It Starts With A Thought

So much murder in the last few weeks. Many of which, as the stories are told, are based on someone’s anger/hate toward another. The reasons are varied, but these horrible desires to take another person’s life is just … sad.

Murder is a sin. Murder starts with malice. It starts with a thought. The thoughts that lead to anger, the kind of anger that makes a person become murderous, is dangerous indeed. As believers, we’ve got to be diligent in regards to the command to live at peace with ALL men. When wronged in any way, we must be swift to forgive; so that no malicious thought will form!

To be hurt or disappointed is normal; in fact, I believe it happens in some way each and every day. But, we must practice the life of Christ – learn to take the hit and MOVE ON!

Humans will sin against one another – it is our nature as fallen beings. Being a fallen being means that we have been saved from the penalty of our sin, but not from ourselves. The temptation to kill comes from within ourselves. We should know this well because God’s Word commands us to put aside wickedness and filthiness. (Pastor Blake Wilson preached about what that fallen being is, click to hear it in a deeper way)

As believers in Christ, we have died to our old selves – that would so easily give in to sin. We have been resurrected to a new life in Christ, which makes it possible for us to forgive and to love.

Thoughts of malice alone can put us in danger of judgment! As children of God, our thoughts must become thoughts of The Truth! We must think about Him and all that He has equipped us to do and all that He has commanded us to do … to love one another, to forgive, to control our emotions. Acting in a way that reflects Our Savior will start with a proper thought

Please Father, change our thoughts! Though we will be wronged and disappointed often in this earthly realm, help us keep our focus always on the Cross. Please Lord, help us … remind us … that our own sin was a slap in the face to Christ – yet He has taken the hit and chosen to love us in spite of ourselves. God, please place in us this same love for all people. Remove from us the need to be vindicated here on earth. Help us to forgive, knowing that You will pay to each of us our due reward and that vengeance belongs to You alone. Help us, O God to navigate well our relationships with those who deliberately do us harm; to the end that they too will come to know, love and serve You.

Devotee of You? or … Disciple of Christ?

Disciple making — that’s our great call.  The Great Commission.  But disciples of what? Disciples of whom?

Terrible things can happen when we are leading people. We earn their respect and devotion YET we fail to ensure that we are creating in their hearts a fear and admonition of the Lord.  Why? because we fail to ensure that they are disciples of Christ; we fail to ensure that their respect and devotion is aimed toward Him.

Our call from our Lord is clear – we are supposed to be teaching others what we ourselves have learned from sitting at the feet of the Savior so that they might follow those same teachings.  To put it plainly – our goal should be to raise up people who will follow the God we follow; who love the Christ that we love; and who lean in to the Spirit that we lean in to.  So no “mini-me” productions!

Here’s the rub:  If you raise up “YOU” devotees who are more committed to you than they are to The One to whom your allegiance belongs, their lives will be marked by some of your own bad decisions and careless actions.  You don’t want them to do as you have done — you want them to do better and accomplish even more for the Kingdom of our Father than you!  You want them to find their way and work out their salvation.  You want them to be imitators of The Perfect Example; not your limping leadership. (that alliteration is free!)

So — just remember  …  lead people in a way that they will live a life that pleases God and emulates the life of the firstborn among us, Jesus.  Let those who follow you be marked by The King of Kings — and not by your own failings.

Bearing One Another’s Burdens

A good friend of mine made a very touching public statement about how we (Christ Followers) should bear one another’s burdens as the law of Christ demands. My friend was talking about our caring for one another is relates to physical, spiritual and emotional needs. He was saying that we should care enough about one another to know about a need, meet the need if possible, and walk with one another through to the solution (whether or not the need was met by us personally). In other words – taking another’s need as our own.

When read in context, the Galatians text is probably talking about us bearing with one another as we deal with the enticements and battles that we will face as Christians living in a fallen world. While the scriptural context my friend used was not perfect, the sentiment was right on target!

In James 2 we are asked this question, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? “

John 15:13 asserts, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

In Romans 12 we are admonished, “be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality”

In Philippians 2:4 are found these words, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

As I reflect on these scriptures, being the cynic that I am, I found myself thinking – do we really bear one another’s burdens? And I said NO – not unless it is a burden that:

  • We feel is worth bearing/something we deem as worthy to be called a burden
  • Will not cost us anything financially
  • Will not cause us to have to inconvenience our time/schedule

I know – I know – those of you who read this and know me well will say, “Jan, that’s just how you think!” – that may be true about my heart and the way I see things. However, I want you to think about your life just over the last year.

  • How many times did you make yourself available to a friend contemplating suicide? (I mean, did you even give them enough attention to know that they were contemplating suicide? Did you get them help beyond their insurance/finances and take the hit?);
  • How many times did you give money that you earmarked for something else in order to ease another’s burden? (Not just money from your savings, retirement, etc. – I mean sacrificially giving that ‘last 2 dollars’ so that someone could eat, sleep, be seen at the doctor, etc.);
  • How many times did you commit to talk with some weekly about a problem/issue until it was resolved? (And did you keep the commitment?)
    Maybe an easier question is:
  • How many times did a person who calls you friend share a need, a serious need, with you and you chose to ignore it or better yet you chose to tell them ‘be warm and be filled’ without doing a thing tangible to help them or to make it better.

It’s not that we can’t do it – but will we do it? Will we allow our hearts to feel another’s pain and share in another’s joy in a real way? Or will we continue to say to one another be warm and be filled?

Love requires that we care!

Next time you tell a friend – “Take a load off!” – mean it!!

I’m Still Missing My Daddy

I can not remember the day anyone died but my daddy. It was 9 years ago today. The memory of that phone call still makes me cry! But, the love that so many showed to me in amazing ways makes me rejoice!!!

Dad & Mom – 50th Anniversary nuptials

I still miss my daddy greatly! I was his Teetsie (well, I still am!!) Because of the father that he was … I have so many things to Thank God For!!!! My daddy was “a rock – He was the one that I ran to, cause’ when he said the words “I Love You” I knew that it was true. And even in the worst of storms, there was an anchor in my world, He was a man, A man of His Word.”

Father in Heaven, I thank you so much for reminding me that my dad is enjoying the heavenly blessings in the realms with Christ. Thank you for opening his mind and heart to you in real ways when he was with me. Thank you for giving my daddy courage and wisdom that I could see. Thank you for reminding me every day that You Are Truly My Father!!! That You will never leave me!! Thank you, Father!!!