Don’t start nothing

I was driving behind a van today sporting a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”

This line is from the Men in Black movie, apparently, but struck such a chord with this motorist that they felt the need to add it to their vehicle’s decor.  I realized right away that the driver of this van did not want to be provoked, and if they felt they were, things could get ugly very quickly.

I couldn’t help but think that this is actually the way the world seems to be all around me now days.  People seem ready to strike out at the first hint of provocation.  And then this saying…it seems like a large population lives by this rule.  If others won’t mess with me we’ll be fine, but if they start something, then it’s on.

But can’t we do better?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to loving our enemies?  What happened to forgiving and looking over trespasses?  Jesus was literally hanging on a cross, being mocked, bleeding from his hands, feet, back, and head, and said, “Father, forgive them.”  But we say, “don’t start nothing, there won’t be nothing.”  Hmmm.  That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I don’t think we have to let people walk all over us or abuse us, but we also don’t have to always be ready to attack.  There are ways to say things that are kinder.  There are ways to say things that are calmer.  Sometimes it’s even ok to say nothing.  How about praying before we speak or react?  That’s still acceptable.  It’s not an old-fashioned concept.  It is Biblical.  God is still there on His throne offering grace and mercy in our times of need.  God is still handing out wisdom.

I really do think we can do better.  As Christians, I believe we should do better.  Not everyone is even trying to start something…we could start by realizing that.  After that, we could take an approach more like, “You start something, I end it.”  I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care who started it; they can be the one that ends it.  It’s all about choices.  I remind them that they, alone, are responsible for the choices they make.  I also remind them that 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

Let us be the ones that stand out from the crowd and don’t react with attacks and harsh answers.  Let us be the ones that end it before it even begins.  We can do better.

I’m ok with you,

jamie

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Lovingly said

We are studying Ancient Greece right now in our homeschool.  Yesterday we read Acts 17, where Paul traveled to Athens.  When he arrived, his spirit was troubled when he saw that the city was given over to idols.  He went into the synagogue and the marketplace to tell people about Jesus, but it says that they called him a babbler and some said he was proclaiming foreign gods to them.

He was the outsider there, coming in and trying to change traditions and customs that were born into them.  As we have studied in our history lessons, the Greeks were devout in the worship of their gods.  They held festivals and offered sacrifices.  Temples were all around them, and their lives centered around the gods and goddesses in which they believed.  In fact, the very first Olympics was a festival to honor the god Zeus!

What I love is what Paul did next.  In Acts 17:22, Paul was standing in the midst of the Areopagus.  This was the council, the court of justice, the leaders of Athens.  He addressed them with respect and compliments.  He said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.”

It was true.  They were SO religious.  They could not have been more religious.  Their spiritual disciplines were very evident.  And Paul recognized this.  He continued, “For as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:  TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

From there, Paul told them about the God they did not know.

He never insulted them.  He never belittled them or put them down.  He never made them feel like they were idiots or the worst sinners in the world.  Here they were, worshiping false gods, and Paul showed them respect and treated them with dignity.  He then told them about God, who made the world and everything in it.

You with me?  I believe he allowed the Holy Spirit guide him, so he came to them in love, and with respect.  Now, some mocked him.  Some said they wanted to hear more later.  And some believed!

In love, Paul did what God asked him to do.  That’s all he had to do.  It wasn’t up to Paul to make them believe.  It was only up to him to obey God by spreading the gospel.  Likewise, it is only up to us to spread the truth, but let’s do so with love.  Let’s model the example of this courageous missionary who stood before the Greeks, and be respectful and loving and spread the truth, in love.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God will be saved.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

jamie

On their behalf

In yesterday’s blog, I talked about how we should show love to those in pain and trials and not offer judgment and accusations, in the way that Job’s friends did.  I also mentioned how we can pray for those we know who are in pain.  I wanted to talk more on that today, because that is probably the one of the most important things we can do, and yet sometimes we neglect it.

In Matthew 8:5-13, we find the record of Jesus and a centurion.  The centurion’s servant was lying at home paralyzed, and in terribly agony and pain.  (Some versions of the Bible say he was dreadfully tormented.  yikes!)

The centurion came to Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant.  This story is powerful in so many ways.  If you haven’t read it in a while, or ever, I encourage you to read it.

The centurion knew, and acknowledged that Jesus was powerful enough that He need only speak the word and His servant could be healed.  He didn’t even require that Jesus come to his home to do it.  He knew Jesus could do it from right where He stood.

And this is the part I want to stress:  The centurion’s faith alone was great enough that Jesus marveled at it.  (vs. 10)  The servant’s faith was never called into question.  Perhaps his was just as great.  Maybe it wasn’t.  All we know is that the centurion interceded on the servant’s behalf, and that the servant was healed that same hour.

We are called not only to love our neighbors as ourselves, but also to pray for one another that we may be healed. (Ja. 5:16)

Unless they’ve told us it’s the case, we never need to tell someone that they aren’t being healed or delivered from their trial because their faith isn’t strong enough.  We need to intercede on their behalf.  We never need to accuse someone of being sick or in trials due to sin, but we need to pray for them.

What the centurion did on his servant’s behalf is an excellent example of how we should live.  Job, as well, before his children died, offered up offerings to the Lord just in case his children had sinned.  These are excellent examples of people who are going to the Lord on behalf of others.

Not everyone will be healed.  Is that hard to hear?  God has plans for people that sometimes do not include healing, because He uses people in so many different ways.  But that should never stop us from asking.  We do not know His plans.  We need to ask.  We need to seek.

Above all, though, what we need to seek, for ourselves and for each other, is a relationship with Him, which will keep us calm in every storm, every trial, and every sickness.

Let’s be interceders and never accusers,

jamie

Oh, such pain!

I’m reading the conversations between Job and his friends right now in the book of Job.  It’s so uncomfortable for me because I have scars from comments people have made to me during my own health issues the last few years…even while I was down at the altar seeking God’s face.

Job asked his friends why they were tormenting him with their accusations and insults.  I know Job was a man, but I have to wonder if he cried because of what they said?  I usually just cry.  ha!

I’m not sure what it is about health issues or major trials that opens up the doorway to make others think they should step in and offer up judgment instead of encouragement, but it’s sad.  When someone is going through pain and trials, the last thing they need is added pain.

Sickness in someone’s life does not automatically mean they’ve sinned or haven’t asked, in faith, to be healed.  Trials in someone’s life does not mean they have not been generous to the poor or have angered God.

What do those in pain or those in the midst of a trial need?  They need love.  They need compassion.  They need an ear to listen.  They need prayer.  If you know specifically of sin in their life, you can offer help, but if you don’t, then don’t accuse.  People who are hurting need comfort.  They need a friend.

Take them a meal.  Babysit their kids or pay for someone else to do it.  Pay for someone to clean their house for them.  Go sit with them when they can’t get out of bed.  Pray with them.  Give them a hug.  Wash their car.  Offer to do something else you know will bless them.  Do something to bless them, but don’t add to their pain.

I am so blessed by Job.  He did curse the day he was born…that’s understandable, since he was in immense pain…but he was never so discouraged that he allowed his friends to turn mind away from trusting God.

For any Christian in pain, that’s critical.  We can’t turn our hearts away from trusting in God.  As Christians, we cannot be the ones to cause pain.  Our lives are supposed to represent God’s love.  If God’s love looks like judgment and accusations, especially in a trial or painful time in someone’s life, it will make it so hard for them to trust in Him.

As Christians, it is imperative that we operate in love, encouragement, and in prayer.  Jesus said we should love the Lord our God with all our heart all our soul all our strength and all our mind; and we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  What if you were the one in pain?  What would you want to hear?  What if you were in that trial?  What would you need?

