My Fear of Confrontation Keeps Me From Being a Minister of Reconciliation

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us….. (2 Cor 5:20). 

We have a high calling from God my friends.  It is to be a minister of reconciliation.

When I look at my life it’s easy for me to focus not on bringing people together, but instead allow my fear of confrontation to keep people apart.  I’d love to say that I love bringing people together, but I’m not sure that’s true just yet.  Quite honestly, my fear of making people angry, saying the wrong thing, having them not like me often times takes precedence over bringing people back together with a difficult word spoken in love.

I love to speak words of encouragement and grace, but gosh, I hate speaking a hard word.  Which means that I don’t really value that persons growth or my own.  I’d rather protect myself from what I fear than enter into a hard conversation for a moment so that both of us might grow.

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Kingdom work isn’t always about accomplishing some great feat for God.  Kingdom work involves facing our fears and trusting God with the results.  Believing Him for the best and stepping out in faith when faith feels risky and uncertain is where we are met with the grace of God when we feel like we have none.  Just as David experiencing the fullness of God when he stepped out into the battle field we too will be filled with this same measure of grace as we face our fears today.

Lord, thank you for the grace that is in Jesus for us. Thank you that He helps us in our weaknesses to face our fears.  Lord, help me to grow as a minister of reconciliation and not run from it because of the things I fear.  I entrust my whole life to you, in Jesus name, Amen.  

Friends Hold Each Other Up

 When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down.- Exodus 17:12-14

We all need an Aaron and a Hur in our lives.  Beloved friends who will lift us up and help us stand firm on the rock when life makes us weary and tired.  Yes, we all need a friend willing to stand with us in battle and we need to be that for others too.

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I have faced some deep challenges in my life and knowing I had friends to fight the battle with me gave me the strength that I needed to keep moving forward.  Knowing that I was not alone, but that people were supporting me and helping me keep my head above water made all the difference despite what was in front of me.

As the Amalekites raged in a battle against Israel, as long as Moses’s hands were lifted up the Israelites were prevailing, but whenever Moses hands would go down they would start losing the battle.  Why did God do this?  It seems strange to us that God would choose to give victory in some an odd manner.  However, Moses was the leader of Israel, but even good leaders need good friends to stand with them and beside them.  When you have friends willing to do that, you can keep leading because good leaders surround themselves with trustworthy, reliable and Christ-honoring friends.

Find some friends who will be willing to help you fulfill God’s mission for your life, but, you must be willing to do the same for them.  This means that at some moments in life, you’ll be holding their hands up when they walk through their own battles.  That’s the blessing of friendship and that is the body of Christ working together for the good of His Kingdom.

Father, make me like Aaron and Hur to others in my life.  I want to hold them up and support them along this journey.  Father, please help me to walk by faith in all of this.  I need your grace because I’m selfish, but in you, I am selfless, thank you, in Jesus name, Amen.  

When God Feels Cruel and Mean

you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me. ….(Job 9:31). 

Is God cruel and mean?  Is He some vindictive judge who sits on high only hoping to punish the people He created below?

I know for me, I’ve entertained the thought that He was and is indeed against me and not for me.  I’ve believed, in the depth of my deepest pain, that God was simply seeking to punish me at nearly every turn.

I remember sitting there in the depth of my anguish and pain, thinking, Lord, there’s something I don’t understand about you.  I don’t know you like I thought that I did.  It was easy to think that I knew you in the good times, but I need to know your true heart.  I need a taste and a drink of your love.  I need to know how you care for me.

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It’s not selfish to ask God to show His heart for you.  In fact, I believe He loves to show us little glimpses of His great love for us.  My unhealthy view of Him tells me that His discipline is not loving.  Yet, I have asked Him to make me more like His Son and I cannot become like Him unless I grow up into Him.   I cannot grow up in Him without being disciplined, because my sin has kept me from becoming like Him.

Instead, we should say of God, I know that you are good and that this discipline is for my good.  Help me now to embrace it with joy, knowing that through it you’re doing a new thing in my heart.  Through it, you’re transforming me by your love.

Father, thank you for your kindness that meets us in dark places.  Thank you that you do not abandon us to the grave.  Help us now to walk in your love.  I have your joy at my fingertips in every season.  May I choose to live in that love now, in Jesus name, Amen.  

It’s Time to Unlock That Pain

open wide your hearts also…. (2 Cor 6:13). 

Has pain ever made you close your heart off?  It has for me.  You know that person who hurt you deeply, shut you out and cast you off? For me, the thought of opening wide my heart to them, quite frankly, fills me with anger and if I could be quite honest, I don’t think its righteous anger.  It’s an anger that says, “You hurt me, and I’m angry.  I have very little love or grace for you because of how you treated me.”

Ouch.

You see, I don’t want to open wide my heart because that means I have to let go.  I have to  release all the pain once more, the rejection and hurt feelings.  Opening wide my heart to that person means that I release them to the Lord, knowing that He is for both of us and sits forever on the throne.

