But She’s The Bride

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I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

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You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

Packing For The Journey Ahead

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This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Weapon of Choice

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You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side ~ Chris Tomlin

Sitting in church this morning as we sang this song in semi-unison, I need to remember that the bible says make a joyful noise and even though we clap and sing to different beats and tones we are here for one purpose.  I felt such total peace. To stand under the wing of the One who formed me before the foundation of the earth knowing I am secure because the weapons of my warfare are not designed in the earthly realm, and since I don’t war people, there is no need.  I war thought processes and mindsets that crept into my soul making me feel that I wasn’t enough on my own and that there were things I needed that I didn’t have. I war perceived inadequacies in relationships that make me feel unloved, and until I gain clarity on the situation at hand, I stand feeling unworthy and helpless.  Yet when I read the bible it says I am more than enough in fact, I was created with everything I would ever need downloaded.

Isaiah 54:15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. 16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

When I read that no weapon formed against me will prevail it tells me that weapons will be formed to take me out but they can’t. It takes me back to when I was a kid and I wanted to be Wonder Woman only now I really am. I can stand as the arrows fly, and people say and do whatever they say and do and as long as I don’t respond with the same arrows, they fly by. Sure, the threat hurts my feelings, but feelings are up and down and I don’t live my life by them.

Know who you are and especially whose you are and then whatever arrows try to come to distract you from your God-given path know that they can’t harm you. You’re not out until God says you’re out.

 

Random Thoughts

Someone said to me that they love the way I think. My instant thought was, “Really? Because if you really knew my thoughts you’d see they are so random that most of my thoughts don’t deserve an audible rendition.” What I answered was, “Thank you.” You see, not every thought has to be spoken. Here are some random thoughts that popped through my head throughout this one period of one particular day.

Why would hackers want to hack a baby monitor? Or a photo on your cell phone? Mean and nosey abound I guess. People need to use that energy effectively.

Why do I look up symptoms that I, or one of my friend’s, have on WebMD when I’m not a doctor? Why do I always think the worst? WebMD says it could be a cold or it could be cancer. I almost feel my hair falling out. My head isn’t round enough to be bald.

I wonder if Doug would love me with an odd shaped bald head? I mean he would love me but he would be able to overcome it? Now when he kisses me and puts his fingers through my hair I am going to be thinking that he’s measuring my head because he reads my blog. Maybe I shouldn’t post this thought.

I guess worst case I could get pretty scarves.

Wait! I rebuke that thought and the part of me that always thinks the worst in Jesus name.

Why do people who aren’t married, and don’t want to be married, call each other husband or wife? Do they secretly want to be married? I bet that’s it!

You either evolve or evaporate.

I should Tweet that thought because we all need to be growing.

I could use a little evaporation in some places. Well more than a little.

Why do we have DirectTV and nothing to watch?

I wish Hallmark channel just had gushy movies all of the time. Then I could just go there when I wanted something to watch.

I want a cookie but I want to be thinner. I should take diet pills then I wouldn’t want a cookie, or have liposuction. I could exercise and have the cookie.

I think my car is almost on empty.

I wonder if I will be a good Nana? Lord, I want to be a Nana like my Nana. Or Maria, she’s a good Nana. That woman has endless energy. She works full time then babysits. Is it babysitting if they’re your grandchildren?

I may just have the cookie and quit thinking about it.

Idolatry is the belly that is never full and eventually it will eat you too.

I should Facebook that or write a blog to elaborate.

It takes no faith to call it what it is.

I can Facebook that tomorrow if I remember it.

So you see, they like my thinking process because I only showed the very random good thoughts and not all the mess. Life is like that too so don’t get caught up in the admiration of someone’s life because you just can’t possibly know. Instead admire the process of learning when to speak and when to stand down. Most of it is all flesh you, me, the Pope, and what you call thoughtful, I may call filtered because not everything thought has to be spoken.

A Couple’s Gift

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I’m in ministry to women. In that role I hear about some hard things women go through but the ones that gets me the most are cheating and hatefulness, and yes cheating is hateful so let me explain what I mean. When a wife cheats or her husband cheats the results are the same. There is unbearable pain caused to the other because it was never an accident or a mistake. It was a series of many choices. The choice to call, the choice to meet up, the choice to speak about things a married person has no business talking about to another person, a choice to spend money on drinks, dinners, or gifts that took time and money away from a family. It was a choice to pretend not to be married. A CHOICE. Often the payback is that the wronged spouse now believes all bets are off and cheats themselves creating a cycle of wrong behavior. I don’t believe in sexual addiction and it isn’t recognized by the American Psychiatric Association so when that becomes an excuse I don’t buy it.

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Then there are those couples who don’t value each other. They speak to each other with such disdain. It’s when a person who doesn’t care what the other person wants and only wants their way, neither do they accept any blame for their part of the craziness, that you can see there is no love. It’s an insistence on your own way. It’s pure selfishness and often stems from those who think it’s the responsibility of one to make the other happy by making sure it’s their way or the highway.

The covenant or vow of love has been made and broken and while sin may be personal it is never private it affects many. Over and over again I see that although some choose to stay together it is never the same. The marriage becomes a fragmented piece of what could have been whole. It opens doors that can’t be closed again.

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. 

Why is this post coming at Christmas? At the first of the year, when the bills come in from overspending and the gifts that were expected weren’t received, and extended family acted up, and the stress of the holidays are over, people end up in my office with offenses going back to 2008. These offenses normally fall into two main categories, adultery and hatefulness.

Give yourself a gift this Christmas. Choose love. Love wouldn’t ever hurt another in fact lover prefers one another. Yes there are options and divorce is more acceptable to me than killing each other slowly, however the bible is clear on covenant and no one walks away unscathed.