The Burden of Compassion

Compassion comes with a burden.

We don’t always feel the burden. Sometimes our enthusiasm and joy with serving and showing compassion overrides the feelings of burden.

But sometimes we have compassion and feel helpless, because we’re not sure what to do. Perhaps we’re not supposed to do anything in terms of fixing the problem. Showing compassion is sometimes simply sitting alongside and being available.

It still feels helpless at times.

However, we are never helpless in our compassion, because compassion is rooted in God and infused with His help. He is the source of compassion, and He is powerful and wise enough to know how it can and should be fulfilled. We just have to accept the help God gives instead of trying to own and control all the help. We have to yield even when the approach isn’t what we would choose. We need to trust Him.

The burden of compassion is ultimately God’s. He loves people way more than we can even imagine loving people. Plus, He has the power to do something about it. He’s inviting you to help by seeking and trusting Him.

True and False. Oil and Vinegar.

God’s truth cannot be mixed with falsehood.

It’s a bold claim. And I’ve experienced the opposite many times.

God’s truth can be mixed with falsehood.

I’ve see just little lie and a lot of lie gentled tossed with truth and called truth.

Truth is truth, regardless of what it’s mixed with. Lies aren’t strong enough to negate God’s truth. But truth doesn’t seep into and fix the falsehoods either.

Oh, we try to mix them all the time, but if we pay attention, we notice they repel each other. They separate. Like oil and vinegar.

We just keep shaking them together, just hoping we can make them stick.

Why We Blow Things Out of Proportion




There’s a lot of blowing things out of proportion that goes on around us. And in us. We exaggerate things to make a point. We add a sarcastic tone and rationalize we can say just about anything we want. But the problem is…people are listening. We have influence. We need to be responsible, rational, respectful, and humble people. (And we can still be goofy and have fun!)

Some of the things we say and post might seem witty–and even accurate for our feelings in the moment–but that doesn’t mean we should say it, such as, “I’m not mean. I’m brutally honest. It’s not my fault truth hurts. Here’s a band aid.”

Take some responsibility, and not just for yourself. Take responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions, and consider what impact they’ll have on others, as well as the impact they’ll have on your future self.

When we claim “always,” “never,” or “all,” we box ourselves and others in and out. We draw lines in the sand, and we all know how sand shifts. The more we learn, the less (or more) adamant we might get. The more mature we are, let’s hope we get wiser, and more discerning.

We blow things out of proportion, usually as a result of averages. It’s easier to generalize when we don’t have enough information to and experiences to average an isolated situation across many contexts in order to establish a more accurate perspective. Sometimes all we have is an isolated situation, and it’s a powerful one, and the generalization we make is accurate. But we can at least take the time to discern, then be willing to admit we were wrong when we learn more later.

If you blow things out of proportion in the little, everyday things, even if you convince yourself you’re only joking most of the time, you’re more than likely going to blow the big things out of proportion. At least, that’s the generalization I’m making, looking across a few years of experiences. Maybe you’ll disagree.

After all, we don’t have to always agree. And we don’t have to never agree, either.

When Google Can’t Answer

It doesn’t matter what resources we have to find answers. We still have questions, and we’re surrounded by people who have questions. We might think that we need each other less and less, because all we need to do when we need a piece of advice, solution, or fact is enter a few key words in a search engine and click. We live in a time that gives us an abundant access to information.

Yet, we still need each other.  photo index_zps5b4an4fo.jpg

I use search engines a lot as I’m writing, but I know I have to be careful. I can find any information I want to find…even if it’s false. I need to discern. And many times, I need to involve others to find the best information. I need to ask for help. I know I’m not alone, because I see posts every day on social media–friends asking for ideas for supper, questions to clarify start times and locations of events, and feedback on books, movies, and stores. We could probably find all the information we want, yet our need isn’t just for information. It’s for connection and relationship.

When we reach out to others, we need to be careful. We can’t just reach out to get affirmed, to find the information we most want to receive, to connect for the wrong reasons.

