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I long to lead people to worship God for his practical advice. All scripture gives me practical truth that will show me I’m worse than I realized, then fix the mess it has exposed, purify and perfect me and equip me to help others. God is so smart and caring, yes and kind and powerful etc. etc. Let us worship his wisdom by listening with both the spirit and the understanding then apply it and witness to other of it’s benefit. I need your questions, comments and balance so please become a follower and leave questions and comments.

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TURN A BLIND EYE

“There are none so blind as those who will not see!”

I know that pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God, but only after he had hardened his own heart. (See Exodus 8:15, 32, 9:34) In fact, God bends over backwards to figure out what stubborn skeptics will use in order to justify their blindness. He then counters their argument so that they are without excuse.

In Romans 1, it points out that God has placed obvious evidence of his own existence and character in nature, “So they are without excuse”. When he does miracles, he is careful to include details that prove that it was not just an accident or observer mistake. For example, when the Israelis walked through the Red sea on dry land, skeptics say it was the Reed sea and actually shallow. Then drowning Pharaoh’s capable military in it was an even bigger miracle!

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went into the furnace, skeptics say that it was not really that hot. Then killing the powerful military men who threw them in was an even bigger miracle.

When they say that Jesus was not really dead, I would like to see them survive being speared in the heart by a capable roman soldier trying to make sure they were dead.

When Lazarus died, no one wanted to open the tomb knowing that, by now, he stank. When they took Jesus down and buried him the skeptics say that his disciple stole him away. It would take a bigger miracle for these same disciples to turn the world upside down and be willing to die gruesome deaths for someone they personally knew to be a fake.

The water into wine adds the detail that usually they bring out the bad wine when everyone is tipsy, yet, even tipsy, the guest could tell that this was not water and not just wine but top quality wine. This counters the skeptic’s explanation that it was still water.

No, the skeptic has to either accept the Bible or accept a preposterous alternative story. They are willfully blind and are without excuse. Thus God is justified when he judges them Because They Know God to be God but do not want to give him glory or control. 2 Peter 3:5

How often do I, who claim to love the Lord, fail to give him the glory for his work in my life by chalking it up to “luck” or my own efforts?

In the journey group I attend at my church, we practice the presence, the activity, the reality of God’s acting in and through us. We especially look for “serendipities” where he uses precise timing, just in the nick of time to teach us, guide us, provide for us or give us ministry opportunities.

“Lord, open my eyes that I might see. Thank you for daily counting the hairs on my head and being intimately involved in the little things of my life. Help me to hear your still small voice, to see the plain reality of your reality and activity in my life and the world around me.” I Kings 19:12

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LIFT UP THE HANDS THAT HANG DOWN Hebrews 12:12

Take a minute and watch the people around you, maybe go over to the mall or the grocery store. Notice how few people are smiling, walking with a firm step full of life, standing up straight, looking people in the eye.

It is as if most people expect some secondary gain from looking miserable. Everybody is playing the victim role , “Poor me, my problems are worse than yours so somebody else should take care of me!”


When Hannah was moping over the fact that she did not have a child, her husband recognized that this would reflect badly on him. Other people would wonder whether he, the husband, was not meeting her needs or was treating her badly. I Samuel 1:8


The same is true when people, knowing we claim to be God’s children, the bride of Christ, observe us moping around and think, “What is the point of being a Christian, they look more miserable than everybody else?”

Our brains are wired so that, when we frown, it sends a signal into our emotional brain that we should feel miserable. This then sends a signal back to our face that we should frown more.

Others see our “victim” posture and rush to take advantage. It does not protect us or get others to help. It invites attack and abandonment. There is a reason the story of the boy who called “wolf” is so well known. We all know people who are always sickly and about to die and nothing turns out to be wrong. So, when they really are sick, no one pays attention anymore.

