Life is hard at times–so never forget to laugh! Which one describes you? Mine is 1, 2, 3, 4, and probably 10…
(DISCLAIMER: Remember that Throw-It-Out-There Thursday may be considered offensive to some. This week’s post may be offensive to many. Reader caution is advised.)
Last week I said one day I might deal with this subject. Well that day has come. Today’s subject is about what has become to many an acceptable form of child abuse. I am NOT making light of child abuse that happens every day. I’m with Jesus on abusing and misusing children. He said in Matthew 18:6–“But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.“
But there’s a new form of child abuse that has become acceptable, even considered politically correct. No one is going to jail for it. There is little or no outcry against this misuse and abuse of children. And the greatest tragedy is that there are adults who will say I’m wrong and accuse me of ignoring real child abuse. This issue IS real abuse of children. So consider this the voice of a prophet who feels like he’s crying out in a wilderness.
Here is the New Acceptable Form of child abuse: People are treating children as if they are adults. The other day I was getting my daily dose of Andy Andrews In The Loop podcasts and he was addressing this very issue. Many have lost the reality–and I don’t mean the “reality TV” kind of reality, but real, as it actually happens reality—that children are NOT fully equipped adults capable of making the best decisions about their life. Heck (pardon my French), I know a lot of “adults” who are NOT fully capable of making the best decisions about their life. And it seems to me, in my humble opinion, that adults who are NOT fully capable of making the best decisions about their life are encouraging their children and parents of children to allow children to make adult-level decisions.
But a 3 year old, 6 year old, 8 year old, 12 year old, 17 year old–they are not fully capable of making decisions for and about themselves. Yes, as they get older and IF they are given the proper wisdom, they can begin to make some decisions–but still they are NOT fully capable of making the best decisions about their life. How they “feel”, what they want–this is why discipline is so essential and important.
By discipline I don’t mean punishment–I’m talking about teaching children to give up one thing in order to obtain something much better. Discipline equals training. Would you want an untrained military protecting your nation? Would you want untrained doctors operating on you? Would you want an untrained plumber working on your home? Then why in blue blazes are so many refusing or afraid to discipline their children? It’s like saying those children are NOT really important. And that, my friends, is CHILD ABUSE!
Children need to understand that they are not the Final Authority. They do not have the wherewithal to make adult level decisions. Yet this is what’s happening. A few years ago a friend of mine was telling me about something that happened to his daughter, a Kindergarten teacher. One year a “mother”, and I use this term very loosely; maybe I should say “the person who gave birth to this child”–came in and told her that her child was exploring to find themselves. One day her son may come to school as a girl, and the next come as a boy. And this alleged Mom wanted the teacher to treat and call that child according to the way they were dressed on that particular day. Child abuse, I say, Child Abuse!
They are allowing and even encouraging them to live by their “feelings”. I now refer you to a previous post, Is It Safe To Live According To Our Feelings? It is never safe to live solely by our feelings. And you can’t just do that. You could say, “But their heart’s in the right place.” NO IT’S NOT! NO! NO! NO! And yes, I hit the cap lock and bold on purpose! Stop the abuse of NOT ‘training’ / ‘disciplining’ children by treating them as fully functional adults capable of making wise decisions. The truth is, they are not capable. But they can be capable with discipline and giving them wisdom.
Today’s Wednesday Wondering came to me easily. A friend of ours, Savannah, gave birth to a handsome young man, McCoy. However, McCoy was born with a condition called Biliary Artesia (read here if you want to know more about this condition). The only cure is either a miracle or a liver transplant (which IS a miracle, itself). I and literally thousands have been praying for Savannah and McCoy. Speaking only for myself (though I’m sure lots of others have been doing this), I have been doing what Jesus told us to do: Ask, seek, knock.
I’ve kept on ASKING, and I’ve kept SEEKING, and more than knocking, I’ve kept on POUNDING ON THE DOOR for McCoy’s miracle. A liver transplant would require a donor–either someone who died and was a organ donor (and I certainly wasn’t praying for that) or a living donor; someone who would share a part of their liver. And it requires what doctors call tissue match that would fit into McCoy’s DNA.
I am rejoicing this morning to tell you that McCoy’s miracle has happened. Savannah wanted to give a part of her liver to McCoy but couldn’t be a living donor because she had a Cesarean Section. As I understand it, people who have had a surgical procedure within the last year do not qualify as a Living Donor. And that’s not the end of McCoy’s miracle journey. Savannah’s Mom, Stacey, fit the bill perfectly. Yesterday she shared a part of her (in Stacey’s husband’s words) “slightly used but in like new condition” liver.
The picture I shared at the top of this post shows the results. In just hours after the transplant McCoy changed. Savannah changed. Stacey and the whole family changed. Their friends changed. The community of Sulligent changed. All because one person shared a part of themselves to another person, another life!
We’re quick to give some people a piece of our mind; and I know some who really can’t afford to do that because don’t have much of a mind to begin with–and it keeps getting smaller and smaller. And today I invite you to wonder–WONDER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU GAVE A PIECE OF YOURSELF FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER? Not a piece of your mind–you can’t spare it and it’s not a match for what that other person needs.
I’m talking about investing and sacrificing your life for the sake of someone who needs more than a piece of your mind. It’s not easy; just ask Stacey. Pain is involved. But is it worth it? I refer you back to the above picture of before and after Stacey shared a part of herself with McCoy. You tell me if it’s worth it. You darn tootin’ it’s worth it!
Footnote: If you would like to be a Living Donor here’s a link with more information. And if you haven’t yet thought about it, think about sharing your organs as a Living Legacy. Click here for more information.
I know I’m a little late today. . .OK, a whole lot late. But it’s still Tuesday and I do have some thoughts. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about: What If All You Know Is All You Know? No, I’m not venturing into the dark side of intellectual pursuit, otherwise known as Philosophy. I’m serious about this. This may appear to some as an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. Hang tight! How you think about what you think you know will either ground you for life–or set you on the greatest of all adventures.
There are two ways of thinking; others may disagree with me but it’s OK for them to be wrong. There is Circular Thinking and there is what I would call Seeking Wisdom Thinking. Educators, psychologists, and most of all philosophers, would tell us there’s more than 2 ways of thinking. They probably could come up with some other ways of thinking but ultimately they are but expressions of one of these patterns.
