We hear the term “reflection” used often in the context of self examination. To “reflect” on our self image; or to reflect on the events of our lives past, present and future. It can be comparative to looking in the mirror.  Looking in the mirror is actually a good thing because it presents an opportunity to become aware of things both good and bad.  Awareness of the good brings about reason for a thankful heart and awareness of the bad presents opportunity to work towards change.

So here’s the thing! In looking at your reflection, be prepared to not see the truth.  Your reflection can be distorted and formed by the events of your life thus seeing through lenses that have been shaded from emotional, mental of physical trauma. While reflecting, the reflection is shaded with a false perception of who you might think you are based on all the negative events. The good news is that using Gods lens in reflection gives a clear perception of who you are!! This passage is just one of many ways God sees you.

Ephesians 1:4-5 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons/daughters through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”

There is truly hope in changing our perspectives.  The mind is made to be renewed as we know from Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.  Science is also establishing this truth through the study of Neuroplasticity.

If you want to work at renewing your perspective, read this letter everyday to yourself. – This letter is inscribed with many scriptures of how the Father sees you.

Renewing your perspective will take effort and hard work.  However, there is a remarkable change inside a person when they begin to see the beauty and value that has been placed inside.  You are a created being and created in the image of your father above – God.  That in itself makes you gorgeous!


Giving up our rights

Facebook asks – “What’s on my mind?”

“Giving up our rights” is what’s on my mind. To explain, allow me to post an excerpt from my studies this week. You will see reference to a book called Celebration of Disciplines. Here goes –

By far- this is a continuation of last week. It’s just seems to be going deeper with the concept of giving up your rights. Last week Foster said it was liberating to “give up our rights” in how we think we should be treated in return in the area of submission. This week Foster says “But when we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. There is great freedom in this. If we voluntarily choose to be taken advantage of, then we cannot be manipulated. When we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide who and when we will serve. We become available and vulnerable. (Foster pg. 132)”

The bottom line is that we, Christ’s followers, should daily die to ourselves. I am seeing a theme in what is considered Christ likeness. To be like Christ, means nothing of ourselves can exist. As much as this is going deeper it is also getting harder. Harder in that the mind almost cannot comprehend giving everything up. Self, self ambition, self-righteousness, self recognition – all of which has “self” in it. To give freely, to serve freely, one must not choose for one self. I am reminded of a worship song by Brian and Jenn Johnson of Bethel Church. Where you go I go, What you say I say, What you pray I pray. The actual verse is taken from the passage found in John 5:19 which reads “”Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” and also John 12:49 that reads “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” Both scriptures are saying that Jesus only did what God showed Him to do. We also need to do nothing without hearing Christ. We are to be like Him. We are to serve without selfish gain.

My prayer is that this makes an impact on anyone who takes the time to read this. In Jesus name!

With love, Pastor Mel

Hair Splitting 

Does anyone else get tired of splitting hairs? Do you feel that you have to watch every single word you say? 
Sometimes I do grow weary in this area. Seems to be an over abundance of people feeling the need to correct and be correct. Now notice I didn’t say corrected. I said be correct. It’s an epidemic lately.  
So what drives a human being to feel compelled to correct others and prove themselves correct? Pride. Arrogance. Self. All which the Bible says “comes before the fall”! I’m not referring to preaching the good news or a solid sermon on a Sunday. I’m talking about knit picking or what is referred to as splitting hairs. 
I am also fully aware that we are to confess Gods word over our lives and the lives of others. Colossians 4:6 says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” But there is still a difference from literally knit picking and splitting hairs. 
I personally want to walk in freedom from a religious mindset that causes me to feel the pressure of having to work for what Jesus paid for in full, with His own life mind you and not worry that I didn’t say something correctly in someone’s else’s eyes 👀 and then be corrected over the silliest things.  
If I have ever done that to you, I humbly ask your forgiveness – because whom the Son set free is free indeed. I am so thankful that I don’t feel that pressure anymore and that I don’t have to walk on egg shells feeling like if I am not speaking Christianese perfectly that I will burn in Hell. I KNOW I am blessed and highly favored- I KNOW how God feels about me and I KNOW who I am called to be in His Kingdom.  
It is my heart felt desire that you may also know all of the above and I’m committed to helping you come into that knowledge without causing you to feel like you must be perfectly correct at all times or you’ll be corrected.  
Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Galatians 3:13
“But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Love you all – eternally

Love is the answer. 

Ever met a “Life Thwarter?” I’m sure you have. It’s the opposite of a “Life Enhancer” or the “Life Giver”. A Life Thwarter is someone in your life who takes advantage of your kindness, thinks they’re duping you or deliberately tries to decieve you. What you do in those situations can either bring blessings or pain into your life. God would have you bring blessing. So, the first thing you do is release yourself. You’re not the one with the problem and you must forgive them and then turn the tables by showing love. 
Matthew 5:44 says “44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” because love conquers all. 

We have been called to be like Jesus and Paul expresses this when he says in Galations 5 that we are to serve one another humbly by keeping Christ’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself; not to bite and devour one another as to not be destroyed. 

(paraphrased). Love is the answer people!! Have you loved your enemies today???

More Ramblings 

I want to share my heart in saying that it’s relieving to say I’m not perfect. I am human. I make mistakes and in gripping and owning that piece of truth I can also safely say that I am a girl who needs her Savior – Jesus.                                                                             I’ve never been driven to be perfect as if anyone could. I’ve never tried to compete or one up another person. I’ve always owned my flaws and only desired to be treated Fairly and with respect. My heart has always rejoiced with the successes of others and grieved with those who have lost. I WANT to give honor and I WILL always do so. 

I am shattered and broken over the selfish focus of those who don’t even have a clue that they are selfish. But at the same time I have deeply painful compassion for those blindly selfish people – because they know not what they do. I always seem to find myself reaching out with genuine concern because I truly want to know if someone is ok and walk away having not been asked in return. 

But my heart is to live a life based on Romans 12:9-21 “The Mark of a True Christian”. 
9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Genuine – Good – Love – Honor  
What if we spent our time genuinely doing good by striving to outdo one another in love and honor. The result would be astounding, life changing, radical explosive transformation. What are we waiting for? 
Further in the text it reads “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”
There’s that word again – Honorable. 

Honor – Peace

So choosing to give honor will lead you to peace. Sounds like a great life to me! A life lived in Christ were we experience genuine goodness and peace – how? By outdoing one another in love and honor. It’s a choice that HS enables us to make and put into action. 
We need a love and honor invasion!!! Will you choose to join the effort? It will rock your world and the world of those around you! 

Our Help Comes From the Lord

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” 2 Corinthians 12:9.                                                 

 This seems to be my life verse as of late. I am feeling the heaviness of the load that I’m carrying. Have you ever needed a break so badly and you sincerely cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel? I am weak!!! I’m screaming it because I need the power of Christ to rest upon me.  
The greatest part is it’s the truth. The load that you are carrying is not yours to keep. Psalms 55:22 says “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” His power will sustain us – we can do nothing within our own strength that will in any way enable us to walk away from what it accomplishes without it depleting us of our “own” strength or peace.  Our help comes from the Lord. 

I think the evidence of this truth is the ease with which we accomplish anything. If your accomplishments flows out with ease, I’d say you are going with God – if an internal fight ensues, maybe there’s a bit of you left in the fight. The battle belongs to the Lord. We rest in Him and go with the flow of the Holy Spirit and His will is accomplished- peace and rest wins!  

Forgiven Much-Love Much

To whom has been forgiven much- loves much. 

The account of the sinful woman in Luke 7 who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears is the example I hold fast to when the enemy tries to tell me that I’ve sinned too much to fulfill the call on my life. I have ran from God at times in my life and made mistakes and really I have screwed up royally in ways. It’s the truth. I have hurt people both knowingly and unknowingly. But I can also say that my heart was never to maliciously harm another. However, God always held me accountable and I have truly repented of my sins. Repent defined as “turning from my sins-never returning”. 

