All posts by Roy Jackson

I Matter

You may have seen on the TV news, online news, or read in the paper the events that have gone on in Ferguson, MO, and how those events have set off other events all over our country. If you have seen the events there, you have seen people protesting, burning buildings being arrested, expressing anger and fear.

Now I don’t know what you are thinking when you look. I am thinking a lot of things and some of them at the same time. It is a complicated. There are years of frustration and emotion built up. Layers of pain, hurt, rejection, all arriving at the same place at the same time. It is a perfect storm of human need coming face to face with the world and themselves.

I understand it is complex, probably more complex than we can even realize. But, in the midst of what may seem as madness, I see one theme glaring back at me through the camera’s eye. I am seeing people saying one thing very loudly, over and over.

I MATTER—I MATTER

When people think, no, when they know they don’t matter, they will do whatever is necessary to get you to look at them. Look at me, they are saying. I matter, I have worth and value. Look at me. I matter—and if we take too long to look, they will do whatever it takes to make us look. When people don’t matter we will go as far as to self-destruct to get your attention. People that don’t matter will go as far as burning down their own house, just to get you to look at them, and to acknowledge them. Acknowledgement brings worth, it brings life. Dismissal brings death.

I MATTER.

YOU MATTER.

Love shows us we matter.

Love trumps all and heals all.

Now you know why people destroy their own lives. They do it because being loved is essential to their existence and without love they no longer exist. People that do not matter get trapped in a world where they are invisible. Their soul is dry, and barren. Our souls feed on love. Love is the nourishment that keeps us truly alive. The soul will not let us rest until it gets what it needs to live. The soul will not go down without a fight. The soul knows it is a matter of life or death.

The song writer Meatloaf has a song titled, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad. The lyrics read:

I tried to show you just how much I care I’m tired of words and I’m too hoarse to shout But you’ve been cold to me so long I’m crying icicles instead of tears And all I can do is keep on telling you I want you I need you But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you Now don’t be sad ‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad Now don’t be sad ‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad

I am sure you are thinking, “How did we get from Ferguson to Meatloaf?”

For the last two weeks I have been asking the people who I am caring for in my role at Simon Tradition Ministries, a question. I have set down with them, catching up, listening, and while I am listening I am writing on a white index card a question. As soon as they take a break or stop to catch their breath, for some, this is five minutes, for others, it is 45 minutes. As soon as they stop, I slide the index card across the table, or hand it to them, and I watch them as they read it. I am watching for an expression, and I have not been disappointed yet. It is a drop in the head, or a drop in their shoulders, or they close their eyes for a brief instant. After they have gathered themselves, each one of them has looked at me with a couple of questions in their eyes. They are asking two things. One, how did you know, and two, how am I ever going to climb out of this pit I just dropped in to.

The Question I wrote on the note?

When was it that you first decided that you did not matter?

Maybe, others have wanted them.

Maybe others have needed them.

But they were not loved in the way that mattered.

If you are loved in a way that does not confirm that you matter, you have not been loved!

 

We moved from Ferguson to Meatloaf because they are both saying the same thing. The same thing the crowds are saying, and the same thing the people sitting across from me are saying. I do not matter.

When I met Alma Davis, she was 64 years old. She was working as a caregiver for my father. She was full of life and always called me Mr. Roy and wanted to know when I was preaching again. Alma grew up poor, living with her sharecropper family in Mississippi. Alma says, “When I was a girl around 8 or 9 down in Mississippi a man who worked for the Coca Cola Company came to my school. He gave all of us notebooks, pencils and rulers. He always told us, “Treat others as you would want to be treated.”

Then with tears in her eyes she goes on to say, “She never forgot that lesson.”

And she continues as the tears pour out, “But Mr. Roy I still want to know this.” “Why, Mr. Roy did that man not give us a Coca Cola?” “I loved Coca Cola,” she says. “I loved Coca Cola, it was all I wanted from that man and he never gave me one.” “Why, Mr. Roy?” “Why.” Then she turned to walk away, took a few steps, then turned back and said, “I never forgot that lesson either.”

One husband says, “I first learned that I did not matter when I was a child, when my parents ignored me.”

His wife said, “I first learned that I did not matter when you ignored me.”

Beth says, “I would rather hurt than feel nothing at all.”

Written on the bathroom wall, I read these words, “All I ever loved was hate.”

People will do anything to be loved, even hate if they have to.

People must be loved to know that they matter.

Being loved in a way that proves we matter is essential to our existence!

We live in a world that is starving for love. The world is starving for love because each one of us is in some way responsible for, or not able to, share with each other. We all need affirmation of our existence.

