Let the News make YOU a hero

Stories are powerful tools because words are powerful tools.  Well-told stories intentionally move readers to feel.  The output of our lives typically flow from our feelings.  That can cause us trouble–or it can be the source of transformation.

We must learn to hear and speak with equal intention.  Words are the medium God used to create…words still create.  We are responsible for what our words create in others–and what others’ words create in us.  In this age of mass communication, that is a daunting reality.

I have promised a weekly hero story,  and I have an unlikely hero for us to consider today: A hero unlikely to be popular today.  He is a hero who held another accountable…a friend willing to wound because of the greater good that could come.  Pastor and writer, Bob Deffinbaugh explains his hero-ship it this way:

I do not know how many people I have known who refused to rebuke or even caution someone close to them, thinking that they are being a friend by being non-condemning. A good friend does not let us continue on the path to our own destruction. Nathan was acting as a prophet, but he was also acting like a friend.

Do you remember the passage that tells this story (2 Samuel 12)?  David, the man described as being after God’s own heart, has drifted away from God and fallen into ugly sins:  lust, immorality, lies, murder and more.  God doesn’t leave His kids sitting comfortably in sin.  If you read Psalm 32, you’ll hear David’s discomfort with the sin.  But it wasn’t moving him back toward God.  So, the loving Father sent a hero.

David’s friend, Nathan, a prophet, was sent by God to tell a very specific story to David.  Knowing his friend well–and loving him well, Nathan tells David a story he can relate to…a sheep story for a shepherd.  Nathan tells of a selfish rich man who–not wanting the responsibilities of life to cost him anything — steals the precious lamb of a poor family to kill for his dinner guest.

The selfish, greedy, unfairness sparks anger in David, and he wants justice done.  The story moved him to feel what his own story should have generated–but did not.  Initially, David didn’t recognize the anger as the self-righteousness it was; that’s the way we people are.  Our own actions make sense to us.  We see the ‘sins’ of others far more easily than our own. A hero and a story set David back on track with God.

That is the power of the story:  it opens our eyes to a humbling truth:

 The shortcomings of others bug us the most when they are reflection of our own deficits!

The stories we hear elicit a response from what is stored up in our heart.  The more we become like God, the sweeter the response will be:

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.  Luke 6:45

Years ago I heard a profound statement that had so much truth in it, I’ve never forgotten it:  “After about complaining for the thousandth time about how ridiculous others were–how ignorant, how selfish, how ‘whatever,’ I suddenly realized:  It can’t always be everyone else.  Maybe the problem is me.”  Whenever the reports I hear generate a critical, complaining attitude in me, I remember her words and begin digging for deeper understanding.

We have plenty of opportunity for digging just by listening to the news!  Controversies and tragedies abound:  gun control, Islamic Terror, homosexuality, mass shootings.  Media reports generate a storm of responses…but very few heroes.  Everyone has an opinion but few find facts–and even fewer ask God for His viewpoint.

We think our news reports facts…but our news tells stories.   Stories aim to engage listeners–to build an audience.  One way to do that is to pit one aside against another.  Sadly our nation takes the bait.

As Christians, we need to aim to be like Nathan…a friend whom God can send to transform lives.  Our nation is destroying itself; let’s be purposeful in being a friend–first to God and then to those He instructs us to enter into conversation with.

THE MAKING OF A HERO

Here is an acrostic to help guide us toward story responses that glorify God.

Pray for Perspective.  There is always more to a situation than one knows.  Nathan went as a friend who cared and as a representative of God…those are key perspectives before entering into the public fray.  Don’t go from the perspective of know-it-all or superior thinker.  Go as a friend and humble servant of God.

Awareness vs. Assumptions.  Gather facts.  Don’t believe everything you think and remember:  Love assumes no wrongs.

Understanding. Find the heart of the matter.  Folks are seldom as ignorant and obtuse as the media paints them to be. Fools care about sharing their view; the wise seek to understand.

Seek Shared Interests.  Seek common ground instead of debating differences.

