Thursday, December 29, 2011

Judas, Peter & the New Year

I haven't blogged in a LONG time....but I think I need to start doing it again more regularly.  I will eventually share thoughts and pics from my trip to Africa.  As I look at the New Year ahead, I find myself thinking ALOT.  I'm thinking about what I want for my life and what God expects from me.  I'm weighing what was of value in 2011 and what would be of benefit in 2012.

Something very weird happened to me this year.  I turned 40.  But I also turned a page in my life and thinking.  I'm not quite sure when it happened exactly.  All I know is it did.  I'm not always sure how to describe it, but I can sense and see it in different circumstances. God has given me assurances about certain things and unfortunately for some that makes me a little more secure.  By default it makes me just a little bit less of a people pleaser and one more step closer to being one whose sole purpose is to please the heart of God!  Praise God!  I have so  much to change to be more like Christ.  What I have noticed though is that often people think we need to change to be more like THEM to be considered more like Christ.  I am my own worst enemy in that sense.  I spent the majority of my early walk with God trying to be like the people in my life because surely they knew more about being "christian like" than I did.  Often times they did!  BUT while there are certain Biblical, foundational things that are for purity, honesty, holiness, etc.....there are other things that are meant to be different in each of us because we are different parts of the body.

You can be quiet, while I'm loud and that's ok.  But we still BOTH have to be loving.  You can be all about the details, while I am about the general idea and that's ok, but we both have to put God first.  Not sure if that makes sense.

Let me share this.  I used to work with someone that was very shy.....very shy.  She was insecure about talking to people and not confident in who she was.  I'm outgoing and can talk to anyone.  There was a point where I was challenging her to step outside of her shell and she thought I was asking her to be like me, which was not true at all.  In fact, I wanted her to finally be herself, not fearful of people or what they might think.  I was trying to teach her about sharing her faith openly and she wanted to say that it was an assignment she wasn't capable of because of her personality.  The only problem is that it wasn't a man made assignment.  It was a God command!  Go and make disciples!  After working with her for a long time, turns out that she was very judgmental.  Her fear came from the fact that she felt that people would judge her as harshly as she knew she secretly judged others.  Let me say here that this was an awesome person.  She was not mean or cruel or bad.  She was everything kind and wonderful, but God was doing something great in her heart.  As she began to challenge her fears and push herself to grow,  a miraculous thing happened!  She became less shy and more secure when talking to people!  She began to deal with the issues of her heart and grew in intimacy with God.  She is no where near as outgoing as I am but she is also not judgmental either.  She is a great woman of God with grace and beauty to share.

I say all this to challenge you to evaluate the relationships in your life as you go into the New Year.  I spend hours talking to people that would have less drama, pain and confusion if they would walk away from unhealthy relationships or set boundaries for others.  Lest you think I'm speaking just to you, let me say here that I'm speaking of myself as well.  I've been really going over my relationships.  There are some that I allow too much from and others that I don't require enough from.  I, too, plan on making changes in the new year.

God moves us in and out of situations and brings people in and out of our lives. Whenever possible, don't stay where you are tolerated. Go where you are celebrated! Life is too short to spend time where you can't trust.  As you go into the new year, check the people in your life.  There are some you can't separate from, but why pull an unhealthy relationship into another year?  If someone will talk behind your back, they are not a real friend.  If they will lie about you, they will lie to you.  Period.  There was a distinct difference between Judas and Peter. Peter messed up a lot!  He failed to understand and be who he was supposed to be at times.  He even denied affiliation with Christ! But it was all done out front so he was easy to criticize and ultimately correct. I submit that it was Judas who was most dangerous because everything he did, he did in secret, behind closed doors.  He put up a front publicly, never outwardly messing up as much as Peter.

Our natural tendency is to draw close to the Judases because outwardly they "have the look", "say the right things", "have the appearance of respectability".  Remember Judas carried the money bag!  We tend to shun or grow tired of the Peter's because they are so rough on the outside and often do the things that would be socially unacceptable.  Yet, to Judas, Jesus said "Whatever you must do, do quickly", to Peter, Jesus said "Upon this rock I will build my church".  That says a lot!

If God has allowed a Judas in your life, I pray grace for you. But don't hang onto one when you don't have to.  Learn to know the difference between a Peter and a Judas and go into the New Year blessed and free!  Let's work on that together, shall we?