Thursday, April 28, 2011

Square in the Chops - Tattle-Tale

When I was eight or nine years old I had a neighbor who, although she claimed to be a friend, bullied me mercilessly.  I came home crying more times than I can recount, tortured by fear and anxiety. My mother would tell the bully's parents whenever things got too rough (like the time I came home with ice in my shirt and hood after having it smashed over my head) but the next day the bully would just laugh and tell me how she didn't get in trouble and I was only making it worse on myself... Until, one fateful day my dad got fed up with his little girl ("little" meaning both daddy's little girl and runt of the "schoolyard litter"! Ha) being afraid... Dad's advice although not conventional did give me the confidence to stand up for myself and that very day when the bully was torturing me on the way home I did exactly what my daddy told me and punched her as hard as I could square in the chops! (kids, do not try this at home! Violence is never the answer... Although sometimes as exemplified in my case it can be the silencer! Ha!) Listen, I'm not saying the answer to stop bullying on the playground is punch them but maybe the answer to fear is standing up to the bully in the first place (and here we go, you're probably cluing in who I'm about to talk about, smart cookies that you are!)

Whenever I was hurting mum used to tell me God bottles his tears and when it rains outside it's really those tears being emptied out of the bottles... Or something like that.  But reading Psalms 56:8 tonight I realized it's not his tears in the bottles at all... "You keep track of my misery. Put my tears in your leather container! Are they not recorded in your scroll?"

I usually feel embarrassed to cry... weak even. I don't like to let people see that side of my nature and I'm sure many of you feel the same (or maybe you're completely proud of it and are a blubbering mess, and if that's you "good for you but I don't deal well with crying so please stay away from my shoulder" ha! Just kidding!) 

The thing is, God not only cares about our tears but counts & bottles them! Like any father God wants to protect His kiddies and hates to see them being knocked around by a bully! So what should you do when you're being bullied into fear and anxiety? Be a tattle-tale!  That's right, go tell daddy! You may not get the response you anticipated, He may just tell you how to fight but He will help you... And the best part? Your daddy can beat up your bully's daddy!  "My enemies will turn back when I cry out to you for help; I know that God is on my side." Psalms 56:9

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting There

In the end, it's not how you reach a place that matters. Just that you get there at all. ~  as Re-tweeted by The Single Woman

Really?  The only thing that matters is that you "get there?"  I suppose it depends how you look at each situation...

If you're willing to use the excuse of "getting there" to trample on others, hurt people, take advantage of their short-falls and think only of yourself that's not ok at all!  I implore you, if "getting there" is your excuse to be self centered change it immediately!  There should be no valid excuse for a lifestyle of self-absorption and hindrance of people around you.  That way of "excuse thinking" is why our world is in the position it is... "I just want to be able to move faster, to get there, to get this cash forget about the effect it will have on the people around me or generations following."  Not only is this "excuse thinking" not acceptable but you also have to remember what some people call Karma before you act... That negative effect your actions are having on others will eventually be turned back on you. 
A bit of a post script on what they call Karma: I call God and the Bible backs me up on this Galatians 5:14 "...Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?", James 2:8 "...Love others as you love yourself. But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it...", Luke 10:27 " your neighbor as well as you do yourself." Psalm 4:6 "...those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing!" Proverbs 22:8 "Whoever sows sin reaps weeds, and bullying anger sputters into nothing!"

On the other hand, if you flip the meaning of this quote and break it down it becomes a mission statement to live by!  "In the end," the end of life... "it's not how you reach a place that matters." Where is it you want to end up? Well, you want to end UP, yes, pun intended: you want to make it to heaven! "Just that you get there at all."  No matter what we must endure throughout our lifespan Heaven, with Jesus, is where we are going and it's worth anything just to "get there!"  Mark 4:30 "How can we picture God's kingdom? What kind of story can we use?..." Romans 8:18-21 "That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens!" Philippians 3:7-9 "...all the things I once thought were so important ... Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant... I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him..." 

