Sunday Sheep Ponderings- November 27,2016

Pondering today on “walking in someone else’s shoes”.
With all the election drama that has transpired over the last few months and with all the extended family togetherness the holidays bring, I find myself wondering. 
I wonder why some people see things as black while others see them as white? I wonder why some people rejoice while others are so downcast? I wonder why some people are so passionate while others are so passive? Why do some see the glass half empty while others see it half full?
So I ponder. What is it like to walk in their shoes? What joys and hurts have shaped the way they see life? What victories and defeats created their insecurities? What cultural practice or religious lense do they see life through? 
In general, many of us are quick to judge others. 

We jump to conclusions and try to read a book by its cover. We attach broad, generic labels to people who are intricately unique and valuable.
But people are worth the benefit of the doubt. They deserve 2nd and 3rd and 4th chances. We are all making our way through this journey called life. Some of our journeys look like a stroll in the park, some look like a marathon run, some a roller coaster ride and some seem to be climbing Mt. Everest and feel like they will never make it to the top. No two journeys are alike and it’s for this very reason that we should be “quick to listen and slow to speak”. We should take the time to read the book and discover the whole story.
What if…we took our shoes off and tried someone else’s on for a few steps? What if…we took a detour and walked beside someone else for a bit? What if we saw what they’ve seen? What if we felt what they feel? What if we learned what they know? What if?
I’m so thankful that the love of God can transform us from “Judge” to “Advocate”. Mine has been a long journey of judging, sentencing and punishing people. I sat on the bench ruled by religious arrogance, personal insecurity and closed mindedness. I missed so many opportunities to love others and to extend compassion and empathy. BUT that’s not the end of my story. I’m so thankful for a God who loves us unconditionally. I’m so thankful for a God who has walked EVERY step of my journey in my shoes with me. I’m thankful for a God who does not judge as people judge but sees our heart. Hearts that have loved and hearts that have lost. Hearts that have been full and hearts that are starved. Hearts that have been nurtured and hearts that have been stabbed. Hearts that He alone will revive and restore. 
So next time we are tempted to judge, label, or criticize…let’s stop, ponder, and try on a different pair of shoes. Happy Sunday my friends! Love well. 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings- November 13,2016

Pondering today on sovereignty. A fancy way of saying “God is in control”.
This pondering may ruffle some feathers and I can say that because it ruffled mine. Please remember that my Ponderings are simply that…my questions and the limited revelation I have today. We are all learning and growing and that is one of my favorite things about this journey called life. I share my Ponderings to simply provoke thought in you. AFTER pondering on what I write, you may agree or you may disagree and that is ok…just don’t argue here.
I would say, that for most of my life, I would have said “God is sovereign” or ” God is in control”. There was supposed to be comfort and reassurance in those words but for me….it made me doubt his love. So, a 5 yr old little girl is raped and murdered…but God is in control? Hitler rises to power and brutally murders 11 million innocent people…but God is in control? I could list example after example of heart breaking situations that people claim God to be in control of. If this is true, is God really love? That is the dilemma I have quietly struggled with for many years…afraid to say it out loud for fear of all the judgement from my fellow Christians and, dare I say it, even possible judgement from God.
But the season of the journey I have been on for the last several years has brought peace and understanding. It has removed all fear of judgement and replaced it with an exciting anticipation of what beautiful truth I will awaken to next.
So where have I landed on the sovereign question? I have landed with this…God is ALL powerful, ALL knowing, and ALL LOVE. He never promised to “control” and his desire is not authority or supremacy. His promise was to be with us, to be in us, to love us. His desire is relationship. 
Scriptures draw a picture of this relationship as the love of parent and child. A parent teaches. A parent guides. A parent shares wisdom. A parent celebrates your victories. A parent holds you in your defeats. A parent treasures you. A parent desires that you soar in freedom and confidence. A parent loves unconditionally.
Scripture also tries to explain this relationship as the love of a beautiful marriage. A husband encourages. A husband empowers. A husband enjoys your presence. A husband knows you intimately. A husband values your thoughts and ideas. A husband makes your victories taste sweeter. A husband makes your valleys not so dark and lonely. A husband loves passionately. 
If this is your understanding of this relationship that God desires to have with you …you find way more peace and comfort knowing “God is with you” than “God is in control”. 
I don’t believe God controls this world…I believe God loves this world. I don’t believe God has a master plan that includes all kind of pain and evil. I believe God will hold me as I walk in a world full of pain and evil. 
And I hope that I will always give God the benefit of the doubt when things happen that I don’t understand. And I hope that I will always error on the side of “God is love” when life hands me pain and suffering. And I hope that I will always believe in God’s goodness, over every thing I hear or see to the contrary.
Happy Sunday my friends! 

Sunday Sheep Ponderings – November 6,2016

Pondering today on relationship. 
I think that we, as humans, tend to relate to God in the same way we do to other humans. I mean we say that He is far greater than us, that He is “other”, that He is “God” but don’t we pull Him down to our level when we try to relate to Him?
I think most of us see this relationship as a “give and take”. If I do this, then God will do that. If I love Him, He will love me. If I give to Him, He will give to me. If I serve Him, He will serve me. If I do “right”, He will accept me. If I do “wrong”, He will reject me. If I believe correctly, He will save me. If I don’t believe, I am dammed. 
Don’t get me wrong, I related to God this way for 40 years BUT no more my friends. You see what I believed was “good news” for most of my life, wasn’t really good news at all. I was trying to have a “relationship” with God that was far inferior to the the “relationship” He wanted to have with me. I just didn’t see it. I just didn’t get it. I just didn’t understand it. 
GOD IS LOVE! EVERY THOUGHT HE HAS TOWARD US IS LOVE! He doesn’t have a hidden agenda. He isn’t keeping a record of wrongs. He has no expectations of you. He doesn’t need you to “do”, “believe” or “serve” in order to be accepted by Him. There are no “ifs” in this relationship! It is not a “give and take” and it is so extremely one sided that there is no way you could tip the scale! Ever! 
You are completely and perfectly and extravagantly loved and nothing you can do or say will stop it! His love is not dependent on you! His love is all Him! 
We all have a choice. 
We can reject His love and wander through this life without peace, joy and hope. We can reject His love BUT that does not mean His love rejects us. He just keeps pouring it out, expecting nothing in return. (Don’t get your religious feathers ruffled here😉)
The other choice is to accept His love. To just “be”. Be held. Be accepted. Be adored. Be comforted. Be encouraged. Be amazed. Be loved. 
Our choice doesn’t change Him…it changes us. 
If there are “ifs” in your relationship with God, you may want to ask Him about those. If there are requirements in your relationship with God, you may want to ask Him about those too. If you are using scriptures to support these “ifs” and requirements, you may want to ask Him if you are reading those in their proper context and translation. And after asking Him, listening for HIS answers and not religions answers….you may just see things differently. I did and it it has changed me forever. I have found a love like no other love, a God like no other being and a relationship that far exceeds what I could have asked or hoped for. 
Happy pondering my friends!