Teaching

Today’s world is full of stories that stem from one person’s hatred for another. It could be their nationality, religious choices, sexual preferences, even the way a person voted that can trigger another person to hate. Why??

We may know in our heads that we are to be rational, thoughtful, respectful human beings, but one small thing can set us off on a rant that burns through our social network news feed. Why??

We pass someone on the street, in the mall, on the sidewalk in our town, and this person looks different than we do. We pass judgment on them and feel a little more self-righteous. We are after all, better than that person aren’t we? Why?? Why do we think we can behave that way? We may not act on it, but we thought it.

Hate comes wrapped up in many disguises, but it is still hate. Jesus spoke clearly about hate during a teaching moment in Matthew 5:21-24;
“You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire. So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (HCSB)

In other words, it’s not the act of murder that is the only thing against the law, it is the feeling in the heart that was acted upon. Jesus redefined the Law of Moses by saying it’s more than actions, it’s the emotions that started it.

I grew up without a concept of color. My friends were my friends, no clarification of skin color or race, just friends. This sort of view helped me parent our sons to do the same. Skin color has no bearing on whether a person is a friend or not. But it doesn’t stop there– we accept and love people because they are people, made in the image of a God, created for His purposes and plan. I am well aware though, that not everyone had the same upbringing.

As a child my mom and I would watch many classic movies, but one of our top five favorites was South Pacific. A wonderful musical, powerful in its story telling, set in the South Pacific during World War II. A young officer falls for an island girl and laments what life would be like if he brought her home to meet his family. The words to his lament are haunting, challenging and all too true.

You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

“You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific.

Why?? Why do we choose to teach hate and not compassion? Why do we choose to teach fear instead of faith and courage?

I think of all the of the young men and women, as well as old, who have stood up in the face of hate to say, “There is a different way.” Paul described love in 1 Corinthians 12:31 as “the most excellent way” (NIV).

It is the most excellent way, it is a way I want to teach my sons, nieces, nephews, and eventually grandchildren, if God so blesses me.

I am a teacher, I need to know my subject. It is an excellent subject. What are you teaching? If you don’t like the “curriculum” find a different one, the excellent one.

Posted in Walking by Faith and not by sight, growing pains, reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

containers

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

It isn’t us.  We are not the source of the power within us.  Jesus is the source, He is the source of Life, Hope, Grace, Joy, Truth, everything about our Faith journey. We aren’t the source and whenever we try to say we are, we fool ourselves.

One of my favorite things about the church we attended in Illinois, was the humility of our pastor.  It wasn’t false humility either.  He knew that he wasn’t able to do anything on his own power.  It was all God.  Our pastor believed God was calling him to a life of teaching and challenging others in their walk, so our pastor left a family business and began the incredible journey of leading and teaching.  He has been doing it for over 39 years.  He knows WHO has the power.

Corrie Ten Boom and her family hid Jews from the Nazis in their home.  Eventually Corrie, her sister Betsy, and their father were arrested.  During very difficult times in the concentration camp Corrie and Betsy were trying to encourage each other.  Corrie said to Betsy, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”  It was God’s power that brought Corrie through her trials in the camp.  God was bigger than the depths of the pit they were in during that time.

I think of the countless missionaries who felt God call them to another country.  I think of the reasons they went, the situations they were in, the troubles and trials they faced.  These men and women went because God called them.  Not because they were amazing and terrific at sharing the Gospel.  Many of the best stories I have read and heard were about those who were reluctant to go.  God moved mightily through them.  God did, not them.

I love the image of the jar of clay.  Scripture doesn’t say, finest gold or beautiful jewels, it says clay.  Clay, the simple material found in the ground, walked on, tilled, and used for building.  It must be molded, shaped, and reshaped to fit the purposes of the Potter.

Isaiah 29:16 says, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?  We need to remember WHO is shaping whom.  God isn’t a tool for us to use. We are a tool to be used by God.  We are to hold His power, pouring out His love through actions.

When we remember our place, we can remember what is placed in us.  His “this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”   It is from Him and Him alone; we just get to be a part of His plan.

I am grateful to be a part of this amazing plan.  What about you?

 

 

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mulligans

I strive to not have regrets. I don’t mean living with a “take it or leave it” attitude, I mean living with care and striving to live with kindness. I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I fall flat on my face and blow a potentially good experience by a bad rash decision.

This morning I was reviewing something I wanted to “do-over” or call a “mulligan” on when I heard the words of James, Jesus’ half-brother from James 4:6, “But He gives us more grace.”

Ahhh.

If Jesus gives us more grace, then I need to give myself more grace. Not because I deserve it, that’s the opposite of what grace is, grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

I don’t deserve it, but boy do I need it. For myself and to extend it to others.

Like a deep cleansing breath, I take in the grace I need so desperately, but don’t deserve. And I exhale all the negative thoughts, regret, and even anger I feel. No one deserves that either.

More grace, more grace, more grace. Don’t we all need more grace?

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Modus Operandi

My weekly to-do includes laundry, dishes, picking up, putting things away, taking out the garbage, etc. Yes, the boys help, but it is something I still like to do. My work schedule gives me time in the morning to put the house in order which makes me happy as I serve my family.

What would happen if I did these things with the wrong motives? What if I did it to show how “lucky” my family was to have a wife and mother life me? What if I did it so that others thought well of me? What if I did it so God thought I was good?

Why do I do what I do?

I do it because I love my family. My motivation, my modus operandi, is because it is my way of showing my family that they are important, that I value them and want to care for them. Yes, they are capable of caring for themselves and can do so very nicely. Yet, it is out of love for them that I continue to wash and clean.

First Corinthians 13 is often called the “Love Chapter” because it outlines the way to live life. “If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faithso that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13)

These verses are often read at weddings, but they need to be lived out in marriage, in parenting, and in any relationship. We need to do things in love, forgive others, not lord over them the wrongs they have done in the past. God doesn’t do that to us, we surely should not do that to others.

My heart is for my family. It brings me joy to do the things I do, it makes me happy to meet their needs without being asked to do them. My motive for caring for my home is that by doing it, I am caring for my family.

What is your motive? Read through the verses above and try putting your name in place of the word Love. If the things you say aren’t actually your actions, then ask God to help you develop those missing parts in your own heart.

Love should be your motive and it should be mine.

Blessings.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A good day

Today I took the day off from work and spent time with my hubby. We took naps, went shopping for little things at one of our favorite stores and drove by some homes for sale to get an idea of where we’d like to live.

It was a good day.

I’ve written about rest, restoration, finding quiet and being still. Today I put it into action. It reminded me of one of my many favorite Rich Mullins’ songs made famous by Amy Grant, Doubly Good to You.

Let the words wash over you as you finish your day. Blessings.

If you see the moon,
Rising gently on your fields.
If the wind blows softly on your face.
If the sunset lingers,
While cathedral bells peal,
And the moon has risen to her place,

You can thank the Father
For the things that He has done.
And thank Him for the things he’s yet to do.
And if you find a love that’s tender,
If you find someone who’s true,
Then thank the Lord –
He’s been doubly good to you.

If you look in the mirror,
At the end of a hard day,
And you know in your heart you have not lied.
And if you gave love freely,
If you earned an honest wage,
And if you’ve got Jesus by your side,

You can thank the Father
For the things that He has done.
And thank Him for the things He’s yet to do.
And if you find a love that’s tender,
If you find someone who’s true,
Thank the Lord –
He’s been doubly good to you.

You can thank the Father
For the things that He has done.
And thank Him for the things He’s yet to do.
And if you find a love that’s tender,
If you find someone who’s true,
Thank the Lord –
He’s been doubly good to you….

Thank the Lord –
He’s been doubly good to you.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wet feet and weeds

Many of us are familiar with the story in Matthew 14 where Jesus walks of water and Peter calls out to join Him. I have heard many teachers and pastors teach on how we are like Peter, life will go much better when we keep on our eyes on Jesus. It’s the times when we want to step out in faith, but fear we will fail, that resonates with me.

Fear has recently reared its nasty head in my life again. Fear is like that resilient weed I think I have pulled out completely, but all of its roots didn’t come out. So it grows again. I don’t notice it at first, but eventually I find myself fully entangled in the creeping vine of fear.

Sometimes I allow myself to be pulled down, dragged down by the “what ifs” and that “what will they say” or “what if they don’t like me?” questions that swirl in my head. Other times I recognize my situation and I pull free and denounce the fear.

What I really want to do though, is step out in faith. I want that Fearless Faith I talked about before. I want to see the troubles as temporary because from Heaven’s perspective they are temporary. I want to walk on water.

Heavenly Father,
My heart needs you. My feet are failing me.
You are calling me to bigger and greater things
during my journey and I don’t want fear to keep me from them.
Jesus, call me out, call me out on the water.
Give me the courage to get wet feet.
Amen.

This is my prayer, maybe it needs to be yours too. Blessings.

When fear assails, when darkness falls, I find my peace in Christ alone. Here in the Power of Christ I’ll stand.

Posted in growing pains, reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

exchange and carry

I have a confession to make, I love bags.  Not the couture bags and purses, I mean the “working” ones you put stuff in and carry along with you.  If I had to rank them I think I would put backpacks first, followed closely by messenger bags.  After that I think I’d put the poly-bags that stores commonly sell so you can carry home your goodies.  I don’t know what it is about them.  I just like the idea of putting my stuff into something that contains them.

Right now I am using a messenger bag my husband bought for me.  In it I keep a pad of paper, a Nalgene bottle of water, a pencil pouch, snack bars, and books.  Lots and lots of books. I bring it with me wherever I go: work, church, trips, anywhere I may have a moment or two to read.

I found my self thinking, what else do I carry around with me?  Do I carry regret for the things I didn’t do correctly (by whoever’s standard)? Do I carry shame for the things I did that I know were wrong?  What about anger or resentment toward those who have hurt me or harmed me?  Do I carry burdens for the situations beyond my control?

I need to put these things down at Jesus’ feet.  They wear on my body and my spirit, making me tired, worn out and even depressed.  Instead I need to pick up something else.

I need to pick up Joy. Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Love. Understanding. Patience. Self-Control.  By putting down the heavy things and allowing Jesus to carry them, I will find myself with empty, open and available hands to pick up the Joy.

Jesus blessed us with this exchange in Matthew 11:29, 30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” It is my favorite verse in many ways.  We can exchange the heart-heavy items for the light-hearted items when we ask Jesus into our lives. This can lead to such freedom.

So come to the Cross.  Meet Jesus. Exchange His yoke for yours.  Walk away carrying Joy, Love, Grace and Hope.

 

 

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

without effect

As I walk around my new hometown I often see the same people.  I do not know their names, but we smile in acknowledgement and continue on our route.  While I have always been friendly with others I meet, now that I am walking on my Faith journey I find that I see them with new eyes.

I watch their gait, the way they carry themselves throughout their routine.  Do they seem happy, discouraged, do they seem distracted? As we pass I may pray for them that God would show up in their lives in a palpable way.  My heart yearns for them to experience the amazing love God offers.  I don’t mean the sappy, sweet, warm fuzzies that many portray God as offering.  I mean the true love, the kind that comes from walking through highs and lows in life and keeps by your side through the end.

The Grace that God extended to me is that Grace that God extends to them, and to you. I know what it means to struggle with questions of self-worth, value in the world around me, and recognition of my purpose.  I know what it is to survive abuse and come out stronger on the other side.  I have experienced the unexpected loss of loved ones and those who are dear.  I have come through these experiences because of the Grace of God.  He has held me as I cried, soothed my troubled soul, and collected my tears.

When I see those around me, I wonder.  Do they know this kind of Love and Grace?  Will these see it in me?  Will they recognize the Grace of God in me?  Not for my glory, but for His.

And so I pray, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

must have

As we enter into the official holiday shopping season, with the “must have” of the season being shown on TV, I find myself stuck.  I am not one to care for the shiny kitchen items, the new furniture “to get ready for company”, or that “one of a kind” piece of jewelry that will show me how much my husband loves me.  I don’t need those things.  Sure they are nice, but I don’t need them.

I have a home with my family, it’s warm, there is food in the fridge, I have clothes in the closet.  I have more than one winter coat.  I am content.  My “must have” of the season is time with my husband.  No special trip, just uninterrupted time to sit with him on the couch and watch a movie or our favorite show.  I would like to spend more time with my sons, who are growing too quickly.  I want to hear them tell me their dreams, their ideas, what they like and dislike.  I want them to know how much their dad and I love them.  How we are proud of them and who they are becoming.

Another must have of the season would be time with my extended family and my husband’s extended family.  Not a holiday gathering, but some real time to just sit down and listen to each other.  Too few moments have been spent really knowing the heart of the person we claim as family.

My final must have of the season is for those who have no family and no one to care for them. My heart hurts to see the homeless sitting on benches under worn and tattered blankets, striving to keep warm in the biting winds.  Do they know how precious they are in their Father’s eyes?  Do they have something to eat?  Something to keep them warm?  A place to sleep?  I continue to do my part, sharing the extra that I have with them, but it feels like it’s not enough.

Oh Heavenly Father, may we love those who seem unlovable,
care for those who have less,
encourage those who are lacking courage,
and share the love of Christ– truly share it– all year long.
Amen

 

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

Posted in growing pains, reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

gray hairs

My birthday is coming up.  I will be forty-five.  My grandmother was forty-five when I was born.  I feel old just thinking about it.  What is it about birthdays that make us so crazy?

When we are young we cannot wait for our birthdays.  We fantasize about the cake, the friends who will celebrate us, and most of all the presents.  As we grow older, our priorities change.  We think about the importance of spending time with friends and loved ones who will celebrate us, but also the history between us.

As I have grown older my red hair has changed subtly.  It is no longer the “Richie Cunningham red”, but instead has become a more strawberry-blond color.  Not only is it strawberry-blond, there is a mix of “sugar” in my color.  It is a color that would make many run for the boxed hair color aisle at the department store, but for me, I am embracing my new hair color.

Scripture says in Proverbs 16:31, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” And in Proverbs 20:29, “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”  We are to embrace our changing hair color (and body) as we grow older, it is a sign of our “been there, done that” experiences.

I don’t want to try to be like the young women who are in their twenties and thirties.  I already lived through those decades and there are some experiences I want to leave in the past.  I look forward to my next decades.  I hope to be wiser, not just older.

One of my favorite verses about gray hair is from Isaiah 46:4, which says, ” Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” What a promise, as I grow old, God will be with me.  He will sustain me, rescue me, and carry me.  If I get too old, I definitely may need Him to carry me.  Thankfully, He already does.

 

 

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment