My Reflections

BE THE CHANGE: Matthew 10:25-37, Mark 12: 30-31, John 3:16


Not to Act is to Act

Almost from the start of mankind, the existence of  evil and suffering have been a part of the human experience. While the faces and the circumstances may change, evil and suffering still persist. Watch the news and there is plenty of evidence of the horrific acts that have been happening in the Ukraine, the beheadings of Christians in Iraq or the fighting and killings in Israel, to name a few.

While these are indeed horrible, there are other acts of evil, of injustice, happening daily in our own country and world-wide. Sex trafficking is one issue many would rather ignore. According to F.R.E.E. International:

1)     There are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in history, including the trans Atlantic slave trade

2)     Commercial Sex Trafficking is the third largest criminal enterprise in the world

3)     Trafficking occurs both internationally and domestically within the United States

4)     It is estimated that anywhere between 100,000-300,000 children are exploited for commercial sex every year in the United States

5)     The average age a person enters into prostitution in the United States is between 12 and 14 years old(SOURCE: http://freeinternational.org/the-issue)

There’s also the issue of the abuse and neglect of children by the hand of those who are supposed to love and care for them. According to Royal Family Kids, which serves abused and neglected foster children across the globe, “Annually, 3.6 million cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment are reported in America,” and “One of these victims dies every six hours due to that abuse” (http://royalfamilykids.org/about/our-history). Those are just the facts on the reported cases.

Actor, comedian and humanitarian Robin William’s suicide was another stark reminder that the hurting are among us. Many people put on a good face and say that everything is fine, when their lives are far from it. There are people going through domestic violence. There are people contemplating taking their lives, feeling there is no other way. There are people who wake up every morning wondering why they exist, because they feel worthless. There are those suffering from mental illness. Need I go on?

Unfortunately, we often ignore the obvious signs of the pain in others and the injustices that exist, because it makes us feel uncomfortable or we don’t realize that we can do something to help. What’s even sadder, is we don’t often even notice the pain and injustices around us, because people have learned to hide so much of it, recognizing that most people will sit by and do nothing.

Christians have been taught to serve, to love our neighbors, to get involved when we see someone in need.  Many who haven’t read Matthew 10:25-37, have heard of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  In a nutshell, those who should have helped a stranger who had been victimized walked by him and did nothing, while the most unlikely person stopped to not only help him, but to get personally involved.

Jesus Christ died for all. As John 3:16 tells us, ““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  Notice that Christ died for ALL people.  He has and always will love ALL people, and yet, we don’t often do the same.

Love requires action.  Love goes beyond feeling.  Love sometimes involves us to get uncomfortable. Why?  Because it is not about us. It is about others, loving them, protecting them, serving them.

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus reminds us, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” To love God is to love people. To love people is to act. 

As my pastor, Dr. Ryan Darrow shared on a Sunday morning, “The Samaritan could have made many excuses to not help, like the others. What area is God asking you to get involved in another’s life? It doesn’t always mean getting involved with an organization, but the person who we see every day.”

We so often feel more comfortable conforming to what others do, even when we know we have the means to help, which doesn’t always mean money. We can help with our skills, talents, knowledge, time, whatever we have and are.  What is right is still what is right. Our lives are meant to make a difference in the lives of others. We are called to fight for justice with whatever we have within us and whatever we have to give.

The Lord calls us to be involved in a practical way. As Pastor Darrow reminded us, “Our neighbors, [at home, school, work] are often metaphorically lying in a ditch hurting. What can you do? What is God calling you to do?”

We are His hands and feet. There are people dying on the inside. You are not where you are without a purpose, a purpose to change the world.

We are called to advocate on behalf of others. They are counting on us. We all know that change is needed. Be the change.

Want to talk with me more about how you can be the change?  Let’s join our efforts. Are you already being the change?  I’d love to hear about what you’re doing.  Let’s inspire one another to do what we were called to do.  May Jefferson Bethke’s latest video inspire you that darkness is losing.

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My Reflections

THE BONDS THAT DON’T BREAK: Romans 8:31-39


My Daughter's Mother's Day Gift to Me
Mother & Daughter Forever: My daughter’s Mother’s Day gift to me

I can think of very few bonds that are as strong as that between a child and her parents.  There is very little I wouldn’t do for my daughter, whether getting matching mother/daughter tattoos as we did this Mother’s Day, as her gift to me this year, or unhesitatingly dying for her, which I would do in a heartbeat.

