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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who do you love?

I've touched on this topic before but considering the state of things in our nation right now, I feel like it's something we need a reminder of. There isn't a whole lot of loving our neighbors going on at the moment and that's sad.

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandments were, his reply was this:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love your neighbor as yourself. 

So, who are our neighbors? 

Jesus was asked that question too and He responded by telling a story. The parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:30-37
30 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. 31 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. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] 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.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

So you see, a neighbor is not just someone who lives nearby. A neighbor is any other person. The Samaritan didn't know the beaten man, had never seen him before, yet he took pity on him and gave of what he had to help the man. He sacrificed his own time schedule, his own clothing, his own comfort, his own money, to help someone in need. A stranger...and he expected nothing in return. 

Do you love your neighbors? Do you love ALL of your neighbors? Jesus didn't say, "Love the neighbors who think like you, look like you, believe like you." He didn't specify which neighbors because He wants you to love ALL of your neighbors as you love yourself. Not just the ones who are the same color or the same religion or the same political party...ALL of them!!

But look around, look at the news, look at the ugly hateful comments being left on Facebook posts. There is far more hate happening in this country than there is love. Which are you contributing to? I know I'm guilty of leaving less than friendly comments on news articles I don't agree with. I need to remember that each of these news articles involve people, human beings that need love and prayer. The very least we can do is pray for our neighbors because we all need that. 

What can we all do to make things better in our own homes? In our own neighborhoods? In our own towns and cities? In our own states? In our own country? Little steps in love lead to great things. How can you love your neighbors today? How can you be the change you want to see in your world?



 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A friend is a friend is....no longer a friend?

My heart hurts today. I had a friend- or I thought she was my friend- but now she's not my friend and I've done nothing to deserve it. Our husbands had a falling out so now I guess we can't be friends either...who knew those were the rules? I didn't. I always thought the wives could be friends even if the husbands weren't but I guess I was mistaken.

I knew our husbands would no longer be friends but when I went to facebook to send her a message, she had not only unfriended me but blocked me as well. I texted her hours ago and there's been no reply so I guess she really doesn't want to be my friend anymore. And that hurts. Makes me want to cry, in fact I have cried several times today over it because I don't understand treating someone this way. It's not in my heart to treat people like that so I can't rectify it in my mind as the appropriate way to treat someone you once called friend.

So, I went to the Bible for comfort. What does the Bible say about friendship? Here are a few of my favorite verses about friendship and being a friend:

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing
Job 6:14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Proverbs 27:10 Do not forsake your friend and your father's friend, and do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.

Friendship is meant to be an affirming, uplifting, strengthening relationship that is comforting and joyful. Sometimes it's sacrificial, sometimes it's hard, but the one thing that is always is is constant. It's supposed to be dependable. It's supposed to be a blessing. 

I have never made friends easily. For me it's a struggle because I tend to be very shy, painfully shy in new situations. I'm terrified of saying the wrong thing. I'm afraid of making myself look foolish. I want people to like me but I tend to hide the real me because I'm afraid they won't like who I really am. Some of my old friends- the ones I've had since grade school- can attest to that. They are few but they are true. They've seen me at my worst and still love me. They've seen the real me time and time again and still like who I am. Sadly they live far away and I don't get to see them as often as I'd like but I know that the next time we meet face to face, we will hug and catch up and move forward as if we'd always been together and distance never separated us. 

So for me to put myself out there and call you friend it is truly from my heart. For me to express devotion to someone- tell them I love them- is a struggle for me. I don't say it unless I mean it. I can't say it unless I mean it, my heart won't let me. 

Please be careful with your friendships. Treasure them. Treat them with respect. If there's a problem, address it, figure it out, grow from it. Don't let some silly difference get in the way of something life long and beautiful. 


Friday, August 12, 2016

Life Is Like A Box Of.....Crayons

With school starting back up in classrooms around the country, many homes have fresh new backpacks full of school supplies including crisp new boxes of crayons. Go grab a box of brand new crayons and pop open the top. If you don't have one, Google a picture of a new box of crayons and peer down inside that box.

What do you see?


All the same shape, size, wrapped in the same kind of paper...but all different colors. A beautiful rainbow of colors. We can pull those colors out of the box and draw a picture full of life. Because that's how we are in real life- colorful, vibrant, glorious, beautiful...and we're all the same...but we're different too.

Now, imagine opening that box of crayons and seeing:



Just one color. Brown or white or any one color. You could draw a brown picture with a brown house with a brown car and a brown dog on a brown lawn...or you could draw a white picture with a white house covered in white snow. How boring, how dull, how lifeless. We need color in our lives to make life richer, joyful. God created us brown, white, and every color in between. God created us in all these beautiful amazing colors to make the world more beautiful. We all start out the same- two cells joining to make one- tiny and precious. We grow and are born and brand new, we're like a brand new crayon. But just like the crayons, life uses us and some of us end up shorter, duller, rounder, and broken. But we're still the same even if we look a little different. We're all made from the same stuff- cells, blood, muscle,...and skin.

Different, beautiful colors of skin. Please remember, that without ALL the colors this world would be lifeless, dull, colorless.

Or we can all start looking around and appreciating the beauty of the creation that God made, each of us individual and beautiful...in HIS image. Love those around you no matter what color they are. Love them because God loves them. A box of crayons needs diversity and so does our world. Remember that!









Saturday, July 30, 2016

If you were running for president.....

If I have learned anything from this election it's this:

Live everyday as if you will someday run for president, knowing that your opponent will do all he/she can to dig up every single foul word you use. Every racist joke you tell. Every time you've gotten drunk or high. Every missed opportunity to help someone in need. Every questionable decision you make. Every scandal, every lie, every single misspent penny will be posted on the internet for the entire world to see and comment on for all of eternity.

Live your life so that when it comes time for the campaign ads to start appearing, your opponent won't be able to dig up any dirt on you. No lies, no deleted emails, no affairs, no abortions, no unwed pregnancies, no tax evasion or fraud, no racism, no lawsuits...nothing but good stuff. Images of you helping a homeless guy find a job. Recordings of you reading to kids in a foster home. Tax returns showing you give to those less fortunate. Video of you playing basketball with at risk youth and mentoring them. Pictures of you loving and appreciating your wife/husband and kids. Mowing the yard of an elderly or infirm neighbor.


Think about that. What could your opponent dig up about you now? What can you do differently?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More salt...

My last blog post was about being salty enough but I read another blog post about being too salty and I wanted to take it little further. The blogger spoke about too much salt being a bad thing and as I was driving through the nearest large town- which happens to be about 25 miles from me, I was looking at some of the churches in the area. Some of them are HUGE! Great big elaborate, gorgeous structures that seem too opulent for our area. We're mainly farm towns around here, small rural communities, farmers, blue collar workers.

Have you ever seen pictures of the Dead Sea? Or the salt flats in Utah? They're gorgeous, stunning...
The Dead Sea

Bonneville Salt Flats- Utah

And dead. 

There is so much salt in both of these locations that nothing lives, nothing grows. No animals, no plant life, nothing. 

Do you see where I'm going with this? There are mega churches around this country where thousands of Christians attend each week. Some churches that have so many members they have to build stadium like seating to fit them all and they have more than one service to accommodate them all. They're stunning structures that are so filled with salt that nothing lives, nothing grows, nothing thrives. Many of these people are Christians on Sunday then go home and do nothing for the Lord the rest of the week. They gather with their Christian friends for church functions. They celebrate birthdays and holidays with Christian friends and family and because there is so much salt, the word of God stagnates. It's so preserved, no one can eat it, digest it. They don't spread the salt around to help those who have no salt, people who are drowning in sin and crying out for a Savior. People who need Jesus, who need salt...and no one is willing to share. Many of these churches neglect the word of God in favor of a more 'friendly' narrative. They speak of love and good feelings while neglecting to speak of sin and repentance. It would seem that there are a lot of people who want to go to church for the warm fuzzy and not be reminded that they're sinners and must change their lives in order to please a just and holy God. 

Jesus spent time with sinners- He dined with them, traveled with them, preached to them, loved them. His salt went far and wide, flavored those He came into contact with. He didn't just spend His time in the Synagogues that were elaborate, powerful structures. He mingled with the common man, the sinner, the sick and hurting. 

Salt is also good for healing. When a new baby was born back in Jesus' day, the child was rubbed with salt and wrapped in cloths. The salt killed any germs that might make a new baby sick. Wounds were often packed with salt to stave off infection. Jesus was the healing salt and He spread Himself around, helping as many as He could during his short time on Earth. He didn't spend a lot of time with the elite, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the royalty, the rich and famous...He hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, fishermen. His salt was being used, absorbed. 

Do you spend time with people outside your church? Outside your comfort zone? Is your church active in the community? Or is your church so salty within itself that it's toxic to growth and life? Has your congregation spent so much money on a beautiful building instead of spending it where the Lord would have it to go? To help those in need? We can worship in a field, in a yard, under a tree, in a broom closet... do we need multi million dollar structures that are beautiful...but toxic? 



Monday, May 30, 2016

How salty are you?

A few days ago I was listening to the Christian radio station and a speaker came on and gave a message about being salt and light. I can't remember his name because I was paying more attention to trying to remember his message than bothering to remember his name.

