Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How to tell you've spent "too much time in prayer"

When you are documenting in the progress note of a medical record and instead of signing your name with your credentials, you write "In Jesus name, amen".

While the title is definitely tongue-in-cheek---the experience today was enough to give everyone of my co-workers a chuckle and since you can't use whiteout in a medical record, you simply have to draw one thin line through it and then write, "Neva Cooper, Social Service Director, CSW"------oh well!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Live Like You're Loved

Lately, I have been reading lots of blogs (including my own) that talk about the way Christians act or behave. They talk about us, God's Church, The Bride of the Redeemer, being unloving and meanspirited. They talk about us being judgemental and entitled and hypocritical. Maybe I am reading more into them that what is written but it seems that there are lots of problems and few solutions. I am not refuting any of the charges made against us (me). Nor am I making excuses. I merely wish to offer a solution.
Being a mental health professional, I believe that there are reasons behind actions. The way we respond to others, the way we manage crisis, the way we see the world and ourselves all relate, right or wrong, to our belief system. The anorexic believes herself/himself to be fat. The consummate con artist who takes advantage of everyone around him/her, believes himself/herself to be smarter than everyone else and thus more deserving. The beggar sees himself/herself as the ultimate victim thrust into situations not of their choosing and daily punished by the coldheartedness of others. Each in turn develops a response based on their beliefs about themselves. These responses, rooted so very deeply in their belief system, dictate what others see in them and the way they respond.
Simplistic maybe--simple--hardly. We treat others harshly because of something in our belief system that tells us, teaches us, that harsh treatment is the right choice. If this is true--and I personally believe it is, then we cannot change the way we behave until we change what we believe.
I love being Ned's wife. He provides for me and protects me. He loves me! Because I know that and believe it with all my heart, I am able to behave in a certain manner with him. I am not afraid to let him see my weaknesses, I know he loves me anyway. I am not afraid to confess my sins to him, he loves me anyway. I am not afraid to lean on him because I know he loves me. That confidence, that belief allows me to treat him with love and respect and loyalty. It is what makes my life absolutely wonderful!
And so, I have been thinking about what would happen if Christians truly, truly began to believe they were loved. If we were confident in the love God has for us, don't you think we would live differently? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all lived like we are loved? Imagine for a moment, what that would look like.
Living like we are loved means that we live freely. We are not bound by legalistic traditions but by the words, the Word of God. We are according to Galatians, freed for freedom. We are free from death, set free by the blood of the Lamb. I've heard it said that from the moment we are born, we begin dying. And while that is true of the physical body, it is not true for the spiritual. Once we die and are reborn, we have just barely begun living. We are freed from death's sting. We would be driven to please Him, our every action rooted in what would give our God the most pleasure. Those who believe they are loved are able to give freely---time, money, mercy and love--all gifts, all belonging to God already and simply on loan to us---for the purpose of sharing them with others. Loved people love freely--without conditions, in spite of lostness, because of redemption--love others.
Living like we are loved also means that we live intentionally. A haphazard christian is no christian. Accidentally being obedient is of no avail. God calls us to purpose to be His. He gave us minds to think and learn and decide. We have wills with which we can choose to submit or rebel, but the choice has to be a conscious one. Every day, every hour, every minute, we decide whether to please Him or break His heart. Loved people who truly believe they are loved, live to worship their Creator, their Father, the One who loved them enough to die.
Living like we are loved also means that we live gratefully. God showers us with blessings each and everyday. The sunrise and the sunset testify of His love for us. His concern is drizzled over our lives in the gentle rainshower and the confidence we can have in His power exhibited in the mighty ocean. He is God and He loves us--James says He is the giver of every good and perfect gift! It was His love for us that drove the nails into the hands and feet of His Beloved. How could we believe in His love and our hearts not be filled with gratitude?
The Bible tells us of His great love, a love so magnificent our feeble minds cannot grasp it. The world He created to house us, to feed us, to clothe and provide for us are more witnesses to His love for us, His children. The community of Church that He makes us a part of serves as a reminder that He is still here, still caring, still protecting and still loving us. We don't understand how He could love us so---and yet we say we believe it to be true.
I read a book recently that carried this statement, "for you to live as if you were unloved is a limitation." That is so true isn't it? We are limited only by what we believe. Perhaps it is time we truly started believing in His love. Maybe our faith will be strengthened as our belief system begins to embrace the idea and maybe, just maybe we will change the way we respond and react to those around us. The possibilities are limitless--- once we start living like we are loved!