People who think in Circular Patterns are driven by a set of facts and values that have already been established for them. They take what they see as factual and reliable to think, form opinions and plan their life by what they know. I call it a Circular Pattern because everything they know is inside that circle. If an idea, belief or opinion comes at them outside that circle, it’s immediately rejected. For Circular Pattern Thinkers are going in circles with their lives and wonder why they are’t getting anywhere.
They limit themselves to a limited source of knowledge. All they know is all they know; and they never look beyond themselves. Thus, their life and dreams are limited. The problem with Circular Patterns is that there is not enough information–nor will there ever be enough information to make anyone more than just ORDINARY.
The other pattern is the Seeking Wisdom Pattern. People here are not confined to set sources of knowledge. These are the No-Limit kind of thinkers. No, they are not those who “think outside the box”. We have tons of people outside the box who are outside the box, but still ordinary. Wisdom Seekers will never be content with average. No, they want to soar and excel in life. They know that Wisdom comes from beyond what someone knows. Wisdom that lasts and causes us to soar in life has one source–and that is God.
Here’s the thing about Wisdom. It is not limited to what we think. Truth is, it often contradicts what we think. Sometimes it does not make logical sense and contradicts the world view. And it’s this world view that has caused much of the mess we are in. Knowledge is found in books and people’s stories and comes from a very limited perspective. Wisdom only comes out of Eternity, out of the heart and mind of God.
Remember what James wrote in James 1:5–“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Average comes out of knowledge. But greatness–that, my friends, only comes out of Wisdom.
And here’s my conclusion–If All You Know Is What You Know, You Don’t Know Enough–And You’re Operating Without Wisdom.
One more word about Wisdom–this one from this guy named Solomon:
6 Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.Proverbs 4:6-7
Love her, and she will guard you.
7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
Last Tuesday I was on my way to the hospital in Tupelo, Mississippi to see a parishioner and a very good friend who has Stage 4 cancer. I’ve been praying for his healing and it seemed like God wasn’t listening, or at least doing what I thought He should do. It’s about an hour and a half drive from home, so I had some time to do something other than thinking, about my friend and my soon to be 94 year old Dad. He had been having a difficult week. I needed a distraction–not from my driving–but from my thoughts.
I decided to listen to some podcasts from one of my mentors (who doesn’t know me)–Andy Andrews. I find him insightful and humorous. God knows I needed a laugh, and I hoped Andy wouldn’t disappoint me. He didn’t. But about 15 minutes into my hour and a half drive, the podcast was interrupted by a text. So I did the safe thing and found a place to pull over and check out the text. And here is what I saw:
I started to reply with one word: Thanks. But that would have been deceptive by me. So I told my friend, Matthew Winters, exactly what I was struggling with. By the way, Matthew has started blogging again with a new direction. You can check him out HERE! Commercial over, back to Monday’s Musing.
At the moment I needed help, God sent me help. But it took someone else to bring me that help. In this case, it was Matthew. And this morning I’m thinking about a particular passage, Philippians 2:4 (NLT)
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
That afternoon God spoke and Matthew was listening–and God’s grace once again renewed my heart and mind. Matthew took an interest in me; his heart was directed to me; and Matthew was obedient to God. And here’s the point I want to make, and it’s in the form of a question:
God is wanting to help someone who is in a struggle–and He’s chosen you to send His help. ARE YOU LISTENING?
Only by having a deep walk with Jesus and The Holy Spirit can you be in a place where you can hear God speaking. Like a 911 Operator, God is saying, “Help is on the way!” Make sure you’re “on call” to receive His Dispatch.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Matthew is a great friend and inspiration to me. We’ve never met face to face, but we have talked on the phone, and from time to time…a timely text. I encourage all my followers to follow Matthew.
This is not my first rodeo with blogging. For over four years, I wrote a blog that was, in the end, called “Honest Thoughts from a Pastor”. God made it clear in the final months that the blog had to go.
After some time to pray and reboot, you are reading a blog that I pray will encourage those who have been wounded in the fight. We all have scars. We all, like Jacob in his encounter with what is believed to be the pre-incarnate Christ, walk with a limp. Your scars or limp may be from addiction, divorce, or some form of abuse. Whatever it is, there is hope for you.
As I write, I will write about difficulties and scars. But I won’t stop there. God doesn’t want you to stay in your difficulties. He wants you to triumph. He wants you to use those difficulties to help…
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(Today’s story happened in 2004, but it will always be a part of the unfolding story of who I am and who I am becoming)
Would It Be OK?
When Debbie and I started dating, it wasn’t long before I met her granddaughter, Rileigh Breeze. I quickly became known by her as “that ‘nother Randy.” I was known as “that ‘nother Randy” because they had a long time family friend also named Randy. So, when Rileigh Breeze talked about “Randy”, she needed a way to clarify which “Randy” she was talking about. Now to her, it just made sense to call me “that ‘nother Randy” since the first “Randy” had been a part of her life for longer than I had been. One day she was telling her “Auntie” something Randy had said. But she quickly added, “Not Randy Randy, but Grammaw’s Randy. You know, that ‘nother Randy.”
It wasn’t long before I was known in Debbie’s family as “that ‘nother Randy.” And I was OK with that designation. It certainly eased the confusion as to which Randy was being discussed. It made for clarity in communication, and besides, it was a cute and humorous way that Rileigh Breeze had made this distinction between the two Randy’s. Without something to make us distinctive, it would be confusing to know which one was which. (If you think it would be confusing to have two family friends named Randy, how about 3 different people not only sharing the same first name, but also the same last name. Yes, there are at least 3 different people named, you guessed it: Randy Burbank; and yes, we are all cousins. And please, no comments about the “Bob Newhart” show: This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.)
Debbie and I had been dating almost a year when I asked her to become my wife and partner in God’s ministry. Not long after we announced to her family that we would be married, Rileigh Breeze was talking with her Grammaw about what this meant and the changes that would occur; the biggest of which would be that Grammaw would move across the state, 2 hours away. As best we can remember, during the conversation, she asked, “Grammaw, would it be OK if I called him Grampaw instead of that `nother Randy?” And the first time she called out, “Hey, Grampaw” I knew something special had happened.
