Thursday, November 29, 2012

What if I'm Wrong?

Hello Jellos!

I've been mulling over this topic for a while now and just wanted to address something I've seen commented a few times elsewhere... Basically, it's you shouldn't do anything or believe anything out of Fear.  While I agree with the sentiment I think there is a consideration not being viewed by some people who may hold that sentiment as an excuse not to consider Christ.

I sometimes ask the question "What if you're wrong?" when speaking to others about religious beliefs, or lack thereof... And just because I ask other people that question doesn't mean I don't ask myself.. I do ask myself "what if I'm wrong" all the time, for the purpose of what I believe about God to what I believe about others, myself, how I act, live my life and more... Not necessarily because I think I'm wrong in the first place but more because I think that question can temper action in a good way as well as guide a decision making process in the right direction... I am in no way saying that you should make any decision based solely out of fear and I'm quite sure most, if not all, people who ask that question aren't encouraging anyone otherwise. Many scriptures - including 1 John 4:18 - tell us not to fear many times but it is always speaking about actually fear not reverence and is speaking of others can do, harm coming on us, circumstance, etc. those scriptures are telling us, God's Got This (borrowed from Teri-Lyn) so there's no need to fear anything else!

The previous paragraph being a preface, I would like to bring your attention to some facts about fear being a good thing... The Bible says it is... But not fear as we think of it today, more like reverence for God:

  •  Philippians 2:12 says because you obey God whether in the presence of an authority (in this case Paul) or not you should "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This is in no way saying interpret the Scripture how you see fit and then you're saved. It's written to people who were shown "the way" and who had obeyed the gospel already and it's telling them to continue in that direction making their own decision about possible "grey areas" or "small matters" remembering to take God into consideration or with reverence to God.
  • 1 Peter 2:17 Commands us to "Honor all people, Love Brotherhood, Fear the Lord and Honor the King!" So we need to do those things... Honor everyone - so even when they don't deserve it, respect and honor people... Love relationship - Brotherhood in this instance is talking about the Christian family of believers, love your church, pastors and fellow believers. Fear the Lord - here it is again, reverence God, His commands and opinions... No, not every subject is written about in the bible, eg. drugs, but we do have enough written about how to make Godly decisions that we should be able to figure out His opinion, eg. your body is His temple would most likely guide you away from drugs that would harm that temple. And in cases where His opinion may not be clear "Godly fear or reverence" would lead us on the safe side and take care of that.
  • Hebrews 5:7 tells us about a man who's prayers were answered and he was saved because of his Godly fear... I think that one is pretty self explanatory, if it holds potential to get my prayer answers and/or save me, I'm doing it!
  • 1 Peter 3:15 sort of touches on what I was talking about earlier, we need to also have the fear of the Lord when we are dealing with others, saved or not, we have the potential to effect their hearts and lives so we need to not only consider the "Golden Rule" but consider the "God Rule," how He would want us to treat them, love them, answer their questions, etc.
  • Hebrews 12:28 makes sure we know that the fear of the Lord continues even after we become Christ followers... It's not "once saved, always saved" or "God loves me the way I am so I don't have to change anything about my lifestyle..." In fact, it's just the opposite, because we are Christ's followers and we are going to be with Him in heaven someday we must continue our walk with Him allowing Godly fear to guide our steps.
  • Lastly, Revelation 19:5 states that even in Heaven there is the Fear of the Lord because the people who feared the Lord are there... If it's important enough to be mentioned in Heaven I should have it exhibited in my own life.
Again, I'm not in any way saying everyone should be shaking in their boots... But just like a child knows what is expected of them by their parents, teachers, etc. Scripture teaches us what is expected of us by God and Godly fear or reverence is one thing that is expected... I'm also saying, even if you leave scripture out of it and think about decision making, if you fear or respect nothing your decisions would not have anything to guide them in the right direction... So just take a minute out and ask "what if I'm wrong?" whatever the subject you're thinking of you should make yourself aware of any possible consequences and use those to weigh the risks and benefits, if the risk is greater than the possible benefit use that fear to guide your decision.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Weakness of God

I've always been taught that God can do anything. I've read about miracles and how all powerful God is... More than that, I believe it because I've seen it with my own eyes! I've seen cancer shrink off of some one's body and later read the doctors reports after the name of Jesus has been called over them in healing. I know God is Strong but what about His weakness? Does He have one? I know if you're a Christian you're probably thinking "no, absolutely not!" and may even be a little angered with the thought and if you're not a Christian you could be on the "hoping there's no weakness of God" or the "of course, and you're weak if you follow Him" end of the spectrum and anywhere in between... Although no one likes to know the punchline of a story before it's time, I have to say, yes God has one weakness and I'm about to reveal it to you.

