Ruth the Good the Bad & the Unconditional

Ruth 2:1-18 Toil & Mercy

What do you learn about the happenings in this text?                                                             Ruth is doing the hard work of living in poverty and we are introduced to Boaz. 

Why is the author wighting these words?                                                                                     We are getting the background on our people, because as image bearers of God our character is important.

It occurs to me, that Ruth was Barren in her first marriage.  Only God can be responsible for the strange grace of saving her maternal years for the man who would so truly in-body the picture of redeemer and friend.  Only a good God can take something so desperate and sad and hallow, like a widow with a empty womb, and make it beautiful.  Beautiful like only things can be when they are working towards, His glory and His very ancestry.  God is alive in our day to day, we are a part of something bigger then ourselves.  Remember that as you question “why has fill in the blank been allowed, to play out this way”.  God dose not inflict the pain and suffer upon His prized creation.  But He works it all out for His glory.  He is in the perpetual process of drawing us into His glorious story.

A note for Mama Bears everywhere;  If ever your days as a mama make you question “is this messy, noisy, day after day life, of caring for my little children really a part of anything big and important?”  Know that we are drawn into a epic story of redeeming and saving and suffering for the Golry of God.  Never will there be a ministery more deeply intrenched in the work of our saviour then the 24/7, no chance of retiring, work of mother hood. 

So back to Ruth…  She when out to glean with the hope of “finding favour” and when she did find it in Boaz eyes she was surprised.  How often are we surprised by answered prayer?  Is that the difference of living with assurance of the truth of Gods goodness or just the hope God is good?

When Boaz entered the field his workers and him exchanged “the Lords blessing”  as a greeting and he went on to speak to Ruth with a similar blessing language.  This would introduce Boaz to us a “Christian Leader Type”.  He was well standing, his employees like him and he is generous.

We see Gods quiet work from the beginning as appose to his miraculous working in a moment.

Ruth being barren so a redeemer is required…                                                                         Her ending up in Boaz field…                                                                                                           The owner is a close relative and single and loves God…

Boaz had the hots for Ruth from the start I figure, he went out of his way to be so kind and to tell the other men to leave her alone.  He offered “whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

This brought to mind,   John 7:37                                                                                                         On the last day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

Do you remember Indiana Jonas and the Search for the Holy Grail?  The German guy “chose poorly”  He drank from the wrong cup and death was all he got.  It was a rich mans cup he chose.

But Indy chose a shabby cup, the cup of a carpenter, a humble cup and he received life.  He “chose wisely”

Ruth was so humble “She bowed down with her face to the ground”  She spoke of herself as a servant, as one without standing.  She worked hard and accepted charity from a stranger.

She didn’t have to stay in Boaz field.  She could have played the “fields” if you will.  But she accepted the charity and kindness offered.  She was humble.  To accept the offered drink is to say “Yes I am completely at your mercy, I don’t even have a cup to carry water in.’  It also says to me Ruth was confident and valued herself anouf, to care for herself.  She did take a break in some borrowed shade, and she was willing to commune with the other workers.  She didn’t hide away in the corner of the field,  ashamed of her poverty.  She was ready for redemption because she felt redeemable. 

Do I always feel redeemable?  No   Why?   Because I am prideful and keep my eyes on my lacking and struggle and not on Gods loving nature.

So what can I do?   Cultivate Gratitude, memorize Scripture and Live loved

Chose wisely, be humble, be ok with the need for God to redeem your broken places and live in light of the Glorious story you are place in as a child of God.

This is the story of Ruth.

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Ruth; the Good the bad & the Unconditional

Week two: Bitter Sweet
Ruth1:19-22

What is discussed through out this passage?
the town being stirred up at the return of Namoi and Namoi’s feelings about her state of mind.

Everything is the Lords fault. Namoi was trying to isolate herself from people and places and now the truth comes out….
When you are mad at your father the only place to be is alone, cause who will take your side?

bit-ter
having a sharp, pungent taste or smell; not sweet
(of people and feelings or behaviour) angry, hurt, or resentful because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment.

tes-ti-fy
serve as evidence or proof of somethings existing of being the case.

the choice of the word testify seems to point to something placed upon Namoi like a judgment or consequence of a previous action. I wonder if she fought to stay in Bethlehem during the famine? If she feels she has brought Gods wrath upon herself?
When have I believed that?
Can we actually bring Gods wrath upon ourselves with bad choices?

if only Hebrews12:10-13 had been written for Namoi to read.