He spoke about how Jesus told his followers that they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jesus didn't tell his followers that they were the gold of the earth or the silver, those were rare and precious commodities that were owned by only the richest and most powerful among them. Salt, however, was and is something that even the poorest among us has access to. And it's something that infuses the food it's added to. It also preserves what it's added to. Salt, during Jesus' time, was vital to preserve meat and fish, to add flavor to food. It was a necessary ingredient that was abundant and common. Jesus wants us to be salt.

Jesus also warned, though, that we can lose our saltiness and that salt without saltiness is worthless. The speaker went on to explain that back in Jesus' day, the people would sometimes have a large block of salt that they would set on the ground and chip away at as they used it. Some of the salt would get mixed in with the dirt that the block was sitting on. The dirt represents the junk in the world- the worldliness that Christians are not supposed to get mixed up in. Once we do, we're no longer useful in God's plan. We're still saved, but we're not doing God's work effectively because we've gotten too mixed up in the dirt to be salty. What good is salt that's not salty? Imagine you're filling up your salt shaker at home and you dropped it. Salt goes everywhere! You grab the broom and sweep it up. But instead of just salt you find bits of sand, soil, maybe some pet hair or food crumbs that were also on the floor. You scoop that mess up into your dustpan and dump it in the trash because that salt is no longer good for anything. Surely you wouldn't dump it into your salt shaker and sprinkle it on your food.

So my question to you is this...How salty are you? Are you good pure clean salt that is seasoning the world around you with God's love? Are you preserving His word in your heart to share it with others? Or are you so mixed up in the mess of the world that your witness is no longer effective?

Search your heart and ask the Lord to show you how salty you are.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Raging Storm

As I sit in my office working, I can hear the storm raging outside. Pouring rain, flashing lightening, crashing thunder and howling winds. The potential for harm is there in the hail that's predicted to come, wind causing trees to fall, flash flooding from the rain, lightening strikes. It's a storm that only God can calm if He's so inclined.

But there's another storm raging in our nation that we, the children of  God could calm if we would only take the time and make the effort. There's a storm of godlessness sweeping over our country, covering up all the good that dares cross it's path. And we sit in our church houses on Sunday mornings and maybe- maybe- hear a sermon about sin. We take to facebook and whine about what we're seeing...and that's the extent of our movement. We've let our nation go and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Society is doing exactly what is foretold in the Bible- Calling evil good. Celebrating things that God has said are wrong. For example, calling Bruce Jenner a hero for deciding that he's really a woman. Celebrating professional athletes who come out of the closet.

And Calling good evil. Condemning Christians, suing them for holding fast to their beliefs. Calling them names- bigots, homophobes, islamophobes, etc, for simply holding a different view or belief of things. Making fun of Christian actors and actresses and sports figures who dare to express their faith. Demanding that Christians accept PC beliefs while trying to remove every piece of Christianity from public view.

Yes, the Bible foretells this happening but Christians should not sit idly by while it happens. We should still fight for what we know to be true and right and good. We MUST love those we disagree with. We MUST show them the love of Jesus but we MUST NOT accept or condone the sin. Tell them the truth...IN LOVE, WITH LOVE, BECAUSE OF LOVE! Don't be hateful to someone who is gay or transgendered. Love them, because God does. Show them that there's another way. Tell them that you feel differently about their lifestyle but that you still love them and want to see them come to a saving grace in Jesus Christ.

Make a stand in the voting booths. Make a stand by encouraging others to get out and vote and to be informed when they vote. Make a stand by writing letters to our elected officials. Go to town hall meetings. Go to public gatherings and make your voices heard...but do it in love. God doesn't want us to be hateful to sinners because ALL of us are sinners. Every single one of us has messed up and will continue to do so until we die. We must treat sinners the same way Jesus did when He walked upon this earth....He loved them and told them, Go and sin no more. He didn't condemn them. He didn't hate them or call them names or treat them badly. He ate a meal with them and explained to them their sins. He loved them! And we should do no less. Parents love their children but we don't agree with everything they do. We see them make mistakes and we discipline them accordingly. But just because we don't agree with what they've done and we call them on it, doesn't mean we don't love them. It means we love them more because we care enough to want them to know the truth of their actions/words. If we didn't love them we wouldn't care that they were making bad choices that are going to hurt them. It's the same for people in the world- we love them enough to tell them the truth...even if it hurts.

Some will call you hateful for disagreeing with them or calling their life choices sinful. But we must stand firm. It isn't man's approval we should be longing for, but God's. Will God say to you, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." when at last you meet face to face? Or will He tell you that you could have done better? That you could have been more bold, more loving, more truthful?