Thursday, April 25, 2013

Constipated Compassion or Bite the Bullets

That title got your attention didn't it!? haah! Well, "Constipated Compassion" popped into my mind listening to Raymond Woodward last night... He was reading a scripture from King James Version and my mind took a little bit of a scenic detour! The scripture "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" 1 John 3:17.  And now you see where it all went off course for me! ha!... Actually, maybe it just branched out because as I thought a bit more I decided it might just be blog worthy; so here we go, buckle up kiddos!

Basically the scripture in 1 John 3:17 is saying "if you have access something and see someone else in need but refuse to allow your compassion to move you into action then God's love doesn't dwell in you..." And if God's love isn't in you that's a serious problem!  You know I'm always an advocate for helping others no matter our personal mood or circumstance but I've never really noticed this scripture in this way before. It even seems to be suggesting "feeling compassion" alone isn't enough if you close it off... Of course, I didn't want to take anything out of context just to prove I'm right so I looked deeper... And you know what!? The very next scripture clears everything up: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" 1 John 3:18.  Wow, there it is... Talk is cheap folks, in fact; if I just write to you all about compassionate actions and don't do anything more then the love of God can't be in me either! And not only that but this scripture says "in deed and in truth" which means if you're love is shown in word only, it's nothing but a lie! That is crazy to me...But it's truth, heavy/strong truth and pretty awesome at the same time.

If you're like me you've memorized, heard or read John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..." and then heard some quote along the lines of "Jesus gave His life for us, we need to give our lives for Him!" And that's true but I also read 1 John 3:16 last night and it gives a bit of a different perspective on "giving your life..." God's perspective always is different than ours... "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.What? So, let me get this straight... Lay down our lives for each other? That isn't always so easy, usually when you're laying down your life for "the brethren" it's not taking a bullet physically but to your will, pride and preferences are definitely going to take a hit and in some strange way that can seem even more difficult. Taking a bullet physically would tend to make you feel like a hero and, of course, make others puff you up as a hero. Whereas taking a bullet to your will - by taking a back seat to someone else - or to your pride - deciding to concede and not fight with someone even though you know you're correct - or to your preferences -by not complaining about the music last Sunday even though they only sang fast songs and you couldn't "feel" anything or they were too country for your young, fresh, swag self (haha!) - all hurt your ego just a bit... But wait, there's one last scripture that's good as a reminder and confirmation all these bullets are in fact good for us to take spiritually and it's back to John chapter 3 but this time it's verse 30 "He [God] must increase, but I must decrease."  I know it's uncomfortable and it seems counterproductive and counter to everything we are taught in today's society (trust me I know) but truth doesn't change, the way to show God and others that we have in fact and continue to give our lives to Jesus because He gave His life for us is to give our lives for each other, always helping, acting on compassion, preferring each other over self and yes, allowing that ego to shrink so the image of Jesus can grow!

Wow, that was probably just as uncomfortable for me to write as it is for you to read (I went back and read it too! Just as bad, ha!) but it's needed by us all. So let's suck it up and bite the bullets!

1 John 3:16-20 KJV

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

1 John 3:16-20 MSG

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear! My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is it okay to be a Pessimist?

Hey guys, this one is coming to you a bit late too... I went out with a friend for lunch and forgot to post it so I had to sneak the post on my phone! ha!  I do want to make sure you are all aware that Spring/Summer are the busy times at work for me and I usually don't even have lunch outside the office so my posts are usually suppertime or later :o( DON'T HATE ME! haha!

Anyway, I was thinking this week about how I was raised - not necessarily taught but learned through experience - to expect the worst and hope for the best... You know, that way you're never disappointed... Or at least you're prepared in the event of disappointment.  I'm not sure what it was that taught me to be this way, my dad walking out when I was nine - which by the way, just in case you're wondering/contemplating, is just old enough to understand it's not your fault but too young to understand why you're not enough to make him stay - or if it was being poor - so poor I remember my mothers family doing a "food drive" type Christmas for us once and mom being so happy and relieved she cried.  I was never the kid with the brand name clothes which, in my schools meant I was always one of the kids who got picked on... Or if it was just never feeling like any boys liked me... EVER... hah (not so funny all the time.)  Whatever it was let's just say Eeyore's melancholy had nothing on mine.

I used to always describe myself as a realist and to most extent still do... But, looking back and still frequently catching my spiralling thought processes I've come to the realization if although I wouldn't consider myself a complete pessimist - I don't think the world is out to get me.. No conspiracy theories or a need to wear a helmet haha! - I definitely lean toward negative.  Now, first allow me to say that I don't want to be nutty the other way either - "everything is wonderful, yes, that is blood dripping from my knees after falling down the stairs but hey, it was a scenic fall!"  Yes, I do think that a little nutty... I may be willing to downgrade that opinion to naive...? Maybe.