We got from Ferguson, to Meatloaf, to Alma, to the bathroom wall to here, because what we tend to see as a problem out there, is in reality, a problem right here in our hearts. It is a heart problem that will take a monumental movement of social services, money, discussion and work. It is hard work to convince a person to believe they matter when they know without a doubt way down deep in their soul, they do not matter.

We’ve heard what the world says, let’s see what Scripture says! With all the work that needs doing in our heart, I am suggesting the underpinning of that work, is built on Jesus Christ. Christ gives us the assurance, the answers, and the action.

Please pray with me.

There are 32,102 verses in the Bible. 551 times we see the word love, and 570 times we see the word heart. We start this morning with one verse that says all we need to know about love, and how much we matter to God’s heart.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

We matter so much to God that he gave us his one and only son. When God gave us his son, he was in reality giving us his heart. If you have ever lost a child or know someone who has, there is not a more heart wrenching event in all the universe. He did it to show us how much we matter. He did it so when or if we needed to measure his love for us, we would know that he gave us his full measure. That is real love, the love Alma needed to see demonstrated in her life when she was so young, it is what we all want. It is essential to our existence. It is the where and the how we find out that we matter. It is a love that knows the want in their heart, and not the want in our heart.

Jesus says, “Because I live, you also will live.”

Jesus is saying that he is living now, and in him, we live now. His life, his love, is available to us, in fact, it is in us now, and compels us to share the love with the people who sit across the table from us, across the street from us and across this world need. The power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us, is here to bring us to our knees, and from our knees to our feet, and our feet move our presence in love, into the lives of others, to love them. Christ does not call us to just proclaim his name, we are to live his name, and proclaim his name with our own lives.

Paul says in, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

As good as Faith and Hope are. They are nothing compared to love. Love moves us and it moves others. It is love that matters and it is love that makes us matter.

From the very depth of our soul we know we need love, because Christian, we have experienced his love in our soul.

Love is more essential to us than water or air.

I talked with a pastor, no, a mentor this past Thursday. His wife passed away on January 22, 2014. With determination, and tears welling up, he said, “I would give anything, anything for just one more kiss. Just one more kiss.”

Love is essential for our existence.

God made us that way. He hardwired us.

It is essential that the people around us, love us. Good love. Real love. Coca Cola love. A love that will move us to give up all for one more kiss.

That is the kind of need for love that God has put into us. He wants us to want him. God placed the overwhelming need for love inside of us so we would draw near to him. Scripture tells us that, “God is Love.” (1 John 4:16) Scripture also tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

God is a good. He gave us love. He knows we need it. All people need love. We know this, we know that love is essential. Knowing this, how can we not share it, knowing that everyone needs it to live?

We don’t get it on our own. We get it from each other

Here is a thought: If love was oxygen, and if it came from our breath, would people be falling around us gasping. Love is breath, God first breathed life into man, He created the model where we must breathe life into the people around us, and the breath we give is love. Love is greater than oxygen. Love is the thing we need most. Yes, it is God’s love. Yes he put it in us to draw us to himself. He put it in us to draw us to each other.

We have to get this right or it will destroy us all.

We cannot expect to create anything of lasting value established on top of the foundation constructed out of oppression and/or exclusion.

With love as our foundation, we can build all things.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4: 7-12)

It is God’s love that matters.

It is God’s love that matters. He calls us to live life every day reflecting the love he has put into us; in our children’s lives, in our spouses’ life, in our neighbor’s life. We show his love. It is in giving that we receive.

God has loved us, loves us, and continues to love us.

Love is essential to our existence.

Proof:

Genesis 3:9 “God called to the man, ‘Where are you.’”

In Adams darkest moment, his moment of fear and disobedience, God, the Father searches for him in the midst of the weeds, while he is hiding, God is loving him.

Genesis 3:21 “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them.”

Adam and Eve, disobedient, sinners leave the Garden dressed in clothing hand-made by God himself. We live in a time when designer clothes seem important to our existence. Imagine that you are walking around in clothes that have a label inside that say, “Designed by God, the greatest creator and designer that ever lived or will live. Can you imagine that? Well, I’m glad, because that is what the label in your heart and soul reads, now.

We are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. The time when God came and walked in our clothes. He took off his robes of splendor and walked into the world in rags. The King of all kings dressed himself in our rags. And he did it because he loves us. It is almost too much top grasp. A love like that. God created a way though. We can grasp it. How? Take off our clothes and walk in our neighbors clothes. Live where they live.

We matter. God says, we matter. Can we please take that knowledge and say to our neighbor these words. You matter. Better yet, show them that they matter.

