Mean girls and bad boys
Late for class, last bell rings, dead run for her locker. She throws her bag into the steel trap and dashes past the others who are still in the hall. “Loser.” “Trash.” ‘Whatever.’ She just needs to get to her seat. She slides behind her desk. Peanut butter on the chair. ‘Nice.’ The girls behind her laugh. She sighs. Class ends and she’s on her way back to her locker. An elbow hits her in the side, then two hands shove her against a door. She’s had enough! She shoves back. The other girl lands on the floor. Teacher sees. “You! Stay after school!” Parents are called in, she has detention and a new nick name, Mean Girl.
The boys gather around the new kid. He’s shy and stares at his shoes. “You have to be cool if you are going to hang with us.” He’s heard those words before, that’s why he transferred. He shakes his head and is shoved against the wall, “Don’t be such a wimp!” He chokes a groan back and nods. The other boys look triumphant. What makes them look cool at this new school? The old school it was alcohol, the one before that was drugs, this one? The next thing he knows his locker is full of pirated video games, and he is very cool in the eyes of his new ‘friends.’ Until they get caught. Short term in Juvenile Correction facilities and he’s back in class. One of his old ‘friends’ leans over to another kid and whispers, “stay away from him, he’s bad news.”
Life can be drastically unfair. Don’t judge a person by the unfair labels that have been stamped on them by the hypocrites around you; See for yourself what they are like. Jesus has called and still calls all kinds of people, not just those who don’t get caught doing wrong, and thankfully He sees everything and knows who’s truly at fault. If you have ever been wrongly labeled and judged, know that Jesus sees the truth and He will take up positions to defend you.
It’s 1:30 in the morning and the hospital just called. It looks like my grandmother could be dying. She is my step grandmother, but still very precious to us. The true heartbreak however is the crushing blow this is delivery to my grandfather. He had lost somebody dear to him before when my nana died and we don’t want to see him suffer like that again. It’s moments like this I feel Foundation shattered. Moments where I see people who are stronger than any of us fall on their knees and say, “God what did I do wrong?”
For something to shatter a strong Foundation it has to be a strong blow. Don’t we all have that happen? When things go so so very wrong we don’t know where to turn? The wave hits so solidly our foundation is shattered and we start to feel ourselves fall into the ocean. We have all had moments where we look up to God and we say, ” dear God where are you right now? Are You still here?”
He is still here. In the midst of us. We just don’t understand, and we can’t understand because we are not God. Is that a good enough answer? No. No we deserve a better answer. Or at least that’s how we feel, but we probably couldn’t handle the full truth and God’s reasoning because we aren’t Him. It might not feel like a good enough answer but it’s the only answer that I have. No matter what happens God is still King that is all I can put my faith in. We Still Believe.
When you are a musician you can usually hear tone pretty well. Tone, not to be confused with tune, can change a song drastically. If the tone is wrong then everything sounds wrong. It’s like that when we are talking with people. If our tone is unpleasant then it may seem like we are saying something other than what we mean. If your tone sounds irritated then people will automatically think you are annoyed. If your tone sounds happy then people think you are happy.
It’s like speaking with an animal. If I say in a high tone, “let’s go to the groomer’s today buddy!” My dog gets very excited, even though he hates being groomed, he loves the car ride though.
It’s easy to forget your tone when speaking. I do a lot of physical activity so pain is not an uncommon thing, unfortunately. When in pain I have been criticized for having an angry or irritated tone. It’s just the way I sound when I am pushing through a day of pain. Making myself sound happy takes too much effort and wears me out when I am injured. I realize that my tone bothers people though. Tone can change a whole conversation. So when speaking, try to tune your ear to your tone.
A push and a pull
I have heard it said many times that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman who whispers. If I am perfectly honest there are many days when I feel that I need a great big shove to get me to listen and obey, not a gentle nudge. There are many things that God asks us to do in a day, or a week, that we just do not want to do. Like those days when being honest might get you into trouble, or when the lady at the checkout CLEARLY needs an encouraging word and all we can muster is a grunt that we hope no one heard. Being ‘Jesus’ was never listed in the “easy” column of your favorite magazine; but it is something we are called to do. If you ask God to give you an opportunity be prepared that one may drop in your lap. If you don’t ask God for an opportunity one may drop in your lap anyway so still be braced. If you are asking for patience, DUCK, and do it now because I feel God finds great pleasure in helping us be more patient. It doesn’t matter what the need is because we all need to be better at something. I don’t mean learning how to play Chopin on the organ. We all have ‘be better Christians’ needs and God gets that. He also understands when we get stage freight and freeze when we should be pulling out Excalibur, and like a good master God is never too far away to lend a hand. So, ask the Holy Spirit to give you a push today and see what, or whom, you stumble into.
