“A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger.” Now I should be the last person to write about a soft answer. I’ve always had a big mouth, not just in words, but in volume. Growing up, it was more common for me to hear “Heath, turn the volume down” than “Heath, eat your vegetables.” I guess that’s why I made a decent cheerleader, but a terrible bookkeeper. In the bible, God not only challenges us to use a softer voice, but He used one Himself. Especially in conversations with really messed up people. He was good like that. What’s the appeal to a soft voice? To illustrate, let’s compare soft things with their counterparts: a Sealy Posturepedic bed with a Down Comforter or a hard cot with a wool blanket? Soft cotton boxers or burlap underwear? Lavender Softsoap in a pump or a bar of Dial? Soft-upholstered LazyBoy recliners or hard benches? Soft things are appealing to us just like a soft voice is appealing to others. If you (like me) have the tendency to shout, yell, scream, roar, clamor or bark, we need to add a PAUSE button to our brains. Before we RESPOND in our usual loud way, press Pause in our heads & in that pause, adjust pitch & volume. THEN press play.
Today I stood in the “single-rider line,” to go on one of my fav rolly-coasters, the Incredible Hulk. I didn’t have my iPhone and I was by myself, so I people-watched. That’s when I made an observation: the group in front of me and the group behind me were all talking to each other. “But how do they know each other?” I thought to myself. I mean, “how are they in the single-rider line, but conversing like groups of friends?” I wondered how Islands of Adventure handled this? I wondered if it weighed on their conscious that this line wasn’t for them? I wondered if those standing in the very long line (in their groups) were ticked that this line was being taken advantage of? All sorts of things running through my manic mind as I waited. And then I thought, “there’s a blog post in this.” Look, no judgement, here. Maybe they had a good reason why they were in that line. But it did whisper to my spirit a reminder that I read in Luke 16, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Even when no one knows, even when no one cares, even when there’s no immediate consequence, things like “little white lies” and “cutting corners” are not me…being at my best. I want God to trust me with ALL He has for me. If I can’t be trusted with little things, I’ll miss out on the big things. Just a lil thought from the single-rider line.
Definition: [fer-giv] to grant relief from payment
Inspiration: ”He forgives all my sins.” Psalm 103:3
Application: It is one of the greatest feelings in the world: you owe money, and out of nowhere, you are told, “Don’t worry about paying it back.” If my alma mater, Judson College, had called to inform me that I didn’t need to pay back my debt, I would have accepted! And my Cuban would’ve freaked if I insisted on refusing the offer. Money is hard to come by–when pardon is made for something difficult to attain, it is wonderfully liberating. Guys, God freaks out when we hold onto our debt too. Since we were born, we have been sinning (accumulating debt). To date, my sin-debt is probably in the quint-trillions. But God says, “Heather, let it go, there is no sin you did that my Son did not die for.” For a Father to send his Son to be sacrificed in place of my sin, yet see me running around holding onto it, must truly grieve Him. As Christ-followers, if we took the chance to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, why can’t we take the chance to receive His forgiveness? What good does it do to hold onto it? And what good it does do TO LET IT GO! The bible says “He forgives ALL my sins…” Jesus didn’t die with a disclaimer. He didn’t suffer on exception. He died. He rose. You are forgiven. Let it go.
Yes you can. If you have God in your life, you can in your circumstance. You can have a breakthrough. You can be set free. You can have a second chance. You can reach that goal. You can step it up, break that habit, rebuke that addiction. You are dazed, but you can see. You are shy, but you can speak. You are burdened but you can be liberated. Abraham did. Moses did. David did. Esther did. Rahab did. Tamar did. Job did. Jonah did. Mary did. Paul did. Peter did. Jesus did! Oh Yes! YOU can. Whoever says you can’t, tell them you can…because: “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Oh Yes! You can!
When I was 11 years old, we moved to a new town. I was the new kid in Mrs. Roberts sixth-grade class. From the very first day of school, I was a target. One day, I walked onto the bus and sensed something was up. All at once, all the kids moved to the edge of their seats. But the bus-driver could not take off until I was seated. So seat by seat, row by row, I passed the laughing
boys and girls. Nobody would move in nor move over. Then someone stood up and yelled, “back of the bus, fungus face!” That year was full of tough moments like that and no doubt, it was a long year. I don’t know why, specifically, God allowed those things to happen–but as an adult, I have a general idea. Those years were birthing in me a piece of my character I would carry forever: a relentless desire to protect people I love and help people who are helpless. As Good Friday and Easter Sunday approaches…I will celebrate you, Jesus…for protecting your kids and helping the helpless. And I will say thank you, for creating in me a desire to do the same.
In the movie, The Passion of the Christ, the closing scenes are around the empty tomb. Why would a powerful movie end with something seemingly empty? Actually, “empty” can be a powerful thing. Consider these… -the empty Grand Canyon -our empty lungs we depend on to live -an empty womb after a human has birthed from it -the empty US Airways plane after ALL were rescued from it on the the Hudson River And the most powerful example…the empty tomb Jesus walked out of. It’s not a story, a theory, a disillusion. It’s not even a religion. The empty tomb of Jesus is a reality. Three days after the tomb held Jesus body, it held no body! My whole life hinges on that empty tomb. If Jesus had not resurrected, He would not be God. He would not be who He said He was. But He IS. He IS risen. He IS alive. He IS Lord. If you follow Jesus, be renewed by the empty tomb – Jesus who rose from the tomb has the power to raise you from any tomb of trial. If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, consider this empty tomb–if you feel nudged to change that, email or call me, let’s talk!
Today I thought about the things I unknowingly say that are so erroneous it’s not even funny. Here are four and here’s your assignment: if you catch me saying any of these, slap me. Ok, that’s another erroneous saying. Don’t slap me, but do call me out!
1) “I’m Starving” No, I’m not starving. Children who walk all day with their mommies to a feeding station to share a small bowl of rice are starving. I’m not starving.
2) “I’m Dying” No, I’m not dying. People in hospice are dying. People on death-row are dying. I need to be thankful every day I wake up, living.
3) “It’s Hopeless” It is never, never, never, never, never, never hopeless with Jesus. Jesus isn’t hopeless, he is hopeFULL. So if he’s in my heart, there’s no hopelessness in my circumstance.
4) “Worst Thing Ever” Nothing I have been through has literally been the worst-thing-ever. Hell is the worst thing ever. And since I am not going there, things can get worse, but they’re never going to stay that way. If God’s in it, God and I will get through it.
In Acts, the bible teaches us that Lydia, ‘…was a worshiper of the Lord God…after she and her family were baptized; she kept on begging us, “If you think I really do have faith in the Lord, come stay in my home.’ Finally, we accepted her invitation.” Lydia was an inviter? What? YES! Look at the text, after she accepted Christ, after she got baptized, she kept BEGGING these guys: TAKE my invitation! And they accepted! At some point, someone invited you to your church (or Church by the Glades). This week, as we head toward the Church’s BIGGEST weekend of the year, who can you invite? How can we be like Lydia–so pumped that we just GOTTA invite someone? YOU might be the SOLE catalyst between them and Jesus Christ. Recently, DJ and I were going through a drive thru, when I handed the cashier a CBG invite and she reluctantly took it. As we drove away, DJ said, “Mom, why do you keep inviting people even if they probably won’t go?” I said, “DJ, because one time, someone invited me and I didn’t want to go. Yet, reluctantly I went. And went again. And then it wasn’t reluctant any more. It was life-changing.” Friend, if Jesus has changed your life, let Him use you to invite someone to church this Easter, so He can change theirs.
I get it…not everybody loves Easter as much as I do. On Twitter, I’ve actually had the opportunity to “network” with a handful of atheists who pay no attention to this day. But here’s what I’d say to them, (if they’d ever give me the chance) (which they probably won’t) 1) If you ever get a chance, check out one of these books. Then, if you do, let’s have a Starbucks afterward…my treat! “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell 2) Please don’t think all Christians are like the ones that have given you reason to not like us. I’d like to make a sales-pitch that some of us work very hard to be like Jesus–who was pretty awesome at treating people with respect, dignity and love. 3) Lastly, if you wanna help build your case on why not to celebrate Easter, don’t watch my church’s service, online (cbglades.com) on April 20. If you do, enter at your own risk. It might change your mind.
Back in 2000, after I was released from the state psych ward, I was hypersensitive to mental labels. One time, I even left a room in tears when someone stereotyped “crazy.” That was then. This is now. Words like “crazy” don’t offend me any more. Hear me, if you struggle with mental affliction, it is not a laughing matter. It’s serious and needs treatment. But I do take it seriously and I have received treatment and I’m at peace with lighting MY mental load by jumping in on its slang. In short, it has helped me laugh a little more, it’s helped me make conversation with others not-so-awkward. It’s helped me–help others–understand mental illness better. If the world only knows words like “crazy,” then if I can use “crazy” to describe myself AND AT THE SAME TIME use that to educate them. Paul said, “I am not bound to obey anyone…yet I have freely and happily become a servant of any and all so that I can win them to Christ.“ I hope this encourages someone today.