 

Isaiah 44:3 – “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my spirit on your offspring, and my blessings on your descendants”

God knows we thirst for his love. God is not only ready to quench our thirst. He does quench our thirst. Can we take God’s provision and be ready to quench our neighbor’s thirst? Will we quench our neighbor’s thirst?

The King James Version of Isaiah 44:3 says, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty.”

Imagine pouring love on the neighbor that is thinking they don’t matter. I am not talking about sprinkling. I am talking about pouring. Pouring out love.

Isaiah 49:16 – “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

He knows us. It is in his hands. Permanently marked. Our walls, our restrictions, and our obstacles are forever on his mind and heart. Can we take this great knowledge, and see the walls around our neighbors. God has engraved us on his hands. Can we at least hold the hand of our neighbor? Just hold their hand. A simple gesture that has the potential to change an entire life.

God’s heart and mind are the same. It is love. Complete love.

Unconditional love.

A love that tells us to love.

Psalm 139: 1-19 – “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 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, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139 brings us pure words of love. Love knows its neighbor. Love knows the truth of who we are, and who they are. The knowing drives us into a deeper love.

Luke 23:44-46 – “It was now the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

Luke gives us the proof we need: Love is essential to our existence. All of nature stopped, waiting to see if it was all over. The laws of the universe came undone when the sun, in reverence to the Kings last breath, stopped shining. Nature, knows what we can’t seem to understand, though we see it every day around us, on our TV’s, and at our dining room tables. The universe, including all of nature knows: If love is dead, there is no reason for living; it’s over. Without love that lives, nothing matters. All is lost.

Mark 16:6 – “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.”

Love is not dead. Nothing can destroy God. Love brings life. Love can bring the dead out of the ashes. Love can mend a broken heart. Love can dry up a tear.

Matthew 1:22-23 – “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”

Love comes into our life to bring life. We must take that love and go into the lives of others.

Matthew 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

When we love each other, when we love the least, we are loving our Lord. The creator of love. The love we depend on. The love that we need way down deep in the deepest part of our souls. A love that was freely given and is free for us to receive.

Isaiah 53: 1-7 – “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Jesus Christ was not a man of appearance. He was a man of love. Our transgressions moved him only to love us. He set the example. He paid the price. So we can move. So we can love.

Luke 2:8-14 – “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Immanuel; God with us. The word that changed it all. The word that says we have been changed, and the word that is proof that we can: Change what we see happening on our TV. Change how we address our community, our neighbor and the ones sitting next to us. We can make sure children get what they are thirsting for. We must bring that change in to the world or we will perish.

Love is essential to our existence.

It is the Christmas season. Christmas is a time to celebrate the fact that Jesus Christ changed the world. Through Christ, the King declared we matter. Celebrate the change in the world, and in us, not just on Christmas day, but all of our days, by making sure our neighbor matters.

Let’s get the King of Kings, The Lord himself celebrating this time. Let’s get our Lord Jesus singing and celebrating His birth and His death. We will know when we are getting it right, not when we are celebrating. When He is celebrating.

Instead of the TV bringing the world to us, we must take our hearts to the world. Don’t worry about the cost. The cost has already been paid.

Pray with me.

 

 

 

 

Happy Mothers Day

mom pictureGod’s Greatest Creation.

I believe that woman may be God’s greatest creation.

God made man and woman, and through their joining together as one flesh He continues His creation of all people from beginning to end. He chose woman, uniquely designing her to grow, and to hold and carry, and nourish a child within herself and push that living being into the world of air and light, giving her a body, and a mind and heart, that instinctively feeds, and cares for, and loves a child as it grows and learns to be independent and to care for itself.  All people of all generations come from and through a mother’s womb.

The underpinning of my belief comes from this one very basic fact; God himself came through a woman. The creator of all things knowing that He would one day come to earth and walk among His people created at the very beginning the perfect way for He himself to arrive. God, the King of kings, the designer of the universe looked at all creation and chose to arrive on the stage of humanity by knitting himself together inside a woman.

With pain and tears on His mother’s face, and a cry from His own mouth, He shouted to the entire universe from beginning to end, “This is good.” And His name was Jesus.                        2013-05-18 15.40.07

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! It is a day to thank God for His creation and His love. It is a day for each of us to thank our mother for bringing us into this world and setting us free to create and love. God’s perfect plan played out through the birth of a child, every child.

 

  

Love Your Neighbor

Love your neighborTwo events in less than 24 hours have me wondering what we as Christians think Jesus meant when He said these words, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Ask yourself before you read on, “What is Lucy handing to Linus?”