Nothing compares to just "getting there!"  All in all, don't get caught up in all the mess of your current circumstances, get caught up in where you're going and do all just to "get there!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Own Mount Moriah

A couple of weeks ago during a Sunday morning service all the songs were about God's grace... "Your grace is enough, your grace is enough, your grace is enough for me!" then on to "Your grace still amazes me, your love is still a mystery, each day I get on my knees 'cause your grace still amazes me!" and lastly, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound..."  Pastor then spoke from the text found in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave..."

I was distracted during the whole service by a man... I know what you're thinking "Ooh-la-la!" haha, but no... I was distracted in a wonderful way, perhaps even more so than if I were starring at my soul-mate (although I can barely imagine ;o)) I was so enveloped in thought of his worship.  He was bowing low in humility toward his healer, dancing in praise out of passionate admiration of his comforter and clapping and praising God with a loud voice for all he has done! 

Now, this kind of worship is quite common for him (and a lot of others at Capital Community) and usually I am not quite as distracted, rather I am involved in my own worship to the same, one, true God.  But this Sunday was different, I couldn't take my eyes off of the display of love for God... It's as if the trust being expressed through worship could almost be seen flowing in the atmosphere. I have never been so touched by the respect and worship toward Jesus by any other human being.

Genesis 22:1-3 God's call to Abraham to sacrifice not only the most important thing in his life but the one tangible promise of God fulfilled, the one thing Abraham would do anything to protect and hold onto, the only thing Abraham would have given his own life for without one moment of contemplation... "Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about."

You see, Pastor George has been through a long, hard battle the past year or so... He and his soul-mate, best-friend and wife walked up their own Mount Moriah when they were told she had a very aggressive cancer shortly after they moved to Canada.  The expense of medications for her comfort were overwhelming for the family.  His wife, such a sweet being, humble, beautiful, kind, passionate for Jesus, loving, caring and welcoming... I couldn't understand why something so terrible would happen to such a lovely person, I can only imagine being in the shoes of the family.  Don't get me wrong, I too have lost my great grandfather, grandmother, and two uncles to the dreaded disease... But a wife, a mother...  It had only been the week before pastor George had laid his wife to rest in the same sanctuary, like Abraham willing to sacrifice his own broken heart to love the great I AM. Pastor George's love, passion, respect and trust in the sovereign God drove him to worship in his time of mourning and it was a beautiful moment to behold!

I had to share this with my readers, I pray it touched your heart as it did mine.  Please take a moment of contemplation and prayer with me "If I had to face my own Mount Moriah as Abraham and Pastor George would my love, passion, respect and trust in God show through my broken worship?  Could I bring my sacrifice, something so important to me, to the alter only to please you God? Would I remain a person after God's own heart and keep seeking your face, Jesus? And if not, Lord, I pray you change me, help me to recognize the things that come between you and I, to realize they are really of little importance compared to you and give me strength to remove those things from my life.  Jesus I love you, help me, grow me, mold me, change me and break me if necessary to make me love you more..."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If at first you don't succeed... Run for the hills or try, try again?

In fact, to be distressed in a godly way causes people to change the way they think and act and leads them to be saved. No one can regret that. But the distress that the world causes brings only death - 2 Corinthians 7:10

Ever hear "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again?"  Of course you have... Well let me ask you this, why do we not apply that saying to life issues past grade school?  Why do we just give up when things get rough?  Why do we walk away if we have failed? Why do we allow embarrassment of a fall to make us back up completely?

I'm one of those people... You know the type... We feel so bad about a mistake we've made or have embarrassed ourselves so terribly that we just want to quit! Whatever the "easies way out of embarrassment or guilt is, that's the way I am inclined to go.  That kind of guilt and embarrassment has caused me to lose many battles in life... It's caused me to step out of my rightful place in ministry and authority more times that I would like to give count to. Thankfully, I was raised to be embarrassed to quit all together.