Of course, she melted my heart, but something else happened. Our relationship changed from one of friends, to that of family. Even though there is not a genealogical connection, even though there is no shared DNA between Breeze and myself, she is and will always be one of my granddaughters, and I will always be her Grampaw. The cultural designation would be she is a step-granddaughter, but not in my heart. Debbie and I do not have step-grandchildren, only grandchildren. It was amazing to me the first time I heard Rileigh Breeze call me “Grampaw”. Our relationship changed and took on a lot more depth; and it all happened when she called me by the name: Grampaw.
Moral Of The Story
When God calls us by name, there is, without a doubt, a sound of love in the way He does it. I knew there was a deepening of love between Breeze and myself, but it didn’t hit me until she called me by the name, “Grammpaw”! God is constantly calling to us by name, and I want to encourage you not to be too busy so as to miss that moment. Every time God calls you by name is a sacred and powerful moment that offers to change our relationship with Him with ourselves, and with others.
And why does God call us by name? Because He has said: “For I have ransomed you.” Ransom is an interesting word in the Hebrew language. It means: “to act as a kinsman (family member).” God wants us to know we can experience a family relationship with Him. When I married Breeze’s Grammaw, I was no longer a friend, I was a family member and she acknowledged that with my new name. God wants us to know that we are kin, we are family.
(If this is your first visit to my blog, or just in case you have been here before and forgotten, Throw It Out There Thursday is a look at cultural and social issues and thoughts. Nothing is sacrosanct and it may be offensive to some. And today is no exception)
Once I saw a picture that said: “One day Twitter, Facebook and YouTube will merge into one and it will be called YOU TWIT FACE!” And a recent post on Twitter made me wonder it that isn’t about to happen. Here, let me show you the screenshot (the name has been redacted to protect the guilty party:
This is wrong on so many levels; where do I begin? Let’s start with what’s missing. Do the parents of this 5 year old know what Auntie is teaching their child? Worse yet, are they OK with it? Now let’s look at the obvious. Who appointed Auntie to instill and ingrain values into this 5 year old? What’s the “age-appropriate way” to talk with a 5 year old about abortion? And look at this line again:
Excuse me, that sounds like a threat to me. “You better behave yourself or Auntie, Mommy and Daddy will abort you.” It also sounds like Auntie is teaching this 5 year old that this life is all about what you want, or in the case of an abortion, what you don’t want. OK, one more screenshot:
OK Auntie Snowflake, that’s it! Enough is enough. Let me set the record straight for you Auntie Snowflake. She doesn’t get it! For heaven’s sake, she’s 5 years old and lacks the cognizant abilities required to process anything in a mature and adult-like manner. (Maybe next week I’ll have something to say about how treating young children as if they are adults is a form of child abuse).
And Auntie Snowflake, It’s NOT quite simple! In cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger–an abortion may be the appropriate action. Yet even in these cases, it’s not simple. It’s complicated to reach the decision to end another human life. Auntie Snowflake, it IS a human life and your conclusion that it isn’t or that it has the potential to be quite a handful or that someone doesn’t want to be a parent is…well since you like simple, I’ll put it in simple terms: WRONG! You do not have the “right” to make a complicated decision a simple decision.
At the risk of sounding like a late-night Infomercial Star–But wait! There’s more! I followed the link Auntie Snowflake shared, and here is just a portion of that link: (click here for the entire story)
Really? It’s easier than you think? Wow! Snowflakes everywhere! I’m not saying there should be NO conversations about abortion with our kids; but those conversations need to be open and honest–not just one view. And we don’t need to treat kids as adults–sometimes less is more when it comes to kids. You can tell them that it’s a complicated issue that is hard for them to understand at this time in their life, but when they get a little older, you can talk more. Or, you can wait until they ask the question. Even better, pray for wisdom on WHEN the moment is appropriate. But I question if the conversation below was really beneficial and productive:
OK, Amiya, 2 questions for you to answer. First, why did you immediately know abortion was what you needed to do? Second, why were you so emotional in the days leading up to your abortion if abortion was what you needed to do? Obviously you aren’t related to Auntie Snowflake who says it’s quite simple. Amiya, my concern is the value system you are teaching your 12 year old daughter to embrace. If it’s inconvenient or doesn’t fit your Life Plan, then end another human life. Just remember, Amiya, that one day you will be old and will be a handful yourself and an inconvenience to your daughter. What have you taught her about what to do? Well, post-partum abortion is the solution. Let’s just end your life. And according to Auntie Snowflake, It’s just that simple!
“Feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my feelings of love.” If you listened to music in 1974, you know this song. Is it stuck in your head now? Then tell yourself, “Self, I am not going to be singing that song to myself for rest of the day!” Good luck with that! This Wednesday I am wondering about feelings–no not the song; rather the feelings that come from within us.
Can we live a full, productive, even successful life based on our feelings? We hear a lot in our culture about “feelings”. In our culture, feelings seem to be the landmark of defining one’s identity. We also hear a lot about emotions. In my own way I want to address this and specifically how that feelings and emotions are not one in the same. I want you to be able to distinguish the difference between a feeling and an emotion.
The are NOT the same. I realize that some of you may disagree with me, and say I’m wrong. It’s OK for you to disagree with me and tell me I need to change this thought of mine. I could agree with you that I’m wrong on this–but then we’d both be wrong. Anyway. . .here’s the difference between a feeling and an emotion.
A feeling is something we believe to be true. . .about ourselves. . .or another person/group. . .or a situation we have faced, are facing, or may face. Feelings are just that–something that we believe to be true about ourselves, another person, or a particular situation. I’m not talking about what IS ACTUALLY TRUE, but what WE BELIEVE is true.
Now, let’s get to that other word: Emotions! Emotions are our response to those feelings; whether they are our feelings about ourselves, another person, or that particular situation. Emotions are the way we express the response to our feelings. If you have no feelings, you have no emotions. If you have no emotions, you have no feelings.
Now, feelings and emotions were created by God for us as human beings. Feelings and emotions are both gifts from God that reflect a part of HIS Image that HE placed in each person. We cannot deny them. We cannot ignore them. And we cannot downplay the role they have in us successfully becoming a whole person. We need both feelings and emotions if we are going to become the best possible self that God created for us to be.
