10 Basics of Relational Wholeness

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Read Exodus 20:17 (10th Commandment)

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” 

COVETOUSNESS & CONCLUDING the 10

The wrongful desire to have the possessions of another – covetousness. This commandment is a summary commandment that simply speaks to a wandering heart. If your heart and mind covet, and go unchecked, then the preceding boundaries (commandments 5-9) will be broken and your neighbor’s life, house, family, marriage and business are destroyed.  This commandment speaks to the heart preceding damaging actions and challenges us to have a heart righteously oriented for the good of others.

Let’s recap the 10 … and maybe you could memorize them, with the help of your fingers, as a family this weekend.

  1. Have no other gods before Me.
  2. Do not worship images or created things, I am a jealous God.
  3. Do not carry My name in emptiness.
  4. You have the privilege of a Sabbath rest in Me, treasure it.
  5. Don’t diss your Momma or your Daddy.
  6. Don’t murder or hurt one another.
  7. Don’t be unfaithful to one another.
  8. Don’t steal from one another.
  9. Don’t lie about one another.
  10. Don’t desire your neighbor’s stuff.

Notice the relational aspects of the Ten Commandments.

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The first four are about our relationship with God, while the next six are about our relationships with one another. Clearly, a loving God who made us from a loving relationship (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for loving relationships is concerned about the quality, character and care of our relationships. He insists that we be relationally protective of Him and one another.  As He is good to us, He commands that we be good to Him and to each other.

That’s the point. Do no harm to others. Do not relationally hurt others. Why? Because it is the antithesis of love. Hurt people hurt people, but love covers a multitude of sins. We are called, even as broken hurting people, to love one another. With our wounds and limitations, we must try to love as we have been loved. When we choose otherwise, we choose a cycle of destruction that leads to death.

PRAYER:

Father, as we prepare to begin Holy Week, make us mindful of the boundaries you have given for our good and Your glory. May the cost of my rebellion – the suffering, humiliation and death of Jesus – lead my heart and mind to be good and kind to others, for my good and Your glory. AMEN.

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#28 of 40 Days of Kindness

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Read Joshua 5:13-15

13Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lorde have for his servant?”

15The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

ARE YOU FOR or AGAINST? 

When Joshua, preparing for battle, saw a human figure with sword drawn, he naturally went to the man and asked if he was for them or against them. The man, who Joshua discovered was an earthly appearance of God, answered that he was not for then or against them, but was the commander of the Lord’s army. Joshua bowed down and worshiped the Lord.

When we are facing the challenges of life, even relationships in family and the church, it is natural for us to begin to choose sides. It is comfortable and easy to make things black and white, right and wrong, us and them. We can make distinctions between those who seem to be for our vision and our beliefs and those we imagine are against us. It may be true, but it may be an unnecessary division that only leads to a fight.

A more peaceful path may be to ask if we are personally in agreement with the Lord. Let’s ask, am I living toward people or am I against them? Am I living out of gratitude for God’s love, patience, kindness and forgiveness to me? He showed us love and kindness when we were against him (Rom 5:10)? We will know we are “with” the Lord when our desires for others correspond to His loving action toward us.

PRAYER:

Father, your lovingkindness changes me, it changes everything. I pray as I welcome your love today, my heart, attitude and actions will reflect your love toward others. AMEN,

#16 – 40 Days of Kindness Devotional

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Read Matthew 5:9 (NLT)

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

The KINDNESS of PEACE 

Peace is not the absence of conflict. Kindness is not accepting anything from anybody so that there can be peace. That is not peace, but it is a conflict avoidant niceness, masquerading as peace.

At the outset of World War II, Nevel Chamberlain, then Prime Minister of England, sought peace by appeasing Hitler and later sought to negotiate peace with Hitler through the Italian Fascist Dictator Musolini. President Roosevelt wanted to maintain peace by avoiding the European conflict altoghter. He abandoned England, France and our allies until war hit our shores in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Appeasement and avoidance of conflict will not create peace. Winston Churchill said: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile—hoping it will eat him last.”

Let us say then that peace often involves work and sometimes a treacherous fight.

St. Augustine (354-430AD) said:

“There is in the inner person a kind of daily quarrel; a praiseworthy battle.”

We don’t often look at quarrels or battles, inside or out, as “praiseworthy.” But he goes on to say,

“…the battle keeps what is better from being overcome by what is worse. The conflict is to keep [inappropriate] desire and lust from conquering the mind and wisdom.”

What he is describing is a peacemaker. Working for inner peace and peace with men and women means seeking what is better, what is healthy, holy and good for ourselves and others.

The enemy longs to disrupt our peace by corrupting the good and glorious image of God in us. Peace means fighting for that better part of me – the part made in the image of God, filled with His power, goodness and His kindness that leads to peace. The battle for peace is real, both inside and out. But in Christ, the battle is already won and His love – a love that overcomes all our sins – is that which will satisfy our deepest desires and cause peace to permeate the broken world.

PRAYER:

Father, let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Give me your grace and strength today to stand, in you and with you, for what is right and good, both within and with those you divinely set in my path today. Amen.

Devo for day 14 – 40 Days of Kindness

February 27, 2018

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)

1Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. 2You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Leading in Christ Strength

I remember as a young banker, two mentors took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. I graduated near the top of my class, but I needed men with practical experience to help me grow. I was sure I knew a lot, but I was radically inexperienced and largely unaware of what I didn’t know. It took an investment from more mature men to shape a not so humble and receptive younger me. They persisted and shared what they knew I didn’t know.

Young Timothy was not born a leader. An older man named Paul built a mentoring relationship with him. Paul invested in Timothy to develop his heart and mind to lead the church at Ephesus. This is the way leaders are made. Mentors, more mature men and women invest in younger men and women to pass on the gift of grace and the lessons of life.

The body of Christ, just like any family, needs godly mature people to show the way. The church needs us to invest in each other, to build one another up. Most especially we need  mature folks to pour their hearts into the younger folks around us. We hope they welcome growing in faith and using their gifts to serve the Kingdom, but they rarely will if no one shares and invests in them.

Judges 2:10-12 shares the sad story of faith lost and evil taking root because one generation did not share with the next.

“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel . . . forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them.”

It took only one generation to lose the spiritual legacy that should have been passed on.

Who told you about Christ? Who showed you how to read the Bible? Who showed you how to manage the affairs of a home and navigate relationships and work? Maybe you need someone to help and maybe you had a great mentor.

The question is are you willing to invest in a child, a student, a younger adult and be a mentor? Are you willing to learn from a more mature person, humbly? It is a great kindness to invest in another person and share what has been shared with you. Without this, we are prone to repeat Israels mistakes and learn some hard lessons. But if we will pass on the grace we have received, we will make a significant difference in the family of God.

PRAYER:

Father, give me a heart to share the grace and wisdom you’ve given me with another person and give me a humble heart to receive from others as well. May the kindness you have shown me in the lessons of life flow kindly and intentionally from me today. AMEN.

40 Days of Kindness & Prayer – #10

Friday, February 23, 2018

Read: Galatians 5:22-26

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

SPIRIT LIVING:

Will you let the light of Christ Spirit shine out of you today or will your circumstances so grip you that you come out sideways with anger, frustration, anxiety, impatience or despair?

I am aware that my heart, mind, soul and strength can be constantly flipping channels. Like going from the News to the Olympics, from the agony of defeat to the joys of victory.  Maybe you’ve experienced this driving. One minute singing along to Christian radio and feeling God’s loving presence and in the next angrily berating that idiot in the Smart car that just cut you off. Left to myself, I am a fickle flip-flopper, prone to lose anchor and wander.

So Paul says, its better to “live by the Spirit” and so be anchored in love, joy, peace and that other good stuff. But what does it mean to live by the Spirit? I have a body and appetites and desires that are far more than ethereal. And my body and desires are God given, so living by the Spirit cannot mean our body and desires mean nothing. For our sake Jesus came to dwell in a human body and that means a lot.

What if it means surrender, now? Surrender of your body, your desires, your circumstances, your gifts and aspirations. What if it means surrendering – everything – now? What if it means surrender to the wisdom, will and way of God (specifically to his Spirit within you), now? Could it be an invitation to surrender to His loving presence within?

When I actively surrender to him and trust him to work in me and through me, then I can experience the fruit flowing from me.  I can welcome everything around me with gratitude. I welcome the victory and the agonies. I can welcome all my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and persons, situations, and conditions. A posture of surrender opens my heart, soul, mind and strength to the Spirit’s presence, love and power. This is the anchor of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (40+ days of it), goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Will you surrender to the light of Christ Spirit today?

PRAYER:

Father, I desire to live and walk by your Spirit of love. I surrender to you and welcome your presence, power and loving action within me, now. Amen.

Day 7 – 40 Days of Kindness & Prayer

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

 Matthew 13:1-9

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

Jesus addressed a large crowd, telling a parable (an earthly story with a heavenly meaning) about a person’s heart. A farmer scatters seed that falls on different soils – hard packed, rocky, weedy and soft. Were not farmers – so what’s point?

The question at hand is what is the state of our hearts. Is it:

  • Calloused – hard to touch and connect with because you just go through the motions but really have a self-centered agenda
  • Rocky and shallow – a bit immature and easily exasperated. Liking the idea of faith and love, but pretty quick to dry up and give up.
  • Choked and distracted – consumed with busyness and the many words and ideas that are competing for your attention … prone to chase squirrels.
  • Soft and receptive because it’s been plowed (broken) and is open and ready to welcome the will and work of God within. This heart is content and centered in Christ, trusting his Spirit’s work in every situation.

What’s the state of your heart?  A way to a receptive heart is to connect with sadness. The sadness of those hurting around you and in this world. Sadness leads to compassion and compassion opens our heart to receive and give love. Let your heart be broken, so love grows.

PRAYER:

Father, what is the state of my heart? Show me and make me receptive to your love and your will. Let me connect to your compassion that I might be a conduit of your love. Amen.

40 Days – Day 6 (Happy Monday!)

Monday, February 19, 2018

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

STRIVING for GREATNESS

What are you striving for today? Your success, affirmation, the accolades of a coach? John’s heart was in a good, humble position to start the week. HE desired to see people focus on the Son of God and the Savior of the world., not him. John wanted the watching world to know Jesus’ name, not his.

Trouble comes when we leave Jesus behind on Sunday and start pursuing our “greatness” on Monday. John seemed to leave his ego and his fame behind and just follow Jesus. If a pastor, a professional, or a pupil forget that our gifts and calling are to love and serve Jesus, we’ll fall prey to climbing a ladder of success and miss the greater glory of living for Christ.

St. Augustine said in a prayer to God: “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

In other words, were are not going to find satisfaction in anything but Christ and no goal is more important than enjoying and sharing his love.

PRAYER:

Father, let me live in the light of your love today, not seeking a spotlight on me. Let the joy I seek be the joy of knowing you and loving you and seeing the glory of your greatness alone. Amen.