We must go and do likewise,

jamie

 

The Proof of Your Love

I wasn’t planning on doing another post today, but this song just came on the radio and in light of the series I did this week, stood out a little more than usual.  It seemed fitting for me to post it.

Here are the lyrics and the song is below for you to listen to:

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
If I give
To a needy soul but don’t have love then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
Oh, let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
When it’s all said and done
When we sing our final song
Only love remains
Only love remains
Let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Songwriters: Luke Smallbone / Joel Smallbone / Ben Glover / Frederick Williams / Jonathan Lee / Mia Fieldes
The Proof of Your Love lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Fun Attic Music, LLC

Love,
jamie

Love your enemies, part 4

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

If you want to go back and read parts one, two, and three of this 4-part series, just click on those links and it will take you there.

Today’s topic is love.  “Behold, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8

God IS love!  And we love one another because love is of Him and we are born of Him and we know Him.  When we aren’t loving one another, then it’s an indicator than something is off in our relationship with God.  When we aren’t loving then something is wrong.

Vs. 10 says that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.  “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love on another.”  (vs. 11)

How do we love one another?  1 John 3:16-18 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  …let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

We show love by meeting each other’s needs when we can.  We love by our actions, not just by saying, “I love you.”  Meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  Love requires sacrifice.

Pr. 17:22:  “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Some people’s bones have been dried through brokenness.  But we have the remedy for that.  Pr. 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

Perhaps we can be the one who gives health back to that person with the dried bones with our pleasant words and our love.  Also, those wrathful people who stir up strife…perhaps their bones have been dried up for a long time.  Perhaps they are hard, unyielding and rank, but it could be our love and our pleasant words that brings the sweetness and health back to their bones.

Pr. 17:14 says, “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; therefore stop contention before it starts.”  We all know that’s true.  Once it has begun it almost impossible to get it stopped.  Maybe we could be the ones that choose to trust God instead, allay contention, and simply choose love.

Again, we can only control what we do, not what other do, or how others react.  If they don’t react with kindness, then we react with forgiveness, yes?  If you’ve forgotten, go back and re-read the last few blogs at the links above.

I know this all goes against our fleshly, human-nature, but when we do what God has asked us to do, we can trust that He will have our back and see us through!  We have to believe it!

Believing we can do it, in Him!

jamie

Love

Love your enemies, part 2

Pr. 15:18:  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.”

In yesterday’s blog, I asked this question: if someone who has hurt you needs prayer will you pray for them?

When you or someone you love has a serious prayer need in your life don’t you desire compassion and aren’t you seeking for people to pray for you?  Most of us are.

Now, say that the wrathful person you envisioned in this verse has a prayer need.  Are you going to take time to pray for them?  If someone who has previously injured you in some way now needs prayer, will you pray for them?

What was it that Jesus told us in Mt. 5:44-45?  Get ready for it…

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons [and daughters] of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

Jesus said we should love our enemies.  Not only that, but we should bless those who curse us and do good to those who hate us.  Also, we should pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us.  Why?  So we may be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven.  He makes us all, loves us all, and according to John 3:16, died for us all.

I have a testimony not meant for a blog, but the Lord once asked me to pray for someone who had seriously injured me.  It seemed like an unreasonable request, considering the pain this person had caused me, and although I initially argued with God (in the pew at church), I eventually gave in.  Once I did, I was lifted of a burden in a way I never could have imagined.

The Lord freed ME of anger…freed ME of unforgiveness…freed ME of pain and bitterness.  I am much more equipped to forgive now than I was before, and I am so thankful for the freedom the Lord gave me when I trusted Him enough to do as He commanded. 

We cannot control what the people around us do.  All we can control is what we choose to do.  We can choose to trust the Lord enough to follow His Word and do as He commanded.

Just like He showed me…there are great rewards in store when we do!

Give it a shot!

jamie

Love your Enemies, part 3

Love your Enemies, part 4