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We can’t live in the past!

Sunday, December 9th, 2012



man in red jacketFearful? Questioning? Reflecting on the past? or Pondering the future?

I will trust in Him.


Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make    your path’s straight.


The Message Bible says it this way:


Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.


Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.


I am often evaluating things in my life. The past, the future, they’re almost always on my mind. Did I make a mistake. Have I done something that has hurt someone? Where will this lead me to? Is my future going to be an improvement over the past? How can I make things better? And a lifetime of, “how can things be different?”


I have heard many times that we shouldn’t focus on the past and keep our eyes looking forward. Well, I agree with this to a point but I have learned a great lesson in evaluating life. Let me put it this way:


“The past isn’t the past until it is the past. The past isn’t the past if it’s still the present. The past won’t become the past until you put it in front of you.”


You can quote me on that one. When I think about the past there are times when memories come along with a little piercing in my heart. They can cause me to feel a pang of pain. It is those memories that seem to need some attention. I am tempted to just push them away, which is probably why some people tell us that we don’t need to dwell on the past. They don’t want to feel it either.


But, I have learned that when past wounds, unresolved conflicts, and hurts come to my mind I have to check to see if there is pain with them.  If there is and they are resolved with healing in my soul, they change. I think of it this way:


childhood-memories1

“When an emotional soul wound is healed it can change from being an emotional memory to an intellectual memory. That is when I know healing has taken place.”




You can quote me on that one too. Healing from past wounds doesn’t remove our memory of them, it can take the emotional sting out of them so we are free from the pain. But, if we are all honest, we don’t necessarily forget the times we have been hurt or disappointed. Rather we can move away from the present pain they bring up when we do remember them.


There was a childhood memory from when I was about 10 years old that was still painful to think about. The circumstances surrounding it were overwhelming and the exact situation was foreboding and it pulled on my heart each time it came up. And, it did come up. At times it came in prayer, other times when I would talk about that time in my life. When I was with my counselor one day, he asked me to pray with him about this situation. We found Jesus in the middle of it and there was a powerful healing time which brought a change of reference for that situation. A healing salve poured over the memory. Jesus had touched it with His hand.


Now when I think of that situation, my heart is emotionally neutral. I remember the situation, but even more, I remember what Jesus told me during the prayer time and how He changed my point of view. I no longer have a negative emotional tie to it, rather it is a memory that is purely an intellectual memory of the situation.


So, when I am fearful to face something from my past or questioning it with my soul, I seek to find out a solution through bringing Jesus into it with me. He knows my heart, he knows all of the details. And if there is someone else involved, He knows their heart too.


And when the healing seems to be far away and maybe even impossible, I continually learn more about trusting Him in the process. I have also learned that He will provide the right timing for my heart surgery. Now is not always the right time even though I may grow impatient for things to get better.


Sometimes God wants to bring someone else into the healing. Maybe He is working on their heart as well. In my selfishness I can say, “God – right now”, “I want it now!” But in the love that Christ wants me to walk in, I may need to be patient in waiting for His timing for all concerned. And in the process, God is not putting my life on “pause”, He is preparing me as well and growth continues all around.


black trust ring

I have a ring with a Hebrew inscription on it. I can’t read Hebrew but the paper that came with the ring says that it said, “Trust in the Lord”.



Boy, I need this ring every day in my life. I can easily get overwhelmed with impatience, fears, insecurities and the like. It is cool when someone asks to see the ring and wonders what it says, I am forced to say, “It says “Trust in the Lord”" and I can see that maybe He is using the person’s question to bring me to once again verbalize where my trust is at.


Take a deep breath – there, that’s it.


No matter what has come to your mind or your life today, make a decision. Where is your trust? Is it in Him? I often say, If I can’t trust Him today then who can I trust. If He isn’t trustworthy, that I just as well give up totally. But that is also a trustworthy place to be because I know He won’t let me go.


Heb. 13:5-6

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”


Funny how this passage connects the love of money and discontent in contrast with trusting in God’s ever present commitment to us. We do try to do it ourselves when we fear He isn’t with us. His exhortation is to know that He is our helper and to remember man can do nothing to me outside of God’s hand on us.


I can trust in Him.


Trust

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.


Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.


 

John, You Have Deviated From the Truth!

Thursday, August 25th, 2011


mailbag_3

From our Mailbag


A friend who is a pastor sent me this letter after reading my article “Can my friend be gay and a Christian?


With his permission I have copied his letter in its entirety and my response below.


Dear John,


Thank you for your e-mails. I must address your recent article entitled, “Can My Gay Friend Be a Christian?”


I feel your love and heart for those in the gay community. The compassion that I sense you have for them is rare and is the love of Christ. You help us all to understand compassion.


I wonder if after you left Love In Action several years ago, you have slowly deviated somewhat from the truth. Somewhere, I believe that the pressure from the gay community has compelled you to create a more accommodating doctrine for gays that will ultimately allow them to feel comfortable in their sin.


You speak about how we all live in opposition to God’s desires for our lives every day. I am in agreement with that. Of course, we all do. However, that’s different from living in iniquity.


Here is the dilemma: How do we distinguish Christians who struggle with sin from unsaved people who are practicing sin? I believe Paul explains it through his own early struggle with sin before he found victory. Even though he struggled with doing wrong while saved in Romans 7:15, he states that he hated what he was doing. In verse 16, he acknowledged that God’s law is good (holy, righteous).


When people call themselves “gay,” which God calls sin, then they are saying that God’s law or standard is not good. They do not agree with God’s standard if they continue to live in their sin and call themselves gay. They have not accepted God’s truth.


A Christian should inwardly recognize that God’s Word is right, true, and good, and that their sin is wrong. This is the key to distinguishing a sinner from a Christian who struggles with sin. If there is no guilt, conviction, or inward shame when a person commits an act of sin, then this is reason to question his/her salvation. A Christian who still struggles with sin, however, will not want to practice sin. They trip up occasionally, but they have a desire to stop sinning. They do not feel good inwardly when they sin. The issue comes down to the heart.


Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).


The person who continuously practices sin is lawless or without God’s law. He has no regard, acceptance, agreement, or conviction from the laws of God. This is the sinner who has no guilt, conviction, shame, or hatred for evil, as Paul described in Romans 7.


If a person has made the decision in his/her heart to depart from homosexuality (or any other iniquity for that matter), then he/she will not want to remain in that sin and call himself/herself gay. A Christian cannot still practice being gay; therefore, they cannot call themselves gay. If we fall in a moment of weakness, we repent and keep going. This is one thing. Practicing and continuing to call oneself gay is another. I hope this provides some perspective. I pray that I have not offended you.


Sincerely,


Pastor



Dear Pastor,


First of all, I have read through your letter and I’m pondering your words. I want to make sure you know clearly that your letter did not offend me. I deeply respect that you have taken the time and written me about this.


As I thought about having received your letter one thing that stood out to me clearly, I have always felt loved by you. As long as I have known you, your heart overflows with affirmation, kindness, and certainly I feel connected to you personally. Therefore, I know your letter is coming from that place. I know you love me.


I will attempt to reply to the letter as I find the words to do so. These last two years have been a wonderful season in my life. God has been at work digging into my heart on many levels. When I left Love In Action, I had time to rest and ponder the things of the Lord. After 22 years of managing the “wheelhouse” of Love In Action, I was completely worn out for sure.  I needed to rest in the Lord. I have experienced a long overdue sabbatical of sorts. During this time I have put a lot of prayer and work into hearing from Him about how He would have me to respond to the reality of homosexuality.


I am finally feeling refreshed with new vision, a new understanding of God’s love for me!  I find that He is using me in new ways out of the changes in my heart.


Pastor, instead of getting into a biblical dissertation I think I would rather answer you in spirit.

.

Our sexuality is a very significant aspect of who we are and how we live. It is extremely complicated and for many people is a HUGE challenge to manage, to embrace, and to sort out. I want to continue to learn how to grasp the reality of God’s movement in us, and through us concerning our sexuality. To simply say, “homosexuality is sin” would be a gross over simplification of a human experience. I also see that even the word “homosexuality” is truly undefinable as it doesn’t really have a meaning that applies to someone’s life.  What is homosexuality?  Is it an erotic attraction, is it emotional desire?  Is it a behavior, or an identity?  Is it an intrinsic part of our being, or is it a temporary act under the influence of alcohol?


I fully recognize there are created designs, desires, and plans that God has for each of us as His beloved creation. The real dilemma is that each and every day we struggle to find Him in the midst of our humanity and how to reflect His glory to others.  I know many incredible people who try desperately to sort out their homosexuality while they also seek to love Jesus with their whole heart.


I also realize that there are Biblical “standards” that seem to be communicated from God’s heart to ours through His word. But under the canopy of the standards, there is a human life experience which struggles to fit into a prescribed box that humanly cannot be explained sometimes. I see these as uniquely different and yet connected deeply to our faith and desires to please a Holy God.


