Archive for November, 2015

Responding to Failure in Relationships

November 23rd, 2015

“When Jesus told the disciples they would soon abandon Him, He was not attacking them or challenging their loyalty. He knew them. He saw the limits of their faith. In compassion, He loved them even in their weaknesses. -(Journey Magazine article October 26, 2014) Even Jesus, with a perfect record of love, joy, peace, patience, […]

 

“When Jesus told the disciples they would soon abandon Him, He was not attacking them or challenging their loyalty. He knew them. He saw the limits of their faith. In compassion, He loved them even in their weaknesses. -(Journey Magazine article October 26, 2014)

Even Jesus, with a perfect record of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control…with a life chock-full of miracles and example of faithfulness and loyalty, even He did not receive 100% loyalty or faithfulness in return by those closest to Him. Was it because He was not worthy of their loyalty or faithfulness? Not at all. No one was, is or will ever be more worthy. But this was not about whether He’d proven Himself worthy. It was about the imperfect wavering hearts of even the most faithful of mankind. Even when we have the best intentions as people, there are always fleshly limits we are facing in need of God’s transforming work.

Jesus knew his beloved disciples and He saw their limitations. And His love did not waver.

Reading this devotion, I think about the standards, the impossible standards, I tend to hold for my husband and even others very close to me. Today, while reading this, I saw my husband and my loved ones through the heart of Peter. Now, before you think Ha! She thinks she is Jesus in this story… believe me – I saw just how short I fall of the description Christ-like when comparing my usual response and perspective to that of Jesus here. Zealous and passionate, Peter fiercely rebutted Christ’s prediction that he would deny Him. Like Peter, one of the virtues I love most about my husband in particular is that he has a very strong sense of loyalty. He would never think himself capable of anything else in his relationships – our marriage in particular. He has stood up in awkward situations time and again chosen strategic personal guidelines guard himself and protect our marriage. But the truth is, like Peter, we are all capable of failure. While Bryan has never detrimentally failed me, I realized that anything less than perfection from him tends to really disappoint me. It seems, at least for me, those closest to us in life will always be those we depend on most, but it will also sting the most when they let you down – even in the tiniest of ways.

In this case I saw how very much I could learn from Jesus in the responder role when in this situation. My A-ha! moment was studying His response after Peter denied Him…and also the outcome of the events. Peter was in this case devastated when he realized he’d failed Jesus. Because he already recognized his failure, Jesus, after the resurrection, chose to approach Peter – not with I told you so’s or How could you!?’s but with a humble and loving presence. I noticed two things here:

  1. Jesus knew his accusations were not needed to fix the situation…or to even the score of the offended. Isn’t it amazing how, when we can see through the eyes of Christ in this passage, we see the frivolousness of our tendencies? When we are denied in a sense or disappointed, what if instead of focussing on making someone understand  just how much we’re hurt or disappointed …we instead recognize that the root of the issue is something entirely different? What if we seek Christ to show us what is really needed rather than honing in on making sure our offended heart is understood or justified? When someone disappoints us, the way we feel is only a symptom, and we need to pray that, instead of our feelings blinding us to only our perspective, that God opens our hearts and eyes to His – the Great Physician’s – perspective so that we can discern how to be obedient let God can treat the root of the problem in the hearts involved rather than us slapping some salve on the symptoms that affect us individually.
  2. When we do our part, we are a more effective vessel for God’s purposes remaining out of the way for God to do His part. We can only do our part. Our job is not God’s job. God’s job is not our job. When we are obedient and stick to our part, God can do His part and those moments and change everything. That dark moment of failure changed Peter.

Peter knew he’d failed. No hurt-filled or harsh words from Jesus were needed. They might have felt good to vent, but they weren’t necessary or productive. In fact, in Peter’s story, accusations or harsh words might have drowned out that dark quiet silence that followed his failure that were so key to transforming Peter deep within his heart. It is through this sting of failure that Peter began to change within from the man whose original name Simon meant “like grass or a like a reed which is flimsy and wavers and is tossed by the wind” to Peter whose name means “Rock” to which Jesus told him “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matt 16:18)

I think again about the sometimes impossible standards I hold for my family – my sweet husband in particular. Today I see a perfect picture of how Jesus – though being the standard of perfection – holds us to a standard of grace. He even told the disciples about their weaknesses and loved them with compassion through their weak points which proved key to changing them from the inside out. I often want my husband in particular to be to me what only Jesus could ever be – unfailing and perfect. Ever been there before? And when he falls short, I either blame myself or blame him viewing it from my limited perspective. This passage is key in refocusing to a better perspective. I am not Jesus. I am imperfect. And I am beyond blessed to have a husband with the godly character, loyalty, love and devotion that he has. But he.is.not.Jesus. And he.is.not.perfect. And when I expect that, he will miss the mark every time. But like Jesus knew his disciples, I need to know my husband and loved ones and pray that God would help me discern my their current limits that I may also receive and heed godly instruction on how to best love them compassionately even in their weaknesses…that they too, like Peter, might develop strength in areas they were once weak in through the love grace and power of Christ. When we are obedient and do our part, instead of attacking or challenging our loved one’s loyalty, we have a powerful opportunity to be a vessel for Christ’s truth, love and grace while trusting God to do His part in His way in His time. And we’d be blessed to have our loved ones hold us to the same standard of grace in return…because – really – we are all like Peter. And we are all capable to let Christ chisel His character into our hearts like never before when we seek Him through our failures.

breaker

The RED CUP UPROAR and My Two Cents on The Heart of the Problem

November 11th, 2015

I don’t always blog about controversial Facebook Bandwagons, but felt like this blog post I have been sitting on and modified this morning may make a point right about now… I sat in my seat ready for a great message at my church in Alaska. Pastor Rod began “How many of us jump on boycott bandwagons […]

 

Mind Your Speech

I don’t always blog about controversial Facebook Bandwagons, but felt like this blog post I have been sitting on and modified this morning may make a point right about now…

I sat in my seat ready for a great message at my church in Alaska. Pastor Rod began “How many of us jump on boycott bandwagons as Christians?” he asked. I immediately thought of a particular store chain I refused to give business to. He continued “We are always boycotting something…stores that say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, companies that support spiritually opposing or political views we despise. But all we are doing is missing the point. If we as followers of Christ could recognize that it is not a behavior problem – it’s a heart problem – and be more concerned that people come to know Jesus rather than behave as if they did…lives could really be changed, hearts could be changed, and behavior would follow.”

People’s choices (the Starbucks leadership and ours included) simply reflect what is in our hearts. We cannot expect others to behave in a way that contradicts with where their hearts are. When it comes to homosexuals, pro-choice advocates and – dare I say – the oh so offensive Happy Holiday people…it reminds me of the woman at the well caught in a quite appalling act.  If Jesus himself appeared face to face with these people as He did with the woman at the well, I hate to say that many of us soapbox boycotters would be shocked to find that Jesus – like His experience with this woman – would not handle it the way we tend to respond. With this woman, for example, He did not refuse her to be in his presence because of her opposing choices, he did not give those people disgusted or appalled at her behavior a thumbs up for their intent to penalize her severely…nor did He Himself condemn her for her choices. You see, Jesus knew the heart of the problem wasn’t a behavior problem at all. It is a heart problem. As mentioned in a previous post, His response to her was beautifully free of condemnation, filled with love and grace that would begin to transform this woman from the inside out, and a specific truth and call to leave her former chosen behavior not just because he despised it but because He knew a better more abundant life was possible through the way He calls us to live as believers. Sometimes we are so loving that we lose truth and honesty, and other times we are so honest it can hinder someone from receiving the truth when love is replaced with judgement, ridicule, anger or hate. Jesus was and is equally a picture and living example of truth and love. To divide our approach is to divide all that Jesus stands for and will render ineffectiveness for sharing Him with others. As a new friend in my life recently shared with me – when we expect or demand people to change or behave a certain way we are asking them to perform rather than allowing God to transform their hearts as only He can.

My hope is that we become heart focussed people like Jesus. If a spouse, friend, relative, child, etc. is having a behavior issue, I pray that we remember that it is their heart that first needs help from Jesus and that we help shine a light on Jesus who calls Himself The Way and prayerfully ask God to transform them from the inside out while supporting them through it. If a company or political party or politician or whoever fails to act as if they follow Christ, I pray we would respond like Jesus and begin praying for heart changes and finding ways to respond in truth and love equally…it is ultimately up to the person themself what they choose, but our demands to behave or perform in a way that contradicts their heart will never produce authentic or lasting outcomes.