We each search, but we search together. We need to be discerning each step of the way…as we personally question, reach out, and respond to others. People need help with the searching process, because we all have questions.

We don’t have all the answers. God does. Yet He brings us into each others’ lives so that we can search together. We need God. No one else can fill that need, but God weaves our lives with others to fill needs along the process. Only God has the answers to all our questions, but He uses us in each others’ lives to confirm, explore, and debunk. It’s not just our opinions. We can’t guide each other well based solely on what we assume or want to believe. But we can let God guide as we help each other.

People might have access to massive search engines, but they’re not comprehensive. They might contain more information than we have, but they can’t use wisdom to discern. We can only do that when we trust and rely on God.

He is bringing people into your life today who you can help and who can help you. Whether your time together is brief or extended, fully lean into Him. Trust Him to guide you as you ask the right questions and believe the right answers.

What Do We Do With All Those Notes We Take?

When we stare at a fill-in-the-blank, we want to…fill the blank. In fact, we feel a need to fill every blank. The most important things might be said at another time not noted by a fill-in-the-blank exercise, but if something isn’t highlighted on our paper, we’re less likely to write it down.

The same is true for PowerPoint or other statements placed on a screen. We write down what the speaker has decided to highlight. Everything else seems secondary.

We need to be more attentive and less lazy.

I’m not saying we should do away with slides or note outlines altogether, but we don’t have to let them limit what we emphasize. We need to engage in the lesson, which is like a conversation. It’s not just about listening. It’s about responding.

When we ask God what He wants to highlight, the journey is much more personal, no matter how many people are in the room. God can use a single person, message, book, video, etc., to reach many people in a variety of ways at the same time.

When you’re willing to pay attention to what He highlights for you, you might have a lot less notes, but you’ll remember them better. They’re less likely to be tossed aside or filed away, which is important, because when God highlights something, it’s for a reason. He wants us to follow through and follow Him well.

It’s important to handle what He gives you well, but that assumes you are attentive to what He is trying to give and tell you. It takes practice. We’ve been coddled through fill-in-the-blanks and highlight slides.

Choose to write on a fresh piece of paper instead. Listen attentively, even if that means closing your eyes to not let the visuals distract you.

Listen for patterns. You might notice a word that keeps popping up in a variety of situations in your life. Perhaps it’s a Scripture verse that is perfectly timed for what you’re going through, or perhaps it’s a verse that seems out of place, and you need to dig a little deeper to find out why. Be alert for “a-ha” moments, when pieces click together and you get a fresh perspective.

Toss aside distortions of truth and nonessentials. Refuse to copy off your friend or neighbor. Discern for truth God wants you to know and claim right now. Then let it come alive off your notes and into your life.


Lessons from Josiah: Reaching One

josiah5Following the faithful life and leadership of Josiah,

The people of Judah chose Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and made him king in Jerusalem in his father’s place. Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he was king in Jerusalem for three months. Then King Neco of Egypt removed Jehoahaz from being king in Jerusalem. Neco made the people of Judah pay about seventy-five hundred pounds of silver and about seventy-five pounds of gold. The king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim the king of Judah and Jerusalem and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took his brother Jehoahaz to Egypt. Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. He did what the Lord his God said was wrong. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Judah, captured Jehoiakim, put bronze chains on him, and took him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar removed some of the things from the Temple of the Lord, took them to Babylon, and put them in his own palace. (2 Chronicles 36:1-7)

Josiah was the last king who did what was right according to God’s will before God’s people, the Israelites, were taken into captivity. Throughout the Scriptures chronicling the kings of God’s people, it seems the Israelites were fickle to the leadership of each season. If the king followed God’s ways, so did the people, but when a king did not follow God’s ways, neither did the people.

We think we’re much different today. We will easily rebel against leaders we don’t believe are leading us well, but are we guided by what is right or are we guided by what we believe are our own rights and preferences? We’re certainly following someone…but “who?” is the question. Who do you listen to and respond to with the most assertive support? How active are you when listening to people you respect and those you don’t? Do you seek God’s truth despite who is speaking?