Monday, September 08, 2008

Tender of Hearts

If you know me at all, you know that I almost always rise to the defense of the underdog. It is for the unlovable, the beat up upon, that I find myself most often fighting. One of my own personal pet peeves is watching someone struggle to do one right thing, all the while listening to others retell how good this one is at doing the wrong things. I find myself becoming so angry that I struggle with my temper. I fight down the urge to lash out and to condemn. Sometimes I fight harder than I do at others. And then, like all of us, I find myself penitent and pained, grateful for grace once again. If you have lived in this world longer than fifteen minutes, you have most likely been both the deliverer and the recipient of spirit bashing. And so I wonder, what makes it such a natural response to harm others? What makes the faults so much easier to see? What is it that makes us such willing participants in this bad behavior?
I was reading the book of Matthew and I came across the parable of the wheat and the tares. (Matthew 13:24-30) You remember this parable? The master sows good seed in his field and while he is sleeping, the enemy sows weeds (tares). They both sprout and grow producing a mixture of good and bad, a mixture of wheat and tares. The owners helpers want to rip out the weeds but the owner won't allow it. Out of concern for the tender stalks of wheat, he tells them to leave the weeds alone until harvest. Remember this one? Some parables are left to us to decide the intended application, while Jesus gives us the explanation for others. This is one that is interpreted by the Messiah, Himself. He tells us that the good seed is the church and the bad seed the world and the enemy the devil and the harvesters, the angels. It is a very cool parable about God's people living surrounded by satan's people and the end results at judgement or harvest.
I would never disagree with Jesus or make a different analogy other that what He intended. The appeal to parables like this is that they speak to the very basic of common sense. One need not be a farmer to understand that in ripping out the weeds, wheat could possibly be harmed. Easy, easy concept, right?
That same common sense applies to hearts. When we see someone with "weeds" in their heart, our gut response is to get rid of them, to purge that heart of those choking, water guzzling, food hoarding, growth inhibiting weeds. That is what we really want to do. And we just know if we pull out those massive weeds, the tender little shoots of wheat will have the nutrients and the water and the sunshine they need to grow and mature and bear fruit. Right? However, in our zeal to make this heart "weed-free", we can damage the wheat, destroy the good right along with the bad, yanking them both out by the very roots. (The roots of the weeds are usually deeper than those of the wheat).
Does it make sense that some of that weeding might be done after we have nurtured and fed and nourished the wheat? After we have helped it's root system grow and spread? Would it stand to reason that in feeding the good, the bad would begin to starve? Is it possible that in encouraging the growth of the wheat, we could at the very same time be thwarting the growth of the tares?
The age old question (almost always taken out of context), "Am I my brother's keeper" has only one answer--yes! We have responsibility for our brethren--otherwise all those "one-another" passages would be pretty silly. We are to care for, protect and nourish their hearts just as they are to do the same for ours. We are called to tend to one another, to help, encourage and mature one another. We are commanded to be kind and peaceful and treat each other with honor and respect. Just as we would tend to a garden, helping it to bloom and grow and bear fruit, so are we to tend the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not just seed sowers, we are also tenders of hearts. Don't you think?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

On Catching Flies

I know it has been a long time between posts--frankly I have been unsure exactly how to post what is on my mind. Having read lots of other blogs that are blatantly honest to the point of bluntness, I have decided to do the same. I will not however, name names. Please feel free to stop reading anytime you find the content offensive and if it is like watching a car wreck and you just can't tear yourself away, repent afterwards and purge your mind of the horrible thoughts. (Just kidding)!

Several things have happened recently that have threatened my christian spirit. There are the regular things like moving abruptly, changes at work and multiple deaths in the congregation, but those things are all a part of regular life on this earth. However the other things have really caused me to ask questions.

For instance---a woman was recently baptized. She has been worshipping with us for quite some time and decided she could not wait to be forgiven. Another lady was baptized after worshipping with us for several years, finally convinced that baptism is necessary, she put on her Lord and Savior. These are the comments made --re: the young woman: "some women will do whatever it takes to catch a man" and re: the older woman: "she probably did it because she is having health problems and is afraid"---seriously folks--I am not making this stuff up! Can you even imagine someone, anyone, having the nerve and the elevated opinion of themselves enough to question a baptism?

Then--a coworker was talking about her pregnant teen age daughter, the girl is fourteen. The girl wanted to go on a Labor Day campout with her boyfriend and his three high school age guy friends. Her mother said she was going to let her because "after all, it's not like she can get pregnant". Are you kidding me?

Then on Saturday, I received an email, from someone who does not know me, disguised as a caring and Christian email, but scathing, judgemental, condemning and manipulative, attempting to guilt me into doing something--judging me not for what I have done in the past, because that obviously accounts for nothing but for what I haven't done recently because I had not the wherewithall to do. The assumption that I would see a need and ignore or neglect it, that I would not help where I could was insulting and demeaning. Throwing in Bible verses to try and prove how horrible I am didn't help and virtually spitting on the gift of prayer was equally offensive.

Lastly, a very good friend and her husband are adopting twins from Romania. The twins are special needs children and are now three years old. My friends are going to Romania next week to pick them up. Her eyes light up as she tells about these newest additions to their family. Most of her family and friends have not been supportive. They cite all kinds of instances when adoptions fail, they talk about the "hidden" medical needs of foreign children and tell my friend that she "has no idea what she is getting herself into" and "that these children will be nothing more than a money pit and once they are grown will return to their country with an American education and amnesia regarding their American parents." How hateful can you be?

I am not sure where in scripture it tells us that it is okay to: 1) judge and condemn anothers motives, 2) label others as less and 3) use God's Word to humiliate and assault each other. Does anyone know where it says this? And are there addendum's to the "Let NO unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only what is profitable for building one another up according to their needs" passage? Am I confused? Does it really mean NO unwholesome word? I am so grateful neither of my two new sisters in Christ heard these remarks for I know those words have injured their infant faith.

The old cliche that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar is certainly true. Imagine these babes in Christ, ten years from now, after receiving years of encouragement. How many souls might they bring to the Lord? Imagine this fourteen year old girl with some real parenting and some guidance, learning self-respect and self-restraint and being supported to do the right thing for her baby. Personally, I am more apt to do something, even if it is a struggle, if I am approached with love and a sincere Christian need. And my friend isn't asking for money or clothing or plane tickets only for her friends and family to share her joy.

Why do we have to be so ugly to each other. When we are kind and considerate and supportive, others respond in turn. There is so much I do not know--but this I believe--It is indeed easier to catch a fly with honey than to beat it to death with a baseball bat.