Posted on April 10, 2019
I have a child who hears everything I say no matter how many floors of the house and blaring TV’s or devices separate us. She pops up into conversations at random and repeats things I thought were out of her earshot. I really wish I could screen her questions before she asks them, and cringe in fear of what she might say whenever her little hand pops straight up into the air to ask a question. She holds me accountable! Whatever I say is coming back at me, full speed …in front of everyone …at the most awkward time possible. There are no breaks in parenting! No breaks.
The digital age has it’s challenges for parents and kids alike. The questions are endless, the monitoring never-ending, and the app requests are constant. One generation is growing up immersed in information and accessibility like never before. The older generations attempting to parent their children through all of this haven’t lived through it from the ground up like they have. It’s challenging to stand in credibility when we’re learning so much on the fly, ourselves.
In some ways, the generational gaps are very similar to those we experienced with our parents. But in many ways, the world seems to be a brand new ball game. A scary one. Terrifying, even. It’s not in our heads. We’re not being paranoid. It’s not a product of watching too much of the news. The world is catapulting towards it’s inevitable end at a very fast rate. We live in the end times, the time between Jesus going to heaven to be with the Father, and the time He will return again to set ALL OF IT straight. Until then, here we are. More broken than ever. More catastrophe than ever. More hurt, pain, suffering, and tragedy than ever. And since we’re more connected and technologically advanced than ever, we know more than ever about ALL OF IT.
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Romans 3:19 NIV
Every mouth silenced. The VOICE paraphrase says, “muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God’s justice.”
Holding ourselves accountable to God’s truth sends a powerful message to our children. Our actions make a bigger impact than what comes out of our mouths. Openly sharing our faith with our children makes a difference, but allowing them to watch us live it puts it in bold italics. Children want to be accepted for who they are, right now. They need to be loved for who they are, while they grow. In the midst of awkward transitions happening to the backdrop of an ever-changing world, our children need love to live.
We need Love to live. All of us.
There are things we are not going to be able to explain to ourselves, or to our children. There are simply no answers for all of the horrific things that happen in this world. No ability to understand them even if God gave them to us. How do we throw our trust in God, regardless? Everything we need to know can be unlocked by opening up the Bible and praying for understanding. Seeking God, and holding onto His promise that we will find Him.
Christianity is not a mythical faith that requires us to throw all of our gumption into the unknown. Jesus Christ can be proven. If you are searching for answers, keep searching, keep asking, and you will find them. God is not hiding. In fact, He wants to be found. For ourselves, as parents, that’s an important fact to embrace. Our kids are watching us. They are watching to see how are faith holds us together. How we make sense out of the things that don’t seem to make sense.
Our lives speak for themselves.
In this world, we are promised to have trouble. We are told, as Christians, it will be even harder. Why would anyone sign up for that? For the promise of eternity with Christ in heaven. Fact finding firms the foundation of our faith, but walking with Christ brings us to our knees. The personal, daily care our Heavenly Father leads us with. Going before us, behind us, and remaining with us. Despite the world, despite ourselves, we see life through a different filter than those who choose to walk without Him. A filter of grace, hope, peace, and love …that surpasses all understanding.
We cannot authentically love the people in our lives well unless we are putting Love first in our lives. It effects everything. Our kids notice, our friends see, our family knows. Strength comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. The world is a mess, yep. It’s going to keep getting messier, yep. But hope is still hope. Love is still Love. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father who sees all and knows all. In ways we only get glimpses of, all of mess will be cleaned up, in due time. In His perfect time. In the meantime, we learn on the fly. We grow with our kids. We embrace every good thing and trust that God is somehow making good out of all the bad.
When the world butts up against us, all abrasive and entitled, we can choose to forgive forward, love despite, and compassionately extend kindness. Our kids are watching. They are listening. They hear everything. Who are we echoing?
Posted on April 3, 2019
“For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4 ESV
“Did you get new knobs?” Sitting in the kitchen for coffee, my friend noticed the new bright blue and yellow cabinet knobs.
“No, we just now installed them!” Though we built our home six years ago, some things are still on the “to-do” list.
Hebrews Chapter 3 got me thinking about the building process, and the way it admonished Christ as the builder alongside God of the house …the church …us. (Hebrews 3:6) We are built on a firm foundation, but sometimes neglect to install pulls and knobs to properly open all God has for us.
Overwhelmed with joy to move our growing family into a larger space where we could all breath our own air, knobs and pulls seemed easy to live without. But after opening and closing drawers and cabinet doors for six years in the wrong way, they became crooked, dirty and loose.
I sifted through a bin of blue and yellow flowered knobs caught my eye at the craft store, purchased and placed them on my kitchen counter. There they sat, for weeks, waiting to be installed. But eventually, they donned my kitchen cabinets, and we began opening things the right way.
Pulling on things the wrong way wears them out prematurely.
I have worn the corners of my life in similar ways, procrastinating the process of change. The cycle of disappointment can rob my will to start. Frustrated with myself, worn corners start to wear off on everything and everyone my life touches. Enter, cycle of shame.
