what we know and can control from our own skill set and experience, we are sticking with our old wineskin. How do we then allow God to bring us a new wineskin? What would happen if God tried to put new wine into those meetings we run so well the way we’ve always done it?

Your Mission, Should You Decide to Accept It…

Your Mission may be Mission Impossible to you. Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to Stand Aside. Get out of God’s way. Stop distracting people with you, and with your programmed and set service for the Lord. Get out of the way, so people can see Jesus. If He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself.