Both sides of the story

Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.” James‬ ‭4:11‬ ‭‬‬

Judge – Strong’s G2919 – krinō – to pronounce judgment; to subject to censure; of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in the matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others: universally, and without case, hence equivalent to to condemn

Conversation can easily turn sour when someone begins sharing negative things about another person. It might be an attempt to avoid confrontation, just needing to vent or to get a second opinion before saying something. However, the result is that the person hearing forms opinions or says things without full knowledge of all the circumstances. We end up speaking evil of others, condemning them on the word of another, often with little to no facts to back up the case.

When I was younger, I remember always hearing. “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It was good advice then and it is good advice now. God pretty much is saying the same thing when He says “Don’t speak against one another.”

He tells us that if we have conflict with someone, we are to take it directly to that person. ““If your brother sins , go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.Matthew‬ ‭18:15-17‬ ‭

We are told to go talk to the person privately to discuss an issue. Only after we have talked with the person one to one and it is not resolved do we bring others into the conflict. At that point, we are still not speaking against our brother to some else; we are speaking to our brother, with witnesses. The others have the opportunity to hear both sides of the story at the same time. Then if needed, you take it to the church for counsel before writing the person off as someone you can not reconcile with. Even then, it is not okay to talk bad about the person to others.

God even instructs us to seek reconciliation before we give an offering. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.Matthew‬ ‭5:23-24‬ ‭‬‬

Note, that it says “if your brother has something against you”. So if your the person who hasn’t been willing to be reconciled, you need to do seek forgiveness before giving your offering. We are called to live at peace with others, as much as it is up to us. We can’t make someone be at peace with us, but we can try to be ministers of reconciliation. It doesn’t mean we can’t have healthy boundaries, it just means that we try to make things right with others. It doesn’t matter if we are the one being wronged or the one in the wrong, it is on us, as Christians, to try to make it right.

I know I have said “I tried. They won’t accept it.” I have learned to never completely close the door. You never know when God will open that door back up in the future. When I was a teenager, I said some terrible hurtful things to someone in my family. The relationship was severed and despite several attempts on my side to try to reconcile, the door was shut by the other person. I had peace, knowing I had repented for my actions and tried to reconcile.

In the years that followed, she would come up from time to time; I didn’t speak ill of her. I knew I had hurt her deeply at a time where she was already wounded. I was not responsible for her response to me, but so did own my actionsHer picture remained on my shelf with the other family members. I would tell my children stories about her. Twenty years later, I felt prompted to reach out. I sent a letter, which was the same way the door was shut two decades before, after calls I made went unanswered. We were able to reconcile. She was able to meet all of the family that came along after our split. God was able to restore what was lost so that I could be there with her as her health failed.

I have also said “They will never change.” as an excuse to not try to reconcile. It is a very short sided comment because the Bible says “For nothing will be impossible with God.”” Luke‬ ‭1:37‬ ‭‬‬I can not limit God with my negative words about someone else, but words do have power. And I shouldn’t speak against someone else in those words either.

When we talk evil about someone, we are breaking the old covenant law “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus‬ ‭20:16‬ ‭‬‬ We are disobeying God. We are acting as a condemning judge not correcting one another in love. We are taking matters into our own hands trying to get others to condemn them also without knowing both sides of the story.

It is easy to fall into the trap of listening to something about someone that is not present. We have to guard our hearts against that so that we do not condemn someone without knowing both sides of the story. It is best for us to remove ourself from talk of others if they are not present.

It is just as easy to start venting about someone who is not there to tell their side of the story. We need to guard our mouths from speaking against anyone else. We are to take it to them first, if needed add witnesses, but we should not be talking about someone without them being there to defend their side of the story.

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Put aside and Receive

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.James‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭

It would be nice, if the day that I confessed my sin to God and accepted Jesus as my Savior if all filthiness and the remain of wickedness were removed from my life. If the new creature I am in Christ was completely new and perfect. That is probably how ai would have arranged it, if I were in charge.

