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Sermon: God’s Original Idea, Part 1 by Myles Munroe

Myles Munroe is one of the most phenomenal Bible teachers I’ve ever listened to and read. I came across him early in my studies, so I’m sure some of his explanations are embedded in my thinking. I’ve been listening to sermons this weekend and thought about him. He and his wife died in a plane crash in 2014, but thanks to technology, specifically #Youtube, he’s still easy to find. This sermon begins with how ideas outlive people. How wonderful that his teachings remain with us.

This is a teaching on God’s Kingdom – Heaven – and how the Kingdom of Heaven was Jesus’s reason, purpose and message on Earth.

 

 

Sermon Notes

Key Points

Ideas

Precepts

Concepts

Understanding

Communication

Ideas outlive people.

Continue reading Sermon: God’s Original Idea, Part 1 by Myles Munroe

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ACAD – Blessings: Genesis 49

Jacob Blesses His Sons

Then Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.

Assemble and listen, O sons of Jacob,
    listen to Israel your father.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,
    preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,
    because you went up to your father’s bed;
    then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!

“Simeon and Levi are brothers;
    weapons of violence are their swords.
Let my soul come not into their council;
    O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
    and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
    and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
    and scatter them in Israel.

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
    your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion’s cub;
    from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
    and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;[a]
    and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Binding his foal to the vine
    and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
    and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
His eyes are darker than wine,
    and his teeth whiter than milk.

“Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;
    he shall become a haven for ships,
    and his border shall be at Sidon.

“Issachar is a strong donkey,
    crouching between the sheepfolds.[b]
He saw that a resting place was good,
    and that the land was pleasant,
so he bowed his shoulder to bear,
    and became a servant at forced labor.

“Dan shall judge his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
    a viper by the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that his rider falls backward.
I wait for your salvation, O Lord.

“Raiders shall raid Gad,[c]
    but he shall raid at their heels.

“Asher’s food shall be rich,
    and he shall yield royal delicacies.

“Naphtali is a doe let loose
    that bears beautiful fawns.[d]

“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
    a fruitful bough by a spring;
    his branches run over the wall.[e]
The archers bitterly attacked him,
    shot at him, and harassed him severely,
yet his bow remained unmoved;
    his arms[f] were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
    (from there is the Shepherd,[g] the Stone of Israel),
by the God of your father who will help you,
    by the Almighty[h] who will bless you
    with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that crouches beneath,
    blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
The blessings of your father
    are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents,
    up to the bounties of the everlasting hills.[i]
May they be on the head of Joseph,
    and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.

“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
    in the morning devouring the prey
    and at evening dividing the spoil.”

Jacob’s Death and Burial

All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him. Then he commanded them and said to them, “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah— the field and the cave that is in it were bought from the Hittites.” When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 49:10 By a slight revocalization; a slight emendation yields (compare Septuagint, Syriac, Targum) until he comes to whom it belongs; Hebrew until Shiloh comes, or until he comes to Shiloh
  2. Genesis 49:14 Or between its saddlebags
  3. Genesis 49:19 Gad sounds like the Hebrew for raiders and raid
  4. Genesis 49:21 Or he gives beautiful words, or that bears fawns of the fold
  5. Genesis 49:22 Or Joseph is a wild donkey, a wild donkey beside a spring, his wild colts beside the wall
  6. Genesis 49:24 Hebrew the arms of his hands
  7. Genesis 49:24 Or by the name of the Shepherd
  8. Genesis 49:25 Hebrew Shaddai
  9. Genesis 49:26 A slight emendation yields (compare Septuagint) the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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ACAD – Blessings: Genesis 48

Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh

After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. And the children that you fathered after them shall be yours. They shall be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance. As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance[b] to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).”

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
    the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
    and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
    and let them grow into a multitude[c] in the midst of the earth.”

When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude[d] of nations.” So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying,
‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’”

Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you and will bring you again to the land of your fathers. Moreover, I have given to you rather than to your brothers one mountain slope[e] that I took from the hand of the Amorites with my sword and with my bow.”

