Girlfriends Review: Authenticity

girlfriendsI find myself striving for perfection more often than I’d like. Just when I think I’ve beaten the temptation to put on airs, I fall victim to false pretense once again. Recently, our family posed for our annual Christmas card pictures, and we had 3 major meltdowns while we got dressed.

I can’t wear this if she’s wearing that!

My hair looks like THIS??!!

Who stole my sweater?

We were bickering and complaining, and then we slapped happy smiles on our faces and posed for the perfect family picture. We wanted perfection (or at least a facade of it), and we allowed that desire to ruin our afternoon.

Why do we do that? Why do we want to present ourselves as “perfect” to a watching world? Why not just be authentic? 

In an age of Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram it seems so much easier to pretend like we have all the answers (thanks google) and do all the craftiest projects (thanks Pinterest). Yet, we struggle to present our authentic selves.

No one wants to post a pic of the pile of dishes in their kitchen sink or a video montage of all the spats our kids have on the way to school. We much prefer showing the “perfect” parts of our lives with a cool filter added to our photographs make others oohhh and ahhhh.

But authenticity requires transparency and admission of failure. It’s truth-telling about all areas of life.

Last night, I hosted Girlfriends (our women’s environment) at Mountain Lake Church as my friend Hannah Whitley talked to us about this very topic. My takeaway from the night:

Perfection is not relatable, but authenticity is. 

None of us are perfect. Let’s just throw that out there. Maybe we choose to withhold this truth and live a false life because we think that we have to be perfect to be liked or valued or accepted.

Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  The only perfect we need to be is that kind of perfect that Christ calls for us and sets the example to be.  Nothing else. Not perfect like your neighbor who has a blemish-free past. Not perfect like your friend who posts pictures of her house that always looks clean. Not perfect like your favorite blog/Instagram account/Christian author. We have one obligation in life when it comes to perfectionism – IT’S CHRIST.

Do you know what HIS idea of perfect is?

Matthew 22:37-39  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Wow. All other secular ideas of perfectionism fall to the wayside, don’t they?

Let’s stop pretending. Let’s be real with one another. Let’s share where we are struggling in our marriage, in our singledom, in our parenting, and in our faith. Let’s carry each other’s burdens because we have ACTUALLY admitted we have burdens and failures. 

Today, friends, let’s choose to be authentic. Our greatest worth lies in being exactly who God created us to be. Nothing more.

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The Things I Learn At Starbucks

A friend and I were at Starbucks talking about….well, things friends talk about. We covered a whole host of topics – God, marriage, relationship, you name it, we covered it. At times, we listened and empathized. Other times, we offered each other wisdom and advice. I left energized with new ideas and a new motivation to tackle my agenda.

We all have areas of our lives that we wish we were better at, more adept at managing. All of us have areas of our lives – public and private – that we could simply improve. From friendship to parenting and from spiritual growth to personal integrity, we can all agree that life sometimes gets the best of us causing us to recognize our needs for improvement.

I think many of us have great intentions of making our lives better, but the routine of daily life robs us of our focus on the BIGGER picture, so we’re left doing the same old thing day in and day out. Sound Familiar?

But something happens at Starbucks when I meet a friend. 

When I spend time with someone who is walking the same road I am in life, I am gain insight and ideas to challenge myself. When I let someone else know what I’m thinking and what’s testing me, I’m much more likely to take action steps. Gaining insight and admitting my weaknesses brings about growth….change!

Would you like a Starbucks moment with a friend? I’ll save you the trip. Join us at Mountain Lake Church this Thursday for Band of Brothers (7AM for the guys) and Girlfriends (7PM, you guessed it, for the ladies). We’ll connect, create friendships, hear what God has to say about issues we’re facing, and most importantly, learn how to make beneficial changes in our lives.

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My Plan To Serve

So my last few posts have been all about making plans – plans to turn our good intentions into our best successes – in 4 major areas of life:

Personal Growth

Leading/Supporting my family

Using the gifts God gave me

Building Community

If you ever feel as if life is running faster than you can keep up, these posts are for you. Making plans (and then sticking to them) is a key to success! Setting an agenda for key areas of our lives enables us to stay laser focused on accomplishing what really matters to us. Of course, interruptions arise and the unexpected comes along, but with a plan we can navigate our responsibilities with ease.

