Are You Known More for What You Hate or By How You Love?

31 12 2018

I was speaking with a friend recently about a specific governmental department that I obviously did not have a good word for.  Later in a text message, I apologized for my negative expressions.  And here’s the reason for my apology: Holy Spirit.

 

While I was driving to my next appointment, I found myself being asked,“Do you want to be known for what you hate or for how you loved?” Then, in my mind I could hear a future conversation, “Yeah, Steve has no lost love for  ________.”  Not wanting that statement on anyone’s lips I asked for God’s forgiveness as well.

 

Social media is full of rants and raves.  People who would have never had a platform or a voice to express their strong views toward a political candidate, a boss or a former spouse or girlfriend can now take to the Internet and tear others apart for their beliefs.  We can quickly pick out what someone hates or strongly disagrees with, but are left wondering what is good in their world.  Are you more known for what you disagree with or for how you love, reach out and serve others regardless of how they believe or vote?

 

Someone has said that we often have only one opportunity to speak something life-giving, something godly or encouraging and we use that one opportunity to tear apart those who do not believe as we do.  Let’s work at changing that and become more like Jesus, who “…Was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent so he did not open his mouth.”

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong…

If I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor…but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind…it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered…

Love never fails.

As we enter 2019, could God be challenging you as He has me? Will those you interact with, will those who read your social media posts, will those you work with and will your family hear about what and how you love or more about what you hate? We may have only one opportunity to say something kind, life-giving or loving. Let’s not miss that opportunity.

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Three Very Wise Guys

24 12 2018

Three wise men traveled quite a distance to see the Christ child.  There is a bit of debate about the distance they traveled, as well as the time it took to travel those miles.  Some Bible scholars say He was a toddler and some say He was still an infant when they arrived in Bethlehem.

 

But faithfully they traveled until reaching their destination.  These three faith-filled and expectant kings followed the star until reaching the birthplace of the Savior.  They arrived bearing gifts for the newborn King.  They came to give, not receive.

 

How often do we come to Jesus to receive rather than give to Him?  How often are we making a request or sharing a need versus bringing Him a gift of praise, thanksgiving, honor or just a reverent and silent listening spirit?

 

Christmas is a time of giving because God first gave to us, His Prince of heaven.  Thank you, Father, for giving us Your very best Christmas gift, Emanuel (God with us)!





How Our Differences Can Strengthen Our Marriage

17 12 2018

Before we said, “I do” we diligently worked at not having or experiencing differences with one another, at least not out loud. We wanted to be argument free and not allow anything to inhibit our communication.  But not long after saying “I do,” for many of us that changed.  We trusted our marriage vows to hold us together while experiencing differences, even when they became heated.  What changed?

 

Nothing changed other than we gave ourselves permission to be freer at being ourselves.  No longer held back by what the other may think, we let our emotions and our words find freedom of expression even if those expressions were hurtful.  If you have observed this in your relationship, you’re not alone.  Let me share a rich truth that my wife and I have discovered along the way.

 

After we marry a new reality sets in and we realize differences really do need to be dealt with. While we have to acknowledge some of our differences as purely selfish, a few are simply a different view or opinion.  Not wrong, just a different perspective.  If we stay in immaturity, we will not listen to or make any attempt to understand our mate’s different view.  We will perceive them as wrong and it will be our goal to convince them our way is the right way.

 

However, that is not the goal and such an approach will lead us to greater frustration.  As we grow in maturity, love and understanding, we begin to realize God gave me this person to be different, to see another perspective and to strengthen our relationship through our differences.  When we can embrace this truth, we will discover a greater whole, a more complete oneness and a healthier appreciation for those differences. In other words, one of us see’s what the other does not and in the end we’ll make a better decision and be able to embrace a more complete understanding.

 

Allow God to use your differences to strengthen your marriage!





This Is A Serious Condition; Do Not Take It Lightly

10 12 2018

“People die from this infection; this is serious; do not take it lightly,” said the ER doctor to us before discharge.  My wife of 43 years was sick and in pain – bent over pain.  Showing up at the ER just after midnight on a Saturday (Sunday morning really) is a busy, if not overwhelming place to be.  I was so concerned for the woman in my arms who could barely stand up from the excruciating pain she was experiencing in her abdomen.

 

“What’s your birthdate, your phone number, your address?” All seemed to be questions that we really could do without right now.  “Please have a seat, we’re really busy with many trauma situations tonight,” was what we were told while being handed a small round pod as if we were waiting for a restaurant table.  I had the feeling we were going to be placed on a low priority list.  But it wasn’t long until an IV shot strong pain medicine into Mary and then later an antibiotic.  And finally, two hours later, a CAT scan.

 

Meanwhile I began observing the many people around us, none smiling, all needing immediate attention. I found myself not only praying for my wife, but those in the ER rooms we passed.  Sitting with Mary and holding her hand, I heard screams repeatedly. Then I heard a police officer reading someone his Miranda rights.  After that a police officer telling someone they were under arrest for DUI and refusing a blood test.

 

Wow, no wonder hospitals, medical staff, ER’s are so full of compassionate, Christ-filled called ones. Every patient needs immediate attention, medical care and a right diagnosis.  Every ill one needs patience, kind words, an advocate and a smile.  Hospital staff, all treating every human being with love and the very best care they’ve been trained to provide.

 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if human kind treated each other with the same understanding and compassion? No one asked us if we believed in medicine.  No one asked us our political persuasion.  No one asked us our financial status and not one asked us about our theological doctrine. No one was there to argue, just show care, compassionate treatment and kindness.

 

Daily we are faced with persons who are sick in their soul.  How compassionate am I?  How much time am I willing to take with them?  Do they feel accepted, comforted, listened to and important around me? “God, I pray I see the need in the lives of those around me and respond with loving, Jesus-filled care and compassion.”  As it is written, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” (I Peter 3:8)

 

Mary is recovering now at home from a severe kidney infection and a kidney stone that needs to exit her body.  Praise God for hospitals, medicine, emergency rooms and those extraordinarily kind and understanding medical personnel who work tirelessly.





Don’t Just Cry About It; Do Something!

2 12 2018

There it was, 15 feet up, stuck on a tree limb.  My grandson’s favorite stuffed animal hanging and lodged by a single leg now out of his hands and his control.  In his five-year-old mind it seemed permanent, so he cried and cried.  He imagined it gone from his life forever and thus the emotion.  We held him to console him and then said, “There’s no need to cry. Let’s work on a solution to the problem.”  When asking him what we could do about the problem he shrugged his shoulders and whimpered, “I don’t know.”  We asked him if crying could be part of the solution and he managed to shake his head no.

 

He just couldn’t seem to muster up any viable solution so Mimi (grandma) abruptly retrieved a long-handled broom and asked him if this could help.  He looked at the broom and then the stuffed animal in the tree and said, “Maybe.”  Having no other ideas coming from our grandson, grandma began to whack the tree in order to loosen the lodged friend.  He found the exercise funny and began to laugh as the stuffed toy now hung by one arm. Eventually “Nigel” fell to the ground and was quickly grabbed by his owner.

 

I just know we’ll have something “stuck up in a tree” today and it will take a solution. Or, we could just cry about it.  Why is it that we tend to have an emotional response first? Our initial response is truly up to us, be it tears, anger or silence, but in the end, like my grandson, we’ll need a solution.








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