I believe we can all agree that indiscriminate sexual sport is undeniably wrong.  However having homosexual attractions and desires for personal connection or intimacy is not something I would call “iniquity” and therefore I do not believe it is something that would disqualify someone from a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. What one chooses to do with those desires must ultimately be sorted out with Jesus.


surprise yarn ball


Picture with me if you will, a ball of yarn  that is colorfully variegated. As we experience life with the Lord I see it like the yarn is pulled off of the ball a little at a time.


As it is rolled off it is explored, healed, changed, and moved on. As life unfolds in Christ, there will be many surprises! God is a God of order and will not a bruised reed break. This tells me that He enters our life to sanctify it, but in order and over time. Sometimes, large things are dealt with, other changes can be smaller and incremental. The issues we bring to the table of our growing process in the Lord may be somewhere in the middle of the ball and will come through His fingers in the time that is best.


As the yarn is rolled past His fingers, it is knitted into a wonderfully restored, useful, garment. The yarn may still look the same but it is woven into something more in line with God’s plans for us rather than just a ball of yarn with no real purpose.


From the very beginning of time God was busy making something useful out of something that appeared purposeless. He made mankind out of dirt!


Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7


mess of yarnIf this yarn were all pulled off at once, erratically, we would find a tangled mess on our hands. Sometimes it sounds like Christians believe that God deals with everything all at one time. If so, it would look like this pile of yarn. It would be knotted, scrambled and less able to be used.


I believe God can remove some very big things with expediency. But who am I to say what a “big thing” is? My heart’s desire  is to communicate the gentle purposeful, orderly aspects of a loving God. Over a lifetime He is at work transforming His people with precision.


This last week I received an email from a very significant person in my life. This email reveals my heart more effectively than any other way I could say it.


Dear John,

I don’t follow FaceBook much, but I had a bit of time yesterday and I noticed your post which led me to your website articles. (www.gracerivers.com/articles).


I was raised and lived in a cultish religion. I have broken free from that but now I am always skeptical and distrustful of any religion. I am squeamish around Christians of any ilk, or religious dogma for that matter. I have chosen to seek traditional Indian spirituality. It has been a very personal search because it has no religious dogma.


I went to your website to read the whole thing. I was nervous. I do not handle ‘preaching’, ‘piousness’, or religious ‘judgment’ very well at all. After having read some of your writing I have to say that I’m greatly impressed with your insight in regards to the Gay/Christian issue.


When I read what you have written, I realized that there is a possibility that Christians really can be ‘Christian’ towards others. Until now, I don’t believe I have met one that is like that.


But your writing might makes me more hopeful.


Thank you for sharing in your life stories (Through the Windshield of My Life) what must have been a horrible experience for you. I had some as well, while not with a family member, and not as a child, my experiences have certainly changed me forever.


My own painful experiences have taken away dreams, beliefs and trust; and in their place they have left me with fear, cynicism, anger, and many wounds. My experience with the those in the cult I was with, was just as damaging. It left even deeper wounds for me than sexual injury, it left my soul scarred for life.


It was a breath of fresh air to read your piece and hear compassion, a non-judgmental approach. You have given the opportunity for others to think for themselves and act like the Christians they profess to be.


Thank you, John. Not only for your story, but for being a respectful voice in a din of noisy cackling religious zealots.


Your Friend


Pastor, this letter frames for me the very reason for the ministry approach I have adopted of late. It is my greatest desire to reach out to those who are hurting, scarred, and fearful of traditionally accepted church practice or religion. I desire more than anything to be a bridge to Jesus that is honest, strong, and trustworthy. As I reflect on the ministry vision that we have developed through Grace Rivers I think my heart is very clear:


Grace Rivers is a ministry with the gay community that reveals the message of an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ and genuine community with His followers – because every  person deserves to know that Jesus loves them.


Each one of us has a different positional call within our Christian family. Some may be called to proclaim a truth, others called to walk alongside in the truth. I believe I am called to walk alongside.


It is my hope that my own personal mission statement will continue to bear fruit.


It is my desire to help people be the very best they can be, and this I know is only through Jesus Christ.


If someone is fearfully estranged from a loving God then, I want to be the loving voice that says, “It will be ok, He loves you. You can trust Him.” This is with the hope that they will seek Him all the more themselves.


woman-adultery

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.


In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.


When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.


At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:3-11


Many people have brought this scripture to my attention to help me see that Jesus asked the adulterous woman to leave her life of sin because they are concerned that I may have lost my concern for sin. But, what I see here is that the lady had to be brought to Jesus first. In the right order, He made it clear that He had no condemnation in His heart for her first!  He connected to her in a very significant and loving way so as to clear the way for Her to follow Him. I believe the message of leaving her “life of sin” here is more about a lifestyle of pursuing the Kingdom of God, than it is about behavior modification.


Over and over, Jesus spoke to us about living a kingdom lifestyle. All through the Sermon on the Mount He contrasted the law with our human nature to show us we could never reach perfection on our own and that He had come to redeem us and to inspire us to leave the kingdom of this world and join Him in His kingdom. It is clear to me that Jesus was not giving this woman another law to follow, but rather He was asking her to join Him and walk into a better future.


So, if you tell a gay man or a lesbian they are to “sin no more” this can be a cruel and unthoughtful thing to ask. Unthoughtful because of the lack of definition of the word and the potential of a severe misunderstanding of what you mean. This is why it is so very important that we point one another to Christ because He can work in our lives in such beautiful ways to show us what He wants from us. The real message of the woman caught in adultery who meets Jesus face to face is just that – she met Jesus and He showed her what He wanted her to know.


It is also an example of how human’s want to deal with people. The Pharisees wanted to stone her.  Hum. Have we also been Pharisees?  Do you think that many within the gay community have faced a crowd of Pharisees in their own lives? Who do they need to connect to?  Of course, Jesus! And what do you think Jesus would say to the Pharisee? Well, He asked them to evaluate their own lives of sin.


Years ago a lady that went through one of our progams at Love In Action gave a little talk at the completion of her program. She said:


“John Smid is a Pharisee! Much like the woman caught in adultery, he brought me to the feet of Jesus where I found healing and freedom.”


I would never want to be thought of as a Pharisee!  But I do want to be a man who has found a loving God and hopes to be a vehicle that will bring others to the feet of the Savior.


In all honesty I do not believe I have “deviated” from the truth. Rather, I believe truth is a discovery and I have delighted in finding another facet of God’s truth.


I hope we are walking together as the Body, one by one, uniquely with purpose and hope and most of all, a desire to bring the lost, broken, estranged, hurting folks to the redemption of the soul.


Your Friend,


John


This is part six of a series on John’s transition away from his 22 year vocation with Love In Action.

You can read other articles in this series by (clicking here).


 

“Buddy Boy” Comes to Help

Friday, May 6th, 2011


spirit of fearFor all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Rom. 8:14-16


In March of 2010 our little Spencer doggie was killed after he strayed out of the yard and was hit by a car. It was Easter morning and we were devastated. I questioned all of the things that had preceded his accident wondering what I could have done differently……? If I had only seen him wandering off…… ? He was elderly and may have had some dementia and got lost, but that didn’t seem to calm my internal guilt.


I experienced a lot of internal pain from the grief of our loss. The ache was tremendous and surprised me. I thought, “he was a dog.” But that also didn’t make any difference, he was a significant part of our lives and we really missed him. For weeks the pain lingered and tears formed daily as we both processed through what had happened. No other dog could possibly replace Spencer. But our future was to include another lesson in life that would again, surprise us!


We weren’t sure what to do and questioned whether or not to get another dog. We talked about how it would be so much easier to not have to deal with a pet. We also became frustrated with each other over the decision that we weren’t ready to make and was still filled with the pain from our loss.


A New Doggie, A Teaching Moment


Mollie2 8-22-2010One day, we were both on the same page and decided to pursue another little doggie. We decided on a rescue poodle that had been raised in a cage in a puppy mill as “breeding stock” and had never been socialized with humans. We felt confident in adopting her but had no idea what this was going to be like.


After seeing how wounded she was I remember thinking, “we may never see her skip and run, but she is worth taking the time to love her anyway.” We loved her unconditionally without expectations of her actions changing. We knew it would be a sacrifice to work with her. Soon, we became quite attached to her and began to love her and uniquely our hearts were knit to her little life.


After months of trying everything we could think of to help her, we sought the help of a professional dog trainer. He gave us two pieces of advice. One was to put a “thunder wrap” on her. This was a tight sweater that would hold closely to her body. He said it may give her a sense of security that may help to calm her fears. Then he said to walk by her bed and each time let a treat roll off of our hand without any eye to eye contact. He said this may begin to symbolize for her that we aren’t so bad and she would see that each time she is in contact with us, a treat seems to come her way.


So, first came the sweater. In just moments she actually chose to come out of her bed! Mollie began to explore the house. She ran upstairs and checked out her full environment. We were shocked!  The change was immediate.


