Tag Archives: Relationships

Baggage

“Life is largely a matter of luggage.” -Frank Boreham, The Luggage of life

I’m always amazed at how much we are willing to carry with us that is completely unnecessary.

We are masters at gathering baggage.

The burden of the load slows our journey, distracts our minds and confuses our relationships.

John Bunyan wrote about baggage in his work Pilgrim’s Progress.

George Carlin talked about it in a comedy routine.

No matter who we are we find a way to carry our lives around with us. Often it’s emotional baggage we have accumulated over the years. Unforgiveness. Anger. Hurts. Old memories of wrongs done. Pain. And the list could continue for pages. But have you noticed that it’s always the negatives that become baggage? It’s all the hurts of life that weigh us down. The pain that handicaps us.

The good that God intended has no weight at all.  Joy is light as a feather. Happiness lifts us up rather than weighing us down. Peace carries its own load and helps us along the way. Kindness refreshes the weary traveler. Love makes the impossible possible once more. Mercy energizes. Grace empowers. The things God wants us to put in our backpacks help us on the way and have no weight to load us down. It’s only when we carry the results of sin that the weight and struggles begin.

That’s the invitation Jesus extended. “Come unto me….” It’s found in Matthew 11-12 if you want to read it. His invitation is to make the journey without all the baggage of the world in tow. When will we realize that this journey was meant to be a wonderful adventure with God instead of a grueling journey to be endured? When will we get rid of all that weighs us down and pick up the things that make the journey a joy?

I wonder sometimes about our fascination with baggage. It’s as if we have to hold onto something. I even see it in death. We are so reluctant to let go of this life. We want to hold onto all the junk we have accumulated, but find in the end that it’s just that….junk. I wonder if we will ever realize we have become a race of junk collectors….glad to carry the burdens of our trash instead of enjoying the blessings God provides.

No Simple Lives

One thing I’ve noticed about people is that things are never simple. I think it’s because we are not simple. Our lives are made up of hundreds of nicks and bruises we have each experienced. All those blows, bad relationships, disappointments and life experiences make us who we are and it’s never simple to sort out.

A few weeks ago, as I listened to a couple working through some real problems in their marriage, I thought….”this is really complicated. There are no easy answers.” Honestly, I think that same thing almost every time I talk with someone. It’s difficult to sort out all the pieces of our lives that have brought us to where we are today. How do we get it all tied together so we aren’t tripping over ourselves? How do we work through all that we are to fix what we have become? Honestly, there are no simple lives. There are no simple answers.

But as I watch Jesus in the gospels I see his encounters with people in a different way. The difference is that he knew the heart of man and was able to go to the very heart of each person’s problem. With a word, a touch, a smile Jesus healed broken lives. He knew what each life needed.

Here is a story of one man’s encounter with Jesus. In this brief encounter Jesus meets the needs of this broken man,

Mark 1:40-45- 40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” (If you are willing. It’s almost a question, Are you willing? Not can you help me? but will you help me? The most important question is this one, Lord, will you help me?)41Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (The compassion of Jesus brought a response that I’m sure no one expected. In fact this leper was in front of Jesus contrary to the law that would keep him apart from others who didn’t have leprosy.42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44“See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”45Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

This story is one of my favorites in the gospels. It’s a story of the prayer we have all prayed, “if you are willing.” We wait, hoping God is indeed willing to meet our needs, but he does so much more. This man had been without a human touch, without real love and without acceptance for so long that his first need, in spite of his obvious illness, was a touch. In that amazing moment of time Jesus did the unthinkable….he reached out and touched this dirty, diseased man. The touch did so much more than heal the disease, it healed the whole man.

Like this poor leper in Mark we each come to Jesus with all our sickness and disease visible for all to see…the bible calls it sin. Our plea is simple, if you’re willing you can make me clean, you can forgive my sins. And with a touch…that amazing touch….we each find healing and forgiveness.

As a result of that touch and the love of Jesus to meet this man’s needs a great exchange happened. It happens with us when we trust him. Some call it the exchanged life and indeed it is. But with this man the exchange was dramatic. The man who had lived alone and removed from mankind was now among them. Talking, touching, hugging and telling everyone about Jesus to such an extent that Jesus had to go to the wilderness away from mankind and even there the people, all in need of his touch, sought him out.

Mankind is still asking this man’s simple question, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” And his response is the same, with a touch of his hand he replies, “I’m willing, be clean.” And so, with all our warts and wrinkles, all our problems and struggles Jesus comes to touch the hurting and heal each one. If you’re wondering if he can fix your messy life just ask him. You’ll be amazed at the smile, the touch, the acceptance and the reply, “I’m willing, be clean.”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

If We Could See…

We all wear masks. Masks that tell others we are “ok” when we really aren’t. In public most of us pretend we have it together, all is well, but if we could see what others struggle with it would change how we interact with each other.
If we could see that a friend is insecure how would we treat them?
If we could see that a neighbor is afraid what would we do?
If we could see that a co-worker is depressed what would you say?
If we could see what’s really going on with each other it would change everything……but we can’t. We all wear masks to make the world think we are “ok”, but imagine how our relationships would change if we could see what’s really going on in a life? It would change everything!
What’s fascinating to me is that Jesus did see. He heard the unspoken words, he knew the unheard thoughts, he knew. And because he knew he dealt with people in a merciful and gracious way. He loved them. Here are his words for us, profound words for us who can’t see what the other person is going through, but if we could see this is what we would do….
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.””
So, here are your instructions for the day as you encounter the host of fallen mankind that will make your day crazy- be merciful, don’t judge, don’t condemn, forgive, and give. These are Jesus’ words to us because we can’t see….

