Ditch Em or Keep Em…?

_MG_9477_MG_9478

How often do you evaluate your friendships? How often should you evaluate your influences? How hard do you think it was for Jesus to pick His disciples? How do you think they were chosen? Was it because they were perfect? By no means at all. We all know that “nobody’s perfect” yet when deciding our list of “real” friends we make sure that we pick those who are as close to a figure of Jesus as possible. But, if they behave otherwise we for sure better ditch those friendships. They will just absolutely ruin us and we won’t be able to grow in our relationship with the Lord to better achieve perfection…

That is… what we tend to lean towards, when deciding if someone is in with us or if they’re not worth our time.

Let me ask you a sixth question. Rather than looking at who is good enough for us and who would benefit us… Why not ask, “Lord, who do you want to love today?”

We know that we do not live for ourselves but we believe it is only right that we choose what is best for ourselves instead of asking what the Lord wants for every area of our life, every day, every moment, with every relationship. We decide what we are going to let God pick for us, until there is something tragic that we cannot change and it’s out of our hands.

I know, I know. There are influences in your life you do need to get away from. People who are not drawing you close to the Lord but far from Him. Well, as my sixth question put it, “Lord, who do you want to love today?”

Trusting that the Lord knows what you need- you don’t have to pick it for yourself. He can choose it for you- that’s all you have to rely on.

So next time you think, “this person isn’t good enough for me to hang out with.” … Ask, “Lord, is this someone you want me to love right now?”

 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”

John 15:16-17 NKJV

-MN

Advertisements

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

“Do everything without complaining or arguing so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”

Philippians 2:14-15

As simple as this verse is it can be hard to comprehend what a day like this looks like. Let alone letting it affect your lifestyle. However, I can’t really read the word “everything” in regards to a command like this and not just try to make it be a “sometimes” or “every now and then” suggestion. Because “everything” wouldn’t be realistic, right? Paul probably just meant as much as you can, huh?

Everything means everything. Why do I think I’m the exception to the rule when I’m called to live by the Word.

Sometimes in the midst of busyness we can tend to verbally throw up more often than necessary. Are you venting about your life in every conversation you have? Are you doing it every day? Do you realize that you are?

Leaders come from everywhere and tend to be in many forms. You may not realize it but in some form or another you are a leader. Assuming that you have heard that before you’ve probably also had someone tell you, “You’re in a bubble” or “People are always watching or looking to you”.

You’ve heard it, contemplated it, and maybe you’re tired of it being put in your face.

Unfortunately, I think this is one we cannot really afford to just put aside. With all of my current life transitions coming into play I have all eyes on me when I’m going from place to place and I have to think about what I’m communicating to others.

What do my conversations say about me? More importantly what do my conversations say about how I am dealing with what God has given me?

Am I venting to one person, or am I complaining to anyone who will listen about how “hard” my life is right now. Complaining and arguing that is done regularly comes from an attitude of ungratefulness.

When I choose to complain, I’m saying what God’s given me isn’t good enough. It’s an ugly, very unattractive quality and people won’t want to be around you.

Put simply, think before you speak. And when you do speak, know that it’s coming from your heart.

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person”

Matthew 15:18

When You Really Think About It…

_MG_0145.jpg

“…Abraham was only one man when I called him.
    But when I blessed him, he became a great nation.”

Isaiah 51:2

When you really think about it, who we are is because of God’s blessings. Without them we’re just lackluster individuals, living without any zeal for life.

Abraham was just a man. Yet God still called him regardless of how that may have looked to others. Regardless of how others may have seen Abraham…God saw him, loved him and made him a great nation.

It can be easy to think that those who are seen as special, or as a unique kind of person will be given those greater opportunities in life. Why? Because they seem to have the “it” factor. That “special” kind of something that will inevitably take them far in life, because well… that’s who they are.

As read in 1 Samuel 16:7 the Lord said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The issue is, we think only some people in life are going to be given those “privileges” to experience life to the fullest. The truth is when we know Jesus we are immediately experiencing more and called to more. If you are wanting more out of life, go get it. We get that by chasing after the heart of the Lord.

Nobody knows you, your heart, or your heart’s deepest desires like Christ.

and “if God is for you, then who can be against you” is something you truly believe…what’s stopping you?

-MN

 

 

Can I Be Honest?

IMG_9156.jpg

I am selfish with my “me time”. I don’t need it often, I don’t need very long, but when I need it I’m selfish about it. I think, “I need this time, it’s more important than a two minute conversation with a stranger”, “Don’t make eye contact with people or they’ll want to talk”, or “Finally, time to read my Word and grow with Jesus. But I swear, if someone interrupts these few minutes I have, they are going to regret it”

How unfortunate it is that when I’m yearning to to grow and be more like Christ, those interactions and life circumstances can be some of the moments I fail the most.

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3

As often as I like to think I need alone time to grow in these areas, sometimes when I am being stretched and squeezed the most are greater opportunities to grow like Christ than perhaps an hour in silence. After all, isn’t the goal of that alone time to be more like Christ outside of it?

Sure, I have the head knowledge that this is important but only when I’m on my guard to do so. Only when I am mentally preparing myself to be patient am I willing to be patient. The more I think on it, the more ridiculous it sounds.

I desire to be a humble, gentle, patient, loving person because that’s the example Christ set. However, am I really making every effort like Paul talks about?

I pray that as I am being stretched from day to day rather than letting my heart be like Christ’s when I’m prepared for it I am praying that the Lord gives my heart an actual understanding of love that is patient with those around me at all times.

I can have the head knowledge of who God is but if I do not hide His Word in my heart then my head knowledge will never translate to heart knowledge.

Our everyday speech should reflect words that give life because we have the life giving Word in our hearts and our mouths.

Paul goes on to say, “…Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

Ephesians 4:15-16

Can I be honest?

I don’t always live the life I am called to but I’m a work in progress and I hope that in the times I fail, you’ll see that Christ’s love never does.

-MN

If Good is the Enemy of the Best…

IMG_7449.jpg

“I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them. Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them.”

Isaiah 42:16 NLT

“God, what do I do? I need your help. I’ve been praying for your guidance but I can’t seem to find any direction. I’m afraid of this. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. What does this mean…? This must not be what you want, because I’m afraid of it.”

Fear and a lack of peace are two entirely different things. However, we can often times let fear be what guides our life, acting as the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is not our guide but a crutch masking itself to keep us from being brave.  The Holy Spirit speaks in truth, peace, and love yet we confuse the two, forgetting that God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

God was for Israel, not against them. He said he would smooth out their roads and lead them when they were blind. You can’t lead a blind person if they refuse to follow. However, if you were blind and you knew that the perfect guide was with you at all times… why refuse?

Fear.

God clearly tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Yet, when we are on our faces in fear asking God what to do, we listen to that fear to tell us how to live our lives.

If good is the enemy of the best, then fear is the enemy of power, love, and self-discipline.

What then is to be done about life’s decisions?

You must be able to know that when God is truly guiding you, even when it is scary and unknown before you that does not mean it is bad. This just means you need the faith to trust our guide. The guide who, “…will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6).

Take that fear and throw it out the window, let yourself have child like faith to look fear in the eyes and say, “you are not who my Father says I am. I walk in power, love and self-discipline” Because at the end of the day we know who wins this life and it’s our Christ who was raised back to life.

-MN

Let Yourself Be Offensive

IMG_7970.jpgIMG_7964-2“Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised- as some say I do- why am I being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended.”

Galatians 5:11

Nobody would be offended. The cross is offensive. So those of us who know Christ and know that the cross is offensive, rather than continuing to tell others about it we stay quiet. We don’t want to offend other people because our world won’t allow us to say contradicting things (good or bad) without being ripped apart. Staying quiet is easier and  can keep from causing an uncomfortable situation.

Why do I allow my comfort to be what keeps people from being able to know how well loved they are? Fear. Fear of rejection, fear of not being able to defend my faith, fear of being persecuted… But when have I been persecuted for my faith? When have I so heavily stood up for my faith that I was persecuted for it as Paul is speaking about in Galatians?

It would be easier to not say anything to a stranger and to have a good day by just keeping to myself instead. So that’s what happens, we stay in the comfort of a good day without “troubling” others or ruining our day. I have stuff to do, I have homework, I need to get a good nights sleep and can’t be up late talking with them, I need to get some work done, I just… don’t want to.

They’re excuses and we know it. Worse yet, we’re ok with it. Because it’s comfortable.

But comfort can get boring, and there certainly will not be any growth inside what is comfortable. At least not a comparable type of growth. The type of growth that you can have when pursuing Christ in faith through the uncomfortable places God takes you.

If faith were easy to share with anybody then we would be doing it more often. But God didn’t allow it to be so easy for everyone because He knew that the uncomfortable parts of life are where we are able to grow the most.

Are you allowing God to grow you in the discomfort? Or are you just complaining about the discomfort?

When a child is crying because they are hungry does the parent just let the complain without feeding them? No, the parent wants the child to eat but unless the child calms down and realizes that they are being handed food their hunger will not be satisfied.

Take that discomfort, the one that comes from sharing Jesus with others and let God give you the fuel you need to keep sharing. Let yourself be offensive.

No More Picking and Choosing

IMG_6349IMG_6348

This is bigger than me.

A sentence I often have to say to myself from time to time when nothing is clear, my patience has run up, and I’m done with the day. My circumstances in life will never be predictable. If anything, the only consistent part of life, are the innumerable inconsistencies.

Sound familiar?

            The hard truth is even when I want to give up, I’m being selfish. When I’m done with loving people, it’s selfish. When I am tired of how people are treating me, I’m only thinking about me.

This is not about me; this is bigger than me.

Often times these unwanted, annoying mishaps, share an obvious commonality…they require me to take myself out of the picture.

The enemy wants me to think I’m the victim and should have my own rights in life. God says I gave up self-rights when I chose to live for Him instead of living for me.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself”

Philippians 2:3

Is this how I’m living my life? When people bring hurt, mistreatment, and disappointment do I think or treat them as better than me?

Typically, no.

Yet, that doesn’t change what the truth is.

I have a friend who I use complain to about those, “unwanted annoying mishaps” and she would never fail to remind me that I have to die to self.

Of course, the snarky sassy person I am from time to time (ok, more often than time to time) would be quick to say, “I don’t have to die to self, Jesus died for me!”

I can’t have both worlds. Either I live for myself or I live for Jesus. And living for Jesus, means showing others grace and love when I really don’t want to. Jesus never fails to show me grace and love so I can’t pick and choose who I show that to either.

-MN