Don’t Make Enemies of Friends

The title of my post today is completely credited to the teacher of the Evening College course at Hillsong NYC. Nathan said this one thing and it’s stuck with me. I don’t believe that’s by accident. We all at one point or another look at one body of Christ or Christian and disapprove of their behavior. We might disagree with the way they look or do church, or their gifts, or the fact that they do not do something we do. The possibilities are endless really.

I wasn’t planning on posting today but I awoke from an afternoon nap today and saw that there was somewhat of a social media battle online.

I like social media.

I also don’t like social media.

It’s this weird tension where I love the cool things and the breadth of reach you get from it, but I also don’t like the faceless hate and criticism that people use it for.

The point is, I saw a friend of mine made it into a public volunteer church photo today. And in the midst of the innocent and expected shout outs to her Instagram handle to let her know she was in the photo…there was one, still small voice. And it was judging the posture of what it appeared like she was doing in the photo.

Now in church, I’ve heard the pastors mention sometimes the level of bullying and hate they see on our official pages and personal pages. It really ranges depending on the day. Sometimes it’s an attack on physical appearance and sometimes it’s an accusation about their character and if our church is a cult.

The sad part to me in reading this back and forth conversation today is twofold:

  1. Seeing the girl explain herself in the photo i.e. the timing and angle of the snapshot and the accuser’s total disregard for that explanation.
  2. Seeing members of our church try to explain that we need not worry about what it looks like to the accuser. And see where along the way the tone could be misread and seen as mocking or mob mentality i.e. some ganging up on one.

The sad thing is, both sides are Christians. Now I can’t read hearts like Jesus can, but I am giving the person I do not know from church the benefit of the doubt.

I think at times like this we need to be careful what conclusions or judgements we make towards brothers and sisters in Christ.

These were my initial thoughts and I hope they serve as a reminder for me and for you, my sweet friends:

  1. Assume the best in people, not the worst.
  2. Realize that in judging another Christian in a public way, it makes non-believers feel like they are already out of the game. If you have no grace for your Christian family, why would an outsider think you would have any for them?
  3. As humans we do not know someone’s heart. Yes we can see one sound byte online or a photo that could be misinterpreted, but ultimately if someone explains themselves I believe we owe it to that person to accept it. We are called to love God and love people and the judgement is left for God. He has motive X-ray vision, He has heart night-vision goggles.
  4. Be mindful of how you could be misinterpreted in a quick online post. If you feel that you explained yourself in grace and your conscience is clear, let your reply stand, don’t go back and forth with them in an argument.
  5. Matthew 18 doesn’t always get used in an online forum but it should:

15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.

If you are attacked online by another Christian I think you have two choices: to ignore it, or to respond Biblically to it. I fully believe that you can try to diffuse a situation by explaining yourself truthfully. If that is not received, I don’t think you need to take the rest of the scripture and spin it out of control. What I mean is you don’t go and talk trash to your other friends and have them gang up on that one person. I’m saying you can rely on their counsel and be at peace that they will tell you if you were wrong or to let the drama go. If a friend or pastor feels like at that point its ok to stand up in truth and defend you as well that’s ok too, but I think the mistake is turning one bad comment into a debate. It’s not a good look for anyone.

I’m not perfect. None of us will ever fully understand God or people on this Earth. We are only human and our thoughts are not high like God’s thoughts. There are still times when I wonder if someone is truly a believer because of their behavior. We all can feel justified to “fruit inspect”. I do think there’s a way to be respectful and concerned for someone instead of picking up their fruit and throwing it back at them.

It reminds me of that scene in Wizard of Oz. If you don’t know it here’s an excerpt:

Dorothy
Oh, apples! Oh – look! Oh!
Ouch!
Tree
What do you think you’re doing?
Dorothy
We’ve been walking a long way, and I was hungry and – did you say
– something?
First Tree
She was hungry!
Second Tree
She was hungry!
First Tree
Well, how would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?
Dorothy
Oh dear! I keep forgetting I’m not in Kansas.
Scarecrow
Come along, Dorothy – you don’t want any of those apples. Hmm!
First Tree
Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?
Scarecrow
Oh, no! It’s just that she doesn’t like little green worms!

