Her Jaw Was Wired Shut

The other day while at the airport I saw a young woman who had her jaw wired together.

It was an odd site. She looked sad.

I am sure she felt conspicuous so I tried to observe without being obvious…but the more I looked at her, I wondered what she was thinking and feeling. Was she in pain? Did she feel awkward? How long had her jaw been wired together and how much longer would it be until she is free.

Now I realize that medical procedure of wiring someone’s jaw shut is intended to prevent the movement of the jaw, usually for the sake of healing, but it didn’t take long before I began to picture spiritual parallels. (I am weird like that.)

I thought about people in society who feel as if they have been silenced and have no voice. They feel as if no one hears their cries or understand their pain (I realize this is a stretch from the wired jaw analogy as the purpose is different and they can still communicate, but give me some lee way).

I thought about those who are broken.

I thought about those who don’t fit in…those who feel that they stand out in the crowd, and not in a good way.

The more I thought about those who stand on one side of the room lost and hurting, longing for someone to notice and accept them, the more I prayed. If they only knew that Jesus loved them deeply and wanted nothing but the best for them. If they only knew that Jesus could not only forgive their sin, but heal their hearts, answer their questions, and give them purpose. He can protect, empower, reinvigorate.

See, when I see people in society that are hurting and broken…and let’s be honest, in some ways we all fit that description from time to time…I can sense Jesus wanting to engage and encourage.
I did not feel compelled to speak to the woman in the airport the other day, but I will talk to anyone at anytime that needs hope and support.

They might feel that no one knows, hears, or sees, but Jesus does..and as His ambassadors (II Cor 5:20), we should as well.

We can’t point and laugh, we must engage and encourage…and who knows, perhaps Jesus will use us not only to build them up socially or emotionally, but we might have the opportunity to share Jesus in a way that transforms their eternity.

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Brilliant and Strategic…that is our God!

“From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:26-27

God is both brilliant and strategic. I have come to a place where I don’t question His decisions or call into account His plans.

Everything He does is for a purpose, and every thing points to eternity.

Even our lives fit into that mold.

According to Ps 139 and Eph 2:10 and many other scriptures, God intentionally crafted us, and according to Acts 17:26-27 He skillfully placed us right where He wanted and needed us. For His Kingdom purposes, He chose the time and place where we would live and dropped us right into the heart of a great need. We are to point people to Him.

Our lives can become about many things (our hobbies, our relationships, our goals, our work)…but the one thing that God expects them to be about is helping people understand the love, compassion, and salvation of Jesus.

If we are living in sync with Jesus, we are experiencing His love and sharing it with others.

If we are in rhythm with His desires, others will see Him as attractive, relevant, and loving.

As I said at the beginning, our Creator is both brilliant and strategic. Those attributes are on display in you and me…He has chosen and equipped us to impact others for eternity and that excites me. I hope it does you as well.

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Robin Williams Passing is tragic. His story can not be ignored.

imagesThe death of Robin Williams has touched me deeply. I know that I have not known him as family or as a close friend, but I did know him. I knew his wit. His energy. His sense of humor and his humanity.

Based on the comments that are flooding the social media channels and those being shared by those who did know him, it is obvious that he touched many lives, brightened many days, and brought glimpses of hope at desperate times.

And, that is what makes his passing all the more confusing. How could someone who seemed to live such a joyful and light-hearted existence publicly have been so desperate and heavy-hearted privately?

Please understand that I in no way want to dishonor Mr. Williams passing, but I believe that asking this question when referring to such a well-known figure may allow us to help many who are not as well known, but just as troubled.

Within moments of hearing that one of my favorite actors had taken his own life, a particular scripture began to replay itself over and over in my heard. Proverbs 14:13 says, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when laughter ends, the grief remains.” It speaks as of a mask of joy and laughter that can hide from the world internal grief, misery, and desperation. When wielded well, this mask can create such a strong-walled barrier that it can fool even those closest to you.

We know that Robin Williams was battling his personal demons of depression and insecurity, and that makes me incredibly sad, but it also begs the question, who else do you and I know that is struggling as well? Who do we know that is chipper on the outside but paralyzed internally? Who do we know that has been fighting in isolation for so long that they are about to give up?

I hate the fact that Robin felt he had not other course of action, but perhaps, if we become intentional we might be used by God to rescue someone around us who is careening towards a cliff.

Here are just a couple of thoughts:

• Ask God to make you more compassionate. As humans, we tend to be self-absorbed and self-obsessed. We tend to think about ourselves more than others, but what the world needs is for us to live and act compassionately to those around us. Compassion can be engrained in someone from birth…truthfully some people are more compassionate than others. Compassion can also be a discipline and learned behavior…and, sometimes God can change our heart, open our eyes to the struggle of others, and birth in us a compassion that is greater than we have known previously. If we begin to ask God to make us more compassionate, I have no doubt, He will do just that.

Pay close attention to those around you. People who keep their eyes and ears open will notice the people around them who are struggling. Sometimes it will come in the form of expressing frustration with circumstances. Other times it will not be expressed but it will be observed. If someone seems to be stuck in a pattern of disappointment and brokenness, that person needs a friend. If you are paying attention, you can be a timely and potentially life-saving friend.

Lovingly break through walls of isolation. Misery incubates in isolation. When someone withdraws, shuts the proverbial doors, rejects all incoming light, their hopelessness can grow into a monster that that can be difficult to defeat. Without being abrasive and pushy, we must not allow those we care about to isolate themselves. We must not let them hide in their dark corner. Instead we must insert ourselves and bear their burdens. Invite them out for coffee…or better yet, bring some ice cream to their house and spend time with them. Your relentless friendship can absorb some of their pain and lift some of their load.

• Ask great questions and listen. Many people give up seeking help because they have found people uncaring and unwilling to listen. Through your questions you can help them process their situation and find solutions and by listening you communicate that you really do care. People who find themselves in desperate cycles feel like a broken record and don’t want to burden their friends, but if you are willing to engage them in true relationship you can help them cross the bridge from paralyzed desperation to hopeful progress.

Be a voice of encouragement and hope. We all need someone to remind us that things are going to get better, people who are weary from battle need it more than any of us. As you remind them that they are in a season of challenge but it will get better, you are acting as God’s mouthpiece speaking life into their weary soul. Tell them you care about them. Tell them you are there for them. Tell them you are praying for them. Words are powerful…the voices that they have been listening to are shouting about everything that is not right…you voice can bring balance.

Talk to God about them and talk to them about God. As much as we love these people, there is One who loves them more. Although we want to help them dig out of their pit, there is One who wants that even more. God is on their side. He does see their pain and He does hear their cries. He is capable and loving and He wants to offer joy where there has been mourning and peace where there has been turmoil. If you know someone who is in a desperate place, take some time to talk to God about them and make sure you take some time to tell them that Jesus Cares about them. He hurts for the brokenhearted. He has compassion for the helpless.

Every time I hear of one who ends their life because of hopeless desperation, it saddens me but also reminds me of those around me that are hurting and confused. Robin William’s situation is very similar. As I pray for his family, I also pray that God would lead me to others who need to know that there is hope, there is healing, and there is love.

Together we can help those who are hurting and rescue those who are lost.

If you, or someone you know needs to speak with someone who will listen, encourage, and offer a godly perspective, people are standing by right now at http://www.jesuscares.com.

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She was “Caught in the Act”

She had been caught in the act, can you imagine how ashamed she must have been?

Her reputation was ruined. She was now the butt of jokes and the object of scorn. People were whispering about her; others were laughing. Some were directing their children out of her path.

She felt dirty. She felt hopeless.

But, then she met Jesus.

He didn’t laugh or whisper. He wasn’t caught off guard or shocked. Instead of joining the crowd as they attacked, he chased them off and turned His attention to her.

With great compassion and intentional care, He looked deep into her soul, chased off her shame and pronounced forgiveness. When He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin,” He was saying, “You do have a future.”

A skeptic recently asked me, “Why does it matter that Jesus Cares?”

I don’t have to look any further than this story to prove why it matters. When someone understands that Jesus Cares for them it changes everything. His compassion welcomes us and His mercy pronounces forgiveness. His love drives off shame, insecurity, and guilt, and His grace offers a second chance.

The woman who was caught in the act (you can read her story in John 8:1-11) was overwhelmed until she discovered that He cared, and there are millions who are waiting for the one thing that will bring freedom from their past, comfort in the present, and purpose to their future. That “one thing” is the love, mercy, and compassion of Jesus.

So many in our society are in the same position. They are going through challenges and trying to overcome obstacles (sometimes self-inflicted) that have left them feeling isolated and alone and they need to know that Jesus Cares.

These are the target for the Jesus Cares Campaign. The media (TV, Radio, BillBoard, Social Media, and alternative media) that they interact with daily will be flooded with messages that let them know Jesus Cares. And His compassion and tenderness come with His help, with purpose, with peace, and with joy when it is embraced.

If you would like to learn more about the Jesus Cares Campaign please visit http://www.JesusCares.com. You can make a donation online at http://www.JesusCares.com/donate.

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Where did all the peace go?

Let’s be honest, sometime your emotions lie to you. You feel as if you are lost, alone, and outmanned. You may feel insignificant, overwhelmed, and as if you are drowning, but the truth is, you are none of those things.

God is with you. He sees you perfectly, and He hears your cries. He has promised to never leave or forsake you, to meet every need you have, to give you wisdom in every situation (as long as you ask), to never put you in a situation you can’t handle, and to fight for you and beside you.

He has promised that everything will work out for your good and that through Christ you can do all things.

He did not promise that your life would be easy, but that He would be with you through it all.

So, the question becomes, which voice will you believe? The emotional internal voice that has limited perspective, is driven by fear, and is struggling to find hope, or God’s voice (and His Word) that is constantly whispering, “I got you and I got this!”

When scripture teaches in II Cor 10:5 that we are to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” it is referring to these two warring voices in your life. It is talking about moving past your emotions that lie to embrace truth that doesn’t. It is talking about choosing to believe God’s truth instead of the anxiety-driven and fear-laced arguments that keep you focused on your current crisis.

This is a constant conflict for many. Even mature Christians struggle to take their thoughts captive when they are in difficult situations…I find it a constant battle. In my experience, I have found a couple of things that will help me in these times and I will quickly share them with you.

• Pray instead of Panic. When the nerves are shaken and anxiety is increasing, I have to fight the urge to panic and press into prayer. My prayer in these moments isn’t as much about the request (God knows what I need) but about settling my heart and reminding myself that He is in control. I find myself making statements like “God, I thank you that you are in control and that you have promised to be with me through this challenging time.” After a few minutes I begin to rise above my circumstances and focus on His truth.
• Lean into Scriptural Promises. “The God in me is greater than anything that is in the world.” “God, I thank you for peace that is bigger than my circumstances and greater than my trials.” “God, I know that those who hope in you will not be disappointed.” He promises are true and that should give you peace.
• Ask for Wisdom. A lot of the things that cause us angst are situations we find ourselves in that we don’t know how to navigate around. God said that if we need wisdom we can ask and He will give it freely. Instead of letting the peace-stealing worry paralyze you ask God to show you how to move forward. He will.

Taking your thoughts captive and bringing them into obedience is not easy, but it is necessary. If you learn to focus on what is true instead of what is not, you will defeat fear, feed your faith, and set yourself up to receive His perfect peace.

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10 Questions

Not a blog per say…just 10 questions I would encourage you to ponder.

  • Am I living for the moment or am I investing in eternity?
  • Have I read the Bible today?
  • Have I asked God to lead/guide me this day?
  • Have I asked God to use me to impact others?
  • Even though I may be facing challenges, have I placed my complete trust in the One who is completely trustworthy?
  • Are there any areas in my life that I have not surrendered to God?
  • Am I walking in obedience to what I know to be God’s will, or have I harboring unconfessed sin?
  • Am I holding onto bitterness or unforgiveness?
  • Am I taking my thoughts captive and bringing them into alignment with the Word of God?
  • Am I focusing more on what is not going right in my life or on Jesus who is always good.

