Sunday, June 8, 2014

By Request: An open letter about gossip and judgment.

A dear friend, asked me if I had ever written about dealing with gossip, or judging others.  I have never.  I have taken some time to think about what I might want to say on these subjects.  Here are a couple of points to remember:
  • I never say something about someone that I can not say to their face.
  • I heard it said one time, that if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all.
  • I've also heard that if you are struggling for the right words, you can never go wrong with God's word.
I think it is relevant to say that I am guilty of both gossip and judgment.  If you think that you have not done either of these things, than you are only lying to yourself.  Most people at some time or another have done both of these.  It is part of being a FLAWED human.  However, the Lord does have a few things to say about it.
First and foremost as a person of authority; for example, a teacher, pastor, or deacon, His word is clear on the character you should posses.  He spends a great deal of time talking about it in Titus. In the book of Titus, it describes an elder as being someone who is blameless-not overbearing, not quick tempered, and so-on-and-so-on.  Paul tells Titus rather the character of elder should be hospitable, someone who loves what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.   Pretty tall orders, but nonetheless, they are what God, characterizes for a good leader.  Dear friend you are the leader, they will take their direction from you and your actions.  Don't over-react or give value to something that is clearly a tool to destroy.  You can choose to follow God's instruction even when it seems to be fruitless, do not let gossip destroy the work of the Lord.  "The thief comes to kill and destroy, but I come to give you life to the full. John 10:10."
Secondly, words are hurtful.  The Bible says in James chapter 3, that not many can become teachers, and that teachers will be judged more strictly.  It also reminds us that no one is perfect, and that we all fall short.  However, it gives a warning that the "tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body sets the course for one's life on fire, and is it's self set on fire by hell.  All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but NO HUMAN BEING can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."  James 3:6-8  Personally, I find so much hope in these passages.  There are many days when my thoughts and mouth run away with me. I am comforted knowing that God knows I am not going to be right all the time. Having a big mouth is something so relevant that God had to specifically address it in the Bible several times.  Just go read the book of Proverbs.    In Proverbs there are several verses that imply if you talk to much you are a fool; and that the tongue has the power to give life or death.  Dear friend, remember that words hurt, words matter, and when we use them, we can apologize but that does not always remove the sting.  Remember that God is the great healer and He is the remedy for this situation, you are just a tool, not the problem solver.
Now to discuss judgment.  I really dislike this subject.  Overall, I do not consider myself to be a judgmental person.   Frankly, at this point, I am more concerned with what God is going to say about my sins, I have no responsibility in anyone else's, but I will be accountable for my own.   That is quite enough thank you very much!  I will start with the frequently quoted bible verse about judging: "Don't judge others, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.  Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the big piece of wood in your own eye." Mathew 7:1-3   This is a great example of what happens all the time.  We point out each others dust to avoid admitting we have wood in our own eye.  If someone else looks bad, than we can rest easier in our own sin, because we put it in a worldly economy of which sins are worse than another.  The truth is sin is sin and it does not matter what sin it is, it all separates us from God. I really do not like judgment, but I will say it is often confused with conviction.  It is a Biblical responsibility to share the truth of Jesus, and the truth is not at all popular in this world.  The choices that Jesus would have Christians make are unpopular with today's society, and making a stand for Jesus is often followed by accusations of being self-righteous or judgmental.  My dear friend, as you deal with these issues and you make those stands, I think the answer is clear, you must stand on the side of Jesus, and leave any and all opinions out.  Let God's word do the talking.
Now by definition the Bible says that Jesus is love.  It also says that love covers a multitude of sins, and perfect love drives out fear.  My friend, the only way to get past this struggle in your ministry is to love as Jesus has called you to love. You have to love the seemingly unlovable, because whether they are kind to you or down right mean to you, Jesus loves them and you are His hands and feet.  Now, how do you do that, when you don't want to?  You have to pray hard and pray big.  You have to set good boundaries so you are not a doormat for abuse, but a stepping stone to introduce the love of Jesus.  People don't believe they can be loved.  They don't believe they deserve love they have not "earned."  That is not what Jesus says.  Jesus loves and He came to give abundant life.  He chose you, and He has equipped you.  He has given you exactly what you need, and that is He who lives in you.  Lean on Him and He will direct your path.
Personally, you are a dear friend, that I have know many years.  You are loved, you are treasured by God, but also by me and many others.  You are not alone in this, it is just a diversion to stop the goods works you are accomplishing in His name.  The Lord blessed me with you, and you with me.  Now may you be blessed abundantly, and may the Lord strengthen your ministry and give you peace as you go forward.
At your request, this is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Danger Zone

