Hello Friend! Day Twenty-two

Hello Friend!

Each and every day we have many opportunities to be kind to those around us: we can open a door, allow a vehicle to merge without expressing annoyance, anticipate and meet a need.

Do we do kind deeds for a positive response or do we do a kind deed for the sake of being kind? It is worth thinking about. I think of kindness more as something for others even though it is one of those things that is a little bit for me too. I need to be more kind. It is good for me to give, even if I am not thrilled in the moment. But, most of the time, I like humanity and people and I don’t mind being kind.

Someone I know recently opened a door at a convenience store for a stranger whose hands were full. The stranger did not respond with a “thank you”. It would have been polite but it didn’t happen.

Sometimes I don’t even notice when someone is being kind to me because I am in my own little world!

The person who opened the door was annoyed at the lack of expected appreciation and snidely commented, “Well, you are welcome!” This lead to a few tense and explicit exchanges in the store in front of who knows how many people.

Folks, before we do something “kind”, let’s consider our motivation and expectations. While recognition for a kindness extended might be nice it is far better to offer it with no strings attached. It might go unnoticed and unappreciated. That’s can be okay. In doesn’t mean the kindness didn’t happen: it simply wasn’t acknowledged. When we do a kind deed for someone we don’t know, we really have no idea what is going on in their lives. I find it easier to not have expectations.

But for those people I do know? I admit, sometimes I do have expectations when I do something kind. But how often do I not even recognize or respond to a kindness extended to me. I think it is more often than I realize. I am often wrapped up in my own concerns. And to think I know what is really going on in lives of others. Do I really? I have a lot of things going on in my heart and mind that I don’t share all the time so I am sure the people I know also have things they have going on in their family and friend circle, with their health, with their faith….

The point is that it is good to consider our motivation when giving. If it is a gift, there should be no strings attached. Extending grace through words or deeds is a huge kindness that might not even be recognized until much later (if ever) but is a beautiful gift to give anyway.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6 NIV

Love,
Liz

Hello Friend! Day Twenty-one

Hello Friend!

Are you frustrated with people who don’t seem to care about people? Let’s talk about loving our neighbor and who that person might be.

Step out of where you live and look straight ahead and to your left and your right. Presto bingo! You probably have neighbors — even if you live on a farm in the middle of a big plot of land, you have neighbors. We all do! Start there.

Now, let’s look around at the people who are nearby and involved in our day-to-day lives. That is what I picture when I think of the word neighbor. But that list can expand to co-workers, the people we volunteer next to or go to church with. The coffee barista, the server, the salespeople we encounter during the week. These folks are our neighbors.

When I was growing up in Ohio, we were on a space of land that didn’t have immediate neighbors around the house like I think of a traditional neighborhood. I had always wished we did. When we lived in Nebraska, we lived in a neighborhood that had a yearly block party. That was very new concept to me and I loved it! We had amazing neighbors, some we are still good friends with today!

If you really want to love your neighbor, you can be very literal about it and start with the people across the street or on either side of you. If you live in a duplex or apartment complex, it is probably easier to be annoyed with your neighbors than to love them, but you are called to love. Start somewhere. Take the lead. Maybe you are the one who most recently moved in to your home and would have loved to been welcomed into the neighborhood but weren’t — show love to your neighbors anyway. Sometimes loving means taking the first step in a relationship!

Love your neighbor. You are welcome to expand on the definition of neighbor to include the whole world. That totally works too. Just remember there are a lot of people that need love and grace in this world and they are often right next to you in line, running the cash register, in your office space. As you practice extending love to those you bump into on a regular basis God will surely expand your opportunities to extend love and grace to a greater radius!

If everyone loves their neighbors, the whole world will be a different place!

Love more,
Liz

Inside/Outside

As we look to the empty tomb we are confident of God’s work in and through our lives. We are on the inside — receiving and thankful for His gifts.

But are hearts are heavy for those who insist on remaining on the outside. They are skeptical, hurt, angry, confused. They have had some difficult things to live through and they don’t trust or believe in Jesus. We may not understand their perspective but we pray for them. We all know and love those who have rejected God’s gift of grace.

And there are others who don’t know at all. They have not heard about the Jesus we know. Even though the heavens do declare, it is important for us to also proclaim our faith in a way that opens doors for conversation. Jesus died for all.

May we be loving to all — those on the inside the walls of faith as well as those who have stepped away or truly have never known Jesus. We don’t know the whole story. Our love and compassion can make an amazing difference in how they view God.

May we love generously with the love that has been given to us!

He is Risen!

He is Risen, Indeed!

Alleluia!

Historical & Personal

It isn’t too often an event that happened 2000 years ago has such an impact on our lives today as the events of Holy Week does.

It’s life and death…..and then life again.

Each year we walk through these steps and remember. We see re-enactments and we attend church services and we review the course of events of this week. We see ourselves as the

  • betrayer,
  • sleepy disciples in the garden,
  • denier,
  • grieving mother,
  • curious observers,
  • chief priests and elders,
  • governer’s soldiers,
  • thieves on the cross.

What Jesus endured seems unfair and unimaginable. His suffering is almost incomprehensible. And God’s provision for our eternal life, through Jesus, is inconceivable.

But the course of events is the only way to

  • be forgiven for our many sins.
  • know the depth of God’s love for us.
  • be renewed in His mercy.
  • be saved by His grace.

Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection is the only way for our guilt and shame to be taken away.

PrayerPrompt: WOUNDS & SCARS

Forgiveness

I opened my mouth the other day and something really ungracious came out. I realized it immediately and reminded myself, also out loud, that God’s grace for me has been unending. I, too, have behaved in ugly, hurtful ways and yet, He loves me. I need to extend that grace.

Sometimes my memory isn’t the greatest, but when I have been wronged, my memory is amazing. I can remember the circumstances, the emotions, the damage. It can put me on a sad path. Surely others I have known over my lifetime can remember my hurtful and selfish behavior that has impacted them. Maybe I am even someone they need to re-forgive on a regular basis.

In my ungracious moments, I need to remember that I took this situation to God and I gave it to Him. I asked him to help me see that person as broken, in need of forgiveness, and to help me not get stuck in a cycle of anger and resentment over the circumstances. I may have already walked through the process of forgiveness but some vestiges have hung on. I need to loosen the grip of my justification for my anger and forgive again.

The trouble is, these are some of the things I don’t seem to forget.  Remembering and walking through the steps of forgiveness and God’s provision in the process help me remember that I, too, have hurt others deeply and it keeps me honest about my own need for forgiveness. Every day I need to be reminded that I need of a Savior washed clean by Baptismal grace.

I am not proud of my ugly moments, but they serve a greater purpose. My mouth speaks what my heart is holding onto. And it is important for God’s Word to shine in my heart and change me, and my responses.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. [Matthew 12:34b-35, NIV]

An interesting thought from author Seth Godin today:

You made my day

When your day gets made, how long does it last? A made day–is that different from a normal day?

Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a made hour or, if we’re going to be quite truthful, a made minute.

When something bad happens, we can revisit the humiliation and anxiety for months. But the good stuff, if we don’t work at it, can pass right by.

We get what we remember, and we remember what we focus on.

May God bless you as you come to terms with your own sin and forgiveness as you process unforgiveness you may harbor against others!

Liz

PrayerPrompt: TIME

What is left to do?

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Jesus, the spotless lamb, is the author and perfecter of our faith.

He took our guilt and shame.

He suffered on our behalf.

He endured death on a cross.

And on the third day He rose again.

He gave His life for ours.

And our response?

We can live, love, forgive, serve, and proclaim His name to all the nations.

We can defend those who have no defenses.

We can stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

We can love the unloveable.

We can touch the untouchable.

So much of this can happen right in our own community, right where we live.

He is risen!

For you and me!

Let’s respond to His grace!

On the way,

Liz

A Time to Refrain from Embracing

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Saying goodbye to winter in Mohács, Hungary

A Time for Everything 
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 NIV

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


re·frain1    rəˈfrān/   verb

stop oneself from doing something.  “she refrained from comment”   “the demonstrators have promised to refrain from violent behavior”

synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear (from), avoideschewshunrenounce;

informal swear off;
formal forswearabjure
It doesn’t seem that people refrain from much these days! So many families would still be intact if people would refrain from embracing those they have no business embracing…or those who have issues with addiction would abstain from alcohol and other drugs…and, really, the list can go on and on. And on.
Honestly, I struggle with it myself as well. There are things I need to refrain from and the season of Lent is always a good time to really contemplate those things. Each day I should be sontemplating these things. What are those behaviors I need to finally set aside for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health? It doesn’t have to be illegal for it to be unhelpful in my daily walk. What things should I refrain from because others look to me as an example or simply because the behavior is sinful and I know better.
I know better and I choose to do what I want anyway.
I don’t believe knowledge is power. Knowledge may bear some potential for power but nnowledge alone is ineffective. Grafting knowledge with a change in behavior is getting closer to where the real power lies. We are absolutely sinners, each and every one of us. But that doesn’t mean we need to keep on actively sinning.  There are many behaviors that lead to challenging consequences and yet we still participate in those things. We might not do the same things as one another, but we all do things that compromise ourselves and others.
What is one thing that trips you up and has regularly caused problems in your life? Is it time you put more effort into removing it? Sometimes knowing why helps but sometimes the “why” doesn’t much matter — that “seeking” can also be used as a crutch to inaction.
I am comforted when I see God’s Word and I know that others have struggled before me with these ideas, with the sin, with knowing they can be loved and wretched, all at the same time. And I am convicted of not tapping into God’s strength and grace to overcome my evil foes!

 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. [Romans 7:14-25 NIV]

On the way,
Liz