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.

Be true

I saw this quote on Pinterest today and I immediately thought of being a Christian and what that means. In order to guide my thoughts on this I will list out some important Bible verses below:

1.

Matthew 7:24-25 (MSG)

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

If you believe in Christ and have become saved according to Romans 10:9 (that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.) but have not lived it you are being dishonest. Why? Because receiving the Truth is literally giving your dead body the paddles of life. Therefore you should be living desperately for God’s word.

2.

Matthew 5-7 (MSG)

You’re Blessed

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

All of this. If you are truly living the way God has instructed you, you will be the lucky winner of the above-mentioned “blessings”. Yay persecution! Yay defamation!

3.

Deuteronomy 12:32 (MSG)

32 Diligently do everything I command you, the way I command you: don’t add to it; don’t subtract from it.

In other words you should do your best to follow God’s advice. He knows you, He formed you, and He knows what is best for you. Granted we all fail at various aspects of obedience but we don’t need to add anything to God’s word. It stands true. It doesn’t need a pastor’s book to be added to it and regarded with equal weight. We need to strive to live true, honest lives and we can’t do that by listening to other people or ourselves. We are “desperately wicked” as the Bible says. God is pure and without fault, so we’d be wise to try to follow His lead. No?

4.

Galatians 2:21 (MSG)

19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

This is the perfect ending scripture. We’re not going to ever have it “together” but we should want to try our best to honor God with our lives. We need to be authentic with our questions and struggles but not totally bow down to our feelings and give up trying to live by faith and give ourselves repeatedly over to God. We need to learn grace, show grace, and slowly bit by bit transform into grace.

If you believe in Christ and have become saved according to Romans 10:9 but have not lived it you are being dishonest.

Don’t be dishonest. Be true to what you believe.

This is Sisterhood

I came across this article on Pinterest last week and knew I wanted to write a post about it. Sisterhood to me is really important. I’ve always valued solidarity among women even though growing up I’ve experienced a lot of the opposite. It’s true that girls can be mean. Girls can be catty. Girls can exclude you and become closer to other girls in the group over you. Girls can stop talking to you when they get a boyfriend..ha! But there are also times where your girlfriends just know you best. Or your mother can just tell something happened to you without you saying anything. Things like that are special..and to me having a solid network of faithful women is a critical part of being a healthy Christian woman.

When I read this article I noticed that it was from a “sister” that belongs to a different religion than me. She writes from the perspective of an LDS believer. For those that don’t know this is basically (from my humble understanding) being a Mormon. Now I don’t find “religion” in and of itself interesting. In my experience religion has a tendency to get messy. There are all of these denominations within Christianity and other religions and rather than unify people it creates legalism. It makes people strive for God’s favor. It makes people look down on others who are outside of their religious group. It makes us look at our works rather than what Jesus did for us on the Cross. It makes salvation and grace more complicated than necessary. Maybe this is because I’m not particularly smart when it comes to Apologetics and all that but I just don’t like to have religious debates or really delve into this sort of topic. Or tell people that if they speak to God in tongues or through music or through dance that it’s better or worse than doing it another way. Ultimately as long as we agree on the main things i.e. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one goes to Heaven or can access the Father but through Him, etc I don’t think it always needs to be my business whether someone decides to take their children trick-or-treating on Halloween, or whether or not someone has a glass of wine at dinner. Things like that are not who I am and I don’t think Jesus came to Earth to argue with us about these things. He came to save us..not to enslave us. Nevertheless I feel like before I share this article it’s important to mention what Mormons believe and what I believe so that all of that is clear and whoever reads this does not get hung up on her religious background. Just because she believes some extra things that I don’t doesn’t mean that she can’t still be right on target with her thoughts in this article. Fair enough?

So let’s get this out of the way. I got my information about Mormonism straight from http://www.mormon.org/beliefs:

What I believe:

  • Jesus Christ is the Savior and salvation only comes through Him
  • I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and nothing needs to be added to it to make it more complete
  • I attend church and that could mean that I follow the teachings of a particular “pastor” but I do not believe that preachers have any greater authority to talk to God than I do or you do. (Hebrews 10:19-21 MSG)

Although there are differences in what I believe vs. what she believes I think that her perspective on how women in church should support each other and her insights on Ruth are wonderful. I think in the world there is a lot of wisdom, and beauty in what people of other religions and experiences have to say. I find so many things inspiring that people create for instance–but ultimately it all needs to point back to and give glory to God. It should stir something up in me that draws me back to God or creates a curiosity to search for deeper meaning in life which will also bring me to search for God. And not just God..the God. Jesus. If there is anything else getting in the way of or distracting you from Him then we have a problem. To break this down I think if I watch a “secular” movie, or listen to a “secular” song, or admire a “secular” work of art there is no harm in that because I do think God can speak to us or draw us near to Him using anything. If God is a creator and we are all made in His image we are all creating something. Whether we are trying to point to our Creator or not we are still pointing to Him in some way whether it is conscious or not. He is the main thing. He is always the only thing.

