“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, July 15, 2013

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

Quote From:  The Polar Express 

Hero Girl: It says "lead." Like "lead balloon." 

I believe it also is pronounced "lead." As in "leader," "leadership." "Lead the way." Follow you anywhere, ma'am.
 This is a monthly post on my One Word for 2013:  Lead

Sad.  Today I am sad.  Or is a better word perhaps... saddened.  A bittersweet moment for me.  Bittersweet when I come to the end of a season.  A season that has brought great clarity to some.  A season that has brought new sisters into friendship.  A season that has refined some.  And for others it is a season that they choose to defer.  The end of a season.  The end of a Bible Study.

And not just any Bible Study.  This study was on the redemptive grace of God to those who have been Had through seduction.  Seduction of sexual promiscuity.  Seduction of marital infidelity.  Seduction of illegal drugs.  Seduction of greed.  Seduction of power.  And most definitely the seduction of pride.  We have an enemy and he will find our weakest area and seduce us until we fill that legitimate need illegitimately. 

And those of us who have been Had by seduction have to struggle with the TRUTH that God longs to restore us.  Longs for our sincere repentance.  Longs for us to move past our self-deprecation and into His true forgiveness.  Forgiveness that was given freely.  And must be received freely.  Forgiveness that can only be experienced when we stick our ego and pride where they should be AND humble ourselves and accept God's mercy and grace.

Lead.  This was a hard study to lead.  Especially when the ladies didn't realize exactly what the study would be about.  Asking ladies to strip down their egos and pride and put on the garment of humility.  That is a lot to ask.  One of the precious gals decided that because she had already worked through a restoration from her own seduction that she would not participate in the study.  I begged her then to come and walk alongside others to the same restoration she has experienced, but she refused.  No, for her, there was nothing she could gain from this study.  But I think she missed out.  No, I know she did.

There perhaps is no greater joy to me than to see a woman humble herself before her God and accept His love and grace and mercy.  To see the weight of carrying her sin and burden lifted from her shoulders.  The freedom she experiences when she knows that she is forgiven and loved by a Holy God.  It is beautiful.  Beautiful.  A sight that I don't feel worthy to see but it is as if a reward the Father gives me for walking alongside these ladies.

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.  It happens.  We do things that we never ever EVER think we will do.  And only God can AND will restore us.  And He can choose to use us, again.  He can choose to use us exactly where we have fallen.  He uses us in His restoration of others.  To a fullness of Christ.  To a place of deep and abiding love. 

He can take what we think is a lead balloon and use it.  He can use us to lead others.  Lead others to let go of their lead balloons.  Because they see something in us that is compassionate... that is real... that is humbled... that is HEALED and no longer HAD.

Are you holding on to your lead balloon?  Do you not feel worthy to receive forgiveness?  He is waiting for you.  No, actually... He is running towards you!

"But while he was still a long way off, 
his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; 
he ran to his son, 
threw his arms around him and kissed him."  
Luke 15:21 NIV84

The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-31

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Silver Rule

Silver Ice
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

The Silver Rule:
"What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”~ Confucius

I was at the home of a dear friend the other day.  She is in great pain due to a back injury.  I had called her and asked if I could offer a Starbucks delivery.  After some discussion (was I sure I wanted to come over because her house was a wreck... and she didn't have cash to pay me back...), she agreed.

Within minutes of my arrival (with a skinny venti Chai Tea Latte in hand) ... another of her friends had arrived with a freshly prepared meal for the evening.  As we sat and chatted, my dear friend admitted how difficult it is to accept such acts of generosity.  We started to discuss this in great detail. Why is it so difficult to accept acts of generosity?  Was it upbringing?  Was it pride?  Was it humility?  Or all of the above?

I've been thinking more about our conversation lately.  This dear friend of mine is a servant.  She prepares homemade meals ahead of time once a month (and freezes them) in preparation to take to someone -- she may barely know -- who is in need.  When she receives an abundant supply of anything, she passes on what she cannot use to those in need... wrapped with a bow on top!  She makes herself and her home available to anyone who would stop by... and invites young women from her church to her home to be mentored and discipled.  She is an encourager.  She is full of God-given joy.  She prays and God answers in ways she could never ask or even imagine to ask.  She embraces God and whatever morsel God speaks to her... she presses into those who need to hear... who are desperate to hear about hope and promise and future.

No, she is not a saint.  She will be protesting as she reads this because she knows she is not a saint and readily admits it... actually for the whole world to read.  But she has had a hard life and through that hard life... she has been softened and molded into a servant and follower of Christ.  She seeks to do His will.  To follow the first and greatest commandment...

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and 
with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 
This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 NIV

And the second greatest commandment...

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:39-40 NIV

Which is also known as The Golden Rule...

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 NIV 

And all of this made me wonder... why would my friend expect anything less than what is given to her?  Those whom she has "done to"... are "doing" back to her.  And so I wonder... would she do less so that she would not receive back in abundance?  Would she love less so that she would not be so loved in return?  No.  Not her.  And so she must subject herself to the reciprocity of her actions.  The problem being... her motives.  She never did any of these things in expectation of her own benefit... and yet by receiving the generosity of others it may nullify her pure motives.  But it doesn't.

And so, we must learn to receive from others.  Graciously.  If the Lord encourages someone to love their neighbor as them self, who are we to deny them of their obedience to the Lord?  We, ourselves, must follow the Golden Rule... and do to others what we would have them do to us.  Lest we settle for second best... and follow the Silver Rule, "What you do not wish yourself, do not unto others.”

It is something I have been mulling over for myself.  Wondering why I do for others... is it in expectation of return?  Is it for the gratitude and recognition I receive?  Does it make me feel like I am more blessed and so I must bless others?  Does it just give me a good feeling each time?  And honestly, sometimes... there is truth to that.  But I feel that in following the Greatest Commandment, I have committed myself to the second greatest commandment... and I end up going for the gold.  And in so doing, encouraging others to do the same.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while 
you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, 
which perishes even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor 
when Jesus Christ is revealed. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

originally written January 12, 2011