Isolating is like…

Leadership of any kind bring heaps of joys
and loads of difficulties. Being a leader
in ministry is no different. Lots of leaders
find themselves in a lonely place, caused by
a variety of reasons, but alone in a crowd
none the less.

When a lady finds herself in that situation,
the temptation can be to further isolate her
heart from others. Not good.

“Isolating yourself and your feelings is like
applying the car brakes on the ice;
it stops you from forward progress and sends
you spinning in all the wrong direction.”

(from my journal a few weeks back)

Isolating ourselves is a slow form of Quitting!

Galations 6:2
“Share each other’s burdens,
and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

Why do you do it?

John 12 tells the story of Jesus having dinner with a group
of people. Guests included the famous sibling group of
Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead;
Martha who was serving dinner;
Mary, who broke an expensive bottle of perfume, on purpose,
and anointed Jesus feet. (You can read this story here.)

Each had their own role in this evening with Jesus and
the response of those around them varied.

Martha – She served the meal. People probably ate it,
enjoyed it and most likely never said a word of thanks
or appreciation.

Lazarus– He was a close friend of Jesus and involved in
the dinner conversation. This took place in his own town
and his sisters were there serving. He was living his
life as obvious & living proof of the power of Jesus.
(Since he’d been raised from the dead prior to this story.)
People crowded to see him and began believing in Jesus
because of him. Others, however, wanted to kill him because
of his “walking, living proof of the power of Jesus!”

Mary – She humbly and sacrificially washed Jesus feet.
Others in the room reacted to her actions with harsh criticism
and disgust. Jesus told her critics to “Leave her alone!”

Whatever role/serving we’re doing, we must do it completely for Jesus!
People won’t necessarily thank us.
or, People may think we’re awesome & follow our example.
People may hate us for it.
People may criticize us for it.

Jesus says to them… “Leave her alone!”

“Lord, forgive me for doing YOUR work and then grading
myself according to the response (or lack of response)
from other people.”

I serve Jesus and all that I do, I will work at it
with all my heart because I’m working for God,
not humans.
(My paraphrase of Colossians 3:23)

Shutting off Thanksgiving

Hurt.
So many reasons why that is a four letter word.
It creates deep pain when left unattended.
Or sometimes we pamper it until it’s overgrown,
Overgrown and morphed into a Beast of Bitterness.

Even in small doses hurt tempts us to close off,
To shut the doors in our hearts.
We’ve done it. Slammed it closed.
Shut off that tiny closet within.

Crazy though, that “shutting off” idea.
We’re convinced that it’s “only this one part.”
Just one teeny slice of our heart
But our hearts are not compartmentalized!

Closing off ONE part closes off ALL parts.
This explains why joy doesn’t seem joyful anymore,
Why fun leaves you bored,
Why happy expectation no longer lies ahead.

Slamming even the smallest internal door
Makes Thankfulness next to impossible.
Our eyes only focus when we’re starring inward,
all else appears blurred, wrong, incorrect.

The opposite is true.
Self-absorbsion warps sight & understanding,
It robs, and steals and destroys.
It shuts the door to true thanksgiving.

Repent. Lies do not own you,
You’ve chosen them.
Courageously open that “tiny heart-part”.
Open it all to JESUS!

He is the Way, TRUTH and Life!
He delights in forgiving and revealing,
and loving and healing!
He’s the joy & satisfaction we crave!

Now Thankfulness may grown
In a heart opened wide.
And a thankful heart is a happy heart!

“I’m going through somethin’ right now!”

She hadn’t been there for weeks.
Text after text. Call after call. Even a couple of visits.
No response.

Then, for no apparent reason she texted me back… finally!  YAY!!!!
She thanked me for noticing that she’d not been in church service for a while. She appreciated my love and concern.
She assured me that she was OK & that she’d  be there on Sunday.
YAY!  YAY!!

Sunday came. Tons of hugs. Great conversations. Encouragement. Jesus did beautiful things in so many peoples’ lives. Such a lovely time together…
But she wasn’t there. She missed it all… again. Sigh.

So I called her. No answer. No call back. No response to my text. I don’t wanna bug her…
But what if she’s not OK?

Then she texted again… “Thanks for thinking of me. I’m just really going through somethin’ right now.”


What?  That’s her reason for not being with other people who love her & love Jesus?
That’s why she’s staying away and feeling alone?  oh, NO!

The part that makes this true story even sadder is that i’ve heard the “I’m-really-going-through-somethin” line many, many times! From many different ladies.  It makes no sense.

But, I DO understand this .. when we’re hurting we don’t want it to be obvious & we don’t want to wear it on our faces.
We certainly don’t want to have to talk about it. Or worse yet, we don’t want to get around the warmth of God’s love & let our guard down & then melt into a mess of tears… in front of everyone!  Horror.

Seriously. As backwards as it sounds, when difficulties threatens us, we should get with other Christians even MORE often!  It says it all through the Bible… and it’s true!
Chilly pointed it out in Psalm 53.
In Hebrews 10:25 is says to meet together all the more.

And…Many more places!

When life dishes out yuckiness, we cannot run away from the people who will remind us of the truth, and encourage us, help us and literally fill us with courage. And we shouldn’t feel silly when we show up when things are less than dandy… our own honesty may very well be the strength someone else needs at that moment.

As temping as it may seem to hunker down when we’re hurting;  to shut people out when we’re struggling…
go to church. Be involved.
Talk. Be honest.
Lower your guard & praise Jesus.
Let Him speak gently to your heart.
Help. Serve. Hug.
You might even laugh!
Then you may just find that your somethin’ has turned into something better

 

 

We Don’t Deserve it

 

“Entitlement leads to irresponsibility”
– a political commentater

 

After coming home from Bible Study last night I watched the news and was in total agree with the above quote. I WILL  look for a candidate that believes that we as indiviuals can make proper choices for ourselves instead of having the government make all the choices and give out what it “deems necessary” for us.

BUT… this is NOT a political post.

The quote certainly stuck in my head, though, because some conversations at church, recently, reflected this concept. When we get it in our heads that God owes us something, or that He’s “not fair” or borderline “mean,” then we begin to convince ourselves that we deserve something from God. The only thing we deserve from God is eternal death (separation from Him forever).
The moment we allow ourselves to start thinking that we’re being cheated in some way
is the moment our joy starts its exit;
it’s the moment when we desire pity from Him instead of His power to change us;
it’s the moment when selfishness starts to block the channel for God to minister through us.
And… then…
we start making decisions that we thought we never would;
the kind of choices that would’ve once been appauling are somehow appearing to be “totally fine;”
the kind of choices that leave permanent scares on our souls.

This morning as I was talking with Jesus I melted into sobs in His presence. His greatness overwhelmed me. His mercy filled the holes in my humanity. Oh, JESUS!

Everything He gives to me – love, joy, salvation, peace of mind, laughter, etc – is MORE than I deserve.

 

 

He’s not expecting that

I’m surrounded by some very smart, super talented, incredibly motivated people; I’m even married to one of them. There are moments when look around me… and… Holy Moly… (Where did that phrase come from, anyway?) I start thinking very true things like this: He’s so talented at this. She does this with excellence. He knows just how to handle this & that. She’s so good at that it almost looks easy.

It would be easy to fall into the comparison game: “I’m not as good at this or that.”

Well, of course I’m not as good … I’m not them. They hold different talents in their lives, different giftings that I’m not responsible for using because I don’t have them. My abilities lie in other areas.   You already know this. So do I. But let’s be honest… sometimes we compare and that only leads to one of two things: feeling icky about ourselves or feeling a slightly snotty sense of pride (also icky!).

This morning as I was reading in Matthew 26 I got a little verbal spanking about comparisons. The Master (God) in the story gives talents (abilities & resources) to each of His servants (that’s us!) & expects them to put them to be used to the best of their ability. That’s ALL I’m responsible for doing. He’s not expecting me to accomplish something with someone else’s gifts, just mine. If I get too busy noticing how someone else is “better than me” then I’ll slack off from accomplishing what I’m purposed to do.

Note: This does not mean that we stop appreciating other people & their giftings! But rather, this allows us to truly admire others and have the freedom to verbalize that & encourage them. If we’re tied up in the comparison ropes we’re unable to be thankful for them and “icky-ness” finds a home in our thoughts & heart.

Who’s expectations are you living up to? What standards dictate your attitudes & actions?  God is not expecting me to be anyone but me, but He does insist that I put my abilities to use for Him! (And He’ll give me the ideas & strength to accomplish that!)

Now that’s a relief. 🙂

 

 

I Was a Turkey on Thanksgiving

My turkey tale from this year’s Thanksgiving Day:

Besides the traditional food that is made only once or twice a year at our house, I made several  dishes & desserts that I’ve made for years & years. But something happened. What really happened BEFORE all our friends arrived? My family experienced it with me… but here’s what only they know…

I failed. Flopped. Messed up so many things.

The wonderful sausage stuffing was NOT supposed to be so dry.

The lovely sweet potato dish was NOT supposed to be soup that later solidified & looked like a giant orange blob.

The chocolate cranberry bread budding – that no one even knew I’d made- was NOT supposed to be made from the extra bread I’d made for croutons… the GARLIC bread!! ick

The pumpkin pie was too done.

The apple crisp (that I’ve made numerous times every fall for the last 20 yrs) had rubbery apples and a crisp that wasn’t crispy. (It was fed to the garbage disposal the night before any guests arrived.)

And even the ice tea that I make EVERY stinkin day was TOO strong!

 

What in the world?  I can make some of these dishes with my eyes closed? What happened? I only know two things:

1. Our friends brought lots of yummy food & saved the day

2. My identity was perhaps a little too tied into all my “homemade this & homemade that”… and pride comes before a fall.

I was a little cranky that day because I’d let myself down. But the next morning in prayer I was convicted & asked Jesus to forgive me for being too proud & to forgive me for thinking about myself on a wonderful holiday that is about thankfulness… not selfishness.

This doesn’t change the fact that much of our menu items will continue to be homemade… it’s just healthier & cheaper. But it has changed my outlook. A little slice of humble pie was the best thing I ate this Thanksgiving.

 

 

Deliberate or Default

 

 

 

“I’m NEVER gunna do that to my kids when I’m a parent?”

“Agh!  I’m Never doing that when I’m old.”

There’s plenty of things we observe and/or experience that we

don’t want to imitate someday. But just saying so will NOT

keep us from doing it.  If we don’t have a deliberate plan to do

otherwise, we’ll most likely slip right into default mode &

do exactly what we’ve seen/experienced.

So, what are the things you DON’T want to do someday?

What, how & when will you replace them with?