However. . .well, let me use a “preacher” term here: BUT! Yeah, yeah, the preacher’s but. Just when you think you’ve got something good going on, that blessed preacher inserts his or her BUT! Don’t you just love a preacher’s but! I want to center in on “feelings” But feelings do not give us our true identity as a person created in the image of God. Feelings are simply what we believe to be true about ourselves. Because we believe our feelings are true about ourselves, we allow those feelings to give us our Identity–to define who we believe we really are.
Now God gave us the capacity to have feelings. He gave us the ability to have emotions. These are just a part of God’s identity–but they do not give God HIS Identity. They are a wonderful part of that unique blend of so many parts. Just like you can’t have a cake with just eggs, or just flour, or just sugar or just milk. You got to have all those other ingredients–and don’t forget all those extra “flavorings” you can add that changes everything about a cake.
Feelings are not the whole of a simple organism; feelings are a part of a very complex organism–just a part, but an essential part. We are living in a time when people are being told they MUST live and IDENTIFY who they are as a person based only upon one part of this complex organism. Feelings are allowed to become the dictator, and our emotions follow the lead of that dictator.
God never designed us to live by our feelings. And He never intended that we allow our feelings to define us and give us our true identity. Living only by feelings creates a false self–never your true self. Yes, He gave us feelings, but they are only a part of the process if you would, to help us become who HE created us to become–Our WHOLE, TRUE SELF. The Best Self Possible.
Remember that “feelings” are something we believe to be true; not necessarily true–but we believe they are true. Just because we believe it is true, doesn’t make it true. I am so sorry Calvinists. I am so sorry progressive thinkers and theologians. I am so sorry fellow evangelical sisters and brothers! We are NOT who we are based solely on our feelings. We human beings can’t define what is really TRUE! That ability is way beyond our pay grade.
When we try to live out of our feelings it creates instability. Feelings can and will vary in a day–just like weather varies every day in Alabama. In the early mornings I get my jacket. By mid morning I hang it back up. By mid-day I’m putting on a short sleeve shirt. And my afternoon, I’m looking for my shorts and sandals. Feelings change.
God never designed feelings to be our sole or primary identification in life. And we need to be careful with our feelings. I’m sure you’ve had feelings in retrospect you knew were wrong. You didn’t know it as the time–but hindsight is always 20-20. And if you are honest, you know that those feelings (feelings you believed were true at the moment) caused damage and inflicted hurt–either on another person, on yourself, or both. And I bet right now you are remembering the damage your feelings that you believed were right at that moment caused. And that damage may still be present–the wounds haven’t yet healed. And you are aware of the damage that resulted when your feelings were wrong.
When feelings becomes the determining factor–the damage caused by feelings and the subsequent emotions runs deep; and it keeps us from our True Self, the one created in the Image of God.
I thought this Tuesday Thoughts edition was going to take a while to figure out what to write. I was wrong. It comes out of something that happened last week: 4 year old Wyatt Spann died from cancer. And this reminded me of something that happened a few years ago–the death of another young child, Noah Crowe, from cancer. It’s not “MY” feelings about these tragedies, but the things “some” people say. To be more specific: What some who call themselves ‘Christians’ say to broken and grieving hearts. It’s not only at funeral homes where they speak these abominations, but being active in disaster response, I’ve heard some of the same poor, DEPLORABLE theology.
Below are some of the DESPICABLE, VILE, LOATHSOME AND WRETCHED things some people believe, and Dear Lord In Heaven, say to people in the worst moment of their lives:
- God needed them more than you. Really? God actually needs something to exist? I always believed He was self-sufficient.
- God wanted another angel in heaven. Again, really? If God wanted another angel all He has to do is create another one.
- He was just saving them from the future heartaches they would face. Bejeezus, folks! This is so asinine I’m not even going to comment on it!
- It was the will of God! Good Lord, in Heaven. Does your ‘god’ (notice the use of lowercase) will and plan for parents to lose their child? Do you really think God wills suffering and heartache? If you do, you have given your heart to a cruel god (again, lowercase)!
Honestly? I don’t fully understand why children have to suffer, even die from cancer or a million and one causes. And speaking of being honest, I shout out in anger and frustration at God when it happens. I was angry when little Noah died. I am angry that Wyatt died. And in this moment I’m praying for another infant, little McCoy who is suffering from liver failure. Truthfully, I’m frustrated that God hasn’t yet healed McCoy.
I don’t understand or pretend to know why such things happen. I have some thoughts; maybe another Tuesday I’ll share them. But right now, in this moment, here is the single thread I’m holding onto: God Did Not Will Or Cause These Tragic Deaths! God was not behind it, but He Is In Front Of The Aftermath And With Us In Our Pains And Griefs!
And in this morning’s frustration, God who is out front and ahead of us gave me a Scripture that refutes the above-mentioned Despicable Theology: “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10 NLT)
I always thought that phrase “be still” literally meant “don’t move”. But that’s not what the Hebrew word “raphah“ means. It means “to let drop, abandon“. Can’t you see? You and I don’t give God His identity. We don’t define God. Even though many try, defining God and His Ways are way above our pay grade. And when you feel the need to explain God to people facing these types of situations, my counsel to you is DON’T DO IT! If you really want to help them, try crying with them.
Pernicious. Virulent. Mephitic. Pestilential. Nefarious. Miasmatic. Pestiferous. Deleterious. Iniquitous. Maleficent. Rancorous. These words are in my Monday Musings. These are big synonyms for a simple word that is at the core of these Musings. The simple word is Toxic. It is my culture, perhaps I should say, my perspective of my culture that is leading this rumination this morning.
But it’s not just my culture–it’s a word, verses from one of the wisest persons to ever live. This sage wrote one of the rawest in terms of human emotions books ever written. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Ecclesiastes. And here’s the part I’m musing on:
For everything there is a season,Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
a time for every activity under heaven.