I think a lot of times we can be any of these three people.

We can be Dorothy. We saw an apple, a Christian, and were surprised that they scolded us. You thought we were all on the same journey and the same “team”, team Jesus.

We can be the Tree. Offended that we are being questioned. Defensive.

Or we can be the Scarecrow. We can be somewhat of the instigator. You don’t want to associate with THOSE apples. Or you’re one of THOSE Christians. Oh your picture isn’t honoring God. You should know what kind of person THAT is. Etc etc.

All of this to say, let’s just be kind to each other. None of us have this all figured out. We’re at different stages in our walk with God. We’re learning Biblical lessons at different times. We are getting revelations from God at different times. We are changed but we are changing still.

Have grace.

Greater Than All

We call out Your Name in the darkness
And watch as Your glory unfolds
For there is no measure or end
To the power You hold

Justice and truth are Your virtues
With many too vast for our words
No mind contains the splendor
Of all that You are

-“Greater Than All” – Hillsong Live

Article here: http://6abc.com/news/fbi-atf-warn-of-threat-against-university-near-philadelphia/1016167/

Please pray for the US today and for Philadelphia in specifics. Following the tragedy in Oregon, another threat has emerged with plans to replicate the violence in Philadelphia this afternoon.

Let’s take some time as a community to pray against the darkness that has been springing up again against students.

Psalm 10 MSG:

Break the wicked right arms,
    break all the evil left arms.
Search and destroy
    every sign of crime.
God’s grace and order wins;
    godlessness loses.

17-18 The victim’s faint pulse picks up;
    the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood
    as you put your ear to their lips.
Orphans get parents,
    the homeless get homes.
The reign of terror is over,
    the rule of the gang lords is ended.

Found in the shadow | United in the light

“We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”

[Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32735289]

Someone shared this video on Facebook today and it blew me away. Two women, each with a skill, each with a weakness, working together to finish a product. I was already captured by the video and then out of nowhere, this beautiful quote: “We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”.

I’m in awe.

For me this feels like the Christian journey, my Christian journey, and yours. Sometimes you find yourself in shadows. You find out who you are in the darkness. You find out who Christ is in the darkness. You can identify others who are lost in the darkness. And it is God’s hope that we as His people are united in the light, and that us personally one-on-one God are united with Him in the light.

I’m writing to you as I normally would. No preparation, just inspired in the moment, no drafts, no edits, no filters. I want to write a tangent now, just to see what God might want to reveal to me and you. Free form. So here it goes:

God you are good. You are faithful. There are times where we become lost in our own darkness or there are times where the darkness around us becomes too heavy. We become deceived in the darkness because we forget that we have access to your light. You are the light of the world and you have illuminated us all with your Holy Spirit. God I am grateful that you found me in the shadow. We have found each other in the shadow. I am covered in the shadow of your wings. I need never fear the darkness or the shadow because you are always with me. You never leave me or forsake me. You are my God. Though there are seasons where we fall victim to the darkness help us to remember that we have been united in the light of your love and grace. One day when we come into glory with the Father you will banish darkness. Jesus endured the pain of the Father turning His face away. Jesus became covered by the darkness so that darkness would never be known to us. You gave us Your light. We are united with the Father because of Jesus who found us in the shadow so that forever we will be united in the light.  

Amen.

Innerancy vs Infallibility

Hey guys,
Last week I started my first night class through my church, Hillsong NYC: “Theology: Faith Foundations”. I’m pretty excited to learn more about the Bible, my faith, and basically how to be a better more well-informed Christian. After we were done with our class we were given some homework. The assignment was to define the terms Innerancy and Infallibility and decide which one we agree with. I thought I would challenge you guys to look these terms up too, and see what you think. I’m going to share my thoughts on the assignment below:
The word inerrant means to be incapable of being wrong and the word infallible takes the same idea a step further to me by adding a relationship aspect to it. By using synonyms to define it like trustworthy, accurate, etc. it seems to me that infallible is much more relational than the cut and dry right/wrong of inerrancy. In a lot of ways they seem like two sides of of the same coin. 
 
I believe the Bible is infallible meaning it is trustworthy. It runs the scope of many different well-respected authors and the accounts of historical events and miracles are similar. It’s not like the Bible argues and conflicts with itself and authors had vastly different accounts of how an event happened. I am comfortable with the relationship of a person to their Bible because it is still speaking to us and teaching us through the Holy Spirit. We aren’t solely relying on our own knowledge or view of what we are reading, we have help from God himself and in that sense it is trustworthy. We aren’t relying on what people said years ago to teach us but we are allowing the Helper/the Holy Spirit to minister to us and reveal knowledge to us through the Bible. I think it is possible that there could be errors in details like, perhaps, geography, but these are not crucial facts to the Christ’s teachings. I recall hearing years ago in Church that there is primary and secondary doctrine. I think this is somewhat the same thing. Meaning, there are things that are fundamental to Christ in the Bible i.e. virgin birth, salvation through Christ alone, the Trinity, Christ’s death and resurrection, etc. These things are incapable of being wrong because it would rip apart our whole belief system if any of these things aren’t true. And then there are other things like what version of the Bible you read or if you believe in being dunked in Baptism or sprinkled. 
 
The Bible even says in Matt 23 that there is a sort of distinction between matters in levels of importance:
 
“23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
 
I still find the comparison a little confusing but based on the definition alone I think I lean more towards infallibility. 

Thursday Inspiration 4.9.15

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instapray.com

From Colossians 2 MSG

Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.

I love this simple reminder—I am complete in Christ. God made me alive just as He made Christ alive after the Cross. We can see the fullness of Christ because He has made Himself clear to us. It is a reason to rejoice.

Monday Inspiration 4.6.15

Hebrews 10 MSG

11-18 Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:

This new plan I’m making with Israel
    isn’t going to be written on paper,
    isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;
This time “I’m writing out the plan in them,
    carving it on the lining of their hearts.”

He concludes,

I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.

Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.

I love Jesus. I love God. I love that my sin and inadequacy was mercifully wiped away through Jesus’s crucifixion. No longer do I have to be a slave to religion and perform sacrifices as people did years ago. I have Jesus. His blood atoned for my sin. I love the picture the Message version presents by saying God didn’t rewrite rules for us like He did on tablets with the 10 Commandments. Instead, He wrote the plan IN US. Jesus died for us. He covers us. The Holy Spirit lives in us. It is written on our hearts. The very Word of God and the resurrection power of Jesus is written inside of us once we accept Him as Lord over us.

In the wake of Easter Sunday where you are reminded of this miracle, I am so grateful for the Good News and the endless, immeasurable love and peace I have from knowing who’s I am.

Be blessed.

Wednesday Inspiration 4.1.15

thelane.com

I read this the other day and finally found the energy after a long work week to post about it. Please keep me in your prayers! I love this blog and I want to stay consistent in my writings.

Anyway, back to the point! Bear with me—it’s rather long but I love everything inside of it.

Romans 10 MSG
1-3 Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what’s best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.

4-10 The earlier revelation was intended simply to get us ready for the Messiah, who then puts everything right for those who trust him to do it. Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it’s not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print! But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story—no precarious climb up to heaven to recruit the Messiah, no dangerous descent into hell to rescue the Messiah. So what exactly was Moses saying?

The word that saves is right here,
    as near as the tongue in your mouth,
    as close as the heart in your chest.
It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”

11-13 Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it.” It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. “Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.”

14-17 But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.

18-21 But haven’t there been plenty of opportunities for Israel to listen and understand what’s going on? Plenty, I’d say.

Preachers’ voices have gone ’round the world,
Their message to earth’s seven seas.
So the big question is, Why didn’t Israel understand that she had no corner on this message? Moses had it right when he predicted,

When you see God reach out to those
you consider your inferiors—outsiders!—
you’ll become insanely jealous.
When you see God reach out to people
you think are religiously stupid,
you’ll throw temper tantrums.
Isaiah dared to speak out these words of God:

People found and welcomed me
who never so much as looked for me.
And I found and welcomed people
who had never even asked about me.
Then he capped it with a damning indictment:

Day after day after day,
I beckoned Israel with open arms,
And got nothing for my trouble
but cold shoulders and icy stares.

