It’s Time to Love Like Jesus Loves

Here we are again.

The ugliness of impending evil has reared its head and spewed hatred across the country that I love. The events over the weekend in Charlottesville are horrific, and quite frankly,  I don’t have the eloquence nor the bandwidth to break down the reasons for it and the solutions to it. There are countless others who do, and I’ve heard a lot about it over the weekend.

Churches around the country on Sunday opened their doors to grieve and lament. I have the privilege of attending an intergenerational, multi-ethnic & racially integrated church in California called Fellowship Monrovia. We are grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the pillar of reconciliation. Our Center for Racial Reconciliation regularly hosts workshops led by people of every race so we can learn what life is like for those who are different from us. We are one body, and one thing I noticed today is that black, white, hispanic, asian, middle-eastern – we all gathered together like always and were steadfast in our love for one another.

The heartfelt lament of our worship leader today spoke for so many as she read Psalm 13:

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 
3Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, 
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.
And then we sang praise to the Lord. Because even though evil runs rampant through the world, he is still good, and he has the victory.

When events like this unfold, we are shaken but not destroyed. We grieve but we are not moved to despair. If anything, it makes us more resolute in our commitment to spreading love to the world.

It’s so easy to feel helpless and hopeless in the wake of such obvious evil, especially when the evildoers look like me. The important thing for me to remember is the solution starts with me. It starts with you. It starts with each of us. If we are to show the world a glimpse of Jesus, we must carry his attributes in our daily living.

 But there is still much work to be done by the church. The fact that people still have the slightest notion that those who spew hatred at another human being are a representation of christians is the biggest travesty. Why would they think that? The Bible says to love, not hate. Let’s not get into the ridiculousness of anyone thinking they are acting on behalf of God when they spew such horrible hatred. Why does the world believe them and in turn scoff at christians and lump us all together with the evil doers? It’s been such a mystery to me, but now I think perhaps it’s because we have been silent against injustice for far too long.
No, we have not joined our voices with theirs, but we have remained far too silent. We have watched in horror and done nothing. Our sin is one of omission.
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8
In his message today the preacher said a visitor to his church once asked him, “if I come to your church, will I actually meet people who are like Jesus?”
I ask you, “if I came to your church, would I meet people who are like Jesus?”
My prayer today is that God will embolden Christians to reach beyond ourselves and love people like they’ve never been loved before. To show others what Jesus looks like.
It’s time.

A Heavenly Language

Speaking in tongues was something that once terrified me, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I experienced people speaking in tongues in a disordered way, and I know this happens a lot in the church. People will speak out loud in different tongues when it should be a precious moment between you and God speaking to him in a heavenly language. Only and only if there is someone to interpret should you speak louder. This is clearly stated in the Bible and we need to obey and not scare people away. I know I am not the only one who was turned away from the ways of the Spirit because of people making a scene. It’s not about you. It’s about God. Don’t put yourself on this platform because you can make strange sounds with your mouth. These gifts should not be used to edify yourself, but used to glorify God. Too many people abuse the gifts and do not use them properly to build up the church. Here is what Paul says about speaking in tongues:

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God…He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophecies edifies the church…Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me…For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.” 1 Cor 14:2,4

I experienced an orderly way of someone speaking in tongues. I was sitting on a bed in between two of my friends. The friend on my left was praying in tongues and the friend on my right was praying in English. In that moment I felt as though one was interpreting what the other was praying. And I felt the presence of Holy Spirit in that moment. I was not afraid of the unfamiliar language I was hearing because one, it was coming from a trusted source, and two I was also hearing someone in a similar breathe praying in my native language.

A friend of mine and her mom both speak in tongues and at one point they were telling me to just start saying random words, and make up sounds and it would happen. Deep in my spirit I knew it wouldn’t. I felt God telling me it would happen but not in that moment. We can ask God for things and he will give it to us, but our hearts need to be in the right place and ready to receive and in that moment I was not ready. 

6 months later I was lying on the floor in Thailand in the presence of the Holy Spirit, God had used me to pour out his spirit and baptize others in the Holy Spirit and then he flattened me on my back. As I was laying there I was praying and it happened. Unfamiliar words were coming out of my mouth and I started laughing and crying! It was happening. This occurred after I had obeyed him by praying over his children and showing them a God they had never met, introducing them to Holy Spirit and then God gave me a gift, the gift of tongues. And I wasn’t speaking loudly, no one else could hear me. I was having a conversation with God in a different tongue. It was a precious moment between me and my heavenly Father.