Educate with Empathy.  Care about others as you respectfully share the points that support the perspective that gives glory to God.

When we learn to P.A.U.S.E. we are on our way to becoming a hero for others like Nathan was for David.  And our reward is beautiful.  Instead of seeing the yuck in others (that has been reflected from our own heart), we will see God!  Now, there’s a story that gives great motivation!

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Matthew 5:8

 

Be a Hero Like Terri

Bible stories are not stories; they are history.  Every day we live, we write more history.  Stories of courage from Scripture are necessary for us to know…but sharing the stories of the faithful through the years has merit as well.  There are heroes of faith all around us.  One of my prayers with this little series is that you will share your stories–or the stories that inspire you!  Today, though, I want to point you to a blog I stumbled across.

Diary of a Quadriplegic

I have not met this lady, and she doesn’t know I am writing this column.  I suspect she is a hero to many more than me.  Her name is Terri Nida.  She tells her story with raw realness that never fails to humble me, challenge me–and encourage me.  Do go read it…my summary doesn’t convey the power of her story.

The short version is this:  in the midst of a ‘perfect life,’ she found herself in a pit of despair.  Longing to reconnect with the God she knew but had become distanced from, she fasted and prayed.   Just days before suffering a paralyzing injury, she wrote this on her Facebook Page:

Some life circumstances are not meant to be understood; the call is just to keep moving forward one step at a time. That’s called faith.

Terri Nida is a hero for me because she answered that call with faith in a sovereign, good God.  She continues to answer that call and share her journey with humble, hurting honesty.

“…Little did I know I was getting ready to take a journey with God that would teach me how to claw out of that well, inch by inch. When I woke up in the ICU a few days later, I suddenly had a desperate need for support from friends and family and a relationship with God. Thus I began my journey of physical, spiritual, and emotional healing….”

“Since I became a quadriplegic, I’ve kept the belief that God has a greater purpose in this than what I can see. I believe this with all my heart! And yet maneuvering through each individual day and through an odyssey of emotions as I face increased medical problems and visits to the hospital ICU, it’s been hard for me not to think of each day as a negative event. “

Courage is not the absence of fear and pain.  In fact, the absence of those things testifies to nothing really.  Praising God in the good times is not a sacrifice of praise.  Terri’s blog inspires me because she shares the treasures she has mined in darkness for those who have not trod the depths she has been called to.  She holds fast to confidence in God…and in His purpose for life…for every life.

Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Go listen to Terri’s words because she has had to try the Word of God–and she finds it faithful.  A hero is one who lives the Word in a way that others can hear.  Heroes deliver hope and life through their lives.  The world needs more heroes.  Let Terri help you become a hero like her…one who knows the truth of Romans 8:35-38 because she lives it.

 

Faith Delivers. Fear Kills.

We know the story.  A dozen spies were sent into the Promised Land to check out what God had promised to give the Israelites.  Five-sixths (almost 85%) of the spies choked…they couldn’t believe the promise.  We are called to be different!

The majority chose fear over faith and brought a negative report back to the people.  Anything not of faith is fear–and fear kills.  Humanity is created for faith…designed for belief in the Creator who conquers all. 

Fear is irrational.  Listen to the spies:  “The land devours its inhabitants….the inhabitants are giants.”  What?!  If the land devours, how would the inhabitants be giant? The people couldn’t hear the inconsistencies because fear deafens. 

Today, the majority choose fear as well.  We need more leaders of courage, more heroes who choose faith.  Let’s look at what God had to say about one of the heroes from the ‘spy story.’

But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.  Numbers 14:24

Faith is the vehicle that delivers the promises of God.

Caleb had a ‘different spirit’ — a faithful, fervent spirit that brought results.  As Christians, we need to be different. We need the courage that refuses to fear.  We need the courage that embraces challenges as opportunities for God to produce miracles.  We need the courage to go after the promises God makes, the blessings He offers.

