Do you ever wonder why when you try to live selflessly, thankfully, and authentically it seems like every element in rhe entire universe is aligning to try stop you from doing so?
The answer to that question lies in some ancient words….
Centuries ago, the Apostle Paul was mentoring Timothy and wrote him a letter. In that letter – now a part of the Bible – God was giving His Church a glimpse of what life would be like in our modern times.
Paul was telling Timothy that the “latter days”, a.k.a. our modern age, would be characterized by people who are relentlessly greedy, self-seeking, lazy, and ungrateful… among other things. In essence, this passege tells us that the spirit of our modern times is selfish pride. So, when we strive to live beyond ourselves to walk out a lifestyle of kindness and humility, we are actually rebelling against the evil “spirit of the age” that Paul wrote to Timothy about so very long ago.
No wonder it feels like all hell itself is coming against us when we strive to live beyond ourselves! Does this mean we shouldn’t live in the beautiful love-led way Jesus modeled for us when He walked our streets? Of course not! That kind of selfless love-driven life is exactly what He made us for. So keep going for that kind of life, friends…. a life so much bigger than what you see around you and the pretense on your TV and computer screen.
But, keep in mind… When you live like that you are being a rebel against our very times for the cause of Christ. So don’t you dare do it without Him. And don’t you dare do it alone. Depend on God’s strength – not your own. And stay in community, a Bible-based church (like my Amazing Church) where you’re surrounded and supported by other “rebels” against the spirit of this selfish age.
One of the results of the fall way back in the Garden of Eden is the tendency we women have to think we cannot be complete or get our needs met apart from a man in our life (“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16b). Please remember, this is a part of a curse after Adam & Eve’s sin. But it doesn’t have to be our story because Jesus died and lives to break that curse (among others).
When we put any man – even a most wonderful one – in the place of God in our hearts, things will get ugly. We’ll either pursue a relationship more than we pursue the very One who died just to be in relationship with us, or we’ll put pressure on our guy to be our everything – even begging him as stated in the image below.
Make sure your heart is securely placed in God’s hands before you even think about placing it in the hands of anyone else. And, choose your man wisely: someone whose track record and not just his words prove his love for God. Then… God can move your guy’s heart toward you as only God can.
So, have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who is “jammin’ out” to music in their headphones? A bit challenging, isn’t it? He or she may even make a comment directed at you, but they can’t hear your response even if you shout.
One of three things can happen in this scenario:
1) The person takes the initiative on their own to either turn down the music or remove the headphones so they can hear you and connect with you relationally.
2) You do what it takes to get their attention. This may entail shouting, yanking the earbuds out of their head (not recommended), or waving your arms in their face or otherwise gesturing to get their attention.
3) After your voice gets raspy from shouting or you decide that whatever it is they’re listening to must be way more important to them than even acknowledging you’re in the room, you simply stop trying to communicate with them.
God has been showing me lately that sometimes my approach to Him doesn’t differ much from someone lost in their own “jam” while someone else is trying to share something beautiful and even life-changing with them. I claim to want a relationship with God more than anything. I claim to long to hear His voice. But, at the same time, I may not take the steps necessary to silence the other voices and noises vying for my attention so that I can hear my loving Father’s voice.
And although God and His perfect intentions are so very far beyond our human responses and reactions, it is very clear from both His Word and His demonstrated nature that there also comes a time in God’s pursuit of us that He will respect our choice to dance to music other than the beautiful song He composed just for us. After futile attempts to get our attention, He may simply stop His specific communications to us altogether.
I can’t imagine anything more heartbreaking than my own indifference or apathy silencing the song the very God of Heaven longs to sing to me.
So, let’s make this our prayer today: Sweet Heavenly Father, show me what it takes to silence any voices, sounds, or distractions keeping me from fully listening to and connecting with You. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Some of us have learned the hard way that jumping into to Christianity and “church work” (ministry) in our own strength instead of God’s strength can leave your soul bruised and bleeding. No more playing for this girl. God has some things to do through me. #ALLin #FirstFruitFast#AmazingIsHere #ReconnectingIn2016
Well, that’s because… you are in a spiritual war zone! It is a fight. But when we’re in Christ, we fight from a place of victory because THE BATTLE IS ALREADY WON!
To end my letter I tell you, be strong in the Lord and in his great power.Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks.Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places.That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil, you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.
So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living.On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows that come from the Evil One.Accept God’s salvation as your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God.Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people.
Going into the new year, it is important to understand your horoscope accurately. And the truth is…. the stars and planets do NOT determine my destiny because I am firmly placing my future in the hands of the One who breathed those stars and planets into existence!
