In light of the pain caused by others, can there be any positive? Oh, heck yes! It starts with remembering the cross. Jesus endured the greatest pain by others OF ALL TIMES. He was betrayed by his friends, ignored by his family, forsaken by his followers. And then He died. Now that would be a miserable end of the story. But that’s not the story. The story is that He rose. In the ultimate way, He came back from the pain caused by others. And you. can. too. One of the greatest joys in my life is Jesus bringing me back from pain caused by others and using that to help others in theirs. Our story can be used for God’s glory. You’ve been abused and healed? You’ve been betrayed and healed? You’ve been rejected and healed? You lost someone but have peace beyond understanding? You’ve raised a rebellious child and didn’t give up on him? Your spouse left you and you kept going? If Jesus helped us through our pain caused by others, we have a story to tell that others are desperate to hear. “Hide it under a bushel, no!” Let the power of God’s healing and let the story of your comeback, SHINE! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!! That is the good that can come from a bad. I hope this encourages someone today.
When we study the life of Jesus, we learn he had emotions but he did not lead by them. And if it helps, think of it this way…how different would things be if he had? His feelings could have talked him out of his miracles, his crucifixion, his resurrection. Emotions are good. God created them. But they shouldn’t steer the direction we go in. Having battled my mind since I was a kid, I’ve often been emotionally-overcharged & emotionally-inconsistent. And boy, have I made stupid decisions during those moments! I’ve learned that emotions are a good response but a terrible decision-maker. So what to do? Entrust your emotions to God. We don’t need to add one more thing to our lives by trying to control all the emotions that are flowing through us. So round up all your emotions and lift them up to God. And get back to breathing, being still and letting Him (not your emotions) guide your life.
As I posted about a few days ago, I had the chance to serve at our Homestead Women’s Correctional Facility last week. After our Church by the Glades service concluded, some of the women came forward for prayer. I got to pray with four of them. The first girl asked for prayer for the big zit on her chin that wouldn’t go away. The other three girls asked for Jesus to come into their hearts. As I reflected later that night, I realized God cares about our zits… our salvation…and everything in between. God’s spectrum of love is endless, and so are the things we can ask him. The bible says, “you don’t have, because you don’t ask.” Prayer is one minute asking God to help you find your keys, the next, begging God to help you resist your addiction. And knowing BOTH matter. I hope you know Him. I hope you bring everything to Him. It all matters to Him. Just ask the girls at Homestead.
On many famous accounts, God displayed his love in big things: parting a sea in half, ingesting a human in a whale, raising Jesus from a tomb. But is God’s love in small things? Yes. God’s love is often in insignificantly-small people: a deaf man, a paralyzed man, a girl in adultery, a virgin carrying His son. Have we ever realized the insignificance of these people? Rather, do we realize their significance to God? He didn’t pick Hollywood celebrities to perform these mighty miracles. He didn’t pick the ones with the most “likes” and “follows.” Out of 22 miracles Jesus performed, 20 came from insignificant backgrounds. In the world, we often have to be “somebody.” But in Christ, we already…are. every. thing. You don’t need to beef up, clean up or puff up. You show up. And God loves you right from there. I was never popular as a kid. I don’t know what it’s like to be “most likely to succeed” or nominated to prom court. But I do know what it’s like to be recklessly, unconditionally, emphatically loved by God. You may feel small in your corner of the world, but to God? You’re an heir He’s proud to show you off. If you were the only small, insignificant one on Earth, you would have been worth dying on the cross for. You may feel small in your eyes, but you are the biggest focus of His. I hope this encourages someone today.
Last night, our church went to the Women’s Homestead Correctional Facility to put on our weekly church service for them. It was my first time. I didn’t know what to expect….
Several years ago, I asked God to give me eyes that see hurting people the way He does. That’s a dangerous prayer if God answers it. Praying that prayer meant signing up my heart and eyes to feel people’s pain without going through it. Compassion can be a bittersweet thing. Throughout the night, I looked away so I could fight back tears and bite my lip to keep them from falling. Make no mistake, for most of these women, justice was served when they were sentenced. My compassion wasn’t wrapped up in that. My compassion came from the circumstances they were born into that they had no control over. Thinking about that made me cry. But it wasn’t all tears! I was also filled with insurmountable joy that I get to be a part of a church family that brings the message of eternal freedom to women who may never have earthly freedom!!! Romans 8:1 says, “Who Jesus sets free is free indeed.” These women have a barricade around their lives, but many of us have barricades around our hearts. These women didn’t chose prison, per se, but many of us keep ourselves in a proverbial prison. Either way, it is in the name of Jesus that ALL of us can have freedom. A heart that is free to unleash itself in the reckless abandon of God’s love. I hope you know Him.
