Renewing My Mind

While discussing the fact that Black lives do matter, with a close friend, I brought up the point that all lives matter to God, and therefore as followers of Jesus, all lives should matter to each of us. Because she has been personally affected by the fear and oppression of blacks, she quickly said, “Let’s not get off focus. It is the black’s turn.”

I have been wrestling with this idea of a line of attention ever since. If we say now is the time for the black Americans, what does it mean for every other oppressed people group? If things are indeed in a line, does it mean once we address their concerns, they will go back to the end of the line until it is their turn again?

I tend to think instead of focusing on who’s turn it is to no longer be oppressed, we should focus on the renewing our minds. Because if our minds are actually transformed to think about our neighbor in a renewed way, we don’t have to take turns for treating each other with dignity, respect, and humanness. Instead we see each individual as a unique, creation of our almighty creator, worthy of respect.

When I think what a renewed mind would look like, I consider the words of Roman’s 12:

  • Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought (vs. 3a)
  • Think of yourself with sober judgment (vs. 3b) Live a reflective life — “what am I doing to contribute to the problem and/or be part of the solution?”
  • Use your gifts and do what you were meant to do for the upkeep of the body (4-8)
  • Be Sincere (vs. 9)
  • Hate what is evil (vs. 9)
  • Cling to what is good (vs. 9)
  • Be devoted to one another in love (vs. 10)
  • Honor one another above yourselves (vs. 10)
  • Keep your spiritual fever (vs. 11)
  • Be joyful in hope (vs. 12)
  • Patient in affliction (vs. 12)
  • Faithful in prayer (vs. 12)
  • Share with those in need (vs. 13)
  • Practice hospitality (vs. 13)
  • Bless those who persecute you (vs. 14)
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice (vs. 15)
  • Mourn with those who mourn (vs. 15)
  • Do not repay evil with evil (vs. 17)
  • Do what is right in the eyes of everyone (vs. 17)
  • Live at peace with everyone (vs. 18)
  • Do not take revenge (vs. 19)
  • Feed your enemy (vs. 20)
  • Provide life-giving water to those who thirst (vs 20)
  • Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (vs. 21)

If we live this checklist, we do not need to order our attention to one people group, gender, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliation at a time in order to adequately address the needs of others. We no longer see others as different, above or below us, but rather part of the same body of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer we stop eating each other alive, and instead work toward the good of the whole body.

Strong Women

Strong Women are not to be feared but followed

Strong Women see the good in you and encourage more

Strong Women face challenges to play small, but they can’t

They are Strong Women

Meant to lead

Challenged to grow

Designed to make a difference

Are you a strong woman?

Weak Women attempt to become strong by bringing others down

Gossiping

Fearing

Playing small

Weak Women wield power to destroy, not create

to suppress, not esteem

to doubt, not believe

I don’t want to be a weak woman

I want to find what is good in you and celebrate it

I want to use my voice to bless and not to curse

I want to see the value of the whole as more than the sum of its parts

I want to live into my strengths not cower in my weakness

Join me in being a strong woman

My sisters would allow for nothing less

In His Hands

These Hands

that formed the world

healed the sick and made the blind see

These Hands

that raised the dead

broke bread and fed thousands

These hands

that were pierced

revealed to Thomas and lifted Peter

are the same hands

tenderly holding me.

I am captivated these days by the image of God’s hands.  In fact, the above drawing was hanging on the wall at Denver Christian on opening day, but I did not see it until after returning from a silent retreat.

On the retreat, I prayed, “God give me an image of our relationship.  I need a tangible picture of how you see me.”  I would like to say I said “Please give me a picture,” but that would be lying.  I was beseeching God in the middle of the night: “Show me.  Show me what you think of me.”

The picture I received was of these huge hands and me nestled in the palm of them.  I felt so at rest.  But the image evolved so I saw myself looking over God’s thumb, at my future, and I was excited.  Next I saw myself working at my desk, getting done the business of the day, and I felt supported by his unwavering presence.

In the morning, I tried to draw these hands, and as I did the above poem came to me.  These amazing hands that have done so much and will do even more are not so busy that they leave me unattended.  Rather, these hands embrace me, support me, love me, hold me, comfort me, call to me, welcome me, heal me, restore me, continue to shape me and sustain me.

The drawing of these hands has become the background of my smartphone, so that when I go in to check messages, text, and surf the internet I begin with the reminder that everything is in His hands.  This thought brings me comfort:  “God thinks I am worth holding on to.”

Why would I ever leave the safety and security of His hands?  I can go anywhere and yet I am still held by them.  The words of Psalm 139 are brought to mind:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. (NIV)

During these days filled with such negative news, where every breaking story is a tragedy and evil seems to be winning over good, I feel comforted knowing “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5).  No matter what happens, I am in His hands.

How Long, Oh Lord?

Psalm 13 1

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

How Long, Oh Lord must I struggle with my unworthiness?

How Long must I feel I am not enough and will never measure up?

How Long, Oh Lord must I speak to deaf ears

And Listen to dumb mouths, who do not speak your Truth?

How Long, Oh Lord must I see the brokenness around me and strive to fix it?

How Long must it take for me to realize broken things resist being mended?

How Long, Oh Lord must I read self-help books, 

And Hope they will enlighten the World, when they only enlighten me?

How Long, O LORD?  Will I forget you forever?

How Long will I not seek your face in my pain?

