What Do You Do?

proverbs3_5-6What do you do when the answers don’t seem to be clear? Do you throw a temper tantrum and shake your fist at the sky? Do you cry and feel broken, believing the light of day will never come? Do you grow cold and callous, convinced He never cared anyway?

Those of you who are parents, do you jump for joy when your child’s response is in any of these ways? Is this the way we want them to react when life doesn’t go their way? By all means, no. Then, why, oh why do we respond to the Creator of the Universe as if we are spoiled or rebellious youngsters?

Believe me, I’m “preaching to the choir” here. I’ve been guilty. I’ve sulked. I’ve whimpered and whined. I’ve even been known to throw a temper tantrum here and there (hopefully, not too many of you saw that one! 🙄)

Yet, the great thing about the God we serve is HE STILL LOVES US when we haven’t reacted the way we should to what we deem as unfair. He still cares when we feel disheartened and broken and when we’ve shown our immaturity. He still loves us WHEN WE DON’T DESERVE IT! 😉

He is a GOOD God, and He loves us SO much. Sometimes, He doesn’t answer for our own good. Sometimes, we can’t hear, because our ears are plugged, and we need to clear some debris. Sometimes, He has us wait; so, He can finish a work He began.

Regardless of the reason, why don’t we treat Him as we’d like our children to respond to us when we have to say, “No,” or when we have to delay with our response. Why don’t we respond to Him with the same love He is sending to us? 😉

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Where Did We Go Wrong?

I’ve been thinking of the post I posted on Monday. The question keeps rolling over in my brain… Where did we go wrong? How did we get to this place of remaining silent while this world is fading? How did we get to this point in life that “being tolerant” overrides our personal convictions and faith filled standards?

I’ll tell you when we began sliding on this slippery slope:  when the church became silent in the public arena and began turning on itself, accusing each other of judgmentalism and condemnation. It began when we started looking more in the mirror and at our fellow man rather than staying focused on what’s most important: God. It happened when we became more worried about what the world thinks of us than what God thinks.

It is unfortunate and disheartening. We have forsaken our first love for a lie and have become enamored with our own vanity and popularity. We have abdicated our prayer closets of holiness, and we have embraced our gateways of tolerance. We have forsaken our knees of prayer and become consumed by our mouths of gossip and destruction. We have relinquished our rights for higher standards and grasped the liberal demand for concession on every issue. We have surrendered our fight for a better future for our children and allowed our lives to be diminished and minimized to an anemic, powerless and silent walk of faith.

It’s not the world that has been led astray. The lost will always be lost without the Savior. Those in darkness will always be dark without The Light. It’s the church who has veered from the way. It is our responsibility to seek first His kingdom and reach this world for Him. We must look to God and get back to our prayer closets. We must stop looking to our phones and our friends for direction and comfort in this world and return to the One who called us out in the first place.

We must fall down on our knees in prayer and remember from whence He has called us. As Christians, we are called to a higher purpose, and that purpose is prayer and having power with God! If we don’t seek Him, how can we truly reach them?

2 Corinthians 4:1-6, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Love Doesn’t Mean Tolerance

Okay, so I have a little bit a spiel to spell today. I’m not going to be lengthy nor testy, but if you’ll indulge me, there’s just something I’d like to share…

Just because I am a Christian does not mean I should shut up and just love with no regard for sin. Just because I’m a Christian does not mean I no longer have a voice to speak against wrong. Honestly, I am so tired of hearing people, both Christians and nonChristians, claim that my love is proven when I simply “shut up and love” which in their book means to tolerate with no resistance, because “after all, God is a God of love. Jesus was a peaceful man…He loved everybody.”

Yes! Jesus did love everybody, and yes, He was gentle and kind. He is a merciful and forgiving God. However, He also ran the money changers out of the temple with a whip! He did tell the adulterous woman to “Go and sin no more.” He told the woman at the well all about her past and offered her a better way. He told the rich young ruler to “Go, sell all you have and follow me.” He told Zaccheus to come down from where he was, because He had a different plan.

Just because Jesus loves and is merciful doesn’t mean He leaves you to be who you are and where you are when you meet Him. If that were the case, why would you need Him as your Savior? A Savior is someone who rescues you from the state in which you find yourself. A Savior is someone who changes you from what you’ve been. I am so thankful He is a loving and merciful God, and I’m so appreciative that He has rescued me from a place of hopelessness and despair, but He didn’t save me so I could continue in my sin. He doesn’t give His message of hope to us so we can keep it to ourselves and never share it with someone else.

I don’t want to belabor the point here, but I am passionate about this fact:  Just because He is a merciful God doesn’t mean He’s a silent Savior. Simply because He is a loving Father doesn’t mean He turns a blind eye to sin and allows you to continue in your own ways. The Word tells us He came to save the world and change the world.  The problem is that in today’s society, speaking out against wrong is now tagged with words like condemnation, judging or even hatred. When did we get to this point? When did we get to the place where we cannot even call sin sin anymore?

As Christians, we may not blend in with this world. We may not be popular with those in power, and we may not appease those in the press, but I have to ask, “What will that matter 150 years from now? What will that matter when we stand before our Lord and Savior?” We must decide. Whom are we called to serve, worship and follow, God or man?? The longer we remain silent, the more are dying an eternal death.

John 3:16-21, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

To Speak or Not To Speak

For our relationships to be healed, mended and restored, we must speak up and be heard, but we must also shut up and listen. Sometimes, what you are assuming leads to misunderstanding and confusion. Sometimes, what you are avoiding leads to brokenness and pain.

Proverbs 17:27-28 tells us, “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” Maybe, you need to slow down and listen more. I had a teacher in my young life who said, “God gave you two ears and one mouth. Learn which one He wants you to use more.” This has really stuck with me through the years.

 

Maybe you contend that it’s easier for me to stop and listen than it is for the next guy. Maybe my introverted personality affords me more latitude. This doesn’t mean the next guy is necessarily excused from the need, from the expectancy of others. This doesn’t mean he has a better excuse than I. No, it just simply means he might need to work a little harder to open his ears and shut his mouth.

Other times, it’s better to speak up and be heard than to remain silent. In just a few chapters later, in the book of Proverbs, this instruction is given to us, “Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Sometimes, when you remain silent, what you are feeling is not simple discomfort, it is pure conviction for what you are observing, hearing and the situation of which you are allowing yourself to be a part. When you remain silent, your actions further condone what is happening. If it is wrong, speak truth. Stop violence. Stop harm against the innocent. Stop evil with your bold speech.

 

 

I could argue that, maybe it’s easier for you to speak louder than it is for me. Maybe your extroverted personality allows you more fortitude. This doesn’t mean I am excused from the necessity of expression, from the desperation of the wounded. This doesn’t mean I have a better excuse than you. No, it just simply means I must put more effort in the articulation of my voice.

The perfect balance comes between the tension of knowing when to speak and when to remain silent. It comes from the acknowledgment for the need of both and seeking the right one at the perfect moment. It comes in knowing our own weaknesses and strengths and drawing from them both for the courage to do right, and finding our passion in one and releasing our will for another.

That is the beauty of conflict and the harmony of perfect peace.