I think this is actually a wonderful and timely scripture because of the impending holidays: Good Friday and Easter/Resurrection Sunday. Why? Here you go:

  • “They don’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is.”
    • Many people avoid church like the plague. And quite frankly even as a Christian who can blame them? The world shows church in entertainment and the news as a horrible place. Everyone inside is a hypocrite, people are falling asleep in their pews, the preacher lives a double-life, church members are picketing in front of establishments, street evangelists are telling passersby that they are going to hell. I’m not saying there may not be times and places for this especially throughout history. But what I am saying is that I don’t think it’s necessary to beat a dead horse with a lot of these procedures. Where are the people on the street corners sharing God’s love and grace. Where are the bold testimonies about lives of brokenness only restored through Jesus. Ultimately the issue with these sorts of things in church is that religion has made it about us. How bad we are. How fake we are. How hypocritical we are. I’m not saying these things aren’t true but what about talking about Jesus and how good HE is. How loving HE is. How merciful HE is. How unfailing HE is. I’m glad Jesus fulfilled the law. I’m glad that it’s about what HE has done and not what I have, am, or will do.
  • “Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it’s not so easy—every detail of life regulated by fine print!”
    • We’re human. We’re going to get things wrong. And back in the Old Testament pre-Jesus people had the law and tried to live right before God by adhering to it. However, this was still about humans. It was about us. It was about what we DID and not who God IS. God’s mercies are new every morning and I believe in keeping with who He really is, He sent His son, Jesus so we didn’t need to strive. We are limited. We are humans. We are sinful. But Jesus isn’t. Jesus is like our VIP pass into grace. We couldn’t be perfected any other way. It HAS to be Jesus. Only. Always. Jesus.
  • “The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest.”
    • As someone who used to read and write poetry—that is some beautiful stuff right there. It reminds me that whether or not you’ve experienced and accepted Jesus you are closer to Him than you think. We were created by the breath of God. We are all His children whether we want to be or not. We strive for lesser things in this world, we fall, we get hurt, we hurt, and when it comes down to it, nothing is going to satisfy like Jesus. It’s who we are. It’s how we were made. We were made to be in relationship with our Creator. We were made for eternity. We weren’t made for this. This quote reminds us all that no matter what we’ve done or will do, salvation is here. We need only call out to Jesus. We need only respond to the longing in our hearts that calls for higher things. For greater things. For Heavenly things. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection power we are set free. If you believe in Him, confess with your mouth and believe truly in your heart, you will have eternal life with God. You will be saved. You are finally making it about Jesus and not relying on your own good works or life to get into Heaven. It’s calling out to God and trusting Him to do what only He can.
  • “A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!”
    • These are the days we live in. Celebrities are getting saved. Churches are being packed full of new people. My own church, Hillsong, is gaining ground in other countries–opening new campuses, coming out with a movie, continuing to sell their music, and so on. The Bible speaks of these events. Tons of people telling others about the good things of God. Showing the joy and peace and eternal happiness that can be found in Him. And the best thing of all is it isn’t about us. God is so good that He saw us struggle to measure up and sent His son Jesus to make a way for us back to Him. It is Good News because it is Grace. Not Good Works. Not Good Living. Not anything but Him.

I hope this encourages you if you are not familiar with the true message of Jesus and the Bible and are possibly cynical towards Christians or “religion”. I also hope that it reminds you if you are already in a relationship with Jesus of the joy and peace that we already have and are promised forever.

It’s a new day. We can be new creations through God and God alone. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Final Thoughts – The Bachelor

I always end up having mixed feelings with this franchise, including the female version of it The Bachelorette. I have no idea why I continue to watch it. It’s a combination of humor in all of the personalities and the overly cheesy romantic situations. There’s also the fact that each year there seems to be nothing else on TV and it’s mindless to watch after a long day. This year I really appreciated one of the contestant’s Britt. She is a Christian, very free-spirited, and surprisingly never said a harsh word to anyone. This is VERY uncommon when you watch enough of these shows and people take to the “confessional” during each episode to gossip about each other.

I’ve noticed there is a lot of social media hate on this girl and it literally blew my mind to see. Why do people hate this girl so much? Why are they going to her personal social media pages to cyberbully her? I don’t get it.

I think this opened my eyes to a larger problem–which is in part cyberbullying and in part the entertainment people seem to get from tearing other people down.

Over the past 5 years I’ve been bombarded with stories in the news. Girls who were bullied to the point of suicide, students who would bombard classmates with hate mail or texts encouraging them to kill themselves or feel bad about themselves, and technological developments like Burn Book. For those who don’t know, this is an app where people can anonymously create and view posts. My stomach literally turned when this was covered by Good Morning America.

https://gma.yahoo.com/video/burnbook-app-under-fire-allegedly-130705504.html

One male student in the video named Tatum looked himself up on the app and saw a post that read “Tatum should get cancer like his mother and die”. Are you kidding me? This is our society. This is what people do on social media. This is what people do as an extracurricular activity.

I’m merely siting this as one of many examples where people’s opinions, posts, tweets, comments, etc are going too far. For whatever reason social media acts as a mask to be confrontational. You can rip apart a celebrity and their body, you can tell a classmate that they should die, you can talk about a contestant on a popular dating show and feel entitled to that opinion even if it’s ugly.

I made a Twitter many years ago and back when I didn’t know what I wanted to write or do with my enjoyment of writing for fun in my free time–I had created a twitter as a commentary on various shows like American Idol. I never bullied anyone. I never ripped someone apart but I would be a liar if I didn’t say I commented on whether someone sung well or not. Or compared people to villains in movies. Granted it’s not telling someone to die, but it’s still not the best use of your words.

I think as both a participant and viewer over the years of these things, I’ve come to a point where I no longer want to perpetuate negativity. I don’t think you have to be so syrupy and only say nice things, but you can say things that might be truthful in a better way. Let me give you an example.

I follow someone on social media who has a large following. This user professes 24/7 to be a Christian and yet makes consistent judgmental and negative remarks about another Christian in their social circle. I had watched this go on for months. Because of that user’s large following other people began to jump on the bandwagon and agree or perpetuate more negative observations and more than likely assumptions about this person’s character and actions. It was like being kicked in the stomach to see transpire. I kid you not. It ate away at me but I never commented until yesterday when I merely asked this person why there was so much hate when both individuals are Christians. In other words if you are both Christians, why can’t you bite your tongue if you have nothing nice to say? Why can’t you extend some grace to this person instead of joining in with the rest of the “haters” on the Internet and assuming the worst about this person and their character?

Well let me tell you. People agreed. And people disagreed. And somehow I became the target of a few of my own haters and called a hypocrite for even posing the question to begin with.

I’m not here to clear my name. I’ve been guilty of judging other people, Christians included. If we’re honest–we all have. But it is one thing to be a fruit inspector and another thing to be a fruit thrower. What I mean is, it’s valid and Biblical to question someone. To be curious about their actions and if they line up with Scripture. To strive to see Truth lived out. But there is also another aspect which is to have Grace. I think it would be fair for this person to say “I don’t know this person that I’m judging but I’m wondering if they are genuine. I hope they are” instead of “I’m disgusted by this person” or “We don’t endorse this person” or “This person works a low-level job and must only have selfish ambition” or “I like to see this person cry”. Granted I’m paraphrasing but I see all these things and it’s sadistic. Why as a society do we derive pleasure–retweets, likes, shares, from narrating other people’s perceived flaws? Why when we disagree with someone or something do we need to put down other people who don’t agree with us? Why are we always going for the jugular? Why are we booing and throwing “fruit” at people as we sit and mock from the audience?

The Bible says:

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? (James 3:7-10 MSG)

God knows there is nothing new under the Sun. People are doing today what they did throughout time. The tongue has caused damage for years and nowadays our tongues are hidden behind screens and have transformed into typing fingers. Accusing fingers. Scolding fingers.

I had a hard time sleeping last night because I was so disappointed by people on the Internet. Especially Christians. How can we follow Jesus and simultaneously crucify our brothers and sisters with our tongues? How do we justify who gets grace and who doesn’t? How can we make judgements on people when we are supposed to be speaking light and life into them? Hoping for and expecting the best from them.

