Barbed-Wire Christians

12i-Barbed wireAre you a barbed-wire wrapped Christian? Even if it’s not you, I’m sure you know “that one person” who fits the description. Unless you completely agree with absolutely everything the person has to say (which I doubt is even possible), you watch them poke and wound others. Fighting takes precedent over kindness, arguing over listening, being right over engaging in a relationship to reach out to others. They are “come,” not “go” people, who focus on getting everyone to agree to and adopt their own perspectives instead of engaging people where they are and doing the messy life with them while living truth out loud.

How can you avoid being a barbed-wire Christian?

Laugh at yourself more than others. Live with high hopes and standards of civility. Instead of chronically fighting back, fight how and when God intends. Pursue and follow Jesus well, because when you do, you won’t be retaliatory. Instead, everything you do and who you are becoming will be motivated and prompted by God alone.

What Do You Want More Than Anything?

Help me want the Healer more than the healing.
Help me want the Savior more than the saving.
Help me want the Giver more than the giving.
Help me want you Jesus more than anything.

There are a lot of things we want. Healing for loved ones. Rescue for hurting people. Gifts to be able to use for God’s glory. All things with good intent, but how often do we want to result more than we want a relationship with God? Are we willing to give up the outcome we expect to be best for the relationship that will be better?

I’ve listened many times to Natalie Grant’s More Than Anything, and it has become an ongoing prayer for me. I don’t want to confuse what I want with Who I want. I don’t want to put the benefits that God can give me ahead of the relationship He gives me. He gives me Himself, not just blessings, grace, mercy, forgiveness, provision, understanding, and so on.

I want to to know the One who knows all more than receiving a specific answer. I want to know the Provider more than a specific provision. I want to know the One who created me and gives purpose to my life more than I can explain creation and purpose. None of those benefits are bad things. In fact, they are very good things. They flow out of who God is. As I know Him better, all those benefits come in His doses and timing. But receiving them isn’t my goal.

Knowing Him is.

More than anything.

Should I Quit Social Media?

I want to quit Facebook. Can I do that?

My friend’s question was in response to the frustration of scrolling through her news feed and finding vague accusations and threats, gossip, and one-sided claims that blatantly disrespected people.

And…all those posts were by Christians.

Can you quit Facebook? Yes, you can.

Should you?

I don’t know.

Sometimes we feel victimized by social media, and we get frustrated, but what about the positive influences? What about the encouragement we give and receive? What about the support (the healthy kind, not the “I’m going to jump on your bandwagon and say, ‘You go, girl’ when I should actually be telling you, ‘Whoa! Take a breath and calm down.’”)? What about the opportunities to reach out to and catch up with people (again, healthy connections)?

Just like you have choices about who you hang out with on the weekend or who you call when you have a crisis or need an ear to listen, you have choices about social media.

  • You decide how often you check social media.
  • You decide who you connect with.
  • You decide what you look at the most, which determines, to some degree, what floats to the top of your news feed.
  • You decide what to post and how to engage others.

Maybe God is leading you away from social media. And maybe He’s leading you to be more discerning.

Apply some of the same lessons to your faith. You might complain about your church or specific people in it. You might get into inappropriate conversations with people, ask for affirmation when you really need accountability, or work behind the scenes to get support for yourself or against someone you’ve decided has crossed the line. You might be ready to give up on the faith community around you, because all you see are the shortcomings.

Can you quit? Yes, you can.

Should you?

Well…what if you applied some of the same choices available to you on social media? What if you made your connections–in church, your community, and social media–about honoring God instead of walking a tightrope strung across a fire pit? Why walk so close to the edge? Why not work on a secure relationship with God and let Him set the boundaries instead of trying to take control?

He knows what He’s doing. He wants you to trust Him, and that includes looking to Him to make each decision, no matter how large or small, online and in person. Maybe it’s not quite time to quit.

You Stood Me Up

I waited for you today. I had hoped to meet you in the quiet corner of the coffee shop you frequent. I enjoy sitting across from you, listening to your heart. Hearing you share about your daily life thrills me. I’m honored when you share. I want to walk through life with you. I’ll listen to the details and never trivialize them. I’ll listen to your dreams no matter how silly or out-of-reach they might seem. I’ll help broaden your perspective to see the big picture.

