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The Spider Connection

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Did you know that spiders have a constant thread of webbing coming out of them no matter where they go?  I suppose this comes in handy if they fall.  Did you know their thread is one of the strongest elements, and scientists are looking to duplicate it?  It’s strong and always present.  Spiders also use their threads to weave beautiful designs.  Some of their webs are quite beautiful.  Imagine a walk in the morning and finding a beautiful web spread across the plants or grass, glistening with the dew as it awaits its next victim.  OK, for my analogy’s sake, let’s say it’s waiting for the next spider wannabe.

 

What analogy, you say?  This one:  Christians should always have a thread attaching them to the Father.  I like to think of the thread as prayer, but it could include other forms of worship and relationship building with our God.  It’s there to keep us from falling, among other things.

 

The thread between a follower and his or her God is a strong one.  In fact, it’s unbreakable.  Once attached to God, it’s a forever thing.

 

As we go about our lives, living for Him and touching others, our lives create a beautiful design.  The design draws others to want what we have.  Others want to know how we have peace in the midst of terrible circumstances.  They want to know how our life makes such a beautiful design while their’s appears a broken mess.

 

Are you like the spider?  Are you leaving a trail that speaks of Jesus wherever you go?  Do you hang on to Him at all times?  Is your life one of beauty to those who see it?  Are you leaving a worthy legacy?  Fortunately, because we have that thread of attachment, we can depend on God to take care of those things.  He creates the beauty.  Do you find Christian analogies in the creations around you?

Ten ways to love: Forgiving without punishment

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This post overlaps the last one a bit, but we will take it down a different path.  Number 9 on our list of ten ways to love  is:

Forgive without punishing.”

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.   Colossians 3:13

 

"Forgiveness 4" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness 4” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forgiveness is not for the one who hurt you; it is for you.

Forgiveness is not saying “it’s ok”; Forgiveness is saying I choose not to hold it against you.

Forgiveness clears out the icky stuff–the stuff that will lead to bitterness.

 

The real thing about this statement, however, is to forgive without punishment.   This kind of forgiveness is not forgiveness at all.

 

Forgiveness without punishing involves:

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

Not holding it against the person.

Not bringing it up every time you get angry (or at all).

Not using passive aggressive digs to make the person suffer for what they did.

Not saying, “I’ll forgive you, but. . . .”

Not holding on to it like a dog with a bone and using it to bash the other person.

 

When God forgives us of our sin, there is no longer any repercussion (eternal) for our sins.  Jesus paid the price and took the punishment.  Now, when God looks at the believer,  He sees His Son and His righteousness.  It is no longer laid to our account.  That’s the way forgiveness should be with us.

 

A few other remarks:

Forgiveness does not require the other person asking for forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not require staying with an abuser or trusting the untrustworthy.

 

Do you forgive without punishing?  Are you a grudge holder?   Have you felt the freedom of true forgiveness — for the self or for others?  Do you have anything to add?

 

Ten Ways to love: Complete trust

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Number 8 on our countdown is:   Trust without wavering.

{Love} 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”     Corinthians 13:7

 

THE HORIZONTAL:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have absolute, unwavering trust placed in us or placed in another?  Actually, we have that when we’re born.  We have no lack of trust.  We completely, totally, and abidingly trust our parents (and anyone else).  We don’t pop out wondering if our parents will take care of us.  We have to learn not to trust.  How sad is it that it doesn’t take long to learn?  Humans let us down, some on purpose and some just by being humans.  Add in the sin nature and the fact that our brains and perceptions have a few years to grow, and it’s inevitable that we learn to mistrust.

We get hurt; we expect others to hurt us too.  Sadly, we then contribute to mistrust in others.  Someone I know has been hurt by an ex-girlfriend (no, not my husband) and frequently brings it up in his new relationship.  He sabotages the current relationship because of the hurts of the past.  It turns into a vicious cycle.  I know I gave my husband a lot of grief in the early years because I had a trust problem.  My trust issues had nothing whatsoever to do with him, but he paid the price, as did I.

"Forgiveness 3" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness 3” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lack of trust does not show love at all, because real love trusts.  Real love doesn’t hold others responsible for the breach of trust given by others.  Real love FORGIVES.  Forgiveness is not for the person forgiven, it is for the forgiver.  In fact, the only way to keep from becoming a person who can’t trust is to forgive those who hurt us.  It frees us to trust again.  People usually don’t mean to breach your trust, just as you don’t mean to do it to others.  When someone repeatedly breaches your trust, forgiveness does not say “it’s ok.”  Forgiveness doesn’t mean staying with someone who abuses you or continuing to trust someone who can’t be trusted.  What forgiveness says is this:  “I do not have to let you tarnish every other relationship I have.  I can free myself to love and trust.  You will not change who I am!”

Do you allow your hurt to keep you from trusting?

 

THE VERTICAL:

And what about God?  I used the word abidingly above on purpose.  If you look up unwavering in a thesaurus, you will find the word abiding there.