Today, I was talking to my co-worker/friend about perception... How others view us, how we view ourselves and how God views us... And how those perspectives are all different. Other people judge on action, we judge on thought and motive (usually we are hard on ourselves) and God knows everything and judges on truth and love.  I told her that when I was a little girl and would color if I made any mistake at all and went outside the lines just a little bit that I would grip the crayon as hard as I could in my little fist, press down on the paper so hard I would shake and scribble over the whole page then usually rip it and crumple it up into little pieces before throwing it out... I remember mom telling me she wouldn't have even noticed the mistake if I hadn't told her but I knew about it and my perspective was only focused on that one mistake so much so that I didn't care about the big picture. (there's a message there about our perspective vs. others and then verses the love and mercy of God... Leading into forgiveness of self and not ruining the whole thing for a mistake. You may want to just take a minute to think about because although it's obvious it's not exactly where I'm going this time...) All I am trying to convey is I've always been a bit of a Type A perfectionist and that has carried over into my relationship with God. Even if you're not a Type A personality please read to the end, I promise everyone who reads this needs it and will glean help from it.

Approximately one year ago I went through something - nothing I can even remember, just a "typical me" situation - I had done or said something I didn't feel good about and didn't feel I should have because of my Christianity.  When I do things that I am not proud of or that I know are wrong or whatever I tend to "hide." Hmmm... Adam & Eve, there's a Bible parallel I didn't think of before now... Anyway, I just get quiet with God, or actually, quiet without Him... I don't pray because I'm embarrassed.  Well, this particular time I had taken about a week and a half without really praying - "Thanks for the grub" doesn't really count here - I continued to read the Bible but outside of the occasional "night God" He didn't really hear from me.  Saturday night my church always has prayer meeting - and I'll take a minute here to encourage any and all of you to get involved in a group prayer meeting, no, you won't always "feel like it" but it is so worth it and it will strengthen you! - as usual, I was at prayer... But this night I was there more because I am in ministry than I was there because of desire, it was definitely one of those "I don't feel like it" kind of nights. As I walked through the doors of the sanctuary it hit me, God's presence seemed so near, so heavy you could almost tangibly feel it... I got on my knees between two church pews and didn't say a word, just cried.  The only words I could think of were apologies for being so stupid and letting embarrassment God already knew about keep me from talking to God and taking care of the mistake... I knew if I would have just swallowed my pride and asked forgiveness God would give it but I had to "hide" instead.  The only three words I actually mustered to get out of my mouth was "I missed you!" (I wrote another blog about this actual moment... click here.) And I could almost hear God say "I missed you!" That moment changed me... It changed the way I think about God and how I think he thinks about me...

You know - if you've read many of my posts - I'm big on treating my relationship with God like a marriage, I mean literally as if God was visible in my own home living with me, it just helps me with being able to talk to Him and to remember how close He actually is... But at that moment I realized it goes both ways. In trying to comfort others in regards to mistakes, I've often said "God's not looking for perfection, if He was He would have stopped at the creation of angels... So we have to figure out what He is looking for... And if we take the scripture that we are made in His image and think about the one thing every person on Earth is looking for it's evident that what God wants from us is love." Somehow it's easier to teach a lesson about how to move past mistakes than it is to hear it... But it's true, God wants our love, your love and mine. It's all he desires, it's all we can really give a God who is almighty and already has everything at his disposal. People are the only thing God cares anything about... We are the only thing, the only ones who can hurt Him... We are God's only weakness. It's what drove to step off of His throne, and out of Heaven to be born in a stable and it's what eventually lead him to a horrific and bloody cross of death, but that weakness is also where He found the strength to rise again in victory on the third day and it's also why He will take us to heaven to be with Him!

So next time you make a mistake and feel like you're an idiot and you don't deserve forgiveness or love from God... Or if you are finding it hard to forgive yourself... Just remember, if you're "hiding" because you don't deserve God, He misses you because love isn't based on deserving, it's not based on what the other person does or doesn't do, it's based on the lover. Not unlike a successful marriage, there will be hurt in our relationship with God, we will disappoint Him, and we will do things wrong but those things are things you work through not things that should make you quit on the relationship! We are guaranteed that God's love for us is unconditional, if we try and continue our best in this relationship God will never leave or forsake us, if this relationship ends in separation it's not because He walked away. Those mistakes along the way are the little things like leaving a toilet seat up, squeezing the toothpaste from the middle and burning a meal, if you work through it - and that means you're going to have to talk about it - you will only make your relationship stronger. Remember, just like that person you can't keep yourself from daydreaming about, that one you can't wait to come home to at night, that person who just makes you weak with love... You're that person to God! You're God's only weakness.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How do I Know?