Because of my faithful God, some sweet friends and mentors, and my Amazing Church family speaking into my life – I am beginning to see that the parts of my story I used to view as curse, can actually become a blessing to others when shared from the viewpoint of God’s relentless grace. So this was written for and performed as Spoken Word poetry at Christmas With The Arts this year. I thought I would share it here, too, just in case some piece of my story helps you see God at work in your story.
PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT
Children…. Music…. Memories….
So many beautiful things about this season
And some funny things too
Like the things we do – songs we sing
Without really knowing what they mean
Like the profound mystery
Of what really is in that fruitcake we eat
Then there’s Rudolph – nose shining brightly
What are those games the other reindeer play?
Basketball, soccer, Monopoly??
But it’s not just Christmas songs perplexing me
Other songs, too – church songs even
I’ve basically been in church
From the moment I was breathing “Red and yellow black and white They are precious in His sight” You’ve heard that one – Right?
Strange as it seems
Understanding those words
for me has been a lifelong plight
The words didn’t match up with what was in my sight
In my Sunday school to my left… my right
What I saw was white, white, white
And yes more white
Something didn’t seem quite right
But I was young – perhaps didn’t understand
Just ’cause we’re all precious to God
Maybe it doesn’t mean we live
And worship on the same the same block??
But there wasn’t time to figure that out
‘Cause getting ready for kindergarten
That’s what I was all about
I loved to learn, already starting to read
Figured – just like home and church
School kids would love on me
So on that first day dressed in the very best
My sisters handed down to me
I skipped across the playground
Excited about the friends I would meet
But things played out a little differently
You see, I experienced a facial injury
When I was maybe 2 or 3
Had severe deformities
Of my mouth and teeth
Only close friends and family
Could understand when I would speak
So my dreams of new friends were shattered
As laughter began to shriek
And relentless bullying was there to stay
From k5 to high school graduation day
Thankfully, home and church
Provided a safe place respite from the hurt
But even knowing Jesus – the pain remained
As kids laughed, mocked, even spit in my face
And I suffered oh so silently
Not a word to church, teacher, family
After all… didn’t Sunday school songs say
Christians should be happy -“Turn the other way”?
So in about second grade
We moved to a larger town
Where faces as white as mine
Were no longer the only ones around
And in a diverse community
Now – up close – I could really see
That all(“red, yellow, black, and white”)
Are truly precious in God’s sight
Well, all “others” anyway – is what I believed
I still had a “blind side” when it came to me
As time went along things appeared fine
At least —- on the outside
With help of intense orthodontistry
And quite a few years of speech therapy
I looked and sounded almost like a normal teen
But there was that pain…. Deep and unseen
Saturating every part of my reality
“Blending in” didn’t stop the bullying
I still thought I was worthless
And attracted what I believed
I still sang “Red, Yellow, Black, and White”
But didn’t feel precious in anybody’s sight
Fast forward to adulthood
For a while everything looked quite alright
Education, great career, & husband in my life
But behind the door of my heart – closed tight
Remained so much pain – so much strife
As I worked hard to feel loved and get it all right
But expecting anyone or anything
To complete me besides God
Blocked me from receiving & giving out His perfect love
While smiling on the outside
I suffered silently
Depression – thoughts of suicide
Sad old friends who wouldn’t leave
I was beginning to think
That maybe church and God
Were really just a cruel and senseless façade
So my “church hop” progressed to not going at all
Or watching “mega church” from my comfy couch
But my Sunday school upbringing
Still called out to me
So I had to go back to church
– For Easter at least
So a couple years back in the spring we received
An invite to what is now this Amazing thing
I looked around –could almost see
That song I used to sing
“Red and Yellow, Black and White”
We’d found a loving family with big vision in sight
That reflecting our city’s diversity
Is the true heartbeat Christ
But as for me… “Precious in His Sight”
I still struggled with that lyric
I sang the words but for me… I really couldn’t hear it
The brokenness and pain
I worked lifelong to keep hidden
Were now rising to the surface
Becoming visible – unbidden
But even when I could no longer hide my mess
These amazing people stood by me
Continuing to bless
And I learned ‘though heaven-bound
I wasn’t really free
‘Til I experienced – not just sang of –
God’s amazing love for me
And as with this church I began to do LIFE
“Restoring Hope & Loving People”
Became more than just words for (one day)
Our building’s sign
Because I stand here restored
And loved back to life
No pretense of perfection
Scars revealed only to be healed
So today… today… I look around and see
Much more than Red and Yellow, Black and White
They…. No we… TOGETHER
Are so precious in His site
and now…. that Sunday school song –
I finally understand it right
Thank you, my Amazing God, We ARE precious in Your sight.
Truth can be hard sometimes – but that doesn’t mean it may not need to be spoken if God is leading you to share tough truth with someone in order to bring healing. Just make sure that truth is wrapped up snugly with love, love, and more love!(See Ephesians 4:15 and Ephesians 5:11)