TRUTH THURSDAYS 7: THIS IS WHAT I MEAN WHEN I SAY

This one is for the boys and girls…and all the words words words in between them.

It would be nice to talk over the phone more.

What I mean to say is, why are you pulling away?  We’ve moved from (1.) you coming on strong, (2.) telling me you’re so into me and (3.) how much you like me, (4.)a couple of phone calls a week, (5.) texts every other day, to this – a 20 minute text session once a week that you always end.

I think we should just be friends.

This is me telling you I like you-but I don’t trust you.  You run hot & cold and send me mixed signals.  You push at me then pull away.  You make me like you, but then you act aloof.  I can’t figure you out.

Do you mean the things you say?  When you told me that you were always going to come back to you liking me?  When you told me I was beautiful and funny and loved God and what more could you look for?  When you told me that we could be the people that are always blunt and honest with each other, did you mean that?  Did you really mean “we” or did you mean “you go ahead and be honest with me, and if it’s something I don’t want to hear I’ll think you’re crazy and demanding and won’t tell you this to your face, instead I’ll do the slow fade”.

The simple truth is, maybe you’re just not that into me.  I can handle that.  But you’re sneaky.  You don’t actually say it.  So here I am thinking it.  Wondering – how do I say this to you without coming off as needy?  All I want is some clarity.  But I have the suspicion that if I bring this up, you will use it as an excuse to end this “friendship” because I got too clingy.  And I don’t want to give you an easy way out.  I want you to grow a pair and tell me WTH is going on.

What really gets me is that you love the Lord.  You really do.  And yet…it does not translate in how you treat me.  And that’s something that I’ve learned.

Just because a man says “I’m a Christian.”  “I love God.”  – doesn’t make him treat you as a precious sister in Christ.

It’s like there’s a great big disconnect.  A man can love the Lord with all his heart and still string a girl along.  And I’m not saying he has bad intentions – most of the Christian guys I know that have done this were just…afraid.  They knew they wanted to let go of a relationship or a courtship.  They just didn’t want to deal with actually saying it to the girl.  They didn’t want to be the bad guy that “ended things”.  So they hem and haw, shuffle their feet, twiddle their thumbs and then do the slow fade.  They distance themselves and hope the girl catches on and that she will be the one to make the decision to leave.

Additionally it’s like they forget everything they’ve ever said in the course of their “courtship”.  Compliments were thrown around.  Big sweeping statements were made.  Sometimes to men, words are just…words.  They genuinely don’t understand.  Words are promises.

“But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” – Matthew 5: 37 (NIV)

Jesus knew this.  He told us we don’t need to swear a vow, or swear on our (insert deceased relative here)’s grave.  Just say what you mean.  Don’t tell a girl you want to be with her if you don’t think you can follow through.

And please, don’t use the biblical principle of honesty as an excuse to say what you feel in that moment.  Moments pass.  Feelings fade.  Be as sure as you can be of what you’re saying.  Think about it.  Be responsible and guard not only your heart but that of the woman you are showing an interest in.  Test your feelings before you start to share them with her.

I’ve seen this happen countless times.  To good Christian men.  Leaders at church.  Pastors.  They go in guns blazing.  Stars in their eyes.  Floating hearts above their heads.  Shouting from the rooftops.  Jumping up on couches.  And then, reality sets in.  All of a sudden “she was making me chase her too much” or “she’s so needy”.  It ends in tears and broken hearts.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know it takes two to tango.  I know we women have a responsibility to not get carried away.  I get that.  But even if we guard our hearts, don’t get carried away, maintain distance – do you really think it doesn’t hurt when you leave after all the words words words you’ve said?  We’re not made of stone.

I don’t want to use the term “defrauded”.  It’s so dirty.  It makes it sound like men went out and planned to hurt women.  And I know, in most cases, that’s just not true.  Most men don’t set out to court a woman and then drop her like a hot potato.  But I will use the words irresponsible, careless, reckless.  I think that’s more appropriate.  It doesn’t take away from their relationship with God.  It doesn’t take away that they are good, decent, human beings.  It just says that maybe they weren’t good and decent with women, in those particular situations.  And they really need to be.

Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

TRUTH THURSDAY 6: I HAVE TO SAY NO TO…

John 13:34-35

I want to change this prompt to “things we should NOT say no to…”.  I feel like too many people have jumped onboard the “just say no” train.  (I prefer trains instead of wagons, excuuuuuse me).  Nowadays (as opposed to the dark ages when I was apparently born) we shoot off the word “no” faster than a speeding bullet.  We give various reasons for doing this.  “I’m learning to love myself”.  “I need to put myself first for a change”.  “I’m trying to manage my time more”.  As REASONS these are all valid.  You have the right to take time off and nurture yourself so you can better nurture others.  You have the right to be disciplined with your time and honor your commitments.  It’s when we start making these reasons into RULES that things go wrong.

As Christians we’re called to love and give beyond our comfort.  In fact, we’re called to do this for our enemies, not just our friends.  What happens when we can’t even sacrifice comfort for family or friends?  How much more will we be unable to do so for our enemies?

Luke 16:10-11 talks about being faithful in the small things so that God will entrust you with greater responsibilities.  These verses ask the question: “if you can’t even handle worldly wealth how will God entrust you with true riches?”

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.  And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” – Luke 16:10-11 (NLT)

“True riches” are spiritual blessings.  And you get those blessings by God’s grace, generosity and also by obeying Christ’s commands – loving God and loving others.  Serving others.  Thinking beyond our own comfort, our own schedules, and I think it needs to be said…but sometimes, thinking beyond our ministry.  Let’s admit it…there are times when we put our ministry above serving others.  We are unwilling to disrupt our schedules to do the basic things – like being there for a friend.  I’ve given these excuses before…”I don’t want to disrupt my schedule”.  “I know it’s important to you but I’ve made prior commitments”.  Sometimes, as I said, these excuses are totally valid.  It does not please God for us to shirk all our responsibilities and not honor our commitments.  It also must be said that not everything that’s important to others will trump prior commitments/ministry/etc.  I’m merely saying that we shouldn’t get so used to saying no and being inflexible that we forget what service and love is really about.

Service isn’t a numbers game.  A bible study for 10 people is not more important than helping out 1 friend who is going through a rough time.  In fact, Jesus stresses the importance of the 1 over the many.  Luke 15 specifically gives 3 parables that describe this:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15:4-7, NIV

The Parable of the Lost Coin

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15: 8-10, NIV

The next parable is the parable of the prodigal son, and that’s a pretty famous one so I won’t get into that.  The point is…it’s not about numbers.  It’s about people.  And going back to “being faithful in little things”…we shouldn’t wait to sacrifice comfort for what we define as a “great need” (death in the family? major illness?).  We need to start with the little things and not despise small beginnings.  Maybe it’s as simple as having tea (I don’t do coffee) with a friend instead of watching your favorite program.  Maybe skipping bible study to be there for someone who might be going through a really rough time.  It’s being Jesus to people instead of just talking Jesus AT people.

So let me say no to this instead – let me say no to putting myself above others.  Serving myself more than I serve others.  And God grant me the grace and strength to love and serve and give beyond my means, my comforts, and my human limits.

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13: 34-35 (NIV)

TRUTH THURSDAYS 5: WHAT’S IN YOUR HAND?

I’m reminded of the story of Moses, who God called to set the his people, the Israelites, free.  We have 2 whole chapters in Exodus of Moses basically hemming and hawing and trying to get out of doing what God had instructed him to do.  He was scared, insecure, and completely lacking in any confidence – in himself and more importantly, in God.

God countered every excuse Moses gave him:

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

“I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

 

“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

“I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

 

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

“If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign [staff becoming a snake], they may believe the second [hand becoming leprous]. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

 

“I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute?Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

 

“Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.”

