Wise and Harmless

Arrogant.

Alienating.

Assuming.

These are not very nice words associated with not very nice feelings.

These negative feelings can easily be put on, likes pieces of clothing, covering up our souls, bodies and spirits.  We can dress ourselves in these sad feelings as quickly as we can dress ourselves in the feelings of:

Humble and unconceited

Integrated and included

Thinking the best of and not jumping to conclusions

But here’s the thing.  I know which feelings I would rather clothe myself in.  Today and everyday.  And I know what feelings I would like my friends to be dressed in.

And I know my written words have the potential to dress people in feelings.

As corny as it sounds – I love all my friends. I really cherish friendships and I really value my non-Christian friendships as much as my Christian friends. BUT  I fear I clothe my non-Christian friends with my arrogance from time to time. I fear I throw ideas out there that alienate them and I fear these friends bear the brunt of a lot of my ill-assumed ideas.

Do you ever stop to think about what yours and my ‘Christianese’ does to our friends?

Our social media worlds filled with Christian-speak?

When you’ve been a Christian for a while you have certain things ingrained in you.  You think and speak certain things in a certain way because it is what you believe and what you can relate to and some of it is a direct result of the hand of God at work in your life.  Changing you.  Moulding you.  The master heart surgeon at work.

And this is good and this is right and we shouldn’t hide our lights.  For we may indeed be the only bible some people read.

But.

In this and through this, my words still need to bless others.  Not to assume superiority.

In this and through this, what needs to come first always to Christian and non-Christians are words that are loving, kind and thoughtful.

The gospel does offend people.  We are in a battle where people’s eyes and ears are blinded to the truth.  There will always be people in my life who don’t understand the way I think, and the way I live. I can be open and honest with my thoughts, beliefs and convictions – but I can do it with conscious thought as to not appear arrogant.  Not to alienate the minority of my non-Christian friends from my majority of Christian friends.  And not to assume that all my friends are on the same wave-length as me.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” – Matthew 10:16

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The lie of invisibility

Ever sent off a message into cyberspace giving encouragement, written in love, to not ever get a response?

Ever heard about social events, after the fact and felt that tug in your tummy?

Ever feel like it doesn’t even matter if you go somewhere or not – you won’t be missed  – your presence or your absence makes no waves either way?

Ever felt like you will never be someone’s first choice in a friendship – that you’re never the one they pick up the phone to call first, or to arrange social gatherings first…you’re more the afterthought……

These thoughts are something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I figured if it is something I’ve had struggles with……I reckon I’m not alone in these thoughts.

All of these things result in giving you a feeling of invisibility.  That you don’t matter.  That your life doesn’t matter.  That you can make no difference in the world.

These thoughts: they are all wrong, all nasty, and if I were  a woman preacher I would stand at the pulpit and declare ‘they are lies straight from the pits of hell’.

I do believe this is all wrong wrong wrong.  But I need to remind myself and maybe you do too. YOU do matter.  What you say does matter.  How you live does matter.  Where you go, does matter.  Who you know, does matter.

Satan would like us to think otherwise because when we know WHO we are in Him, we are a force to be reckoned with.

When we know WHO we are and WHOSE we are, and when we REMEMBER this and live knowing this, then we don’t let these thoughts of feeling invisible get to us.

So.  Who are we in Christ?

I am called of God by my name (Isaiah 43:1)

I am engraved on the palm of God’s hands (Isaiah 49: 16)

I am delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13)

I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have a purpose for living (Jeremiah 29:11) (Ephesians 1:11 – 12)

I am never forsaken (Psalm 27:10)

I have a father (Psalm 68: 5)

I am a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I am receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28)

I am loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)

I am crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20)

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8: 37)

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 20)

I am accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1: 6)

I am beloved and chosen by God (1 Thess 1:4)

I am healed by the wounds of Jesus (1 Peter 2:24)

I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)

I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

I know God’s voice (John 10: 14)

I have all my needs met in Christ (Philippians 4: 19)

I have everlasting life (John 6: 47)

I have power to control my thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The Lord is my rock and salvation (Psalm 18: 2)

I have received power from the Holy Spirit to heal the sick, cast out demons, defeat the enemy (Mark 16: 17)

I forget the past and go forward with Christ (Philippians 3: 12- 13)

I have received the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1: 19- 20)

I always triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14)

There is a lot of power in them thar words.  There is a lot of hope in them thar words.

The key for me  is to read and believe these words, over the words, the very lies that the devil tells me.

Let’s choose hope dear friends.  Hope.  No-one is invisible to my Lord.

Getting a grip on……

……griping.  

Here in North America we’re fully in summer holiday mode.  Or should I say summer vacation mode.  Our school district has been on holiday for three weeks now and we have ten weeks to go until school starts again.  

Thirteen weeks all together. Day in.  Day Out.

13 weeks.

For some Mothers this is glorious.  Wonderful.  Blessed.  For others, this is a struggle.  

Did you read that, above?  Thirteen weeks of having all your children around.

For me, personally, this time is to be cherished and for us all to enjoy – but – there will be some challenges along the way with expectations and behaviour and I know that my home will not be tidy or fully clean for this entire time.  

While no family is perfect and each family has their own difficulties…..I’ve noticed that school holiday time, no matter where in the world you live, is a time where Mothers seem to get together and they gripe.  They moan and they groan and they grizzle and complain and they gripe.  For the mostpart.  Sweeping broad generalization I know.  But I’m sure you all have people in your lives that do this – even if you make an effort not to join in.  And if you do join in….I bet ya don’t even realize you do this.  So this is for you.  ‘Cos you gotta stop.  Actually this is relevant no matter how old your kids are.

Yep.

 

‘Gentle words cause life and health. griping brings discouragement’ – Prov 15: 24

I’m a firm believer in sowing and reaping.  You get what you sow.  When you talk negatively about your kids and what they are doing or what they’re not doing….you aren’t actually sowing seeds that encourage improvement.  You’re highlighting an issue yes, you’re putting a spotlight on it, and you’re magnifying it.  But there is no solution and no resolution.  

Now there is a huge difference between confiding in someone and seeking wisdom – being real and honest with someone you respect who may be able to help you……a huge difference between being proactive and just griping about an issue concerning your family in particular.

And we know when we’re doing it.  We know if we’re just going on about a subject to join in with conversation.  We know in our hearts the difference between reaching out for help and going on, and on and on.

We had a great playdate yesterday with a great friend and her children.  For a short time our conversation focussed on where we were at with parenting and things that are happening in our lives – that comes with being Mothers and comes with being real about where we are at in life.  But the conversation wasn’t limited to that and wasn’t stuck on that.  We quickly moved onto other topics.  And I came away from that time with my friend feeling blessed and encouraged.

And shouldn’t conversation with friends do that?  We should come away from encounters with other Mums feeling like we’re in this together, that no family is perfect but we’re called to bigger and better things.  Not just to focus on our problems.  Our summer problems.  Our 13 weeks of having kids walk in and out of the house all day long, wet feet and all, leaving the door open and the constant wet swimsuits being left everywhere.Or the fact that the oldest kid is still learning some social skills.  Or the fact that the youngest really needs to learn some more words.  Those problems.

‘Let our conversation be gracious as well as sensible, for then you will have the right answer for everyone’ – Collosians 4:6

Have you ever noticed that the longer you spend focused on griping and verbalizing your own issues, the harder it is to be able to give the right answer to others?  To be able to speak a word in season to someone, because you do know what they are going through and you have the right answer through Jesus Christ?

 If you’re too busy joining in with the groans and grizzles, you can’t provide hope and truth.

Yes I believe in accountability.

Yes I need friends to be real with, to glean wisdom from.  

Yes I do not have a perfect family and my children are far from angelic.

But I am trying, really trying this summer to not join in when the conversations around me turn to griping.  I’m sure you know in your heart of hearts when your conversation turns to griping.

Let’s offer solutions to people, let’s offer the right answers to people – and we can, when our words are seasoned with grace.  

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My little graduate.

Extra Grace Required

  Vulnerable –  capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.  Open to attack or damage.  Comes from the Latin ‘vulnerare’ – to wound.  

  My blog is and has always been about being honest.  Real and honest words.  Today I’m taking it one step further and I’m making myself vulnerable.  Please be gentle – my skin thickening process is still a work in progress.

  When I was student one of my dear Pastors, with the most loving and kindest of hearts would talk about ‘extra grace required’ people.  Or EGR for short.  She coined this term to describe the people in our lives…that stand out from the rest…that possibly drain our emotions..they don’t always fit in so well. Sometimes they seem to suffer from the same ‘affliction’ over and over again.  They seem to listen but not hear.

  I think we all can think of at least a few people in our lives that fall under this EGR category.  Maybe you’ve dealt with them in the past, or are currently navigating doing life with them now.

  Sometimes people are very happy to be takers.  They turn up to events that they haven’t helped set up, they leave without doing their bit to help pack down. We can take take take in any areas of our lives.  It is easy to be  spectators in this life.  

  What happens when we constantly have people in our lives that want to take, take, take from us?

  How are we to react appropriately when friendship is NOT reciprocal?

  What is the correct response when communication only happens when the other party needs you?

  Yes, this is a real situation in my life.  And to be honest and vulnerable with you, I have had trouble knowing what my response should be.  As a women desperately seeking to become changed and moulded into Godly ways, into thinking of others and putting others first…..how can I outlive this in my own life?  When I hurt.  When I feel used and abused.  When there is a cycle going on.

  I’ve swayed in my responses so far.  I’ve done the rescuing thing. I’ve done the create some distance thing.  And neither option seem to help.  To my shame I have harbored real anger and frustration and I’ve thought such thoughts as  ‘Why can’t I fix this person when I’ve invested so much in her’.  Yep.  Not my finest moment.  Not the ‘better person’ option and I’m ashamed to admit it.

  I’m used to liking people.  I’m used to getting on with a wide variety of people.  At the risk of blowing my own trumpet I think my people skills and communication skills are ok.  

  Then why does it hurt so very much, to be in friendships that are not reciprocal?  To feel like I’m taken for granted?  

  Here’s what I’m trying to do to help myself…..

  *  Recognize that other people’s expectations of a friendship may be different to what my expectations are.

  *  Sit down and really look at the person’s strengths.  Focus on the positives. Not dwell on the negatives.

  *  Verbalize to others the positives this person has.  It does something in your heart when you jump to defend someone who needs defending – especially when they are not there.

  *  Make sure your EGR people know you are there for them – but know it is ok to remove yourself a little.  Even Jesus took time out from the crowds to spend time with the Father, but he was still accessible.  Now I know I’m not God – but I am trying to be like Jesus, so I want my friends to know that at the end of the day I still care and I still want to be there for them. 

  I’m still working out how best to honour and love on Extra Grace Required people.  It isn’t the easiest of things.    I believe strongly in loyalty to friends and that my word is my word. How do you love the extra grace required people in your life?  How can you be Jesus with  skin on?  How can you allow yourself to be vulnerable – yet still take some responsibility and not enable further behaviour that is going to harm your friendship?  

Extra grace is certainly required of me. The challenge is how to outflow this grace in a real and even a tangible way.  

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