8/17/18 Morning Musing – Working Through the Wounds

I remember feeling like I had been slapped across the face when she cut me off in front of a group of people and sternly said “Be quiet! Quit stirring up trouble. It doesn’t help them to see Jesus!” Whoa…wait a minute…I was actually offering insight and a solution that would be easy for everyone, not stirring up trouble at all. And then I felt it…unseen…unknown…such a familiar feeling for me…it forms a pit in my stomach and I start to feel nauseous…and it always hits me out of left field. This is the area where I struggle the most in life…it’s probably why I learned early to clown around and be funny…because people are attracted to feeling good and happy…and I performed in order to attract the people so I could feel known. This is where my soul struggles and feels attacked.

With my close friends, I’ve always asked that they just give me the benefit of the doubt. Know me and my character well enough to stop and think about things if something that I said seems off or offensive…and then…ask me about it. I know! Shocking idea isn’t it? It really surprises me how many people are willing to throw a relationship away by simply taking something out of context and contorting it until it resembles an offense. Are they looking to be offended? If so, what a miserable way to live. It must drive people away in droves. Picking something apart until it no longer resembles the intended message is not a virtue…and it hurts most coming from a close friend because it leaves me questioning if they ever even really knew me.

Why am I writing about this? Glad you asked! I’ve been thinking for a few years now that God has a funny way of using our weaknesses to speak to people. It’s in the struggles and wounds where a story happens. (If everything is just dandy all the time, there’s no story!) And interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that my wounds and weaknesses are what draw me to certain characteristics or names of God. My favorite name of God is “God who sees me.” (El Roi) Is it coincidental that feeling unseen or unknown is my biggest pitfall? Probably not. I think it just reinforces the verse about his strength being made perfect in weakness. But the thing about that is that I have to be willing to see myself clearly and identify where I am weak. I don’t know about you…but for me…I don’t enjoy dwelling on that. (“Hmmmm…let me count all the ways that I suck!” does not sound like a fun party game.) I much prefer the happy feel-good stuff, or even numbness, over mulling over the hurts and finding the root issue…and today’s way of living certainly is busy enough to keep me numb for a long time if I am not careful.

The thing is though, seeing people is my one of my biggest strengths. I mean really seeing them…seeing into them. Seeing their value, their fears, their insecurities, ways that they feel loved…and frequently I am able to speak truth into some of what they are telling themselves. But seriously, why is that the thing I’m good at? After all, I frequently feel unseen…unknown. My thinking is that our wounds leave scars which catch our eyes a lot and so it is front of mind. It’s tender and easily triggered to hurt. We don’t want others to feel what we have felt before and we don’t want to keep re-living it so we begin to minister to others in this area…we are drawn to it.

So, how are you doing with this? Is there an area where you feel particularly weak? Do you struggle with one type of hurt over others? Does it seem repetitive and exhausting? Or are you even able to slow down enough to think about this? What is it about God that you love the most? What name of God speaks to you above others? Are the two things connected in some way? What type of ministry are you drawn to? Is it connected to your strengths or weaknesses? Are you showing others your strength or are you showing them God’s strength?

My prayer today is that we would slow down and ask God about our wounds. I’m praying that we would be still long enough to really hear him speak about those wounds and that we would look for his characteristics that are counter to whatever has harmed us. I’m praying that we would find ways to minister through our hurts so that others can be spared and so that we can heal…so that we can worship our God more fully…so that we don’t waste the pain.

Much love friends,

Beks

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1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

8/25/16 Morning Musing: Puppies, Rocks, and Smiles

This morning, my alarm went off and, after I turned it off, I said good morning to my husband and then stretched out as long as I could. While my feet moved around under the sheets and blankets, I could feel little warm puppy bodies laying near my knee and elbow and then I heard the sound of something small and hard hit the floor. I hopped up to see what had fallen and was straining to see in the dark until I found it…a rock. It made me giggle a little because it was definitely another “gift” from my two little pooches, Shiner and Bock. They are super-sweet pups…they are great companions…but they don’t do the things that other dogs do to “earn their keep.” They aren’t sporting dogs. They don’t catch any pests. They don’t fetch and they aren’t intimidating at all. What they do well is just joining in our pack…Team Massey…they follow me every where I go in the house… when I go run errands, they beg to ride in the car with me…they like to run upstairs and wake up the kiddos for school…and on occasion, they bring me a rock or an acorn as a gift.