(This is an excerpt from my book “A God You’ve Never Met” which is still in the process of being written.)

(In Thailand worshiping with the Thai and Burmese Refugees.)

Make Room for Abundance

When you’ve lived in the same house as long as I have, it’s so easy to be overrun with STUFF. Add to that my penchant for being super sentimental, and we have a recipe for getting bogged down with STUFF MAINTENANCE.

Do you do this? When I see something that truly no longer serves a purpose, I rationalize keeping it by saying

This thing meant something to me at one time.

I might be able to fit into this skirt/top/pants again someday.

I can wear these shoes (that are SO CUTE but kill my feet) to a wedding someday.

I’ll save and give this thing to _______________ because she loves the color ________________.

I’m quite sure I’m not the only one.

Lately, God has been sending me the message to simplify from the craziest places!

Purge.

LET IT GO.

In fact, as I’m typing this, my mailman left this magazine in my mailbox today:

Yep. God even enlisted the help of Oprah herself to get His point across. I always chuckle at His timing and creativity. Daily I get a message from somewhere or someone that confirms this area where I need to focus.

I’m telling you, if you ask God for confirmation on something you are struggling with or mulling over, HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.

He’ll even use Oprah to do it.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered the purging process, Lord knows it will be a lifelong endeavor… but I am recently invested in seeing things with new eyes. I’m still sentimental and there are many things that once belonged to my mom that will stay with me – but do I really need that set of vintage dishes I bought on eBay ten years ago?

No.

No. I don’t – and hanging on to it makes me unable to take on fun, new items I might get more joy from using.

But it’s not just physical stuff that needs purging – our minds are overrun by input that holds us back from our purpose of living in God’s abundance.

What are you filling your mind with?

What are you reading, watching, talking about?

Who are you spending time with?

The Bible is LOADED with verses that tell us to renew our minds.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.      Romans 12:2

 

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 1:13

A quick Google search came up with pages and pages on this topic – you can see one list by clicking here.

What am I doing to renew my mind to make room for God’s abundance and blessings? More importantly, what am I doing to prepare my mind for action and what He has planned for my future?

I’m learning to focus on the joy. I’m reading about the physics of the brain and how God created in us an amazing capacity for change. I’m learning to meditate on His word and His promises and I’m taking a good look at how to take action to change those thought patterns that only serve to agitate me. I’m going deep, and bumping into God all along the way.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Philippians 4:8 is my new motto, because I know that what we think about and focus on grows. Do you want resentment, negativity, hurt feelings and pain to grow, or do you  want truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, excellence and worth to be magnified?

I’m finding that simplifying life physically and spiritually comes slowly – but it’s something that holds great rewards if you consistently keep at it.

Here’s my pondering on Facebook from the other night – let me know in the comments if you can relate…

What are the desires of your heart?

Do you have desires deep in your heart that some people might not even know about?

Do you have hopes and dreams that are buried deep that you are even afraid to acknowledge with the fear they may never come true?

I love this verse

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4

DELIGHT in the Lord and HE with GIVE YOU the DESIRES in your heart that you and him may only know about. But he knows. He knows your heart and if you spend time with him he will deliver.

“The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God.”

I am reading through a prayer challenge book called “Draw the Circle.” It is by the same other who wrote “Circle Maker.” He talks about praying circles about your hopes, dreams, desires, and wants. It’s about being persistent and trusting that God will provide. Sometimes he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him too but he answers them in a better way. Sometimes the answer is no, and sometimes it’s yes. With that he has our best interests in mind.

He knows the deep desires of your heart and he wants you to pray into them. Sometimes patience is required because things don’t happen on our timing but in God’s. And that’s how it should be. He knows all the details. He sees everything we cannot see. Imagine trying to do a puzzle with your eyes closed and some of the pieces missing. You will never be able to complete it. But God has all the pieces lined up in front of him and he can see everything! So why are you not trusting him with all that you are and the desires and dreams of your heart. He knows what they are, but he is wants you to pray into them.

Pray circles around your desires. I am doing that now and I am writing it down. Writing your prayers and desires down is helpful for later when you can go back and see how God connected the dots and how he answered your prayers! He most likely will answer them in ways you are not expecting.

“When we pray regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.” (Draw the Circle).

