We All Got Junk

One of the things I have come to realize is that everyone has some junk in their lives.  I am not talking about junk in our closets and storage rooms and garages, although we tend to accumulate junk in those areas as well.  What I am talking about is our past.  Each of us has a storage unit called our hearts.  That is where we put things that have hurt us.  That is where emotions get sent that we don’t know how to deal with.  We stuff things into this area that was not meant to hold junk.  When we do that over time it tends to slowly creep out in every area of our lives.  The older we get the more difficult it is to keep our junk in that safe place deep inside us.

What we choose to carry in our hearts can determine whether we take hold of the best life God has planned for us or struggle with the best always being just out of reach.  Jesus showed us the way to keep this from happening.  No matter what happened to him or around him, he forgave everyone of everything – immediately.  When we can do the same, that is when we can live without junk.  Just like the feathers that keep a duck from getting wet, forgiveness keeps us from accumulating junk.

First Corinthians 13:5 says that love does not take into account a wrong that has been done to it, or a wrong suffered.  When we stuff a wrong we have suffered it may sit there for a while and fester, or we keep picking it up and playing with.  Then we try to get other people to pick up our junk by telling them all about it.  They can end up adding to our junk by joining in the pity party or the bashing session.  Hopefully we can find someone that will point us toward forgiveness and God.

By letting things roll off of us like water off a duck, it allows us to keep going in life without getting stuck in all the junk.  It is actually possible to get to a place where nothing offends us.  If we decide beforehand, as Jesus did, that we are not going to stuff offenses into our hearts, it allows us to live with great peace.  Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

When we are easily offended, we cannot have peace, but if we are not easily offended, we can live in great peace.  So here are the questions to ponder: Is your heart light or heavy?  Peaceful or troubled?  Are some of the contents of your heart crowding out the peace and joy that God has for you?  This is not an easy process and you may need some help to clean out the junk, but the freedom you experience is worth all the work.  Start letting go of yesterday, start working on humility and forgiveness and see what happens.

Empowering Others

One of the phrases that I often pray is this “God pour into me, so that I can pour into others.”  I believe one of the things God calls us to do is to take what He has given us and give it to others.  Many times this comes through the experiences of life, the good ones and the bad ones.  God also gives gifts to His children that we can use to pour into others.  Finally he gives us skills and abilities that are unique to us, again in order to pour into others and make a difference for God in this world.  If we are open to God using us as His instruments, our influence will grow and our tribe will increase.  If we remain humble and meek, we will accelerate how God uses us to pour into others.

In 2 Corinthians 1:2-4 the Message Bible says this “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!  Father of all mercy!  God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”

God promises to comfort us in our troubles, then asks us to share that comfort with others.  Remember, we can’t give away what we don’t possess.  We are to pass on what God gives to us.  We don’t receive only for our benefit, but for the benefit of others.  God calls us to empower others with the power that He gave us.  Here are some practical ways that we can pour into others:

  1. Help someone keep their commitments to God and other people (Accountability)
  2. Speak words of encouragement and support (Affirmation)
  3. Evaluate their progress and offer an objective perspective of their situation (Assessment)
  4. Offer words of wise counsel and direction (Advice)
  5. Share words of caution, rebuke, or correction as needed (Admonishment)
  6. Point them to resources that can help them reach their goals (Assets)
  7. Love them unconditionally, regardless of their past or current situation (Acceptance)
  8. Coach them on how to go put into practice what they have learned (Application)

God always gives us what we need to lead.  Our own baggage and insecurities often keep us from taking the step to pour into others.  It is easy to make excuses about not being ready or being too busy.  These excuses most often stem from our core fears.  Fear of failure, fear of not knowing the right answers and looking dumb, fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood.  In 2 Timothy 1:7-8 it says “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  These three tools help us pour into others:

  • Love – The relational ingredient that enables us to attract and connect with others.
  • Power – The courage and competence to get the job done.
  • Sound Mind – The perspective and wisdom to grasp a vision and take the right steps.

God gave us everything we need to accomplish the job.  He empowers us before He ever expects from us.  He gives before He demands.  We receive His competence before we receive His commands.  So start asking God to pour into you, so that you can pour into others.

