Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Changing How we See Other People

What are the stories that influence how you see other people and their situations?
What are the narratives that your opinions are based on?
Are you even aware of what these are?
Are you willing to discover what they are?
Are you willing to allow them to be changed, even if it's uncomfortable to do so?

These are some tough questions I've been wrestling with lately. They're not questions with quick or easy answers.

One of the speakers at the Global Leadership Summit this year spoke about this topic and started me thinking this way. He was talking about how we have to be willing to get uncomfortable by getting close to those who are suffering to lead well. We can't effectively lead, or care for people, if we keep distance between us.

These words were coming from someone who was living what he was talking about. He willingly chooses to get until some uncomfortable situations to help those in need. He knows the challenges of doing this.

Most of us, have at least some places where the narrative we tell ourselves that informs our actions is in need of changing. Maybe we've inherited is from others in our lives. Or society, or a segment of society, tells us that's the way it is. Or we've had experiences ourselves that wrote it that way.

Are we willing to have those narratives challenged by choosing to engage with people we normally wouldn't? Are we willing to get close to those who are suffering and those we tend to look down on or see as different than us, and really hear their stories and let them challenge the narrative we're been telling ourselves about "those" people?

The more I'm challenged on this is my own life, the more I'm realizing that this is what Jesus was all about when He walked this earth. Three of the gospel accounts record Jesus telling His listeners that "it's not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick" (Luke 5:31, Matthew 9:12, Mark 2:17). And Jesus' example was one of regularly coming alongside the suffering, the vulnerable, the sick, the outcasts of society, and really listening to them and loving them.

James 1:27 says this:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
God's laws included provision for looking after the poor among them.

If Scripture is this clear, then my only conclusion can be that if God cares about the poor and the vulnerable, I should too as His follower. If there's something that is keeping me from doing that, I need to figure out what it is and take the necessary steps to change it.

So, I leave you with the questions I opened this post with and that I'm still wrestling with in my life.

What are the stories that influence how you see other people and their situations?
What are the narratives that your opinions are based on?
Are you even aware of what those are?
Are you willing to discover what they are?
Are you willing to allow them to be changed, even if it's uncomfortable to do so?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hope that Doesn't Disappoint

'. . . those who hope in Me will not be disappointed."
                                                       -Isaiah 49:23

Usually when I start a post with a Bible verse, I'm looking at the larger context of the verse in trying to understand it. I know that context is important when talking about Scripture, but this time, my thoughts are specific to these 9 words of this one verse. I believe the concept I'm talking about is supported by the whole of Scripture.

We all hope in something. Whether we realize it or not, we've all placed our hope in something or in many things. The reality is that we could probably all list a few things we are currently, or have in the past, put our hope in.

As we've probably all realized at one point or another, the thing(s) we're placed our hope in does disappoint and we discover that our hope was misplaced. Anything or any person we place our hope in on earth will disappoint us eventually. Any circumstance we place our hope in will disappoint us.

It's only when we put our hope in God that we won't be disappointed.

But, how do we reconcile the times we feel disappointed with our hope being placed in a God Who says, if we hope in Him we'll never be disappointed?

I don't think we can guarantee we'll never be disappointed about something, even when we're choosing to place our hope in God. I think, the difference comes in how we handle those feelings of disappointment. We can feel disappointed, but we're not lost in despair because it's not where we ultimately place our hope.

Even when things go wrong.
Even when things aren't happening the way we think they should
Even when we're longing for something that hasn't happened yet

We feel disappointed over these things, but when our hope isn't placed in them, we know that's not the end. The disappointment lasts only a moment, because that's not where we have placed our hope.

Where have you placed your hope?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Roots

Deep roots
Able to stand strong
Rushing waters
Cannot destroy

Shallow roots
Unable to stand
Rushing waters
Leave no trace behind

Deep roots
Seeking sustenance
That won't run dry
That's always there

Shallow roots
Grabbing at the surface
All that quickly fades
Leaving nothing behind

Deep roots
Resistant to the drought
Finding the water
Deep below the surface

Shallow roots
Destroyed by drought
No water there to find
On hard, cracked dirt

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Sabbath

Sabbath
Rest from busy-ness
Stopping the running
Breaking from expectation

Pray
Telling God your thoughts
Listening for His response
A two-way conversation

Play
Doing things just for fun
Laughter and enjoyment
Learning to "waste time" again

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Are You Letting Fear Kill Your Dreams?

"If we're more impressed with bad men, than a good God, fear will kill our dreams." - Gary Haugen

I was at the Global Leadership Summit last week and the words that I opened this post with have been stuck in my mind ever since. They were spoken by the speaker from the closing session - Gary Haugen, founder and president of International Justice Mission.

The entire closing session was on fear and how it can destroy any dream we have if we allow it to. No matter what our training or our knowledge or our dream, fear can completely destroy us. Haugen then went on to talk about how we can stand against fear and not allow us to destroy our dream.

This is when he said the words I opened this post with.

"If we're more impressed with bad men, than a good God, fear will kill our dreams."

When God has given us a dream, something He's asking us to do, whether we are actually able to do it or not depends on where we're looking and on who we're walking with. 

We can look at the size of the dream and all that could go wrong, and allow our fear to take over. We can look at all of those who oppose our dream, and allow fear to destroy us.

OR . . .

We can look at the God Who gave us the dream, and move forward on it. We can choose to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us and help us keep our focus on God, and move forward on it.

I've been challenged the last few days, with these thoughts about fear, and where I'm focusing.

"If we're more impressed with bad men, than a good God, fear will kill our dream."

Where are you focused?
On what could go wrong?
Or on what could go right?

Keep your eyes on our good God and surround yourself with people doing the same thing, and you'll be able to move forward in the dream, the calling, that God has given you.