So, why am I telling you about puppies and gift rocks? Well, I guess it’s because I think I have learned something about God through my exchange with these pooches. There is no doubt that God does things to bless me every hour of every day…and because he’s God, I don’t think he “needs” my help…but I think that he smiles when I make efforts to bless him in return…whether it is praise coming from my lips, finances intentionally dedicated to him, or kindness invested into someone he loves but who I deem unlovable. He can accomplish these things without me, no doubt…but I think the effort and motivation to love him and be more like him pleases him. It is much like the pups bringing me a rock this morning…do I need the rock? No. Can I see the motives behind the gift? Absolutely! And it will have me smiling all day long!

So, how are you doing with this? Do you have gifts to offer God and others…gifts that you are holding on to because you think they are only rocks? Are other people offering you gifts? Do you recognize the gifts being offered to you or do you just see a worthless rock? What gifts do you talk yourself out of giving away? Do you think they aren’t good enough? Do you think others will find them silly? Can you be vulnerable enough to give them anyway?  

My prayer today is that we would freely offer God our gifts. I am praying that we would make the Creator of the world smile when we humbly offer him our little rocks. I am praying that we would bless other people with our gifts and use our little rocks to lift each other up and give each other something to stand on.  

Much love friends,

Beks

9/3/15 Morning Musing: What You Contribute (Or Don’t) Matters.

For the last two months, I’ve been regularly going to cryotherapy and have been super-pleased with the results. True to form, I have continued to research and learn more about the process and (surprise surprise) it has me thinking in analogies again. Why am I bringing up cryotherapy in a musing where I usually speak about more spiritual matters? Well, as an admitted science-nerd, I can acknowledge that I LOVE learning new things and totally geek-out when I am able to begin making connections that I was not making previously. So, imagine the incredible amplification of my geek-dom when I began connecting concepts of thermal energy in science with spiritual heart-space!  

So, here goes: I have had some interactions with a few individuals lately where I have left the interaction feeling…off…like something was not right but there wasn’t any huge statement or action that I could point to and say “It was that.” It was bizarre because after each of these interactions, the only word that really came to mind when I was thinking of the off-ness, was “Cold.” (Science geek-out warning!) If you think way, way back to middle schools science classes, you may remember a little bit about energy…but specifically thermal energy…things like cold not being a real thing…it’s really just the absence of heat. Or how energy is not created or destroyed (much like matter) but can change forms (First Law of Thermodynamics.) Or how heat energy always travels from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration (Second Law of Thermodynamics) which ultimately results in an evening-out of heat energy between the two or more objects unless they are separated. (Think about leaving a mug of hot coffee on the kitchen counter and forgetting about it. When you return in a couple of hours, the coffee, the mug, the countertop, and the air in the room are all the same temperature…which just aggravates you more because now you are caffeine-deprived and the coffee is cold!)
With that information in mind, now think about the interactions that I have had where I could only describe the other person’s contribution as “cold.” I now know why it bothered me and felt off! During the conversations, I was excited and animated and…invested. I was passionate about the topic…so much so that I was willing to personally sacrifice energy and finances and time. In each instance, the other person *should* have been similarly jazzed but just wasn’t. I didn’t see any investment from them, didn’t perceive any passion in them, and in each instance, I definitely did not see them sacrificing any time, thought, finances, etc to the situation. Now, like I said before, there was no statement or action that was antagonistic…but I now get why it bothered me: My excitement and investment was high and theirs was low to non-existent…so in the course of the interaction, some of my heat, for lack of a better analogy, was leached out of me and that is why I was vexed.
Why the heck am I talking about thermodynamics and cold conversations? Well, I guess it’s because it was spiritual in nature. The topic being discussed in each instance was seemingly a topic that both participants should have been invested in because both have been called to a place of service or ministry. But in each instance, there was a lack of desire to put out any energy or effort for others…which, if I’m not mistaken, is the antithesis of service or ministry because it creates a posture of only receiving (keep think heat analogy.)  
So, here are my conclusions about personal interactions using thermodynamics as an analogy:

We are all capable of leaching someone else’s energy, passion, and excitement and we should be careful about doing that indiscriminately because I think that makes us responsible for diminishing those resources.

If we are jazzed about something and have a “calling” concerning it, we are capable of sharing some of that energy and excitement with others.

