Archives For Complanining

sheepfence

Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

chrome-split-lock-washers

Many years ago when my children were small, they wanted a swing set. We lived in California at the time, and all the rest of our family lived in North Carolina. Several times a year, family would come and visit, and we always had a great time together.

Once, my in-laws came to visit, and they brought my brother-in-law also. The kids were so excited to see them and to be able to spend time with them. It wasn’t long however that the subject of the swing set came up and before another hour has pasted we were at the store picking out just the right one.

We bought the swing set and headed home. The kids were so excited they couldn’t contain themselves. We arrived home and unloaded the swing set in the back lawn and my father-in-law, my brother-in-law and me began the joyful job of putting it together.

The first thing we did was throw the instructions to the side. After all, that’s what any red-blooded male does, right? Anyway, we finally got it put together, and the kids were playing on the swing set and loving it. I began to clean up the trash and boxes, and while doing so, I came across a bag of lock washers we had left out.

That’s is correct! We forgot to put any lock washers on the swing set. It was at this time we made a choice I would so regret. We decided it was sturdy enough without them, and it would be okay. Over the next several months,  I saw first hand just how important the lock washers were. The swing set began to move in places it had no business moving. I was constantly tightening and re-tightening bolts to keep the swing set functioning properly.

Often, in our walk with Christ we can leave out what looks like is not needed and then we find out it’s not only needed but vital and necessary. In 1 Peter 3:17-22 there is a portion of scripture if you are not careful you will read over and leave it in the box so to speak.

Peter is moving along and has talked about physical suffering. Then he moves us behind the curtains to the spirits of suffering and how they have been defeated in Christ Jesus.  In other words, he doesn’t leave the washers in the box.

Jesus has defeated the unseen evil forces of this world that afflict you and me. It may not seem like it because we still suffer this side of heaven and earth coming together. However, I want you to know today that your suffering doesn’t determine your identity because your identity is in Christ. The powers of darkness have been broken and defeated. (Now but not fully yet)

I like to think of it this way. The President-elect of the United States is the title used for an incoming President of the United States. There is a period between Election Day and Inauguration Day.  The President-elect has a vision that those who believe in him follow. They follow and act out that vision even before his final taking of the office on Inauguration Day. The same is true of us as Christ followers. We live out what Jesus has accomplished by the cross and resurrection. We wait by moving forward with the help of the Spirit in this sinful and broken world.

You might find yourself suffering in the now, but one day suffering will be no more. Until then, follow the path, the same path Christ walked for each of us. The path of suffering that leads to the eternal sunrise of the 2nd coming, where death, hell and the grave will be casted away forever.

1-im-nobody-gregory-letts

Nobodies seem to always want to be somebodies. It’s ingrained into us from the time we are small to make something out of our life that makes us stand out. The world even points us in the direction of being somebodies.

What if instead of over worrying and over seeking to become somebodies, we thrived in the honored call of God to serve as nobodies? God’s words have plenty of nobodies through out scripture that contributed much and even though they didn’t acquire prominence in the here, and now, they will earn notoriety in the then and there.

Often when we think of the Bible, our minds race to the giants of scripture. We think of the Apostle Paul, the disciples, John the Baptist, Moses…the list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.

Giants of scripture are everywhere. However, woven throughout the Bible and its redemptive story are names that are not as familiar to us; however, they are still people of faith and immense worth. These men and women stand in the background and have “cameo” roles, but without them the story would have no movement, substance or depth.

The key players get all the attention, but from God’s viewpoint the supporting characters are not forgotten  but rather an essential part to the story. They get no attention now, but one day they will get the attention God has always intended. In the then and there, we will hear the rest of the story.

Every person, irrespective of how insignificant humanity may think they are God considers a prominent player on the field of faith. If you are feeling like a nobody today, I ask you to smile and play your role faithfully because one day the first will be last and the last shall be first.

scab_healing

Don’t pick at your scabs! Healing can’t fully take place if you’re constantly picking at the very healing your body is trying to do for you. The same thing is true with emotional and spiritual wounds. They hurt and often feel like death is to follow, but soon, if you allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in you- scabs will form, and the healing underneath can actually begin.

It will be tempting to pick at the scabs. They will turn red and swollen. They will itch like crazy from time to time also. However, don’t pick them. Scabs are for a reason. Healing is taking place below the surface. You can’t see it, but one day you will see the beauty of the healing when the scabs naturally fall away.

Will any scares remain? Sometimes scars will hang around.  If scars show after the healing, don’t get upset. Instead of getting upset, try smiling because you are in good company. Jesus had a few scars also and even showed them off to the disciples.

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Pain is no evil, unless it conquers us.  ~ Charles Kingsley

The Ugly Grudge Bucket

February 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

bucket

There is just something ugly about a Christ follower carrying grudges. Carrying around that proverbial bucket filled with ugly is a laborious task to keep doing. In fact, not only is it laborious,but also it grieves the heart of God. We are supposed to be people of forgiveness.

Grudges lead to nowhere good! Grudges damage everything. Grudges will hurt you from the inside out and will produce a wedge between you and your fellowship with God. Letting go of grudges and moving beyond them is the only godly option.

Letting go of grudges can prove to be difficult. Let’s face it, when you have been hurt, it is hard to let go. Fear often plays a role in us not letting go because we don’t want to ever be hurt again. Therefore, we hold on to the grudge and keep our guard up. As right as that may feel, you and I know deep down inside it’s just downright wrong.

You can only be free when you forgive. Otherwise, you are in a prison of your own creation. You are letting the grudge be your Lord instead of Jesus. Anger and frustration control you more than you know. However, you would do well to remember Ephesians 4:26-27 – And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Grudges are nothing to play with. Grudges can take you down a path you never thought you would go. You might do something you will regret forever. Turn before it’s to late and you jeopardize your reputation and the position you carry as a Christ follower.

Holding on to a grudge is not done in a vacuum. The longer you hold a grudge the more you will entice others into thinking about the person you are angry at in the same way you do, then you become the blind leading the blind.  Read with your heart the following verses and enjoy the rest of your day.

Hebrews 12:14-15 – Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Stage

 

You can only think about one thing at a time. Don’t believe me?

Try spelling aloud, “I love Jesus with all my heart” at the same time as you write down your address on paper. (Go ahead and try it; I’ll wait.)

I’m convinced this is a blessing and a gift of God.  There are times in our lives we need to fully immerse ourselves in Him and nothing else. We need to get our minds and hearts refocused on life giving thoughts and directions.

For instance, let’s say someone has broken your heart or wronged you in a particularly profound way. All you seem to be able to do is fixate on them and it’s driving you crazy. It steals your joy, your smile, your happiness, your forward motion and a host of other good emotions that belong to you.

When you have been wronged it brings pain. Pain is a part of life and often the hammer that drives the nail of suffering into your heart. When suffering takes over my emotions I have a choice to make. I can continue to think about it or think about the things Jesus told me to think about.

1 Peter 5:7, instructs us, “7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

You can take your pain and emotional distress and cast them on Him. You can cast them into the sea of His mercy and love and watch them sink away.

Often, we turn to God for help, but we don’t take Him the problem. We manage the problem under lock and key. We open it over and over again and complain about it. Instead, you must take it to Him and cast it upon Him. After all, that’s what He said to do. You want to be obedient, correct? I thought so.

It’s been said, “The human mind is like a stage. Only one performance can play at a time.” Now, let Jesus have the stage by thinking on the things He said to think on. He has given you the power to choose who will play on your stage. It can be the thought of a person that hurt you, or  Jesus who can heal you. It’s your move. God bless you.

Philippians 4:8-9
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

jesus-betrayed-by-a-friend

Psalm 55:12-15 (ESV)
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. 15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart

When a person helps heal a wound in your life you are thankful, and rightfully so.  They were there for you in your moment of greatest need. However, what happens when that same person reopens the wound by partnering with the very one that caused the wound in the first place?

When that happens it’s called, talking out of both sides of their mouth. It simply means to say different things to different people about the same subject. Betrayal hurts no matter what you call it.

Many things in life hurt and can be difficult to handle, but when a friend throws you under the bus, it’s a pain of a special category. Betrayal brings many negative emotions to the surface of your heart, and it hurts tremendously.

In our text, the psalmist uses some strong language in verse 15 that I’m not sure how to fully process, nor interrupt in a way that makes perfect senses to me. However, it’s real language and shows the depth of the pain he was feeling.

Getting rid of negative emotions can be a battle all by it’s self, and the last thing you need to do is add another battle to the battle that is already raging in your heart. I suggest you take a cue from Jesus himself and walk in the power of extreme forgiveness. I once heard it said that forgiveness means to “let go.” Letting go can be done in spite of your emotions.

Forgiveness is the only way to move beyond betrayal. When a friend betrays you, you can seek revenge and feed your negative emotions if you choose, but it’s only a prison you are building for yourself.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let me say it again. Forgiveness is the only way to move beyond betrayal.

Matthew 18:21-22(ESV)
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

 

You are fired!

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I hope I get criticized today.” None of us pursues criticism, but criticism has a way of finding each of us.  We each love positive feedback that lifts us up and encourages us. However, along with positive feedback, there is a place for criticism in our lives.

As a pastor, I get my share of uplifting feedback, and I’m grateful when it happens. It’s nice to know you are loved, cared for and that something you have said or written has touched someone’s life in a positive way. Nevertheless, criticism finds it way to my doorstep also. I don’t have  a criticism shield that protects me from hard words, but I do have a way of navigating strong and sometime hash words.

1. Fast answers mostly make it worse

When I first hear or receive criticism, I tend to get defensive. I can feel hurt and anger start to gain a foothold on my heart. Therefore, I don’t answer the criticism fast. I take time to hear it again, read it again, and think through it. I want to first find any truth in the criticism that I can grow from. You can’t find the truth in criticism fast. You must find it slow.

2. I write what my flesh would like to say

I have fun with this one. I defuse my anger and hurt by GOING OFF in writing. I write strong in your face stuff. I respond like I’m in a war. I keep writing until I begin to laugh with just how silly my words of defense are. Once I’m done with writing, I delete it or throw it away.

3. I try and give the other person grace and pray

Often we only see criticism as all about us. However, that is just not the case. The other person might be condemning me because they are just hurt and needed to deflect their angry and pain toward another person. Therefore, I read the criticism again and look for pain that might be in their life. Then I pray for them. It’s hard to stay mad at someone you pray for.

4. I respond until its time not to respond anymore

If I respond I ask them question of clarification. I ask them question that help me to see their side. I can’t fully turn a situation around unless I really have a handle on what they are truly trying to say. If they answer back in a calm and mature manner, then I keep the conversation going. If they take it to a more ugly level…I stop responding and move on with my life.

god-is-in-control_t_nv

Image Credit

God’s sovereignty is found from the opening pages of scripture. When you read Genesis 1:1 it teaches that in the beginning, God created all things. God’s authority and power are found in creation.

All the way through the Old Testament and the New Testament, God’s sovereignty is proved. The Bible even ends with God as the Omnipotent judge of all creation. There simply is no debating the sovereignty of God. He is sovereign.

The reason I’m bringing up God’s sovereignty is because it’s important to your life. How do you feel about God’s sovereignty? Do you believe in His sovereignty? A Christ follower will agree with God’s sovereignty when all things are running smooth. However, if things are out of control, and life seems to be completely falling apart, the Christ follower may begin to doubt the sovereignty of God.

At times, confusion concerning God’s sovereignty sets in, and your world becomes unstable. So, what is the Christ follower to do when this happens?

1. Don’t leave your foundation

Belief that God is in control is a faith fundamental. There is no other foundation to build on. It’s imperative to remain on the foundation. The world will rock and shake around you, but God’s foundation is unshakable.

2. Keep trusting

When you keep trusting, it is an act of pure worship back to God. You are saying to God that no matter what, you will keep moving forward with Him. It is showing that you will serve Him no matter how rough the road may become.

3. Problems are no problem for Him

Whatever you are facing is not a problem for God. It’s a problem for you, but not for God. He works all things out according to His perfect purpose. It’s not about you; it’s all about His glory.

4. You will not understand it all

You will never understand all that happens to you this side of the second coming, but one day it will all make perfect sense. Live with that thought in your heart and mind and it will keep you in perfect peace.

I leave you with this quote.

“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.” ~R.C. Sproul