How long must I wrestle making your thoughts my thoughts

And every day fail to see the joy I have with you in my heart?

I have no enemies who can triumph over me

I know you are my defender, my sword and my shield

Help me to sleep without a care in the world

For no one can overcome the one who has overcome the world

I trust you Lord, shake sense into me when I falter

Your love is unfailing and your mercy is new every morning

Help me to see your saving is near

Let me climb upon the rock of my salvation and watch the storm from the shore.

What would you do?

I am often intrigued by the television show “What would you do,” which films actors playing out a scene in a public place so that others can hear, but have no idea they are listening to actors. The situations call for others to step in, take action, and they watch to see if any do. The question host John Quinones always asks is “what would you do?”

Lately, that show has me thinking in my own life, would I step into a disparaging situation if it was happening around me, because I knew what was being said was wrong, unjust, ignorant, or I just knew the persons engaged needed my support?

If I am to be honest, I am not sure what I would do. I think more often then not, I avoid chaos, opting instead for comfort. I think to myself, “the system is built to handle this, let it be.” But, what if the system itself is broken? Do I still turn a blind eye. What is Jesus calling me to do?

So, I wonder…

What would you do? If a friend asked you to stay up all night and pray for him, would you do it? If he was falsely accused, would you deny you knew him? If you heard others criticizing him, would you step forward with what you saw him do to bring change to a culture desperately needing it?

As Christians, I am wondering whether we often fall short standing up for those who are condemned.We say we will pray and we fall asleep. We separate ourselves from the mayhem, for fear stepping in might put our own lives and positions at risk. We have evidence to the contrary, but we keep our mouths shut. I am just wondering what Jesus would do. Because, as a Christian, aren’t I called to follow his example?

What would you do?

Black and White

The issue of racism is not black and white

It is systemic oppression

from which one cannot escape

unless the system is systematically overhauled.

I weep when I hear black parents warning their children

how to stay alive in a system that targets them

intentionally or subconsciously

the result is the same

a dispproportianate numbers of black lives lost

In the land of the free and the brave.

To defund the police is also not black and white

It is too quick an answer

to too big a problem

We can do better

We can think deeper

We can be the change this country requires

I see members of the police force kneeling alongside peaceful protesters

who are they

how can I make sense of their actions

not against

but alongside

Do I want to wipe out those who desire change as much as I do?

Or do I want to build an ark and invite in those who wish to begin again

before the flood that seeks to wash everything away

Takes what could be good

and systematically

labels it bad

because it all seems so black and white.

Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear

but moving forward in spite of it

Courage requires feeling uncomfortable

not knowing the outcome before going in

Courage challenges me to stretch

to grow

to change

to expand my thinking

Courage takes risk

Displays my vulnerability

Releases some of my power

Limits my control

Courage admits

I don’t have it all together

I don’t know everything

I don’t know your experience

I haven’t walked in your shoes

I am willing to sit at your feet and listen

and learn

Courage says

I have a lot to learn

And I will learn

If you will teach me

Courage makes it possible

Silent Scream

I let out a silent scream

Not because it is quiet

But because you are not listening

It comes from deep within

ENOUGH

Stop ignoring the inequity

Saying you trust the people in charge

They are getting it wrong

Causing chaos

Wielding their power on those who are already weak

You wash your hands

Saying you trust them

Let it be

And the destruction continues to happen

Again and again I protest

Saying “I can’t breathe”

Who I am is not thriving anymore

Because of fear I stop being who I am

Trying to do it your way

Not my way

The only acceptable change is your change

Change I can not muster without you

I cannot win

I cannot convince you otherwise

When I make a difference

You offer silence

And I hear it

Double standards for those who are in

And those who are out

I will never be as good as you

Because you measure me with a ruler

That will never measure up

I will always be less than

Different

Difficult

You do not understand why I would say something

write something

protest

resist arrest

I do not want to become you

I want you to hear me

And know my words matter

My life matters

Stop the malignant

malicious

habit of thinking you are better than

Look again

My cry is a chance to try again

This time listening

responding

Making change

A Tassel for your Thoughts at Christmas

tassle-on-a-purseBefore Christ became the perfect sacrifice, many laws kept the people of God set apart.  In no way could imperfect people make themselves perfect, but laws helped them practice a different way of living.  To remember the many laws, the Lord instructed Moses to tell the people to make tassels on the corners of their garments (Numbers 15:37-41).   By looking at the tassels and feeling them brush against their bodies as they went about their daily business, the tassels reminded God’s people to act according to his standards and not the world’s.

During this Christmas season what sets you apart?  How do you remind yourself and your family that we are called to a different standard?  Would a tassel work for you?  If you rely on the Holy Spirit to remind you, how do you make space to hear the voice of the Spirit during this busy, noisy season?

If you argue that since Christ, we are set free from Old Testament law, consider Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 5; and Matthew 5.  While we cannot earn our salvation, we are instructed to live differently: as light shining in the darkness, illuminating the difference Christ makes.

If you would like to purchase a tassel, while making a dent in the darkness this season, consider ImaniXChange.com.  My friend Melissa Schaap encouraged me to explain the story of the tassel in an article.  ImaniXChage is a women empowerment program with a main objective to provide job opportunities to single, widowed, disabled and disadvantaged women in Africa. The hope of the program is that through training opportunities, they help families to develop better futures and defeat poverty.