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 48:3 Hebrew El Shaddai
  2. Genesis 48:7 Or about two hours’ distance
  3. Genesis 48:16 Or let them be like fish for multitude
  4. Genesis 48:19 Hebrew fullness
  5. Genesis 48:22 Or one portion of the land; Hebrew shekem, which sounds like the town and district called Shechem

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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An Open Letter: Woman to Man

When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His followers, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and still others say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Then Jesus asked them, “And who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus answered, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don’t allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows.”
~ Matthew 16:13-19 (Mark 8:27-30)

Dear Man:
Please note: What others say about you will never trump what I see in you and believe about you.

Though my day to day feelings about you derive in part from your treatment of me, my vision and knowledge of you is God-given. You may think the accolades of others will win me over. You may also think that what you do for others will make you shine brighter in my eyes. You would be wrong on both counts. You can bend over backwards for everyone in the world, but if you aren’t willing to even stand up and face me, why should the opinions of other people matter to me? Your relationships with everyone else in the world do not create space for a relationship with me. Those relationships do not even accommodate an {us}. Your relationship with others is about you and them. They have nothing to do with me. Nothing to do with us. For that reason, I am not impressed by what other people think of you because their experience of you is not representative of my experience of you.

Right now, in this moment, my struggle is seeing everything you are willing to do for others while remembering everything you have been unwilling to do for me. This knowledge continually leads to resentment, bitterness and separation.

Your struggle is admitting you are in error; that you have squandered time and taken love for granted. Pride is the downfall of every man, however, all is not loss. You, my dear Man, are a conqueror. Should you choose to accept your assignment, you can make everything right with just a word.

You love the Word of God, but you won’t speak a word to me.

You enjoy life, but you won’t share yours with me.

You yearn for the light but you keep me in a shadowy pit.

You admire modesty but the way you waste time is the most painful extravagance to witness.

You think you’re humble, but your spirit strives against me in a rage of hurt masculine pride.

You think love and war are synonymous. They aren’t. Love may be confrontational but it is not destructive. War is targeted violence and willful destruction. Creating and maintaining conflict is not an expression of caring.

You go on and on about love and grace, but what love and grace have you shown to me? Where is your mercy? Where is the love of Christ for the woman you would have as wife?
OLDER-COUPLEI do not hold a grudge against you, but I will not fight endlessly with you either. I know what you want; I know what you need, but I can’t force you to receive anything from me.

I have been equipped to nurture, love and honor your life with my being. I have been created to share your breath and expand your life.

I have prepared for you, but I am not willing to be everything I can be to a man who is content to be nothing more than a disconnected observer of my life.

You will not drain me dry and leave me nothing for myself. I won’t allow you to do that. God has shown me too much of Himself in me for me to throw myself away according to your whim.

I will not support a man who doesn’t support me. That would be energy you take from me without replenishing it. Your confidence should not cost me mine.

I will not attempt to stand beside a man who has no interest in standing beside me. To do so invites heartbreak every hour of every day.

I will not chase anyone who is not pursuing me. I am the good thing you are responsible for shepherding, but I am also responsible for where I choose to go. You lead, I follow. When you stop leading, I stop following. Remember that.

Relationships are built on mutuality and thrive on reciprocity. I cannot build with someone who is constantly attacking me. Passive aggressive behavior is violent in nature. You may “only” be emotionally dismissive, neglectful, and stoic, but each instance is an attack on everything I see in and believe about you. Such behavior attacks everything I understood about us from the vision I was first given.

If you want a woman who will sit at your feet and praise you continuously while you spend your time and energy praising everyone else, then you have my blessing and encouragement to keep looking for her. I am not the woman for you.

If you want a woman who will encourage you, despite your refusal to acknowledge her words, then again I say, I am not the woman for you. Go in peace and live a joyful and bountiful life elsewhere.

But,

If you want a woman who will strive to communicate with understanding and who will use her tongue only to bless and lift you up, then I say I am your woman.

If you want a woman who will walk, run, dance and ride through life with you in all its triumphant glory and devastating tragedy as a partner – hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with arms linked – I am your woman.

If you want a woman to build with – from scratch or from leveraged land and materials – I am your blessed goodness. I am your wow-factor.

If you want me, you must recognize you are joining with a woman who knows her place in God’s Kingdom. My place is not subordinate to you. My place is one of honor, not disgrace or shame. My place is by your side as co-ruler of all we are blessed to supervise and manage as stewards. My joy in you derives from your recognition of your place in my life.

Be the man you were created to be, Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, breath of my breath, joy of my joy. Be true to God. Be true to yourself. Be true to me.

