Wednesday, November 12, 2014

how do you follow Jesus when you have a justice heart?



there are a lot of thoughts swirling in my head about what it looks like to walk in faith in Jesus during this life.

did Jesus really mean for us to "turn the other cheek?" when peter asked Him how many times he should forgive someone who did him wrong, did Jesus really mean "70 times seven" as saying over and over again? i mean, if some really does something unjust against us, are we to let it slide or make sure wrong is made right?

i am not trying to just ask rhetorical questions. my dad always described me as being someone who had a justice heart. i have a really hard time knowing that something was wrong and that nothing is done to rectify it. i get it when people want to wrong the rights of the world. i get it when it feels like a violation of everything i know to be true to just "let it go."

i don't think Jesus was saying to just let things go. i don't think He was saying that the wrong done isn't a big deal. i mean, look at His life - it was a really big deal that He was lied about and given the death sentence; He was beaten, humiliated, and left naked and half dead on a cross with people spitting on Him, taunting Him to make His own justice for Himself if He truly was who He said He was. i am pretty sure that Jesus knew that it was a big deal injustice happening to Him.

so, tell me, why was He able to say, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they are doing," when it seems pretty obvious that each person there fully knew they were killing Him and mocking Him? i don't think they had the insanity plea available. i don't think it was just a mistake. i think it was premeditated, wicked, and the worst offense that could have been done against a person, let alone the Person of God. i don't think Jesus was "brushing it off."

when i talk to my kids about forgiving their brothers that do wrong against them, i really try to start with the context that what their offending brother did really was WRONG. i don't want them to think that it is something simply to get over and ignore. i want my kids to know there there truly is a day of reckoning where each one of us will stand before a Righteous Judge who will make each wrong be paid for in full. each one of us will be required to fully pay the offenses that we committed - unless.

unless we cast ourselves at the mercy of Jesus on that cross.

i ask my kids when they are struggling with the forgiveness thing if they want to receive the mercy of Jesus over their lives when they stand before the Father. you see, it is clearly written in more than one place that the key to receiving forgiveness is to forgive.

to the merciful, they shall receive mercy.

mercy does not mean that wrong was not committed. the only time anyone needs mercy is when what they did was really truly wrong. i am in desperate need of mercy in my life, and this is THE reason i commit my heart over and over again to giving mercy to those who commit wrong against me. i do not do it for their sake, though i am learning more and more how much i should have their sake in mind - i do it because i want all my sins covered when i stand before the Father on that day of judgement. i don't want any areas brought up where He can point out that i refused mercy or forgiveness in situations that i thought i was justified in requiring things to be made right. i think of the parable of the man who owed a great debt and was forgiven, then went to his neighbor and demanded he pay the small debt back immediately. when the judge heard of this he was infuriated, for good reason. i do not want to be that man. i want to be the one to receive mercy because i gave the undeserved mercy to others. i want to be the one who was so thankful for my great debt being forgiven that it is overflow to forgive others of what they owe me.

i do not concern myself with whether i will be viewed as a doormat or not. if this was what Jesus was mostly concerned with, He would NOT have given us the example of dying on a cross. if Jesus was mostly concerned with if we would be treated as a doormat, then He would NOT have told us that we must carry our own cross to follow Him.

He did not give many ways to follow Him. i cannot choose how i follow Him. if i am to be a follower of Jesus, i must choose His way. that is frightening. i do not want to carry my cross. i do not want to be wronged. i do not want to be wronged over and over again, maybe even to the point of death. i am being totally serious. i struggle with this big time in my own heart and i wonder, if i struggle so much with forgiving small things done against me by my children, my husband, my family, and my friends, how in the world am i even going to give my life if that is what is asked of me? am i even saved when there are christians giving their lives all over the world for not denying Christ, and i struggle if someone broke my stuff and doesn't offer to fix it or if my husband doesn't apologize for hurting my feelings?

why would it even matter to give mercy? why is this how Jesus asks us to follow Him? it only matters because our God is a God of mercy. it is because Jesus was a perfect representation of what the Father is like - we can look at how Jesus lived every day of His life and know the Father. Jesus wants us as well to be a true witness of what He is like, and what the Father is like in turn. when someone wrongs me and i give them mercy and forgiveness - especially when they do not ask for it, think they need it, or are willing to make anything right on their end - i am showing a picture of what this awesome God i serve is like. i am showing that the only reason i even have an ounce of power or desire to show mercy and forgiveness is because i am constantly reminded how it was, is, and will be shown to me.

i am a sinner saved by the grace and mercy of Jesus. i do not ever want to forget this because it is the only way i am saved from the wrath of God.

so, if i am liberal in showing mercy and forgiving from my heart, not requiring wrong to be made right, i WILL probably be treated like a doormat. i will most likely be taken advantage of by those looking out for their own gain. i will most likely be misunderstood and mocked. but i believe that God will make ALL the wrong things right when Jesus returns, and i want to learn to be patient for His justice and not try to make my own justice. i know this doesn't come easy to me, and anyone who really knows me knows how much i struggle to be a witness of this. i wish i could write this conviction i have and at the same time have that perfect witness of it that Jesus had. i really wish, and hope to one day, have the type of walk in my life that you could look at how i conduct myself and say, "i think she really does believe those things that she wrote about." this is my goal. i mess up over and over again, but i have purposed my heart to learn how to walk out a life of forgiveness that isn't deserved and to wait upon the justice of God because i really believe that day of accountability is real and it scares me a little. okay, it scares me a lot. i ask the Father for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in this because it is so hard. so terribly hard.

i think Jesus asked the Father to forgive the ones who enacted the greatest injustice against Him in the midst of dying, because He had full understanding of the day of judgement coming and He wanted as many to be saved from the wrath of God as possible. once in a while i get a small revelation of the realness of this day coming, and i have grace on my heart to forgive even deeper and cry out for the Lord to NOT make those who have wronged me pay but to give them full forgiveness and mercy forever. i do not want anyone to go to the lake of fire. i really don't. it terrifies me. i want my life to somehow point others to the mercy of Jesus that they would surrender their lives to Him as well and be saved by Him forever. i want people to know there is mercy available and that the day of judgement is real.

i know this is a long rambling, but these are my thoughts this morning. the belief that this is all real is the only thing that gives me strength to really turn the other cheek - to allow someone access to hurt me AGAIN, possibly in the same way and hopefully be praying for the Lord to be merciful to them in the midst of it. i fall short. i know i do. but i desire for the Lord to grow me in this area because i believe it is the biggest deal of what following Jesus looks like. if i cannot acknowledge that my own life is in desperate need of forgiveness, then it is much harder to see the why of me living in a way that could very well leave me without seeing justice in this life.
 

charis

Saturday, November 1, 2014

day 31: little miss

my last day of the challenge! first of all, i have to say thank you to every reader who hung with me. i can't believe i made i with only getting 1 day behind. no, i will not continue to post daily, but you will keep hearing from me. i won't wait 8 months again before a new post.



for my last day of these 31 days of thanks, i want to give thanks for my baby girl. i know i kind of gave thanks for her in my intro post too.

  • she is truly a content baby.
  • she is a good sleeper, and not because of anything i have done differently. i get a good sleeper every 3rd baby...
  • if her brothers were a rich fudgey chocolate cake, she would be that perfectly delectable frosting on top.
  • i have wanted a baby girl my entire life. i always wanted a big family and when i met bill and thought i could easily have a bunch of boys if i had a little girl as a caboose. she is the most perfect caboose i could ever imagine. i doubted for several years that she would ever be, but she is and that just blows me away over and over again.
  • she gives bill the opportunity to have a daddy daughter bond that i had with my daddy, and that just means more to me than i know how to put into words. he never had sisters, and i am so thrilled to see this little girl rock his world in only 5 months. he has always bonded so well to our nieces, and now he has a little beauty of his own to love on.
  • i love to see how her brothers just adore her, take care of her, and make her smile and laugh. i love that they get to experience how special it is to have a sister. 
  • after some really painful years, God has given me such a gift and i don't know how to describe it... i didn't even really feel the ability to grieve my daddy until i found out i was pregnant. it was so bittersweet in ways words don't really do justice until you walk through something like it. i don't know what it was about this sweet baby, but she unlocked my heart to feel again. after being so numb for 6 months, the first emotions to tumble out were very painful. but God used her before i even knew her to bring healing to my heart, and she will forever be connected to my daddy even though she hasn't met her yet. i know he would and will love her so much. 
  • she is my little myrtle tree and the grace of God to me. she really was born for a time such as this that He has planned ahead of time.

charis

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Friday, October 31, 2014

day 30: my fellow thumb sucking boy

it is simeon's turn for me to be thankful for him!

  • this boy is pure sunshine. we were camping with our church and went to a campfire gathering, a lot of the people there we didn't know yet, and he shouted, "these are all my friends!" he is so friendly and everyone who meets him falls instantly in love.
  • he knows no personal space. his favorite place is on my lap, holding my hair, and sucking him thumb (we have this thumb sucking thing in common since i sucked mine til i was 7). if my lap isn't available, anyone else's lap and hair will do. he just needs the snuggle.
  • he tells me all the time that i am his favorite. 
  • he is feisty. his middle name is jacob, and often i think it would have been a more fitting first name for his personality - one who wrestles with the angel of the Lord until He blesses him. also... i could see him tricking an older brother out of a birthright. i am just saying...
  • he is so articulate. he said "i need mama" and "i love you" at 3 months old, and has been a jabber mouth ever since. i am not kidding. i cannot tell you how many people have met him his whole life and say, "how old is he? his vocabulary is so advanced." trust me, i know! i am shocked often at how well he expresses himself. 
  • he has a contagious laugh! he wakes up happy and loud and giggly and greets people when he first sees them with shouts and cheers and clapping. 
  • this kid is a mama's boy. all of my boys are, but simeon acts like my world should revolve around him alone and it makes us laugh that he is #4 of 6... he so doesn't act like it to me.
  • he has the cutest little sylvester the cat accent. i know he will grow out of it, but it just cracks me up to hear him talk because it is so cute.

charis

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

day 29: the gift of no regrets


i had a period of time during my teen years that my relationship with my dad was tense. we went through some intense family situations when i was a kid that led to a chain reaction of some unhealthy ways of dealing with stress. i personally struggled a lot internally with the stress in my family, and there were fractures in my relationship with my dad. i had a build up of hurt and emotions and felt like i often ended up in conflict situations with my dad even when i didn't mean to be in a conflict. looking back, as i was struggling with my own emotions and reactions i was often disrespectful with my mouth to both my parents, but especially to my dad because i felt hurt by some of the stress in our house. i was trying to protect myself in a very immature way. now as a parent, i feel especially sad about the way i talked to my dad in conflict and misunderstandings. i was so upset and just plain immature at the time that i couldn't see how hurtful i was to him as another human being who could be hurt by my words. i don't think i really understood that a child can hurt a parent with words, but now as a mom i do understand this and have experienced it to a very small extent. i can even see from this point in my life that the stress in my growing up years had nothing to do with me, but as a child it felt like it did. i also now have perspective that adults don't always make the right decisions just because they are adults - i am sure my kids wonder why i deal with things in immature ways because they don't realize that being an adult or a parent doesn't make you perfect.

i loved the Lord very much as a teenager, even though i acted very childish and disrespectful at times. i decided to go to a christian university about 600 miles away after graduating from high school. i was nervous to go away from home, but i think i needed the distance for a short time to try to work on my own heart with God in a very intentional way. my college years were incredibly fruitful in my life with the Lord and incredibly intense. the point of this post isn't processing living away from home or about the college experience, but there were times in college when i was so lonely and literally felt like God was my only friend. sometimes i was so homesick, but knew i was exactly where i was supposed to be. i made lots of friends and was very involved in classes, working, and extra-curricular activities. however, i was going through such a crushing and refining time with the Lord that i look back on that time as one that was incredibly hard and yet produced tons good fruit in my heart.

i remember coming home to work for the summer after finishing my first year of school away and my mom pulling me aside. she told me that she could see so much good fruit in my life with the Lord from how i didn't react in a conversation with my dad that just a year earlier
would have set off my mouth in a sassy way. i don't even know if i realized that i didn't react until she pointed it out. i remember feeling so happy, deep joy, when she told me that she saw a change in me. it felt like suddenly all the hard lonely times with only having the Lord to lean on, cry out to, and spend time with the past 9 months were suddenly so worth it because there was good fruit in my life and in the way i used my mouth!

i had been especially a daddy's girl when i was very young, but the stress in our house later on had broken down that especially close bond. i always loved my dad and knew his deep love for me, but we just had a really hard time communicating and i hadn't fully forgiven him for hurts even though i had tried over and over again. finally my heart felt free from hurt and i knew that God had given me the gift of truly being able to forgive him and love him the way i really wanted to love him all along - with a more mature and humble love. it was like that daddy's girl bond was reestablished because of the Lord's healing work in my heart and all the refining He had done in me while i was alone.

from that point on my relationship with my daddy just got better and better. there were still the normal human dynamics of misunderstanding or small conflict from time to time, but it was so good and so sweet so much of the time. i remember being so excited for my daddy to meet this guy that i had met in brazil and was considering marrying when he was going to visit me for the first time. it was one of my little tests to know if bill was the right one - how well could he talk to and relate to my daddy. i was thrilled to see they really hit it off. I could see how much my dad liked him andz he gave his blessing so willingly to the guy i was falling in love with.

the very first person i wanted to tell when i found out i was pregnant for the first time, besides my husband, was my dad. i immediately went to target to buy a frame that said "we love you grandpa" for him to open on father's day as our announcement. he was the first person i wanted to share my joy with in the expectation of having a baby. i remember when he was scheduled for a surgery several years ago that was pretty intense, and i knew we had been trying to get pregnant for several months and there was a possibility i could be pregnant. i knew it was a bit early to find out for sure, but i held my pee all day in hopes that i could find out the night before my daddy headed down to san francisco for surgery so i could tell him. it was a comfort to me that he would know going into surgery that he was going to be a grandpa again, and i was so excited to drive other there late at night just to tell him in person before he left.

anyways, i guess i go into all of this to just say that i am so so deeply thankful that God healed my relationship with my daddy, and that He made it so much better than i could have ever imagined. it was like He took something that was good before it was broken, and He took all the broken places and healed them up to be even better than it had ever been before. now, looking back after having to walk through my dad's battle with cancer and how horribly hard it was to go through in ways i can't even really write about at this point, i am thankful over and over and over again that our relationship wasn't only good, but it was really really really good. several years ago, before he was going through all the sickness stuff, i had been really convicted to repent to my siblings and parents for hurtful ways i treated them as a teenager. i went to my daddy and told him i was so sorry for all the hurtful ways i talked to him and asked him to please forgive me. he said he already had long ago. i knew that i wasn't really repenting for his sake, but for my own heart to feel released. i have thought so many many times that i am so thankful that God gave me that opportunity to acknowledge what i had done wrong in our relationship, so that i wouldn't have unresolved places in my heart.

i remember just sitting there in the room while my dad slept during the really sick times praying for healing and it was just so painful to see him like that, and i remember just telling the Lord i was so thankful for even that very painful moment of being with my daddy. i wanted to be thankful in the middle of the worst of it and in the middle of all the pain, because i could be there with him, pray for him, love him unselfishly, and be confident that our relationship was really really good. i am so sad that he wasn't healed here and now because i miss him so much. i am so thankful, though, that before ever having to walk through it God brought beautiful healing and health to our relationship and i will never have to struggle with regrets about my relationship with my daddy.

i really encourage anyone who is having a rift in your relationship with a parent or loved one to make it right on your end. fully press into God for grace to really forgive past hurts, and let Him be the One to heal the broken places in your heart. stop holding some standard of expectation of what the other person "should" do to make it right. ask Him for the opportunity to have any breeches in relationship mended. humble yourself to the person for your part in the mess, because there is no tension in any relationship that is 100% one party's fault but always some degree of fault on both sides.

none of us are guaranteed even one more day, and we don't want to live with regrets about how we treated those we loved. we all want to have a clean conscious before the Lord. God is the Restorer of all things, and He really does take what is broken and fix it and make it even better than before the breaking happened.

charis

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

day 28: a mama's boy

it is uriah's turn!
  • he is such a fun kid! i love how his eyes twinkle when he laughs and when he cries.
  • he is so ultra focused on anything he is doing and he does everything with 110% effort.
  • everything is about speed with this boy. 
  • he is forever a mama's boy - such a sweet spot in my heart for his lovey ways and his deep attachment to his mama. he still thinks he will never marry but be with mommy forever.
  • he is so incredibly artistic and musical - i am often surprised at what he produces creatively.
  • he is so boyish boy, but he isn't afraid of having girl friends or doing "girl" activities like making a rag doll or stringing beads in a co-op class. in fact, he really enjoys it. he love to cook. he wants me to teach him how to knit. and yet, he is so rough and tumble and a filthy dirty boy. dirty feet all the time. he is quite a paradox and i love it.
  • he loves to lead worship. when in kindergarten and asked what he wanted to do when he grew up he said be a preacher... i think he very well may, but i know he will always lead worship.

charis

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