Caleb was 40 when he went into the Promised Land.  The fearful spirit that the other spies allowed to overtake them infected the rest of the nation.  That led to forty years of desert wandering–and never entering the Promised Land for all but Caleb and Joshua.  But listen to Caleb 45 years later:

I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.  Joshua 14:11,12

Caleb experienced the faithfulness of God and knew the battles belonged to Him.  Even at 85, he was ready to take the land with the ‘giants.’  He knew the goodness of God and trusted that the results would be what was best.

A WORD ABOUT FACING GIANTS

There are two words I found for giant in these passages.  There are scholarly depths beyond my ability to plumb, but there is an exciting glimpse I feel I can share.  One of the words for the giants who dwelled in Caleb’s chosen land were called rapha.  That intrigued me because Jehovah Rapha is The LORD our Healer.  As I searched, I found the words are related–and the giant has an attribute of ‘invigorating.’ And the word, when used as healing speaks of restoration to the intended purpose.

So for my readers who are facing a giant in their life:  Be like Caleb.  Choose faith and watch God take that giant down.  Trust in His purposes of restoration and life-giving, and claim the promises of God.  Let that giant invigorate the faith of yourself and others.  Giants slain with faith are a source of freedom and life!

Always Too Soon to Quit

Sharing a reminder given in our faith class this week:

As Abraham climbed the mountain with Isaac…in obedience to what he understood from God…the ram was climbing up the opposite side.  If Abraham had stopped short of the summit, he never would have seen the provision of God or understood the Promise fully.

Read the story here:  Genesis 22:1-19

Let’s make the testimony of Abraham our own:

“Abraham didn’t worry about the Ram because he had seen the Lamb.” 

Heroes Giving Courage

Courage, like character, is caught through contact.  It  is learned through leadership that models, encourages and expects it from others.  Heroes matter.  We live in a world increasingly falling to fear.  As Christians, that ought not be.  Perfect love casts out all fear.  When we live in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is nothing to fear, except as FDR once said, “fear itself.” Fearing fear is not an option for us as Christians.

Fear wreaks havoc in our lives; God created us to live with faith in Him, not fear of the future.  Fear actually creates damage in our brains…in our bodies. There are legitimate things to fear…but we are not to fear the fear!  We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us!  We are to live in victorious faith that delivers health.

Sharing the testimonies of victory in Christ is one way to glorify God and encourage one another.

What testimonies encourage you?  What is YOUR testimony that needs to be told?

Christ, of course, is the greatest hero of all time.  Even He looked up to another.  Christ never did anything outside of the will of the Father.  Following the Father’s will takes a lot of courage.  It called Christ to leave the perfect paradise of heaven to be born in a barn–and be rejected by the very people He came to rescue.  Heroes don’t do things for applause–they do them because it is who they are.

Too many of our earthly heroes perform for praise; how sad for them.  The praise of people is unstable.  Popularity waxes and wanes…and eventually death deafens the praise anyway.  Performers are not heroes who help us live better.  We need more than that.

Examples of courage abound…in and out of the realm of Christianity.  Every person is made in the image of God…and that image is glorious.   Many who never profess Christ as their hero live with character and courage.  As Christians, we owe every courageous person a debt of gratitude because their example is of great value to those of us seeking to live for Christ.  Cowards cannot do the work of the King.

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing stories of the victories of faith…stories to inspire courage.  I invite you to share yours as well.  You can share in writing, or we can set up a time for an interview.  Let’s work together to give glory to God by giving the good reports that we need as we walk through this world!

 

 

 

Be A GATE!

The Gate to see God is being:

Gateway, Danny Eugene - Flickr

Genuine.  Accepting.  Transparent.  Encouraging.

Genuine: Real with God and others.  Pat phrases are not what get us through life!

Accepting:  God meets us where we are at but loves us too much to leave us there.  Accepting doesn’t mean there are no ‘rules,’ it means walking alongside until the better way (His way) is seen and understood.

Transparent:  Everyone struggles.  No one arrives at ‘perfection’ in this land.  Paul boasted in his weaknesses because they are doorways to God’s greatness.  Let your struggles be seen…because God is there!