Christ never pulls on us in a way that prematurely wears us out. Shame is NEVER from Jesus. He died to put shame to shame, to erase guilt. So when we’re feeling that way, it’s our lurking enemy and this broken world seeking to keep us from simply installing the right knobs and pulls in our lives.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 ESV
When we’re walking around wounded, we can’t operate in the full capacity of life Jesus died to give us. We live in a world that allows us to justify every stupid mistake we make, instead of encouraging us to apologize, right the wrong, and try not to make the same mistake again. For the sake of comfort, we’ve become uncomfortable. We don’t know our full potential, because we’re too busy making excuses.
“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” 2 Timothy 2:14 ESV
When the knobs and pulls are installed properly, we know unequivocally that Jesus is God. The One True God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Residing in every Christian believer. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is strength in Christ to persevere the pulling open and slamming shut without falling a part.
The radical love of God is life-altering.
Posted on April 2, 2019
Direction, “a purpose or orientation toward a goal that serves to guide or motivate,” has an inevitable flow in our lives. In consideration of our daily direction, the above verse from Romans aligns our internal compass with the One who breathes strength and purpose into the very muscles that compel us.
The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that,“conclusions sometimes summarized key points in a work; love is once such point.” When we seek direction, does Love have the final say on our propelled steps? In Matthew Henry’s Commentary, he states many reasons the Corinthians were instructed by Paul to “be on guard.” There were people looking to deceive and corrupt their faith, to manipulate their direction. “A Christian is always in danger, and therefore should ever be on the watch,” Henry stated. Even today, we must stay alert to the current status of our life’s direction.
Our direction stems from faith. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to “stand firm in the faith.” Scripture tells us to take captive every thought, and to align all we hear with the truth of the Gospel. Reading Scripture daily builds godly confidence, preventing the propulsion down a path that doesn’t align with His unique purpose for our lives.
Posted on March 27, 2019
“Friends with Everyone” is the quest to love people in our lives well. God places people in our lives purposefully. As Christians, we are called to reach outside of our comfort zones in order to serve the people bordering our everyday lives.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.
To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.
I have become all tings to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV (emphasis mine.)
Love finds common ground. Paul isn’t advising us to change for people in these verses. He’s challenging us to find common ground with the people in our lives. There is common ground to be found. It’s not an easy quest. There are lines we will be tempted to cross and company we wish would could keep closer. We will be called to ruffle a few feathers in righteousness. We will be left out, called out, questioned, and ridiculed. Being friends with everyone requires us to flip all of the hurt into forgiveness, and trust God with transformation.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV
We wouldn’t die for someone that hurt us. We wouldn’t die for someone who didn’t apologize for the hurt they caused …and we surely wouldn’t die for someone intent upon hurting us again. Jesus did. Compassion and kindness come from Him. All of us continue to fall short every day, yet the forgiveness Jesus died to grant us, to go before us and pave for us, isn’t effected by our inability to overcome the broken world we live in. He has already defeated what we could …and cannot. It. Is. Done. A true understanding of forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurt and allows the love of Christ to flow through our lives.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV
I believe we take this verse out of context when we use it as an excuse to shun people who are different from us. What good is all of our wisdom about Christ, if we hide from the people that don’t know what we know? Like Paul, through adversity …seek diversity. But we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He was friends with everyone, without sacrificing His mission.
Jesus had a close group of twelve friends, and out them three were extremely close to Jesus. Still one, John, was Jesus’ best friend on earth. We’re clearly called to choose our close circle of friends with care, but leave the door open. May our light reflect His Love.
I shudder to think of all the rich friendships I would have missed out on, had I not decided to leave my Monday morning Bible Study group open to anyone. Whether or not they go to church or believe in God is between them and Him. Our job is to open the door and share what we know.
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious- don’t get infected.” Proverbs 22:24-25 MSG
The more friends we have, the greater the risk of getting hurt. Learning how to survive devastating blows to our character and create healthy boundaries is all part of the package. Can I tell you something? It’s through our reaction to those situations that our faith is put on display the most.
Loving the people in our lives well leads us to brotherly and sisterly love. As we grow in wisdom and away from the lessons of our past, God is faithful to provide friends that are racing towards Christ alongside us. Never take these friends for granted. These are the best friends. The ones who don’t get all awkward and subject-change when we start to talk about Jesus. No, these are the friends who lean in to learn alongside of us. Every broken hearted moment is worth it to find these people in life. But we can’t stay there.
We are called to be friends with everyone.
Posted on March 21, 2019
Every friendship begins with a hint of selfishness that we all innately possess. But if we learn to flip our vision outward in obedience to God and service to others, His purpose for friendship is revealed.
Jesus set the bar. He came to serve, not to be served. What did that look like in His earthly friendships? He was open to conversation with anyone, friendly with everyone, but held 12 people closer than others. And Jesus knew the best way to befriend someone was occasionally to confront them with the truth, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. He had to allocate His time and manage relationships just as we do on this earth.
What else can we learn from Him and apply to our lives? Here are 10 revelations that have the power to transform friendships.