In All Things Charity

“Scripture shotguns and Gospel grenades just don’t make a lot of sense to me. “In all things, charity.”
Not casualties.”

Wanton Disregard for Safety

I am amazed when I consider how some Christians handle conflict.

Some people seem content to throw the figurative grenade into the room, then pick up the pieces and see what’s left. No really, that’s pretty much a quote I was given as one person’s method of conflict resolution.

There are those who feel compelled to fire their Scripture-shotgun into the face of any opposition, no matter how tame. “I know what God says on this matter. I asked Him.” Or perhaps “I have a degree in Christian Ministry, so I don’t need your input on Christianity, kthxbai.”

Not exact quotes but close enough.

I attend a church whose stated vision is to “Saturate our city and our world with the heart of God.” My wife and I have been playing for the music ministry for about a year and a half now. When they announced a new members class…

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Being An Enabler Is Good

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Isaiah 57:14 “And it will be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
Remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.””

We’ve all heard the phrase and warning, “Don’t be an enabler“. I grew up thinking there is only one definition and only one way to enable: to allow, encourage or make excuses for the wrong or hurtful behavior of another. I became an expert in not fitting that definition. I also became an expert at knowing how to avoid being co-dependent.

Recently I’ve become aware that Merriam-Webster is changing definitions to words. No, not adding new definitions, but erasing/deleting/removing previous definitions, then adding new ones. “Tolerance” is one that has been redefined. I’m going to work hard to help change the mindset about this word “enabling”. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we completely throw out the definition society most often grabs hold of and speaks out against. I am saying, let’s get to the place where that becomes a secondary definition, and the word doesn’t cause such a negative reaction.

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I thought about how using a lawn mower enables us to take care of our lawn.

Recently my husband was asked to play the keys in a band performing that didn’t have someone available to play them. I reacted, rather than responding, with a groan. My husband has so many demands on his time. Often when it’s my turn, he’s so exhausted he’s falling asleep. Things have been busier for both of us, and I was looking forward to just having a day where nothing was scheduled that we could relax at home. Then, he explained the reason for the performance. It was an opportunity for the young lady singing to participate in an open air concert, with a possible opportunity to be able to open for a big named singer in the future. Wow. I didn’t want to stand in the way of that possibility! So, I stopped complaining and dreading his being busy with yet another thing, and I went with him in support. Meeting her and hearing her sing, I realized this was a super big deal. She is good, with a powerful message that made me cry while they were rehearsing.

So, that got me to thinking, and realizing: I’ve been short-changed. There is a whole other positive side to being an enabler, one I think the majority of us would love the chance to embrace. So, here are some ways to enable the people in your life:

1) Always speak to them with words that encourage and build up.

2) Address things that need to be changed or done better, in a positive way. Don’t just allow the negative to continue, but don’t criticize harshly or condemn.

3) Be available to support in the ways they need, not the ways you think they need.

4) If they mess up or fail, be there to support, build up and gently encourage them to not give up.

5) Support them and help them have a balanced attitude when they succeed.

 

Experience The Rainbow

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“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV

When I took these two pictures, I had no idea they would fit together like this.

I have been fascinated with rainbows for as long as I can remember.

As a little girl I sat in my room alone and watched through my window as others played. I saw a rainbow, and felt God speak into my spirit “I love you”. I had learned from the Bible that God made the first rainbow as a promise to never flood the earth again, but instead washed the earth with the rain.

In the past when under duress, a rainbow would take me instantly back to that first moment God spoke into my spirit, and instant peace flooded me.

At 24 when I entered a crossroads in my life, having sought God for the very first time as to what He wanted to do with the life He gave me, I asked Him for a sign to know, so I wouldn’t doubt His answer and direction.

The sign He gave me, twice, as I began to doubt it the first time, was a rainbow over an American flag. It was the military He was leading me into.

184100_10150323851712456_7034223_nI had a tattoo of that sign from Him inked above my right ankle, to remind me of where I had come from, and where my journey with God started. I knew God before, but I often just kind of stumbled into His path for me. The crossroads served as an opportunity to follow His path with purpose, determination, and confidence that I would know His direction. I left everything behind, shed off my old life, and followed closely after Him, clinging to His Word and His Promises.

Of course I have stumbled as I’ve learned how to walk on His straight and narrow path, many times. It has been a lonely walk at times, and full of fellowship other times. My vision for my life has not always matched God’s vision for my life, and I’ve had to remind myself to surrender to His purpose, not insist on mine.

As I’ve looked at things not of God that use the rainbow as a symbol, I have found something to be completely ironic.

The Gay Pride flag is a rainbow. I pondered this last night, and wondered if that was done by intent, or completely by accident?

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If by accident, it could very well serve as a reminder that we are all, ALL, covered by God’s promise to never flood the earth again. But, Biblical history also shows us that at the time God flooded the earth, homosexuality was rampant. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as homosexuality was practiced. I don’t believe, personally, it was homosexuality itself that caused God to destroy those cities. It was the heart condition that serving and elevating self  caused.