Last night listening to my pastors son speak this scripture finally made an impact on my heart and now I'm sharing it with you, giving you that same liberty God's word is working in me!  I've read these words many times and understood the meaning but I don't think my heart absorbed all that God intended out of them... Maybe that's happened to you as well? Here's the part I've missed so many times before: sometimes we feel our conscience speak in our mind when we are about to do or say something we aren't really sure about... Sometimes nothing is felt until after we've already taken the step. Next time you've taken something one step too far and you're feeling guilty, defeated or embarrassed, take a step back and ask what that feeling is producing in you?  If you can figure out the answer to that one question you will know where the feeling is coming from.

Is it making you want to run to God in repentance and ask for his forgiveness and strength to overcome and move forward with Him?  If so, that kind of sadness, guilt or embarrassment is sent by God and it's great that you feel it!  If you are experiencing that kind of "negative feeling" over something you would have done and not thought twice about before your love for God and relationship with Him then see that "negative feeling" as a "positive sign" of your growth!  You're wanting to please God on a deeper level and you are beginning to recognize the things He is looking for without having someone else tell you what is or is not acceptable and that means you are getting to know Him, you're getting close to His heart!

But the type of guilt, embarrassment, shame, fear to try again, lack of confidence in our future I described in my first paragraph is the problem... That's the kind of "negative feeling" I'm about to take down!  Some "negative feelings" are God given, and to reiterate, those "negative feelings" will cause you to move toward God and to move forward with Him! Other "negative feelings" come with depression, they will make you just want to give up on someone or something you once felt was God given, you'll want to walk away because it "should be easier" if it's really God's will or because you just can't face "those people" again...  Those "negative feelings" ARE NOT, I repeat, ARE NOT God given!  If you listen to that type of "negative feeling" you will walk away not only from that one situation causing you pain at the moment but you will develop a pattern of walking away.  Eventually you will look back and God will have become so small in your vision you will be overcome and without even realizing it.  Please remember, it is not that God has stopped walking with you but you've started walking in the opposite direction: He's just not going to walk down the path of destruction and if you are walking that way the distance changes your perspective... God gets small in your eyes, not because his power changes but because you're so far away you've forgotten His strength and love for you! You will feel scared, abandoned, lost and possibly angry God has left you but He hasn't left you, you have left Him.  If you are there at this very moment: stop walking, turn around and call out His name then start walking toward where you left Him, He will move heaven and earth to get back to you!

The good thing is once you know the words written in 2 Corinthians 7:10 you are able to recognize where your feelings are coming from in advance of being far from God... If the "negative feeling" you're experiencing is from God then listen, allow those feelings to set up repentance in your life and build an alter there (a memory, a boundary) to keep you walking in the right direction next time!  If they are not from God and you're feeling like walking away make a declaration to yourself and the situation you are in that you will not walk away because you are walking with God through it, you're moving forward!  Don't just accept a feeling as a rule, instead use the words of God to determine your next step and fight through it with God on your side! And, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try AGAIN!"

For we walk by faith we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk not by sight or appearance. - 2 Corinthians 5:7

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. - 2 Timothy 1:7

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me]. Philippians 4:13

Monday, April 11, 2011

In my Arms - The Royal Introduction

"Clouds will rage in, storms will race in
But you will be safe in my arms
Rains will pour down, waves will crash around
But you will be safe in my arms
Castles they might crumble, Dreams may not come true
But you are never alone
Because I will always, always love you"

I would like to think I could sing the lyrics of this song to someone and they remain true... I would love to be able to keep even one person safe in my arms.  To be able to say to someone "you are never alone because I..."  To assure that though life rages on all fronts I will be able to control it just enough to spare the hurt and pain a storm causes. But I cannot.

I don't have the power to control even a rain shower on a summer day.  I am not able to say to the wind "blow from the south to warm us up" or "hey there, just calm down, that gust was a little on the wild side..." and have the wind obey any let alone every word.  If you castle of dreams crumble I will not be able to figure out which each piece should go to build it up again, stronger than before, unbreakable.  I cannot even say "you will never be alone" because of me.

The one thing I can do is introduce the One who, although "Clouds will rage in, storms will race in" can say "you will be safe in my arms." “Who is this man?” they asked. “...even the winds and waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27.  That same one who can say even when "Rains will pour down, waves will crash around, still you will be safe in my arms." after all, "...he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm." Luke 8:24. 

The man who once your castles crumble knows where each piece should be placed to make your foundation in life strong and safe.  "...everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body."  Colossians 1:16.  Your  "dreams may not come true" but you can have a hope in the one who says "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen." Jeremiah 29:11-12.  "But you are never alone" for "God assured us, "I'll never let you down, never walk off and leave you," Hebrews 13:5

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back..." Jeremiah 29:13-14.  And here he is... Jesus, meet my readers. Readers, this is the one I've been telling you of!  He loves you and is the creator, in control of everything surrounding you.  If you need help ask him, he will listen, if you're lonely let him love you! "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed... anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger... He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe... when introduced to him." John 3:16-18 Because I will always, always love you!"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hey Boys! Are you a Beast?

Twitter is one of my favorite sites now... I only check a few frequently (almost daily) my e-mail account, Facebook (but I'm not a creeper... I'm mainly interested in what people have to say directly to me rather than creeping on their pictures although I like people I know creeping on my pictures... Strange duck. ha!) and Twitter.  If I had to choose one site only, I think it would be Twitter; I mean, I like Facebook but I can get what I really want from Twitter, if only ALL my friends had an account they used daily *hint, hint*  Rob Cardashian is always tweeting with the hashtag #BEASTMODE meaning something he's determined to do or be... But I'm gonna flip it.

Beast: “You come out or I'll break down the door!” Lumiere: “That may not be the best way to win the girl's affections" DisneyWords via Twitter (P.S. I am now obsessed with adding links to my blogs, I'm such a geek! ha!)

Ok, now you know where I'm going with this... Boys... Or men, here's the deal... Ladies don't want you to be a Beast, at least not in the sense that we would want you crashing around our lives with no plan or tact... We want you to be determined, excited and headstrong about your intentions toward us but soft in your treatment of us... And listen to us if we are not interested in a "relationship" that doesn't mean we hate you or that we don't think you would be great for a friend but if you don't take it we;; from us why would we set you up? 

Let me break it down a little for you, we don't want you less manly but we also don't want to have to look through your rough exterior hoping to catch one glimpse of a soft heart (even if we are capable of seeing the best in you.) Don't make us have to fight through walls and traps to get to your heart, just open the doors and we will in turn open the door of our hearts. 

Lumiere is correct, the best way to win our affection is not to bust through our walls with no regard to the damage left behind and the mess we will have to clean up after you but to be the first to open a door and let that door be to something great about you! If you trust us enough to bare honesty in conversation and intention you'll have a greater chance of having us return the favor (and you may even be able to convince a "not-so-sure" into "I think guys like these are hard to find, he deserves a second look.")

And that's it, just don't be a beast... I am the first to want a manly man, you know someone who doesn't know how to put a better outfit together than I do, someone who some days just smells like himself and definitely someone who likes to fish and be outside as much as I do... Common, I seriously don't know a guy my age who knows how to chop wood or build a fire (and like I am going to trust you with my heart if I can't trust you to keep me safe and warm when we are camping haha!) You don't need to express yourself well (in fact, the struggle to get the right words out is quite endearing), I don't want your hands to be as soft as mine but I want you have a soft, respectful, gentle, honest, concerned and caring heart toward me... The outside can be beastly (not as in the Carebears "Beastly" character but as in BEASTMODE manly --thanks Rob! ha!-- 

