Saturday, January 30, 2010

The beam and the sawdust

One of the hardest people to help in this world are those who have a huge beam sticking out of their own eye, to which the are totally blind, as they tell those with the sawdust in their eye how they can get better if they would only follow beam girl's advice. How in the world do you approach someone who sees others' problems so clearly and yet remains blind to his or her own glaring faults? Agghh!

As a person who often judges herself much harder than anyone else would, this phenomenon causes my brain to hurt. All of us have blind spots, after all, we're human beings. We do not, however, all have blind spots that cover our entire view except for the microscopic hole we look out of to tell others how they can fix their life.

By now, you may have guessed I know someone like this, and I'm frustrated. You would be absolutely right! As I try different things and try not to let my own anger get in the way, I just wind up shaking my head. Is there hope for someone like this? Of course there is. With God, there's always hope, but this is a tough case.

The first thing to do in dealing with this person is to recognize that I am not in control. Fixing the person is God's job, not mine. God may use me to plant seeds or water, but the crop is in His hands.

The second thing to do is pray, pray, pray and pray some more. This person needs God's help to get out of a life-long pattern learned in childhood and not forsaken in adulthood. Prayer is not just for the other person, either. It is very difficult to stay angry at someone you pray for. Prayer works on the prayer's attitude, giving the prayer patience and insight as they surrender all to the Lord.

A third thing to do is love. Loving someone who often drives off everyone by pointing out how they could change if they would "just...", is not the easiest job in the world, but it's doable if you stay in a good relationship with the Father. God never said we have to like everything, but He does command us to love. This person probably needs love more than many because they drive off everyone who tries to love them.

Remembering not to burn relationship bridges through anger, pride or hurt is difficult. We don't like it when people talk about our family or constantly deflect all fault to others, but the only way to make the world a better place is to keep after this person through surrender, prayer and love, planting seeds of hope that can sprout up and remake the person. God can whittle down that beam into sawdust if we ask. Maybe that's why Jesus came as a carpenter, so He could help all of us remove those beams or specks from our own eyes.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be meeasured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? . . . . first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)

Father, open my eyes to the blind spots in my own life. I surrender them to you to remove that I may see clearly to do the work you have called me to do. Then give me wisdom to help my brother with his/her vision problems. You know the needs much better than I do, and you know the things that have brought this person to this point. You also know the needs this behavior masks. Be the need-meeter of this person and give me wisdom in knowing how to deal with the issues. Also give me insight into the hurts underneath this person is trying to meet in ways that don't satisfy. Bring your child to you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Clip art from :

Monday, January 25, 2010


This is a word that strikes terror in the hearts of many, and yes, often with reason. When someone is a part of a clique, it makes us feel left out, unwanted, and insecure. No one wants to feel that way!

On the other hand, what about the person who always wants to include everyone? Can that ever be a bad thing? I am one of those people, and I know it can backfire on that person and others in his or her sphere of influence.

Let's take a look at Jesus and his friends. Did Jesus have a best friend besides His Father? I believe He did. His "bestie" was John, the "diciple whom Jesus loved." Jesus and John had a very strong bond that was different than his bonds with the other disciples. Then he had the three friends that were closer than the other disciples: Peter, James and John. These three went with Jesus to the Garden during his darkest hour before the trial and crucifixion. Even though they let Him down on that occasion and others, this was a very tight group.

Outside that group, we have the rest of the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus' mother, Mary. Jesus had unique relationships with each of these men and woman that was different than other relationships He experienced. So, was Jesus cliqueish? Not at all. This difference in relationships is absolutely normal!

The difference between Jesus and us is how He handled these relationships. When Jesus was with a group of his disciples, He was with the whole group, not one or two individuals. His behavior or words included everyone present. When He spent time with His "besties", He drew them aside. Even though I imagine there was definately some jealousy somewhere that Jesus had that special relationship,the problem was in the hearts of the observers, not in Jesus' actions.

When we show obvious favoritism to one or two people when we're in a group of people, this is sin. We need to leave certain BFF behaviors for when we're alone with our special friends. This does not mean we must include everyone in everything we do, it just means that we are sensitive to the time and place, allowing ourselves to relate to others when the situation warrants it. The BFF will be there after youth group or after school or after wherever to hang with on a more intimate level, but when we cling to that person in every circumstance, we hurt others by our actions.

On the other hand, if you've done the best you can to include others in group activites and they still exhibit jealousy, the problem is in their own heart. This brings us to that aspect of trying to include everyone all the time. When we try to do that, we overwhelm ourselves. It is not possible to be close friends with everyone. It is not possible to always include everyone in everything.

