Straight from my news feed on that one site, here are those wonderful, odd, interesting and oh so confounding: Memes that make me go, “Huh?”
Today is Valentine’s Day. A day so confusing that we lose our minds searching for chocolates and candy in heart-shaped boxes to offer up as sacrifices to the ones we love. Here is a meme that had me wondering about our collision of faith and world. I hear Valentine or Valentinus or whomever, was a saint that was martyred for love… or marrying lovers… or whatever… See, that is my point here. We don’t really know about this Valentine guy. For all we know he cut out the hearts of rivals as offerings to some demi-goddess that gave eternal life in exchange. “Oh, you’re one of those crazy Christians that attack every holiday that has any fun associated with it,” you say. Well, you may be right, and I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.
Grandparents be like not understanding your whole “be like” thing. This is valley girl all over again.
This little tidbit is from “CrossCards.com.” I gotta say I love the font and the filter, and the picture too. I have to ask though, if I may be so bold: How does God “handle” what we are given. I am assuming that this is some sort of trial or tribulation you’re talking about here, since this is the open road motif symbolizing journey and that sign there is a slippery sign, but I thought that God gives us those because we can’t handle them, and the idea is to trust. If we can handle or just need a little help handling things, where is the growth. I don’t want to be the same person I was yesterday, I want to “handle” more than I did yesterday. I know your sentiment is nice and all, but this is what I do. I want God to “handle” it all. I want me to believe that no matter how dark things might appear, I want to know that I trust Him enough to know that nothing phases me away from His love. “Goll, you’re so picky, It’s just a stupid picture with a dumb saying,” you say. I know, I know, but I want this Christian walk to mean more than thoughtless little pictures with pithy little sayings. I want you beside me, I want Christ inside me, and I want to come to a point in my life where I can trust Him enough to believe that if He says from heaven, “Have you considered my servant Mark?” that I wouldn’t tremble in fear, but know that He is my triumph and I will never fear. “Whatever…” you say. *Sigh*
I am not sure I consider this a meme, but I am drawn to it and repelled at the same time. I love the drawing there, but feel as if I’ve seen it somewhere… I love that the kids mouth covers his whole face. Picture this: The kid’s nose is where it is, but he is looking up. That mouth is a tattoo on his head and face. Kinda changes the whole thing for you, doesn’t it? Kind of a serious question for “A Parent’s Humor” isn’t it as well?
Okay, I’m gonna be on my soapbox here a bit… again. To me, stuff like this, coming from Christians no less, is a little bit fascist, isn’t it? Who ultimately gives us our freedom? A weapon gives us freedom? Sure, it protects us, but to me this is a little about courage. It is the men and women too who died for us as well. We can stand in front of our loved ones with a cannon, or knife, or baseball bat, or our fists, and give the person we are saving an opportunity to live, whether they choose to live in freedom or not. It seems that the freedom we have here in America is dwindling, and saving our guns ain’t gonna change anything until we get to the heart of the matter… sadly, which we probably will never do. And we are gleefully heading down that path.
I’m just going to say, “Huh?” and let it be.
Is that a janitor? It looks like some guy who decided to start seeping the frozen ice hockey place the kids play at, on the coldest day of the year, and then he was frozen to the spot.
I got this one thinking I’d look up whether or not Mother Teresa really did say this or not. And, I’m going to check right now, hold on a bit… Okay, apparently, from what I found, it seems as if she said this. Seems a little hokey, don’t you think? Kind of like you never think about Mother Teresa writing greeting cards for hallmark. She was down in the dredges of society, and putting a couple of heats along with a quote from her seems kind of weird. I am going to remake this… give me a sec…
Okay, not as professional as some of the others you see here, but it took me less than 2 minutes to find a more appropriate picture. This is a girl with leprosy that Mother Teresa took care of. Granted, Mother Teresa may or may not have done good where she was, (if you read what Christopher Hitchens says about her), but she did love and treat people with dignity as is fitting for the vessel of the image of God, and we should make any memories of her fitting to that idea. That’s my opinion anyway.
I think these are kind of funny, sometimes, maybe to the people who these are about. I have not yet seen one about a copy center manager that makes me laugh yet. Anyway, seems that the popularity of these come like waves on the ocean…
Here is an example of another one I wanted to look up, give me a sec… Wow. Sometimes you learn so much from this stuff, and I’m glad I can bring it to you. Says in one of the things that Scott takes walks at night where he lives in Cambodia to see how the money he raises is being used and that the people are well cared for. This seems like what love and care and sacrifice should be about. God bless you Scott Neeson, God bless you.
