Is Different Wrong?

Yes, different is scary. But, different isn’t necessarily “wrong”. That’s the fear. That stepping out from how something has always been done is wrong. It goes along with how thinking differently than someone else must be “wrong”. Someone somewhere had to go against the grain and expectations of others to get you to where you are today.

Pray. Ask for yourself. God speaks to each one of us individually. That’s relationship. As parents, we hope to have special and individual relationships with each of our kids. So does God. Not only does He want it, but we don’t realize how much we do, until we do.

Our choices and paths will be different. God wants them to be. Our kids are different, He made them that way. Siblings are different, spouses are different, parents are different.

We are each created with different love languages, preferences, needs, sources of comfort, and talents. But, we are all created by the same GOD. Who loves each of us like crazy. May we lean into Him when He calls us to be different. When He calls us to choose differently. And trust Him like crazy when He does.

Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. And we were all created differently. Because He wants us to reach the world, not just our neighborhood. But, also our neighborhood.

There are missionaries called to remote islands and also to our workplaces. Poverty stricken communities and also to reach the wealthy. Abused women and happily married women. Teenagers and widows. The motherless and the fatherless. The kids in private school and the kids in public school. The kids in dance class and the kids on the basketball team. The kids in the band and the kids on the field. The doctors and the patients. Single men and single women. Married men and divorced men. The mom who lost her child and the mom who has a dozen at home. The person who was cheated and the one who cheated. The porn addict and the food addict. We all need Him in very different ways. Thank GOD for those with callings to reach each. May we each reach one.

Even Paul and Barnabas had a “falling out” of sorts. Both men of God, different callings who went their separate ways because of it. To do God’s will and reach people they couldn’t have reached together. I trust God used the painful disagreement and separation. They stayed focused on spreading the gospel as He called them to different regions. Regions these days can be viewed as schools, churches, states, countries, workplaces, ministries.

The Bible says we were fearfully and wonderfully made, so it makes sense that we would also be fearfully and wonderfully called out. Separately. That’s the God we serve. He has a distinct purpose for you. We are not meant to be cookie cutters of how we were raised or how our parents were raised or even how they served. He made each one of us with a distinct calling.

My kids too. If I want them to be brave, then Mama should be too.

Go where He sends you. And, I can’t wait to hear and see the hearts you touch.

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Seasons Change, That’s What They Do

Last night, I laid awake listening to my youngest sleeping next to me. I couldn’t help but think about when I first got divorced. As much as she wanted to sleep with Mama every night then, I thought it was a bad habit to get started. After all, I might get married again someday. Then it would be harder on both of us to get her out. That was my thinking. Now, I can’t seem to put her in her own bed because I know it’s coming soon.

Seasons.

As much as I can’t wait to share a bed with my warm and loving man, I will miss the times it was me and my girls. As will he, I’m sure. Isn’t this how seasons go? Such is life. We can’t wait for our kids to potty train, walk, talk, drive….and then we yearn for when they couldn’t. We can’t wait for our own first jobs, apartments, and cars….and then we yearn for when we had less bills and responsibilities. All blessings moving forward in life, yet we miss how it was.

We love the change of seasons. Nothing like the first dip in the pool, our first taste of fall, or getting our Christmas trees up. I live in Texas so sometimes all four seasons seem to collide into the same week. But still, turning that calendar to October, April, or June does something to my soul. Seasons.

Married, single, raising littles, parents of college students, empty nesters, retirement. Seasons. Even friends fall into this category. We may drift apart for no other reason than our jobs and families. No love lost, only further apart.

I’ll miss sleeping with my daughter so much that I’m having a really hard time tucking her into her own bed these days. Instead, she reads to me and asks to hold my hand while we both fall asleep. Years ago, I did the opposite in preparation for what’s now coming in the next couple months. It may bite me (us) later, but right now, I’m relishing this season.

 

 

What Are You?

What are you? Male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, American, immigrant, Republican, Democrat…? How about human?

If I were to ask you what church you go to, we’d also have many different answers. Some may not even go at all…But, when the religion question comes up, what do you say first? Baptist, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Methodist…? How about Christian? I think this says a lot about what we value most.

Do you consider yourself your denomination over Christian? Are we all brothers and sisters in Christ first? Or does your particular denomination shame or discredit others for being different? What was Jesus? His nationality was Jewish, but it’s because of Him that we can even claim Christianity at all. Did He belong to a certain church? He preached in synagogues, on sea shores and mounts, but He also seemed to get on to the church folks more than any others.

He’s why we worship or should be. Denominations are formed by different interpretations of the Bible. Personally, I am a Christian who, at this point in my life, attends and serves at a Seventh-day Adventist church. I love my church and the people in it. I may not be happy with everything going on in it, but maybe that’s exactly why I’m there.

Since there are no perfect people, I can assume there must be no perfect church on earth either since they are made up of just that, people. Their ideologies, theologies, policies, doctrines, interpretations of scripture. I also think there are wonderful churches everywhere because I think there are wonderful Jesus following people in them. May we each be one where we are.

May we all serve Him where we are called and shine His light in all denominational congregations. May we love like Jesus to the best of our ability right where we are and especially in church. Sometimes they need it the most. May we go where He asks us to go. Because, one day, one sweet day, we’ll all be together. Regardless of the biases and prejudices associated.

There are enough prejudices in this world already, may we be increasingly aware that denominations do this too and may we try to be different and gracious about it.

I believe each one of us who claim Jesus will worship together in heaven. There won’t be six different churches to choose from on the streets of gold. We will be Christians who proclaimed His name above all others and clung to Him here like He clung to that cross for us.

So…what are you??

Two Points..

Last week I had the privilege of sharing a worship thought with my daughter’s middle school basketball team. I’d love to also share here…

Fouls are part of the game in basketball. More than likely, you won’t play the season or even a game without getting fouled or fouling someone else. Sometimes they are intentional, you know that player. But most of the time they are accidental. Nonetheless, fouls will get called and a free throw will be given because of it. Two free points available…

In life, we also foul each other and get fouled. To forgive these fouls keeps us moving forward in peace and love. Don’t be that person who fouls on purpose, you just gave your opponent two possible free points. But, know that when you’re fouled, you’ll get those two free points too. We can’t out foul God’s grace. Scripture says it is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Sometimes the free points are received and sometimes they are not, but they are always offered. Isn’t this also so much like the grace of God? We are allowed a swish of grace each and every time we foul. But, this grace isn’t cheap. It was bought by His death. His grace was given when He walked this earth and died for us. I am SO thankful for this gift! Because as long as I’m on this earth, I know I’ll foul others. May they receive His grace. May I. May we know that even if the two points are not scored, it was still offered.

What about those fouls that happen and don’t get called? No free throw doesn’t equal no grace. God still sees. And, His grace is still there. Trust Him in that and offer forgiveness anyway. He sees that too. Even if the referee doesn’t. Offer him grace too. Us humans miss things. We just do.

No harm, no foul takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to life. But, just like in the game of basketball, fouls are a part of life. May we give and receive grace as often as those fouls are given and received. This is God’s will for us.

Jesus said: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NLT)

When we see a free throw taken in the game of basketball, may we always think of the grace God offers after a foul. And may we offer it to others as freely as He offers it to us. So that ours will also be forgiven.

The ball may miss the basket, but His grace never does and we all need it.

 

Worth the Risk

I perform a test that requires my patients sign a consent form. In order to walk the treadmill, they must be willing to assume the risk.

They might fall, they might have a heart attack, they might die for pete’s sake. It’s right there on the consent form. Still, in eighteen years of doing what I do, I’ve never had anyone refuse to sign. I’ve had some refuse to pay or refuse the test for different reasons, but never because of the consent. That means that they are willing to assume the risk to get the answers they are there to receive. Peace of mind is worth it. It would be for me too. They want to know if their hearts are all right.

