Thursday, November 3, 2016

Two Stories

Matthew 6:22-24 
22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 
23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.


Everyone has two stories. One story is told by the victor, the other by the victim. One is a story of triumph, the other of tragedy. One allows the grace and mercy of God to shine through, while the other affords the enemy all the glory and negates God's power and authority.

The bible tells us that if our eyes are healthy, then our body will be healthy. How we see things directly affects the outcome of our lives. If we see with an unhealthy eye, if we have an unhealthy outlook on our lives, then our lives will be filled with darkness. The night doesn't stop being night just because you shine a light on it. The day doesn't stop becoming day because we close the curtains and lock the doors and go to bed. We  alter our vision in the midst of both of those environments in order to meet whatever need we have at the time. Shining a light into the night doesn't make it day, but it does allow us to see more clearly in the darkness. 

 It's hard to believe that some people would rather live in darkness, but, sadly, that is the truth. They would rather focus on what they have lost, than what they have left. In doing so, they allow the darkness to grow and become evermore pervasive in their lives. 

They, in essence, bring about their own calamity by only seeing the negative. Their victim mentality effectively ruins their lives. Their pain, suffering and sense of loss becomes their only identifiers. Their speech becomes the weapon they wield, but the wounds they cause are all self-inflicted. They not only welcome the darkness, they block out any light that attempts to get through. Darkness, anger, resentment and self-loathing become the coverings by which they gain their identity. Much like the beggar's clothes of old.

It is your choice which story you tell, where you live, what your eye beholds. Not fate, or God, or anyone else. Yours. 
Everyone has a story to tell. One is told by the victor, the other by the victim. The one most told is the one that continues on...



Ephesians 5:8 

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light... 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hunger



"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..."--Matthew 25:35



 In the summer of 1983, somewhere on the IU campus, I listened intently as a woman spoke a phrase that would be forever burned into my memory...

 "People aren't just hungry at Thanksgiving and Christmas." She then proceeded to challenge us to set up a program of continued assistance in our communities.

 Each year, her words come back to convict me...

 Red Kettles and Angel Trees tug at our charitable hearts.  Churches and other organizations begin to search for families in need. Wallets open more freely and people began to give, treating that feeling of satisfaction like a hit of an opiate. It just makes you feel good...and, let's face it, in some cases it makes you look good, too. 

 But have you ever thought about what happens in June? What happens when parents who qualify for free breakfast and lunch at school, but not an EBT card, have to start feeding kids 3 meals a day instead of one. Where does the money come from to buy shorts and T-shirts when that winter coat is no longer necessary. Who buys the sandals that replaces the boots. Who buys the $15.00 window fan when the temperature reaches 90°? Who pays for the ball sign-up, or the 3 day bracelets at festival time?

 Who thinks about the other 10 months of the year?

 While I do think it is commendable that the holidays bring about good will toward men, women and children, I also think that we should all endeavor to do something the other months of the year. One person can't do everything, but everyone can do something. Feed someone, clothe someone,  help someone....make it personal. Ask you kids or grandkids if they have a friend whose parents can't afford something that most take for granted. Sponsor a ball player, or a dancer, or a cheerleader.  Offer free weekend babysitting to that young mother who still feels that working is setting the best example for her children.

January-October are not magical months in which all needs are met, and we should not close our eyes for 10 months while patting ourselves on the back for two.

God expects better from us...
 



Monday, August 3, 2015

Vacancy

1 Samuel 16:1
The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king."

One of my favorite witticisms is, “Where biology fails, God prevails!” Some of us are lucky enough to have wonderful grandparents, parents and siblings.

Others….not so much.

In my ministry, as well as in my personal life, I have seen the consequences of abuse, neglect, abandonment and rejection. I have seen mothers chose men over their children, fathers walk away from responsibility, and children blame their parents for their own mistakes. I've seen partners who leave without a second thought to the pain they are causing those they leave behind. I have also seen the internal struggle that rages inside those who search themselves for some shortcoming or defect.  The one that makes them unlovable to those who should love them the most.

Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty.

There is a place in the heart that cries out for a love that should be freely given, but is withheld. There is a place in the psyche that tries to create logic from an illogical situation, but fails. And there is a place in the soul that mourns the loss of connection, the loss of affection; the place where self-blame lies.
But why do we mourn? Why do we mourn when God so clearly says, “I have chosen someone else for that position. How long will you mourn what is lost, and ignore what I have ordained to replace it?”
I believe that biological connections are important. I believe knowing from whence you came sheds light on things like genetic predispositions, appearances, quirks and predilections. But it does not necessarily define who your family is. Those you define as family should be those who love you, believe in you and support your dreams. They should be those who meet your need with their ability without condition or resentment. Those who are not only willing to be there for you in your time of need, but do so with a heart that is grateful for the opportunity, expecting nothing in return.

In this passage, God is telling Samuel to let Saul go, stop mourning the loss of him and move on to the person He had chosen to fill the position of King of Israel. God didn’t want Samuel to keep holding on to something that he had already cut loose!

So, today I ask you… how long will you mourn?

And when will you accept the person into your life that God has chosen to fill in the blank…




Friday, May 8, 2015

One of Many First...

After 48 Mother's Days spent together, this Mother's Day will be the first without my Mama. Her passing was bittersweet, I suppose. She was ready, we were not. Her gain became our loss, her healing became our injury.

Her triumph became our tragedy...

 In honor of her, I would like to impart just a smidgen of her wisdom.


  Act like you got some sense.
   (This was a precursor to, "I'm fixin' to jerk you up and have a chill with you!")