I just want to sit with you. I treasure our silence. It’s the time we spend together that I value. I waited, hoping you’d slip into the empty chair across the table from me.

I know you’re busy. Even on the days when your schedule goes smoothly, it’s difficult for you to fit anything extra. I wish I wasn’t “extra.” Perhaps you don’t understand how invested I am in your life. I want you to know I support you. I love you, and because of that love, I will always approach you with compassion, patience, kindness – and accountability. You might not always like what I say, because my love for you is bold enough to confront you when you need to be confronted. I care too much to let you continue with faulty thinking or unhealthy behavior – no matter how extensively you’ve rationalized it.

You probably get mad or frustrated with me at times. On those days, you avoid spending time with me. On the days you don’t push open the doors and purposefully walk toward me and sit to share time with me, I miss you no matter what your reason is. When I look at the empty chair across from me, I’m sad. I watch people coming and going; many of them are alone, connecting with no one but the person managing the exchange of money and goods. I listened to people placing their orders with specific instructions and becoming disgruntled when the end products aren’t exactly as expected. Every now and then, I catch someone’s glance and exchange a quick smile.

I long for substantial connection, where someone is open to my investment into them.

That’s what I want for you. I miss you. I’m waiting for you. The empty chair and my longing heart are waiting.

Love, God

Easier Isn’t Always Best

IMGP0401The man raked and raked the seaweed on the beach. As much as he gathered, the waves brought in more. Why not use a machine? It would be faster and more efficient. It would take less effort, less manpower.

Maybe that’s the point.

Perhaps efficiency isn’t always the goal. Without the mechanical raker, more people had jobs. More people could support their families. That money could ripple through the community. Without the mechanical raker, there was less noise. The swish, swish of the rake against the dry seaweed and sand was soothing along with the lapping waves. The mechanical raker might be faster, but it would also be disruptive.

There was yet another benefit to the manpower. As the raker worked, he interacted with people. He asked how people’s days were going. People asked him questions about the process of raking and his everyday life. He was friendly; he could work and talk at the same time. There was an invitation of connection that could never be possible from behind a mechanical raker.

You might prefer the easy way much of the time. Take a moment and consider what you might be missing. Easier isn’t always best.

Search Me, God

SearchMeOGodSearch me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139: 23-24)

Preparing for, traveling to, and journeying throughout Israel involves a lot of searching.

I search places.

I search and get to know people.

Most of all, I search for God.

I want to know Him better. I want to find who He is and invite however He wants to reveal Himself to me. But it’s not all about me assertively seeking Him. It’s essential, indeed, but when I make it all about what I do, I miss out on something equally, if not more, important.

Much of the effort I make isn’t about a push forward. It is a stillness, a vulnerability to let God search every aspect of me. It is my willingness to submit. And it’s uncomfortable. It means I give God permission to search the things that need to be change. I don’t pick and choose what He searches. He filters everything through His will, not my timing and preference. He affirms and encourages me but also convicts and challenges me. He comforts me and changes me.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

Lesson from Nature: The Twist of Life and Death

©PurePurpose.org

©PurePurpose.org

Sometimes, the twists we create with others’ lives can be catastrophic. We end up squeezing the life out of each other, because we just don’t have enough life to give. Our unhealthy boundaries aren’t so much about the closeness of the relationship but about what we do with that relationship.

Other times, the closeness creates a beauty that would never have been possible on our own. We give each other strength, support, and nourishment. We’re vulnerable, because we have exposed ourselves to others. We invite them into our lives in ways that cannot be fully revoked. We give a piece of ourselves that we can never completely recover. That’s frightening. It can turn out badly.

But it can also be beautiful.

God intends for us to rely on and commit to each other. Most of all, He invites us to rely on and commit to Him. He gives us a piece of Himself. He became vulnerable first, when He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us, taking all the junk of our lives into the pit of death, then overcoming that death, leaving it behind. It seems like a twisted way to get to us, but it’s the way He chose.

Because God loves us. He loves you.

Loving Him isn’t easy. It requires vulnerability and humility. It requires twisting your life with His so intricately that you no longer know where One stops and the other starts. But He’s worth it. And He knows you’re worth it, too.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17)