Spiritual Surgery

16 06 2019

Today’s post comes from Hebrews 4:12-16, which, according to the Message, reads:

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. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it–no matter what. Now that we know what we have–Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God–let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all–all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

I’ve had two surgical procedures in my life, and I’m so thankful that it’s only been two. Both of those were to implant cochlear implants into my head to improve my quality of life and to make life more accessible to me. Without this surgery, I would not enjoy the life that I live. While in college, one of my professors told me that deaf people should not be teachers, and I’m very proud to say that I have proved her wrong for five years running. The morning of the surgery was met with great anticipation, it was the result of months of planning, and a long time of saving up money. I was wheeled into the sterile room, and got up on a table, laid down, counted backwards from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…….then I woke up. To me, it seemed like only a few moments, but I was really asleep for a few hours. I woke up with a heavy bandage on my head, a cup wrapped around my ear, and a paper gown on top of me. Trying to move and navigate the world for the next couple days would be minimal, as I would need to be in recovery for several days, resting and taking care of myself.

A surgeon’s scalpel is terrifying to me. To a doctor, it represents several things. It is the first tool a surgeon grabs for when they begin a surgery. With a neat slice, they begin to expose blood, and it is with this tool, that they open the body up, exposing it to all kinds of germs and things like that. But they do that, because the surgeon knows that at the end of the surgery, they have the ability to leave the person better off than they were.

The Word of God is like a scalpel.
Yes, there’s the obvious meaning that the Word of God has the potential to cut deep, and that’s a nice point in of itself. But that’s not how I’m thinking. The Word of God is like a scalpel. It makes the first cut, the first time we read the Word. It exposes us, opens us up. With the words of Jesus, we are opened up, laid bare. With the Word of God, we read each word, and that is one more cut to open us up, until we are fully exposed before God. We are opened up and bare, so that God, like a surgeon, can move and rearrange parts of us, to remove what is not needed, and to give what is needed. I’ll be honest, that’s terrifying as all get out. It means that I have to trust that God knows what God is doing, and I have to trust that as God is working on me, and working in my life, the things that need to be removed, will be removed. The things that need to be moved, will be moved, and God will give what I need, when I need it.

When you’re in your surgeon’s hands, you have to trust that they know what they’re doing. You have to trust that they’ve been trained for this job, and you have to trust that they are able to take care of you. For some of us, it’s so easy for us to trust the surgeon, because we realize that we don’t have all the capabilities alone, and we need their help. But for many of us, we find ourselves being much more willing to trust the surgeon, who can make mistakes, than we find ourselves being willing to trust God, who does not. It’s so hard, sometimes, for me to trust that God knows what she’s doing. I know that God is the smarter between the two of us, but sometimes, I like to pretend I am. Sometimes, I like to reach right up while God is performing surgery and take the scalpel myself. But that ends up in some pretty grotesque deformities.

When we are opened, then we are open to God’s work.
Surgery cannot happen if we are not opened up, if the first slice is not made. However, if we allow the Word of God to open us up, then real changes can be made. It is not easy to be opened up. It is not easy to allow God to work in us. It is not easy to be fully and completely dependent upon the surgeon’s hands. It is not easy to wait until the rearranging is done, but in surgery, we have no choice. God has performed multiple surgeries on me, through his word. It’s a process that is very painful, but in the end, I’m better off.

A little personal experience….I was reading and studying through 1st Peter, when I got to the part where the author of Peter is talking about how we are refined through fire, that pure gold is revealed in fire, and the impurities are burned away. Ya know, I got it, right? Pretty easy to read. So I closed my notebook, and went along my merry way. I had no idea that the exposure to that verse was the first cut. At the time, I was in a relationship. I knew the relationship was headed nowhere, and I knew that this was not a relationship that I should be in. (Ask me why I was in it? Who knows? Maybe for the company?) Well, some things happened in the days afterwards, and this person removed themselves from my life. I should’ve been like “whatever” and go on, but it really actually hurt me. I was surprised. A few weeks later, this person started to be real friendly with me, and started flirting again. We hung out, and they approached the issue of getting back together. At this point, I should’ve said no, I should’ve went home and left the person there. And in saying “okay” to this person, I felt the twinge of God saying “I already took this outta your life, why are you putting it back in.” That’s kinda like a surgeon cutting out a tumor and then you deciding to put it back in. I did not understand why God was telling me no, when I really wanted to have somebody at the time. I should’ve listened to God, because if I had, I would’ve saved myself a lot of drama. Because this person already went with me through fire, and that fire revealed some things that I did not want in a partner. Then when we went through another fire, I was reminded of those things.

