August 25 Jeremiah 37,38,39; Psalms 79; 2 John

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Playing both sides | Nikki Metzger

S~ King Zedekiah agreed.  “All right,” he said.  “Do as you like.  I can’t stop you.” Jeremiah 38:5 (NLT)

So the king told Ebed-melech, “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies.”  Jeremiah 38:10 (NLT)

O~ In the first verse, the king is agreeing with his officials that Jeremiah should die and gives them permission to kill him, but then the king ended up saving him.  The king sounds fearful of the officials, but he is the king!

A~ “Playing both sides” is what the king was doing in regards to Jeremiah’s life.  Jeremiah never told the king anything good, yet the king seemed to want him around.  Officially, the king wanted Jeremiah dead, but quietly, he saved him.  The king seems wishy-washy….I don’t like that.

I don’t like wishy-washiness….or playing both sides, yet I felt like I was living that this summer during baseball season.  I always wanted to make every single parent on the team happy.  It was beyond stressful!  It’s kid’s sports, no matter what, no parent, all the time is going to be happy.  I was like the king, trying to please everyone, and as I see more clearly looking back, I can see how unhealthy that was.

I think wishy-washy attitude, or trying to play both sides, or trying to please everyone in the name of keeping the peace doesn’t work.  Own a side.  And honestly, true peace comes from the Lord.

P~ Father, what a summer!  Thank you for the tension that happened and the growth from it!  I pray for Your heart to be my heart for this upcoming baseball season and to care more about what You say than anything else!  In Jesus’ Name I pray!

Shame | Michelle Myers

S~ Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, will be with us in truth and love.” 2 John 3 (NCV)

O~ Grace, mercy, and peace are rooted in God.  Truth and love, are rooted in God.  Once I finally get this, I mean truly get this, people’s words, actions, and opinions will not matter; because I will finally know and fully understand who I am in Him.  That is where truth and love come in, because we as people, to some degree, are not 100% authentic (truthful) in either our presentation of ourselves and/or about our motives.  God IS truth.  God IS love.  Therefore, what He says about me, tells me to do, or even how He deals with me and my sins should override what people say or do.  His presentation is authentic.  His motives are pure.  His love is perfect.  His truth is reliable.

A~ There have been times, that I feel that I know who I am in You.  Yet, as situations arise, and I start to feel less than, messy, imperfect, and sometimes ashamed; I realize more and more that I don’t have a strong foundation in regards to who I am in You.  Until this gets resolved, life with people is going to be very difficult.  So I need You to continue to show me, where my thinking is out of alignment with Your truth.

Yesterday, the girls and I saw their first friends and their mom, from our old neighborhood in Walmart.  Birthday parties, sleepovers, car pooling, Girl Scouts, etc.; the normal childhood stuff, were part of our life, in regards to this family.  They knew that I left and filed for divorce.  I am sure to them, it seemed abrupt.  We put on a good show.  I held it together on the outside for along time.  One of the girls told my daughter, after we left and my husband was still at the house,  that she was shocked and never imagined that we would be getting a divorce.  For me, it wasn’t abrupt.  It had been years of me trying to hold it together, take care of everyone else, and make our marriage work.

If I see someone I know from afar, but our paths do not cross, I have never been one to seek them out.  Once our paths cross, I stop and converse with them.  My husband, will go out of his way to seek them out.  It can drive me crazy.  It used to be, that I did not do this and my irritation with my husband doing it, was more a matter of time.  If I am at a store, I am on a mission to get what I need, get out, and go on to the next thing.  It used to be that I was too busy and too overwhelmed.

However, You are showing me that this now has more to do with avoidance, because of a discomfort that arises within me.  Some of this discomfort is because of the memories, good or bad, that come about when I see certain people.  Some of it is that there is a lot of societal shame attached to multiple outcomes in my life.  There are the more common ones of filing for bankruptcy and divorce.  Sex addiction is still at a different level of shamefulness, when compared to other forms of addiction, in the eyes of society.  Even my struggle with nicotine, which has become more and more taboo, is more acceptable to society. Yet, what I do know is, the struggle with sex addiction, is not limited to a small group of people, it is not confined by socio-economic status, religious affiliation, education, etc.  Like all of our sinful behaviors and coping mechanisms, it does not limit itself to certain boundaries.

There may always be an emotional response to the good and bad memories, but they will not always be overwhelming.  Yet, You have shown me, that once I truly know, who I am in You, the need to avoid, will not be an issue.  I will be able to stand tall, without shame.  My motives in the conversation will be pure.  My presentation will be authentic.  I will be focused on Your truth in regards to who I am in You, regardless of my circumstances.  I will truly know  and comprehend, Your love for me.

