The Light of Christmas

 

fullsizerender-1

“Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

What does this mean to you? I love this quote, yet without a light how does it work?

By thirteen, my parents war-zone marriage and divorce left my Mom’s emotions shattered.  I was her primary support.  Burnt out at fifteen, I journaled, “I feel like a candle that has not been lit.”

After I left my religious upbringing, I bumped into a believing neighbor and inhaled the gospels with young people who loved Jesus. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 

I read Jesus’ words and they drew me to His light, Biblical truth and insight into behavior from human feelings. “The flesh wars against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh…” Galatians 5:17.

Who doesn’t struggle with the effects of their own and others vices and destructive choices? We have all succumbed to anger or withdrawal and control instead of humility, courage and love. The battle inside wages war—daily actions, rational choices, guided by our limited selfish and torn human nature or by the divine Spirit of a loving, just, and merciful God clarified in the book of Romans.

Drawn to Jesus’ truth, His wisdom and kindness as evidenced in the gospels, as His warnings and insight to deceit and fear, I asked Him into my heart. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in…” (Revelations 3:20 NIV)

Peace settled in my mind and spirit, sleep ensued, and I experienced harmony with others closest to me. I woke daily and read my Bible like a first cup of coffee in the morning. I couldn’t start the day without it.

 “For you Lord will light my candle. The Lord my God will lighten my darkness,” a young King David sang in Psalm 18:28 (NKJV)

The music in my soul stirred. With unexpected wonder. I read these words, aware of the new song rising inside me. I met the same Wonderful and wise God to follow into forever, who loved me and everyone in my world with forgiveness, healing and hope. He pierced my darkness and continued to do so. Through the darkest nights, I have always known His light.

Candles bring comfort even in death, as we note at vigils surrounding grief.

As you curse the darkness know there is a Light. He made the stars, including one that shone over His birthplace 2000 years ago—wise men followed that star to find Him.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

 

 

Don’t take the Wind out of their Sails- Communicating God’s Way

 

FullSizeRender

Dad warned me in my single years, “You take the wind out of their sails.” Whether I asked for his advice or not—like father, like daughter. “You talk too much. You don’t always have to have the last word.”

This week I found a journal entry, Rolling, written those years. Timely in light of my recent daily prayer …for humility.

Rolling—

I’m so controlling,

I’m a ball that’s rolling

Over my man, again,

Taking the wind out of his sail.

My mouth,

A forceful gale.

God I need help…to stop myself,

I must lose

for us

to win

I don’t know what spurred this poem in those days, but we all know words have the power to build up or tear down. I’ve been working on my heart-mouth sync since I accepted Jesus Christ as Lord at 17. Then it was sarcasm and gossip. My delivery can take a twisted turn pretty quick.

Nowadays, I have a husband who picks up on the tiniest attitude, my sacred mirror. Bummer for me. I have to speak from a heart of respect and a thoughtful mind for a gracious delivery if I’m feeling at all tweaked.(impatient, judgmental, sarcastic,petty). Many times, silence is golden.

Pastor Greg Laurie gave a sermon at a harbor in Crete, Greece. Pointing to docked sailboats he explained in Ephesians 5:18 when Paul spoke of us being filled with the Spirit—it had the  meaning of these sails filled with the gusts of wind and ready for the journey.

James 3:4 says “although ships are large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go…”the tongue is like a little rudder that steers a great ship—

If any of you have struggled for a lifetime with mouth problems, I have found practicing spiritual disciplines really helps.

Start the day asking for humility and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we’re emptied of pride and selfish ways (impatience, judgment) we can be filled with His Spirit and gentleness—strength under control.

Jesus loves to be walking with us on this journey. He helped Peter, the impetuous apostle. He can help any of us who have the uncanny ability some will never know….to speak before thinking. Did I say that?

