ALL OF THE FRIENDS …

“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. 

Happy Friending, 

Megs

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“Sick of Me,” by Whitney Capps, Book Review

Sick of Me, by Whitney Capps

“When we willingly crash through the restraints of God’s protection, we put our lives in peril. When we submit to God’s law, we show that we are a people set apart for the sake of God’s glory.” -Whitney Capps, “Sick of Me.”

I could not wait to get my hands on this book, having ready Whitney Capps’ daily devotions in the First5 App for many years now. She was already one of my favorite authors. What could be a lot of pressure for an author to live up to simply confirmed her God-given gift to minister right into the hearts of the everyday woman.

Through her honesty, and knowledge of God’s Word, Capps humbly delivers an important message put on her heart. In a society that calls us to wave our flag of individuality high and unashamed, the concept of transparency is easily confused. “Sick of Me” diligently does the job of deciphering transparency and transformation. 

This book met me in a search for what the Bible says about authenticity, and answered it boldly with the Truth of the Word. I appreciate the author’s humor and everyday struggles, but respect her obedience to pursue the Truth and deliver it to those whose hearts need the encouragement. 

The message of this book is not a popular societal anthem. It will not resonate with everyone, but for those whose this book meets head on where they are searching, it will pivot something crucial in their faith. 

I quickly devoured the content of this book in mere days. It’s well organized and beautifully written. A good mix of everyday life and Biblical Truth …cemented with the love God has for all of us. “Sick of Me,” is a challenge and a call to action. It’s stark truth stands out from many other messages of the same grain. I believe this message will equip many to live truly radical lives of faith.

“To live counter to the culture rarely feels good. These notions were radical then and now. To read and understand what Jesus asks of us is entirely different than actually doing it. But this is the radical part of radical living- doing what Jesus calls us to do, not guys thinking about it.” -Whitney Capps, “Sick of Me.”

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Click here to purchase your copy of “Sick of Me,” by Whitney Capps

“Breaking the Power of Negative Words,” by Mary Busha, Book Review

“Breaking the Power of Negative Words,” by Mary Busha

“In it’s purest form, supernatural is ‘something attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or laws of nature.’ It’s the supernatural transforming of our hearts and minds by God that allows us to forgive others the way He forgives us.” Mary Busha, “Breaking the Power of Negative Words.”

“Breaking the Power of Negative Words” addresses the damage we stand to do if we do not curb what comes out of our mouths. So many are suffering from words spoken to them in their formative years and beyond, with Busha brilliantly addresses and explains. With examples from her own life and many well-known people throughout history, she is able to paint a very clear picture of how words spoken by others …especially those close to us …can attach themselves to our self-image. 

Throughout the book, which is well-organized and intent on repeating the main principles in breaking the power negative words can have, the author replaces many commons lies we are tempted to absorb as truth with the actual truth God compliments us with in the Bible. Rooted in Scripture and other sound research, the author gives her readers many practical tools to take into their everyday lives. 

As a mother of two young daughters, I took all of the advice this book had to offer straight to heart and prayer over my life. Forgiving forward concerning our parents has become a motto of mine, and this book further cemented the virtue and value of forgiveness and compassion for hurt people who hurt people. 

Sometimes a bit too repetitive, the concept worked, because I remember and am able to practically apply so much of this book to my everyday life right away. The stories are easy to relate to and the advice is practical and Biblically bound.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been hurt by negative words. I urge all parents to read it, as further affirmation that what we say has a ripple effect …both good and bad.

“The problem is that the tongue is connected to the heart. Whatever is in the heart will eventually pour out of the mouth. So the words our tongues utter are a direct reflection of what’s goin on inside us.” Mary Busha, “Breaking the Power of Negative Words.”

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Click here to purchase a copy of “Breaking the Power of Negative Words,” by Mary Busha.

A Prayer to Answer Compassionate Calls

“The heart is free where the Spirit of the Lord is.” 

2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLV)

My daughter and I curled up on the couch one typical winter Tuesday that found both of us leveled with Influenza A. As we sat and colored pictures and fought aches and coughs, we watched a movie about a little girl in another country that found herself in an unfair state of affairs.