While those may be two extremes situations, one thing I know, without question.  My love for her is boundless.  We are connected forever.

Even stronger than the bonds that tie my beautiful daughter to me, are the bonds that don’t break between our Heavenly Father and His children.  He is very much connected to us.

I know that not all of you may have experienced this sort of parental love, this sort of connection, this sort of bond. However, I know as clearly as I know how I feel about my daughter that my God loves His children without any hesitation, without any wavering, no matter who we are or what we do.

As Romans 8:31-39 reminds us, “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but I take comfort knowing that absolutely nothing separates us from our Heavenly Father’s love.  That’s a true bond, one that cannot be broken.  God will eternally love us, ALWAYS!

Do you feel like you’re not good enough for God?  Do you feel like you have messed up so much that God would never consider loving you?  Do you think that God might care about others, but there’s nothing to love about you?

Those are common thoughts or feelings, but God isn’t like that. Just as a loving parent would never dream of turning her back on her child, there is nothing we can do to make God love us or to make Him not love us.  He just loves us, because He is love and He knows no other way to feel towards His creation, His children.

As 1 John 4:7-12 reminds us, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

One thing I want my daughter to always know, no matter what happens, is that my love for her will never waver.  It only strengthens with time.  Nothing can ever happen that would break the bond between us, because I wouldn’t let it happen.  I could never let that happen.

God speaks that over us, as well.  How, you may ask?  The Bible is a love letter to us, from start to finish.  It tells us, over and over again how much He loves us.  How desperately He wants to stay connected to us.

Having a hard time believing it?  I would love to chat with you.  Feel free to send me a message.

Want to rediscover that bond with Him? He has been by your side all along.  Just talk with Him.  You’ll quickly discover that the bond still remains.

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My Reflections

MORE THAN JUST A GAME: Part 6 (Final) – Proverbs 4


Don’t let emotions ruin the moment.  I’m an emotional person.  I have no problem admitting that, and emotions can be a fabulous part of who we are, if used correctly. If emotions are steering the course, though, the outcome is normally not the best.  When I am golfing and I allow my emotions to take control, my focus is in the wrong place and what I set out to achieve normally falls short.

I encourage you, to keep your emotions in check (good and bad), as you work towards what you’re trying to achieve. That doesn’t mean to not have any emotions, but as they say, you have to keep your head in the game.

You will have plenty of time to rejoice later, or to possibly feel bad over what could have been, but at least you’ll know that you gave it your all.

While one is doing what must be done, take time to enjoy the view.  One of the big reasons that I love golf is getting to be outdoors.  I love seeing God’s creation. It’s absolutely amazing!  Most of the time, as I am at work, at home, at the store, at church, at the gym, or wherever, I’m indoors. Golf gives me the chance to be outside!  It’s awesome.

iPhoto Library

So, as I end this blog series, let me encourage you, one last time.  As you believe in yourself, follow through, try to improve, pay attention to the details, work through your plan and not let your emotions ruin all you’ve done, take the time to look around.  What’s the point of the journey, if you missed out on all the great points of interest along the way? The end goal is necessary, but life is lived in the seconds and minutes. Make the best of them.   

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My Reflections

MORE THAN JUST A GAME: Part 4 – Proverbs 4


Details matter.  Something else that I’ve learned, as I’ve worked on improving my game, is that details are extremely important in the game of golf. Wrong foot positioning, incorrect movements of the head, wrong analysis of angles, even if slightly off, will affect the entire trajectory of the ball and ultimately, your game.

We often go through life, oblivious to many of the details around us.  People can walk in and out of our day, without us even noticing. The emotions played out on their faces, evidence of who they are and what they’re going through, ignored.  The beauty of nature, art, and so many other things are too often replaced by our electronic devices and a myriad of other distractions.

The impact we are truly meant to have on one another, even if it’s only a small impact, may never happen.  Those seemingly small details can and do change the trajectory of a person’s day, and at times, a person’s life.  We often underestimate the influence our actions have on others, let alone ourselves.

That is a huge mistake, because it is no longer some game of golf.  When we ignore details in our everyday lives, the impact is one that ripples to those we may never meet.  Golf is fun, but life is important.  Don’t let it pass you by.

“Don’t look back at tomorrow and say you could have done more.” – a fire chief on “Chicago Fire”

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My Reflections

REMEMBER TO LEARN . . . DON’T REMEMBER TO DWELL – Isaiah 43:18-19, Philippians 4:8, Psalm 30:11, Philippians 4:13


 
If it is one thing we all have in common is that we are all vulnerable to pain. Some experience it more than others. Some experience it earlier than others. But we all know what it is like to hurt. As followers of Christ, if we allow Him to, He can use our past pains in marvelous ways, for His glory.
 
As a female, I know that it is very easy to dwell.  To dwell on our day, to dwell on our future, to dwell on our past. . .especially to dwell on our past! That is not always a bad thing, but too often, when we think about our past hurts, we stay in that place for too long. That’s when it can get dangerous.
 
The Bible tells us, in Isaiah 43:18 & 19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
 
When we think on past pain and ask God to heal us, that is beneficial. When we think on our past pain and ask God to show us how He can use it for His glory, that is called healing. When we think on the past pain and get stuck in a bad place mentally, and our emotions and thoughts can’t seem to move away from those moments in time, that is not where God wants us to be.
 
You see? While it is easy to dwell, when we do that, we begin believing we are living in defeat. We begin to feel like we haven’t moved forward, when we have already taken steps in that direction. There’s a reason why we’re reminded in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
 
When we think in those terms, then we begin asking God to turn our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). We begin to praise Him for how far He’s taken us, since those moments, how much we’ve healed, as we’ve shared and given those pains and hurts to Him. We begin to realize that the truth is that God is doing a new thing in us, as we live for Him.  He’s doing things with us, that in those painful moments of our lives, we never thought possible!
 
Will there ever be a day when we stop getting hurt?  Not on this side of Heaven, but one thing is certain. With Christ, you can have the strength you need, to fully move forward  (Philippians 4:13). So, remember to learn from the past. Don’t remember to dwell.

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My Reflections

TRUST ME – John 12:44-50


WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Funny how we often want to have people in our lives we can trust, can count on, but then someone tells us, “Trust me,” and inside we hear, “Wait a minute? Trust you?  Why should I trust you?” Then your mind runs through every moment of mistrust ever done to you, by that person or any number of other people in your life.

We so desperately want to trust.  We even want to be worthy of trust ourselves. But, then we have those moments.  You know the ones. Those moments when we fail ourselves and let someone down. Those moments when even those who you should be able to trust with your very life let you down, and you wonder if trust is even obtainable.

It is.  John 12:46 says, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their TRUST in me will no longer remain in the dark.”  That’s a powerful truth. But maybe you’re still sitting there, doubting.

That’s a powerful image. Picture yourself in complete darkness. No light from anywhere, and you’re alone, without any clear indication of which way to get out, which way to go, to reach light. That’s a frightening thought, but we’ve all had those moments, those panic stricken moments.

So you begin doing everything you can think of to find your way.  You may try walking with your arms outstretched, possibly stumbling over things or smacking straight into a wall, feeling more and more pain with each attempt to get out. You may even begin to get down and crawl, something you haven’t done since you were quite young, but you simply don’t know what else to do. Even though you can feel your body being scraped and cut, as you try to make your way, you continue. You’ll resort to anything. You need to find a way, and there’s no one there to tell you what to do.  No one you can trust, to help you out of this dark place with no chance of escape.

Suddenly you remember. Wait a minute, there is someone to get you out of this dark place where you have nowhere to turn. Inside yourself, you mentally ask God, “Are you there? Do you see me? Can you really get me out of this?”

Then, as more time passes, and you keep trying on your own, with no results, you find yourself crying out, “Jesus! Help me. You tell us in Your Word that we can put our trust in You! Lord, get me out of this darkness.  I don’t know which way to go!”

Suddenly, the answer is clear.  You know exactly which way to go.  Jesus answered, and made the way out known to you.

God is always worthy of your trust.  Man may fail you. Friends and family will fail you, from time to time. But, your Heavenly Father, your very Creator, will never fail you.

When you’ve tried everything else, try God. Maybe next time, you will remember to trust Him first, and save yourself all of the bumps, cuts and bruises from stumbling around in the dark. He will never let you down.

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