Faith and Developing Unity

Our last Blog focus dealt with the concerns that arise when healthy discussions turn into no-win debates which then can lead to difficult divisions in the body of Christ. As I prayerfully pondered the next step–I began to meditate on what can we do, rather than what we can’t. We each have a choice to choose to develop unity or foster division.

Over the years, raising three children and now helping impact ten grandchildren I have been confronted with sibling disputes of all kinds. As a young mom, I don’t think I always handled it as wisely as I could, but all three of my children are still alive with children of their own! In other words they made it to adulthood without killing each other–at least physically. As they moved into adulthood, they worked hard in reconciling some remaining misunderstandings and hurts. Sibling disputes come with the territory. The same in church. 1 Corinthians 3 Paul points out the various camps that had arisen in the church at Corinth. “I am a follower of Apollos”; “I am a follower of Paul” were two ways the church was dividing itself. Paul’s words clearly pointed out their immaturity in fostering jealousy and quarrels. He sought to change their perspectives. After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. (I Corinthians 3:5 He goes on to declare, For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. I Corinthians 3: 9.

And so it is with us. We are God’s field. He is planting the types of seeds He wants to grow in and through our lives. It is His choice. Ephesians 4 lays out the differing parts of the body and how they are to function as one. We must grow up. This is a season where we must learn to lay aside our petty differences and begin to appreciate each of our teammates. We have to settle that in our hearts. Every believer we meet, no matter their stand on the end times, styles and timings of baptisms, the place of Mary in worship, or what day of the week we need to meet if they have received Jesus as their Savior is not only our fellow soldier in the warfare against Satan–but our brother and sister. We must learn to discern and honor the body of Christ.

I confess there are some denominations I simply do not understand why they focus on certain things over others that I think are important. I came to realize they are following the Lord and are being obedient to what they feel is important. Just like I don’t like certain foods, so I choose not to go to those type of restaurants without being critical of how they cook their food! Let’s celebrate the differences, or at least celebrate the fact, (hopefully) that you are not under their policies! I believe this Covid pandemic is asking us to grow up. Laying down our childish ways, and taking up our cross daily. As it grows darker, we need every light there is to shine brightly for His glory.

Jesus prayed that we would be one. Let’s join in that prayer. Let’s ask the Father to show us if there are any hindrances in our lives that we can need to change so we can help His prayer be answered. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t. We can always grow in the fruits of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such is no law. I think as we work on cultivating those fruits, we will definitely be moving toward unity. Remember their is power in unity.

Faith and Discussion, Debate and Division

So many differing opinions have arisen these past few months. Conversations quickly turn from discussions to debate and then if not checked into divisions–even among God’s family. I have even surprised myself with the struggle to explain my thoughts and how quickly I find myself on the defense. Masks or no masks, gathering or no gathering, was this a planned pandemic? Or did it unfortunately just happen? So many questions, so many thoughts–who can you trust? What can you trust? How do we, as believers, proceed?

First, I want to apologize for the times I have moved from healthy discussion into debate. When we first began the shelter in place phase, the Holy Spirit spoke quite clearly to me, stay home and stay safe–you are important to the body of Christ. I repeat this with humility, because I am just His servant attempting to follow Him. So I very carefully stayed away from going out. My family did my shopping, or I ordered on line and did not darken a store for two months. When the Lord spoke to me, I simply chose to obey. I felt an immense peace about His request. I respect the fact that others had different assignments from Him. Washington was on the front lines of this pandemic in the United States. We were learning how to be safe (and still are). I am grateful for technology that kept our church and Life Group connected. Everyone was grappling with the “new” normal, with a seeming common enemy–Covid-19.

But gradually people began to share differing points of view from what they heard. Friendly discussions crossed into the beginnings of debate with obvious defensive points being lobbed by both sides. FB became a hot mess with both sides being presented as absolute Truth. Was this a planned conspiracy from the beginning? Or was it the result of our sinful world which is full of sickness and disease just manifesting itself? Are we subtly being groomed like mindless sheep for future restrictions? All I know is we serve a Sovereign God who is reigning over our lives. I choose to be His sheep, seeking Him and His ways. I do know that as we pray in agreement for God’s will to be done, it will be. How sneaky of our enemy to try to get God’s body to divide over mask wearing?

