Decluttering the closet and the heart

27 Hangars and My Heart — Christ’s Home.

What do those two have in common? Well, part of decluttering my closet has been the 27 hangars challenge is to declutter down to only those basics that bring you joy. When I looked at how many hangars were really in my closet I got to thinking about a favorite little booklet by Robert Munce – My Heart Christ’s Home. (order here)

Munce encourages us to think of our heart like a home and to go room by room (where we live, eat, read, watch, etc.) to either declutter, or, hopefully, to unashamedly open the door to each room to God’s view and control.

 

Plenty more  to remove from those rooms than my closet -especially the heart closet and the junk drawer!

 

Colossians 3: 12-14 tells what clothing should be left in my spiritual closet after decluttering:

Compassion

Kindness

Humility

Meekness

Patience

and above all

Love

Which binds everything together

 

Compassion first because the climate in any discussion changes when we start looking and listening from the others’ viewpoint.

 

Kindness also provides a safe place – a platform where we can dialogue, converse, disagree and discover. Tweet that.

 

 

Humility is the third to encourage considering others’ needs before our own. That includes forgiving when we know we are right or know we have been wronged because life is about more than us – and more than who is right or wrong.

 

Meekness is knowing your strength and how and when not to use it – again in deference to and protection of the weak and fragile.

 

Patience – because we will need to do all of the above over and over again to develop those basics to where they come naturally

 

And above all – love (agape love) which is described in the original language as goodwill ands shown especially in the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety

 

(Webster’s dictionary defines goodwill as:  a kindly feeling of approval and support :  benevolent interest or concern) is a first choice of action

No wonder it holds the other virtues together.

 

As you know I am a last things first person, so the first focus for me needs to be that one that holds all the others together – goodwill – that state of voluntarily wishing well for another. Imagine the difference if discussions, business deals, relationships, are entered into with a voluntary first choice of action to support and benefit the other person!

 

We could all preface life’s many emotional actions (or the usual re-actions) with a statement my husband made during our engagement. He said he always wanted what was best for me and never to hurt me. But he was human, and was bound to disappoint or hurt me in the course of life, and if (or when) that happened, he hoped I would understand and forgive. His first choice to establish our relationship on that basis freed me several years later when he had a very bad day. I knew then I had a choice – to snarl back or to remember my first love. When I gulped and asked him how about if we forget this ever happened, he breathed out a big sigh and thank you and we went on – just as if it never happened.

 

Do you see what that is a picture of? Justification! (Our sins forgiven and forgotten – just-as-if-it-never-happened) the unchanging basics accenting the love that ties it all together.

 

That’s what a decluttered closet (or heart) looks like!

 

How many hangars in your closet?

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After Loss of a Child – Never-Ending Grief; Never-Ending Peace

I met a woman today whose daughter died in a winter accident decades ago. Each time there is a family occasion, she shared, she experiences the loss and grief all over again. I don’t think it (grieving) is ever over, she concluded.

I understood and agreed. It’s not that the grieving ends, but that we become accustomed to it as part of our life. (Tweet that)Our new normal.

Living with grief is our new normal. Fortunately we also were both grateful for the other part of our new normal – the  peace of knowing we will see our daughters again. That peace never goes away either.

 

The good memories are also there, of course, to review and relive from day-to-day. It seems we are forced just by the daily necessities of life, to continue on – to experience the present and to remind ourselves to continue in hope for the future.

 

Thankfully, God also gives us never-ending resources that enable ‘continuing on’.

 

God’s Word – alive and powerful – activating our faith and our hope as often as we read it (not reading the Word each day is like driving the car without gas or oil).

Eternal Life – John 10: 27-28 and I John 5: 11-13 says we can KNOW we have eternal life. Both the woman I spoke of earlier and I were comforted to remember our daughters reassuring us of their faith shortly before their passing.

 

His presence = Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6 – God promised to never leave us (or our daughters, or any who claim Christ as savior).

