Fighting Dirty For The Ones We Love

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 5:5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. 6 For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.…

When was the last time you fought dirty for the one’s you love? Or for an enemy? I’m not talking cheating, I am talking about getting dirt under the nails, sweating, and digging deep into all you’ve got and then giving some more. Valuing that spouse who has hurt you deeply. Treating the bully at work with kindness. Fighting dirty is not based upon changed behavior, it is deeply rooted in who Christ is in us!

We love because he first loved us. God didn’t just give us a list of do’s and don’ts, pat us on the back, and send us on our way. He was and is involved in creation! So much so, that at just the right time, while we were still sinning he came to earth in the form of a human child. He experienced sweat, he had splinters in his skin, and scars on his back from loving us. He knew our struggle with temptation. He knew we were oppressed, and he knew our depression. He fought dirty for us!!

Depression, suicide, hopelessness is a dark and dingy place, because hopelessness is wrapped in lies about our identity and the character of God. I was once smothered in those lies. My son died in those lies. How do we counter such a devious and destructive attack that often begins when we are children?! We battle by getting to know the character of God and acting on the hope he offers to us.

I didn’t know God. Scripture is like sitting across from God and hearing him tell his side of the story. Prayer is a constant conversation (both speaking and listening) with God. Fellowship with other in process believers encourages, challenges, and brings me out of my shell. This is my foundation. As a result, I can’t sit idly by and put on blinders to the suffering of others. I have my hands in the dirt of humanity. Be all in because God was all in for us!

 

Let me know your story in the comments. How can I fight dirty for you!?

Writing Prompt: Downcast or Upcast

Psalm 43:Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Seems like there are an awful lot of words to describe depressed, but not a lot to describe the opposite . . .what is the opposite of depressed? Come up with words that reflect an “upcast” attitude and create a poem. Attach your page link in the comments and let’s cast a brighter light on depression.

Writing Prompt: Downcast or Upcast

 

 

 

I Need to Tell My Story Without Reliving It

Today I give my first speech. You’d think as much as I write out encouragement to you that this step would be easy, but it’s not. My passion for you moves me forward, but my emotions make me want to hide in my turtle shell. No matter personality, I am realizing that I must learn to speak to people with more ease. Face to face, is a necessity when addressing all the levels at which I may be called to speak.

Standing in the G.A.P. (Gather, Assess, Provide) covers so many entities. I will need to speak effectively to schools, churches, medical providers, mental health professionals, judges, lawyers, parents and teens. So I joined Toastmasters International. Look for one in your area if you want to learn how give effective presentations.

Afterwards:

Made it through the speech with excellent feedback.

Things to work on:

Reduce my need for notes, slow down and make more eye contact.

Valley of the Shadow of Death

(A post from the first days after putting Jonathan in the ground.)

Day 5

Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

A spur of the moment trip yesterday afternoon to Coco Key Resort, produced a valuable image for Daniel and I to hold onto as we walk through the darkness of Jonathan’s death. Daniel is tall enough to ride the four big slides, and this summer his confidence in the water has skyrocketed. He and I tackled the first one on a two-seater inner tube. After that he was ready to tackle it alone and then moved onto the body slides.

But, he declared from the beginning, that he would not go on the two slides that did not let light in. I have to admit, I had no intention of going on those either. Later, I’m not even sure what prompted me to go on the dark body slide alone, but I did. Maybe I chose the tube because I am already walking through the darkest place imaginable. The slide was as dark as the inside of a cave cavern. I could not see the twists and turns and I didn’t know how long the ride would be, but I knew the light was at the end.

Just before leaving, Daniel grabbed the two-seater and declared that he wanted to ride the dark slide. As soon as we started down I could sense his fear. I declared that I was still beside him, and that the light would greet us at the end. When we exited the pool I told him that this how I feel with God right now. I don’t see him, but I hear his voice, and I’m trying to stand on the truth of his character. In the car the kids asked to listen to their Music Camp CD. One of the songs was “You Never Let Go”. As Daniel listened he exclaimed, “That is like the dark slide! I couldn’t see you, but I knew you were there. I know God is there, and that he won’t let go of me.”

Yes Daniel, and yes reader, God will never let go of you! Through whatever storm or dark place in this life you are going through. Our part is to know that he is here. For me, the only way to obtain that knowledge has been to read about his character in scripture, to pray, and to practice walking in faith. I can’t see where this devastating dark twist will lead, but I won’t turn back, because I know you are here.

Goals:
1. Let others help me today.
2. Work on my song.
3. Find a new copy of Barbra Johnson’s book. (Meet me at half-priced books anyone?)

Hearing God in the Silence of Grief

Romans 8:31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”j

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

It’s the silence, after a house full of guests, that threatens to undo me. In grief, you brace yourself for the days of deepest memories, but the days that would have been routine, those are the days that crush bones. In these difficult days I grow best if I listen to what the new aspects of grief want to tell me.

I hear God calling me.

I am here, in this season of depression, to shout that God makes a way through. I am being stretched and prepared to love more deeply than I ever thought possible, so that you know, beyond a shadow of doubt that God loves you. He has chosen you since before the beginning of creation! There is not a single second of your existence that does not matter to him.

Lean in and listen to the silence of your circumstances. Allow God to teach you more about both loss and gain than you knew before. Grief can widen our hearts to love God and our neighbor more deeply or close us off. Perspective is the only difference. Do I fix my eyes on the evil of losing Jonathan, meant to harm me (which it was), or allow God to transform my loss into good, for the salvation of many? Even typing these words are hard. I grapple with the untamed nature of God most when ask this question.

But, then I look at the son God did not spare. Was the cross evil. Yes. Was Jesus innocent. Yes. Did God spare Jesus. No  What kind of God operates this way? I have heard again and again from people suffering the horrid torment of cancer that they felt God’s presence, and were able to love more deeply than before their cancer. What kind of God determines what is evil as being for the good of the world?

A God who is not limited by evil!  A God who sent his own son to the pits of hell to save us. A God who gave us over to ourselves, but made a way for us to be better since the beginning of time. My God isn’t tame, he is dangerous to follow, but he is good! How glad that I am that God has never fit into my box, or been limited by what evil men do!

Listen to God’s call on your life and walk through the flames if that is where he leads. He may take you out of the furnace, he may take you through the furnace, or he might take you by the furnace, but one thing is certain, others will see him standing with us as we walk in obedience to his will.

 

I Write Because . . .

. . .Sand should be squished between toes
and the ocean caught in cockle shells.
. . .Children’s laughter begs even the soberest of lips to curl into a smile.
. . .Pain digs into my heart
And I refuse to hold it in.
. . .God tickles my ears with
whispered clues to life’s mysteries.
. . .Pop-sickles melt loud summer days
into cool splashes of flavor.
. . .Treasures are found in the cracks of chairs that bring back memories we lose.
. . .I want the sugar I harvest
to sweeten someone else’s black coffee.

Do I Need to Climb Into the Pit to Understand You?

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 21:15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

 

“I don’t think anyone can understand what I’m going through, unless they have been there.”

“If you want to understand someone you have to walk a mile in their shoes.”

“You have such a good testimony. My faith has never been tested like that.”

 

I have heard statements like this for a long time and I didn’t realize why they make me cringe, until today. I state again, Jesus ate with sinners, but he did not become a sinner to understand our pain. I do not buy the idea that somehow, those who have not been touched in someway by suicide cannot understand my pain and grief. If you are in the flesh, you can understand. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The effectiveness of our empathy for the broken comes from how closely we are relating to the love of God, not how much we relate to each other. I think I have just rebuffed about every method of psychology we use to address what ails us in that statement. If we really want to counter suicide and depression then we need to love like Jesus. Only then will we feed his sheep, sacrifice for others, take persecution and forgive our enemies.

The closer I draw to the love of my heavenly Father the more I love and am broken hearted for your pain and struggles. And, since there was no separation between Jesus and the love of God he loves us completely! This was the first truth I had to accept when I began walking with Jesus. Scripture is a love note from beginning to end, even the hard parts. From the beginning of creation God has loved us.

When Jesus asks you if you love him, what is your answer?

Delivered from the Dead Life

Romans 8: 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesusd from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (ESV)

9-11But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (The Message)
Clearly, I sit close to death. My tent pegs are set in the valley of the shadow of death. My campfire struggles against the icy blasts of the grave . . . but it does not go out! For the past few days I have been looking at my surroundings and asking, “Why have you placed me here Lord?” I question, not out of complaint, but out of a genuine desire to understand God’s purpose. I want to fully participate in his plan of salvation.
God is delivering me from the dead life by causing me to die completely to self. I know, weird right. But, think about this, when a surgeon is doing a heart surgery they most often stop your heart in order to repair or replace what isn’t working. God operates on our bodies in much the same way.
In this valley of the shadow of death, God is removing all fear. I have some hardcore fleshly reflexes that hinder my spirit from living life to the fullest. God is using my near death experiences to open my eyes to the power that heaven has here on earth, right now.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . . (Lord’s prayer)
I’ve said that phrase almost 2,000 times since my birth and I only have a cursory understanding of its meaning. I’ve met men and women who bridge the divide of heaven and earth. I’ve witnessed their discipline and drive towards obedience to the Lord’s will. This is not just a “because he is Jesus” prayer! He invited his disciples into heaven’s activities, which means that it is possible for the rest of us. There is no elite Christian team! We are all ragamuffins, capable of bringing down giants when we die to self and live for Christ.
Lord, reveal heaven to me and may I have the eyes to see your glory on earth. Amen!

 

I Am A Tomb Raider

Hope, lit in abstract is easily

Snuffed out by passionate loneliness.

Attempts to breathe, clotted by

veins scarred by sorrow.

Eyes, scaled by experience and

Belief,

Closed in sleep against the cruelties

Of the world.

 

I’m not afraid to climb into the ditch with you,

I’ve dug this grave before.

Grave digger turned grave robber.

Joined, a band of brothers and sisters, saturated

In the oil of faith,

searching tombs of darkness for a pulse, because you matter

To me.

The torch of our souls leaning close to

living corpses already making beds of graves.

Relentless in calling Lazarus from the

tomb. It is not your time yet.

I am hope, concrete with dirty fingers.

 

 

 

Note to My Readers

I was hospitalized on Saturday with Pulmonary Embolism (fancy talk for blood clots in the lungs.) I am doing much better today and will probably be released once they get my meds established.

I praise God for each breath I am given! I encourage you to breathe deeply and live life to the fullest, it is a precious gift given to each of us.