With that in mind be open to what this article has to say–despite whether you believe in the religion she is participating in:

“I have loved Ruth (from the Bible) for a long time. However, I feel like I am just now, starting to understand her amazing character. She holds a place in a book of the history of the world that Heavenly Father wants us all to study in great depth. What is it about her that we are to understand and become?

Ruth was the daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi and her husband and two sons left their home of Bethlehem into the country of Moab which is east of the Dead Sea. At some point Naomi’s husband died and she was left in the care of her two sons who then married and lived in Moab for ten years.

We do not know how, but both of those sons also died. Imagine the grief of a mother who lost her husband and two sons. Not only must she grieve their loss, but she must also wonder how she can survive and get by. She is in a condition that her husband and sons would never want to see their mother in. She is a widow during a famine. She is truly destitute.

Naomi decides that she is to return to Bethlehem and her daughter-in-laws (Orpah and Ruth) went with her. Along the way Naomi tells them that they must return to their mother’s houses, or rather that they must return to Moab. Their responses were that “surely we will return with thee unto thy people”. And Naomi tells them that she has no more sons in her womb and they must return.

They wept together and Orpah returned to Moab, but “Ruth clave unto her” and gave her quite a speech convincing Naomi that she was not going to change her mind, “when she [Naomi] saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.” So what we have here is a woman (Naomi) who is destitute. Never before has she grieved so much, and never before has her faith been tried so much. How would she survive? She is a widow with no sons, and during a famine! We don’t know about her family situation back in Bethlehem, but when she and Ruth arrive, Ruth “gleans” in the fields of Boaz. That means that when workers drop the corn they are carrying, that she would go and gather those pieces left behind – something only the extremely poor would do.

This is what I love about Ruth. First, she recognized the true needs of Naomi, and then she acted on it – even when it was hard and very inconvenient.

Naomi said to return to Moab, but Ruth knew that wasn’t what Naomi really needed. Naomi, maybe for the first time in her life, needed someone else to help her. She was out of options and Ruth was her solution. And not only could Ruth discern Naomi’s needs, but she had the charity to offer her exactly what she needed – at all costs.

Ruth was Naomi’s refuge, her sanctuary, her protecting wall (as President Packer put it).

Everyone one of us will have Naomi moments in our life. We will have times when we need true service from others, we will need a Ruth. We will need her to discern our needs and act on them, even when we are saying to “go back to Moab” – because we, like Naomi, don’t want others to be inconvenienced or disturbed because of our trying times.

We will also have many times when we need to be a Ruth. Where we need to learn how to discern other’s needs and then gain the glorious gift of really knowing how to serve that person – how to give them what they really need. And then we need the gift of acting on it until it is finished. Those are three separate things: 1- discerning the need, 2- knowing what to do for them, and 3- acting on it through its completion.

Discerning the need is the first thing that has to happen. This means that our eyes and hearts must be open to our sisters around us. We never know what each other is facing, but this is mortality and so we can assume that if there isn’t something now, there will be something later.”

“Imagine what Naomi’s story could have been without Ruth. Ruth is a true example of a gracious woman. She offered Naomi something that Naomi couldn’t get herself. And what is more Christlike than giving someone that kind of service?

The fascinating thing is that the story doesn’t end with Ruth gleaning in the fields. Ruth ends up marrying Boaz, the man whose field she gleaned in. She and Naomi were now part of a great and righteous family. And it doesn’t end there. Ruth has a son named Obed, and he will have a son named Jesse, who will then have a son named David. That is the David who slew Goliath, the David who will be the great King of Israel, and the David of whom the royal Davidic line is named after, and of whom the Messiah would be born. Ruth is a direct grandmother of Jesus Christ. I doubt she was thinking about that when she was walking through the hot desert to Bethlehem and when she was looking for corn that had been dropped.”

So a question we could all ask ourselves is this: Who in my life needs me to be a Ruth today? A question like that can invite angels to attend us as we join them in their efforts to save, to comfort, give help and hope.

https://www.theredheadedhostess.com/most-popular/9443/

I think she brings up a wonderful point. Sometimes as women we will be a Naomi and a Ruth. We will either need a Ruth and need someone to discern our needs or stand alongside us in our desert times, or we will be called to be a Ruth and be willing to be inconvenienced–to enter the unknown or the uncomfortable for the sake of someone else.

How can you implement what you’ve learned today?

-Do you need to reach out for help from a sister in Christ today?

-Do you need to be the answer to someone’s struggle or prayer today knowing it could be uncomfortable or inconvenient for you?

This applies to men too! Just because this was written by a woman for women about a woman in the Bible doesn’t mean the lessons aren’t true and useful for your life. I pray that we are ALL willing to ask for help or to be the helper today. I pray that we are never so blinded by our own religious affiliations that we cannot glean wisdom from other walks of life or beliefs. I pray that we always use whatever we experience, see, or find inspiring to glorify our Savior Jesus knowing it is through Him and only Him that we have unlimited favor, love and access to the Father in Heaven.

Photo Credit: Found on thehouseofhendrix.com

Pinterest

For those of you who Pin follow me on Pinterest! I pin fashion, travel, and all sorts of topics that you might enjoy

This is my favorite board for quotes for this site and I am in the process of making a new board for just blog inspirations and existing posts.