That confessional being over and all my opinion states for the cause I would like to offer another point of view... God's.  See, "God is a little strange, He has this idea that He's God!" - Raymond Woodward.  God thinks He is able to do ANYTHING! And since God thinks He can do ANYTHING even above... No, even, abundantly above anything we could think of let alone ask Him for God actually has it in His head we should trust Him no matter how it looks to us! And God actually has even more nerve than that, yes, He not only thinks we should trust but add faith to it! As if that weren't enough to scare us "realists" He expects us to step out on that trust and faith and add action! "What is God thinking!? I can't do that! I mean, how do I know it will work!? Logically speaking - and that's all I speak, haha! - the odds are stacked and not in my favor!" But, here's the thing, if God is with you the odds immediately change and no matter what, turn to your favor!  In God's eyes it is never okay for His children - that's us - to be pessimistic, especially when it comes to His promises but even as it extends to other areas of life!  "Okay Suzie-K, you're talking a whole lot like you know what God thinks... But I'm a realist so you're gonna have to prove it!"  Well, my friend, that's not a problem at all:

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us...
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; 
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall trust.
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers
—most of which are never even seen—
don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax,
to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.
People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things,
but you know both God and how he works.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.
Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid. He began to go down in the water.
He cried out, “Lord, save me!”  At once Jesus put out His hand and took hold of him.
Jesus said to Peter, “You have so little faith! Why did you doubt?”
Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus.
“The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.”

So  there it is, plain as day, God - Jesus - wants us all to trust Him! God wants us to not only be his children but inherit faith and use that faith in our actions... No, God doesn't like pessimism because it robs us of the trust, faith and actions He desires us to walk in... It may not be an over night prayer fix but I'm going to commit to growing my trust, faith and putting them into the action God wants me to, and you know what, so should you!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

God or the Gift

So I read a story this week that was so inspiring to me I have to share it with you!  It was about this man - we will call him Moe - he was trying his best to be a good Christian, following all the instruction of God he knew of.  Everything Moe did had God tied into it somehow, he was an amazing witness to people and tried his best to lead everyone he knew to God.  Every decision that was made in Moe's life was only made after consulting with God.  But Moe's family and friends were always trying to drag him down, always stubborn and Moe trying so hard to please God just made them feel convicted about their own lack of relationship with God and they resented both Moe and God.

Okay, so a pause here for a little mini-sermon: sometimes doing your best in any area of life brings haters and unfortunately that's even in your Christian walk... Sometimes people resent you because they feel convicted of their own lack through seeing your abundance. Sometimes people are just plain jealous and try to bring you down through talk and actions and if they can find a way to be in control of you or in authority of you in any way they will use it to try and squash you into some one a little less intimidating to them. BUT, God! God is on your side and if you are trying your best to please Him don't worry about the haters, keep your eyes up!

One time Moe's family and friends all got together and spoke so poorly against Moe that it god God's attention!  God actually was so angered by this He told Moe about it and told Moe he would destroy all of the people who spoke against Moe! But Moe said no.  Knowing the situation most likely would not change... Moe's friends and family would never know they had quite literally been saved by Moe so there would be no thankfulness to change their actions and thoughts toward Moe... Knowing all the awful things they were speaking and spreading about Moe and knowing others were believing it, Moe still protected them! Moe protected them because he knew that even though God was angry with them, they were God's creation and gift to Moe and he would not allow God to destroy the gift.  God even tried to convince Moe by promising he would give him better friends and more family to replace the ones lost, God promised him more and better than what he had but still, Moe wouldn't concede.

I'm not sure what your thoughts on this are but it AMAZES me... I mean seriously, if someone is being an idiot to me and God says "Hey, I'm gonna take care of them for you!  They're done." I'm most likely not going to say "oh, no, God that's not necessary... Let them continue talking about me, being mean and lording over me, don't worry about it." I'm going to be more like "sweet! You love me that much!? That's show 'em! And everyone else will have to be nice in the future because who's going to take a chance on the same fate becoming their own!? Nice!" And you would too so don't get super innocent on me now! haha!

The man in the story, his name isn't actually Moe, it's Moses... The story is found in Numbers 12-14.  So now I've been thinking, what gifts should I be protecting that I'm not. See the thing is we are God's children and if someone is attacking us through word or deed it makes Him angry, He may not destroy them but He will stand up for you and the circumstances in their life will change for the worse... So, following the example of Moses what should we do... Maybe it's time to realize that people reap what they sow, if someone is sowing hatred it will eventually come back around anyway and instead of God wasting His time on avenging us and us wasting our prayer time asking Him to stand up for us we could be asking for a change in ourselves and more opportunity to make our City's better and to reach people! Take all of your complaining prayers and turn them into reaching prayers, imagine the difference! 

If you think about it, God offered Moses a test, it was a heart check, priorities check... And Moses proved his heart to be only for God! Moses passed the test and showed God to be not only his top but his only priority even above his own wishes!  And how that must have made God love Moses even more!  See, we can have priorities and heart directed away from God because of things that we hate just as much as things we like... It's not only taking time away from God to play sports or watch TV that steals our relationship, it's taking time to just talk about how God should deal with the things we feel are against us... It's complaining to friends and family more than thanking God for the good... So now I ask you (and myself) what things are being given more time than God? They must be removed! What problems have more of my attention than God? They must become secondary!  If we truly put God first and have a heart only for Him everything else will become so unimportant it ceases to matter! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eating with the Enemy

So, as you know last weekend was Easter weekend... We had a beautiful play at Capital Community I was blessed to see and be a part of... Here's a clip of the highlights if you're interested!  I'm one of those people, not consistent with my social media commitment (except, of course, for you guys and this blog!) But last weekend I was on Twitter (FOLLOW ME!)for a bit and saw a quote I cannot get out of my head and I figure it's sort of like a song that if you just give in and sing it out loud it will go away... So I write and it goes away, maybe?

The quote that got me thinking was about the Last Supper, a story I've heard about and viewed being played out many times before... I've always heard about, read and viewed Judas and Jesus dipping their bread together but not really thinking much of it other than the usual that's how Jesus told everyone Judas was the betrayer. This time my only thought is Jesus invited Judas along with all of his other closest friends to supper the night before the betrayal Jesus knew would take place! Jesus all the time knowing he was dipping bread and sharing a cup with the one who would turn his back on him! That's crazy to me! I mean would I want to have supper with someone who I knew was going to sell me out!?  So there must be a reason, a lesson to learn!?  And not only did Jesus eat with Judas but Jesus washed the feet of Judas! But I think Judas gets a bit of a bad rep here... I mean let's not forget Judas betrayed Jesus once, Peter denied Jesus three times that same night but he was also invited to supper and Jesus also washed his feet! 

So here are some thoughts of mine and quotes of others for you to think about... Please don't just think about them but act on them!

God uses your enemies for good! Judas had to betray Jesus into the crucifixion so we could experience salvation through the resurrection!
We are supposed to treat everyone with love and respect; friend or enemy. You shouldn't choose to be unkind to anyone and it's always a choice. Furthermore, we are to reach for EVERYONE not just the people we like, respect or think well of!
"Don't allow some one's un-Biblical habits or beliefs lead you to treat them in a un-Biblical manner. Be Jesus to Judas." - Jordan Kranda
"Jesus washed Judas feet. You don't just serve people you think deserve it." - Kenny G. Camacho
"Jesus' Last Supper was held with Judas, his betrayer, right next to him. Even to last moment Jesus was trying to reach him with his grace." - David Chadwick
"Jesus washed the feet of Judas who betrayed him, Peter who denied him and the others who abandoned him. Then he said, "Go and do likewise." - Dr. William Brown
You can hang out with God and his friends for as long as you want but it will not do any good for you at all if you don't allow it to change your heart.
"Judas ate with Jesus walked with Jesus talked with Jesus and still had a heart full of betrayal Jesus please help me keep a clean heart!" - Gary Pierson

There is NOTHING you can do to make God stop loving you! Even when you betray Him, he keeps his hand of love extended to you and calls you friend.

"Jesus death was the most painful death in human history. But he accepts us, just as he accepts Judas- knowing that Judas would betray him." - Alex Durham
"Drinking from same cup as Judas, Jesus proved 2 things: His desire never to be separated from God, or us, no matter our waywardness." - Leonard Sweet

It's not the betrayal that is the end... It's what you do afterward, get up and repent or get up and go to the desert tree... Judas betrayed Jesus once then ended his own life but Peter denied Jesus three times then repented and got to hold the keys to the kingdom and spread the gospel as one of the most well known apostles in history!

"Judas. Me. You. We've all betrayed Jesus. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. The cross can cover it all." - Mike Lee
So I'm not sure which of these thoughts you life falls under today but I'm sure you can find a bit of yourself in at least one of them, as can I... So we must allow God to speak to our hearts and make us clean! Take a minute, now, wherever you are (seriously, go to a washroom stall for a moment if you can't get alone any other way) and just talk to Jesus. Thank Him for speaking to you through these words and commit to change with His help! He's GREAT!