On Loyalty

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As the world awaits here are my thoughts.

Loyalty CAN NOT be demanded.

Tyrants demand it.

Insecure managers demand it.

Let me type that again.

Tyrants and Insecure managers demand it.

What demanding an oath of loyalty does is expose the hand of a manager, notice I was careful not to say leader, who has to avoid negative feedback at all costs to soothe their EGO (Edging God Out).

There is no need to pledge allegiance as if you were pledging to a god. A manager who is demanding loyalty does so because they can’t listen to negative feedback or can’t lead without unwavering loyalty because of insecurity. They make a terrible boss and that person is not a leader at all.

You will be loyal out of a heart that believes in the mission. A covenant of mission never demands an oath to a person. An oath to a person is always bondage. Christians have dominion over the earth not over people.

Walk away from anyone who demands an oath of  loyalty to them or one who would disguise the verbiage in the word covenant. Demanding loyalty to a person is a dangerous precedent of the abuse of power to come.

I am not loyal to Doug Young because he demands it. I am loyal to Doug Young because I love him and I believe in our marriage. My loyalty can’t be made by force and doesn’t negate his leadership when I disagree. My covenant of marriage was to the mission of our marriage under God.

In the military leaders are taught not to demand personal loyalty and they teach subordinates to avoid personal loyalty at all costs. The reasoning is that eventually the tyrant will rise up and cause you to do things you never thought you’d do out of loyalty or be cast out of the ranks. It’s too high a price.

God never demands loyalty and these oaths and covenants that are demanded by men are not of God in any way shape or form. God is looking for a people with love and a heart for Him and service in the freedom of Free Will. This is not blind ambition or loyalty. This is eyes wide open, mission-focused, unity because we want to not because we must. We give our loyalty out of love not fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stability

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A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart. ~Author Unknown

My first grandson arrived on the scene a week early to expectant arms and smiling faces. We eagerly drove up to wait for his birth and then stayed a few days to make sure mom and dad got some sleep and a routine going while we cooked, took shifts, and loved us some Cameron baby. Cameron is definitely a game changer for us.

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. —Welsh Proverb

As I looked at him and declared blessing over him and watched my husband begin to prophesy over him I asked the Lord, “What is the answer for the question I am searching for?” The word stability came immediately to mind.

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One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather. —Joy Hargrove

For us, we need to be the steady hand for both he and his parents. The rock on which the three of them can land when needed. If there are any unresolved parenting issues or stability issues within us they need to be resolved now before we hit the road on this new adventure. We aren’t learning as we go, we better have some meat in our storehouse if you will, on which to draw from when needed. We can’t be still trying to figure it out anymore. This family needs an established home as they establish their new normal even if they have been married for five years now, it’s all new now.

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete. —Marcy DeMaree

There needs to be vision. What does stability look like for a grandparent? It means I better know my role isn’t as a parent to him. He has two very capable and loving parents and to take that away from them in any form would be to leave them feeling less than adequate something we don’t want to do. No, a grandparent’s arms need to be Switzerland. Neutral, loving, and protective of its boundaries. It’s not an us vs parents relationship instead it’s a us and parent relationship.

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It’s amazing how grandparents seem so young once you become one. —Author Unknown

My husband bought him his first fishing pole. Even though it will be years before we use it, it spoke to lessons that will be taught, conversations that will be had, examples that will be set, and patience that will have to be learned at the hands of a sage no longer in a hurry. Yes, Cameron will find that he has allies and strong support here in the kingdom of Nana and Papa but his kingdom will be established in the home of his parents.

To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” ~Robert Brault

Everyone tells you that the love you feel for a grandchild supersedes all other love. You don’t know it until you know it. I thought when I looked at my newborns and held them in my arms that love was revealed and understood fully. The world came into focus and life had profound meaning.  Holding Cameron took love to another level. There wasn’t that nervousness that surrounds a mother with him. I didn’t question whether I could be a good mother, I already am. I didn’t question whether I could be a good grandmother, I already am. Simply put there was stability that comes with wisdom and knowledge.

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~Rudy Giuliani

It’s About Fear

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EGO= Edging God Out. It’s acting in the flesh without a heart of love. It’s when we are there in that ego spot where we deny culpability and find ourselves away from where we were designed to be. Ego stems from pride and pride separates us from God. Pride and ultimately fear cause distrust and distrust opens up offense when corrected.

Ask yourself what happens when you are corrected? When we are responding in ego we take our ball and go home. We do what I call pounce and flounce. We get an ‘I’ll show you’ attitude and then walk away without dialogue. We begin to work off of  destructive life patterns that take us away from relationship all the while blaming others and not looking at ourselves. That tantrum we threw when we were three years old may have worked then. It no longer works when we’re 25 and it looks silly when we’re 35.  Wounds begin to take us further down a path of destructive behavior where true relationship can’t be found because things have to be our way or we can’t function. What happens when no one chases us begging us to come back? What happens when life goes on business as usual? It’s in that pain and realization that more wounds happens and distrust solidifies.

Sometimes the offense at correction can stem from a parental wound. Despite how we reshape history, sometimes we have pretty messed up crazy childhoods that seem normal to us because we don’t know any better. We begin living out life patterns that take us in circles and we begin to see that although it’s different people, a different day and time, it’s still the same issue of pride, fear, and distrust and an unwillingness to face the matter. When correction comes from an authority figure in our adult life we choose to act in ego and forego the healing that can come from faith and submission.

Submission is only a word until we disagree.

It’s in this place of disagreement that we have a choice to make. We can give a silent treatment and go home, or we can decide to not be offended at correction and have a dialogue, resolve the issue, and live a life of freedom, but we can’t do it without acknowledging that there is a problem within us.

Let’s deal with our issues so that our issues quit dealing with us.

 

I’m Sorry

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I found a message in my voicemail box the other night from a woman who is a new friend.  She was apologizing for her attitude at a meeting we’d had earlier in the day.  I wasn’t even offended and the events weren’t even on my radar. To be perfectly honest, I did notice she was testy but I chalked it up to frustration. I feel both she and her apology are impressive. She is someone I want to get to know better because she is real and owns her stuff.

Nothing is worse than being unable to see when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings. We justify, we deny, we blame, we point fingers, we cry, we yell, then we do it all over again and like the spin cycle in a washer it wrings us out. A lack of discernment to the feelings of others over time leaves us alone because people get tired of it.

We humans are opinionated and we will eventually step on someone’s toes. It’s inevitable that we’ll eventually say something to hurt another person. The key to our success in life will be whether we have the ability to decide that to apologize is the best course of action. Swallowing our pride and realizing that whether we want to admit it or not, we hurt someone. Saying I’m sorry shows a genuine concern for others and the relationship we have with them. It also shows others who are watching, because there is always someone watching, that we are someone who can be counted on to do the right thing.

In my life there have been plenty of times that I have had to turn around and go to someone and say I’m sorry. I’ve been short, I’ve been snarky, I’ve been testy, I’ve been wrong. It’s never fun and often embarrassing but to pretend like we aren’t wrong doesn’t make it so, except in our mind. We will lose much more than we gain and we will always take more away from our reputation that we are willing to give. Whatever you do, don’t do the fake apology that people with any brain at all can spot from a mile away. “I’m sorry if you feel I’ve offended you in any way.” Ambiguity isn’t classy it’s pathetic and it shows not repentance, being truly sorry, but remorse, being sorry we got caught. Let’s own our stuff and watch things get better in our life. We will sleep soundly knowing we did all we could to keep our relationships on the right track and I guarantee you there will be no sleepless nights. Yes, if I’m honest I’ve had a few sleepless nights in the past as I licked my perceived wounds but once I owned my part and did the right thing it brought so much peace. I dare you to try it.

 

Courageous Friendship

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2 Samuel 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

Yesterday standing in front of Costco we ran into some friends. They told us a story about an incident in their church and how it had been handled. Instantly the idea of courageous friendship came to mind because that is what they had been. They had spoken truth in love and it’s painful to do sometimes.

You see, courageous friendship speaks the truth. Maybe you don’t agree when being corrected by a someone who is supposed to be your friend but a friend loves you anyway. In the case of Nathan and David in the bible passage above, verse 15 tells a powerful tale. It says,

15 Then Nathan went to his house.

Nathan went home. He went home to his own food, his own issues, his own bills, his own life, his own wife. He didn’t have to go to David to confront his sin, but love and a word from the Lord can send you places that are awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes there is nothing in it for you but heartache for a friend.

Courageous friendships are not ones who post on Social Media trying to gather a following. They are not found whispering in dark places. Courageous friendships are knocking on your door and resolving issues. You and them. Them and you.

Nathan and David had shared a rich friendship. Do you have any rich friendships? Ones in which courage is acknowledged and expected? Or do you move on to the next best thing each time the word comes and it doesn’t agree with your agenda?

In Time

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Last October I was given a vision of my next step in ministry. I couldn’t wait to see it fulfilled. I began to research, to ask questions of those I knew, and to make plans. Each time I got ready to launch something got in the way of the plan and it was stalled. I wasn’t frustrated just chomping at the bit to move forward. God’s timing is not like our own and so I waited.

My husband began to see the vision of what I was going to do and began to pray with me. Then he began to change the ideas I had. This is when the test happens because the question becomes,

I had my own ideas, I had my own lists, I had my own plan but what happens when they aren’t where we are going in ministry?

Well, as I always say,

Submission isn’t submission until we disagree. 

So I got on board with the vision of the house, I began to input where I was asked. We launched last night, prayerfully, considerately, and mindfully, a leadership team. You see, my vision was to make a path to ordain women into ministry. My husband challenged me to think broader. Together we forged a plan of ordination for all people. We gathered our combined resources and gathered wisdom and materials for a clear path. There are 15 of us in the beginning stages of this new phase of our ministry. There were 7 women which was still important to me. Now I get to watch it all unfold. I’m excited and glad to have waited for proper timing and direction.

Sometimes things take awhile. Even though we may have a vision and it seems clear, the path isn’t always how we think it should go. I would prayerfully ask you to be mindful of this and to wait for God’s timing.  This isn’t the time to push forward your own agenda over that of the church in which you serve. A pastor friend in Arkansas preached on the Baptism of Commitment. He said,

Are you committed to your own agenda or are you committed to your leadership? 

That’s a great question to leave you with today.

Lost Things

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Last week I went shopping with my Starks, Louisiana cousins. We met up for lunch and some girl time. My husband was spending some one on one time with his dad so this was perfect. Around 6 pm I decided to give my husband a call to see how he was doing. I opened my purse to grab my phone. It wasn’t in its usual spot so I began to dig around for it and quickly discovered I didn’t have it.

I stopped and thought back to if I had put anything down and the only time I set anything down was in the dressing room so I quickly walked back. I mean quickly.

No phone. I retraced my steps throughout the store. No phone. I went to the Customer Service desk and asked if anyone had turned in a phone. “No Ma’am.” I searched my Apple Watch to see if I could find the Find My Phone app. No app. I went to look for my cousins. Still not in full panic mode, but close, I borrowed the car keys to see if I had left it on the seat. No phone on the seat, no phone on the floor, no phone between the seats. I stop and say aloud, “Lord, I need your help.” I look through my shopping bags. Nothing. I go back in the store and my cousin calls my phone. It has a loud ringer. Nothing. I call my husband from her phone and give him instructions. “Please call Verizon, tell them I lost my phone. Then get on your Find My Phone app and log in as me and find out where my phone is.” I’m a little more worried at this point, because a) my husband isn’t great at these things and b) I have lost a $400 phone.

My husband calls me back three or four times because he can’t figure out how to do what I’ve asked and then he finally calls back to give me the address of where my phone is pinging. It’s at a shop we were at earlier, which is now closed and doesn’t have an answering machine. He says calmly, “Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out.”

My cousin, gets on Facebook and sends the owner a Private Message but in the meantime, I offer to buy us all a Starbucks, yes you guessed it, app on the phone has the money on it, luckily I have some cash, and we head back home. I’m worried about the phone. I am with family, I am with my husband, it’s not a matter of connection, it’s the cost and the fact that I don’t remember when the last time I backed it up to the computer and how reliable is the cloud anyway?

The next day, we get up but guess what? No cell service because in Starks Louisiana Verizon doesn’t work, only AT&T. Go figure. So my cousin calls the store and they aren’t open yet. It’s a 45 minute drive there but my husband wants to stop by his mom’s house first. Ugh! I get ugly. “Sure, let’s go to your mom’s because your phone isn’t missing.” Yes, not my proudest moment by far.

My cousin calls us on the way to the store, yes he skipped going to his mom’s, and says she has spoken to the owner and the owner is checking for my phone. She tells the owner it is either in the dressing room or on the counter. Sure enough, it’s fallen between a gap in the chair in the dressing room. Big shout out to La-Tee-Da Boutique for their amazing attitude and care. I walk into the shop about an hour later and the owner smiles big and says, “Hello Susan! I have your phone.”

Whew! What a relief. I walk out after my sincere thank you and thank the Lord. “Lord thank you for your help and your kind people.” The Lord says, “I know about lost things.” Ignorant me, I smile and say, “Yes, I know!” Totally oblivious about the lesson.

Then Chris Hodges preaches at Grow16 about lost people and how God must feel frantic about them and how the Lord needs us to do our job. In that moment my eyes filled with tears and my heart begins to pound in my chest, as they are doing as I’m writing this, and the tears begin to stream down my face, as they are doing now in an airport waiting for my flight.

That frantic feeling I had retracing my steps, trying to figure out where I had left them, how it grieved me to lose something expensive, that is nothing compared to what God lost.

Folks this was a phone. This was a phone.

We’re talking about lost people. Chris Hodges said how sad it must make God when we pray sometimes. I repented in that moment. “Lord, I’m sorry. I prayed for your help with such clarity for my phone and although I pray for the lost, I don’t pray with such fervency for lost souls. Please forgive me. I totally missed your cue about lost things. Totally felt relief that you cared about my phone without looking at the big picture of the lesson you were trying to teach me. Thank you for loving me enough to bring a message to me three days later that taught me exactly what you were trying to tell me. You never give up and I am grateful to you.”

Okay, people are staring at me here at the airport terminal as I cry and write so let me leave you with this:

Matthew 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coinsand loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “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. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”