P~ Thank you God for showing me an area, in which I am struggling.  You have been trying to show me this for awhile, as I am remembering multitudes of people that I know, from both my past and present, that I have not taken the time to approach or get out of my comfort zone with.  Shame is not Your thing.  It comes from my enemy.  In regards to the Subway guy, I pray for all the people involved.  Depending on where he is at in issues, he may not even truly or fully accept that there is a huge issue.  Addictions are great at keeping people in denial.  I empathize with his wife.  I am sure she is confused, angry, and disgusted.  The destruction of the family unit, will definitely have an impact on their children.  I pray that the innocent children in these videos are rescued and are eventually able to find You, heal from the deep wounds they so undeservingly will be left with, and that they will one day be able to feel Your love for them.  I pray for the teenage prostitutes, who probably do not have the capacity at this point in their lives, to understand what they are doing.  Some or all, may being doing this to survive.  Either way, anytime, when someone’s body is used for purposes other than what YOU truly intended it for, it leaves scars and holes, which often leaves people searching for fillers and medicines in the wrong place.  When that time comes, I pray that you are able to step in and show them who You are.

Loving by Example | Joni Tyner

S~ Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another; just as you heard from the beginning. 2 John 6 (NLT)

O~ John continues to teach the Christian  believers about true love and that Truth goes along with it.  As believers, these two fundamentals go hand and hand.

A~ Many readers, especially those with ties in the Omaha area, were stunned on Friday, August 21st, to hear that Ty and Terri Schenzel died in a terrible car accident. For those who had ever met Ty or Terri, (I knew them both) they were left with lasting imprints on what the New Testament looks like as they lived it out in modern day culture.  I want to share one specific story Terri told a group of ladies at a women’s retreat in 2014.

Terri began telling the group about their youngest son.  He had ADD, (like his father, she said). He was a disorganized mess. He always was losing things, forgetting to do chores, he occasionally said inappropriate things.  He frustrated her because she was organized and efficient—but still– she loved him.  And she knew that God loved him.  And she knew, with  love and guidance, he had great potential to be used for the much like his dad.  So…on this particular day, she was in a hurry to get to a MOPS group, they had asked her to speak and she was super excited!! She had been praying and wanting to begin a ministry encouraging young moms in the thick of “little kid chaos”.  She had planned her morning to drop off Tanner at the elementary school, she only needed to touch the break long enough for him to scoot out and she would just make it. Except…

“mom, I forgot my folder at home, I’m going to be in big trouble, I’ve already had warnings.”

Terri said she took a big breath and, (probably through the strength of the Holy Spirit) said something to the effect of, “I love you, I’ll go get it, you are going to get this organization thing down one of these days…”.  I don’t remember the exact words. What I do remember was, she didn’t lecture him, she didn’t shame him, there was no, “I’m important and 100 people are waiting on me to speak and you messed it up.”

There was grace.  (giving him less than he deserved)

So, that story has really impacted me as a mom.  Yes, there are many other things Terri and Ty  taught that I learned, …but, at the root of it, I need to give grace to my kids.  As I write this, I can say they are a hot mess. They aren’t getting everything right.  I’m disappointed and frustrated.  I also have a tendency to lecture and scold and say, “I told you so.”  Yet, maybe, just maybe, God is still molding their hearts for His Kingdom, a ministry that I don’t even know about. Maybe, they get beat up by the world enough that they need to feel some more unconditional love from their mom.  So after I cried a bit about hearing this shocking news, I smiled and asked my daughter where she wanted to go for lunch…just because.  I went to my sons work and I gave him a hug and told him I loved him.  To many readers, that is something you do every day, but for me, it had been a long time.  I never stopped loving him, I just stopped saying it. Why? I don’t know, I was too busy trying to “fix” him.  He needed to “get back to Jesus”,  he needed to get back into college,  he needed advice about how to _____.  But, I think he really needed to hear I still loved him.   Trust me, I know what enabling is, I know what teaching responsibility is…but, I think that the Holy Spirit is going to fill in my parenting gaps and help where I so often fail.  I think, I need to do some more loving and less lecturing.

P~ Dear Lord, my heart has been so saddened by the news of Ty and Terri.  I didn’t know Ryan, but my heart breaks for his wife and the pain she must be feeling.  Please comfort her. Please comfort Ty and Terri’s children as they struggle to move on without their parents.  Hold them up during rough days, I pray that each act of love is forever embedded in their hearts and they inspire others to love like their parents did.  Please help me and each of the readers this morning to choose grace and the act of love over lecturing.  Help me to do more forgiving and less shaming.    Lord…help us all.

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