Tag Archives: church

Filed under miscellaneous

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This statement is meant to wrap into a neat little package the inevitable undesirable circumstances life brings and tie it up with a ribbon. To be identified, solved and put away. The ability to process information and file it away where it belongs is how we handle all things negative and positive: both to remember and to forget. What happens, though, when you are faced with information that just will not compute? Where do you file things that are so unimaginable that you will never forget and will never understand, or worse, are afraid to understand fearing it will leave a permanent stain?

How do you recover from pain that follows you the rest of you life? Dreams unrealized, expectations obliterated, illusions shattered by those who were supposed to shelter you, what do you do with these?

Sometimes it feels as if we must break them up into smaller pieces and file them in the places those pieces alone fit. However, doing that leaves fragments behind that don’t belong anywhere and are missing information that helped them remain tangible. Essentially leaving us right back where we started except now the information is scattered. The only hope we have of ever moving forward is for them to be kept together. A whole, a file containing all of the information. This means that when we remember, we remember it all. When we forget, we forget it all. It also means that we will never remember or forget for long.

When no amount of organizing or processing is effective we must add the file as a whole to “Miscellaneous”. We must allow our selves to explore the pain, to grieve, to savor the good refusing to believe that it wasn’t real. We must also allow ourselves to be broken so that we can begin to pick up the pieces. I am convinced, anything less will hold us back from healthy emotional connections and the continued genuine presentation of our selves. Bitterness and resolve are opposite sides of a coin. We must decide which side we are on. Pushing everything aside or breaking it apart will lead to bitterness and leave us with leftover pieces that will never be filed away. Wholeness comes with the strength gained from walking through the pain of being shattered and put back together better than we were before. A mirror once broken produces the best rainbows!

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You don’t dictate my checklist

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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lordlooks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

We tend to look up to people or be impressed or intimidated by them. It is this very quality that tricks us into putting people on a pedestal and then getting hurt when they fall off, usually on top of us. It’s painful when someone you believe in let’s you down. Finding out someone you trusted isn’t who you thought they were is crushing. 
Meanwhile we strive to be all those things that will make others respect and love us. We make checklists that we follow religiously based on our personalities and the principles in the Bible that we have taken ownership of. We set others up to fall and we set up ourselves to be “found out” when we too fall from the pedestals others have created for us.  
This circle is a dangerous one. It is fueled by our need to identify others and with others. When we hear of a sister or brother in Christ who has “fallen” all too often our first response is “well I thought they were a Christian.” Or we feel that the church has failed to protect us because we have been tricked into believing that someone who is “in church” wouldn’t do that.  

I have heard this verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 used so many times for the “Man looks on outward appearance, God looks on the heart” part. It has been used to separate ourselves from the “fallen ones”.  It has been used as a warning to those who have screwed up. We often forget the first part of the verse. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature…” 
Why are we teaching that we are all supposed to straighten up and fly right? Why are we applauding the appearance of men? Why are we teaching checklists that are not biblical? God doesn’t care if we are in church every time the doors are open, God doesn’t care if we have spent two hours every morning reading the Bible and praying, God doesn’t care if we have a six pack in our fridge. God doesn’t care if our music is Christian or non Christian. God doesn’t care if you are all packaged up nice with a smile on your face. He doesn’t care what you wear to church any differently than he does in every day life. Looking good to others does not make us somehow more approved by God. There are no “good christians” and bad “christians” there are only people. People who were bought with a price that are supremely loved and forgiven whose insides are torn and their minds struggling to live up to impossible or worse, possible standards, put on them by other people who are just as loved, forgiven, and torn.  
God sent his son to die to bring us freedom and life. God sent his spirit to live in us and help us live in a very fallen world. The evidence that he lives within us is not on our checklists and cannot be duplicated without him. It will play out in a hugely diverse body of Christ using their gifts and talents, insecurities, failures, and personal checklists shown to them by the spirit of God in their OWN life, to exhibit the glory of God in impossible unity, love, faith, hope, charity, long suffering, gentleness, patience, joy, goodness, meekness and temperance.  

When we do that, what we do changes drastically. We listen to each other and know that all of us mess up. That each one of us struggle with the things that do not please God. The only one on a pedestal is Christ, and we can be there for one another in good times and bad. When we do that, some of us will have the same tastes in music others won’t. Some of us will be in church every time the doors are open and some of us won’t. We will have different contents in our refrigerators and different tastes in clothes. Our personal checklists will bring glory to God. We will fight less and fall less and when one is struggling we will bond together in understanding and love. We will have unity when all circumstances tell us we need to fight each other. We will exhibit the real biblical checklist of the fruit of the holy spirt. We will cling to him and each other. This is what God wants.  

The people of Israel made the same mistake when choosing their first king. They looked at how impressive Saul was. They praised him for the things he exhibited that looked right. A long hard and painful road followed. King David did not look the part but his desire to do what was right brought peace to the land. When he fell he got back up. God lifted him back up. The man who slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband was called a man after God’s own heart. His status with God did not change when he fell. When God looks at us he sees the blood of his son. We are justified by his grace. We can never do anything that makes him look at us in anger again. We don’t have to beg our way into his good graces EVER again. Our sin grieves us because God loves us enough to reveal it to us and help us get rid of it, not because it means that God is mad at us. We can’t clean up our hearts he sees and loves us no matter how we feel. We can’t not walk with him because he won’t leave us.  
Let’s stop defining christians by our own checklists and realize that God has that in his hands.  Lets stop making others live by our own checklists. Let’s love people and be there for them. Let’s stop applauding what looks good. Let’s allow people to be real with us and let’s be real with others. We don’t have to control each other. Our lives should not be run by guilt and obligation. We do not serve them. We serve a God who holds us in his hands and can use all our flaws and strengths to lift others up and make beauty from ashes. 

I told you so

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Vindication: we all want it.  It says that we were right all along and it feeds our pride.  It is a huge temptation to revel in it. It is a huge temptation to use it against others. It is a huge temptation to take credit for it.

There are some serious issues facing my family right now. Ha!! That is an understatement! Also, there are huge issues facing all the families I know right now! Oppression is everywhere. Spiritual oppression blankets everyone and everything why? 

Because: “Ephesians 6:12 we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers against the rulers of darkness of this world against spiritual wickedness in high places.”   

We live in a fallen world . 

Sometimes loyalty doesn’t mean following those who we are loyal to.  Sometimes it means standing firm. Like “Ephesians 6:13 wherefore take on the WHOLE armour of God, that you may able to stand in evil day and having done all, to stand.

How do these concepts relate to each other? Loyalty and vindication? I will show you what God is showing me.  

2 Corinthians 10:5 says “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

I never realized it before, but this verse deals with imaginations and feelings vs facts.  I always just paid attention to the end (taking our thoughts into captivity.)  The devil is the accuser of the brethren. One of his most effective tactics is to put thoughts in our head that we believe as fact with out evidence to support it.  These are the things that we hold on to because they seemingly cannot be proven yet we feel like we need to take a position on them. More often than not,the position we take is used to justify our choices–and to us they become truth.  These are the things we want to hold on to because the consequences of the decisions we make (based on them)depend on it.  Then the desire and intense need for vindication comes.  We become loyal to ourselves,and that loyalty is disguised as loyalty to others or used to justifiy our reasons for choosing sides against them.

We must cast down such imaginations. They hinder the knowledge of God.  The facts upon which our faith is built. The building blocks that hold up the foundations of our families, friendships, and churches.  We must seek God and refuse to act on anything but the facts, and knowledge of Him that only He can give.  It is through this that we can clearly align our loyalty. Loyalty that isn’t shaken by sin.

It makes me think of David.  He was chased down by Saul his own father in law. Betrayed by his family.  Hunted, persecuted, hurt.  All because of a hatred fueled by evil spirits and the imaginations of Saul.  Yet when David had the chance to kill him–more than once–he didn’t.  David knew the truth. He didn’t have to stand and fight Saul.  He didn’t have to worry about what Saul thought said or did about him.  He stood firm with out fighting, he ran when he had to.  And when Saul was dead, David mourned.  He did not seek vindication and boy he could have! He mourned the loss of human life. A life that had caused him pain, the loss that sin and disobedience brought.  The vindication was the Lord’s. David could have said “See I told you I was right! I am king!” He could have capitalized on Sauls wickedness and used it to decide to kill him when he had the chance. By the way: in those moments it looked very much like God was leading him to kill Saul, but he didn’t.  He had a clear view of God and he did not turn away from what was right!! He was loyal to Saul, and yet he wasn’t following him. He also kept a close relationship with Jonathon even though he was Saul’s son.  Do you think Satan didn’t try to poison that relationship? I can just hear it now. “Hey David, I bet Jonathan isn’t really your friend. He just wants to get close to you so he can help his father” Vengeance belongs to God and so does vindication!! Loyalty is based on truth.  Truth is only revealed to us by God, through his word and through first hand knowledge based on comminication in love and truth.  

For a second, picture your self in the full amour of God ready to stand or fight on command. God, our loving father,knower of all things, past and present,beside you. Are you really going to fear what men can do to you or say to or about you? NOPE. Do you need to lie or believe lies in that situation? NOPE.  Reminds me of a line in my favorite movie: “We are men of action, lies do not become us!”Listen for truth!!! Our response to a vindication in our life reveals our loyalty.  What we do with it matters. Sometimes it comes after we have, in love,given another brother or sister in Christ an unheeded warning about danger or sin. And the vindication is the result of their sins finding them out.  Sometimes it is just finding out your were right. Sometimes it is about the whole world finding out that what was said about us wasn’t true after all. Sometimes it is after a long battle, our children come to us and say “I wish I would have listened to you, Mom.”And we have to help them With the hurt of the seeds they sowed. 

What do you do with that?You are David,standing over Sauls sleeping body fully able to walk away.  You are David being crowned King and Saul is dead. You can trust when you see the God who sees you like Hagar did in The wilderness enabling her to go back to the horrid situation of Abraham and Sarah’s house.  You can choose to stand in truth without fear and without action.  You can act, knowing you are doing what is right with out fear of the backlash that IS coming!! You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you!  You can cast down imaginations, and choose to think on things that are pure, holy, lovely and of good report!!! You can!! I can! We can be loyal even if it means we don’t follow.  We can give our vindications to God not take credit for or use them against others and ultimately ourselves.  We can have grace under fire knowing that the truth will be revealed and God is King. We can wear our armour with confidence and stand unshaken.  

If this does not apply to you today, save it, it will some day.  Right now it definitely applies to me as I navigate a world of hurt surrounding me and my own casting down of imaginations, and asking God to give me the wisdom to deal with what IS–instead of what I want it to be.  What IS–instead of what I fear it is. And remember, if you pull this out later on to use it,remember it was me.  I TOLD YOU SO!! Hehe j/k