Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

Week of: November 25, 2013        
Guest writer: Lori Stanley Roeleveld

James 3:2
"We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check."

Life Application Commentary:
"What you say and what you don't say are both important. To use proper speech you must not only say the right words at the right time but also not say what you shouldn't. Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying. Before you speak ask, is what I want to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?"

The following blog article was shared with me by a dear friend. At first glance the title kind of struck me funny and I was tempted to say "Oh my!" As I read on though I saw that this is exactly what it was intended do; get the reader to think. In lieu of my post from last week regarding "Sandpaper People" and the holiday's, I thought I would share this as I continue to encourage grace and reconciliation within our relationships. This should be a goal, not only at the holiday's, but every day of the year because it will result in bringing glory and honor to Our Heavenly Father; the head of all Christian families. This year lets us take heed to Proverbs 20:3 "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." Be blessed dear friends. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

In Christ by grace,

Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 08:56 AM PST

Think my title’s harsh?

It drew you here, didn’t it? 

So you have one – you know – a jerk who will be at your Thanksgiving table.

Maybe an uncle who drones on about your lifestyle or your politics
A brother who can’t get over himself
A sister-in-law with issues, who causes strife at every event
A mother with a martyr complex
A father with the sensitivity of a charging rhino
A sister with a critical spirit
An adolescent who has taken to dressing in black and sulking whenever unplugged from social media
A child whose parents aren’t into discipline
A husband in a mid-life crisis
A wife who’ll become a nervous wreck trying to please everyone
A lonely neighbor who has some uncomfortable opinions about people of other races

Ah, Thanksgiving. Even now, you’re plotting your escape.

You never thought you’d be one to go to the mall on a holiday but now you’re convincing yourself it’s good stewardship to shop the sales and good self-care to escape the family stress.

I get it.
I’ve been at that family table.
I’ve dreaded a holiday gathering.
I’ve dined with a jerk.
And sometimes I’ve been one.

Funny how sometimes the same jerk shows up every year but sometimes we rotate the role. Share a table with the same people long enough and everyone gets a turn.
Because we inherited an original jerky nature from our ancestors and the gene for jerkiness is strong.

I’m not a big fan of romanticizing the first Thanksgiving, I avoid all articles lamenting the loss of the good old days. Ecclesiastes warns us against such thinking: “Don’t always be asking, “Where are the good old days?” Wise folks don’t ask questions like that.” (The Message) And, mostly I just don’t see the point.

What we have is now, not last year or a hundred years ago. Plus, I imagine that just like then, today there is some good and some bad and God placed me in these times.

So here I am
At this table
With this jerk.

But I do resist the modern thinking that Thanksgiving is an event to be tolerated and then escaped as soon as possible with a quick trip to Walmart.

Jesus didn’t come to deliver us savings on merchandise. He came to save
the very people who share your table.

And I think that sometimes we all act like jerks but then some of us get stuck there because in the funky world of group dynamics, somehow that becomes our role around the table and often we don’t even really see one another because we’re so busy looking at our memory of last year.

I get why people who don’t know Jesus get stuck in this endless loop, but Christians have no excuse. We can slide through the wormhole of grace and gain a new perspective at any time. We have access to power that changes things - hearts, minds, attitudes.

I was thinking about another table. On the night Jesus was betrayed where He shared bread with Judas the prince of jerks. Judas was a poser, a thief, a greedy, lying betrayer. But after a night sharing a table with the other disciples, they couldn’t tell, by the way Jesus treated him, that he was any different from the rest.

When Jesus indicated that one of them would betray him they didn’t know which one it would be.

Jesus must have been able to enjoy His meal and the company
Even knowing what was ahead
Even knowing what was on Judas’ heart
Even knowing this was the last meal they would all share.

And sometimes it’s important to do that –
Just sit and share a meal and let everything else go just for a time. Take a long deep breath of grace. Inhale.

And Jesus lives in us so we can share tables, too, with jerks or martyrs or critics or pouters or rebels or troublemakers. And not just say grace but also extend it

So that if we were to say, “One of us sharing the cheesy bread basket at this table is a jerk” our table-mates would look around and say, “Is it I? Am I the jerk?”Because they wouldn’t be able to tell from the way we’d treated anyone at dinner.

Sure, sin needs to be confronted,
Relationships ironed out
Jerks need to be told the truth about how they affect others...

But sometimes we all just need take a break,
Share a meal,
Tell a story,
Eat a pie
And thank God that we aren’t alone.

I wonder how many nights, after Jesus had ascended and many of the disciples had been scattered or killed, did John sit to eat alone on the Island of Patmos and think back to that meal where they were all together and draw strength from that memory, and the hope of the vision of a table awaiting us on the other side
where there will be laughter and warm bread and full glasses. And all the forgiven jerks will sit together and be thankful for one another without reservation.

May His kingdom come to our tables even now.

Set an empty place for Jesus and remind yourself – If He can share a table with these jerks with joy than so can I.

This Thanksgiving, don’t just say grace – extend it as it has been extended, also, to you.

Who knows but next year, you may be dining alone on Patmos?


Friday, November 22, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

Sharing by: Pam Crawford                           
November, 2013

As we enter this holiday season many are cringing at the very thought of crossing paths with family or friends that they have experienced conflict with. Many families will have empty chairs at their holiday table not because of a physical death, but because a choice was made to allow a relationship to die. For the professed believer, it might do us some good before we sit down to that holiday feast; to return to the cross for a moment to hear the Words of our Lord and Savior "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

The simple truth is this; if we love others God's way, always willing to work things out for the purpose of peace, it will be possible! If we grasp that some people act the way they do because they have not yet decided to do things God's way, we can extend the hand of grace without hesitation. When we determine to overlook an offense it not only saves the day but it crushes the fiery darts of our enemy.  If we choose Satan's way, the consequence will be  separation. 
John 10:10
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; 
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. "

Back in 2007 I shared a reflective piece titled "Sandpaper People" by Micca Monda Campbell which I have included below.  Please take time to read it. As I've been reminiscing over the things that I am grateful for this year; I have come to realize that it is the "Sandpaper People" that I have crossed paths with in this life who have been the very tools that God is using to develop a softer more grace-filled heart towards the mistakes of mankind. For this I give thanks. Some of these people have also been used by God to help me see the "sandpaper" in myself. For this I praise Him. Keep in mind that sandpaper is a tool used to remove rough edges, oftentimes from many layers of imperfection. 

SANDPAPER PEOPLE by Micca Campbell

Taking the log out of my own eye (Luke 6:42) was imperative to understanding that it takes two or more to create a conflict and two or more to resolve one. To think I played no part in a resulting conflict is to be deceived. The Bible refers to this as spiritual blindness with a spirit of pride. I had to come face to face with this truth myself a few years back. After allowing God to penetrate my own heart, I sought His forgiveness. When possible and as God leads, I have sought out forgiveness from people that I have hurt whether subconsciously or intentionally. Some may not understand this, but if someone perceives an injustice they believe it. They may be totally inaccurate in their assessment of the situation, or they may actually be the one doing the wounding. However, to work towards peace I attempt to acknowledge their perception by simply saying "I realize this is how you see it.  I may say I did not mean for it to ... Can you forgive... so we can move forward?"  My role as a professed child of God is to work towards peace. I am learning to leave the offense to the defense and correction of God. He alone can turn hearts of stone to hearts of love. He alone restores.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." - Matthew 5:9

"Hurt people, hurt people - Healed people, help people."

Friends, when we allow bitterness, anger, resentment and an unforgiving spirit to rule us, we are not operating by God's humble spirit. The Bible is very poignant in telling us that "God hates pride" (Proverbs 8:13). To say that the other person is the only one at fault, is a clear statement of professed perfection. It may be true that the other person may have started the conflict. It may be true that your feelings got hurt. It may be true that you did not deserve what you got. It may also be true that you have gone round and round this very same mountain with them before, but that doesn't mean with our cooperation and God's help, things can't eventually change. Can you imagine how exhausted God might be with mankind had He not made the way of forgiveness through grace? To remember that there is only One who is perfect will help you extend mercy and grace to those who have hurt you. It is possible when we are on our knees in prayer.

Listen up. How we respond in the conflict, and how we choose to resolve it will determine the number of layers to the sin. Oh how I wish I would have learned this as a young woman. The truth for a believer is this; broken relationships do not bring glory to God! Satan hates God and he hates God's children. He is at work daily to destroy families (John 10:10) because the family represents a circle of love. The last thing he wants is for families to operate with God at the center. You need not look too far to confirm the truth of warfare. Families are a mess, mine included. It should not be! 

These days I remind myself often that no one is perfect, not one of us (Romans 3:10). Getting this is allowing me to move past responding negatively to harsh words and hurtful actions. It helps me keep the focus on God as I wait. Instead I ask God what He would have me learn from the situation? I ask Him how I am to respond? Whether the other person is on board with reconciliation does not matter! Children of God are to respond as God's children. We are not responsible for what others do, we are only responsible for ourselves. Satan desires for you to continue to drink his poison and he wants you to continue finger-pointing. Children of God, put your hands down today! 

Finally, we have no power to control the heart or mind of another human being, only their Creator can do that if they allow Him too. In this very moment I have several relationships dear to me that I am still praying about constantly. I understand that true and lasting reconciliation is not possible until all hearts are operating aligned to God's will. Some doors have been shut pretty tightly by choice. However, on my side of the door I understand through the Word of God that I must keep the deadbolt unlocked. I can never lock it if I ever desire to be a part of the victory celebration.  It is painful at times and sometimes I really don't get it. But, what I do know is that my Sovereign Father in Heaven is working behind the scenes to bring about beauty for ashes and good from all evil to those who call Him Lord (Romans 8:28-30 paraphrased). I claim this truth. 

"In as much as possible live at peace (Romans 12:18)."  Do not allow yourself to be deceived. 1 John 4:19-21 tells us "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," but hates another, that person is a liar. For anyone who does not love others, whom he has seen, cannot love God, who he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love others." Hatred, malice, gossip, slander and conflict do not fit the description of a child of God. (John 8:42-47)

If you have some doors that are closed this Thanksgiving, consider what God might have you do. Pray and ask Him for guidance and the ability to discern. Invite Him to lead you in the way you should go. Get quiet before Him and share your heart. Then, be still and patient with a willingness to respond to what He places on your heart. You will never regret doing it God's way. 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING. May it be the most blessed one ever. 

In Christ by grace,

What does the Bible Say about Pride?

Conflict Resolution: Focus on Reconciliation

Live at Peace - As Far as It Depends on You

Conflict Resolution: Confront Someone in Love

How to Handle Personal Conflict