God made babies special in a lot of ways.Do you know why He made them so short?From a baby’s point of view the world is a place that’s full of giants who are always reaching to grab you, tickle you, or wake you up.
I think God made babies short because they are closer to the floor when they are learning to walk.Those first steps are treacherous!Falling is not an option for a child who is trying to stand on two feet for the first time.This brilliant thought came to me today after I fell to the floor by clumsily tripping over a portable heater in my office (the thermostat on the central heat usually stays around 61 degrees!).
Not long ago I read an article about a little part of the brain that makes everything slow down when you are scared.While a person is going through a trauma everything seems to move in slow motion.They said that the older you get the less that little mechanism works.But at 63 years young I can attest that mine works just fine, thank you very much!
A paunchy man, five feet six inches tall, falling on the floor in a church is a sight to behold.It felt like time just stopped for a few minutes while I was falling.“Ooops, I’m falling,” I thought to myself.Then I grabbed the wall to keep my head from hitting it, and even had time to set the box down before my knees banged the floor.
When I finally quit bouncing (I said I was paunchy) the first thing I did was look around to see if anyone was watching.Thank goodness no one saw or heard me so I wallowed on the floor for about five minutes, rubbing my sore left knee and praying that nothing was broken.It wasn’t.But it sure did hurt and I’m not too excited about testing that knee in the morning.
As I drove myself home the old knee started aching and I began berating myself for being such a goof ball.But the best was yet to come.
Sherry was vacuuming when I walked in the door so I just limped back to the bedroom to change into my comfortable clothes.When she finished I said to her rather pitifully, “Honey, I fell today.”It was like I had uttered magical words.Her empathy just wrapped around me and I knew then that it was going to be OK.There was such concern for my little episode that I felt a little guilty for how good I was suddenly feeling as I soaked up her love.She helped me find the ice pack and the ace bandage, and then sat down beside me as though I was the most important part of her whole day.She seemed to share my pain and never once chastened me to be more careful in the future.Our heart-connection in those moments was the ointment I needed to get me on the road to healing.
For the most part, Christian empathy is a learned characteristic. It is absolutely achievable for a person who really wants to follow Jesus.One of the first Bible verses I ever memorized was, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”And that’s the beginning point.
“Show” that you care about people in tangible ways.
Really learning about people will foster caring relationships.
True empathy lets the other person know that he is accepted just as he is, giving him an opportunity to open up.
Understanding someone reduces irritation and prejudice.
The Woman at the Well was not the kind of person a Jew would ordinarily befriend.She had a long history of a questionable lifestyle and was shunned by her own people.She had fallen many times.But Jesus looked past human prejudice and saw a person in need.He accepted her, spoke words of encouragement, and gave her the feeling that she was a person of worth.That’s what Christian empathy is about.
The next time you see a fallen brother or sister, give them a hand instead of rebuke.Take the time to listen to their story, and then offer a word of loving encouragement.
·a claimant to the throne or to the office of ruler (usually without just title)
·imposter: a person who makes deceitful pretenses
·hypocrite: a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives
I need to declare something to you.I’ve been a great pretender!Yes, me, and maybe you too!
When I awaken in the mornings, I usually make my coffee, sit and mediate, reading various devotionals that come across my Blackberry during the night.One is the Purpose Driven Life Daily Devotional and when the message touches me, I forward it on.There was one recently (January 17, 2008 - Your Weakness, God’s Glory) that started a conversation with a friend.
We commented about the days when we “tried to have it all together or at least show the outside world ‘I am okay’.”Both of us would have to admit, we were great pretenders!
But, that has changed since we acknowledge we are the children of the Most High God and he loves us just as we are.My friend said, “I am who I am, broken, sometimes fearful and lost, not knowing which way to go and what to do; just knowing I belong to God.”How powerful is that… "just knowing I BELONG TO GOD!”
There were several key points in the devotional and here are two that resonate with me -
ęSee your weaknesses as a gift – You are God’s jar of clay, designed exactly the way he intended. Your weaknesses are an opportunity for God’s light to shine even brighter from within you.
ęStop trying to make yourself look good – Just be who you are, a frail human designed by God to reveal his glory. Frankly, we could use a whole lot more authenticity in the church. If you’re hurt, say it; if you’re angry, resolve it; if you’re in love; show it; if you’ve made a mistake, confess it; if you’re in need, reveal it.
How true it is.We need to stop being the great pretenders and start living our authentic selves.
18 Do not be proud. Do not think you are better than the branches that were broken off. If you are proud, remember that you do not hold the root. It is the root that holds you. 19 You may say, "Branches were broken off to make room for me." 20 It is true. They were broken off because they did not put their trust in Christ. And you are there only because of your faith. Do not be proud. Instead, be afraid. 21 God did not keep the first branches (who are the Jews) on the tree. Then watch, or He will not keep you on the tree. 22 We see how kind God is. It shows how hard He is also. He is hard on those who fall away. But He is kind to you if you keep on trusting Him. If you do not, He will cut you off. 23 If the Jews would put their trust in Christ, God would put them back into the tree. He has power to do that.
(Romans 11:18-23 - New Life Version)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, I have been a great pretender.Please help me to see that You are still in the refining business.Help me to be authentic and admit when I’m hurt, admit when I’m angry, admit when I am in need and that I have made mistakes.Help me see that I am still worth knowing and loving and that I am powerful because…
I BELONG TO GOD!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, January 23, 2008
(Inspired by Lloyd Ogilvie, Life as it Was Meant to Be, 1980)
What is the one word which describes the biggest change since Jesus came into your life?
