Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Mistaken identity

Several years ago on a very busy day, I stopped by the nail salon I had frequented for several years.  I did not have time to get my nails done on this particular day, but planned to schedule an appointment while there.  I had a list of things to do before attending a lunch meeting, so when I arrived at the salon I had no plans to linger.

The precious ladies at the salon were all Vietnamese, with only a couple who could communicate well in English.  The girl who normally did my nails was not at her station, so I approached the girl standing in the back.  I began by asking to purchase gift certificates for my daughters.  As we walked to the front counter, she was still trying to understand what I wanted.  After several attempts to communicate more effectively, she finally understood and proceeded to complete the forms.  Asking for a receipt extended this labored conversation and my concerns began to rise over my ability to arrive at my meeting on time.

Gift certificates and receipt finally in hand, I am ready to schedule my appointment.  Given the challenges already experienced, I very distinctly say…

“I would like an appointment for tomorrow and I would like for Kim to do my nails.”

The girl behind the counter replies…

“I do your nails.  What time?”

I graciously respond, with a brief hand motion in the direction of my regular girl’s station…

“No thank you.  Kim has been doing my nails for a long time and I would like her to do them tomorrow.”

As if she hasn’t heard me, she says…

“I do your nails.  What time?”

Again I respond…

“Really, thank you so much, but just schedule me with Kim.”

And again…

“I do your nails.  What time??

I am now very frustrated with this delay, and the fact that our conversation is going in circles.   Patience and grace have left me and with exaggerated hand motions, I turn and point to Kim’s station, saying…

“Kim (point).  The girl who sits here (point).  I want her (point dramatically) to do my nails.  Tomorrow.”

And with largely exaggerated arm motions, the girl points to herself repeatedly, saying…

“THAT ME !  I KIM !!”

I had no words.  Not until that exact moment did I recognized that I had indeed been talking to the very same girl who had been doing my nails for over a year!  Having only myself on my mind, when I went to the back of the salon to the person standing in the corner, I mistook her for the other woman who is normally in that station.  I was so embarrassed.

I fumble through an apology…

“I am so sorry….I don’t know why….”

She very sweetly looks at me and says….

“But you look beautiful today!”

Great.  I’m a total moron, but I look good.  Her gracious behavior only served to make me feel more ashamed.  How could I be so focused on me as to not recognize who was right there with me??  I almost didn’t go back for the appointment the next day.

I would like to suggest to you today that many of us often mistake identities.  Our own.  Perhaps you’ve said things to yourself, about yourself, without recognizing the Spirit of God within….

“I wish I were strong and confident…”

“I am!  I live in you and I make you strong and confident.”

“I can’t handle the pressures coming against me…”

 “I can!  I abide with you, making you able to bear these things and be victorious.”

“If someone would just love me, I would be complete…”

 “I do!  I have lavished My love on you.  You are complete in Me .”  

When we came to Christ, He came to us.  He took up permanent residence in us, never to leave us or forsake us.  Yet we so often look at our mistakes and failures and identify more with them than Him.  He gave us a new identity:

” It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  Galatians 2:20

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…”  Ephesians 2:10

“…made us alive together with Christ…”  Ephesians 2:5

“you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…”  1 Peter 2:9

Just in the first two chapters of Ephesians we are described as loved, blameless, forgiven, holy, redeemed, saints and chosen by God.  That passage also says we’ve already been given grace, peace, His favor, every spiritual blessing, wisdom, understanding, power and numerous other things.

It’s time we take this identity!! God no longer sees us as lost sinners who are unable to please Him.  He has adopted us as His children and sealed this deal with His Spirit coming to inhabit us.  We really have been made new creatures!

We take this new identity by faith:

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

Our transformation starts with faith – believing what God says about us no matter how we see ourselves.

For it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you – energizing and creating in you the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.”  Philippians 2:13

“Now may the God of peace…strengthen and make you what you ought to be….”  Hebrews 13:20-21

The new you, the real you, has been right there with you from the moment you met Christ!

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Make believe

As children, our imaginations took us into many an adventure within the bounds of our home and yard.  There were no computers or hand-held technical devices for our entertainment, and television viewing was limited by the fact that there only three channels from which to choose.  We were allowed Saturday mornings for cartoons before the television was turned off and we were whisked outside to play.

My younger sister and I often took our dolls outside as we pretended to be mothers.  I’m not sure why, but running from tornadoes with our children in our arms seemed to be a common theme….I suppose we needed a little drama from time to time.  We played house and when our little brother wanted to play with us, we made him be the baby that had to take a nap.  Every time.  We danced as ballerinas and floated like angels.  We made up stories and games.  We squabbled and cried, made up and started over.

My older brother and I were fans of the original Mission Impossible television series and would pretend we were the special agents sent to accomplish the impossible, secret assignments.  This was made even more fun by the fact that a cousin in another city would send reel-to-reel tapes to my brother, and once we had received the instructions for our mission, we pretended the tape would disintegrate, just as it did in each episode on TV.   There were days we were riding with the Lone Ranger or hunting with Daniel Boone. We fought battles against invading enemies using sticks for guns.  We raced and chased and played as long as we could before nightfall.

We would leave our imaginary worlds and come inside for supper, baths, and a little television time with Daddy before bed.  I enjoyed this time of my childhood very much.  It was such fun to pretend.  But once inside for the nightly routine, I didn’t keep pretending I was someone or something else.  Playtime was over, it was time to just be me.

Yesterday I wrote about being an imitator, copying the life of Jesus as a pattern for our own.  This is very different from pretending to be like Him.  When we imitate Jesus, or his faithful followers in the Bible, we do it through a heart effort to change our behavior, to become more like Him.  And because of the power of His word, we know that we can be changed by looking at Him and doing what He did.  Imitating Him is an act of faith – believing in Romans 12:2.

Pretending to be something you’re not is very different.  Pretense:  an act or appearance that looks real but is false.  My older sister uses the word authentic in writing about her own pursuit to no longer be a pretender*.  We’ve all been grown-up pretenders at some time or another.  Sometimes we pretend we agree with others just by our lack of comment or action.  Sometimes we pretend to love those in the congregation with us when we really don’t care at all.  Sometimes we pretend to worship God when our minds and hearts are far from Him.  Pretending to be someone or something you are not is deception, and is actually a lack of faith!

Imitator or pretender?  I’ve been both.  It’s a matter of the heart.

“Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all else that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

Really coming to the knowledge that God loves me unconditionally, all the time, never to end, is what sets me free to stop pretending.  Jesus calls us to a “vital union” with Him – it’s the only thing that can keep us real.


Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized


Last night I had a salad with imitation crab meat.  Why, you may ask?  Because my husband purchases it from time to time (I never do) and I suppose I hold out hope that one day it will actually taste like genuine crab meat.  I don’t dislike the flavor of the copycat, but it’s just not the same as the real thing.  And while I really like the real thing, it is not an affordable item with the current budget. Even with a much greater income, I expect I would always consider the purchase of real crab meat for special occasions only!

We live in a world full of imitations.  There are imitation designer clothes and handbags, imitation diamonds, imitation perfume, and a vast multitude of  food choices.  Personal preference normally determines if we find an imitation product acceptable or not.  My short list of acceptable or unacceptable?

  • Diamonds:  real
  • Perfume:  real
  • Clothes/Handbags:  real or imitation, I don’t care, if the price is right     🙂
  • Food:   real (duh), but with some products imitating others, such as my veggie “meats”

Just because something is an imitation doesn’t mean it is unacceptable.  We get to choose.  Sometimes the copies are perfectly acceptable.  And the more attention the manufacturer gives to improving the product, the better it gets.  (So, there is hope for the imitation crab!)

The Apostle Paul was a very confident man.  His conversion on the road to Damascus was dramatically life-changing, and when he was teaching the new converts, he wrote:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 11:1

“I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”  1 Corinthians 4:16

He was so confident in the way he lived his life before God that he told them to imitate him!  That sounds a bit arrogant, doesn’t it? But I believe he wrote from a pure heart, because he was instructing them to do what he had done:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”  Ephesians 5:1

“But we do desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of your faith until the end, in order that you may not grow disinterested and become spiritual sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are inheriting the promises.”  Hebrews 6:11-12

Are we mindful to be imitators of God?  Do we look at the men and women of faith in the Bible and pattern our lives after their behavior of patient endurance with an expectation of receiving what God has promised??  Would we have the boldness to tell others to imitate our lives, being confident that it would lead them closer to God?

“And all of us, as with unveiled face, continue to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever-increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another…”  2 Corinthians 3:18

Let’s each be an imitation of Jesus – a copy that “looks”, sounds, and acts like Him.  The more we yield to the Creator, the more opportunity He has to “improve” us, to make us more and more like Him.  And one day when we enter heaven, this imitation will be an exact likeness of Him!

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

The right ingredients

Two weeks ago today was my husband’s birthday.  I rarely bake but decided to make him a birthday cake.  Betty Crocker I’m not, so I decided to go with something simple – pound cake to be served with strawberries and whipped cream.  My mom makes the best pound cake ever, so I called to get the recipe.  I planned my trip to the grocery store to purchase all the ingredients and was looking forward to my afternoon in birthday preparations.

Once home from the store, I began to organize everything I would need.  I had all the right ingredients, measuring cups and spoons, bowls and the beaters for the mixer.  No mixer.  I checked every cabinet only to discover that it had not managed to make the move with us.  It’s somewhere in storage.  Bummer.  Now, I realize that it is possible to make a cake without a mixer.  I personally have never attempted this and quite honestly, have no desire to.  This was supposed to be simple.  Disappointed, I put away the ingredients and utensils and made a quick call on Sara Lee to save the day.   Thank you, Jesus, for Sara Lee.

No matter that I had all the right ingredients, without mixing them together there would be no beautiful pound cake resulting.  It was just easier to go to someone else who had already done the work.


“For indeed we have had the glad tidings (Gospel of God) proclaimed to us just as truly as they (the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them); but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith by those who heard it.”  Hebrews 4:2

How many messages have we heard that have had no effect in our lives, even when we believed the words were true?  How many times have we read our daily devotional or selected a passage out of the Bible, read it, mentally accepted it as truth, but never gained a benefit from it because we didn’t mix it with faith?

Are we pleading with God, waiting for answers to prayers, but not really believing?  It is impossible to please God without faith. Hebrews 11:6  Faith is what gets His attention!  Faith in Who He is and in what He says He can and will do!

And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just easier to rely on someone else’s faith.  We go to those we know have strong faith, those who have invested the time and work to develop their faith.   We ask them to pray for us because we don’t feel our prayers are good enough to move God in our situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should go to others to ask for prayer.   And when someone of strong faith prays with us and for us, it can help our faith grow.  But if that’s the only effort we make to develop our faith, we remain babies and never grow to maturity.  Compare it to physical fitness – if you had a personal trainer that taught you how to exercise properly, but the only time you exercised was when you met with them once a week, your results would be minimal.  It’s the same concept.  We have to exercise our faith.

Faith is the assurance of the things we hope for, the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality.”  Hebrews 11:1 

How do we exercise faith?  Believe.  Whatever God says, choose to believe it and refuse any other option.  When we are being tested, we must continually confess what the word of God says to stay focused on it.   It is believing that God is faithful to His word and will do what He says He will do.  When we need answers, we must go to the word of God and find out what He says about the situation.  We take His word and mix it with faith.  We choose to believe Him no matter what our circumstances may look like.

My husband did not come home to the wonderful aroma of a freshly baked cake that day.  But the evening wasn’t really about the cake, it was about him, celebrating his life.

Our life on this earth should be lived as a celebration of Who He is and all that He has done for us.  Because of Jesus, we are the wonderful aroma wafting up to God…

“For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ unto God….”  2 Corinthians 2:15

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

What do you say?

Last night was an opportunity to speak to a group of women who are going through difficult times.  Prior to the chapel service start, our team spends time mingling, introducing ourselves and asking what they would like for us to pray for.  We take their names if they want to give them and write down their specific requests.  We have a very special group of prayer warriors that receive these requests and are committed to faithful prayers for women they will never meet this side of heaven.

I didn’t make it very far with my introductions before standing by two women, one about my age and another younger.  The older of the two shared first and a specific scripture came to my mind that had been, and still is, a source of great encouragement to me as her request was similar to prayers I’ve had for my own family.  I helped her find it in the bible I had just given her and encouraged her to mark it and declare it over her situation.  She was very open and friendly, grateful for the time I had taken with her.

As we talked, the younger of the two listened quietly from the wheelchair which held her.  I didn’t recognize any particular emotion on her face and the bible I had given her lay untouched on her lap.  I turned to speak directly to her and ask what I could pray for on her behalf.  The floodgates opened with hurt and anger that poured forth in a deluge that took me by surprise.  I have faced some difficult things in my life, but in moments like these I am humbled and ashamed of any complaining I have ever let escape my lips.  I cannot truly comprehend the depth of her pain, the wounds still excruciatingly raw from indescribable abuse suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to love her.  She kept repeating these things as if she were still in disbelief herself.

“Where was God when this was happening to me?”  “God doesn’t love me!!”  “Why didn’t He stop them?”  “What am I going to do now?”

What do you say?

No matter how “prayed up” I think I am, no matter how much thought and study I have put into the preparation to be in this place, nothing feels adequate in this moment.  My mind races to find the right words.  There aren’t many.  This is an important point. There aren’t many words that can respond in any way that will be sufficient.  We need to accept that.  Words don’t do it.

The enemy is quick to come with the thought that I have to defend God.  Me defend God?  Who am I to think that I could defend Him, much less think that He needs me to defend Him.  He doesn’t.  I can’t explain Him either.  He is.

Without preparation, I would be left with only an emotional response or the limitations of my intellect, both of which are sadly deficient.  This kind of gut-wrenching interaction is uncomfortable, to say the least.  My emotions won’t hold up.  They are not enough.  I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor.  I don’t have the knowledge that comes from professional training for these situations.  What limited knowledge I have in my brain is severely lacking when it comes to something like this.  My mind cannot provide what I need.  It’s not enough.

Prayer, meditation and study are essential.  I must rely on God.  I must believe that He is big enough to use me, to help me respond in a way that reveals Him.  And He is faithful.

I listened, let her pour it out, looked her straight in the eyes and told her God loved her.  It was met with anger and frustration, but it was the only thing I could say.  I took her face in my hands and repeated it.  My tears flowed freely with hers as I told her He loved her so much He gave His Son to die for her so that she would have hope.  I held her and wept with her as she sobbed in my arms, clinging to me as if to squeeze any measure of hope out of me and into her.  “I love you, God loves you and He’s made a way for you.  I don’t know what it is, but I know He is.  HE IS.”  It’s the only thing God gave me to say.

Minutes later as I spoke to the crowd that had gathered she remained in my line of sight.  I had prepared my message, but I couldn’t tell you now what I said.  God took over.  We were honored to pray with many as the evening came to a close.  But forever etched in my heart is the face of this young woman as she came to the front, not to ask for prayer or anything, but just to be near.  She smiled a smile of God-given peace that caught everyone’s attention.

What do you say?  Whatever He says.  Nothing more, nothing less.  This gospel message we say we believe is the most powerful formation of words ever to be spoken:  God loves you, Jesus died for you, there is hope because HE IS.  We must be willing to go where He says go, say what He says say, do what He says do without consulting our emotions or intellect to ask if we want to or if we are able!  We cannot wait until we think we know what to say or what to do.  Hurting people cannot wait until we have it all together.    He’s asked us to be empty of ourselves and full of Him and just GO.  We have to trust Him because HE IS and it’s more than enough.

…I AM…   Exodus 3:14

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Total recall

My dad loved telling old stories.  And re-telling them, again and again. He spent a lot of time reminiscing – thinking and talking about things in the past.  It didn’t matter how many times he’d told the stories or how many times we’d heard them, he experienced great enjoyment with every recounting of the events of his life.   He even wrote his autobiography once when he was recuperating from surgery.  This made for very interesting reading, first of all because he couldn’t spell.  Really.  Once we were able to decipher his best guess at the phonetic possibilities of words, the stories were most entertaining.   He had vivid memories permanently embedded in his mind because he repeatedly thought or talked about the events.

In 1990 the movie Total Recall was produced, with a remake in 2012.  It’s a sci-fi film where a company named Rekall provides memory implants, turning dreams into memories.  For the main character the procedure goes horribly wrong, making the lines between fantasy and reality blurred, causing him to be a hunted man.  I watched the original movie years ago, and have seen a portion of the remake.  Science fiction is a bit hard for me to follow, but I do remember it was about messed up memories.

What are the strongest memories embedded in your mind?  Are they the kind of thoughts that bring a smile or a LOL?  Or are they dark and haunting memories of hurt and difficulty?

David wrote a Psalm about the city of God, Jerusalem, when the city was strong and fortified.  He writes of how other kings were amazed, stricken with terror and took to flight when they came near.  He lifts the name of God, praising Him that His presence is a Refuge, a Stronghold.  It is an exhortation to the people of the city to join him in praising God for their strength, to look well at what God has done for them in order that they can tell the next generation.

Psalm 48:13 in the Amplified Bible says “Consider well her ramparts, go through her palaces and citadels, that you may tell the next generation – and cease recalling disappointments.”

The people of God had been through a lot.  They had experienced wars and exile, peace and deliverance throughout their history. David knew that the people of the city would miss the blessing of the time they were in if they kept talking about all the disappointments they’d experienced.

We’ve all experienced disappointments in our lives, but have we recalled them so often, thought and talked about them to the point they are permanently embedded in our minds?  Has the enemy “implanted memories” in your mind, like in the sci-fi movie, that have caused reality to become a bit blurred?  He’s good at that.  He loves to bring back the memories of the bad things that have happened to us, and often twists them into something more than they were.  If he can get us talking about them again, he has opportunity to embed them even deeper in our souls.  We become his target, living like a hunted man always running from the joy thief, the dream destroyer.  This is not God’s plan for us!!

1 Corinthians 2:16 says “…we have the mind of Christ and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.”

We have been made new in Christ – that means our minds, too!  He made a way for us to renew our minds through His word (Romans 12:2).  He gives us the power to decide what we think about (Philippians 4:8).   He is able to answer this prayer for us, just as He did for David:  “Set a guard, O Lord, before my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.”  Psalm 141:3  Solomon knew the dangers of a loose tongue:  “He who guards his mouth keeps his life, but he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

My dad grew up hard.  He experienced some deep hurts and walked through many difficulties in his life, some of which began in his childhood.  But these were not the things he chose to think and talk about.  He told us of adventures and family and fun.  He chose to recall the good, and it made all our lives better.

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

New clothes and a pink kitchen

In the early years of getting to know God, I talked with Him about everything.   I was blessed to be a part of a young women’s bible study each week, and many of us were in the infant stage of our spiritual lives.  It was so exciting to have found that God was real and personal.  I don’t remember many conversations among us, whether we were at church or in our homes, that didn’t center around what God was doing in our lives.  We spent several years together as friends, growing and developing in our faith.  It was a wonderful time.

I was a seamstress in the area and made many a beautiful garment for clients that called on me.  The little income this produced went to the necessities of a family with small children and keeping the electricity on, so there were rarely opportunities to shop, even for fabric for myself.  I had worn-out jeans and shirts that were suitable enough for life at home in the country, and a few nice pieces for church, but I wanted some nicer things.  So one day I simply asked God  for new clothes.

The very next day a woman from our church knocked on my door.  I have no idea what income bracket she was in, but in my eyes she was wealthy.  She lived in a beautiful, spacious home, drove a nice, new vehicle, and was always perfectly outfitted.  We were only slightly acquainted with each other, but she had always seemed very kind to me.  She was hesitant as she began to speak… “I don’t know if you’re interested or not, but I just cleaned out my closets and have two bags of clothes. Would you like to have them?”  Would I!!  She drug the two large, black garbage bags to my door, as they were both heavily stuffed with clothing. It was like Christmas!!  Not only were the bags filled with beautiful garments, many of them were designer label items – things I would never have ever been able to purchase for myself.  My heart overflowed with the love of my Father for me, to care so much that He would send me new clothes, just because I asked.

Just a few short months from that event, we began the process of building a house on a very tight budget.  There was no wiggle room for mistakes.  As I was the one selecting the colors for our new home, I was given the task of purchasing the paint.  I had my heart set on a kitchen with almond cabinets, almond appliances, and peach walls.  Not orange.  Not pink.  Peach.   (Don’t judge… it was the 80’s…)  Once the color was chosen and the paint mixed, I could hardly wait!  I was alone in the house when I began painting, and it wasn’t long before I realized this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  Knowing that there were no dollars available for more paint, I kept telling myself that perhaps it wasn’t as bad as it looked.  It was still wet.  Surely tomorrow when I returned to find it completely dry, it would be all right.  I was trying very hard to convince myself that my new kitchen really wasn’t pink when my brother walked in and said “Oh my gosh!  A pink kitchen?!?”

My heart sank.  I put away the paint, and began the walk back to our existing home, trying not to cry.  So I asked God, “What can I do?  I really don’t want a pink kitchen, God.”  And just as clearly I heard Him say “add yellow”.  I stopped in my tracks.  Yes!!  Yellow is what it needs!  I gathered my paint cans and took them back to the store.  After the clerk repeatedly telling me the store could not take the paint back, and me repeatedly telling him that’s not what I wanted, he finally agreed to add some yellow paint to my pink.  It was perfect.  My kitchen turned out exactly as I had envisioned it.   Many a day did just the color of my walls evoke praise to my Father, Who cared so much about me that He would fix my paint.