If we find ourselves to be passion-vampires, it might be time to consider a change because it is no longer service or ministry if we are the constant takers. Revelation 3 says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” **Note: the water described here had many health benefits when hot (because hot water has more energy and can consequently hold more minerals in it.) If the water was cold, it was at least refreshing, even if it wasn’t medically beneficial. Luke-warm water had neither quality.**

Matthew‬ ‭7:6 says “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” So, I think it is important, as mission-sharers, to pay attention to where we donate our “heat.” If the other person never gets warmer…then we may need to move elsewhere for a time so as to not become drained of warmth and thus rendered ineffective.

It is important to remember who our heat-source is. John 15 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Ok, if you have made it this far, I’m truly impressed…you are patient and able to follow the ramblings of an enthusiastic nerd. Here is the time where I flip the tables on you: How are you doing with this? What are you passionate about? What are you doing to pursue that passion? How are you connecting to others and ultimately serving them through your passion? If you aren’t, what changes could you make in that area? If this is foreign to you, what types of things in life sound fun and energizing to you? How can you regularly incorporate that into your life? Do you have passion vampires in your life? How could you draw some healthy boundaries where they are concerned? Finally, are you connected with your heat-source? If you aren’t, losing all of your own heat is inevitable, exhausting, and frustrating…so in what ways is God calling you to connect with him?
My prayer today is that we would be attentive and encouraging to others as they pursue God and that we would learn to better appreciate and support passions and skills that might be different from our own so as to not dampen the efforts of people who are on mission with us. Also, I am praying that we would be discerning of when and how to use our gifts and passions in our pursuit of serving the Lord. Much love friends.
Beks

3/31/15 Morning Musing – Prophesy and Hamster Wheels?

Exhortation…Pastor/Shepherd…Teacher…Prophesy…seriously?  I only fully understood the meaning of one of these and these were what the test said my Spiritual Gifts were.  Well, that must be a mistake.  I should take a different test.  Same answers.  Hmmmm…must be my state of mind at the time…I’ll take the tests at a different time of day and when I’m in a different mood.  Same answers.  *Sigh*  Ok…ok…I will study up on these and figure out what they mean (since they supposedly add up to mean…well…me.)  Exhortation seemed to mean cheer-leader…that bugged me.  Pastor…ummmm…not interested in that job!  Shepherd…I live in Flower Mound?  Teacher…done that…I get that one…and I really liked it.  Prophesy…ummmm…as in “the end of the world is near!”??????  

Needless to say, I was seriously disappointed in the results of the test (ahem…many tests.)  Like I said, I understood teacher.  I felt fulfilled and joyful when interacting with those wacky middle-school students.  I so deeply enjoyed it when a lightbulb would go off in their minds and I could see their expressions go from confused to happy and craving more knowledge.  But the other gifts…those were a bit of a mystery.  Many sources kept defining these incredibly complicated qualities with one or two words:  Exhortation = encourager.  Pastor/Shepherd = parent (the descriptions all sounded this way to me.)  Prophesy = counselor.  So, I went deeper.  Turns out, these short descriptions don’t even come close.  

Exhortation is not simply an encourager: (an encourager doesn’t have to understand or identify with the encouragee (is that a word?))  It is the ability to counsel or challenge others toward a healthy relationship with Jesus and is often utilized to motivate people to make God-honoring choices. Exhorters regard trials as opportunities for growth and sympathize with the suffering Christian, but see the pain through the lens of God’s sovereignty rather than through the lens of suffering.  Exhorters express love through availability. (Ok…yep…that is me…add feels a deep need to feed people and you would see my picture with this definition!)

Pastor/ Shepherd is not simply two very different job titles, as it turns out:  Apparently, the word pastor is related to pasture and the Greek word for it means “herdsman.”  So, like actual shepherds, these people have a great need for long-term relationships and will sacrificially give themselves to other people in such a way that they are built-up in their faith.  They are concerned with the health, growth, and well-being of those that they are committed to.  (Ok…yeah, that one sounds like me too…I don’t just want relationships…I need them…and I get a bit protective of those people…but I’m more comfortable with the word shepherd than I am with the word pastor…so we’ll just go with that one.)

Prophesy, as it turns out, is not just for nut-jobs:  Apparently, it is a deep-rooted calling to expose sin…not for the sake of punishment…in order to lead to restoration in relationship with God and to bring unity to people.  (Ok, yeah…that is absolutely my heartbeat!)  Also, people with this gift are quick to repent of their own sin when confronted with it but can be crushed by this too because they see the depravity in that sin.  (Yes!  That is me!  When I realize I have wronged someone…even just a little…I am devastated by it and have a hard time getting past it.  (Just ask Stan.  I know it sometimes wears him out!))