Then, the treats. This didn’t seem to have the same effect. We dropped treats for weeks. The goal was to get her to finally take a treat out of our hand. After a lot of work, we finally saw her take a treat out of our hand but not every time. So, we continued to practice the treat routine with the hope that it would make a difference.


Progress Along the Journey

Mollie-Couch

“Mollie” had finally gotten into a routine with us that was working to bring improvement, but she remained severely cautious around us, or any people for that matter. She seemed to find ways to stay her distance as she sought “safe” places to calm her own fears. The living room couch and chair seemed to be her favorite place to find some sense of security. When we would ask her to go to “her chair” and she would most often jump up there. This was the only way we could pick her up or have any physical contact with her. She would run from us whenever she wasn’t in her safe place.


In our continued process to work with her to eat out of our hands, I developed a little game with her that we practiced every night. I would sit in a chair and toss a kernel of her food out onto the floor and she would search for it and eat it. Night after night I would literally toss every bite of her evening meal out onto the floor. She got excited to play this “game”. After days of this little game, eventually she would come to my feet and I would hold my hand out to her with a handful of food and she would cautiously grab bigger bites. Progress was seen! This became a playful interaction with her that included a person.


One problem that persisted was that she would bark loudly every time I would enter the room or come into the house. No matter if I had just been there seconds before, it seemed she wanted me to know that she didn’t want me around. We learned that if I would get her onto the couch, while she was barking, then sit down next to her the barking would cease and I would hold her close and love her up. This seemed to work every time, so to keep her barking down, this was the practice.


In the morning, and evening, her personality would change. Mornings she would race around the table in a circle and then into another room and back again. My wife would begin to chase her and she would run even faster. I’ve never seen a dog run so fast inside the house! It was so much fun to watch her chase around and play. Her tail wagged as fast as she was running throughout her play time. We were thrilled because we finally saw her running and skipping more than we had hoped for.


In the evening, she would jump on our bed and for some reason she seemed to want to play with me! Even though I was the most feared, she wanted to run up to me and nip at my hands and jump around with me. At no other time of the day but this time, she seemed to find me to be her favorite play mate.


Vileen was overall, her “alpha dog” so to speak. She followed Vileen all over the place. When she would go to her office, Mollie would follow her and sit on her lap. That was a very safe place for her to stay for long lengths of time. She didn’t bark at me if she was there.


We’re Stuck

We continued to try everything we could to help her, but as we watched her grow day by day it seemed she had reached a point where the growth seemed to stop. She was stuck in a pattern that didn’t seem to be changing anymore. We had often wondered if maybe a second little dog would be helpful for her. At one point we went back to “Sunny Meadows, A Safe Haven for Pets” and took a look at several other dogs. Each one seemed to be as emotionally damaged as Mollie and we knew that would not be helpful for her. It seemed she would do better if we had a healthier dog for her to “learn” from. We didn’t find any there so, we left without another dog and forgot about it at the time.


Recently, we brought up the subject again concerning a second dog and I found two possible choices on the website. I ran through the criteria and found that each of them seemed to be socialized, one being a little 8 month old puppy and the other one was a stray that had been brought in. So, off we went to meet these two dogs.


We brought them home to our own back yard for a test run with Mollie. As soon as we put them on the ground, Mollie and the other two dogs began to run playfully around the yard. Mollie came to life with these dogs and there was no jealousy or fighting from any of them.


Bringing A Friend to Help


BuddyOur hearts went out to one in particular, the 8 month old puppy was so cute. He seemed amiable to everything and there were no problems between him and Mollie so we decided to adopt the puppy. After several options, we decided to name him “Buddy”. I call him Buddy Boy.


So now we began the process of adjusting to two dogs. Mollie stayed a little distant but not for long. As I played with Buddy Mollie came to join us. She ran up to me, to him, and pushed her paws towards us, ran away and ran back to us again. Mollie hasn’t run up to me in the entire 9 months we have had her! Then the two ran away and played with each other. When I called Buddy back to me, Mollie ran as quickly towards me as he did.


When it came time for bed, we put them both in Mollie’s bed and they each fell fast asleep curling around each other. My wife said, “I think we definitely made the right decision.” Mollie was at the right place in her growth process to take advantage of a new little brother. We have had Buddy for two days now and we have seen a significant growth in Mollie’s social development. She is out amongst us more. She is much friendlier towards us. At times she jumps on the couch since Buddy can’t quite get up there yet, to find some relief. It seems she has to stop and process what is happening in her life.


As I have thought back over what we have seen in Mollie and now in Buddy, I can only look at our own human experiences. Mollie had been so wounded by a lack of personal attention and human contact that her fears became the controlling factor of her life. She was living each moment with the question, “Do I feel safe?” and seemed to often come up with the answer, “No.”


While we have been kind to her and tried to love her deeply, she remained cautious around us. I could see in her actions that she wanted to be closer, but her internal fears kept her away. She seemed to know internally that we weren’t going to hurt her, but her past life was dictating to her to stay away.


On the other hand, Buddy, was a normal puppy. He immediately runs up to everyone energetically! He licks our faces, jumps to us when we enter a room or return from being gone. He has no fears of people to keep him away.


When Mollie sees Buddy’s playful response to me or my wife, she wants so badly to fully engage but for now, she can only come so close but still her face shows a little more joy and less fear around us. It is our hope that in time she will be able to move closer to us on her own and enjoy a fuller life and relationship with those around her. Buddy’s ease seems to help her and hopefully will continue to do so.


Human Application


I am seeing some things about wounded people, fearful little ones, people who live by a daily struggle with fear. I am learning that maybe for some of them, they need mostly, a safe place to build confidence. Safe places may be places that aren’t necessarily the best places in our minds, but to them, it may feel safe. Going to them in their safe place may be one of the only ways we can begin to show them we love them.


Practicing kindness without any demands of a return may also be necessary. Looking for their love language of words of affirmation, gifts, acts of kindness, physical affirmation, or time; is very important as long as we don’t overwhelm them more than they are comfortable with.


Seeing that it may take a tremendous amount of patience to walk with them. It may take much longer than we would have imagined. Each one of us has a different time line with regards to our growth here on earth. I also have to learn that only God knows what each of us need and when we need it.


Everyone Needs A Friend


Something that has come to me in our recent experience with Mollie is how important is it to find camaraderie with others who understand.


Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Hebrews 13:1-3


I also see such a tremendous lesson and value in the need for relationship with each other. Mollie now has a friend who can relate to her much more than any of us humans can. Buddy has given her the courage to face some of her fears.


How about our connection with God? How comfortable are we to run to Him quickly?  Do we remain distant and fearful?  I have my own personal experience with feeling distrustful and somewhat fearful about relating to God. Maybe you do as well. I see two significant sources of courage to draw nearer to God personally.


Jesus came to us in humanity so that he would experience our humanity and die in our stead.


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8


The other source of courage will come from being close to others.


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25


Mollie’s story continues to give me insights and things to contemplate regarding my own life. It helps me to think of others that I know and learn to be patient with. It gives me hope that all of us will grow and that our loving Father will bring to our lives just what we need when we need it.


Mollie and BuddyMollie consistently runs up to each of us now filled with such excitement, with her little button tail wagging as fast as it can, as if she is saying, “Thank you so much for bringing my Buddy home.”


It seems that God has led us to just the right friend at just the right time in Mollie’s life. But it isn’t only for Mollie, Buddy is now trying to adjust to his new home and Mollie is bringing Him alongside her as she runs and skips around the house. He is her “little brother” and she is doing a great job as the “big sister”.


Can we trust our Father to do that for us too? He knew the timing was right to save us. At the right time our Father brought to us our own Friend, Jesus. Are we ready to receive Him?


And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:5-6


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

face of Jesus



 

I Feel Lonely Today

Friday, July 23rd, 2010



dad_daughter_by_riverSometimes we just need to know someone is there.


Thank you for reaching out to me today.


I felt all alone.





The Lord said this to Moses right before he was going to take him away from this earth, and before he would leave the people he had led for so long:


Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Duet. 31:6


Then as Moses charged Joshua to carry on with the plan he said:


The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Duet. 31:8


God-I'm-LonelyLoneliness is one of the most common experiences we can share with each other. Moses had felt alone a lot as he tried to lead a disgruntled and frustrated crowd for so many years. Then as Moses knew what Joshua would be facing in taking over, he made sure Joshua heard what was needed for his upcoming task. He needed to know he wasn’t alone.  I think one of the most significant things we can struggle with is the thought that we are alone in the battle ground of this life. God knew we needed to know that He was with us no matter what.


There are those times when we feel alone, separated from others. I can feel lonely because I am struggling with something personal that I don’t think anyone else can relate to. I can also feel lonely when I am in the midst of a crowd but overwhelmed with a personal life issue. I miss the connection with them assuming they don’t understand what I am going through. The reality is that they may not know anything about it. At times, I just feel lonely, period.