 

Our needs – Philippians 4:19 – God continues to provide emotional, spiritual and physical needs, and each time I naturally reach for the phone to tell my daughter, I am reminded she already knows because she too has experienced this and awaits complete deliverance and reunion with her loved ones.

 

Sufficient Grace – II Corinthians 12:9 – This last week my heart wept and rejoiced at once as I hugged a lady who received a lung transplant from our daughter. Sure it was hard, but I know that is part of what Laurie determined to not let an unhealthy bite pass her lips that should she not ‘make it through menopause’ her organs would be whole and healthy to give life to others.

 

Hard you bet to hug someone her size and realize a part of her lives within this woman, and 69 others. Yet, what an awesome reminder, that her soul is alive and with God —and that He has enabled much of her body to also live on and sustain life within others.

 

Never-ending grief but never-ending peace.

 

How have you experienced this never-ending peace?

 

If so – may these scriptures be a reminder and a comfort. If not – may these scriptures open your heart to a never-ending legacy that awaits you:

Eternal Life

 

John 10:27-28 – John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.

 

John 5:11-13 And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

God’s Presence

Heb. 13:5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I Will Never Desert You, Nor Will I Ever Forsake You,”

 

Deut. 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

 

Our needs

Phil. 4:19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Sufficient Grace

2Cor. 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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I Will … Because

Little words are so important.

How many times have I/we told God, I will if you will enable me, if you will show me, if …

But God’s promises are not dependent on our behavior, thankfully.

I can only run the way of His commands (declarations he has spoken) (for/ because) He enlarges (opens – makes wide – enables) my heart to want to do things God’s way.

I remember that what God declares (commands) happens. This is God’s declaration – it is not my feelings or emotions geared up into obedience.

Consequently,  I refuse to let the enemy tell me I cannot run God’s ways, or I will not run God’s ways,  because God’s word says,

not only I can run, or I might run, or even promising I will (someday) run,

but I do run – not because I am good or obedient, or special in any way, not because I whined that I would run if God did something for me first, but because the creator has spoken it -willed it to be, and opens my heart, changing my will to a natural and expected course from God declaring His love for me and causing my heart to open in response.

Love begets love…and causes us to open our hearts (wide – nothing held back) and freely respond, to God and to those we have opportunity to run to or run with

This is part of who we are in Christ.  It is not a rule we have to follow – it is a promise!

If you have responded to Christ, He will enlarge (open, expand) your heart.

Is your heart open today – to Christ, to others?

Then join me – Let’s go for a run!

The response of an “enlarged heart” – 2Cor. 6:11  Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.

 

 

 

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Activating Faith

A statement that changed my life and got me thinking was this:

You only really believe what you activate.

It made me ponder what I believe and to read Know What you Believe and Know Why you Believe by Paul Little…but it took me some years to realize I cannot activate (give life to) anything – that the secret was more about submitting my beliefs and desires of life to God’s Word which is active.

Here is how I first learned it:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

and here is the same verse from The Message

Hebrews 4:12  God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.

Listen and obey – that allows God’s Word to activate my heart and will and want to do what He wants me to do (and what is best for me).  As I listen to this verse today my faith is activated to realize God always gives us a choice.

Which have you chosen?  How has your faith been activated by God’s Word?

 

 

 

 

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Overwhelmed with JOY —Having God’s More-Than-Enough

Are you overwhelmed with Joy – or is your spirit just overwhelmed?

I heard about a Dallas Seminary professor who met a gloomy student walking across campus. When he asked the fellow how he was doing the student began his response with “under the circumstances…” But the professor interrupted and surprisingly asked “What are you doing under there?

 

Sometimes the affliction of lists, plans, and goals overwhelm us. Other times it can be sorrows, worries or lack of something –needs of ours or of others’ whom we care about that can draw us into the deep.

 

Allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed can be defeating, and even paralyzing – where we get nothing accomplished and hover near depression.