P.S. a hint: a button down shirt does wonders with just a pair of jeans but if you want to really impress... A suit, honey!) And remember, it's ok for the sincerity to show. For further instruction (hahah! got my teacher voice on now!) Read a blog from 2009 For the Boys!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Keeping the Mouth Shut (and the Typing Fingers Still)

I saw a friend's status update last week on one of the social media sites I frequent that really bothered me... At first it was because I took what could have been a coincidental, off the cuff status as a personal comment...  Now, although I admit to getting my knickers in a knot when I think someone has an issue with me but feel they can't speak to me about it directly I can talk myself down from the initial frustration, I just can't let go of what I read... No longer because I felt it was directed at me in an indirect manner but because I can't imagine what other people would have thought knowing that person is a Christian... I was actually embarrassed and worried a comment like that would have an effect on the way people, lacking their own relationship with God, would view Him. because we follow Christ, we are the only example of Him some people will ever see... We can't distort the image.  That's a thought that weighs heavily on my mind, sometimes it's scary to think I represet Jesus to the world around me, both in action and word, to the people around me.

I'm not going to tell you what the comment was or who it was that wrote it... Suffice to say, if there is anything on your own status (or my own) that makes you wonder, that's a pretty clear indication it should be deleted, even if it's the status I viewed. I know you may think this is a little "soap box" again and yes, I've even debated not posting this blog... But when it comes to shaking us into realization that being a Christian means being conscious of even our social media updates and notes and even if we are directing comments to another "Christian" it can have an effect on anyone in the viewing or listening audience, we need to do what we can... Thus, here is my little blog:

I work in a law office and even when I am not "at work" I am under certain restrictions of action and spoken word because I represent the office. "Lord, help me to be reminded that if I am willing to be under restrictions of a law office representative, even more so should I be willing to be under restriction of word and deed for your representation! Help me Lord to be aware of my motives and to discern how others will hear or view what I am saying and help me to convey the intent of love, help and compassion in all of my words and actions! 1 Peter 3:10-12 "Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here's what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth.  God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked..."

Listen, we've all had moments we aren't proud of with regards to our mouth getting us into a jam, myself included... A good many times!  Unfortunately, those comments we make out of anything less than compassion and love can (and usually do) have a negative impact on people the comment wasn't even intend for... And if the things we say or do give even one person a bad taste in their mouth for Christianity it will most likely transfer to their opinion of God, which I'm sure I don't need to tell you is not alright with Him...  I don't want to have try to give an answer to Jesus on why I turned someone away from Him through a holier-than-thou attitude, Facebook Note or Status or Tweet.  We are not licenced to continue spouting off about whatever enters our realm of frustration.

There is a T.D. Jakes quote "Don't talk to your neighbor about the mess in their back yard until you've cleaned the mess out of your own" in other words, none of us are perfect so we need to keep our mouth shut about someone else's problems or short falls unless they asked for help... And help is meant to be just that, helpful: done out of a heart of compassion not self-righteousness whether in person or in social media arena....  That T.D. Jakes quote is very close to another I've read... Matthew 7:1-5 "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment... It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt?... playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." and again in Luke 6:41 "It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor." Help is given with a smile (like McDonald's... Comic relief) not a sneer.

I know this blog has been kind of harsh comparatively, but if we're being harsh with people around us, whether directly or indirectly, through spoken word, social media updates/notes or just a seed of thought in our own mind, we (as did I when I first learned this lesson.. that I am still...) need a harsh word to realize we MUST IMMEDIATELY repent and change!  We can only help people we do not judge... Help is given with a smile not a sneer.  If Jesus "didn't come to condem the world" (see John 3:17) but to "seek and to save" (see Luke 19:10) what makes us think He sent us to condem with our selfrighteous thoughts and actions? Let's take this correction as a reminder from God we are sent to love as He loved us and follow in His footsteps of seeking and saving!

Proverbs 3:12 "But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this."