But instead, God in His wisdom gave us a choice. I have to chose to put aside the filthiness that filled my life before I came to Him. I can sit in church all my life and never receive the Word implanted in my life to save my soul. In order to receive, I first have to release the wickedness that has kept me enslaved. I have to get out of my own way so to speak.

God cleanses me, but I have to release those things that tie me to my old life in order to receive all that He has for me. I can’t have my old ways and His right way at the same time. There is not room for both in my life. He wants me to make a choice to put it aside. I have to chose to open my hand and release what I am familiar with to be able to receive from Him.

I have to chose to humbly open my hands. I have to open my life to allow His Word, the truth, to begin to transform it. As long as I am firmly grasping the things of this world, the filthiness and wickedness, I won’t be saved to the life He created for me.

I may make it to Heaven, but I won’t live the rich life He has for me here on earth. I won’t live a life transformed if I stay conformed to this world. I have to put aside the past, my former ways of filthiness and wickedness in order to receive all that He wants to implant within me.

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The Bend in the Road

I enjoy car rides. I used to love long drives alone because I would reach a point inevitably where my thoughts came to an end and I was able to hear God speak. The long drive was also a way to process all that had been happening in my life and my clients’ lives, so that I could move forward or gain the insight to help them move forward. There have been times in my life where I drove over 3,000 miles a month on a consistent basis. For the past year, I have not enjoyed the driving part, it makes me tired; but I love the times I can just ride.

My husband and I were on a recent drive through the mountains. When we started our trip it was already night so there was nothing for me to see. Mountain roads rarely have street lights. On our return trip, it was daylight and I really enjoyed taking in the sights. I love looking out the window into the distance. The panoramic of the desert, mountains, and communities. Every now and then, I would turn my attention to what was in front of us or what was on my husband’s side. There were a few times along the drive where the mountain around us caused the road to take deep bends with a limited view of what was to come.

There would often be signs along the road, “watch for falling rock” or a caution sign with a picture of a wild horse, a deer or and elk. I admit while I was praying to see some of these animals. I was also praying we would see them before the Jeep hit them. I saw a lot of rocks that had fallen on the edge of the road. Towards dusk, I got the opportunity to see a few elk and a deer. The elk stood at the side of the road without moving, the deer turned back.

My breath was often taken away with the beauty of what was to come as we rounded the bend in the road. It was like the bend had to be there to prepare me for the beauty that was before me. Other times, we would round the bend and my heart would drop as I realized just how high up we were. The bend also altered the view from behind. There was only so much that could be seen from the rear view mirror, or even from completely turning myself around in the passenger seat.

I thought about how this is true in life too. I have never happened upon disaster that there were not at least some warning signs of what was to come. I remember an illustrated sermon once called “Road blocks to Destruction.” The pastor walked through 10 things people go through that God uses to try to keep them from Hell. It might be that still small voice, but God will do what is necessary to warn us. A few examples that come to mind :

In Numbers 22 God spoke to Balaam and told him not to go with Balak to curse the Israelites. They came to him more than once, and eventually he decided to go. His used a donkey and an angel to try to deter him. Eventually, God used a donkey to speak to Balaam.

In Genesis 19:1-26 God sent two angels to warn Lot about the destruction of Sodom. Lot told his son-in-laws but they didn’t listen. The angels took them by the hands and guided Lot, his wife and daughters out. They told him where to go, but Lot wanted something else. His wife did not follow the instructions, it cost her life.

In Acts 27, Paul warned those he was traveling with to wait for the journey, but they listened to the captain of the ship instead. In the midst of the storm, an angel came to him with direction for safety and when they listened, all lives were saved.

Even Jesus warned the disciples of His death, the type of death and His resurrection: “As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.”” Matthew‬ ‭20:17-19‬ ‭‬‬

God will give us signs and warnings of what is to come if we will heed His voice. It may not come as we want it, but if we listen He will warn us when the path we are taking leads to destruction. He puts the bend in the road to give us time to prepare.

I also realize sometimes God hides the road in front of us because we’re not ready for the view. It might be that the narrow path between the mountain walls helps me to appreciate the beauty of what is to come. There have been times in my life when I took for granted the blessings that God has given me. When my view was narrowed, I was able to appreciate what came next in addition to what I already have been given.

Other times, it may be that the scenic views in the distance are distracting me from the danger that is ahead. Just like the signs tried to get my attention, warning of what was ahead, sometimes I need to focus because of what is about to come. Sometimes we would round the bend only to see a sharp climb ahead or a huge drop off on our side. At times I need my focus on the here and now so my world is not rocked when the obstacle ahead of me comes.

I remember a few years ago I had a dream that I needed to quit my job. It was a discussion with my pastor in the dream and ai was explaining to him all the reasons I couldn’t just quit. In a meeting, some of my coworkers warned me about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They did not come out with the details just warned me about trusting her. By the end of the year, she had my job.

I definitely was not prepared, to me it came out of no where. I was not ready for it, but within a few days was able to see how I was being prepared for it. God knew I needed that time to get ready. He gave me warnings and time before it happened. I think if I hadn’t had that time, I would have went into destruction mode as I defended myself against the words that were said about me.

When we come to the bend in the road, it is important that we take time to consider why it is there. Are there warning signs that tell us we need to be on the lookout for things that could cause danger? Is it there to help us appreciate what is to come? Or is it there to give us time to prepare for the struggle that lies ahead. Regardless of the reason for the bend in the road, God goes before us. He walks with us. He is our rear guard.

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Mountaintop Moments and Lessons in the Valley

As we were driving down Route 66, we would pass through the mountains and then the valleys. Over and over, I would see a few magnificent houses that I can imagine have amazing views seated at the mountain tops. They would be followed by small and large communities built in the valleys below. I am sure both have their advantages.

As the pattern played over an over again during the long drive, I thought about how I love those mountaintop moments. Being able to see the world around from the highest vantage point is amazing. However, I also know what it takes to get there. Whether it be the winding road up and down, or a long hike up, there is usually quite a journey to get there. It takes some time to reach the top of the mountain.

In the few areas where there were multiple houses towards the top of the mountain, they were spread farther apart. I am sure in part to maintain the unobstructed views from their property. The roads became less traveled and less maintained.

I thought about how, even if able to maintain those mountain top moments, eventually you have to come down. It may be for food or supplies, for work, or whatever, but at some point I would have to come down. Even the mining businesses we saw in the mountains, the trucks eventually have to come down and distribute the goods.

I thought about the villages and towns that surround the mountains. That is where you find the stores, restaurants, jobs, and connection. Even the smallest towns how some type of conveniences located there. The houses were closer together. The streets are lit for safety. They have the view of the mountain, but the amenities of the world we live in.

In my Christian walk, I love those mountaintop moments where I have seen God work and have the tangible blessings that come as I draw closer to Him. However, mountaintop moments are rarely completely shared with others. Generally it is a follow the leader as you trek up the mountain as the paths are narrow. Others may arrive with me, but not everyone I want with me will be able to come. I know I would love to live there all the time. However, I know this side of Heaven, I may visit the mountains but I will live in the valleys.

In the valleys, that is where the work is done. It is where the people are. It is where life is generally lived. It’s in the valley I will gather the supplies and lessons needed to make it to the top of the mountain. It is where I learn what I need to do to get to the mountain top. It provides a place of rest for the times I try to make it up the mountain but don’t quite have the endurance to make it yet.

It is there in the valley that I realize my need for Him. It is there that my heart yearns for Him to move the obstacles that keep me from making it to the mountain tops. It is there in the valley that He walks with me and brings others to walk along side me to teach me what I need to learn to make it to the mountaintops.

So often in life, I tend to downplay the valleys. I want those mountaintop moments. Yet when I look back at my life, it is the lessons that I learned in the valleys that I remember. I know I really wanted mountaintop moments. I am sure I celebrated the mountaintop moments when I reached them. It is just hard for me to remember them, because I see the next mountain.

It is in the valley where I draw the resources that keep me moving towards other mountains. It is the valley lessons that I draw from to help myself and others. Sometimes the lessons I learn in the valley haven’t necessarily gotten me to the top of the mountain, but have been to help someone else along in their journey to the mountaintop. Other times I realize the lessons I learned in the valleys, help me with mountains down the road that I need to climb even though they aren’t helpful in the moment.

We all want to live in the mountaintop moments. We like to celebrate our successes and would rather forget about the valley failures. However life is generally lives in the valleys. We need the valleys to help us appreciate the mountains. The lessons of life we learn in the valley will help us to reach the next mountaintop. But every person at the mountaintop had a journey to get there and will eventually have to return to the valley.

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In the Way You Should Go

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.Psalms‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭‬‬

From an early age, I was instructed and taught the Word of God. I knew right from wrong, and for a long time, I chose right. I wanted my life to be pleasing to God. Even when my world was crashing down around me, I was still receiving counsel from Him.

When I walked away from church, God was there trying to get my attention. His Word was hidden in my heart; it still flowed out from time to time. I would be reminded of His promises and goodness, often at the most inopportune times. He was still trying to guide me back to Him. He was still trying to to help me see the way I should go.

When I filed for a divorce, it was not man’s counsel I sought, it was God’s. That was the first time I remember really pressing into God’s Word for myself, seeking Him to teach me and instruct me in what to do. Through my tears and heartache, I would search His word for truth and answers to where I was. Divorce was never part of my plan, but He was not surprised by it. After my husband and I remarried, when we hit tough times, it was godly counsel we turned to for help.

A few years after my divorce, when I was homeless, it was spiritual counsel I sought out for the solution. My Sunday School teacher helped me to get into supportive housing and get the support I needed. I got enrolled in college and was able to get into permanent housing. She mentored me to help get my life back on the right path.

When my father was dying, it was pastoral counsel I sought to make sure he was ready to meet Jesus. I was standing in faith for his healing. My world was rocked to the core when he died. In my brokenness, I had the assurance that my dad was right with God and in Heaven.

When I was at my wit’s end, it was the Word of God that brought comfort. There was a message that carried me through some of the toughest years of my life. I held on the the promise that the blessing was closer than the enemy wanted me to believe. While I am still holding on to that promise for some blessings, God has been faithful with blessings throughout my walk with Him.

Some people feel like God is always watching them, waiting to strike them down because of their weaknesses or failures. His correction is seen as punitive. They see God as a harsh Father waiting for them to mess up.

I have never seen God in that light. Even in my family’s deepest, darkest moments, God and the church is where refuge was sought. I remember after my father was released from jail, following a conviction for incest, we would meet on Sundays and Wednesday to go to church as a family. I also remember sitting outside the pastor’s door while my parents received counseling.

Even when I walked away from God as a teenager, I knew God was watching over me. He was trying to draw me back to Him, and would show up in the weirdest ways. Maybe He does it for all people who are on drugs, I don’t know. We would be partying and randomly get into deep theological discussions about God and the Bible. I know at times I faced the consequences of my actions, but I can also see His hand upon me keeping me from destruction during that time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have received a lot of correction from God. He is still pruning and disciplining me thirty-two years later. I just see the love in His actions. I know that His heart for me is always good.

He keeps His eyes on me because He cares for me. It is not that He is trying to catch me doing wrong; He knows the wrong I will do. Every day of my life is already written down. He is not surprised by my actions. When that discipline comes, I know He is trying to help me, not harm me, regardless of how it feels in the moment.

God is love. Out of His love for me, He instructs me and teaches me so that I can fulfill the plans and purposes He created me to do. When I open my ears to listen, He will counsel me. Sometimes that counsel will come as a still small voice, confirmation in His Word, through a message preached, or from godly counsel, but it will come. He keeps His eyes on us, not waiting for use to mess up, but because He genuinely cares for us and wants to help us in the way we should go.

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Do not be dismayed

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭‬‬

For a long time, I have lived with self-imposed limits that have kept me from pursuing what I knew God had placed in my heart. I would question if it was really Him, as if the enemy would do anything to draw me or others to God. Or I was concerned about it being “all about me”; a state I lived in constantly growing up. I didn’t stop to consider, that in using that as an excuse, I was literally making it all about me. I stayed frozen in my fear instead of going with God.

Other times, I would be all prepared to do what was on my heart but because someone else had done or spoken something so similar, I would just hold back what I had. I remember when I was helping lead in a women’s group, more times than I can count, I would have something prepared that God had just poured out of me onto paper. Inevitably, Sunday one of the pastors would preach along the same lines; so on Monday I would not share. I did not want anyone to think I had just took it from the pastor’s message. I never considered that I might say it differently, in a way that someone else could understand. Like when a parent tells a child something many times without results and then someone else comes along and says the same thing and they hear it for the first time. I never considered it could be a confirmation word for someone; despite the fact that God often has to use two or three resources saying the same thing, to drive it through my thick head.

There are still other times, that I wouldn’t step out because what I thought about doing looked too much like what someone else was doing. There is a young lady in my life who is both an inspiration and an antagonist is my life. We are alike but also very different. Many of our interests are similar. I would have an inclination to do something, and she would post something on social media that she was doing the same thing. It was like she was a fly on my wall, and as soon as I would have a thought, she was following through with it. Like I was feeling “write a book.” She shared “here’s the book I just wrote.” The books we’re not along the same lines but it was just that she had already done it. I stopped moving forward because in my mind there was some kind of competition and I thought she already won. There was and is no competition.

I am starting to realize I am on a path that God laid for me. I can not tremble or be dismayed when I know that God has called me to go. He instead commands me to be strong and courageous. At times my path may cross another’s path or run parallel to but it is not going to be the same path. No one else can walk my journey, even if we are traveling the same way. Some will be ahead of me, others behind me, and still others beside me. Our strides will be different, our gait will be different. We can not both step in the same place at the same time, even if it feels like we are. It can only be God and I in the same spot on the path for He is within me.

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Make Disciples

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Matthew‬ ‭28:19‬ ‭‬‬

I was raised in church. From age two to twelve, I attended most services Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any special services. I was blessed with a strong foundation in the Bible. I memorized Scriptures from an early age and was taught about the people of faith the Bible talks about. I was baptized at age eight after making a public declaration of faith.

Discipleship on the other hand was not something I really learned about until I was an adult. One to one discipleship or even small group discipleship was not something that I saw occur growing up. If I’m honest, it not something that I have seen intentionally done in most churches. I remember a church I attended in Missouri that did a foundational discipleship class. It was more like a Sunday school class with more than half the church participating. In Arkansas, I attended a church that did small group discipleship.

Later, that same church incorporated a discipleship program by Rocky Fleming called Journey. I was blessed to not only walk through that nine month process of discipleship, but lead two other groups through the process. There is something about the accountability and relationship of discipleship that is missing in most churches. It is missing from a lot of people’s lives in general

Jesus had many followers, Luke talks about how he sent out seventy. “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” Luke‬ ‭10:1-9‬ ‭‬‬

He only had twelve disciples. A small group of people that He poured himself into daily for three years. They were all from different backgrounds and wouldn’t have anything in common except Jesus. He was in their homes, with their families, knew about their jobs, their likes and dislikes. They were part of His inner circle. He encouraged them, and called them on their crap too. That is what discipleship looks like.