At night on my bed,
I looked for the one I love;
I looked for him, but I could not find him.
I got up and went around the city,
in the streets and squares,
looking for the one I love.
I looked for him, but I could not find him.
The watchmen found me as they patrolled the city,
so I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?”
As soon as I had left them,
I found the one I love.
I held him and would not let him go
until I brought him to my mother’s house,
to the room where I was born.
~ Song of Solomon 3:1-4

Song: Say You Love Me by Jesse Ware

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Expect. Expectant. Expectation.

The first couple of years on my walk I was put through a rigorous program that resulted in me letting go of my expectations of people. I started dealing with people in the moment we were in. I didn’t tie them to my future even though some past event lead to a present moment.

I essentially learned not to expect anything from anyone. Expectation leads to disappointment…and I was beyond tired of being disappointed.

A couple of weeks ago, my manager received a high honor in her field from her peers. I wasn’t going to attend the awards dinner because she had not indicated that I should be there – I’m her assistant, after all, and I had to forward her invite list to the planning committee. I had worked as a conduit of information for the event planners and had been available to assist with any loose ends. But it wasn’t an event I was spearheading, as it was a non-profit fundraiser, so I didn’t see any purpose or use for my presence at the event itself.

Throughout the workday the day of the event, at least five colleagues mentioned either that they would see me later at the dinner or they asked if I would be there. My response to each was, “I wasn’t invited.”

Fifteen minutes before the cocktail hour started, I received the final comment hinting at the presumption of my presence at the dinner honoring my boss. Suddenly, I got nervous. Was I supposed to be at this event? I emailed my boss that question. She didn’t reply. Within seconds, I was putting on a face of make-up and packing up my bag. A couple of minutes later I was rushing onto Park Avenue to hail taxi for a mad dash down to Tribeca.

I was frantic by the time I rushed into the reception… and I’m known for keeping my cool under pressure.

For the most part, I thought of this dinner as just another dinner event my Boss Lady was attending. Even though she was one of the honorees, she hadn’t expressed any particular excitement for the event so I approached it like any other event I handle for her: if I’m needed, I’ll be there; if not, I won’t.

On the taxi ride over, I berated myself for letting our communication lag. I had no idea what she was thinking because we had barely talked in months. I was dealing with my life; she was dealing with hers. The one thing that assured me I was right to rush downtown to the dinner was remembering: “When has she not wanted me to be where she is?” She prefers my presence. I have always known that. I have never doubted it.

I walked into the reception about fifteen minutes before the awards presentation. I spotted her quickly, rushed over to her, touched her back to get her attention and said, “I’m here…I got nervous!”

Her widening smile told me I was right to be nervous… and right to be there.

As I left her to her guests, I breathed a sigh of relief for the inkling and nervousness that got me out of my seat and downtown to her side.

The first colleague to ask me that morning if I would be at the dinner that night approached me as I crossed the dining area. “I thought you weren’t coming!”

I explained the succession of people who hinted by their presumption that I should be present and she replied simply, “LaShawnda, some things are just expected.”

That floored me for a second. Another full circle in my life. I went through years of stripping myself of expectations and ridding others of any dependency on me only to come to a point of anxiousness at the thought that I would disappoint Boss Lady by not showing up.

Today’s lesson: Sometimes your presence is all that’s needed. More than words. More than service. More than a hope for something in the future. Your presence today, right now, is a bigger blessing to those whose eyes have an expectation to rest on you.

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A Taste of Partnership

The former head of my department at work implemented what he called the “two-partner” approach to problem solving. He encouraged his managers to call on each other to talk through difficult or complex issues. He assured them that the process of talking through the problem would yield perspectives and solutions that the solo person never would have considered. 

In the single female world, we call our girlfriends when we need to two-partner. But I’ve come to learn that girl talk is still one-sided as it is only a female perspective. I’ve also come to realize I have long been at a disadvantage without a male perspective to two-partner through issues with.

But God is good. This has been an exceptionally difficult year, but I can look back and see where God provided male voices I could hear, trust and listen to. As I sit here and write, I am exceptionally happy for their words of concern and guidance.

Usually, I am quick to say that I don’t have any male friends, but as I review this post, I see that there have been men who have stood as a friend to me in various situations through the years. They may not be a daily presence in my life, but when they have shown up, they have been fully present for me in that moment. This year, God has allowed some solid men to offer their voice to some of my decisions, dilemmas and transitions, and I must say I’ve been lapping up their words, suggestions and guidance with the eagerness of a leaderless scout following a glowing arrow in the woods.