That’s why I’m sharing my plans with you. Maybe you’ll be inspired with one good idea…or two!

Today, I’ll share my plan to serve those around me by using the gifts God gave me. As a Christian, I know God has given me gifts – unique abilities to do certain things well (Romans 12:6) – and God expects me to use those gifts to benefit the church (Ephesians 4:16). But, the church isn’t the only place I’m called to serve. 1 Peter 4:10-11 tells us that when we use our abilities to help others, we bring glory to God. In other words, we’re called to serve the church and the world.

Understanding my gifts helps direct where I spend my time. Some of my gifts include organization, leadership, writing, and teaching. So here is my plan:

1. Using my gifts in the church:

  • I lead the women’s ministry in our church, teaching on a monthly basis. I write my teaching messages on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the 3rd week of the month. I review/memorize my messages for 3 days prior to each event. No other appointments take priority over this plan. On those weeks, errands/appointments are minimized.
  • As needs arise, I make myself available for other opportunities to serve. That’s exactly why I build margin into my calendar – unscheduled time to give me freedom to say yes!
  • I invest into the Ministry Team by celebrating important days and big wins in their ministry areas. Using Google Calendar, I mark birthdays, anniversaries, and hire dates. Setting alerts/reminders helps me! I also write an online newsletter for the ladies on our Team during the 4th week of each month. Of course, it’s scheduled on my calendar!
  • Finally, I partner with my husband for the work of our ministry. Brainstorming message ideas, planning future events, management concerns, or simply being by his side…..we schedule all of theses things on our shared Google Calendar! One of our best ministry ideas was to create our 10AM Friday meetings. We review his weekend message, discuss other ministry issues, and download any family business.  That meeting is GOLD!

2. Using my gifts in the community:

  • I write short articles about faith for a local magazine, Up In Cumming. With a readership of 70,000+, I’m able to leverage my influence for God in a great way. I also write my own lovely blog and am a contributing writer for Flourish.tv, a website for ministry wives. I don’t want to squander my gift for writing, so I’ve found a few good ways to use it to honor God. My plan: I write blog posts on Saturdays and Sundays for the following week; I write magazine/Flourish articles on Tuesdays during the 3rd/4th week of the month.
  • I also teach/mentor/coach others in various ways, both in personal and group settings. I’ll share more about this in my next post.
  • Whenever I can, I accept leadership responsibilities for the activities in which my family is already engaged. Team Mom for cheer squads or helping out with a football team….I never underestimate the opportunity that being in leadership affords: making relationships with people who I can hopefully invite to church. I usually complete any required work during my kids’ practices.

So, there you have it – my plan to love and serve God and the world. My goal is not to change the world….just to change my world, the immediate community in which I live.

What’s your plan? How will you use your unique abilities to do certain things well? To help the church? To serve the world?

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Girlfriends Review: I Am Forgiven

I have the honor of leading the women of our church each month in an environment just for them called Girlfriends. This month we continued a teaching series, Who Am I? Our goal? To stop defining ourselves by the roles we play (wife, mom, employee, etc) or the ways others identify us (as the funny one, the perfect one, the lazy one, etc) and learn, instead, to define ourselves the only way God ever intended us to define anyone to do so – through the eyes of our Creator. So, we’re asking the question, Who Am I? and allowing God to answer us through His Word. Here is a summary of our time together this month:

Have you ever felt guilty about something? I bet you have. Maybe you said something to someone who crossed the line and you felt badly.  Maybe you behaved in some way that was less than stellar – maybe no one even knows – and you keep rehashing it in your mind.  Whatever the case, we’ve all said and done things that we wish we could forget, right?

Recently, I’ve seen situations like this play out up close and personal.  From children to adults, we all deal with situations in which we’ve…..well, messed up.

I’ve witnessed my kids wrong one another and then meltdown when they were busted.  

I’ve witnessed friends face the financial consequences of unwise spending.  

And, I’ve walked with a friend whose husband confessed to an affair.  