“I don’t want to watch this movie, Mommy,” she said,“it’s making me uncomfortable.”

The movie was “Queen of Katwe,” about a young girl who made history as a chess player in Uganda. Her life was anything but glamorous, and the reality of her reality made my daughter uncomfortable.

“It’s important to be aware,”I explained to her.  When the unfair circumstances of others make us uncomfortable, I believe that’s the seed of Christ’s compassionate heart nudging us to do something about it. 

There was one scene in particular that completely confused my church-going child. She knows about hunger, donates to help those in need, and raised her hand to sponsor a child. But until that moment it was still so very far away for her.

Click here to continue reading …

The Compassionate Quit (Book Review, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” by Nicki Koziarz)

“Be merciful to those who doubt.” (NIV) Jude 1:22

image

“I quit.”

With every Kindergarten foot-stomp, adult miscommunication, seven-year old sassy stare, and unnerved “NO!- That’s not something we tell the dog ‘NO’ for,” I holler down the hallways of my home, I yearn a little bit more for a vacation away from all of them …the people and the thoughts.

“You’re not a good parent…just give up.”

“You’re not a good wife…just give up.”

“You’re not a good friend…just give up.”

“You’re not a good writer…just give up.”

“You’re not a good …daughter, sibling, co-worker, church member …fill it in how it feels …and then just give up.”

If we’re being real, that’s someone’s reality. Today, it’s mine. I can see my lack of self-control reflected in my struggle to maintain the last word…even with my dog.

“Don’t you DARE bite me…” I’ll stare menacingly. They’re supposed to read your facial expressions, right? I’m not a good dog owner …maybe I should just give up.

My relationships reflect my constant battle with insecurities.

“They shouldn’t treat me that way…” Quit.

I crave entitlement to curb my doubts.

“I deserve better…” Walk away…again.

God met me right in the middle of this tantrum with a verse and a book that squashed my imagedoubt and commanded, “Don’t Quit.”

When we quiet the quitter by commanding compassion, we witness to the wavering. Through Jude 1:22 and Nicki Koziarz’s book, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” Christ compelled me to stop whining keep walking.

 1. Quit the quitter.

“Have mercy on those who are wavering.” Jude 1:22 (TLV)

“Have loving-kindness for those who doubt.” Jude 1:22 (NLV)

imageRefuse to pour out doubt before you recognize the reflection. It’s unworldly to look in the mirror to heal ill-regard towards others. Justification is the more acceptable method of problem solving in our legalistic society.

It’s not the people and the circumstances in my life that are causing me mental unrest…it’s the disheveled way I’m running the course through and to my calling. But when I reach out and read I find I’m not alone…

Jude was Jesus’ brother. Yet, his qualification to speak on Christianity came from a lifetime of growing up in the same household with, but not believing, he lived among the Son of God. #oops (Men of the Bible, Bible Gateway) 

Nicki’s honesty in revealing her “Quit List” comforted me to tears. #AMEN Testimony can reach out in such a personal way when the faithful share God’s story of their life.

Life Application: It’s easy to pitch a tent of pointed fingers and quit hard people and situations, but I’d rather look back at the meandering path of walking with Christ. When we feel a hint of aggravation creeping into our temperament, stop and pray for God to unplug the compassion-clog.

2. Command Compassion

“And have mercy on some, who are doubting.” Jude 1:22 (NASB)

“And of some have compassion, making a difference.” Jude 1:22 (KJV) 

“And you must show mercy to those who’s faith is wavering.” Jude 1:22 (NLT)

My qwerty keyboard lit on fire with crying smiley-faces when Nicki shared her experience with peroxide contact solution in her eye. I was so thankful not to be the only one who had somehow dismissed the bright red cap of warning, and pictured myself doing the spazzed-out eye-burning dance as she recalled her own. (Page 64, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.)

I expected her book to be funny and easy to relate to, but I did not expect to cry like a baby when she peeled back my secret struggle of marital life By unveiling her own honest sentiments. What secret? That it’s HARD. It’s so hard. Unbelievably hard, even when you’re blessed with the best.

I’m forever thankful she chose to come alongside of me that day. Her compassionate wave of the “It’s OK” flag released the flood gates of something I wasn’t sure was “normal” to feel. The next morning, God so faithfully and personally placed people in my kitchen to call it out and pray it out with me. #awesomeness.

“What is my responsibility to other people? Move with compassion. Touch the untouchable. Give what you can. Point to Jesus.” -Pastor Todd Nielsen, The Chapel

Christian love get’s lost in the movement, sometimes. Sharing the struggles behind the smiles of your life is “caring enough to move” (Pastor Todd Neilsen)…and that’s compassion defined. I pray God allows me to be there for other people like me, who exude laughter and encouragement, but are inclined and conditioned to tough it out.

Life Application: If we can learn to lean in to the One who made us a midst struggle and strife, I believe we’ll discover the confidence hidden in our truest pieces. And I know those pieces are meant to touch hearts and save souls.

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3. Witness to the wavering.

“On some have compassion, making a distinction.” Jude 1:22 (MSG)

“On some have compassion, using discernment.” Jude 1:22 (MEV

“Try to help those who argue against you. Be merciful to those who doubt.” Jude 1:22 (TLB)

For anyone who tests out of personality quizzes with leadership skills like I do, the struggle with control is real. But God wouldn’t build a trait into my character unless He meant it for good. How can control be a good thing? The obvious benefits of self-control are easy to equate, but while studying this word I discovered a new layer.

“Control: A person who acts as a check. A check or restraint. To eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of. To test or verify…”-Dictionary.com

My religious upbringing lit the love of Christ in my heart, but there came a time when I imagehad to sift through rules to release my relationship with God. The floodgates of conversation flew open when I lifted up the consequential constraints of penance to begin running my disheveled course of calling. I had to lose control to gain control. 

Control of each soul’s marathon is beyond a human’s ability to reason and rule. As we stride up alongside each other on life’s disheveled course of calling, our duty is to extend an encouraging word and a “you can do it” through whatever personality skill you’re gifted the highest score.

“Christian freedom is not a hall pass to do whatever one wishes.” Case for Christ Study Bible, Jude image1:22  Rather, Christian freedom is the way Nicki described it in her book:
“Goodness, I mess up all the time. I say things I shouldn’t say. I have thoughts I shouldn’t have. I doubt when I should trust. I quit things I shouldn’t quit. And yet God is always there dabbing more and more grace on my soul. He doesn’t quit me; He just keeps ‘touching up’ the places of weakness in me.” Nicki Koziarz, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.”

Sometimes, God’s people will dab grace on your soul during the race…

Life Application: When doubters see you overcome what they are underneath, a “me too” mentality is born from testimony. Share the hard stuff, and be real with God about your stuff.

Each translation of Jude 1:22 perpetuates a unique revelation. God will speak your language, where you’re at. Jude’s letter emphatically urged his audience to be wary of “grumblers and fault-finders” toting Christian freedom as “a license for immorality,” (Case for Christ Study Bible) and ended his letter by pointing back to God, who is “fully able to keep those who put there trust in Him.” (NIV Study Notes James 1:24-25)

Synonyms for control, according to Dictionary.com, are: management, government, reign, rule, mastery. Rest assured, the author of the universe is in control. Everything has a flip side. Christians know the ending. Stay focused on the finish line, and make the choice to keep your control setting flipped to His.

“When we feel others are not giving us what we need, it’s really easy to give up. We start to feel resentful, and maybe a little entitled.” Nicki Koziarz “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.”

imageIt’s a disheveled course, but God designed my personality to persevere around every sharp corner and up every steep…never-ending hill. Jesus’ scarred hands extend compassion to me…which bleeds out of my life, and prayerfully onto those who need to know that He loves them, too. That’s the mission. Until the we hug Him in heaven …there’s no time to quit.

Happy “Not” Quitting…

Megs