Last night I was at the local Goodwill store with JoAnna. Goodwill is a store full of left overs, throwaways, things we don’t need or want anymore. I was walking around thinking, “When did we decide that helping someone meant giving them our leftovers?” If there is a clothing drive at the local church we look in our closets to find what we no longer want. If there is a disaster of some kind we look beyond our closets, we look in our bedrooms, our living rooms, our basements and our garages for the items that we no longer need or want.

Why do we do that? Is this what our Lord meant? Did He really say give leftovers? If He did, wouldn’t it read something like this, “Love your neighbor with whatever love you no longer need for loving yourself.”  Are we loving ourselves when we buy clothes and furniture and food? If we are eating steak should our neighbors be eating steak? Think what this means if we start talking about houses and cars; big ticket items. Think past this even. Think about what it is we want for ourselves, what ever it is, shouldn’t we want it for our neighbor and vice versa.

perfectionist cutting grassThe second event is this. I sat with a man today that told me he loves to take care of his yard. Being in the yard is his stress relief, it is quiet time and it is being able to see first hand his finished work, a job well done. He works hard at it, even to the point that he weeds the entire yard by hand. He uses very little chemical weed killer, which means he is digging up Dandelions by hand. He likes it, and it is good for him, and good to him. Well, as I am listening to him he tells me he also weeds his neighbors yard. I’m thinking, “wow this is great” until I ask him why he weeds his neighbors yard. He answers quickly, “So their weeds don’t spread into my yard.” My euphoria is quickly deflated as I realize he is only taking care of his neighbors yard so his yard looks better. It is not about his neighbor, it is about him.

I gently point this out to him and he gets it. He sees it and agrees, and we get in a discussion about how often this is the case. His first example is the store that allows the Christmas bell ringer in front of it so the business will look good, or the business that puts the names of all of the donors that give a dollar so it looks like they are supporting a charity. He even takes it to the stickers that we put on when we vote, showing the world  what we did.

How are these two events related? It is all about us; first. We determine what our neighbor needs by first determining what we need. By determining what we need  we are then able to determine what we don’t need. When we get there, we now know what it is we will do and what it is we will give away. We make it about us first and our neighbor second.

I think the Lord wants us to look to Him first, our neighbor second, and then if we have enough time left to look at ourselves. We are compelled to look beyond just what He said, we have to add to the equation what it is He did. He looked to our needs and knew the way to love us whas to give all He had for us. This is the story of the Gospel, the story of the Cross. While we were still sinners….. He loved us, and loves us in a way that gives us eternal life with him. He is not a God of leftovers. He is a God of new life, new beginnings, new chances, even to the point that we become new creations, the old is gone and the new takes it’s place.

Imagine a world, that when you shop for anything new, you know you want to buy two so you can give the other to your neighbor. Think about how it applies to our time and our commitments. I know that is a big imagination, but think about it. We do not have to be a people of leftovers. We can be a people of first fruits. It is obtainable, in fact, it has already been done. We can be “imitators of God.”

What is Lucy handing to Linus?

Final thoughts. Please remember we can’t know what our neighbors are thinking, and our neighbors can’t know what we are thinking or what our motivation is. This conversation is not about what our neighbor chooses, it is about what we choose for our neighbor and why. It is also not a conversation about making judgments, it is a conversation about our motivation. God judges the heart. He knows what our motivation is.

It is our heart that will speak the truth to our neighbor and to our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hearts will speak. speaking heart

My Husband Is Driving Me Crazy

woman in distress picture #5   Jane writes:                                                                                                                                                                        “My husband is driving me crazy. I want to leave even though I know that is wrong. He doesn’t get it nor does he care to! How do I get it into his head? My heart is growing so cold towards him, it is like I feel nothing for him. I want him to realize what is happening to my heart. I want him to know exactly how I feel about him.  He is wearing my spirit out.” 

Who is Jane? Jane is not her name, but she is a living breathing woman. Jane is real, and her cry for help is real.  I have changed her name not to make her invisible (she already feels that way), but to give her some privacy.  Jane is a woman that desperately wants to run and hide forever.  Her heart is dying, and the man that the Lord has put in her life to grow her heart is draining her spirit out drop by drop.  She is screaming with every part of her being for attention.  She is thirsting for love.

Unfortunately she is not alone; not even close to being alone.  Today, Jane takes on the name given every anonymous unclaimed woman whose heart lies rejected, or ignored alongside the road, the bed, and the alter, crying while the only world that matters walks right on by blinded by their own self-absorbed life.  Jane, a woman living inside a loveless marriage.  Holding on to one thing.  Not the promise of the man, who refuses to let go of who he is in order to see who she is.  She holds on to these words, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5).  Jane is holding onto the words of God himself.