So, what in the world is the point of me writing about this?  Well first, some of you may not be familiar with your spiritual gifts and I would encourage you to investigate them and learn about them.  (You can google free online spiritual gift tests…I really like the one at churchgrowth.org…good descriptions that also touch on your potential pitfalls and strengths.)  Next, I would urge you to look at what areas of your life feel the most fulfilling and see if there is any overlap between that and the results of your tests.  Why?  Because that is where you will be the most energized, the most effective, and the most…”you.”  I have gone through long periods of time where I didn’t feel like “me.”  I felt almost like a visitor in my life.  But last year, when I started musing…I became more “me” than I have ever been.  (I didn’t do any of this intentionally…I just felt like I should start writing…although I had no agenda and have never been a skilled writer…so I did.)  I feel closer to God and am more energized by this aspect of my life than any other.  Since I started writing, I have had countless conversations, lunches, and meetings with people I didn’t know before…because I was able to somehow touch some part of them through this…it is uncanny and still blows my mind every time it happens.  It is encouraging to see ability in me to bring about something positive for other people and it not wear me down to a nub because it is so exhausting…if anything, it energizes and excites me.  Finally, I would ask you to invest in your giftedness.  Find some way to give space and time to explore your giftedness so you can see yourself and God more clearly.  (Know that anything you sacrifice in pursuing this will be worthwhile because this is your actual calling…your purpose.  I never have enough time but I am spending about 1.5 to 3 hours per day writing.  I don’t miss whatever I was doing before because whatever it was is so much less valuable to me than this.  I will also say that it has freed me up to say no to more things as well because I know where my purpose is so, I consequently, also know where it is not.  Other things aren’t bad…they just aren’t MY things.)

 So, how are you doing with this?  Do you know what your giftedness is?  Are you using it?  Do you know how to implement it in your life?  How can you bring truth, healing, and love to others through your gifts?  What might you need to sacrifice in order to be obedient in this area?

My prayer today is that we would not just go through life aimlessly, running along like a hamster on a wheel, without a purpose…but that we would determine where our gifts and passions intersect so that we can be tools in the hands of an amazingly loving and creative God.  Much love friends,

Beks

7/15/14 Morning Musing: Shut Up and Show Me

If you had to spend the remainder of your life unable to speak, would the people that you love know that you love them?

We were mentoring an engaged couple a few years back and got to talking about household chores. This couple seemed to agree on most everything that had to do with responsibilities around the house except laundry. They both agreed that the woman was going to be responsible for doing the laundry (understand, I am making no statements here about “women’s work” or gender roles…that is an entirely separate post) but what they didn’t agree on was how the laundry should be put into the hamper. I know, I know…this sounds stupid…bear with me. So, the prospective husband was prone to peeling off his dirty clothes which left them all inside out for the laundry. The prospective wife was saying that she would like for him to turn his clothes right-side-out before tossing them into the hamper because it made doing laundry so much more time-consuming for her when she had to turn everything out again.

The conversation went on for a while and he finally said “Well, when it’s time for you to do the laundry, I’ll come turn everything right-side-out and then you won’t have to.” Problem? That meant that she would only be able to do laundry when he was home from work…nights and weekends…when she wanted to be resting. That…or…I pointed out that she could request that he come home throughout the day from work to flip everything right-side-out. Seems like a ridiculous suggestion, doesn’t it? That was the point.

What in the world am I getting at? Here you go: When someone is choosing to serve you in some way…to minister to you…to voluntarily meet your needs, don’t purposely make it harder on them. This woman was happily choosing to serve her husband. She was showing him that she loved him and wanted to care for him. She made one simple request and he was digging his heels in. Why?
I don’t know…maybe he was exerting power…maybe he was really forgetful…maybe he thought her request was silly…but…well, I’ve seen relationships end over less because it communicates that you are not only not a team but also that you lack basic respect for your partner. It also communicates that you aren’t there for them in the little things, so you certainly won’t be there for them when the big stuff happens.

Basically, I think that what we really believe shows through in our actions. Talk is cheap but actions show what is going on in your heart: self-sacrifice, greed, selfishness, ego-centricity, passion, kindness, and love are all quite evident by our actions. We convey a lot about the condition of our heart through how we treat people. So, how are you doing with this? Do your words and actions line up? If you had to live the remainder of your life wordlessly, would the people that you love know that you love them? How can you show people what you believe? How can you show people the person you want to be?

Today, I am praying that you will not only love people deeply…but that your loved ones will have no doubt as to the depth of your love because you show them clearly through your actions. Much love friends,

Beks