Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Christians: Get Over Yourselves!

Last week I received a "share" on Facebook that sort of sickened me.

It was a clip of a preacher who had been visited by someone of another faith, and in this clip it was pretty clear that the preacher felt he had the corner on the market on faith, prayer and knowledge and what these other people believed was completely wrong.

While I am not of their faith, it saddened and sickened me for a few reasons.

First of all, mocking another for their beliefs, is not only sad, but as Christians, it is so beneath us.

Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, the Savior made it clear that it is our job to "love one another, as I have loved you."  Let that sink in a minute.

Who are we to decide whether someone else is right or wrong in their belief of the Bible? You are entitled to your opinion, but even if you disagree with someone else's interpretation, it is not up to you to decide if they are right or wrong. Not your job! It is His to judge.

The Savior himself, expressed His displeasure with the Pharisees who were judging others. They judged Him, the Savior, for not washing before dinner. And he didn't mince words with them calling them "fools" and saying, "Woe unto you".

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been accused of, or not considered Christian, because I am the "wrong brand".  Really?

It doesn't really bother me, because I know better, but it bothers me that as religious people, we tolerate that kind of teaching from those within our churches. Have you ever been in church and heard another denomination maligned? I have and it drives me nuts!! Rarely have those people ever known someone of that faith, watched them hold onto their faith through trials, or asked questions of what they really believe, rather than what "they've heard."

Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, if they weren't (fill in the blank with a religion) they probably wouldn't have that trial/problem.

Last I checked, I don't know of a single religion whose people don't have problems and trials. Why? Maybe because God is trying to make us more like Him and more reliant on Him.

I wasn't raised as a young child in the religion I have chosen, I went to a private school of another religion, and it was there that several of the questions they couldn't answer helped me to find the beliefs I have now. However, even though that church wasn't where I wound up, I'm so grateful for the goodness of its people and for many of the teachings, as well as not being able to answer my questions.

Let's face it, we all want to be right. But we will never be right by mocking others, not loving others, not allowing ourselves to ask questions of our own faith as well as ask genuine questions of others. And then if we need to agree to disagree, so be it. The Judge will take care of it in the long run.

Our greatest challenge is to love others. If we can do that and bring others to Christ, we have no need to fear. But if we mock each other and send people away from the Savior because we are too busy judging and being right, we lose. We lose BIG.

I'm not perfect in my faith, but frankly, I don't know anyone who is. We are not here to be perfect, someone already did that. We are here to follow His example the best we can. That may come in calling out the Pharisees, but more often it will be in reaching out to the sick, the poor, the hurting and suffering, the lonely, those faltering in their faith.

So my fellow Christians it is time to get over ourselves and get on to being the best follower of Christ that we can be. Let's embrace the good things we see in each other as we practice our faiths, as we see the goodness in other churches, in other believers.

There probably has never been a time where we are needed more collectively than right now. So let's unite in our faith in Christ and uphold each other in our respective faiths. Let's respect each other's faith and show this world what believers really are all about: love.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Get Your Game On!

Have you ever been on a winning team? You know, the one that may have lost a few games during the season, but really nothing to be worried about and your team kept going on and on defeating in game after game.

How did that feel? Were you so proud to wear your jersey or uniform? Did you like it when people wanted a play by play of some of your hardest games? Which do you remember better, the easy wins or the tough ones?

Do you realize you get to choose to be on the winning team right now?

We know at the end of this, God will win.

It is as simple as that. Which is funny because usually we have to wait game after game throughout a long season to find out who the victor will be.

But in this, we know that God will win. We have to decide, are we going to be on His team?

The great thing is, you don't have tryouts, He takes you as you are. It doesn't matter how tall, how fast, how smart, how knowledgeable. He will train you throughout the season. He will give you plays and He will show you how to improve your game in whatever capacity you are playing.

He will give high fives when you have done well and pat you on the back or dry your tears when you lose or mess up.

And He will keep putting you back in, no matter what. No one sits the bench on His team, all play.

It won't matter how long or short our season is, or what position he chooses to play us at, if we are on His team, we win!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tree, Bush or Rock?

Years ago we went to tour the Bio Sphere II. It was a huge experiment here in the United States where scientists got together and created a "mini earth" and locked themselves in for a year to learn about it. They could only eat what they had inside, which was mostly what they harvested. There was a rain forest, and an ocean, a desert area, farm area, etc.

On the tour, they used to spend a lot of time telling what the scientists discovered. One thing they said really struck us. They said that the trees grew very tall and straight very quickly. But then they would break off. They puzzled over this and wondered why they grew so well, but didn't grow strong. Then they realized that the trees were lacking something, wind.

In order for a tree to grow properly, it needs wind.

It can grow tall and it can grow quickly and have its leaves to photosynthesize, but it cannot grow strong without the resistance of wind.

This week I was listening to a pod cast that reminded me that God is like the Master Gardener, he knows what he needs to prune  in order for it to produce a bounteous harvest. That pruning may not feel so good to the bush at the time to have things snipped off, and sometimes even branches cut off so it can become beautiful and fruitful.

After talking to a friend who is facing a very long, very hard, very uphill battle, I was thinking about diamonds. To get a brilliant diamond, it has to first be found, mined, and then ground and cut by a master diamond cutter to become this beautiful sparkling gemstone. That sounds like a really awful process, but it is necessary if the diamond is to be worth anything.

There may be times in our lives where we are like the trees, needing some wind to blow to make us strong, at times even some really strong winds.

Other times we may need some pruning, have some dead or diseased ideas or traits 'cut off' so that we can then produce our very best.

Then there are times, like the diamond, we may have a lot of hard stuff that needs to be chiseled off, ground down, to reach that gem which then has to be cut, to shine brilliantly.

I don't know too many people right now whose lives are just smooth sailing. Many put on a good face and make it look like everything is ok or even fabulous, but that may be the moment they are just needing a little breeze in their lives. For others, it can look and seem as though they are being tumbled around with other rocks, chipping off the hard outside covering.

Whatever place you may be in in your life, know that The Master knows exactly what He is doing in you. He created you for His purpose and He knows what that is. Maybe you will be a strong tree that will provide shade, relief and protection to others.

Maybe he created you to produce a bounteous harvest of words or kind works. He knows what and when to prune so you can bring forth an incredible harvest of goodness.

Maybe you will be the diamond, that has to be ground down and cut and polished to become a valuable treasure.

Or maybe you will find seasons of all of these in your life.

I do.

Sometimes it is incredibly hard to remember all of this, especially when it seems the gale force winds won't stop. It can be so hard to remember there is purpose in all the struggles and hard things that seem to be trying to crush the life, when in actuality they are purposed to give a greater life.

I'm writing it down so maybe I will remember a little better.

Grow strong my friend, the harvest is coming and you will shine incredibly. He knows His plan for you.