Looking Beyond the Labels We Put on People

Frustrated Driver Photo:  blogs.internetautoguide.com, from an article called "Stupid Drivers of the World"

Frustrated Driver
Photo: blogs.internetautoguide.com, from an article called “Stupid Drivers of the World”

We label people without even thinking about our words.  “What an idiot.  Why would anyone drive like that?”  Or, “What a numbskull.  No one hits a pitch aimed at their feet.”  It seems harmless, until we recognize “that person” as someone we know.  Then we apologize and add, “I didn’t really mean it.”

Assigning wrong names to people as a group, distances us from individuals.  It lumps people into categories and stereotyping that are seldom accurate.  It causes separation and draws line.  Racism is fueled by such labeling.  One day we will all stand before God and be accountable to every word we have spoken.  God has created the exceptions to every group.

When we are labeled, it takes courage to respond well.  The other person may never see the truth.  Their words can not define us.  In the end, it is God’s opinion of us that will matter.  Keep His words about us as the ones that matter.

If we have labeled, people, we can repent.  As a Cleansing Streams Homework assignment, I asked God if there was anyone I had labeled that I needed to repent over.  I felt like heaven produced a computerized multi-page document.  I had to call my brother and apologize for calling him a “dodo bird.”  Even this little childish label needed clearing in the Heavenly Courtroom.

After repenting of everything I could remember I had said, I was far more careful about what I said going forward. Many times I learned people’s behavior was an extension of their upbringing or their training or their experience base.  It wasn’t thought through.  I try to ask God what the underlying root is to be upset with.  It’s usually not the person.  God asks us to have grace with one another and put on love.  Love starts with seeing beyond the labels we put on people.  Colossians 3:12 says, “Put on kindness.”


Redeeming the Cost of Caregiving Warriors – Part 2

God uses the Cost of Caregiving to Turn the Tide of Entitlement and Selfishness

God uses the Cost of Caregiving to Turn the Tide of Entitlement and Selfishness

In Part 1, of Redeeming the Cost of Caregiving Warriors, we observed that many people pulled into the role of Caregivers didn’t choose this of their own desire.  The rule often gets thrust onto people who live the closest to ailing parents or who are retired or not currently married with kids.

The sacrifices of caregiving get noted in heaven, even if it seems no one on earth cares.  God does care and there is a value to doing things unto the Lord.  Instead of “I deserve” or “I shouldn’t have to” or “Why should I,” it’s a choice to submit and obey God.

Caretaking is a choice to give up something now for what God has later in His reward structure.  It’s the choice to invest in His priority plan, even if we don’t feel like our efforts are healing the person, much less ourselves, in the process.  In this choice to obey and do the right thing before God, we are sowing good seeds, both here and in eternity. Again the key is choosing to agree to meet the need and doing it unto the Lord.  When we offer our sacrifice of service up to the Lord, we are investing our sacrifices of caretaking with a cost against the “I’m too busy and too important” to do this myself attitude of our society.

Some people love their relative and want to be there in a difficult time.  Others don’t want to do things for their parents or want it to be a shared responsibility with other siblings, and it’s not.  It’s a high cost, considering the effort to be there physically, economically, relationally, and spiritually.

Please know that what we choose to do in love for God, as called, is used By God in an interesting way to combat the things God wants to combat.  The sacrificial service of committed Christians quite possibly is being used by God as warfare in the heavenlies against the selfish trends in our country.  We may never know.  It could also be accounted for by God and redistributed by God into heavenly currency. Unknowingly, we may be adding additional rooms to our heavenly mansions.

God’s eyes are on his righteous children.  What is being asked of us is being noted in heaven.  God cares about our burdens and sends help to meet the immediate needs.  Keep asking God for His perspective.  He can quiet our hearts and keep us going till He chooses to show us what the divine purpose is to our circumstances.  He can send help in ways we don’t expect.  Keep asking God questions.  Ask new questions.  Ask different questions.  He hears and He answers.  If you need hope, ask Him to send hope.  If you need encouragement, support, prayer, medicine, or help, keep asking. It does matter.  It all matters.  It all has value.  What we go through matters in heaven to God.

