In love, there is no hate

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs”— Proverbs 10:12 (NIV).

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Injustice, chaos, violence, strife, racism and fear followed by anger, retaliation and nationwide unrest have come to define our country over the past several months. Beginning with the mass shooting in a gay night club in Orlando, FL, the shooting of a black man in Minnesota and another in Louisiana, and ending with the killing of police officers in Dallas, Texas, we are seeking answers and guidance.

Why does it take a tragedy or a series of tragedies to motivate people to speak out about the problems in our world? My thoughts, however, are, “Why are we just talking about it?”

We can give lip service to these shootings, point fingers and blame others, come up with “feel-good” slogans or we can hit our knees and begin praying.

Peace doesn’t come automatically.

Christian author Rebecca Barlow Jordan wrote on Facebook, “Praying for God’s comfort, love and compassion for those who have lost loved ones, friends, and family members in Dallas, and wherever lives have so senselessly been taken. And praying for a nation gone so far away from God. Praying that we can come back to the One who holds everything in His hand, not in a moment of silence, but through deep, deep, prayerful cries on our knees, prayers of submission, prayers of surrender, and prayers of longing to be a people who shine as lights in a dark world. How we need You, Jesus! Bring us back to You!”

God’s Mercy is Bigger than Your Mistakes

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time”—2 Timothy 1:9(NIV).

Posting encouraging sayings and Bible verses on Facebook is part of my ministry. The responses I receive from others about my posts encourage and bless me too.

Recently, I posted the following: “God’s mercy is bigger than your mistakes.” I received the usual responses like “Amen” and “Praise God.” However, one response baffled me. The woman who responded is not a “friend” on Facebook but can still see my posts. She wrote, “I don’t know about that.”

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When I answered with, “Yes, it’s true,” she replied with “I hope you’re right.”

Don’t let poor choices and sins define you.

I encouraged her to read the Bible. Later that day, I decided to search for scriptures to reassure her. After locating 37 different verses about God’s mercy, I posted several below her response in hopes it would help her. I wondered why she felt God’s mercy could not overcome her mistakes. I also wondered about the mistakes she had made.

We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. It’s how we learn, and if we are willing to admit we made wrong choices, we grow in wisdom.

Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23-24 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

But God, I Want it Now!

“And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady” —Romans 5:4 (TLB).

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Were we more patient before our society became so complicated? What do I mean? For example, before the microwave became a household staple and fast food restaurants graced every corner, weren’t we more content to wait when our meals took an hour or more to prepare? While a watched pot never boils, we lose interest if a frozen meal doesn’t open itself and get nuked in less than five minutes. Can’t we agree that home-cooked meals are definitely worth the wait?

Before computers, cell phones and social media became everyday fare, weren’t we more content to get our news in the daily newspaper and on the five o’clock news? We didn’t have the capability to check a Facebook or Twitter feed to keep up with the running commentary of breaking news.

As we grow in God’s wisdom, patience follows.

Oh, and what about the download speed of our tech gadgets? If the website doesn’t open fast enough or the text message doesn’t arrive in warp-speed time, we stomp our feet and curse the aliens in control of cyberspace.

Recently, I was having problems with my cell phone. I wasn’t receiving texts from a friend. I would anxiously await a reply and when none would come, I would grow impatient. However, I soon discovered the new community to which I had moved didn’t have the best coverage for my cell carrier. I also discovered my phone needed a reboot when I stopped by a cell phone store concerning another problem. After the technician demonstrated the solution, nine text messages arrived. All were from the same friend and covered a two-day span.

Seeing change as a catalyst for spiritual growth

The Bible tells us that change is real and necessary.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” —Hebrews 13:8(ESV).

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Does anyone really like change? Maybe a baby with a dirty diaper does. Change, even necessary change, can be beneficial, depending on our attitudes.

If we see change as a catalyst for spiritual growth, then change is definitely good. If we see change as a setback, as an opportunity to complain instead of finding the positive in the situation, then we’ve failed to find God’s purpose in it.

I confess that I have a love/hate relationship with change. While I seek to find the good, I find myself complaining sometimes. Have you ever felt that way?

We would be wise to embrace the words of Hebrews 13:8.

We can become bored with the status quo and seek a change. But if too many changes occur at once—whether by choice or circumstances beyond our control—we can become overwhelmed if we don’t seek God’s guidance and comfort.

Author John Callahan wrote, “Many have said that the only easy way to deal with change is when you are doing the change yourself. But, the truth is that we are not in control of the change so we find it hard to adjust. The Bible tells us that change is real and necessary. For salvation we must change our own minds and agree that God’s way is better than our own. It is important for us as Christians to realize that God would not bring us into a situation we should not be in. He does things so we build character and become a stronger person.”

When Jesus is On Your Side

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all” —1 Chronicles 29:11(NRSV).

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More than once I’ve said to friends, “I don’t know how people make it through life without Jesus.”

Since rededicating my life to Him almost 15 years ago, I’ve had my share of trouble. While having Jesus in your life doesn’t exclude you from trials, you can bet He’s by your side when those times come. And they will come in the form of financial, physical, emotional and relational struggles.

Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “Even the securest financial plan and the finest health coverage aren’t enough to hold us steady when the challenges come. We need something more, something deeper and unshakeable, something that will see us through life’s hard times.”

So how is that working for you?

Before I had a personal relationship with my Savior and Lord, trials would send me into a tailspin. I’d rant, and then panic, before trying to find a solution. That’s because I was relying on myself. I thought I had to solve everything on my own. My pride wouldn’t let me admit I couldn’t fix everything and everyone. It just doesn’t work.

Can God Change Your View?

“Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all” —1 Chronicles 29:11(NRSV).

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When I look outside the east windows in my new residence, I see a vast array of trees, akin to a jungle. My previous backyard view was a wide-open field, sparsely populated with trees. This change of scenery during a new chapter of my life is welcome.

At times, however, I find myself wondering what God is up to that He would lead me back home, especially when it was not my plan. While I’d been seeking His will for my life, I was quite content living in the community where I had resided since 2005. I’ve learned, however, that God’s plans are always best, even when we question His direction.

Are you actively seeking God’s will?

I wasn’t always good at following directions, especially God’s. I wanted things my way. I wanted my plans to fall into place with the square pegs fitting into my neatly ordered life.  I didn’t have time to consult God.

What happens when we don’t seek God’s will for our lives? We are stuck. Stuck in the past. Stuck in unforgiveness. Stuck in captivity.

Until we allow Jesus to set us free, we only exist. We drift from one thing to another, one job to another, one relationship to another, trying to figure out life on our own. When we surrender to Him, He opens our eyes to His truth.

Go Make Ripples in the Name of Jesus

“I am with you. I will watch over you everywhere you go”—Genesis 28:15(NIRV).

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Almost 11 years ago, I took a giant leap of faith. I left a northeastern Oklahoma community where I’d lived since 1969—except for the times I’d gone away to college—to move to a larger town about 70 miles west. I left behind family and friendships formed over a 36-year period to a place where I knew very few people.

However, during the time I’ve lived in Rogers County, I’ve been blessed with a multitude of friends. Those friends have encouraged me, laughed and cried with me, prayed with and for me and stood by me during times of trouble. Even more importantly, being here has helped my faith grow. Through my church family and the people of faith God has placed in my path, my spiritual eyes have been opened to embrace what God can do in our lives when we place our trust in Him.

What does God ask of us?

I like what best-selling author and minister, Norman Vincent Peale said about faith. “Faith is the most powerful of all forces operating in humanity and when you have it in depth nothing can get you down.”

However, it wasn’t always that way for me. I’d only been in Claremore about a year when I yearned to return home. Prayer and the advice of wise individuals revealed to me I was here for a reason. Soon, I came to call this place home. I had no desire to return.