I often wonder what I missed out on, because I put that tumor back into my life after God removed it. Please learn from my experience. I put myself willingly through hell here on earth, simply because I did not trust the surgeon’s expertise. Patients are not supposed to reach up during surgery to interfere with what the surgeon is already doing.

I have to trust the surgeon.
When I first got my GPS, I had a hard time trusting the machine. It was something that really just both amazed and scared me. I could not accept that this machine was smarter than I was. So on my first drive out of town, I decided to go my own way. All in all, I really screwed myself up. Instead of it being an hour journey, I made it an hour and a half, all because I couldn’t trust the GPS. I’ve since learned, and often, follow the GPS to the turn. Looking back, I realize how silly and stupid that I was to not trust the GPS. But, looking back on my life, I can see moments where I did not trust my surgeon, Jesus, and I can see how stupid I was. I can see how silly it was for me not to trust when Jesus removed something or someone from my life. I can see how silly or stupid it was to try to hang on to something.

It’s hard to trust sometimes, it really is, because often, I like to think I know better. I don’t. I like to think that I have more skills. I don’t. I like to think that I’m more intellectual. I’m not. Often, when I don’t trust the surgeon, and I think I have it more together, or I know best, the situation blows up in my face. Then when the surgeon closes me up, I want to try to open it back up, or put something else back in.

The thing that drives me crazy about myself, is that I know that God has already been through it all. I know that I am nothing new or nothing special, and my struggle is familiar to God. But why don’t I actually live this truth? Call me crazy, call me an idiot. In this sense, it’s true.

I hope that as you walk this life, you can trust that God is holding your hand the entire way, and that you allow the Word of God to expose you, and open you up, and that you trust the surgeon enough to allow God to do his job. I hope that you also never try to carry around what God has removed from you. I hope you learn from me and my experiences.


Love and Let Go

12 06 2019

Please Check out these words of wisdom from Brandon Anderson. I appreciate his testimony.

Brandon Anderson

God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on the mountain that I shall show you.” – Genesis 22:2

This story is a tough one. In the face of God’s demand (later rescinded) to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, we recoil—as indeed we should. And some say they want nothing to do with such a God. I get it.

But if we stick with it, and resist an overly literal interpretation, this story has urgent questions for us in this time of so much change, loss, and anxiety about the future.

When “Isaac” stands for those good gifts of God in which we find our identity and our future, what if we must give those up? What if they are taken from us? What next? Who are we then?


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#sundaymessage: Your first identification

9 06 2019

Before you read this post, I ask you to briefly look at the following scripture, which is the inspiration behind today’s message. https://biblia.com/bible/niv/John%201.29-51

Image result for pride month

Adam in the Bible had a really hard job. His first assignment given to him by God was to name all of the animals and plants. I imagine him sitting there on a rock, and these animals lined up one after the other, not unlike they would for Noah a few generations later. Adam would either pull the animal into his lap, or stand up and place his hand upon the animal, and then the name would come to him. He would walk around the vegetation, touching it, tasting it, giving it a name. Just for humor’s sake…imagine for a moment, the moment Adam found out that the cactus has prickly things….I wonder what he ran into it with? Or the porcupine sticks as well, what did he have to pull the sticker out from? Imagine the first time he ate a lime. Or the first time he smelled the poop from any animal. Or the first time he tried to make a cat do anything it was supposed to do.

One of the first things that a new family does is to identify the name of its new baby. Before the room is made, before the sonogram is viewed…the new parents start to dream up names. Names that embody the person that they hope their child will be when they grow up. Sometimes, they use family names, of grandparents or people that have gone on long ago, that had a significant influence in their lives. Sometimes, it’s friends who have inspired the couple, or celebrities. Sometimes, it is a name they found beautiful or special. However they come about it, that individual is named, and they are loved with that name.

