We Were Created to be in Relationships

intimacywithGodAs much as I enjoy being alone, forced isolation isn’t something I am very fond of. On Sunday, I went into the office to do a little work and check-in with some consultants. I thought I would get an update and quietly work in my office while they did their thing. I had met one of the consultants but not the other. Once there, another person popped into the office, and before I knew it, 5 of us were in my office chatting away. At first, both consultants were somewhat timid in speaking, but once we got going, so did they. Once we finished with the update, I asked if I could get them lunch. They were about to leave the building when someone said, “How about we walk up the street and eat together?” That’s what we did.


We walked and talked and talked some more, occasionally switching off the person we were walking with ease. As we walked, all of a sudden, we heard Praise and Worship music coming from somewhere close. I recognized the song immediately but did not think the others would. The song kept drawing my attention, and someone said, “Wow, listen to that Praise and Worship music.” Right then, I knew that at least one person in that group shared a similar background to mine. I asked him if he knew that song, and boy did he know it and a host of others. He was a Praise and Worship team member. When I asked at what church? He replied, and it was the same church I attended before the pandemic outbreak and before I moved to another area. It was nice to hear his comments. Later at lunch, he began asking who was my favorite Old School Christian singer. I thought I would stomp him when I recalled The Hawkin singers, and he named Tramaine, Walter, and Edwin. But then he said, “Andre Crouch!” I was thrilled. While we ate, the other consultant began talking about some of the same people, yet she had to be 30 years my junior. I asked her where did she attend church, and her answer thrilled me too. Lunch with this group turned into a more Christian-fest than a business lunch.


christianview of relationshipwithGodAs I drove home, I felt the day was productive. More than productivity, however, I believe that day was ordained. As I thought about a “TFT” (Thought For Today) I post to social media every day, I recalled the one I had posted for Sunday—it was that God created us for relationship. First, relationship with Him and then relationship with each other. The Bible tells us the first command is, Love the Lord, and the second is like it, and that is to Love your neighbor. Loving others is hard, especially when we do not see eye-to-eye. People who don’t think like us can frustrate us, and when we begin focusing on what is so different about them, we lose the opportunity to see what is lovely, even fascinating about them.


Many have complained about being forced to isolate ourselves from others as we faced something many of us would have never imagined facing, COVID. However, I think the forced shutdown caused us to rethink our desire to be alone. As a person who enjoys being alone, I realize that I also enjoy challenging conversations, debates, and laughter. I enjoy learning about people, and I enjoy sharing what God has given me to share. Had I rejected going to lunch with the group that Sunday, I think I would have missed what I believe was a God-ordained moment, learning and laughing with two new people who loved God and shared a love for Praise and Worship music like me.
Maybe now that we are coming out of the pandemic, we might stop and genuinely take time to enjoy each other’s company? Maybe? I think I will.

Just remember this: At the beginning of time, God said it was not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So He gave us relationship.

You Are Royal….

 

royaltyIf you know me at all, you already know that I am a Born-again follower of Jesus.  I love how that sounds. It sounds passionate about being a Believer!

Unless you have been under a rock or you just have absolutely no interest in the Royals, you know that there was a recent wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  I don’t know about you, but I love the Royals. I have followed them with curiosity and admiration for years.  I loved Princess Diana, I remember when the little princes were born and watched as they grew into wonderful men. I remember when Prince Andrew got married to Lady Sarah Ferguson and when they had their daughters too.  I watched each wedding with awe and joy and loved every single moment of it.

I don’t know why, but when I was reflecting on the recent wedding, I found myself thinking about life for the new married couple and I kept reliving the pageantry of the event. How beautiful Meghan looked and how happy they both seemed.  Yet, I can’t help it, but I turn many things into a God moment. The scripture found in 1 Peter 2:9 came to mind, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.“

The beauty of being Born-again for me personally is that at times a particular scripture will just jump up and grab me. I may not have read it in a while, but the Holy Spirit will bring the scripture back to me to speak directly to me for that particular moment. As I thought about that scripture, I could not help but think about the power of my faith.  That faith encourages me to be all that I can be.  I think about the possibilities for my life and I recall all that I have overcome in my life to get where I am now.

1Peter 2-9I am of the royal priesthood and so are you! If you can see yourself as royalty, I know you will approach your goals very differently. On the same note, if you see yourself as mediocre, that’s how you will approach life. When I use the word, mediocre, it is hard to hear because none of us would ever come out and say that we are mediocre; yet we act like that’s what we think of ourselves.  Mediocre means of only moderate quality; not very good.  Whereas Royalmeans fine, excellent, magnificent, stately, appropriate or befitting of sovereignty.  Maybe those words scare you, because they may seem to imply that you think you are better than others, or maybe they make you feel like you are being arrogant or prideful. I get it, but don’t let the word, royal,scare you.

God formed you for Himself and He knows all about you. Pride is a no-no for a Believer, but being proud of whom God made is not sinful.  Know who you are in Christ Jesus, then your entire world will change because your attitude will change for the better.

You still have no interest in Royalty? Are you sure?

 

 

 

Encourager or Discourager?

EncourageI love being the person who makes another person feel good about themselves. I like speaking words of encouragement to them and then watching them come alive.  I know, probably more than most, just how powerful words can be.

The good thing about a person who likes to encourage is that they do it whether the other person needs it or not. They know how important it is to be sensitive to those with whom they interact.

I am sure I have mentioned before that I people watch. By people watching, I can tell immediately who the Encouragers are and who the Discouragers are.  I want you to think about this. You know just as I do, the value that Encouragers bring. We know the traits they demonstrate; generally, they are happy, optimistic and positive people. We also know the Discouragers; they are just the opposite.  Although they can be negative, pessimistic and unhappy, many times they display more subtle traits than that.  In fact, you may not be able to really point to anything specific; you just feel it.

Discouragers may not ever say one discouraging or disparaging word, but what they can do is not acknowledge any good thing about you.  They may be ones who withhold praise or stay quiet when someone else has something good to say about you. They don’t do or say anything to support you, although they claim to be your friend.

Encourage-1thessaloniansWhich are you? Are you an Encourager or a Discourager?  You may not be comfortable with giving compliments, but you can still encourage others.

I believe one form of encouragement is seen in actions.  We can “love” the way Jesus told us to do when He said to “love one another.” Life is hard and people are facing challenges every day.  People we meet or those we interact with each day are facing things that we know nothing about.  People are facing loss, whether in the form of a divorce or a loss through death. Others are going through the loss of a job, while others may be dealing with grave illnesses, addictions, family problems, work problems, foreclosures, or jail.  These are real life issues and some will share while others will not. You may be the difference in whether they keep going or give up, in whether they succeed or fail.  You don’t have to show sympathy–that’s not encouragement. What you should do is inspire another person with the courage they need to keep on going. No, you may not be comfortable speaking words of affirmation to others, but you can do other things to encourage those around you.

Be careful and watch the words you use with your children and grandchildren no matter how frustrated you might get with them.  If you are upset, always tell them that you love them and then tell them why you may be disappointed.  If you are frustrated with your spouse, do the same.  If you have an obnoxious friend that might drive you nuts, pray for yourself and be intentional in praying for them.  If you have a friend who seems to always achieve & get what they want, to include compliments, don’t begrudge them, encourage them to keep on achieving and thank God for their achievements and blessings.  All of the good that you do in speaking well of and to others, will come back to you.  In the end, God commands us to encourage one another. You want to obey Him, don’t you?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

 

 

Love Should Build Bridges…

Is it julove builds bridgesst me or do you have trouble comprehending the anger seen in society today?

Most times I can’t comprehend the anger and hate that some people carry around in their hearts. I often wonder what makes them so bitter. so hateful. At times, the hate extends into pure evil.

Like some of you, I too read posts on social media. Some are filled with such divisiveness and hatred. There is no one group that has the corner on the ugliness either. I see people who  range from everyday folks to those who have huge followings writing things against people we should be praying for. Yet, we wonder why we see people acting out so terribly. They are following their leaders!

Do we ever think that we have a responsibility to speak love and acceptance rather than always focusing on what is so different about each of us? If we sat alone and asked the God that we say we follow if what we do day in and day out really represents Him, do you know what He would say to you?

I have a theory; I can have my own theory.  I am not saying that it is right, but for me, I think it is. My theory is that God is displeased with many of our actions when what we do brings about divisiveness and hate. I just don’t see God sitting back saying “you call them out of their names; that’s good.” Nor do I see Him saying “Kudos to you. Just run that idiot over with your car.” or for goodness sake, I sure don’t see Him saying “just kill them!”

When I wrote that last one, I felt right away that someone would say, “He did tell them to kill in the Old Testament.” I refuse to believe that He is happy with hate-filled actions.  You don’t have to agree.

loveoneanotherI sit here and stare around my office and look at the framed art on the walls. Many relate to Love. If you recall, my last book was titled, You Call That Love?  I think about this topic a lot.  One piece of art says ” LOVE builds bridges where there are none.”  I sat watching this and thinking about what was being said.  I agree love does build bridges. For one thing, when we want to dismiss the opinions of others, love will cause us to stop and rethink their point of view. We are challenged to listen. We don’t have to agree, but we listen out of respect for the other person’s opinion. Love causes us to stop and think about whether what we do or say hurts another person.  Now, I know many don’t give a crap about hurting another person’s feelings; they say, they need their feelings hurt.  I say, that may be true, but I sure would like another person to give me the benefit of the doubt when I may not be at my best. Wouldn’t you?

Whether we disagree politically, religiously,  or socially, we should be able to do so without being outright nasty to each other.  If you don’t like how I grade your paper, that’s okay, I still respect you and ask the same. If I don’t care for how you raise your kids, that’s okay, they are not mine, they are yours and I should respect that you are doing your best. Just as I would want you to think that I am doing my best also. If we don’t agree politically, I won’t trash talk your position and I don’t want you to trash talk me. When we hold different religious views, I promise to respect how you feel and I pray you will respect how I feel.  In the end, when we disagree, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt. For us that are Believers, remember what the Word of God says…

“…Knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him”

1 Corinthians 8:1

I know that I am not always right in every single thing I think or do. However, neither are you. Let’s value each other’s differences and seek to see what makes us more alike than different. I think if we do that, we will show LOVE. I believe that’s when the Father of Heaven will be pleased with us.