I remember a time many years ago when I told some friends that I was having a “Christmas Open House”. I cleaned, decorated, prepared food, set the grand buffet with all kinds of goodies. 6:00 came, 7:00 came, but no one came to the door. Then at 11:00 I started to put the food away, none of it eaten other than from my own snacking. As I was closing down my unattended party something hit me. I had survived my worst nightmare.  I went to bed with a weird kind of satisfaction. In some ways this lonely event brought me to a new level of victory. I hosted a party and no one showed up. I didn’t die, I didn’t lose my breath. But, I did feel disappointed, kind of lost and rejected. Might I add, I felt a little embarrassed. What did this misfortune say about me?


Just because I am talking with others on a regular basis doesn’t mean that I am connecting with them. I realized after the fact that my invitation was passive and not personally expressed to individuals. I truly believe if someone would have thought that I wanted to spend the evening with them at my party they would have come.


friendly+peopleThe smiling faces we see in most pictures aren’t always telling us the truth. We can’t assume that people feel loved by the way we see them interacting with others. We all know how to look good in public or to talk good on the phone. But often times the loneliest people are the ones who look the least alone.  Because we don’t believe they need anything from us we can actually leave them alone.


Loneliness can be a result of feeling rejected by someone that is important to us. We may have had a friend move out of town, or someone in our life has gone through a significant life change that alters the way we have been used to connecting subsequently we feel alone. A friend’s divorce, a job change, or leaving a church we had gone to with each other; can produce a sense of loss leaving us feeling lonely.


So, what’s the point? Reach out to someone today. Ask the Lord to put someone on your mind to call or stop by to see.  As I am writing this I am creating my own list.  With new mediums like FaceBook and text messaging, we have lots of opportunities to just say “Hello, I am thinking about you today.” But even better, pick up the phone and call someone. I remember the slogan, “Reach Out and Touch Someone” to advertize the telephone service. It was a great way to encourage us to tell someone else they are important to us and really make a difference in a simple easy way. Christians are born into a new family.  How can our family function in a healthy way?  Maybe a brother or sister could use a word from you today and you didn’t know it.


lonelygirl-balloonsGod sets the lonely in families. Ps. 68:6


We don’t have to assume someone is in trouble or is desperately alone in order to contact them. Maybe it will mean even more to someone that we called them “just because”. But there are those who really need to know they aren’t alone today. Your spontaneous “hello” may make a world of difference to them.


What about those people who have made a huge difference in your life? Do they know that you feel that way? Please tell them. Some people labor for years giving to others and wonder, “am I making a difference?”


A lady called me recently and asked to take my wife and I out to breakfast. She said she had something to talk with us about and wanted to update us on their family situation. I am used to people wanting to meet with me to discuss life issues that are troublesome to them. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others and love being able to do that so I was prepared to listen and somehow help her. When we got to breakfast she said, “John, I need to tell you how you have helped me several years ago. My life was changed from your influence.” She went on with explicit detail and of course I was surprised and encouraged to hear her words. I felt even more motivated that day to continue to make myself available for others. I was “stimulated to love and good deeds” from her taking the time to tell me how I had helped her.


lonely man readingAnd let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb 10:24-25


Think back to your own life growth. We have all experienced those times when someone helped us, spoke to us with encouragement, or stood by our side. Have you told them they helped you? Make a list today of those people and if at all possible take the time to let them know how you feel.


There is another friend of mine that sends me text messages with prayers, scripture, and thankfulness on a random basis. I just received one today,


“Love U John Smid! U r a blessing 2 me! 2 day I know U will bless someone!”


I never know when they will come but feel so encouraged when they do.  Can you take the time today to send an encouraging message to someone?


In some cases, reaching out to others may not bring forth what you hope for, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t helping. I know a man who said that a friend of his sent him cards for Christmas, birthdays, and just because – for years. He had been in a very challenging life situation but didn’t have the courage to do anything different but through the cards and letters of encouragement over time he felt ready to make some changes. He often speaks of the unconditional love he felt as a result of this friend reaching out to him consistently during the darkest time of his life. He often mentions that no matter what he was going through, he knew he had a friend that cared about him.


One day I returned to my office after lunch and found a cassette tape and a note from a man in my mens group at the time.  He had heard me talk about a type of music that I liked.  During his busy work day, he took the time out to bless me with a tape of that style and a note that said, “I love you brother”.  Fifteen years later I still remember the way I felt encouraged, the blessing that was to me during a very lonely time in my own life.  I knew someone cared. It only took a few extra minutes from his day but impacted me for a lifetime.


Maybe there is someone you know that you feel concerned about but don’t know how to help them. How about just telling them you love them and are thinking of them and doing this periodically, not just when it is their birthday or a holiday, but just because. You never know what may be going on in their life when they receive your caring words.


reach out - telephoneDon’t wait! Who is on your mind today? We all need to know we aren’t alone. Each one of us needs to hear the words “I love you” from those who really mean it.


This may be a lonely time for you. See if it helps to reach into someone else’s life when you need to feel connected.


I suspect it may.


 

Focus on His Power in the Turmoil of Life

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010



man_with_Yellow_hat_waterfallsSometimes in the turmoil of life we need something to focus on that shows us His power.


Ps. 42:7

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”



When I lived in Northern California some of my favorite times were sitting on the rocky coast listening and watching as the waves came in. The icy blue water was cold and translucent and the white caps blended through it. As the tide moved in or out the randomness of the movement kept my attention. It just seemed that the heaviness of life washed away with each crashing wave. Life seemed to soften, to soothe as the consuming ocean brought something to focus on. It was then that I could ponder,  think, and  release.


Crashing Waves

The rumbling water was at my feet and yet I couldn’t deny the depth of the seemingly endless ocean. The greatness was incomparable. I loved those times and keep them stored in my memories so that I can even smell the strange but familiar smell of the kelp seaweed on the sandy shore.


There are those times when I  feel confused or overwhelmed. I need something to focus that helps me meditate on  our omnipotent God. The ever increasing power of His greatness can shrink my  troubles into manageable segments if I allow it to.


A few summers ago I was in the middle of some of the roughest times I can remember. I was feeling overwhelmed, confused, lost and certainly overrun with seemingly unmanageable trials. Each morning I would get up with an wringing knot in my stomach and by the end of the day I was so tired from living through the anticipated anxiety. I searched and searched to find a solution but to no avail.  I struggled each day to get up in the morning and at the end of the day a great escape into an interesting TV show seemed to give me a little break. But, after far too many of those days I needed more than the temporary relief of a TV show. I needed something much greater.


So, I remember as clear as day going to my private side porch almost like I had a severe goal in mind with my bible in hand.  I was going to sit down with God. I began to talk with the Lord in an exasperated silent voice. “God, I am my end. I need something from you that is tangible and something that I cannot confuse with my own head or someone else’s words. I am desperate for hope, desperate to know you are here and that you understand. I really need to hear from you. So, I sat quietly for a moment then opened up my bible.


He took me to a passage in Jeremiah. “Oh, my gosh! God, you really heard me.” This passage was all about my situation. Not only does it describe in general terms what I was in the middle of but He even took me to a place where my heart was revealed. No one else could have done that!


Ps. 89:9

“You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.”


Than as I looked further into the story at hand there were such specific details.  He used the words like, “wounds”,” injury”, “forgotten”. Then he moved on to “restored”, “healed”, “rebuilt!” As I read on he spoke of “thanksgiving”, “moving forward” and “increasing.” Then in the last verse of the chapter I was reading it said, ” In days to come you will understand this.”


It was obvious to me that I had heard from the Lord. The similarities and words in this chapter were so in line with where I was at I knew that my God was with me in my trials. Even more, He comforted me with showing me a future that was hopeful and even mysterious. The words brought me to a place of relief and yet some of the ambiguity caused me to wonder how He would fill in the details. My current trials now became more of a building project than a prison of despair.  It was so much like the crashing waves, close and sharp and yet far and mysterious like the ocean. But none the less, real, even tangible.


Uh oh, I got to a place where I stopped:


Jer. 30:11

“I am with you and will save you, declares the LORD. Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”


Discipline me? I didn’t like that part. So I had to think for a moment. Oh, yeah, this is the discipline of the Lord, He loves me.  He doesn’t deal with me like a human would. God is always teaching, loving, kind, and intentional. He doesn’t give me the back of His hand, rather I believe I can trust His discipline to be good. Actually, I turned to a place where I was looking forward to His discipline because I knew it would help me to grow and it would not shame me.


Ps. 25:3

“No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.”


Someday I’ll understand? Oh, yeah sure. Someday?  “Remember, God, I want something NOW!” But even that brought me to a positive place. I knew that in the end of life I would understand all of this. But it didn’t seem that He was talking about at the end of life.  It appeared to be a time sooner than that where I would be given some understanding.


That was several years ago and amazingly, I mean amazingly, the words in that chapter have become more true than I would have ever imagined. I felt heard and comforted by the Lord which was awesome. I received the detail that was written and kept going back to that passage over and over looking for more of the prophetic content to reveal itself to me. And it did!


So, I moved into a place of thankfulness as He said I would. I found this to be a revealing  learning process to look back to that dark time and actually say, “Thank you Lord, for showing me amazing and wonderful things.” I began to see lessons coming into my life and changes in my heart that were so strange to me and yet so wonderful to receive.


I think I am beginning to gain understanding now. As I filter the situation through knowledge, thanksgiving, and lessons learned, the clarity He promised is coming into view. It sure has been a journey, and I wouldn’t want to relive any of it! I still remember the anxiety in my heart, the emptiness in my stomach, and the extreme confusion I was experiencing. But there seems to be a blurry filter that has taken away the edge of what I was feeling. I guess you might call this healing.


I have grown in my knowledge of Him. I have gained better understanding myself and others. My faith has deepened. My heart has changed.


Jeremiah 5:17

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”


Something powerful to focus on? Just look around a little bit. It doesn’t have to be a mighty crashing wave to see His power.


baby-birds-eating

Yesterday I looked into a ceramic pitcher sitting on our side porch. Yes the same porch where God spoke to me years ago. Deep down inside was a grassy nest. It held some hungry tiny baby birds waiting for their mama to return with their food. They were so delicate, so hidden. I thought, this mama found a great place to hide them. I could hardly hear their squeaking in the insulation of the nest and the rim of the pitcher.


But even in that I saw the power of the Lord. His power isn’t a clenched fist ready to punch the wrongdoer. Rather His power is able to crash the waves, contain the ocean and yet to hold the delicacy of these little birds in His hand without hurting them.


I think in the turmoil of my life, both are needed. The strong arm of the Lord and the gentleness of His heart. How about you? Can you feel His power? Can you feel His softened heart?


Is. 59:1

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.


 

Lesbian Coach Banned from Church League

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010



JohnSmidOnDeckBlueSky

A recent front page article said “A large influential church made the decision to remove a team from their league after a coach spoke honestly about being a lesbian.”


The league was a church sponsored league that was open others within the community and to non members of the church.  After a phone call to the church announcing that one of the coaches was a lesbian some things became complicated.  The church held a meeting with the coach in which she admitted that she was a lesbian and that there were possibly others on the team that were gay or lesbian. The decision was made to not allow inclusion of the team in their league.


Questions Questions

I have been asked by numerous people about my response to this situation so I decided to take some time to include you in my own process.  It is really hard for me to be balanced in this situation since I have a burden for the gay community to know Jesus fully and to understand and receive His unconditional love for them. Coming from my personal history with homosexuality I have had my own experiences with biased responses from church folk.


I have toiled more over this article than any I can remember and am still insecure about whether or not it convey’s my heart but I want to get it out there so if you have comments, please leave them below.


I desire more than anything that we as believers in Christ would reflect the love of Christ to all people equally without prejudice. I also know my own human temptation to personal prejudice with those I don’t understand.  Somewhere in all of this I hope we grow in our abilities to set aside our bias and spread the gospel in and through all situations without “banning”  people without knowing them. The goal is to be honest with ourselves, listen to others, and respect all people – and to understand that respect doesn’t have to agree.


In most cases in scripture where we are asked to “not associate” with others it is concerning those within active fellowship of the church, not in an outreach function such as a church sports league.  Well, I’d at least hope that this church had desires for their league to be an outreach since it is an open league.


You may also have strong reactions concerning this situation. What are they? Many people are really passionate about these issues and a great divide exists. This is a very costly situation at a deep kingdom level!


I’d like to invoke an evaluation for us to consider as we ponder the circumstances.


I would say that if at all possible the very best way to handle this would be person to person. The problem here is that the exclusion of the team has already taken place. It seems hasty since the church is called to be a messenger of the redemption of Jesus Christ.


I don’t want to in any way minimize the complexity of this situation but there are some things to think about that may help us all to think this through if not for this situation, for future reference.



What is or should be the response of bible believing and Jesus following Christians?  We all know that that there are two sides that are responding to this issue.



1.  You believe homosexual relations are biblically immoral?


Or:


2.  You believe homosexual relationships are biblically acceptable?


No matter which side you feel passionate about the biblical encouragement on how to approach one another remains the same on either side of this divide.


Matthew 18: 15 – 17


“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”


In this case, someone believed that a lady’s homosexuality was immoral. The newspaper article said that someone called the church and told them about her lesbianism. I am assuming that they felt that the lady was sinful and a bad influence for the league.  I question whether or not the “caller” knew the lady. Did they speak with her first? When they called the church was it to pray for God’s grace and restoration or was it just to “inform” them of impending danger - in their minds? Or, was it reputation damage control?


Maybe you are having feelings of resentment or judgment regarding the church, or church leader who made the decision. If you feel that the church or the church leader is wrong, see if you can talk with someone who is connected to the decision making process. Learn to know them better and learn from them. Maybe what you thought happened wasn’t really the truth. Remember, the newspapers are often wrong! And, there are always two sides to every story.


Before confronting someone–


Right or wrong, when we feel a burden to approach someone we believe to be “in sin”, it is very important to go through some personal inventories before the confrontation. We can be assured that if we approach somoene in love and personally, our hearts and minds will likely change and soften!

1. Consider these things:

                a. Why are you confronting the situation? What is your motivation?

                b. Consider your relationship with them.

                c. Consider the true character of the person.

                d. Consider your own shortcomings, your weaknesses.


 Jesus confronted the Pharisees for their lack of personal life evaluation. (Matt. 7:3-5)


                e. Consider their current circumstances or situation.

                f. Consider God’s grace with you.

                g. Consider God’s grace with them.


Dealing with other people’s lives is a dangerous and sensitive matter. Whenever we see things in Scripture about disagreement or conflict, there isn’t a timeline given as to how long it may take to truly get to the heart of a matter. There are specific processes laid out but these matters may take months, or even years to deal with. I understand in community relations we may not feel we have years to deal with something, but it is always good to begin with a personal approach and not be too quick to lay down the gavel.


1. Ask yourself?

             a. Why do you feel passionate that this is a problem?

                            i. Is this situation very personal?

                           ii. Is it mainly a family or inner group situation?

                          iii. Do you believe this is primarily a harmful situation to an individual?

                          iv. Is this a community matter?

             b. What feelings do you expect to be confronted in YOU as a result of this action?


Galatians 6:1-5

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.”


Tempted in what way?


                 To inappropriate judgment?

                 To false mercy (enabling)?

                 Tempted in like weakness?


Are we willing to be involved in carrying someone elses burdens?

Romans 2:1-4

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”


 

In either case, pray for Gods incredible, transforming, redeeming kindness will penetrate all of our lives and souls. Become part of the answer to that prayer by being kind, generous, and loving towards others whose perspective you may struggle with. Loving your enemy can become a personally transforming relationship for you. It is in His kindness that changes us, not in condemnation.


 

Matthew 5:43-44

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

  

Luke 11:46

“Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”


 

You believe that the team should be banned from the church league. How does this line up with  Jesus asking us to go into the world? I can’t imagine a better way to minister to others regardless of where they are coming from than to play ball with them and rub elbows with them. We are told to be “in the world, but not of the world”. We too often focus on the “not of the world” part and do not go “into the world” enough. There are a lot of people who will not attend a fellowship gathering at a church but will join extracurricular church activities.  Have you considered that maybe who choose to join a church activity might be looking for a closer walk with Jesus but they are afraid to come too close!


 

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


 

Mark 15:16

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”


 

I can’t believe what that church has done!


 

In any divide over spiritual convictions nothing is any better than to walk together and listen to one another whenever possible. If the door is closed, move away, shake the dust from your feet and keep moving forward with the Lord. Maybe God wants to do something in your heart. There may also be something that He is doing in the church that you are unaware of.


 

Luke 6:42

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”


 

I just want to see what they are made of!


Some people come into a church activity to “test” the water.  In some cases, this is a dishonest attempt and the motives might be to challenge them rather than to look for something positive.  This would be inappropriate. It is not really fair to go into an organization incognito to test their responses.  It is better to go in honestly if you feel there will be problems ahead.


“Well, being gay is just wrong!”


 

That depends on how you define “gay”. Being gay and engaging in sex are two different things. Being gay doesn’t mean that someone is giving themselves over to promiscuous sexual relationships. Being gay doesn’t mean that someone is not a Christian. Someone who is gay may have a closeness to God that may not make sense to you but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Sometimes people are crying out to the Lord in deep groaning that we aren’t aware of.  We should not make assumptions about people and act upon those assumptions rashly.


2 Corinthians 12:7-10

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”


 

There are some other things to consider


 

             Some have said:    ” Doesn’t God say, one man, one woman for life?” Really?


                How many do you know who have been with only one woman/man – for life?


 

                            50 % + of church attendees have been divorced.


 

                         He says he hates divorce.


Malachi 2:16

“I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel”


 

            Others have said: “He speaks against homosexuality!”


 

                      Well, He speaks against fornification, adultery and lust.


 

                 A large percentage of regular church attendees practice sexual promiscuity,


                                   Also-  addictive use of pornography or practice idolatry.


Are we really prejudiced?  Do we really act upon our spoken beliefs that “sin is sin”?


1 Cor. 6:9-10

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”


 

I intentionally underlined the negative patterns that are not called “homosexual”. There are far more of them in the church than homosexuals! Many who are regular church attendees are sexually inappropriate, greedy and selfish with their worldly possessions, not sharing with those in need when they can.  Do we practice what this scripture refers to?


Acts 4:32

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”


” nor slanderers?”
 

The story of the lesbian coach was begun by someone who contacted the church to tell them that this coach was a lesbian. Was it their place to divulge this information if they didn’t go to the individual first? What about the other coaches?  Is there anything in their life that is sinful or non-productive for the league?  We might never know because it isn’t likely someone will call the church on them. I’ve known plenty of people who have negatively influenced others with inappropriate heterosexuality such as loose sexual talk, negative references to the opposite gender and the like. If we want to “pick nits” this can be a never ending hunt for sin issues.


 

Before you start judging the church-


 

I am certain the coach and her team were aware that this church was very conservative. I am also certain she was aware that there may be some possible challenges in joining the league. It would not be appropriate to use this situation as a testing ground for acceptance of homosexuality.  this would be dishonest in the intentions.


 

There may be some who are harboring resentment because of the stand the church has taken? The same scriptures apply for you. To go about slandering the church or its leaders is just as inappropriate and unbiblical.


 

We are called to be a peacemaker within the body of Christ and to love others into His kingdom. What is the greatest goal here? Reconciling relationships and spreading the gospel.


 

The commandments are summed up like this:


 

Mark 12:29-31

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


 

So, what am I saying here?


 

Don’t be too quick to judge someone else’s life, motives, or actions. Go to them personally if it is possible. Don’t slander others, and don’t be dishonest with your intentions.


 

Eph. 4:25

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”


 

What I am saying is that for those of you who believe the church needs to be protected by those kinds (homosexuals) it may be a good idea to evaluate the other’s equally.


 

And if you believe the church has descriminated or misjudged someone, it may be a good idea for self examination there too.


 

Remember – It’s a pretty thin pancake that doesn’t have two sides!

 

God, I need you today.

Friday, June 18th, 2010


 

quiet_forrest_stream

 

The warm humid air of the waterside growth.


The rich undergrowth begins to draw me to breathe in God’s provision of life.


 

Ps. 10:14


But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.

The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

  

Matt. 6:30


If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?


 

Matt. 7:9-11


Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him


During some counseling I received several years ago I talked about how I hadn’t felt safe in my life lately. Actually, I realized that I hadn’t felt very safe at any point in my life at all!


Relationships were very challenging at this point because I was feeling particularly threatened in some very significant places. We discussed some of the challenges I was experiencing but I didn’t know how I could deal with them because of my lack of feeling secure or safe enough to face them. So my counselor asked me to ponder some of the times in my life I had felt safe.


His request was a real challenge for me to think about. But quickly I came up with one time when I was about 5 years old and I felt warm, comforted, at peace and yes, safe. He wanted me to think about more of those times and to learn to utilize the visual memories in my prayer life. He asked me to take one particular one and to meditate on it and then to invite Jesus to come into the place with me. I went home and prayed and meditated on several places that were similar to the first one.


When I lived in Northern California I realy appreciated its beauty, and the incredible opportunities to visit nationally known places. I liked seeing the ocean on occasion and some of my best Christian growth memories come from the eight years I lived there. In response to my assignment, I was quickly drawn to some of the most awesome times I had in Northern California.


One very significant place that I enjoyed very much was spending time in the middle of the redwood forests. Oh, boy, I can almost smell the humid air right now. I think of the towering trees, and the incredibly soft “carpet” on the ground below from the softened needles that spread out to cover almost all of the barren ground under their shade.


(These photographs are from Samuel P. Taylor Park where my safe place actually came from.)


DSC00040


I had a particularly difficult challenge that I was facing so I wanted to use the new tool of my visual and sensory images to bring some safety to my prayer when I had something very serious to ask God about. He quickly led me to the redwood forests. I pondered them in my eyes, brought up the smells and the deafening sounds of the soft movement of the trees above. The trickling of the little creek beside me. My heart began to open up wider to go to the Lord with my needs at that time. I was really anxious and desperately needed to hear from the Lord.


“God, what should I do?” “I feel so overwhelmed and insecure about making this decision.”


Redwood-tables


So, I asked God to take me to one of the safe places I had discovered. I began to visualize taking a walk through the forest and I imagined God walking with me. We walked slowly as I looked around and drank up the gift of the forest into my heart. Soon, it appeared we sat down on a picnic table that was close by. As we sat there God began to ask me some questions.


“John, remember what you learned about the redwoods when you were there?”


“I said, “yes”, they are fed from the moist air because they have very shallow roots and they are designed for this arid climate. They only grow on the east side of the hills next to the ocean because the fog rolls over the tops of the hills onto the soft needles of the redwoods. They also grow in clumps because it is hard for a redwood to catch enough moisture by itself and it is better when there are many together.”


Redwood-tall


God replied, “John, that is the way I feed my people too. I ask them to hang out together so that they can receive my provision more easily. If you are in close community, you will do better too. You have come to me with questions about what I want you to do, where I want you to go, and what that will look like.”


“I will show you my provision through your community. You will know my will by listening to others around you. Take your requests, your burdens to them and you will find my provision there.”


It was just amazing! I felt so affirmed, I felt heard, I felt hopeful! God didn’t answer me at the moment because it appeared He wanted me to go to His people for my questions to be answered. He seemed to be more interested in my relationship with others. Sure, He could have given me a direct answer but instead He wanted to use His body to help me.


The coolest thing about it all was that my prayer life was deeply enhanced through this experience. My prayer wasn’t a litany of requests that I brought to the “Great Answer Giver in the Sky”. Rather, it was a quiet walk with my Lord in one of my favorite places in the world and I didn’t even have to get on a plane to get there. Visiting the redwood forests with Jesus became a place of comfort, solitude, a place of provision for me.


Redwood-Stream


Where is your safe place? Once you find it, invite Jesus to join you.


Humm, where will I go with Him today?


(c) John J. Smid 2010

 

The Journey of Thomas – Respect

Friday, July 24th, 2009


Ephesians 5:21
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 

Rom. 14:3
Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him.

 

The term “respect” can mean many different things for different people. Here are some definitions to help us enter into this subject on the same basis of understanding:

 

1. Esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
2. The condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
3. To hold in esteem or honor: e.g.” I cannot respect someone who does that”.
4. To refrain from intruding upon or interfering with: to respect a person’s investment or time.

 
I am going to use two definitions from the list above, number “2″ and number “4″. God has given an intrinsic value to each of us. To respect what He has created without judgment is to agree with God’s assessment of value to His children.

 

I would also like to call attention to learning to value one another through maintaining commitments and paying attention to one another’s time and resources.

 

Esteeming Actual Value

Respect is a practical way of esteeming actual value. When we were created, God spoke into our lives a value that is not negotiable no matter what the world says or does. Just because we were treated poorly or we’ve acted poorly this did not remove or change our actual value. By respecting others we are communicating to them that they are worth whatever God says they are without regard to what they’ve done or based upon the world’s perspective.

 

When I was on a television program with others that were outwardly contrary to my way of thinking I learned a valuable lesson about relating to them. One man in particular was very outspoken and at times rude and the audience was cruel towards him in return. I watched what was happening and found the words “respect doesn’t have to agree” enter my head.

 

I was reminded of Jesus going through extensive insults and abuse and yet there was a respect that came out of His life that was hard for me to understand. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

 

Rom. 14:1
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.

 

When I consider others that I might be tempted to disrespect in my own mind, I must admit that I do not always know or understand their history, their life circumstances, or their heart. How do I know what may be underneath their opinions? Without listening to them, I won’t.

 

I have all too often been mistaken in my outward assessment of where others are at. Maybe a person was appearing to be unconvinced of something I would deem immoral. It is entirely possible that they may be seeking for freedom and deliverance from a habit right at that time? Weak in their faith could mean they are on the same road I am, just at a different place along “their” road than I can see.

 

Respect for one another’s choices

I learned a valuable lesson in respect when our country went through a very challenging election in 2008. The country was divided over race, moral values, and certainly political concerns. How did each of us make a decision as to whom we were going to vote for? Each of us had our own reasons for our choice. I am certain that we could argue our own points that we would want others to agree with. Maybe we felt threatened by the differences that were at stake. But in the end, who is right? Well, from a Christian standpoint, God’s word tells us that He selects the person of His divine choice no matter what my opinion might be.

 

I heard that a close friend of mine, who happens to be African American, was going to attend the inauguration of Barak Obama in Washington D.C. After the event I asked him how it went. His comment was heartening to hear. He said, “John, it was all worth it when I saw the tears on my dad’s face”. So much went through my mind when I heard about his experience. I know nothing of how it feels to be African American in our country. I haven’t walked the path that so many have. I absorbed someone else’s experience in my heart through their words.

 

There are so many who had strong opinions about Obama vs. McCain. Their lives, their personal experiences, their values are something I need to respect. I would do well to listen to the roads they have travelled, the reasons for their convictions, and to hear their hearts regardless of which side they may have been on. My opinions are not any more important than anyone else’s. Yes, there are absolutes in God’s Word but there is also much room-as acknowledged in Romans 14:3-for personal freedom or conviction. Sometimes we just don’t know the bigger picture. In the end people have their own perspectives and we must respect their right to think and act as they choose.

 

Learning from difference

I found that I could learn a lot more about life if I would practice listening to others even if they disagreed with my position. Once I saw value in the differing opinions I saw them as food for thought and I began to learn. I heard someone once say that you learn from listening to your worst critic. I believe this can only be the case if you are willing to hear what they are saying with respect, and then you may find yourself growing in wisdom and in perspective.

 

Respecting one another has to do with pushing down our own pride and gaining a perspective for others that Christ may want us to see. Jesus loves everyone equally; He sees things in our lives and hears things in our hearts that we cannot always see and hear for ourselves. Respecting others will require us to see deeper into each other and look for what God sees.

 

Respect for authority

I remember sitting at a picnic table with some friends of mine. I was upset about some things going on in our church and was speaking negatively about the way our pastor was running things. My friends challenged me by saying, “John, God has not made you the pastor”.

 

I quickly did an evaluation of the truth of their words. I didn’t sit in his chair, his office, nor did I see things from his perspective. I was not right to assume I fully understood his reasoning for the decisions he had made. God had called me to respect his position, not because it was greater than mine, but because I was called to submit to his perspective, and that I didn’t know it all.

 

This didn’t mean that I was less than, or “underneath” him. Rather, there was an intrinsic difference between my view and his. When Ephesians 5:21 says to “submit to one another”, scripture is saying that we are not above or below one another, rather just different. We are called to understand this truth, that we each have different positions, different perspective and to submit to one another is to embrace this reality and not to push for our way being the right way.

 

Heb. 13:17
Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

 

Respecting the authority of difference around us will be a blessing to all of us.

 

Respect for Wives and Husbands

One of the most interesting things I have experienced is the multifaceted interpretation of the biblical instruction for a wife to “submit” to her husband and for a husband to “love” his wife. To submit in this context is a willing subjection, not to be “lorded” over, rather to understand perspective. God has given the husband a mantle of understanding from his role in a marriage. God has also given the wife a mantle of perspective. A mutual submission here is an understanding of respect that will set us free! It is not designed to place us into bondage.

 

For a wife to willingly subject herself to her husband is to understand that he may see what she doesn’t. To choose to allow him to walk in the position of husband and to support what God has put into place by His design is to respect the role.

 

The husband on the other hand, is equally called to respect the role of “wife”. To grasp that God has also given her a viewpoint that is to be heard and embraced, not fought against and resisted as though there is a supreme authority in the husband.

 

Eph. 5:33
Nevertheless, let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.

 

Through Jesus’ eyes

An acquaintance of mine, Tim Miller, once said, “When you look into the mirror and begin to see more of Jesus, the mirror will turn into a window and you begin to see what He sees – hurting people needing our kindness and respect.”

 

We must also see that there isn’t a “pecking order” in the kingdom of God. There isn’t a hierarchy, or someone who is bigger than or better than someone else. There are some who are more talented than others, or who have a different type of responsibility but this doesn’t mean that others are less significant, less valuable or those who have all the answers.

 

When the man who is cleaning up the office speaks to the President of the company about how his job of cleaning would be made more efficient if some things were handled differently, it would behoove the president to listen because he isn’t the one mopping the floors each night. The Janitor therefore is to be respected for his perspective. At the same time, the president may have knowledge about the budget that the janitor needs to hear and submit to as well.

 

Respect for time

Another way to respect is to value one another’s time. I have known some people who are habitually late for things. I am not talking about the situation where an unforeseen matter comes up that causes someone to be late, rather the person who just doesn’t get up in time or dawdles around to make them late. Being on time is something that is really important if we are to respect one another. Being habitually late may communicate to a friend that “our” time is more important than “theirs” and therefore they can just sit at the restaurant and look at the menu until we arrive.

 

Have you made a commitment to do something for someone? Than do it out of respect. Have you made a promise that you would follow through with something? Than make it happen – out of respect.

 

Respect for yourself

Always remember to respect yourself as well. Taking care of ourselves in our health, our rest and personal maintenance all affirms to us internally that we are worth respect. Sometimes we don’t receive respect because we aren’t communicating to others that we respect ourselves.

 

Developing healthy boundaries, healthy relationships, and allowing God to remove unhealthy patterns of behavior will all say that we respect ourselves. Saying no when we feel the need or conviction to do so will say “I am worth taking care of myself”.

 

Matt: 22:37-39
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

 

Printable PDF – Respect

 

The Journey of Thomas – Sensitivity

Thursday, July 16th, 2009


By John J. Smid

 
Prov. 15:23
A man finds joy in giving an apt reply- and how good is a timely word

 

Prov. 16:24
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones

 

I love you! How many times in your life have you heard someone verbally say they love you? How often as a child did you hear your dad or mom say these words to you without shortening them to “luv ya”? Or did you hear this at all? I find that it can’t be said too much.

 

It is so important when showing the love of Christ to others that we develop an awareness of how much people need to know they are loved and cared for. Affirmation is so important and it is much more significant when it is attached to something specific.

 

John 13:34
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

 

God loves us, period.

God’s word here says basically two things: First, God loves us, period. Second, it says that we are asked to share that love with others through personally loving them.

 

This kind of love isn’t necessarily romantic, nor is it intended to be erotic. In our contemporary world, the word love is so misunderstood because it has so many meanings. The love shown here is a command that may or may not have a mushy, affection attached to it. It is the kind of love that we chose to give away. It may be very sacrificial! In fact, most people that we chose to love will likely bring us to a point of sacrifice at some point or another in our relationship.

 

Some of us have received a comment such as “good job” for things we have done well. Or maybe we have received kind words of thanks when we have given something to someone as a gift. And in some cases, we might have heard “I Love You” from unexpected places. But what about affirmation of whom we are as God has created us to be?

 

This love is not connected to performance!

I was at a weekly men’s support meeting at my church about 12 years ago. I was in a really tough spot and feeling a lot of self pity. One of my friends spoke emphatically to me about how I really needed to “get over it”. His words were true and I received them in the spirit in which they were meant. I was thankful for his response which was intended to somehow “shock” me into a better reality. But, at the end of the meeting my friend said, “John, maybe I was too hard on you and it might have been better if I had just told you, “I love you.” Wow! That was powerful for me to receive. I was moved to tears hearing this man spare his own machismo to tell me clearly and succinctly that he loved me.

 

One of the most meaningful kinds of love is unconditional love. This kind of love isn’t attached to what we have done or given, it is just that we are loved by God and as His children we are commanded to do likewise, love each other just because we are called to, because He loves them.

 

If you happen to be a parent, check to see how often you tell your kids, “we love you” as though you and your spouse are one person. While it is very important to be united and show you are a team, in marriage, it is also important to show your kids you are individuals too. Try to tell them you love them as a dad, or mom separately from one another. “I Love You!” There is a lot of meaning in a son hearing from his dad, “I love you, Son.” There is a lot of significance for a daughter to hear this from her dad or vice versa as well. The eye to eye, verbal, with personal contact, “I L O V E You” is very important.

 

This certainly doesn’t mean we are to avoid giving affirmations on behalf of a group or couple. Being sensitive to that is very important as well. Showing appreciation for someone’s involvement in our lives is equally important – however it may be easier because of less vulnerability involved.

 

The power of a poignant pause……

Think about it just for a minute. It can be very personal to enter someone’s day with an “I love you” that just hangs there and isn’t associated with a tradeoff nor does it expect something in return. This is the love of Jesus, His love for us without us giving anything in return and expecting nothing in the future. Sounds a lot like the Gospel, doesn’t it?

 

The Blessing – without it we may search in all the wrong ways to find it!

There is a book by Garry Smalley and John Trent called The Blessing which I have found teaches an important lesson on sensitivity. This little book is powerful and effective in showing us how to truly bless one another, not by affirming something we have done, but rather affirming the character that God built into us when He created us.

 

When blessing an adult child, as a parent, it is important to think of them when they were growing up. There are times when we are looking at our adolescent or adult children and a blessing is far from our minds. We may be really challenged by their lives or choices. But this may be the most significant time to share a blessing; at times when they may not feel they deserve even a kind word-much less a blessing.

 

What kind of person were they when they were 7 or 8 years old? What was their natural bent? How did they see their world or other people? This may have been a time before they were wounded or hurt by the world. It might have been a purer time in their life for their personality to have shone.

 

A blessing for them when they are grown would contain many of these characteristics within it. The same would apply to a child blessing their parent. Look back over your life and see if you can find things about their character that you can bless regardless of their current behavior.

 

 

Blessing people in general

Sometimes we have challenging relationships with others that might require us to dig deep for a blessing to be written or shared but it is possible if we put aside surface things we see and look for the positive character traits that we have observed over time.

 

As we learn to live honestly, entering into one another’s lives, we must learn to become more sensitive in regards to loving each other. This is not a perfect world and we are certainly not perfect people, but God asks us to love each other actively.

 

1 John 3:18

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

 

If we have been honest, put aside our rights for a special time, heard their hearts, and released our judgment, it becomes so much easier-maybe even natural-to sacrificially love someone else.

 

Physical Affirmation

I grew up without much physical affirmation. When I was a teenager I felt hungry for hugs. I thought this through and figured the easiest person to get a hug from would be my Grandma Smid. I was at her home and when we left I reached out and sought a hug from her. It was so well received; I thought “who would be next?” So one by one I reached out to other family members and found that when I hugged them, they typically responded with a warm hug in return.

 

Later in my life, I went too far with hugs. I lost all sense of healthy physical contact and moved into inappropriate physical contact and sexuality. When I was convicted to return to a healthier lifestyle those simple hugs didn’t seem to mean anything anymore. I was starved for the way it felt to hug my grandma but my excessive physical boundary crossing had damaged my physical receptors.

 

I was in a really good church where hugs were often given and I received them with resentment due to my unhealthy hunger for more. But over time, something amazing happened! As my flesh detoxified from the abuse of touch, I found that God had healed my failed nerve endings. Simple hugs, holding hands to pray, and a pat on the shoulder became a lifeline to my soul, healing many places that were damaged.

 

I never thought it would happen, but the hunger was finally satiated. Today, I give physical affirmation to others rather than trying to manipulate it from someone else. I realize how important physical touch is when it is healthy. I know how many may be starved for the touch of a trusted friend who isn’t looking for something in return.

 

Seeking permission to touch

I have also learned that some people may be wounded in such a way that touch may be something they can’t accept from someone they don’t know or without their permission. For some, physical touch can feel unsafe and potentially dangerous to their personal circumstances.

 

I learned that it was vital when at church, or in a social setting that if I don’t know someone I need to ask permission to hug them if it is healthy in that setting to do so. I also learned that there are safe ways for people of the opposite gender to hug. A safe “side to side” hug can not only communicate healthy physical touch but it can also communicate that I desire to protect them by not assuming they are comfortable with other types of physical hugs.

 

Learning sensitivity for others hearts, souls, and physical boundaries is vital in developing respectful relationships.

 

Printable PDF – Sensitivity

 

The Journey of Thomas – Protect Confidentiality

Saturday, July 11th, 2009


 

Proverbs 11:13
A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

 

Prov. 25:9-10
If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation.

 

Prov. 12:14
From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.

 

One Type of Gossip

I learned a valuable lesson a few years ago about gossip. There are two aspects to protecting one another’s confidentiality. The first pertains to what is commonly understood as gossip; it is our responsibility not to speak out of turn with regards to someone else’s story.

 

When someone shares something with us that is personal or when we become aware of something in someone else’s life that we intuitively know needs to be protected, we ought not to speak of it to anyone else.

 

There isn’t a better way to ruin the health of a relationship or the unity of a group of people than to talk about things we shouldn’t. I have added the word “protect” to the title of this topic because it brings to my mind the nature of my responsibility, which is essentially to protect someone’s “nakedness” in life.

 

When we become close to someone through really hearing their heart and through our own personal honesty connect to their story, it would be my hope that the natural outcome would be to be protective of them and not share their story out of turn.

 

I have listened, understood, and related and now I can actually put myself into their shoes and think about how I might want my personal story protected. Even as I write this I am thinking of someone I know who is going through a very hard time. I reflect back on times when I have struggled intensely with something very personal. I wonder how I would have felt if someone carelessly told my story without purpose or redemptive intent. I wonder if they would rather tell my story just to have something juicy to share with their friend.

 

A More Subtle Type of Gossip

For the last 30 years, my life has been a relatively open book. When I chose to go into a sin-filled lifestyle of homosexuality my family and friends all knew of my choices. I didn’t necessarily make the decision to tell everyone but in that situation, no one attempted to hide my choice or pretend in any way so as to hide their perspectives. Actually, this became a good thing in the long term. There was no information that was left unturned.

 

When I made a decision to leave my behavior and associations with it behind, that too was public information. Then for the next 25 years, my life became an open book to the public. There isn’t anything further to find out about me. All of the skeletons that could have been in my closet never moved behind the closed door. It has been pretty hard for someone to gossip about my life. There isn’t anything further to tell that I haven’t already publicly told. I find that quite freeing!

 

I have learned there is another aspect to gossip that is a bit more difficult to discern as such. Gossip can also be a pursuit of “untold” information. I find that when it is appropriate to share something about our own lives, then sharing enough pertinent information about the circumstances will actually slow down the temptation to gossip from others. When we hide things from those around us it is more likely there will be gossip.

 

I remember a time when a spiritual leader had fallen into sexual sin. The leadership of the church saw his repentance and felt the spiritual leading to have this man share his struggle and seek forgiveness with those in the sphere of his influence. Due to the fact he had sinned against them in his disobedience they had him share in front of his group. When this was done, the details were not kept to just “he has had a moral lapse” but rather, he shared that he had gotten into pornography and had committed adultery against his marriage. The leadership supported his desire to seek restoration and he was then prayed for and subsequently supported into his restoration.

 

The facilitator of the sharing time closed with this statement, “when you leave this place, don’t talk about anything you didn’t hear here” I was amazed at this because it was as though there was a release to talk, to process, to work through the effects, but there was a boundary set in place. “Don’t go digging for things you don’t need to know. You have all the information you need to deal with this appropriately!”

 

The outcome of this situation was a surprising lack of gossip within the circle of people involved! People were loving, supportive and went away with the questions in their mind settled. I learned that gossip often comes out of unanswered questions. It can be for some an attempt to seek answers but without honesty and authenticity this can become a breeding ground for gossip. The “did you hear about” pursuit often ends up in a fact-finding pursuit that leads to gossip.

 

Our Responsibility

We have two responsibilities here. The first is to not share things out of turn or to seek answers to our questions through the guise of “please pray for them”. The second is to live our lives with integrity, honesty and not seeking to falsely protect our reputation. Live in the light!

 

The biblical encouragement to confront sin in Matthew chapter 18 starts with the one on one confrontation of what has happened or is going on. If it becomes clear that the sin continues, scripture says to take two others with us. This would require telling someone about what is going on. This step has a spiritual responsibility to share the situation and if done with redemption in mind, is not gossip – that is unless you have the wrong motives.

 

The spirit of this lesson is to have a protective heart for others no matter what our relationship is. In building healthy relationships it is imperative to not speak out of turn. Some of the deepest wounding in our families and relationships come from not protecting one another’s hearts.

 

Proverbs 16:28
“A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.”

 

Let’s become trustworthy people and build a strong supportive community so that when we have problems, we have a community to help.

 

When we have engaged in gossip

I struggle with my lips being too loose. One of the hardest things I have had to do is to go to someone and confess that I have said something out of turn. There is a lot of shame associated with gossip. This tells me in my spirit how much this hurts the Father and others. Gossip is listed in the same places as sexual sin, adultery, stealing and prostitution!

 

1 Cor. 6:9-11

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

So often we hear of the abomination of “bigger sins” and yet, slander is listed amongst them. Gossip is slander. It is engaging in conversation that would leave someone’s reputation in worse condition than before we spoke. I am speaking to myself here! I feel much conviction when I have spoken about someone negatively.

 

As I evaluate the times I have spoken out of turn I realize that I have often been feeling resentful, entitled or betrayed. I have been looking for validation or for someone to vent with instead of handling the situation with maturity and love. There have also been times when I have felt “powerless” to change someone else but instead of having a redemptive attitude or plan in place, it was just empty and unproductive “talk”.

 

A common passage on the tongue was written in the book of James.

 

James 3:3:-12
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

 

This passage tells me that without Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will allow the tongue to control our lives and relationships.

 

© 2009 John J Smid
Please do not reproduce without permission
jjsmid@gracerivers.com
PO Box 382277 – Germantown, TN – 38183

 

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