Solomon then sets out a series of contrasts about appropriate “It’s Time” moments. I’m drawn into this series of contrasts:
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.Ecclesiastes 3:5-6 (NLT)
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
Now, add that word Toxic. No one would intentionally build their dream home knowingly on top of a Toxic Waste Dump. Yet, many persist and hold onto Toxic Relationships. By the very meaning of that word Toxic, people hold on to relationships that are deleterious to their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Toxic Relationships happen at all levels. Familial. Friends. Spouses. Significant Others. Work. And yes, even in Church.
Allow me to cut to the core of it all. A Toxic Relationship is any relationship that consistently and constantly rips us apart or lives to create chaos. Lots of things can rip us apart. Even more things creates a tornado-earthquake-hurricane-tsunami kind of chaos. Even in the church this happens. I’m watching it in my own Tribe, the United Methodist Chaos, I mean Church.
So, how long should one stay in the chaos? As a traditional, orthodox kind of guy, I will probably be asked to leave. Some of my fellow kindred hearts say we should stay together to change things. Others of my kindred hearts say it’s not fair to ask us to leave–after all, we are the majority, and we embrace the authority of God’s Word.
But then there’s these words of Solomon: A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. Oh, and that next verse: A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
There comes a moment in relationships where the only option is the other option. A time to scatter stones. A time to turn away. A time to quit searching. A time to throw away. And this is where I see this Tribe. I say this not with deep resignation and despair. No! I say this with great hope and greater expectations. The chaos in the United Methodist Church is pestilential.
And you may find yourself in a pestiferous relationship. You can try to ride it out, hope it will change; but it may crush you instead. Or you can accept that some relationships will never be mended. So when is the time to give up? When it poisons your attitude, your mind, your heart, and when you allow it to shape your perspective–Solomon would tell you, it’s time.
But always remember that God has another time, another season for you. And HIS new season for your life will be different–probably difficult–but it will NOT be Toxic. And it will be good.
So far my Saturday Stories have been about moments where God shows up in unexpected places. Well, this Saturday Story is about what the phrase “young and dumb” looks like…in me.
STUCK IN THE MUD
It was back in 1977; I had my first pick-up truck. One day I decided to take it off the paved road through some trails. I had been on this particular trail before, but on a dirt bike. It had rained that week and my truck was only a two-wheel drive, but I felt confident I knew that trail well enough to stay out of trouble.
Things were going pretty well, I had made it through some rough parts of the trail when I came upon a place in the road that was covered in water. I stopped and looked at it carefully. I knew what this place in the road looked like when it hadn’t rained, so I decided on a course of action that would I felt would take me safely to the other side.
I really believed that if I backed up a bit and went through the right side of the mud hole I could get to the other side. I really believed I could get to the other side. So, I backed up a bit and moved full speed ahead. Now, I believed I was well on my way to the other side. About one-fourth of the way through I slowed a little but I kept on going, confident I was about to get to the other side.
About two-thirds of the way through, I found that my faith in my reasoning ability was wrong, seriously wrong. My truck came to a complete stop and would not move. No matter how hard I tried, I remained stuck in the mud. This was in the days before cell phones, so there I was, miles from the main road, and not another person in sight. My choice and my decision were seriously flawed even though my confidence was high. There I was on LaGrange Mountain, alone and stuck, unable to go any further, or even go back. It was the middle of the week and the likelihood of someone coming along in another truck was the same odds as a snowball’s chance in that certain place.
Just then I heard a dirt bike coming down the trail. Good news to me. Better news he stopped. Best news was he went back to get his truck and a chain and pulled me out of my created mess. Reflecting now on that “young and dumb” moment, I wondered why did this stranger decide to go riding that day? And of the many off-road trails, he ended up where I was stuck in the mud. Call me simple-minded and naive, but I think God may have been at work that day–even though I wasn’t aware of it.
The Moral Of The Story
Our choices and decisions can be…often are flawed. Without the right information that fits the situation we can end up where I was that day in 1977, stuck in the mud. But because of His Grace, God has already been at work. He’s ready for our “stuck in the mud” moments. It may not be as dramatic as a lone dirt bike rider who had his truck and chain ready to help, but God knows where we are, what we are facing–and best of all, He has a plan–and if we follow His plan, we get unstuck.
Addendum to my story: Once I got unstuck, I went back the way I came in and left that mud hole in my rear view mirror. I learned enough not to try that again! Allow God to help you make more than good choices, but the best choices of all.
Welcome to another edition of Throw It Out There Thursday! The target today is something is filling the headlines today. No, not the impeachment. No, not the impending death of the United Methodist Chaos, excuse me, “Church” (if you can actually call it that with a straight face or without regurgitating). But it is behind these and all other expressions of hate and confusion that invades and pervades our culture.
It’s Admiral Farragut’s famous expression: Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead. And what once was the motto for courage and determination in the face of danger has become the Mantra for a subculture of folks from all walks and stations in life. It’s the subculture of I WANT WHAT I WANT BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT’S BEST AND I’M THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY!
It’s the subculture of people thinking AND acting without considering the consequences that is corroding the very fabric of civilized society. In the 60’s the mantra was “If it feels good, do it!” Again, never thinking about the consequences. Ask some of the rockers from that era who indulged in drugs how that worked out for them. But now? The attitude of Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead is exponentially growing like Kudzu.
Kudzu is defined as an Invasive Species (click here if you don’t know kudzu). According to scientists, an invasive species is an organism that causes ecological or economic harm in a new environment where it is not native. … Invasive species are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats. Did you notice the scientific word ORGANISM? This means it has a life all it’s own, independent of anything else.
And like Kudzu, Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead Mentality is taking over and killing everything around it. Like Kudzu, Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead Mentality isn’t native to civilization. Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead Mentality is causing the extinction of what really makes us Humans created in the image of God.
Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead Mentality robs people of their civility and capacity to care about something bigger than themselves. And this is sad, tragic, appalling, calamitous, deplorable, dreadful, fatal, cataclysmic, gruesome, woeful and your own synonym here. Just as Kudzu is fatal for the native vegetation, Damn The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead Mentality is fatal for civilized society. And it is IRRESPONSIBLE by those who lead others to join in their mental and emotional Kudzu.
Wednesday is the day I’ve chosen to wonder about. . .well about life and God. And today I’m adding another point to wonder about–people. Oh, yeah, I know I’ve wondered about people before, but usually in the context of my gifts of sarcasm and snarkiness. But this morning I’m setting aside those gifts. . .because my heart is breaking for a group of people.
My heart always breaks for the least, the last and the lost–people hurting, struggling, and doubting that there’s enough grace with God for them. The group my heart breaks for this morning is. . .well, look at how God describes them:
Most preachers, myself including myself, quote this passage with the sense that God is angry. That God is criticizing these people of lips without hearts. Even Jesus quoted this passage and we envision Jesus full of anger and foaming at the mouth. So we point out with criticism and anger these people who’s lips say one thing about God, but there hearts are far from God. Could it be, that when God said that to Isaiah, and when Jesus quoted this passage that there was sadness in His heart? Could He have been crying for them?
Many times I have questioned…scratch that…criticized Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters and Progressives for their attitudes and ways of thinking. But this morning…my wondering has my heart breaking for them. I’m grieving because they are missing so much of who God is and what God wants to do in their day to day life.
Lips say one thing but the heart says something different. It’s not just the aforementioned Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters and Progressives who are herein described. I’ve seen Conservative and Orthodox folks who fit the bill of what God is saying through Isaiah. And even yours truly has been guilty of this. Seeing and believing only what we want to see and believe, and then say it’s God.
Why have we limited God? It’s easy to say, “Well, it’s the Devil! That’s what he does!” No doubt, that IS his job. But right now I’m remembering a sign on President Harry Truman’s desk:
WE have a choice; sadly many of us have chosen poorly. So today, I choose to accept responsibility for my lips; and My Heart! I choose to wonder about the Wonder Of God! I choose to remove the fences and walls that keeps me knowing ABOUT God to KNOWING GOD! I set aside whatever I’ve thought about God. I set aside everything others have said about God. And I open MY heart to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the mysteries of God. I long for this, and so I choose to start with a clean sheet of paper and let God write what I need so that His Image becomes more clearer and brighter in me.
And thus I wonder: “How could I even think that MY understanding of God (which is spoken by my lips) is the ultimate expression of God?” Yes, we need to fight Satan in this world. But before we go to battle, let’s make sure that we honor God With Our Hearts. And the best way to do this is to quit pretending we’re the experts and surrender our heart to the wonders of God. Only as we give up our concepts can the heart be cleansed–and be drawn closer to God.
My Tuesday Thoughts on what to write this morning were running wild–wild as a trio of adolescents on a 3 day binge on candy kind of sugar rush. When my thinking gets like this, I have to really force myself to stop thinking–so that I can listen. Now I have it–it’s Psalm 139 and three words from that Psalm–YOU ARE THERE!
Who’s there? God, of course. Most of us like to consider ourselves Masters Of Camouflage. Like an Army sniper in the field, we think we can hide and no one see us–or see what’s going on inside us. But regardless of how or even where we hide, Even There God finds us. When God asked Adam and Eve, “Hey, guys! Where are y’all?”, He knew where they were.
It wasn’t a question of confusion; it was a question of trust. God was asking Adam and Eve, “Do you still trust me, trust my love and that I am still good even though you did what you did?” Smack dab in the middle of their self-imposed mess, they did trust God. And in this Psalm David seems to be reflecting on his life. He’s known up and downs. He’s been faithful to God and been a rebel against God. He’s hidden in caves from King Saul, and he’s tried hiding from the King of Kings.
And what he could do with Saul, successfully hide, he never could do with God. He found out what Adam and Eve discovered–in the middle of our messes–Even There God Is Present. And in His Presence, He is still trustworthy, He is still loving us, and most of all, He is still GOOD! For the life of me, I cannot figure out why some people think God is out looking for people just to punish them. And if this day you are trying to hide from God because you “think” He’s mad at you, or that He doesn’t want you–Think Again! In your fear, confusion or despair–Even there in that place He is present and He is still Good And Loving On You.
And it’s just not in the places where we try to run and hide from God, but it’s true also in the places where circumstances and consequences have placed us. Problems at work. A “we no longer need your services” moment. Chemo or radiation therapy. A disintegrating family. A nursing home. A funeral home. Even in church.
My beloved Tribe, the United Methodist Church, is in utter chaos; or so it seems to many of us. But even there, God is Present. God Is Faithful. God Is Loving Us. God Has A Plan. And God is still GOOD! What I’m saying is this: Wherever you are–whether it’s the result of you poor choices or whether it’s the result of forces beyond your control–Even There God Is Present. Even there He is still Faithful to you. Even there He still Loves you. Even there He is still GOOD. Even there, He will lead you out and back to where you belong!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way HE loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!
Today, my musings are: “How in the world can people believe and act like they do now?” I found the answer: It’s In How They Think! And I thought that I needed to help them change their thinking; and I have been trying to do this with questions, suggesting other views, and even with sarcasm and snarkiness.
As much as I’ve seen and heard, I am still shaking my head at the way many people are thinking. You would think by now that in the realm of asinine thinking nothing would surprise me now; but it still does. So, I begin to muse, “How can I change the way people think?” I’ve tried to correct their thinking, but they just seem to hate me and hate me more.
Then I remembered hearing a Rabbinical story that goes something like this. There was a man who decided the world needed to be changed, to be a better place. But he thought, “The world is too big. I need to start smaller. My country, yes, I will start with my country. But that is still too big. I will start with my town. But that’s too big. I will start with my neighborhood. That’s still to big. I will start with my street, wait, I will start with my home. Oh, I will start with me!”
And this morning, my best Friend, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the wisdom of that old Rabbi. It’s too big a task for me to change how people think. That task is way above my pay grade–and it’s task that was never given to me. . .or any human being for that matter. I know it’s shocking for some to hear that they aren’t called to change how others think. Get over it. . .get over yourself. I know. . .I needed to get over myself.
The only thinking that I can shape and control is my own thinking! So, how can I do that? This is why the Bible is ageless and powerful. When you think about yourself and how you can grow and mature–The Bible always has the answer. When you think about how to change the way others think, it’s highly possible you will get the wrong answer from even the Bible.
So, how do I make my thinking better? Paul said it best in Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
And now my task is to think in this way in such a manner that others will begin thinking about their thinking. Maybe they will ask me why I think the way I do. Better yet, maybe they will ask Dad to help them think in a different way.