I am not a good reader. It takes me a long time to get through words on a page, much less, get through one book in a month. My hubs, Raul, is a great reader. You can tell when you talk to him that he has read a lot. And he’s a good role model to our boys when they catch him reading on the patio instead of watching tv on the couch. All that to say, here are my Top 10 leadership books. It may have taken me awhile to finish them, but I did and gained a lot because of it.
10. Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley/Lane Jones. By knowing your destination before you leave (identifying the major premise you want to communicate), using your turn signals (transition ahead!), and employing five other practical points, you’ll be on the road to success [with communicating].
Fact: we will get hurt by people. Fact: we will need to work to heal. Fact: Part of healing is sharing. Question: Who do we open up to? It’s important to identify the circle of trust you can open up to when you’ve been hurt. NOTE: be careful identifying this circle. I have been guilty of loosely-defining my “circle of trust.” If we go outside our God-appointed circles to share our pain, we end up gossiping with people who aren’t meant to be in-the-know and possible setting us up to get hurt again. So who do we talk to? Remember this: before I say it, let me pray it. Go to GOD before you go to people. This brings God into it. He will send the right ones with the right hearts to receive your pain in the right spirit. Jesus modeled this when He was in pain. On the night He was betrayed, only his circle of trusted disciples heard about his pain and tended to him. Another thing is when we have been hurt by people, it is good to talk about it. Stuffing it is NOT good! Again, read the account of Jesus’ last days in the bible. He gave the perfect display of expressing (not stuffing) pain. Maybe you are thinking, “But I have no one I can go to.” I have been there. And I would encourage you to go to Jesus and a Christian counselor. I hope this encourages someone today. God’s Best to you.
Last year, Andy wrote a Valentine’s Day letter to God. Sometimes we don’t know how to talk to God. We can’t find the words. We can’t formulate the request. I’m encouraged by Andy, that we don’t have to. We come to God as we are. If a kid can come to him with scribbles, we can come to him with ramblings. God doesn’t need a translator or an interpreter. Because He lives IN your heart, He UNDERSTANDS your heart…even when you don’t know how to say it with your mouth. Keep talking’ to Him. Sometimes, He’s the only one listening. And that is plenty.
I’ve written posts for people who mentally struggle but I haven’t written much for those who love them. The following are not tips I’ve applied to myself. Rather, tips who people like my parents, Raul and my pastors have applied to me. I hope this encourages someone.
- Love them doesn’t mean understanding them. Love them, tell them you love them, show them you love them, but don’t feel that love also means “getting it.” Numerous times, Raul has had to literally say, “I don’t understand, but OK.” I respect that so much and I receive that answer because it is the truth.
- Consider counseling for yourself. There is NO shame in needing someone to talk to who specializes in the field of psychiatry or psychology. Raul has saved himself a ton of guessing by just going to a counselor to educate himself on my brain.
- Read! There are so many wonderful books out there that explain, in simple English, the condition your loved one has. Raul has read, “Boundaries,” “Bondage Breaker,” “The Power of the Praying Husband,” to name a few. And I always recommend to people in Raul’s shoes, “The Battlefield of the Mind.”
- This last point is the most precious one to me. My parents and Raul have experienced some pretty crappy stuff with me but they have never given up on me. My mom and dad have never disowned me and Raul has never left me. I don’t deserve the loyalty, and I’ll never be able to repay it. But I would accredit Jesus Christ in my heart and their loyalty in my life as the two biggest reasons why I’ve never given up!
The bible makes a powerful case for the power of the mouth: “And the tongue is like a fire…The tongue is set on fire by hell, and it starts a fire that influences all of life. People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them, but no one can tame the tongue…We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself…My brothers and sisters, this should not happen.” I confess, the weakest part of me is my mouth. Like this verse says, it has praised God and the next day, criticized one of God’s. Let’s start this day off with using our mouths to pray for our mouths. I’ll pray for you, will you pray for me too? Thanks. “God, forgive us for misusing our mouths. Forgive us for words spoken that should not have been and words not spoken that should have been. Please give us wisdom in our minds before we speak with our mouths. Please give us the conviction to build up, not tear down and to remain silent when words are too many. We declare our dependence upon you for the mouths you have given us. And we ask this in your name, with mouths that want to do right. Amen.