Monday, March 26, 2012

The kind of friend we all need

I am such a sucker for this kind of thing:

The Susan Boyle video and now this young man.
The under dog.
The one no one expects to have anything to offer and yet defies all the judgement.

This new video also adds the element of friendship.

A friend who is with you in your moment of need, at your point of greatest weakness, to be your anchor in the storm.
The great flip side of this one is, after all is said and done the moment comes when he could have turned on his friend, every man for himself style, but he didn't.

I have missed so many opportunities to be this kind of friend and I whole heartedly regret that. I don't want to add to that ever again.
I pray God will make me pure enough and strong enough to stand by someone in their time to shine and be that voice of "oh, yes you can".

Monday, March 19, 2012

You say it best, when you say nothing at all

For those of you who remember this song by Allison Krause, ,
I have always loved this song.

Words, Words, Words. Our world is filled with them. We literally live in a snowstorm of words.
I think there are times for Words.

Last night our Associate Pastor discussed a perfect example of when words are needed. When someone lies about God or His word and you know it.

Speak up.
Tell the truth, but do it in Love. (Ephesians 4:15)
We all know that's the real catch.

When someone is saying something that is just not true about God or His word I get frustrated. Eternal souls are on the line, time is precious and in my frustration I may speak the truth like a fly swatter.
When someone openly hates on God, who has transformed my life and freed my soul, I feel anger because I love Him so much and then I can speak the truth like a baseball bat.
I have to keep a tight grip on my words at those times.
I have to speak freedom and better options.

But there is a time for less or no words.
I have come to believe that this time is when we are speaking for ourselves.
People, you aren't going to like these next few words.

I don't need to defend myself, when I do, I take God's opening to show Himself out of the equation.

Where did I get such a fool hearty idea? Scripture.

Psalm 91
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

Abiding the shadow is a metaphor unable to be matched with the phrase "standing up for yourself". Square peg, round hole.

1 Peter 2:11-12 English Standard Version (ESV)                                                           11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

What makes your fleshly mind more passionate than someone hurting your feelings? How hard is it to speak your defense in love and build up the other person?

I am prone to "jabs".
Around our house that's what we call the way an angry person can say I am sorry in a way that makes the other person look evil.
"I am so sorry that in my innocence, I stirred up your evilness" type apologies.
This verse basically guarantees people are gonna talk about you.
Let your actions speak for you, not your words.
On the few occasions I have been walking close enough with God to pull this off, amazing wonderful things, that I had nothing to do with, happened to set me in the right .

Romans 12:19-21
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Again, not a one single peep that we are to persuade, convince or cajole our adversaries with words to our side.

Just treat that person with the respect we all need but most often don't deserve.
God can handle the rest. Luckily for some of us, Mercy holds vengeance back long enough for us to come to our senses.

I hope that I am wise enough to know how foolish I am, and abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rebel Yell

Some of us like to think of ourselves as rebels. Purple striped hair, tattoos, nose rings, extreme sports, angry music, wild fashion (think Lady Gaga), etc... sometimes little signs we don't want to fit in, sometimes big ones.

Funny thing is even a rebel fits in somewhere.

But, I can tell you a sure fire way to really be a rebel, to stand out like a sore thumb anywhere, to never really fit in. With the business suits or the biker jackets, with the atheist or the Church crowd, these are three steps to make yourself into a total FREAK.

Are you with me?

Step one:
Give up your free will.
What? Zombie time? Join a cult?
No, just decide that all the time everywhere you will bend your will to the will of Christ.
Everyone, I mean Everyone, will think you are crazy. "Christians" included.
You will hear the following:

"You stayed with that husband, because it's the right thing to do? You know that's not a good example for your kids. How are they going to know how to have healthy relationships?"

"You did not take that job because God lead you not to? I think you misunderstood."

"You're building a boat, but there's no water for miles around?"- okay maybe not that one, but a rebel like Noah got his share of rolled eyes.

Step two:
Love your enemies.
Treat the person who cuts you off in traffic well, the one who ignores you with courtesy, the one who talks about you with honor. Loan without expecting it back.

Everyone no matter what group they belong to, treats their friends well. Serial killers have friends, whom they treat well. That's nothing to be proud of. (Matthew 5:43-47)

Ah, but kindness to an enemy- Weird, wacky, insane.
St. Patrick returns to Ireland after being a kidnapped slave there to share the love of God with the people.
Corrie Ten Boom shakes the hand of a German guard seeking forgiveness after her whole family dies in concentration camps he worked in.
It happens once in a blue moon and those times my friends are radical. RADICAL.

Step three:

Understand that "Impossible" is a word in the English language, not a universal law.

I cannot let go of my will or love my enemies. Cannot.
I have this hole. You have it too. You have felt it. It's in your soul. It's deep and has jagged edges. You like to keep it in the corners of your mind because it's scary and vast.

One day I opened my arms to The God of the Universe and beyond. He took His essence, His spirit from the outer reaches of all existence and gathered it together and began to pour it into that hole. He poured it until it filled the hole and began to splash and slosh out all over the place. It filled every crevice of that hole. There wasn't a place it could not reach or a crack it would not fit into. It pushed out dirt and grime that had gathered in that trench.

Now with all that All Powerful Being sloshing around in me, I can do things that, well, frankly just aren't me.
The less I resist Him and the more I pull on those jagged edges to make room, the more "not like me" I start to act and impossible begins to feel more like a word and not a universal constant.
(Jeremiah 32:27)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Being a Hater

Okay, maybe hater is too strong. I was a grump, an envious soul turned to a grouch soul.

Just for a moment.

For a brief moment of weakness that lovely girl who's lumps and bumps were in all the right order, who is careful to eat right and count calories, got on my nerves.
Because I can exercise like a big dog but counting calories makes me whine like a baby.

I found myself thinking how unreasonable what she did was.
That was mainly because I did not want to do it.
She was doing what it takes and I did not want to. Simple as that.

Spiritually we can feel the same way.

You can see someone close to God, glowing in the Spirit, and think they are very cool . . .

until you hear they pray over which movies and shows to watch,  they only listen to praise music, they live debt free, they memorize chapters of scripture, they let a homeless person live with them, they do bible study at home with their kids, they have an hour long quiet time or they pray like most of us breathe.

Conviction can quickly turn into irritation.
It's easy to go from "Wow, they are so close to God" to "They are too extreme, they aren"t living in the 'real' world", etc...

a.- Jesus said His plans for another Christian is His business not yours to judge.
(John 21:22)   We are followers of Christ, He doesn't need assistant directors.

b.- That little snarl you feel toward them, grab it and slap it under the microscope. It's a critical piece of evidence that something is up. Maybe convictions.

Walking is work. Sleeping is not.

When you have willingness to work, God provides the power.

When you are willing to do anything God puts on your heart to fight sin, He gives victory.