  Realize, the only thing worse than a drunken man is a drunken woman.

  Don't go anywhere you can't take your kids, and you won't be anywhere you don't need to be.

 When you lose a good reputation, it's hard to get it back.

  Children eat first.

  Know that you can make it without a man, because no matter what his intentions...life  changes.

 Being called a little idiot isn't always a bad thing, depending on the situation.

 A good mother will kill or die for her children, and face any danger without batting an eye. 

 God will carry you through if you let Him. 

 Don't ask God, "Why me?" Ask yourself, "Why not me?"

 You can help some people so much they forget how to help themselves.

 Quit yelling at your kids. It doesn't help.

 You may have to get a second job.

 Make sure the dog's got plenty water.

 Getcha something to eat.

 Make your bed in the morning. 

 Throw in a load of laundry before you go to work.

 Put a little money back.

 Pay your bills early. 

 Act like a lady, you'll be treated like a lady. (works in reverse, too.)

 And for God's sake, you little idiot, brush that nasty hair, you look like the Bell Witch!


Dorothy Lee Lyle
9-2-1932
5-3-2015




Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Insight and Ignorance

Today I held a precious grandchild of mine while she cried tears of frustration and anger over a comment made by a judge. The judge informed her the man she refers to as "Daddy" is not, nor will ever be, her "real dad". In the judge's opinion, the man who ended up in jail with multiple counts of criminal activity, who was abusive and manipulative, and who has earned nothing but loathing from this child, is her "real dad". I think the judge needs educated. Real dads discipline in love, they don't punish in anger. Real dads put themselves last, not first. Real dads protect, not destroy. Real dads don't hurt you until you cry, they hurt those who make you cry. Real dads spend summers leaning over the fence at the baseball field and go camping on rainy weekends in order to keep a promise. They pull their hair out over math homework and teach you how to change a tire. They stare down young men and set a good example of what their daughters should expect from their future husbands. They allow them to grow, while keeping their environment safe and stable. They give them away in marriage....but not completely. There are many "real dads" in my family that would not fit this woman's definition. Fathers through legal adoption, dads through inheritance by marriage, and dads who chose to remain dads even after divorce gave them a way out. Dads in my circle are dads forever. Not just when the law says they are, and not just to those who share their DNA. Sperm makes you a sperm donor. Your actions make you a father. Your Honor,since you don't seem to have any idea what the definition of real is, I'm posting the definition for you...just so you'll know. Real: of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things : not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : Real fathers are fixed, permanent and immovable. They are genuine, honest and real And, just so you know, this young lady doesn't carry my genes, either. I inherited her and her brother a couple years ago. But I am as real to her as the sun in the sky, the grass under her feet, and the man who tucks her in at night. The man she calls her real dad.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hard Lessons

Dear child,
  In case no one has ever told you, you are not indestructible.

 You are not immortal.

You are not immune to the laws of nature, nor the acts of evil men. You can be harmed. You can live a life trapped in a body so badly broken that you no longer have the ability to toilet yourself, feed yourself or dress yourself.

You can die...

Putting yourself in the car with a drunk (even if that drunk is you) is the same as stepping into a lions den. Whose fault will it be when you get devoured? Who will pay the price for your poor choice. Your mother? Your father? The others standing over your casket weeping until they are exhausted from the pain?

Walking the streets in the middle of the night, especially under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is playing Russian Roulette. Nocturnal predators are not just 4-legged. Many are two-legged and four-wheeled. Whether they stalk their prey by moonlight, starlight or street light, they are still deadly. You can only hope that death is swift and that your captor doesn't enjoy playing with his prey before he makes the kill.

You can smirk, mock, cry and argue all you want to, but try defending your actions to those who have suffered from the same. Tell the boy lying in a nursing home with tubes in every orifice. Tell the girl curled up in a vegetative state lying in a hospital bed in what used to be a normal bedroom.

Tell their parents.

Tell them it won't happen to you. Tell them you'll be fine. Tell them you're different...immortal...untouchable.

And then tell God, when you meet Him way too soon...


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Deprogramming

Gen 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?


  In the 1970's a study was done that pitted college students into adversarial roles; prison guards and inmates.Those assigned as inmates stayed within the confines of their cells, and those appointed guards were allowed to carry on life as usual after their duties each day. The two-week study was aborted after 6 days due to the psychological changes that took place within each participant. The prisoners took on the role of powerless captive, and the guards became aggressive authoritarians lacking compassion. They had allowed their situation to change them, even though it wasn't real.

  As Christians, we need to realize that not only does God exist, so does Satan and his minions. There is evil in the world, and it doesn't come from God.

John 10:10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

  Adam and Eve didn't know they were naked until the devil told them they were. They didn't feel shame until he impressed upon them that they should. What is he telling you, directly and indirectly through the people around you? We all have those people who delight in making us feel less than worthy. People who will cause us, at some point in time, to doubt our self-worth, our morality, our integrity, and even our ability to be loved. We are placed in situations that have the potential to make us believe we are what we are not.

  But, I ask you, who told you that? Was it God? No, God will never tell you that you aren't loved when you are, or place condemnation and shame on you when you have done your best. Those things are not from God. Those things are from Satan himself, and it's the same manipulative tactics he's used for thousands of years. He even used them on Jesus himself...
 
  However, Jesus never doubted His identity or His purpose. He knew that He was who God said He was, and nothing less.

And so are you.

  So, the next time you hear, either audibly, or somewhere in your wounded psyche, that you are less than what God says you are, ask yourself, "Who told me that?"

And never, ever believe a liar...