 

Did you know there are ways that being overwhelmed can also be a good thing?

 

Look at the differences of the main part of this word: – whelm: It has two meanings

 

engulf, submerge, or bury (someone or something).

OR

flow or heap up abundantly.

 

 

Overwhelm is presented as a verb or a noun – usually with a negative meaning

 

  • Usually  to defeat completely.

“his teams overwhelmed their opponents”

give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.

“they were overwhelmed by farewell messages

Then as a verb

It often indicates to overcome by superior force or numbers The city was overwhelmed by the invading army.c :

to overpower in thought or feeling overwhelmed with grief — inadequacy overwhelmed me. overwhelmed with guilt

So how can any of this be positive? 

Mark 10:27 comes to mind – Looking upon them, Jesus *said, “aWith men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

 

Cor. 4:8 also indicates an alternate action: we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;

 

We can often relate to the first part of such verses – feeling beaten down, afflicted, worn, knocked down

 

BUT what about the rest

NOT despairing

NOT forsaken

NOT destroyed

 

The secret is in this same letter – and comes before the list of demoralizing incidents that pain them –

It comes in reminding and remembering our purpose and calling—just as that professor encouraged his student that he did NOT have to be UNDER the control of the circumstances.

2Cor. 4:5 Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you.

2Cor. 4:6 It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

2Cor. 4:7 ¶ If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.

And this verse from Isaiah shows an opposite side of the definition of overwhelmed:

I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels. – Isaiah 61:10

those being persecuted back in I Cor. 4 remind themselves (and us) that God is not dead and say in 4:10 “What Jesus did among them, he does in us –he lives!”

 

Today we have a choice with all our issues, concerns, pains and prayers – to take them upon ourselves knowing it is impossible and overwhelming just to think about them, let alone try to figure out how we in our weakness can do anything about them

 

OR

We can literally turn them over to God and we can focus instead on Christ and what HE can do in the situation.

 

Overwhelming losses or concerns always remind me of Job – He was honest when he said he could say (Job 9:27) though I say I will forget my complaints, and leave off my sad countenance and be cheerful,….I am afraid.

 

Such a change is more than a determination of wills or mind-over-matter – it is giving up to Grace to let God’s truth overwhelm our runaway emotions. You’ve probably experienced as I have some literal ways to heave over those emotional fears – write them down and have a bonfire – nail your list to a cross – visualize Jesus’ hands reaching out to accept your list and trading your list with His – truth for emotion – you are – He is – I AM –

 

The enemy tries to flame our emotions to search for satisfaction of our distress – with more tasteful food or drink, with more toys or things, or more feelings…but our need is far deeper than these superficial emotions that threaten to overwhelm us yet never satisfy us.

 

Psa. 4:6 ¶   Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say.

“More, more.”

I have God’s more-than-enough,

Psa. 4:7      More joy in one ordinary day

¶       Than they get in all their shopping sprees.

Psa. 4:8      At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,

For you, God, have put my life back together.

 

 

How about you? If you stop to list who you are or what you have in Christ – if you look at what in your life is good, pure, noble, worthy to share, etc. are you also overwhelmed with JOY?

 

Can you say with the Psalmists that you have

God’s more –than-enough – more joy in one ordinary day

More than you can hold or comprehend?

 

I pray it is so, and would love to hear of what brings joy to you today.

 

Num. 6:26 The Lord lift up His countenance on you,

And give you peace.’

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How to be a Noticer

  “Remember me, take notice of me,” – Jeremiah 15″15 NASB

Jer. 15:15 is in the heart of every soul – It is a cry to our creator, God – to

“Remember me, take notice of me,” – NASB

Inspect me

Visit me

Remember why I am here (remind me why I am here)

It is not ‘just’ those in nursing homes, hospitals, Veteran’s homes that feel forgotten.

We all want to be noticed, but sometimes feel invisible – even in a crowd.

You know how that feels, so you know a bit of how others feel too.

How can I be a noticer?

That is a question often asked by people who have read my book, Be the Miracle.

That is a question often asked by people who have read my book, Be the Miracle.

 

Here’s a tiny test which has opened my eyes – to ask myself:

What did you miss?

 

The last time you went to do errands, take a walk, etc. who did you see – (besides those you had on your list to see and planned to see)

 

Can you describe anyone from the grocery store, the gas station, the post office?

Did you meet their gaze? Smile? Open a conversation?

If you, like most of us, are in a rush, and short of time – you know just TOO BUSY to add anything to your list

Try this – Prepare for an encounter:

 

Spend 7 minutes with God seeking direction.

I like to focus on yesterday – praying about yesterday whether it was a bummer of a day or a praise-filled one – and asking God to make today more God-directed. 2 minutes

—Read scripture – even if one verse- underline or journal if there is anything that relates to your personal life that you should do, not do, or something new you learned. If not, select a key word from the passage and think on that verse today 3 minutes

 

Close in prayer asking God to help you obey any commands, to take a step to activate the key word or thought from the passage – 2 minutes

 

 

Go – looking and expecting God will lead you to share a smile, a word, or something you have ready (I and several friends have done these)

gospel tracts and a piece of candy in a Ziploc bag

A card with a sticker and the word or verse for the day

A couple dollars and a card or verse

(in cold weather, it’s thoughtful to carry a pair of stretch mittens and a verse)

 

How –Go – to places of loneliness or wherever your list takes you today – but notice them– Let them know you saw them (if they are sad or dirty or sick – don’t look away

connect – share a smile and verse or sit beside them

if appropriate, compliment their clothing or hairstyle or beautiful smile that made your day.

Offer something you carry with you to give away (if they back away when you offer it, just ask did you get one of these? So they know you are not selling anything

Ask Questions or make statements – open the conversation like you would with a friend

“Can I help you?”   “Do you need directions?” or rather than a direct question you can share a tidbit of your terrible yesterday – or this helped me, could you pass it on?

Did you get one of these?

Life can be challenging / disconcerting / difficult can’t it

Life has been ______ for me lately – for you too?

Boy after my 3 disasters yesterday, I am sure glad the sun is shining.

Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to be the miracle for someone?

So have you noticed anyone today? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Be the Miracle!

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Ok. I will pray for my enemies, but LOVE them?

My legacy was filled with hostility and hatred, so Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, (are hostile toward you) was not quickly embraced.

It was hard because Luke was saying we should show love to those who do those hostile and hateful acts toward us. What? Love begets love. I’ve never seen hate or hostility produce love. That’s unnatural. I know it is impossible without a change in ME, and I wondered…

Could I change my attitude to enable me to follow this command?

The next verses got specific:

Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies,

and do good,

and lend

expecting nothing in return ; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

 

I think of my mother, hostile toward me until God placed me as her caregiver and changed my attitude toward her. Her hostility did not change my attitude—I had to ask God to love her because at that point I could not.

 

I honestly do not think of or even want to be kind, to lend, or to do good to evil people who persecute others. Luke compares the people we should love with those Jesus already loved asungrateful and evil men.”

 

My mother was like that for most of my life – no matter what you did or spent, or gave up for her there were no thanks, but more demands until the day in 2010 she asked why do you keep doing things for me? I could not yet honestly say at that point that I loved her, but I did want to obey God’s command to honor her as my mother, so when I said , “because I want to honor you as my mother,” we both had tears – her tears, I think, because we all long for love and respect, and my tears because it was true – God had changed me from have to honor her to want to honor her.

 

I know from that experience and others that I cannot on my own act as Christ did.

Consequently my first step toward being kind to my abuser, harasser, hater, (I wish you were dead, I should have killed you, etc.) was that I need to pray first that God will make me want to be obedient, and then the will to want to care enough to do good to all challenging people in my life – not to help in any evil endeavors, but so I can faithfully show God’s love and perhaps someday do the ultimate good – to show Christ that they might come to know Him.

 

 

When my six-year-old granddaughter got off the school bus one day, and told us of being bullied, she gave me the perfect illustration. “Hurting people hurt others,” she said in retrospect, and she felt badly for the person who lashed out at her, rather than lashing back. She had been taught that by someone else who had experienced it.

 

 

I understand distraction caused by physical and/or spiritual pain. A missionary told us they fix the body first, so the soul can hear and likely respond. That is our calling.

 

I started to write that It took my mom 7 years to figure out that I was caring for her for her best, but as I write this perhaps more of the truth is it took me 7 years of practice to learn to care for someone who was constantly resistant, never had a reasonable answer or reaction and would actually try to harm me or anyone associated with me in retaliation for taking her out of her home a short time so I could get people in to make it a healthy and safe environment.

In case I wondered what it means to do good, Isaiah 1:17 outlined it clearly:

Learn to do good;

Seek justice,

Reprove the ruthless;

Defend the orphan,

Plead for the widow.

 

I appreciated that the writer recognizes loving enemies is not a natural response abut encourages that we can learn to do good – even to our enemies by following Jesus’ example, and by praying and living out His Word.

 

One thing I noticed afresh was that these commands in Isaiah are not necessarily commands for one person to do, (as a lone ranger) but are inclusive the help of others to accomplish these purposes equally for all mankind.

 

Despite my mother’s hostility and ruthlessness there was injustice I could help correct, and the community rejection had me several times to plead for help for her as a widow. Someone said I was her good Samaritan but that was one who stopped in his journey through enemy territory and willingly helped an enemy in need. But what if we are the ones who pass by that person? Aren’t we all tempted to pass on by and pray for someone else to deal with such a challenge?

What does Jesus say about that?

Matt. 25:45 –to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.

Dealing with my mother, I had to often remind myself of my status when Christ died for me. I was His enemy, and by sinning or being resistant to His direction and correction, I was hostile to Him too.

Yet, God used someone or several someones along the way to show love that brought me to know Christ.

And so by letting God love others through us we learn to Love Him as He first loved us…

 

That’s to our benefit but also to the benefit of others

Why?

Is. 41:20        That they may see and recognize,

And consider and gain insight as well,

That the hand of the Lord has done this,

And the Holy One of Israel has created it.

 

What kindness or love have you learned to share?

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The Better Part of Valor – Praying in hostile environments

Social Media has exploded with negative seed-planting and hostile reactions. But Hostility does not have to mean enemies.

Seems to me that social media sharing contorted from sharing what was happening to a vulnerable who we are, then what we don’t believe (what someone else does believe) defining who we are, and that’s when things got dicey. Instead of each individual’s beliefs defining themselves, comments became a proclamation and challenge of and to all of the individual’s media friends and contacts. Discussion was replaced with hostile rejections and reactions zinging like a bullet hitting metal and rebounding.

I admit I’ve reacted sometimes when I should have responded, and now ignore politically-based statements like ‘If you voted a different way than me don’t come to my concert’ or ‘all who did not vote for my candidate are worse than fools but you can still buy my product’, but understanding that most emotional outbursts are self-defensive to hurt I can select responses with  three choices:

  1.  I choose to hide the post (Lest someone assume I agree with the inflammatory remarks) or I read the post because I honestly want to understand their thinking.
  2. If I read the post, I also choose if I will react or respond to it.

 

Interestingly to react is defined as: respond with hostility, opposition, or a contrary (without thought of hurt I could sling back. To respond, on the other hand, is defined simply as: say something in reply. It does not imply the hurtful action, as does an instant reaction, and suggests thought, or evaluation, in forming a reply.

That is what we should strive for according to Proverbs 15:1: A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. (Message)

Consequently

3) I can choose to take the comments personally or to identify the force and power behind them by evaluating if there are any evidences of the enemy’s tactics (building new “truth” out of a lie, making temporary feelings seem permanent, instilling or encouraging hatred or hostility, accusing those who believe differently to have the very qualities and attitudes the accuser displays.

The enemy’s basic characteristics that Matthew 5:44 (pray for your enemies) described are hatred displayed through hostility.

Hate – Strong’s Concordance e¶cqw echtho (to hate); hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile); usually as a noun, an adversary (especially Satan): — enemy, foe.

Dictionary hate intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

Hostile — showing unfriendly feelings a hostile act or openly opposed  having an intimidating, antagonistic, or offensive nature creating a hostile environment

Doesn’t it make you angry when you are unjustly reviled? And now we read we are expected to PRAY for such people?

Honest prayer for my enemies, or those used by the enemy, recognizes that God’s act of love was performed in behalf of all, but is only effective for those who accept it.

 

.As natural as it is to respond to anger with anger, Ephesians 4:26 (Be angry and sin not) commands we not allow those natural emotions to cause sin (Eph. 4:26). How? First of all be angry at the real enemy – not the one deceived by the enemy. A great way to diffuse or redirect anger is through prayer. We can pray for the hostile, while not demeaning them because they are so angry and pray for ourselves that however we respond would glorify God and diffuse the anger. It is said He who angers you is the one who controls you.

 

Carol Mayhall (Navigators) taught to ask yourself what difference will or could my response make in 5 years… defining the worst possible result helps me temper my reply and activate quick heart prayers for everyone concerned. And sometimes it is best to just give it to God and choose to ignore the little flame with no answer, rather than fanning it. What seems like a cop-out to some, a non-reply and trust in God to deal with the wound is the better part of valor.

In silence is strength

 

So let’s listen for their hurt, aim our anger away from in-kind reactions and pray for all of our social contacts whether friendly or hostile. As we obey this part of the command, the next part (love your enemies) may surprisingly give way in our hearts.

 

How do you pray for your enemies?

 

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Praying for Your Enemies – Don’t Mistake Our Silence for Weakness

Pray for my enemies? Scripture does not suggest we do this – it commands it!

This is one of the most difficult challenges for me – to activate my faith and pray with love for those who persecute believers.

Matt. 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

The type of love here is agapo –  Godly love (God’s love). I can understand feeling God’s love or asking for God’s love for those who love me and who have shown kindness to others who are hurt, downhearted, and needy, but Agape my enemies? Impossible.

For me. I cannot. At least that is what I thought.

Reading on I realized that my issue was allowing the attack to feel personal and the accusations permanent. Instead I saw these attacks as spiritually based.

And I saw God’s firmness and intent to work through even a hesitant or reluctant child. Verses like

Luke 6:32 “And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

Ouch.

So how can I go that extra mile? What might that look like?

The first step I can take is

Recognize the identity and origin of the enemies acts of hate and hostility

Identify in my mind that the people who are showing hatred and are hostile toward Christ followers are compromised/deluded by the one enemy – Satan

Let’s take it personally

My husband illustrated this when we had our first big argument and my quiet guy raised his voice in extreme anger and pounded on his desk, exclaiming “I WILL NOT allow Satan to ruin our relationship.”

Recently I spoke with a dear believing friend who is daily challenged by an unbelieving spouse. I wondered why, after years of such mental abuse, she could stand it Her reply amazed me: “He is not the enemy, he is deluded by the enemy – besides, I see more in the scripture about commitment than to feelings of love.” She believed she had been called to show Christ no matter the acceptance of her beliefs or the return treatment.

A long-time friend once said something extremely hurtful to me and my immediate reaction was to terminate the friendship. We talked and when I explained how deeply it affected me the friend said it was not meant to hurt me, but (and repeated the ignorance). I was appalled. It took me a couple weeks to work through it and while attending a wedding heard the “love chapter” I Corinthians 13. Applying one phrase – love keeps no record of wrong- to our relationship, through prayer I realized that person was not my enemy. Years of past friendship and probable future years together were not worth one moment of satisfaction. I gave the issue to God to handle, and we are still friends.

