GOD HATES YOU…?

What??? God hates you if… were words I heard this year from a group of 11, 12 & 13 year olds.

My heart broke because in their voices I could hear how much they believed what they were saying. They also said Churches hate you if….

To complete both sentences they went on to say a variety of reasons why God/Church might hate someone. My job is to listen and not interrupt. If you work with young people, then you may know how important vital it is to listen–to really listen all the way, to let them finish speaking.

Their conversation reminded me that what children see all too often is hate. Hate, arguments and people taking a stand in a way that steps on the hope of young people.

When we spew anger and judgement, we create an environment where a young person feels compelled to take a side. And like those teens expressed, we create barriers that a young person decides they won’t cross. Adults, do we think of the impact before we post something negative on facebook? Do we consider that speaking negative words might turn someone away from God instead of toward Him?

Q: How willing is someone to try going to church when they think they would not be welcomed through the door?

A: They are not willing and they don’t think church would even be an option for them.

But could we, adults, choose to love, choose to listen, choose to be open and inviting?

We can. And some do. But not enough.

I challenge us to read and review Matthew 7. Oh, what a wonderful chapter! That is one of the places in the Bible where you’ll find “Judge not, that ye not be judged.” Jesus talks about how we all have stuff we’re dealing with. He says to deal with our own issues and not point out other people’s challenges.

When Jesus was done speaking, Matthew 7:28-29 says …the people were astonished at his doctrine for He taught as one having authority…. Astonished? I picture the people in the crowd looking at one another with expressions of Wowza, He really meant that or Oops, I resemble some of what He said.

And here we are, thousands of years later, many still judging and still hating. We are human, but can we work to be better, to judge less or not at all? I believe not judging takes practice and prayer.

The teens did ask for me to chime in eventually. I shared, “In my experience God is love and He loves everyone no matter who they are or what they’ve done.” I paused, “And I’m grateful to say that I feel like the doors are wide open and people are welcoming at my church. There are many types of churches in your community.”

“Really?” some of them said.

“Really.” I smiled. And with that, their random topic changed to something else in the way that teenage conversations sometimes do.

Dear God, Thank you for your Word. Thank you for your teachings. Please help me not to judge. Help me to be open. Help me never to diminish someone’s chance for hope and peace. Help me to express Your love. Amen

Remember, the children are watching and listening. Care, don’t scare.

God loves you,

Glenna

DON’T DRAG THE ORANGE CONES

I cried out wimpered to God on my drive to one of our workshop schools. I longed to read God’s Word, but I had not made the time yet that day. My drive time prayer went something like:

Dear God,
I praise you. You have the answers and you know I am struggling. I’m fighting feelings of being left out or not being picked. Why did they choose someone else over me? Why do I care? And why am I wasting the mind space to think about this? I know if I had read your Word today that peace would fill me and keep me moving forward. I don’t want to battle negativity. I don’t want to hurt like this. Show me what I need to know in order to let this minor pain go. Amen

Then I thought about the kind cards and words I received the previous week from people offering sweet birthday wishes. I thought about how people seem to think I’m a positive person and usually smiling. Yeah, well I’m still plagued with being human. We all have areas to overcome. I don’t want to be phony. The best compliment is when I hear someone say “you’re authentic”. And let me tell you, I can be authentically a mess as well as someone who has it together. Continuous improvement and staying upbeat are goals of mine, but this day I felt kinda low.

Then God provided an illustration.

What is that horrible noise? I thought my tire may have gone flat. I slowed down and stopped. Getting out of the van I saw part of the problem. I had run over orange cones in the school parking lot. Now my van was dragging them. I pulled out a couple cones and returned them to their proper spot. Lord, did anyone see me?

Embarrassed and back in the van, I continued to drive. Then the noise came back. What?! I stopped again. And again. Another cone was wedged under the van and was not coming out unless I crawled underneath on the wet, dirty pavement. My work day was not done so I didn’t want to get dirty.

I drove some more. I considered driving over bumps and dips in the road to encourage the cone to come out.

I felt like God was saying: See. Carrying around hurt and pain is like dragging orange cones. They cause you to have to stop and start a lot.

Then the cone fell out. My time wasted dragging orange cones was over. I raised an eyebrow toward heaven and considered how that experience was a perfect illustration of how we drag negativity around with us.

God will take care of the orange cones. I don’t need to drag those painful feelings with me. Negativity will only slow me down.

Today I will read God’s word earlier in the day and dwell on verses that fill me with comfort and joy.

If you are carrying around orange cones, here are a couple helpful verses. God bless you. May you be encouraged.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in meβ€”practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:19

Glenna