for the men in my life

Sharing what God lays on my heart.

The human condition

   

 

  There are many things I’ve learned in my life and many of them, I’ve forgotten. At some point in my primary School years I must have learned phonics rules in some way, shape, or form. I obviously didn’t commit them to memory because I was surprised to learn that they exist as an adult. (I also must not have learned them exceptionally well as I am not the best speller!!) I’ve been teaching my my boys to read these last few years in our homeschooling adventures! The phonics rules have regained their usefulness, necessity, and place in my cognitive daily thinking once again!!! It’s amazing how important sometimes seemingly simple things can become.

    One thing I haven’t entirely forgotten is the concept of, “The Human Condition.” I remember in my High School English classes  with teachers, Mark Simon and David Shydecker, discussing and analyzing literature. I remember learning about the human condition. I remember that no matter how different the characters, the circumstances, the conflicts, were from story to story, the human conditions were present in every story. 

        What is the human condition you ask? Well I would define it as the sentiments, the physiological responses, the feelings, the thoughts, and the actions that all humans have in common. Now I don’t mean that we are all the same. If you’ve lived long enough and interacted with people, you know they are all VERY different. But we are all very similar in our Humanity,  or our Human Condition.

   Our human condition possesses several different drives/desires.  One of those is a drive to aquire food. We all need to eat to survive. We share this drive no matter what race, nationality, sex, or age we are. Some people like meat, some don’t, some like veggies, others think potatoes are vegetables. Some people have allergies, some people are just persnickety. Some people love to create foods that tantilize the senses, while others could care less. Some people eat for pleasure, while others eat to survive. Some people are emotional eaters or have addictions to food. Some people eat with intentionality and others just eat.  In the end we all need to eat. 

     I have also observed that humans desire to be loved and accepted. The other side of those desires are fear and rejection. If you watch the news or read Facebook you will observe that humans are really having a very difficult time loving one another and accepting the things that are different about each other. People label these issues as racism, sexism, and prejudices. I think we need to look beyond the labels of the behaviors. I think we need to look deeper and admit that humanity has a tendency to dehumanize that which crosses a line of different that we are no longer “comfortable” with. 

Despite all the things that make us different. We need to remember that we are all Humans, collectively together as a whole group. We are all Humans TOGETHER! 

      We all have moments of fear, rejection and frustrations. Hopefully at some point we all feel joy, excitement, and acceptance too.  Our experiences will be different, our ethnicity, religion, sex, and skin color will be different. But I guarantee that if we could all be honest for one moment, maybe we could acknowledge that all humans experience so many of the similar emotions, thoughts, desires, and drives. 

    These human conditions will vary depending on the circumstances, the intensity in which they are felt, and the frequency in which they occur. Many of these variables will depend on us. They will depend on our choices. They will depend on the perspective and attitudes we choose to have about the life experiences we go through. But, no matter the variable every human will experience fear of some kind, rejection of some type, acceptance from someone, joy in some form, and love in some way. 

    Despite the similarities we must also keep in mind the differences. They both make us who we are. They both together help make “Humanity” the beautiful Mosaic that it is. I think too often we have let those differences divide us from one another. I hope we can begin to remember that we are all human. I hope that we can begin to accept that we may never fully understand one another, and must offer grace and kindness to each other. It’s far too easy to stand in your own circle and fully acknowledge your own humanity while denying the very same humanity of the person next to you because you do not understand or accept what makes them different from yourself.

      Let me drive the point home in another way. The most confident person you know, still feels inadequate in certain situations. The most attractive person you know still feels unattractive at times. The most intelligent person you can think of, still feels like they have so much to learn. The person who seems so full of themselves, still wants to be accepted by others. The person who seems to fear nothing and can face anything still gets sweaty palms, knee pits, and arm pits. All humans feel. All humans have fear. All humans have insecurities. We may feel differently about things. We may have different fears. We may not share the same insecurities, but our humanity is more similar than what meets the eye. 

     If we could step out of our own circle of self and look upon each other with compassion towards humanity, maybe we could change and be more UNITED than divided!
Lord help us to see one another through your eyes. Lord help us to hear the hearts of one another. Jesus help to not respond to one another out of our fears, our insecurities, and our ignorance. Jesus help us to be filled with your love so that we can RESPOND with your love. In Jesus name we ask these things Amen!

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Slow to take offense

In this post I would love to address all of humanity, but I’m really just going to speak very directly to my fellow brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ!

There are lots of opinions flying around in the world. There are lots of people demonstrating their indignation of things they disagree with. Their are lots of people today demanding their rights. I’m not saying people can’t have rights, but as Christ followers I have been learning a thing or two. 