 

Was the rainbow chosen to dig at Christians, as a source of irritation? I have heard many gay people say they just want to be accepted, but in action, they very often say hateful things about Christians and Christianity.

It seems to me, the heart of this movement might not be just acceptance and peacefully co-existing. It looks very much like they might be thumbing their noses at Christians and the promise of our God. Regardless their flag serves as a reminder to us all that God honors His promises, even if there are attempts to provoke Him.

“The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.” Numbers 14:18

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

Colossians 3:12:14“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Only An Internet Message Away

380482647455Many of us have lost a friend or loved one that left us a bit bewildered as to why God choose to take them.

I have, recently.

I can’t say I knew her very well. We joked, we chatted about Scripture and natural foods, and we shared prayer concerns. She once watched my kids at my van while I ran my dog into the Vet, because kids weren’t allowed and my husband was unavailable to help out. We ran into each other a few times out shopping, and at a Christian weekly function. All of this has been scattered over the past 8 years or so, beginning shortly after my second son was born.

Even with that limited interaction, she left an impact on my heart. Her smile could draw someone out of the darkest mood, and her laugh had to have shattered demons ears, it was so full of joy. She had the most gorgeous long, flowing hair. But, it was her countenance that was the most apparent. You could just look at her and not only see her love for Jesus, but you could feel His love for her. I remember seeing her and her husband standing close by each other, worshiping Jesus together at The Harbor. It was so easy to see how cherished she was by him, as he would stroke her long hair and have his arm around her. They had a silent testimony of the power of love in a marriage. It’s just not something that is so noticeable in marriages, not even Christian marriages, so it has stood in my mind, like a beacon. That is what God wants in our marriages, and it’s what He wants in our personal relationship with Him. To be so comfortable and natural together, I wish that for every marriage.

I don’t understand why God allowed her to pass on. She was one of the warm, beautiful lights here, glowing with His love for everyone. I get to see her again one day, and because of that I am sincerely able to rejoice. Even though I miss her here, just knowing she was here, ministering to someone, reflecting Jesus to others so clearly was so comforting. I have a friend from high school that I’ve been separated from by time, distance and circumstances, but I can pick up the phone and call her, and we talk like there’s nothing separating us at all. It was like that for me with my friend who passed away.

I miss just knowing she was only an internet message away.

Heard

heardYou know what it’s like to have something to say, but you just can’t be heard, right? Like at a rock concert , trying to talk over the music. Or when you have advice for someone whose shoes you have been in, but they just won’t stop and listen.

I have had some medical issues going on for quite sometime now. A couple of times in my life, I have dealt with edema and swelling. This most recent dealing has lasted 14 years.

Often when I go to the doctor, they have an agenda: find the quickest, easiest method to get me out of their office. Well, ok, that has been the majority of military doctors. One doctor pulled me into his office where his desk is, after I explained my reason for making an appointment: my arm hurt. Badly. So badly, I could barely move it. I didn’t know what I had done, except we had just moved back overseas, and I had to carry a lot of heavy luggage and 2 babies. He completely ignored my pain, and sat me down at his desk to counsel me. On what, you might ask? On the need to lose weight and exercise. I didn’t even bother to try to explain my problems with all over swelling and edema, he never would have heard me. He had an agenda. So, I fumed silently to myself, left, and NEVER made another appointment to see him again. I was sure that was the end of it. I was wrong. That following Sunday, smack dab on the front page of the Stars and Stripes was this doctor’s picture, and an article he wrote about  the spontaneous counseling session he forced on me. He didn’t “quote” me, didn’t mention my name in particular, but he used  our conversation along with some of the things I did actually say, and of course his “wise words”, putting me in my place. If he wasn’t military, I could, and would have sued him! But, I can’t do that. So, instead I chose to not trust military doctors again. I’ve had a few appointments when necessary, and especially when I was pregnant. I did try to deal with this edema again, years later, at a different military medical facility, and a civilian Naval doctor took my concerns seriously. He listened, but he was limited in how he could help.

About 2 months ago, I had some concerns about some things I am experiencing, so I hesitantly made an appointment. After the appointment, I wasn’t sure if I would actually be taken seriously. I thought she had put me in for some routine tests to look for my concerns. Then I didn’t hear from her again, but her office actually calls me every couple of weeks to check in with me.  That’s a new thing.

Because of some concerns with my blood tests, she had me referred to a Hematologist. I’ve seen him 2 times now. The first time I wasn’t sure what to make of him. He asked me some questions, did a short exam, and sent me to have my blood tested again. He had a nurse talk with me, and she is really friendly and helpful. Today, I had a follow-up, and the doctor asked more questions. He told me about my blood results, which are a bit scary. I don’t exactly know what’s going on with me, but he has explained what I can expect from him and the process he thinks I need to go through. I will see another doctor, and possibly a third doctor to find out what’s going on. And, more blood was drawn so he could look at it even more closely.

Today, I was heard. I was taken seriously. I was asked how I feel, what I think, what I am concerned about, and if I had any questions. I have a new faith with doctors that I have never had before.

Today was a new day, indeed.

As frustrated as I have been all these years, I can imagine how frustrated God feels when we just won’t listen to Him. Sometimes we value our opinion above what He has to say. We don’t want to hear what He’s saying because we don’t want to change something He wants changed. Or we don’t believe He is talking with us, we aren’t always very good listeners to God.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  Romans 10:17

 

Pound of Flesh… or Soda

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I chugged the last of my third can of Diet Mountain Dew (or Mtn Dew, as the label now reads), and I listened to the radio news on the way home from work.

“A court in New York struck down the city’s ruling limiting beverage sizes in restaurants to 16 ounces.”

Well good. That was stupid.

Then I hear that somebody or other “vows to appeal and continue this fight.”

Seriously?

New York City must be an absolutely amazing place. If the biggest problem on their plate these days is fighting against a venti or the dreaded 32 oz giant soda from the gas station, then we should all be moving there ASAP. Forget crime, and gun control (or lack thereof). Forget about cities going bankrupt or businesses struggling, or unemployment rates.

Someone out there might drink a 24 oz cup of Coke!

What’s to stop me from getting a…

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“Don’t Apologize”

I’ve spent most of my lifetime apologizing for who I was and who I am, for simply being here, maybe in someone’s way, or saying something that might have given the wrong impression or just didn’t get my point across. I’ve apologized and been completely introspective, believing something was wrong with me, because someone was positive I must have been flirting with a worship leader when I was watching them for upcoming cues, as I would a conductor in a symphony.

I’ve mentally kicked myself probably near 1 million times for all the mistakes I have made or possible wrong impressions I unknowingly have given.

I’ve eased up on myself over the years, because the focus stopped being so much on how I was messing things up, the more I grabbed hold of my life and learned to follow God. But sometimes, I can feel that try to pull me down again. It’s like trying to swim to the top, to breath, but being pulled back down by someone who just doesn’t want me to reach the surface. That’s what the negative opinions and gossip, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and even lies of my past tries to do to me.

I’ve apologized time and again for making mistakes, for giving an unpopular opinion that offends someone (but they don’t apologize to me in return, as their opinion can be just as offensive.)

I don’t expect from others what I know should be expected of me.

So, lately, I’ve got some stuff going on. I’m realizing I have some health issues that stem back to before I was even a teenager. The medical diagnosis is taking F.O.R.E.V.E.R. but I’m pretty positive I know what is wrong. At the very least, I know the generalized category of what is wrong with me. Had I been diagnosed as a child with this, would that have shaped my life differently? Would I still feel the need to constantly apologize for my very existence that alone seems to have caused so many problems, less or even more so? I believe some people actually think if I had not been born, their lives would have been tremendously more easy, and some of the problems just wouldn’t have been. Too bad, cause the only place I’m going is probably shutting the door to them. I am grateful for the life God has given to me, and I am satisfied. Should I apologize to them for that, do you think?

So, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for being awkward and untrusting.

I’m sorry for being messy and unorganized in the past, yes I know, I was pretty bad.

I’m sorry for ever having needed to rely on someone else for help.

I’m sorry for having an opinion different from yours and not just keeping it to myself.

I’m sorry for having been promiscuous and confusing that with being cherished and wanted.

I’m sorry for leaving a church where the lack of grace was suffocating me. I’m also sorry my husband felt the need to leave, as well, all by himself. I’m sorry so many misjudged and thought I convinced him to leave, too. I’m even more sorry for the hurt inflicted in him, and me as well, as we felt rejection from some who had once treated us like family.

I’m sorry I’ve cut so many people out of my life over the years, because I just do not trust them not to hurt me.

I’m sorry for misunderstanding what you said.

I’m sorry for having a possible physical disability that seems impossible to actually diagnose.

I’m sorry for thinking a fire hydrant was a child dressed in winter clothing, in the middle of the hot summer, because my eye sight gets so blurry.

I’m sorry that you think I’m stupid.

I’m sorry for being born. Really. I’m sorry for being born. Because, we all know I had so much control over that. (Yeah, ok, this last one was pure sarcasm.)

I often hear from my husband, “Stop apologizing. It’s ok. It’s not as bad as you think. It’s not as frustrating as it seems. You’re fine.”

I can’t just quit. Because maybe apologizing will help people who don’t like me because we differ in political or religious opinions, to like me. Maybe people won’t judge me so harshly as being stupid because I made some mistakes, or I got confused about something, or I don’t debate the way they think I should.

Maybe people will think as highly of me as I think of them, if I just apologize enough for being so inadequate and insignificant.

I purposely cover over the hurts and negatives that others have caused me. But, I don’t see that happening for me from most people. So, I guess if I apologize enough, maybe, they might realize that sometimes I need to be apologized to. <shrug>

Some people, and they know who they are, have yet to begin to scratch the surface of apologies I deserve to be given. But, because I understand how to forgive and look past things in everyone else, except myself, of course I will overlook things and press on, surrendering the pain and frustration to God.

By the way, I’m getting better at not making myself the exception. That is the healthiness God is bringing about in me.

I hope you’re getting better at apologizing.   😉