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”    Psalm 19:14

 

Forgive Again? Yes, it is Good Friday

Bay bridge day

 

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”(Matthew 18:21, 22 NIV)

Peter had been traveling with Jesus and eleven disciples—so many personalities, habits and moods to contend with daily. Some are flexible and spontaneous, above board and honest, like him…or so he thinks.

Others are quiet, thoughtful, and slow to move and speak. They question everything and seem resistant, even critical of anything Peter says.  Peter is learning from the Master, but he’s struggling with the brothers, especially one. And this time Peter runs to Jesus, tired of forgiving over and over. The guy just doesn’t care about Peter’s feelings.

Downton Abby, a famous PBS series, just played episode seven, where Mary, the older sister brings pain to her younger sister, Edith, once again. She humiliates her in front of her family and betrothed catalyzing a break-up.

Edith lashes out and calls Mary on her horrible behavior. Hurt, she flees to another city. The rift between the sisters is strong. Yes, Mary is remorseful but sees no way to fix the trouble she has caused her younger sibling. She is not a people pleaser. Nor does she like to admit fault. It is easier to wait, and in time….

In a surprising turn of events to Mary’s benefit, Edith forgives Mary—unasked. She is not ruled by pride. Always the humble one, she closes the breech by coming to Mary.  Longing to bridge the gap, Edith declares the importance of keeping their bond, despite their innate differences.  Their upbringing and family history, their parents and Granny, their deceased sister and children—no one else could know the nuances of their family, the way they both understood.

Isn’t it interesting? It seems in life, the people hardest to forgive are the people closest to us. A woman married fifty years once stood in a church foyer and stated how she made it—“breathe forgiveness.”

Sounds a lot like seventy times seven.

Jesus knew the value of forgiveness and our human feelings.

            “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27 NIV)

A blessing for a curse?  It sounds paradoxical. Jesus knows forgiveness is a decision and love is active. He knows, as we do, we all need His forgiveness for our wrongs and we rely on His love and mercy to cover our mistakes. He paid a price for us to be forgiven, and expects us to be merciful to others in turn—to sacrifice pride and judgment, even pain—and choose to forgive. It is never easy. There are depths to pain and forgiveness like the depth of the ocean, the deeper the pain, the darker the water. But forgiveness releases the victim as well, from misery and hate.

Matthew 5:45 reveals when we forgive we are behaving like children of our Father in Heaven. We bring God honor through forgiveness. We release others from guilt.

Yes, sometimes the people closest to us, spouses, siblings, children, parents—can seem like the enemies Jesus said to love. Their words pierce deeper because they are the closest to our heart. They are the ones we have decided to trust with our thoughts and emotions. We want to believe they are always safe people to live with and love us as we love them.

“My daughter is breaking my heart,” a tearful nurse erupted as she arrived at work. Her fourteen-year-old had said goodbye with the words, “I hate you.”

It’s hard to love and feel loved when actions and words flip day to day, or week to week. Love and hate, blessings and curses. The wheel spins inside the brain and words fly off at alarming rates sometimes. There is an enemy of our soul who loves to surprise us with a hit, when we least expect it. Ambushed, we can feel like we are battling something unseen. We are.

Mary, was in pain and inner conflict when she callously opened Edith to humiliation. Those closest to us, in their pain, can cause ours. “Wounded people, wound people.” And those with deeper wounds are often not aware what they are doing. They are minions of emotion and confusion, creating crazy circles of crisis for themselves and others.

Enemies may come from horrible bosses or backstabbing, burden laying peers. I have prayed Jesus’ words to cope with an unsavory work environment. “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35, 36 NIV)

Attempting to do my job clear-headed without having to constantly address the virus of emotions running in the background, spurred by comments and actions unrelated to our job positions, I prayed to love them.

Daily I had to shake the bird nest of bitterness trying to camp in my mind. “You can’t keep a bird from landing on your head, but you can keep him from building a nest.”