I was first confronted with that question almost 30 years ago in a book by Lloyd Ogilvie.He said “I long to be a completely open, ready-for-anything kind of person.I don’t want to resist life in any way.”Dr. Ogilvie’s word for describing the work of the Holy Spirit is “spontaneous.”
The opposite of spontaneity is stagnation.Unfortunately we find too many of the latter in the institutional church than those who are expectant, willing to be surprised, free from all the baggage.People like that are guilty of saying things such as:
1.We’ve never done it that way before.
2.We’re not ready for that.
3.We’re doing alright without it.
4.We tried that once before.
5.That’s not our responsibility.
6.It costs too much.
7.It just won’t work.
Paul the Apostle said to the Christians at Thessalonica,
“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not
treat prophecies with contempt.Test everything.
Hold on to the good.Avoid every kind of evil.”
(1st Thess. 5:19)
The first step to spontaneous living is to feed the fire!Don’t develop the habit of quenching the Spirit.The word “quench” means to smother.Fire will continue to burn until something outside itself extinguishes it.We cannot diminish the Spirit of God but we can extinguish the fire in our hearts and others by living recklessly.
John the Baptist predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit and fire.Pentecost should come as no surprise.Unquenchable spontaneity and enthusiastic Christianity produces hearts afire!Samuel Chadwick, British preacher of the late 1800’s, said, “Men ablaze are invincible.”
Are you ready?There is so much you’ve not discovered, so are you really open and ready for new truth?For a new journey?Are you ready to put the past in the past and embrace the future?Spontaneous living is not a whimsical lifestyle; it’s a life of freedom to respond to what God has guided.As you go onward, take with you a word from the Word:
“But when I am afraid, I will put my confidence in you.
Yes, I will trust the promises of God.And since I am trusting Him, what can mere man do to me?”
What's behind that door?If you're on Chicago's Orleans Street and the door happens to be green you'll find great chili, baby-back ribs and a blackened chicken sandwich that's to die for because you're at the "Green Door Tavern." There are lots of "doors" in our lives.We know what's behind some; but, others are a mystery...A few even scare us…
Webster tells us that a door is abarrier by which an entry is closed and opened; a means of access; or, an opportunity (i.e. a "door" to success).A door defines a separation: between rooms; between stages in life; or, between this world and the next.
Death is our "door" into the next life: our entry into eternity with our Lord and Savior; or, our eternal banishment from God.
God has told us very clearly what lies beyond death's door: scripture paints clear pictures of heaven and of hell.Still, when we (personally) get close enough to see the other side, those word pictures start to take on sharper focus; God's message suddenly becomes urgent.
God sometimes allows us (or someone close to us) a glimpse through that door; and, when that happens, Who do we see?What do we hear?
Do we hear, "Come, you who are blessed by My Father…"
Or, do we hear, "Depart from Me…"
God has made it very clear how we can be sure where that final door will take us.If you've confessed that Jesus died for your sins - that He rose bodily on the third day - that He now sits at the right hand of the Father - that He will come again (soon), and that He is the Lord of your life, you know where that door will take you.
If you have not given your life to Jesus, please, don't wait another moment.You are not promised tomorrow; but, you are promised life with our Heavenly Father if you accept His Son.Be ready when that time comes.Just say these words now… Say them out loud… Say them on your knees…
Father, in the name of Your Son Jesus, I humbly ask to be Your child.I confess that Jesus died for my sins, rose on the third day and that He will soon return.Wash my sins away with His blood and change me into a new person; change me into Your child.Fill me with Your Holy Spirit; protect me from the evil of this world and guide me into Your pathways.Father, make me a worker in Your vineyards who produces good fruit for Your Kingdom.Amen and Amen!
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
(The third Monday of February is celebrated as President’s Day in honor of two of our greatest leaders, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays fall during this month.February is also Black History Month.)
No single man has influenced American History in my lifetime more than
Martin Luther King, Jr. On the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington,
DC, August 28, 1963, Reverend King reached out to his embattled race and challenged a nation embroiled in heated controversy. He said:
“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ “
Beloved, I have a dream that our nation will again embrace the godly principles which caused our forefathers to leave the security of their land, sail across a treacherous ocean, and establish a nation of their own, founded upon religious freedom. Let this day be a sober reminder that America is great, not because of our elite military forces, or our tremendous wealth. We are great because there has always been a remnant who knows that true greatness comes when we pray!
In February, 2002 our president said:
“Since we met last year, millions of Americans have been led to prayer. They have prayed for comfort in time of grief; for understanding in a time of anger; for protection in a time of uncertainty. Many, including me, have been on bended knee... My family and I have been blessed by the prayers of countless Americans. We have felt their sustaining power and we’re incredibly grateful. Tremendous challenges await this nation, and there will be hardships ahead. Faith will not make our path easy, but it will give us strength for the journey.” - President George W. Bush, National Prayer
Will you humble your heart with me today, and join me in sincere prayer for our presidents, past, present and future? Likewise, will you share my dream and pray that we may soon celebrate equality among the races in our pluralistic society, and that strife between brothers will end? It all begins with you and me.
GospeLines Prayer: God of the universe, Father of all nations, what will it take to bring America to her knees of faith? You see our strife and bigotry... You witness our flippant attitude about prayer, yet You have been patient with us for a very long time.Deliver us from the cocky precept that we don’t need You as we once did. Give us humility so that we may rise from the dust of apathy and renew a right spirit with You. In the powerful Name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen and amen.