So here is a blog post I just couldn’t write. I had to make a video because I felt the words would get lost. This is to everyone who needs to be reminded to come back. I pray this is a blessing and nudge of the Holy Spirit.
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
Matthew 5:43-46 NIV
Have you prayed for your enemy? These are words I was convicted with this week. Life in ministry can be hard and sometimes it feels like enemies are all around. In days of stress and struggle it is easy to just be angry or irritated by many different things. These can be things you would normally brush off your back but now get bottled up and you eventually explode. It can be people you never met, people in the news, people your work with, people you are related to. We can have enemies in all corners of our lives. So are you praying for your enemies?
I have had people in my life that I have been frustrated with. I have people in my life that our relationship is broken and I have probably spent too much time being frustrated by their lack of change instead of reaching out to the one who can bring that change. Am i praying for them? You see one of the hardest things that we can do as Christians is pray for those who have hurt us. Pray for those who are hurting us. Pray for those who are hurt. Pray for those in power over us.
I was convicted to pray for my enemies. So here is what I am doing for the next week. I am going to pray for my enemies by name. I am going to pray for a softening heart. I am praying for wisdom for them and myself. I am praying for peace in our lives. I am praying for forgiveness. I am praying for repentance. I am praying for Gods mighty hand in all this. So join me as we pray for our enemies.
This week I have heard too many families to count trying to navigate what they are planning to do this coming school year. We have parents wanting to send them to school at any cost, those who want to keep them home and safe at any cost, Those who want a hybrid model, those who just don’t know what to do and are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice This doesn’t even include teachers and their families. All of it is probably too much to for all of us to know what to do. Add to that the fear of protests, elections, and layoffs might have it seem like too much for us to handle. You might have that burning feeling in the pit of your stomach.
I will admit the title of this article is meant to get you to click the link. I really want all of us to think about our kids. Here is the thing. Our kids are listening. Our kids are hearing your stress and fears. Our kids are hearing our anger. So stop and lets reset. Here are three things to remember this fall.
First, you will not ever make the perfect decision. In fact none of us will. For your kids sake please try to show them kindness and joy. Try to be as positive as you can for them as you navigate this impossible situation.
Second, pray and listen. This isn’t something you should take lightly. Probably more than any other year of sending kids to school we have some real fears about what it will be like. Will it be safe and will it be good for them? I for one am trusting in Jesus that he will be with our kids through all the ups and downs of the year.
Lastly, as I was reading the scriptures I came across one of my favorite stories. This one where they had a burning feeling as well. Lets get that burning feeling not in our stomach but in our heart. When those disciples were talking along the road to Emmaus they were in a moment of fear.
They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”…. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:14-18, 30-32 NIV
Our job as parents is to remind ourselves, our family and especially our kids, that Jesus is setting our hearts on fire for him. Jesus is in control. This year will be hard. We will have ups and downs, victories and defeats. Yet through all of it Jesus has the victory. He walks with us on these roads of fear and brings us a heart of peace. My prayer for us this year is we have hearts that are on fire knowing he is with us and we can proclaim that to a world living in fear.
I can’t take it anymore. I know I am not alone in this, but the one thing I hate about Facebook/Social media is the amount of time friends, family, and others try to make a major social issue of our day into a simple meme. Life just isn’t that simple. It never has been, and it is hurtful when others try to post something to make it seem like it is. Life is messy, complicated, and tough. The answers are messy, complicated and tough as well.
Christians today are falling into the trap of trying to make our faith response to those around us simple as well. We can post things that seem like a gotcha moment. It almost never is. Most of the time we either get angry at you, ignore you, block your posts, or say something to you. Obviously this is complicated in any Christian’s life.
Over this past week, I know I have struggled to not respond to former students, family and friends who either post a meme thinking they got someone else, or that they are somehow a better Christian by using the right words with the right hashtag. Let’s be honest. Jesus spoke in words that were much more complicated than a simple meme.
I will be honest. This summer I am going to miss one of the things that allows me to see the world in a longer form story. You see, this summer, I don’t get to do a Group Mission trip. I don’t get to take students into communities for the deep dive into a week in the lives of people different from them. In communities where a simple meme doesn’t mean that much. People who have lost everything because of illness, or life. Where the Church serves people outside of political posturing, or right words. We just sit, listen, and serve. I am going to miss it. No short term mission trips don’t let us know all the problems but they are much better than a meme.
So here’s hoping that, like you, I can stop posting memes to make a point. Here’s hoping that more of us will actually have a conversation and talk about the depth of the problems and solutions. Here is praying for solutions that will actually work, not just pie in the sky dreams. Life with people is complicated and messy. Jesus did it with people. He always said a lot and didn’t over simplify it. We can disagree about what Jesus would do in these situations as we try to be a follower of Jesus.
Lastly, if you want to post something, maybe do what my friend Tim does and post funny stuff. Seriously, the guy has deep opinions, but if you need a break to process and just laugh, Tim’s Facebook page has all the funny memes all the time. He will talk about real stuff but facebook is for the funnies!
When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 27 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[f]
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense,[g] and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.