Monthly Archives: September 2013

I Want Fresh Water

Fresh Water and Heart

James, the half-brother of Jesus and well-known author of a book in the Bible (inspired by God), took it upon himself to address the issue of ‘taming the tongue’ amongst fellow Christians.

The scripture states, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers (and sisters), this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:9-12

Allow me to provide you with an ecological example to better understand this passage.

A spring is defined as any natural source where water flows to the surface of the earth from underground. As the water travels through the underground rocks, trace minerals are dissolved into the solution, resulting in fresh spring water. Often this is bottled up and sold for profit all around the world.

I’ve never seen salt water bottled up with the intent of quenching one’s thirst.

How about you?

I want fresh water. I’m not talking about a bottle of delicious Evian here. I’m talking about words that refresh my soul and the souls of others.

It’s interesting what we can learn from the environment we live in. Just as the water of a spring bubbles up from deep within the ground, so do the words of our mouths overflow from the depths of our hearts.

Here’s my interpretation of the scripture referenced above:

Our mouths are compared to a spring that either sings praises to our King (fresh water) or curses men that are made in His likeness (salt water). James is pushing the point that, just as a spring can’t produce both salt and fresh water, neither should our mouths produce a contradictory outflow.

I’m not sure about you, but this really gets me thinking.

As much as I’d like to pretend my mouth renders nothing more than praises to Jesus and words of encouragement to myself and others all day long, this is not the reality of my life.

What exactly does the Word mean by not cursing others? Because my mind instantly goes to the idea of lashing out profane words in contempt or frustration to another. And I’m not sure that’s what the Lord is talking about here.

According to Webster, the word cursing is defined as a calling down of evil or harm upon one; or to criticize, denounce or condemn another.

Let’s be real here.

Is it okay for us to say things (even if we’re joking) about people (when they are present or absent) that may otherwise hurt their feelings?

I can honestly say I have done this countless times over the years, and I can reassure you this behavior is far from healthy. It produces nothing but salt water that dries up the spring. And it cultivates death in our lives. 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

Let’s take a look at what the Lord has to say about this issue of cursing.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

It’s important that we keep our mouths from speaking degrading things about anyone, including ourselves. Instead, we need to build others up as into the image of Christ, encouraging them to be the men and women God intends them to be.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

Abstain from conversations and jokes that insult and disrespect others, so that we can keep our hearts safe and remain hopeful by focusing on the good in others.

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” Philippians 2:3

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

It’s very wise to avoid lashing out in anger at people, no matter how upset we may feel.

“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” Colossians 3:8

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

Allow the words you speak to carry sustenance so they may positively impact others around you, leading them to the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17

May the abounding grace of Jesus Christ cause the spring of our hearts to overflow with words that refresh the soul.


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No Bypass to Forgiveness

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Forgiveness.

A gift that’s so easy to receive, yet so challenging to extend.

Especially when we think it’s undeserved.

I know this road well.

And I’ve learned as a Christian, there is no bypass to forgiveness.

My hope is that you’ll be encouraged as I share my own personal experience in this area of forgiveness. I believe (through a prompting from the Holy Spirit) there is someone who needs to hear this story today.

May He receive all the glory.

I’ve included an excerpt from my book below describing a very challenging season in which I had to forgive my enemies.

“It was in this season of my life that Jesus began to speak about forgiveness. The idea seemed pretty appropriate since I had just started counseling and was daily surrendering (which seemed like endless) offenses from my past. Yet, God was preparing me for something else: treason. Yes, treason. A concealed act of treachery was looming around in the shadows, indiscriminately en route to shatter my heart. It was an event I could have never foreseen. In those days, Jesus taught me no matter how hurt I was or the magnitude of the offense, I would need to forgive.”

 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

In order for me to be healed and to live in complete freedom with Christ, I’d have to pardon the offense. Like many of you, this was a fairly easy concept for me to understand.

Someone wounds you. You forgive.

Jesus forgives us so we must forgive others.

But when this ‘idealistic’ opportunity encroached itself upon the territory of my own heart, I resisted. Forgiveness was a forgone memory.

It was over the course of several months during a past marital separation that I had become very intentional in developing my relationship with Jesus. So, one October night when the wind was chilly and the leaves were swirling in the air, I became so dumbstruck by the beauty of the evening, I decided to take a stroll with Jesus. As we walked, I began to talk to Him about the marriage, about life, and about work.

And then Jesus began to speak:

“Christy, he’s having an affair. He’s having sex with another woman. In your bed. In your home.”

Silence.

These words pierced me to the core.

Whoa. In an instant, my hands were shaking, nausea engrossed me, and my heart was broken to pieces..again. I knew it was real. Jesus wouldn’t lie to me. His words pierced every inner organ I possessed. I didn’t need to see it, I knew it was true. An unfortunate, wicked truth.  

In hesitation I began to ask the Lord: “Jesus,  who is it? Do I know her?”

In a gentle whisper He spoke her name. Thoughts flooded my mind.

I knew her…

I had prayed for her months before the separation…

I had her in my home…

How could I have been so betrayed by both of them?

I was angry. Really angry. And I literally had no idea in what to do, so I screamed. Loud. Then I bawled and asked Jesus to help me. In one simple phone call, it was all confirmed. He was having an affair and really had no intentions in leaving her.

So, what does one do when life dishes out this kind of trauma?

I was baffled with the complexity of the decisions before me and offended by the mere idea of forgiveness. And here I was again, with the need to surrender.

I’d have to let go in order to have this life of freedom I had been so eagerly pursuing for the past eight months. Oh, what a difficult task it becomes to forgive those who deliberately hurt and offend us.

It just didn’t seem fair. It didn’t seem like they deserved it.

And then a still voice spoke to my soul. “You know you’re right Christy. They don’t deserve to be forgiven much like you don’t deserve to be forgiven.”

Silence.

What do I say to a statement like that?”, I asked myself.

It was in this moment I realized Jesus had faced the same dilemma with Judas Iscariot. Judas was his friend. Jesus loved him. And Judas threw their entire friendship down the drain for a cheap thrill rendering a mere thirty shekels of silver. Jesus knew betrayal well. He knew the pain. It brought me great relief to know My Lord and Savior understood what I was facing from His own personal experience.

Will you do the same Christy? Will you forgive like I forgive you?” He whispered into my ear.

Deep breath. Arms crossed and face affixed. If I was really serious about ‘knowing’ Jesus, not simply observing Him from afar (like I did for so many years), then I was going to have to follow in His footsteps. I knew that if I didn’t forgive these two, the only ones who would suffer would be me and Jesus. If I decided to harbor my anger, my jealousy, and my (justified) pain, that ball and chain would cling to my ankles within minutes. I’d be left in spiritual bondage full of bitterness and singeing with resentment.

And my heart would die. All my dreams of a new marriage and a new life would die too. I knew in my heart, I could never expect the Lord to truly bless me with anything new, if I couldn’t surrender the old into His hands.

“Yes, Lord. I’ll forgive them. But, it’s because of You. Just help me do it, please.”, I whispered barely above a level of sound.

I’m still in awe of how He saved me that day. And this my friends, is the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. It’s what is humanely impossible made possible through Him.

Your offender may never deserve to be forgiven nor may they ever ask you for forgiveness. But, Jesus deserves for us to forgive them. He is worth it.

Beloved, once I made the choice to forgive, He provided the rest and I was set free. Their poor decisions would no longer have power over me. I had peace. I had hope. I had freedom.

And this, my friends, is the reality of living in a fallen world. We will be offended. We will be hurt. But, praise be to God who “makes all things new”.

Fix your eyes on Jesus, Beloved.

Will you trust Him to help you forgive that someone?

Remember: In the Christian faith, there’s no bypass to forgiveness.

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A Welcomed Intruder

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The Bible in Hebrews 12:11 states: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

A Welcomed Intruder.

This is what discipline means to me.

According to Websters, an intruder is defined as “someone or something that thrusts in; encroaching upon without permission.” Yet, the term ‘welcome’ is coined as “cordially greeting or accepting; received or permitted gladly.”

A thought-provoking paradox that undoubtedly stirs up some major conflict within me.

Discipline. It cares less in how I’m feeling or the ways in which I’d like to spend my day. In fact, this well-intended intruder, is interested in nothing more than to accomplish one thing: reach the goal.

For quite some time, I imagined the Holy Spirit in a long, wet overcoat hand-delivering this message of discipline to the door of my soul.  As you can see, the setting was pretty grim for me.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

Discipline hurts. It challenges me to do the things I don’t want to do, but need to do, in order to be the person I want to be. The woman, Jesus Christ, wants me to be. After a while, this intruder and I became more acquainted.

And then we became friends.

Now, let’s take a deeper look into what the Lord says about discipline in Hebrews 12:11:

All (the whole of, greatest amount) discipline (training that corrects, molds, or perfects) for the moment (tiny portion of time) seems (gives the impression of being) not to be joyful (feeling of happiness), but sorrowful (deep distress, sadness), yet (up to now, nevertheless) to those who have been trained (prepared, skilled) by it, afterwards it yields (returns, produces, bears a crop) the peaceful (absent of strife, calm) fruit (result) of righteousness (honest, honorable, virtuous).”

  • Discipline hurts only for a moment
  • Discipline is a tool of training for the future
  • Discipline refines you to make you better
  • Discipline will cause you to produce the highest-quality of results

And discipline is wise. It is absolutely necessary to achieve greatness in this world and for His kingdom.

Seek His face beloved. He will equip you with the discipline you need to accomplish the goals in your life.

And remember, in this case, to welcome the intruder.

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