Lessons Learned

Knowledge based on experience....

Defining our purpose...

“Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Matthew 13:13

When our focus is to be right or to prove everyone else wrong, we’ve lost a sense of humanity.

Why have we morphed into a nation that seeks to belittle? What’s happened? Jesus didn’t agree with everyone but He loved them.

If we claim Christ, shouldn’t we reflect His behavior? Some of the time? Most of the time? I can’t change the world. I can change myself.

It’s past time for God’s children to ask, “What is our mission?” To prove our enemies wrong or to point to a righteous Savior?

Here is a parable: There once was a nation that turned on one another instead of learning to live together. The Christians in the nation decided the entire world must think like them to be acceptable in God’s sight. God’s people decided bullying was more important than witnessing. They picked a bully for their mascot. The cross became secondary. All the people in the nation suffered. Christ’s message suffered the most.

If we have ears, we hear. Humble ears hear much more clearly than prideful ones.

PRAYER: My dearest Lord Jesus, You matter to me. Your mission, Your message and Your methods shine before me. Teach me to walk in the Light that shines from You. Forgive me, Lord, when I allow an idol to replace you then go a step further by declaring the idol as our only salvation. Your people are messed up. Please forgive us and fix us. In Christ’s name, amen.

The only formula to change the world...

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

As COVID-19 introduced itself, my church family kicked into action. We agreed to pray “together” wherever we are at 8:00 p.m. every night. My husband and I have been faithful to the call.

Considering so much has happened beyond COVID-19, we’ve thrown in some extra prayers for our country and the upcoming election. Neither of us pretend to have the answers. We do not tell God what to do. We lay our requests before Him trusting Him to show us His answers.

His love never fails. Unfortunately, His children fail to love. Often.

A recent prayer time encouraged me to examine reality. Fake news is big news these days. Far too many of us continue to look for a station, a person, or a specific source to reveal truth. Only God can do that for us. Yet, He is often the last One we ask.

Reality: Do you realize how long it took between Emancipation and the Civil Rights movement to kick in during the 1960’s? Yet, we want to say Black America is too demanding and unreasonable.

Do you realize how many people actually visit statues on a regular basis? Yet we want to feel outraged when they are defaced or removed.

Do you know how many young, Black men were killed by law enforcement before Colin Kaepernick knelt and Black Lives Matter was launched?

Do you know the timeframe between the fall of Confederacy and the demand to stop idolizing men who stood against the government to maintain slavery?

Now, let me ask you this: Do you know how long it took for Americans to gripe when they were asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing? Within the hour, my friend. Within the hour.

Now tell me again who is causing our problems?

These verses are the formula to solve all of our issues. To put it simply, how about we do what Jesus says by shutting out the negative rhetoric? He gave us the solution before life ever presented the problems we are experiencing today.

The real problem is spiritual, not racial.

Prayer: God, I say again - please help us. We are showing our true colors. It isn’t a matter of Black, White or Red. It’s yellow. We are cowards. We don’t trust You. We prefer to do things our way and then bellyache when we create a mess. Please fix us. In Jesus’ Holy name, amen.

To yell or not to yell…?

“For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” Romans 12:3

I try to learn something new every day. My learning lesson for today occurred while watching the local news. During the newscast, the reporter was present at an HEB store to see people’s reactions to HEB requiring masks on all employees, all customers, and all delivery drivers.

A woman entered the store without a mask. Everyone around her wore their mask. Even the reporter wore a mask and was talking through it. To me, the woman displayed a “you-better-not-try-to-tell-me-what-to-do” attitude. An HEB employee approached her, while the reporter and camera looked on, offering her a mask. The lady went ballistic.

She began yelling that HEB couldn’t tell her what to do without infringing on her rights. You know the drill. We’ve all witnessed it.

The next news report featured the sister of the brave, young soldier missing from Fort Hood. A body, suspected to be the soldier, was discovered today. The sister of the missing soldier screamed into the camera, “You act like this is a nobody! My sister served her country! She is somebody!”

I turned off the news because, frankly, it gets to be too much. I prayed for the situation in our country (pandemic). I prayed for the family of the soldiers missing from Fort Hood. I felt my spirit saying, “One had every right and reason to yell. The other? Not so much.”

How do I know which is which? By this verse. God says grace is given to us. None of us – no one – has the right to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Instead, be sensible. God has given us faith. We may have different degrees of faith, but we must apply it in all circumstances.

Sister was murdered – yell. Don’t want to wear a mask – why are you yelling?

PRAYER: Lord, don’t allow us to be selfish in our feelings of entitlement. Lord, remind us that we are part of the human race. No man is an island and none of us truly function alone. Lord, heal our land. Lord, comfort the family of this missing soldier. Father, settle our hearts and unify our minds. In Christ’s name, amen.