It’s a beautiful thing when someone calls you by your name, or even a nickname. It’s a beautiful moment when someone says your name before an important moment, such as a wedding. It’s a rite of passage when you’re married when you do change your name. Or when our trans people choose their new name and their name is affirmed in the largest and smallest ways.

It’s a beautiful thing when someone calls you by your name, or even a nickname. It’s a beautiful moment when someone says your name before an important moment, such as a wedding. It’s a rite of passage when you’re married when you do change your name. Or when our trans people choose their new name and their name is affirmed in the largest and smallest ways.

So let’s get into the scripture, with these things in mind.

John and we know who Jesus is.
John was just sitting on the bank of a river, surrounded by people who were listening to him proclaim that there was a messiah who was coming. He was preaching that they needed to get baptized, and that the time was near. People were gathered around, hanging on his very and every word. He was preaching, and the only reason that he could preach is because he knew, and was convinced that Jesus was the son of God. I mean, by other accounts, John was not reputable. He wore smelly fur and ate locusts. I guess he liked the crunch. I doubt that he ever really went into the temple because he lived out in the wilderness. He only bathed when he got into the river, probably, dunking people and telling them of the salvation that was coming. As soon as he saw Jesus coming? He identified him immediately for who he was, the son of God here to take away the sin of the world. Then he said that everything he had ever done, was for Jesus.

The thing is, this has to be the same for us. While Jesus may not be physically here, we have to know who Jesus is, and learn to identify Jesus when we meet Jesus. We have to know when we are in the presence, and we have to know who is pushing us when we are being pushed. We have to follow our calling, no matter what the calling is, even if it’s crazy. I have to trust that God is calling me to step out in faith, when I am told to step out. No matter what I’m stepping into. Where I am stepping into with God’s leadership, should be where I wanna be instead of waiting on the shoreline in safety. The only way, the only way that I can know if what I’m doing is the will of God, is if I know Jesus personally, and I am listening for the voice. I can go to church all I want. I can read the Bible all I want. I can give all the money I want….but if I don’t take the time to follow the leading of God, then it’s for nothing.

Jesus knows our name, and we know the voice of God.
Jesus started walking, and two of John’s disciples left their current teacher to go follow Jesus, this man who just walked up out of nowhere. Let’s think a minute about the kind of faith that takes….to leave the leadership of someone you’re comfortable with, to follow a brand-new person. That takes a lot of faith. But as he’s walking along, Andrew brings along his brother. This causes Jesus to pause, I can see it clearly in my mind’s eye. Andrew says, “hey Jesus, can my brother join us?” Jesus stops, and turns. He sees this man standing beside of Andrew, and looks at him a moment, and then says “Your new name is Peter.” And off they go. I’m sure Peter and Andrew look at each other, and they don’t understand, shrug their shoulders and run behind Jesus to catch up.

I would be remiss if I did not pause over the significance of this. Peter just accepted this new name and identity, just because Jesus gave it to him. How is this possible? Simple, he knew it was the voice of God. He knew this would change his life.

When some of my friends have gone through the TRANSformation process, and are beginning to take on their new identity as a new gendered person, one of the first steps on that process is the changing of the name. That name change is everything. The old name is dead, the new name is the present. I’ve seen what deadnaming a person can do, especially if it is with harsh intentions. I’ve also seen the power of the affirming of the new name, in love and acceptance. The choice of your new name as a transperson is very important and special. It’s often something that someone has thought about for a very, very long time. Usually, it’s not something they do lightly, but they specifically often choose a name that carries some significance. My transpeople, God chose your new name for you. God is the first to affirm your new name. God is the first to name you with your deadname as well. Don’t take offense to that….God did not make a mistake in giving you the birth assigned gender. God has a purpose for you as a transperson. You are supposed to walk this path, and find your new gender. What a wonderful example of 2 Corinthians 5:17 that we can see vividly! That scripture says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” When you are ready, God will call you in your new name, and then, you will rise, and be a new creation! How wonderfully affirming it must feel for your friends and family to respect your new name, and your new pronouns! But never forget, God called you that first, which affirms his love and unconditional acceptance of you!

