Speak With Kindness

….and who is my neighbor…..(Luke 10:23)

I’ve been helping my daughter understand the importance of how we talk to one another. Her sassy side comes out quick in how she speaks and correction is needed quite often. I remind her every time, “Adah, we speak to one another with kindness and love.”

I can’t help but think how much our world needs that message for today. Once again, on the basketball court yesterday I had people speaking to me with unkindness. I saw players and coaches speak rudely to one another. There is so little kindness in the world. We forget that loving our neighbor, the one we have the hardest time loving, or the one we don’t really feel like loving is the one that needs our kindness, love and attention the most.

They need our kindness. Our words spoken not from what we feel, but from what we know is right. Friend, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stop myself, remind myself to be kind and then speak. Because if I don’t, I speak out of my feelings, not out of what is true, lovely and right.

Much of our problem in life isn’t really about what people are saying to us, it’s about what we think of them. Friend, did you hear that? The Lord shows us, with His own words, as He was being mistreated and had abuse heaped down upon Him to extend compassion to those who spoke such unkind words. That doesn’t mean we let their abusive words continue. By all means, we should stop it, but we should never let resentment over the things they said sit in our hearts.

One thing I tell myself when parents or fans are yelling terrible things at me on the court is, “They must have been really hurt in life to have such anger.” This allows me to have compassion for them instead of annoyance. It helps me not take things personally and let it roll off so I don’t let things roll off my tongue right back at them.

So friend, if you want to love your neighbor today, and Jesus reminds us that everyone is our neighbor, even those we don’t necessarily like, go and be God’s kindness to them. It’s one way we can extend His love out into the world.

Lord, you are kind and good. We want to be faithful to you. I stand in your promise today, because you’re faithful. I want to be your kindness to all that I encounter, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Wonder What People Think of Me?

They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces….(Mark 12:38)

The other day, at Sunday school we were talking about pride and thinking to highly of yourself. I shared my own personal struggles with this as a basketball official.

I said to the students, “I have to really watch myself when I’m on the court, because sometimes this thought runs through me head of- I wonder what people think of me? I hope they think I’m really good.”

I told the students, as soon as that thought flashes through my mind I have to take it captive. Instead, I said, I’m trying my best to focus on my presence on the court, being kind, speaking well to others and smiling often, especially at players and those around me. I told the students that my desire is not that they would think I’m some great official, but that through my kindness and my presence they might see Jesus.

Friend, we’ve got to get over ourselves if we’re really going to shine for Him. One thing I have learned over the years is that what connects me most to people is my willingness to see them first. If our desire is to only get people to see us, we will have shallow relationships and not become truly connected to those around us.

Jesus warned against the pride of the religious leaders who loved being greeted in the marketplaces. Of course they would go there because it was such a busy place where there would be much opportunity to be greeted by others. If I’m being honest, sometimes I’ll do that too. That is the lure of social media, isn’t it? To create a platform for ourselves to be praised by others. Instead, why not focus on being a servant to all and doing things unseen by others? That’s the best kind of life as it connects you to the hearts of those among you.

Lord, I don’t want to be praised by mankind. I want to be servant to all. Let my life reflect you, not me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

He Can Move That Mountain

all things are possible with God….(Mark 10:27)

Recently, the Lord has been challenging me to persevere in something. I keep hitting one road block after another, making me question the path I was walking. Yet, throughout, the Lord would give me small encouragements to keep pressing on and not give up. As I prayed, I sensed Him telling me to stay the course and keep moving forward in faith.

I have learned in life that if God is leading you to something, and you’re walking by faith in it, friend, sometimes it’s going to feel like a bit of an uphill battle. I think we get a bit disillusioned when we think that if it gets hard, it can’t be from God. Maybe we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that being in God’s will only means smooth sailing, but friend, Paul was shipwrecked and beaten. Many of the disciples were killed for living in God’s will. Joseph was sold into slavery, wrongfully accused and imprisoned. As you can see, smooth sailing is not always the life of a believer who is walking by faith.

Sometimes I think the path doesn’t get paved quickly and easily because the Lord is growing our resolve. He’s asking us to trust Him and not give up. He’s growing our grit and determination. Jesus reminds us in story of the persistent widow to not give up, but to keep asking and to keep pursuing.

Friend, I don’t know where God has you today. Maybe, a bit like me, you’ve felt discouraged and you’re starting to question the path. It is quite possible you’re pursuing something that actually isn’t in line with God’s will, and wisdom and discernment will help you figure that out. However, chances are, if you’re walking by faith and you have a mountain in front of you that only God can move, then you’re right where you need to be. Keep walking by faith, because truly, it’s not a question of how God will move it, but when.

Lord, I trust you. I believe in faith that you will make a way in the wilderness. I believe and know that you’re a good, gracious and trustworthy savior. When I doubt Lord, forgive me, I want to believe that you can move mountains for me, in Jesus name, Amen.

Being Fully Present is Hard For Me

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him…Psalm 62:1

Resting in the moment is hard for me. My mind tends to wander to things I want or things I feel would be better for me.

Being fully with people is an absolute struggle of mine. It’s something I’ve really had to work on. I see myself getting better, which is a huge praise to God, because I notice that the strength of my connection with God always spills out into how present I am with others.

If I am close to Him, I feel closer to others. If I am waiting on Him, I’m ok waiting with others. If I’m impatient or dissatisfied with Him than I feel that way towards others.

My relationship with God is always reflected in my relationships with other people and of course, my relationships with others always reflect what I really believe about God.

Is He good and trustworthy? Is He sufficient and enough? If so, then I’ll be able to sit still in life and be content. Contentment is always a byproduct of someone who really does trust God. It is never part of someones life who doesn’t believe God is for them.

Friend, if you want an abundant life, then take a big sip from the cup of your life today and do so with gladness. There’s joy in that cup. There truly is if you’re willing to taste and see that no matter what life has brought you today, the Lord is good and there’s goodness for you to experience today in Him.

Lord, you are my treasure, my rock and my hiding place. Be my place of joy as I place all my hope in you, each day, in Jesus name, Amen.

Fear Hurts You and Others

Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus….(Mark 3:6)

Something that I pray each night with our daughter before we put her down to sleep is, “I pray that we will not parent her out of fear or anger, but wisdom and love.”

I see fear manifest itself so much in my life. This has been especially true when it comes to my role as a mother. Fear has a terrible way of making us do things that aren’t helpful, but controlling. It doesn’t free anyone or anything it just suffocates us and the ones we’re trying to “help.”

I’ve seen this happen so many times in my life and I’ve seen it happen in the lives of those around me too. The truth is, I’ve been hurt by people who were living in fear. In fact, some of my most painful moments have occurred when someone was being controlled by fear. This is why my daily prayer is not to live in fear. I don’t want to hurt people because my trust in God wavers due to unbelief and fear.

Jesus was deeply hurt by those around Him as well. The Pharisees were afraid that Jesus would break the commandments, causing an uproar in Jerusalem that might get them exiled, just as it did when Israel was exiled to Babylon. Since the Pharisees feared exile so much they used fear to control people. They sought to do away with anyone who threatened to press on the buttons of the things they feared.

Friend, we are deluged and deceived if we think we will never live in fear. We must always come with an awareness of our motivations, weighing them out before God and others. This comes only when we learn to release what we have to trust Him for today. If we feel anxious, worried or like something bad is going to happen if we don’t ___________ then we need to stop ourselves before we go any further, because friend, we are sure to hurt whoever is in our path if we’re running forward with all of that.

Lord, help us all to walk by faith. Grant us more grace every day. Be our joy and hope. Be our hiding place. Surround us with songs of deliverance when we are afraid, we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

They Need Your Presence

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them…Mark 2:3

The other day I ran into a student who I hadn’t seen in years. She’s a young adult now. It’s always weird for me to see kids I haven’t seen in years now as adults.

She was one of the students that were very special to me. We spent lots of time together and over the years I have missed her very much.

As we said our goodbyes, she said, “Please pray for me.” I told her that I will and that I have been praying for her for years. I also told her that I loved her and that she had a very special place in my heart. You see, this young woman has been through so much. It’s just heartbreaking. As I held her and spoke those words, it reminded me of the sweet moments we shared together when she was a young teenager.

Then, she asked me to call her.

I don’t know why that hit me so strongly but it did. If I’m being honest, when I do have free time I just kind of want to space out and scroll through social media. I don’t really want to spend my time calling people to check in on them. Sadly, that’s just the honest truth, but as I have been processing this conversation I realize that what people need more from me is my presence and if I want to be like Jesus, I must be willing to give it. So friend, I don’t know who you need to call today instead of scrolling through your social media, but I would encourage you to do it. It might just be the connection they need to keep them going.

Lord, I want to be your hands and feet to the world. Help me to let go of my selfishness and to use my time for the Kingdom. Especially when I don’t want to. Forgive me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Is God Done Redeeming Your Messed Up Life?

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said….(Matthew 28:6)

Have you ever felt like maybe God was done redeeming your situations? Especially those brought on by some struggle with sin?

I know I have.

But friends, feelings, especially feelings bathed in deep discouragement, unbelief and shame are never from God. That’s just the enemy. Trying to convince you that God is done being gracious with your messed up life.

It used to be that nearly everything I touched in my life turned to gold. I felt like King Midas and wrongfully, I felt that way in my heart too, but these past few years have brought on just as many struggles as triumphs. Yet, God has always met me and friend, it hasn’t always been with a higher, more distinguished place at the table, but a lower place to love and care for others. Yes, a hidden place, where only God sees me, not a platform to showcase who I am for Him.

Friend, sometimes I think God puts us in invisible places to truly test our hearts. To see if we will serve Him there or go looking for another stage to put on a showcase.

Can I be really honest? That’s hard for me. It’s hard for me to stay in places I’m not seen. It’s so hard for me to sit in the backseat and be faithful. It just is. But this is the place where God is growing me. In fact, I believe it is the place of some of the deepest resurrections in my life as my pride and idols start to die as I learn the gift of faithfulness.

Friend, I need you to hear this and understand that I’m with you in it- there are no resurrections, no deeper places of growth in our lives without pain attached to it. It’s just not possible without it. Truly, the pain comes because we’re growing. Not because we’re being ruined and God is done with us. Please, don’t believe that lie. God is preparing you for GREATER fruitfulness, believe it. I’ll be excited to see Him grow you in the garden as He gives you a deeper heart for Him, for the least of these, and for the place He has you today.

Lord, you are never done with us. You’re always working something out. I trust you. Keep growing me in unseen places, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Help The Hurting

he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”…Matthew 27:24

It used to really bother me as a teenager when adults wouldn’t stop mean and disrespectful behavior. Something inside of me knew that some sort of injustice was taking place and I felt like the adults in the room should have stopped it.

Now that I’m an adult I can see how it easy it is to let the bully carry on with their bad behavior. After all, they’re masters at using fear to manipulate and control the situation. When you’re like me, and you deal with fear, it’s hard to stand up to the person hurting others.

However, in more recent years, I have taken growth steps for myself to start standing up for those who have been treated wrong. Mostly because their came a time in my life when I needed that and some helped and some didn’t. I felt abandoned, neglected, and forgotten by those who didn’t help me. It was awful. After that experience, I made a commitment to myself to stand up for those being poorly treated.

Friend, Pilate felt as though he was doing the right thing by washing his hands of the situation. Well, that’s just not true. To standby as innocent people are being abused and mistreated is like taking your own hand and slapping them with it.

Friend, I get it, life is so busy. Sometimes helping others feels like an inconvenience, oh Lord, forgive us, but if we’re going to help, truly help, we have to look first to the forgotten and love and care for them. Heaping not further abuse, but love so they can find themselves once more.

Lord, help us all to see and care for those wrongly treated. Use our lives to be of aid to them, we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Thought I Wasn’t The Problem

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will….(Matthew 26:33)

Years ago, I used to daydream a lot about dying for Jesus. In my daydream there was a militant group of persecutors holding a gun towards all of us in the room. We were all standing in a line and one by one they asked us if we were followers of Jesus. As the gun move towards me I declared with boldness, “YES!” Then, somehow, the gun would jam, I would do some amazing ninja move, a cloud of smoke would appear, and I would hightail it out of there, just like James Bond.

Then, one day, the Lord worked through my daydream as I was in prayer with Him. I was going through something hard and was crying out to Him answers. During my time in prayer the Lord brought me into that same room, but this time, things were quite different. There were no persecutors holding a gun at me. This time, it was me holding a gun at myself and the words rang as clear as day in my heart and mind, straight from the grace of God, “Heather, would you really die for me, if you won’t even die to yourself?”

The truth pierced my heart like a knife. I had been expecting God to change my situation, not change me through it. I asked for God’s forgiveness and for a renewed heart and mind by the power of His love.

I realized that day that I couldn’t change my circumstances, but I could allow God to change me through them. I could stop trying to run and start resting in Him right in the midst of things that felt so hard I didn’t want to endure them.

Friend, we can rest in Him. We really can and when we do, we will be changed, because we’ve stop trying to fix it and we’re just waiting for Him to make all things right.

Lord, you are so good and patient. I need your help each day to become more like you. I need a heart of humility that only comes from you. Change me by your grace, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Are You Satisfied With What He’s Doing in Your Life?

And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith….(Matt 13:58)

Has God ever done something mighty among you, but you’re disappointed because you can’t fully except it as a miracle? Simply because if it were one in your mind, He would have done just a bit more for you?

That’s where my heart has been wrestling with God. My pride and discontentment has me feeling as though God came up a bit short. After all, I could really rest if He would have just taken things a bit further, I tell myself.

But true rest, true shalom is available for us if we would simply choose to rest in who God is, not in what He does for us.

Friend, you can rest without the miracle you think you need. You can find true shalom in the plan of God because He’s working all things together for your good. So today, instead of grumbling, I’m coming with a heart of thankfulness and gratitude to where God has brought me. I’m not going to dwell in the past and think about all the things that once were, but embrace this place today and be glad because He is the same God who met me before and I believe He is just as sufficient for today.

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I know that you move mountains. Forgive me when I don’t praise you, but question your plan. I give you all praise and glory, in Jesus name, Amen.