Truth is, they could also suffer any of these effects walking up stairs or to their car or in the mall. If I was going to have a heart attack doing any of these, I’d much rather it be in a doctor’s office…

What are you willing to try, even if it kills you (fails)? We drive every day, we fly often, we get on boats and rollercoasters. Most of us have gone swimming in the ocean and dove head first into a pool. Somewhere this has killed others, yet we still do it. We don’t want to live in fear. Life is made to enjoy. But still…

How about attempting a new friendship, or revisiting an old one, getting married again, going back to school, applying for a better job, writing the book, or starting that business? Are we willing, even if it fails?

Many people are encouraged to write in a journal to help them sort out their feelings. And, it does…But, how much more does it help for a brave soul to share theirs? Maybe they are feeling the exact same thing. Knowing you aren’t alone could help even more, but someone has to be willing to share. Risk.

Just like you have to play the lottery to win, you have to try, to succeed…Failure doesn’t mean it will never come. And, never trying could lead to the most regret.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

What’s worth the risk to you?

FREEDOM!

When we hear the word “slave”, the opposite of freedom comes to mind…

Nonetheless, we are FREE to choose (God doesn’t force). We are FREE to love (God made us to). We are FREE to worship (God delights in it). We are FREE to live (Make choices). Thank GOD we live in a country with so many freedoms.

Paul calls himself a slave to Christ many places in the scripture. This is because He was sold out to the gospel. He came from a place of strict Jewish upbringing. He knew the law and followed the rules, better than anyone else in his expert opinion. He condemned and even killed those who didn’t.

Until Jesus Christ Himself shut Saul down (put scales over his eyes) and opened his heart (reopened his eyes) to the truth of who He was and why He died, he persecuted others for believing it. It was then, that Jesus revealed that He died for Saul (the one who thought he lived perfectly), for all of us. No one else could have convinced him, he would have spit on anyone who even tried.

What a stark difference to what he writes here…

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. — Paul (1 Timothy 1:15)

On the road to Damascus, Paul’s name and life was forever changed. He was set free and became a slave (servant) at the same time.

As Jesus followers today, we are freed from the bondage of all kinds of things as we learn what it means to be in personal relationship with Him. He reveals more and more each step of the journey with Him. To live as a slave to Christ is freedom from other people’s opinions, agendas….desires for you. Whatever He speaks to your heart and through His Word is the direction you find yourself starting to move.

To follow Jesus may look differently to people. He calls us to different ministries and mission fields as distinctly as He entrusts us with different gifts. Going His direction is the freedom He calls us to. He breaks the chains of the direction our ultimate enemy wants us to go.

Satan plants circumstances and earthly enemies in our paths to deter us. But, Jesus tells us how to deal with both of these. (Give thanks in all circumstances and forgive and pray for our enemies). They are only pawns in our ultimate enemy’s plan for us.

Personal relationship with Jesus breaks those chains and we start to follow Him…We want to when our eyes and hearts are opened to His love for us.

Paul went from persecuting those who followed Jesus to preaching why we all should. Because He is the answer. His grace saves us. This is what it means to be a slave to Christ instead of the world or to people. To think there is anything other than the blood of Jesus that can save us or anything that could keep Him from loving us is to live in bondage rather than the freedom of Christ. He never stops loving us. He’s already chosen us, but He also allows us to choose. A forced love is not true loyalty or love in return.

I am both humbled and honored to use my gift to proclaim His name and my 100% dependency on Him. I know there is no other way to do it. I pray my kids do the same, but even if they do not, may my heart’s cry never change. That He loves us better than anyone ever has or will. That what the enemy throws at us can and will be used for the good of those who love Him. And that God is good no matter what Satan wants us to think.

We take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (GNT)

His love is the freedom we’ve been looking for. He loves you. Learn it. Live it. Become a slave to it…Ironically, as a slave to Christ, more freedom than you’ve ever experienced will come from it.

If we are free to choose, so are others. Respect yourself and respect other people’s choices. We are called to share His love with others, but there is also a whole lot only the Holy Spirit can do. Release yourself from the Holy Spirit’s roll in people’s lives. Share His love and release.

This is another way the Kingdom of God is polar opposite from the world’s…In slavery, there is freedom. Who/what are you a slave to?