This blog is dedicated to all the women who I know and love so dearly.  Those who are flawed, but find grace in Jesus.  The beautiful women who, "are worth far more than rubies." (Proverbs 31:10)

I have been watching you.  I have been watching how you look at yourself and talk about yourself.  I listen to the confidential words in our friendships and I ask, how did she become this way?   How did she get stuck in this trap?  How is it that she believes these lies she tells herself.  It is the small things, that are said, they seem like a joke.  Maybe it is I am fat.  Or the I can't do this or I can't do that.  I am not good enough.  These tiny conversations and revelations of insecurities start to take hold, and then you find yourself stereotyped as someone not worthy.  My only conclusion is, that after some time with these feelings you become them.

I am not sure where it starts and where it ends.  Feelings are meant to come and go.  A single feeling should not define an entire life.  However, in some circumstances we hang on to that feeling making us believe that is all we can be.  We become that lonely day.  We become that broken heart.  We become the bad girl.  We are that angry person.  We are meant to experience every feeling as real for a moment or a season, but we cannot let them define an entire lifetime.

I look at the women around me, and I wonder, feelings aside, do they believe they are more than those moments?  If you read my blog then you know I believe the Bible.   The Bible defines who we are.  Your first thought maybe, well, thank you, another disappointment, because I can never live up to that standard.  Jesus was the only perfect person and I just can't be that good.  Well, me too, that would have been my first thought.  However, as you walk further and closer to Jesus, there is something deeper that defines us.  We are defined by His love.  All the things Jesus did... teaching, serving, suffering, and dying on the cross were because HE LOVED us first.

Let's take a minute to look at ourselves the way God looks at us.  
  • You are worth far more than rubies. -Proverbs 31:10
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made -Psalm 139:4
  • You are chosen. Ephesians 1:4
  • You are forgiven in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
  • You are dearly loved -- Ephesians 5:1
  • You are a work in progress. (Be confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion.) Philippians 1:6
  • You are loved with an everlasting love. - Jeremiah 31:3
  • You are not alone. - Joshua 1:9
  • You have been given a spirit of power, love, and self discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • You are an overcomer. John 16:33
I leave you with this, how long will you stay in the danger zone?  How long will you let your feelings control you and define you?  Are you ready to look in the mirror and see hope?  Are you ready to let go forgive and be forgiven?  Are you ready to be free from fear and live secure?  I hope dear friends that you are.  I want less of am I good enough and more of I am overcoming everyday with hope. 

This is my mindset, now let me hear yours!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where Faith Fails

Lately my life has been turned upside down.  The minute we put our house on the market, my nice left and my "tone" changed!  Enter the reaction of the stubborn, hard headed donkey, and not trust version of Miranda! Let me start with the back story.

In September, my sweet in-laws picked up and moved.  They lived across the street from us, and within three weeks, they had picked up and moved to the country.  They moved to a rural home on some acreage, and left us.  They abandoned us, or so we tease them  They are a huge part of our life.  We see them regularly, share meals, and often walked our daughter across the street just to hang out for a few minutes.   All of that has changed.

At the time I felt the Lord was saying just trust me.  Trust me, as our lives changed.   Trust me with the big things that are happening in your life.  Trust me and wait on my timing.   I even wrote a blog about it last June, where I confessed to having trust issues.  Here I am almost a year later and all that I felt is in fact true, but I am still in a season of trust, and working on those issues.  A trust season where God is in control and I am left with no choice but to trust Him.  What my trust looks like seems to changes every day.  I go from being firm in my faith, to being a real "donkey" in my reactions.

After my in-laws moved, it was a no brainer for us, we decided we would follow.  I continued to feel in my heart that God wanted us to wait and trust, as He worked out the details.  Then about two months ago, the owner of the neighboring property, called and said, "We would like to sell our property, do you know anyone who wants to buy it?"  As God would have it, it was exactly what we wanted, exactly what we prayed for.  It was the exact amount of acreage, it was the same floor plan we preferred.  Everything was perfect, and God was confirming his plans for us, and the result of waiting and trusting.

Now fast forward a couple of months.  Our house is on the market.  We have a contract on the new home, but have to sell our existing home.  God has revealed so much of HIS beautiful plans for us.  He has honored what I heard in my heart was His will.  Now I stand living out a real life Ephesians 3:20

"With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. "

He has revealed much more than I could have asked or imagined.  I am standing at the point of great and good change. The question now is, how am I handling all of this?  I am a Christian, I read my bible and I can share many of God's promises.  I believe them, when they are for someone else.  If I am honest, I am a mess.  I am anxious and the house being on the market.  If it doesn't sell soon my hubby and I may need marriage counseling!  I am on edge.  I am reminding myself of the things I so easily share with everyone else, and am struggling to make them real for myself. 

I had a whole inner dialog about God giving seasons. I re-read the chapter on seasons.  In Ecclesiastes 3 it says," There is a time to cry, and a time to laugh.  There is a time to be sad, and a time to dance."  This is my season to laugh and dance, and what am I doing?  I am waiting for the metaphorical catch.  I am nervous and anxious about the time it is taking to sell my house.  I am looking at this season and asking am I good enough to deserve or have a season of joy and dancing?

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME.  The Lord makes promises for those He loves.  It is not really that I have a faith issue with him, it is that I have made the faith about me.  I believe that God is a big and powerful God, but I am still trying to earn His love and blessing, instead of just accepting it for what it is.  A free gift, and a grace that extends beyond what I can ask or imagine.  This is HIS grace, this is HIS house, this is HIS property and I am not going to change HIS TIMING, HIS PLANS, or HIS WILL.  No matter how much I think If I just.......

The Lord is asking me to believe in HIM, not in my own abilities.  He asking me to trust in His truths, not to try to earn or rationalize my own.  He is asking me to let go of insecurities and old sins, because they are forgiven in Christ Jesus.  He wants me to stand flawed and let HIM lead, because as my Pastor said today, "God will not command you to do what He has not orchestrated to succeed."  God wants me to trust HIM, and not overthink the details.

As I reflect on my faith and failures, I think it is a good time to remember where I should put my Faith.  My faith is not in man or in me, but in a God that is the creator of the universe.

Isaiah 40:

25 God, the Holy One, says, “Can you compare me to anyone?
    Is anyone equal to me?”
26 Look up to the skies.
    Who created all these stars?
He leads out the army of heaven one by one
    and calls all the stars by name.
Because he is strong and powerful,
    not one of them is missing.
27 People of Jacob, why do you complain?
    People of Israel, why do you say,
“The Lord does not see what happens to me;
    he does not care if I am treated fairly”?
28 Surely you know.
    Surely you have heard.
The Lord is the God who lives forever,
    who created all the world.
He does not become tired or need to rest.
    No one can understand how great his wisdom is.

I pray that God will take this reminder for me, to encourage you.  I pray you will be blessed to the FULLNESS of all God's will; not your own, or mine!  This is my mindset; now let me hear yours!