What does your heart bleed?
Once there was a little heart wandering through a world of little hearts.
Everywhere she looked she saw damage. Scars and scrapes healed over; open wounds in need of help.
Many of the hearts were bleeding, but the blood was different for each one.
Some bled pain, some bled love, some bled sorrow, some fear, some anger and hatred, some confusion, and as the little heart walked amoung the drips of blood she noticed them sticking to her. She began to bleed what the other hearts were bleeding. The little heart looked around and bumbled into a heart whose wounds were already healed over, she asked
‘what do I do? All these things are sticking to me and causing me pain.’
The healed heart looked at the little heart and gave a small spin; In doing so the little heart noticed a thin layer of callus protecting the other heart.
‘Callus and you no longer feel; then the pain of others won’t stick to you.’
The little heart nodded politely and moved on. To not feel was not what she wanted. Suddenly a large drip landed on her foot. She looked up to see a heart that was bleeding love. The little heart was upset to be even more dirty, until she noticed some of the other drips washing off as the love ran over them. ‘Wait!’ The little heart cried as she chased after the love heart. The heart turned and waited. ‘Why? Why is your love helping clean my pain? It is still bleeding, you still hurt! But your hurt is helping me.’
The love heart smiled.
‘I hurt because I love. If I stopped caring then I would be healed but I would be living an empty life. I allow myself to accept the pain of other hearts and to help them heal. Truth to tell, when others heal because of my love I also heal a little bit.’
Suddenly the little heart understood. The dirt of others was okay to have on you if it meant you got close and showed them love and helped them heal, and suddenly that one drip gave her life purpose.
What does your heart bleed?
Can you hear me?
There is a novel series I enjoy that is based in medieval times. In one part of the series, the sea ports have been affected by a group of human traffickers (which is still a big problem in many parts of the world).
One scene has a big city wide party going on with loud music and cheering and fireworks. In this scene you can notice the slight screams of the people that are being silently stolen out of the crowd.
In this scene the protagonist asks a companion if they had also heard an odd noise, to which the other character answers, “yes. The sounds of the party covered it, but there were screams.”
I wonder how often we miss the screams in the midst of the party. The laughter, the excitement, the fireworks. Noise. Sounds of pleasure that cover the sounds of pain and distress. The people we don’t see due to the crowd who are silently being stolen away. The world has so much suffering that we just don’t notice.
Question. How many of you were at least a little bit surprised when I mentioned that human trafficking is still a problem? How many were angered and disgusted? If I said that many of the people on the streets in large cities have jobs, sometimes several jobs, but the cost of living is simply too high, would you be confused or argue with me?
I grew up near the large city of Vancouver, a city I love and miss, but even the beautiful lady has a dark side. A very dark side. Because of friends who were cops we learned of the on going and somewhat large problem of human trafficking that was happening right out of the inner harbor. A problem that the police struggled to control because of it’s strength. So you didn’t walk the streets alone.
Because of ministry friends we learned of the plight of the hard working man who lived in a cardboard box in the downtown area. There were many just like him. Steady job. Not enough to get by on.
We learned also that we were far from the only city with these problems. In Canada and the US especially it is easy to live the party life because we can have so much. But there are screams that we can’t hear that are happening just down the street.
This is not a criticism. Feel free to enjoy life. But now you are aware of the pain that you cannot see. What can you do about it?
When worlds collide
We are all in our own little world, so what happens when our world meets with other people’s worlds?
I have learned a new small pleasure; people listening.
When alone in a resteraunt I focus on the hum of the voices around me, instead of listening to music or playing on my phone.
Today I sat at a lone table with a window view of the street. As I sipped my Jasmine tea and played with my Dim-Sum I watched the world go by. I didn’t bother to count how many cars passed on their way to wherever, each in their own world, each oblivious to anything else. Some people walked by; a few were smiling, most held uninterested expressions. The one true happy being I saw was a dog being walked by a homeless man. A man on the otherside of the glass window. A man too far away to reach out to. A dog in his own little world, he doesn’t know he is homeless because his home is with the person he loves so he is happy.
We are all in our own world really. What would happen if our worlds collided? What do you think would happen if I ran outside and invited that man and his dog to join me for lunch? I would get kicked out of the restaurant, sure I get that, but what else? Would his day brighten? Would his stomach be happy? Would he see Jesus? Probably. What happens when our worlds collide? We change our perspective to a combined vision of ours and theirs. We see the world a new way and we ‘feel’ more. Jesus never lived in His own world. He always lived in the lives of others and in doing so, He helped thousands.
