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Who polled God?

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Today I exercised –

 

my right to vote!

 

Graphic showing how the popular vote winner ca...

Graphic showing how the popular vote winner can lose the electoral vote. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope you all in the US did the same.  I also hope that we can learn to live with the results, remembering that God is in charge, not the elected officials (or any other kind).  It’s amazing how quickly people forget that in the heat of the battle.  We should study and pray about our vote and make sure to cast it, but the results are in God’s hands alone and for His purposes.

 

I am really sad at what I have seen over the last few days months years as a dichotomy has widened the gap between people in this country.  The mud-slinging, cheating, lying, and more does not honor our country or God.  It also doesn’t honor those who engage in it.   I see a lot of finger-pointing, but it is arrogant to assume one person has the corner on being right.  We all have some things right and some wrong.  When it comes to issues we vote on, the Christian should hit his/her knees first, asking God for the truth.  Then he/she should search the scripture for God’s truth.  When God says yes, no, go, don’t go, or anything else, we should follow.

 

Bridging the gap requires spiritual knowledge, but it also requires good communication:  with the Father and with fellow human beings.  This is a subject that would take much more room than we have here to cover fully, but I hope you get the idea.  If we eschew communication in favor of judging, arguing, name calling, pride, etc., we have a big problem.

 

One of the meanings of being “United” states, is that we abide by the laws of the land (that do not violate God’s laws) and we work together when the vote is counted.  I hope no bad behavior will be in the news tomorrow no matter who wins the election.  I also hope that we can find a way to turn the tide.   “If MY people, who are called by MY name. . . . ”

What’s Your Beam?

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Sins of the tongue probably rate as the worst kinds of sins as far as harm to others goes.  Yet, we sit in our churches with blazing tongues, spreading hurt to all with no qualms.  While I believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says it is, I sometimes question the obsession with it that I see among Christians.  It’s like we’ve separated the sins into acceptable and unacceptable categories.  We have our pet sins; those go into the acceptable category.  Then we have the ones that don’t bother us as much; those go into the unacceptable category.

 

Let me tell you no sin is acceptable to God!

 

We are all sinners.  There is none righteous, no not one.  We cannot gloss over some sins and sit in our pews as holier-than-thou whited sepulchres, spewing ungodliness in our judgmentalness.  We ought to do one and not leave the other undone.  We should worry about sin – all sin – our own sin first.

 

The Bible tells us to take the beam out of our own eye first.  Then we will be able to see clearly to help others remove the speck in their eyes.  As long as we have these sins that we cling to and justify and ignore as ‘not so bad’, we will be unable to help others with their sin.  This is the problem when it comes to speaking out against sin.  We do not have the right to do so until we have cleaned up our own back yard.  I am not saying we shouldn’t speak out.  I’m saying we should clean up that beam and then speak out, when we have the right and the ability to help others in the same mess we found ourselves in.

 

We have the answer:  Jesus Christ.  But we besmirch His name when we excuse sin in our own lives while condemning others for theirs.  I have been asking God for over a year to show me the truth about these matters.  He is slowly but surely moving me into His will as He teaches me how to walk with Him and how to know Him as He truly is.  This is a difficult concept for most Christians,  but it is difficult in its very simplicity.  The same is true of salvation.  It is simple, and yet we make it hard.

 

So what beams do you have in your eyes, keeping you from seeing clearly? 

 

In this series, we will talk about the beams we can have and what they look like.  Tune in for more. . . .

 

 

Political Communication: Is it possible?

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As the USA heads closer to election time, people’s’ humanity (sin nature) seems to be rising to the top.  It’s everywhere.

“I’m right.  You’re stupid.”

“I know what’s best.”

“Only an idiot would believe that.”

“Libs are . . . .”

“Conservatives are . . .”

You know you’ve seen/heard it all too.  How can a country that has become so polarized ever find neutral ground and begin communicating with one another?

 

Real communication starts with respect.

1.  No name calling.

2.  No trying to out-yell another to get your point across.

3.  Really listen to the other person instead of formulating your argument or interrupting.

4.  Try to turn off your filters and hear the other person without bias.

5.  Recognize that stupidity, bias, greed, etc. runs in both parties.

6.  Turn off the arrogance!  You are not God and do not know everything.

7.  Recognize that your rights end where my nose begins.

8.  Remember that people often want they same things, they simply have a different plan for arriving there.

9.  Recognize that your world is not the universe.  Where you live, how you were raised, and a hundred other factors go into your world view, and everyone’s world view is at least somewhat unique even though common characteristics may exist.

10. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23).  Exersize these fruits and begin to plant seeds of kindness, and respect as you go about your daily life.

11.  If you are a Christian – pray for them.

 

This a start to the list.  Can you think of other ways to show respect to others?  Are you guilty of disrespect to those who disagree with you? 

 

By the way, silence is not respect.  We need to speak up, but we need to do it in a respectful way that acknowledges others as human beings.  I can and will stand on my principles, especially those that God laid down in the Bible.  But,  I will attempt to do so as Jesus did.  He was tough when needed, but always thought of what would bring others to God.  He was/is the embodiment of the Fruit of the Spirit.

 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man shows, this he will also reap.  For one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.  And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.   Galatians 6:7-9

 

 

Ten ways to Love: Yeah, but…

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Our 5th installment of Ten ways to love is to:  Answer without arguing. 

Proverbs 17:1  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.  (KJV)

The Message puts it this way:  1 A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

 

Argument

Argument (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

Anyone who has ever lived with an argumentative person knows exactly how true that statement is.   Have you ever known someone who couldn’t just give a simple answer?  They always have a “yeah, but…” or some other reply explaining why they are ‘special’ and your premise is wrong.  I think all of us answer with an argument at times, but the person who consistently does this is not saying, “I love you.”  They might be saying, “I’m better than you” or “I know better than you”, but not “I love you.”   I find that many of those who make this a consistent habit have no clue what they do to others.  In their mind, they really are special, know better, or simply want to make sense of the question.

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a bird bath in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you help someone who has no clue?         I don’t know.  That’s a rhetorical question 🙂  If you have the answer, let me know!

 

Since we already know we can’t help others, we can only look at ourselves.  Do we answer with an argument or do we listen and answer without arguing?  Human beings have this unique ability.  It’s called justification.  AND–it works best when pointed at our own behavior.  I of course, never have an issue with this. . . . . ;]  but just in case someone out there does. . . .

 

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have way too many people a person in my life who cannot simply answer a question without argument, and it drives me to distraction at times.  I call her on it, but she comes back with more argument.  This leads to more drama, which leads to anything but a feeling of ‘love’.   Responses often contain “Yeah, but”, “Well, I”, “You don’t”, and “I didn’t mean to” to name a few.   I have to admit I don’t always respond well to this.  Frustration probably tops the list of emotions that pop up.  How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t really hear you?  Instead of hearing what’s said, the arguer hears something they must take exception to.  I guess it’s a form of defensiveness.  I don’t know.  I just know neither party winds up feeling very good afterwards.  Neither person feels very loved or listened to either.

 

A very simplistic example of this:  

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “But, I’m not tired!”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “I can’t sleep if I’m not tired.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Well, sissy doesn’t have to go to bed now.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Can I have a drink.”

and so on.        Can anyone say distraction technique?

The major theme in this scenario is:   “I don’t have to do what you tell me because…..”

 

Pride.  Is pride at the base of the argument.  I think I could argue that it is (tongue in cheek).   Pride and love, real love, do not go together.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed, and offering argument instead of answers says, “I don’t have to” or “I know better” or, well, you get the point.

 

Now for the Vertical

Maybe you never argue instead of answering others.   But how about God?   Do you question Him when He asks you to do something?  Do you have some reason why the commands (already given in the Bible) are for someone else and not you?  After all, you’re not very good at that, or you don’t have time for that, or ….    I don’t think we mean to argue with God, but too often, we do.  We can show Him love by obeying Him without arguing.

