We had a rare ice storm here last night. We are closed down 😃
This is a continuation of our discussion on Bridges.
Please join in the conversation.
Reblogged from susanirenefox.com
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
Think about this: rather than love our neighbor with the same amount of love as we love ourselves, what if Jesus meant for us to love our neighbor from the same Spirit who allows us to love ourselves? The same Spirit who allows us to forgive, offer grace and receive spiritual wisdom?
After all, aren’t we capable of loving in this way because God loved us first?
Sometimes we get so full of our own offenses we end up wearing blinders to the pain and injustice raining down around us. We can no longer stand by the sidelines with impunity, for this is the opposite of love. We can no longer hasten to react in anger or call someone out of their name when Jesus clearly told us these things were unacceptable. We can no longer extend fingers of accusation instead of extending offers of invitation to know someone’s heart.
In order to love as God loves, we must first understand we are not the center of the universe. If we hinder our vision due to fear or hate, we hinder our experience of God. Only with hearts, minds and eyes wide open can we hope to embrace the fullness of God’s love and grace continually poured to overflowing into us and through us via His Spirit.
God is love, and we who live in love live in God, and God lives in us. And as we live in God, our love grows more mature in us. So we are free from fear on the Day of Judgment. We can face Him with confidence because we base our identification with the love of Jesus in this world. Such love has no fear, because mature, compassionate love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully embraced and experienced God’s perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. (1 John 4:16-19)
As we experience the fullness of God, we begin to mature in our relationship with Him. We start to comprehend the complexity of humanity, the sacredness of our unique and ineffable creation, the dignity and value of who we are as children of The Potter who designed us. We are no longer unworthy, for through Christ, the Father has adopted us into His family. We are beloved in His embrace. All of us.
Therefore, as He has declared us His heirs, we are to live up to His expectation of loving each other through His unconditional love. We are to offer each other forgiveness and grace through the grace He has given us before we deserved it. We are to mirror God’s image, not our own.
And God, through Jesus, always stood up for the broken-hearted, the outcasts, and those singled out by injustice.
Yes, at times we feel tired and hopeless; at times we feel frustrated or disappointed. But our task here and now is to draw others to the heart of Jesus, and to reconcile all people to our Father. As we surrender to the Spirit in us, He helps our hearts to stay open; He prays for us; He strengthens us; He connects our heart to the heart of the One who wraps us in His everlasting love.
“I’m tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends and officers for some reckless comments. I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat. I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart. I’m working in these streets so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you.” Corporal Montrell Jackson, Aurora PD, Baton Rouge, LA, written on his Facebook page July 8, 2016, three days before he was shot to death in the line of duty.
Meriam Gladys Boze and Edward Lincoln Oldham were married March 26th 1947. This photograph was taken in the living room of Miriam’s home at 1741 Glenmore Avenue, Baton Rogue, LA. The snapshot shows the two of them dancing at their wedding. Conceivably it shows Meriam dancing and Edward just standing there. It is interesting that my parents brought up their three children of the 1950’s and 1960’s to believe, as Christian’s, it was wrong, perhaps even a sin, to dance. Yet, here I see the two of them doing what we could not.
This click of the camera reminds me of a time in 1962 when the two of them took us three boys with them to the mission field in British Guiana (Guyana). While we were waiting on the mission home to be completed we stayed in the second story of an apartment building. Chubby Checker had released his new song, The Twist, the year before on Parkway Records. The radio stations in Georgetown were playing it several times a day. One evening we were listening to the radio (there was no TV in the country, unless you were extremely wealthy) and our entire family started moving to the music. Most of the others were dancing much like Dad in this photo, but at eleven years old, I began dancing The Twist the way I had seen it on American Band Stand back in the United States. I was quickly called out and shamed to tears.
I have only danced twice since that time. Once was right after Barbara and I were married in 1982. I love her to death, but she made so much fun of the way I danced, I quit and never danced again until October 8, 2016 at my son Raife and Caitlin’s wedding in Fredericksburg, VA. I didn’t enjoy one minute of it, and, as you can see from the photo, I dance just like my Dad.
I would love to have questioned my parents about this dance, if only I had known this photograph existed prior to their deaths in 1995 and 2005.
Next Month I will be speaking to the Senior Luncheon for our Church. In preparing for this talk I happened upon this article. After reading please give sincere thought and make a commitment rather than a resolution this year.
It’s that time of year again.
We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future and spend more time with family.
We make resolutions because we want to bring change to bear on our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. And the top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three poles: money, health and family.
But what would a set of New Year’s resolutions look like for you and your church, your role as a leader, or simply as someone who wants to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment?
Though many more could be added, here are fifteen to consider:
1. Pray more.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord… ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)
2. Invest in your spiritual gift(s).
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (I Timothy 4:14-15, NIV)
3. Get more intentional about evangelism.
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (I Corinthians 9:22, NIV)
4. Care for yourself spiritually.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12, NIV)
5. Make the tough decisions you know are best.
And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)
6. Confront debilitating patterns of sin.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
7. Do the hard work needed to build community.
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. (Matthew 18:15, NIV)
8. Keep in touch with contemporary culture.
From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders… All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. (I Chronicles 12:32, NLT)
9. Quit comparing yourself to other Christians, other leaders, and other churches.
Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You – follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” (John 21:20-23, Msg)
10. Read more.
Timothy, please come as soon as you can…When you come, be sure to… bring my books,… (II Timothy 4:9, 13, NLT)
11. Prioritize your family.
A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife,…attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (I Timothy 3:2-5, Msg)
12. Refuse to use ministry to satisfy your personal ambition.
Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. (Jeremiah 45:5, NIV)
13. Love people, not just crowds.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg)
14. Be more open to change.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)
15. Stay focused on the vision.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NIV)
Dr. James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.