We have created a society that doesn’t make regular time for true relationships, let alone discipleship. Follow me on social media and I’ll return the request, but please don’t ask me to be involved in your everyday life. People have a hard time making time for those who they are related to, let alone add additional time for someone who is in real need. We like twitter feeds and instagram pictures to feel like we are keeping up with others, but have a hard time picking up the phone to just chat with those we love.

We hide behind masks not allowing others to see our weaknesses and failures. We want to give help, but we rarely are willing to ask for it. We don’t want anyone telling us how to live our lives. We don’t want others calling us on the things we are doing that we know are wrong, but justify by the standards of the world. We love our lives in silos only letting people in when asking for prayer for serious illnesses, financial needs, and career changes.

We lead people to Christ with fervency, ready to see their lives transformed. Then we want people to watch a sermon, listen to a podcast, read a book or blog to learn about a deeper relationship with Christ. We hand out 7 tips to a transformed life, but don’t want to spend the time walking others through to their transformation.

This is the great commission. I have heard it preached, but I have rarely seen it lived out. We go, go, go. We are mission minded, but not relationship driven. We want a one and done deliverance or conversion. We might have a monthly baptism if that often. We teach and preach with amazing anointing. Where does the discipleship take place? Does discipleship take place? I

t has to me more than a book or a sermon, more than a meeting at church, it is about learning to live life in God’s way in true relationship with others. Not just those that are like us, but with people from various backgrounds, with various skills, where iron can sharpen iron. Daily living, messy relationship, accountability and vulnerability, that’s how you make disciples.

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Chosen & Appointed to Ask

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” ‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭‬‬

Chosen. God chose me. He chose you. He chooses each of us, right where we are, right as we are. He doesn’t look for qualifiers, like when we were in grade school and needed to pick teams for an activity. You wanted the fastest runner, the best shot, those that were athletically inclined if it was physical. Or you wanted the honor roll student for a project partner where grades were going to be given. He picked the disciples right where they were. Many prophets were anointed doing things other than sitting in the temple.

He doesn’t look for disqualifies either. When someone is hiring for a job, they may look at experience or skills for what an applicant doesn’t have to narrow down applicants. With algorithms many qualified candidates may not even make it to the hiring person because they didn’t use the right words in their application or resume. God doesn’t rule people out based on the past or even present circumstances. He picked a prostitute to save the Israel spies, an outsider and widow to birth the lineage of Christ, and a murderer to write 2/3 of the New Testament.

Appointed. He appointed us. He has assigned a role or job for each of us. A unique plan that no one else is meant to fulfill. It is easy to think “ someone else can do it.” But only one person can be appointed to a position at a time. There can be more than one position, but only one appointment to each. I admit I’ve passed on my fair share of assignments. I’ve also picked up appointments that I know were not mine. When people don’t do what they are appointed for, someone else has to step up, which means they also have to step out of what they are assigned to for that time.

Go and Bear Fruit. We are appointed to go and bear fruit. Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Fruit for the kingdom is souls and disciples. Either of these should be the result of Christian appointment, increase in the Spirit and/or increase in the kingdom. When we are doing what God has chosen us for and appointed us for, there will be growth.

Fruit that remains. What we are appointed to do, will create fruit that remains. I spent a lot of time when I was younger doing street ministry. It makes you feel like your doing something to spread the kingdom. It makes you feel like your loving others. Handing out a track may feel like something, but when I go into a store and am handed a sample I very seldom buy it unless I really experience it. Christianity is built on relationship. Discipleship is built on relationship. It is not the one and done prayer that God is looking for, He wants us. He wants our lives to be transformed in His presence. He wants us to remain in Him. The fruit we bear doesn’t remain on the tree, it is used for sustenance and then reproduces.

So that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. I will be honest, I’ve quoted this scripture before and never realized this line was part of it. Yet it makes sense, I have to accept that I am chosen and appointed to know that I can come boldly to the throne of God with requests. When I am bearing fruit in my life and for the Kingdom, and remaining in Him, my requests and desires are going to line up with His. I am going to be asking for things that continue that cycle of growth for myself and for others.

Chosen by God. Appointed to go and make a difference in the life of others for the Kingdom. Bearing fruit for the Kingdom that remains, and continues to bear fruit. When we are doing what God has chosen and appointed us for, we can ask of Him what we need and He will give it to us.

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Helping Lesson from a Horse

I shared previously about the training I recently went to on Equine Assisted Perspectives. I learned so much about myself, I might have to consider going for Equine therapy, certainly nothing a I had ever considered before. In addition to learning I need to get out of my own way, I learned a helping lesson from another horse.

Picture me standing in the front of this giant horse. Looking up at his face because he was taller than me. I was trying to put a rope harness on him. I was too close to his mouth. I was trying to stay away from the mouth because I’m not comfortable with a horse’s mouth. The horse is also pulling his face away from me.

I’m in this arena, with about 20 other professionals around me. I have this rope harness in my hand trying to maneuver it onto the horse. I was getting completely flustered and although anxiety is not usually something I experience, I was certainly having a hard time calming myself.

So, I did ask for help. I am talking with the horse asking him to teach me how to put the harness on him. Yes, probably too many episodes of Mr. Ed growing up. I really wanted him to teach me. I figured he had done it enough times.

The facilitator eventually, after much prompting (for me to use my resources), got me to ask them for help; then helped me learn to put the harness on the horse and lead him around. A number of my cohort struggled because they really wanted to come help me, to rescue me. I can laugh now because although I wasn’t asking for help, my eyes were pleading with the young horse handler sitting in front of me to rescue me. I wanted her to give me the cues on how to do it; all the while, I pleaded with the horse.

What a reflection of life! So often I know I need help, but I refuse to ask for it. I fumble around frustrating myself. I talk whatever I am working on wanting desperately for it to respond favorably to me. All the while, I am hoping someone will feel so sorry for me that they will jump in and rescue me. I want to be rescued, often from myself. Yet, I won’t voice the need I have. I could see in this moment how frustrating I can be in my refusal to ask for help from those who can and will help me.

I know this is an issue for me. It’s one I have been working on for a while because asking for help was engrained into my mind as weakness. Yet, asking for help is something we all need to do, and probably more often than we do. I know it, I teach it, but I rarely do it.

I love helping others. I remind my clients how good helping makes us feel, and how we rob others of that feeling and opportunity when we refuse to ask for help. I remind myself of that often. Yet here I was needing help, but not really asking.

God recently showed me that even Jesus asked for help. In the scene at Gethsemane, Jesus not only pleads with the Father, He asks His disciples for help.

“They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He *took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time, and *said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”” Mark‬ ‭14:32-42‬ ‭‬‬

If Jesus needs the help and support in His flesh, how much more do we? Pride keeps us from asking for help. It is not weak to ask for help, that is a lie from the enemy. It takes courage to admit that you can’t do it alone. The fact is God didn’t make us to do life alone. We need others. God says ask, He offers help.

Here are just a few passages from a quick search:

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭‬‬

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James‬ ‭1:5

“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” James‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭‬‬

Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.Matthew‬ ‭5:42‬ ‭‬‬

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭‬‬

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” Psalms‬ ‭33:20‬

We were designed for relationship with God and others. We needed to be rescued from our sin, and Jesus provided that completely. In life we need to ask for help, both from God and people. We were not made to be able to do all things. We were not made to do everything alone. We were made to do life with others and for others. We were made to help and to be helped.

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Lessons from a horse

And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”” Luke‬ ‭17:19‬ ‭‬‬

Jesus gave his command many times when he helps people. The Greek word Strong’s G4982 – sōzō for healed/whole/well is translated in other scriptures as saved. As I read the passage, my spirit resonated “stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

I have been saved since I was eight years old. There have been times in my walk, where I have went for the Lord with everything. I know that can not always be sustained; we are called to rest also. Other times, and more often than I wish, I have stood in my own way of going where I know God has told me to go. I feel like recently God has been showing me that I am getting in my own way of His plans and purpose for me.

I spent three days at a certification training for Equine Assisted Philosophy in Colorado recently. My experiences with horses is at best novice. I had a grade school friend that rode professionally, and raised them as well. I have ridden horses on trails guided by someone else. So this was new, being up close and personal with multiple horses. I was surrounded also by facilitators, therapists, coaches and equine specialists.

I didn’t go for therapy, but to learn how to incorporate Equine Assisted Philosophy into my counseling practice. However, I volunteered as “a client” in role plays. Even in the role play, I learned so much about myself, without the processing that would have taken place if I was actually getting equine assisted therapy.

I was asked to do an exercise where a I stood still, and the horse would gallop around me in a circle. My instructions were to do the opposite of another exercise that someone else had demonstrated called a ground tie. Just before me, one of the equine specialists had successfully demonstrated the skill with ease.

I was not as skilled. My cohort after the fact talked about how they wanted to rescue me in the process. I was anxious even though I rarely feel anxious. The horse just kept pushing me around, as I held tightly to the rope I needed to release so he could have the room to run. I wasn’t willing to give up control. I was doing what I saw, but not able to carry it out like the previous person.

I knew the facilitators were hoping to use it as a teaching moment, but boundaries are something that I am big about. They were engrained in my life from a very early age. When they asked if the horse pushing me around reflected any other area of my life, I could honestly say “no”. I do not allow others to push me around. It only took one time for me to file for a divorce when my husband put his hands on me. I can stand alone if that is what it takes to maintain boundaries. So no, the horse pushing me around didn’t reflect something I was experiencing.

Yet, as I sat there (talking to horse), I saw myself in the horse. Sometimes my strong will and personality leave others feeling pushed around. It is not usually my intention, but I could see how my behaviors were reflective of the horse. He wasn’t intentionally pushing me around, but he was responding to me.

In the same exercise, I learned how I often get in my own way. When the facilitator stepped in, after I asked for help, they showed me how I was trying to control things, but instead I was causing the horse to push me around. I needed to let go of the rope so the horse could go out farther. Instead, I wanted to maintain the control and only had about 10 inches of rope let out between me and the horse, which is why he was pushing me around.

How many times, have I wanted to do what God is leading me to, but been unwilling to let go of control? I stand up, but I don’t go anywhere. Instead my desire for control, keeps me stagnated. I want His results, but my way. That isn’t how God works. I can not obtain something in the supernatural by natural means, if I could I would not need Him. it is only by Him, through Him and because of Him that I can do anything that He brings me to.

I also thought about how I was trying to follow what the first person did. My skills and talents are not the same as her skills. She is trained with horses. I am not. I am a therapist. She was not. Our abilities could complement each other, but I clearly could not do what she does. And she would not want to have my role.

Yet how often do I spend time trying to look like someone else in ministry. I want to pray like them, write like them, have their boldness or words of eloquence. Even though that is not who I am. It is not what God gifted me for. It is not who God made me to be. He designed me uniquely with the gifts and skills ai need to accomplish what He has called me to, I don’t need her skills to do my part for the Kingdom.

Once I got out of my way, and released control, the horse stopped pushing me around. It wasn’t about doing it like the other person, it was about being comfortable with my skill level and following the instructions I was given. The horse began to walk around me, and I was able to go with the flow of the horse. God did not save us to stay in the comfort of the four walls of the church. He saved us and said “stand up and go.” It is time we stop pushing others around or letting others push around. It is time we get out of our own way and give God complete control. It is time to stop trying to be someone else and stand and go where God tells us to go!

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