Warm Wednesday Words: Despising the Shame

scandalDictionary.com – *Shame – 1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.  4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.

*Shame  launches us into a sort of sacred suffering that gives us tools, otherwise illusive, that can actually save us.  It can originate in our own conscience, or it can be “assigned” to us by others who are more then willing to serve it up and offer seconds.  Constructively, it can provoke remorse and change, or when felt on behalf of others, comfort, grace and prayer.  Yet it also can circle over our heads with landing gear down, powerless to make its mark, if we aren’t willing to humbly inspect our hearts.

Jesus was no stranger to shame.  He didn’t turn from it, but conquered the sting of it for the joy that came from making a way to save us.  Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame…”  Shame can be a stalker and a haunter, especially if we’re prideful, but when we follow Jesus example and despise it, we shrink it to its rightful place and role and amazing things can happen.

When I worked at a local daycare, we often sang action songs including a favorite “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”.  Within the lyrics, there is a great message, “we’re coming to a wide river, and there’s no bridge going over it, no tunnel going under it, it’s just plain old water, and we’re gonna have to swim…I’m not afraid.  Are you?”

We’re often put in circumstances just like that.  There’s no way around, under, or over.  We just gotta go through and get thicker skin while the elements pelt us.  The ultimate example is Christ on the cross.  John Piper wrote an excellent post on what it means to despise the shame.  He concluded Jesus “despising the shame” was like saying, ‘Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me?  Compared to that, you are less then nothing…You think you have power.  Compared to the joy before me, you have none…. You think you can distract me.  I won’t even look at you….You are a fool.  Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.’  There was once a man who over the course of his lifetime had experienced devastating parenting failures with dire consequences, committed adultery, and set up a murder to cover his own mistake.  Yet because he loved God and repented of his sins, he was able to say, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy.  Their faces will never be ashamed.”  (Ps. 34:10)  If you guessed David, you’re right.  I love reading the Psalms, and am thankful he despised the shame and told his story.

So yeah, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and so can you.  That includes the boldness to be honest and humble for Christ’s sake, no pun intended.  Some would rather avoid the power tools that can be earned in trials and shame, then admit anything shameful touched them or their families.  Ann Voskamp said in a recent post “the worst grief is a grief that cannot speak…..Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  The Bible is rife with examples of the type of guarantee that things are going to get tough, and that there’s no way around but through.   There are no guarantees of turbulent free friendships, marriages, parenting, businesses, health, reputations, etc; only of a Savior who will walk beside us triumphantly through the turbulence and “keep” that which we’ve committed to Him, ultimately souls.  He may allow some deep plunges, shame, grief, or heartache in order to refine and use what is of high value to Him.

For us, the hope and promise is that we have a Savior who showed us how to despise the shame and find joy.   Have the filthy hands of shame and despair propelled you toward a destiny?  Are you willing to share what might be useful to encourage someone?

Despise the Shame

*For the purpose of this post I chose not to split hairs over shame vs. guilt.
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Warm Wednesday Words: Acres of Hope

IMG_9703As another Mother’s Day approaches I am leaning into hope and steering clear of man’s conclusions as I prod through my valleys.  I  refuse to compare myself to Mother Theresa, Susanna Wesley, Michelle Dugger, nor any young and idealistic mother full of preconceived notions about life and parenting, though I’m happy for all of them.  But for myself, I’m madly in love with my kids and grandkids no matter what.  Every single one.   The sweetest celebration of my motherhood is not on any one particular day, or in reveling in any one of my children’s successes, though I do that.  It is in the thoughtfulness of each one of them throughout the year.  And then another year and another and another.  It is in cards, calls, visits, and laughter.  For the ones with children (my sweet grands), it is in the effort they put into guiding the grandkids to gift us with sweet indulgences of artwork, notes, hugs and chats.  For seasons when there has been too much gap between visits or too much silence in the conversation, (on either end) it is in the celebration of a God who mends and heals in our lack, our uncertainty, and yes, even in our sin.

If I have ever doubted the lavishness of my God, and I don’t generally, I have only to feast my eyes on an azalea bush in May to settle the matter.

IMG_9723For my friends who have yearned to have children, but could not, I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  My heart aches for you.  I am also sorry for those who have loved and held a child who passed away.  There are no words to say I understand, because I don’t and can’t.  Your hope for reunion is literally an eternity away.  Then there are heart holes for those who have had to give up a child, parent a child without the parenthood “title” or for those of us who have miscarried without ever holding that child.  As Ann Voskamp said in a recent post, “Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  She went on to explain that God is the ultimate grief converter because He promises to invade our grief with joy and pour lavish comfort on us in our circumstances.

IMG_9735I hope that God fills your heart with hope in abundance this Mother’s Day…hope that you know how much love God has for you.  If you are a believer in Christ as your Savior who died for you, that makes you a daughter of the King, and a joint heir with Christ.  In other words, you are royalty!    Since God has all the traits that were divided in Adam when He created Eve, He longs to love us and our children with a motherly type love, as well as a fatherly love, and of course, His agape love (which is not based on feelings).  “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” from Luke 13:34.

This Mother’s Day I once again am thankful that God indulgently  allows us to be a miracle in the middle of our circumstances.   Our compass is always pointed to hope, as is beautifully expressed in a song about Christ and the church, “And though you’re in the dark here call me friend…not safe but worth it, so worth it…As you lead us away to valleys low, to acres of hope, acres of hope.”

Do you realize the miracle that He has allowed you to be and the acres of hope that He is leading you in from your “unsafe” valley?

Warm Wednesday Words: Words Seasoned with Grace

Tongue is a FireSome of my best days are those that are sprinkled with encouraging words, while the occasional less tolerable days are peppered with careless words.  I have no doubt I’ve supplied fodder for many a person’s better and worse days as well.  We’ve likely all used adjectives to tear down, just as we’ve all likely been torn down by hurtful and exaggerative words.  Adjectives emphasize and therefore leave their mark in the memory.  How much better it would be for them to leave a positive, pleasant memory then a negative, bitter one. However, I know too well, when I get puffed up with pride or anger it is impossible to chase down grace and tack it on to my words as an afterthought.  That would be akin to attempting to put out a fire with a watering can; whereas a heartfelt apology is more like the downpour that puts out a fire.  Even better is to not ignite a fire of words at all.  “Don’t say anything that would hurt [another person].  Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed.  That way, what you say will help those who hear you.”  Ephs. 4:29 GWT  “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”  Col. 4:6   How I need an ample supply of stored up grace before I open my mouth.  I also know that not one of us is perfect in taming our tongues, but we are to still strive to be.

forgiven much loves muchThe verbal cold wall, no less formidable then 20′ rock castle walls, can be just as damaging, especially as time seems to be on the side of verbal walls, adding layer after layer of additional impenetrable silence and misunderstandings.  The silence behind withheld words of encouragement or reconciliation does damage and this choice  insidiously hides behind a cloak of innocence.  Shortchanging or refusing good and timely communication and reconciliation speaks volumes regarding the lack of grace and abundance of arrogance.  If all  Christian service was done in the order of Matt. 5:24,  and therefore divinely blessed, how much more effective it would be.

The tongue is the only body part which is “set on fire” by hell, itself.  The enemy has a vested interest in that particular part of the human anatomy and the damage it can do. “Like a sharpened razor, your tongue devises destruction, working treachery.”  Ps. 52:2 HCSB  There are times when words should be withheld; not in stubborn silence, but to avoid the arrogance of insisting on the last word.  Though I doubt there’s a single human being all-wise in this area, the saying does have merit, “Wise people are not always silent, but they know when to be”.

Often thoughtful words take time to formulate…more time then some want to give.  A regular influx of grace helps words tumble out less dangerously in those impromptu moments.  No matter how easy or hard it is to say the kind thing, nor how many times I blow it, it’s an art worth perfecting. How I need to take the time each morning with the Source of grace, and ask Him for a clearer picture of the grace I’ve been given at the Cross and therefore the grace I have no right to refuse giving.  Ps. 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  With my words I can make someone’s day brighter or with my words or withholding of them, I can tear them down.  The devastating effect of the latter can dampen the spirit and demotivate.  Since words have such a profound effect, why not raise the word bar?  Do you take the time to season your speech with grace?