They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Gods wrath? Im not convince, but His discipline is doled out in accordance to His decrement.  God appears to possess wrath, but it is not detached from His love.  Namoi may have been under the discipline of our heavenly Father or she may have simple been in deep morning but it is safe to say she was bitter and God was the target.  But He has big shoulders and can burden our broken.  

IMG_0523

Lets take it right back to Deuteronomy 29:18-19 and remember bitterness is rooted in anger and guilt.
Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.

When we say in our heart, I’m fine I can dabble in this sin and not succumb or be tempted. We may be flaunting a false sense of salvation, a sense that we are the creator of our own salvation and not in need of Gods assistance to holy and set apart.  I can only imagine that Namoi living away from her people (Gods children) and submersed in a pagan culture must have influence her last few years away in some way or another.  She was desert dwelling in the day land, without a community of like minded believers.  How parched she must have felt, how trying it must have been.

What is the point?
be doers not only hearers…

When Namoi and her husband fled the famine they left a portion of their firm foundation as well. They did not “do” the Word and failed to remember the prevision of God in the wilderness. They seemed to have forgotten their ancestry of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who were given promises and prevision.

God wanted the Israelites to dwell in the land He had given them. He wants us to dwell in the prevision and grace He gives us. Everything in His book leads us to understand that all joy and flourishing will happen when we dwell in His presents and plans.

So when we leave and hopefully return; shame, guilt and bitterness can be very real if we “knew” better then to toy with temptation.

Bitterness is a root that grows in our hearts. We can either water it or pull it out.

Understanding Gods truth and living like we are loved, regardless of wether we have strayed, is the best cure for bitterness. Namoi strayed (even if it was just geographically) and she probably knew that, and she was just mad and sad. As Namoi returned to Gods home for her, His path He had placed them on, not so many years earlier (a path that lead out of Egypt). As she returned to what she knew as peace and goodness. As she departed from folly. She could see in living colour the grief of straying from the path chose for her people, for her family.

This made me think of the balance of the submissive wife who allows her husband to lead, but not to a fault. Submitting to Christ first and committing to His ongoing work in her spouse is a fine line that must be walked with prayer and humility. We sometimes must stand our ground and say “You need to reconsider, and seek God and do the right thing” Not just the thing for right now.

Im not certain they were “wrong to go away from Bethlehem in the first place” But Namoi’s reaction upon arrival back home made me wonder how things might have been different had they stayed in faith and not stepped out in fear. This also caused me to wonder, where do I need to be weighing my decisions with prevision from past experience and the future potential for the giving of life or taking it away.

Sometimes Faith is a step, and sometimes Faith is staying put. Continuing to do the hard, sweaty, work of picking up one tiny seed of life giving potential after another and counting is at blessed. Day after day. Sometimes the faithful life looks like working a little harvest and finding the joy in the reaping of small things.

Right now mom life seems relentlessness. Spilled milk, runny noses, lost socks, big emotions, and lego, contaminating every surface of my house. But remaining present and joyful even in this, I receive a harvest of abundant joy. Exercising thankfulness, with the stooping and gathering of each beautiful mom moment, is the harvest that I am labouring in today. Bitterness can’t take root in soil that is overgrown with thankfulness and faithfulness.

This is the Story of Ruth.

Ruth; the Good the Bad & the Unconditional

Week one, Ugly Beautiful
Ruth 1:1-18

Who is involved?
Briefly the husband and sons         they were part of the first move away from Bethlehem
Ruth and Namoi                                 involved in a “covenant” of sorts
Orpa and Namoi                                involved in a farewell

What was discussed?
Mourning
Loss
Leaving and returning
Cleaving from and to others

We learn Namoi has had a hard go, between the famine and a relocation. Then the loss of all her men. To be expected, she was very broken hearted and also aware of her brokenness.

Sometimes, I believe we can feel lost, broken and sadness and not understand the root of it. At this point in the story I don’t think that is the case for Namoi.  She knows “I was full but now I am empty”. She eludes to the feelings of it being the Lords fault. Wether right or wrong she knows that once she was full and close to the Lord, and now she is not. Her only move it to return to her home “the house of bread” and find the hope that can only be found in the presents of the Father.