Jane loves The Lord.  She knows Jesus; Jesus knows her.  Jane defines her life as a daughter of her Lord Jesus, a wife and a mother.  Jane is committed to her marriage vowels beyond the commitment she made to her husband; she made a commitment to her Lord.

In a marriage without love, Jane has a few choices:  She can give up what it is she needs, and the moment that decision defines her life she starts to die.  She will learn to function in the world around her, but at best she will be a shadow of who she was, and is.  There is a very slim chance that she will become anyone more than she is.  There is a big chance that she will only become less. Or, she can run (Gather her meager (nothing matters) belongings, and run to save her heart while it still beats.)  Or, she can stand and fight with The Lord by her side.

Jane has, and is working hard to deal with her past mistakes and losses.  She is committed to the Lord and she is committed to change.  Jane has good, honest friends.  She is committed to pastoral care.  She listens, she takes notes, and she implements the wisdom she receives and acts in love toward her husband.  She is passionate about having a good and sustainable marriage.  She is committed.  She is fighting, but she is getting tired.

Dear Jane, The first time we met, almost as quick as you told me your name the tears started to flow.  Your tear streaked face and sobbing heart will always be imbedded in my mind.  Today, when I read your words, it is that face that I see interlaced with your words of frustration, truth and pain.  Thank you for trusting me with your heart.

The tone and the desperation of your words, and the tears that come with them are not unfamiliar to me.  I have heard them many times on this walk that The Lord has sent me on.  They are on the hearts of many men and women in marriages around us.  Unfortunately, you are not alone.  Jane you are not alone on this earth in your pain, and you are not alone in heaven.

Words of people in pain are all throughout the Bible.  Job, David, Steven and all the saints that have gone before us.  As Christians we will have tears.  Jesus says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”  I cannot explain why we are destined for trials and suffering, I can only point you to the cross.  Our Lord suffered, the King suffered, so must His children.

Jane, these are not words of dismissal to your pain, or a way to avoid giving you comfort or action.  Jane, I know full well that you are staying where you are, because and only because, of your love of Jesus, and your trust in His love for you.  You are not seeing it, or feeling it, I know, but faith has you grounded while you suffer.  I have to say to you while you cry, and I do not say it lightly, you are in a good place.  Anytime you hold onto Christ despite what is going on around you, no matter how it hurts, you are in the best place of all.  You are not alone, not even close.

Your honest words of fear and flight may have brought you to a crossroads.  Jane, while you stand at this crossroad, I want you to know a few things, a few important things.  Please listen very, very carefully. Take a few deep breathes, and calm your beating heart.   There are important words of love, which are to be found in a faint whisper hidden in the sounds of the thundering of your breaking heart. You need to go real quiet inside, and focus on these words: “Jane, you are not alone. The Lord himself stands with you.  The Lord, is prepared to go with you whichever road you choose.  The Lord, will not choose for you.  Be very careful how you choose.  You are in a precarious position ready to make decisions that will re-define your life.  You know enough about life to know that you don’t always get to go back and do it over again.”

I can give you some words of advice, but I must start with what the Word says first.  In Jeremiah 6:16 we read,   “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  These are good words, important words, words you can trust.  Think about what the good way is.  Think about the love your mother and father had for each other.  Think about how their love sustained you, and covered you up when you thought all was lost.   This is the love that The Lord wants for you today.  I know you don’t have it from your marriage right now, but that does not change the fact that the Lord wants it for you.  He wants it in the marriage you have today.  He promises rest for your soul.  The Lord promises.

I know your husband is a broken and hurting man.  He has learned the hard way how to protect his heart from anyone and everyone. In his own words he has defined the name and the location of the door to the basement of his life.  He says, “I come from a family that are not people pleasers.” Wow!  Painful, dark words from a person in a world full of people, in a marriage made up of people, from the mouth of a person.  No pleasing anyone? Really?  My heart breaks for him.

The good news is, he does know who The Lord is.  Your husband may not be ready to let The Lord in, but I can tell you from experience, it does not matter what a man does or does not want once The Lord starts in on him.

It is The Lord’s work to save, and change a man. You have not been put on this earth to save your husband, but you are privileged to reflect the face of our Lord.  It is you that Christ invites to be His reflection in your marriage.  Reflect love in your patience, kindness, and with a gentle spirit.