These circumstances may all be vastly different with varying levels of consequences, but the emotional state – the way we feel in the end – is the same.

Guilt.

We feel guilty when we make unwise choices that cause pain.  Most of the time, our guilt brings with it shame, embarrassment, and a desire to hide and it affects how we view ourselves. We’re tempted to equate ourselves with those emotions….believing the worst about ourselves.  All of us have felt shame and embarrassment over things that have brought us – or others – pain. So it’s a very normal feeling. But, there’s one MAJOR problem with this very normal feeling of guilt.

Guilt – wallowing in the pain and shame of our actions – gets us nowhere!  Well, that’s not exactly true.  It does get us somewhere.  It takes us down a road of sadness, depression, low self-esteem, and stagnation in our relationships. Yet, Scripture teaches us, as followers of Christ, to respond to our failures in a much different way. Check it out:

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”

Here’s the deal:  God absolutely wants us to recognize the pain we cause when we sin, yet He wants MUCH MORE from us. He wants more than our acknowledgement that we’ve messed up.  He wants much more than our wallowing in guilt when we mess up. He has a different plan for those who follow Him. He wants us to feel conviction SO THAT WE WILL change our ways.

The kind of sorrow God wants us to feel leads us away from sin. You see, God wants GODLY SORROW, not WORLDLY REGRET. In other words, God wants us to feel the pain our choices have caused.  But, if we’ll allow Him, He will use those painful emotions to drive us – to motivate us, to remind us – to avoid those mistakes in the future. Godly sorrow is an understanding that whatever we’ve done to hurt someone else has also hurt God. Godly sorrow motivates us to repent….to change our ways….to turn away from our sin. To put measures in place to avoid those actions in the future.

Friends, there’s a difference between worldly regret and Godly sorrow. Worldly regret is simply guilt that leaves you feeling full of shame and embarrassment with no real plan to prevent those mistakes in the future.  Godly sorrow is sorrow accompanied by conviction to make changes so you won’t walk the road of shame and regret in that area of your life anymore.

Worldly regret and Godly sorrow.  One leads to future pain, the other leads to spiritual gain.  WHO ARE YOU? You are forgiven. That was settled over 2000 years ago on the cross when Jesus died for your sins. Don’t settle for guilt when you mess up. Allow yourself to feel the conviction of your sins so you can walk away from those actions and relish the salvation God has given you!

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Girlfriends Review: I Am A Fighter

Each month I lead an event for the women of our church called Girlfriends.  This semester we’re taking a close look at Scripture and discovering who God created us to be….who He defines us as.  We often try to define ourselves by the roles we play or the way others view us (I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter or I’m the funny one or the smart one or the trouble maker or I’m a failure).  But, over the next few months, we’re learning to define ourselves the only way God ever intended any of us to – through His eyes….through the eyes of our Creator.

Last month we began answering the question by learning a little about our unique giftedness and our unique personalities.  We took a personality profile test and a spiritual gift test and learned tons.  Some of us have dominant personalities….others are more introverted.  And, we pinpointed some of the unique abilities we have to do certain things well.

Since then, I’ve talked with many of you about what you learned and what you are experiencing.  I talked with one friend who is going through a difficult season of life. Her child has been diagnosed with acute ADHD.  She feels very little control as each day another setback in parenting or emotional control hits her square in the face.  She ends her days right now exhausted and depleted.  She is usually a fun, happy person, but she hasn’t smiled or laughed…or enjoyed life….in months.  She doesn’t recognize herself and wonders who she is anymore.

What about you?  When struggles come your way, how do you respond?  Do you believe the assumptions of others about who you are?  Are you tempted to doubt God’s love for you when life spins out of control?  When circumstances rock your world, are you defined by them?

If you are like everyone else in the world, you would answer yes!  We are all tempted to allow our circumstances define us….to determine our outlook. Yet, God encourages us to rise above that temptation and see that we can FIGHT through those emotions!

Acts chapter 12 tells a story of devastating circumstances.

James was executed.