Seek God’s face every day. Bring him your hopes and dreams and desires. He has a plan! You must be patient, trust him, but take action by praying!

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Which “One Another” Are You?

It’s hard to remember a more divisive time during an election season in my lifetime. The name calling and questioning the security of another’s faith just because they disagree is beyond crazy these days. I’m especially saddened that Christians are polarized against one another.

That’s not the kind of “one another” God had in mind when He included some 59 scriptures in the Bible with those words.

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Seriously. It’s in there. Maybe we all could use a review:

Romans 12:16 tells us to “live in harmony with one another.” Mark 9:50 says to “be at peace with each other.” Romans 14:13 says “stop passing judgment on one another.” The phrase, “Love one another” shows up 14 times in the New Testament. Other verses say to “encourage each other” (1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11), to “live in harmony with one another” (I Peter 3:8) and to “encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).

Oh, and my personal favorite, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)

Insert gritting teeth emoji here.

I long for the days when a good old fashioned political discourse took place face to face. Live. In real time. The common decency of humans towards one another prevailed most of the time. Speaking as one who used to love politics, it was all in good fun & very few true friendships were lost over such discussions.

Fast forward to today when social media is our proverbial hiding place. We say things we would at one time never have said to someone to their face, hiding behind the veil of protection that we are just typing the words and they somehow aren’t as vile.

But they are vile. Words hurt whether they are slung from a loose and careless tongue or typed by angry hands. I’ve seen far too many of my friends become nasty word slingers in the past several weeks and if it breaks my heart I can only imagine how God must be feeling as he watches us escalate into hysteria and confusion.

As far as I’m concerned, November 8th cannot come and go soon enough. I pray the damage done is not permanent, and that we are as quick to repair relationships as we were to wound them.

 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

 

By Grace You Have Been Saved

In reading the book of Exodus, I was ministered to by the Holy Spirit as I read Exodus 20:24-26, about the making of the altar on which to offer the sacrifices for sin. God told Moses how to make it, and explained that if they made an altar out of stones, they were not to be hewn stones ,for if they used a chisel on the stones, it profaned the altar.

Why?

It was a type of our meeting with God under the New Covenant made through the blood of God’s Son, Jesus.

We have to come solely on the merits of His offering…no works of ours can be added.

“For by Grace you have been saved, through faith, and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

But, you say, “What about ‘faith without works is dead’?” That’s true too, and Biblical, for if the Spirit of Christ lives in you, He will shine through you, and the works will follow because of Him and not because of you.

How freeing that is!

Sermon from a Junk Yard

Today, my boy and his buddies went meticulously through a junk yard and came home with bits of broken things – toys, wheels, pieces of wood, sticks, and the like. My first thought was, “Oh, no, more clutter for the yard!”

Once in a while it is good for a mother to be an eavesdropper – she can learn a lot that way!

The boys were in a state of ecstasy. They were exchanging pieces of junk back and forth – taking “dibbies” on this piece and “dibbies” on that.  And I heard them say, “Now, are you sure you are not going to change your mind? Are you sure I can keep this?”

“But what are you going to use it for?” I asked.

And they began to tell me of the wonderful things this junk could make. Why, this piece of bent wood would make a wonderful lance; and this one could be made into a gun; and the wheels and broken toys – there was just no end to the amazing ways they could be used! I shrugged my shoulders and went into the house, for, not having the eyes of a child, I could not see the end results.

Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons

But, I thought, is not this just the way God looks at our poor shattered lives when they are ruined and disgraced by sin? To Him they are not a piece of junk. The world may laugh and point the fingers of scorn at the derelict, but to God, this is a precious soul for whom Christ died.

I may look at the poor drunk of skid row – the bum who has become a derelict -and I cannot see the possibilities lying dormant in that soul – but God can! I cannot see the soul winner, the missionary, the preacher – but God can!

He that winneth souls is wise,” says the scripture. A small boy won may become a leader of men for Christ. A teen-age girl, allowing Christ to straighten out a tangled life, may turn a multitude to the Master. There are so many needy souls around us. But I must not limit the amazing Grace of God choosing to testify only to those who seem to me to be likely subjects for the kingdom of heaven. For I do not have the eyes to see the end result of a transformed life.

This post is a reprint from Foursquare Magazine – November, 1959.
Reposted from LWT 6/16/14

LET GO!

What are some of the things you are holding onto? What is one thing you are holding on so tightly that it has to be pried out of your fingers? What is something you do not want to give up control over?

