I’m always amazed by the talent on reality shows like “The Voice”. This season has exceptional voices. Here is my favorite duet so far -
I’m always amazed by the talent on reality shows like “The Voice”. This season has exceptional voices. Here is my favorite duet so far -
Yesterday morning our pastor spoke about kindness in reference to one characteristic of the “fruit” of the spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galations 5:22-23
If you are like me – this is something I used to take for granted. Especially Christian kindness. But more often than not, kindness is a lost art.
While he was speaking, I found myself feeling sad because of this lost art. Like “common courtesy”. Is it really so common? Where has true kindness, concern and respect gone? I myself have been a victim of unkind things spoken or done to me. And mercy – they were by Christians.
Christians tearing down Christians. In person, by email and lately on social media. Yikes.
Lately there has been an tidal wave of things sent around to slander, cut down or at very least to cast doubt about another person – all in the name of Christianity for other people to read about! Well known people. Christian Leaders.
Now maybe you think, “FINALLY – someone said something!” Or maybe you would not be bold enough to write that or even admit that out loud. But maybe inside you think, “They are getting what they deserve”. And like so many people on social media who tend to believe most everything they read about – you pass it along.
This is a problem. No – it’s an epidemic. Christians are called to be kind. To be gentle. To have self control.
Pastor Gerry said it right when he said, “If you disagree with someone you should go to them privately. You could write them an email explaining ‘this is what I heard” but it troubles me and I want to know if you really said or did that” This would be the kind thing to do. It is the biblical thing to do.
Is it kind to write articles exposing someone we feel is wrong? Or off in their theology? Or differing in their interpretation of the Bible? What if some of the things you’ve heard or passed on are not entirely true? Or there is an element of truth – but mostly it is hearsay? What if it is true? Is it our responsibility to expose and broadcast? Should these things make us sad? Or glad? At times I admit that I may have had suspicions about someone and there it is in black and white right in front of me! I think to myself, “well it’s about time someone said that!” Shame on me. Instead this should grieve me and cause me to pray.
I believe that Christians are caught between being too forgiving, looking the other way, winking at sin and seeming soft. But often times the alternative is being overtly passionate and even being a bully for the sake of God’s truth and justice. There are times when we need to stand up for justice, those that are weaker and need someone to stand in the gap, help others who cannot help themselves, show Christian love. But I’m not referring to these cases. I’m referring to gossip, slander and judgement”.
Here is a simple kindness test:
1. When you read something negative about a leader, Christian or not – are you happy about it?
2. When someone you disagree with hurts you or says something unkind, do you want to retaliate?
3. Are you quick to cast judgement on events you know very little about?
4. Instead of praying for those in leadership, like our president – do you look for ways to undermine them or him and spread negative things?
If you answered yes to any of these – you probably need to practice a little more kindness.
When we practice these qualities of kindness, gentleness, and self control we will have to listen more and talk less. Bite our tongue in some cases. Be willing to look foolish. Pray for God’s wisdom and say nothing.
I am a work in progress. I have said plenty of unkind things over the years. I’ve had many unkind things said to me. I’m learning that I do more harm than good by stating my opinion. I try to weigh everything before I speak – or pass things along for others to read. I’m not perfect. I still mess up – but I’m trying to be more sensitive to the things that grieve the Holy Spirit and harm others. I try to treat others like I would like to be treated. I am learning that my opinion most of the time is not important. I realize that we all make mistakes and mess up and that it is God who is the final judge. I pray for others as I would hope that others would pray for me. My job is to be more like Christ. If this means that I say less and pray more – and look foolish for not having an opinion about someone – then so be it. I’m willing to risk it. And I am praying for the same thing for you.
Are you kind?
Here is a great throw back Thursday!
Enjoy and God Bless!
Would I know You now if You walked into the room
If you stilled the crowd–If You light dispelled the gloom
And if I saw Your wounds–Touched Your thorn pierced brow
I wonder if I’d know You now
Would I know You now if You walked into this place
Would I cause You shame–Would my games be Your disgrace
Or would I worship You–Fall down upon my face
I wonder if I’d know You now
Or have the images I’ve painted
So distorted who You are
That even if the world was looking
They could not see You–The real You
Have I changed the true reflection
To fulfill my own design
Making You what I want
Not showing You forth divine
Would I miss You now if You left and closed the door
Would my flesh cry out “I don’t need You anymore”
Or would I follow You–Seek to be restored
I wonder–I wonder
Will I ever learn
I wonder–Would I ever know You now
Copyright © 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. / All rights reserved.
Does anyone else struggle with the concept of prayer? Does it make you feel less than “spiritual” because you may have doubts in this department? Do you believe God always answers? Even when He answers against what you are believing and praying for? Do you believe that His will is always done here on earth? I do.
Somehow when I have doubts as to how I believe things work out (or don’t work out) – it feels like it goes against the way I was raised to feel or believe. My husband has called me a Calvinist because of some of these doubts and struggles. It is not that I don’t believe we should pray, rather I believe that God answers even when we don’t specifically pray for something. I believe that God created, sees and knows the bigger picture of our lives – and His ways and thoughts are so much bigger than ours. I don’t believe in using prayer as a “rabbit’s foot” – pulled out when we feel we are in serious crisis of mind, body and soul – but rather it should be an ongoing journey to listen and develop the mind of Christ.
Help me not to cry out just when I need something from you.
As Christians do we really believe that God is good all the time? - has our best interest at heart even though we cannot see it? Even if we haven’t prayed specifically for it? Yes. I believe that. Is prayer for God to change His eternal plans already set in motion? Or rather, is prayer for me? Certainly God does not need me to send my shopping list of requests to Him. He knows everything already, right? I believe prayer is a discipline for me that takes years to develop.
Today I found this today on Sandi Patty’s Blog:
Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman, once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She answered, “I listen.” So Rather turned the question and asked, “Well then, what does God say?” To that, Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, “He listens.” Rather didn’t know how to continue. He was baffled. “And if you don’t understand that,” Mother Teresa added, “I can’t explain it to you.”
Such a profound thought. You mean I don’t need to say or do anything? Yes. Listening to God’s voice is enough, but often times we cannot quiet our own thoughts to do this. I believe that prayer changes us. I believe this is why Jesus told us to pray. So that we might have understanding and insight. So that we might have quiet acceptance and resolve. Even when things don’t go my way. Even when He doesn’t give me what I want. Even when my bad choices produce difficulty in my life. Even when I am unhappy. Even when I live right and do everything by the book. Even when I follow all the rules and things still go wrong. Even when people die. Even when family members go the wrong way. Even when nothing happens when I pray.
I believe that by spending time with Jesus in submission to His plan and wisdom – we become bendable and pliable. It allows us to look at our circumstances differently. Maybe not at first – but spending time with Him eventually changes us. Even when it looks as though we are doing nothing. Even if it makes us look and feel weak, wimpy and submissive. Even when others around us urge us to be more aggressive in prayer. How are we going to get an answer if we aren’t willing to go there? What happens then, when after we are “aggressive” and exhausted from prayer – God does not answer. Is it our lack of faith? Is it our inability to “pray through”. Were we not aggressive enough? Did we do it wrong? What about those we pray for that do not get well? We didn’t pray enough? Or long enough? Such thoughts are contrary to the Bible.
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7,8
Take away my guilt.
Prayer is listening. Prayer is developing trust. Prayer is an open invitation for the Father to know us – and us to know Him. It is about relationship – not a shopping list of requests – prayed by anxious people.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6
I’m sure I will continue to struggle with this – even though as a believer, I should not. Having faith is believing that no matter what happens to me or those I love in this life – He has it under control. Nothing surprises Him or escapes His notice. Like a loving father who wants to protect, hurts when I hurt and wants so much to reassure even when I don’t understand that he loves all the time – He gets me. He has a plan bigger than I do. And even though I doubt and wonder if there is something more I should be doing or praying about – He still has it. All the time. This simple truth takes years of trust to develop – and I’m still working on it – one day at a time.
So in the meantime – I’m believing and trying to listen, Lord.
I watched a special last night on Oprah Prime. The topic was substance addition, prescription drug usage and street heroin. I had no idea that heroin addiction has doubled in the last 5 years! The statistics are alarming. Drug addiction doesn’t look like it used to. Addicts can look like your next door neighbor, the clerk at the store, a middle aged homemaker, a nurse at a hospital. Sometimes it starts with a medical procedure and prescription pain relievers and then when that is no longer affordable or available (depending upon insurance and refills) there can be problems. One alternative: Buying drugs on the street where they are cheap and available.
There is a problem in our community with addition – all kinds, from alcohol to meth. It is so sad to see what it does to families. The addiction takes over – nothing is more important. All common sense and reasoning goes out the window. Simple things like grocery shopping and paying rent become second only to the drug of choice.
What I found interesting in all the stories told from last nights episode was this: All have an emptiness that needs to be filled. Some expressed that it is a spiritual emptiness. And by “spiritual” they don’t necessarily mean a relationship with God (although I believe that is what would help the addiction problem) but an emotional/relationship emptiness and void that needs filling.
We often enjoy watching Hoarders and have remarked that all these people with this condition of “hoarding” seem to also have an emptiness or void that they try to fill through shopping and accumulations of “things”. It is a very real and growing problem in our world today. And every one of them – almost without exception, had something traumatic happen to them at a young or impressionable age. Sometimes it was even something later, like the death of a child or loved one – a financial reversal or loss of job. Whatever the reason, there are common elements to addiction and disorders such as hoarding.
Self loathing, hatred, feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are also a common theme. Last night in the interview, Russell Brand confessed to his years of struggle with drug addiction. Now more than 10 years sober – he says every day is still a struggle. As he explained how the drugs – particularly heroin makes you feel – it is no wonder that it can pull people in and set them up to fail. It is an unending cycle of dependency and abuse. He has seen many senseless deaths of friends caught in the trap of addiction and understands all too well how it happens. But I was struck most by his comment, “There was a voice in my head that wanted me dead” That made me sit up and take notice. Do I believe that voice is demonic in nature? Yes. Absolutely. It’s just like Satan.
” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Crazy scary stuff! But it also makes sense. People lose themselves in the feeling that takes over their lives and nothing else matters. It is a form of suicide, just like anorexia. A self loathing of immense proportions. And I recognize that this is evil and demonic. Satan wants us all dead. That’s his agenda, and he’s not good at hiding it.
This makes me very sad.
As a Christian I can see another side to addiction. I can see life, health, purpose, prosperity of the soul, forgiveness, common sense, kindness, honesty, giving, graciousness and most of all…love.
Christianity is not just a crutch – like so many out there looking for something to fill that empty void. Christ is the filling. The freedom He gives us is not just a temporary “fix” – it is a way of living. It lasts. It endures. It lengthens life and relationships. Not just in this lifetime – but the next one too. It does not rob. It gives. When we don’t have to just depend on ourselves for “things” to fix us or fulfill us, but instead can give ourselves over to a loving God who not only created us – but has a plan for us – it changes things. It takes the pressure off. Gives purpose. Gives life, a clear and sober mind, health of body and most of all – fills the void inside. Because He loves us – it doesn’t matter what others may have done to us – His plan and purpose for us is always healthy, always reassuring and always builds us up rather than tearing us down. When we are full of love from Him – we are free to love others and give to others out of that love. It is a release from the prison that others find themselves in.
Those of us who find ourselves free from addiction are very fortunate. But being fortunate does not give license to be judgmental or critical to those who are. Instead of looking at people with addictions as weak, stupid, or even hardened criminals – we need to look on them with compassion and the love of Christ. As a Christian this can be the hardest thing of all. The “I’m OK – you’re NOT OK” seems to fit most of us with a healthy lifestyle. The “how stupid” or “what a weak person” comments are never far from our thoughts. If only “they” were just like me. If only they had real resolve and will power they wouldn’t be in this fix or lifestyle. We say these senseless things without having any idea the journey others are on.
Dear Jesus – soften our hearts to accept others with their addictions and problems – just as they are. Help us to see them as you see them – broken but wonderful creations loved by you. Help us live in such a way that those that are bound by things here on earth will see YOU in US. And by seeing YOU – they will want what you offer – hope, freedom, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, purpose and health. Help us live in such a way that you are attractive. That You would be a real solution to a huge unsolvable way of life. I pray that the inner void would be filled by something that will last – a relationship with you. And that I would be aware and take an active part in bringing about real change. This is my prayer. Help us. Humble us. Teach us. Break our hearts. Amen.
We are right in the middle of a 4-week training for our rescue pup – Dexter. He will be 2 next month and has some fear/anxiety which makes him act out in aggressive ways toward people – especially those he does not know. Most of the time this is good. He’s a watch dog – protective and always guarding the perimeter. It is nice to know when strangers are lurking near-by. But when this behavior is any time and with any and all people it must stop.
One of the most powerful things we have learned in the class is the phrase “Leave it”. This applies to any and all things. From food dropped on the floor to people dropping over to say “Hi” – he is learning to “Leave it” – stop what he wants to do (rip their throat out or at very least bite their ankles) and stand by. Our trainer, Wendy says it’s a “win” if you can get them to stop fixating on something, either an object such as food or a toy – or a person and actually look away.
A training exercise was ensued in class last night using toys and treats thrown in the center of the room. The objective was to take our dog on a little stroll over near the toys and treats and get them to “leave it” and look away. This actually was not hard for Dexter. Both our Bichon and Shih-poo are picky little eaters and they simply don’t like most dog treats. To ask him to leave the treats was not the problem with him pulling on the leash. The problem for him? THE OTHER DOGS IN THE ROOM. He was fearful and VERY distracted by 20 LARGE dogs looking at him.
Dexter is about 12 pounds fully grown. Besides a 5 pound chihuahua and a 15 pound mixed breed – he is one of only 3 small dogs in the class. There are 20 other large dogs in the class. You do the math. Yesterday we were privileged to have a seat by the Alaskan Siberian Husky (Wow those are BEAUTIFUL DOGS!!) who is still a puppy. At about 70 pounds – he will be HUGE! There is another northern dog in our class and was sitting close to the Husky. Wendy finally had to separate the two of them. It is interesting to see those dogs eyeballing each other and every other dog in the room. Wendy told us this is how dog fights start. They eyeball each other and fight for the dominant position. So poor Dexter was given the place of honor (or stupidity) by the Husky – affectionately named “Snoopy”. Snoopy took one look at Dexter – knew he was no problem and would not challenge him and began to calm down. (WHEW! – He even had me on edge!)
It is a 2 hour class once a week. Yesterday it was in the mid 90’s here in Yakima. The room where the training is – although well ventilated and open to the outdoors at the back – has no air conditioning. Because the dogs were hot – it was easier to calm them and have them sit through the long training session. But when one dog got riled up – an interesting dynamic happened in the room. All the large dogs reacted. They barked and pulled – straining to get to another dog and rip their faces off! Our trainer has established herself as the “lead dog” in our pack – and they respect her. She keeps a squirt bottle of water on her person and has to spray the dogs often to get them to calm down. I watch Dexter as this drama unfolds around him. He instinctively seems to know his place in the pack. He remains seated and calm – being as small as possible by my chair.
The phrase “Leave it” is used OFTEN in our class. So many comical things happen when training dogs – and I just have to laugh at some of them!
If only “Leave it” were as easy with us humans! We fixate, we stew, we scheme, we plot – we’re not so much different from dogs in this way. Unfortunately we don’t leave it. Even when we know we need to. Leave it and look away. We would all be better off doing this for all those unhealthy distractions we encounter on a daily basis.
Learning some great things in that class…
Wake Up, Stand Up, and Live Free! We must all stand in our power to choose only Honor and Love.
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