Respect dare series – day 21 – Do him good

Proverbs 31:12, 18-19

 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life . . .

I know I’ve given this verse before, but I just can’t get enough of it! It keeps coming back to mind in many different circumstances and contexts. If I could simply do him good every day, then there would be no need for me to focus on anything else; this covers everything!

Today my heart yearns to stay Glenn’s greatest fan. As teachers, we both enjoy critical feedback to improve, but I don’t want to forget to share the encouragement. Even if it is praise he has heard from me 1000 times, I want to share it for the 1001st. I want the strengths and giftings I see in him to be what I call out further. I want to build him up and not tear down.

My action for today: Glenn taught today and it was a joy to be able to encourage him afterwards and once again highlight his teaching gift. It was also wonderful to support him through prayer.

My prayer for today: Let me be a wife that does for her husband all of his days. Keep me from a critical spirit. Put his best on my heart. Let my actions show him that I’m his biggest fan . Amen

Two things I love in Glenn – his gentleness with animals and his sense of adventure (our old trucks in the background)

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Laying down my life

Last post I talked about going to dangerous places for the gospel even when there’s potentially the physical cost of laying down one’s life. But there is another loss of life apart from physical death and it is this one that God is currently teaching me about yet again.

John 15 says that laying our lives down for another is the greatest form of love:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:12-15)

I used to consider this passage to be solely talking of physical death,  but now know it means so much more. We currently live in a world consumed by self. We live in a culture where the individual reigns supreme. Giving is often done to make oneself feel good, but usually doesn’t come at a substantial cost to the one giving. How different is God’s call upon us!

God says that love lays down oneself.  Love is willing to give up everything for others. Love sacrifices!

Laying down one’s life could mean giving up career advancement to protect family time. It could mean giving up a hobby in order to do a joint activity with one’s spouse. It could mean moving overseas to love a different people group. It could mean giving up a Saturday afternoon in order to visit people in hospitals or nursing homes who do not have family support . . . And so the list goes on.

For me, John 15:12-15 is fully realised in the roles of wife and mother. They are beautiful roles, but come at great cost of independence. I am daily reminded of my inherent selfishness and need the help of the Spirit of God to set my wants down for my husband and child. There is often frustration, rebellion or heartache within me with each new sacrifice, but then there is joy in coming into alignment with God’s way of love.

In what ways are you living a life laid down? Is there something God is calling you to sacrifice in order to love another?

Lay down your life and follow Christ.

Which capacity are you growing?

I don’t know about you, but I hear the phrase: “God will increase your capacity” quite frequently. It is true, He does. He certainly has increased mine and I am sure that He will continue to do so. Yet should this be our focus? I would say not, and yet it had become so for me. It had also become a source of pride. And now that pride is crumbling as I realise how wrong I got it.

Yes, God has placed me in positions of leadership in both the Congo Project and SBS, but is this really what He had in mind when people spoke those words of promise over me, the words proclaiming that God increases our capacity? If this was so, then we would all have to be up front leaders to be able to say our capacity had grown. Of course, we have the beautiful analogy from Paul about believers being a body, made up of many parts, but all serving the same God, so we know this isn’t the case. We all have different roles and functions to fulfil, and for many of us it won’t be up-front leading.

You see, I had taken those words to mean that He would increase my capacity to do, when really what He wants is to increase my capacity to love.

Romans 13:8-10 Do not owe anyone anything—except to love one another. For the one who loves another has fulfilled the Law. For the commandments, “You must not commit adultery; you must not murder; you must not steal; you must not covet,” and every other commandment are summed up in this statement: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Love never does anything that is harmful to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the Law.

I am challenged by this revelation. And I’ll say it again so the words can sink in:

He does not want to increase our capacity to do, but rather our capacity to love.

I had become caught up in doing to the point where I feared that if I couldn’t keep up, then I had some how failed. My brain tells me “you can still keep all those balls in the air; keep juggling a little longer and you’ll make it.” But have you noticed how jugglers are really only keeping the same balls moving continuously in the same circle? The balls don’t go anywhere new; there is no progression to the cycle. How can I make it, if I’m not going anywhere? Why would keeping the balls in the air just a little longer make any difference to reaching the destination when I’m moving them in circles? My actions are just as pointless if not centered in love:

1 Cor 13:1-3 If I speak in the languages of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. Even if I give away everything that I have and sacrifice myself, but have no love, I gain nothing.

It is time to drop the juggling balls. It is time to drop the tasks that distract us from Christ and His call to love. It’s not that the tasks are wrong in themselves, but our focus is if we let them distract us from our call to love. Our doing should be the outward working of love. 

It is not an easy application and I know that, for myself, I need to pray into what this specifically looks like, particularly since I am still involved in the ministries. Nevertheless, I challenge you to stop with me and take time to pray and refocus on what it means to love. We are called to love, not to do. Pray that God will increase your capacity – your capacity to love

You have Stolen My Heart

Have you met those Christians who are just SO IN LOVE with Jesus? I’m sure you have. Do you look at them with their noses in the Bible or their hands raised during worship times and wonder what they have that you don’t? Do you ask: “how do I get there?”

I used to.

And it led me to pray about it. Never underestimate the power of prayer. You see, God WANTS to be pursued. He wants to be sought after. He wants us to turn hungry eyes on to Him.

When you turn to God in prayer and start asking for a deeper love for Christ, greater understanding of His forgiveness and grace, and a passion for His Word, you can be sure that He will answer. In the meantime, show your desire for Him.

Open your Bible faithfully and trust His Spirit to bring the words to life. As you read of God’s character (and the contrast that man’s character makes with His) you cannot help but fall in love with Him. You will grow in awe and wonder of the Almighty.

If you find making time for consistent prayer hard, why not join your church’s weekly prayer meetings?

If you read the Bible with a sense that you are missing the point – that you aren’t going beyond the surface – then don’t allow discouragement prevent you from finding what you need to dig deeper. It may mean a trip to your local Christian bookstore (in Australia two big names are the WORD Bookstore and Koorong). Find a Bible Study book to work through. Go to your church library for resources or the local library (most have a Bible Dictionary or similar that you can use to gain an overview of the book in the Bible you wish to study).

If you find it difficult to break into spontaneous worship when preparing the evening meal, why not play your favourite worship CD?

If you find it too hard to fit Bible reading in to your afternoons after collecting the kids from school, why not play an audio Bible on your drive to work each day?

And never forget that it is a personal journey – God doesn’t want you to be where Mr Hands-Raised-Each-Week is. God has you on a unique journey. Don’t look at where others are in their faith. Fix your eyes on Christ and seek after more of Him.

Turn your eyes on to Christ and He will captivate your heart. He is worth our adoration and praise. If you look for Him you will find yourself falling ever more deeply in love with Him.

John 15:7-11
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

The ‘Unloveable’ Lonely

I watched the Gran Torino with Mark a few weeks back. Whilst I would not recommend it to anyone with a faint heart, I personally found it very moving. It is an intense movie but I found it to be a brilliant social commentary as it looked at one “unloveable”.

Clint Eastwood starts as a bitter old man who has shut everyone out. He remembers “the good old days” when young men stopped to help women and the elderly. He knows houses by the names of their builders and original occupants, not as transitory shells. He grew up in a time when Anglo-Saxons were the main racial group in his area and does not count the new immigrants as Americans. I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that he ends up discovering that friends are not always found where you expect them and family are not always denoted by genes.

The reason that I found the movie touching was the truth I saw within Client Eastwood’s character and the challenge it presented to me. Here was a man who was lonely; longing for someone to see value in him, his life and his skills. He had much to offer but no one, not even his family, looked passed his age nor the shell of bitterness and aggression he hid behind.

 Watching the film I could think of people I have met that hide behind walls to prevent people seeing the pain, loneliness or hurt they live with daily. But these people are treasured by God, made in His image, and have value. It only took one person to allow his wave of bitterness and angst to sweep over them as they stepped inside the wall. Once that one person was inside they were privy to all the wealth of treasure to be found in the old man Client Eastwood played. Then others saw; others came in; the wall melted. His family had wanted him to receive their well intended advice with joyful acceptance so that they would feel good. They did not ask themselves how they could best love him.

Touching. Challenging. Am I prepared to take that initial wave? Am I willing to seek out the treasure in people who throw angry words at me? Am I prepared to step up to those who society classes as ‘unloveable’, who are unwilling to be loved? Am I  prepared to change how I show love to meet another’s needs?

Christ declared these words:

Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Oppression can be of spirit; captivity can be of the mind; poverty can be of the heart. Christ calls us to walk in His ways. If He went out to such people, should we not also stretch out our hands to them and offer them hope, love and friendship?

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. Mathew 5:14 “You are the light of the world… Mathew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others…

This is not easy but it is our call and He will help us. We are called to love. Remember the two greatest commandments; love God and love man. Today let love infiltrate your daily routine – especially extend it to the “unloveables” who are, in fact, loveable and are crying out for love.