Jesus has been teaching me that I don’t have the right to be offended over every thing I want to be offended about. I don’t really like that. I would rather be disgruntle because that person was rude, inconsiderate, selfish, or even down right mean. I didn’t realize that I COULD CHOOSE to take offense or NOT. 

    At first I was very confused about this foreign concept. I wanted peace just like the next person, but I also needed to teach other people how to be nice, then I would have peace. In reality, I was just becoming bitter, burned out, and mentally and emotionally exhausted. What Jesus knew was that if I could learn to not become offended about every little thing, then and only then I would have His peace. If I could choose Jesus over responding in offense at the world around me, my heart would rest in His peace for me.

   His peace that says people don’t have to behave the way I want or expect them too. Peace that says I don’t have to be, say, and do, what people expect of me either. Peace that only comes in resting in the knowledge that I’m obedient to Christ. Peace that says I’m not responsible for the choices another person makes.

    In my quest for more of Jesus’ peace I’ve come to realize that I struggle with Codependency!!!! It’s a very humbling thing to acknowledge that I am my own problem and no one else is to blame. In that humility there is so much more peace and freedom entering my life!

    I’m thankful for the Divine conversations from people who really love me. I’m thankful that Jesus never gave up on teaching me more about His love and His desires for me. I’m thankful that His ways are better than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts!!

  I pray in the name of Jesus that all those reading would sense the peace and presence of Jesus. I pray that we can all continue to choose each day to follow after the heart and wisdom of the God who loves us and that the Holy Spirit will help us in dying to our flesh.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27 NIV

http://bible.com/111/jhn.14.27.NIV

Reconciliation

In this post I want to share what I’ve been learning about forgiveness and reconciliation. The reality of what these two words mean for humanity and our relationships is truly profound. It’s not my truth. It’s God’s truth! And this is another great example of His majesty and His wisdom. He knows what our hearts need before we ever do!

Let’s start with forgiveness. I will assume that most of us understand forgiveness as a choice to let go of the hurt someone caused us. It doesn’t make the person, the words, or actions against us okay. It just means that we will not hold on to the hurt and seek retribution for ourselves. Let’s Take a look at what scripture says about forgiveness.

Mark 11:25 (NASB)
   “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that you’re father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”

Matthew 18:35 (NASB)
   “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.

This verse in Matthew is at the end of a story Jesus used to answer a question Peter asked about forgiveness. Please look it up and read it for yourself. My summary is that if you can’t forgive others, then God will not forgive you.
The verse in Mark, in my perspective, hints to the same truth, just a little nicer.

I have learned that forgiveness is HARD. It’s rigorous. It’s like climbing a mountain. I think I have forgiven someone and then they do or say something similar and all the hurt comes up again. I believe that this is a spiritual battle. I believe that we as Christ followers must choose to continue to forgive the person, even when we don’t feel it. I think we need to choose to not dwell on, verbally or mentally repeat the offenses over and over.

Don’t misunderstand me please…this is a complicated issue that a great book has helped me understand, Peacemaker by Ken Sande. All situations CAN NOT be handled the same. That’s why it’s like climbing the mountain. Every move is different. Every situation requires God’s specific instructions. Sometimes you forgive and forget without even mentioning it to the person. Other times you need to have a conversation, hopefully covered with prayer and love, and unfortunately sometimes you have to forgive that person and remove them from your life for a time or even forever. But that should not be decided in haste without God’s wisdom and truth.

Now that we have summarized forgiveness, please read more than this because I’m no expert, let’s talk about reconciliation. I believe that reconciliation is a huge part of relationship. Let’s face a simple truth here, we are all human. Not one of us humans are perfect. Which means, we are all going to cause someone else pain, frustration, and at the very least annoyance.

I believe that God wants us to love one another well. I believe that God wants us to reconcile with one another when we have hurt someone. I believe that
God wants us to reconcile when someone comes to us and says we have hurt them or offended them.

So what exactly is reconciliation. What does it look like. To me, reconciliation is when we take responsibility for our actions, our words, our facial expressions, our tones of voice, our lack of loving another person. Simply put, it means saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong to (fill in the blank)” I don’t think it matters what the intentions are at the time of the hurt. I think what matters is that we apologize, because we love and value the person we hurt. We value the relationship with that person, so we set aside our pride and let God’s love lead the way.

Here are some scriptures that have helped me come to the aforementioned conclusion.

Ephesians 4:17-32
Luke 7:23
Matthew 5:23-24

Like I said forgiveness is HARD, I think reconcilation can be even more difficult. One of our new favorite sayings in our house is, ” Do what is right, not what is easy.”

It’s not what I’m saying…it’s not what you’re hearing

 

image

Genesis chapter 11 contains a very interesting story. The story of a people coming together for a common goal. It would seem like a great idea, but the heart of the people were not focused on the heart of God. They were focused on themselves. It’s the story of the tower of babel.

I’ve read this story several times. A couple morals of the story are, that no human can reach heaven on their own, and humans should not make themselves idols to be worshiped. Very Good lessons to learn, about who we are and what are physical limitations are.

This week as I was reading this story to my boys out of The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It occurred to me, there is more to learn from this story about communication.

I’m sure we all have had at least one experience about a misunderstanding with another person that involves the words we said and the words we heard.
I feel as if these types of misunderstandings happen often in my life.  This time as I was reading through the story, it jumped out at me that God confused their tongues intentionally.

   His purpose was to confuse them and create offense between them. His intention was to separate the people, in order to stop them from building the tower. Now, do I think God wants us all to be rude and unkind, NO! But let’s take a step back and examine God’s law. First and foremost, Thou shall have no other God’s before me. The people in the story of babel were making themselves gods before the other people not in the tower, and to each other. They were filled with their own pride. God intervened because He knows what is best for our hearts. Having ourselves and other people at the center of our hearts, minds, and focus is disastrous at best.

   God created us for community, but that community should not come before our relationship with Him. God created us for intimacy, but it should come with Him first. God created us for many things, but He should be First in everything.

  When I speak, am I speaking because I want to be heard, I’m nervous, I want to be right, or because Jesus is asking me to speak?  I find that when I ask the Holy Spirit to give me the words to speak, most times it turns out better.

   The other side of the coin, is the listening. When I hear others, sometimes, okay more often than I’d like to admit, I’m easily offended or brokenhearted by what they have said. BUT, ( and yes it’s a BIG BUT!) do I need to be offended and hurt? When I stop and ask my heavenly Father, more times than not, He says no. He helps me understand His truth for my life and helps me let go of what isn’t necessary.

  In all our humanity, in every aspect, in everything we attempt, WE need God. We need His wisdom, His love, His perspective, His Grace, and His mercy.

Especially when communicating, we NEED God to intervene.

One of my favorite poets, Javan, wrote about this very issue. Here is my best paraphrase, if I speak, but not with my words. And you listen, but not with your ears, then maybe we can communicate!

Abba, helps us to come to you. To talk to you and hear from your heart first. Lord humble our hearts an minds so that we seek you before attempting anything on our own. In Jesus name, Amen.

BROKENESS

Have you ever loved something? Something that brought you joy EVERY time you looked at it! Something that held meaning to your soul in which words could never describe. Something that could always make you smile.

Now imagine it’s broken. You frantically try to piece it back together. All the while making sure you have reclaimed every broken piece. You find your best glue and attempt to salvage the wreckage. After all the time and effort you look at your accomplishment only to find…well it’s no where near the beauty, joy, and grace it once was. It’s like a broken window repaired with duct tape.

DUCT TAPE…YES PICTURE THAT in your mind. Just let your imagination wonder a bit. Several cracks with duct tape going every which way. No. I’m not talking about the pretty kind you can make a dress out of these days. I’m talking about the silver. Utility. Duct tape. It’s ugly!

Well that is how my soul and my body have been feeling lately. I feel broken. Broken by the unkindness I see. Broken by the rudeness, the selfishness, the greed, the lust, the insatiable appetite of the enemy. My body feels broken. My mind feels like a frazzled over wired electric box. My heart feels heavy with the burden of all the things around me that I can not fix. I feel like the broken window. I try to fix it, but I only have silver Utility Duct tape. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t let the light in. It doesn’t sparkle. It’s just there. I am the broken window.

Thankfully my story doesn’t end there. It could. If I let it. If I choose to believe the perspective that there is no hope, I’m just the ugly broken window. But that is not the end my friends! You see I believe that the God I serve. The God who loves me. The God I call mine and I am His. I believe He is calling me to bring my brokenness to Him. I believe that He has something better in mind to restore, redeem, and repair my brokenness. I believe that as I surrender all my broken pieces He is making a beautiful mosaic of me.

You see He will take my plain ordinary broken pieces and use them for His glory! And as He does that each piece changes a little. It becomes more like the piece He intended it to be. He changes their colors, their shapes, their sizes! He’s changing me! He’s making me into the beautiful mosaic I’m meant to be! I just need to keep looking, keep talking, and keep seeking Him!

sunflower mosaic

One of my favorite songs
If We’re Honest by Frencesca Badistelli

It’s my prayer and hope that you find encouragement in this!

Captivity

   I can be pretty judgmental sometimes. More times than I would care to admit. God just revealed to me that I’ve been pretty judgmental of people in the bible. I’ve read the book of exodus more than once and I’m reading it again.
     Throughout the old testament we read about these Israelites and their consistently fickle nature with God. As I read, I would like to believe that I would have more faith in God than they are showing. That is where the judgment comes in. I’m judging their faith. Who am I to do that? No one. O Lord forgive me.
    The reality is that the human condition contains a paradox. The paradox that “our captivity” is safe. Captivity can be different for everyone. For any one person it can be organization, drugs, abusive relationships, success, power, cleanliness, fears of any kind….and the list goes on. Captivity can be as varied as there are a variety of people.
     You see the Israelites were rescued by God from slavery in Egypt. One would think that after seeing with their own eyes the miracles God performed, walking across the red sea on DRY GROUND, that the Israelites would not struggle to believe. Nay nay.

     At the first sign of a trial, the Israelites wanted to go back to Captivity. At least their would be food and water.
As the reader, I know how the story goes. God rains down manna from heaven and provides water from a rock. But the Israelites did not know that yet. Knowing how the story goes, I became judgemental of their response to their trial. I’m pretty arrogant. I’ve never had to walk through a desert and wonder where my food and water would come from.
     I get nervous the day before grocery shopping day, because we’ve run out of some, MAYBE most foods. And I know I’ll be going to the grocery store. That has more than all the food my family needs.
     So who am I to judge these Israelites, just because I think I know their story? I’m no one. And the fact is. I only really know a part of their story.
       The sad reality is, that I too often do this with people in my daily life. At times, I think I know and understand people and what they are going through. In reality, I only know a glimpse. The only story I know in completion is my own. Heck I don’t even know my sister’s story in it’s entirety.
     So I’m learning to listen to the wisdom of one of my really great friends, “you never know the whole story.”  Therefore I’m starting to practice leading with love and compassion for everyone. God revealed His love, compassion, and grace for the Israelites. I’m so thankful God leads with love!
  

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

A matter of perspective

      Do you ever keep running around the same problem over and over and over again? Does it always seem that this one person just gets under your skin EVERY.TIME.
      I’ve been there. Many times. More than I would like to count. I always thought things just weren’t fair. That maybe you just needed to know the “right” person to get where or what you wanted. Or that only money matters and you need money to achieve your goals.        
      Sometimes, okay many times in my life, very similar situations would unrail me. They would consume my thoughts until I could figure out how to fix the situation. Sometimes my solution would work. Most times it just took the boiling pot to a steady simmer until another similar situation reared its ugly face.
      The same has been true for me with people. Their comments, their demeanor, and their rudeness (in my eyes). I didn’t give everyone
the power to unrail me. I just didn’t realize that I had given people power over me to begin with.
     It has been as amazing journey of renewal, restoration, and transformation. What surprised me the most was how much of it I had been responsible for.
     I mean I was nice, to most people. At least I tried to be. I tried to be fair in every situation possible. I wanted everyone to be happy. Well, all that isn’t up to me nor is it my responsibility.
      It is has been truly amazing for me personally, to see how really allowing God’s word to penetrate my heart, my hurts, my fears, and the lies I once believed, and how He transforms and renews me. It’s amazing how different a situation or person can look when I allow His perspective to take precedence over mine.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 AMP
http://bible.com/8/heb.4.12.AMP

I pray your mind and heart will be renewed this day and everyday forward!
God bless!
Rebecca

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

For there is no other way to be happy in Jesus…but to…

This is the question from the First Five App from my devotions this morning.

If you are not familiar with the First Five app, I highly recommend going to your app store, downloading it, and start immediately! It has been nourishing my soul.

Anyways…the question that has inspired this post:
When the people heard that God was going to spare their lives and pass over them because of the lamb’s blood, they bowed and worshipped Him. (Exodus 12:27) By doing so, they honored God. How could you honor God for sending Jesus as your Passover Lamb?

Well the best way for me to answer this is to share a part of my heart, my life, a conviction that has only grown stronger with age.

I was a junior in college. I lived in Howe hall on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. I was happily dating my now husband. I was trying to get my life figured out! I like to have a plan. I like to have answers to questions.  Sometimes more importantly, I like to give answers to questions. You see at that time in my life I did not enjoy saying, “I don’t know.”

So, God had me stuck reading John chapter 15. It felt like months went by before I could read another passage of scripture. My prideful controlling heart wrestled with the truth in that chapter. I grasped enough of that truth at that time for God to release me. But God had used that time and grown His wisdom in my heart and mind.

The conviction was that if I wanted to love God, to serve Him, to honor Him, then I needed to TRUST & OBEY Him. Okay. Simple enough right?

Yea, not so much. In some things, I trust and obey quite well. In other things it’s a real struggle. It has take me 15 years to get to the understanding that I have today. The understanding that I want to share with you.

I’m learning to surrender. It is in surrendering the illusion of my control, that I can begin to trust in my Jesus. When I can trust in my Jesus, the obedience becomes easier.

The disobedience arises when I think my plans are better than God’s. That my knowledge is enough. Do you read the arrogance in my prior thinking and sometimes still…I get caught back there. I must repent and confess my sin, humble my heart before God, and seek Him.

To honor God I must trust and obey. To trust, I must humble my heart and mind. I must acknowledge that God’s plans and wisdom are far better than mine. When I accept that truth and rest in that truth…I can more easily trust my sweet Jesus. When I trust Him, I can more easily obey Him.

Teaching my children to trust in God and obey without delay, have taken my understanding of John 15 to a whole. ‘nother. Level!

Have a blessed day obeying without delay!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

His resurrection

His (Jesus ’) resurrection gives me hope. To me it means that His love is unyielding, wreckless, and faithful for eternity. It wasn’t for His glory that He rose from the dead. It was His love for us that He rose from the grave, returned to earth, and instilled us with His hope. Hope for a new way of life.
  Jesus is our example. How to obey, how to surrender, how to trust, and how to love our Heavenly Father. We are to be like Christ. Therefore we should die to our flesh as Jesus willingly died to His. He said no to His personal gain, protection, and comfort. We are called to do the same.
  In His resurrection we are called to rise up with the power of the Holy spirit. When we choose Christ as Savior, we are renewed to live a life set Free from the bondages of sin in this world.
  On top of all that, Jesus prophesized this entire thing. Honestly without knowing and believing that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, I would have thought Jesus to be crazy. BUT… Knowing and believing that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead proves something far greater. His own prophecy proves His Sovereignty. He is faithful to His word.
  The best part is, when you put the two together, without God’s love… His sovereignty doesn’t provide much comfort or peace. But, with God’s sovereignty interdependent with God’s love… Well that means something entirely different. It means he can be trusted. It means He is our safety. It means He is ours and we are His. He gave us everything. He held nothing back, because He first loved us.

Lord, help me to live the life you created me for. Holy spirit live in my life. Help me to die to myself so that I can live more fully in you.

Multiply

So most of you know the great miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000, but I think God did an even bigger miracle for Jesus just a few verses earlier. It was a personal miracle, an intimate miracle.

Let’s read Matthew 14:13-14

When Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there privately in a boat to a solitary place. But when the crowds heard of it, they followed Him [by land] on foot from the towns. When He went ashore and saw a great throng of people, He had compassion (pity and deep sympathy) for them and cured their sick.
Matthew 14:13-14 AMP
http://bible.com/8/mat.14.13-14.AMP

Please don’t read this wrong. I’m not saying that it’s okay and justified to not seek solitude with God. I’m not at all saying that our serving comes before our relationship to our Saviour.

Jesus was just informed about his cousin’s death. He DESIRED to be with God. ALONE. His heart was yearning to be with His father’s heart. To be healed, to grieve, to be angry, to be overwhelmed, and to be broken. Scripture doesn’t say, but there was some time between when Jesus went to be alone and the crowd gathered.

In this busy season of my life with little children and consistent frequent interruption, this passage speaks to me in a whole new way.

God knew the heart of His son. He knew Jesus yearned to draw near to His heart and just be with Him. God also knew the people were coming. God also knew the people had needs. God made the little time Jesus had with Him enough. God multiplied the time Jesus set apart. God healed and grieved Jesus’ heart. Then God filled and provided for His son all He needed for the people waiting.

I hear God whispering to me. Come to me often for as long as you can. Even if we are interrupted…I Will make our time enough. I Will fill you for what is next. Trust me. Keep coming just as consistent and frequent as we are interrupted.

Oh the peace and joy that filled my heart. I have been set free of the guilt of not giving God enough time, my kids enough time, my husband, the house, my friends, and my church.

God Will make it enough!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

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for the men in my life

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