You know who James was, right?  One of the 12 apostles.  One of Jesus’ best friends.  One of the chosen three men who witnessed Jesus reveal his Heavenly glory (Matt 17).  Yeah, that James. A key player in the Jesus’ ministry….a key figure in the lives of the earliest Christians. When James was executed, it was surely a blow to the foundations of the church to suffer such a loss.

It gets worse.

King Herod recognized that James’ death pleased the Jews, so he proceeded to arrest Peter, another key leader in the Christian movement.  Certainly King Herod’s motive was to kill Peter, too.  Can you imagine what was going through Peter’s mind….or the minds of the other believers?

What is happening?  Is this how it ends?  Will King Herod get all of us?  Who will be next?

And, then, a miracle.  As Peter sat chained in a prison cell, his shackles fell off and the locked doors opened.  At first, he thought he was experiencing a vision, but when he found himself outside, he came to his senses and realized he was free!

What did Peter do next? Run for his life? Skip town? Stop preaching? Back down? Shy away?

Nope.  Not Peter.  He went straight to his friend’s home to celebrate the miracle, and then he got back to work. That’s right, when the chips were down he didn’t run. He stood firm.

That story got me thinking. When the chips are down, what do I do? What do you do? Do we second-guess our calling? Do we count the sacrifice as too great and give up? Do we run and hide to avoid backlash, persecution, or discomfort? Or, do we stand firm? Get back to work? Cling to our calling like never before?

I don’t know your circumstances this week, but let me encourage you to stand firm.  When you are working for the Lord, persecution is inevitable. Accept it. Prepare for it. Face it. Then, stand firm.

In short, fight, not flight.

Thank God for encouraging stories in Scripture to remind us what bold faith looks like.  Be bold today, my friends!

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Girlfriends Review: Give Thanks

It’s November which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  I don’t know about you, but I have touches of Fall throughout my home – a wreath on the front door, swags of Fall leaves hanging around my house, pumpkins, gourds, and, yes even a Thanks-giving Tree.

A what, you ask?

A friend told me about this idea, and I thought it was so fabulous that I encouraged the Girlfriends of Mountain Lake to make some, too.

Let me explain.

This is the season of the year when we are supposed to be thankful, right?  But, if you are like me, you probably get so caught up in the hub-bub of the holiday (menu planning, travel plans, getting the house ready for guests) that thankfulness is well, an after-thought.

Not this year.  Not for the Girlfriends of MLC.  We made uber cute, but oh-so simple Thanks-giving trees.  Here’s an example:

Cute, right? And cheap! A mason jar, some raffia, and a branch out of your yard.  Then, the fun begins…..hanging tags all over the tree with the names of people you are thankful for.

Last Thursday night at our Girlfriends event, ladies took time to brainstorm who they are thankful for.  Their trees were full of nametags.  Then, they went a step further.  They wrote letters to those people to lavish them with love and encouragement.

That extra step is extremely important.  People ought to know they matter.  We ought to tell them.

This Thanks-giving month, why not help someone know they matter.  Brainstorm who you are thankful for, and then let them know!

 

 

Girlfriends Review: Learning to Say Yes

Yesterday I spent time with some stellar ladies – the women of Mountain Lake’s Girlfriends.  Let me tell you, they are something special, and I look forward to hanging with them each month.

This month, I talked to the ladies about a verse that God used to transform the way I think about my schedule.  It’s a verse full of promise.  Before I share it with you, let me ask you a question.

Would you agree that we live in a “me-centered” society?  “Take care of self” and “Look out for #1″ are phrases we’ve all tossed around, right?  Sounds good in theory, but there’s one problem: it flies in the face of God’s way of living.  To model our lives after the example of Jesus, we  should serve, give, and love generously.  Not out of what we don’t have, but out of what we do have.

But, many of us feel as though we’ll be taken advantage of if we give and love generously.  We think we’ll have nothing left for ourselves or that we’ll be so physically or emotionally depleted, we won’t enjoy life.

