Sunday, October 21, 2018

GROWING SEEDS: "Like The Leaf, We Are Part of The Bigger Story"

October 23, 2018

It's Fall.  

Hands-down, this is my absolute favorite time of year.   A time when the leaves are barely hanging on....grabbing the tree they've come to know for the past six months as their solid foundation, through every breeze that blows.  But that solid foundation is telling them now, 

"It's time.  Time to let go...your season is over.  
You have served your purpose on this earth and served it well.  
You have provided shade and beauty and shelter for many.  
But now, its time to rest awhile.  
You must let go."  

And so they fall slowly to the ground that awaits them.

As the clock ticks down the final days of Fall and the leaf's life starts to show signs of aging, its grip not as strong as it once was, the soil prepares itself to bury the leaves of summer.  The death and burial of these leaves are the very nutrients that provide food so the tree can live on.  Ironically, even in death, the leaf sustains the tree.  

So, too, are we like the leaf...a moment in time we are here to grow from the Gardeners hand.  We have held on in the strong winds of life and have provided shade and shelter to many throughout our short time on this earth.  We have experienced the nurturing rains of Spring and the blistering heat of Summer.  And we have felt the finality of Fall.  But in order to find our true glorious potential, we must die.  We must die to Self.

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, will save it."  
Luke 9:23-24Like

Like the leaf, we are part of a bigger story. 

The Soul Creator

Each Tuesday morning at 10:00 am, a crazy hodgepodge bunch of women sits at an old wooden table in a local coffee shop for a little dose of sisterhood.  Many of them bravely came not knowing a soul sitting in the chair next to them when we first met for coffee several years ago...each one needing the other. 

And I've discovered through coffee Tuesdays that women birth women...they need each other...they long to feel the skin of the hand of the sister next to them....and like water to a thirsty mouth, they want to know they are not alone in this journey called Life.  They are servants to each other.

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many."
Mark 10:45

This past Tuesday while sipping my sweet cream mocha, I sat back and just watched this movie of sisterhood taking place in front of me at this old wooden table.  I smiled as I watched five different conversations taking place all at the same time, remembering how each of these women came because of a simple Facebook post to just "show up" to any and all women.  I watched as they nurtured each other...listened to each other...held each others hands while laughing and crying salty tears together.  They shared the deepest parts of their soul with the woman they met just last week.  Souls that have been broken....souls that have given up at some point...souls that have rejoiced at the simplest of pleasures....and there's just something about merging your soul with another.  It helps you breathe.  God-Breath.

But what I realized as these women from all denominations, all walks of life, all shapes and sizes, drank their hot cup of coffee while the rain fell hard outside, was how closely this resembles God's love and sacrifice for each one of us.  He is constantly grabbing our hands...bending His ear to hear our worries...grabbing the tissue and wiping our well as His own, because there just isn't anything like merging our God-given soul with another God-given soul.  

Because He is the Soul-Creator.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Empathy vs Sympathy

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to EMPATHIZE with our weaknesses, 
but we have one who has been tempted in every way, 
just as we are - yet he did not sin."  
Hebrews 4:15

One day, Jesus and the Devil were having a discussion about who was the best, so God suggested a typing competition. He sat them down at two computers, one each, and told them to type up an article.  The first to complete the typing would win.

Both Jesus and the Devil were typing away frantically when there was a power outage and both computers switched off. Their typing work had disappeared from the two screens.  When the power was restored and the computers re-booted, Jesus's work re-appeared on His screen, but the Devil could get nothing back and had lost all his work.  So Jesus was declared the winner.  The Devil complained bitterly to God saying it wasn't fair and demanded a rematch, but God said,

"Stop whining Satan, you know why Jesus got his work back - everyone knows.... "JESUS SAVES!"

As much as I've tried, I have been unable to tie this joke in with today's scripture.  It has absolutely nothing to do with Hebrews 4:15, but I liked it and thought you might too.  

Have you ever wondered how Jesus was able to live a perfect, sinless life during his 30+ years on this earth as a man?  I've often wondered if His parents ever grew frustrated with their "perfect" child.   How about His siblings who were busy getting spankings and hanging out in time-out, yet their brother Jesus was always busy being the exemplary child.  My sister was the perfect, goody-two-shoes in our family and I royally resented her.  I feel for Jesus' siblings.

Although Jesus never fell to temptation, He was indeed tempted.  He could smell the butter as Satan tempted him to turn the stone into a loaf of bread after 40 days of not eating.   He felt the sting of each strike of the whip on His back by the Soldiers and He cried out with each swing of the hammer that drove the nails into His feet and hands.  And don't think for a second He couldn't have gotten Himself out of it, because He could have.  But He chose to bleed red just like us.....and that's why Hebrews 4:15 says He has "empathy" for you and me.

See, Empathy is different from Sympathy.  It's taking your shoes off and stepping into someone else's sorrowful shoes and walking it out with them.  Jesus' empathy opened His arms up for you to climb into His lap and find comfort and peace.  That's why He chose not to eat the bread or to save Himself from pain and heartbreak.  You, my friend, were more important to Him than His own comfort because He knew.....

"You never know what you're alive for
until you know what you would die for."

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Forgiveness Is Hard


So.....there's this scripture that goes something like this:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
~Matt. 6:14-15

Forgiveness is hard.  It's unnatural in this big wide world to extend amnesty to someone who has wronged you, lied about you and talked smack about you.  The last thing....the hardest do as your soul recovers from the sucker-punch to the gut is to say "I forgive you" when all you really want to do is hurt them back. Am I right?  Please tell me I'm not the only person to feel this way.....

Take the example of the man whose 10-year-old daughter, kneeling beside her bed at night, asks to pray for the accuser of her Dad.  "A lot of wisdom for a 10-year-old", her choked-up Dad says to us through our TV screens. 

Now....think for a second.  

Have you ever been accused of something you "didn't" do?  Have you ever been called-out on something you actually "did" do?  I sure have...and I would imagine you're shaking your head right now remembering when you were.  In both cases, whether I did what I was accused of doing or not, they both required me to quietly and privately ask God for Forgiveness; whether the forgiveness was for me or for the one wrongly accusing me. 

The best part is....God has made it a win-win situation!  If I'm being wrongly accused and I pray for forgiveness for my accuser, it releases me, the prisoner, from the pain of being accused.  (Trust me...this works!) And if I'm the guilty party, asking for Forgiveness releases me from the prison I've been hanging out in since committing the sin.

Forgiveness helps us understand why Jesus took a nail for your sins; He had to find a way to forgive you.