Where does it stop?

“So the Egyptians assigned taskmasters over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor. They built Pithom and Rameses as supply cities for Pharaoh.” Exodus 1:11

“I am sending him back to you—I am sending my very own heart.” Philemon 1:12

It is a historical fact that Egypt enslaved Israelites. There is no debate. It happened.

It is biblical fact that the Apostle Paul returned a slave to his master. There is no doubt. The bible says it and I believe it.

If we continue on the path of destroying everything that reminds us of slavery, where will it stop? Should we tear down the pyramids and any stone image in Egypt? After all, they are living proof of the Egyptians’ ambivalence towards slavery.

In turn, we need to throw out approximately 75% of the New Testament. Despite the importance of the Apostle Paul’s writings to Christianity, he returned an escaped slave to a slave master. There is no justification for Paul’s decision or behavior. So, let’s toss out his writings.

Of course, I am being cynical. Let me just clarify that I think monuments of human beings are both a ridiculous use of public money and the ultimate in vanity. I could care less if the gigantic Sam Houston along I45 in Huntsville remains or is brought down. However, from a spiritual sense, I encourage my brothers and sisters to do two things: 1) Focus on ending modern-day slavery. The best thing we can do for the mistakes of the past is to improve the future; and, 2) Understand that pulling every statue, monument, or pyramid down isn’t going to remove your pain.

Learn from it. Draw strength from it. Do not let it determine your value or worth.

If Americans, Black, White, Hispanic, or otherwise, think we’ve solved anything by rejecting our national anthem because France Scott Key owned slaves, we are fools. We cannot and will not change the past. We can make our own mark on the future based on how we act right now.

PRAYER: Father, heal us. Please. In Christ’s name, amen.

Not my baby to rock, not my bill to pay…

“May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5

This saying, “Not my baby to rock, not my bill to pay,” is a joke between my husband and me. It is our way of reminding ourselves that everything is not our responsibility. It’s a good saying. One we repeat often to one another.

I’m observing lots going on during this crazy 2020. I notice those who want to talk about things and those who choose to change the subject. I notice those who take things too seriously and those who prefer to live in denial. I notice who seems to care and those who show an attitude of, “I could care less.”

I also see those who are always somewhere in between.

Notice, “not my baby to rock, not my bill to pay,” isn’t saying we don’t care. It is simply saying that there are things and there are times that “it” is simply none of our business. The saying, if applied, is actually very freeing.

Friends, there is a whole lot going on right now. It’s going to get worse as the year winds down. I know some of you will want to talk about things. I also realize some of you are ready to change the subject. I know some of you are dreading what comes next while others think I am being too negative. I realize that the majority of us care. We just show it in different ways.

PRAYER: Father, remind us that none of us are exactly alike. Teach us to show grace to others as You show grace to us. Forgive us, Lord, for our arguing, and criticizing, and condemning, and judging…well, the list goes on and on. As we turn our eyes to You, please allow us to let go of this world. This world is not our baby to rock. This world is not our bill to pay. Jesus paid it all. In His name, amen.

Community depends on unity…

“How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Luke 13:34b

We cannot spell the word “community” without using the word “unity.” When all is said and done, if we want community, we must apply unity.

We aren’t living in a time where Americans seem concerned about unity or community. From my perspective, selfishness and pettiness abounds. I never cease to be amazed how we dress up the disregard for others. Many try to disguise selfishness, but when our self-perceived “rights” endanger others, call it what it is – selfishness.

I think Jesus weeps. I think He weeps not only for His children but for God’s creation. There doesn’t seem to be a facet of society that sees cooperation and compromise as vital to unity. We behave as if every man is an island to himself and for himself. It’s just plain sad.

Now I realize there is unity in many small groups and family relationships. However, the friends and family I talk to share their dismay over the blatant uncooperative spirit thriving among us. I feel as though we aren’t really trying to get along as a nation or as a society. I feel we look for and emphasize our differences as opposed to loving one another.

Hate is being stroked.

It also appears to me that people are looking for things to be offended over. If we allow politics, media, advertising, or any outside force to determine our destiny and self-worth, we put God at the bottom of our list. God needs and wants to be at the top of the list when it comes to what and who we allow to define us.

Friends, what will it hurt if we simply step out in faith deciding to love one another and work together? If we want community, let’s embrace unity. Please.

PRAYER: Lord, our nation has embraced a spirit of selfishness. Then we wonder why things seem to be falling apart. Lord, draw us to Yourself. Remind us of who You are. Refresh Your Spirit and Your word in us. Lord, we pray this in Your name. Amen.