A couple of years ago, I sat in on some small group Bible studies with an out-reach pastor in the City. Last spring, I sought him out before I left for Israel because I had some concerns and questions that I really needed to talk through. He was a good person to “two-partner” with regarding my desire to go to Israel and all the associated concerns. He asked for a follow-up meeting upon my return and from there we began meeting every other week to discuss any other Biblical topics or themes that came to mind. He has been a blessing. I had prayed long and hard for someone to discuss and explore the Word of God with. Our one-on-one Bible meetings have been incredibly thought provoking and edifying for us both. More than that, knowing that he’s a traditional Bible teacher who doesn’t believe women should be heard from in the assembly of the church (i.e. he quotes 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 which says women should be silent in the church and ask their husbands questions at home regarding the teachings) added a very interesting layer to our conversations. To be told by a pastor, who’s been teaching for thirty years, that our discussions have him looking at the Word from different angles encourages me to continue to speak in faith even when entering a conversation with someone who has different viewpoints; when the Holy Spirit is present, understanding will come.     

On the work front, there’s a former colleague who’s been going through huge family growth and transition since we first met three years ago. He provided a voice of reason when I shared thoughts about a cross-country move in the late spring. Based on his experience as a husband and father, he suggested options and scenarios that never crossed my mind. He shared the things he considered when he and his wife made their first big move and when he moved his young family more recently. It was quite eye-opening, hearing the things a man thinks about in such a situation, especially because my own decision to relocate was completely based on my emotions. Sharing with him and hearing his feedback grounded me in a way that I couldn’t manage to ground myself. At the end of our conversation, I said with a little bit of awe, “I really need my own husband; you guys are awesome!”

Over the summer, I was able to connect with an old friend who proved to be a great support in the past. We hadn’t spoken in a while, but from the word, “Hey” it was laugh-therapy with quite a bit of sharing about how our worlds and focus have changed over the years. We spoke about our current challenges and the hopes that were sustaining us. It was nice to “two-partner” with someone who knows how I think and can understand my conclusions without a drawn-out personal history lesson for background. We just jumped right into the listening, guidance and support portions of the conversation. As always, I was uplifted by the exchange. 

There was another co-worker who, for well over a year, heard my gripes, joys and hopes on a regular basis. He listened with attentive ears and offered very insightful council. And more often than not, he shared his own gripes, joys and hopes as well. We were both cheerleaders and receivers to one another – often times in the same conversation.

This fall, I had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a social brother I rarely see. We had something of a public disagreement last year via social media. We made up, in a way, via other forms of media. Since then, we’ve seen each other a couple of times in groups and got along well. But when we ran into each other a few weeks ago, he made a point of telling me that my public rebuke “had him feeling some kind of way”…. Even though he understood why I did it and acknowledged that a rebuke may have been necessary, he said he wished I would have pulled him to the side and said my piece offline. I thought about it. I heard him, really I did. I briefly defended myself by stating that I responded to the offense in the same forum that I received it. Then I assured him that, in future, I would endeavor to keep any criticisms for private conversation.

I don’t know about you, but that was huge for me. I’ve been telling people for years that you have to teach people how to treat you. The same holds true for me – I have to be taught how to respond to individuals in a constructive way for my relationship with them. Some people don’t pay attention to my bluntness. Other’s pay attention, but don’t care. Then there are those who hear and care, but would appreciate a softer word to respond to. The fact that we “two-partnered” our own relationship was enlightening and encouraging. What I took away from our conversation was the need to pay more attention to the masculinity in the man. To treat a man’s masculinity as something I wish to nurture rather than destroy.

Last in this short list of men who have given me a taste of two-partnerhood, is the neighbor who speaks to me so comfortably about some of his troubles that his wife has two-partnered with me a couple of times regarding him. He speaks to me of things his wife has told him (and me) that she has no interest in talking to him about or she doesn’t otherwise want to hear. I’m not suggesting this is a good practice to allow or encourage, however, I have learned a valuable lesson from them: I pray that when I marry, I learn to have an open ear and heart for my husband always. I pray I don’t become a woman who poisons the well of communication in my marriage.