Hi Guys, today's post is coming to you a little later than normal because there has been another death in my family :o( My last grandparent passed away Tuesday afternoon. However I am writing to you again today about my friend who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia...
I've been thinking a lot about what's going to happen with my friend, how is she so confident she will beat this... I mean we all want her to but I've seen other people who no matter how much they and others wanted and believed... Well, you get that. I prayed about it and asked God to help me be a better friend and believe in the same way she believes that she will beat this.  Maybe my unbelief came from just losing an aunt to cancer, having cancer on both sides of my family and seeing so many others fighting that stupid disease or maybe I'm just cynical... But I got thinking where's the proof?
About two years ago my friend and I often talked about how difficult it was for her to find a job in our city... And really, there was no reason for it, I mean, she has been to university, has an amazing resume, great references and one of the best personalities I've seen in anyone. At one point she even came to help out at my office just for experience's sake. Still, nothing. That's actually why she moved away... Thirteen hours away from her family, friends and church just so she could find a good paying job in her field of work. It was no time of her being there and she landed a great job in her field with lots of room to move up.
And there it is, I was missing it all along! God had a plan and was working on it before we ever had a thought of anything like this! See, that new company she is a part of has a great medical plan and most of her care is being covered... It is only for the Province she is now living in, but in a way that's good because now she has no choice to come home to the comfort of family and friends possibly at the sacrifice of the best medical care. She is actually in the best cancer treatment center in the Country with one of the leading cancer research physicians.
So you see, those few months ago we just couldn't see, couldn't understand why God wasn't answering our prayers for her to land a job in her field here at home... But here at home she would be lucky to even know what was going on with her health in the first place let alone be in such amazing care and being so far along in her treatment! God didn't act according to our plans back then because His plan was much better for her than we could ever hope to think of. God was fighting this battle for her in spite of us and long before she even knew there was a battle going on. And the fact that Jesus had it under control and put all of this in place before we even knew what He was doing and that's how I know that same battle is going to be won by the God who was fighting before we knew there was anything to fight for!
So whatever it is you're going through at this moment in life, whatever it is you don't understand about your plans not coming together how you thought or whatever you're worried about and think is wrong... Stop, take a minute to realize that God really does have it under control even if He seems to be completely ignoring your requests and giving you the opposite of what you're asking for He is working! Maybe it's because you're focused on the wrong thing, maybe he is working on something more important for you that you can't even think of. Maybe, just maybe, God is being the loving father to you that He promised He would be and maybe he's not getting you what you want in the now so He can provide what you need in the future.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Before The Curve

Oh my goodness, I almost completely forgot about a lunch-time post today! Here I am playing Words With Friends without a care in the world, ha!  Well not really without a care, remember last week I told you I would let you know the news I was processing..? Well, just a few weeks ago my best friend was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  It's an aggressive, quick growing bone marrow/blood cancer that you're not really supposed to get unless you're over forty years of age... And my beautiful friend is NO WHERE NEAR that :o) (she will love me for that haha! She really isn't by the way.)
You may be asking why I seem to be "okay" with all my "hahas.." It's because she is okay... No, she's not completely healed and yes, she is still in the hospital but her spirit is okay.  Her attitude is amazing people all around her.  I've see this before in a cancer patient... This peace and confidence that everything will turn out right. I've heard your attitude is key to your survival from many nurses and an oncologist. And you know what, they're right!
I have a thought of my own regarding this whole attitude topic: the key to the uplifted attitude and confidence is to have something other than the sickness or circumstance (we don't have to and shouldn't limit this to cancer patients) is to have something else to focus on... Something more important... Something to put your hope into... The key is GOD!  I mean really, He is the one who is going to heal you, change your circumstance or take you out of that circumstance anyway. The bible speaks of "peace that passes all understanding" being given to us if we focus on God and make our relationship (and other's relationship) with Him a priority, if we seek Him and not His gifts.
I think once you're already in a life circumstance that pushes you to your knees it's a little harder to prove that you are actually seeking God and not just his help out of the though spot but here's the thing, although I recommend nurturing a relationship with Him before anything bad happens, He will be there ANY TIME you call His name (Jesus)! There have been many, many people throughout the Bible and the rest of the ages - people including me - who have not deserved the help from God when they asked for it but He has helped us in spite of ourselves.  So if you are already in the thick of a horrible situation or sickness, don't worry, it's not too late, turn to God right now, in this very moment and see his power and peace comfort and help you!  If you're not there yet and life seems to be nothing but blue skies and smooth sailing even better, turn to God, thank Him and start your relationship with Him before the curve. 
So that's it, short and sweet... Inspired by the faith and confidence of a friend who started her own relationship with God long before the curve.
"Jesus, we love you! Even if we haven't talked much lately or ever before we know you're worthy and good!  It might not seem like much right now but whatever we do have - good or bad - we give to you. We want a relationship with you, Lord, one that's real and consuming, one that makes us gain such confidence in you that we won't fear the curve. God, we know you've been watching over us, we know you formed us in our mother's womb and though we can never thank you enough we take this moment to thank you... Jesus, I commit my life to you and not just in word but in time spent with you, time each day reading your Word and in the way we treat others. Please give us your strength, courage and help to not stop with this prayer alone but to pray tomorrow and the next day and every day after, help us to grow in relationship with you, give us endurance and persistence when it seems hard. God, let this be the beginning of a new dawn in our lives, let this be the first of many stepping stones in commitment to you and Lord, help us to see the sunshine through the clouds and realize you're worthy no matter the weather in our lives. Again, we love you, help us to love others and ourselves, though we are not worthy we thank you for your love for us. Amen."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandpaper Packages

Hi honeys! Sorry I was absent last week... I was actually out of the Country and trying to process some news I received last week which I may write about sometime but not today.  Today I have something I consider to be a very important lesson in my own life and hopefully you will think so too!

Did your parents ever tell you "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?" If not, you should have at the very least heard Thumper quote his mama in Bambi, right? If not, well... Pretend haha!  The thing is I think we usually apply this to talking about others not necessarily speaking to others. Remember, when you're speaking with people, even if you are instructing or disagreeing it's important to be kind... I mean really, if someone is being a condescending or abrasive jerk who's going to take that advice? Not I. And if you're giving advice to a friend but you are putting them down to do it, you might want to rethink that strategy, not only are they unlikely to accept you advice but you're most likely going to find yourself in a position of them waiting to accept an apology from you.

If you're on the other end of that "someone offended me, not with what was said but how they said it" stick you're in good company... Well, my company at least ;o)  This is a big one for me, I find myself having to fight away hard feelings even when a friend is giving advice for my good if they don't do it in a pleasant manner.  Luckily, even when I'm a little miffed with the tone I can usually at some point accept the message. The thing is, I sometimes have a hard time letting go of the miffed part. But, the truth is, I don't always say things in the manner others prefer. Shocker! Sometimes I don't even realize my tone may not be, shall we say, pleasing until it's too late and even if I do I'm unlikely to acknowledge it mid-critique. So, I need my friends to cut me some slack every once in a while, the thing is there is this other saying I seem to vaguely recall... Something about, "you get what you give" so, sometimes to my chagrin I have to get over it on my own and choose not to continue give into that feeling.
The thing is, we all need to continually change our minds sometimes and sometimes the message to change comes in a sandpaper package... It is uncomfortable, it can hurt and it's rough but that doesn't mean it's invalid. So what are we to do? Well, try to wrap your own messages in something a bit smoother than the saved sandpaper packages you've received, don't diminish the truth just wrap it in care.  But we also need to learn that sometimes once we get past the sandpaper there is a treasure of help inside. If you're like me, you will respond only to the sandpaper aspect initially, and that's okay, people sometimes need to know when they are being abrasive in presentation, it's not called "constructive criticism" unless people can receive help... But you will also think about the words spoken when you pillow your head and at that point I admonish you to consider the motive beyond the wrapping, see if you can get something out of it for yourself, see if you can learn and grow.  It sounds a little selfish and maybe it is, but you must learn how to accept a lesson and ignore the pain.

I've had many people, even friends, present me with their opinion of what I should change about me and I've disliked it more frequently than not, I think. Through all of those awkward and sometimes heated exchanges though, somehow I've been able to still see it is an exchange... I can get benefit out of it if I will accept it. The person sharing their unsolicited opinion may only be getting to share their bad attitude but we can learn and we are the ones who will gain from those types of situations. So do it, find your benefit, the seed of growth to become who you are meant to be and walk away just a little bit better than before!