Just this morning a friend told me her work has improved. “I decided to forgive my boss, carte blanche. I just don’t let it get to me anymore.”

There is power in forgiveness, not just for us, but for those around us. We are not expecting them to be something they cannot be. Because we are praying, we are not as easily disappointed or frustrated by their behavior.

Our unseen enemy, Satan, is out to divide—to bring pain and build walls with pride and animosity. Hatred is the opposite of love. If we give into hatred we cannot do the good Jesus asks of us. We cannot walk worthy of our calling as believers or help those we love, because we are not able to use the greatest power given to us by God—the power of love.

Love is stronger than hate. God’s way is stronger than the way of the world. He can empower us through the Holy Spirit to forgive, because we are attached to the Vine. The Vine is Jesus who hung on a tree and died for our sins, while forgiving those who drove the nails into his hands on the cross.

Today He is alive, and the power to love pours through His veins. Apart from Him we can do nothing. But with Him, we can choose to forgive—simply by asking Jesus, the One who knows how best to help us.

For Those who Hold a Light of Hope…to Help

161

 

Often we don’t hear the words. “Your voice counts. Your presence makes a difference.” So many times those beside someone digging through a dark wall, can wonder if they are any help.

 

Sometimes we underestimate the power of our presence.

Holding a light of hope while they chip away at a tunnel toward freedom feels paltry compared to their groans. Even bolstering words can sound limp. “Hang in there.” “God will see you through.”

Just being there shows empathy and value. They often feel lost and alone, too weary to respond. To say thank you one more time, in their seeming never-ending marathon.

Recently, I was surprised by a comment after a meeting, “Your voice was needed today.” It had brought change and relief to someone holed in bureaucracy.

Loyalty. Faithfulness. Love in action. Maybe you feel it is not much. After all, you cannot chip at the tunnel for another. It is their course.

They must lift their own feeble arms and use their own strength to advance through the quarry facing them daily. They must bear the weight of dirt laden boots shuffling through the quagmire of bleak circumstances day after day. It is their cross, and the Lord is with them. He has given them enough grace to fight. We are given the insight to pray.

They may face a terrific trial of the soul, oppressed by a demanding boss, unfair teachers or backbiting peers. They may fight insidious inner voices sabotaging their reason and sanity, dominating siblings or spouses, jeering bullies. Medical maladies. Another round of radiation therapy. Complications from the last surgery. A drug-addicted child…or spouse.

Grievous to them…and to us. We wonder too, when will this ever change, God?

Your presence helps them know…you believe this too will pass. It is a struggle for you not to take a boulder in your own hands. Make calls, torpedo words and create your own explosive actions—absent God’s will and plan and timing.

But you have learned about timing. You know, “our times are in God’s hands.” (Psalm 31:15 NIV)  Theirs as yours. You have learned your lessons, navigated your own tunnels.  If you slam the walls too hard from impatience, around and above, the ceiling can cave in. Tunnel passages require a slow chipping, a slow suffering, not a hasty block of dynamite.

Is your voice needed to intervene for a child, a teen, an elderly person, a single parent, those who are sick?

Prayers can take a long time to be answered. Persevere. Pray for tenacity for those moving toward their future goals, derailed easily by dark doubts and haunting yesterdays. Or those weakened from invisible battle wounds of the heart. Ask for fresh words and ways to encourage those with chronic illness or sudden physical setbacks, remembering people cope differently with loss or transition.

We watch and wait in hope. We know when the wall begins to crumble and the light angles through the cracks, they will feel a gust of fresh air shift—that first deep inhalation. We know the tunnel is ending when we glimpse tears pooling in once dull eyes, and shoulders straightening.

Then we will know, as we believe now—we are where we needed to be, doing what God has called us to do. Nothing big, nothing grand. Just to stand. Stand with them hidden from the public eye. Watch and pray trusting God until their breakthrough to hope and peace.