I sometimes feel sort of sorry for Hillary Clinton, but then I remember Benghazi and Margaret Sanger and her acceptance foreign funds and Bill Clinton and Vince Foster and Top-Secret Emails and selling high-tech secrets and files and records disappearing and defending child rapists and… well the list goes on, doesn’t it. I want fairness for the candidates and I see so many pics of her looking like some evil overlord that is trying to hard to look happy or less evil. No, I don’t feel sorry for her. She should be in prison.
Let us end today’s segment with a little laugh. Sorry so many of these may have been somber for you. That may be just the way it goes sometimes. That’s just the way it goes…
Are people seeing the gospel lived out in your life more than they saw it six months ago? This may be a difficult question for you if you live your life under condemnation. I wrote a couple of weeks ago regarding how we should view Christ and our salvation as nothing we can or have done, but it is all done by grace, and when we allow the failure of our sin bring us down or condemn/depress us, it is like we are putting ourselves under the law again. We look at our outward appearance and see how we failed compared to the law, and how our whole attitude surrounding our freedom is what is key. I later made the connection that living with that attitude of freedom makes the future brighter and we are eager to see, it gives us joy we never understood before. Condemnation gives us a dread when facing the future.
We have come to the point in our church life where we need to measure each other and how are we doing in our growth in living out the gospel. That measurement is based in Galatians 5:16-26, and more specifically the fruit of the Spirit laid out in verse 22; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Notice that it says fruit (singular) and not fruits. All these things must be displayed in your life more than 6 months or a year ago. Now, that is not to say that we have times of dormancy or reflection after a period of growth, so we must always display patience with our brother or sister when measuring the growth in their lives. So, we cannot truly measure each others growth without being completely honest and open in each others lives. To most people we reveal about 10% of who we really are which is just the tip of who we are in the proverbial iceberg. It is time for us to ask ourselves the question, “Do we want to keep up the act?” the act of hiding the stresses we have about money and relationships and work. We need to examine if we are handling the stress of our day-to-day lives the same as the world. Are we yelling or eating or overworking or smoking our way out of stress, or are we trusting in the sovereignty of God to fulfill us and be everything we ever need in this world and all we have is because of Him and reminds us that we are where we are no matter the circumstances because of Him?
How do we grow? We grow through change, or sometimes what we might like to call it: stress. My wife is a bit worried about our middle daughter because she never expresses any worry in her life. She is under the impression that everyone has something to worry about. She handles an obstacle to her desire with a glaring look, but is eventually over it. The pain doesn’t linger long in her. My wife worries that when she grows up and out of the home that she won’t understand how to handle her stress and trust in God. I think that maybe she is just that way, that things don’t really bother her, but the glaring tells me otherwise. Is she just going to glare at God and get over it, not really seeing anything as any big deal and never really grow? I believe my wife is right, that she really needs to learn how to express herself so that we can take those opportunities to show her that God wants to see her grow because she trusts in Him and not that things don’t really matter anyway. When things change, mostly for the worse, how do you handle it? Change is inevitable. Your favorite pair of shoes wear out, the job you have wants you to move, a close family member dies. It is all change God wants you to take and reflect His grace to the world. If we are not handling change any better than we did however much time ago, we need to question what is going on in our lives that we are not as close to God, or, if we ever really knew Him in the first place.
Ask someone close to you some questions about yourself compared to what you were like a year ago:
- Am I more trustworthy?
- Am I more loving?
- Am I more generous?
- Do I show more joy?
- Do I rest in God’s sovereignty?
- Am I more patient?
- More kind?
- More gentle?
- Do I reveal more self-control?
These are all tests God uses to measure your growth in the gospel, and if others can’t see it in you, look at the gospel more closely. Are you following the law or following God’s grace? We like to think that if we are comfortable than everything is okay. Are we comfortable to the point because God is not leading us or we not following God’s lead? Maybe we should look at something more convincing.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” Ephesians 1:18-20
We look at these verses and see that the power of Him who raised Christ from the dead, is the same power that is in us. Meditate on that for a minute. The SAME power that raised Christ, that made the change in all of human history 2,000 years ago, the made the fearful have courage to go, to heal, to change lives, to become someone they were not, that God equipped because He called them; that same power is in you. Now do you think because you are comfortable that, that is where this God want you!? Are you settling for what YOU think you can do?
So, I ask again, what are you turning to when you are faced with stress? Because if it not the God who created the whole universe and set about this awesome plan of salvation and is soon to come to set all things right, then you need to examine yourself, turn to Him to grow into the measurement that He has set as standard.
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” Phillipians 3:10-16
Paul’s ultimate goal was to grow in the understanding of this God, he presses on in that not fully comprehending it yet, forgets what has been and looks to what is, knowing that his freedom is because of Him and he is eager to see that in us as well. We can’t go back and dwell on our failures or think because we are comfortable that it is all, but to press on in our understanding of His unlimited grace. Meditate and these things.
“When was the last time you were encouraged?” today’s sermon began. I had to think about it. What does that even mean? That I would have been challenged to pursue what I should or need to do? Or is it that someone gave me a compliment for a job well done? I mean, I was encouraged a couple of weeks ago when my best friend told me my writing was getting better. That felt good, but was this in the context the question was asked? No, I didn’t think so. It was very hard to think of a situation where I was truly encouraged to go beyond what I thought I could do. This should be something that happens regularly. I thought of the men in my life, and thought of one or two that can encourage me in the way I believe it was meant to be, but couldn’t think of specific instances right away. But then I thought of my wife. She is my great encourager. Many instances where she keeps me going, and one where she encouraged me/us to move here to West Plains; something I needed to do, something I know I needed and was afraid to do. She knew it was right and encouraged me to it.
He went on to tell us that God painted the Church to be a wonderful piece of art and that we have copied it, covered it with inferior colors and strokes, made it into something He never intended it to be. He says the goal for the church is to get it back to the original way God made it, and part of that is to get back to doing what Barnabas did; encourage others.
Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. ~Acts 11:22-26
The word “encouraged” is the Greek compound word, “parakaleō”. Para, meaning, to come alongside in an intimate way. Kaleō, meaning, to call out or bring people to a goal or truth. So Barnabas came alongside and called them to do the things they needed to do, spoke truth into their life.
Many of us in the Church have come to doing good on one side or the other: coming alongside each other or speaking truth. But, as he said, love without truth is not love, and truth without love is not truth. I have generally fallen on the side of just speaking truth without coming alongside… without love.
This ministry of encouragement is very important for the Church. Why? It matures us, by moving us out of denial. Look at Hebrews 3:13, “but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” We’re told if we exhort, or encourage each other we will not be hardened by sin.
Encouragement also helps us to grow. Ephesians 4:14-15 says, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—”. If we are speaking the truth in love or being spoken to, then that helps us to not be tossed about and helps us grow.
Also, from the Acts reading, it helps spread the gospel. I read a book a month or so ago called Parisectomy, and the thing I remember most of all from this book was regarding this subject. If we wish to speak truth in people’s lives, we must have tried to establish a relationship with them first. The author likens it to a bank. We need to make deposits into other people before we make withdrawals. We need to have a relationship, a relationship of love and care and time with other people before we have any sort of right to speak truth. We, as Christians, forget this. We try to make withdrawals all the time without having made any deposits. That truth is clear when you see on that one sight someone saying, “the nicest people I’ve met were covered in tattoos and piercings, the most judgemental are those who go to church every Sunday.” The world of course, equates being nice with not being judgemental, which is a wrong way of looking at it, but they have every right to see it this way, us Christians trying to tell people the truth without having any relationships with them. This isn’t truth, because it is not spoken in love, it is spoken in judgement.
I have made these mistakes as well. I have thought I was being loving when I told people how wrong they were, and I’ve hurt many people. I have since become very careful about how I speak to people to the point where I don’t anymore. I’ve told you a while back that I have recently realized that I find it hard to trust people and I am trying to get past that, and this sermon today is quite a challenge. I also have revealed that some people have found me unapproachable. Lord, how can I change these things within me? Of course, I can’t change these things, only the Lord can through His work in me and my relationship with Him growing. A challenge to encourage two people this week has been made… is it possible for me? I must throw out my pride that I know truth more than others. I must throw away my pride that I am in control of how people may react to the truth. Most of all, do I know someone well enough to speak and especially know them well enough that I can see they need that truth in their life?
Lord, look down on me and help me to trust people again. Help me to see them as vulnerable as I am. That I can be open enough to be spoken to and to share my life with them. I look forward to an opportunity this week, but that I can see it and take action, for I miss so much being involved in myself. Boy, I sure said “I”, “my” and “self” a lot in these sentences, but God can grow me more… for I praise Him, ever praise Him. That You may reclaim your painting as You intended it to be.