Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Loving Hostile People

Originally posted on March 15, 2009

To love hostile people is something followers of Jesus are called to do, but most of the time it is nearly impossible. Armed with Sunday School lessons and my own strength, I fail miserably. In a particularly difficult moment a cried to Holy Spirit and wisdom flew into my aching soul.
Photo taken by Penywise

A practical outline formed as I pressed into that Blessed Fount: how to overcome resistance, bitterness, rejection and wounding. A how to act as a result of being released into a grace expressing life.

First, I am to love my enemies and pray for them.  If love is action, then it is the foundational attitude. I am to act in kindness in spite of what another does to me. Holding in my thoughts that everyone does what is right in his own eyes. The consequence is a type of blindness that doesn't allow them to see what their actions’ effect is.

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."  Following Christ's example leads me to not judge. A friend explained it this way; anytime a conclusion is drawn about someone, that is a judgment. I need to remember, that I do not know their purpose.  It is not my responsibility to interpret their motives. If I draw a conclusion tainted by my own pain and then condemn them, I judge and condemn unfairly.  It is better for me to choose to not get even which is forgiveness and act in love toward them which would be mercy.

Photo taken by ronnieb
With that attitude adjustment in place, a look at myself is in order. Do I have a log in my eye?  Do I lend without an expectation of payback. If I act in kindness toward a person I struggle with, I cannot expect them to reciprocate. Remembering that my inheritance is in Father, He will pay me back. Acting in love towards those who love me in return is no challenge at all. 

This does not mean becoming a doormat. In looking at Jesus and how he interacted with the Pharisees; he was always kind, truthful, and extended grace to them. Yet, he did not allow them into His inner circle. There is no need to vulnerable with those whose intent is not healthy for me. I have permission to protect myself. It can look like silence. 

Look at Christ's example: when Jesus was arrested at night and tried with false witnesses, both against Jewish law. When confronted by the Pharisees, Jesus turned their own laws against them in John 18:19-24:

Photo taken by Lebewesen
"Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 

'I have spoken openly to the world,' Jesus replied. 'I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.  Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.'  

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face. 'Is this the way you answer the high priest?' he demanded. 

'If I said something wrong,' Jesus replied, 'Testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?"

Photo taken by earl53
Jesus knew what was truth.  He knew Father had a plan and chose to obey it at all costs.  Confident that in the end justice would prevail. When faced with injustice, I need to remember the truth Holy Spirit speaks to me. I can turn the other cheek and not respond to their judgments or criticisms. Secure in what God is doing in me.

My response can be praying for them. If there is a practical need, meet it.  When interaction occurs, reply with words of kindness. All the while, letting God work out the justice.

A Mother Life

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Walk with Dogs: The Story of a Dog

Photo taken by Schnuffel
He was a Christmas puppy, kept secret at a sister’s house until Santa could place him under their tree.

They lived in a house that The Counting Mutant grew up in. The Mutant’s Father had two boys. His Mother had two boys. They got married and had him. All told, five boys. This family of boys moved into a newish house of three bedrooms. It did not take long before the Father decided to make the house fit his family. Plans drawn, boys helped and grew up in that house. At the neighborhood swimming pool, life long friendships were forged. Four older brothers grew up and left the nest.

That left a Dad, a Mom and a boy.

Not needing a house to fit five boys, the parents decided to move into a house that fit their family. The house was sold to another family.

That family grew up in that molded house. Those Parents moved and one Son stayed to fill it with his own family. This man’s wife was my sister’s friend.

That Christmas puppy was a Dachshund. Not a toy, or a mini, but a Standard sized Dachshund. His natural instincts were strong. Bred to hunt badgers in their den, the breed is tenacious, intelligent, sensitive and funny.

This puppy lived in a house a Father built. That The Counting Mutant spent his childhood in.

All of his natural behaviors-living in a house in a family filled with toddlers-became too much to handle. The family asked my sister if she would like him. She said yes. This Dachshund puppy, now a year old dog, joined two Australian Shepherds. This adventurous pack of three romped, went on long walks. The Shepherds would return to the call of their master like good herding dogs. The Dachshund focused on the hunt and not hearing his master’s call, would track his prey until found, then wait. The Dachshund would jump on beds and snuggle little ones, guarding their dreams.

And in another house filled with toddlers, the Dachshund didn’t fit. He didn’t take correction well. Was hard to control on long walks and struggled with house training. It was time for him to find a new home.

We had just said goodbye to a Labrador we fostered for a few years while another sister was in the armed forces. Our quiet house missed a snuggle buddy. We happily accepted this quirky Dachshund and called him Roscoe.

This Dachshund who spent puppy years in a house The Counting Mutant grew up in. They were soul mates.

Built like a mini Schwarzenegger, Roscoe would bounce up and down the stairs. Leap the recliner in a single bound. Happily snuggle with a book reader. He loved to sing “Happy Birthday.” The daily mile or two walk was the highpoint of his day. Older kids in our house made the house training issues a simple fix.

 All of this jumping had a price. Dachshunds are prone to back problems because they are structured as a regularly sized dog on itty bitty legs. Chiropractic added two years to his life. At age 11 it was a hernia that pushed him over the edge.

Head sagging, and asking to go home, Roscoe’s walk became his chore instead of a joy. Sleeping more and playing less became his routine. Last night for a final Happy Birthday chorus we learned he couldn't even do that. On the first note, his song became howls of pain and we all knew: it was time to say goodbye. Keeping him would be selfish.

This morning we said goodbye to our friend. The Counting Mutant said goodbye to a common history and memory. We are relieved he is at peace and bouncing somewhere in wild, open fields. Hunting to his heart’s content and pleasing his Master.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peace of Mind

Originally posted May 26, 2009

With so many cultural distractions and stresses, it is almost impossible to find a place of peace.  Bookstores are filled tomes on how to find this allusive tranquility of mind.
Photo take by fattymattybrewing

I believe in a loving Creator God who has a plan for all human kind and created laws for us to follow. Paul wrote to the people in Philippi living in a metropolis filled with diversity. As these Philippians grew in faith, Paul encouraged the anxious believers in Christ by giving them a practical method of finding peace in their tumultuous culture.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally… whatever things are true … noble …just …pure … lovely … good report … virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”   Philippians 4:6-8. 

Photo taken by aophotos
Whatever I am anxious, worried, stressed, puzzled or disturbed about, that concern is taken and turned into a prayer through writing, praying aloud, meditation, the ways to express it are endless. The method doesn’t matter; the subject is laid before a Being Greater than myself.

Second is to focus on good things, anything wonderful, beautiful, or positive. God is the source of all things good. I allow the unpleasant thing to pass and focus on something else-the thoughts are captured and put in submission to Jesus. As I discipline my mind to change focus the Holy Spirit is allowed to move.  The sweet breath of Holy Spirit brings peace on my troubled soul. The Spirit counsels me on what to do next. Sometimes it is immediate. Sometimes it is later. Most of the time, my attitude changes but sometimes the situation will change.

I pray you will see God the Creator, Jesus the Word and Holy Spirit the Counselor in your lives today. 

A Mother Life