For, if you have been comforted by the Lord and His presence through others, if you have known His patience and faithfulness in your own life, you will be able to encourage others the same way you were encouraged. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

 

Getting Through the Holidays When Your MIssing those in Heaven or Dodging those on Earth

“I just have to make it through the holidays.” A single friend dropped these words annually about the same time the leaves began to fall in clumps. “I dread this time of year.”

It isn’t easy to forget the impending doom and feeling “less than” if holidays became a cycle for pain. If siblings were shown favor during gift giving. Or family gatherings invited a troubling party environment of disjointed relationships and ugly personalities rather than a festive celebration of support and love.  If estrangement and alienation continue into adulthood, the holidays can evoke a feeling of emptiness when the reality of a fragmented family haunts the air by absent invitations.

I have a friend now, who is struggling with the loss of her immediate family. The pain of Christmas past, Christmas’s that can never be relived the same. Because those who loved her so greatly for so long are absent. Her original family are all in heaven and the children are adults with lives of their own. The pain of loss begins about now.

“I struggled for years at the holidays,” a woman gave a knowing nod as a group of us reflected on the heightened grief during this holiday time for many.“It’s different now because I remarried and have a new family…but it took time.”

“I struggle.” The soft voice of a widow wafted across our table. She lowered her head.

I’m just praying we can all get through the holidays with as little stress as possible and as much peace that all is at should be at this moment, wherever we are.  But how do we feed our souls the good stuff that will stick in our mind and carry to our emotions to help bridge the gap of our heart and our head? It starts with the Word of God. True. Tested. Timely.

“Your Word is my comfort in my affliction,” the Psalmist declared in Psalm 119:50 as he endured his personal desert by writing songs and prayers to God that filled his heart and mind with chords of strength

This morning, a dear friend sent a verse, a melody. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope , in the Power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Our peace comes through trusting God, His faithful presence, His promises.

Jesus walked amidst illness and death just as we do. It’s the same world. He is in heaven now and He is coming again. (John 14:1-6) One day He will make all things right. How? Because He is our Savior. As Christians, we celebrate the same good news the angels pronounced at Christmas. “Today in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord,”(Luke 2:11) Today, we experience His love. He is alive. It gives us hope in our journey toward the Heavenly City just as it did for the saints of old. (Heb 11:16)

The Fog of Numb

Isn’t hope a blessing? It’s the light of God in our darkness—like a Lighthouse beacon when we’re nosing through the fog on a dark sea knowing the shore is ahead. Knowing what we are experiencing now is not what will be.

So, the holiday season resurfaces feelings of grief and loss from our human brokenness and mortality. (and our pets) We need the Heavenly presence of God to see us through.

It’s as if we stood on the ship deck inching ahead, there is nothing we can do. We can’t hurry time and make the ship go faster. We have to ride out the days and nights and just stay afloat. Until the ground is at our feet, we must focus on the beacon that keeps us steady—we are able to wait. To navigate the rough waters of memories and “missing”—the fog of numb.

There will be a morning after. We will walk again on solid ground, soon. The haze will soon pass into a new year and new beginnings.

How to Get Through the Holidays Halfway Decent

Rest through the season, as much as possible. Cut out the extras that spell s-t-r-e-s-s.

Do what you can. No need to plop guilt on yourself if you can’t make a function—If it’s too much energy just to get ready, don’t go. (and stop worrying what people will think- endless pit) Is there something you can attend that would relax you and you are interested in? a play, a symphony, a community fundraiser?

Be thankful as much as possible. For anything and everything. Lights. Fragrant pines. Heat. Shoes. Good books. Work. Friends. Family. Critters. Refrigeration. Sight.

Make Someone’s Day Better. Be aware of others in your daily rounds. Let the guy bagging your groceries carry them to the car and ask him how his day is going, or what he’s doing for the holidays. Wave to your neighbors or stop and say hi. Tell a child they have a beautiful smile. Or they are smart. Feelings rise when we show care.

