When People Are Wrong

titleSometimes people will notice a difference in you as a Christian, but they won’t completely “get it.” Because they don’t understand or relate, they’ll describe it as it makes sense to them.

The king said to David, “I’ve heard that you have the spirit of the gods in you, and that you have insight, intelligence, and extraordinary wisdom.” (Daniel 5:14)

Well, close. Not exactly “the spirit of the gods.” A few verses later, Daniel gives credit to the Most High God. He doesn’t lecture the king or openly tell him he’s wrong. He maintains respect and dignity for the king while honoring God.

We don’t have to clash in harsh disagreement with people, even when we find error. We can be more patient and gracious than that. Sure, we want to correct people, but there are ways to convey truth without demeaning someone. After all, who pays attention to the content of what someone says when that person is slapping and berating them with words? Not me.

Have (and show) more respect – for yourself, others, and God.

The Legacies We Learn and Pass On

pass-it-on-750x330Joshua sent the people away, and the Israelites went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:6-7)

What a legacy!

Yet it was short-lived:

After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10b)

Proverbs 22:6 says, Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Indeed, this is what we should do, but it is not a guaranteed promise that generations will follow the example set for them. Because (1) every generation that teaches the next is flawed and imperfect, and (2) every generation that follows must wrestle through and learn some things for themselves. It is how we grow.

These are the nations the Lord left in order to test Israel, since the Israelites had fought none of these in any of the wars with Canaan. This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before. (Judges 3:1-2)

Each generation must learn to fight, not just in physical battle but in spiritual, relationship, and emotional battle. They need to learn how to fight well, not just with the end in mind but with valuing the process of learning and fighting. It’s not always about the declared winner but being able to claim honor and humility every step of the way.

Why You Share What You Share

Why do you share what you share on social media? Think about it.

  • Do you want to prove your point?
  • Do you want to inform people? Of what?
  • Do you want to associate with someone, and sharing gives you the appearance of a relationship?
  • Do you want attention?
  • Do you want a good deal, even if it’s too good to be true?
  • Do you want to increase your following?
  • Do you want to push buttons, surprise or shock people?
  • Do you want to passive-aggressively hurt or offend someone?
  • Do you want to brag?
  • Do you want to encourage people?
  • Do you want to welcome accountability?

Are your intentions on social media different than sharing in person?

It’s important to know your motivation for sharing. It’s your heart issue, and you need to keep your intentions in check.

Sharing is an invitation.

You get to invite people into…whatever you choose. When you click the share button, you give a bit of yourself. You give a snapshot of who you are…or who you want others to believe you are, which still gives a glimpse of who you really are. If you deceive others, you deceive yourself. You can never be unaffected by the persona you project to others. It is still you. You click the share button. Your intentions affect you.

It seems like a lot of pressure, but really, you can accept it as an opportunity to take a deep breath. Inhale and consider your motivation. Filter it through God’s will. Is it share-worthy? If it is, it should also be God-worthy. Does it honor Him? If the answer is “yes,” then exhale. Share. Click the button. Love God. Love others.

It sounds simple. But really, it is. We can get tied up in our intentions, or keep them pure.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

What the Fear of God Has to Do with Bumper Pads

482015125_XSThe fear of God can be a confusing thing. God repeatedly tells us not to be afraid, yet He also says we are to fear Him. Without getting into Hebrew and Greek, which I only know enough to quickly get myself into deep waters, we sometimes make it simple for ourselves by stating fear of God is the same as respect for God. But that’s not truly accurate. Fear (of God) must involve respect, but the two are not interchangeable.

Fear of God is recognizing who He is and who we are in relation to Him. He is a good God who loves and forgives us. He is compassionate, merciful, and loving. He is also just, righteous, jealous, and angry. None of those things are in conflict of one another. None of them can be separated from one another. God has all of those characteristics. We can’t take what we like most about God and make Him into someone we want Him to be. He is sovereign. We can’t compare our own experiences and assumptions of His qualities and project them as truth of who He is.

We are created by Him. He is our authority. We may avoid Him, refuse Him, fear Him, respect Him, or love Him, but our reaction to God doesn’t change Him.

So how can we fear Him in a way that honors Him?

Being scared of God and fearing Him are different. One has something to hide. The other has nothing to hide.

Being scared of God makes us run away. Fearing Him acknowledges who He is and places us in a humble relationship with Him. It exposes us to be able to know Him and receive from Him all He wants to pour into us.

When we walk in His ways, we fear Him. When we fear Him, we walk in His ways.

Fear serves the same purpose as bumper pads in a bowling alley, keeping us out of the gutter.

Keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. (Deuteronomy 8:6)

When You Could Do More

“But I could do so much more.”

11.6.14 Bridges for Peace at WIZO (78)
©2014 PurePurpose.org

As we sat in my room the first night we served in Israel, we reflected on the day. After training, we slowly eased into serving and primarily painted murals on preschool walls. It was the simple kind of painting…sort of like paint by numbers. The artist mixed the colors and told us where to paint.

We were minions.

But not really.

Once someone make the comment, “But I could do so much more,” there was a brief pause before the discussion of other perspectives began. We talked about what joy the colorful walls would bring to the teachers and young children for years to come. We talked about how closely we were able to serve among the school staff and children, which meant they would see our sacrifice. They would notice our attitudes and joy as we served. Maybe we weren’t minions after all. When we thought about the responsibility of serving in God’s name, we felt honored and humbled.

We often think we can do “more,” but what if the “more” is in the service we’re facing right now? How often do we miss out on the impact we can have with what is right in front of us because we think of other opportunities?

We want to be important, but God wants us to be willing. What seems important to us doesn’t usually match God’s criteria for importance. We do what is most important when we focus on knowing and serving God.

Maybe you think you could do more, but are you pouring your everything into what is right in front of you? It’s what God is giving you today. When you serve Him well, your efforts are multiplied through Him. You may never know the ripples effects of your sacrifice, but you can be certain God will use your humble willingness beyond your imagination and beyond your understanding.

Serve Him well. Give Him your all. It’s the most you can do.

The Platform Controversy

imagesAre you familiar with the platform controversy? For many, it’s not a controversy at all. For those, platform is important, even essential. Platform is whatever you stand on to get noticed and heard. It’s the foundation of your stance. It’s your influence. And many would argue it’s just a part of life. I agree. We each have influence. We each have a voice. We each follow others, and others follow us. Our influence is unique, because none of us duplicate anyone else’s relationships and voice.

However, the focus on platform in the past several years hasn’t been as much about what God has given us as what we can do to create our own platform. Many might argue it’s less about “creating” our own platform and more about “stewarding” what God has given us, but when I look at the suggested action steps, I rarely see much about trusting and obeying God. I see steps to duplicate for establishing, maintaining, and growing a platform. Things such as increasing social media following, attracting people to blogs through free giveaways, and maximizing networking through bigger and well-followed personalities.

I understand the common argument that it’s important to attract people to hear your voice; otherwise, what kind of influence will you have? Um…whatever influence God wants you to have. It might be shocking for you to consider, but…

God can circulate something faster than any social media campaign.

God can deliver the right words or challenge to the right person at the right time.

God can orchestrate relationships that bless us with help, accountability, and encouragement.

We think we have so much control over our platforms, but we’re not in control at all. Yes, we should steward our influence well, but stewardship and control are not the same thing.

Admission time: I often encourage people to “do ministry God’s way” regardless of what the current trend of advice suggests. However, choosing God’s way is easier said than done! I occasionally check my follows, likes, and retweets. It never ends well. If I see an “improvement,” I get excited, yet find myself more susceptible to the pressure to maintain the trend. If I see a “decline,” I get discouraged and devalue my efforts. It’s a trap…a trap God has no intention of me falling into. So, I try to stay as far away as I can.

My platform isn’t my platform. It’s God’s. My influence isn’t my influence. It’s God’s. He’s the one I want to honor, not myself. I want people to know His name, not mine.

Then I will continually sing of Your name, fulfilling my vows day by day. (Psalm 61:8)

God’s Children

imagesEveryone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is God’s child, and whoever loves the Father also loves the Father’s children. This is how we know we love God’s children: when we love God and obey his commands. Loving God means obeying his commands. And God’s commands are not too hard for us, because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith. So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the One who came by water and blood. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  1 John 5:1-6

No excuses. That’s what God wants us to understand. His commands are not too difficult for us. If we believe, we love. If we love, we obey. We access God’s power because of our belief. We aren’t concerned with having God’s power because we want to be powerful. We want God’s power because it reveals him to others. When God shows up in our lives, he shows up to others. We glorify him by becoming transparent, allowing him to show himself and work through us.

We obey not because we can get something in return, but because our obedience honors God. Our obedience acknowledges God as Creator and Redeemer. We place our trust in him, knowing he is sovereign.

We struggle with obedience at times, not just because we want to do something our own way but because God’s way seems more difficult than we want to pursue at times. We often don’t understand, which further diminishes our energy level. When we’re not invested and don’t see the purpose, we can easily disengage and make excuses. In the process, we’re turning the focus back on ourselves. God says his commands aren’t too hard for us. Since he created us, he should know!

He doesn’t say his commands are easy. He simply says they’re not too hard. Let’s not confuse the two.

Sending Jesus to earth to die wasn’t easy. Jesus didn’t have an easy life – or death. However, sending Jesus to earth to die wasn’t too hard. Jesus’ life – and death – wasn’t too hard. Both were accomplished regardless of the pain and suffering. God chose the hard over the easy, because it was best. God knows the difference between hard and too hard. In order to give us living water, Jesus had to shed blood. His water and blood are inseparable.

Live It. What is in your life right now that seems too hard? Let God give you fresh perspective, showing you the difference between hard and too hard. Respond obediently.