Our Oldham family was by no means well off in the early 1950’s. Of course my two brothers and me never knew that. We thought we were just right. The only thing I can remember that would indicate otherwise was when Dad said something I have never forgotten. “These rich folks that live in $20, 0000 homes have it made.” Why I remember that, I don’t know. I guess it was the first indication that I was born into a poor family in south Louisiana.
Even still, I did not understand the implications of these words, at the time, and continued playing with my friends. I loved the era and the upbringing in which I grew up. Living a life of understanding black-eyed peas, fried SPAM, and cornbread was good for me, I still find them delicious. However, it was these years of innocence that I now look back upon as an adult and appreciate the very few real vacations that we took as a family.
Dad worked full time for the NATB (National Automobile Theft Bureau) as a Louisiana State Trooper. He took a second job pastoring the small Church of God in Tickfaw, Louisiana. Mom worked as a bookkeeper. With these three incomes we were able to enjoy vacation moments that were short and adventurous. Sometimes we went fishing at Old River or False River on the western side of the Mississippi River. These used to be a part of Old Man River until he changed course and cut them off, making nice fishing lakes. Otherwise, if we weren’t fishing in someone’s pond, or the creek bottom, we were swimming in one of them—if we could shoo the snakes away.
Yet the spontaneous outings Dad created were the ones I am most fond of. The one captured in this photo is just one of many such impromptu adventures. We were driving through the country roads of south Louisiana when Dad saw a Forestry Fire Tower and pulled in the driveway. As usual Mom said, “What are you doing Edward?” My older brother Bill and I stood to attention when we heard the answer.
“I’ll be right back.”
In a few minutes Dad waved goodbye to the Forest Ranger and returned to the car.
“Come on boy’s, we’re climbing to the top.”
Bill and I hopped out of the car and raced to the bottom of the stairs. The walk was exciting at first, but it did not take long for a four and six year old to tire out. Dad snapped this photo while we were resting. After catching our breath we climbed to the top and looked in every direction, over thousands of acres of trees.
Even though I was a month from turning five, I have never forgotten this small memory. A smile calms my grin each time I see a fire tower.
Second in our series called Bridges is written by Lilka Raphael over at bisforblessed.com.
He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:16-19 NIV
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
John 4:9 NIV
As we celebrate this Christmas season, we would all do well to ponder “goodwill to men.”
Merriam-Webster defines goodwill as “a kindly feeling of approval and support: benevolent interest or concern” It is also defined as “willing effort.”
“Relationship” may be an…
View original post 453 more words
He said it would be fun. He said we would get in the marsh before daylight and leave early because we would have our limit. I told Julius Murray he would have his limit because I had quit hunting a long time ago. Since I had never been duck hunting I seized the opportunity to get in the swamp with my camera. I would be shooting a different way.
On a cold December morning in 1987 we tromped through the high grasses of the northern Ross Barnett Reservoir. Most of these stalks of weed were taller than me by two feet. Some were tough to push over and in some cases so thick we had to machete them down to get through. The ground became wet bog in some areas but we continued through the mire. Arriving at a small opening I saw an area that was like a small pond. Shining my flashlight revealed fallen trees. Upon our presence, I could hear, but not see, turtles scampering into the water. Clunk, clunk, clunk drew apprehensive nerves toward their departure. Was it really turtles, or something else? Little did they know I would capture them later when they thought we were gone.
The sun was not up. There was faint light from a toenail moon setting in the west. We waited in the dark of morning with a flashlight, a cup of coffee and whispered conversation. Our hands tightened around our thermos bringing a hint of warmth. Quiet broke in shards of stress when movement here-or-there tuned our heart to any strange noise around us. The thought of gators was constant, but I trusted Julius’s skills to keep us safe.
Twilight revealed a light fog encompassed our blind. The long sacred wail of a Loon said a good morning to his mate asking. “Where are you?” Moments later a higher pitched wail lets him know, “I am over here.” Evocative sounds, never be forgotten, will forever establish the tranquility of the swamp and deminish fear.
As the fog lifted we hunkered behind tall reeds and watched hundreds of duck and geese fly above and around us. Julius raised his gun and followed each bird in his gun site. When he didn’t shoot I questioned him. “We cannot fire until 6:00 o’clock, it’s the law,” he said. Hearing others fire their guns reminded me I was proud to be his friend, and of his integrity to remain silent until time. I continued to snap photos of the wonders around us, including the turtles.
Did these birds have a Timex, or what? The big hand struck twelve and they vanished. There were one or two honks from Canadian Geese in the distance, but in a gun site looked like tiny fragments of dirt blowing through the air. Being the patient man that he was, Julius waited another hour only to be disappointed. There were no birds close enough to bring home for dinner.
Julius was right. I did have fun, but he did not get his limit. I got better shots with my camera. We went home with no duck and the promise of beautiful morning photos waiting to be developed.
If you’d like to hear the sound of a loon check this out: