Brokeness

When I was a teen, I read a paper that deeply impacted me. I kept it and to this day it convicts me.

I wish I knew who wrote it, but it has no name. There was a piece on lukewarm Christians in the book “Crazy Love” written by Francis Chan that sounded similar to it, but whether this was written by someone else entirely, or whether it was adapted from Francis Chan’s writings, I’m not sure. However, I still wanted to share it today, for there is something huge we can learn from it:

Pride Vs. Brokeness

  1. Proud people focus on the failures of others and can readily point out those faults. Broken people are more conscious of their spiritual needs than of anyone else’s.
  2. Proud people have a critical fault finding spirit. They look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but view their own with a telescope. Broken people are compassionate – they have the kind of love that over looks a multitude of sins; they can forgive because they know they have been forgiven much.
  3. Proud people are especially prone to criticize those in authority, they talk to others about the faults they see. Broken people encourage and lift up those that God has placed into authority and they talk to God, rather than gossiping about the faults they find in others.
  4. Proud people are self righteous; they think highly of themselves and look down on others. Broken people think the best of others; they esteem others as better as themselves.
  5. Proud people have to prove that they are right…They always get the last word. Broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.
  6. Proud people claim rights and have a demanding spirit. Broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.
  7. Proud people are self protective. Broken people are self-sacrificing and protect others.
  8. Proud people desire to be served, they want life to revolve around them. Broken people are motivated to serve others and to meet their needs before their own.
  9. Proud people desire to be known as a success. Broken people are motivated to be faithful and make others succeed.
  10. Proud people have a feeling that “This ministry is privileged to have me and my gifts.” Broken people know that all gifts come from God and on their own they can do nothing.
  11. Proud people are wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. Broken people rejoice when others are recognized and lifted up.
  12. Proud people feel confident in how much they know. Broken people are humbled by how much they have to learn.
  13. Proud people are driven to protect their own reputation. Broken people are concerned with being real; they care less about what others may think than about what God knows.
  14. Proud people can’t bear to fail. Broken people can recognize and live within their limitations.
  15. Proud people are quick to blame others. Broken people can acknowledge where they were wrong.
  16. Proud people wait for others to come and ask forgiveness. Broken people take the initiative to be reconciled no matter how wrong the other party may be.
  17. Proud people are unapproachable or defensive when corrected. Broken people receive correction with a humble, open spirit.
  18. Proud people try to control the people and the circumstances around them. Broken people trust in God – they rest in him and are able to wait for him to act on their behalf.
  19. Proud people carry grudges and keep a record of those who have wronged them. Broken people are quick to chose forgiveness.
  20. Proud people want no one to find out when they have sinned; they cover it up. Broken people aren’t concerned about who finds out their sin, they are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose.
  21. Proud people tend to deal in generalities when expressing their sin to God (“Dear Lord, please forgive me for my sins.”) Broken people acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin.
  22. Proud people are concerned about the consequences of their sin.                         Broken people are grieve over the cause, the root of their sin. They are more concerned with how their sin has grieved God than the problem it has created in their lives.
  23. Proud people compare themselves with others and feel worthy of respect. Broken people compare themselves with the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for his mercy.
  24. Proud people don’t think they need to repent of anything. Broken people realize the need to maintain a continual heart attitude of repentance.       
  25. The proud people reading this will be mostly thinking of others this may apply to and of who else should be reading this list, while broken people realize it applies to themselves.

 

This list forever changed me. In fact, it completely reshaped the way I viewed Christianity.

Because the truth is, every time I read this list, my thoughts can’t help but turning to others that should be reading it. And those thoughts testify against me: I am proud.

This way of thinking goes completely against popular culture, even popular church culture which says: “Look out for yourself!”

“Take care of your own needs first!”

“Make sure you get your rights!”

“Don’t waste your time on people who aren’t going to lift you up!”

And I wonder, what if Jesus would’ve used these attractive one liners? Where would we be then?

Where would I be then?

The God of “Look out for Yourself” is not in the Bible. The God of “Look what I can do!” isn’t there either. The God of “success and promotion” isn’t isn’t found in the ancient living word of God. The God that speaks, the God that lives, the God that we read about is humble, self sacrificing and absolutely broken for you and me. There is no limit to his love, there is no selfishness in him. He is gentle, he is meek, he is pure.

Don’t fall for the biggest idol out there: The man-made, self-serving Jesus, who benefits me NOW… who is like a church accepted ‘genie in a bottle’. God isn’t a doormat for you to use for your wishes when you please. He’s not a fairy godmother, waiting to make all your dreams come true.

He is a humble, serving, gracious and holy God who is ever searching for lives that will say yes to walking a very different road.

One that gives up my rights.

One that unconditionally loves those who mistreat them.

One that pours out their life as a living sacrifice.

One that puts others above themselves.

One that is humble and broken.

 

Oh, God, may I say yes to this strange, unpopular road you travelled. Help me to walk in your humble, self-sacrificing way.

 

 

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Devotions? Or Devotion?

I used to think New Years Resolutions were pointless – that they were nothing more than another attempt by the world to become the best we could be…only to fail three weeks in. You hear it all the time – the gyms are full come January 1st, but by the end of February, membership has returned to normal.

We’re funny that way, us human beings.  So desperate to be great that we jump on any bandwagon of change, only to jump right back off when life gets too hard. Some of us feel like failures when we give up, but most of us don’t even think twice about it. After all, we do it time and time again.

In the year 2015 all of that changed for me.

I decided to attend a Christian conference at the end of the year. The conference runs right after Christmas and goes until New Year’s Eve, ending with “praying in” the New Year. It was the first time in years that I was going somewhere without a baby or toddler in-tow. Me and my husband went with the older two kids, leaving the younger three kids with their grandparents.

To my great shock, the first two days were incredibly difficult for me to sit through the long messages. It had been years since I had sat through a message without my kids beside me crying, or needing a diaper change or nap. I had expected to just soak in the atmosphere and love it without my usual distractions.

And here I was, with no excuse at all, unable to consentrate for longer than 10 minutes without drifting off into lala land! With the busyness of my life, I hadn’t even realized how far I had been drifting from God. I hadn’t realized that my five minute a day devotional with God while kids jumped all around me and a quick read through of my prayer list wasn’t enough to sustain me. I realized that I was hungry – no, STARVING for God!

By the end of the conference, I was overwhelmed with a deep desire to be with God every single day. Not just reading the bible, I already did that. Not just reading through a prayer list, I did that too. But to encounter God daily – to KNOW the One true God.

My only problem was that I have five kids…How in the world could I possibly find time to spend with him? Certainly God didn’t expect me to find more time with him in my busy stage of life, could he?

It was as if God had known my thoughts ahead of time, and prepared this conference exactly for me. A woman got up on stage at this time and began sharing. The testimony she gave changed my life forever.

She was a top student at her university. Her schedule was packed and her workload was overwhelming. On an average day she was so busy that even without any social life she would only get four hours of sleep.  During this time she became overwhelmed and asked God to help her.  The very reason she has started going to university in the first place was to make a difference in the world. And now she felt like she couldn’t keep going.

During this time, God told her that he wanted her to start tithing. Of course, at this point she was thinking dollar amounts – but God made clear, “No I want you to start tithing what is most important to you – your time. 10 percent of your time.”

That’s precisely 2 hours and 24 minutes a day.

She, of course, responded like we all would – like I would: “No God, that’s not possible! I can’t possibly spare any time, never mind that much of it! I don’t get any sleep as it is!”

But she obeyed, waking up at wee hours of the night to be with her Maker.

Sacrificing what little sleep she had.

What happened as a result was an absolute miracle, for she began to find more and more time. She had time to do her work, she was more efficient in her studies, and she was even able to go to bed earlier. She found after just one week that she was getting more rest than she had since starting university! God had simply and miraculously multiplied her time.

Now until this moment, until this testimony, I had always believed that lack of time was unique to parents of young children only.

It’s laughable now, but really, I believed that singles and couples without children had no valid excuse to not be spending time with God…I, on the other hand had every excuse: the constant interruptions,  the lack of sleep, busyness of the days, the sacrifice of being depended on 24/7 – who has better excuses than that? My excuses weren’t even selfish!!

It was at this moment, this very moment, that I realized Satan has lied to us all.

We all have the time. 

In every stage of life, in every situation,  we all have the time because we are all given the same amount of it.

I began noticing all the excuses:

“Oh I work all day, if I was a stay at home mom I would have much more time! I’m just too tired after work to spend time with God.”

“Oh I can’t possibly do devotions daily, right now I’m in school, I constantly have homework!”

“My job demands so much of me, I don’t have any time for myself – never mind for God!”

On and on the excuses go, every single person believing that they have less time than the next.

This was crazy to me! Every single one of us believed that lie: I can’t find the time because my situation is unique. I’m more tired, more over worked, busier than most. 

It was only when I recognized that lie that I was able to overcome it.  Because the truth was that I had time for all sorts of things. I had time to scrapbook, time to cook, time to get together with friends, time to clean my house, time to sleep, time to be on Facebook, lots of time!

Therefore, the issue had never been time – the issue was desire. This changed devotions in my life changed forever.

I then made the first resolution I had ever made, and it lasted.

My resolution was to quit devotions as I knew them and to begin a life devoted to God. Devotions was never mentioned in God‘s word. Not once. What is mentioned are people who walked with God. Devotions are merely a tool to start off the day focused on a single task: devotion to God.

I no longer found it hard to spend time with God, because it wasn’t something on my checklist. It was my checklist. If I wasn’t walking with God all day, every day, I had gotten nothing done.

That is the essence of Christianity.

This year don’t get caught up in the meaningless resolutions. Rather, in desperation, resolve to do nothing but cling to Jesus. To abide in him. To walk with him.  If this is your heart’s desire, you’ll find the time.

I promise.

I Just Can’t

One of the biggest mysteries to me when I first got saved was how God could actually change who I was.

I always thought: but isn’t it actually me who is changing myself? Aren’t I the one making the decisions to change?

 I think part of the reason we become so confused about the concept of God changing us, is that we confuse obedience with a legalistic form of trying to attain our own righteousness apart from Christ. Obedience is really quite simple, while attaining our own righteousness is impossible.

On one hand, sometimes God will command us to do something that we can do, it’s just that we don’t really want to. Any example of this is when God prompted me the other week to shut down my Facebook account. Sure, I had about twenty good reasons to listen, from privacy issues, to wasted time…but on the other hand, there were just as many why I didn’t want to do this.

What will become of my blog? I wondered. Most of those who read it are reading it because of Facebook.

His answer? You were never supposed to be writing for them anyways…

Ok, God. I hear you. Loud and clear.

I deactivated the account. Not because Facebook is wrong, but because God saw something that needed to be accomplished in my life away from the spotlight of Facebook.

This is the one aspect: God commands, we obey.

The second one is harder though, because it happens when we recognize that our deeply imbedded habits are not lining up with God’s will for our lives. It’s these habits, these behaviours that we turn to when we’re broken and weak, tired or full of shame. This can include things such as addictions to alcohol, media, food, etc. Or it can be attitudes such as pride, bitterness or shame. It can also be reactions like anger, lying, and gossip.

Now, we can try to stop them (in other words try attain our own righteousness) but usually we just continue to fail and indulge in them all them more. Sometimes, the harder we try to stop them, the worse they seem to get. It’s these things that we are powerless to change without remaining in God. We can not do it. We simply will fail again and again.

We can not change our sinful nature. Only the work of Jesus on the cross can. If we actually think we can change ourselves, we have no business pretending that we need the cross.

A week ago, I had a picture while spending time with Jesus. We often talk about laying our sin and burdens down at the foot of the cross, but the picture I received gave me so much more insight into God’s grace.

Here is the picture: I was sitting on a picnic blanket covered in garbage. Not just wrappers and empty soda bottles, but the real rotten, disgusting garbage – representing my sin. The stench of it stung my nose and the horror of the fact the it was all sitting out like this in the open, where everyone could see it brought me into a panic. I quickly scooped it all up so that it was hidden within the blanket and I held it over my shoulder like a sack, looking desperately for a place to get rid of it. I couldn’t carry the load much longer it was so gross and heavy too. In the distance, I saw the cross and I knew what I had to do. Wearily dragging along my garbage, my sin, I came to Jesus. But instead of setting it at his feet, I lifted the load over my head and placed in on his shoulders. The weight of it pulled on the nails in his hands and he groaned. The garbage leaked through the bags dripping down his back. It was soiling him and causing him excruciating pain.

And it was here that the cross became unbelievably personal: MY SIN CAUSED HIM PAIN. ACTUAL PAIN.

It wasn’t just a casual moment like, “Oh hey Jesus, while you’re taking out the trash for everyone else can you take mine out as well?”

It was very real. Very personal. Very humbling. 

But the picture didn’t stop there. As I look up with shame, Jesus then calls out my name. He looks at me with eyes of love and speaks the words, “I love you, Heather. This is why I came.”

This is the view we must have of the cross. Our sin matters a LOT. It caused him pain. But he wants us to come and bring it to him. That was the whole point of the cross! Not a licence to sin more. Not a reason to cower in shame…but a reason to come and repent, to find true freedom and lasting peace!

He didn’t do this all so we could go on living in darkness like the world, doing whatever we please, but so that we could live in light, for him. ALL for him.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I’ve lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I might gain Christ.” Phillipians 3:7-8

It’s at this point where we cling to him, admitting our absolute inability to do anything good at all. In this state of weakness and clinging to him, God begins to work, which is why this confuses us so much…because God’s works cannot be explained!!! 

That’s why we call them miracles.

Salvation itself is a miracle. The greatest of them all.

We think of raising the dead, in the flesh, as being one of the “big” miracles, but in reality I think that is very easy for God to do. He just has to speak the words and life comes forth. But forgiving our sins?? That came at a great price…he had to give his very life!

It’s this ongoing work of the Spirit in our hearts that requires us to cling to him for all we are worth. If we part from the vine, we shrivel up and die. We are fruitless, lifeless, worthless – like a twig snapped off a tree. But when we remain attached to him, we grow, we flourish and we begin to bear fruit.

As much as the world tells me that I can do anything if I just try harder, the cross tells me otherwise.

It says: YOU can’t…but I can. 

 

When the World Around Me Crumbles

Today, Dear Friends, I feel sad.

I call you, my readers, friends. Because it’s you who I write to, not to “my blog”. Not that I know who you are, or how many of you will even read this. I never know. Sometimes it’s thousands, the next time it’s twelve. Strangers approach me and know precise details of my life. They tell me how amazed they are by some of the things I’ve gone through. They tell me they are encouraged by my writings. They tell me I have many talents. But what they don’t seem to know is how very, very weak I am.

The past couple years I’ve been so sensitive, not just to what happens to me, but to the very things which happen around me.

I see and old picture of myself and cry. Who is that girl?

I hear a story of someones heartache and I weep. I know their pain.

I hear about the struggles of the elderly and my heart goes out to them. How difficult it is to grow old.

I read a line of a poem that speaks deeper than its words. Tears flow freely.

And sometimes I literally am like: “STOP!!! Just stop being such an emotional wreck and pull yourself together!!”

But I don’t stop.

I keep feeling all this pain because I know the moment I shut myself down to what I’m feeling, that is the very moment I’ve ceased to heal the wounds which have been afflicted. I’m supposed to be in this season of pain. Only God knows how long. But it is where I’m supposed to be, because I can’t move on until God does. He’s here. And He won’t move until I’m ready.

My world, my hopes, my dreams, my beliefs…everything I built up for the last ten years crumbled in an instant. I was left on a deserted beach with my family among the rubble that was once everything that I knew about me. Gone are my multitasking abilities, I am so limited throughout the day. Slowly, step by step, I found myself in the same place I was ten years ago, with nothing to stand on but Jesus.

How humiliating. How humbling. How naked.

And I’m crying, maybe because of wounds…but mostly because I just don’t know how this all happened. I had thought I was building my house on the rock. I had thought I was strong, trusting in him every step of the way. But it turns out that I was just trusting in my own abilities, in my own way of doing things, in my strong leaders and my godly friends. And yet…

I see him among the rubble. Here he is!

Precious Jesus. Waiting for me to see that it was all temporary. Waiting for me to realize my absolute dependancy on him. Waiting for me to look to him and say, “You are God and I am man.”

And through all the deep recesses of pain within my heart, there is absolutely nothing, NO ONE who can comfort, but him. His words are the only comfort my soul receives. His presence is the only place that feels right, that makes me forget that a piece of me is missing.

When the world around me crumbles, I have but ONE.

Only One.

His name is Jesus.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though it’s waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:1-5

 

The Power of Praying Scripture

Most of us would agree that prayer is one of the most important things in our Christian walk. Our walk with God is a relationship, and relationships are only built through communication. You can not have a relationship without communication and prayer is communication with God! Therefore, one can not have a relationship with God if they don’t pray because it’s the very core of our connection to God!

Yet many people seem to hit a brick wall in their prayer life. They try to pray but after a while their prayers all end up sounding the same. And we begin to wonder, what’s the point? Are my prayers doing anything at all?? There are seasons in my life where my prayers seem alive and vibrant! They just seem to flow naturally. But it isn’t always that way.

A few weeks ago, I was at a loss on how to pray for certain people in my life. I had been told that praying for my “enemies” was the only way to actually love and forgive them. But there was a problem…I wasn’t sure on how to pray for my enemies. To just pray “God, help so and so to have a good day” didn’t seem beneficial at all! I mean really, do I expect God to give everyone in my life a good day just because I prayed that for them each morning? These prayers soon became so habitual that they seemed meaningless, like a ritual or a superstition. And I didn’t want this for my prayer life. I didn’t want to just babble some meaningless words out of habit! I wanted to PRAY! I wanted my prayers to make a difference in the lives around me! I wanted my prayers to transform and change my heart!!

One day, as I was stumbling over my prayers for someone who I was having a hard time forgiving…I was praying “God, please help them to see what they’ve done. Help them to see that I am also your child…” and suddenly I just stopped! What if I was wrong about them! What if they had done nothing wrong and I had done something wrong? What if…So I started praying the “other” side…”God if I’m in the wrong help me to see what I’ve done…help me to see that they’ve been obedient…” I stumbled over these prayers and something just didn’t seem to flow. This sounded so stupid! I was so unsure of anything I couldn’t even pray! Was I just praying from all angles just to “cover” my bases? Was there any power to these prayers?

Finally out of frustration, I just said out loud: “God! I don’t know how to pray for this situation! I don’t know what’s right and wrong! I don’t know what’s going on in their hearts! How can I pray for them? Teach me how to pray!!”

And you know where God led me? To Psalm 23. And I felt as if he was asking me to pray this Psalm over them:

 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” 

There is nothing more healing than praying these over your enemies. The first time I prayed these words for them I broke down and wept because I realized how much God LOVES them and how he truly wants the best for each one of us. “God, be their shepherd… lead them beside quiet waters…restore their soul. Guide them along right paths for your name sake…be with them through the dark times and comfort them…”

I prayed these verses everyday and I began to see that God isn’t taking sides! He loves ALL people, and he wants the best for ALL of us. He’s not concerned about who’s right and who’s wrong. He doesn’t see things the way we do and he doesn’t work the way we expect him to.

Blessing your enemies day after day changes you. It wasn’t long before I realized that I actually meant what I was praying!  “God, let your goodness and love follow them ALL the days of their lives! May they dwell in your house FOREVER!!!” I meant these words with all my heart…for my enemies!! I was praying God’s will for their lives and the power of God’s words were transforming mine.

For my children my prayers were different because I had specific things I wanted to see in their lives…”God help Isaiah with his test today, help Bella to be kind to her brothers, help Jonas to control his anger, help Dallas to obey the first time, help Emerson to have a good attitude…” These were the types of prayers I’d pray, and I don’t think they were wrong! But after the transformation with my other prayers, I wanted more for my children! I don’t just want them to succeed and be “good” people, I want them to be godly men and women of faith! Once again I asked God to show me a scripture to pray over my children and I started praying Psalm 63:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Finally, I had the words to pray my actual desires for my children! And I KNEW these prayers were in his will for them, because they’re in God’s word!

For “my” three churches (Blumenort EMC, HOPE church, Southland) that I’ve attended and loved in the past 29 years of my life:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousnessthat comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Do you feel unsure of what to pray? Are you in a situation where you don’t know how to pray? Do you feel like you’re just praying the same prayers over and over again? Ask God to show you a verse or passage of scripture to pray over the people in your life. I promise you that if you persist in it, you will see your prayer life transformed!

Is Starvation the Churches Fault?

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I saw this exact picture posted on Facebook by one of my Christian friends. And many other Christian friends “liked” it. I’m not going to address the particular church pictured in the photograph. Nor am I today going to write about what more the church should be doing about starvation and poverty. That’s a huge world issue (and also church issue) that has to be discussed on a totally different level. But today I simply had to address something that many people seem to believe:

Wealth = An Unspiritual Person.

It feels so spiritual to believe this, since often people who have great wealth become corrupt. They can become proud and arrogant. They can have anything they want! And giving up things for God can feel so righteous! And indeed it is righteous and good to give, even sacrifically at times!

I think of many heroes of the faith and they all had this in common: they were unbelievably generous people. George Muller, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward and many, many others lived incredibly generous and poor lives, yet they blessed hundreds if not thousands of people. Even present day examples like Francis Chan truly encourage us to be willing to give it all up for God. He is worthy of all we can give!

And when we read about these amazing stories, we sometimes feel even more convinced that our riches will testify against us.

Let’s look at some of the scriptures that are often quoted to back up this belief:

“Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.” James 5:3

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25

So many people understandably come to the conclusion that followers of Jesus should not be rich. After all didn’t Jesus once tell a rich man to sell all his possessions and then turn and follow him? We must all, therefore be called to do the same…right?

Actually the belief that it is wrong to be wealthy is so unbiblical and founded in judgement, pride and self-righteousness, that I would say that it’s actually just as wrong and deceptive as the prosperity gospel which teaches that all Christians will be rich, happy and healthy. Neither are biblically accurate. Neither are correct.

” For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10

The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Money itself isn’t evil. Because if wealth equals sin, then what on earth are we to do with all the wealthy righteous people listed in the bible? How about the rich man, Joseph, who lovingly buried Jesus? Or Abraham who had riches, servants and livestock that outnumbered many of the kings in his day? Then we have Job, an unbelievably wealthy man in his time…yet God said that there was no one else in his day as righteous as him. Or King David. Or King Solomon (who also build a temple for God, made with gold!) And guess what…there were starving people back then too.

Yet somehow that “waste of money” seemed to please God.

Remember the story of the disciples judging Mary for “wasting” her perfume on Jesus’ feet? They ironically used the same argument, in the same way as the one above. I mean, just pouring out a years worth of wages, surely God wouldn’t approve of that waste!

“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray Him, asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor…” John 12:5

And here I say the same to you! Church, wake up! This “meme” was not made because of a person who actually cared about the poor! It was not made out of compassion! If it was about compassion it wouldn’t leave you shaking your head at “Those Rich Religious Christians” rather it would turn your attention to the poor! It would challenge you to look into your own heart and wallet to see if you could possibly sacrifice more to help!

But it didn’t accomplish that, did it? It was made for one purpose: To judge the way those “hypocrites” spend their money! And how DARE they make a fancy building to worship in?!?

If we really cared about where our money is going, why not post pictures like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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Each year $25.4 billion is spent by Americans on professional sports.

Last year, people spent $24.62 billion US dollars at McDonalds, with a total $117 billion  spent on fast food all together.

$65 billion dollars was spent on soft drinks.

$18 billion was spent on credit card late fees in America.

$70 billion dollars was spent on lottery tickets in the year 2014 according to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

$90 billion dollars a year is spent on alcohol in the U.S. alone.

Americans spend $80 billion on cigarettes  per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And here’s the deal, The annual estimated cost to end world hunger is $30 billion dollars.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That means if everyone in the U.S. would quit drinking alcohol for one year and drink water instead, we could end world hunger for three years.

But still, it’s so much easier to blame it on the church isn’t it?

Friends, I tell you, self righteously pointing at the way some spend their money, while wasting your own will never end world hunger and it will never end starvation. And I’m not writing these statistics to say that going to a NHL hockey game is wrong. Neither am I claiming that every Mega Church is spending their money right. But if we’re going to start picking out specks in our brother’s eye, we better make sure we are ready to take out the log in our own!

Money isn’t evil. The LOVE of it is. And having a big house, fancy clothes, a new car or even a big church doesn’t mean you are full of sin and greed anymore than having a small rental house, a rusty car, and a small church means you are free from sin or even that you’re spending wisely.

IT’s so so SO easy to look at others and say: “Well, if they can buy a car like THAT, they are obviously living for self!” Yet unknown to you, that person may be giving 90% of their money away and living off the rest. And you aren’t giving a dime to charity.

Please don’t post memes like this. It isn’t helping world hunger. Instead find a way rework your budget, have a yard sale, or organize a fundraiser to really help the cause.

Generosity pleases God. It’s a trait of a true follower of Christ. And if God’s asking you to sell your big house and move into a trailer: OBEY HIM. Bless you for being obedient, God will reward you!

But realize that God may call the next person to keep their home so that they can use it to offer the homeless a place to sleep, or to foster children, or to let their elderly mother move in so they can help care for her.

If you don’t have wealth, consider it a blessing, for much wealth brings many troubles. If you have wealth, consider it a gift, hold it loosely, and give generously, for what God has given you he can certainly take away.

And always remember that it isn’t about what you do or do not have, it’s the heart that God sees.

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Claiming your Thoughts are God’s

There are not many things that make my blood boil… but there are a few things that make me furious… these include:

Children being abused, neglected or  abandoned.

People abusing their authority over others who are weaker than them.

A person in power who turns a blind eye to evil and refuses justice when it is in their power to judge.

Rich living comfortably at the expense of the poor.

And I’m sure there’s a few more but one thing that bothers me just as much as those listed above are those who say “Thus says the Lord” when the Lord Almighty has not spoken.

Now don’t get me wrong, God speaks. God speaks today in many ways. He speaks to me and guides me in many ways…he comforts me when I’m hurting, he gives me courage when I’m afraid, he corrects me when I’m wrong. He’s even given me clear direction when I’ve felt completely lost and told me very specific things about my children so that I may better know how to raise them.

But there’s one thing he doesn’t do…he never tells me that I’m the centre of it all and that the people around me are here for my benefit. Actually, his message never is centred around my life completely. His message always points me back to himself. His message never puts down other people. His message brings life, repentance, forgiveness and truth.

Now what on earth got me to start writing about this today? Well today I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and I saw this:

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And it really, REALLY bothered me. Not because the message was entirely untrue…. actually there is some truth to it. But because the message was not biblical and it claimed to be straight from God’s mouth.

And if it said: “The reason some people have turned against you and walked away with from you without reason, has EVERYTHING to do with you, because they will not go where you are going next. They will only hinder you on your journey because they have already chosen their purpose in life. Let them go and keep moving, greater is coming,” I might even agree!

This would be true in many situations for me. I have had to let go of many good friends in my teenage years, because if I would have held on to them I would not have become a good wife or a good mother. I couldn’t hang out with people who drank and did drugs if I wanted to move forward in my life. I couldn’t go to those parties or bars if I wanted to live purely before God. I couldn’t go on hanging out with all sorts of other men and expect to have a healthy marriage. And it was ENTIRELY because of me! I had changed. I was a new creation. I was no longer content to live for myself.

But the thing is:

a) I completely changed what the quote said to make it biblically true,

and b) I didn’t say “God says” because he didn’t say it! I actually made that quote up!

Now sometimes God does remove people from your life, for seemingly no reason. This last year he removed some very dear friends from mine. It hurt. It stung SO bad. I’ve cried and begged him to bring us back together. And I don’t know why it happened, or why he allowed it. But I know for certain he didn’t do it because they were “hindering me” or because I was “hindering them.” In fact these people were always a positive influence in my life. They spoke truth. They did not compromise their relationship with God for lesser things. And honestly I am who I am today because of these dear people. But God, for now, has seemingly led us on different paths. Whatever the case, I believe he still leading all of us… we’re still all going in the same direction, we’ve just parted ways for now.

And here’s my problem with lies spoken in the name of God: when we believe that God is only on our side and against those who’ve hurt us, we have made false image of God that we are bowing down to. It’s not him. It’s not God. You are bowing down to an idol. God doesn’t bring people into our lives so they can serve their purpose in our self-centred world and then remove them when they can no longer meet our needs. That’s called Narcissism, a belief that everything exists for MY good.

God brings people together so that they can learn to serve and love each other. He wants us to stop and care for those around us who have fallen, not to shove them aside and keep climbing higher. Now if those who stumble are dragging you down with them, then yes you may have to leave them in God’s loving hands, or turn them over to someone who’s stronger than you to help them. But it’s not a light decision and it’s definitely not because they’ve “fulfilled their purpose” in your life…as if God would create people to serve you.

Now, the last thing I want to do is to make people fearful of sharing any encouraging words or things that God has spoken to them. But please, PLEASE, if what you’re sharing isn’t directly out of the bible, do not say “God says” or act as if it’s a direct quote from his mouth. Share it as your thoughts or say, “I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking this to me today.” Then you will not risk deceiving those who may not know the Living God or the Words he speaks.

Because one of the greatest tragedies in the church today are people who think that their thoughts are God’s thoughts and speak/judge accordingly. We are often so blinded by sin that we cannot see clearly and as good as our intentions are, they aren’t pure like God’s. We see things dimly, but he sees it as it is. We judge partially, but God’s judgements are based on truth. And let’s face reality here: God does not think like man.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

So please, dear friends, take credit for your own thoughts and give God the glory for His.