I like this photo with the quote at the beginning of the post because it’s true. We can defend our own behavior but God help you if you are an “other”. We can easily forgive ourselves but rip apart someone else. We can sympathize with our own mistakes and mis-placed words or actions saying “it was a joke” or “no offense” or “you just don’t understand my personality” but if we see something we don’t understand in another person why are we quick to jump to the worst conclusion?

I sincerely pray that we as Christians learn that there are consequences to our tongues and fingers. We aren’t anything special just because we are saved. Jesus is the special one. He constantly advocated for the bullied. He reminded us that none of us are righteous and without fault. My mom said it best when she reminded me “Christians are the first to shoot their wounded”. It’s true. If you are going to make a comment in public you have the power to guide that conversation. Are you saying something necessary? Are you saying something kind? Are you saying something true?

I think this person is entitled to an opinion but they are not entitled to judgment. You are not God. You don’t know that person’s journey. You can’t see that person’s heart. Would it kill people to only say one half of a comment–the necessary side? i.e. if you support Person A but not B can’t you just say “I support Person A”? Why as humans is it necessary to say “I support Person A because I think Person B is horrible.” Why is that important? Or better yet as a supporter of Person A why do you feel like you need to prowl like a hungry lion on Person B’s personal pages and write nasty comments about them?

I don’t support the way society is behaving and enabling the younger generations to behave. I pray for more grace. I pray for tongues and fingers to be humble in what they say and write. To extend mercy towards people they don’t know instead of mockery.

Found on beatrizcraven.com

Be the Light

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I saw someone post this online and it must have been the Holy Spirit but this verse came to mind and I wrote it in the comments:

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
So what does this mean to me?
1. I’m here on Earth to shine the light—the light being Christ. He is our true north. He is the reason for everything. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He came here to show me the way Home. And because of Him, I’ll never be the same, and if you want to, you will never be the same either.
2. I am special to God. You are special to God. If we are bearers of Jesus’s light, we will be on display. Not because that is something we should aspire to—fame, but because He is famous. He is wonderful. He is miraculous. People will look at us because we are bearers of His light. And it’s hard not to notice light, when so much of the world is shrouded in darkness. Right?
3. I don’t have to be ashamed. I don’t have to feel like I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, not popular enough, not talented enough, etc. God simply calls us to “be the light”. This is a simple thing guys. Just be. Be because of what He already did. Shine because He brought us out of darkness into light. Our entire human composition is different because we are spiritually alive. We are called to be light. To show people the way home. To invite people to find out what God thinks of them. To eliminate fear, guilt, shame, pain, etc.
Thinking upon this verse I got an image of when you’re in a concert and people use their phones in the stadium to light up the arena:
But imagine that in a global way. One of those lights is me. One of those lights is you. Not everyone turned their light on at the same time. I turned mine on so to speak, and maybe that encouraged a total stranger to look for their light. In this life there will be times where you are the only one holding a light. It can be daunting to stand there alone and surrounded by darkness. We all have seasons on loneliness, despair, sadness, grief, loss, and that’s why it’s so important to be around people who will keep your light on. Will speak life into you. Will support you. It’s always important to also keep your own light on through God’s Word and through constant communication with Him. God desires to see the whole Earth find their light, but they need to see mine and yours to know what that looks like.
God I love you. God I’m thankful for you and humbled by you. God I am the light-stand. It doesn’t matter if I am metal, or modern, contemporary, or wooden. All that matters is you are the bulb on top. I exist to support You. I exist to hold You up. To shout your name in the darkness. Help me to live for you. Help me to not look at my own ordinary human life and instead see myself as essential to Your plan for the Earth. Lead people to You through me. In Your beautiful name, Amen.

Photo credit: Unknown – found on Pinterest and source listed as “Facebook”

Reflect

From Psalm 63 MSG:

It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.

God stands up for us. We live in freedom because He holds us steady. It is because of this radical grace that we can reflect these same qualities to others.

Like it says in 1 Corinthians 13 MSG:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

We can’t see everything exactly as God sees it since we are only human, but we should strive to share the love and freedom and grace that God first gave us.

Found on squarespace.com