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Archive for September, 2012

Hate or Love – Choose

Today’s blog is stepping out of the norm for me.  It’s  a challenge rather then encouragement.  But because it has been so heavy on my heart, I wanted to share it with you.

Anger is a powerful emotion. It causes us to move toward making good changes or toward bitterness. But for me recently, my anger led to heartbreak and compassion for my community and for the world.

Lately on the news there has been much anger expressed. I was angry when I first read about the murders of our Ambassador to Libya and three others. But then a feeling of sadness enveloped me.

Why would a god ask for hatred and violence of anyone who was offended by what another person said about their beliefs? I have heard people say Christians would never do that when some one wouldn’t agree with our principles. Really?

As there are extremists in the Muslim world, there are extremists in Christianity. Take a look at the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades. Some will say “Yeah that was hundreds of years ago, not now.” I ask again, really?

I’m thinking of the extremists that hold hateful and condemning signs at gay pride parades and abortion clinics, or even burning religious books and making films that were meant to offend, all in the name of freedom of speech and God. It has even entered into the political arena. I can’t tell you how tired I am of politics, mud slinging and the angry Facebook pages from both sides. We should be praying for our leader’s hearts to change toward, God and vote our beliefs.

I read in Scripture of a God who came to earth to walk among men to show the love He had to offer. He chose to mingle with the unlovables, the social outcasts of His day. He didn’t agree with the lifestyle or the religious fanaticism but He loved them anyway. Because He loved them where they were at, many were drawn to Him.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for what we believe. But look at the response to Chick-fil-a and their president who endorsed traditional marriage. Who made the bigger statement, the critics of the president or those who took a stand with him? There was no anger voiced by those who went out to support. Even the responding protest was almost non-existent. I turned on the news to see the response. The reporter was the only one there.

Yes, we need to speak the truth of God’s Word, but with love. One daughter has been asked about her God at school. Someone said they didn’t believe in her God because He hates gays.

“That’s not true,” my daughter said, “He loves them but does not like the choices they make.”

It’s called loving the sinner and hating the sin.

The day after I read the article on the Middle East, I read on Facebook “Pray for the victims’ families.” I think that is a given. How about praying for the enemies?

God is the perfect judge. One day everyone will be called before Him. It won’t be about what we have done in His name but what we have done with His Son Jesus that will make or break us. He will have His day to judge the world. For today though, as the church, and as Christians our job is to show His love to the world around us not be condemning but to speak the truth with love, not hate.

Which do you choose? Hate and anger? Or love and compassion? Are there people in you life that just know how to push the buttons and give you reason to be sarcastic with them? Are your words full of anger or love?

Ask God today to change your heart not just towards the big issues but the everyday stuff as well. Let’s be the vessel He uses to bring others to Him through love.

 

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  IF I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserveres.”

I Corinthians 13:1-9 NIV 1984

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The Phantom of the Church

One of my favorite musicals is the Phantom of the Opera. A man wears a mask because of his disfigured face, and falls in love with a young singer that he tutors. His thinking is that since he “gave her” the voice to sing, she would love him all the more. Instead he is a man who will never experience love because he tries to intimidate someone into loving him instead of being honest about who he really is.

It made me think about us as Christians. Many times we wear masks so others will not see the real us. We wear them to cover pain, insecurities and flaws. We fear that if others see who we really are we won’t be accepted.

God created us for a relationship with Himself. But He also knew we would need others. I wonder if the reason people don’t ask for help for prayer is because others will think of them as Christians without faith, or it is a sign of weakness.

I have learned that is exactly what the body of Christ is for. Verses like, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them.” Or “Bear one another’s burdens” come to mind.

At one time my family was going through a dark time. My husband’s mother was dying of cancer and I became a temporary single mother of three children ages 9, 8, and 3. He would leave the house at six in the morning for work and not get home until 10 at night from the hospital. I was so tired I couldn’t even work the microwave. One Sunday in our Sunday school I broke down crying and asked for prayer that God would give me strength to make it through the day. What I received was four nights of dinners. Those dinners gave relief from the stress and renewed energy for the days ahead. I had to remove the mask of the “good Christian” who could handle anything, and show my true struggles, which in turn released the burden emotionally as well as physically.

The church was meant to come together not only to worship God, but also to help each other. Of course there was a risk of being vulnerable. There always is. However, if I wasn’t transparent two things would have happened. First, people would not know the real me and the ways they could intercede on my behalf. Secondly, not only would I have cheated myself out of seeing God’s provision, I would have hindered others from receiving the blessing that comes from serving.

The Phantom in the musical chose to hide and to become feared instead of loved. But I wonder, if he had taken the risk of removing his mask and being vulnerable, people would perhaps have become more compassionate and loving. He may have even been freed from his prison of loneliness.

As Christians God asks us to remove the masks and live in the freedom of allowing other to see who we are and to risk the exposure of our flaws so that He may work in our lives through those around us.

Who knows by taking that risk we may help others take their masks off also

Are you hiding behind the mask of fear, or pride so other’s can’t see the real you or  hurting you? Ask the Father to help you take the mask off so you can show the real person God created you to be, hurts and all.   Warning: also ask God which details to share (some information should remain private).

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2 (NIV1984)

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The Juror

It was my turn to be called up for jury duty. I thought it would be: go, be called, and serve.  That was until the introduction video was played. Over and over it was stressed, because of being an American it was a privilege to serve, and that we had been given great power, to hear the evidence, and rule a person to be innocent or guilty, even the power to condemn to death.  At that very moment I became panicked and humbled simultaniously. That is power. To be honest I didn’t want that power. “What if I make a mistake and convict an innocent person or set a guilty person free?”  I thought.

I had to pray over it. I didn’t want to do it but if it was God’s will, He needed to give me the ability to hear and understand the evidence presented and make a fair decision.

As I was typing this out it dawned on me, I do this everyday. Most of the time without all the evidence. In this “case” I’m not just the jury, but also the lawyer, and judge. The evidence presented – a person’s personality, appearance, choice of words and even actions.

In James chapter three he states:

“If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, ‘Love your neighbor,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism you are convicted by the law as law breakers.”

One day I was doing car line duty and a woman was dropping her child off in an non- designated area. When I told her she couldn’t, she proceeded to shove her son out the door, all the while telling me her excuses.

My first reaction was ‘Yeah right you just don’t want to go through the line.” Of course I didn’t say it to her. I Just mumbled and complained to myself.

The next day I saw her coming and I was ready with a come back. To my surprise she slowed, rolled down the window, and apologized saying she was on empty and had a bad morning. Over the next few weeks she waved at me as she went by.

Many times I judge without knowing the background. It makes me wonder if I would be less critical if I knew their story. God has called me to act toward others with love. What I need to tell myself is 1. There could be something deeper going on 2. how would God want me to handle this?

I don’t have the right to be the lawyer, juror or Judge. There is only one judge and He knows the heart of every person. My responsibility is to listen and depend on Him to move me in such a way that shows His love.  I felt such relief when I was passed over as a juror.  I pray that I will become more consistent in looking at others as God sees them.

Are you quick to judge or make assumptions?  Ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to change your heart.

“There is only one Lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12 (NIV 1984)

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