Evaluate – Is it solitude or isolation? Solitude recharges so you can be with others. Isolation steals—you away from yourself and others. No man is an island. If gregarious groups are too overload, pick up the phone and arrange to meet someone whether planned or spontaneous. If the phone takes too much energy, email or text.(if you send to more than one person you have a better chance of connecting with someone if it’s unplanned) Coffee? a walk or movie? Can you invite someone over to watch a game or movie at your house? Make popcorn or throw a pizza in the oven. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

Exercise, Engage. Get out even if a ten minute walk a day. Bike to the haircut. or library. Go to the gym. Walk the dog. Build a planter. Garden.  Is there a parent who needs to run errands, or have a break. Can you watch their kids? That will burn calories. Children bring a trust and candid curiosity—a genuine character that refreshes.

Serve others in some way, if possible. However you do not need to serve to be loved by God or prove you are a good person. Only serve because it is something you feel God wants you to do for others and for your emotional health. Contributing, whether in the form of service or financial, must be given without resentment. God loves a cheerful giver. There is a time to give and a time to receive. Be mindful of enough. Volunteering for one thing at one time slot is okay. More is not necessarily better.

Know you are greatly loved by God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit. (John 3:16, 14:23) You are never alone. There is a family of God that you belong to. Meet with them, whether in homes or at church. The Lord is with you.

Read God’s Word. The Psalms. Luke. John 14-16. Romans 8. Hebrews, 1 Peter 1  or           Listen with Bible Gateway (free app). Charles Stanley, InTouch.org or Chuck Swindoll InsightforLiving.org (podcasts, radio)

Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.    Romans 10:17

 

Suicide and Sympathy


I don’t blame Robin Williams’s daughter for wanting out of social media sites after she received discouraging posts/ unwanted trolls. People will be judgmental in the face of suffering.

Last week visiting a group of friends the topic of suicide emerged in light of the beloved actor’s untimely death.

“I am tired of the comments some visitors make to those suffering from chronic illnesses, “my nurse friend sighed—the undue guilt thrust on a patient when they don’t get well—labeled lack of faith.”

In the book of Acts Paul was hailed as a hero to islanders after he survived a horrific storm at sea and helped rescue all aboard. However, as soon as a viper bit him at a group campfire, his admirers abruptly changed their opinion. Obviously, Paul wasn’t in God’s good favor or protection or he wouldn’t now face a torturous death from poison—which he survived. Superstitious and judgmental, Paul quickly became the brunt of his host’s unmerciful criticism. Jesus said the rain falls on the just and the unjust. At some point stuff happens to all, in this imperfect atmosphere called earth.

When I was twenty-something, a Christian friend from high school committed suicide. Tormented by the mental disease that had aborted his mother’s life, he won a football scholarship pointing toward a promising future—but lost the battles in his mind. He had a deep faith. He loved Jesus and literally handed his jacket to a cold homeless man on the street. He was loved and he was judged.

“He is not going to heaven,”

“How come?”

“Because he murdered—himself.”

How would that theology play out with Jesus who walked with us according to God’s sovereign plan of redemption? He himself endured scathing critics and yet consistently showed compassion to the sick of all categories: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

 In Luke 18:1 he said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”

Do you think if a person faints that God will then turn his back on them?

It is always difficult to navigate questions that torpedo in bringing a myriad of emotional fallout in the face of unexplained human hellholes. The devil advocates falsely to God’s lack of love and goodwill toward the weak or burdened, sick and harassed.

Yet, According to Isaiah 42:3 the Anointed One will not even throw out a damaged plant. “A bruised reed He will not break. And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish…” He tends the plant and flames the fire.

Isn’t it interesting this prophetic verse is recited by Jesus in Matthew 12:20 in-between healing two illnesses, one physical and one spiritual? Targeted, Jesus is rebuked for healing a man’s hand on the wrong day of the week and criticized for delivering a man who was demonized.

 Biblical references abound where God addresses our human fear. Jesus admonishes His disciples to trust and not fear throughout the gospels. Would His character be consistent to punish the timid? Didn’t he reach out His hand to Peter even as he began to sink with anxiety on the sea, after an initial burst of courage?

Those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord, wear His robe of righteousness. The moment we reach to Him for salvation, for help and deliverance from the ultimate darkness of eternal life without His love and eternal presence, we are forgiven. If we deny we need His Act of Mercy at the cross for us then we are on our own. We have no High Priest to cover our sin, our failures, and our junk. If we believe we are good enough to worship at the Throne of God with all the angels of heaven who adore the Lamb who was slain for us ( Revelations 5:11,12)…then we are truly done.

King David expresses many prayers to the Lord for strength as in Psalm 31:24 “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Again, what happens if our hearts fail and weaken and we lose hope and courage? Is our Savior One who is unmerciful and unforgiving, non-compassionate and judgmental of our human flaws?

Rather, the Scriptures teach eternal Death comes by pride. And separation from God by haughtiness, not by weakness. 

Bigger than Life; Sherwood Carthen . A Sunday memorandum at Bayside North.

Product Details

“He was bigger than life in every way,” this morning Pastor Ray Johnston of Granite Bay Bayside shared the untimely death of fellow pastor Sherwood Carthen of BOSS church. His passing Wednesday saddened many in Sacramento.

The Sacramento Bee honored him and noted his passing left a “grateful city” for the help and encouragement he gave us. Because of his life and legacy, we are a “kinder, healthier, more stable city…we need more people to be like him.” Bishop Carthen touched many beyond family and friends including his church, the Kings (as their chaplain), the Mayor, pastors, the Juvenile Chaplaincy, (he worked with gangs) to mention a few.

Sherwood’s two shining gifts—the “gift of preaching and encouragement” were remarkable as Ray explained.

 I was listening to a CD from his visit a year ago at our church the day before he died. He shared God’s Word and spoke it through the power of the Holy Spirit with application—like no one. Maybe, because as he shared in a clip today, he was a “drug baby.” He was drug to church morning, noon and night by his parents growing up in the south. Of course we, the Bayside congregation, laughed this morning. Sherwood Always made us laugh—not to mention cry and well up with tears or conviction whenever he preached!

He spoke from his heart, his life and his true love for our Savior. Quotes via video of Sherwood talking compelled us to strive, to aim, for excellence –

“The Lord spoke to me; ‘at your best, at your best—at your best, Sherwood—you are a Servant.’”

“I want to hear… well done you good and faithful servant… you were faithful over the few, now I will make you ruler over many… If I do that I will be a success.”

“I just want to be able to say I was the best I could be as a Dad, a Pastor a friend, a Husband….”

The Bayside worship leader explained Bayside’s worship team spent a

week with Sherwood at Mount Hermon this summer. He felt the urgency Sherwood taught, “Pursuing Christ relentlessly.” “Are you pursuing Christ with all you have?” remains his baton phrase.

“On Wednesday, Sherwood changed addresses,” Pastor Ray stated and in the next comment referred to Sherwood’s book, Amen, all by Myself. His quirky phrase visiting white congregations always drew laughter, after a huge point he made in a sermon was followed by—silence!

“Amen, All by Myself,” he would pout {pretend} and mumble into the microphone ‘how hard’ we are to teach!

“He will never be able to say “Amen all by Myself.” He is with the saints now,” Pastor Ray Johnston concluded.

 

The funeral service will be held Friday at Capital Christian Center on Micron Avenue at 10am and will last from 4-6 hours most likely. The Bayside Granite Bay campus will video live stream the funeral for those who would like to drop in and pay respects in a manner their schedule affords beginning at 10am.

Coping with a College Break-Up

Advice for a College Break-UP

My friend recently asked for prayer for her daughter who is experiencing a variety of emotions after a college break-up – inability to concentrate, sleep well, teary…it brought me back.

We can forget how break-ups affect us if it’s been awhile. Good thing our mind can’t remember pain, physical or mental—only that it hurt a lot. I remember when my eardrum popped after my brother kicked a hole in it while we were swimming underwater creating currents. From that point on I stay away from people horsing around or swimming near me in water. But alleviating physical pain is easier to figure out than emotional pain.

The first time I had a major break-up  (talk of marriage leads to continuing into forever or breaking up)was in my twenties. I had the lack-of-foresight to go to work the next morning after drama and tears the evening before. And I proceeded to make the worst nursing error of my life which forever grafted the importance of “mental days off,” as they call them in my profession. Sometimes dealing with emotional pain we cope in crazy ways, by using work, play, busyness etc. to numb out not realizing the volcano ash is still inside. Often, it seeps out in other ways.

I wrote my friend to tell her daughter some of these things.

1)       Don’t be alarmed. It’s Normal to have trouble focusing when emotions are broken, or we are brokenhearted. Break-ups can take weeks or months to heal. It takes time for relationships to build up and the mending season after takes time also. I had straight A ‘s also in high school and during a hard time in college found it very difficult (depressed and ADD) to concentrate. I went to tutoring lab for every science class including Micro. Tell her if she hasn’t yet, go to the tutor labs after class for added teaching and help to grasp concepts. I had to spend triple time studying than everyone else and a lot less social life subsequently

 

2)      Make time for exercise. It releases natural chemicals to soothe our emotions. I ran and played tennis. Although I dropped it due to “time studying” initially, I was advised strongly by a counselor to daily do some form of exercise. It clears the mind to concentrate relieving excess emotion.

 

3)      Healing comes through tears.

 

4)      Don’t compare herself to others, do what she has to do…hang in there. Pray for faith and the perseverance of Christ. The Holy Spirit is her Helper to come alongside and help her. She is not alone.  Talk to family and close friends in measure (not obsessively which burdens our thoughts). When others pray for us it brings peace of mind. Most importantly, Jesus is interceding from heaven for her always. (Hebrews 7:25) He will help her complete her course.

 

Faithful is He who calls her and He will do it     1 Thessalonians 5:25

She can do all things through Christ who strengthens her      Philippians 4:13

 

Jesus’s Heartbeat to the Cross

 Seventy times seven.  It seems when Jesus answered the question, “How many times do you forgive someone?” (Mtt 18:22) He was prepared to practice what he had preached.

Beginning from the Last Supper at the Upper Room. His journey would begin to clearly separate from the men who followed him. His road to the beat of a different drummer—the Father’s heartbeat—pounded Calvary’s path  for  Jesus, soon to be Saviour.

Father forgive them, they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).  Jesus intentional words for relief to those who crucified him would be metered unspoken to friends those final terrestrial days.

It guided him as He lifted the bread and ate one last time with his chosen companions. “One of you will betray me.”(Mtt 26:20)   He understood His mission. He knew the prophecy that He would be betrayed and denied by those closest to Him. He needed courage this last brutal lap.

”Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42)  In the Garden of Gethsemene  he prayed for relief from this horrible vision—crucifixion and the burden of the world’s sin. He asked his disciples to pray for him three times—and three times found them sleeping.  Beat. Beat. Beat.

It beat when His eye’s met Peter’s in the courtyard where his friend who hours earlier proclaimed he would die for Jesus—now denied he even knew him. (Luke 22:61)

Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

He braced himself, by himself to overcome death for us, to conquer our foe, to obtain victory so we too could live with the power He secured at the resurrection. A power He knew we would need for our own walk with God this side of heaven and our hope of eternal life.

Pontius Pilate washed his hands of guilt when he gave into pleasing the crowd and let the people choose a murderer’s freedom over a healer’s.  The people who days before hailed him as King—and now  shouted for his death (Mark 15:14).

Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Beat, Beat.

And the soldiers? Who flogged him, spit, mocked, crowned Him with thorns, kicked, stripped, bullied…and gave him vinegar for thirst nailed on a cross, bleeding broken and bruised.

 Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Christ overcame by love the bitter hatred of his enemies to purchase our redemption to free us from hating our enemies.  His heartbeat of love undeniably strong, his heartbeat of forgiveness undeniably practiced.

His journey to Calvary began in the heart of one who forgave his friends.

Do you have a friend that needs forgiveness?

Do you have a battle to be won? Has your heart been broken and left in crumbs?

Did you know that Jesus knows the bitter pain, the weary thoughts , the wrestlings?

He overcame to give you power, the love

the heart,

the beat

to rise above defeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding on, Loving God, Reaching out through Loss

 

The lawn is yellow straw. It is dying every day from the summer heat at a neighbor's house. Why? The water is shut off. Divorce has left it’s mark on the property the former owners once tended carefully. A “for sale” sign stands on what was once green grass

It is a symbol of a dry, difficult season in the lives of our friends who once lived there.

   

One of the hardest parts of life is watching our dreams seem to walk away, fall apart, crash and burn—die. There’s so many times and so many ways disappointment and loss can plunge us into despondency.

  • My friend’s son got his “dream car,”He was so happy and excited. Two weeks later it’s crumpled in a ditch.
  • Paula’s boss said her job was secure upon questioning. The next day he said, “Pack up.”
  • My friend married finally in her forties; her husband topped her credit and  left  within months.
  • Joe had a Christian business partner walk away with all the cash and a ton of work orders for him to fill alone.
  • Another friend was horribly ill their honeymoon week in Hawaii. Her groom did everything alone; she spent her time languishing and feverish in the room.
  • A friend’s baby was born with a serious deformity.
  • A woman laments years without having a date, let alone a boyfriend, a husband—a family.

These are all losses. Loss is a large corner in the corral of life, and it is never easy to take that lap through it although we have no choice. We need to do it with others.

The abundant life includes a full circle. The highs and the lows, the pain and the joys. Gain and loss—loss  is common to man. We build our lives with family, friends in community, holding hands with one or more people, so when loss hits us we have someone holding us up, by prayer , by practical help even if just for a time.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Jesus said, “I have to come to give you life, that you might have it abundantly.” John 10:10.

We wonder, especially when the abundance includes the bottom of the circle. But the hand we hold to guide us through, even the driest of deserts will guide us to the green. To green pastures and running water. After all, he is a good shepherd. The final outcome will be more than we can ask or imagine.

 Paul wrote at a time when believers were suffering in Rome, “ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 We can trust Jesus for all our outcomes. We can hold his hand primarily,a hand with a grip that won’t slip—even if our grasp weakens.

In bad news, we can be assured …”this too will pass.” Seasons change. The boy now has another car, the woman is enjoying her life without that job, the baby is doing well, the bride is now a satisfied mother of two… we have to get through knowing life will tip again.

St Augustine said, “we don’t need to prioritize our lives, we need to prioritize our loves.”

Our first love, to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This is possible every day. At times as these we must help our neighbors as God has always asked us to.

Just yesterday my friend told me in Tennessee, churches still send crews out everyday to clean up the remains from their 1000 year flood. The city is about ready for rebuilding. People who lost everything and didn’t know where to turn had thirty people show up at their door, “We’re here to help.”

Somehow we need to help eachother bear our disappointments as a gift to God who helps us bear our disappointments. It is a two fold cord, clinging to God and reaching for neighbors, that lifts us out of the miry pit, whether a desert or a flood.

Despite disappointment, the seasons change. New will come. Nothing remains static as the world turns. Life reprioritized, love remains until the end.

Today how can we prioritize our loves?