As the Holy Spirit began to talk to me about my part in accelerating the debate issue, I repented and ask for wisdom (again!). Romans 14 is an amazing chapter for this day and age. Paul talks to the differing perspectives over two major issues facing the Roman church. Food choices and which day of the week to worship. These were not essentials of solid doctrine, but a matter of personal perspectives. Paul shares some amazing wisdom that I believe if we applied today, we would be farther ahead!

Romans 14:4, who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval. In other words, we must follow our own conscience. We must allow others to follow theirs without criticism or judgement.

Romans 14: 17, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If we please God, and others will approve of you too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

This is a time for maturely approaching our perspectives. Proverbs 18:19 says an offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city, Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Let us work hard not to offend our friends with our stance, but listen with an open heart. Trusting their Master will lead and guide them as well as us into His truth. Let us listen first of all to our Master–and His wisdom.

My friends, healthy discussion is that, healthy. Listen with loving ears. Debate for debates sake is at best useless, but can lead to harmful division. We can agree to disagree or like medieval writer, Rupertus Mildenius: On the essentials, unity; on the non-essentials, freedom, in everything love. As churches choose to open or not, let us love those that choose to attend, and keep loving those who are not yet free to do so. Romans 12:12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying!

Faith and Groanings

There it goes again. Another bit of sad/bad difficult news that already is adding to my soul burden. I find myself letting out a big sigh and maybe even a groan or two as I process the information. How about you? A family member with relationship issues, bad diagnosis from the doctor, the struggle of discernment between truth and distortion in the news–all can lead to a sense of overwhelming burden and care. Reading Romans 8:26,27 this morning was so comforting and reassuring to remind us of how we have the Holy Spirit who not only understands our groanings and sighings, but comes along side us to help us in those moments.

Groan: a low, mournful sound uttered in pain or grief. Science tells us that the act of groaning actually is a primal way of releasing stress. It stimulates the part of your brain that helps assess whether you are safe or not. When people are in intense physical pain they often moan and groan–scientific studies have shown people tolerate pain longer if they are able to moan. It is interesting that there are several scriptures refer to the groanings and moans that women make in labor–often a coping mechanism to work through the intensity of childbirth, which means that sometimes we groan and moan while we are producing good fruit!

Sigh: to let out one’s breath audibly, as from sorrow, weariness, or relief Sighing also has a physical benefit. Many times when we hear difficult news we unconsciously hold our breath, and sighing is a way our body gets rid of any excess CO2 and the deep breath after helps us take in more oxygen. The good news is Isaiah 51:11 tells us that there will come a day when the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away! (ESV)

I think in our present season of Covid and violence, I find myself groaning and sighing much more often. I have heard many people (believers and unbelievers a like) responding to difficult news with “OH God”. Even people who don’t give Him a thought seem to without a thought, call on His Name! Thinking on how He helps us (remember He doesn’t replace our prayers, He helps us with them), I thought that initial response is to remind us that our God is present! He wants to help us turn to Him. To help us look up and out from those circumstances that would seek to crush us.

When I begin to move from the moans and groans to actual words in prayer, I find the Holy Spirit actually leading me from honest overwhelming words of to words of hope and solution finding. It is almost like He maps out a journey as I keep praying and leads me from the wilderness towards the promised land. Often my cloudy thinking begins to clear and I can begin to see where to take the next step. I know it is Him helping me navigate the dark difficult waters of confusion and even at times, despair.

I want to encourage you not to ignore your groanings. Not to pretend they aren’t there. But to acknowledge them to the Lord and actively bring Him into those dark areas. Our political/national situation often causes me to want to hide under the covers! But it is the Word of God and the Holy Spirit which leads me to pray for our leaders and nation. Asking the God of all Nations to bring His solutions to play. To protect the truth and to even show us how to vote! There are so many opinions flying around and I find myself simply asking the Lord to uncover the truth and lead me to it! The Holy Spirit helps encourage me to stand strong and face every groaning and moaning situation, and He desires to do the same for each of us.

