In One Ear and Out the Mouth

shutterstock_396656035Gossip.  We’ve all been victims of it, and we’ve all been perpetrators of it.  We hate when we hear someone has been talking poorly about us and it might even anger us when what is said is untrue.  There’s a great lesson in the old game of “telephone” where one person whispers something to the person next to them, and then it is passed along through the line or circle of people and then spoken out loud at the end.  Rarely is it even close to what was originally said, which often brings great laughter.  Sometimes the morphing of the statement happens simply from people misunderstanding a word here or there, and sometimes it happens because someone deliberately changes a word or two just for the “fun of it.”  Either way, it is a great reminder that whenever we hear something second, third (or even further) hand, we need to be very careful in how we react to it.

There’s a reason the Bible has so many verses about the need for controlling our tongues.  The problem most of us have is that we often try to force bringing it under control through sheer will.  We say or think things like, “I am just NOT going to say anything!  I’m gonna stop it because I know it is not God-honoring and it’s just not good to do.”  I’m not saying it doesn’t work sometimes to do that because there are certainly times when we have to just power through and force ourselves to stay on the high road in a given situation.  That being said, it is not our nature to take the high road, and the only way we can conquer our natural tendencies is through God’s help.

shutterstock_65540413Lately it seems this subject has come up more and more, whether it is at work, church, family or other relationships. I think we go through seasons where it just flares in all areas, and we watch the destruction that it can cause when people “share information” with or about others. (In case you didn’t know, “sharing information” is just a nice way of saying “gossiping.”  LOL)  Anyway, It struck me this week how important it is for us to go back to that one first and foremost commandment that we love God above all else and the second that we love others as ourselves.  I have shared often about the characteristics and nature of love as it is described to us in the Bible, and one of the traits that came up for me recently is where it says it “believes all things.”  That means it believes the best in people regardless of what is said.  It means you choose to believe the best about those you love, and when gossip hits your ears about something they may or may not have actually said about you, then you choose to believe it was a misunderstanding.  If I love you and esteem you better than myself, I won’t fall prey to spreading gossip about you or taking gossip I hear about you to heart.

It can be hurtful when you hear things about yourself or others that may or may not be true.  As Christians, when this occurs, we sometimes say the best thing you can do is to follow what the Bible says about confronting someone who has offended you.  Although that is a great passage that we should adhere to for personal offenses, it’s interesting when it comes to gossip, we don’t get offended at the person who is telling us.  Instead, we get offended at some other person down the gossip chain.  We misplace our sense of offense, and then have this inherent drive to “set the record straight.”  As a result, we use the offended brother principle and say, “If someone offends me, then I need to go to him or her alone (not tell everyone else) to resolve the issue.  Although that is true, it is meant for direct offense, not a perceived offense based on multiple levels of hearsay.  The truth is, it shouldn’t matter to you what you heard about what someone else has said; what matters is what transpires between you and someone else directly.   We do not have a right to go to someone based on hearsay.  We also don’t have a right to be angry or offended based on hearsay.  When you really think about it, if we are going to be angry and offended when we hear gossip that upsets us, maybe it should be directed at the one who shared it with us. But then again, everything we do should come back to love as it is described in 1 Corinthians chpt 13.

shutterstock_226217977As I mentioned earlier, if I love you in the manner God has instructed me to love, and someone else tells me that you said something mean, nasty or untrue about me, I will choose to not believe it.  Until God reveals otherwise, I will believe that something has been misunderstood or misinterpreted along the way.  And if I don’t do that, then I’m not really exhibiting love at all.  I know there are some who will disagree with me when I say this, but we don’t have a right to be angry, set the record straight or even clear our names.  We don’t need to try and root out the source of the gossip so we can confront it.  We need to simply leave it up to God, and the truth is we don’t like that one bit!  It goes against our nature.  The way we stop tongues from wagging is to simply not be one of them.  And when something is said, we should respond with something like “I’m not comfortable hearing or discussing this unless that person is here to defend themselves.”  That holds true whether we want to agree with the gossip or not.  It’s easy to believe the bad about a person (or their intent/motives) when their personality rubs us the wrong way.  Even as Christians, we tend to always believe the worst in each other.  We may start out believing the best, but then something happens that we disagree with, we just stew about it. It’s just so much easier to believe the negative.  And, truth be told, a lot of times we actually take pleasure in it.  That should never be the case!  We need to remember that we need to guard and control our ears as much as we need to guard and control our tongues!

Telling tales (true or not) is one of the most destructive aspects of life.  And whether we are the one speaking or listening, we feign innocence.  We feign concern.  We do it and then use those things to cloak our gossip instead of calling it what it is.  It doesn’t make it any more innocent to say we are sharing it because, “Somebody ought to know.”  It doesn’t make it any more honorable to say we are just seeking someone from which to get information on something we did not happen to witness personally.  Well the truth is, God already knows what has occurred, been said and/or done.  The question is: Do you trust Him or not to take care of things?  I’m not asking what you SAY, but what you practice internally.  We all answer that question with a resounding “Yes,” but then don’t act accordingly.  When you boil it down to these types of questions, it can really hit you in the heart.  I know it certainly has for me.

shutterstock_128469905This life of faith – “kingdom living” – is a higher calling, and if we are not going to rise up to that level, then we need to stop calling ourselves Christians.  I’m not saying we will always be successful, because we will fail.  We will fail miserably because our emotions will get in the way.  We will fall prey to the enemy’s advances in our lives through our tongue and through our ears.  It is time for it to stop.  It is time to stand up and truly love in the way we are commanded.  Because when we don’t, we are out of fellowship with God.  It is not a feeling; it is a choice.  It isn’t important what someone else says about you or what you may have heard about someone else.  What is important is that when we engage in gossip or any other unloving behavior toward each other, God no longer hears our prayers because we now have unconfessed sin in our own lives (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2).  The only way we can break through the deafening barrier of our own sin is by confessing it to God and asking for His forgiveness, which he has promised to grant every single time (1 John 1:9).

Genuine love is not easy.  If it were easy, there’d be a lot more of it.  Love requires sacrifice.  Most often, more than any other type of sacrifice, it is our pride and our “justice gene” that needs to be sacrificed on the altar.  It is the nature that compels us to prove our innocence, or sometimes to prove someone else’s guilt, that needs to be sacrificed on the altar.  Brothers and sisters, it is time that we come together.  It is time to lay aside our perceptions, anger, and the incessant need to be right or to hold onto things that the enemy uses to attempt to divide us.   We need to live and love as God commanded us to do – even when we may feel we have been wronged. Trust me, God can and will settle all accounts.

NowSo as for me, it is my renewed commitment to be constantly striving to love as God expects me to love and forgive as He expects me to forgive.   For me, it is a renewed commitment to believe the best in my brothers and sisters (and even non‑believers), whether at home, church, work or anywhere else.  We need to do it with our spouses, children, family, friends, coworkers , etc., and yes, even with our enemies.  There is no such thing as “partial obedience” when God instructs us to do something.  It is pretty simple: either we obey or we do not.  Let’s get back to weeding our own gardens instead of trying to weed each other’s.  Let’s take the log out of our own eyes before trying to remove the splinter from someone else’s.  And let’s quit finding creative ways to rationalize our behavior when it does not coincide with what we SAY we believe or KNOW is true.  I call you to join me.  I call us to action.  Because through love, we are truly unstoppable.

Blessings!

ps – some great reminders…

Ephesians 4:2929 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

James 1:26 – 26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

James 3:9-10 (In regards to the tongue) –  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

A Death Grip on the Torch

shutterstock_4720285We’ve all heard the phrase “passing the torch” when it comes to passing on our responsibilities to someone else.  We pass the torch in our careers, volunteer organizations, churches and even our own families.  It is the nature of the cycle of our lives.  But what happens when we (or others) seem to have a death grip on the torch?  What causes people in one generation to not be willing to let go and trust the ones coming up behind them?  And what are the repercussions?

In my experience, I have found three main reasons why people find themselves with such a death grip on the torch:

  1. Being preoccupied.  We haven’t taught, trained or led someone to come behind us.  If we are honest with ourselves, we would find that most of the time we are pretty full of ourselves.  We think we are indispensable in our jobs, churches and other organizations.  It’s as if we think we are going to live forever, so we don’t give much thought to who is going to step up when we are unable to do these things any longer.  It is a failing that many of us have at times.  We are so caught up in trying to accomplish things and be the people that we think we are supposed to be.  As a result, we don’t give enough thought and time to the people we should be leading and teaching so that when we are gone, things will continue.  After all, that would take even more work, and we are far too busy to do that!
  2. Pride.  We don’t think anyone can do it as well as we can.  As a result, we don’t even attempt to invest any time or energy in building up the next generation.  We continually look at them as inexperienced or even incapable of doing the things we do.  We dismiss their ideas because, after all, WE have the life experience to know better.
  3. Fear.  We fear that someone coming behind us, even if we know they’ve been taught and are capable, may have very different ideas than we have.  The truth is they WILL have different ideas than we do as to what is good or what will work.  Instead of considering their opinions, we take their ideas and the potential change as a threat.  “This is the way we’ve always done it.”  “No, we don’t need a new program in the church.”  “You need to settle down and not be so excited about things.  We like the stability of our rut in this organization.”    These fears, though they may be a result of our own past experiences,  are not always godly.  If we don’t let the people coming behind us make decisions, we are doing them, ourselves, our organizations and this world a huge disservice.  And when we don’t allow people to step up and start taking more responsibility (which includes making decisions), we cripple them and eventually kill the very organization we are trying to help.

shutterstock_191238839When it comes to churches, I’m not a proponent of free pizza and beer parties to get people in the door.  That being said, if we don’t allow the youth to meet God where they need to instead of where WE need to at 40, 50 or 60 years old, then they will go somewhere else.  They will find someplace that is relatable for them.  It’s not wrong to let the next generation step up and make decisions.  We’ve taught them commitment; we want them to be committed.  We want them to take initiative, get involved and get fired up.  We want them to be invested, but the moment they try and do anything, or even talk about doing anything, we shoot them down because we think we know best.  And the truth is, many times we do know best.  Sometimes we know exactly what will happen when they step out and do what they are proposing, but if someone didn’t let us step out on our own and make some of those same decisions (or even some of those same mistakes), we wouldn’t be where we are today.  We would not have the knowledge or the wisdom that we have.  The truth is you can preach and talk to the next generation until you are blue in the face, and some of it will stick, but some of it won’t because our talking doesn’t match the actions they see us taking.  Even if we’ve been faithful as parents, aunts/uncles, mentors, teachers, and even if we have done everything as well as we can, they still have to step out for themselves.  And when we reach back to pass the torch to them, but then don’t let go when they take hold, we end up burning ourselves.

Let’s not struggle with our need for control.  Let’s build the leaders behind us.  Let’s be an example for them, not of traditions, not of man-made exalting, but of trusting God.  Let’s live our convictions and trust God to take care of them and guide them exactly as He has done for us, even if it means changes to our routines or even our world.  Let’s pray for them, support them, and be there for them as voices of wisdom.  But let us NOT use our experience as a weapon of control to hold them captive to our own preferences or ideas simply because we do not like change. Let us love them with the love described in 1 Corinthians 13.

shutterstock_104902931We don’t need to pour water on their fire, but instead fan the flames.  We don’t need to pass a bucket of water to them, we need to pass a torch burning with fire and let them take it so they can feel the energy of what it’s like for THEM to leap out and trust God.  It is through their own experiences with God that they will energize their generation.  Churches and other organizations today don’t look like they used to, and churches/organizations tomorrow won’t look like they do today.  The sooner we understand that, the sooner we will realize the power of a living God who never changes, no matter what our society does. He is still the same yesterday, today and forever.  His power is exactly the same, and He will reach through whatever the cultural customs may be and touch the hearts of those who seek Him.  He’s been doing it since the beginning of time and will not cease until He returns.