Catch t he first part of this story by clicking here Redeeming the Cost of Caregiving Warriors – Part 1.


Redeeming the Cost of Caregiving Warriors – Part 1

God uses the Cost of Caregiving to Turn the Tide of Entitlement and Selfishness

God uses the Cost of Caregiving to Turn the Tide of Entitlement and Selfishness

One of the Spiritual Principles of Caregiving relates to sacrifice. The choice to Caregive is a Call to Arms.  When we choose to be Caregiving Warriors, we are at the forefront of the battle lines against the fleshly desires to escape and pass off the responsibility.  We achieve victory in doing the tough thing that has spiritual impact.

Most people get pulled into caregiving.  My friend Frances didn’t exactly sign up to care for her Mom at the current level of care required.  My friend Donna caregives for her mother, even though she resides in an Assisted Living 2 hours away.  I didn’t sign up to care for my bipolar Mom’s extreme episodes after her residential living arrangement threw up their hands about what to do at certain points of the year.

It is a “price” that is paid that takes people away from several other opportunities of their own choosing.  It’s different than taking care of one’s own child.  Taking care of an adult who theoretically should be able to take care of us doesn’t fit the normal range of life expectations.  All too frequently, that adult never was capable of fulfilling the role of parent we needed them to fill in our lives early on.  Yet, their need arises and no one else steps up to the plate.

It could feel like our time isn’t our own anymore and we can’t “get anything done.” Many of us get called into things we don’t want to do.  We feel we “have to do it.” It feels like a burden and comes with a high cost. Often that cost involves writing checks and creating space in our homes. How many offspring who are single have to take care of a parent and the other married siblings seem to be off the hook? Somehow, we have to find peace about this, because it doesn’t do us any good to live in a state of anger and unforgiveness.  That becomes our problem.  So on top of everything else, we have to figure out how to live in a state of “forgiveness.”  In and of itself, this can be a tough challenge.  It gets complicated when dealing with relatives and years of history and repeat patterns.  God knows.  He will keep us steady though the mess.

Continued in Part 2 of  Redeeming the Cost of Caregiving Warriors


Deciding Where to Put Your Anger

Let Prayer be Part of the Journey from Forgiveness to Health

Let Prayer be Part of the Journey from Forgiveness to Health

The Living Bible translation of Proverbs 19:3 states, “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.”  Absolutely true.  People make all kinds of foolish decisions and when the resulting consequences follow, they often get mad at God for the way things are.

If someone doesn’t have a concept of a good God and a bad devil where everything good comes from God and everything bad comes from the devil, then it often leads to conclusions that God has done something to them.  If bad things happen and their world view includes only God, or worse—no God, then they think it’s about trying to stay on God’s good side it doesn’t seem clear on how to do this.  They live with a suspicious relationship to God wondering if they can really trust Him.  If there’s no God, fate determines circumstances.

Anger is a logical response to frustrating events.  The best decision we can make is to realize where that anger ultimately stems from and get mad at the source—our supernatural enemy.  We do this by learning how to “get back” at the enemy, or the enemy at work in people. Jesus says to be kind to people who are our enemies and treat them with respect and pray for our enemies.  These are the things that surprise a person who isn’t expecting such. These are the keys to seeing turnaround.

Realizing that an individual’s behavior stems from listening to bad behavior suggestions doesn’t mean one should continue letting a brute do damage to oneself or someone else again and again and calling it okay or, unbelievably, calling it love.  All experts advise getting away from the brute and realizing how trapped the brute is in their poor behavior and making a wise decision about not putting anyone in known danger.

Having an appropriate attitude offers the middle ground of making wise decisions to set boundaries and not allowing ourselves to hate the person.  Yes, we can not like the behavior.  But pure hatred involves judgment.  As best we can keep our hearts clear by continuing to give that person over to God for God to deal with them as He will.

Being angry at God when He is the one person that can help us in our trials and suffering doesn’t make sense.  As we learn to embrace Him as the powerful God He is who loves us, then we start to see our circumstances turn around.