Father, I ask that you alert us to our moanings, groanings and sighings. I ask that as we acknowledge the stressful season we live in that you teach us how to access your help even more. We release our faith for not only solutions to our personal needs, but also for the global situations our world is facing. We pray for wisdom during this election season. We pray that you will uncover the truth wherever it has been hidden, twisted or manipulated in any area of our lives. We thank you for helping us to continue to stand strong as a believers and not shy away from things that would produce more sighing and groanings, but we would trust you in the midst of them. In Jesus Name, amen

Faith and The Purpose Behind My Blog

This is a very personal insight into the behind the scene motivation in what I am trying to accomplish! I love God. I love His creation called “people”. It is my simple desire to encourage His people to love Him more–not just in words, but also in action. It is my desire to stir up your heart to Him in every area! To remind you that you are always in His sight. To know that His heart, hand and mind is towards you. Isn’t that an encouraging word?

During this Covid season, I have slowed down my morning devotions. It has been so amazing to read slow enough to catch things I have missed, or forgotten. My chosen reading “program” is currently found on YouVersion, “Bible in One Year 2020 with Nicky Gumbel”. It encompasses a daily devotional by Nicky Gumbel, an English Anglican priest who developed the Alpha program–a Christian discipleship program. I enjoy his insights which include personal testimonies, historical facts and stories of others who have walked this Christian path. Listening to him reminds me that Christianity is not an American gospel! I have fallen more in love with God’s Word than ever before. It has never been my heart to just “read it” and check off the to do list, but to read to apply. I have done this over the years with various success, but I’m seeking to up my success rate! I love His mercy and grace. I love His Holy Spirit drawing me closer to Him. I love His quiet correction. (Sunday morning I awoke, with many plans in mind. As I was ordering my steps, I quietly heard this voice, “and how is this planning going without me?”. Oops! I apologized and repented, and asked Him to order my steps. It became a much more fun and satisfying day than I had planned–including my daughter, son and some grandchildren! Still got everything on my list accomplished and more!

If this blog has stirred up a desire to get to know and walk with this mighty Savior, it is readily available to you! The Bible is very clear on the fact that we all fall short (or sin) against God and His ways. That, in essence, is why we need a Savior. Jesus came with that express purpose in mind. He paid the price (his crucifixion), but also gave us power over our sinful nature showed forth in his resurrection! It is a free gift we simply need to ask for by faith, and receive it. My late husband’s story was amazing. He was raised as an atheist. To him, there was no God. After fighting against the truth, one day he woke up, got down on the floor and began to cry out “Jesus if I am who they say I am a sinner, and you who are they say you are, a savior, then save me!” As he prayed this prayer, he knew like he knew it, Jesus was real and he indeed saved him! His life began to be transformed–eventually becoming a preacher and pastor! This is a simple prayer, you also can pray. Father, I ask that you help any reader to come to know you more. Your Word declares we love you because you first loved us, and it is so true. I ask that you break down any barriers past experiences or teachings have had that would hinder them from taking this step. I ask that you give them courage to taste and see that you really are good! I silence the lies of our enemy and ask that you open their ears to your truth, in Jesus Name.

To those of you who are walking with Him, Romans 1:12 NLT, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. This is my heart for the small group I lead as well. It is my heart to add value and encouragement to every one I meet as well as my written words. Unlike other religions and beliefs, our God is knowable, approachable and responsive. He desires to directly interact with us through each day with His Presence, His Word and those that know him. I am so grateful, aren’t you?

Faith and Freedom Thinking

One of the aspects of the Good News of Jesus Christ is the ability to enjoy freedom from sin, shame, guilt, fear and the torment of regret. Unfortunately even though His death secured these amazing freedoms, so many still spend too much time enslaved in their bondage producing effects. Why? Partly because it takes work. Yes, it takes a decision to choose to believe its true, and to determine to follow Romans 12:2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that is good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Or as the NLT says, Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you in to a new person by changing the way you think, Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. At times fear of really knowing how free we can be holds us back. Look at the description of God’s will for us! It’s good. It’s acceptable (pleasing). It’s perfect. Doesn’t sound bad does it?