 

Aren’t we just like Moses sometimes?  So unwilling to do what God has commanded, full of disbelief that we are even capable of doing the things He wants us to do.  Doesn’t it ever occur to us that if God asks us to do something He will most certainly enable us to carry out his commands?

God calls us to bless and give and love extravagantly beyond our resources.  He calls us to a place of utter reliance on Him.  We don’t need anything in our hands to be able to do God’s work.  in fact when Jesus sent out the disciples he told them to “take nothing for the journey”.  To quote Francis Chan’s Crazy Love –

“Jesus was forcing His disciples to trust Him.  God would have to come through for them because they had nothing else to fall back on.  This place of trust isn’t a comfortable place to be; in fact, it flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught about proper planning.  We like finding refuge in what we already have rather than in what we hope God will provide.  But when Christ says to count the cost of following Him, it means we must surrender everything.  It means being willing to go without an extra tunic or a place to sleep at night, and sometimes without knowing where we are going.”

What’s in my hand?  Does it matter?  I’m not looking anymore.  There may be something.  There may be nothing.  But regardless, that’s more than enough for my God.

confettihands

TRUTH THURSDAYS 4: IN TIME I WILL BE…

crazylove

I’ve been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  And it’s been CHALLENGING.  It talks about how we as Christians should live if we are truly truly in love with God.  And I’ve realized, to my dismay, I haven’t been living like someone who claims to be overwhelmed by God.  I’ve been selfish, consumed with the world, and I haven’t taken my bible literally when it comes to the hard stuff – like loving your enemies, giving more than you can handle, etc.

 

I’ve thought to myself, I’m good enough.  I’m a decent Christian.  Surely God can’t expect more from me.  Why can’t this be enough – the parts of me that I’m willing to give.  Why should I surrender everything??

“Do not assume you are good soil…when we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil.  A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.”

“Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants?  Do you believe that wholehearted commitment to Him is more important than any other thing or person in your life?  Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?”

 

I’ve been lukewarm.  I haven’t jumped in.  Standing on the sidelines, I’ve been playing it safe because I’ve grown addicted to my own comfort.

“Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control.  This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.”

“God doesn’t call us to be comfortable.  He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

“We are consumed by safety…I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for God’s protection, but I am questioning how we’ve made safety our highest priority.  We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.”

 

I haven’t wanted to be radical.  To be that crazy Christian girl…but loving Jesus means that “crazy” should be normal.  What other people consider “normal” should be my definition of crazy.

“Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy.  Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.”

“The concept of downsizing so that others might upgrade is biblical, beautiful…and nearly unheard of…dare to imagine what it would mean for you to take the words of Jesus seriously.”

“It is just this sort of love that is crazy to the world: true love, a kind found nowhere but through Christ.  We are commanded to love our enemies and do good to them.”

 

I’ve been generous yes, but I’ve also been afraid.  Afraid that God won’t provide.  Refusing to spend money because I can’t see the provision coming.  Saying I’m not in a position to bless others…

“If you really want to experience God’s supernatural provision, then do as He says.  Test Him.  Give more than you can manage, and see how He responds.”

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs…people who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another.”

Recently I received a massive financial miracle.  God used a friend to bless me with a 5 digit sum…I’ve never had anything like that happen to me.  I was so overwhelmed I sat and cried in my room.  First of all, I was overwhelmed by God’s love and provision.  And second, I was overwhelmed by the goodness of my friend, who heard God speak to him and immediately acted on it.  I am challenged today to be more like that.  God blessed me through this friend financially but He also expects me to learn from this.  Not to take this gift and have it stop with me.  I am called to do those kinds of “radical” “crazy” things.  They are not reserved for other Christians, for people who are more well off.  I’m meant to do these things.  I’m meant to be that crazy Christian girl who loves the people that hurt her and gives freely knowing that God will provide.  Who downsizes so she can bless others.

In time I want to surprise myself with my life.  A life that is sold out to God.  Overwhelmed by His love.  And shares that experience with others.  In time, daily, I want to be more like Christ.