Encouraging:  God created us for connection because we need each other.  Be a cheerleader for others–it will cheer you and help them become cheerleaders!

Serving God is a high and holy privilege.  HIS Hands explores the beauty of Christian servanthood.  A companion book is in the works!  Sign up for Glory Glimpse News to receive notice–or follow this website or the Facebook Page.

 

 

What’s it look like in heaven?

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Matthew 6:10

Jesus used this statement in the model prayer.  It is part of the pattern He used to teach us to pray.  It’s been prayed for centuries.  There’s some assumptions in that pattern we are blessed to unpack.

First, Heaven is a busy place…the will of God is the motivation for all the action.  Jesus modeled that in His life.  He did only what the Father said and did.  He said He could do nothing on His own.

Then, that the will of God is…or can be known…is another implication of this verse.   I attend a church that exhorts us to ‘look into heaven, find out what God says about whatever you are facing and go do it.’

In a recent class, a profound question was asked:

What can I expect to see when I look in heaven?

Well, that is just too fun of a place to camp!  I couldn’t resist digging into it and share

Entering Heaven

Art is by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site, http://www.revelationillustrated.com

some thoughts–and hopefully get some of yours to enjoy as well.  So, let’s go!

The physical attributes of heaven are not where my mind naturally goes.  Pat Marvenko Smith is an incredible artist who digs deep into Scripture and paints directly from the Word.  I love her stuff and have shared a glimpse to the right.  Take some time and visit her website for that angle: Revelation Illustrated.  You will enjoy it!

For me, that question sends my heart on a quest to find what is in heaven that will help me live out the Father’s will here.

“Only one life, it will soon be passed. 

Only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

is part of what drives me to seek to see heaven.  The other pressure that makes my heart cry for heavenly vision is the weight of seeing individuals broken and maimed from life.  I know Jesus is always the answer…but I can’t always see HOW He is the answer.  Pressing in to see heaven opens vistas of hope for me–and for me to share.

I believe God longs for us to press in to heaven.  He wants us to ask hard questions–He wants us to know His heart.  A verse in Micah (and quoted in other locations) outlines what I find in heaven.  I find His ways, His heart and His glory.  I love looking into heaven!

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

To do justice is to know–and render into this world–the verdicts God has already declared.  It reminds me of the verses in Matthew that say bind (and loose) what is already bound (or loosed) in heaven.  We only see in Heaven what God has revealed in the Word.  Being diligent students of the Holy Bible is a vital need for any who long to peer into heaven.

To love kindness goes a step beyond simply knowing the Word.  The Pharisees knew the Law but they didn’t understand the heart of love inherent in every word.  There are a lot of Pharisees today, too.  Being touched personally by the Word is another vital need for those who want to see into heaven.  The personal application of the Law — knowing that the Word is said to ME and knowing that I fall so short — leads me to LOVE kindness.  My desperate need for the kindness of God comes into start view when I spend time looking to Him.

And when I know how God works and what He is like, walking humbly is all I can do.  He is God and I am not!  Spending time peering into heaven makes that so abundantly clear.  Walking out what He shows me when I am in heaven completes what God requires of me.  I am not to be a Dead Sea that receives without giving!

So, what do I find when I look into heaven?

I find a righteous and holy God who created everything from His wisdom and love.  I find a God who allows suffering because it is the most merciful act available in some cases.  I find a God unafraid of establishing–and maintaining boundaries.  I find a God who loves me more than I love myself…who loves the ones I love with greater faithfulness and wisdom than I love.  When I look into heaven, I find the answers to the hurts in my heart–and the harm I see done in the world.  And I find the courage to share what I find with others.

I could go on and on…and so can you.  There are eternal treasures in heaven…some are yours to find and share.  Some are mine to find and share.  They are the inheritance Jesus came to give to those who would believe in Him.  They are our shared riches.  What has He been showing you?!

Have You Seen It?

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“Pride cannot live beneath the cross.  Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice…

…Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purpose drops by which you have been cleansed…And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it:  if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him.”  Spurgeon

 

What is Cross-Life Coaching?