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Be Available

“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?'” Mark 5:30

 

woman driving a car and looking at watch

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I have a long list of things I want to do. I have a long list of things others would like me to do. I have a long list of things I should do. And, of course, I long list of things I have to do.

It’s easy to get caught up in the lists. I am, after all a list maker. I like to write it all down and check it off so that I know I’ve really accomplished something each day.

When my children were young and at home, my list consisted more of “have to’s” than “want to’s.” Choices seemed easier just because there weren’t really that many. But as my girls have grown up and have become more independent, I have more time on my hands.

There was a season when time was what I wanted. I could sit and read, garden, take a nap, all the fun and relaxing things that didn’t seem to happen often enough with children. But as seasons have changed, I’ve realized that they may not need me in the same ways, they still need me … and so do others.

Our relationships matter not because requirements and expectations matter, but because it’s how we know we matter. What I do can make a difference in the life of someone else. This all sounds nice doesn’t it? But there are a few things we need to deal with and understand for us to really be willing to be available to others.

  1. It’s going to take some time. Jesus was on His way to see and help one person when another person came to Him. There will be interruptions. Now, I’m most likely not going to be stopped as I walk down the street, but I might get a phone call or text message that requires some immediate attention in order to really meet the need of the person reaching out. If I’m going to be available I’m going to have to stop and push pause on my list so I can answer or reply in the most timely manner possible.
  2. It’s going to take some discipline. And if I am going to answer or reply, maybe even show up when I can, I’m going to need to be aware of the time. Jesus was available in meeting the need of the woman, but He didn’t stay too long. He didn’t change the plans He has already made to go somewhere else. There are times when urgent matters need to be worked through in a timely matter so that you can get on with the other things that are also important. Discipline may also call for us to not over-schedule ourselves. Every time you are in a hurry rushing from one thing to the next, you are less likely to stop for someone else in the process. We miss divine appointments when we see the list or the clock before the person.
  3. It’s going to take some energy. Jesus noticed that power went out from Him when the woman touched His cloak. People take energy. We have to be willing to exert some energy. People need us to be intentionally present, not just sitting back and passively participating in the relationship. Jesus was always going off alone for time with His Father. He was filled and refreshed so He had what He needed for others. How we care for our relationship with God will directly impact our ability to care for our relationships with others.
  4. It’s going to get personal. Jesus stopped and asked, “Who?” You can easily do something for someone as another check box on your list. But the “who” behind the check mark is really what it’s all about. There will be quick, brief encounters with people. Names might not even be exchanged. But I wonder, should they be? Should we thank someone by name, notice them by name, and take a moment to step into their story in a more personal way? Who we are matters. If it’s not personal, what is it?

Something to Consider…

I’ve often thought of my flexible schedule as a positive aspect of my ability to be available, but what I’ve done is let it disrupt my ability to be disciplined. Overall I end up being less effective. How can discipline and flexibility work together to create space to be available for others when needed?

There are times when I think of people and the first thought is, “They are so much work!” What I mean is they are draining. They suck the energy right out of me. The truth is that I’m not prepared to give people my best. And if I’m at my best, then I can give them something better as well. What activities or behaviors increase your energy and ability to be effective and which decrease it? What activities or habits do you need to change so you can be at your best in order to give others your best?

How often does the “who” matter in determining your willingness to stop and be available? Jesus came for the entire world, each individual “who.” How can you let His love be the goal regardless of the “who?”

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Prayers for a Mother and Her Son

I saw the news this morning: 9 killed in church shooting.

Not in the middle east. Not in Africa. Not across the world in some remote village. But right here in the United States.

I heard report after report on the news and read posts of prayers going out to Charleston.

And yet, I felt distant from it all.

Aren’t I supposed to break down with compassion and empathy? As a Christian, aren’t I supposed to mourn with those who mourn? And here I was, feeling some what empty. What was wrong with me?

And then … the flood gates opened.

I started thinking of a mother seeing an image of her son on the television, recognizing him, knowing it was her son who did this thing. And my heart broke for her. My heart breaks for him, his future, who he was meant to be. My heart breaks for each person whose life was cut short because of the decision of this one man.

As Christians, we can’t be surprised when this type of thing happens. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean we don’t hurt and cry and mourn the loss of precious life. But we can’t be surprised. We’ve been told this will happen again and again.

Our battle isn’t with flesh and blood. We have an enemy who does not rest. We have an enemy who will use whatever means necessary to bring about his evil.

But we also serve a God who has already won the battle. His strength, compassion, love, mercy, grace and joy will carry those in that church. As they trust in His faithfulness and sovereignty, they can know that what we see in this world is not the end product. He has the final say in the outcome of this situation. He has the final say in the eternal lives of their loved ones.

In the final words of Jesus, He prayed for those who nailed Him to the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

May this man know, confess, repent and be forgiven. May God’s justice be served and grace and love be known.

And I pray that just as Paul, persecutor and murder, came to know the loving mercy of the Savior, so will this man. That the hope that does not disappoint will be realized. That our judgments which are sure to come will not overshadow the grace and forgiveness of our loving God.

I pray that the enemy of our souls will not be able to use this opportunity to disprove the love and compassion of our Lord and Savior. That as we walk in this world as His ambassadors, as we face tragedy and loss, chaos and confusion, we will love one another and pray for our enemies.

I pray each mother’s heart would be healed and made whole. I pray this man would be set free from the darkness he’s walked in and come to see and know the Light of Christ. Jesus will have the final say in this man’s life, not us. And I pray that those in Charleston who suffered such great loss would know and be comforted by the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.

In Jesus name. Amen.

Cleansed Once and For All

???????????????????????????????“Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin…Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:2, 7 (NLT)

About two years ago, my husband and I decided to take on a minor makeover. The bathroom our daughters shared was in need of some repair. Moisture had condensed in the ceiling fan vent and dripped through damaging the ceiling. We had it repaired, but the new paint caused the old paint to peel making it look like there were upside down meringue whips covering half of the ceiling. At one point, water had run over the edge of the tub causing the paint to peel near the baseboard. In addition, the bathroom décor was not as appropriate for my daughters who were now young ladies and no longer little girls. A good cleaning, repairing and decorating were in order.

We took a long weekend to thoroughly clean the room, remove any cracked and broken materials, repair damaged spots, paint the entire room ceiling to floor and finally bring in new décor. It looked like an entirely different room when we were finished!

Both of our daughters were out-of-town during this process. One came home and was thrilled at how nice it looked. She noticed just how clean it was compared to when she left and decided she didn’t want to let it to get dirty again. In her resolve, she now cleans regularly. She treats it with the care it deserves.

It’s funny how once something gets dirty it’s so easy to let it stay dirty. The work we put into cleaning it just won’t last so we don’t waste our time.

Thank God, Jesus sees us differently.

When Jesus comes to us, we are a mess. He sees not just the shallow, maybe deep layer of dirt that covers us, but He sees beneath the surface. He sees the cracked and broken places in our hearts, the damaged material we’ve become. Some of it’s out of neglect, some has been caused by others, but either way, He knows we need a makeover.

And He doesn’t just point out our need; He takes on the project Himself. He will do the work we so desperately need in our lives.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. 1 John 1:9 (ESV)

I love that the very first thing He does is cleanse us from our sin – the filth and grime we sit in day after day. At times it’s so easy to believe we will never change, so we don’t. But Jesus changes us immediately when He thoroughly cleanses us of all unrighteousness.

Next, He gets to the nitty-gritty of the specific repairs of which we are in need. I wish it could all be taken care of in a long weekend, but it will be an ongoing process of repair and maintenance. Sometimes it will be painful as He strips and peels away the things that seem safe and feel comfortable, but are really hurting us as well as others.

The interesting thing about a Jesus makeover is that He is able to make complete what is not yet complete.

He doesn’t wait for all the work to be done before He gives us our new décor. We receive that as soon as we say, “Yes” to His invitation of a new life. We are a completely new person right off the bat even though the work continues.

So how do we keep ourselves “clean” while He is still repairing and working on our broken parts?

We choose to seek Him out daily asking Him to show us and clean us of anything not of Him. We refuse to go back to old habits, behaviors and attitudes with which He has already dealt. We allow Him to continue His work knowing all we need to do is be in agreement with Him.

In Him, we are free to respond in His righteousness to the world around us. We are cleansed and given a new identity, one many won’t recognize. Will you treat yourself with the care you deserve? Will you respond to His loving care for you?

Something to Consider…

Do you believe you are really a new creation with a new identity in Christ? Accept His forgiveness and be willing to see yourself through His eyes.

In what ways are you in need of a cleaning? Acknowledge them to Jesus. He is faithful to cleanse and repair you from top to bottom.

Do you have a difficult time maintaining the work He has already done? Remember, He doesn’t leave or give up; He is always there continuing His work in your life. Follow His lead knowing He and you are worth the effort.

The Golden Rule

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

My daughters and I were talking once about another child at school who was giving one of them a hard time. She wanted to be able to come back at this person and say something really mean just to show them what it was like. I completely understand this thinking. We think if we can make them understand or show them what it’s like to be in our shoes, they will stop. But really, what it shows is that we can be just as mean.

I mentioned the “Golden Rule” in our conversation and this was the reply: “Well, if this is how they are treating me, it must mean they want to be treated this way.” I think I laughed out loud! That is one way to view it; it’s wrong, but we probably think this more than we care to admit.

This verse does not put the responsibility on the other person to treat us right; it puts the onus on us to treat others right.

  • If we want to be loved, we need to love.
  • If we want compassion, we need to be compassionate.
  • If we want people to be kind, we need to show kindness.
  • If we want to be able to trust someone, we need to be trustworthy.
  • If we want people to help, we need to be willing to serve.
  • If we want _____________, we need to_____________. (You fill in the blanks.)

Which of these pieces comes first? Our willingness to love and listen, follow through and serve should always be first in our minds.

I have seen so many postings on Facebook to re-post the condemnation to bullies that they really don’t understand how they hurt others when they bully and if they only understood the other person’s situation, they would stop. I believe for the most part that they do understand the pain and hurt because they feel it from others as well. It’s what they’ve been taught and have learned.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:44-45a (NKJV)

So my prayer is this:

I pray for every bully who has ever been emotionally, physically, or mentally abused by a parent, relative or friend. I pray for every bully who has ever been told they would never amount to anything; that they are stupid or worthless. I pray for every bully who thought they finally had a breakthrough only to be told it wasn’t good enough; they are second-best, second-class. I pray for every bully who thinks the only way they can feel better is to know there is someone who feels worse. I pray that the love, kindness and compassion of Jesus would be made real in their life through a person who is willing to serve and show that their real value is found in Jesus. In His precious name, Amen.

“If we say we are His, we must follow the example of Christ.” 1 John 2:6 (CEV)

Jesus did not shake His finger at those who didn’t know and understand His ways. He reached out His hand in love and compassion to show them the love of His Father in heaven.

Something to Consider…

Is there someone in your life: a spouse, co-worker, boss, in-law, or friend, who wears you down rather than builds you up?

While there is no guarantee they will change, I challenge you to pray for them and love them like Jesus. That, I can guarantee, will change you!