Yes, He is for both of us.  As much as I want God to be against that person, I should praise Him that God never treats us how our sins deserve.  When someone casts you out and cuts you off, it’s not because you’re the problem.  It’s something deeper in their heart that needs the touch of the Father’s love.  It’s a wound that never healed and unfortunately that wound is infecting you.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped closing off our hearts and started opening them wide instead?  Knowing that we are not receiving back the wrong done to us in our lives, as if it never happened or as if it wasn’t wrong.  Instead we are opening up our hearts to that person in a Spirit of love and forgiveness.  We are opening our hearts knowing that who we are actually becoming as we do this, is more like Jesus and when He fills our hearts we can receive others knowing that it’s not us who receives them, but Christ in us instead.

That kind of love changes people.  It convicts them and sets things free.  It might not make the situation right in the way we want it, but it becomes something that is now held in the hands of a loving Father instead of locked up in the hearts of hurting people.

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Lord, I entrust my life to you.  Every heartache and pain, every person who has hurt me, Father, I surrender them to you.  Fill me now with your love, grace and mercy, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.  

A Long-Term Investment

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry…(2 Cor 3:3). 

Writing a letter takes time.  You have to sit down, slow your mind and take the time to pen out the words.  I’ll be honest.  I don’t like writing letters.  Mostly because I don’t like taking the time to do it.  If I can do something faster by typing, I’ll take the quicker route just about every time.  You see, my mind often races towards the next thing instead of staying present in the moment before me.

But, if we want to make disciples and truly invest in the lives of people we must be willing to slow down.  We have to quiet our hearts and busy minds.  We must commit to taking the time to doing what our control and selfishness tells us not to do.

Paul says that the Corinthians are his letter from Christ, the results of their ministry.  Paul was someone who took time to invest in others.  He built churches by building leaders.  He stayed in places not just for a moment, but for a number of years until things were established and we know along the way, he faced much trouble and hardship.  But because he persevered and kept pouring his life into the people of that community, a letter was written to the world about the love of God.

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I want my investment in people to be a letter that is written to the world about the wonderful love of Jesus.  Let it be so.

Jesus, help me to slow down and invest in others.  Forgive me when I make life about the things I produce and not the people in my path.  Help me to love, honor and serve others, not for my sake, but for your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.  

Who Rules Your Thoughts?

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…..(2 Cor 1:2). 

How do you greet people who’ve hurt you?  I’m not just talking about a physical greeting, like when you see them at church or at the grocery store.  I’m talking about how you greet them when your thoughts run towards them in your heart.  Sometimes, for me, that’s a greeting that’s met with anger towards them or a desire for justice.  I often wonder how many of my thoughts towards people have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, but everything to do with the Kingdom of me.

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Because what’s best for me, might not be what’s best for God and His glory.  You see, His glory is made manifest in me more abundantly when I learn to make my life about being a living sacrifice.  As I sacrifice my agenda and preferences, I make Him and others a bigger deal than I do myself.  This is when my heart starts to grow, because I have learned the value of being a servant who trust in her Father’s love and plan.

I’m not sure who comes to mind most often when you think about your pain, but remember that our painful moments hold within them the potential for purpose.  A purpose far greater than the anger and discouragement our pain tries to drown us in.  It is a purpose that connects our hearts with God and with people.  Not so that we can be put on display, but so that Christ in us can abound all the more.  Now my thoughts are no longer so much about those who have hurt me, but those whom I can love and serve for the Kingdom and glory of Christ as we all walk this road of healing with Christ together.

Jesus, help me now to thing upon thoughts that are pure and lovely.  I need your help to do this.  God, grant me wisdom.  Help me to navigate life with grace, love and mercy, in Jesus name, Amen.  

Finding God in the Midst of Tragedy

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed…(1 Pe 4:13).  

This is going to be hard for me say, especially in light of recent events in our world and even in my present community, but God is working out something good through tragedy and uncertainty.

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Now, I understand that when I say that there are stories and real lives attached to that reality.  I get that.  I’m not dismissing your pain, confusion, anger or fear, but what I’m telling you is that there’s something bigger going on behind the scenes in light of all the uncertainty in our world today.

I’ve been there in such deep, dark places of loss in my life where I wondered where God was and questioned His goodness.  Is God punishing me, I asked?  No, He was preparing me.  Preparing me for a better day.  A day when I would see Him face to face.  A day when He would wipe every tear from my eye and remove all fear and uncertainty from my heart for all eternity.

As we wait for that day, beloved, we can live with hope.  Hope that God is working.  Hope that although life might disappoint us there is a rock that stands firm forever.  The Lord Jesus Christ.

In those dark seasons in life, I had to learn to let God write a different story on my heart and mind.  I had to stop asking the question of, “Why God?” Instead, I got back to the question of, “Who is God?”  And although my answer to that questions didn’t feel great in light of my circumstances, what I knew about God had to become what I rested my hope upon.  That He is good, gracious, loving, redemptive and kind.

Lord Jesus, thank you for showering us with grace.  Help me to live with hope.  Truly, you offer that for me.  I want to live in light of who you are, believing you for great things, in Jesus name, Amen.