It is tempting to look for that which affirms what we most want to hear so that we can easily set aside someone’s opinion when we have little respect for the person or easily accept someone’s opinion when we have respect for the person. We need to listen to God, and that means respecting people enough to listen, trust God to filter what is being taught, and proceeding with caution against untruth and boldness into truth.

We need to not be like the Israelites in the way they responded with “group think” and responded with spiritual blindness. Despite the way we’ve been raised, the people who surround us, or the situations we find ourselves in, we can be impacted and guided by God and we can impact others for God.

Jeremiah, a great prophet, came out of Josiah’s leadership. After Josiah’s death, “Jeremiah wrote some sad songs about Josiah. Even to this day all the men and women singers remember and honor Josiah with these songs. It became a custom in Israel to sing these songs that are written in the collection of sad songs.” (2 Chronicles 35:25) The Lord spoke his word to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon was king of Judah. The Lord also spoke to Jeremiah while Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah and during the eleven years that Zedekiah son of Josiah was king of Judah. In the fifth month of his last year, the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives. (Jeremiah 1:2-3)

God can speak to and reach us no matter what the situation by which we are surrounded. There can be no more “if only” excuses of our life circumstances. God is more intimate with our life circumstances than we are. He is able to do all things…even when we cannot see the way.

Jesus answered, “The things impossible for people are possible for God.” (Luke 18:27)

What are you “excusing” in your life? What do you see as impossible?

Are you ready to accept the possibility of your impossibilities? It’s time!

Guy Chat

I’m a girl, and I understand girl chat a lot better than guy chat.

I had a short layover in Kansas City and was sitting in a quiet corner enjoying a Starbucks drink. At the small round table not far away from me were two men. They were definitely in their stride of conversation when I slipped into the booth near them. They seemed to be a bit familiar with each other but as they shared about their kids, it was apparent they hadn’t known each other for too long. They were talking sports. Because I’m a college football fan, I quickly recognized some of the teams and terms they mentioned. They started talking about different divisions, especially referring to the schools where one of the men’s sons was playing and all the schools that scouted him. It sounds like he’s quite an athlete.

As one man commented on the apparent athleticism of the other dad’s son, the dad’s voice changed a bit as he said, “Yeah, he’s a good athlete. I’m proud of him. But it was really my younger son who was the great athlete. He was going to be something. There wasn’t much he couldn’t do.”

There was an awkward moment before the other man asked the dad, “How old is he?”

“Well, he was fifteen when we lost him. He would have really been something.”

There was a catch in his voice and a long pause before the other man quietly stated, “Sounds like you have reason to be a proud dad.” Then the conversation quickly returned to football and got animated again.

What just happened? If two women would have been sitting at the booth, that awkward moment would have been immediately filled with questions and consolation. There would have been an invitation to share as much as possible about the tragedy and healing process. There likely would have been tears from both women. And the conversation would probably have not returned to the former topic. They probably wouldn’t even remember what the previous topic had been! They’d part ways with a big hug as new friends, promising to keep in touch and check in with each other.

The way the guys handled it wasn’t wrong. I would have been shocked for them to respond in a girl-chat manner. Yet I felt a bit sad for them. I wondered if the dad needed to be able to process aloud for a moment. Maybe not. Perhaps he just needed a moment to be flooded with memories and to share that he has those memories even if he didn’t share the specifics.

It’s not really fair for me to draw a line between girl chat and guy chat. I know many guys that can talk a lot—in person and on the phone. I know some women who sit back and take in a situation before getting involved and sharing. Sharing isn’t always safe. Women benefit from pouring into others and being poured into, but they also get hurt more frequently. Some have learned that lesson and decided not to invest quickly or deeply.

Don’t rely on your default setting. You need to be investing in others’ lives (and them in yours). Consider there are better ways to share, whether that’s withholding or releasing. Either way makes you vulnerable. Vulnerability isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re discerning through the process.

Invite God to guide, revealing to you when and what you need to share and when and to whom you need to listen. When you’re vulnerable in God’s will, you will always heal, learn, and grow.