What does that look like?  Let’s start with what it does not look like. Not necessarily better sex or a clean house or a well cooked meal. It does not look like “diagnosing” him, or whining.   It looks like understanding and compassion for the man he is, and the man he can become.  It looks like letting him find his way to The Lord and to the Lord’s counsel.  It looks like a gentle word and prayer.   A gentle word on your lips, and in your heart.  It looks like prayer beside your bed, and prayer in your closet, alone with just you and The Lord.  Jane, this reflection looks like strength and perseverance.  The Lord loves us with His gentle strength.  He loves us by letting us freely choose the way we are going.  The Lord weeps with us, smiles with us; He lives with us.

He persevered, so we must and can persevere.

Jane, I know you are tired, but your spirit is stronger than you think.  The Holy Spirit lives within you, and the Holy Spirit is a spirit of strength. The Holy Spirit gives words of truth, and wisdom. The Holy Spirit whispers and shouts.

Jane, I know part of your heart has been missing from a long time ago.  But love has carried you through.  I know this, and I can only say to you, you must wait while The Lord does his work. Together, we will get to where He knows you need to go. Jane, hang on.  You are not alone.

In His name, for His glory.

Wednesday’s with JoAnna

In love #1 Wednesday is a special day in the life of the Jackson family. JoAnna and I have been having lunch together on Wednesday’s for a very long time. By the grace of our Lord we will be married 34 years this September and it seems that we have been making Wednesday’s special for almost that long. I am not sure the exact day that we started our tradition, but I do think I remember the why.

Life is busy in our household and has been almost from the beginning. We had our first child in our first year of marriage, a miscarriage in our second year and our second child in our fourth year. I was self-employed working more than I should have been, and JoAnna and I were not connecting as husband and wife, as man and woman, as lovers. We had a lot going on. In the chaos of this thing we call life, we needed a time out.

I will tell you, that I do know from day one of our marriage, we have had a date night once a week, but those details are for another post. This is about Wednesday lunch. Wednesday lunch came about because of a special reason. It was the one thing that we really had to make time for, or I must point out, I had to make time for. Time after dinner, date night, time when the kids were in bed, those times came naturally for us. They were never long enough, but they were a natural part of our family rhythm.

Wednesday lunch required me to step out of my work week. It required me to be intentional about meeting up with my wife. Now don’t think that it came natural to me. I fought it like a dog over a bone. Imagine it like this. “I am a pro football player in the middle of a game and somewhere between the first and second quarter I walk off the field to have lunch with my wife, leaving everyone else waiting.” Can you imagine the craziness of it? Can you imagine how special it made my wife feel?

Proverbs 31:10 says, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” A lot of us may say and mean, that our wives are worth more than rubies, but how many of us show it by putting down our work in the middle of the week? I have suggested it to many, but few have listened. It is not the day, it is the time of the day. It is an intentional act on the part of both. I come at it from a husband’s perspective, but it carries equal weight on the wives part.

I approach it as a needed time out, time with my wife. A time to make her special and a time to recharge my life with her as a woman. JoAnna is acting for the exact same reasons. She needs a time out, time with her husband and time to recharge her life with me as her man. We are both committed to making each other special. It is truly a mutual time of loving on each other.

We guard our Wednesday lunch jealously. Few things or few events get in the way of it. We have one rule, “NO TALKING ABOUT BUSINESS,”( Life business, kids, checking accounts, car repairs, doctors, etc.) We just talk about life together. Sometimes, but rarely, by necessity, some business will creep in, and we have gotten in the habit of spending a few minutes to sync our calendars (work with personal and social commitments).

It is one big step on the way to having a Godly marriage. It does not have to be Wednesday, but remember it is not about what is convenient or natural. It is about being intentional and stepping outside of the ordinary. It takes effort from both spouses. It means driving up town or downtown. It means both husband and wife leaving wherever they are and meeting up. If you are both working it means syncing your lunches and finding a halfway point. If one of you stays home it means getting your self out of the house or getting the house ready for a special guest. It means being intentional.

AND if you are thinking it is about you, than I have not been able to articulate the point very well. Maybe this will help. Words from our Lord himself, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”(Acts 20:35). Our Lord was intentional about coming to us, He set down His work and made our work His work. He took a timeout for us. He came because He loves us.

In His peace and Love

Roy

New Things

“From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.” Isaiah 48:6 (NIV)

God speaks to each of us through the book of Isaiah. When God speaks, he reveals. Picture if you can, God whispering in your ear this sentence: “Come sit with me, you see my creation, you can see the ones you love around you, but now, come close and I will show you what you cannot see with your eyes, I will show you the special things that have been hidden.” Imagine the joy in your heart and the expectation in all of your being. It is not imagination that this verse is about; it is about a truth and a promise. It is a promise from God to you. God promises to reveal things greater then we have ever even imagined; God’s things, new things, hidden things.

Imagine….

Death of A Family

Death of a Family

Today in beautiful house, on a great street in a good neighborhood in Louisville, KY two families will meet to disassemble their future; all their futures. Their goal is to eradicate a family’s existence from the face of this earth. Its existence will be scattered to the wind. It will be as if it never was.

It is 4 am and as I write I have to wonder if they are sleeping peacefully, gathering their strength for the job ahead, or, are they lying awake the same as I, wondering at their actions? Will they rise with a yawn, to the smell of coffee and bacon frying in the pan, slowly waking to the sun reflecting through the window? Are will they wake in the darkness of the cold dawn with vengeance and destruction on their hearts, with no thought of substance other than the blood lust before their eyes.

Or, are they not sleeping as I don’t sleep? Are they reflecting on the long term effects of their actions yesterday, today and tomorrow? If only I knew for sure what they were thinking at this very moment. It could tell us so much.

I suspect, I know what they are thinking, and I will speculate. Last night they went to bed worn out. The day was very emotional and physical.  Destruction is hard work. This morning they will rise and dress with a grim look on their face. Some will sit to eat, others will stand and sip from a coffee cup until one will say, “Well, we might as well get to it,” and get to it they will. There will be heaviness of heart mixed with a little of the bloodlust, looking for revenge on whomever they have decided that brings them to this gruesome task today. They go forth under the banner of love and honor that will forever be drenched in the stench of deceit and selfishness.

Today these invaders meet in the home of a family facing divorce. The victims, the children, are hidden away safely in another location as their home is stripped of its life. The invaders are a motley crew, but all of the important players are present and accounted for. We have the husband, the wife, the mother and father of the wife, the aunt and uncle of the wife and the mother and the sister of the husband.  It is not coincidental that all of these people know each other. They have been together numerous times. In fact, they all met the first time 16 years ago as they stood as witnesses to the creation of the family that they now help destroy.

I have to wonder what was their thoughts way back at the beginning of the beginning of this family. Were they for the union and the construction of this new family? Did they see hope and a future for two young lives coming together?  Did they live a life that promoted this union?  Or, I wonder did they have a different line of thinking. Did they forecast destruction in the future? Did they think it was a futile attempt, this union? If so, I wonder if their doubts have fed into what brings us here today.

Why are they here? If only I could sit them all down, and in a quiet moment ask them that question and listen carefully as they ponder what it is they will say. Could they speak it in a quiet, thoughtful way, or would it come out like vomit staining the world around them.

Sixteen years ago, Julie walked down the isle of a beautiful church. Her dress was the most brilliant white, hanging on her in a way that made the witnesses envious, hopeful and shameful. The women that were older looked at her with envy to a time when they were so young and vibrant.  The younger women and girls looked at her as a vision for their future, their future walk. The men both young and old looked at her with some lust as the beautiful women that she is. There were I am sure, hundreds of combinations of thoughts that day, but they all agreed on one thing; it and she were beautiful. It is a good day to live.

John stood at the altar, proud as a peacock dressed in his tuxedo. He was looking better at that moment than he ever had or ever will look again.  His face was beaming, his heart was beating, and his hands were sweating as he looked at his future coming slowly towards him like an angel floating on clouds. He was almost faint with the anticipation.

They were all there. John’s family on one side of the isle and Julie’s family on the other side of the isle. Mother, father, siblings and grandparents sitting in the best seats in the front rows. Behind them scattered out through the church was an assortment of lessor family members and friends. All witnesses to one of the greatest event know to humankind; the creation of what we call a family. Oh by the way there were two more people there. In fact is for them that I write this story. Did you know reader that when a female human is born that inside of her womb are all of the eggs that will grow someday into her children. Yes, inside of Julie just waiting for the union with John their father, waiting patiently are Jared and Jonathan. The entire family, the total existence of this unit arrived by a miracle at this altar to begin their beginning. Without this meeting, without this accumulation of events the people we know as Jared and Jonathan would not ever exist.

It can only happen this way you know. Do I mean this dress and this tuxedo? Do I mean this church on this day? No, of course not to all of that. What I mean is that in order for Jared and Jonathan to exist on this earth is for the birth of Julie with eggs in her womb and for the union of Julie and John.  Any other combinations, any slightest deviations from this path and we do not have the Jared and Jonathan we have today. It is the same process that brought everyone together for the wedding. Any deviation at all and this wedding does not happen, but it did and it happened for a reason, maybe for a lot of reasons.