Our Life Group looked at Philippians 4: 8 last night. Paul instructs us to SET or Fix our thoughts on what is true. I began to meditate on what that would look like if I simply captured all my thoughts for one day that did not fall under the category of what is true! Including the thoughts I think about myself–which, sadly, I can find more challenging. Studies have shown that we think somewhere between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those thousands of thoughts 80% were negative. Of those thoughts 95% were the same repetitive thoughts from the day before! (TLEX Institute). Obviously, we are falling short of applying Philippians 4:8-9 into practice! Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right, and pure and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

During this difficult times we are facing, we must more than ever learn how to quickly capture ungodly thoughts that would lead us astray, or distract us from His perfect will for our lives. Mulling over regrets, shameful feelings or sinful actions that are under His blood keeps us on a hamster wheel of bondage. He paid the price for our freedom, but again we have to receive it as truth. I encounter people who have asked Jesus into their hearts years ago, know some scriptures, but still are bound by fear. Satan does not want God’s children to walk in His power, because it keeps us ineffective. When we choose to trust Him and His ways we are free to bring that freedom to others.

Brothers and sisters, let us make the decision to capture those thoughts which keep you living less than He has called us to. Let us embrace His freedom, because we can! The early believers turned their world upside down! It is the same power given to us.

Here is a thought. What if by changing your fearful thoughts to faithful ones will change the fears of those around you? That your faith filled thoughts would encourage those you influence to believe for their God given freedom and destiny? We must not just rattle off platitudes of faith, but genuine walked out truths if we want to influence our world. We must practice freedom thinking!

Faith and Struggling in our Weakness

Have you ever seen a video where a person or animal is stuck–in water, mud or quicksand? Rescuers come to help and the person is so scared they actually fight against their own rescue? I think many of us are reluctant to admit to soul weakness or spiritual weakness. The Lord sends someone with advice and we choose to continue to struggle by ourselves and with ourselves!

When we find our self feeling weak–we must first humble ourselves and admit it. Not easy for our prideful souls is it? But once we admit our lack, we can appeal to the Lord and others for help. It may be health struggles, emotional issues, lack of confidence in your ability to make right choices, these are all areas where we can lean on Him.

So many times believers try to muster up the strength they need to overcome in their weak areas instead of inviting the Holy Spirit to come where they are and lead them out of their struggles. One of my “weaker areas” has been walking through grief. I’ve learned to make friends with it. At times I have tried to ignore it. At times I have tried to “shame” my way out of it–it’s been so long, shame on you for dealing with this again. I’ve tried to “suck it up” and put on a happy face. But it is not until I sit down with the Lord and ask Him to walk with me in it, that I find the rest and strength I need. My body has a weakness. Years ago I made a mistake and mixed ammonia and bleach together to make a DIY cleaning product. I learned the hard way after I damaged my lungs breathing in the fumes. So now I deal with asthma. It’s humbling and at times embarrassing. But until healing is manifest, the Lord and I walk together with it.

It is freeing to know that He is with me–both in grief and asthma! Surrendering your expectations of living a perfect life is so freeing. That is why we needed a Savior in the first place–please my friends, do not try to do life with your own strength! He is there waiting to help you and me. But he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9. Our God stories will increase, His name will be lifted up as we rely on His strength, wisdom and power more and more.

Faith and Sharing

Reading through the book of Kings, we find so many leaders who themselves did not honor God or His laws till we come to Ahab. It says He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him. He deliberately bowed down to Baal and led his people to do the same. God was so upset He sent His prophet Elijah to make this declaration in 1 Kings 17. As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives–the God I serve–there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word. Wow, not even dew to bring its refreshing. (How would you like to be Elijah, giving that word??) We must remember that our acts of disobedience affect many. The good news is that God made provision for Elijah. He sent him to live by a brook and be fed by ravens. Not sure what that looked like–how much food could a raven bring? Were there a lot of them???

But one day the brook dried up. More instructions given. Go to Zarephath. Find a widow, for I have instructed her to feed you. So obedient Elijah heads to Zarephath, finds a widow gathering sticks and asks her to bring him a little water in a cup. This unknown widow, in the midst of a drought, goes to get it for him. Then Elijah asks her to bring him a bite of bread also. Then the truth comes out. She has no bread. Only a little bit of flour, and a bit of oil in the bottom of the jug. Her plan was to use up the last of what she had to cook a last supper for her and her son, and then die. But that was not God’s plan. He told her to use what she had to make him some bread first, trusting that she would not run out.

As I was reading this story this morning, I began to remember some of our “leaner” seasons as pioneer pastors. I would pray, Lord I don’t know what to fix for dinner. We are out of food. He would say, NO you are not. Look at what you have. It was like he took me by the hand and led me to the pantry and showed me how to put together a decent meal for my family. He showed me that not only did I have one meal worth of food–but several! Maybe we had used up all our “favorite” things, but there was never a meal I was embarrassed to feed my children. Supply would come and we would rejoice.

In this season of struggle, maybe it is not groceries you need. Maybe it is wisdom, may be it is patience, maybe it’s hope–but no matter what it is, God sees and wants to supply. For this widow lady, her supply came in her willingness to share. I wondered what she thought as she began making Elijah’s first bite. Would there really be enough for her and her son? Yes! She began to make theirs, and low and behold there was enough! Every day they experienced the miracle Elijah promised her. How amazing it must have been. Do you think her neighbors heard her story? Do you wonder if she shared some of the flour and oil with them? We aren’t told if she shared, we are only told the faithfulness of the Lord to meet her needs.

I want us to focus on what it is we have–not on what we don’t have. If you have time, share it. Make a phone call to encourage someone. If you have extra food, share it with someone in need. Maybe you have a talent or skill you learned, look around for opportunities to pass it on. My sister, who is good at sewing, made many many masks for her church, family and friends. She shared her talent. My daughter had a pastor friend whose church wanted to help meet needs in their area. They were a small church and could only put together 3 boxes of food, which definitely was not enough to help many. The pastor called a friend who through his contacts, they were able to give away 200 boxes a week! The widow and her son was not enough, Elijah on his own was not enough–but together they lived. We may not be enough on our own, but with two or three gathered in His name, we will have enough to figure it out! In the book of Acts the fledgling church looked after the needs of others. They shared what they had. They church grew. I think it makes God smile when we share!

Faith and Always

I have lost count of how many times newscasters, pastors and others have used the phrase “in these unprecedented times” during this Covid 19 pandemic. It means “never done or known before”. And it is true, we as global citizens have never lived in such a season as this. So many unknowns and upheavals to our normal is very unsettling.

I came across this small little word the other day as I was doing my Bible study. The word always–at all times, forever. As I meditated on it–it was so comforting.

Psalm 16:8 I know the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

Psalms 102:27 But you are always the same; you will live forever. The children of your people will live in security. Their children’s children will thrive in your presence.

Matthew 28:20 I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

These scriptures are so comforting. We can depend on them. We can go back to them for stability when we are shaken. But, as believers there are also some strong instructions given to us about “always”. These are admonitions that, if followed, will advance the kingdom of God, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others. I know we think–I can’t always be consistent–but we can certainly try!

Psalm 52: 8 I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will choose, no matter what my circumstances look like to trust in His love for me. I will silence the voices in my head that tell me the opposite, for He has proven His love through Calvary.

Psalm 106:3 There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right. Please understand this is not done in our own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a mind set where we choose to live our lives with the fruit of the Spirit flowing out of our hearts. We do what is right because of His righteousness, not our own. In fact, we don’t even always know what is right without His wisdom! Setting our minds and hearts on doing the right thing even when it seems to be to our hurt is a by-product of our trust in His love.

1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. This takes some preparation. I read in Acts 7 the other day. Stephen was arrested and taken before the council to defend himself. Two thoughts struck me as I ready his response to the leaders. This man knew his stuff! We know he was a man full of faith and the Spirit when he was chosen to be a deacon to help serve the widows. He was prepared. Fear, intimidation and insecurity grow when we feel unprepared. I also thought, Stephen knew how to rely on the Holy Spirit. He learned to trust Him to fill His mouth! We, as believers need to learn how to rely on Him to word our mouth during difficult times, but it comes with practice. If you struggle with talking to different types of people or situations, study. 2 Timothy 2:15 (amp) Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial) a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth. This means we, as believers, choose to grow up in Him. We put off childish excuses (I can’t, I don’t know how, I’m not smart enough) and we make the choice to learn. We have the best teacher–the Holy Spirit who longs to come along side us to strengthen, teach and enable us.

As you read through the Bible, take note of the word “always”. What a comfort it is to know God is always with us, helping, strengthening, convicting and changing us to be more like Him. Thank you Father for helping us to become more like you.

Faith and His Workmanship

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

In these times of troubles and trials it is good to be reminded that first of all, if you have named the name of Jesus you are His. You are not an orphan trying to figure out life on your own. You belong to Him. Really, truly without a doubt–whether you feel like it or not, you have a place in His family. You are important to His family. You are included in His family. You have a Father who listens, responds and cares. These are facts.

But as a member of that family we also have responsibilities. The good news is that we are created to do good works, not to earn our salvation, but to show forth the glory of our God. His love, His joy, His peace to a desperate world. It is time we allowed Him to work deep in our hearts. It is time where we truly allow our Savior to be Lord in our life. The tools God uses in shaping our lives are not always enjoyable, comfortable or seemingly to our benefit. It calls for us to trust His love, mercy and purpose even more.

If we are His workmanship, then He has the right to mold, shape and change us as He will. The Greek word is poiema and it means masterpiece, poem or work of art. God is making us into His masterpiece. Remember He has a plan for each of our lives. This masterpiece he is working has a purpose. That purpose is for good works. Not so we can earn our salvation, but so He can show us off to the world! I don’t know about you, but hatred, prejudice, lawlessness, pride or envy are not very beautiful. These are things that are the works of the flesh that need to go.

We look at what is happening in the United States today and we see how the actions of one man doing the wrong thing has affected our whole country. His actions have put every other police officer in jeopardy. His actions have tainted the works of those police officers who are caring, sharing and go above an beyond in their duty. It is the same when a Christ-follower falls into sin. Our sinful attitudes affect all As clay in the potter’s hand, we must submit to His working in our lives. He has many tools in His toolbox that He uses. The Word, of course, is His main tool. As we seek to apply its truths to our lives, it begins the work of conforming us into His image. Through His Word and His Spirit working in us we are enabled to do the good works He has called us to do. Not all have learned to rest in the Potter’s Hand. Many think their ways are better.

I have watched potters work with clay. They, like silversmiths, remove the impurities which would mar the finished work. It isn’t easy to admit to these flaws and allow Him to lovingly remove them. The tools He uses are not always easy. Tests, trials and suffering are not enjoyable, but they are part of life. As we allow Him to use them to conform us into His image then we begin to understand how He works all things together for His good. This world needs to see God’s workmanship displayed. How He does it while we are still a work in progress I don’t know. All I know is that He that has begun a good work in us desires to complete it. Remembering that He is not only Savior but Lord isn’t always easy. At times I have wanted to jump off the potter’s wheel and do my own thing. But I always go back to the understanding that if He created me, then He knows me better than I know myself. I have found a resting spot on the Potter’s wheel. I truly want to be a vessel He can use–when He wants to use it. The flaw of pride pops up and once again I humble myself and say with our Lord, “not my will, but your will be done”.

There is nothing like being used by Him–completing those good works for His glory–whether big or small, they are important. Allow His conforming work to take place. Paul says, follow me as I follow Christ. Be an example of the believer today in this hurting world. Love your neighbor. Be patient, longsuffering, gentle, kind and peaceful with those who are different than you. If you find it difficult–climb back on the Potter’s wheel and let Him work!

Faith and God’s Hurting Children

God has a family. His Word tells us He has a Son, and we who call on His name have been adopted into that family. It is a BIG family. Lots of variety here in His family. Red, Yellow Black and White–we are all precious in His sight, but what about our sight. Do we see each other as equal siblings? It is fairly obvious this week in our nation that we do not. Our Black siblings are hurting. They have been hurting, but even though many put on a good front, they are grieving in their soul. Proverbs 14:13 Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Let’s let our Black brothers and sisters get the attention and help they need because prejudice still exists (even though in my mind I hoped it didn’t). Economic disparity is real. Listening to the stories of my black sisters has brought me to tears. These are stories that happened to them and their children. Stories right here in the Pacific Northwest.

I will readily admit to ignorance. I am gaining a bit more wisdom as I dialogue with my black friends. A few years ago, I sat down with my friend Bernita. We had the most difficult conversation I have ever had with a person of a different race. We were not angry or hurt at each other–but I took the time to really listen to her. I laid down my “I already know it all attitude” and really listened. We had a dialogue. It gave me the beginnings of understanding where the phrase “black lives matter” originated and white privilege.

It is my hope to share an analogy I feel God gave me yesterday. As I was talking with my friend, Ava she mentioned that her father took her to the hospital when she was little because she had pneumonia. My mom took me to the hospital when I was little because I had my tonsils out. We were both sick. None of the other children in our families went to the hospital. We got the attention. In God’s family right now, we have some very hurting brothers and sisters. They need our attention and God’s attention to bring healing to their souls. To listen to their painful stories of discrimination and not try to justify and explain it away, takes courage. Friends, name calling still goes on. The N word is still thrown out at little kids and grown adults by strangers. This ought not be.

I don’t know why God created us to be different skin colors. It was obviously His plan. He loves variety. He loves all cultures and died for everyone. The blood of Jesus flowed for every skin, no matter what. He loves Asians, Latin’s, Mexicans and Ukrainians. I am praying that God’s people, who are called by His name will begin to honor their brothers and sisters no matter where they come from. Jesus prayed that we would be one, and that they would know we are in Him by the love we have for one another. We have a long way to go.

We need to examine ourselves in this light and ask Him to baptize us with His love. Repent of not loving like we should. Ask Him to teach us to love those who are not naturally easy for us to love. It is obvious that black people in our nation have not been treated fairly. Disparity over jobs, business loans and other economic issues is real.

I am sorry for the wounds people of color are still receiving and enduring in our nation. I am appalled by it actually. But I can only change me. If I can be a bridge to helping others understand this reality, then so be it. My friend is worried that her black son could be a victim like George Floyd. It has never occurred to me that my son would be in that situation, but my mother’s heart has prayed a lot for her son to be safe.

Part of my soul wants to be an ostrich and bury my head and say, “its not that bad”. I am sorry to say, it is that bad. I am sorry that discrimination and racism is a cross our black brothers and sisters have had to carry for far too long. The sin nature in all of us draws us toward prejudice. Jews, Native Americans, Irish, Italians and others have had their share (and still do in many places) of this cross carrying. It is time to honor one another, receive one another as God’s children and walk in peace.

God’s word has some very clear direction for us. The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9 We who name the name of Jesus need to remember we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is almost seems an impossible task, yet we can do it. I was on the tipping point of despair, discouragement and hopelessness this past Sunday. I listened to Life Church’s Sunday message about hope and I chose to apply hope to this situation. God has solutions, we can find them. It will help. Maybe we can’t, individually, touch every person of color in this nation, but we can love and listen to our neighbors. I know there are many disenfranchised classes in our nation–let’s begin by seeing, hearing and loving on those around we can. Do not focus on what you cannot do, but only what you can. As you do, you will find that what seemed to be a little turns into a lot.

Father, Please help us. Help our nation. I pray for my Black brothers and sisters who are carrying wounds from childhood where they were truly bullied, harassed, ignored or overlooked simply because of their skin. I pray for parents who have to explain to their children why things are different for them. I pray that we will stop an think before we stereotype groups that are not like us. I ask you to forgive me where I have inadvertently not understood the hard journey others have had to take or have added to their pain. In Jesus Name, amen