This repost is a once over lightly testimony from Rosalind Picard, who is the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For some reason a lot of people seem to think that believing in God and believing in the Bible basically means that you must be in […]
From the very beginning, God gave man a choice of eating from two trees. Our very existence would be determined by the tree we ate from. Before we decide which tree to eat from, we should probably look at the fruit that each one offers and the consequences from eating from each tree.
THE TREE OF LIFE
Type of Tree: SPIRITUAL
Fruit: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL. Galatians 5:22
Emotional Result from Eating from the Tree: CONTENTMENT “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:1
Motivational Driver: HUMILITY
Path to the Tree: DELIBERATE CHOICE. “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Ultimate Result from Eating from the Tree: ETERNAL LIFE
THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL
Type of tree: FLESHLY
Fruit: SEXUAL IMMORALITY, IMPURITY, DEBAUCHERY, IDOLATRY, WITCHCRAFT, HATRED, DISCORD, JEALOUSY, FITS OF RAGE, SELFISH AMBITION, DISSENSIONS, FACTIONS, ENVY, DRUNKENNESS, ORGIES. Galatians 5: 19-21
Path to the Tree: DEFAULT SETTING AT BIRTH. “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5
Emotional Result from Eating from the Tree: LUST “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1John 2:16
Motivational Driver: PRIDE
Ultimate Result from Eating from the Tree: Eternal Death
THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TWO TREES SET BEFORE US: CHOOSE LIFE
I love this….so true!
Well said, totally agree! Thank you for putting it into words!
I write this with an extremely heavy heart, knowing that there are thousands of other sharing the same burden as I do. Yesterday afternoon, March 15th, gunmen opened fire on 2 mosques in the city of Christchurch in the South Island. 49 people died and countless left injured and traumatized. It’s too close to home. […]
Have you ever been in a situation with someone who was going through something temporary and you wanted to say to them, “Just Snap Out of It!”? I have and even if I haven’t said it, I have thought it.
Three weeks ago, my husband hurt his knee at the gym. He was kind of moping around the house because he couldn’t go for a bike ride or do any physical activity. I knew he would get better in a few days and was very supportive on the outside, but inside I wanted to say, “Just Snap Out of It!” I thought I knew what he was going through; I just wanted him to skip feeling bad and move to being okay with it. You know what I mean, “Just pretend you are not going through the process.”
Fast forward a couple of weeks; I woke up with vertigo. It was the day of a monthly luncheon I go to and I was really bummed I couldn’t go. Having had it before, I was also feeling bad because I knew I would have a few days or weeks of limited activity. My husband was very solicitous and took good care of me. He felt bad for me and was very understanding. He is a better person than I am and so I’m sure he wasn’t thinking, “Just Snap Out of It!”
You see, we never know what someone else is going through. As my husband pointed out when I read him the first few paragraphs of this post, “We don’t know the mental battle they may be fighting,” and that’s true. My husband just wasn’t bummed because of his knee pain, he was also thinking about the possibility of a knee replacement in his future. Because he is the strong silent type, he doesn’t communicate everything he is thinking and feeling.
When I was younger, I would have probably said to someone, “Just Snap Out of It!” when they were feeling bummed about a temporary situation. Now that I am older, I have at least learned to keep my mouth shut when I am thinking something like that. I am learning I need to put myself in their shoes and have empathy for whatever they are going through. Sometimes the mental battle they are fighting is a lot greater than the physical discomfort they are feeling.
What about you? Are you one of those strong-willed motivated types that can pull yourselves up by the bootstraps and carry on in most situations? Do you have little or no patience with those who struggle with things that you think you could soldier on through? Let’s face it, whatever we think we are, we are not. We are all made from the dust of the earth and it wouldn’t take much for each one of us to be in the same position we find someone else in. The best thing we can do in most situations is extend grace and lovingkindness to others, since we don’t truly know everything they are going through.
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8
A few weeks ago, I was at the bank paying off a car loan. I was excited and happy as I stood in line and waited my turn. A man came in behind me and I said a few words to him. He gave me a dirty look…he was SO angry. I am ashamed to say that the first thought I had (living in a world of Identity Politics) was that, “He doesn’t like me because I am white.”
I turned around and thought about him for a moment and then I began to pray for him. Really, I didn’t know why he was so angry. How many times has the bank made a mistake in my account and I have gone down there really angry? How many times have I made a mistake and gone to the bank really frustrated? Of course, the answer to those two questions is, more than a few.
It is so easy to be in a situation and judge someone else because of their attitude when I don’t have the slightest idea what that other person is dealing with. I need to extend grace to people and at the very least, try infusing a little humanity in the situation I find myself in. However, that is going to take living in a way where I don’t judge people by the color of their skin, their religious preference or their lifestyle. I may only interact with them for a few seconds, but I can infuse that interaction with love and kindness.
There was not much I could do in the situation at the bank. The man obviously did not want to talk and the only thing I could do was pray. However, there might be something I can do in another situation. I might be able to help pay for someone’s groceries if they are having a tough time paying. I might be able to buy someone a coffee or a burger if they are behind me and appear to be having a hard day.
The key will be to get out of my own head and not think that everything that is happening has something to do with me. Just like the man at the bank, there are probably extenuating circumstances that could explain why he was so angry. I will never know. I do know this one thing, though. Most people out there are having a tough time. Each person probably has at least one hard thing they are dealing with. I can’t know each individual’s story, but I can pray that God will show me how to try to infuse a little humanity into each situation I am in.
Before I wrote my last post, I began to think about secrets and how they affect us. I read different studies and articles about secrets. Most studies came to the conclusion that many of the secrets we carry are not harmful but there are some that are not good for us. They usually separated the secrets into two categories: those that we don’t think about and those that we think about a lot. The studies usually concluded that it is the secrets that we continually think about that cause us the most harm. They cause us stress and we know that stress is not good for us. The studies were very general and a bit vague so I decided to come up with my own SECRETS CHART and let you know how I try to process them. Photo by Phlim 1310 Courtesy of Pixabay
These secrets are usually very nondescript. Someone may say, “Don’t tell anyone about my makeup secrets or where I got this dress.” These secrets do not evoke an emotional reaction inside of me and they do not affect me one way or the other.
These secrets are usually social and relational. I will hear, “Don’t tell anyone that I like him,” or “We’re going together but we don’t want anyone to know.” Again these secrets are just information and again usually they do not affect me one way or the other.
The secrets in this category are of a different sort. These are the secrets that I may hear in the job I work at. These are secrets that, by law or agreement, I am not allowed to tell anyone. When I work in a medical office, people’s health information is private and is protected by law. When I work in an office where there are corporate secrets, I have signed a non-disclosure contract. If I work in an attorney’s office, ditto, attorney-client privilege. These secrets are usually documented but must not leave the office or only leave the office if they are requested legally or subpoenaed. A person must use EXTREME CAUTION with these secrets because if you say anything to anyone, you have broken the law and can lose your job.
I know that these secrets can affect you emotionally having worked in both a legal office and a medical office. The best thing I can do with them after I have processed them emotionally is to give them to God. I can’t change what I have heard and now know about someone, but I don’t want to carry the information around inside of me. I must pass it along, hence, “From their lips to God’s ears.” I can talk to God about what I know and leave the information with Him. After all, He is in charge of the world, not me.
The secrets in this category are DANGEROUS. They make me STOP and do something about them. If someone is breaking the law, I need to report it. If a child tells me they are being abused, I must report it. If someone is stealing from my employer, I need to report it. These are not secrets I am supposed to carry and do nothing about. They are secrets that must come to the light of day and be exposed.
These secrets are some of the most difficult to carry. People tell you things before they pass and you are not allowed to share the information. Someone has been cheating on their spouse. A woman wonders if her child belongs to her husband. The secrets in this category are emotionally charged but again, I probably should not take action about them. What do I do with this information so that it doesn’t harm me? Again, after I process these secrets, I must release them to God. I do not want to carry this information and most of the time I did not solicit it. Someone may have confided in me because they thought I was trustworthy. So again, I give the secrets to God, “From their lips to God’s ears.” I let Him carry them.
This category of secrets is the most destructive. These are the “DEEP, DARK SECRETS” that we carry. These secrets consist of things we have done or possibly have been done to us in decades past. There is shame associated with these secrets and we don’t want to talk to anyone about them. What do we do with those secrets? First, we take them to God and talk to Him about them. My motto changes slightly here, it now becomes, “From my lips to God’s ears.”
If we have done wrong, we tell God. The Bible gives us some guidance here: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. We ask for His forgiveness and we ask Him to cleanse us from the sin we are carrying around. Then we see if there is something we need to do about what we have confessed. Is there someone we need to ask forgiveness from? Do we need to call or write a letter? Have we stolen something? Do we need to make amends? These actions help us become free from the hold the secrets have had on us. If we are not sure about what we should do, we may need to speak to a pastor, priest or counselor. These professionals can give us counsel and guidance about how to proceed if we need to make restitution for anything. Many times, there is nothing we should do but let our secrets (sins) go into the Sea of Forgetfulness. We have done what we could and we need to release ourselves from them.
What if the secret is about what someone has done to us? These secrets are a bit trickier. Sometimes bringing these secrets to the light of day will destroy people and families. Is that something I want or need to do? A good place to start with these secrets is with a professional: pastor, priest or counselor. If you are embarrassed, let me tell you, these people have heard everything and nothing you say will surprise them. They can help you sort through the maze of your emotions and help bring you healing and help you figure out if you are supposed to do anything with these secrets.
Do you live in a culture where you cannot share these things with anyone? If you do, will you be blamed as the perpetrator instead of the victim? Will you be punished for what someone did to you? Then you must keep your secret, but share it with a loving God who will be there to help give your heart healing and you vindication. Remember, He has seen what happened to you and He will eventually take care of it in His time. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord, Romans 12: 19.
Secrets, sometimes they are nothing, sometimes they are everything. Seek counsel if you need it and trust God. He will help guide you through the maze about what to do with them. Most important, don’t let the secrets you carry affect you and your mental and emotional health!
Still recalibrating this week. Reposting a fave.
There are a lot of things I don’t understand. There are also a lot of things that I know exist but I cannot see them and I don’t understand how they work. Take the connections between people for example; I know they exist but I don’t know exactly what they look like in the unseen realm.
When two people marry, they become connected. The Scripture says, “and the two shall become one flesh.” Mark 10:4 We know that marriage produces a physical union but there is also a union of the spirit, soul and mind. Within a few years of being married to my husband, I could be sitting in a room thinking of something and he would bring up that same thought or subject within a few minutes. Now, after several decades together, it happens all the time and I know we have a real connection. This connection I understand because we are so close.
What about the connection we have with our children? They are our own flesh and blood and there is a bond there that is undefined but it is almost as strong as the bond between husband and wife. It is not the same kind of connection, though. Even when my sons were living at home, I could be thinking about something, and rarely would they bring up the same subject. And even if they did bring up the subject, we didn’t necessarily agree on the topic.
What astounded me about the connection, though, was when I saw it in action. Years ago, our youngest son was stationed in Kuwait somewhere along the Iraqi border. He was in a time zone that was eleven hours ahead of us and he rarely got to call home. There was a SAT phone in the compound and every few weeks at a different time, he would call us. Day or night we would speak to him for about twenty minutes. Without fail, within about fifteen minutes of that call, our oldest son would give us a call. He was living in another city, and of course, was concerned about his brother. We would tell him the news, but I was always surprised that his call would come so soon after his younger brother’s. Why was he prompted to call us? It must have been the unseen connection he had with his brother and with us.
Photo by MabelAmber. Courtesy of Pixabay.
What about the connections we have with our close friends? How does that work? The Scripture gives us an example of that when talking about Jonathan and David. In 1 Samuel 18:1, it says that, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” I have had a few friends in my life whom I have had that kind connection with. For whatever reason, we have connected and as time passed, our souls became more and more knit together. Many times, I will be thinking about my friend, and she will call me or visa versa. What does that look like in the unseen realm? I don’t know. If I did, I would draw or paint a picture of it.