 


Great Dads Reflect a Positive Relationship with God – Part 2

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on earth

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on earth

1 Corinthians says to believe the best in people.  God believes the best in you. He approves of you—even if not every choice you’ve made so far  God never expected perfection out of us—just like we don’t expect any kid to walk perfectly the first time or get perfect scores in every subject of every level of learning.  (Parents who expect this are projecting their need for perfection on kids.)  Most parents are thrilled when we take the first few steps, even if we fall down.  We get up and keep trying till we’re walking.

All of God’s favorite kids (our heroes in the Bible) had flaws and weaknesses and made bad decisions.  Luckily, our Daddy is really big. He’s so big that He can still make things okay when we mess up.  Even with Adam and Eve, He continued his plan for earth even after they flunked their first test.  God works with us humans knowing we are not perfect.  Jesus worked with flawed disciples and He still changed the world in three short ministry years.  After He ascended to heaven, the well meaning fishermen became emboldened with the Holy Spirit anad carried out God’s plan to take the good news of Jesus to every corner of the world.

There’s less consequences (to us) when we make good decisions. God works with who we are and whatever we give him.  We remind ourselves that our Heavenly Father is a Big God, a loving God and a God who is for us.

Let us honor our earthly Dad’s for all that is honorable.  And let us also take time to worship our Heavenly Father today.

Have you thought about the fact that our Heavenly Father never grows old? He doesn’t have bad hearing or becomes forgetful.  We’ll never heave to take care of Him.  Our Heavenly Father really is perfect.  He is holy and honorable in every way.  Praise God, our Father.

Psalm 37:5 says, Roll your burdens on to the Lord. Trust in Him and He worketh.

Catch the first part of this article Great Dads Reflect a Positive  Relationship with God – Part 2


Great Dads Reflect a Positive Relationship with God – Part 1

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on earth

We learn about our Heavenly Father through our Dads on Earth

Great Dads reflect a positive relationship with God.  They offer love, loyalty, belief in us, family pride, nurturing, encouragement, fix-it help and advice.  To the point they can, Dads who love a woman (hopefully our mothers) model love to their kids.  They know how to establish friends and can earn a living and be good providers.  Good Dads are good at whatever skill God gave them to develop.  They put on kindness and gentleness.

With not-so-good Dads, we project a father’s worst traits on to God, instead of the enemy who deserves it.  It makes it harder to see God and his goodness.

Breakthrough happens when we realize all our frustrations with God usually belong to the enemy and not God.  Every good gift is from God above.  James 1:17. If we can grasp this, and fully believe it, we move into victory realm.  The Dad we always wanted is there for us in Father God.  For all our Dad’s foibles, we must learn to turn to our Heavenly Father to get the missing piece from our perfect Father.  We can let our earthly Dads be the imperfect human Dad  He too can get his needs met from the Father.

Our Heavenly Father is love.  And He has already made the decision to love us (from the beginning of time,) to create us, and to design us for His delight.  He’s delighted with you.  He’s given each of us everything we had for a joy filled life of abundance.  We come more as a kit project.  He wants to build the project of us with Him..  He and we are a team and we are a part of a larger design of family and community.

See also: Great Dads Reflect a Positive  Relationship with God – Part 2


Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 4

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

From gratitude, we move gradually move to loving what is good and honorable.  I don’t believe we have to love what isn’t lovable.  We don’t have to honor what isn’t honorable.  Seek God on what He sees as honorable and lovable.  Ask God to give us His love for the person.  I find He doesn’t love any of people’s bad behavior.  But He knows how to love beyond the bad behavior part. He may show us things about our parents we never knew.  Sometimes when he shows us what broke in them, it brings compassion.  Compassion helps fuel the journey of honoring.

 

The Good news about this commandment is that it comes with a promise. “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you; that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you…”  Deuteronomy 5;16. During difficult circumstances that seem like they will never end, it may not seem like much of a promise.  Yet, the promise talks about “living long in the land the Lord Your God is giving you.”  It indicates a promised land which is something all the people wanted.  It reads like a recipe for a long and good life.  God keeps the promises He makes.  So let’s figure out how to honor or father and mother, no matter how difficult it may seem.

To catch up on the earlier parts of this theme, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 1 and Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 2 and Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 3


Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 3

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

The third step in the process is gratitude.    It helps to be grateful for the little things.  Let these build till there are larger streams of gratitude.  One man started with the simple fact that he was thankful that his mother didn’t abort him.  It took a long time to come up with other things he was thankful for about his mother.  So start with the basics and build with specifics.

Gratitude gets easier when we stop demanding perfection from our parent and start being thankful for the things we did receive.  Eventually we realize there are things our parents will never be able to fulfill that seem normal for any parent.  Maturity comes when we realize that we may never get our parent to do or be the parent we needed.  If we turn to God and ask Him to fill the gap, we give Him permission to meet our needs.  In doing so, we can collect our needs from various other sources till we are filled.  We can receive healing in healthy community, and sometimes directly from God.  There may always be a longing to get what we need from our parent.  But if we allow other people to accept us, encourage us, nurture us, compliment us, support us, and believe in us, then our needs can get met.  God Himself may meet the need directly.  No parent is perfect.  Allow God to fill in the gap.  His loving and surprising ways bring healing and wholeness.

To Catch Up, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 1 and Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 2

To continue, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 4


Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 2

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process

Have you ever wondered how Biblical characters might have told their stories to therapists?  Moses might have warranted abandonment issues when his mother floated him down a river for adoption.  Joseph was kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers. He could relate to any betrayal, jealousy and stolen identity case studies.  Isaac probably struggled with trust issues and complained that his Dad tried to kill him, “I don’t know what would have happened if that ram hadn’t happened by.”  Only God knows the prayers of the children of the Hebrew 11 heroes.

 

With all of the faith heroes, God cuts through their lives to find the redemptive threads in each person and calls it good.  He does the same with us.  He sees the good and the bad and looks for the redemptive threads.  One benefit of accepting Jesus as our personal savior is that God sees us through Jesus’ righteousness.  Whew. For the people who have hurt us, we might need to meet with a counselor, and we might need time to heal.  With God’s help, we can seek His perspective on the difficult people in our lives.  Ultimately, God calls us to forgive those who have trespassed against us.

The next step in the honoring process is acceptance.  The first step is honesty, and the second is acceptance.  The word, “process” indicates that coming to honor is a journey.  Accepting our parents for who they really are is a choice to love them honestly.

 

To catch up, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 1

To continue, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 3


The Grief of the Unknown Dad & Bringing Fathers’ Hearts to their Children 2

Revival Will Bring the Fathers' Hearts to Love their Aborted Children

Revival Will Bring the Fathers’ Hearts to Love their Aborted Children

Good people have chosen to have abortions in the past for all kinds of reasons.  Most of the attention has always focused on the woman.  It’s known that abortions have had their impact on woman years and years after the abortion takes place.  Women seem to recognize that the fetus given up was a child at some level.  Even if a doctor calls it tissue, it’s a very little person designed by God.

Every child has two parents, not just one.  Most of the genealogies in scripture talk about a man begetting a child.  Yet, in societies with abortion, men who have let women make the decisions about an abortion are still considered the father by God’s design.  How many men have grieved the loss of a fetus, or even admitted that it was their child? Few.  Even the laws to make abortion illegal have always focused on punishing the woman while the man walks away completely free for the same consensual act.

Healing comes when someone comes into God’s opinion of sin and confesses their sins.  God hears a person’s heartfelt confession and repentance.  They He forgives the sin and cleanses the person from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9. Letting Jesus’ blood come and cleanse us of our sins is what brings healing and wholeness to our lives.  We walk forward in mercy, forgiven by God.

When revival comes, I believe God will convict men and women’s hearts for the sin of abortion.  This will be part of turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children that God talks about in Malachi 4: 5-6. Some men may not even know they fathered a child.  God knows. Some men will care.  Some men will not care.  God convicts our hearts so that we can come and receive forgiveness.  Repenting means turning and not continuing to go in the same direction.  Revival is going to bring both men and women before the cross to ask for and receive forgiveness.  Given the statistics in America of abortions, revival meetings could be large and widespread. This will start to heal the hearts in our nation.  It will bring physical healing to some. And, it will bring healing to our land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

See Also The Grief of the Unknown Dad & Bringing Fathers’ Hearts to their Children 2