The men briefly profiled here have provided positive examples of manhood for me over the past seven years. Looking back on what I’ve learned from my interactions with them, I am able to see that God heard my cry and answered my supplication in my book, My God and Me: Listening, Learning and Growing on My Journey, where I wrote a great deal about how I had no positive examples of marriage while growing up. Throughout the book, it was evident that there was an early and long struggle for me to respect many of the males who had impacted my early life. In my early experience, men did not act like men and I saw no need to treat them as if they were. By the time I published My God and MeI had disposed of all that worn-out baggage and was looking for better experiences for my life.

Now, as I look back on what I term an “exceptionally difficult year”, I see an exceptional shift in my preparation for marriage. God has seen fit to connect me to men whose masculinity is tempered with compassion, humor, vulnerability and wisdom. He connected me to men who communicate and follow-through on their care and concern for my well-being.

I no longer see the negative representatives of manhood from my early life when I think of the man I will partner with. I see a collage made of:

Men who want to be husbands
Men who truly want to become fathers
Men who are actively caring for their children
Men who are dedicated leaders in their home
Men who work hard to provide for their family
Men who want to communicate with their wife
Men who want to share their real selves – the good, the bad and the ugly – with their wife
Men who actually want to be MEN – with all the strength and vulnerability that entails

I see a man who will be a confidant, friend, guide, lover, motivator, protector, provider, supporter, visionary and more to this woman who wants to be the same and more to him.

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Sometimes people are just jerks.

Recent jerk attacks on my good will:

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on FB that I was going to attempt to ride 55 miles on my bike in an event. I asked for words of encouragement and prayers. One “friend” worked in several comments on my one post about her going the whole 108 miles. And another tried to sell me a cycling fashion accessory. Oh, and by the way, good luck….

This past weekend, I posted on FB that me and my bike collided with a SUV during another ride. I mentioned my gratitude for the kindness and compassion of the strangers who assisted me. One of the same FB “friends” commented that I would’ve looked good in the crash had I purchased her cycling fashion accessory.

A new employee in my group at work (junior to me) increasingly speaks to me as if I’m the bag girl on an 18th Century cotton plantation. I’ve noticed that her most scathing criticisms are for other black employees (none of whom are junior to her, thank goodness!). I am one conversation away from completely pulling the cotton burrs from her eyes, ears and butt. I’m just sayin….

My landlady, who lives upstairs from me, called yesterday to see how I was doing. Her husband who saw me a few hours after my collision on Saturday told her about it. She explained that she had been busy with her life and she thought I would call her before then and tell her about my ordeal. Since I hadn’t called by Wednesday, she decided to call me. I can’t make this stuff up! I was hit by a car and you’re telling me you were too busy to walk down one flight of stairs just to say “whatever” when you found out? Too busy to pick up the phone and call and say “whatever”? Then she told me to let her know if I needed anything. I later found out a package had been delivered to her house for me the day before, so I called her back and asked her if she could bring it downstairs. Did she? No. Apparently that was too much to ask. One of her questions to me earlier had been “Why didn’t you call me to come get you when you got hit?” I wanted to tell her last night, “The fact that you have always refused to walk down a flight stairs for me is why I didn’t think of calling you when I truly needed help.” 

There’s a woman who sells newspapers outside my office building. Last year we realized we attend the same church. Since then, even though I don’t buy the paper, I stop to speak to her when I pass by that corner. It’s been some months since I’ve seen her. Yesterday, I saw her and walked across the way to see how she was doing. She tried to sell me a paper. I told her yet again, that I don’t buy the paper; I was just stopping to say “hi”. She continued that she would have a different paper the next day. Today I saw her and just waved. She held up the “different” paper and shouted that it was selling for a dollar. Now, it crossed my mind, that I could spend a dollar to help her sales. But it also crossed my mind that if someone asks after your well-being the worse response is to try to make a dollar. I’m just saying….

Rant over.

I’m just really peeved by the lack of care people invest in their interactions with other people. No one else matters if they are outside of what’s necessary or convenient for the self-absorbed person’s lifestyle or finances. I can’t say that I’ve learned anything deeply profound from my interactions with these women, except that it’s very unfortunate that my top “jerk stories” involve all female antagonists. Really, what is the world coming to when the emotional intelligence of women erodes?

Today’s lesson: Sometimes people are just jerks. There’s no excuse or explanation for their attitude or behavior. And I accept that I am not obligated to make myself available to be their cutting stone. Perhaps unfortunately, I have felt an increasing need to point out their unpleasantness as it is applied to me. Hopefully, that doesn’t make me into too much of a jerk…. 

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Face-to-Face: Sharing God’s Glory With One Another

I have many things to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come to you and talk face to face so we can be full of joy.  ~ 2 John 12

I have come to identify myself as a writer. More than that, people now refer to me as a writer. I use words to express myself. I use words to soothe and heal myself. I live off of God’s Word and I grow by applying His Word in my daily life. Yet no amount of writing or being read brings as much joy and contentment in my relationships as speaking to someone face to face.

A pastor once asked me if I used my exuberance to manipulate people. A pretty jaded response to an open heart, but hey, it’s New York City. My response to him exposed my own growing cynicism. After a brief pause, I told him, “No, my joy is genuine when I meet people. It’s in getting to know them that I become disappointed.”

I’ve nursed many disappointments over the years. But as I sit here thinking about my most disappointing interactions with people or my most disappointing relationships, for that matter, I realize that they were all characterized by falseness and hiding. The acquaintances that never grew into friendships and the friendships that crashed in mid-flight are the ones where the other party didn’t see fit to be truthful about who they were or where they were in life or what they wanted from me and our relationship. These were also relationships where I either didn’t feel comfortable being who I am or I simply was not accepted as I am.

I seek to model Christ in all aspects of my life. This desire is a continual manifestation. As I seek to experience, learn and obtain the nature of God, the character of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I  apply the results of my search to my physical life. In this area, as I seek God’s presence, and earnestly attempt to walk with Him while speaking to Him face to face as a friend, then I have to adjust my thoughts on friendship in the natural world. If, of all the gazillion elements of creation, God still seeks intimate one-on-one time with me (me, just me! – and just you!) then one-on-one time must be important. Look at 2 John verse 12 again. Talking face-to-face can fill both parties with joy.

I’ve experienced that.

In fact, I experience joy in many of my face-to-face conversations throughout any given day.

For this reason social media has become more and more disenchanting for me. An emoticon 🙂 is nothing like seeing the answering sparkle in a conversation partner’s eye. Or the crinkle of their smile as their laughter first comes upon them or as it recedes. The best online conversations have been with people who know me personally because they will weave their personal knowledge into the virtual interaction, “I can hear your laughter,” they would say, “…. I can picture you now… I know what you’re thinking….” Such active imagery in the absence of one’s physical presence is only possible after personal time has been shared in one another’s presence.

However, even the best-of-the-best online conversations are nothing compared to the most common of face-to-face conversations. It’s an amazing thing to sit in someone’s presence and know you have their full attention and they know they have your full attention in return. They don’t have to envision your smile or tell you they’re sending one – they can simply smile and you know immediately you’ve been gifted with something precious. When you’re sitting in front of someone, you don’t have to access a memory of their laughter – you have the option of giving them a reason to laugh, therefore blessing you with a musical chorus that’s just for you…only you.

My people will be destroyed because they have no knowledge. You have refused to learn, so I will refuse to let you be priests to me.  ~ Hosea 4:6, NCV

Relationships are destroyed from lack of knowledge as well. People don’t take the time or make the effort to get to know each other anymore. They seek shallow intimacies and call everyone friend. What one person knows, all people know – yet no one truly knows anyone and everyone feels the need to hide their true selves. This cycle is easy to maintain with technology, but the strain of maintaining the mask cannot be kept up indefinitely in face-to-face interactions.

I’ve been lamenting the onslaught of technology since I learned to text a few years ago. Technology can indeed be the ruin of interpersonal relationships if people attempt to communicate only via technological devices or mediums. On the other hand, technology has the potential to enhance interpersonal relationships when it’s used as a tool to fill in the gaps that can’t be accessed any other way.

I don’t mean to harp on technology, however I do hope to pound in the importance of face-to-face communication. People have been placed in your life to be a reflection of God’s glory. That reflection may not be immediate or apparent; it may be something that needs a conversation to reveal itself. I can guarantee you that a “God bless you” received via text has a completely different feel than a “God bless you” that’s spoken in the ear in the midst of a warm embrace or handshake.

Be the blessing you are called to be and go bless someone with a face-to-face conversation so you both may be filled with joy.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.  ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT