Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grace vrs control and contempt

2 Corinthians 8:7 "But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also."

What is grace? How can you abound in it like in diligence and love?

I know when I am treated with grace. Sometimes I can feel God's grace sort of pouring over me. But I'm not sure sometimes how to walk in it... or abound in it. I want to be a carrier of grace. Like you can be a carrier of the flu! I want to have people say when I leave, "That was like a breath of fresh air." But how?

I can see opposites to grace. I have been thinking about a God who allows choice. Allowing people choice has allowed so much cruelty. Without choice there would be no sin... maybe, or is control sin all by itself? By allowing choice, God seems to deem control as more ugly than all the horrible things we have done to ourselves. I can see as many oppressive leaders are being challenged right now that control is at the heart of the damage they are doing. People need freedom to become great.

Another opposite of grace is contempt. There deeply seated enemy of love. Contempt is seeing the wrong instead of the right. It's choosing to be judges instead of participants in relationship. Contempt is by it's very nature a destroyer of people. Contempt is easy when people make so many mistakes. But there is something right inside of everyone. God breathed into us life... that life is holy. It's not that I want to ignore evil. I want to call out to the good. Blow on the coals of the authentic... is that grace?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Compassion, pain, and listening

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about compassion. What is compassion really? I want so badly to live a life of grace. To care for the afflicted and broken hearted. But what is care? Real care? The kind of care that will make a difference. It is true that you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Is giving him a fish compassion or is it prolonging his agony?

Sometimes compassion is sharp. It cuts away at the lies that hold us captive. Jesus was sharp sometimes. He overturned tables and made a whip of cords. Did his compassion leave him in those times? I don't think so. Many times it is not compassionate to remove a person's pain. Pain can be a gift. It is certainly a motivator.

So what is compassion? (listening) what I hear is that compassion is doing the hard work of relationship. It is walking into the conflict. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." It's interesting that it says as. Iron sharpens iron but rubbing and grating against it... It doesn't feel like friendships can hold up under such conditions. (listening) Wow, the picture I have is of a very fine line between the selfish need to "fix" someone and the compassionate gift of grating. One is standing up for and defending a friend even from themselves. The other is a huge violation of boundaries. God how can you tell the difference? (listening) The only answer I get is "by listening". Keeping my ears focused the gentle nudges of the Spirit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have spent the last several days out in the wilderness. It was quiet. I miss the quiet more than I can explain. My ears have become so accustom to noise that when we finally found a quiet spot I could hardly hear the quiet because of the ringing in my own ears *sigh*. Psalms 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God" It goes on to say, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth" Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection between being still and God being exalted? I know that when I find a quiet place, I am more inclined to listen... Sometimes I wonder if I can glorify God more by being still than by anything I try to do for Him. One thing is clear to me, the pathway to knowing Him is learning to be still and learning to listen.

We live on a noisy street in town. The noise feels like a constant attack on my spirit. It is hard to find a quiet place where you can only hear the sounds that God created. Have you ever noticed that man made sounds (traffic, drippy water faucets, machinery) are wearying to the soul where as God made sounds (waterfalls, birds singing, the sound of the breeze in the trees) are calming to your spirit? The constant clamor and noise in my world makes it hard to hear God just like the noise of the traffic on my street drowns out the rustle of the leaves.

So God, it is wonderful to find some quiet, but I am wondering how to be practical about it. I long for this quiet but I am swimming in clamor most of the time. What about that? (Listening) Hmmm the first thing that came to mind was Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Then Jeremiah 29:13, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." So is being still, seeking Him?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I have a choice

I have a choice. Do you know how amazing that is? I believe the whole story from creation to crucifixion is God’s excruciating and yet gracious act of giving choice. God offers choice instead of control. That is huge! Here I am small and in comparison insignificant and yet I often cling to the illusion that I can control my world I’ve paid a high price for other’s choices. Others have paid a high price for mine. Control seems much safer… doesn’t it? Many times I have screamed at God in my anger, “Why didn’t you intervene?” But what good is relationship if there is no choice in the midst of it? Complicated questions… I do wish for an end to the pain and cruelty in the world but today I am glad that I have a choice.

Today I have a choice, not so much about how I feel as how I choose to respond to how I feel. I am a very passionate person. I feel a LOT all the time. I feel muddled, confused, protective, frustrated, weary, sad, discouraged you name it. Sometimes I feel down right PISSED! It is a temptation for me to bounce from one extreme to another passionately something all the time. It can be exhausting not just for me but also for those around me. *sigh*

But I do have a choice. I can be gentle when I feel like ripping through life like a bull in a china cabinet. I can dance when I feel like hiding under the bed. I can be bold when I feel like a bowl of jelly on the inside. I can choose how I will affect the people around me. I can work to see their needs and hurts, even when I am in pain. I can look beyond myself and take the needs of others into consideration. I can be loving when I don’t want to give a rip. I have a choice. That’s awesome!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Soft Heart... Hard Heart

The older I get the harder it has become to see the best in people. I have seen such contradiction between what people present as their values and what proves out to be the case. And yet I cling to 1 Corinthians 13:7 which says in the amplified version, "[Love] is ever ready to believe the best of every person."

I want to be a person of grace. I want my heart to be soft towards others. I want to be moved with compassion like Jesus was moved, even to tears (John 11:35). But there are some days when man's inhumanity to man causes me to turn my face away from humanity and seek "hardness" to cope. What about that LORD? (listening) Matthew 11:30 comes to mind, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." How is that related? (listening) Hmmm it's like I am seeing a contrast between trying to "love" in my own power... I want my heart to be soft... I want to be a person of grace. There is nothing wrong with the desire but muscling my way into "softness" is contradictory!

So God how do I let you soften my heart? (listening) *smile* "Well... ask me!" *smile* Ok, so I am asking. It is true that I can not make myself gracious or soft hearted and the harder I try the tougher my heart becomes. God soften my heart... let me see the pain in people and even the inhumanity but from side of your perspective and under your yoke instead of mine.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Following the Ball

I have a ministry called, "Follow the Ball". I hesitate to call it a "ministry" because it is just a principal that I want to live out and God can do with what He will. It's named after the old sing-a-longs TV shows that had song words going across the screen and a bouncing ball on top of the words to help you know what to sing next.

The idea is to follow God's lead, not to go ahead and not to get behind, just follow the lead. It's not easy. I get swallowed up a lot in the clamor in life. I'm not sure how well my spiritual hearing is doing. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going spiritually deaf. Usually, when I ask God about that He shows me that I have my fingers stuck in my ears (again).

So I'm wondering today why my fingers are in my ears. (Listening as best you can with your fingers in your ears) It makes it hard to hear when your fingers are in your ears and the only way I know to have the courage to take them out is to hear the LORD. God what about that? (listening... or trying to) It feels like I can't tell the difference between fear and exhaustion. That sounds funny to say. Maybe I am afraid of exhaustion, like I'm afraid God is going to ask me to do one more thing and I just don't have it. What about that God? (listening)

Hmmm, the picture I have is that there are two kind of exhaustion. One is when you have put in a hard day's work. There is a sense of accomplishment and peace with that. Then there is the kind of exhaustion where you are battling up stream... swimming but not getting anywhere. The sense I have is that God doesn't ask me to do the latter. He asks for a day's work, because we were created for good work.

But, I have MCS. That often translates into chronic fatigue. A day's work for me is more than exhausting at times. I'm tired of that exhaustion! What about that God? (listening) Hmmm the sense I have is that fear is exhausting and rest, deep inner rest comes from Him. Hmmm so are rest and work opposites? (listening) Hmmm, I would have said they are but I have a picture in my head of resting peacefully while digging in my garden.

So what does all that have to do following the ball? (listening) I hearing Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Wow, that has a whole new meaning to me right now!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I talk a lot in my workshops about person-hood as apposed to object-hood. I call it couch thinking. When you are treated like a couch, you start thinking like one. An object has no voice or opinion or choice. It's always a great day when I see someone getting the concept and choosing to live life as a person instead of a doormat or entertainment system.

It's a hard switch though. When you live life like couch. The people around you get used to you sitting on you and not taking your feelings into consideration. It becomes a two fold battle, figuring out how to be a person on the one hand and retraining those around you into seeing you differently. Some will get the switch, some never will.

I have wall flower tenancies. I'm not sure that I was even a couch in my object thinking days. I was more like the wallpaper on the wall... seldom noticed. It's hard for me to figure out when I am being a person who is contemplative and reflective and when I am being a wall flower which is reclusive. Being a hermit has its attractions.

Sometimes being a person for me is taking time to process and contemplate. Sometimes it's choosing not to "attend" and getting out of town. I miss silence, I need silence it is a place of connection for me with the LORD. But I also live to serve. It all gets pretty conflictive at times.