Loving Well Part 2

With Valentines Day just around the corner, love is on most peoples mind right now.  Whether married or single, people are born with the need to be loved and to love.  If an infant does not receive love through touching and caring they do not develop properly.  I believe that does not change as we get older.  If we don’t experience unconditional love, we do not develop properly emotionally.  We also cannot love other people well if we do not feel loved ourselves.

Unfortunately we live in a broken world, where there is no perfect love.  As humans we all fall short in this area of life.  We may have our moments, but in the long run all of us struggle to love perfectly.  I cannot love my wife on my own, only with the help of God can I love her the way Christ loved the church.  In 1 John 4:17-21 we hear a clear message about love:

“God is love.  When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.  This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day-our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.  There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life-fear of death, fear of judgment- is one not yet fully formed in love.  We, though, are going to love-love and be loved.  First we were loved, now we love.  He loved us first.  If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar.  If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt:  Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both.”

So God has shown us the way in which to love and has called us to now love other people that way.  When God is living in us, His love shines through us.  He gives us the strength to love someone that is unlovable.  The way in which we love is evidence of our relationship with God.

So what does loving well look like?  It is a daily challenge for us to love well.  We are tested constantly through difficult people and circumstances.  That is why it is so important for us to be growing closer to God each day.  I know for me, when I start to let my relationship with God slip, I start to fail many of the love tests that come my way.  I tend to have a shorter fuse and be less patient with the people around me.

To read about the way of love click here

Loving well takes a mindset and an attitude of humility and meekness.  Most people struggle with the idea of being humble and meek, but listen to what God has to say about those qualities:

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

It takes great strength and courage to be a man or women of humility and meekness.  It is not a sign of weakness but of great strength.  To love well a person must be humble and meek.  Meek means to be gentle, patient and submissive.  Those qualities are rare these days, but in order to love well they are needed.  So here are my closing thoughts on Loving Well:

  • We can’t love other people, without God’s love living in us
  • Love begins with humility and meekness
  • Every day we go through love tests, which either increase our capacity to love or decrease our capacity to love, it’s our choice.
  • Fear cannot co-exist with love
  • Love is not an emotion, it is a choice and an attitude.  It is a way of life.

So here is the challenge – Choose to love well, Choose to love God, Choose to love people.

My heart is melting for you babe xx

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography(find me on FB

Get Your Mind Right

While I was working out yesterday, the instructor in the DVD made this statement while I was bent over try to catch my breath: “Get your mind right!”.

I heard a similar message at our staff retreat on Monday. This idea of how powerful your mind is and how much the way we think affects our emotions, our physical well being and our relationships. The Bible says that we were created in God’s image. He is the one that gave us these incredible minds to use, not only to benefit ourselves but to glorify God.

For most of us our minds have been transformed into something other than what God intended. By the early age of six years old many of our basic beliefs are already in place. As we grow there are many lies we begin to believe because of the experiences we go through. Our mind filters each experience and that shapes our worldview.

Of course God knew this would happen in this fallen, evil world. This is not perfect heaven, so there are many lies and deceptions that we fall for. That is why Paul wrote in the book of Romans “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

When we get our minds right, our focus sharpens and clears. When our minds are racing, whether worrying about the future unknown or remembering the painful past, our focus is weak and foggy. When our minds are not living in the present, our emotions get out of control and actually begin to control us. When our minds are right, we can hear God better and know what His will is. When our minds are not right, we do not hear God and tend to do our own thing.

When I was working out, my body wanted to stop because I was getting tired. When I focused my mind on the exercise I was doing it gave me the energy I needed to finish and keep up. When we are tired, our mind tends to drift and negative thoughts can easily fill our minds.

So how do we get our minds right?

  • Examine what you are putting into your mind – Television shows, movies, books, magazines, conversations, music.
  • Replace harmful input with wholesome material.
  • Read God’s Word – The truth will set you free!
  • Pray – talking to God is one of the best ways to get your mind right
  • Meditate – This has become a popular practice, but the real power comes when you meditate on God’s Word. Emptying your mind can be a dangerous thing to do. Meditation is focused positive thinking – focusing on God brings incredible peace.
  • Put into practice what God tells you to do – real transformation happens when our mind is right and we then act on that by being obedient to God.
  • Slow down – we can either slow down on our own, or God will do it for us at some point.
  • Simplify your life – most people are doing too many things – busy people are not very effective. Say no some things and watch the stress level come way down.

So get your mind right!