I need to remember that “I am not a victim, I am more than a conqueror through Jesus” Romans 8:37

What if the Lord always frowned and moped? He sure would be justified in doing so considering our behavior? We count on the “light of his countenance” to lift our spirits and give our life meaning. We need to do the same for others. Scowling at people when we see them is tantamount to murder! The Bible says that telling someone that they are a worthless failure is murder and scowling when we see them is saying volumes, negative volumes about their worth. We think that our scowling is just saying that we are miserable but it is saying things about our God and the supports of others. Also smiling at them is a ministry, it can make their day. So , lifting up my hands and combing my hair and smiling is a ministry to others who then can pass the smile on to others.

Psalm 42:11, Why are you cast down, all my soul? Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: For I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God

Matthew 6: 16. When you fast, do not be a hypocrite and take on a sad face so that they look like they are fasting when they are not. I tell you, they have their reward. You instead need to wash your face, comb your hair. No looking miserable for extra credit.

Ecclesiastes 9: 7 Go your way, each your bread with joy, drink your wine with the merry heart, let your garments be always white: put oil on your head and comb your hair. Live jointly with and investing in the people in your life. And whatever you find to do, do with all your might. For a merry heart, works good better than a medication.

Ecclesiastes 2:25 There is nothing better than that I should make my soul enjoy working, for all labor comes from the hand of the Lord.

Lord help my ungrateful negative spirit to see and my face and body reflect:

1.What you have given me?/ Then enjoy and steward it

2.Who is in my life and what is good about them?/ Then love on them and give and receive from them.

3.What can I do?/ Then do it with all my might.

4. Where am I?/ Then help me to be where I am at and engage it.

5. When am I?/Then help me to live in the moment, instructed by the past, doing things relevant to the future.

6. Who am I?/ Then help me to develop, delight in, and give from my God-given strengths and receive with gratitude from others in my areas of weakness.

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A LIAR AND THE FATHER OF LIES

The Bible says that we are not ignorant of the devils’ devices. His favorite device is a lie,a half truth, a full truth that he suggests I should use to judge and control others and ways that seem right but lead to death.

When attacked by one of his lies, I need to spot it and counter with a Biblical truth. It is not necessary to quote perfect King James but it is good to be able to state the appropriate Biblical truth.

If you were asked to engage in a deadly serious sword fight in which the enemy could whack away but you were restricted to parrying or just “taking the blows”; you should respectfully decline.

NO, when attacked, we need the freedom to parry with a verse and thrust back with prayer for others, with praising God for who he is, for the current attack and for his presence and strength to deal with it, with spiritual singing in my heart and by finding ways to minister to others.

Here are some examples to help you spot the attacks, parry them with truth and mount an awesome counter attack. Read the lie, pause and think of some things you can quote to counter them. You may then read what came to my mind.

LIE: “Your worth comes from your abilities compared to others.”

TRUTH: If I compare myself to myself or others I am unwise. ( 2 Corinthians 10:12.) I do not worry how people judge me or even how I judge myself the only judgment that counts is the Lords and he loves me and gave himself for me. I Corinthians 4:3

LIE: “You did great, now take credit, feel superior and keep it up and do even more and you may earn your own worth.”

TRUTH: Can I be so foolish? I was saved by faith through the help of the Spirit and the finished work of Christ. Am I now made complete through the works of the law? Galatians 3:3 It is no longer I who do things but Christ that lives in me so I will take credit for none of it not even for the faith because it too is the gift of God. Galatians 2:20

LIE: “Your worth comes from what you do and you don’t do much and don’t do that well, so you are worthless.”

TRUTH: When I was still God’s enemy he found me valuable enough to die for and now that I am his child, although still a mess, he finds me worth keeping and washing with the water of his word and presenting me to himself without spot or wrinkle or blemish. Romans 5:8 , Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 5:27

LIE: “Your worth is measured in a balance scale. You pile your good deeds on one side, (which certainly are better than most peoples) and your bad deeds on the other, (Which, I’m sure are minimal after all you haven’t robbed any banks.) I’m sure God will have to let you into heaven on the balance of it all.”