Connections…I don’t really understand them. But just because I can’t see them doesn’t mean I don’t believe they are real and that they exist. What about you, how would you explain the connections you have with others?
All Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used with permission.
Reposting a few faves this week! Hope everyone is doing well!
Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary. Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness, of course, it always comes before freedom in the dictionary.
Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Over the course of our lives, we receive many offences from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offence or 2. We can forgive.
Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offence, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm.
When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offence. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say,”I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me any more.” Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offence no longer has power over us.
You will say to me, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same. Jesus told us a great story about this principle. In Matthew 18, he tells us about a servant that owed a king a great deal of money; by today’s standards it would be several million dollars. The servant could not pay the debt and the king commanded that the man, his wife and children and all he had be sold to pay the debt. The servant then fell down and begged him to forgive the debt. The king relented and forgave the servant the entire debt.
The servant then went out from the king and found someone who owed him several thousand dollars. He took the man by the throat and demanded the man pay him what he owed him. The debtor begged the man to have compassion on him and he would pay him what was owed but the servant would not show mercy. He had the man thrown into prison. Soon it was reported to the king what the servant had done to his debtor. The king then called the servant and demanded to know why he had treated the other man so harshly seeing that he had received mercy. He then threw the man into prison until all of his debt was paid. The story ends with this admonition from Jesus, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.
The point of this story is that we all stand before God owing a great debt; that debt being our sins and trespasses. If we want God’s forgiveness, we must be willing to forgive those who have sinned or trespassed against us. It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.
You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.” You’re right, I don’t, but God does.
In order to do this, we also must understand what forgiveness is not:
1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.
2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system.
Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.
You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom.
Like our GPS, am recalibrating this week…reblogging a few of my faves!
This being the week after Valentine’s Day, I have had a week to think about love. When most of us think about a love for the ages, we think about Romeo and Juliet or Helen of Troy and Paris. Both tales envision star-crossed lovers, whose love ends in their own deaths or the deaths of hundreds of others. These couples’ stories, famous in literature, may or may not have been founded on real people. We look at them and think, now there is a love for the ages. But is it? Their love burned brightly, was short-lived and had tragic consequences.
There is another kind of love, though. After the heat of passion has cooled a bit, this love is based on commitment and understanding. Can we find that kind of love among people we know personally or people we see in the media today? Indeed, it is hard to find in this selfish self-centered world.
When I think of that kind of love, a real love for the ages, I think of our friends, Peg and Dave. We first met them about thirty five years ago when they moved from California to our small town in Oregon to start a franchise business. We walked into their shop one day and ended up becoming life-long friends. Peg worked with Dave at the shop and I had the privilege of taking care of their son, Davey. Many Friday nights we would get together, have dinner and laugh until our sides hurt.
The economy made a down-turn and they were unable to keep their shop. It was a great economic loss for them, but they continued to stay together as Dave looked for another job. They had to leave their friends and move to a bigger city where Dave found a job with a well-known corporation. When we traveled there, we were able to visit them and see how they were doing. About twenty years ago, Dave told us he had a numb feeling in his legs and that when he ran, he couldn’t feel the lower half of his body. These symptoms forced him to go to a doctor, go through a multitude of tests, and find out his diagnosis was Multiple Sclerosis.
Dave continued to work at his desk job until he was past retirement age, and when he was ready, he quit. Dave’s symptoms became worse and worse until eventually Peg could not take care of him any longer. They then moved him into a care facility. That was several years ago. Occasionally, I would call Peg and ask her how Dave was doing. She always told me Dave was well, and that she would make the thirty mile round trip to visit him daily. She said Dave never complained, that he was kind to his attendants and always said “Thank you” when they helped him.
Dave passed last year after a short bout with pneumonia. Peg called me on Valentines Day to check in. She said that in a few days they would have celebrated their 59th Wedding Anniversary. Even though Dave is gone, she is going to bake a small cake and celebrate their Anniversary. He may have moved to a different location, but he will always be front and center in her heart.
After I got off the phone with her, I reflected on their love. A love that was filled with courage, compassion and commitment. I am in awe of that kind of love and I would call that truly “A Love For The Ages.”