That's one reason Jesus drew his closest friends aside, even as He also went to be alone with His Father on a frequent basis. But, when Jesus was in a crowd, He did not single one out for favoritism. He did, however, occasionally single someone out who had a need. He met that need, giving that person individual attention, and then moved back to allow others in.

Not only can we not expect to include everyone in everything, we also cannot expect ourselves to be included in everything. Life just doesn't work that way. Often we need to look into our own hearts for this root of jealousy and bitterness. Then we need to give the benefit of the doubt and forgive. Then, when the opportunity presents itself to spend special time with this person, it is not clouded by resentment.

Believe me, even Jesus didn't please everyone, so how can we expect to make everyone happy all the time? We cannot do it! Instead, we need to develop a sensitivity to others around us and seek to meet the needs we can, just as Jesus did, while reserving some of our BFF behaviors for another time. If we cling to our BFFs all the time, we will lose out on the opportunity to get to know some pretty amazing people.

One person you can have all to yourself any time you want (and yet not) is Jesus. He longs to spend intimate BFF time with us, as we seek to spend time with others, leaving Jesus out. Imagine the hurt He may feel when we ignore Him. Life and relationships are complicated, but time spent with our ultimate BFF sorts out those tangles and keeps us in the right frame of mind and spirit to deal with them.

Remember: Life isn't about being with our BFFs, it's about bringing others to our ultimate BFF and introducing them so they too can become His BFF. When we put our focus on meeting the needs God points out to us and equips us for, our own needs will be met to overflowing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The finishing touches

I came to post something else, and started reading through a previous post of many moons ago. The following is a paragraph (or 2) from that post:

"I'm almost finished with my purse! My last purse broke and I was frustrated trying to find one I like. I thought, "You know what, I can just make one!" That was like the "Duh!" moment. So I got some black yarn and some denim grey yarn, decided how I was going to do it and got busy. I need a BIG purse. Anyway, I just put the finishing stitches in the liner, so sewing it in is the finishing touch.

I love completing a project. I love every part along the way, but there's something about putting that last touch on and knowing you made that. Well, time to get ready for the gkids visit. "

As I read, it hit me that God must have felt something like that as He finished each of His creations. He had a plan in mind, executed it, and put the finishing touches on it. Then He stood back and admired it, saying, "This is good!"

When God created each of us, He did the same thing! He designed me; He created me; He put the final touches on His "project"; then He stood back and admired what He had done. He looked at me, Angela, and said, "This is good!" When I consider that I am His workmanship, and I consider it in a way that makes it personal, I must stand in awe of the God of the Universe who cared enough for me to not only send His Son to die for my sins, the mess I made of His workmanship, but created me as a unique individual with love and care and precision.

Whatever life throws at me, I can know God created me knowing I would face this challenge. Whatever person comes into my life, I can know God created something in me that this person needs. I can know that each person I meet is also God's workmanship and also uniquely suited to meet some need in me. I can hardly wrap my mind around that.

We aren't ready-made, cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf Barbie dolls; we are God's unique, one-of-a-kind, specially made for a unique purpose, masterpieces! If the God of the Universe created you with such special care, you can bet that He loves you with a unique, powerful love that can only come from this kind of creating.

I may come back to this theme at a later date, but for now, it is enough that you and I can know we are God's workmanship, created for a relationship with Him. I stand amazed!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It seems that every time my children have problems, I have a tendency to review all the things I did wrong as I raised them. Even though I did many good things, I still want to dwell on what I could have done differently. My middle child always tells me "it is what it is" and thinks I should get over it.

Guess what? Please don't tell him, but he's right! Driving today, lost in the fog of self-blame, God hits me upside my head. He forgave me; my children have forgiven me for not being perfect; who am I to withhold forgiveness from myself? Who am I to say that I have so much power that I am solely responsible for my adult children's poor choices?

God also reminded me that I trusted on Him every day of my children's up-bringing. I always asked Him to be their need-meeters, knowing I couldn't possibly meet all their needs. So, when I do that, I'm saying that God made a mistake. That is not to belittle my own poor choices, but to say that I am not God!

What a relief! Today (and this is often a repeat process) I let myself off the hook and allowed the forgiveness to come. It's amazing how we are often our own worst critic.

I surrender my children to God, to do with as He wills. I am no longer in charge of them; they have to make, and live with, their own choices. When their choices bring me pain, it is not the pain of holding myself responsible, it is the pain that always comes when we sin. God brought them this far, I surrender them to Him, knowing he will bring them the rest of the way.

For my part, I am to pray and stay out of the way so God can work. When I claim responsibility for other's sin, I rob them of the ability to take responsibility for their own choices. God never said life would be easy, in fact, He told us to expect tribulation. He did say He would walk with me through it, and I can tell you from experience: He always has!