People are a harder sell. I have encountered those who do not intend to ever let me forget my sins. Thankfully they are not Jesus. I don’t believe they understand that they hold no power and really their actions are a slap in the face of Christ who died for me. I am fully aware of these things and make it an effort to love and forgive those who cannot move forward in forgiveness or even acknowledge their own sinful ways. What I won’t allow is for it to hold me back. 
I’ve been called for longer than I can remember. I do not take lightly the office with which I now stand and I most definitely do not forget the depth which I have been forgiven. 
I now have the ability to love on a gargantuan level. Spit at me-I love you. Gossip about me-I love you. Flip me the bird-I love you. Dirty look me-I love you. Think higher of yourself than me-I love you and that’s even cool with me because I would prefer to live the example found in Philippians 2:3-4 that says “3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the other.”
Not only am I alright with it, I also remember being you. I will never forget how much I have been forgiven or where I came from. Humility is never forgetting and always remembering you’re a sinner who needs a Savior. 
Luke 7:47 “47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

I’ll Fix It 

It’s the most difficult feeling when you desperately want to fix “it” and you know you cannot. Today was that kind of day. Last semester I took my first unit of CPE. (Clinical Pastoral Education). My supervisor narrowed down my learning goals into one specific learning goal that hinged around a question. “Why do I think I must be the one to fix it?”                       
When any person deems themselves the “fix it” person, they leave themselves unbridled in their ability to discern boundaries thus might possibly loose sight of what is actually theirs to fix. What a set up for a let down when that happens. Errors are sure to happen when boundaries are crossed and then you cannot be of proper support or help because your out of balance by making promises you cannot keep. 
It’s in our nature to want to help others not hurt and to take away their pain (fix it). However, no one learns from something they don’t put their own effort into. A person must choose for themselves to make change. Once they do, there is a green light to walk with them through there effort to make the change. Your role would be more of a calming wise presence that translates into strength. A representative of Christ who is the fixer. 
I still have days that I want to “fix it”. Today was one of those days. It’s painful. I have learned deep valuable lessons in making room for others to err, fall down and get up. As they learn from their mistakes, I am there to brush them off and walk along there journey. It’s an honor you know!  
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Photo courtesy of Tom Rice

More important others!

We are given a gift from God in the honor of standing with someone in all seasons of their lives.  Each of us were given great responsibility by the Father in caring for others. Each of us are the caretaker of someone. We are each important to someone else and there are those whom are important to us.  If you think about it, it’s a constant forward flow of positive reinforcement of being people builders. 

In reading Romans 12:9-21, I think my favorite part of the passage is verse 15. “To rejoice with those who rejoice.”      The best part of being a loving Christian is celebrating with our important people in their blessings, triumphs and victories. It’s awesome to watch others grow and be thankful for them and with them. Part of loving someone in Christ’s pure love is our genuine expression of being happy for others as they are successfully being blessed in their lives through Christ. It is evidence of one of my favorite things to strive to do- show honor. No one is perfect, certainly not me, but it sure is my hearts desire to live a lifestyle that Romans 12:9-21 exhibits. 

Blessings, Pastor Mel

Romans 12:9-21 “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Ask questions and Listen

Just because you think you are right about something does not mean that you are right. Just because you think someone else is wrong does not mean you are right. The number one thing I have learned in the past 6 months is that you cannot assume or perceive that you have all of the info or the whole story or even the correct answer to a situation or about another person -AND- the only way you will have all the info about any situation or any person is to stop passing judgement- stop making assumptions – stop talking long enough to listen. How can anyone learn anything if they won’t ask questions and listen. I’m not necessarily talking about listening with your ears- but rather listening with your heart.  
I personally have been making great strides to not judge and not perceive without getting all the info. Doing this removes all opportunity for the enemy to conjure up untruths and lies that cause frustration and division. I am personally tired of this happening to me – which sadly has been all to often and I am striving to do my best to not do this to another.  
Nobody is always right. Nobody. It’s time to get rid of a contentious spirit and be teachable, be pliable and adaptable. If you are a Christian, the word is full of text about passing judgment-assumption-contention and the division that it causes. Even if you aren’t a Christian, it’s still a good moral code to follow.  
Simply- shut off the path to judgement and assumption-ask for more info and listen. You WILL often discover that things are not as though they appear. Most always there are things going on behind the scenes of people circumstances and lives that you are not privy to and you are only witnessing a reaction to those circumstances.  

Proverbs 18:2 ESV “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
Instead 1 Corinthians 13:7 (ESV) says that “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
“If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don’t tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don’t understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don’t have the courage to ask questions.”
Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom