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Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

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This post is running concurrently at VickiTillmanCoaching.com.You shall love your neighbor as yourself VickiTillmanCoaching.com

In case you ever wonder what you should do, Scripture has some wise advice:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill against his neighbor.

That’s pretty clear.

And if that’s not clear enough. God made sure this sage advice was repeated in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles (parentheses mine):

  • Romans 13:9-10 You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill against his neighbor.
  • Leviticus 19:18 You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord (giving you this command)
  • Matthew 22:39 The second (commandment from Christ) is like the first: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • James 2:18 Show me your faith without works (of love), I will show you my faith by my works (of love).

If you’ve read much Scripture, you’ve probably noticed that:

  • If God says something ONCE, he means it.
  • If he says it TWICE, you better not ignore it.
  • If he says it 3 TIMES, you’re going to start getting “woe unto thee”.

So if it is in Scripture more than 3 times? I’d say that was high priority in God’s eyes.

How to Start a Revolution or Revival

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How to Start a Revolution or Revival

There are lots of revolutions in this world. A revival is a spiritual revolution. There are fashion revolutions. Musical revolutions. Cultural revolutions. Political revolutions.

I propose that our nation is ripe for a revolution. Mostly it needs a spiritual revolution. We need the type of revolution that would look prayer and culture-changing-type lifestyles of the loving-kindness that Christ would be proud of.

We also need other types of revolutions. No matter what side of the political fence you sit on, you can see need revolutionary change in culture and politics.

How do revolutions start? There’s a great discussion at Top 40 Philosophy’s podcast #30 episode.

My paraphrase of  that podcast episode: Micah talks about revolutions being something that people find themselves doing when there is enough flow. Like emotions (or yawns), revolutions are contagious events that spread. Change for good or ill happens as the revolution spreads.

One of my favorite revolutions is the 1904 worldwide revival. It started in Wales. A young youth group pastor, Evan Roberts, was teaching his teens the necessity and power of prayer. He led them in prayer for repentance and personal revival, in prayer for their nation, in prayer for the world.

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

Evan Roberts Photo: wikicommons

The Holy Spirit moved on those teens as they used their words in prayer. The move spread to the adults, then across Wales. By the end of 1906, the revival had hopped around the globe and landed in Azuza Street Mission in Los Angeles, CA. There was a revolution of prayer and Christ-like living for a time. It was a cross-cultural, multi-racial, multi-denominational move of God.

It started with prayer. AND words.

Evan Roberts used his words to describe for his teens a world-changing life of prayer.

I think it is this way with all revolutions: Words.

We humans are largely afflicted with a lack of words to describe what we feel and want to think. We simply muddle through our days knowing there are things that are wrong. Something’s wrong. But we can never fully describe the wrong, much less do something about it.

Then along comes someone who has words. That person uses his/her words to describe the wrong and propose a change. That person becomes a word-giver.

When people who don’t have words hear the word-giver’s words, they have a way to think about what is wrong or give names to the feelings they feel. When people accept the word-giver’s words, something in them ignites and they are ready to follow the word-giver. The follower-ship of the word-giver grows into a revolution. Things change.

When the word-giver is wise and good, the world is changed for the better.

We see this in little ways, like kids standing up for a bullied kid. It took one courageous kid to use his words to his friends, “Hey, let’s stand up for little Billy.” Others follow. Billy’s world is changed.

When the word-giver is greedy or cruel, ESPECIALLY if he is also loud and angry, the words fill the broken, angry parts of people’s souls and they follow him with zeal. These loud and angry words create a loud and angry revolution. It is quickly contagious. (I won’t give any illustrations from current culture where one can see a leader mock disabled people or greedily write orders that take advantage of, or harm, minority or disadvantaged populations because you might have already noticed this happening anyway.)

What’s the point? We can start a revolution.

  • How about WE become word-givers?
  • How about WE become the word-givers for a godly revolution to help create a world of loving kindness, looking out for the weak, aiding those in need of comfort, defending the strangers and the widows and the orphans.

How do we do it?

Use words.

use-your-words

First, use words in prayer. (II Chronicles 7:14: If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.)

Second, use words describing a better world.  Talk about a world of loving kindness. In order to do that, you need to imagine what that world would be like. (The Old Testament word for that kind of world is held in the word, Shalom. Do a word study on Shalom. It will give you hope.)

Third, increase your vocabulary so that you can better describe a better world. Read:

  • Thinkers, philosophers
  • Poetry
  • Scripture

Fourth, write your words. Write the words about a better world (Habakkuk 2:2 talks about writing the vision and make it clear so that those who read it can run with it.) Social media, blogs, journals, and books need written words of a better world.

The more that there are word-givers who speak prayerful loving kindness, the more chance we have to stand up to those word-givers of greet and hatred.

Will you join me in the good kind of revolution and revival?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scripture as Prayer

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Scripture as Prayer

I was reading Mark 4 today. You remember Mark 4? Jesus tells a bunch of parables:

  • The sower (who sowed the word and the seed on good ground brought forth abundantly)
  • The light under a bushel (the one about being responsible for what you hear…)
  • The kingdom of God is like a man who sows a seed and while he waits, it grows
  • The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (starts so small and becomes large enough for birds to nest)

Then Jesus fell asleep in the boat as he and his disciples crossed to the other side. The a whopper of a storm came and was swamping the boat. How terrifying!

The disciples woke Him up asking why he didn’t care that they were perishing.

Jesus calmly rebuked the wind and told the sea, “Peace, be still.” And it was so.

Then he asked them why it was that they were afraid and had so little faith?

What did the wind and the waves swamping the boat have to do with faith? Usually I will study a passage out. I love good hermeneutics with historical context, word study, scriptural context, etc. It seemed to me that today this passage was calling for more.

A passage like this has much to say at a spirit level, a heart level. Simple study won’t teach me why Jesus fussed at his fearful disciples just because they were about to drown. So I did a Lectio Divina (click here for one way to employ this Benedictine prayer practice).

Lectio Divina is a way to allow Scripture itself to become prayer. One prays as one reads, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach through the Word and at times, sanctified imagination. Often I find enlightenment or inspiration as I read prayerfully.

Today I began to understand that as I allow my heart to be good ground for the seed of God’s Word, that I can become fruitful by His work in me. His work causes natural spiritual growth. And when I am allowing God’s kingdom to grow in and through me, perhaps when the storms come, I will remain fruitful (or at least less fearful).

Of course, I have to give myself some grace. If the disciples who were right there in Jesus’ presence got fearful when their boat was swamping in a storm, I shouldn’t feel so bad when I panic or get out of sorts over my very real stressors. I visualize those disciples bailing out the boat, crying and arguing over whether or not to wake up Jesus and why the heck doesn’t He care what’s happening. I take comfort in watching (in my imagination) Him calming the storm…and though He was chiding them, giving them patient grace.

That’s a good way to pray through my own weaknesses and fears.In praying through that Mark 4 story with Lectio Divina, I was able to ask for grace more quickly myself when I just don’t seem to have enough faith.

 

 

Besetting Sins, Forgiveness, and Grocery Stores

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Besetting sins, forgiveness, and grocery stores. VickiTalksPrayer.com

We had a cat crisis yesterday. They ran out of their favorite food, which is not safe for any of us. So after work, I stopped off at a grocery store that I’ve visited for years. There was a strange feeling in the air. Quickly I realized that shelves were half bare. Then I saw the “STORE CLOSING” signs.

I wasn’t surprised, really. Over the past years, I had found that I had to make sure I was in the checkout line of the old cashiers because the new ones behaved rudely. I quit buying food from their deli because I could see unsanitary conditions. No wonder that shoppers quit going there. Did greed or laziness keep them from training and supervising their employees? Did their own bad choices drive them from business?

Hebrews 12:1 admonishes us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (KJV).

We old-timers often talk about the bad habits, bad manners, bad behavior that we naturally slip into as “besetting sins”. Some besetting sins we are quite aware of: like the tendency to snarl at family members before the first cup of coffee. We even joke about it.

Some besetting sins are obvious to others, but we are blind to them. Perhaps we have a streak of greed that causes us to make rash decisions, or jealousy that drives others away, or co-dependency that makes us cling fast to toxic relationships.

I have a suspicion that besetting sins hinder us in running the race that God has set before us. Do you remember the movie Chariots of Fire and watching the scenes of the runners starting a race? They were watching for the goal line. If they took their eyes off the goal, they might trip.

The problem with besetting sins is that they cause us to look at the wrong things, think about the wrong things, and tangle our own feet. We wonder what on earth (and we often think someone else did this to us…).

That’s why the Lord’s Prayer tells us in Matthew 6:12 to ask God to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (KJV). We need God’s forgiveness for obvious things, but also for those entangling, besetting sins.

I’m praying for my old cashier-friends at the grocery store to find new jobs quickly. I thanked the one who waited on me while I paid for the cat food for her years of friendly service.

And I’m asking God’s forgiveness for my own besetting sins.

 

Message from Mark 16

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Message from Mark 16

I’ve been camped out in Mark 16 for a bit. I love camping in a Bible passage. Sometimes I dig around hermeneutically with word study, historical context, memorizing the passage. Sometimes I love to practice lectio divina.

Lately I’ve enjoyed learning from God about Mark 16 through lectio divina. Here are some of the messages I’ve been pondering upon:

Mark 16, as you know begins with the 2 Marys and Salome bringing spices to anoint the body of a dead friend and instead they hear the wonderful news of the Resurrected Christ. The chapter ends with our familiar Great Commission.

If I were writing a story, I think I’d make this chapter the denouement, where all the loose ends were happily tied up. Is that what happened? No!

Instead, the chapter opens with great news of the Resurrection and then follows the entire body of the story filled with disobedience, fear, and disbelief. Good grief. They act like real people.

First Mary, Mary, and Salome meet the angel who tells them that Jesus has risen. Then he gives them instructions: “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he said unto you.”

Clear instructions. Not complicated.

What did the ladies do? “…neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid.”

Afraid of what? Afraid of the angel? If they were afraid of the angel, you’d think they’d quickly obeyed. Afraid of the Risen Christ? Then you’d think they would have obeyed even quicker.

What if, in a rather misogynistic culture, they were afraid that the menfolk would not believe them and reject the message? I wonder if perhaps they’d experienced being respected by Jesus but marginalized by the menfolk and were afraid to repeat that kind of pain? So, they disobeyed.

What happens next? Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (the one Jesus had delivered from seven devils). So she goes  and tells his disciples, as they were busy weeping  and mourning, that he was alive and had been seen by her.

Their response? They “believed not”.

Jesus first came to women. To marginized, unheard, unimportant women.

Then he appeared to two “nobodies”. Just to two nameless followers as they walked out in the country. These two told the disciples the great news that Jesus was risen!

Their response? “Neither believed they them.”

Then finally Jesus came to the big guys, the inner circle, the ones who were busy mourning, weeping, and disbelieving. He upbraided them for their hardness of heart and for not receiving the message from those women and unimportant people.

And then, what did Jesus do? Punish them? Lecture them?

No.

He reminded them of who he created them to be and of the reason he created them that way. Remember when he sent 70 of them out two by two? He told them to heal the sick and share the gospel. They came back rejoicing that in his name, even the devils had to flee (Luke 10).

So in the Great Commission, Jesus reminds the disciples that he’s already given them the gift and mission to go in his name and “share the gospel, cast out devils, speak with new tongues, be safe from poison and snakes, and heal the sick”.

This was not new. It was not a surprise. They’d already done all those things. It was a gentle reminder, a clear reminder of who he made them to be and why.

My take-aways from this?

While some people may feel marginalized, God goes out of his way to show that marginalization is not God-business.

Even important, wise, anointed leaders can be so busy in their own pain and garbage that they miss what God is doing.

When we goof up, cop out, give up there is an answer: Go to God. Ask him to remind you who he made you to be and why.

And don’t marginalize people OR maybe it is cool to be marginalized because maybe God will talk to you first 🙂

The answer has always been there…just sometimes we need to refresh the message.

 

 

Presence

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Presence

I’ve been a therapist for 20 years. I notice nonverbals without thinking about it. For years I’ve been immersed in being present with my clients, so I notice them without really noticing, if that makes sense.

Many people have had a “God moment” where they tangibly feel a warmth or tingling when they are praying or are being prayed for. These moments are beautiful but transient. They are gifts but not lifestyle. What if there was more, a walk with God so mature that our relationship with Him was more than hoping for an occasional God moment? What if we were present with Him, so present and immersed in him that we notice Him without noticing- always

God is immanent. What if we could be attuned to him everywhere and became subconsciously aware of him always?

Like Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence had spent his life as a monk doing mundane kitchen work but he looked for God (and himself IN God) so persistently that he came to live in God’s presence. Always there. It took practice but Brother Lawrence came to always live in God’s presence.

Ahhh… it is what I want.