Monday, June 19, 2017

What If?

What if?

What if showing God to someone looked like not speaking one complaint to a fellow employee? For one year? Or, one week, heck: one day?

What if showing God to someone looked like asking, "How are you doing?", even to that person who's hygiene is less than pleasant?

What if showing God to someone looked like cleaning the bathroom without complaining?

What if showing God to someone looked like letting the person in line before you even though you may be running late?

What if showing God to someone looked like volunteering at a homeless shelter? Even if it is only because God loves the poor?

What if showing God to someone looked like not giving a piece of your mind even if you may have the right to?

What if showing God to someone looked like not getting mad you got pulled over for speeding?

What if showing God to someone looked like pressing into a conversation even if you are exhausted?

What if showing God to someone looked like not posting your political opinions on social media? But instead, chose to only have political conversations in person?

What if showing God to someone looked like washing a woman's feet? A woman who had just had an abortion?

But also:

What if showing God you love Him looks like getting on your knees and praying for Trump?

What if showing God you love Him looks like you with your palms up saying, "God, everything good I have is from Your hand... show me how to bless You and others with it."

What if showing God you love Him looks like more time in His Word than watching the news?

What if showing God you love Him looks like an extra 2% in your tithing?

What if showing God you love Him looks like refusing to snap back at your kids tonight?

What if showing God you love Him looks like palms up, humbly asking, "Am I wrong about this Lord? Show me if I am!"

What if showing God you love Him looks like cancelling Netflix because that's what you look forward to the most at the end of every day?

What if showing God you love Him looks like praying for the family member who drives you insane?

What if showing God you love Him looks like...... just being with Him? No agenda. No time limit.

What if showing God you love Him looks like..... whispering thank you's to Him throughout your day?

What if?

"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you... and if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same..... but LOVE YOUR  merciful."

Love sounds a lot like rooting for those not like you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

God Doesn't Use just Marrieds.

Contrary to popular belief, I'm actually pro-Valentines Day.

I love watching couples try to make the other feel important (and often, embarassed, ha!). Sometimes even us Singletons get noticed... such as the older man in the grocery store who stopped me to say, "Do colors really make a difference in the roses? Do they actually mean something?" So after telling him, "Don't get yellow: those mean friendship!" I went on to say something like, "But don't take my word for it: my favorite flower is a carnation! That's probably why I'm single!" (As I am laughing out loud by this point.) To which he responds, "Which is hard to believe, such a pretty girl like yourself!" #complimenttaken

That said, if you find yourself with someone, either married or dating and you think, "I hate Valentines Day. I love them every day: why do I have to go out of my way to show them one day a year?!" If you say that to me, I'll respond, "Why NOT go out of your any day- EVERY day to show them? Even if it is just flowers? Or a candy bar? Or doing the dishes?! WHY NOT?!"

For those of us that are single, however, depending on where we are mentally, spiritually, etc: Valentines can be a really, really hard day. I look back on my life and I'm just so grateful for the grace that God has poured over me... for even the work that I have done to get to where I am today.. that today, February 14, 2017: I am not bitter that I am single.

Some of you reading this may be divorced or separated. Some of you reading this may be a widow or a widower and for you, dear reader: I have no words. I can not imagine the pain that you have gone through, the thoughts you hear and have had to conquer or push away. But there is always hope. But not the hope you immediately think of.. you know, the-meeting-your-future-spouse-sort-of-hope... but the deep-rooted, God-inspired hope that He is for you, not against you (Psalm 56:9)... the hope that reminds you God has a purpose and plan for you (Psalm 139; Philippians 2:12,13) and that God is not done working on you (Philippians 1:6).

My best friend has encouraged me in the past to perhaps do more writing on explaining to marrieds/society what it's like to be single in today's culture.. especially, the Christian Culture. Perhaps someday I will, but for now, to you married's, I will exhort you to know and realize: Marriage is NOT a stage of life. God does NOT have marriage for everyone... including but not limited to, those who have the deep desire for it. Desires are not necessarily from God- neither are they evil if not: they are sometimes, just that: human desires. So again, please know that marriage is not a stage. No where in Scripture do we find, "When you turn ___ age or When you hit this level of maturity then you'll get married." But also, for the record, neither will you find, "If you just have more faith, if you just keep asking" or my [least] favorite, "If you just forget about men [or women], then that person will come into  your life.  SIDE NOTE: IF YOU DARE SAY THIS TO MY FACE, YOU MAY END UP WITH A BROKEN NOSE. End Note. (And also, because Scripture would push us to press IN to those desires and to ask God to fulfill our petition and need, but, that's another blog for another time.)

But dear Singles, we TOO have a responsibility: TO LIVE THE LIFE HE HAS CALLED US TO LIVE: RIGHT NOW. (Marrieds: this goes for you as well, as we all know that "the best is yet to come" thought does not end with "I Do's".) We can not live our lives in the future- we can only live them right now. We can not be entrusted with future responsibilities (get marriage out of your mind) if we are not being faithful where we currently are. If we are not grateful now with what and Whom (and whoms, that's right, I made up a word) He has given us NOW, then we will never be grateful later in life, even if/when you have them.

Have you ever come across an ungrateful person? A person who is always complaining? A person who sours your next few minutes to hours after coming away from them? Then know this, dear reader: you will become that very person if you do not check yourself.

So maybe tonight dear reader, you need to grab your Bible or watch a sermon online to distract yourself from watching a Hallmark movie. (Or just write a blog post like I've just done;) Or maybe you just need to hit your knees and pray for God's peace to wrap you up tonight. You know what, maybe you just need to throw on a war movie (like I do nearly ever Valentines Day)... and you know what? That's okay. God has you in His hand. He knows your heart, your desires-- and He knows how and when He'll fulfill or even change those desires.

Rest tonight, beloved. For He gives to His beloved rest. (Psalm 4:8)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weight vs. Sin

 "...Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus..." Hebrews 12:1b

Did you catch it? Did you catch that the words "weight" and "sin" are separate? Did you see that they are separated by a comma? DO NOT MISS THAT: THAT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Go ahead and read it again. I'll wait.

Okay, but really. They are two separate words. Two separate definitions. 

weight: Gk. onkon = bulk, encumbrance
sin: Gk amartian = sin, failure

Let me tell you, I've have had a journey with these words. This verse has liberated me time and time again and it [Lord willing] always will. 

I often teach the practical difference of these two words in one shot. I HATE RUNNING OR WORKING OUT WITH LONG SLEEVES ON. Like, hate hate hate! Now for me, I'm not a professional runner or professional weight lifter. But here's the thing: running or lifting weights with long sleeves on isn't wrong, in fact, A LOT of people wear them when working out. But for me? IT'S A HINDRANCE. I get too hot, or I have to keep pushing my sleeves up, etc. Do you see what I'm saying here? 

There are things in our lives as believers that we do which is SIN. Engaging in gossip, sex outside of marriage, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, coveting, etc: these things are sin. HINDRANCES, however, do not necessarily look like these. Let me give a few examples from my own journey in this.

Hindrances for me look like: going home every night from work and just watching tv or movies. Hindrances to me look like sleeping in til the last second, every day before work (so I don't have my quiet time). Hindrances to me look like watching rated R movies or tv shows. Hindrances to me look like binge watching romantic Hallmark movies. Hindrances to me look like leaving immediately after church on Sundays (repeatedly) and not engaging with those around me. 

Are these things sin? Not at all. But what I found in my life was that I wasn't purposely being with God or studying more about Him. I wasn't forcing myself to get to know Him and His thoughts, His dreams for me or His word. I found myself with so much alone time that I just talked to myself all the time about how little my job paid, how I'm single when all my friends are married and how God was at work in everyone else's lives except my own. All I did was focus on what I didn't have instead of what I DID have.

It was around this time that I encountered two life-changing things: the Experiencing God study, and God's voice in my mind telling me, "Put away the tv/movies Monday through Thursday". 

In the EG study, you are challenged to pray, "God, open my eyes to where You are at work around me and in me" DAILY. So then, in combination with eliminating the tv and movies, I found myself being so much more aware of His presence in my world- and my life. More and more I found myself disliking the sin of sex, infidelity and selfish living that is so promoted in so much of our tv and movies today. I was reading more and more, be it novels or be it Christian Living books or books about God. 

There was less trash in my brain, and noticing more and more of God at work. 

These are just simple examples from my simple life of what the differences are between sin and weight (hindrances). I have many, many more, as I am sure so do you. And you know what? We'll never be perfect. We'll never attain perfection and never sin while here on this earth, but what we ARE called to do is to run the race that is set before us

So dear Beloved, begin to peel off that which is not only wrong, but also which hinders. Experience the freedom the God longs for you to live in. Let my life be an example to you that it IS possible.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. (Gal 5:1) 

Bondage and complacency was never meant to be comfortable or livable.