So. . .love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Welcome to another Saturday Story. Today’s story is from several years ago; it was such a powerful moment that I still remember it as if it occurred yesterday. Listen to it, and maybe Dad has something to say to you…
TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY
Ernie was a retired sheet metal worker. He and his wife Bettye had retired to Scottsboro. They never had children, so they “adopted” kids of all ages, including me. Both spent many hours serving Jesus at Randall’s Chapel (no, that church wasn’t named after me!). Ernie served Jesus in so many ways. Teaching, leading committees, the men’s group, serving in whatever way he was asked. Needless to say, this pastor fell in love with them.
Ernie was the epitome of an “active member”; but I and several others noticed Ernie didn’t have his usual level of stamina. Ernie noticed it too, so he went to his doctor to find out why. After several tests, Ernie was given the diagnosis of ALS (I refuse to call this evil disease by the name of one of baseball’s greatest players).
Word reached me of this diagnosis. As “pastor”, my job was to give him and Bettye words of encouragement and wisdom. This wasn’t my first encounter with someone dehumanized by ALS. I knew what Ernie’s future would look like. The day after his diagnosis I was going to “visit” with them and share those “words of encouragement and wisdom”. And as I sat in my office that morning, I struggled to find any such words. But it was my “job” to do it, and honestly, I felt like a failure because I simply couldn’t find the right “words”.
Just then (remember that “just then” or “it just so happened” are usually God prepared and ordained moments) I heard Ernie come in. He stuck his head in my office and asked, “Bro. Randy, do you have a few minutes, I need to talk about something.” Of course I had time, I always have time for a good friend; but this time my mind is in panic mode. I still didn’t have those words of “encouragement and wisdom”. In my heart I said, “OK, Holy Spirit, you’re going to have to do the talking because I don’t know what to say!”
And my, oh, my did my Friend, the Holy Spirit, do some talking. But it wasn’t me doing the talking–it was Ernie. “Randy, I know you heard about my diagnosis. And I need you to understand that one day I won’t be able to teach the Sunday School class. One day I won’t be able to be involved in the men’s group. One day I won’t be able to serve this church. One day I won’t be able to do all the things I love doing around here.” And what Ernie said next is still with me.
With a love and fire in his eyes he said, “But today is not that day! I’m going to continue to do all the things I’ve been doing. Whatever you or this church needs me for, I’m here! I know that day will come, it’s just that Today Is Not That Day!” The words of encouragement and wisdom wasn’t meant to be shared by me; that Holy Moment was given to Ernie.
And Ernie kept that Sacred Vow. He kept on working and moving forward with Jesus. And a little over a year later, that day finally came. Bettye asked me to do the funeral service. And the message I shared? It was the very same one Ernie shared with me that morning in my office. Ernie prepared his own eulogy and funeral message: Today is not THAT day to give up. God is with you every step of the way. And on that sad day, God’s Grace abounded.
We all face difficult, even terrifying moments in life. The temptation, even the urge to give up can seem overwhelming. I know, I’ve faced many such moments. And in those moments, I see Ernie, sitting across my desk. He’s smiling and saying to me, “Now Randy, you know Today Is Not THAT Day!”
Whatever it is that you may face in life; whatever you ARE facing right now that is overwhelming you with the feeling of helplessness or hopelessness and you want to give up; remember my good friend Ernie’s words: Today Is Not THAT Day! Ernie lived with the confidence that whatever the future held, HE was held by God and was secure in that knowledge.
Boys and girls it’s that time again: THROW IT OUT THERE THURSDAY where nothing is sacrosanct and any idea, belief or opinion is subject to sarcasm, cynicism or evisceration. So, if you are the type that is easily offended or refuses to hear a view other than your own, you are about to the thrown into chaos; just a warning. This week I’m looking at a Common Duo, RIGHT AND FAIR!
Today I am eviscerating this idea that somehow life is supposed to be RIGHT AND FAIR. I may be called mean, calloused and uncaring for what I am about to say. To which I reply
If you have or have raised kids, especially teenagers, you’ve heard this, at least half of it: THAT’S NOT FAIR! Even then, the other half is clearly implied. We are in a culture obsessed with RIGHT AND FAIR! Oh, someone was just thinking, “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with RIGHT AND FAIR?” Guess what? Life isn’t RIGHT AND FAIR! It hasn’t been RIGHT AND FAIR since Eve took that bite and Adam colluded with her by his silence.
I could be the Energizer Bunny and go on and on, but I will get to the point and make this short and sweet. RIGHT AND FAIR, as it is viewed in this fallen world, is based on our highly regarded and valued opinions and perspective. RIGHT AND FAIR is determined by what we think and feel; especially what we feel. Like it or not; disagree and deny–truth is our feelings and perspectives are tainted by selfishness.
Sure, there are some things that are clearly RIGHT and some things are clearly FAIR! But life on this warped planet? That’s where we get into a lot of problems. Case in point: the bitter battle in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. A group is now proposing that we Orthodox/Traditional folks should be able to leave the United Methodist Church with all assets, along with a cool $25 million, and pursue their own future by creating a new Tribe. Bear in mind, in case you haven’t followed this circus, that the Orthodox and Traditional views of the Bible and in particular, sexual ethics, is the view of the majority. It has been since 1972. But there are some, especially in the U.S. and Europe, who feel more enlightened and wiser; so they want to change it so that it reflects our enlightened understanding. Who said the Age of Enlightenment ended around 1818? It’s being revived.
And many of my acquaintances and friends have been ask me, “If we are the majority, why should we have to leave? If they don’t agree with us, THEY should leave! (you know what’s next!) IT’S NOT RIGHT OR FAIR THAT THE MAJORITY BE FORCED TO LEAVE!” I confess I felt that way AT FIRST. Well, I tried to teach my kids that for the most part, life is neither RIGHT NOR FAIR and we shouldn’t expect it to be that way.
The RIGHT AND FAIR card is being played when a group of people don’t get their way. And here is the crux of the matter. We assume the role of God when we think we should be able to determine what is RIGHT and what is FAIR. And when life is not RIGHT AND FAIR, we can choose to be bitter; which is what it seems like the majority is doing. OR, we can choose to move forward without bitterness or resentment.