Not true, my friends.  Check out the promise God makes in Proverbs:

Proverbs 11:25  “The generous will prosper.  Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

I found this verse while my husband and I were planting Mountain Lake Church.  We were using every ounce of our energy – physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.  God didn’t add hours to my day or provide me with days at the spa, but He refreshed me.  As I served Him, I was more fulfilled than ever before.  He cemented His purpose in my heart and filled me with satisfaction.  Knowing that He was changing lives through my husband and me was honoring and exhilarating.  He gave me a supernatural refreshment.

Other times, He’s seen fit to refresh me in more tangible ways.  He’s refreshed me with healthy family relationships.  He’s refreshed me with unexpected surprises.  He’s refreshed me, at times, financially.  And, yes, He’s refreshed me often with much-needed rest and rejuvenation.

Here’s the lesson I’ve learned from Proverbs 11:25: Don’t protect your time.  Don’t guard it.  Give it all up to Jesus.  Use yourself up for Him.  He will refresh and protect you better than you ever could.

I know.  I’ve experienced it first-hand. 🙂

Girlfriends Review: Hearts Of Stone

Yesterday I met with the Girlfriends of Mountain Lake and continued a teaching series based on some of the lessons God has taught me….times God has spoken to me….ways He’s transformed my heart.  This month I share a lesson I learned years ago about God’s abilities….about things only God can do.

Have you ever dealt with someone whose heart was so hard towards God that you felt they were a hopeless case? Maybe it was a family member, your spouse, or a dear friend. Or, maybe someone a bit more distant, like an acquaintance or colleague. I have certainly crossed paths with people like that. The closer I am to them, the more my heart breaks for their lack of belief in the One True Hope.

When I read the following verse, I grabbed my highlighter and went to town making note of it. Here it is:

Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

When I read Ezekiel 36, I clung to the hope of what my God could do. He could change hearts! Even the hardest ones. God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel and clearly defined His role: He, and He alone, would draw people unto Himself.  He, and He alone, would change hearts and minds.

Reading that passage of Scripture changed me.  No longer did I feel the burden of debating every wrong theological thought.  No longer did I feel the need to convince people of their need for God.  That’s God’s job.  Yet, I still have a job of my own:

2 Corinthians 5:18a-20 “And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

What’s my job? To reconcile people to God.  To bring people to Him.  That’s all.  He does the rest.  He convicts.  He convinces.  He turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  He produces a new spirit. My task is simply to live out my faith (focusing much more on my behavior and character than on that of others) and love people well.

Maybe you are broken-hearted over someone’s hard heart and their lack of belief. Know this: Our God is in the heart-changing business! Nothing is too difficult for Him. No heart is beyond His reach. Keep praying. Keep loving.

And, keep believing.

Girlfriends Review: Confessions

Confessions.  We all have them, don’t we? We’ve all messed up, dropped the ball, thought or done wrong things, or just plain embarrassed ourselves.  None of us are perfect.  None of us lead perfect lives.

Take me for instance.  Like our first year in ministry.  My husband and I literally overslept the Easter Son-rise service.  I’m not kidding.

Or, what about the time I wore my swimsuit backward to the pool….all day…..when I was pregnant.  Have you got that picture painted in your mind? I had bra cups on my back.  Yes, the Lead Pastor’s wife at Mountain Lake completely embarrassed herself!

Yep, I could confess a lot of embarrassing moments.  But, I could confess some darker issues, too.  I could confess a deep need for people to like me.  Most people would assume I only care what God thinks of me, but that’s not true.  I care much too much if people approve of me….if they like me…..if they think that I’m good at what I do.  Stuff like that can cripple me when it comes to making tough leadership decisions….causing me to worry about what people will think or how they will react.  Or, it will leave me spinning when a friend chooses to leave my church.  In those moments, I don’t feel Godly.  I feel small and lonely.

There.  I said it.  I’m not perfect.  I’ve done embarrassing things.  I struggle with wrong thoughts and emotions.  And, I do things that don’t please my Heavenly Father.  I’m absolutely not perfect.  Yet there’s something within many of us that wants to hide our flaws….to convince the world around us that we have it all together….to hold out an image of perfection.

I’ll hide my flaws….my failures….my sins.  I’ll make excuses for them or convince myself that it’s not really that big of a deal.  Sure, I may have failed to put someone else first or maybe I’ve neglected my relationship with God, but I’ve been busy doing good things!  Doesn’t that count for something?  Or, sure I was venting about someone else, but I needed to get it off my chest!  That’s ok, right?  Would you agree with me that we often makes excuses for attitudes and behavior that are plainly wrong?

Other times, we fail to even recognize that we we’re not perfect!  I’ve certainly been guilty of it!  I have literally sat down to pray and began by asking forgiveness for my sins….but I couldn’t think of any!  I mean, I don’t commit murder, I don’t steal, I’m not having an affair….I basically have the Top Ten down, so I’m ok, right?  Oh the arrogance!  My temptation is to overlook character development and love for others and focus only on living an outwardly “good” life.  Do you relate at all?

At Girlfriends (our women’s ministry at MLC) last week, we talked about our tendency to excuse or overlook our sin. As a matter of fact, God has something powerful to say about this topic of confession.

Isaiah 59: 1-2 “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

My God is able and capable. He can rescue me, and He listens to me. But, if I willingly choose to follow my own path and ignore Him, He will hide His face from me. In other words, He’ll leave me to my own devices….and consequences.

That’s a scary place to be.

Honest, humble confession is the solution.  Confession clears the obstacles between us and God, inviting Him to once again move with power in our lives.

That’s EXACTLY where I want to be.

Have you excused or overlooked sin in your life?  Don’t wait another moment.  Run to God and confess!  Open the pathway to Him again!  Then, and only then, will He shine His face on you and listen with pleasure to your words.

James 5:16 “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Girlfriends Review: Remember Who You Are

Have you ever had to be reminded of who you are?

I have.

Recently, one of my children did something that disappointed me.  But, disappointment wasn’t the first emotion I experienced.  Frustration or anger better sums it up.  In the moments that followed, I acted on those first emotions.  I raised my voice. I focused on the wrong that had been done, rather than the lesson that needed to be learned.  And, I let my frustration show on my face.  I’m sure my child got the point that I was not happy.  I’m pretty sure everyone in the family got that message. ;(

As most moms do, I laid in bed that night reliving the failures of the day.  (Isn’t it amazing how those closest to us can push all the right buttons to illicit all the wrong behaviors from us?)  Yes, I was still frustrated with the action of my child, but I was also aware that I could have reacted so much better.  After all, I’m the parent. I’m the adult.  I’m the mature one, right?  More is expected of me because of who I am!

Have you dealt with people who have pushed your buttons?  You know, THOSE people?  People who criticize, behave badly, speak harshly, or trample on your feelings?  People who take you for granted or have hurt you?

When we deal with those people, we can be tempted to fall into the game of cat and mouse – they make a comment, we respond in kind; they act a fool, we hold a grudge; they fail to show gratitude, we withhold love; they hurt us, we refuse to forgive.

It’s in moments when we’re dealing with THOSE people that we need to be reminded of WHO WE ARE.  We are children of God who have been forgiven much, loved deeply, and taught to turn the other cheek. As Christians, more is expected of us than to simply respond in ways that make us feel good in the moment.

That’s not me talking…..that comes straight from the apostle Paul.  Check out this verse:

Col 3:12-15: “Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.”

Paul is saying, “Since you are Christians, since you represent Jesus, since you have been forgiven so much, since you owe everything to Him, MORE IS EXPECTED OF YOU!”

As you deal with THOSE people, show mercy.  Be kind and gentle.  Hold your tongue in humility.  Don’t expect perfection in THOSE people; accept that they will make mistakes.  Don’t harbor bitterness; forgive, instead.

You know, the holiday season is here, and some of us dread dealing with our dysfunctional families over the next few weeks.  I know it’s not easy.  Sometimes, years of hurt have piled up and healing seems impossible.  But, I want to encourage all of us with this truth:

GOD’S WAY IS ALWAYS BEST!  If he says we should show kindness and mercy and forgiveness in the face of hurt and betrayal, then we can be sure that path is a better choice than living with anger and resentment.

Remember who you are, friends.  You are loved deeply and have been forgiven much.  Maybe, just maybe, his love will motivate you to see “those” people a little bit differently this Christmas.