There are many areas in our life that we want to hold onto whether it’s children, a job, house, any material possessions or loved ones. We want to be able to control it. But I have news for you…

YOU CAN’T.

You cannot control life. You can control, however, how you respond to the circumstances that happen in your life.

There is one person who can control life and it’s not you….it’s GOD.

He wants you to give over control. He wants you to let go of the things you are holding on so tightly. And I have good news for you, He is the BEST person to take control because he will make whatever situation, whatever circumstance better than you could have ever made it.

God wants to bless you. He wants to bless you abundantly. But he won’t do that if you do not trust him. Trust him with the small things and he will trust you with the big things. Whatever size your problem or plan is, give it to God. He will blow you out of the water with what he does with it!

You have to TRUST HIM.

Right now I am trying to start my own business. I am starting to notice a pattern. When I try to do things my way, nothing happens, no one is reached, I haven’t been able to make any connections in the field I am working in. But when I pray over what God wants to share to others through me, or ask him what he wants to do in my business, I am blown away with the amount of people who watch and listen to my content, the connections and meetings I make. And it’s all because I come to God first. I come to God with my plans and ask him for his. I give him each situation and allow him to use me in it.

Let go of your plan. You will not regret it, I promise. God has a much better plan for you than you have for yourself!

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

When you let go and let God take control it will feel something like this…  : )

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Are You Too Near the Getting In Place?

The story is told of a little boy who had a habit of falling out of bed in the night. Finally, his mother asked him why he fell out of bed so much. He replied, “I guess I stay too near the getting in place.”

The small boy with alarm clock in the bedIt’s a picture of too many Christians who don’t seem to grow, or know the Lord Jesus better this year than last. They’re faithful in their church attendance and they even tithe. But the Christian walk is a walk with Jesus that causes us to change. As Paul wrote, we are changed “from Glory to Glory, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Peter also cautioned us to grow in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Knowledge comes through the Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

(These thoughts were first shared with Kristin in an email on August 11, 2005. Gladys was 86 years old. And yes, she loved connecting via email!)

11 Mile Hike

Last week I went on an 11 mile hike with a friend. We are training to hike Mount Whitney (which is 22 miles and about 14,250 in elevation) and for our training we are doing a bigger, more challenging hike each month to prepare.

This hike did not have much in elevation, but the elevation it did have was gained quickly within 5.37 miles. Heading toward the top of the mountain you would think the trail would be uphill…nope! It was up AND downhill, which heading to the top was nice because it gave us a break from the uphill. However, this meant that heading back we would have to go uphill as well. Not fun.

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We made it to the top. It felt like such an accomplishment. We took pictures, enjoyed the view for a bit while we ate our snack, and then started the trek back down to our car. Making it to the top of the mountain is only half way, I reminded myself.

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One thing about this trail is there is no shade. NONE! No trees to sit under to take a break from the heat, and by 10am it was already 99 degrees and we had started at 6am! Not good.

Making our way back down it felt as though we were placed in an oven without an escape. At about 2.5 miles out from the trail head we ran out of water. Not good when it’s 100 degrees and no shade. We were thirsty and hot walking up hills, however we didn’t pay as much attention to the hills because of being distracted by how hot our bodies were. Funny how God works sometimes.

There was a lot of self-motivation talk. I was telling myself how strong I was, that I was healthy, that I would make it back, that God would give me strength. I did a lot of praying asking God for help and to fill up my Camelbak. Around the mile 4 sign there were a couple cases of water. I saw them on my way up and it wasn’t until I was heading back down that I REALLY appreciated the water being there. I grabbed a couple bottles to fill my pack but I ended up going through that water fairly quickly. Nevertheless, this was an answer to prayer I just wish the water didn’t run out so fast ; )

It is only by the grace of God we made it back. I know for a fact we would have been much worse if it wasn’t for God being with us, reciting scripture, and digging into the truth of who God is and the truth of his word.

 

“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

No matter what situation you are in, God is with you and is there to help you. He will give you what you need when you need it.

This hike was a good lesson on life, and how to continue to prepare to hike Mount Whitney in a few months ; ) Seriously Satan was trying to beat us up and bring us down, but we know someone who is greater.

I am glad I did this hike. Although I wish it was 20 degrees cooler, I am glad I did it and I am glad it is over. This hike showed me how powerful God is. It taught me to enjoy the journey, to have a good attitude during trials, and that trials do come to an end.