Only In Christ Are Walls of Hostility Torn Down and Peoples Made One

So then, remember that at one time,
You were Gentiles in the flesh
—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,”
 Which is done in the flesh by human hands. 

At that time,
You were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 
But now in Christ Jesus,
You who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 
For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. 
In His flesh, He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations,
So that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 
He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it. 
When the Messiah came,
He proclaimed the good news of peace,
To you who were far away,
And peace to those who were near. 
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 
So then,
You are no longer foreigners and strangers,
But fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household,
Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
With Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. 
The whole building,
Being put together by Him,
Grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. 
You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

-Ephesians 2:11-22
The issue of walls is in the news.  One side says, “build the wall”, while the other side says, “no walls”.  And Christians are on both sides of this debate.
The side that wants the wall says, “security”, while the side that does not want the wall cries, “compassion”.  This wall issue goes with the idea of a physical wall towards Mexico as well as ‘the wall’ of laws and orders, to keep people out, from particular countries.  
The compassion side sees the security side as not only uncompassionate, but also racist.  And the security side sees the compassion side as blind and lawless.  But both sides are right, because security and compassion are both good.
Both having boundaries and mercy is righteous.  And these only come together and stay as one, in Christ.
We can not be blinded to danger by our compassion nor can we become blinded to the need of mercy by hurting people, through our fears.  
As Christians, we have to ask, what is the right way and even God’s will?  
Various sides of the body of Christ are having a hard time recognizing one another and coming to the table to talk to each other.  It is tempting to name people who we think are wrong.  But the truth is that we are all wrong, but Jesus is right.  Jesus is the person who is the only answer the the problems in the world today.
And the wisest thing any Christian leaders have said in regards to Trump, it to pray for the man.  Many Christians refused to pray for the two recent democrat presidents and that was wrong, because the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders.
Jesus was the only solution to our troubles, micro and macro; when Obama was president, and likewise now, during the season of Trump as president.  If Hillary had been elected, you guessed it: Jesus would still be our only real answer.
And the point is not to water down Jesus, to make him fit our political predilections, but to die to ourselves and surrender to Jesus as Lord.
My point is that in a world that does not recognize Jesus and what he has done, things are hopeless.  But for whoever recognizes Jesus, as Lord; there is hope.  And we who are in Christ, carry his works into this world, for him and to the glory of God.
Jesus has already removed the wall that separated us, as Jew and Gentile.  He has already destroyed all the ‘isms’.  If we take up any of the ‘ism’s’ either as a solution to the world’s problems or as controlling principle, we are in trouble.
The gospel is unconditional love through grace alone.  But the only way to have the broken down walls life is through and in Christ.  Gentiles were always welcome and there were always Jewish people who were not true Jews.  Both real Jews and fake Jews put up a wall to keep Gentiles out of God’s house of people.
But Jesus came to destroy that wall that would keep anyone out of the house of God’s people.  Does that mean that the house or the land (metaphorically speaking) of God’s people, now has no wall, no fence or no boundaries?  No it does not.
Jesus is now the door in the wall or fence that separates his people from not his people.  Are you in or out?  The answer to that is all about Jesus in your life.  Jesus is Lord.

This song below, “No Matter What”, resonated with me, about this topic.  Oftentimes, love songs are a reflection of God’s dealings with mankind.

We live in the paradox, of, “He has done it”, and, It is finished”; and/but/while, we must do something.  We must break down the walls and break out of something, because of what Jesus has done and because Jesus is Lord.

People Who Promote You For Themselves in Shame

Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, took Saul’s son Ish-bosheth and moved him to Mahanaim.  He made him king over Gilead, Asher, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin—over all Israel.
2 Samuel 2:8-9

Have you ever been in a situation where there is personal ambition and competition that got ugly?  Everyone is ambitious and we are all competitive.  But, certain people are so ambitious and competitive, that they behave in immoral, unethical, anti-social, deviant, or psychopathic ways with others, to get what they want.

The account here says that Abner made Ish-bosheth king.  Sounds sort of good.  Abner might have been the most powerful figure on the ‘Saul side’.

Unfortunately, the ‘Saul side’ is the wrong side.  We know that God wanted David.  But from a worldly perspective, it was Ish-bosheth’s turn and Abner knew that.

Because Ish-bosheth did not get it about David and stepped up into a kingship that was not his, there would be civil war, with a lot of blood spilled (2 Sam. 3:1).  Abner openly took a step, to show just how deep his lust for power and contempt for Ish-bosheth and the house of Saul went, when he took Saul’s concubine, Rizpah, and slept with her (2. Sam. 3:6-7).  In his weakness, Ish-bosheth, did nothing and showed everyone who had the power (2 Sam. 3:11).

Abner and Ish-bosheth will both be killed in 2 years.

What is the lesson here?

  • Be careful about taking a promotion that is not from the Lord.  God does promote us, but in his way and in his time.  
  • Sometimes in hierarchies, there is someone without the title who has the power and feels entitled to that power.
  • Beware of people in powerful positions who lack Christ’s character.
  • Be careful not to yoke yourself to someone ‘unequally’ (2. Cor. 6:14).
  • Being ambitious is good, but selfish ambition, where we run over other people is wrong (Phil. 2:3-4).

Ish-bosheth’s name means, ‘man of shame’.  Abner was shameful, in what he did, as was Saul.  At the very least, Ish-bosheth bore their shame and acted out on it.

From the little we know about Ish-bosheth, we can say that he had low self-esteem.  He was weak and might have even been a coward.  Yet, he took the throne, in the midst of a violent warrior culture.

Picture: Pixabay

The consensus opinion in the psychology/counseling/recovery community seems to be that shame is usually and commonly the result of lack of nurture in childhood.  We were not loved for who we are.  Our caregivers did crazy stuff, abused us, or neglected us; all resulting in the lack of nurturing of our authentic selves.  That is shame, in a nut-shell.

Folks who have this inner shame feel a ‘badness’ (“I am bad”), or even self-hate.  Many times, it is sub-conscious.  Either way, low self-esteem is the result and inauthentic, dysfunctional behavior patterns are developed and lived out; that are all the result of a self that was not loved unconditionally, that is off kilter and trying to “fake it to make it” as a survival mechanism.

But, at some point, we encounter the Love of God, the Father’s affection, the Love of Jesus, and the loving comfort of the Holy Spirit, that is real.  Then begins our journey to wholeness, our awakening to unconditional love.

In regards to promotion or getting something you want, there is a saying that goes something like, “Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it”.  The lesson is to be wise, be considerate, take consideration, look at the big picture, and count the cost before you take the job, the promotion, or get involved with a person.

Imagine being ushered into power by someone.  If someone tries to make you king, you should have a ‘red flag’ go off for you.  No man made David king.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.-Matthew 5:38-42 (NKJV)

Photo: Pixabay

Question: How do you do, when someone else takes over your control?  How do you do, when someone forces you to do something that was not your plan?  How do you react when someone else’s action impinges upon you?

The way of the world is “tit for tat”, resistance, or taking offense, when someone impinges on our control.  Generosity exists in the world, but it seems that Jesus calls his followers to a lifestyle of giving and lending freely.  He calls us to a love life that goes beyond the love of the world, where we sacrificially let others impose on us and put others first, in a spirit of meekness, without offense.

When we read Jesus’ words in his sermon on the mount, we have to keep in mind that he never calls us to a new legalism.  The Christian life is not a set of “do’s and do not’s”.  The Christian life is a life in Christ.

Christ lives through me, as I die.  I have to die, my self has to die, for him to live.  Holiness comes through his life, living in my life; not through being good, myself.  My self is called to die, so that he can live through me.

I am focusing on this statement of Jesus:

And if anyone compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

We call this, “Going the second mile”.

I am on my journey in life, with all the things I do.  I have places to go and people to see.  I have work, I have meetings.  I have all the things and relationships that make up my life.

In the midst of all that is in my life, someone, and they could be a someone I already know, or a stranger; comes along and “forces” or “compels” me to go in a direction I was not planning on going.  We could call this a life interruption.

Jesus says that a person living through him goes along with the detour and does it double.  We generously go above and beyond what is asked.  It is not an exact thing, but a heart and spiritual attitude of character, lived out.

Jesus’ saying about allowing yourself to be compelled or forced to do something that was not in your plans, comes in a paragraph or section where he says to have a generous lifestyle.  We don’t retaliate or selfishly defend our selves.  The central operating principal of our lives is not self, but Christ.

The verse that describes the gospel message, so often quoted, is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…”  It is a message of giving for the sake of others.  Jesus gave his life, and we follow him, giving our lives, our time, our attention, and our stuff.

We are not robots, but people being transformed into the image, being like, Christ.  And so he lives his generous, loving life through us.  All the while he takes good care of us too.

Every verse in the sermon on the mount is best understood within the whole context of the whole sermon or collection of words from Jesus.  An outline, suggested by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jone, is as follows:

Matthew 5:3-10, The character of the Christian in and of himself.

Matthew 5:11-12, The character of the Christian, proved by the reaction of the world to him.

Matthew 5:13-16, An account of the relationship of the Christian to the world, OR the function of the Christian in society and in the world.

Matthew 5:17-48, Particular examples of how the Christian lives in the world:

  • A general description of righteousness.
  • His relationship towards: 
  1. Murder
  2. Adultery
  3. Divorce
  4. How to speak
  5. Retaliation & self-defense
  • Emphasizing the spirit over the letter: the Pharisees emphasized the letter only.  The details (letter) are an expression of the spirit, the transformed heart.
Matthew 6, The Christian living his life in the presence of God, in active submission to Him and entire dependence on Him.
Matthew 7, The Christian as one who lives always under the judgement and fear of God.
  • The fear of God, for the Christian, is not being filled with fear, but reverence filled with love.
  • The world lives in fear of judgement, while the Christian lives under the judgement of God.
The whole sermon on the mount is a description of character and not a code of ethics or a new law.  Jesus is talking about the character, inside out, of his disciples.  Jesus teaches about the spiritual life of his disciples and how they will behave, under certain circumstances, because of the life they have within them.  
The sermon on the mount is about life in Christ.
Being compelled to do something you were not planning on is an imposition.  Will you respond by being offended, in a “How dare you”, sort of a manner?  Will you resist and selfishly not comply with someone else’s wishes, spiraling into fear, hurt, and anger?  Will you “hit back” when you feel slapped?
These are all natural reactions, right?  Once again, context is a huge key to these verses.  We must have the beatitudes going or the transformation into Christ-likeness, through becoming his disciples and denying our selves, in process in our lives; because only his life in us can live the life he promises and desires and calls us to.
We can not “drop in” to Matthew 5:41, while skipping 5:3-16.  We must be people of 5:3-16, to live or function in verses 17 onward.  The person who does not take offense, who is generous, and when imposed upon, injured, and affronted; is loving and faithful to Christ, is a kingdom person.
Kingdom people have the central organizing factor in place in their lives of the Kingdom of God, and they behave in kingdom ways, under kingdom rule and reign.  Kingdom people became kingdom people through Christ.  The experiential doors-ways or experiences of becoming kingdom people who are in Christ, are described in the be-attitudes in Matthew 5:3-10.
If one has not entered into life in Christ and gone through these doors, hall ways, or experiences; then they will never stand a chance of behaving in Christ-like (life-in-Christ) or kingdom ways, in their lives.  When we have one of these situations come up in our life, like someone imposing on our time or plans and forcing us to do something different, and we resist, hit back, or get offended; and fail the test, we don’t give up and run away, but we run back to Christ, to him and away from our selves, and re-apply and become reconciled to the beatitudes again and again and again.
Here they are:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

It starts with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  When I fail, and I fail every day, I am in touch with my poverty of spirit.  The fact that I admit that, means that I get to experience the kingdom of heaven.  It is now my inheritance.

Conversely, if I don’t see my poverty in spirit, if I think I am ok, maybe not perfect but just ok, and the problem, my problem is these other people, and I want God to do it my way; then I do not have the kingdom and am not being and becoming a kingdom person.

“Poor in spirit”, does not mean self pity or that I am a victim of circumstances and that I am not getting what I am entitled to.  It means I lack heavenly resources to live a life before God.  It means I have realized that I am bankrupt.

“Blessed are those who mourn”, means people who feel bad about unrighteousness, their own and others.  Remember that Jesus himself was a man of sorrows.  He was deeply saddened by mankind.  He was grieved.

The mourning for us is linked to our poverty of spirit, our spiritual bankruptcy in and of or selves.  As we mourn, in our lives, we are comforted.  The selfish person is not comforted in their anger about not getting their way.  Their reservoir of anger fuels depression with is not mourning of the need to come into Christ and become kingdom.  Their mourning is over wanting to be king or queen.

“Blessed are the meek”.  The person in Christ is meek.  They defer to others, they don’t need to be first or in charge, in control, or up front.  They gladly serve as leader if need be.  But they don’t lead or serve out of selfish need.

Non-meek means proud and selfish.  The non-meek person needs to have their way and to be in control.  The person under Christ’s control does not need to be in control.  The controler controls because they are afraid to not be in control.

The ‘controller’ may have a control issue that stems from childhood abuse or neglect where they were left out of control, when their caregivers were not caring.  Most people had imperfect parents who failed in some ways and some had horrific parents.  Either way, Jesus can heal and redeem lives and makes provision for your unmet needs and your childhood trauma.

If a person does not accept their poverty of spirit and their utter sinfulness of their self and mourn that, the kingdom in inactive in their life.  They are unable to live out Jesus life, because their un-dead selves are ruling the day.  And we all are in this process.

When we fail the test, when we are not living as Jesus describes the life, we circle back to him for continued transformation, living through him, in his grace, and letting our self life go.  Every failure is not the end, but part of the process.  That was the message of Peter’s fall.

The truth is that he is right next to us, with us, in our failures or learning experiences.  We choose to realize he is there or push that reality out of our consciousness.  His disciples are people who practice his presence, in victory and in failure.

When we fall off the path or fall out and fail in the life, it is not over, but is part of the transformational process.  It is non-linear and circular.  We circle back to Christ and embrace him and the kingdom and let him restore us and transform us and intercede for us and the beatitudes become more a reality and then we become the persons described in the rest of the sermon.

The Christian is a person who allows themselves to be compelled, to be imposed upon, to be forced to do things to help others with what they see as important.  And this is descriptive and an example, not a prescription, rule, or law.  We have a spirit within that is being transformed and that spirit is one that goes “the second mile”.

We allow ourselves to be compelled to go the first and second mile, because that is the heart of God, and the heart of Christ.  We don’t insist on our own rights and wrestle control from others.  We are ok with taking a low seat and not speaking out and up immediately.  We may be a bit further along in the life in Christ, and we make way and go the second mile with the weaker brother or sister, without judgement and with graciousness, treating them as full brothers or sisters who are equal heirs in the kingdom.


Studies in the Sermon on The Mount, D. Martyn Llyod-Jones
The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard
Matthew, Donald Hagner

Hope Is What They Need

But since we belong to the day, we must be serious and put the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on a helmet of the hope of salvation.
-1 Thessalonians 5:8 (HCSB)

Picture: Pixabay

People who are lost need hope.  Not false hope but real hope.  Real hope is found in the gospel.

I specifically have in mind, Christians who have lost hope, and have embraced false hope or hopelessness.  I believe that when Paul mentions putting on the helmet of the hope of salvation, here in 1 Thessalonians and in Ephesians 6:17, he is telling us that if we do not, we will get hit and hurt, in the head.

Our heads symbolize our thoughts, our minds.  Did you know that the hill where Jesus’ cross was set, was called Golgotha, which is Hebrew for “Skull Place”.  We need salvation in our minds.

If we lose the hope of salvation in our minds, then we can become captive to all sorts of other ideas, fantasies, or illusions.

Hurting people have lost hope or are embracing false hope.  The antidote for lack of hope is the gospel.  But delivering the gospel to the person who has become delusional and setting them free is difficult.

You must stand in and on real, authentic love, when you deliver the gospel to the person who has become captive to illusions and is embracing something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Direct confrontation, that comes in pride, arrogance, lack of patience, and with a “you’re are wrong, now get with the program” attitute, will be met with defensive push-back, rationales, and hurtful retreat.

See the person with love, mercy, and compassion; as someone who lost hope and became captive to hopelessness and/or false hope.  We are not happy about their lost-ness, but we care.  Show you care by standing in and on authentic love for them.

In the administration of the hope of the gospel to this person, you also want to be praying for them.  Pray for them when you are not with them and be in prayer for them when you are face to face with them.  In prayer, you are getting God’s love for them, from which you minister and you are asking God for special help, for grace, for them.  You may receive a spiritual gift for them, which will give them faith to re-assimilate the gospel.

Further Reading:

Miracle Work: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Supernatural Ministries, by Jordan Seng

Real (Unconditional) Love

Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
-1 Corinthians 13:47 (HCSB)

Photo: Pixabay

I was thinking about unconditional love.  I would say that that is what these verses above are about, so I chose them.  If God is love and Jesus came to display God’s love, then sends us to love one another and be on his mission of loving a lost world, then we need to learn unconditional love.

I see eight characteristics of what real love is and eight things that it does not do.  Eight “yes, yes’s”, and eight, “no, no’s”.  These sixteen items are “love checkers”.

We say we love, but let us examine that love to see if it is the love of God in us, or just the “feels good” kind of love.  If I say, “I love chocolate”, or, “I love the Star Wars movies”, or, “I love to go swimming”, it is not the same kind of love that 1 Corinthians 13 is about, and if that is the same way you feel or experience love for a person, then you need to discover and grow into what godly love is all about.

Did you catch that?  We’re all growing up into being like Jesus, who loves unconditionally.  If you are a Christian, that’s your life.  Loving people as a Christian, goes far beyond selfish, sensual, me-centered love.

The 8 “Yes’s” of Real Love:

  1. Love is patient.  Real, true love waits.  Impatience is a sign of lack of love.  If you deem that another person is “slow” or “late”, which perhaps they are, you still love them.  You don’t withdraw your love when people are slow or late. 
  2. Love is kind.  Kindness is being considerate and gracious, benevolent and merciful, friendly and generous.
  3. Love rejoices in the truth.  Love is not denial.  Authentic love is all about the truth.  Authentic love is not living in illusion, but wants the truth; the good and the bad.  To embrace the good, we have to know that the bad is there too.  The truth is that God redeems and saves.  The truth sets us free.  So love is always, “eyes wide open” to the truth and dreams of God’s truth that goes far beyond human reason.  Authentic love is not “kumbaya” (naively optimistic), but is completely sold out on God’s love and the truth in Jesus Christ.
  4. Loves bears all things.  This means that you “bear it”.  It is the opposite of, “I can’t bear it any longer”.  God bears with us.  Will we bear with one another.  We will if we’ve got real love.
  5. Love believes all things.  Love is always eager to believe the best about someone.  Love is always open to a good report.  There is an open door in the heart of real love towards people.
  6. Love hopes all things.  Real love does not give up on people.  Real love says there is always hope.  Real love gives people second chances, over and over and over; always having hope for them.
  7. Love endures all things.  Real love goes through things with people.  Real love endures the hardship of another person’s ways.  Real love undergoes suffering from others.  This real love goes through it.
  8. Love never ends.  This love from God that we live in is something that is not only from God, but continues.  There is no limit to it in our lives now and it continues in our everlasting lives.  Authentic love is a resource that we never run out of, and it is never used up.  We continually experience coming to the ends of our self and getting more of God’s love, that we live out of.

The 8 “no’s” of Real Love:

  1. Real love does not envy.  There is no jealousy in authentic love.  Envy and jealousy are ways of the world.  The child of God has God’s love.  When you have authentic love, it is rooted in God’s love for you and all you want is for everyone to experience God’s love.  We are not jealous of others, because we know God as Father who loves us and gives us all good things, starting with his love.  Any envy of others’ things (cars, houses, granite counters), or others’ relationships, or positions, is outside of our relationship with God.  A person in God is rooted in God’s love and we need to cultivate that love.  Only God can satisfy.  Envy and jealousy is a dead end.  As we grow in real love, jealousy and envy fade to nothing.
  2. Real love is not boastful.  Bragging is a way of the world.  Praising your self is not the way of love.  The proverb says, “Let another one praise you, and not with your own lips”.  Real love can brag on others, but not boast about one’s self.  When God blesses you and uses you, do not boast in your self, but boast in (about) God.  “Great God of man”, not, “Great man of God”, is what you always want to be about.  We can let people thank us, honor us, and praise us for our service and obedience; but not idolize us or worship us, or try to make us king!  Come down, sit down, kneel, lay prostrate; whatever it takes so that you don’t take the credit for what God does.
  3. Real love is not conceited.  Real love is not puffed up, it does not ever have an inflated idea about one’s self.  No way.  We can get delusional about our selves.  Just like bragging, conceit is the opposite of love.  Be careful of arrogance.  You may know the Bible, know theology, know psychological concepts, you may know business principles, and you may know how to build and maintain something.  The proverb says that “Knowledge puffs up”.  Real love serves others patiently in love.  Arrogance and telling others how it is, or else, is not authentic love.  Knowledgeable people need to learn Jesus’ style, who is not puffed up, arrogant, or conceited.
  4. Real love does not act improperly.  Acting improperly means “being a jerk”.  It means “dishonorable”.  When a person in the military continually behaves improperly, they will eventually be, perhaps after other disciplinary action, “dishonorably discharged”.  Improper conduct is when we look good on the outside, but we act bad from a bad heart: unloving.  Real love acts properly (loving towards others).  Dishonorable acting is rudeness.  Real love is not rude.
  5. Real love is not selfish.  When someone does not have God’s love flowing through their life, when they are not living out of that love; the one word that often describes that person is, “selfish”.  A “me first” attitude is selfish.  An organizing principle of life that looks at every relationship or opportunity as, “what’s in it for me?” is not God’s love operating in your life.  This person always thinks of themself.  Their song is, “I was always on my mind”.  They serve themselves and seek themselves.  Real love is not selfish.  The Christian life, the life in Christ, is a life of denying and dying to self.
  6. Real love is not provoked.  Being irritable, touchy, or having a short fuse/temper is not real love.  Let that go, set that down.  Each of these are the unloving way.  Easily angered people see the problem as being outside them, saying that others provoke them.  The truth is, that if you have more authentic love operating in your life, you will not be easily angered.
  7. Love does not keep a record of wrongs.  Unforgiveness is completely incompatible with Christian love.  It blocks it and stops is.  Authentic love does not keep records, memories, lists, of offenses or have resentments.  This is super good news, because this means that the Christian is free from all bitterness.  Resentments or records or wrongs are simply not permitted, in Christ.  You do not get to or have to or need to do that, and therefore, you also do not need to, get to, or have to be bitter.
  8. Real love finds no joy in unrighteousness.  If you ever take pleasure in another person’s misfortune, you are not living in God’s authentic love.  We never take pleasure in the demise of others.  Even when the other person has been bad to us, the heart of God in us does not rejoice in their falling or failing.

The reason I am looking at this and the reason I think this is in the Bible, is to show us how to love.  There is the “how to” and the “that ain’t it”.  The second lists are the “incompatibles” that need to de-emphasized or gotten rid of.  We just are not like that, in Christ.  So, say goodbye to that style and embrace Jesus’ style, His life in your life.

Renewing a Friendship

Now the LORD had said to Aaron, “Go and meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him.

-Exodus 4:27 (HCSB)
Photo: Pixabay

Have you ever renewed a friendship?  Life’s circumstances took you apart.  But now, you meet again.  Here are a few tips.

1. When they knock, answer.

When your door is knocked on, answer it.  Don’t give up on people.
2. Take out the garbage before having dinner.
If you got hurt in the past relationship, make sure you take out the garbage before you reconnect.  Forgive them, before God.  When you see them again, you get the chance to start over.

3. You can’t win them all.

Keep your expectations in check or neutral.  If your expectations are sky high, you will likely be disappointed.  You will evaluate the encounter as a “glass half empty”, when it is really a “glass half full”.

Come down to earth and embrace the reality that, “you can’t win them all”.  Sometimes, you will re-connect with someone and be disappointed.  Sometimes you will attempt a re-connection and the other person will not answer.  Friendships, even with siblings, require mutuality.  It is a “we” thing.  There is a dance, where we have to gauge whether the other person wants to dance and is dancing. 
4. Ask for permission to speak freely, if you need to confront.

Some people exclaim, “I need to say, _____”, or, “I have to confront you on, _____”.  Another way to share (a share-frontation), that I just learned from hearing John Townsend, is to ask, as they do in the military, “(May I have) permission to speak freely?”  If they say, “yes”, then you tell them, gently, how what they said or did hurt you.

5. Say, “That’s not my problem.”

If you are a caring person who likes to help, serve, deliver, heal, or fix people; you may need one last piece.  That is to be able to say, “That’s not my problem”.  This is especially apt when the other person triangles in a third party into your conversation (gossip).

You may have to learn to say, “That’s not my problem”, in your head, a lot.    But, when people are in front of you, asking for your help, that is a whole different thing.

“That’s not my problem”, is short for, “That’s not my problem to fix or solve”. 

“That’s not my problem”, is mainly for when you hear “other people’s stories”. 

When your friend or sibling tells you their problem, you need to keep in mind that they are not necessarily asking for help or want help.  Let them just tell you.  Let it be their problem and let them ask you for help or advice.

There is a dance involved in a relationship where we inevitably tell the other person our troubles.  It is respectful and loving to hold back and not give advice or try to fix them.  We have to find a way to do step 4, above, and ask permission before dispensing advice.


You might take out the garbage so well, that you forget past slights or offenses and truly start over with this person.  You might have so much grace and godly love in you now, that you no longer need them to give you anything and you do not have a need to fix them.

If you can not be in a relationship with someone who takes and doesn’t give much, or who is not whatever you need them to be, then that is your issue to work out.  You might need to lower your expectation of certain people and look around and watch for people who are a better fit for you.

Sky Links, 1-20-14

Firemen Correct Man Who Says Fire Is Not Real
You may have heard about a controversial book called Strange Fire?  Pneuma Review has a post with links to responses to Strange Fire by John MacArthur.  It is one thing to not understand Pentacostal/Chrismatic/Third Wave people, but it is another thing to say that Satan is the author the P/C/TW movements.  Here is the post to links of 21 leader’s reactions to the SF book.  


I really did not know that there are christian people who believe that Jesus words before his resurrection do not apply to Christians today.  Frank Viola spoke about this in his latest podcast  on what he calls the Hyper Grace movement.

Marriage Compatibility & Personal Entitlement

Are you and your wife or husband compatible?  Out of the gate, many couples are not, or think they are, but really are not.  There might be an illusion of perfect compatibility.  When the haze lifts, you have someone before you that is completely different, who you will have to work hard to maintain relationship with.  Dave Black wrote these words recently:

The problem is when we allow our relational needs to assume greater priority than simply doing what God wants and tells us to do. I am unconditionally opposed to any line of thinking that undermines the concept of personal responsibility in marriage, but I also oppose the notion that following Christ guarantees a life of satisfying emotions and fulfilling experiences. So you’re not “compatible.” So what? Love each other any way.

I love that line in the movie Rear Window where the wise old nurse says to Jimmy Stewart, “For 30 years my husband and I have been two incompatible misfits, and we are still madly in love with each other.” Marriages (especially in America) spend a disproportionate amount of effort on seeking self-fulfillment.

Dave’s complete post on working with troubled marriages is here (AM, Jan. 9th).

Allison Vesterfelt wrote, How 20-Something Entitlement Almost Ruined My Marriage:

Our first year of marriage was really hard.

In one sense, you might have looked at our first year of marriage and wondered how we couldn’t have been blissfully happy.

We were living on the twenty-first floor of a beautiful condo building overlooking the ocean in sunny south Florida. Our wall-sized sliding glass doors opened to a balcony where we could watch the sunrise every morning. Any time we wanted, we could wander downstairs with coffee and books—to our private beach—and dig our toes into the sand. 

But there were also a few outside circumstances that made our otherwise luxurious surroundings less-than-comfortable.

The rest of Allison’s piece is here.

The Gap Between The Church in The NT & What We Call Church

In this video of a talk by Francis Chan, called If Jesus Was The Pastor of Your Church, You Probably Wouldn’t Go There; Francis talks about coming to grips with Jesus’ call to discipleship: that it is all or nothing.  He spoke from Luke 14:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus. Turning to them, he said,  “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple.  Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“If one of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t you first sit down and calculate the cost, to determine whether you have enough money to complete it?  Otherwise, when you have laid the foundation but couldn’t finish the tower, all who see it will begin to belittle you. They will say, ‘Here’s the person who began construction and couldn’t complete it!’…  

“Salt is good. But if salt loses its flavor, how will it become salty again?  It has no value, neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. People throw it away. Whoever has ears to hear should pay attention.”

The YouTube video is rated ‘mature’, perhaps because the word ‘manure’ is spoken by Francis.  Don’t let that stop you from watching.

Making Disciples Who make Disciples, Caring For The Least of These, and Church As Extended Family.

Molong Nacua wrote some more about his journey to find out how to be obedient to Jesus today, in
House2House Questionaire:

I know how to evangelize and do crusades, start churches and to preach, start a band and do concerts at mall, do discipleship ‘classes’ and sunday schools BUT I do not know HOW to make disciples that makes disciples.

One insight that Molong shares is to treat people in the church as you would treat extended family:

It is important to “treat” each other’s members as part of your extended family. If someone is at fault or there’s a need of correction and rebuking I always ask myself, “What if he is my own brother/sister how should I talk to him/her?” I normally ended up not talking to the person unless I know exactly what to say, when to say, where to say and how to say it. At times, I wish I had a duct tape on my mouth. “He who manage well of his own children can manage the household of God.” This is what Paul says to his ”son in the faith” Timothy. Being the church is being family to each other. Now, that’s a lot of relationships in there.

Molong shares about family-based rather than meeting-based church life:

Because it’s a family-based relationships and not just meeting-based relationships, we don’t do meetings we just meet a lot as any normal healthy families do. We don’t “attend” a family, we are family. We live the Life of Jesus Together in the community in a daily basis (Hebrews 3:13) thus meetings is only a by-product of our lives being knit-together. As one of my fathers in the Lord Mike Peters would say, “A family that you “attend” is not a family, it is an orphanage. People in the orphanage may do-things-together, eat together or play together yet it is still an orphanage, not a family.”

The rest of his post is here.

Are You A Controller?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

This always fascinated me.  I remember being drawn to the wisdom that the prayer imparts, but not getting it.  I am still learning this.

Don Miller wrote his thoughts about controllers in a piece called, How To Know if You’re a Controlling Person:

I realized I was a controlling person not long ago when a therapist caught me in the act. I was wondering out loud why a friend was doing what she was doing and the thearpist questioned why I was trying to get inside somebody else’s head.

“What does it matter why people do what they do? Are you trying to predict behavior to gain a sense of security?”

It was a terrific observation. Trying to figure out why people are doing what they are doing is a preface to trying to control or influence them indirectly. If I really wanted to know why they were doing what they were doing, I could just ask. But I didn’t want to ask because it was none of my business. They had a right to think and do as they wished.

This is the Serenity Prayer, quoted by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), as he remembers it, originally; in The Essential Reinhold Neibuhr, p 251

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Sky Links, 7/13/13

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Here are my links to share, or Sky Links, for the week.

Holy Discontent

Gene Redlin wrote this word, that he says Father God spoke to him :

I have placed discontent in your heart.  It is designed to move you from complacency to action.  Only when you find yourself in that place where you no longer can abide circumstances as they are, will you be motivated to step into the destiny I designed for you.  I so loved the world I SENT. Holy Discontent has caused ME to reveal a new level for you.  Greater than you can think or imagine.  Don’t allow complacency to be misidentified as contentment.  Start again.  It is a new day.

Do you know ‘Holy Discontent’?  It’s when God is rustling the nest of your life.  Time to move on, time

to do something more, something different, time to grow, time to move up.  Your discontentment is not depression, but it is God lifting off a little bit of that feel good, snuggled in feeling.  You are like the teenager, who’s parent has had to turn on the light and pull off the covers, to get the child to wake up.

You are being poked and prodded.  It’s Holy Discontentment.  God is saying, “time to move”.  I remember experiencing this the first time, when I decided to go back to school.  God did such a 180 in my life, because I had been a poor student in high school and college.  I was the last person that I would imagine would be a graduate student, going on the earn two advanced degrees.

When you experience Holy Discontent, don’t be alarmed, but start your adventure.  Get up, look around, listen, and pray.  If God is prodding, God will lead you.  Remember that the “guidance system” does not come on until the rocket gets off the pad.  You must get up and go out, not knowing where you are going, as an act of faith.  Then God will guide you.  You can’t stay lying by your pool, complaining that no one will help you.

That is a picture above is of a labyrinth, which is symbolic of the unexpected twists and turns in our lives.  To me, the issue is grace.  We think we can’t do it, but God’s grace is enough.  We have failures, but do we receive or walk in grace?  We want our thorn in the flesh removed, but God says that his grace is sufficient.


I read Cloud & Townsend’s book on Boundaries and volunteered to facillitate a group on the topic, at my church, years ago.  What a topic that we all need to know and I need to grow in!  If you grew up in a dysfunctional home, your boundaries were probably violated.  You did not learn how to say, “no”.

It’s important to remember that family comes before ministry.  God comes before family, and your love for God is first lived out in your love and care for your family.  Love and care equal time and attention.  If you are an unmarried, celibate person; then you do have more time for ministry.

Kris Vallotton on Boundaries, posted on Facebook:

You might have learned what we call passive aggressive behavior.  In the church, especially in some forms of it when we put a lot of pressure and spotlight on individuals, boundaries come into play.  We need to set them and honor other’s space.  Good stuff here from

It’s really important to set boundaries with people. If you don’t learn to set boundaries in your life, other people will superimpose their priorities and values on you. The people who hate the fact that you’re setting boundaries are the very ones who need them the most!

Some people view boundaries as unloving or harsh. They think that you should run to every emergency, let people violate your values, and never say no to anyone or else you are not being loving.

Jesus loved people and yet he had no problem confronting them. Personally, I’m tired of marshmallow Believers. Doormat Don and Molly meek need to get some courage and leave the powerless, victim camp of spineless Christianity.

It’s funny, when I share things like this on my Facebook page people think I’m venting or I’m in a bad mood. I don’t need to be in a bad mood to set boundaries, I’ve had to learn to live with them or die without them. No public figure could survive very long without setting boundaries. For example, it’s common for people to talk to me while I’m in a bathroom stall or even slide a book under the stall for me to autograph. Often people will follow me out to my car after a 12 hour day of ministry to take a picture with me. All these people mean well, and it is really nice to be loved. But it takes a toll on you and soon you find yourself exhausted; not wanting to be around people. So you finally learn to set boundaries and risk being misunderstood. But it’s better to be misunderstood and fruitful, than to be burnout, broke down, and useless.


Janet Petersen wrote about the power of touch.

There have been times in my life when I’ve needed to hold on to someone’s hand.  It may sound kinda pitiful and needy to ask someone to hold my hand, but at those moments of heart wrenching pain I needed to feel the strength in the touch of someone’s hand.  Ever been there….??

I am so thankful that the church taught me to be a hugger.  To me, hugging means unconditional love.  Unconditional love is what the family of God is all about.  Hugging is a great equalizer.

Mooring The Mourning

When Job’s three friends heard about all this disaster that had happened to him, they came, each one from his home—Eliphaz from Teman, Bildad from Shuah, and Zophar from Naamah. They agreed to come so they could console and comfort him.  When they looked up from a distance and didn’t recognize him, they wept loudly. Each one tore his garment and scattered dust above his head toward the sky.  They sat with Job on the ground seven days and seven nights, not speaking a word to him, for they saw that he was in excruciating pain.  -Job 2:11-13

Do you want to help a person in mourning?  Do you want to be a friend to someone you love who has just suffered great loss?  Do you want to minister to and show the love of God to someone who has just had a tragedy?  Be with them and don’t talk to them.

You might need to say something, like, “I’m here”, but no advice, no counsel, and no pontifications.  When the person in mourning speaks, just listen.  No dialogue, no back-n-forth, no point and counterpoint.  It’s time for their monologues, time for their letting forth of raw emotion, rational or irrational.  No correcting, just listening.

Job’s three friends did this.  They agreed to come.  They may have made an appointment with Job, with Job’s wife or brother; or they may have made an appointment among themselves.  They acted.  You, the friend or family member or minister, must act and clear your schedule, and make your arrangements.  The mourner or family might call you.  Make it happen, the best you can, and go.

Job’s three friends had the aim to comfort and console Job, but without words.  Some of us love words.  We love to read, write, or talk.  During raw crisis or deep loss or tragedy, personal sympathy is first expressed by presence, by being there, by being next to.  No advice, no pontificating, no trying to fix them, no trying to get them over it and moving on quickly.

The person who is suffering loss does get to talk as much as they want to, if they want to.  They might speak out “what if’s”, “if only’s”, “I wish I had or had not”, and “why” questions.  Your job is to listen.  Just listen.  Be in the questions now with them.  This is part of their process, not yours.  You may have many answers and many questions answered in your mind, but keep your mouth shut and let them do their personal grief work.  Their statements may seem to be a dialogical question to you, but they are really not.  Your only intervention is to keep the mourner from harming themselves or harming others in their grief.  Mooring the mourning.

Real sympathy is when you mourn with the mourner.  Their loss is your loss.  The mourning person is the leader in mourning and you follow them into their pain.  To see someone in their state of mourning is comforting to them,  Are you seeing them without trying to fix them or process the pain away?

Comforters come along side and stand with the person(s) in loss, with them in there space.  We hold them up, we keep them from being washed away.  Consolers and sympathizers are there with, in the space of; standing or sitting with, the mourner; mooring the mourning.

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