 

Sometimes, whether vertical or horizontal, it takes a lot of hard knocks time and maturity to learn how to answer without arguing.

 

What do you think?   Do you know someone like this, and if so, how do you deal with it?  Have you changed this about yourself?  Any tips for doing so?  My posts are often quests, because I don’t know it all.  I’m always interested in how others deal with various aspects of communication, so I hope you’ll share if you have something to say. 🙂

 

 

Generosity continued

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Kindness and generosity of others that need th...

Kindness and generosity of others that need the help The thanks of the people that were helped. Henrietta, TOPS School, age 8, Seattle, University of Washington (Photo credit: Wonderlane)

Quotes on generosity:

It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without  giving. -Braunstein

 

Give what you have.  To someone it may be better  than you dare to think. –Longfellow

 

You do not have to be rich to be generous.  If he has the spirit of true  generosity, a pauper can give like a prince. – Wells

 

Christian giving is God’s divine plan to make us like  Himself; it reveals our religion and bares our souls; it is prophetic and has to  do with the inner sensitiveness and gives a keener vision to His work and plans. – Denison

God has given us two hands-one to receive with and the other to give with.   We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing. – Graham

Scripture on generosity:

Ever Present

Ever Present (Photo credit: JD Hancock)

♥  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.    Luke 12:34      Is your treasure in things or in people?

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.   Proverbs 11:25   Some might say “what goes around comes around” or invoke a karma like theme here.

♥ . . . It is more blessed to give than to receive.   Acts 20:35c

♥ The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

2 Corinthians 9:6

♥ And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having  enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.    2 Corinthians 9:8

♥ Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

There are many more 🙂

Generosity

this is NOT Generosity (Photo credit: jwotis)

I have never been able to out give God – how about you?  

Ten Ways to Love: Generosity

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3rd on our list of ways to love (maybe I should have started at 10 and gone to 1?) is:

3.  Give without sparing.    Proverbs 21:26    26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

 

Our previous items have had a rather negative vibe, but, at least for me, this one is positive.  We could look at the greedy person who grabs for self every minute of every day “coveteth greedily all day long,”  but lets look at the righteous/generous person instead.  My grandmother was one such person.  If you needed it (or often just expressed that you liked it) it was yours.  If she heard of (or saw – very aware) a need, she would give what she had, even if she needed it as well.  This was, at times, a frustration for my Grandpa, but he never could stop her.  She loved her Lord, and she was willing to give far beyond the hurting point.  My mother was the same way.  I have indeed a strong legacy of ministry/giving.

 

No Greater Love

No Greater Love (Photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto)

One does not have to be a Christian to give without sparing, but the person who is a Christian shows God’s work in his/her life and God’s love and generosity by becoming more like this.  In a society where people have stopped really communicating with others in person (like over-the-fence, helping-each-other neighboring) to find someone who gives without sparing is a rarity.  This person doesn’t withhold with the idea that he or she might need it later.  They understand that God gives and God will give more if needed.  God takes care of us when we trust in Him.

 

My dad is/was a preacher/pastor.   My parents truly were ministers.  They spent much of their own time, effort, and money to help others in need, even though they were often in need themselves.  God always provided.

 

I can tell you from personal experience as a giver and as a receiver, that giving without sparing makes people feel loved.  Just like Jesus gave it all, WAY above and beyond what we deserved, to show His love to us, we can give love away by giving without sparing.   When people see that you withhold nothing, they know they are loved.

 

For our challenge today:  Do you have an example to share of a time when you gave without sparing or another gave without sparing to you?  How did it make you feel?  How did the other person respond (even if they didn’t know who the giver was)?   I promise you, give without sparing, and you will never regret it.   Have you ever been down and out and someone’s act of giving made all the difference?  {Also — I’d like permission to use your story in a future post, so please let me know – you can do it here or in a blog post linked here. :)}

 

Me? A Minister?

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In my class today, we discussed the term:  MINISTRY

When asked what this means, the general answers had to do with something a preacher does.  They didn’t understand that, a person in Christ, IS a minister, at least in the sense that we are all called to minister to others.  We are responsible to minister to those around us who have needs.  Whether the need is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, God calls each of us to be AWARE of needs around us.  Once we are aware of a need, He wants us to figure out how to meet that need.

The main points from the lesson:  1.  Ministry is NEEDED.  2.  Ministry is SELFLESS. and  3.  Ministry is VERTICAL (*attribution for these three points is below)

FMSC Distribution Partner - World Harvest Chri...

FMSC Distribution Partner – World Harvest Christian Ministries – (Photo credit: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC))

1.  Ministry is NEEDED.

Not many would argue with the first point.  People all around us are in need.  In fact, we are in need too.  God calls us to meet certain needs for certain people.  If He brings them to your awareness, you are probably the one He wants to work through.  One problem with this, however, is that we often have our head in our own business (or in our computer, cell phone, gaming system, …) and don’t see the needs that pass us by each day.   So our first step in seeing that Ministry is needed is to open our eyes and look outside ourselves.

2.  Ministry is SELFLESS.

Jesus on the wall of the senior Home

Jesus(Photo credit: freestone)

Our passage was Matthew 25:34-40 [see below] where Jesus rewards those who have ministered to Him.  Their response was, “Huh?  What?  When did we ever do anything for you?”  One reason for their surprise might have to do with point 2.  They just ministered as a natural thing.  They didn’t do it for reward.  They did it out of selflessness, and so didn’t see that they had done anything special like:  Minister to Jesus!I mean, if we knew we were ministering to Jesus, I’m guessing many more would step up to the plate.  Unfortunately for us, we minister to Jesus by ministering to ‘the least of these’.  That is that homeless man, the unwashed, the unlovely, etc.  They don’t look like Jesus.  In fact, they might look like someone we would want to stay far away from.  That’s part of the selflessness in ministering.  It’s putting your arm around someone who isn’t lovely or doesn’t smell so good.  It’s about being kind to someone who will then become your shadow because you were kind to them.  It’s about going beyond your own “ickies” and doing it anyway, without a second thought for your own comfort, but an over-arching concern for another human being.

 

Drawing (and idea) by Angela Young
[feel free to use with or without attribution]

3.  Ministry is VERTICAL

In the last point, ministry is about Jesus.  It’s about our relationship with God.  When we do unto the least, we do unto Jesus.  When we grow in our vertical relationship, we become more aware of the horizontal needs around us.  God often sends me people who are Christians but have fallen away from the church and God or people who are grieving.  This is one of my personal ministries because God has gifted me in this area.  While I have certainly ministered in other ways, and seen this type of ministry all my life through my parents, God tends to send me to the people He knows I will be the best help too.  I am also much more likely to have an awareness of those particular needs.

Do you have a personal ministry?  Where do your ministry gifts lie?   Are you willing to minister wherever God calls you?  Are your senses open to the needs of those around you?  Have you ever passed a ministry by because you were too busy or didn’t want to deal with the person?  I have to say yes to every one of these questions, and I must confess to developing a certain apathy at times.   I have also fallen into the “yeah, but I’m tired, I can’t do that, you don’t really need me, ….” syndrome as well.  I suspect I’m not alone.  Today, I confess any apathy in my heart and repent.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

*3 points of lesson and term AWARE taken from:   Life FOCUS Leader Guide (ISSN:  1945 – 0907; Item 005075013). Summer 2012.  June 17, Midweek plan.  Written by Joel Carter and Anna McKenzie.

Casting Crowns:  Does Anybody Hear Her?     http://youtu.be/viZ6H_2E7iU

Anyone want to give me a lesson in how to get these to embed?  Embed code doesn’t seem to work.  I hope you’ll click the link and listen to it though. 🙂

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