Good questions to consider and good principles to apply.

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Twelve year old girls trying to kill a friend…where did we go wrong?

My heart is so heavy today. I read about the twelve year old girls that tried to kill a friend in order please a fictional character (a video game character), and it felt like someone grabbed my gut and began to squeeze. 

I hurt for the situation, the three girls involved, their families, and their community, but I am struggling for the whole of our society as well.

I am overcome with emotion. I sympathize with the physical pain the one young girl is experiencing from being stabbed 19 times. I empathize with the emotional pain and confusion that she feels along with so many others. I identify with the confusion that surrounds the event, but I also find myself angry. Not at the girls, but at our culture.

We look at events like this and realize something is broken but we aren’t willing to recognize and take action on the building blocks of these tragedies.

I realize I am going to sound pre-historic here, but I recognize trends. Trends with violence, and fear, and fascination with horror and brutality that have been chipping away at our innocence…leading us down the road to an angry, aggressive, unloving, self-serving, and impulsive society that highlights evil while ignoring the true source of good.

In our culture we amplify horror while ignoring hope.

We emphasize fear at the expense of peace.

We glorify hate while we distort true love.

Our society has sacrificed their convictions and their desire for the good, holy, and pure things on the altar of entertainment and it is destroying us. The compromises we have made in the areas of morality, aggression, horror, and fear in order to be entertained have been our undoing.

The lines between reality and fiction have become blurred. We pursue what is not real so aggressively that we have left behind what is real.

We have convinced ourselves that it isn’t “that big of a deal”, yet it is these little rationalizations over decades that have led us to the place we are. The things that used to make us blush now make us cheer. The things that used to make us cringe, now make us squeel with delight.

And the result? We have a society that is full of all of the things we thought were entertaining and funny but never thought would impact us personally.

So, as I write this, I am not sure I know how to stop the slide. We can’t go back in time. However, there are some things I am more determined to do than I was yesterday. Here are my takeaways from this weeks tragic events.

  • First, I am going to make sure that I am vigilant with my entertainment and the convictions that I have. I am going to “guard my heart” because I know it is the wellspring of life. Some may think I am old-fashioned. Others might say I am legalistic, but I am going to take an inventory of my own life and make sure I haven’t allowed any compromise that will affect my ability to love God well and live in a way that I know will please Him.
  • Secondly, I am renewed in my conviction to talk with my kids about their choices. They are at a station in life where I can’t dictate everything to them, but I am going to help them understand that evaluating the long-term consequences to their choices in these areas is very important and living before the Lord in such a way where we let God help guide our entertainment decisions even if it is contrary to culture is the wisest way to life.
  • I am moved to pray even more aggressively for the young people in our nation and the world. Asking God to protect them and draw them to Himself. Asking Him to make up the difference when their parents were imperfect or absent. Asking that God would increase their conscience and convictions and not allow them to justify the things that will prevent them from being who God wants them to be.
  • Lastly, I am going to continue aggressively pursuing my mission to flood media with truth, hope, and love. I am tired (miserably exhausted really) as I continue to see the glorified evil, the glamorized horror, and the hyped immorality. I may not be able to make a dent in a society accepting it and pushing it, but I (Groundwire) can continue to balance it.       We will continue to buy commercial time on TV and Radio to lift up the name of Jesus. We will continue to promote the love, hope, and peace found in Jesus. And, we will continue to show that Jesus is the One who can heal the heart, answer the questions, and bring value.

So…my anger has turned to determination. I still sympathize and empathize with the pain, but I am not going to hide in a corner. I know there will be other tragedies, but I also know that with Christ’s help we can prevent many. We will rescue the lost and help the hurting. And, we will provide hope to those who have lost their way.

 

 

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