I’m not sure when I began saving only the “important” things to pray over, no longer talking to God about the small things in my everyday life.  As life brought changes, I moved away from the area, a good many miles from friends and family.  Trying to find a church and new friends proved difficult as nothing could compare to what I had left behind.   I felt I was the coal taken out of the fire, once removed from the blaze, I began to cool, and had finally become cold.  I still believed in God, still knew I was saved, but the passion, the intensity of experiencing the presence of God seemed to have left me.  Trouble came and my faith was weak when it was time to make difficult choices.  Somewhere in all the turmoil I lost confidence in prayers ever being answered.  I forgot Who my Father was.

I love that the bible never calls us His adults.  It always refers to us as His children.  We still get to be His children throughout all eternity.  I began reminding myself of this truth last year, determined to allow Him access into every aspect of my life, the important and the seemingly insignificant. As I’ve been meditating on His goodness as the perfect Father, He reminded me that He still wants to answer simple prayers.  He wants me to rely on Him for everything, talk to Him about everything.  He is never bored with me or too busy to listen.

“Ask, and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you….if you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!”  Matthew 7:7, 11 

I don’t have all the answers yet for prayers offered up.  But He and I are talking about everything again, and I remember Who my Father is.

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual, Uncategorized

And the winner is…..

I’m the kind of person people don’t really like to play board games with.  Once the game has begun, my focus is the win.  In a game that involves a lot of offensive and defensive strategy, I rarely engage in the social aspects of being with friends and family – we can visit after the game is over…don’t interrupt me while I’m formulating my next move.  I must confess that during those moments I enjoy the game more than the players.  I don’t like to lose, but I am not a poor sport when I do.  However, more times than not, I will immediately suggest a rematch in order to redeem myself.

My earliest memories of a competitive setting are high school track meets.  I hated losing.  Particularly when I felt it was a teammate’s fault (i.e., another on the relay team).  While never one to vocalize my frustrations very often, the look was usually enough.  It has taken years of discipline to prevent such blatant displays of my negative emotions via my face, and I am still working on it.  Anyone who knows me well can spot my attitude as soon as they see me.  There is an old English proverb that says “The eyes are the window to the soul”.  This has proven to be very true for me.   Can anyone relate??

Competition can be fun and useful in developing skills and forming relationships with others.  Some children’s programs are designed to reward a final competitor or team as the winner, while others see all players as winners with equal reward and recognition.  As adults there are pageants, cook-offs, sports, and intellectual competitions where judges watch, compare, score, and determine the winner.  Companies compete for business, personnel within the companies compete for position, siblings compete for attention….the list could go on and on.  Those with competitive natures can easily begin to make everything they do a competition of some sort!

Yesterday I commented on the following scripture, referring to how we look at images given to us by the world, or even through the bible, and measure ourselves against standards that we may see as impossible, thus leaving us defeated.  Today, I want to look at the same scripture again, but this time thinking about how we may see ourselves as the standard that others should live up to:

“…when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely.”  2 Corinthians 10:12

The result is still the same – no understanding and unwise behavior.  How many times this week did we look at what someone else was wearing, how they did or did not discipline their children, or we heard their words and we measured them by what we think they should do….”  Like it or not, it’s called judging.  And we are commanded not to do it.

“Judge not and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released.”  Luke 6:37

What do we think this verse really means?  God is exposing my heart, showing me all the little ways I go through life judging others.  Most of the time I have a negative thought about what someone else has done, it has nothing to do with whether or not it’s sin.   It’s simply my opinion.  And the fact is, God isn’t particularly interested in my opinion.  He’s interested in my love walk.  My love walk includes my actions, thoughts, AND my facial expressions!

We tend to pull this verse out of that chapter to let someone know they shouldn’t be judging us.  If you back up a couple of verses you’ll find    “love your enemies…do good and lend, expecting nothing in return…”  v 35    Verses 35-36 also say “…He is kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked.  So (you) be merciful – sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate – even as your Father is.”  He hadn’t changed topic when He got to the “judge not” part.

In this game of life, God gives us all equal status.  He isn’t rewarding one for being better than another.  He is offering to all His love, His salvation.  Our souls are made up of our mind, will and emotions.  If I want the windows of my soul to reveal His mercy, His love, and His salvation, I must relinquish my opinions and emotions to Him.  They only matter if they reflect Him.

I want my love walk to make everyone I come in contact with feel like a winner!!