Consider this, depending on where you are in your life’s journey:

  • If you have already passed the torch, or are in the process of doing so, be willing to let go and trust the leadership you have shown and the example you have been to those behind you.  Let go of the torch and trust them to take hold and run forward with it.  Don’t struggle with it, or become angry, bitter or critical because you think you can still do things better.  Pray for the next generation, for them to be open to God’s leading.  Pray for yourself that God will reveal new ways for you to support and encourage them…even when they make mistakes.
  • If you are following along behind someone bearing the torch, pay attention.  Talk to them; find out why they do what they do.  Learn the history of the torch they bear so it becomes personal to you.  Support and encourage them, instead of thinking they are old-fashioned and don’t know anything.  Look through the differences of age or culture and see the truth behind the external methods.  Don’t let your frustration with “old” things blind you to some of the value they might hold.  Be patient and develop your own embers on the inside so that one day, those embers can be ignited when you are handed the torch.
  • And if you are the one holding a torch right now of any kind, recognize the huge responsibility that comes with it.  Make sure you are carrying it faithfully and authentically.  But make sure you are looking to those coming behind you and teaching them how to step up when it is time for you to move on.  You owe it to everyone who is counting on you right now to BE the torch-bearer.

shutterstock_161649257A “death-grip” on the torch eventually results in the death of whatever cause, church, or organization for which it is being carried.  May we all take a long, focused look at ourselves and make sure we do not contribute to the death of the torch.  Let us not snuff the flame through our laziness, apathy, or need for control…but let us stoke the fire and cheer on those who are willing to step up and carry it forward.

Blessings!

Losing Our Cool

shutterstock_123758158This past weekend the NFC  Championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers was a hard fought battle ‘til the end.   Unfortunately at the end of the game, one of the Seattle players took to live television to rant and vent about an opposing player.  In my opinion this move was a classless, uncalled for act from a professional athlete who should know better and remember he is a reflection of his team and its fans.  Having played sports growing up, I understand fully what it is like to be in the heat of the battle with someone you don’t like.   I understand there was a history of animosity between the two players, but this Seattle player should have been able to contain himself and act like a mature adult who could express things in a more rational manner…especially in the face of victory.  If he was so keyed up that he couldn’t manage to control his tongue then he should have gone to his own teammates  and vented until he could gain his composure and control his tongue enough to express himself more civilly in front of millions of people.

That being said, I find it interesting how everyone is so quick to judge this player for speaking so terribly on live television because he did so without thinking through what he was saying or was angry in the heat of the moment.  People are attacking him viciously.  People are talking about how disgusting his behavior was and how they would never support his team as a result of his comments.  I must say that I understand those feelings and thoughts because as a Seahawks fan, I share many of them.

I noticed, as I read the news this morning, there didn’t seem to be much talk about the hard fought battle or excitement of the championship game.  One player with his wagging tongue overshadowed all the news about the game.  There have been more opinions and more anger between fans and friends and it actually has overshadowed what took place on the field.  What I find so interesting about this outrage toward one player is that in our daily lives we are often put in situations where we get fired up and overly emotional about something and we also become unable to bridle our tongue.   shutterstock_155516951Sure, we want to vilify a professional player who does it on live television because it is easier to cast stones from far away.  This certainly wasn’t this player’s finest moment, but we need to remember something:  every day there are people watching US.  Every day there are people we encounter, whether it is strangers, friends, coworkers, or family, and we think nothing about letting our emotions fly out at them because we have gotten keyed up over a situation.  Maybe someone we don’t like has done something to disrespect or hurt us and we get so upset or offended that we start blurting things out without giving it a second thought.  We are acting strictly from our emotions and though we may not be in front of a camera where millions can see, the people around us or closest to us CAN see.  It affects them in much the same way as this player’s rant affected everyone who saw it after the game.  I believe that rather than causing more strife over a situation with someone most of us do not know personally, we should take this opportunity to step back and look in the mirror at how we all act from time to time when we are faced with things we don’t like or with circumstances that makes us angry.  We need to reflect on times in our own lives when we are overcome with the excitement or frustration of a moment and we hurl our words to others without any thought of how they will be received or how WE will be perceived as a result.

As Christians we have an opportunity, dare I say an obligation, to keep our tongue under control.   We are representatives of a living God.  And when we, like this player, get so caught up in our circumstances and what is going on around us that we let our words fly without thought, we are just as embarrassing, just as classless, just as disgusting and just as sickening in what we say and do…not only to those around us, but more importantly to the God who created us.  I don’t appreciate the rant I saw the other night, but quite frankly it is easier to stomach that player than to stomach myself when I look at the times in my own life where I have been guilty of the same thing.  Just because we aren’t on a national or worldwide stage, doesn’t absolve us from our responsibilities or the consequences of our behaviors.

shutterstock_138967757So let us be careful.  Let us remember the emotions stirred within us as a result of this one player’s unnecessary rant…and may it serve to remind and inspire us to be careful of our own words and of our own actions and reactions in the heat of life’s battles.  The fiery circumstances in which we sometimes find ourselves do not excuse our lack of composure, or the loss of our peace or joy.  And if perchance you find yourself in a situation where you are about to lose your “cool”, then do what this player should have done.  Go to the people you trust most and vent to them.  Blow off whatever steam you need to with people who will bring you back down to earth so that you do not become a detriment or stumbling block to those around you.  Then get on your knees and ask first for forgiveness and then for strength to hold on to the peace that passes all understanding.  Because it truly is by our fruit – good or bad – that we are known.

Blessings!

Over-salted and Blinded by Light!

I recently happened across some words from a person involved in spiritual ministry that bothered me to the point that I could not sleep.  Quite frankly, it sickened me.  This person had gotten fed up with what some would refer to as “sheeple” (those who refuse to think or study for themselves) and felt the need to point out their stupidity.  I’m not saying the emotion behind the comments was invalid, as there were some really ignorant comments and questions made by some folks.  What I am saying is that as “Christians” (and especially leaders in worship and ministry) we need to be careful of the manner in which we interact with others in these situations.  The way in which we approach a perceived lack of understanding in someone else is so very crucial to not becoming a hindrance that is contrary to the very thing we say they believe.

shutterstock_119205439Let me ask you a couple of questions: 1) is it possible to have too much salt in something and  2) is it possible to have a light that is too bright?  The obvious answer to both of those questions is a resounding “Yes!”  Jesus tells us that we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”  Salt and light are both very valuable things but if there is too much of either one, it can actually be harmful.  Having too much salt in a dish will ruin it as quickly as not having any at all.  As a matter of fact, having NO salt is actually fixable.  Have too much salt requires destruction of the dish and starting over.  You can always add salt but you cannot remove it.  Then there is the issue of light.  If we are surrounded by darkness, light can be a valuable tool.  If the power goes out in our homes, we immediately start looking for flashlights, candles, lanterns or any other method through which we can illuminate the dark.  Light reveals where darkness hides.  It is wonderful and necessary but if it is too bright, it can actually cause harm.  The sun is necessary for life, but if you stare at it with the naked eye, it can cause irreversible damage and cause.   The same can occur with the arc of a welder’s torch or other various sources of light.  Light can cause blindness if it is used inappropriately.  So what’s my point?

People of faith today, especially those in leadership positions, seem to be developing a cloaked pride that eats away at the very fabric of what they profess to believe or have been called to do.  What I mean by “cloaked pride” is they are condescending, judgmental and even downright rude with others in an attempt to “correct their mistaken point of view” or “share the truth of God’s word with them.”  When these “spiritual” people are confronted on this attitude, the response is often some rationalization about Jesus being bold and “calling a spade a spade.”  Believe me, I get it…and Jesus WAS bold!  But do not confuse boldness with pride.

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  Jesus was the only perfect man to ever live.  Everything He did was done from a heart of love.  That doesn’t mean He did not address “stupidity” head‑on, but it means every time He addressed anything at all, He had the absolute best interests of that person or group in mind.  His motives were completely pure and never self-serving.  Good grief, look how many times He would say things to His own disciples and they wouldn’t “get it” and He would have to keep going at it from different angles until they finally understood what He was trying to say.  He never once referred to them as “stupid” or tried to make them feel like He was better than them…not in public or in private.  He also never talked down about them to others.  Instead, He simply kept doing exactly what He was called to do and did it with patience and long-suffering because He loved them.  Unfortunately in today’s world, we have “leaders” who act like they are simply being bold in Christ and “setting the Pharisees of today straight” when THEY, in fact, have become the Pharisees of today.  Yet, they continue to cloak their behavior by saying it is “righteous indignation” or they are standing strong on the truth of God’s word!  There are better ways to stand strong on the truth of God’s word.

Jesus was not bound by His humanity and there was no risk of Him becoming arrogant or prideful, no matter how many people followed Him.  This cannot be said about anyone who is not perfect, and therefore applies to every single human being.  As humans, there is ALWAYS the risk of becoming arrogant or prideful.  The more people follow us or listen to us, the more power we begin to feel we have.  The more they flatter us, the more wonderful we start to think we are.  WE start to take credit for things instead of giving God the glory…even if we don’t say it out loud.  And when we have power, knowledge and influence, it is easy to start doing things that are in accordance with OUR will or protect OUR interests instead of remaining submissive to the will of our Father.  Let me be clear about this:  I do not believe most people start out with ulterior motives, but it is a natural progression to end up operating from a place of pride, arrogance and condemnation when we do not continually and truly humble ourselves before our God and remember that no matter what position we hold in a church or in life, we are ALL sinners saved by grace.  Every ability or shred of intelligence we have comes from our Father and without Him, we aren’t even smart enough to get out of bed in the morning!

shutterstock_104022092So back to my illustration of too much salt or too much light.  When it comes to people of faith being salt and light, the most important thing to remember is that we are the actual salt and light, not the One who MEASURES the salt and light!  We are the instruments and God is the one who is in control.  He knows the exact amount of salt to use or how bright to make the light.  It is up to us to get out of His way and let Him work!  We are not skilled enough to know how much is enough so it’s our job to be the light and allow God to choose the wattage.  It is up to us to be the salt but let the master chef choose the amount.  If we don’t, then we will end up harming the very people we say we are trying to help.  When we force our measurements of salt and light upon others, we end up with people who are “over-salted and blinded by light.”   When that happens, we do so much damage to our influence that only God can repair it.    

It is time to hold up a mirror in front of our faces and see things as they are.  Quit trying to disguise pride by calling it boldness.  Quit trying to say that your condescension and judgment is holiness…because it isn’t.  Stop making it your personal quest to correct the “wrongs” around you.  IT IS NOT OUR JOB!   It is not our job to condemn or look down on anyone!  It is our job to simply learn God’s word, be obedient to His will and then live (not talk) our beliefs in such a way that reflects the nature of the One who created us and leave the judgment up to Him.

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We are to love others, and if we act as Jesus truly acted and with His perfectly pure motives, then we will be sure to check ourselves before we speak or act so that we can ensure those words or actions are in accordance with God’s will AND come from a heart of true love and compassion for those around us.  John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”  And before we say we love anyone, we need to read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 again and find out what love really looks like.  We might just be surprised.

Blessings!

Are You a Reflection or a Shadow?

shutterstock_109021280The moon amazes me.  There is an ever changing pattern to its glow and what we are able to see of it.  It may be bright and beautiful, lighting up the darkest night sky or it may not be visible at all to the naked eye.  It may be just a sliver of light but that doesn’t mean the potential for the bright and beautiful has ceased to exist.  It’s an interesting fact that the moon rotates on its axis only once as it orbits the earth which means we are always looking at the same side of the moon and have been since the beginning of time.  The moonlight we see is simply a reflection of the sun and the amount of light we see depends of the position of the moon in relationship to the sun.  When the sun’s light is on the far side of the moon, then what we see of the moon is hidden in the shadow of itself.  When we have a “full” moon it’s because the moon is facing both us AND the sun so we see the sun’s light reflected completely.  Everything else we see is a variation of the relationship of the moon to the sun.

As I thought about this recently, it struck me how closely the moon resembles our lives as children of God.  Just as the sun is the source of constant light and life for us physically, so is God the source of light and life for us spiritually.  We are constantly in the path of His light and He is always working in our lives.  As His children we are to be reflections of His light but what others see of us is altered by our position in relationship to Him.  At times we do not reflect any light at all to those around us because we are casting a shadow of “self” so wide that they are firmly hidden within it.  We begin to think our accomplishments are due to our abilities or intelligence instead of recognizing they are gifts from our heavenly Father.  We start thinking we are important and that WE are the source of the light that others see.  After all, look at us!  Make no mistake, God is still working in our lives during these times of self-absorption and there is a side to us that His light is still touching.  We have simply positioned ourselves in such a way that it is impossible for us to be a reflection of that light. 

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Like the moon, there are also times in our lives when we become a full reflection of God’s love and light.  We become a “full moon” of His grace and mercy.  How does this occur?  It happens just like it does with our literal moon: it happens when we are facing both the world AND Him at the same time.  You see, it is impossible to cast a reflection of something unless the mirror is directed toward the light and the viewer at the same time.  Any other position causes a degree of shadow to anyone watching.  Any time the object gets in the way of the light, it diminishes the light that is seen.  We have all experienced amazing moments of faith in our walk with the Lord.  We rise to mountaintops and are fully focused on God and His will in our lives.  We have clarity because our vision is not distracted by everything going on around us.  We are humbled by who He is and who WE are because we understand fully what He has done for us and how much we do not deserve it.  We shed all the legalism and judgment of religion and put on the light of God’s love and forgiveness.  Our focus is no longer on trying to persuade people or use powerful words and arguments to convince them but on simply learning and living God’s word in our daily lives.  That’s when we become “full” and when that happens, we don’t have to draw anyone to God’s light.  They can see it for themselves because we have gotten out of the way and become an instrument of reflection. 

shutterstock_92706310Just as the moon pulls the ocean tides, we have influence in the world around us.  The gravitational pull of the moon actually causes the water in the oceans to bulge out from the earth’s surface toward the moon.  The oceans on the opposite side of the earth are not pulled as strongly so they settle back closer to the earth.  The changing of the tides is a result of the constant tug-of-war that exists between the two.  Our influence is much the same way.  When we are in a position that allows God’s light to be seen, the world around us can be “pulled” toward that light.  Our influence may not be as strong with people who live in other areas but rest assured that God has people in those areas that are shining and changing the tides when the time is right.  Make no mistake, we absolutely have an influence.  The only question is what kind of influence do we have and how strong is it?   The tides are not pulled as strongly when the moon is only a sliver of light.  It still pulls the sea but not in the same way. 

shutterstock_110043062It is a fact that the strength of our faith waxes and wanes over the course of our lives.  It does so because we are fallible human beings even though our spirits are divine. As long as we live in these earthly vessels, we are going to go through cycles of faith much like the moon.  It is important to understand that even when we are in a darker phase of life or may have drifted a little off the path we are called to be on, God is still there.  He never stops shining His light on us.  Sometimes that light is reflected to others but sometimes it serves to reveal to us how much we have gotten in the way of that reflection.  When that occurs, it is a deeply personal and sometimes painful process existing only between us and the “sun” or in this case, the “Son.”  

We spend most of our lives in a place of neither full reflection or none at all.  We exist mostly in other phases, reflecting differing amounts of light.  We try to live as we should but our humanity so often gets in the way of shining as brightly as we otherwise might.  We live under the weight of our circumstances instead of trusting in the One who not only knows everything but has the power to change everything!  We let our fears overtake us or we allow our selfish nature to take over and start looking out for our own interests above all else.  The darkness grows and the light diminishes but then we are reminded of the truth and we take on more light.  In the moments of fullness we pull strongly at the sea of people around us only to watch them drift back as we allow the cares of life to dim the light they see. 

shutterstock_142801936We have a choice every day of our lives.  We choose whether or not to love and forgive.  We choose to judge or show grace and mercy.  We choose whether or not we will use the light to cast a shadow or to reflect it to the world.  The light is constant, never changing just as it is with truth.  It will never change.  The only difference in what others see rests solely in the proximity of us to the light. 

So the question remains: “Are you a reflection or a shadow?” 

Blessings!