There is something “uninvited” about Namoi in this story….

She spends the first 18 verses, leaving one place for another and either voluntarily asking to be left alone or just losing people. She seems like a perpetual island and determined that God had dealt harshly with her. Its a limited view of the “Hope for our future.”

This is true for me and I bet a lot of woman. We feel left out or alone so we insist in being left out and alone, and we begin to behave in a ways to get left out (her intro once she is back home, proclaiming her bitterness) Who wants to hang out with that lady?

Ruth did…

She chose the hard thing, she places herself in close quarters with the bitter mother-in-law, and displays for us 4 things required to walk with a friend stuck in sadness:

Weep together. How often do we lack the words when faced with devastating news from a friend. But I bet we could almost always have tears. Misery loves company and we don’t always need someone to be brave and strong for us. We need a friend who can show us, its ok to be weak and I won’t be sent running at the first sign of tears. A well balanced friendship should not only be able to laugh together but also to cry together.

Be Kind. Kindness is the result of selflessness and humility. When we are kind we sacrifice our comfort for others because we see them as precious children of God. Kindness is a key to unlocking intimacy and venerability.  Its as simple as reaching out with gentleness in small acts of love. A smile to the down trodden, a drink to the thirsty, a place at the table to the lonely.  Kindness is treating others with humanity, because that is what Jesus did. He was so kind to become human so we could be saved by an offering of kindness. Its what gives us hope and hope gives us courage and with courage great things are accomplished.

Stand by your people. Relationships that stand the test of turmoil are golden, and a beautiful reflection of how God intended us to “love one another the way He first loved us”. They are your people for a reason, wether family or friend if we are committed to our sphere of people we are showing our commitment to loving the Children of God. This isn’t easy. I get it. They say you get to choose your friends but not your family. But God has placed you here, with theses people, for a time such as this and we are to be faithful to His calling. Even when its hard. On that note, there are times when a season of friendship may come to a close.  But that decision is not to be taken lightly rather to be covered prayerfully. Orpa did not not stay with Namoi, she is not a terrible person for this choice, she wept with her people, but the time had come for her to move back home. This can only be a case by case consideration, but all are to be filter through the lens of Jesus calling on our individual lives.

Display Patience. Bare with long suffering those who have a hard road to travel. Patience is what we all require. So give it generously. Regardless of your perspective of those who seem to be perpetually slowing down the progress. We all have these individuals in our lives, and we are all this person, to some one in our lives. Its a level playing field but when we are faithful especially through the dark days we all come out with a shared victory.

This is the reflection of Jesus teaching, this is the old testament pointing to the New, to Christ and to the Kingdom coming. When we live and walk as Christ calls us to, with kindness and patients, we fulfill the gospel and proclaim His glory.

Ruth would be one more branch in the family tree of Christ. One step closer to the kingdom coming. Just like Ruth we are to walk with intention towards kingdom living and become the branches that shelter our people and give shade to the hurting.

This is the Story of Ruth.

Ruth: the Good the Bad & the Unconditional

This fall I hosted a delightful group of ladies for a study through the book of Ruth.  We simply broke it down into small chunks and each inductively read and studied week by week and came prepared to share what was revealed to us.  

Conversational prayer was encouraged and a list of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions were available to contemplate. Of corse the filter of the Holy Spirit in our individuals lives was the key to unlocking this book in a new and intimate way.  Different woman with a buffet of backgrounds and experiences was the perfect combination to really make this book become a 3D experience.  Bringing ideas and virtues and concepts to the surface, that on my own, I never would have considered.

The Lord was smiling on us in some very practical ways as well.  With an average of 9 kids, all under the age of 6.  We rarely had a interruption, kids who love to be out in the yard and knew where their boundaries were out there.  It floor me each week how the weather cooperated with us! One of the highlights for me was the Trucker getting a random Thursday off and taking on “child care” which consisted of quads and sleds and stories and even joining us for closing prayer.  When our men are surrendered to servant hearted leadership we all come out blessed.  

So I will share with you week by week what the Lord revealed to me as I combed through this little book.    

Week Zero  At First Glance

After reading the book of Ruth what stood out to me first was the picture of Ruth gleaning…..  She was going out to find her “salvation” in the fields.  Literally stooping low to gather food off the ground so her and Namoi would not starve.  So they could live.  Not realizing that her redeemer was right in front of her the whole time.

I see a picture of myself in this story.  As a people pleaser, I bend myself to serve and connect and labour, specifically in the church, to find the feeling of connection and hope. I forget that through those doors it is Christ waiting for me to look up, and find Him waiting to take my burdens and emptiness and serve me as my soul saviour.

Fast forward to, Ruth mets Boaz on the willowing floor. She came to the physical spot where our broken and fractured pieces are lifted up and tossed in the wind. To have a the chaff, the unnecessary, the dried up, the broken prices of our outer shell blown away. That is when the seed, the valuable life inside of us, lands gently at our redeemers feet ready to be repurposed, to bring life to the world.

This is a picture of venerability and allowing our hearts to be seen.  Only when we allow the process of breaking our hard outer shells under the harvesters hands do we become a seed ready to be planted.

Humility, Boldness, Courage, and Commitment are just a few of the virtues that called out  if this story.

I was challenged by Ruth to be a Faithful daughter-in-law.

I was encouraged by Namoi to allow the process of mourning and loss to take its corse and not hide from revealing my true broken self.

Boaz is an impressive example of how to do singleness well.

The refugee, the friend of the mourning, the widow, the single.  This book has something for so many if we choose to look and seek.  Sometimes its easy to question why a book was included in the old testament but it is clear to see this book points to Jesus and the Kingdom coming with very specific actions and examples.

Join me, This is the Story of Ruth.

Available resources below;                                                                                                                         Please print out your own FREE copy of my “Ruth Study Notes” so you can join in at home! It is my desire to assist others to explore the word of God in new and deeper ways.  Make your own commentary and please share your thought with me here at the Farrell Mama Blog!!

Farrell Mama Ruth Study Notes

 

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing when we share the Love

James 5:19-20

19 My brethren, if anyone among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

I love that James says anyone,  that stood out to me!  We are all candidates to join in the redeeming process.  We are all invited into the rescue mission of His children.  We are all to be wooing the lost into the love of Christ!
“will cover a multitude of sins.”
Not a hook or a trick to “save us” not a “get out jail free card”  But a reflection of our hearts and the hearts we are leaning into.  When we are drawn to, or drawing others into the fold of Christ, we walk straighter, we think clearer, we act kinder.
So to recap James:  
First he told them of their importance in Gods family and James has urged them to stand strong.
Then he encourages the church to make their faith their own and be doers of the word and to bite their tongues.
And explains that this is important because the tongue has great potential, and to not simply to use that power for our gain, but for Christ because He is the point.  
That our only hope is to seek wisdom from above and to die to self.
That we must be humble and surrender our plans and agendas and that we must not be deceived by our own prideful hearts, we are all sinners in need of saving.
He encourages, just examine your priorities and the things you cling to for security, and if you love money and put your hope in it, watch out!
He has empathy and says, I know its not going to be easy, in fact, it might be kinda hard but I promise it will be worth it, so pray and stay in the fight for delight in the Lord.
Then finally he says, Love Gods children and share the Love of Christ with them.  
Because all Joy and Flourishing is on the line.
This is the message of James…

James & the Path to all joy and Flourishing when we stay in the fight

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

“Is anyone suffering? Then he must pray.”

How often have I looked questionably upon “that church Lady” who always has “some little” or “trivial” or “seemly silly” prayer request.  But we are called to pray and we are basically told to get out of the way of the mourning and the sad and the depressed and just PRAY!  Let us all, require the comfort of prayer.

This makes me think of a dear friend sharing with me her burden to morn the loss of her first little baby.  She felt judged and as if she needed to keep her agony to herself, “because of a lack of tolerance from her peers”  Who thought she should “be past her mourning”.  What a lost chance to grow deeper in friendship, when we refuse to allow others to morn and weep and be welcome in our presence as they are sad.

But rather encourage the mourning and the suffering to pray.  To name their needs and anxiously and hopefully await the Lord and His comfort.  Pray and seek the Lord.  Allow those going through the suffer to marinate in prayer and not put expectations on them, or ourselves to “Get over it”.

This is different then pouting.  It is praying.  The same is true for Joys and Celebration.  Let the Happy be Happy.  They aren’t bothering you, and its not about you.  Other emotions won’t diminish your own, they only bring fullness to life together.

and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

I don’t think this has anything to do with the link sometimes put between sin and suffering.

ie. you have cancer, you must have unconfessed sin in your life….

I think it is for those on the side lines who can be proud and judging.  Cause it is easy to see suffering, and those giving compassion to the suffer and feel left out.  Life, “Hey I’m suffering too, give me love and compassion…”  With self-centredness that can turn into “Well it serves them right, don’t you see the sawdust in their eye?  No wonder their are suffer…”

Yet this is following up on “Its not about you”  Its about Love, Humility, and living Christ out into our community.

We must offer hope and love and encouragement to our brothers and sisters.  So we can be perfected in our faith and find all Joy and Flourishing.

Prayer brings humility and healing.  Its hard to have conflict with a person you are praying for.  Wether it is for the suffering or the cheerful, everyone needs tolerance as they journey through their process.

I see a call for tolerance for those who are continually expressing their struggle or sadness.  Also for the “obnoxious bliss ” of the new bride the new mom or the new truck owner.

Share the Prayer of the Suffering and the Joyful.

We can fulfill this when, we understand others journeys to joy have nothing to do with our own path of, mountain top and valley walking.  Because some one is happy, dose not mean my life is sad.  Because someone is suffering, dose not demising my struggle.

Its about us all coming together and praying alongside each other and holding one another up to the light of love.  Learning to name our experiences good and bad and laying both at the foot of the cross with either thankfulness or petition.  Always staying faithful to see Gods love in all circumstances.  That is the Peace that grows from Love Tolerance and Prayer.  That is the journey that brings us to faithfulness and Contented knowledge that God is good all the time.

That is the message of James.

 

James and the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, wile we wait.

James 5:7-12

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

What a reminder to be anxiously kingdom minding.  Patience not for our own gain and relief but for the Glory of the coming of Christ.  James was written to the suffering and persecuted, Jewish Christians, living in the shadow of Jesus Death.  We are reminded of the suffering of the profits and the virtue of a steadfast faith.  Remember these were baby Christians and they were under great pressure. This letter was to be an encouragement, a reminder, a battle cry, to Keep the Faith.

Am I much different.  I do not worry for my spiritual freedom from powers or violence.  But the power and violence of media invading my very home leaves me isolated and out of step with the world I liven.  It is the silent, gentle persecution of the complacent, non-offending, Canadian culture that is killing the family and the faithful and the Church.

This is my battle to fight.  This is my challenge, I must to quicken with the hope of eternity.  I must see it in the eyes of every child.  If I do not put my heart and hands to the task of the Gospel and the infusing of virtues, that point to the cross,  I am but a wasted pawn in the war with life and death.  Just standing in the way not contributing to the promise of hope and everlasting Joy.

My complacency condemns the lost Children, I see them as just fine, and a hope for this worlds future.  When I fail to see the gruesome fate of those lost from the truth. I fail to see the potential suffering an eternal damnation I am inactivity a part of.

I must keep the faith and stay in the fight for spreading the Gospel.  I am to be counter cultural.  That is as simple as committing to modesty and as challenging to accept my husband as the Head of our Home.  It is to die to self and to see it as gain.  It is to stand for truth even when it offends, thought I must be committed to impartiality, as I pour out Jesus Love equally, even when I don’t agree.

pa.tience : noun – the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering with out getting angry or upset.

stead.fast : adjective – resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering

suf.fer.ing : noun – the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship

The point is to remember God is still working on us all, so stay humble, stay faithful, stay in the fight for faith because the furthering of the kingdom is on the line.  We are to allow Jesus to touch every aspect of our person our mind and our soul so nothing in our lives is exempt from the changing power of the Holy Spirit.  Including the Power of Prayer for those lost in the wilderness, brushing in and out of our days.

I am to be a woman of truth and commitment and I must follow through.  My yes is my Yes and my No my No.  If I can not stand by my own word and know what is right and wrong for me to do.  Then how can I stand by Gods word and discern what is good and true?  How could anyone take my faith or the bible seriously if I’m so inconstant?  Who would have hope in Christ with wishy- washy Christians?

So be steadfast, as you commit yourself as ambassadors of Christ, so the Lords Love will be known.  Do not lose focus, do not lose hope, do not lose sight of eternity…

This is the message of James….

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when we go with Gods Flow

James 5:1-6

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Its a warning, in the end your sin will be the only thing counted, not your earthly treasure.  A warning against a self-centered way of living, a warning to not resist righteousness.

We see a repeat of Jesus teaching from Luke 6:24-31

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

But don’t freak out if you got a little money in the bank.  Money is like fire, its good and keeps you warm but if you are silly with it, you will get burned.  Money is also a good limpness test of where your heart is.  What are you spending your money on?  Think about it…  Our desire for money and what it buys reveals more about ourselves then both our words and our actions.

I hear this great quote and Ill share it with you because it calls to light the false teaching of the world, that money solves everything.

“Earthy goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry.  But in truth, they are what causes anxiety.  Dietrich Bonhoffer”

Bonhoeffer knew that when you get extra cash you worry about what to do with it.  “Should I put in on debt or save it?  What is best RRSP RESP Tax Free saving account?  Maybe we should purchase that thing we keep “not affording”  we will never get new couches with the budget we have, may be this is our only chance…  Fixed mortgage or open?  Bank or Credit Union?  Think of all the the fights you have with your spouse around money?  Think about all the stereo types you unintentionally place in your children minds about money, just to have an excuse as why you can’t get them this or that, but you don’t want to say no to them.  “Thats what rich people buy”  “We can’t afford that because mommy choose to stay home with you”  “Study hard so you can get a good education some day, and then you can buy whatever you like”  None of this is helpful…  Money is not the cure to our worry.

And stuff create anxiety too, you buy a new couch and suddenly your stressed out every time the kids look at it.  You buy a new truck and you lose your mind with it gets dinged by the door beside you in Walmart.  Now Im not saying just have crappy stuff so you don’t need to teach your kids respect others property.  Im saying that being a good stewart of, and placing your value and hope in, is 2 different thing.  And we have to take inventory of our hearts when we find ourselves, counting our pennies instead of generously living with Gods children.

“You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”

Our self-centredness is in stark opposition to everything God has in mind for us.  The more we focused on our gain, our desires and our agenda.  The further we move away from Gods leading.  It is a narrow path that requires us to push others out of the way to get ahead.  In the moments we step on Gods, Children’s, toes we condemn ourselves.

So love generously, lavishly, sacrificially.  Because God first loved us and gave us everything for us, even His own Son, and we are to be generous with what He has lent to us here in this world.

That is the message of James…

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing as we Reject the Worlds Message.

James 4:1-12

 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.

“You adulterous people!”

I have always said with disgust, “I could never cheat on the Trucker!”  We all can not imagine how we could betray our spouse.  And yet, every priority I put on self and not on God is me cheating on my first love, my creator.  A lack of gratitude is a unfaithful love offering.

“He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”

God is jealous to fill and fulfill me.  So my lack of attention to His calling is a betrayal of His sacrifice.  His invitation into flourishing and joy.  My attention to the temporary, the looking to fill my empty parts with worldly satisfaction.  This is my lack of commitment to Gods end game of Joy in my life.

But Grace….  Be Humble….

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

The devil is not long-suffering, if I resist he will eventually move on, for he has bigger fish to fry.

“Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection.”

My heart must not only break for the sins of society but I must be broken first for my own transgressions.  No one blind to their own short comings can grow strong in wisdom, love, humility, and grace.  Sometimes we must burn down all that is overtaking our resolve so purification can take place and new life can bloom.  Our faith will only flourish when the weeds are removed. Then we will once again see the sun and be warmed by the light of life.

Again and again in James I see “Don’t speak evil against another…”  My self centric desire is my number 1 war criminal. I want, I long, I sin…… I praise God and yet curse His image…..   What is the cure to self-centred living?  Serving?  Thankfulness?  Giving all I have to the poor?  Still I seem to be able to make it all about me….

The world wants me to celebrate me, wile it creates the unattainable image of beauty, productivity and wealth that will perpetually draw me into discontentment.

Humility, Humility, Humility!  So I must hold fast to understanding that we have sinned and fall short of Glory.

I am equal to all, the wealthy, the poor, the pretty, the disfigured.  The smart, the slow, the clean and sober and the down and out user.

I am equal not above the foolish, the prideful, the vain, the boastful, the criminal, the murder, the thief, the prostitute. We are all of equal value in Gods eyes, an equal recipients in the blessing and the curse of the cross.  I am no better then any man or woman.

I am equal, I am no less important then the men who lead the church, the fit runners, the pretty blonds, the successful workers, the educated, the wealthy, the privileged, the ones who cover their heads and are soft spoken.  I am equal to the business woman and I am equal to the mom of 10.  God will love us all the same, and use who He choses, for His plan and not our glory.

I am not better or worse in Gods eyes then any of His beloved children.

Embrace Humility Every Day in Every Way.  That is how we die to self.  That is how we defeat the message the world is telling us.  There is no Classes, no Clicks, no Pyramid that God dosen’t see as a level playing field.

When I understand that God is the point and I am not, and neither are you.  That is when I can live out the Gospel and find resting in the equality of the cross.

We are meant for another World so our standing here is irreverent in regards to our salvation and your self-image, your conduct and your love offering, should reflect that.

This is the message of James…

 

James & the Path to all Joy and Flourishing, when we Realize we are not the Point

James 4:13-17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

“But as it is, you boast in your arrogance;”

Arrogance:        an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.

I have been super arrogant with my assumptions about others choices, we all are.  It come from many places in the dark corners of my heart.  Pride, comparison and jealousy… Sigh….

Seeing the manifestation of sin in my own life is both humbling and devastating.  In these moments of raw reality in my own soul, I am also starkly aware of Gods mercy and love toward me, regardless of my flaws and insecurities.

Because in the end it is not about me….  Ya Ill say it again ITS NOT ABOUT ME,  or you.  Because “MY” plans are insignificant and “GODS” plans are the whole point.  So I need to be thinking on, praying over, and anxiously awaiting, Gods plans, not mine.

And I know the type A planner in you just freaked out a bit but take a breath.  This is God releasing us from so much pressure and rejection.  When His plans are the agenda,  when He is the most glorified.  It releases us to to not be offended when everyone else dose not realize that we “should be” the point.

When I think my plans are first priority, but everyone else has their plans as the top of the list, that only mixes up a recipe for strife and disappointment.  Too many cooks spoil the broth and it is true.  Because we are all adding to the same pot in the end if we are working as one body.  My chicken soup might be your minestrone, and without prayer from the communal body, the Church, we all might be missing the fact that Christ was making mushroom soup all along.

And that is not to say we aren’t to plan.  That we can’t move ahead in life and ministry without a committee meeting.  We all know that we are to be good stewards of our finances and families and bodies and such.  We are all to be daily taking part in the great commission.  But be ready for change.  Be ready to make Gods agenda your number one and then tailor your life here to work with in that vision.

When we are living holistically with Christ, He will to touch every aspect of our existence.  What are all the labels we place on ourselves , mom, teacher, cook, minister leader, farmer, employee, friend, wife…  Are they honouring Gods plans?  Then hang onto them. But if it is earthly temptation,  if you are placing your identity in anything other then Christ, let it go.

This spring I sold some horses.  It was hard.  But not because I was emotionally attached to these particular horses.  Actually I was happy to get rid of theses few.  They were bossy in the herd and hard to catch.  It was just more feet to trim and more coats to shed out.  More feed to buy and more pasture to be managed.  It was work and money I was spending on horses I hadn’t rode in years.

But it met me in a prideful place, where I was basing my identity in “Being a Horsewoman”.  I wasn’t ready to let go of that part of myself for many years and its shameful, all the time we wasted and money we burned just to prop up my assessment of myself.

But the time had come and they needed to go.  I didn’t want to do it alone.  But the Lord called me out into my wilderness once again, because deciding in  my heart wasn’t anouf.  I had to obey with my feet.  The trucker got called out to drive and I was dropping the kids off with Grandma and headed down the hwy. with the trailer in tow.

And despite my tears of anxiety the night before. The anxiety to have to face this taring away, this revealing of what lay beneath the layer of Horsewoman to what the Lord was working out underneath that facade.  It was a pleasant drive.  It was a freeing realize as I opened the back gate into the ally, as I watched the ponies get marked and prepared for sale.  I was free,  I was home, there in the dusty stock yard.  Because I had let go of the label I had clung to all these years, and I was still whole.  I was still loved, and I was drawn onto the solid ground of Christ and not in the things of this world.

Stand in Christs calling, not in the plans of this world.  That is the space you will feel most free.

This is the message of James…