Warm Wednesday Words: The Healer on the Journey

Lately I’m latching on to my healer a little tighter, and He has me securely in His Hand and under His wing on this lap of my journey, as always.  There is an incredible peace that is present in a relationship with a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me.  “He wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”  Job 5:17-18 (NIV)   Whether we suffer physically or emotionally, in our weakness, He is made strong.  When I’m misunderstood or misunderstand someone else, I can still trust Him… “Hallelujah!… for true and righteous are his judgments.” Rev 19:1-2 (NIV)  I “remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1), and I’m patient with myself because God is completing the work in me that He began and has a few prayer warriors praying for me prolifically with joy and the affection of Christ Jesus  and who value my particular contribution to the gospel.  Thus I can grow in wisdom and discernment and overflow with the same kinds of prayers for others partnering in the gospel.

encouragementIn Ps. 3:3, David, who experienced a wide gamut of “good” and “bad” from the Lord,  recorded that feeling of being protected by God, “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.” (Ps. 3:3)  Zephaniah also spoke, not only of the knowing of a mighty Savior, but of a tender and personal love; i.e. the kind of love that warms a heart and prompts goodwill.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  (Zeph. 3:17)

As long as I remember whose offspring I am, and receive whatever He has in His hand for me with the grace and truth He has lavished on me, then I can live and move and exist freely and fully loved in Him.

Are you under His wing in your journey?  It’s a “safe” place to be.  Have you a few prayer warriors who value you?  Are you that for at least a few others?

Warm Wednesday Words: A Few Favorite Things

When life gets a little too busy or sad, I find comfort and joy in a few favorite things.  The lyrics from the song, “These are a Few of My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” portray the distractions I enjoy lately.  The song was sung by Maria  to the von Trapp children during a thunderstorm; and the lighthearted lyrics and melody were a purposeful diversion from the undercurrent of terror during the time of Hitler’s rise.  I am thankful for the diversions I find in my favorite things.

“When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad.”

So here are a few of my favorite things….

big family at lakeThe English Clan (with Mom) who I love dearly

the bridge at the end of my runThe bridge at the end of a three mile run

zinnias and lavenderZinnias and lavender on the deck

the view from the hammockThe view from the hammock at night…add in a few zillion stars and that’s typical!

the hammock and the moon

IMG_8707Spending life with this guy!

books, lamps, chocolate

A stack of books, a few current cards (I keep a whole box of special cards and memorabila under the bed), a journal, a few pillows and a lamp!  There might be chocolate hidden in there somewhere.

my favorite pain

 

both laughter and tears shared with friends

 

when some shares your tears and accepts you

Oswald & WorshipBible Study, Oswald Chambers, Worship & Choir….and a cup of coffee.

So what favorite things do you think on when “the dog bites”?  “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things.”  Phil. 4:8

Warm Wednesday Words: Reaching for God

spirit lead me

I love to have worship times to reach uninhibited toward God and feel His presence.  When I draw near to Him in worship He is always there making His presence known in intimate ways.  Even when there is a wilderness path to follow, or ocean depths to swim, His presence becomes all the more real when I purpose to reach toward Him calling on His Name, and all the more as the way leads on to rugged terrain and sometimes less traffic.  When the darkness of a tunnel closes in, He carries me through the unknown territory or sends a “stretcher bearer” to pick me up and speak words of encouragement, often with purposeful cheers expressing more belief and confidence in me then I momentarily have in myself.

And then I feel His presence even closer and His compassion and friendship even dearer.  As He sees fit, He brings me to interludes of easier terrain, lighthearted days, and fun times.   But soon the journey resumes. He supplies friends and stretcher bearers as needed, and He, Himself  walks beside and helps shoulder the load, lifting my face to look up to the Hills.  This is the pattern He uses with all His children and it is not our place to judge the path of another Christ follower walking in obedience to the Word, but instead to encourage each other in our different pursuits of Him because we will all have times of both being the encourager and stretcher bearer as well as times of needing encouragement and a stretcher and often even simultaneously.

As Bellarive has written in their song,”The Father’s Heart”, ‘When I am next to Your heart I feel Your love pouring out on me now.  I’m never gonna let You go.  Life a flood rushing in I’m gonna swim in the depths of Your ocean.  I’m never gonna let You go…Heaven come fill this place.  Open the flood gates.  I’m reaching for the rhythm of my Father’s heartbeat.  Shake my soul with the sound.  I feel it right now.  I’m dancing to the rhythm of my Father’s heartbeat beating.  It’s beating just for me.”

Do you have times of reaching toward Him in worship and tuning your heart to the rhythm of His?

Warm Wednesday Words: I am a Debtor

to grace a debtorI recently “liked” a blog post on facebook that talked about the grace God gives us when we need to step back momentarily from a church body and heal..   It sometimes appears God does give more grace in those situations then we give each other, even if we are partially or completely at fault.   Like the blogger, I have felt God’s comfort and healing in short “time out” seasons, have experienced God deeply in private worship and devotions, have felt His presence in the “mundane”, have felt His love and healing in the sweetness of my family members, family events, and a few friends who are willing to fellowship on an intimate level, found deep fulfillment in seeking my husband’s approval in our home and family as his helpmate, and felt God’s guidance as I move back into corporate fellowship refilled with grace received and grace to extend.

So my “like” was definitely one of acknowledgment and understanding that sometimes God leads us to a change.  But the deepest spiritual blessings in my own life have so far come about by trusting Him within the hard places, knowing we’re all just a bunch of messed up folks in equal need of grace.  As a dear friend and mentor said, ‘Why add the problems of others into the mix we each already have going on inside us?’  Because I serve Christ, I am not free to do anything but follow Him.  I am His bondslave trying to follow where He is leading me.  It is sometimes through fiery trials which He uses to refine.  It is often in places where I have absolutely no choice but to trust in Him and His promises.  It might be in places of loneliness, humility or misunderstanding, especially if my focus is on myself.  It is often in places where He would have me be bold for Him without knowing the response.  It definitely includes places that are tender and broken.   Where He leads me is never just about me!

Oswald Chambers said in ‘My Utmost for His Highest’,  July 12 devotional, “Am I building up the Body of Christ or am I looking for my own personal development only?…To fulfill God’s design means entire abandonment to Him….My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace, Not even blessing, but Himself, my God” and in the July 15 devotional, “I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only….Quit praying about yourself and be spent for others as the bondslave of Jesus.  That is the meaning of being made broken bread and poured-out wine in reality.”

What a revival we would have if we really lived like this.  A portion of Matt Redman’s, “We Could Change the World” lyrics say it well,  ‘Could we live like Your grace is stronger Than all our faults and failures?… Could we live like Your ways Are wiser than our understanding? Could we live like this?  Could we live like this?…..We’re saying, “yes, Lord, yes, Lord!”…What else could we say, what else could we say?’

We are all debtors to something.  What are you a debtor to?   I want to hold onto God’s Word and the promises He has confirmed in my heart.  My feelings and others’ opinions may or may not align with those Truths, but I am a debtor to God and His truths!

Warm Wednesday Words: Stretcher Bearers

1ce330f9bfd24b574c2bfef3d595994e

There are times I’ve been carried on a stretcher, unable to walk where I needed to go, and there have also been times I have helped carry a “stretcher” with a friend aboard where he or she needed to go.  Though one of the stretcher times for me was a literal stretcher from our wrecked one ton suburban to the ambulance and ER, (I was miraculously ok, albeit sore with a case of whiplash and bruised ribs,  after the full speed blow of a semi broadsided my side of the car giving me a couple full twirls), most of the stretcher times for me weren’t literal.  These have been times when I needed the emotional support of a friend to get through a hard time.  I’m sure you’ve had those times as well.  God is faithful to provide those friends who provide the crutch or stretcher and ample words of encouragement and exhortation.  A stretcher situation requires some coordinated efforts between more than one person, but even if it’s just one friend with a crutch, it’s enough to get me through.

little girls helping

In the Bible, (Luke 5:17-26) there is a story of a man who was carried on a stretcher by his friends to seek healing from Jesus.  In between the lines of this story, it’s easy to see that here were some friends who left enough margin in their lives for helping someone.  And they had enough strength, courage and determination to try the rooftop route when they couldn’t squeeze through the crowd at the door.  They weren’t looking for the first excuse out of this job.  This roof didn’t just have a stretcher sized hole in it.  They had to remove roof tiles, and presumably hung around long enough to fix the roof as well.  I doubt they had the ropes in their back pockets to lower him down.  This endeavor, as most endeavors do, started to grow larger on them.  But they pressed on.  And Jesus healed the man based on “their” faith.    Wow…what a thought that Jesus is willing to heal a man based on his own, possibly weakened, faith combined with his friends.

a friend hears the song I am so thankful for friends and family who lend a crutch or provide a stretcher when I need it.  What I don’t need is tale bearers.  And who does?  Our prayers and faith should have “feet” that spur us on to good deeds of encouragement.   One of my favorite songs is “Carried to the Table” by Leeland.

Christ is my ultimate “stretcher” bearer.  Actually, He doesn’t even need a stretcher to carry me.  He carries me to the table of communion with His strong arms and He’ll carry me (and all who trust in Him as Savior) to the table at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  A table where I don’t belong, but He says I do.  “Have you had a crutch or stretcher provided for you when you couldn’t do it alone?  Have you lent one?  Do you know the One who will carry you to the ultimate table where you can’t go without His invitation?

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Warm Wednesday Words: Wilderness Manna

gentle terrain

As a believer in Christ for many years, I have covered a wide range of life’s “terrains”, including lush pastures, gentle streams, raging waters, wilderness and desert.  During some seasons I walked a fairly easy trail, other than typical ups and downs.  God lets the young see His splendor, even more than the seasoned ones.  As newlyweds, my husband and I saw it often, especially in the young marrieds class we were heavily involved in at church.  So many stories of “God in Action” with exciting outcomes for both our friends and for us as a couple, as we birthed six beautiful, healthy babies over the years and added an adopted child, too.  A house full of kids and a little farm with extended family nearby had to be somewhat like heaven on earth.  There were also a few times I may have subconsciously stolen a little of God’s glory, too.  It’s so easy to do that when everything is fairly simple, going well and seemingly in my control.  As Oswald says in the May 7 devotional, “Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own?”

200452_1002368292465_9579_n

kids and the floodcandace's wedding

I wasn’t alone in the   young Christian trap of taking notice of the scriptures that seemed to fit into the “God is about me or what I can do for Him” paradigm.  In her book “Extravagant Grace”, Barbara Duguid says “the baby Christian gravitates toward those Scriptures that tell him what to do, and there are many…the baby Christian is experienced primarily in the realm of feelings…his faith is weak, but his heart is warm.  He tends to mistake the nature of these gifts from God and think they are his…that he will always have them.  He believes he is right and strong because he has them, and he is prone to feeling superior to believers that don’t…He thinks that there is nothing left now but to walk through life with the victorious hand of God on his side, and then to enter heaven forever.  He doesn’t yet know that, like Israel, there is a huge desert to cross before entering the Promised Land.  The desert he has yet to see and grapple with properly is the wilderness of his own sinful heart.”  At the parting of the Red Sea, and the subsequent praise dance, the Israelites could not have seen the 40 year trek in the desert just ahead, where many of them died off before entering the Promised Land.

desert

Maturity in Christ, for me, has meant some desert or wilderness times, in which I am stretched beyond what I ever dreamed.  In order to get a drink of the Living Water in these seasons, it is critical that I deepen my roots even more into Christ, my Savior, sometimes for even the next thought and breath.  “My” thinking and “good works” is something to despise more than to purport.  Difficult “terrain” requires much time in the Word, in worship, in prayer, in meditation and in seeking good Christian counsel, which God is faithful to supply.  It is also an important season to be consistent in a journal in order to remember His answers, see the desert or wilderness experience from His perspective and to record this and any particularly encouraging words offered by friends and acquaintances along with scripture promises to stand on in faith.  God’s perspective on my experiences often doesn’t look anything like how others may see it; nor how I see theirs.  That’s because, unless we are interceding and seeking God’s perspective for others,  it’s not our business.

wilderness

The unbeliever may or may not experience overwhelming hardships in life.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust.  (Matt. 5:45) As believers, however, we can count on them, but by our loving God and for glorious purposes.

If I can only hang onto the “invisible” perspective of God during stretching experiences, then I can walk above heartbreaks and disappointments while in the wilderness, and so can you.  In Him I live and move and have my being.  My clay feet sometimes step down into the waves of the storm, or get tired in the wilderness and my vision can get obscured there; however this is usually not an issue of backsliding, but a need for encouragement.  We question Peter’s faith (as Christ, rightfully did) when he struggled, but Peter was the only one who even tried to walk on the waves!

Peter on water

Duguid again offers that, “the greatest heroes of Scripture are deeply flawed throughout their lives.”  And speaking of her women’s Bible study ministry she says, “It is a common occurrence to have someone confess their struggle and weakness in a certain area, only to be rebuked and censured by a younger sister in Christ, who eagerly shares the three easy ways they can overcome the problem….Simplistic answers to complex problems can be discouraging to weary strugglers….We should, therefore, practice great caution in evaluating the spiritual maturity of people around us.”  questions by google

I’ve been guilty of judging (at least silently) with my idea of God’s standards, rather then just watching for fruit, praying, encouraging and leaving the rest to God no matter how different the progress may be in someone else.  Anyone honest would have to admit this also, at some time or another.   After all, it’s too easy to default and compare to each other, but it’s a tendency to kick out, not adopt.   God will carry His work to completion in each of us in His time and through whatever means He chooses, and in the end, there will be fruit in those who are His.  I hope to be an encourager to those along the path near me, especially those who are going through a trial of some sort, and I am blessed more than I can say by those He uses to give me manna in my wilderness journeys.

say what is helpfulWhat kind of terrain are you on right now in your life?  It will likely not be the same in a few years.  Have you found encouragement if your path is rough?  Have you purposed to encourage someone else?  If you’re in “lush pastures” right now, write down all that God has favored you with and remember it for dryer seasons.  No matter the terrain, the “God actions” are there, even if the wilderness obscures your view of them.

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Warm Wednesday Words: Get social

community doing life together

How do you socially connect with those around you?   Beginning with the Trinity, and thereafter with Adam, then Eve, and on down through time, God designed and modeled social connections.  From invading Adam’s personal space when He breathed life into his nostrils to sharing friendship in the first garden with Adam and Eve, God showed Himself to be social and still does in your life, too.

God with Adam & Eve

While there are times when a silent retreat is needed and good, as in Jesus example of getting away to pray alone or with a few followers, most of His adult life was spent in connecting and engaging with individuals and crowds.  He had a mission both with the lost and with His followers.  Social pretense was and is a waste of time with Him since He can see right into heart motives.

prayer and solitudeAs Brandon Cox said in his book, “Rewired”,  ‘boundaries, in their proper place can be a good thing…What I am saying, however, is that keeping people away usually makes us feel safe, and not in a good way.  We live in the most connected yet disconnected age since the Garden of Eden..we are lonelier than ever, and our isolationist ways have left millions struggling through life…honesty and intimacy are far more difficult than silence…’

cold loneliness

While appropriate boundaries are occasionally needed, in our society walls are too conveniently erected and fortified, and silence magnified in our relationships.

walls instead of bridges

In our day and age, it is not the lack of connections that breeds loneliness and worse maladies.  It is the silence we allow in those connections.  Overcoming silence with friendly and encouraging words may very well be that “cup of cold water” that is needed today, both inside and outside the church.  “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matt. 10:42) And what better way to display to the world the love God has given, then to start within the church and go out.

speak life & truthTypical modern day lifestyles are often missing healthy margins and can be the death knell for maintaining social relationships, therefore it is becoming a trend to seek out receptive places to listen, speak and connect.   Socializing is sprawling into constantly changing networks; i.e.  facebook, twitter, blogging, linkedin, pinterest, instagram, google, tumblr and more.  Some are surface skimming social avenues, but many have the means to go deeper.  Churches who encourage and support small groups and small group atmospheres are onto the modern day needs of all ages within their membership.  The kinds of relationships that result are an attraction to a lonely world.  Online social groups, such as (in)courage  offer places where friendships can be made and enjoyed to whatever depth and extent you desire and even encourage real life meetups by sponsoring annual  simulcasts and other supports for such gatherings.   The example of those engaging in social networking and small group fellowships may just be the winning ticket to stamp out the societal ill of problem-breeding relational silence and loneliness.

social networkingPerhaps it is the modern day come back to front porch chats among neighbors back when the word “neighbors” meant something more personal.  What ways do you think socializing has changed, for better or worse,  in recent years?  What ways can you socially give “a cup of cold water” to someone?  What ways might you be denying one by your silence?

cup of cold water

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