Challenge

Tonight, I challenged the Jr. High kids.  I also challenged my daughters.  The challenge to my girls was a more difficult challenge then to the Jr. High kids at AWANA.

For the TREK (Jr. High) kids, I challenged them over the next two weeks to take one person that they don’t get along with, dislike, etc., to smile and say hello to them.  They don’t have to engage in a conversation, just say hello with a smile.  And yes, they were to mean it.

For my girls?  When someone is mean to them, to say thank you and walk away.  If it is their sister that is getting to them, say thank you and give them a huge hug saying that they loved the person.

Why did I offer up this challenge?  Because the Bible tells us to love all.  We are to have brotherly love for all, no matter what our differences.  This is not an easy task.  Specially when you feel that you’ve been wronged.  It is difficult when another person has done wrong and it impacts you.  It is even more difficult when that person doesn’t realize they have done wrong.  So, what do you do?  How could I possibly propose that you ‘love’ that person that was so horrible to you?  Because that is what Jesus instructed us to do.  To paraphrase, Jesus stated that if you hate a person, you have already committed murder in your heart.  So, we need to get past that hatred and love.  This is not an easy task.  I know first hand.  I went for years hating a particular person for what they did to me.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I was wasting my energy and putting myself in a bad position with that hate.  It was so much easier to be complacent about the situation.  I no longer hate the person.  I also don’t have a need to shower this person with love.  And honestly, should I come across this person, I would fear my safety.  But I would do my best to be civil with this person.  So, yes, I know it’s a difficult thing, and one that I struggle with as well.  But I will continue to do my best.

 

Will you?

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Sadness

Today the Supreme Court started hearing arguments for and against same-sex marriage.  I will not express my views, as that is irrelevant to my post.  What is relevant is what I saw being posted on Facebook all day.  Hatred on both sides of the issue.  Yes, BOTH sides.  Though, I will say that I saw less hateful posts from those against same-sex marriage than I did from those that are for it.  This saddens me.

I saw some people posting ‘verses’ of the Bible trying to prove how racist and full of hate the Bible is, thereby implying that anyone that follows must be full of hate.  Here’s the problem with that; they are not reading the entire passage, and therefore taking it completely out of context.  That is one of my pet peeves.  If you are going to criticize a book and make accusations about it, at least read the whole thing and study it.  That way you can at least know what you are talking about.  Otherwise, you are going to sound like someone full of hate and animosity because you just don’t know.

There are very few beliefs that I will counter, because I don’t know enough about them.  Besides, it is not up to me to judge those beliefs or that person.  I’m only to present the truth, according to the Bible, to strive to live as Jesus lived, and to love all.  These are not easy things to do.  I struggle with one or more of these items constantly.  I am tested consistently and there are times that I fail.  But I do try to learn from it and move on.

Those that hate, or try to incite me to anger and hate them, honestly, I feel sorry for them.  I occasionally pray for them.  I probably should pray for them daily, however, I tend to forget because in my prayer, I spend so much time thanking God for all that he provides for me.  I’ve been so blessed, and God continues to bless me, that I cannot thank him enough.  God has given me a wonderful job, a house, a wonderful family, a fantastic church family, wonderful friends, and has provided everything that I needed.  Why wouldn’t I be thankful for that?

Even hubby’s migraine for the past 19 months is a blessing.  I have no idea how, yet, but it will reveal itself at some point.  When God has deemed it time for the migraine to go away, it will.  I have complete faith in that.  And yes, I say that knowing that we are trying to get him approved for a surgery that is supposed to help him.  It is still in God’s hands.

So, sadness is my word for the day.  I am saddened by the hatred I see around me and many that don’t think it is hatred, they think they are ‘educating’ those around them.  Instead, they are trying to bully those with a different point of view.  I feel for them, and I shall pray for them.

Love and Joy

People believe that perfecting love and joy is easy.  After all, you love someone, right?  And you have things or people in your life that bring you joy, right?  Don’t forget, there is also the matter of accepting the love and joy from elsewhere.

John 15:9-17:

   9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

These are Jesus’ words.  He is saying that as the Father, God, has loved him, he has loved others.  I believe specifically here he is talking about the disciples.   Because of this, we are to continue in His love.

   10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

If we keep His commandments, we’ll abide in His love.  Jesus did this himself, so he’s not asking us to do anything that he hasn’t already done.

   11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Jesus was full of joy.  All the works he did were in joy and love for others, not for recognition.  So, he tells us these things that HIS joy will be with us and that we will be filled with joy ourselves.

   12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

So, what is His first commandment?  To love one another, as He has loved us.  Remember that Jesus didn’t hang on the cross for just the believers, he hung on the cross for EVERYONE.  Yes, even the criminals and not so nice people (which is generally speaking the rest of us.)

   13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

This verse happens to be my oldest daughter’s favorite verse.  And think about it, would you lay down your life for your friends?  How much love does that take?  Quite a bit.  And Jesus laid down his life for the entire world, willingly.  What a remarkable statement about his character.

   14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

We are his friends, IF we do what he has commanded.  By following his commands, we are who he died for.

   15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

I found this verse interesting.  We are to have a servants heart. Yet, Jesus won’t call us servants, but friends.  Why?  Because a servant doesn’t know what their master (boss) does, but Jesus has made it known the what God has instructed.

   16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

We don’t choose Him, he chooses us.  He’s ordained us to go out and bear fruit, bring people to Christ.  I have one caveat to that.  I refuse to force someone to Christ.  I make it known my beliefs.  I don’t hide them.  I present the truth, and when someone is moved by the spirit, they will come to Christ.  But I will not lecture someone about it and push them when they are not ready.  A person will let you know when they are ready.  But it is not up to me to convert someone, that’s God’s job.  The end of the verse reminds us that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, we will be given.  Bear in mind that if what we ask is against God’s plan, it just won’t happen. 😀

   17These things I command you, that ye love one another.

And the most important thing to remember of it all?  Not just that this is what he has commanded of us, but that WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  That doesn’t mean just a few people, that means everyone.  That, is the part that is not so easy.  I know I struggle with it on a regular basis, though it is easier and easier to do as I let the spirit work within me.

I challenge you, to look at things a little differently.  You don’t have to agree with the person’s views, politics, or way of life.  You can still love them.  Trust me, it is possible.  Oh, and this would be what most people would refer to as tolerance.

Song

Yesterday, the girls had chapel at school and the topic was song.  Today, by coincidence, my daily reading involved a Psalm.  Psalm, as many know, means Song.  Many of the Psalms were written by David.  Today’s reading specifically was Psalm 52.  I found it to be a rather interesting Psalm.

Psalm 52

Psalm 52

For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time Doeg the Edomite said to Saul, “David has gone to see Ahimelech.”

1 Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior?
Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever?

Isn’t that a fantastic question?  Why would you boast about your crimes?  Well, it’s pretty much answered in the next question.  They, or you, don’t realize that God’s justice continues forever.  Those that boast about their crime either don’t believe in God, or they have created a God in their mind that they think is true.

2 All day long you plot destruction.
Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor;
you’re an expert at telling lies.

The psalmist goes on to state the obvious to Christians, though not so much with non-Christians.  Those that boast of their crimes are also plot destruction.  Who’s?  Depends on the crime, but honestly, in the end, their own destruction.  The tongue cuts like a razor and they are an expert at telling lies.  Who strives for that kind of expertise?  It saddens me.

3 You love evil more than good
and lies more than truth.
Interlude

This person loves evil more than good, and lies more than tells the truth.  Again, this saddens me.

4 You love to destroy others with your words,
you liar!

This person loves to destroy others with what they say.  They lie and say horrible things and destroy other people.  Saddening.

5 But God will strike you down once and for all.
He will pull you from your home
and uproot you from the land of the living.
Interlude

What these people forget, or choose to not realize is that God will strike them down, once and for all.  He will take everything away from these people.

6 The righteous will see it and be amazed.
They will laugh and say,

Those that are right with God will see this and be amazed.  According to the psalmist, they will laugh and say….  I disagree.  I don’t think I’ll laugh.  I think I’ll cry.  I’ll be saddened by this as it is never a good thing to see people make poor decisions.

7 “Look what happens to mighty warriors
who do not trust in God.
They trust their wealth instead
and grow more and more bold in their wickedness.”

The psalmist just reiterating that those who do not trust in God, but trust in themselves, and will grow more and more bold in their wickedness or evil.

8 But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.
I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.

Here, the psalmist is backing down to a more peaceful thought, and remembering that he will thrive in the house of God, and that he will always trust in God’s unfailing love.

9 I will praise you forever, O God,
for what you have done.
I will trust in your good name
in the presence of your faithful people.

He remembers that he will praise God forever, for what he’s done, what he’s always done, what he will always do.  That he will trust in God’s name.  Specifically, he states here in the presence of His faithful people.  However, God calls on us to trust in His name at all times, no matter who is around.

We need to remember that he is forever faithful and his love is unfailing.  What a wonderful thing to know that we are loved always, under all circumstances.  So why wouldn’t we want to return that great love?

God Bless.

Enduring forever

Yesterday, I discussed gratefulness, gratitude, and being thankful.  I almost forgot about my assignment for my kids to write down what they are thankful for… ok, I did forget.  Thankfully, in their attempt to NOT go to sleep, they reminded me.  New habits, they can be quite difficult to start up sometimes.

In continuing with the thoughts of being thankful, we are told to thank the Lord, for he is good and his love endures forever.  Don’t believe me?  See the next verse:

Psalms 107

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

There’s actually a worship song wit this in it. It’s call “Forever.” I enjoy Michael W. Smith’s rendition of it, right now.  Anyway, it’s pretty clear what it says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Do you know what that means?

The definition of Endure, in this case, is as follows:

4. to continue to exist; last: These words will endure as long aspeople live who love freedom.

Therefore, we should thank our Lord, for his is good, and his love lasts forever.  That’s some kind of love considering we keep messing things up.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

I’m going to use the ‘Theology’ definition for redeemed:

9. Theology . to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.

This tells us to let the ones that are delivered from sin, by the Lord, tell their story, these are the ones he had redeemed from the hand of the enemy.  These are the ones he has delivered from evil.

3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.

These are the ones he gathered from all over.  Not just one region.  Now, while this was written during Old Testament times, there were periods that the Israelite people were separated and spread out.  In fact, it was often that they were. Therefore, not just one region, but all over.  Important to remember that for the purpose of other verses and beliefs.

Good night my brothers and sisters in Christ.  God bless.

Love and Faithfulness

I’ve thought a lot lately about faith.  Shocking, I know.  There is a lot about faith, that really needs to be known.  Some think it’s stupid.  Some think it’s obvious. And others are not so sure.  Let’s start with the basics:

faith

[feyth]

noun

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

These are just the first 5 from dictionary.com.  I didn’t feel a need to go further at this point in time.  Some state that faith is belief in things not seen.  Well, my faith is based on trust.  I’ve experienced some things in my life that really have reaffirmed my faith.  These things just allow me to have more and more confidence in God.

David also had this Faith, and through that, wrote most of the Psalms.  Like many in today’s Christianity, David was confused and concerned, and saddened, but the world around him.

Psalm 36

1 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.

David is talking about God talking to him through his heart.  Nowadays, after the sacrifice of Jesus, this would be the Holy Spirit..  He has a message from God, in his heart, regarding the sinfulness of the wicked.  One of the reasons is they have no fear of God.  Remember, fear is not scared, but respect.

2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.

They flatter themselves, compliment themselves excessively.  So much so that they are unable to detect their sin, and therefore can’t hate their sin.  How can you hate something you don’t see as an issue?

3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.

What they say is wicked and deceitful, and they do not act wisely, or do good.  They may think that they do, but all they do in the end is hurt.

4 Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.

Even as they go to sleep, they plot, or plan, to do evil.  They commit themselves further to a sinful course and will not reject what is wrong.  For, they see nothing wrong with it.

5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.

On the contrary, the Lord’s love reaches to the heavens and his faithfulness as far.

6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

His righteousness is has high as the mountains; his justice as deep as the sea.  He preserves all.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

His unfailing love is priceless.  Nothing compares to it.  People take refuge in his shadow.

8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.

They feast, relish, on His abundance; he gives us drink from His river of delights.

9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

With Him is the fountain of life.  Through Him and His light, we see light.  Light being good.

10 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.

David is asking for God to continue His love to those that know him, and His righteousness to the upright, correct, in heart.

11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.

He is asking that the prideful will not come against him, not the wicked to drive him away.  He’s asking for protection and courage with that.

12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!

David is expressing here that he knows how the people that do evil fall, they are thrown down, and cannot get up.  They fail, completely.

 

Are you failing?

Love and being different

Tonight, at AWANA, we talked a bit about God’s love for us.  We concentrated on when we feel down, depressed, rejected.  The kids I work with are 7th through 9th, sometimes I even get a 10th grader.  That is a really hard time for kids.  This is probably one of the hardest times of their lives.  So much going on, and so much to try to live up to.  So, when someone isn’t nice to you and doesn’t like you, what do you do?  I reminded the kids that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we cannot let their opinion get to us.  But we have to do, is remember that no matter what we look like, no matter who we are, God loves us the way we are and he most importantly, he made us this way.  He wants us to grow in him. That is what makes us beautiful, or handsome.  Not trying to be popular, or in the ‘in’ crowd, in the end, that actually makes you look silly.  And if you don’t grow out of it?  Well, it’s even worse.  Being the ‘cool’ kid really isn’t what it is cracked up to be, because you spend you time trying to show how ‘cool’ you are, and make sure everyone thinks the same thing.  Really?  Why not spend that energy on something more important, like, helping others? Creating something?  Showing your kids that appreciating those that are different is far better than trying to show that they aren’t as good as you.

Just a thought.