abhor

I recently read a piece of literary work written by someone I have historically admired. To say I was disappointed would be to diminish the actual power of the words spoken into our world. The terms were biting, even cutting; the accusations brash. The author’s tone reminded me of a 10-year-old-boy who just learned his fist curse word; wielding opinions like a sword as he tries to power out his point, his own self-justification being lorded over those dissidents who don’t agree with his superior opinion.

Demonstrative, accusatory, damning.

Laced with generalizations and stereotypes, stamped with a strong stance to refuse any dialogue with anyone whose opinions differ, I am grimly reminded that at the heart of so many is that which we loudly proclaim we abhor.

The problem is that once you label a group of people as undesirable, you have joined forces with the enemy’s plan to divide people by any means necessary, and even reduced your own value to the of the worst of those who declare hate as their anthem. Worst of all, you deny the very message of grace and forgiveness your identification with Christ is called to bring. 

You are now what you say you abhor.

I would encourage you today, that in a world of tit-for-tat, rallying for position, and passionate discord, you might choose to refrain from adding to the spiritual pollution that plagues our communities and homes, selecting instead a positioning which deviates from those around you. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, – Galatians 5:22

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. – Galatians 6:16

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.      – Ephesians 4:29-32

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.                                                                        – Martin Luther King, Jr

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chronic pain

I was listening to one of my favorite worship leaders this morning and was moved again as I recognized the depth of faith and commitment she has to her God. To my God. Living with a disease that brings with it daily pain and potentially mental exhaustion to the point of grief, she walks her journey with grace and hope, in spite of there being no evidence of relief in the natural.

I needed to hear the song of heaven she sings this morning, for I have also been weary with grief for the cross I pick up daily in my own travels. Like Paul, the thorn in my side often seems too heavy to continue to bear. (2 Corinthians 12:7)

In Matthew 11:30, Jesus admonishes us to trust that his yolk is easy and his burden is light. There are many things in this life we are yolked (connected) to. Some are chosen, others assigned, but regardless of what we carry, when we roll the heaviness onto the shoulders of our Savior, he will be faithful to carry the weight. I wonder what you might carry today –

addiction, grief, loss, chronic pain, resentment, bitterness, fear…

Nothing is too heavy for our Savior – but only we can make the decision to allow him to pick it up for us. Sometimes our greatest hindrance is the comfort that familiarity brings, in spite of our perceived desire to let it go. (John 5:6)

My favorite verse is 2 Timothy 1:7 – for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, we are encouraged to “take captive” every thought – to speak over the broken player in our heads and to replace thoughts that are ungodly (which exalt themselves against the name of the Lord) with the promises and truths of God. 

Whatever you carry today, know that He is able to handle the load. The thoughts, fears and ache that rose with the sun this morning can be gently assigned to our Jesus for the day. His mercies are new every, single, morning. 

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

Rest, my friend.

unexpected blessing

The other day I had been doing some self-improvement work and felt a nudge in my spirit to share openly with a live video. Honestly, I had no idea what to talk about, so I prayed and looked through some old notes. A quote caught my eye, a thought came to mind and I felt equipped to share. 

Until I started talking.

Suddenly my mind was scattered and my initial plan derailed. Later in the afternoon I seriously considered deleting it altogether, as I reflected on all the pieces that I could have shared to more effectively drive the point home. My doubt was relieved, however, upon receiving a private message from an old friend.

It was just what she needed to hear. 

A life of faith is a decision to live with the promise of adventure and is often riddled with fear and trepidation – a life of authentic faith is never, ever dull. Every day is a new opportunity to step out, mess up, fall down, and get back up, knowing that God’s mercies (and appointments!) are new every morning. The sooner we choose to step outside of ourselves and into this mysterious life with Christ, the more clearly we begin to see just how valuable our contribution, even if seemingly small, truly is. 

That, is a truth I need to hear!

Today, be encouraged that even in the mundane and seemingly insignificant moments, your prayers, your words of life, might just be the touch someone else is needing today. 

 

changing faces

We have two cats in our family – Maddie and Vegas. Siblings, we got them as kittens, and they have brought joy, irritation and laughter for over 13 years now. Recently, Vegas, our long-haired boy, received a much-needed haircut. Being older and not as able to care for himself, his coat had gotten super matted, so the groomer shaved him completely. His sister, Maddie, is terrified of his new look, and not recognizing him, will hiss and run away if he gets too close. 

Change can be hard for everyone.

Years ago when I was going through my divorce, my counselor warned me that those closest to me might not like the changes I was about to grow through. She revealed that when we “change the rules,” even if they are positive changes, many will balk at the “new me.” I heard what she said, but largely dismissed the statement as I was certain that a healthier and more well-adjusted version of myself would be a welcome change for all.

Unfortunately, like Vegas, I was not as joyfully received as I had hoped… 

What I have discovered over the past 17-plus years is that oftentimes even the most well-meaning of people can project expectations of what our personal journey is supposed to look like. As we grow into new seasons and shed old skin, it can offer opportunity for others to move forward with us. For some, however, discomfort and even resentment, can unfold, and we can experience rejection as we respond differently than we have in the past.

Such change can provoke unexpected hostility and create tensions not easily defined, or navigated. 

When we make the decision to follow Christ and to offer our lives to a divine plan not yet revealed, we will often face pushback as our path begins to deviate from the road well travelled. With almost certainty, there will be countless opportunities to repeatedly recommit, or turn back to what is familiar.  

Sometimes the road less travelled is a lonely one.

Jesus always let his followers know they needed to count the cost. Nothing of value in this life comes without a price tag, and some change is more expensive than others. Keep this truth in mind, fellow journeyer – God will never require a sacrifice which has not already been filtered through His fingers of grace and deemed expendable in the grand scheme of your life. You can always trust His process.

Take up your cross, my friend. A life intersected with divine purpose is always worth the sacrifice made….

Luke 12:51-53 – Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.  From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. 

Luke 9:23-24 – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 

Luke 9:23 – Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

 

 

grace received

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward

Recently, I hosted a get together for a dear friend who has moved out of state and was back in town for a visit. We had a fantastic time meeting her newest baby and hearing all that God has been doing over the past year in her life. Towards the end of the evening, she graciously had asked all the guests to prepare something kind to say about me as this past week it was birthday and she knows I LOVE words of encouragement.

I was so humbled, and a bit uncomfortable, but so deeply honored by their gesture.

I don’t know about you, but I love to be appreciated. Valued. To be seen. Relationships mean a great deal to me, and I do my best to love others well, to serve those around me well.

Each of us is designed to bring value, but not all of God’s children recognize their own unique contribution. When we build one another up, choose to be intentional with our words spoken over others, we not only help to promote their purpose, but our own as well.  So many of us do life alongside our family members, coworkers, friends … but a lack of intentionality often prevents us from doing life WITH others. 

Years ago, communities hunted and cooked together, gathered and parented with one another. They ate, washed, and prayed with arms and hearts and lives intermingled. Humanity’s need for dependency upon one another has not changed except in our minds. Today, we are more lonely and in need of authentic human connection than ever before. 

As small as it may seem, when we begin to recognize how those around us bring depth to our lives, we begin to appreciate how intricately we are interwoven, essentially dependent, upon one another. Even those with whom we struggle can play a significant role in our own personal development and journey as we grow from within. 

Can you shift your perspective today to believe in the community God has placed you in? Is is a possibility that the answers you are seeking rest in the appreciation you yourself long for?

A compliment given is grace received. 

Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person prospers; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. 

Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron; so one person sharpens another.

1 Corinthians 12:27 – Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.