We need to let our worlds collide so we can envision a better world. For everyone.
When I was in high school I took basic karate. One of the main things drilled into the class was the fact that karate means open handed combat, which means that our combat is self defense it is not meant as a form of attack. If we apply this technique to life we get a person entering their day open minded to the people around them and empty handed of judgments. When we go out into this world we are stepping onto the mat and as Christians the way we respond to daily jabs and kicks need to be censored according to our teachings. In martial arts your fight technique reflects that of your teacher, in the same way our daily response to life needs to reflect Jesus. We enter the arena holding nothing against the people we will face, we come in open minded to their situation. Picture this. Bright blinding lights, a roaring crowd and a tall battle scarred warrior faces you down as your toe touches the mat, there’s no turning back now. You see that angry face, the deep creases of old battles lost and you gain your opinion of the warrior. They step closer and you step up to them, you don’t yet know what will happen next all you know is this person has been hurt too many times and it is your turn now to decide, do you attack or do you help? Do you reign judgement and add to their scars or do you give compassion and help the scars heal? Your mind open and clear so you can hear from the Holy Spirit and see this person’s needs and you realize all they need is a comforting hand. As the vision fades away; the crowds and the lights dim, you see the warrior in a new way, the way Jesus sees them. We shouldn’t enter the arena to fight we should enter to help; but sometimes in this daily life we Christians forget that we are not here to judge and attack the people around us, we are here to help them and in doing so show them Jesus. That’s the point to open handed combat, coming without prejudices and without judgements so you can help heal this world just as Jesus came without a sword or armor as a gentle baby in a manger.
We all have pain in our lives; pain we feel each day, pain that causes us to fall asleep on tear-drenched pillows. The peace is in the fact that the pain won’t last. Jesus hates it when we hurt so He reaches down a hand to hold. Jesus knows the good that will come from our suffering but He will not allow us to suffer to alone; He is always with us. A little while back I had fallen from a rock wall and had landed on my face. Not wanting to go through my day with the big cut down my lip showing I proceeded to cover it with make up, guess what? It almost completely disappeared; on the surface everything seemed to be fine so no one knew the pain behind the makeup. All people use cover-up throughout their lives so that on the outside all looks fine and no body knows what’s going on on the inside, no body but Jesus. Does anyone remember the song ‘don’t cry out loud’? For how many people is this song their life motto? “I’ll be fine, I can stand strong, this is my problem not anyone else’s.” Sound familiar? This life has a way of knocking us back, but Jesus is there so we don’t hit the ground. We fall into His strong arms and like the best friend HE is, who always has our backs, Jesus straightens us up and faces our giants with us. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we as people don’t feel comfortable sharing our pain with others, but we must never forget that Jesus is sharing our pain with us. He feels it too and understands. He cried alone in the garden so that we will NEVER have to cry alone. As you work at moving through your pain please remember, most of the people around you have pain they are moving through too and that they need you to be gentle with them, just as you need others to be gentle with you.
The difference between Christians and many, not all, but many other people is that we love the person despite our differences. We may not always like what the people do, what they believe in, or even the people themselves, but we always love them because our God tells us to. It’s not always easy, to be honest it’s usually not easy, but we choose to love anyways. God says to love your neighbor as yourself. He doesn’t say love the nice person across the street but hate the guy down the road who purposely walks his dog to your yard to let them do their business. God says to love everyone. In this modern age where it feels like we as Christians are being persecuted from every side it’s very easy to start to hate the persecutors; but loving them (the hard thing to do) is what sets us apart from them. There’s an old song that says “persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” In the midst of everything the Christians all over this world are going through we are still not abandoned, we are still not destroyed, because our God loves us enough to stand by us and lift us up and give us strength; He keeps us going when we can’t go on. Are we perfect and deserving of such love? Absolutely! Not! But God still loves us. Those around us we find hard to handle don’t deserve our love; neither do those who attack us and persecute us and imprison us and beat us and kill us, but because God loves them still we will also love them, even if it’s a forced love it’s love. God hates what those people do to us and we have every right to hate what they do to us too, but He loves the person and that’s the hard part, seeing the hurting soul past the hurtful deeds. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, a love we receive and show. We must give of the love we are given because those people need to be loved too and they need to be shown Jesus very badly. So have a love without chains and love beyond the deeds, love the person because Jesus loves them and never forget He loves you too