Right now I’m thinking about the story of Joseph, the one found in Genesis. His brothers sold him into slavery (well, that snot-nosed kid probably deserved it) and once in slavery, he ended up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. That’s certainly not RIGHT OR FAIR! But circumstances changed and he finds himself as second in command of a nation. One day his brothers (you know, the ones who sold him into slavery) come begging for food, only they don’t recognize that it’s their brother they are begging to for help. Joseph has the perfect moment now to set the record straight for them not being RIGHT AND FAIR to him. Revenge has set the table for Joseph.
Instead, Joseph does something different; and what he did I’ve had to repeat to myself on many occasions when life wasn’t RIGHT AND FAIR. “Brothers, what you did was wrong and evil (meaning: NOT RIGHT AND FAIR). But God used it for good!”
So, when life is neither RIGHT NOR FAIR, get over it. God can and will make it into something good. But you have to relinquish your desires to define what is RIGHT AND FAIR!
Last night as I was lying in bed I heard in my heart “long suffering”. And the passage I thought of first was Psalm 86:15. Even though I cut my teeth on the King James Version, for decades I’ve used more recent translations. But those other translations miss something, in my humble opinion, that the translators used in the King James Version; and here it is:
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
The subject is God and David proceeds to add some descriptive words about Him. Most like the idea that God has tons of compassion, grace, mercy and truth; and why not like that idea. But there is another description David has: Long-Suffering!
We don’t use that phrase in our everyday conversations and rarely consider what it means when it comes to God. It’s my contention that it’s because those two words, long and suffering, are words our culture does not like nor appreciate. We avoid long–long lines and long waits; and we avoid by all means possible suffering –because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable so we avoid the vexatious.
I took a moment this morning to look up that word/phrase long-suffering in both the Hebrew and from the dictionary. The Hebrew word is “‘arek“ and it comes from another Hebrew word “‘arak“. It means to draw out, lengthen. From the dictionary it defines it as: having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.
And I realize that God experiences LONG-SUFFERING in dealing with me. There are still moments when, after I fail, I wonder how in the world God puts up with me. The Enemy whispers, “You blew it again, Randy, and God is through with you.” If you’ve faced many failures, it’s easy to believe him; that God is simply tired of you.
But then I remembered King David. He lied to protect himself; lusted for his friend’s wife; murdered that friend; sought to do things without seeking God’s guidance–and here in Psalm 86:15 David proclaims hope–through God’s Long-Suffering. God prolongs giving up on me–prolongs giving up on you. He persists for us because of His love. He shows patience in spite of the trouble we cause Him.
So, today, I want to remember God’s Long-Suffering, not as an excuse to keep on failing, but as a reminder that HE loves me so much that Jesus Long-Suffered in the Wilderness, in the Garden, and on the Cross–and I don’t want Him to Long-Suffer again because of me. At times my heart is divided, but today–in this moment–I choose to have an undivided heart for the ONE who is LONG-SUFFERING for me. I can’t give up–YOU can’t give up–because HE never gives up on us. HE goes the distance for us–whatever it takes. So, why would any of us do less for HIM!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!
This morning I was thinking about 2 things: Wisdom and Idiots (Proverbs calls them a fool). What prompted these seemingly contradictory things was the controversies in Washington D.C. and in the United Methodist Church. So I turned to a book that has much to say about both–Proverbs, and here is what I found:
We no more give honors to fools than pray for snow in summer or rain during harvest.Proverbs 26:1 (The Message)
In the book The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews, the second decision needed to be made is this: I will seek wisdom. Here’s a quote that is really speaking to me this morning:
I will seek wisdom. I will choose my friends with care. I am who my friends are. I speak their language, and I wear their clothes. I share their opinions and their habits. From this moment forward, I will choose to associate with people whose lives and lifestyles I admire. If I associate with chickens, I will learn to scratch at the ground and squabble over crumbs. If I associate with eagles, I will learn to soar great heights. I am an eagle. It is my destiny to fly.“The Traveler’s Gift” by Andy Andrews
Yet when I look at our government and my Spiritual Tribe, I see no such seeking for wisdom. What I see and hear are fools, idiots spewing their venom of “I’m right, you’re wrong” perspective. And what “I” want to do is argue with them, showing them where they are wrong! But after the argument I remember this quote supposedly from Mark Twain:
So, today I choose wisdom. Arguing with idiots and fools is just like Solomon said in our Proverb this morning–it’s like praying for snow in the summer; ain’t gonna happen unless you live near one of poles or in high altitudes. It doesn’t make sense. Or like praying for rain during the harvest season–it’s counter intuitive, standing in the way of what you want to achieve.
In the midst of so many fools, take a different route–a “wiser” response. Seek wisdom for yourself. An idiot will not seek nor see wisdom for themselves. But you–rise above the strife of lunacy. Wisdom will help keep you calm, steady and strong. Seek wisdom from God and His Sacred Word. Seek wisdom from those who seek their wisdom from God. Arguing with idiots won’t change anything. Seeking wisdom transforms you–and that wisdom will rise above the dust created by lunacy. Remember, idiots are empowered by our arguing. Seek wisdom, and the idiot becomes impotent.
And love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!
As I am sitting here at my desk, wondering what to write this morning, I admit I was at a loss for words. Yes, mark this day on your calendar that this Wordsmith had no words–doesn’t happen very often. But then I turned in my chair towards my right. I don’t know why; it must have been my Best Companion, The Holy Spirit. And there it was on that wall.
My wall of crosses. Each one is different. Some I purchased. Others were gifts to me. Yet, each one tells the same Wonderful Saga–of the God who went searching for me–breaking through the barriers that kept me away from Him. And for a brief moment, I forgot…forgot that when I feel like I have nothing to say–I have much to say about The Cross.
I had nothing to say at first this morning–but I have so very much to boast about. It’s nothing about me–but all about HIM! And here’s the verse the my friend, The Holy Spirit, gave me to share with you this morning:
14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. 16 May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. 17 From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus. 18 Dear brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
When you are at a loss for words, remember these words of Paul–Boast About The Cross! It was supposed to be me, supposed to be you on that Cross, but Jesus took it FROM us, FOR US! So love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM, by boasting about the Cross of Jesus!