Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Two Are Better Than One

"Two are better than one..." I read this phrase in Ecclesiastes this morning. The Scripture goes on to say "because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up."

Now, I've got a couple hundred Facebook friends, but I'm thinking this is speaking of something much different than that. I was in a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago and we were talking about relationships with people. He referred to some of his acquaintances as more like Facebook friends. I can tell you from the context of our conversation he was implying that those friends were little more than superficial. No, I'm not dissing Facebook friends, just indicating that the level of friendship is quite different than those with whom we do life with. While those of us who do the Facebook thing may have an ever increasing list a "friends," the truth is those with whom we truly walk through life together with is generally a pretty small list. I would go so far as to say, that there are many who know lots of people yet walk through life very much alone.

We were never meant to go at this thing alone. God created us to walk through life with one another. After all, His purpose in sending His Son was to bring mankind back into relationship with Him. Scripture tells us, He has adopted us, He will not leave us as orphans, He sets the solitary in family, He will never leave us, etc. And while God longs for us to understand the dynamic of this relationship He longs for us to have with Him, He also longs for us to embrace this idea of walking through life with one another.

This concept is much more than posting what you are dealing with on Facebook and others replying with their well meant sentiments. Walking through life with one another is more than shallow comments like "I'm thinking of you," and "I'll be praying for you." Its about being willing to roll up your sleeves and walk through, (lets see how can I keep this g-rated) "refuse" with one another. Its about hurting, I mean truly hurting when others are hurting. I'm not talking about pity, but having compassion for one another that insists on helping one navigate through the hurt. Its about celebrating the victories with one another. Its about standing on the mountain tops with high fives, chest bumps, and genuine excitement over the triumphs in life. Its about strolling through the valleys with the commitment to remain there even when bolting is the easiest thing to do. Its about having the difficult conversations and speaking the truth even when the risk of offense is high. Its about remaining on board when everyone else has jumped ship. Its about fighting through wounds and offenses because the value of the relationship is worth more than walking away. Its about choosing to forgive even when the wound is huge. Its about seeing all the stuff nobody else can see and choosing to love in spite of it all. Its about seeing the gifts, talents, and potential in one another and challenging each other to rise up and be all you were created to be.

I'm sure you'll agree that this list is a pretty small list. Yep, superficial friends are great but these friends with whom we walk through life with, they are irreplaceable. It's these of whom this phrase was written..."Two are better than one." Are there some of these on your list? Or, better yet, are you on someone else's short list?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

All Of This From A Kid's Movie

I came home today and fixed myself a sandwich for lunch and plopped down in front of the TV for a few minutes intending on turning on the news before I got back to work. My boys had gone upstairs and left the movie "Meet The Robinsons" playing on the TV. It is one of my favorite animated movies so rather than turn on the news I watched a few minutes of the movie. If you've never seen it, the story line is really all about learning to let go of the past and to keep moving forward.

As I sat there watching this animated kid's movie, I started thinking about how refusing to let go of past hurts and offenses, is truly an epidemic. Think about it. Like "Goob" in the movie, we so often hang onto things with this idea of revenge taking root in our heart. We've been wounded and we figure that its only fair to get back at those who have hurt us. Or, we remain silent, don't launch a counter attack, and stuff the thing deep down inside of us where nobody can see it. Regardless of which route we take, the truth is that if we never truly deal with it, the result is never healthy. When I say deal with it, I mean let it go. Choose to forgive and move forward.

"But, this person did this," "I can't forgive them," "You have no idea what I've been through." We've used all the excuses and to us they all seem valid. However, the excuses never bring healing. When we refuse to forgive others, the wound remains opened and healing never comes. And while we may decide to break ties with the one who wounded us, unhealed wounds affect how we approach others and how we approach life. Perhaps it makes us view life as if we are a victim, or we build walls that never allow anyone else get close. Or, maybe we set out on a mission to prove others wrong, or we settle into a life that trusts nobody.

I think Jesus understood the power that a heart of unforgiveness could have on us. He spoke on the subject more than once, instructing us to forgive those who have hurt us. He even went so far as to say that if we want forgiveness from our Heavenly Father, then we must be willing to forgive others.

On the other hand, our enemy, the devil understands what unforgiveness can do to us as well. His strategy is to cause us to never let go of those things because he longs for us to live in bondage to it all. Bondage vs. freedom? Tough choice isn't it. God wants us free, and the enemy wants to keep us in bondage.

There have been seasons of my life where I refused to forgive those who had hurt me. It affected the way I did life and every relationship was tainted by that unforgiveness. Those times were miserable. Those seasons were truly some of the most frustrating times of my life. Today, I can think of no person I have unforgiveness toward. I am totally free and I have to admit freedom beats bondage hands down.

Make a decision today, to let go of past offenses. I know some of those wounds are serious and there are hurts that go deep and are life altering. I want to encourage you though, there is nothing quite as life altering as the day you release that thing. The moment you choose to forgive and move forward, the healing begins.

Back to the movie. After watching a few minutes I fast forwarded to the end of the movie because I love the song at the end. I'll end with a few lines of the song here, and I pray you'll take it to heart.

Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know
The hardest part is over
Let it in,
Let your clarity define you
In the end,
We will only just remember how it feels....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Are You Stupid?

Ok, I have to admit I couldn't resist the title. I was reading in Proverbs today when I came across chapter 12 verse 1. "Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid." So there it is, the "s" word as we refer to it in our household. While we shouldn't make a habit out of referring to anyone with that term, I think it is important to evaluate ourself in regards to that Scripture. So, here we go...are you stupid? Do you struggle with correction? I'm thinking when defined like this verse in Proverbs, I definitely resemble that "s" word on occasion.

Think about it for a moment. Have you ever been sitting in church when the minister says something that hits you right between the eyes? Not a condemning word, but one that you know deep down is right on and yet there's something in you that is ready to reject that thing? Perhaps, you start looking for some Scripture that can support your position and prove his position to be in error. Or, better yet you just try to find someone who will agree with you. Its amazing how often we reject the truth as long as we can get a couple people who can agree with us. Have you ever had a difficult time being corrected or receiving instruction from a parent, a teacher, a boss, a co-worker, a friend, or anyone else? If so, then I hate to say it but....well, let's just say God's Word indicates that you may not be acting intelligently.

As I mentioned earlier, I too seem to act a bit unintelligent at times. There are certainly times in my life when I struggle with receiving correction with a good attitude. Although, I am much better than when I was a teen, there are still moments in my life when confronted with correction that my first impulse is to get defensive. Not sure if you can relate, but my heart starts beating fast, I can feel the blood pressure rising, and I guess its that spirit of "stupid" that begins to take over. It makes no difference if its a person or the Holy Spirit speaking to me personally through God's Word, when I am confronted I usually offer a bit of a fight.

Of course, there are times in our lives when those attempting to correct us have impure motives, but that's not really the point. The point is the attitude of "our" heart. I have discovered throughout the course of my life that even when confronted with correction at the hands of those whose motives are way off, truth can still be imparted to us. Let's face it truth is truth regardless of where it comes from. As the parent of a 7 year old and a 4 year old, I have discovered that God can even offer correction and instruction through their mouths and actions. I'm even reminded of Balaam in Scripture who had a quick course correction when his donkey spoke up and warned Him that his head was about to be chopped off. Yes, God can use anything or any means necessary to bring correction and instruction our way. The key is whether or not our heart is willing to receive it. Those who receive that correction are better for it and those who don't, well, we know what Scripture says of them.

Because we are all on a journey tainted with imperfection, we are constantly in need of correction along the way. When we are teachable and maintain an of attitude of humility, then growth on that journey is much quicker. On the contrary, when we walk through life unteachable and full of pride, not only is our growth in spiritual things stunted, but at some point destruction awaits. Now, while I don't like thinking of myself as stupid, I am more disturbed by the fact that around some corner, destruction is waiting for me. Continuing on a path knowing that it leads to destruction is like driving through a road block that warns a bridge is out. Now, maybe you're ok, with the whole destruction thing, and if so then, go for it. But, as for me I'm thinking I have to agree with Scripture when it says that's just stupid.