Handouts are easy, Love is Hard!

This morning I was blessed by a conversation with a friend.  Her words affirmed what God has been teaching us at Break of Day (practical break for the single parent family in our community).  He has been taking us through lessons in love.

Every third Wednesday of the month volunteers and families from our community have dinner together.  We choose to eat together on purpose.  Those who believe are listening for God’s directives and watching to see Him at work.  Guests come to relax and put up their feet and enjoy a dinner they don’t have to cook for a change.  Collectively, both volunteer and guest are in need.  There is always room to learn more about love.

One of the first “love your neighbor” lessons I learned, was when a young man’s wife left him and their two toddlers.  He was distraught and paralyzed with pain.  We heard many had taken food to his house, only to find it rotten on the counter weeks later.

If that approach wasn’t working, what remedy was there?

First of all, what wasn’t working?  Do you see our flawed human mindset?

We’re not asking how the person is doing?  We are asking why a good meal went to waste?

Handouts, for the most part only serve to alleviate our own discomfort.

But what do you think?

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The Power is in His Name Alone.

God has been desiring relationship with us since the beginning of time.  He knows us by name and knows the gifts He’s given us.  He knows what we will be best at, and would love to plant our feet and bring us purpose and peace.  But let’s face it, we have our own ideas.  Besides, He just isn’t trendy enough to hang out with for today’s trend setters.  We crave knowledge and long to be smart and have something amazing to say, but we ignore Life’s manual.  We want to write the books.  The Bible just isn’t on Amazon’s best seller list.

We ache for attention and success. News flash, we have His attention, does anyone remember Christmas?  Yah, that was for us!  What about Easter, the cross?  That was for us!  And success?  Well, I would say having Him go to prepare a place for us where we can spend eternity together is success.  I know, it’s hard to recognize success when it gets dumbed down here on our temporary planet.  Without His name, It is difficult to understand relationship and eternity, and keep an eternal mindset, especially with ourselves at the center.

We recognize seasonal celebrations, only for “cover our butt” confessions.  What we really ache for, is to leave a legacy with OUR name written all over it.  But even after that is said and done, we wonder if “that” was our “it” and we go on rejecting the ONE NAME who has promised us purpose.

Most everyone has been taught not to take the Lord’s name in vain.  Not that many take it seriously, but deep down we know.  BUT What about calling on HIS NAME?  I hear everything from higher power to mother nature, but no one is saying His name.  I know, it goes without saying.  If you say JESUS NAME, you are limiting yourself.  You are not going to meld with the group down the street who worships mother nature or the group that works up a sweat reciting a myriad of religious eastern terms while flapping their wings.  Or, if you say His name, you’re going to be labeled a “Jesus Freak”.  You might be asked to take sides, to choose between wrong and right.  It is far safer and more politically correct to use some generic term for our Creator and Savior, or just throw that idea out all together.

Did you know, if you say His name, your spirit will know immediately who to bow down to? Oh right, we want a super hero – but who said anything about bowing down to anyone.  We’re in control, right?  We’re mini gods, right?  Isn’t that the latest lie permeating every molecule of the air lately?  And I’m sick of it. I have to share what I know to be true, even if it means rejection.

Ephesians 6:19 – 20.  “….Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel….”

There is no power in any other name but the name of Jesus.  Go ahead, mediate and move your lips, talk to the air, nod your head, turn in circles, play the game.  But life isn’t a game.  We get one shot at it, one try, one turn.  If you want to experience life to the fullest, stop playing dangerous games and say the name of Jesus.

There is no magic prayer, although Jesus does give us a prayer to follow if we need one, beginning in Matthew 6:9.  “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your NAME…..”  Yes, pray that prayer and call Jesus, and ask him to reveal himself to you.

“Jesus, come and speak to me, and show me who you are.”

Then why not get yourself a Bible and find out what happened when other people throughout history called on His name.

Below are a few verses that emphasize His name:

Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Philippians 2:9  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Colossians 3:17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Acts 2:21  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Creatures of Habit

Strange, but writing out the phrase “creatures of habit” doesn’t bring me any kind of peace,  instead those words bring me to my knees.   On my knees to meet with Jesus who knows us all by name, who can release the same power in our lives that rolled away His tombstone and brought Him back to life the third day, a power that can save us, change us and rescue us from remaining “creatures of habit”.

My friend is going to continue to wait for an apology before he goes back to church, an apology that may never come.  So why wait?  Creatures of habit.

Another friend is waiting on God to show her what to do about a relationship she is caught in the middle of.  Question is, why didn’t she wait on him before she jumped into it?  Creatures of habit.

A dear loved one is having trouble reading the Bible.  She has witnessed God’s transforming power in other people’s lives, and wants to experience that transformation too.  The Bible sits on her end table day after day, waiting for her to pick it up, but she still believes the lies she was told when she was little.  “You’re stupid” someone said.  She still believes the lies she was told when she got married, “you’re stupid” he said.  She didn’t like those words then and certainly doesn’t like them now but they’ve become familiar.  So instead of trying something new, instead of picking up the Bible that is full of truth and freedom and promise, she sticks with what she knows best – lies.  Creatures of habit!

Someone battles day after day with garbage that was dumped on him years ago.  Powerful garbage, the kind that seeps into your pours and smells from the inside out.  He’s making progress, he’s gaining ground and then……creatures of habit.

Someone lost his temper the other day.  He thought he could keep it under control by ignoring it, by working hard, by going through the motions by telling himself he’s good and then it appeared and destroyed everything.  Creatures of habit.

Someone got badgered again.  He’s never taken the reigns to protect her, never understood his position of leadership.  Always thought someone else could say it, if he couldn’t and now she suffers every day because he never said anything.  Creatures of habit.

Oh Lord, deliver me from my sin and the person that I am.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit anew every day that I might soar high above the circumstances of life and be that new creation instead of a creature of habit. 

And Lord, teach me how to pray when I am on my knees.   Teach me how to pray for others, that they too will experience new life in you – and be released from merely going through the motions.  I believe!