Jesus affirms us as we walk with him.
So after Peter’s name is changed, Jesus continues to walk along. He meets Phillip as well, a friend of Andrew’s and Peter’s. Then they meet Nate, who asks “does anything good come from Nazareth” when he heard Jesus was from Nazareth. I have some pride about where I’m from. I’m proud to say I come from Mount Airy, even though there’s an opioid problem there. Even though there’s a lot of hate and prejudice there. Even though there’s a lot of racism there. Even though there’s a huge tourism industry there. I’m proud to say I’m from Mount Airy because that’s where my family is from. That’s where I was raised. Instead of being offended, I think Jesus sorta looked at him, and then called him a “true Israelite” a way of saying he was the real deal. Instead of holding his tongue and keeping his thought to himself, he asked if anything could come of Nazareth. Jesus appreciated his full honesty, and his complete openness. And then called him to walk with him. He did not scold, he did not correct him, he simply affirmed him, and told him to walk on.

You see, that’s what Jesus does for us. Jesus affirms us, our questions, our doubts, our uncertainties, as long as we walk with him. What a blessing it is to know that we follow a God who doesn’t want our blind obedience and acceptance! What a blessing it is to be affirmed in my questions and my search for the truth! I grew up in an environment where the faith I was taught said it was not okay to question, I was just to accept it. Questions would be shut down and rejected because they demonstrated a lack of faith in the doctrine. As far as I know and I’ve studied, Jesus is one that welcomes questions, welcomes doubts, accepts those of us who don’t have it all figured out. Blesses us, in our doubts and our frustrations. As far as I’ve figured out, Jesus welcomes me, weirdo and all, not despite, not in spite, but because I have my questions, and I have my truth. If this does not excite you, if this does not thrill you, then you likely believe you have it all figured out, and all of the questions answered. Congratulations to you. For the rest of us, let’s walk, let’s talk with our creator, let’s figure it out together.

These men followed. They didn’t know where they were going. They had no idea that in three years’ time, their messiah would be dead. They had no idea all of the miracles and wonders that would be a part of their life in the upcoming years. And you know what? Neither do we!

Flashback: Elementary #sundaymessage

3 06 2019

Hebrews 6:1 says: Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.

The word elementary is used when we talk about schools. Elementary is the foundational years, where you learn to read and write. Without those foundational basics, students will move forward lacking the basic skills to function successfully in middle, high and the rest of their adult life. I have some students who were just floated through school and now that they’re in middle school they continue to float through, because they do not have the tools to succeed. Unless they do remediation, they will graduate as adults who lack reading, writing and math skills to pursue higher education, keeping them forever trapped in the poverty of their parents and the cycle of multiple minimum wage jobs. Unless they are lucky and/or have the tenacity to success. (And this is why I continue to teach where I am, because that is where the Lord is using me, but that’s another topic)

In our spiritual lives, often we find believers that never graduate elementary school in their faith. They are stuck with learning and relearning the basics, never growing forth into a new understanding and a new level. When trouble comes, we go back to the pacifiers and bottle, crying out for the Lord to fix it, instead of changing our perspective. In our elementary years we want a God that we press a button, and we get a reward. Although comfortable and rosy, we are not supposed to be adults still on the bottle, still with an elementary perspective of God.

That is dangerous, because an elementary believer will witness to people and will say things like:

-become a Christian and all of your troubles will be gone

-become a Christian and you’ll finally be happy

-become a Christian and God will give you everything you’ve ever wanted.

Unfortunately, these are lies. Lies. So when someone starts getting involved with God and one of these lies doesn’t come true, that person sees God in a different light and will walk away from what might be the biggest growth in their life.

How do you move beyond elementary? First, I believe you have to get in tune with God and what God is doing. There’s a number of ways to do this, but it’s work and its effort. It’s moving beyond a nice worship song, and really singing the lyrics and understanding the depth of what you’re singing. It’s reading the Bible and moving beyond just words on a page to making it a living document that lives in you and reveals itself to you. It’s serving people beyond just doing it, but serving like you’re loving on God. It’s praying, but not praying for things like a Christmas list, but praying to communicate with God and having God speak to you too. It’s all of those things.

It takes work. And the only thing stopping you from growing is you.


#Sunday Message-Who Will Love me?

2 06 2019
JJ Heller, Love Me

Friday night, I was fortunate to attend a showing of Rocketman with some close friends of mine. If you’re not familiar with it, it is basically the life story of Elton John. His ups, his downs, beginnings, ends, addiction and recovery. I couldn’t find the scene that I’m talking about, so I hope you’ll see it so that you know what I’m referencing. During one moment, he comes out to his mother. She said “I know” and then tells him that he will end up dying alone, with no one to that will love him the way that he was meant to be loved.


Sit in that for a moment. Just feel those words wash over you. Feel that emotion and heartbreak. Feel that sense of rejection that hangs in the air. It’s thick and heavy. Honestly, sit in that for just a moment.

Later, we know that he eventually meets his partner, and they wed, and he’s finally able to be loved like he’s supposed to, but that all comes after addiction and false loves. I’m glad his story has a happy ending, and that Elton John was able to persevere past those words. I truly hope he’s been able to make peace with his mother.

Happy Pride Month! June is our month to celebrate PRIDE and look back over all we’ve come through and all we’ve yet to do. Many people are told those same words or worse when they come out as gay. I’ve been told the following:

  • I know you are, but you’ll never find love. You’ll never find somebody.
  • Can’t you just be gay after I die?
  • Don’t you know what people will think about me?
  • You’re going to hell.
  • How can you believe in God and be gay?
  • You’re disgusting.
  • So who’s the guy?
  • You don’t know what you’re talking about. You aren’t old enough to understand what gay is.

I could go on, but why do that?

In our 20’s and 30s, teens and basically any other period of life, we are all searching for something. We all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted. We all want to be heard and respected. We look for love. We look for it in church people, we look for it on the floor of the club, we look for it in the needle in our veins. We look for love in our academics, we look for love in our families, we look for love in one-nightstands. We look for love everywhere. Because we are constantly searching for love, I believe that’s why it’s especially hard for us to hear the words “you’ll never find love.”

We were made for love. We were made to love people. And it’s hard and very difficult. I know in preschool, love meant sharing your crayons, or asking the loner to play jumprope with you. But the definition of love changes as you get older. Stakes get higher. Evidences of love change. Instead of sharing crayons, it’s sharing time. Instead of asking the loner to play jumprope, it’s asking them to join your group. Instead of talking about someone behind their back, it’s not talking about someone behind their back.

Love calls us to a higher way of living. It calls us to empathy, it calls us to be there with people when life just sucks. It calls us to loyalty. It calls us to understand and compassion. It calls us to make decisions based on love. It calls us to hug, it calls us to check up on people when they are hurting. Simple things, but most of all, it calls us to think of someone else instead of ourselves all the time. And that’s hard. It’s truly the hardest thing to do.

But if we do it, and we do it right, and we follow God’s call to love above our own thing, I think we could really love some people excellently. Because there’s a lot of people who need some love. I’ve been one of those that I thought was unlovable, and I’m so glad that I have people in my life who loved me enough to help me continue on. People who were Jesus’ hands, his feet, and his heart. People who lifted me up when I needed some lifting. People who cared for me, and wanted the best for me. Those people have no idea how they saved me, in a sense. (Author’s Note: Not speaking of salvation, but just in a general sense) We never know the impact that loving others has on the life of another. We may never know the impact.

But I will tell you that, when the song asks who will love me for me? It has to be us. Believers, it has to be us. We have to be the ones who will love others, because no one else will.

I love you all,

Sunday Message: Forgiveness…yes, you gotta do it.