John 15 talks about us abiding in Him.  He is the vine, and to abide in Him, we must remain connected to that vine.  We can’t connect and disconnect, trust and then not trust.  We must remain connected, sucking up the nutrients only the vine can give.  When we abide in Him, we grow.  When we don’t, we wither and die.

This post is well-timed.  I see so many who struggle with trust, and a couple in particular right now.  After all, we all have people in our lives that let us down.  Those who have endured abuse have even more reason not to trust.  God is not human.  How often do we project human failings on Him, though?

We project the sins of the dad on the Father.  We blame Him for evil we bring upon ourselves.  We pout and blame when we don’t get our way.  We allow our trust to waver.

We also look at our own untrustworthy nature.   BUT:  God is, was, and always will be faithfuleven when we are unfaithful.  II Timothy 2:13

"Forgiveness" by Carlos Latuff.

“Forgiveness” by Carlos Latuff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

says, “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Thank you God that you are faithful, even when I am unfaithful.  When I struggle with trust, You hang in there with me and teach me to trust again.  I want to faithfully abide in You, and yet I am human.  Father, I choose trust.  I choose to love like I’ve never been hurt.  I choose to cling to you as the Vine, the Nurturer, the very Life Blood.  Bless your holy Name!

Do you abide in Him?  Do you have trust issues that need resolved?  Can you love like you’ve never been hurt?  Do you have anything to add?

 

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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“Does He Ever Write Back?

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“Watching my little buddy today and he found my Prayer Journal, and as all three year olds do asked, “What is was?”  Told Him it is where I write letters to God.  Very seriously flipping through the pages he asked, “Does He ever write back?”

A friend of mine posted the above on facebook a few days ago.  Her “little buddy” is a 3 year old named Logan.  He is an adorable little cutie that thinks of my friend as a grandma.  Isn’t it funny what kids say?  Little Logan hit the nail on the head.

He sent us the first love letter 

Thinking about this, I have to say how blessed we are – we already have His letter!  He wrote it long before we were born and left it for us to read while He’s ‘away’.  Imagine treating a love letter from your significant other like you treat the Bible.  Some of you will be able to bow out here, but most of us struggle to keep in the Word, reading it, studying it, learning it, and especially applying it.  We often have the urge to do so, but we let life get in the way.  If we really valued this love letter, sealed in the blood of Jesus Christ, we would have a passion that cannot be denied to be in it with every second we could.  Instead, how many can raise their hand to say, “I often have to make myself read the Bible.”  (Or, my Bible is seldom cracked open, much less read.)                                                                                                       But God commendeth His love toward us….(Rom. 5:8)

Intentions    

We often have good intentions, especially after a particularly good sermon, after a revival, or after some other thing lights our fire for the Lord.  But it doesn’t take long for the flame to burn out.  We go back to not doing anything because we’re too ‘busy’, or we trudge along, dragging one foot after the other to do our ‘duty’.   We even want to do it sometimes, but habit takes over and relegates the love letter to the bottom of our ‘to do’ list.

The Helper – NOT!

One issue is lack of commitment.  Another is lack of discipline.  I’m sure there are many more, but there’s also the fact that the enemy, Satan, does NOT want you to read it.  He does not want you to stay close to the love of your life (yes, I mean God).  He is a deciever, but he’s a clever deceiver who makes the counterfit look really good.  One thing my dad always used to tell us when we couldn’t sleep:  “Pray, read the Bible, or witness to the Devil, you’ll be asleep before you know it.”  Sadly, that is true.

Passive Christianity  

Christianity is not passive.  It is a vital relationship with God, and it requires sacrifice and work to maintain.  Just like marriage relationships, one must work at it.  In a passive marriage, the couple will drift slowly apart and wake up one day wondering what happened to the marriage.  It’s the same with our relationship with God.  He gave us a passionate, detailed love letter for us to read while He’s “away”.   What would you think if you gave your sweetie a love letter and he/she just said, “Oh, that’s nice,” and tossed it in a drawer unread?  Passive Christianity is not Christianity at all.

Passionate Christianity

Instead of passive Christianity, it is imperitive that we move to passionate Christianity.  Treat the Scripture like the valuable love-letter it is.  Seek to get as close to God as you possibly can and then put things in place that will help you get there.   It will require discipline; it will require sacrifice; it will require an intentional life, given over to your Love.   Remember back to the first time you fell in love?  You wanted to be with the person all the time.  If you couldn’t be with them, you were together on the phone.  Love letters were cherished and read and reread and put in a special place.  The pulse skyrocketed when he/she came in sight.  You get the picture.  If this is not your relationship with God, it’s time to get that love letter out, caress it, read it, study it, reread it, memorize it, treat it like the priceless treasure it is.

Are you passionate about God and the things of God?

Are you passionate about your Scripture reading/study/etc., giving it top priority instead of letting it collect dust all week?

Do you want to please Him or do you just do the minimum requirements to call yourself a Christian? 

What are some steps you can take to go from passive Christian to passionate soul-mate of almighty God?

Was there a time when you had more passion for the things of God than you do now?  What happened?

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