Tag Archives: love

Silent Sideliner

Shortly after  the New Year and before the inauguration I pulled away from social media. 

Like many others, I found myself becoming someone I didn’t like as I saw smear and hate fill my newsfeed.  Anger and judgment flooded my soul as I saw people who say they love Jesus revealing hate as though the Gospel is only for select people groups. 

As the scripture tells us, if your arm causes you to sin, cut it off.  Facebook got cut off as well as other modes of social media.  What I learned in my time away revealed way more about me than what I pulled away from. 

Quickly, I became a silent sideliner.  In my effort to not offend or get involved in any controversial conversations I became silent. Withdrawing can have a good sweet purpose transforming the heart and transcending soul.  Jesus withdrew to the Father, but Jesus didn’t stay withdrawn.  Unlike Jesus, my withdrawing revealed some deep dark sin that needed to be called out, confessed and cleansed.

While I withdrew and became silent, I still checked Facebook periodically to check in on friends and family.  Silence was a safe space to scroll newsfeeds but not respond.  Let’s be honest that’s either a busy body or disengagement.   Out of fear of arguing, being misunderstood, or saying the wrong thing; my disengagement on Facebook began mirroring itself in my relationships.   Not only was I silenced from controversy, I was also silenced from encouraging.

It wasn’t until someone I care about was insulted and I didn’t respond that God’s conviction stirred deep to face the sin before me.  Do I believe the Truth enough to speak up?  Are my convictions deep enough to handle potential disapproval of others?  Doesn’t love stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves?   I allowed my fear of conflict to push me onto the sidelines, spiraling into silent spectator. 

I hate conflict and I try to avoid it at all cost.  Whether through people pleasing or withdrawing, overall I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding it.  But here’s a truth that needs to permeate deep in my soulyou can’t avoid conflict in a world stained by sin.  You can’t stay silent while people perish.

Conviction leads to clarity and then choice.  I can either learn to engage in conflict with love, truth and grace or become a silent sideliner who, just like the Priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, intentionally avoid the messy, hurting, wounded and mistreated.  While it is not God’s will for me to engage in useless arguments,  by God’s grace may I never again find myself a disengaged silent sideliner withholding truth God has graciously given to bring life. 

Maybe you can relate…

♥        How are you becoming a silent sideliner in the midst of a spiritual war that has already been won?

♥        Where do you need to ask God to strengthen you to engage in necessary conflict for the good of others?

♥         What if Jesus remained a silent sideliner?

Who’s Your Shepherd?

I am the Good Shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.  John 10:11

In drinking in the truth of Jesus as the Good Shepherd while studying John 10, I’m freshly gripped by the truth that Jesus IS the ONLY Good Shepherd. 

Most of you may be thinking, well of course He is.  But I’m saying to you, no, He REALLY is.  All too often we see leaders,  pastors or someone who has impacted our life as our Good Shepherd.  No one is the Good Shepherd except Jesus. 

Take a peek with me at Ezekiel and see what we can glean from chapter 34.  The Lord is addressing the shepherds of Israel and saying Woe to you who only take care of yourselves.  He then goes out to list all the things the shepherds didn’t do to care for their flock.

  • Shepherds clothed themselves and didn’t take care of the flock
  • Shepherds didn’t strengthen the weak
  • Shepherds didn’t heal the sick
  • Shepherds didn’t bind up the injured
  • Shepherds didn’t bring back the strays
  • Shepherds didn’t search for the lost
  • Shepherds ruled harshly and brutally.
  • Shepherds didn’t go out and find the sheep who were scattered.

I look at this and my heart sinks.  Truth is we blow it!  While we try to care for others well, we unintentionally fall short.

 We are all guilty of not caring for those around us in some way or another

Whether you’re a mom, boss, ministry leader, teacher, pastor or in any way responsible for caring for others, these shepherding responsibilities are for you too.  I remember telling a  friend of mine after hearing how others hurt her, “I would never hurt you” and really meaning it.  Guess what, I did.  It was awful and humbling.

The Lord continues in Ezekiel 24 stating He will hold the shepherds accountable for failing to shepherd the sheep and that He Himself will be their Shepherd.  This is good news!  Let’s look at what God does for His sheep.

  • God will search for his sheep
  • God will look after his sheep
  • God will rescue his sheep
  • God will gather his sheep
  • God will bring the sheep into their own land
  • God will tend his sheep in a good pasture
  • God will search for the lost and straying sheep
  • God will bind up the injured sheep
  • God will strengthen the weak sheep
  • God will shepherd with justice
  • God will judge between his sheep
  • God will save his flock
  • God will make a covenant of peace with his sheep

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, does all of this for every one of us perfectly!  He is the one to whom we must listen and follow.  When we embrace this truth of Jesus as the only Good Shepherd, we will look to Jesus to lead us, guide us and go only where He leads.  We’ll find ourselves less disappointed with leaders, friends, churches and pastors because while God so often speaks through them, we won’t be hinging our steps on them.

This passage brings both a warning and freedom.  We are held accountable for how we care for others.  Don’t kid yourself ~ it definitely matters to God how you treat people.  Freedom points all to the One Good Shepherd.

If you’re a leader longing for people to follow you, you’re setting yourself up to a standard you can’t keep.  It’s not about leaders, it’s about Jesus.  Good leaders lead people to Jesus, the only Good Shepherd.

When we find ourselves frustrated with people, we may want to ask ourselves “are we looking to them for what only the Good Shepherd can give?”   If so,  run into the loving arms of the Good Shepherd! He will faithfully lavish His perfect care on you like no one else can.

Love Forgives

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us        Psalm 103:12

For a moment take in the truth that when God looks at you, His beloved daughter, He doesn’t see your sin, He sees His Son. He has wrapped you in a robe of righteousness  threaded in grace. For His own sake, He has forgiven you.

Have you? Have you forgiven yourself the sins you ‘ve committed or are you holding on to them and keeping records?

Have you forgiven others who have sinned against you? What do you see when you see others who have offended you? Do you see the offenses they committed, or do you see a person created by God in need of Jesus?

This week I will be attending my 30th year class reunion. Talk about an event that can stir up feelings and memories of offenses committed. How will I choose to see those who were cruel 30 years ago? What will I bring with me to that reunion? A big old bankers box of all the records of things people did that were hurtful, including the ways I hurt others? Is that what I’ll bring? Talk about a way to sabotage a party! Or, for my own sake, will I come with a cleansed mind, a purified heart and the wisdom of God? When I bring this to the party I can focus on the present with fresh perspective and not live in the ruins of the past. I can love as God defines.

Forgiveness will require us to lean into and put our faith in God who will right every wrong in a way only He can. It’s not easy, it goes against our sinful nature…but when we realize how much we have been forgiven, and how deeply we need God’s grace, shredding those old records becomes a desire that leads to freedom.

When we no longer see the person but the wrongdoing done to us think about how it affects our relationship with God and with others? Love Forgives. Love is why God chooses to remember our sins no more, and it’s why we, if we want to love as God defines will as well.