Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We Remember Tohoku on 3.11.2014

March 11.2014.  It's been three years.  How many years before we forget the significance of March 11th - 2:46 p.m.? 

My heart still breaks for the nation of Japan. Over 15,000 people died that day. 1,500 still missing. There are very few words to capture the feelings of this day. 

I remember where I was. 

I remember the helplessness of being in Tokyo and unable to communicate with my family -  which was without power, communication and running short on essentials.

I remember the C 130 which finally got us HOME. Then the evacuation and our choice to stay in Japan.

I remember the weeks of relief work...the recovery and relief missions in the snow.

I remember watching people search through the rubble for loved ones, a piece of home.

I remember the fear and grief we felt.

I remember the relationships! The Japanese neighbors who thanked us for staying. The dear friend who acted as translator while we delivered relief kits. The chapel team which worked tirelessly to prepare home kits. The deep relationships which grew from sharing this moment in history together. We have all since finished our assignments and moved from Japan,  but I'm quite sure we all still remember this day with our hearts in Japan.

I remember the dignity and the resilience shown by the Japanese people. One such example - which I heartily recommend -  is the Nozomi Project. These ladies make jewelry from shards of broken pottery left after the tsunami.

I feel like I should have profound words to share; but my heart is too full.

Japan still needs your prayers. Many are currently facing the requirement to move out of temporary housing - though their towns and everything they owned disappeared in a moment. How do you save enough to move on, while paying for a home which no longer exists? How do you rebuild a lifetime of equity in 3 years? How do you work when your town is gone? And the town up the road? Most of all Japan still needs an awakening to the heart of God. Please join me in praying for this land we love.

If you desire to read more about what that time was like for our family click the "tsunamis and other disasters" link in the side bar. 

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

What About Enemies????

"God says I have to love you, but I don't have to like you."

 The first time this was said to me, it took my breath away. This person had no intention of giving me a second chance to win back trust or rebuild that which was broken.  There was no attempt to move into a mutually blessed relationship. There were boundaries - tall, thick and impenetrable. I was forgiven, because God commanded it, but I was never to be a friend. I learned much in this season. I learned to love with no expectation of reciprocation. I learned I am STILL, at heart, a people-pleaser and gave this person far too much power over my thoughts and emotions. I learned it is SIN to allow another to define my worth - God has defined my worth. I learned it is dangerous and sinful to accept another's labels - that role also belongs to God. I learned it is possible to love the Lord and set boundaries with others...but those boundaries shouldn't be set in stone. Boundaries should be open to the softening of the Holy Spirit as all grow in grace and wisdom. I learned this person was correct - God does not command me to like my enemies.  I also learned we are far to quick to label those we don't like as "enemies."  I learned it takes minute by minute dependence on God to obey His commands on how we are to treat our enemies.

An enemy (Strong's #2190) is one who hates you. There is real enmity and hostility. Yes, I've had enemies, as I'm sure you have. Not every person who disagrees with me or doesn't succumb to  warm fuzzies in my presence is my enemy. ::grin::

The Old Testament commanded we love our neighbors. We  struggle with THAT concept. Jesus, however, took things to a new level. He tells us to love our enemies!  This post will not be short and pithy. Neither, will  it thoroughly cover the topic. Here are some life lessons I've learned at Jesus' feet, centering on

Luke 6:27-36.

How do I Biblically Treat "Enemies"? 

Love Your Enemies (27) - Agape (Strong's #26) them. My friend was right. This is NOT the warm fuzzies. This is not like. I find peace in that. I try to love all - but you know there are some who are just plain mean and hard to like. Jesus isn't calling us to deny our situation or feelings. He is not calling us to hypocritically say we "love" someone, who in fact,  we cannot "stand."  He IS calling us to Agape. What does that mean? I don't have to FEEL it. It's a choice of my will. I direct myself to lay down my life for another. I direct my energies to their good. I serve another. It's the same love God has for ME and YOU....it may be harder than "liking" another. This is possible because the Holy Spirit pours this love into my heart - Romans 5:5.

Do good to them (27) -  Instead of grumbling, gossiping, plotting revenge - I'm to do good (Strong's #2573). My actions are to be "suitable, proper and beneficial."

Bless those who curse you (28) - I am to BLESS my enemies. WHAT does this mean? I'm to make them cookies? I'm to send them cheerful notes? I pray God gives them all manner of good things even as they continue to be hostile?  It is interesting the word used here is NOT the same word used in the beatitudes a few moments earlier (Luke 6:20-26). That blessed is to declare someone to possess the full favor of God. That is not my job.  To bless (#2127) in this verse means to "invoke God's action and intervention in their lives to accomplish His will!" It is "invoking God's blessing upon them by praying that they may be turned from their ways through God's intervention in their lives." Dr. Zodhiates.  Can I do this? Yes. It is how I hope others are praying for me.

Curse (#2672) in this verse is simply to wish something bad to happen. I've been guilty of cursing others rather than blessing them. I know others are guilty of cursing me - and my response is to be to bless them - to pray for God's intervention in their lives.

Pray for those who mistreat you (28)- I pray for them as I'd like others to pray for me. I pray for God's purposes to be unleashed in their life. I pray for continued growth in all areas of their life. I pray for peace in the relationship - and sometimes it happens -  sometimes I simply walk in peace through the relational turmoil.

Treat enemies the way you want to be treated (31) I want others to  forgive. I must forgive. I choose to forgive even those who act spitefully. I am learning it is o.k. to set boundaries while forgiving and loving....as long as they are "soft" boundaries and I remain alert to the Holy Spirit's work in the situation.

Lend - expecting nothing in return (35) This expecting means that I give without looking for an earthly return. I expect nothing in return.
Via Google Images

Be merciful just as your Father is merciful (36) - A son is expected to exemplify his father's character. Our Father is merciful (Strong's #3629). Our father is actively compassionate.

God is not calling me to be schizophrenic. He calls me to direct my will to the benefit of those who are hostile towards me. He knows I won't have warm brotherly feelings towards these people, but I AM to lay down my life for them. He calls me to do good, invoke His presence in their lives, pray for them,  lend as needed, and to be merciful.

I obey His clear teaching, not because I hope my enemies will eventually love me. I obey simply because our Father has done this for me. I am to imitate Him even in this hard place - where some truly do not like me and are actively hostile.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...