writing for children

Bitter Truth

 
“Bitterness leads nowhere. It turns back on itself. It is the eternal cul-de-sac.”

(Agatha ChristieMurder in Three Acts, 1934)*

***
Bitterness is insidious. It slinks in on the coattails of our anger and pain. When not identified and exterminated, it slowly morphs into a monster who whispers to our spirit, “But they must pay!”  

And if we give it an ear, the caustic beast takes over everything. We aren’t carrying it in a cute little emotional backpack. Nope, it digs in its talons and clings to our backs, forcing us into a slow crawl.

But we can’t go through life carrying that type of burden. It sucks the life out of everything we do, say, think, and feel. The bitter truth about bitterness is this—it causes us to become someone we aren’t meant to be and less of the person we are meant to be.

And if we let bitterness stick around long enough? We inadvertently put it on a pedestal. And even without realizing it, our desire to make someone pay becomes a higher priority than forgiving them in the same manner we have been forgiven by Christ…and then bitterness can become an idol. And that idol keeps our eyes off of the forgiveness we have been freely given and places it squarely on our desire to see someone else hurt in the same way we have been hurt.

Maybe you know you have taken a bite of the bitter fruit…and maybe you know it’s taken root. But sometimes we don’t even know that we’re harboring bitterness. And many times the person who hurt us doesn’t know that we are harboring bitterness toward them. But those who live with us will usually know. Those who are the closest to us are sometimes the ones who are able to identify it more readily. They see us at our best and our worst…and they can see changes in us even when we can’t—or don’t want to.

And while we might be able to hide the bitterness at work or with those who aren’t part of our inner circle…our bitterness won’t stay hidden forever.

Bitterness is anger gone sour, an attitude of deep discontent that poi...  Quote by Billy Graham, Billy Graham in Quotes - QuotesLyfe

The bitterness can infiltrate our speech. It can reveal itself as part of our social posts. It can become part of the way we respond to everyone who “crosses us”. We are more apt to see other people as lost causes…to give up on relationships…and to view them without grace. It becomes a spiritual blind spot.

So what are some signs that we might be living in a palace of bitterness? It is different for each person, but here are a few symptoms we might experience:  

1.     When someone brings up name of the person who hurt us, bitterness trains our brain to explain/describe how wrong the other person was and still is. It doesn’t take much to set us on that trail…and there is not usually any redemptive aspects to our conversation about that person. 

2.     As Susan mentioned, there’s also the issue of “rehearsing”. Yup, when we think about seeing the offending party, we rehearse what we’ll say to them…over and over and over. Even if it’s just imaginary, it becomes something we ponder more often than not.

3.     We dwell on the things that could have been done differently (sometimes obsessively), while simultaneously blaming the one who caused the offense for everything that’s going wrong in our life.

4.     We don’t like to be around “cheerful” or positive people. It’s as if their sunny disposition disrupts the bitter flow we’ve got going on. Their joy irritates our bitterness.

5.     There is a distinct lack of grace for others, and mistakes are rarely our fault. We have a hard time apologizing. 

6.     We start being judgmental of others, not just the one who hurt us. 

7.     We justify our growing animosity with the remembrance of the sins of those who hurt us.

Bitterness is a heart issue; so what do we do about it? How can we respond to others in the same way that Christ has responded to us? What if that person continues to be a jerk? Or what if they never apologize? Or what if they don’t think they are wrong? What is there to chew on that can help us let go of the bitterness?

Forgiveness: it’s what’s for dinner…and many times, the appetizers and dessert. Why? Because unlike revenge (and pineapple), forgiveness is best served any time and all the time. Corny, yes…but nevertheless, it’s true. 

The Bible doesn’t say that you have to like someone to forgive them. But it does say that you must LOVE them. And true love moves and breathes in the Spirit…not seeking revenge.

In 2nd Timothy 2:24 we are told that those who serve God “…must not be quarrelsome (argumentative) but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful…”. And in Matthew Jesus says, ““But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

It’s not enough to say that we forgive, we are instructed to DO something to show it. We are called to put our forgiveness into action. Then it gets even harder, y’all. In Romans 12, Paul instructs us to treat our “enemies” to lunch. Whaaaa?

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

That’s a tall order, y’all, and I don’t know if I’m ready for it. Are y’all? 

When I read the above passage, it reminds me that I’m a victor, rather than a victim of circumstances or someone else’s choices. 

Jesus said that “no one takes my life from me…I lay it down…and pick it up again.” That’s what we are being called to do, as well. But in order to do that, we have to take off the bitter monster who is weighing us down and holding us captive…and put on the yoke of Jesus instead. He said, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to me.I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.[ Simply join your life with mine.[c] Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle,[d] humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.[e] For all that I require of you will be pleasant[f] and easy to bear.”

Because when we hold on the bitterness and imprison the bitterness against others in our spirit, they are not the ones in bondage—it’s always us.

Donna

*If this is not the correct attribute, please let me know. But my research has led me to believe that the quote is from the cited source.

p.s. Join us for the other posts in this series. You can find them here! If you’d like to read them, here are the links:
The “B” Word—Not What You Think: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/the-b-word-not…/
Bitter Fruit: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/05/04/bitter-fruit/
From Bitter to Better: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/2021/05/10/from-bitter-to-better/

writing for children

Bitter Fruit

by Susan Wilson

Bitterness is uglier than we think. Much like that lovely fruit, the pineapple. It looks rather exotic on the outside. It even has a tough exterior and is rather pointed but we do love to dance with the dangerous. I recently ate my fill of that delicious fruit. Right up until I felt my mouth tingle and all of a sudden felt as if I had burnt my tongue on something really hot. Just like when we burn our tongue on a cup of hot liquid, I could not taste anything else. It even hurt my gums when I brushed my teeth for a few days. That fruit basically bites you back. It has an acid that eats away at you while you eat it.

So, why is this stuff even on the shelf without a warning sign? For people like me, who apparently don’t learn these things until later in life. Sometimes we all miss the “obvious”. Back to the other “forbidden fruit” we are warned against. Much like unforgiveness, bitterness is a trap for us, not those we are angry with. The ways it bites us back are numerous. Bitterness becomes the lens that we view all of life through. It colors and corrupts our view. It tethers us to that person’s sin against us. Until we let go of anger and hatred, the person is still hurting us. We let go for our sakes.

I stopped eating that pineapple when I connected the dots. The Bible instructs us to forgive others so that Satan cannot take advantage of us (2 Cor 2:10,11) because he intends to use this to destroy us. We are to forgive just as we have been forgiven. I get into trouble when I get too far away from the understanding of all I have been forgiven of. The sad truth is that we will live with the consequences of another’s sin whether we like it or not. Our decision is merely how we choose to do so. Will we do it in bondage or in the freedom of forgiveness. Bitterness is the fruit of full grown unforgiveness and it is bondage. Acts 8:23 says it is “the gall of bitterness and in a bond forged by iniquity (to fetter souls).”

That verse in Acts references Isaiah 58:6 which speaks of what a true fast and an acceptable day to the Lord is. “…the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every enslaving yoke.” Why does God hate sin? Because it causes death. What is unforgiveness? Sin that we can repent of. That is where Hope resides.

I have found over the years that whenever I don’t forgive I tend to rehearse what was done to me over and over in my head.  I will never forget when the Lord spoke to me about this.  He used the following passage of scripture.

In Genesis 30:25-43, we read of the account of Jacob when he was ready to finally part ways with his uncle Laban.   Now Laban had not treated Jacob very well and had deceived him while also benefiting greatly from the way the Lord had blessed Jacob.  When it was time for them to part ways, Jacob had a plan.  He would take only the speckled and black sheep and goats.    Jacob took rods made of poplar and almond and plane trees and peeled white stripes in them exposing the white which was in the rods. 

When the strongest of the animals would come to the watering troughs where they came to drink and mate, he put the rods in front of them.   Thus their offspring turned out to be speckled.  So instead of them being the weakest of the herds, they were actually the best of them.

The Lord told me, what you look at you will reproduce.  What you focus on and dwell on is what you will become. 


I cannot spend too much time rehearsing what another has done to me before I have to go back to that place that I am responsible for. I am responsible for my choices, my thoughts, my actions, my beliefs, and my responses; all of those will I be giving an account for. All of those things I am given both responsibility for and power over. That is where that feeling of powerlessness ends. That is where I am no longer a victim. I can choose not to be around certain people again. I can choose to set healthy boundaries moving forward. But as for justice, the only justice is found at the Cross. The cross is what makes forgiveness right and legal because Jesus took the eternal payment for all sin upon Himself (2 Cor 5:21).

I have been sinned against, but the difference is, He knew no sin and bore it all for me and for you. Hard Truth – We have to come to terms with the pain that sin causes. But we can choose not to become tethered to it and defined by it. Because before we know it, our identity gets wrapped up in it. I refuse to be defined by what has been done to me by others. I am defined by the One who laid His life down for me, the Creator of the universe. When we release and forgive it doesn’t mean that what happened was ok or that God has let go of them. He is just and fair and knows how to handle it much better than we do. I don’t have to feel like it to forgive. Once we do forgive Satan loses his power over us and the Lord steps in to heal that area of our soul. He has restored my soul on many occasions and continues to do so. The question remains do we trust Him?

Susan

image.png

If you’d like to read the other posts in this series, you can find them here:
The “B” word…Not What You Think: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/2021/05/03/the-b-word-not-what-you-think/
Bitter Truth: https://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/05/07/bitter-truth/
From Bitter to Betterhttps://wordwranglernc.wordpress.com/…/from-bitter-to…/

writing for children

Snough, Snough, or Snough? Context is Everything

“Bless you!” That’s what my husband said when I sneezed and coughed at the same time tonight.
A sneeze + a simultaneous cough = a snough.

If you pronounce “snough” as if it rhymes with “cough”, that’s how I pronounced it. It’s a made-up word, right? So why would anyone pronounce it any other way than how I mean for it to be pronounced?

Well, if you only look at the “ough” part of the word and have no context, “snough” can also rhyme with other “ough” words: through, though, and tough. (There’s also the strange word, hiccough, pronounced “hiccup”!)

The English language is weird…and context is everything.

Unfortunately, we don’t always look for context before we repeat something we’ve read, heard, or seen–and the topic is usually far more important than a made up word like “snough”. And even if there is context? It might be misleading, so we interpret it the best way we can…but still end up being wrong.

Too often we read something in the news, hear a snippet, or grab on to a headline that we have no (or little) context for…and start repeating it as the absolute truth.

We forward memes that we haven’t fact checked. We share videos or articles that only show part of the originally posted material. We promote inflammatory information, just for the sake of stirring the pot, whether we know it’s true or not.

This is one of the reasons why I have chosen not to share much political stuff on social media. No matter what I share, it can be taken out of context and shared in a way it wasn’t mean to be shared.

If I post an article on a certain policy or politician, some folks might assume that means that I agree with the policy or politician. On the other hand, others might think I disagree with the policy or politician – and start arguments. Without proper context, the reader will probably make the wrong assumption.

I have always been very opinionated; I still am. Matter of fact, I am probably more opinionated than I used to be. However, I’m also learning that if whatever I choose to share isn’t shared in the context of love, then what good does it do?

I don’t care how fabulous my message might be…or how noble my goal. If I don’t share it in love, it’s worthless.

If the context of my message is not soaked in love, why am I even putting it out into the world?

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. — I Corinthians 13: 1-3

Soaking something in love doesn’t mean you don’t share the hard things. But even the hardest of things can be received better when they are given in the right context. Medicine goes down much easier with a spoonful of sugar, right? So are words that are seasoned within the context of love.

So when I write things for social media (including this post), I better check the context.

And if it’s not soaked in LOVE (rhymes with dove (the bird), but not dove, past tense of dive), then I better think twice about posting.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.– Ephesians 4:15-16

writing for children

Risky Business: The Currency of Love

Jan 9, 2020.

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” – 1 John 4:19-22

As a follower of Christ, Love is supposed to be my currency. Loving God and others should be THE most important thing I do — but it will also be the hardest thing that I do. If it was easy, there wouldn’t be so many scriptures and sermons about it, would there? We don’t hear sermons on breathing. It’s just assumed that we’ll do it naturally. But loving as God loves us? Putting others above ourselves? Even climbing a mountain might seem easier on some days.

Loving our fellow humans carries an inherent element of risk. It leaves us open for hurt. It leaves us open for rejection. Most people have an innate ability to love themselves, so why is it so hard to love others?

C.S. Lewis has this to say about it, ““To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Have you ever ridden a water-ride at an amusement park on a really hot day? I have – many times. And each time, I got drenched… sopping wet. Did I go hide in the car so no one could see me? Of course not. I kept walking around the park. And yes, water dripped from my hair and clothes, leaving evidence of my adventure wherever I walked or sat. Every once in a while, one of my kids would hug me.. then they would be wet, too. If we make the decision to allow our hearts and lives to drenched in the Love of Jesus — and refuse to hide ourselves away — imagine the beautiful soaking of Love that would occur in the world around us!

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” — 1 John 4:7-12

writing for children

Do you Hate someone?

What I’m chewing on today: 1 John 4:11, 19-21


Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

***

I don’t think we all have to like each other or even agree with each other… but we have to love each other. And in this passage, we see that the opposite of loving someone is hating them. No in between. So what does it mean to hate others? What does that look like in our lives today?

Imagine a person you don’t like at all. Someone you vehemently disagree with morally, spiritually, and politically. Got them in mind? Now imagine that you’ve found them hurt and dying by the side of the road. Do you help them… or leave them to die?


About 2,000 years ago, that same scenario was addressed when an expert theologian asked Jesus an important question. He asked, “What must I do in order to inherit eternal life?”


Jesus didn’t give him a long list of things to do. He asked a question that fell well within theologian’s circle of knowledge. “What is written in the Law?” Jesus asked. “How do you read it?”


The guy, probably feeling pretty good about himself and his understanding of scripture replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”


“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

So… Jesus affirmed that the theologian had the right answer. But at that moment, the man had questions. Perhaps his mind filled with images of the people in his life that he did not love as he loved himself. People he considered dirty. People that he didn’t even consider people. In his heart, they weren’t worthy of love from him…and certainly not love from God. So this happened…


“But the man wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?””


As always, Jesus knew the subtext of the man’s question. He knew the fella’s internal struggle.


In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Jesus asked.


The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

**
I can imagine the theologian sighing and wish he hadn’t asked the question. But he did… and now we have the answer, too.


Are we willing to leave our “enemy” by the side of the road? Or are we willing to “go and do likewise” by choosing love and mercy over hate? How do we love in daily situations that don’t involve “road side” emergencies? What does that look like?


I think the answer can be found in I Corinthians 13: 4-7. But it’s also hard a hard pill to swallow. So I’m just gonna leave this right here… and chew on it a little more.


“Love is large and incredibly patient.Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter,for it never stops believing the best for others.Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.” (The Passion Translation)

writing for children

Out of the Bubble…

old timeyI can finally sit in the chairs on our porch again —
there’s room!

I’m sure our neighbors are glad because it was a mess.
A giant mess, indeed. It was obvious to anyone who passed by that things had piled up on the porch and needed to be addressed.

I’d avoided cleaning it for months. But it was time. So…

I got things in order.
I swept and threw away trash.
And in the process, I even found some broken glass hidden under a box. (Thankfully, I wasn’t barefooted this time!)

It felt good to step out from behind the computer and get outside in the fresh (but cold!) air and sunshine. And it really felt good to have a more peaceful porch.

The process reminded me that there is more to my life than the warm, comfy bubble that you can find me snuggled in most days.

There is far more to this life that God has created for me.
But sometimes it feels like I don’t have room for it all.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. 

Bubbles are nice for keeping out the “bad” stuff. But they can also trap us in, forcing us to breathe stagnate air that is not good for our soul. Stepping out offers fresh air and sunshine… a new perspective on things. BUT…

stepping out of our bubbles is not for the faint of heart.

If we choose to do so, we might end up on the messy “porch” that we’ve been avoiding. We might find hidden, broken things that need to be cleaned up. Things that have piled up and need to be addressed.

Maybe the brokenness is a strained friendship.
Maybe the mess is a spiritual battle we’ve been avoiding.
Or maybe it’s a combination of things we can’t even name. Things that yell at us with belittling inner dialogue — dialogue that we have allowed to replace the beautiful life-giving Word that God has been singing to our hearts.

The truth is, we can choose to run back into the warm and cozy bubbles and keep avoiding the mess and brokenness.
But the mess won’t go away on its own. No…
it will keep piling up.

I’m gonna be real.
There is still plenty on my porch (literal and spiritual) that needs to be addressed.
But I can’t do it all at once.
And I can’t do it by myself.
God is working on my blessed mess — bit by bit.
And I know that in Him – there is no judgment — no fear. Only love.

So if you’ve got a “messy porch” in your life, you’re not alone. Come on over and pull up a chair. There’s always room for one more…

#loved
#thankful
#Godisgoodallthetime
#allthetimeGodisgood

writing for children

Happy Resurrection Day

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb… — Luke 24:1

 

The women arrived with the expectation that the giant stone in front of the tomb would still be in place. When they arrived, it had rolled out of the way.

But if it had not been moved, how did they plan to move it?

I asked my daughters what they thought. They said, “There were guards there. They would have asked them to help.”

I considered that – but I don’t think it is a plausible answer. These were Roman guards — guards who owed nothing to the Jewish women. Even if the women had dared to speak to them, (which I don’t think would have happened), would the Roman guards have agreed to help the women? I don’t think so. They were under no obligation to do so.

The women were under the assumption that Jesus was still DEAD. They weren’t coming expecting the stone to be moved OR for Jesus to have risen. They arrived with anointing oil for his body.

So why did they come without backup help? How did they expect to move the stone? I’ve been praying and asking God to make it clear. I’m sure there are many reasons. But here’s what I’m leaning toward right now, the answer that I hear in my heart…

Even though they knew Jesus was dead — I believe that the women came with EXPECTATIONS.

The truth is, Jesus was dead and they had no way to move the stone.

BUT — they came anyway. 

There was NO plausible way they would be able to anoint Jesus’ body without divine intervention — no way to move the stone on their own and no help to do so —

and they came anyway. They came expecting God to DO SOMETHING to make that happen.

THEY CAME EXPECTING. 

 

Remember when Lazarus died? Mary and Martha were furious and hurt and full of all other sorts of emotions b/c Jesus hadn’t arrived in time like they’d expected Him to do. They had expected Him to come back and heal their brother before he died from the sickness. And when Jesus didn’t, they were distraught. They wept and Jesus wept with them. BUT THEN… when it seemed that all hope was lost, they watched as Jesus raised their brother from the dead.

But this time, it was Jesus in the tomb! Who was going to raise Him from the dead?

They didn’t know —

And they came anyway. They came…

EXPECTING!  

         Provers 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. *

So what about us? What “stones” in our lives need to be moved to allow us to see the miracle of Jesus’ death-defeating power? His resurrection power? His grace, mercy, and truth? When we ask God to do something, is our faith in line with our requests?

Like the women at the tomb — do we come to Jesus EXPECTING Him to do something?

That’s what faith is. It is the HOPE in things not seen… and EXPECTATION that God will do what God does… He saves. He revives. He makes all things new. He makes a WAY when there is not way. He responds to our pain and hurt in compassion and with truth. HE LOVES.

The empty tomb means that we ALWAYS have help in time of need. The one who raised Lazarus from the dead holds the power over sin and death — and moves whatever needs to be moved.

When we shift our expectations and put our focus on Jesus– God’s plan is revealed and no stone can stand in His way. NONE.

What stones are in your way today? God can and will shake what needs to be moved and shaken…

Come expecting! 

 

 

 

 

writing for children

Are Online Arguments Fruitful?

I am a person full of opinions. Talk to me privately and I’m sure you’ll hear them. Ask any of my friends…. they will confirm this fact.  You can probably scroll through this blog and see many, many examples, too. 

cropped-whateverwednesday11.jpgAnd up until a year or so ago, I tended to display my political opinions on Facebook regularly. I did not hesitate to engage in online discussions. I vented and shared my very strong thoughts on almost everything. It felt like high noon at the “FB Corral” every week.

 

But I soon realized that my exuberant emotions tended to hinder my ability to have a civil discussion. I could feel my blood pressure rising every time I saw certain posts and engaged in arguments with those I disagreed with. The “discussions” that I’d hoped might change someone’s mind became heated in a such a way that it only ushered in more dissension.

 

The Lord, in His compassion, mercy, and grace, showed me that I was not speaking in love to the folks I disagreed with… quite the opposite. Instead of desiring to bridge a gap, I wanted to thump some folks upside the head.

 

And NO… I don’t remember a single time that Jesus thumped someone upside the head. Granted, he DID turn over the money-changers tables in the temple, but he still loved them and laid down his life for them… and me. His whole ministry was soaked in the leading of the Holy Spirit and the love of the Father toward His children. But my conversations were more about proving someone wrong than loving them.

 

I am called to stand up for those who are being shoved down and unable to stand for themselves. And I will continue to do that as long as the Lord allows me to do so.  The hard part? I am also called to love those who are doing the “shoving”.  It is much easier to show my love to those who are being hurt and at a disadvantage. It is harder to show love to the ones who are doing the harming. The most recent headlines are a perfect example of that. If you don’t know which one I’m talking about, it’s okay. You can pick just about any headline… it will do.

 

So if you don’t see me posting something on FB about the latest news headlines, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I have chosen to intentionally refrain from those online discussions and instead discuss them in-person. Those conversations can get heated, too. But having a real live person in front of me makes it harder to spew whatever I want to say. It reminds me that I am called to love others as I have been loved. I am called to show compassion… even if another person is not.

As a follower of Christ, I am called to follow His example. I fail miserably many days. But staying out of (most) online arguments has helped keep me from forging more gaps in relationships. I still struggle with saying the right things while talking to folks “in person”… but at least they can see and hear the inflection in my voice and hopefully know my heart — even when I mess up.

How about you? Do you engage online? Is it fruitful for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  –Colossians 4:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

 

writing for children

FEAR

Yesterday, there was a common theme discussed in almost every conversation I had:

FEAR.

FEAR IS A THIEF. (from MorgueFile.com)

It steals our joy, our hope, and our confidence.
It is a relationship killer and a destroyer of dreams.

Fear invades our life and distorts the truth. Fear does not discriminate. It is an equal opportunity terrorist.

Fear is the enemy’s tool that stops us in our tracks, gluing us, like quicksand, to the same scary spot and taunting us. Fear keeps us from walking in the fullness of God and down the roads HE has already prepared and walked for us.

I asked my 14yo how she would describe fear. She stopped and thought for a moment, then said, “The devil’s playground.”

How often do we allow the enemy’s tactics to “play” with our heads? Our emotions? Our lives?

We see it in other people but don’t recognize it in our own lives.

Is there something you have been called to do but are too afraid of failure? Or maybe you’re too afraid of success? What will happen if you try… and succeed? You will then have the opportunity to sow HOPE into the lives of others who also might be experiencing the “devil’s playground” in their life.

Fear destroys… God creates.
Fear is a thief – but God restores.
Fear kills… But God brings new life to dead places!

Is there fear in your life today? Fear for you? for your family? Fear for things that have not yet occurred or fear of the consequences that can come from other fear-based decisions you’ve made?

I encourage you today to share the fears you’ve been experiencing with someone you trust. Allow yourself the opportunity to admit the fact that fear has been calling the shots… and decide to speak life into those places and change the story!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)

The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 118:6

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats ; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:13-14

 

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-5)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)