Now I see the need to identify those under the enemy’s power -All of these examples are a choice – to react or to respond as scripture says – with love and prayer. (2John 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.) not so I can demean them back but so I can pray for them.

I also see how the enemy works within my own relationships, and from without in all segments of my world, and how easily I can be fooled that my spouse or my friend, is the enemy; but the enemy is those who are being used to oppose God, and who are feeding lies into our relationships and callings.

So how can we pray the scriptures for them? Pray that those identified as consistently and intentionally opposing the things of God might have their eyes opened to truth. Pray that they would realize they are being used and are trapped and in slavery to their master, who is not just our enemy, but theirs as well. (He “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” [from da¿ptw dapto – to consume/overwhelm/devour].I Peter 5:8

How do you pray for your enemies?

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I’m In This for You…

I’m In This for You…

And I didn’t even realize it.

And many of you reading this have been there for me…did you realize that?

There were and are special people whose attitude going through challenges made a difference for me. It helps to know that survival is real, and smiling while enduring is possible.

I’ll tell you a secret – when someone has done that for you, they appreciate being told because they often do not realize it.

Recently I had a challenge of my own, and could see no purpose or good from it. Hours – days – weeks and then months went by where I felt useless. I knew the times I spent in prayer for others were not useless, but still I felt useless. It was emotion defining my reality. Does that make sense?

Maybe it does if you have been there. But how does one keep from showing those unrealistic emotions?

I mean how many times do you answer with the whole story when someone asks how you are doing?

It is especially awkward when an injury or illness lingers, and you don’t really want to whine or even seem like you are doing so, Whining never helps anyway and only reminds you that you are miserable. Yet you really want all the prayers you can get – you want this over with and any and all help is welcome…true – but I also wanted – needed – no matter the situation or my condition – to be accomplishing something even if no one else could see it.

 

It’s been that way since the concussion in January and the multiple side effects that followed. Three surprises changed my attitude.

 

One – I’m praying for you notes (with regular follow-up) gave me incentive to do whatever I needed to do to heal. Even (or for me especially) if it were to be still and to rest. Second, a new friend sent an email saying she had been watching me and thanked me for showing her what it looked like for a Christian to go through a trial. I still don’t know what I did to produce that, but it was a striking thought that my affliction could bring comfort to another. Then another friend surprised me today, saying perhaps my recent experiences were not necessarily to teach me something but to add compassion and empathy to my experiences FOR HER and others like her, who have had

Second, a new friend sent an email saying she had been watching me and thanked me for showing her what it looked like for a Christian to go through a trial. I still don’t know what produced that, but it was a striking thought that my affliction could bring comfort to another. Then another friend surprised me today, saying perhaps my recent experiences were not necessarily to teach me something now but to build up compassion and empathy from my experiences FOR HER and others like her, who have had long-term chronic illness.

Astonished, I realised it has taken these untimely and ongoing results of injury to increase empathy for those in similar or more serious situations. When weeks turned to months, I could not fathom what it would be like to spend years with a chronic issue. That thought alone sensitized noticing and caring for those in worse pain than myself. It does comfort me to know I can now hear others with more understanding and pray with more passion for those in on-going difficulties.

Now I know things I could not have known without those trials – I know how much a phone call, a card, or a note means to one who feels useless or invisible. You can be sure I was, and still am, taking notes to pass on to others the comfort that was given to me.

 

2 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 

2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG) He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.

 

It is so healing to hear someone say you blessed them and you know you could never have felt those words or prayers unless you had been down that particular path. Their receiving comfort values what I initially thought was a useless trial.

 

So many of you have been in it for me and shared your comfort with me. You showed me I can be grateful for the strange things that happen to me, for it can bring comfort to others. It is worth it to know a time of refining isn’t just about filing my rough edges – but for  your comfort and for eternity’s sake…

 

Now, I’m in it for you.

 

Delores

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