A new family brings a lot of things. First it is an extension of families before; it is what we call a new branch of the tree. It is a chance to continue building on all of the good work that was poured into two people by their parents. It is the time to throw out and reject the bad teachings and influences of those families.  It is truly a new start and one more new chance to get things right. It is true and most sane people will admit that families are made up of both good and bad, and if they think just a little past that they will realize that means that the people from those families are made up of both good and bad pieces.  Bad families don’t just create bad people, and good families don’t just create good people. It is a combination of a lot of things but remember it all starts with a coming together of two people, and what is in them gets passed onto the person that comes out of that union. This is why that union is so important. It is the combination that matters.

When a child is created they are not just born like one parent or the other. It is a beautiful event in our world. The child has a lot of exact parts of the mom and a lot of exact parts of the dad, but it is the combination factor, the joining together part that gives us a new life, a new child. It is the combination factor that is always adjusting by keeping the good, rejecting the bad and creating more for a greater good. It is a system that works and has worked since the beginning. Families are the same.

Families are the adjustment. Family is the combination factor that creates our homes, our neighborhood, our community, our world. The combination factor of a family is the system that is always working for the good. It is a way of constantly moving to a better tomorrow. It is the outward womb, or the outward nurture, the outward protection for that new person that has come into this world and has not only the past but the future in them.

Does the system always work? Of course not, children are unfortunately born with birth defects every day, but with the right combination they will be loved and nurtured. I am not talking about that. I am talking about people themselves, in their own minds deciding that the system or the combination factor is not right. That is what this conversation is all about. People deciding for themselves that things are not good and they do this by ignoring the proof around them. In this case the proof of the good is their health, their wealth and their children.

Which brings us back to today? To this street, to this house to this family. What is happening today is a rejection of all of that system that brings life to this world.  Not just life, but good life.  These people have decided that this union is not to be. They have decided in their hearts that it was a mistake, and in doing that they have sealed the brokenness of the past into the hearts of a man and a woman. These families that were there at the beginning are saying that they have it right, and the combination factor is no factor at all. Of course they won’t see it that way, of course not, are they would not be here today. It is a strange phenomenon, because what they destruct today, is in fact, their own future.

No they will argue. It was a mistake that this marriage happened, or if not a mistake than just a tragic accident. They will say they are good people, and can make good decisions. And I would ask, is not the proof of the breakdown, proof of the brokenness in two people, is this not proof that at least some of the brokenness came from them. I cannot address this marriage as an accident, because I don’t believe it is possible that such a planned, thought-out event can be an accident.

In fact, this destruction today is no accident. It was in fact birthed out of people that cannot, or will not see the faults within themselves. They cannot or will not see that this family, and these children are the best hope they have. If they could pour into this family in order to keep it whole, and to get it healthy, than their own future has a chance. The combination factor again would seize the day. The combination of people coming together to build and support the good, and to construct a future that not only sustains life, but creates it.

If we end here today with no reconciliation, with no healing, with no re-creation and re construction of this union between John and Julie, than we cast our hopes, dreams and future into the wind. We gamble with lives, hoping to turn up a winner with the same lack of knowledge and common sense a person has when they throw the dice on a felt covered table as a way to decide their future. At best it is foolish, and at worse it is the end.

Will John, Julie, Jared and Jonathan live past today?  Yes, with all of my being it is what I hope for. But I have to tell you, they will no longer be the people that they were intended to be. The adults go forth with a solidification of their view that the world is a difficult place, and a beginning of the idea of their mortality mixed with an acceptance of their mistakes. They will begin to travel down the road of thinking there is no hope. In fact, because their parents are still married, John and Julie will now think that they are less than their beginning, and will no longer see in the mirror the person that they thought they knew.

Jared and Jonathan, well, we will have to wait and see who they become. They are changed forever today. Today is the beginning of their lessons, their study on the evil in the world.  It is a real lesson; it is a lesson they learned at home. They will be somebody, but be assured they will not be what they were to be. They will forever be crippled in the most important place. They will be crippled in their heart.

If only I could get them to see the future that the destruction today will bring. But who am I to write such a thing as a future for anyone. Me? Who am I?  I’m just a fool that has been down the road of self-destruction under the banner of honor and good. I myself unfortunately learned that at the end of that road is no good, no nothing, but sadness and regret.

Good bye to the four “J’s.” After all, it is like a part of you never existed, and the pain you feel, it is what we call phantom pain; a pain for what is no longer there. It is a pain that will sneak up on you, and seem real, but when you look at it you will remember that sometime in the past it was cut off and thrown away. If you’re lucky, real lucky, that pain will fade away also.

It is a good day to die.

Good bye, with love.

P.S.  Stop!  It doesn’t have to be this way.  There is another way.