Community, freedom, government, Leadership, Love, peace, Social problems, Uncategorized

“Uprising”

Photo: Freepik.com

Parenting a little one fooled me into thinking I could control other people. Putting a cranky toddler in his cot and closing the door felt good. A “prison” of sorts where I could stand guard outside, rostering mealtimes and rationing information. I was powerful. Strong. Loud from my soap box of grown up answers.

I was a master at eliciting compliance, “making him behave.” Commands like “use your manners” and “sit up straight” or “look them in the eyes” came naturally. Phrases like, “This is a dictatorship, not a democracy” flew out of my mouth on the heels of back-talk. Corporal punishment, (used sparingly and this was the early 2000’s so don’t judge me), meant using physical force to get the behaviour I expected.

It worked for the most part: threaten, demand, restrain.

Whatever means necessary to get the desired outcome.

By the age of about 12 or 13, my eldest started showing signs of disagreement, his own opinions, at times even daring to point out my own hypocrisy and flaws. The earth began to move under my feet. I felt the skin on my hands rip open as the tight leash I clung to was torn away by a teenager on a mission. He was on a hot pursuit to assert himself, to be heard, to try out his own voice, apart from the soundtracks I’d been playing. What I felt was firmly in tact one day began to fray around the edges, influenced by puberty and pimples. Muscles and height. An outward strength coupled with an even greater inner resolve to buck against my kingdom.

He had his own will and determination to use it. In many ways, he had escaped my grasp. If he wanted to deceive me or disobey, he could. I almost crumbled with this newfound information. It splattered across my life each and every day like a late night re-run and I couldn’t change the channel. I couldn’t fit either of us back in our boxes – me in my narrow-minded ‘think tank’ and him in his ‘bedroom with a toddler bed and too high door knobs.’

A different approach was needed.

I came across a great resource identifying what I already knew but didn’t have words to explain. What I desired most as a mother was a heart to heart connection with my son. The freedom I experience as an adult with my own free will is a gift; and, rather than controlling this soon-to-be-man, I realised I had to model and direct him to control himself in a manner worthy of respect. Ultimately, it was on him.

As I watch what’s happening in my home country with the Black Lives Matter movement, protests and riots across every major city, and the subsequent responses of the President, other politicians and pundits, movie stars, academics… (everyone seems to have something to say), I see parallels with my parenting journey.

Threatening people with rubber bullets, tear gas, military intervention and handcuffs reminds me of the ’18-years-ago-new-parent-me’ who had a lot to learn. Power players who shout “law and order will prevail” erect walls between the two sides. One is subservient to the ruler but only for a matter of time.

What does anyone gain if neither side captures each other’s hearts?

In the words of Stephen Covey, “we must first seek to understand before being understood if we want to be a highly effective person.” A great leader always seeks to understand.
A heart to heart connection with those we lead is priceless. Kinship before compliance. Two open ears will always trump one open mouth.

If the aim is obedience at the expense of relationship, then a dictatorship is a great way to run a family. Elect power hungry tyrants to lead a country. A fool believes that “good behaviour” equals progress. I would much rather have a loving relationship with my son than strict obedience to my laws if I had to choose between them. Submission with seething anger below the surface is like a ticking time bomb.

“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”

John 13:34-35 (TPT)
Contentment, Love, Prayer, relationships, Uncategorized

Day 9: “Love”

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT)

According to Dictionary.com love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” The Bible’s expression of love is found in the personhood of God himself. HE IS LOVE!

In a society full of self-promotion and constant striving to “get ahead,” how do you outwork God’s definition of love giving preference and honour to others? How do you extend love to someone who wrongs you? And then keep no record of it?

Think about how easy it is to extend love to a small child. She needs your help and it’s difficult to deny a crying baby what she needs. So, you selflessly lose sleep, skip a meal, and work overtime to meet her needs without any thought to yourself. This is love.

Somewhere along the way, the grace begins to wane. You decide at a certain age, people “should” act a certain way or not require so much from you. Expectations aren’t wrong. However, if what you covet falls short of the mark, you become hurt and disappointed.

Love isn’t so easy anymore.

What if you took off all expectations today? Set aside what you want others to do for you and focus on doing for others instead?

Someone in your world needs your unconditional love today. There’s always be a reason to disqualify someone, to be angry, to be offended. If you are to live at peace, honouring God in your relationships, you must learn to love better.

Continue to dig deeper in your time of prayer and fasting, reflecting more of Christ in every way. Like water off a duck’s back, you have a heavenly perspective and what once seemed an important point to make is now moot. You’re bigger than all that pettiness. You desire peace above being “right.” You can serve the ones you love with no strings attached.

God has no expectations for you to perform. He loves you just as you are. Sins and scars and mistakes and all. Sometimes, you act like you have to put on a costume and dance around all day ticking boxes, hitting all the right notes in a perfect performance in order to receive God’s love. Strip off the garb of pressure. Put down the microphone. Turn the spotlight off and bask in the quiet place of rest in the presence of ‘Love Himself,’ almighty God.

*Think about your relationships today and what expectations you might need to give over to God in order to extend love. Ask God to show you how he sees the people in your life that are hard to love. Include yourself in this assessment and ask him to reveal his unending love to you.

Community, Faith, Love, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 16: “Pray for Your City”

cityYou’re approaching the end of your three weeks of prayer and fasting and your prayer life has intensified. You are freer than you were a few weeks ago and you’re looking beyond your own needs and asking God to work in your family, your workplace, your church and your neighbourhood.

You actually have the ability to change your entire city. A small group of disciples who walked with Jesus a couple of centuries ago sure did! They carried a message of hope to their cities; subsequently, much of the Western world built its culture on Judeo-Christian values. Imagine you and your group of friends from church who have a passion for your community changing and influencing your city. You CAN!

Why don’t you take some time today and pray for your city? Love your suburb. Lift up its leaders and ask God to bless them and guide them. Believe God will open doors of influence and opportunity for you to speak into the lives of your city councilmen and women and elected officials. You have a voice in your community.

Over time, your care and influence will impact those around you and spill over into every area of your community. Through loving it well, you can affect change.

“Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 AMP).

Community, Love, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 15: “Love Your Neighbour”

loveIf you read the news, you’ll see consistent coverage of polarizing topics and conversations that divide. Politics, government spending, inequality in the workplace, global warming, immigration. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and divisiveness is the status quo. Marching, arguing, hating.

The thing is, you have more in common with your neighbour than you have differences.

If you’ve ever traveled to another country and spent time people-watching, you know a mother’s love is universal. Laughter in a movie theatre or adoration for a sunset alongside strangers transcends which suburb you grew up in or what sort of car you drive.

Stand in line at a water park with thousands of other guests and you’ll see that stretch marks don’t discriminate. Shade cover is ubiquitously desired and over-priced burgers taste good after a long swim in sunshine. Everyone agrees.

Can you spend some time today focussing on what you have in common with your neighbours, rather than your differences? Pray you will be able to extend grace to those you might disagree with and smile despite your disparity.

Prayer opens your heart and eyes to the need around you. The Holy Spirit will show you how to bless those across the road and serve your neighbours, no strings attached. Meeting people where they are will diminish your differences and allow God to make his way onto your street and into your hearts. Love lessons the gap between us and that’s something everyone can admit is more fun than fighting.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).

 

Devotion, Fasting, Love, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 17: “Marriages Matter.”

loveSocieties flourish when families flourish. Families thrive when marriages are healthy. And, unconditional love is at the centre of a strong marriage. 1 John 3:18 encourages us to love not with words or speech, but with actions and truth.

How can you show love to your spouse today? First, begin by praying for him or her. If you’re not married, pray for your future spouse or for important marriages in your life. Seek to look at your partner through God’s eyes today. It’s important to have him at the centre of your marriage. As each person seeks to know Jesus more intimately, intimacy grows between the couple.

You may not be married to a fellow believer. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to your spouse through your selfless actions of love. Ask him to reveal himself to your partner in creative ways.

Pray that marriages within the church will be strengthened. Ask God to give help those who may be struggling.

The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24 MSG)

Devotion, Fasting, Love, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Love Lavishly.”

love-deeplyAs you continue to spend time in prayer and fasting, your relationship with your Heavenly Father is deepening. The closer you are to him, the more clearly you hear his voice, the more secure you feel about your circumstances, your family, your work.

Now, it’s time to look outside of yourself and begin to see how you can impact your surroundings. Look at the encouraging words of Peter:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes.” (1 Peter 4:7-11 MSG)

Practise prayerfulness.

Love lavishly.

Give generously.

Communicate kindly.

Help wholeheartedly.

Fasting, Inspiration, Love, Series

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day FIFTEEN

Read 1 John 4:7-21

**Today begins our third and final week of corporate fasting and we will concentrate our prayers over the next seven days on our families.

As we lean into God’s voice for direction and wisdom moving forward in 2015, let us place the highest value and commitment on loving our families. John reminds us that by loving each other, we actually reveal God’s character to the world. Since God SO LOVED US, we ought to love one another.

Oh, I know… we all love our kids and our spouses. But, true love is laying our lives down for one another as Christ laid his down for us. Can we love a little more intentionally this week those God has placed in our families? Can we serve our spouses a little more with less strings attached? Can we bless our children with joy despite fatigue or irritation? Let’s put aside negative history with our extended families or parents and reach out.

We are only able to love others because Christ first loved us.

No matter what personal goals we have regarding our careers, health, or finances in this new year, can we commit to loving our spouses, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers? Let’s pray for those we care for most and call out their gifts and uniqueness through kind words and prophecy.

Dear Lord, I want to thank you for my family. For the ones I chose and the ones I didn’t! I commit to obeying your command to love the people in my life just as you love me. I will do my part to serve and bless my family so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.