26 05 2019
Today’s scripture comes from Matthew 18:21-35, and it goes like this:
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.8 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,10 and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,11 until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really understand the meaning of the parable and how it connected to Peter’s request until recently. I heard about a rather violent case of unforgiveness and un-understanding, and God used it to teach me about something. I read these verses and I understood it for the first time. I love when God does that, shows you scripture that tells you something about your present circumstances…it’s like I’m known or something. In this passage I noticed a few things:
1)We must have unlimited forgiveness.
Peter came up to Jesus, and I often wonder what motivated him to ask this question. I wonder who hurt him or who did wrong against him. Maybe it was one of the disciples. Maybe it was his brother Andrew. Maybe Andrew was playing mean pranks on him. Or maybe it was Jesus himself? Yeah, maybe Jesus hurt his feelings with one of this messages. Was it someone else out there? Maybe he was out getting food or something, and somebody teased him for something. I don’t know why, but I do know that Peter had to have a motivation. People who don’t have a reason to forgive typically don’t worry about forgiveness. Anyways, back on topic. Peter asked Jesus about the amount of times that Jesus said to forgive. And Jesus answered with a math question. JESUS!!! (Spoke in an exasperated tone, I know you all can’t hear me through my fingertips). Was he really being literal here? Am I really supposed to carry around a little notebook (or in these days a Google sheet) with tally marks to represent the number of times a person does something that I have to forgive them for? I don’t think that Jesus was being literal here. I think he was trying to show us that our forgiveness must be unlimited. I think he was trying to tell us through the parable, that we cannot be stingy with forgiveness.
2)There is unlimited forgiveness available to us.  
My response to the directive to not be stingy with forgiveness….WHY??? OH WHY??? DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT THEY’VE DONE TO ME? DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DID??? YOU COULD NEVER POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND. And then I think about it. Then I realize, God’s probably right here. God gave a directive to forgive. I don’t need to ask how many times. I don’t need to know why, I just need to forgive. My forgiveness should not be conditional based on what the other people do, but it should be given anyways. You and I were forgiven abundantly. We were forgiven totally and completely by God. Just like the servant was.  So let’s unpack that for a minute.  This servant owed his master a bunch of money.  Over 11 thousand dollars, to be exact, according to this article.  Wait, what?  That’s a heck of a lot of money.  And the master just forgave it.  Just like that. Poof.  The debt is gone.  Now let’s look at the forgiver for a moment.  We often criticize the forgivee, but never the forgiver.  Why in the hell are you forgiving 11 thousand dollars, are you crazy?  But what we don’t realize is this:  the master could afford to forgive the 11 thousand dollars, because he had already given up the cost.  See, I’m sure that master had a bunch of more money in stock, so it wasn’t a cost to him.  I don’t know why he was settling up the debts, I don’t know why all of a sudden he was trying to collect on those debts.  Nor do I know why he moved to sell the debtee so he could gather more money.  So his actions seem like a surprise here, he moves to collect his debt, and then immediately forgives his debt.  The forgiveness of debt is just like God’s forgiveness of us.  How many times have we tripped up over the same crap?  How many times have we made the promise, “I’ll never do it again” and yet we find ourselves saying those futile words again?  And God is there to forgive, each and every time.  God is not stingy with forgiveness.  God has an unlimited amount of forgiveness available to us, and we take advantage of that free forgiveness.  
3)  We must have unlimited forgiveness towards others.
I know.  I’ve already made that point.  Sorry.
So this servant gets up, and walks out, all high and mighty because he just got forgiven a load of debt.  And sees somebody who owes him money, and goes and demands repayment of that much smaller amount.  Instead of just forgiving the amount, he demands it, and the master hears about it.  So he was summoned back to the master, and the master struck him down, and had him jailed until he could pay back the debt.  The point I didn’t really understand or get, was that if I have been forgiven abundantly, I also have to dole out that same forgiveness towards my fellow man.  It’s a blessing when forgiveness happens, and you’re able to walk away without guilt.  But it’s also a blessing when you’re able to give away forgiveness too, just like God forgave you.  And sometimes, the forgivee is not going to ask for that forgiveness, you just have to do it anyways, because it’s the right and most loving thing to do.  A lot of people will criticize and say that you can’t just offer abundant forgiveness…and pull in the example of someone who’s being beaten by their partner, who asks forgiveness later.  First of all, stop.  Unless you have been through that, you can’t exactly use that as an example, because the circumstances are much different.  But the thing is, forgiveness doesn’t always have to mean that someone just walks right back into your life as they please.  Forgiveness is not you giving them permission to walk right back in and do the same old stuff, forgiveness is your ability to not allow the stuff they’ve done to hold power over you anymore, so that you can do what is best for you.  Sometimes, that means stepping back for a small amount of time, or it may mean stepping away permanently.  But we have to forgive.  We have to.  Our refusal to forgive means that we won’t be forgiven by God.  And that is a tough reality that we have to face.  That is a tough thing that we have to realize.  God’s people are a forgiving people.  If only because we have been forgiven.  

It is my hope that this challenges you to think about your own state of forgiveness.  How often have you been forgiving?  How often have you not forgiven your fellow man?  Who do you need to forgive?

These questions are some questions that I’ll have to deal with myself.  I hope you do too, because remember, to what you’ve been given, you must also give.
Author disclaimer:  By using the original words of the Bible to refer to the master and servant, in no way am I advocating or approving of using people as property.  I am simply using the biblical text to help me making my point.  Slavery is a very real issue in the world today, which child slavery in other countries, sexual work that happens in the United States and elsewhere, and economic slavery that exists.  To learn more about ways that you can contribute to ending slavery in all it’s forms, please visit End Slavery Now.  To find information about organizations around the world that combat human trafficking, please visit this list from Muse and click the links to find out more information about those organizations.  To learn about what an organization is doing to combat economic slavery in India, click this link.  

Walk YOUR path

21 12 2018

Powerful others will try to make me conform and live up to their expectations.  I may have to run the risk of being defiant, of standing up to, and of going against powerful others.  I am called to stand on my own two feet and to develop the ability to say yes or no in making decisions for the emergence of my life.  To be seduced from following my own path is to be controlled by others, to become a people pleaser, and to be ruled by the tyrannical demands of others.  Failure to stand up to others and to assume responsibility for the direction of my life and the promotion of love in light of God’s design for me should engender healthy guilt.

-Vincent Bilotta III

I read this earlier this week in the book, A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning.  To give you context, the chapter of the book this quote was located in, was all about the ways that we guilt ourselves in unhealthy ways.  The premise of the chapter states that often, we put God as having an attitude of disapproval or rage over our decisions and that prevents us from feeling the love of God.  Fortunately for us, God’s love is not conditional on what we do or who we are, it just is, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

I’m full of anxiety.

A lot of my anxious thoughts come from “what will others think of me?”  Or they come from “what are they saying behind my back?”  I often work myself up into a tizzy about what others are thinking about me or what have you, simply because of insecurity or poor choices in companionship.  Often, that anxiety prevents me from moving forward in my life, simply because I don’t want to make waves or end relationships.  While I know that God approves and accepts, I’m not quite so sure of the same for some humans in my life.

There’s a few errors with this way of thinking:

  1.  What God thinks of me is all that matters, and God already has my back and is leading me, so whom shall I fear?
  2. If I’m so worried about what others think or whether they’re talking about me to others, I need to find me some more quality friends.
  3. I cannot let someone else’s feelings keep me from what I need to do to be able to live the most authentic life.  Sometimes, I have to be brave and step up.

And that enters me into the solution to the problem.

The solution is to focus on #1.  If I focus on me and God, then either the rest of it won’t matter, or life will lead me to a place where #2&3 are not an issue anymore.

And that’s that.

My pastor mentioned something this week, he was talking about how sometimes we have to wait on the Lord.  And really wait.  Like for real, wait.

See, it’s easy to just say something is going to be so, but you gotta be willing to do the stuff that you gotta do to get there.  You can’t be given a command to wait on the Lord and wait for a fast food minute before you ask somebody else.  You can’t realize that you need to focus on you and God, but don’t do anything to demonstrate that focus.  See, doing the #1 is actually really hard.  It’s something that takes years and years of continuing to be faithful.  But I find when I am doing my best to be close to God, those anxieties burn away.  When I depart, they become close to me.

In the season of new year’s resolutions, you can’t decide that you’re gonna have a resolution and not actually do something and continue to do that thing beyond January and February.  You gotta keep it up, if you want to make a real change in your life.  Many people fail at their resolutions because they don’t keep it up, and they aren’t willing to do the work to get them where they need to be.

So if I want to ease the anxieties, I gotta be willing to do the work.  I gotta put myself in places where I am standing up to what others think, and where I am proceeding unafraid of what others think or say.  I have to make the commitment that my path is mine alone and walk in it.

What are you gonna have to do?

Let’s walk our paths, separately but together.