the wounded.

the wounded.

Over the years, I have thought a lot about the 2 greatest commandments God has given Christians.

Love God with all your heart, soul, and strength.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

(yes, as yourself)

Jesus spoke these commandments to the Pharisees, who he defined as law promoting, rule following, loveless hypocrites, known for their self righteous religion and pride.

They clashed with Jesus.

I wonder. Do we ever clash with Jesus?

Have we ever found ourselves promoting the law over loving a person and patiently allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them?

Do we find ourselves fulfilled in our faith because we follow the rules?

Have we ever fooled ourselves and rationalized a sin, making an exception?

Are we self righteous because we would not do that sin?

Are we prideful in our position at church? In the way we relate to others? Especially those who share our faith?

Have we dishonored anyone with our straightforwardness through “telling the truth in love”?

How is it that after our lives get on the straight and narrow, we become judge and jury for others? That like the unforgiving debtor, who was shown mercy and forgiven a huge debt, threw someone in prison for owing him a small debt?

We may not be a Pharisee, per say, but we certainly can find their sins in our own hearts.

If we’re honest.

Today, with all of the access to books, pod casts, 24/7 television programming, conferences, preaching, teaching, Bible studies, and more, our lives are filled with knowledge.

But really, are we any different than 5, 10, 30 years ago?

 But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

                                                                   1 Corinthians 8

The remedy for pride, self righteousness, rule promoting and law abiding, is the patient, kind, humble, honoring others sacrificial love God has loved us with.

This is my commandment: love each other in the same way I have loved you.

1 John 15:12

That doesn’t mean we don’t follow the scripture. There is so much guidance because God loves us and knows the danger of going our own way.

We follow the scripture because we love Him. Period.

Not for any other reason.

And we love others because we love Him. Period.

Not for any other reason.

When we love people the way God tells us to, we are doing far more for them than giving them the rules first, which is often what happens.

Because they need to love God first so they will keep the rules.

People get hurt in church. And far too often they are not loved the way God says to love them.

They are told, “there is no perfect church.”

Or we go to the scripture to point out where their attitude or behavior is wrong.

That is not patient, kind, honoring, and humble. It carries with it an automated response that teeters on being arrogant from all of the knowledge we’ve gained.

It is not taking the wounded and bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, or enduring all things. Instead, it is failing. And when all the prophesying, tongues of angels, and knowledge comes to an end, it is only love that will remain.

There are people in our churches who must learn to persevere and endure hardship when there are disagreements. We grow through difficulty and suffering.

But too often, people are given a solution without the validation that comes with love.

I imagine churches being so filled with 1 Corinthians 13 love, which is much harder than giving the rules, because it requires sacrifice (love your neighbor as much as you love yourself).

A place where there is patience and kindness.

A place of humility.

A place of honor.

The world is watching. Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by our love for each other.

Love defined in 1 Corinthians 13. If we want a rule, there it is.

If you have been hurt in church, don’t turn away from God.

Church is good and it is part of God’s design for you. God wants us to be committed to each other because no matter what, Jesus Christ and Him crucified binds us together, even with our differences.

Church is vital to the Christian life.

But if circumstances beyond your control have placed you in a season of not having a church, do not feel rejected, disqualified, discouraged, or labeled.

There is an old saying that’s been around for decades: Christians shoot their wounded.

Sadly, this is often true.

Love. Forgive. Be comforted.

Let God help you, guide you, and love you.

Nothing escapes God’s knowledge.

He is over all.

path

 

 

be of good cheer.

be of good cheer.

The hay is swaying in the breeze through the old porch windows centered between peeling paint.

The ceiling fan hums, an occasional bird sings, the dog sighs.

Sweet paprika and thyme begins to permeate from the oven while the carrots, turnip, onion, and parsnips are waiting.

Tears well up in my eyes now and then.

There’s this. And then there’s that.

All the thoughts of what is not just, what is not right, and just plain why – tumble around in my head.

They’ve been there for quite some time.

I guess today, it was time for them to come forward.

An over used scripture (if there is such a thing) will not do.

A chin up! or this too shall pass, will not suffice.

Only God will do.

But wait. Isn’t scripture God? Isn’t faith and patience and perseverance God?

Maybe we’ve confused one for the other.

When you’ve walked through the darkest place on earth, and do not come out with shouts of praise and hallelujahs, people are strangely silent.

But they don’t know what to say she said.

And the words poured caustically into my bleeding heart.

I thought God spoke through his people. I thought we would do greater things than Jesus.

No one knows what to say?

Instead, they move along at an intentional pace.

To the early Christian, trusting God meant more than a teary-eyed testimony about the time I came to trust the Lord. It meant believing that even if obedience to God entailed great suffering, God was trustworthy to bring a person through it.

No time to sit and be silent and know.

No time to ask, what did you see in that valley? Was God there? What did he say?

But no one asked.

God tells you secrets. And I will tell you what to share and not to share.

But no one listened.

If you can’t speak to your own, how will you speak to the world?

wild iris

In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

have faith in God.

have faith in God.

Some speak to mountains

and do not doubt

and the people marvel.

Have faith in God.

Some wield a stone

at the impending doom

as the threat falls to the ground.

Have faith in God.

Ravenous lions bow

tumultuous seas rest.

Step out of the boat

and let us see

your faith.

Take a risk.

Stake a claim.

Lights. Camera. Action.

But then the Lord looks down upon

things not seen.

The trusting ones

patient suffering

of trials proving genuine faith

just because you have not seen Him

yet you love Him

still.

Have faith in God.

The unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit

so precious to God.

A cup of water

the extra mile.

A stable

a donkey.

A gentle whisper

a still, small voice.

Have faith in God.

Submition

Photo by CIRILOMAN on Foter.com / CC BY

 

the brokenhearted.

the brokenhearted.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

-The Bible

I wonder what God thinks ..

I wonder how God feels ..

When someone is overwhelmed by disappointment, sorrow or grief.

When someone’s spirit is crushed.

He is close to them.

I wonder what God thinks ..

I wonder how God feels ..

When someone does those things to another.

And does not acknowledge.

And does not admit.

And does not apologize ..

knowing the disappointment, sorrow or grief

they caused.

I wonder what God thinks ..

I wonder how God feels ..

When it happens in his Church.

And the brokenhearted continue to diligently watch over their hearts ..

forgiving

shunning bitterness

over and over

and over.

I know what God thinks ..

I know how God feels ..

He is close to them ..

since He knows all things.

Just a lonely heart...:))

Photo by Morgana on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

do not despair.

do not despair.

The earth comes alive with fresh spring colors, celebrating rebirth.

Hidden eggs and colorful candy, butter yellow chicks and soft rabbits.

Cream colored lilies adorning churches.

Daffodils and tulips sway in the breeze.

Best Sunday dresses and ties to match.

Hymns and prayers, messages of hope.

Not everyone joins in the celebration.

A young mother is facing her fourth surgery today.

A family grieves the suicide of their loved one.

A couple have separated.

All around us, people are facing something.

Through faith men have conquered kingdoms

gained what was promised

and shut the mouths of lions.

Quenched flames 

escaped the edge of the sword

and women received their dead back to life again. 

But some did not.

There is suffering in life.

Repulsive, horrific, tragic, tormenting agony.

We question why? How can a “good” God allow such pain?

He did not remove it but God literally left his holiness and stepped into a world of corruption, depravity, and wickedness, in the human form of a man, to save it.

Perhaps it is because without the human form he would have obliterated earth entirely because of his holiness.

God wanted to show his love in a way we could understand. Jesus took on all of the depravity of mankind on the cross.

3 days later he came back to life, showing us He is God.

Who else would have power over death?

This is the hope of those who are happily celebrating today.

This is the hope of those who are not.

How is it that some get answers to prayers?

How is that some do not?

It’s easy to celebrate when there was a good outcome.

It is not easy to celebrate when there wasn’t.

Let’s remember

those who were all commended for their faith

yet none of them received what had been promised

since God had planned something better

so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Hold onto that hope today.

God didn’t give to one and not to you.

God gives those who are suffering comfort and peace.

God sees.

God knows.

God is with you.

God promises that one day, he will make it right.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

-The Bible

close up environment flora ground
Photo by David Alberto Carmona Coto on Pexels.com

 

how small we are.

how small we are.

We know it.

But then we don’t know it.

As I write, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is burning.

A cathedral which took 200 years to build.

856 years old.

A landmark.

History.

Parisians were standing by helplessly. Even the firefighters.

There is so much that is bigger than us.

God in his mercy, did not create us to think about this all the time.

Yet, when tragedy strikes, we stop everything and remember

how small we are.

And while there is much pain and sadness at our losses, these things are tucked away in God’s heart.

Because the most important concern on God’s mind is how we relate to him.

On Good Friday this week, Christians remember how the Creator of the universe stepped out of his perfect, holy sanctuary to love the world in the form of a man, his son, Jesus.

We often give credence to the spectacular. It captures our attention.

But Jesus was born in a barn.

He died for sin. There was no other way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God.

When we are gripped with loss, God works it for our good, that we would remember

how small we are.

Image result for notre dame cathedral

cityam.com

 

 

imperfect church.

imperfect church.

Questions asked, communication fails, walk away with empty hands,

and an empty heart,

“there is no perfect church”.

Memory prompts thoughts of past hurts made without apology with the oh-so-common response of “I’m not perfect”.

One is an answer to accept and the other side steps acknowledgment.

And it’s love that covers the failure because love your neighbor.

I’m sorry for the hurt you were caused by the imperfect church.

I’m sorry you expected more. Not perfection. Just more.

More hearing.

More compassion.

More understanding.

More grace.

More love.

The unconditional kind of love you would expect from God.

The kind you have heard about,

the kind you were told,

but didn’t see.

The imperfect church does not reflect a perfect God.

go and do the same.

go and do the same.

Love is the one thing people want.

Love is the one thing God wants.

The world needs love because God loves the world.

Through Christians, love should be evident. Love should be the opposite of what people deserve because God loved the world despite what it deserved.

Here is what love is:

Patient.

Kind.

Protective.

Trusting.

Hopeful.

Persevering.

Here is what love is not:

Proud.

Jealous.

Boastful.

Dishonoring of others.

Self-seeking.

Easily angered.

God tells us this:

If it were possible, if one understands all the hidden mysteries of life, have all the knowledge that exists, execute enough faith to move a mountain, give everything they own to the poor, and sacrifice their body to death, but if they did not love, they are nothing.

We would say aren’t all these things proof of my love?

According to God, apparently not.

We can do all kinds of things for God and in the name of God, but not really love.

Love costs us something. It requires we treat others the way we want to be treated.

We can spin it however we want but God knows our heart.

The two greatest commandments:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

God wants us to love him and love our neighbor.

The way we do this is we are patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, and persevering.

The way we do not do this is when we are prideful, jealous, arrogant, demanding, dishonoring, self-seeking, and easily angered.

When the world looks at Christians, this is what they should see. We are lights in the world. We represent God’s love for the world.

Anything less is just noise.

Noise that sounds like cymbals crashing.

Noise that does not settle gently into a weary soul.

The way God came for you.

Photo by Saved by Grace (100% God, 0% Me) on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

it’s not fair.

it’s not fair.

Recently, I substituted a class of 5th graders at a local public school. The teacher asked me to talk about the character trait “fairness” as part of the Positivity Project.

I asked if anyone had a personal story they would like to share about a time they thought they were being treated unfairly.

Almost every hand went up.

Every one of us would raise our hand, too.

Is there any one thing that is more hurtful? Genuinely being treated unfairly?

There are no pat answers for unfairness. But there are many scriptures offering real help to manage our feelings and understanding.

Unfortunately, it requires waiting in a very activity-driven world.

This doesn’t mean you should be used. There is a place for speaking up and addressing it.

But often, we find ourselves without a resolution. How do we live without becoming cynical, bitter, or miserable?

Unfairness in not relative. God cares about it. The arrogant or less compassionate often interpret for the rest of us but God has the final say.

He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. Psalm 9:8

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you. 2 Thessalonians 1:6

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

We think God doesn’t notice when he didn’t stop it or doesn’t fix it.

God doesn’t think the way we do. But he doesn’t leave us without a solution.

Life on earth will end.

Eternity is forever.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

road landscape nature forest
Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

the silent ones.

the silent ones.

They watch.

They listen.

They see.

They speak, but are not heard.

They wait for the Lord to take up their cause.

Please make it right.

They find the courage to speak but are put in their place.

There is nothing to see here.

They go back to silence.

But God, it hurts so much.

God sees.

God knows.

In His Church.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com