TRUTH: Any good things I have done are in spite of myself, are done by him through me and come down from the father of light. James 1:17 Any bad things come from my saying NO to God’s attempts to give me grace. Mathew 23;37 So, in the balance of things, ALL have sinned and fallen short. I must pile his grace to balance my sin. My “good deeds” just turn out to be iniquity or are just his good flowing through me. Romans 3:23

LIE; “Aren’t you grateful to God that you are not like these other wicked lazy sinners? You pay tithe and go to church and pray. Clearly you are one of the good guys.”

TRUTH: Godliness never leads me to feel superior to others but rather to be filled with compassion and hope for them because if I the chief of sinners can be saved and empowered than anyone can. Luke 18:13, I Timothy 1:15

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ACCEPTING FORGIVENESS

I remember the story about the little boy who was caught stealing cookies and properly chastened by his mother. (No it was not I, what would make you think that?) She then hugged him and told him that he was forgiven but to not take cookies without permission in the future.

However, he did not accept the forgiveness given to him.

So, a half hour later he came to his mother and said, “Mom, I feel so bad about stealing the cookies, I can’t get it out of my mind. Would you please forgive me and give me another hug?” The mom said, I have already forgiven you, you don’t need to be forgiven again but yes, you can have another hug. He came back 15 minutes later saying, “I really shouldn’t have stolen those cookies. I’m such a bad little boy. If I picked up my room, vacuum the front room and took out the garbage would you forgive me then?” The mom was a little frustrated. She explained again that he was already forgiven and he didn’t have to do anything to earn her forgiveness. But that yes it would be nice if he cleaned up his room and helped a little around the house. Half an hour later came back with a backpack filled with some clothes, a blanket and a couple of sandwiches. “I’ve been thinking, I’m such a bad boy and it is so hard to be a good boy, I don’t belong in this family. I think I’ll go live out in the woods until I can be good enough to deserve to come back.” About now his mom picks him up and wants to shake him and she said “you’re not accepting my forgiveness and trying to earn it, bothers me much more than you taking the cookies in the first place.”

So often we asked God to forgive us, and he does, but then, like a dog returning to its vomit, we go right back to trying to pay for our sins, back to beating on ourselves and not acting in or living in the forgiveness that has been given.

He whom the father sets free is free indeed. Once, they took a group of monkeys raised in captivity, and set them free on an island. The island was free of predators and they were supplied with bananas. They put the cages in the middle of a clearing and opened the gates to the cages and then retreated to watch what would happen.— The monkeys clung to the back of the cage terrified of their new freedom. How often are we like those monkeys? How often do we ask for forgiveness, ask for freedom, but, when it is granted, we have trouble receiving it?

I remember one patient who told me, “I’m not sure I would accept a God who would accept someone as bad as I am.” There is a great deal of humility necessary to not only ask God to forgive us, to not only admit our need, but to actually accept forgiveness and revel in the grace given. Truly I hold a debt I could not pay, he paid my debt he did not owe. Now I owe him everything in return. Maybe that is why we have trouble accepting forgiveness.

My pastor recently preached about the importance of forgiving others and I realized that all the truths in regards to forgiving others are true of accepting forgiveness and the two are tied to each other. If we do not forgive others we have no logical reason to believe that we are ourselves forgiven. If we do not accept the forgiveness given then we need to cling to bitterness and blame in order to balance our own guilt.

So what does accepting forgiveness mean?

  1. First and foremost it means entering into constant communion with the forgiver, talking with him, joining into what he is doing. (Most of us are uncomfortable hanging out with the one we have previously offended or we are just naturally aware of ourselves and do not want to do the work to be aware of him.)
  2. Second it means praising his great generosity even though it means letting others know about the debt I owed. (Most people want to put their forgiven sins in the past. Sure God forgives and forgets but we should remember enough to bring him worship of his generosity. It is wonderful for the king to forget the billion dollars he forgave his servant but it is not OK for the servant to fail to tell others and treat others in the light of his own forgiveness.)
  3. Third it means having hope and granting worth and being ready to restore relationship with those who have hurt us. (See my blog on what forgiveness means)
  4. Fourth it means living life to the full with a sense of worth and purpose. Paul called himself the chief of debtors and then turned the world upside down for God and stood up to the apostles when they were mistaken.
  5. Fifth, it means that no task or sacrifice is too big for him to ask considering what he has done for me.
  6. Sixth, it means that when things are not going my way right now, I remember that he does not owe me anything and what he has already done for me is so awesome that he deserves grateful worship no matter how things go. (Some of us will be rejected by family, starve to death, be killed in wars, thrown in prison, tortured for Christ. Still, he is worthy.)
  7. Seventh, it means that I need to ask. After all, if the Father gave his own son for me, how shall he not also give me all things I need to serve him? I need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, for wisdom to help his people, for strength to resist sin, for impact in others lives etc.

Dear Lord, forgive me for not accepting your forgiveness. Help me to be a shining witness to your generosity and ability to restore and empower those who were your enemies.

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SEND SOMEONE ELSE?

All it takes for evil to triumph is for ME to do nothing!

God sought for A man to stand in the gap and he found no one, so the city fell! That is like the case in New York where a lady was murdered on the sidewalk in front of an apartment building while several people watched. Some of them yelled at the murderer to cut it out, but no one went out to help or called the police. They did not want to endanger themselves or they figured someone else would call.

I remember when I lived in inner city Detroit and watched a man being shot on the street near my house. I knew that I would have to be involved as a witness, but the idea flashed through my head. “What if the killers have a gang who tries to silence the witnesses?” Then I remembered the verse that says that if the innocent are being led to the slaughter and I do nothing, then their blood is on my head. So I offered myself as a witness. Fortunately, some police heard the shots and immediately caught the killer. I lived in a great neighborhood and there were so many witnesses that I did not even have to go to court.

However, as society abandons God and his word, you may be called upon to be the one that stands in the gap.

But what if I know that I am not capable to stand alone and stop the onslaught? I must never forget that it is not my capability that God wants, it is my availability!

Life events that God wants to impact through yielded people find an analogy in Joni Ericson Tada’s body. As you recall, she became a quadriplegic at a young age. Still, the head (her brain) manages to do impressive things even though most of her body members refuse to respond. These still want to be fed, protected and cared for but not used. She is forced to use her mouth to paint awesome Christmas cards. Now the mouth could complain that it is the fingers’ job and that mouths are clumsy at painting but if the mouth is the only part available then the head has the right to use it to paint. Most of the body of Christ does not want to listen to the head and just wants God to provide and protect. They don’t want him to work out his will through them. So I can guarantee that you and I will be asked to do that which we feel inadequate to do. But, Oh what a privilege to be the instrument Jesus uses to bless others and work out his will in this world! So what blocks me?

Half the time my cop-outs don’t hold any water. Take Moses for example, he tried to cop-out claiming that he could not talk! How many people have been referred to by the word of God in Acts 7:22 as “Mighty men of words”? Moses! He wrote Genesis–> Deuteronomy! Sorry, feeling shy does not count. If my body parts belong to the Lord and he likes to talk and I yield my members slaves to him. Guess what? I am liable to be asked to do a lot of talking!

So, dear Lord, here am, I send me and may the words of my mouth and acts of my hands and feet be acceptable in your sight and bring you joy as you are able to work your will in the lives of people around me!

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CRAZY BALANCE

WELL WHICH IS IT

HABIT or SPONTANAETY-?

-FAITH or WORKS?

FREE WILL or GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY?

I am just not as smart as God so it isn’t surprising that he does not think as I do. I guess that I’d better get used to it! I, trained in a western, Greek type of thinking, I want to know “Is it this or is it that?” God says the answer is “Yes” because two seemingly contradictory ideas can both be true at the same time.

The devil loves to get us off on one extreme or the other and then have Christians duking it out over who is more right instead of building the kingdom and fighting the enemy. We so often are satisfied turning our walk with God into habits and socially acceptable actions. “We and our ancestors have always done it this way.” We think that God loves pews and suits. Yet, if there is no heart, no spontaneity, no relationship, what is the point. Then people who realize the emptiness of habit without heart throw out habit and find themselves lacking in effectiveness.

I love the example of the early Methodist church which got it’s name from having method and habits but being full of life and relationship with God. When we get married, we have lots of heart and relationship drive but need habits of date nights and sit down after work to listen to each other and weekly teamwork meetings and saying “I love you” as we head out the door. These habits take the good intentions and bolster them and keep them going. So, yes, it’s both!

Take the question, is it all faith or all works? Now no one would argue that it is all works but they might heavily emphasize the need for works. James says show me your (useless) faith which does not result in works. Your running around saying “God bless you” to starving people and not feeding them. And I will show you that I have the (real) faith by what it drives me to do. He says that it is like being alive and breathing. Just try “living” for any length of time without breathing. Let’s try this, you “show” me your living without breathing and I will show you my living by breathing. Let’s see who lasts the longest. True the corpse on a breathing machine is not any better than the corpse that is not breathing.

Remember the definition of faith? The type of belief that forces me to act according to what I believe.

Belief that there is a God that then does not result in action is inferior to the belief of devils who at least tremble in his presence.

The analogy that I like is that of a safety net in a circus. Using a trapeze without a net is foolish and dangerous but sleeping on the safety net is pointless. The “net” of God giving me unearned worth, power and security is there so that I may do the triple backflips of obedience on the trapeze without the anxiety and fear that would impair my performance. So yes it is both!

Free will or God’s sovereignty? Yes!

The answer is in asking, what part of life is my part and what part is his? God has the lion’s share. He deals out the details of the current situation facing me. He gives me guidance, support and the grace to cry out to him for help in obeying. Ephesians 2:6 “And that not of yourself” (I can’t even take credit for having faith or having the strength to cry out)

My part is to accept the grace or to say NO I won’t. He then is in charge of the consequences, which God deals out to me and offers grace to deal with but I retain the power to say NO, and around we go. God is not mocked, that which I sew I will reap. Galatians 6:7

The analogy I use is a dam for generating electricity. God is the dam, the water, the pipes, the generator and the electric power lines. So what am I? I am the valve that can block the power but he even has to turn the valve, all that I can do is say NO I will not let you turn me.

Lord, help me to see the dynamic balance of your truth and to stop trying to squash everything into “Is it this or that” types of thinking just in order to feel superior and pick fights with others!

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ASK NOT WHAT OTHERS CAN DO FOR YOU

Everyone remembers the recommendation from President Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country”. If everyone asked this, how much better our country would be. In addition, so many people seem to seek God because of what he does for them. Sure it is awesome that he forgives our sin and conquers death for us . It is great to feel an emotional lift in church and have him come through just in time to help us with jobs and relationships and finances. Still, isn’t he worthy of worship even if he does nothing else for me than what he has already done? A truly repentant person who has been forgiven should long to give back with no expectations of more. We should be filled with grateful worship even if he calls us to be abandoned and ridiculed by family, friends, church and world. Even if we are privileged to be fellow sufferers with him. It should be natural to ask (not what more can God do for me?) but what can I do for his kingdom and glory?

The same is true with the people in my life. You see, it is just not about me and how they make me look or feel. Instead I should ask, what are their needs? what is their situation, how might they be feeling, what kind of useful truth have I been given that I might share, what help can I offer.

AGAPE love = seeking the other’s best interest no matter the cost to me.

When I was in the military, God helped me pour my efforts into helping the patients stabilize; help the staff learn, grow and advance their carreers; and make my boss look good. A year after I finished, the Lord had them mail me an Air Force commendation medal. No pomp, no cerimony just the Lord saying, “Well done you good and faithful servant.”

I do well to remember, I am saved and destined for heaven and spending all eternity with Jesus. The only reason I am here is to minister to others. Paul said that he was torn between two things. 1. Wanting to be with the Lord and 2. Wanting to stay and help others. Amazingly he decided that, for right then, staying here and helping others was even better than being with the Lord!

The devil gets us to do the percentage insanity. I’ll do 50% and you do 50% and we will have a great marriage, friendship, church etc. The problem is our math. I might wind up feeling that I have done 70% and they have done 30. But they believe that it is they who have done 70% and we have done little. Everyone winds up doing to little and feeling hurt and abused.

God asks me to do my part regardless of the other person’s participation. He asks me to give my all, not some comparison percentage. He reminds me that he is the whole source of my reward and that the entire universe is too small to describe what he has given me and plans to do for me. Put another way, I may reduce my spending and being spent for others when I finish paying my debt and catch up on all the further investing he is doing in my life.

Dear Lord, teach me to rest in the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

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WHY CAN’T LIFE BE UNFAIR IN MY FAVOR?

All, but it is unfair in my favor.

I have often asked a group of people whether they would like to live in a fair world. Many of them, foolishly, raise their hand. I then asked him to pray with me, “Dear Lord, these people want you to give them what they really deserve right now, but first let me back off. “

Fortunately we live in a world of intense infinite unfair Mercy.

I personally deserved eternity separated from God and was given immortality with God as his bride, as well as cleansing and empowerment and purpose on this earth. What God has already done for me is so great that no amount of earthly unfairness can outweigh the heavenly unfairness. Paul says Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Philippians 3:8 “yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my lord: For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung.”

Our minds often circle on the details of how we have been hurt, how we have asked for support and have been refused, of how we struggle with weakness and pain. It seems to me that our mind thinks that somehow by circling on these details somebody, somewhere will apologize and make things right.

I remember a song that goes like this “oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field some day, t’would be no more than love demands, no less could I repay. “

I think it would make a huge difference if we all went through life remembering I owed the debt I could not pay he paid the debt he did not owe.

Another element of unfairness is the insanity of being surprised by and reviewing the details of sinners sinning. I mean, what else do you expect them to do.

Don’t get me wrong, it is perfectly okay to do what I can to set limits on sinners and the unfairness of this world but there is no point in ruminating on the details as if that would make them go away.

Too often I try to only “put up with” the insanity around me. God calls me to go way beyond putting up with it. He calls me to bless those that curse me, do good to those who treat me badly, and rejoice when I am persecuted for so persecuted they the prophets that were before me.

Thank you Lord for this crazy mixed up unfair world where you and I can do battle against evil and bring healing and comfort to the weak and even see unfair craziness bring you glory.

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TRUST YOU? ARE YOU CRAZY?

Why is it that, it is always the person who is messing around or plans to do so, who says, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you trust me?”

Well, frankly, if I can’t even trust myself, why would I trust you? You are the runner-up “chief of sinners” right after me.

I, however, am not asking anyone to trust me. I am asking them to trust the extent to which they see God working in me.

TRUST: GIVING THE OTHER PERSON EVIDENCE THAT SUPPORTS THEIR TAKING A RISK ON RELATIONSHIP WITH ME.

If, “trust me, I’ll be good” is evidence of the lack of humility, evidence that they do not understand what it takes to be a reasonable risk in a relationship; then what would be a healthy view of trusting and risk taking?

Well, let’s go to a truly trustworthy person, the repentant prodigal son. whom the Holy Spirit taught to say:

1.”I have sinned against God (by my attitude of ———-.”For example, greed , bitterness, judgementality, control, comparison, works etc.)

By identifying the inner problem they are a much better risk. Godly people joyfully admit lack of wisdom and tendency to mess up; then ask God for wisdom and watch for the events he brings into their life to teach.

Too many of us apologize for the surface behavior only to do another offensive behavior driven by the same inner problem.

2.”My inner problems have caused me to let you down, hurt you, say painful things, be a bad example” etc.

Too many people are vague, “Sorry for whatever you think I did.” How on earth do they think that they will be able to avoid repeating what they can’t even identify?

3. I can only try to put myself in your shoes, but my actions must have caused you to feel ——hurt, abandoned, scared, worth less, alone etc.

Too many people focus on the surface losses and even minimize that. But they do not ponder the inner cost to the other person, so wind up with less hatred of sin, less appreciation of the difficulty of taking a risk on them.

4. If I were in your shoes I would be anxious about taking a risk on relationship with me.

Too many people try to force relationship by saying, “You should forgive me because: you are not so great yourself, after all you made me do it, and really you owe me one, you have hurt me too” etc.

5.I need to grow and do better whether you take a risk on me or not so I want you to know that I am committed to the following accountability, counsel and support:—.

Too many people suggest that they can change by sheer willpower. “I promise to be good.”

6. If I could make amends in the following way I would be so grateful.”

I recall one man whom we took into our house as a homeless Christian brother. He repaid our kindness by stealing our sewing machine and pawning it for nothing. He called us a year later asking for forgiveness, but never offered to make payments on a new machine. He was still not trustworthy. God always leads us to make amends.

7.Maybe we could start to rebuild with the following baby step and if it goes well then take bigger steps.

Too many people want all limits to be removed and to “Just trust me” rather than have to earn each greater and more risky step in involvement.

8. If you would forgive me and take a risk on relationship with me, I’d be so grateful, but if not I intend to keep learning and growing.

Too many people imply that if the limits are not dropped they will just give up and that the only reason they tried to change was to avoid consequences. Such a person is not to be trusted, as they would have failed even if you had gone along with their, “change”.

Oh, it is OK to be involved with untrustworthy people, just don’t let your guard down or be surprised if they backslide. Firemen go into untrustworthy burning buildings but wear fire protection and get out of the way of collapse.

If a person seems to be walking with God then it is reasonable to take small risks and build further relationship based on demonstrated responsible actions. If they don’t like this then they are not trustworthy.

It is also OK to get a neutral third party to help you know when to take new steps of relationship, because you may be too “nice” and drop your guard too easily only to be burned again. (I am talking to myself here because I am far too trusting)

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LIGHT BURDEN/HEAVY BURDEN

Oxen Yoke drawing free image download

Jesus says, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest!

God’s truth is so full of paradoxes. To find relief from heavy burdens I need to take up my side of his yoke! And then learn from his response to burdens to be meek and lowly in heart. I need to remember that he does all the pulling that is beyond my ability and never gives me more than we can handle together.

It is not that the problems of life are not significant or that I might not feel great concern as I think of them; it is just that being in yoke with Jesus reminds me that it is not my job to fix everything. I remember that I carry this treasure in an earthen vessel that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of me. When I am weak, then I am strong because his power is demonstrated in what we can pull when yoked together.

Yes, I may feel deep concern. In Romans 9:2 Paul says that he had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart for his brethren who were unsaved. David says in Psalm 119:136 “Rivers of waters run down my eyes because they keep not thy law. In 2 Corinthians Paul says that we Christians are troubled, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, always carrying on our bodies dying. At the same time we are not distressed, or despairing or forsaken, or destroyed.

A yoke is not a commonly seen object these days. There is a group in Kalamazoo Mich called Tillers International that goes over to Africa to teach them how to make a yoke from a tree and then train their animals to work. Most rural people can not afford a tractor but they have oxen. The oxen were not trained to pull or to be in yokes so were not able to get much done. I too am pretty useless, unless yoked with Jesus.

What a privilege, Lord, to be a fellow: Soldier/servant/laborer/sufferer

Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 3:9, 7:1,2 /Timothy 2:12

To fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh, for his body’s sake, which is the church. Colossians 1:24 I need to remember that these are not just my afflictions but his afflictions also and that going through them, with Jesus, will bless my brothers and sisters. I need to quit focusing on my heavy burden, stubbornly clinging to my misery. I need to take up his light burden and let the Holy Spirit comfort me as I go through trials. So that I may comfort them with the same comfort, (Jesus) that I found in my afflictions. 2 Corinthians 1:4