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Relationships

As I work my way through life, through marriage, through parenting, and through God’s word I am keenly aware of one thing….

ALL of life is about relationship.

Relationship with God.

Relationship with my wife.

Relationship with kids, and grandkids.

Relationship with PEOPLE! People are everywhere and if I’m going to survive well I have to deal with them, get along with them and care about them,

But there is a problem. You know the problem well, don’t you? People are selfish, mean, frustrating, prideful, hard to get along with and just messy! People make life hard!!! Isn’t that funny? People around us are our main source of joy, frustration and struggle. And it’s just plain messy!

Today I’m working on a passage of scripture I will be teaching this week and it’s all about relationships….how to get along with PEOPLE. You would think we would have this figured out by now, but we don’t tolerate each other very well. We can’t seem to get along with others well at all. The ongoing wars on our little planet tell the tale of our inability to exist together. We seem better able to kill than to care.

Anyway, the passage I’m working through is all about relationships and the key word for these relationship to work is the word “submit.” It’s this idea: “put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.” Now you see why we don’t do this well, don’t you? We are in a ME world with instructions from God’s word to make this an OTHERS world. It’s something that we can only do as we imitate the only one who ever did it perfectly- Jesus.

Submit to one another, in other words put others ahead of you…put them first…care about them more than you do about you. That’s the solution to our world’s problems, but it can only happen as I allow God to live it out in me. He did it perfectly and he can do it now through me….if I will let him. It would be really easy if it weren’t for all the people I have to deal with…..

Previously posted 5/10/11. Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Simple Instructions

I have to admit that I’m a very simple person. I don’t think about grand thoughts of glory or have amazing insights into life and eternity. I am just a very simple guy who is trying to follow God and walk with him. I honestly find that most people are just like me, trying to find their way.

This morning, as I read Micah 6, I once more come to these simple instructions,

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In my simple language I would instruct someone else with these directions, do what’s right, be nice and respond rightly to God. It’s not all that hard. Life comes down to some very simple instructions. That helps a guy like me.

Jesus repeated these instructions and framed it in an even clearer way. He said “Love God and love each other.” That’s Micah 6 in its simplest form. Basically scripture tells us to focus on eternal things- God and people. Those are the things, the relationships that will be eternal. Everything else will burn up, rust, rot or be thrown away.

So today, I hope to focus on the eternal things- God and people. I hope to respond to them as Micah describes, do what’s right, be nice and walk humbly with God. I’m so glad this is simple. It helps to know how easy this really is. The secret is this- it’s not about me, it’s about God first and others second. It’s a life focused outward, focused not on the frantic scramble for security and stuff, but on people and God.

Simple instructions…..for a simple race, do what’s right, be nice and walk humbly with God.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Permission to Speak Freely

 

The permission to speak freely by Anne Jackson is an awesome book that talks about how we let our fears stop us from speaking freely about anything.  Freely speaking on our thoughts and fears about church, relationships, addictions, depression, family etc.  Her single statement “Fear Won” caught my heart.  Fear wins out so often over so many things in so many of our lives.  This book reminds us that we may never be completely free of fear, but that we can live a courageous life, speaking freely about the issues we have faced or are facing.

 

Many people struggle with depression and seasons of depression, wondering why they still fight it or are fearful of what others will think about them taking antidepressants etc.  She sums it up nicely when talking about seasons of depression saying  “feelings of insecurity and worthlessness is a chain I may never be able to break.”

 

She generously gives the gift of courage by stepping out and speaking out about her addictions, abuse and fear of talking freely about them.   She says “something in us begins to come alive in us when we see people overcome fear.” We draw courage from others who, regardless of fear, stand up and speak up.

 

Sometimes our fears of living our dreams keep up from even taking the first step.  Anne puts it this way “Their hearts are fighting for their dreams, yet fear claws away at their spirits, telling them their dreams are impossible.”   Sometimes it doesn’t take much more than a single twinge of fear to hold us back.

 

This book is very uplifting and encouraging.  Whether you are fighting seasons of depression, feelings of worthlessness, or anything else that grips your heart in fear, Permission to Speak Freely is sure to encourage you and maybe you’ll find the gift of going 2nd is something you can give to others by sharing your story.

One of my favorite quotes by Anne:

I had now seen the redemption and freedom that occurs when the darkness is forced into the light, disguised as awkwardly spoken words

 

The audio book is read by Anne Jackson, the author.  I feel that we could actually feel more of what she was feeling as she recounts some of what was going through her mind and heart while she was retelling her story.  Very well done.

 

I’d like to thank Christian Audio for the complimentary copy of this book through their Reviewers’ program.  Follow Christian Audio on Twitter here. Check their site each month for a free audio book download.  Good stuff there!

{{HUGS}} yall

@spreadingJOY