Friday, February 16, 2018

God Loves You Too

It has only been in the last 10 or so years, that I know in my heart, that God loves me. I am a little embarrassed to admit it. Why does a 50 year old man have to know that God loves him? I mean, that's for kids right? How surprised and shocked I was for God to meet me in such a personal way, to surround me and encase me in this idea of His great love for me personally. I came to know, to feel, to experience His great love. And here is good news for you. God loves you too.

So, how does God love you? Let me count just a few ways. Isaiah 49:16 says that He love you so much that He engraved your name on His hand. Matthew 10:30 says that He loves you so much that He knows how many hairs are on your head. Jeremiah 31:3 says He loves you with an everlasting love, and Psalm 56:8 says that He loves you so much that He saves your tears in a bottle.

God's love for you is very personal. It doesn't matter where you have been, it doesn't matter what you have done, it doesn't matter what you have experienced, God loves you. This is what God says about you. You are honored, you are precious in His eyes. (Isaiah 43: 4) That is such an amazing thing.

The cross is God's statement of His great love for you. When you think of the depth of God's love, the bible often asks us to consider the price that was paid.  This is Love: Not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

What makes this love so amazing, is that it is highlighted by a debt that each one of us owes. At the core of God's being is His holiness. In order for us to have any kind of relationship with Him, we have to find a way for our sins to be washed clean and forgiven. The problem is, there is nothing we can do to make this happen, it is too big of a debt to overcome. We can't buy God's favor, we can't work for it, and we can never be good enough to earn it. God's Holiness demanded that our sins be paid for, and God's Love provided the way for it to happen.

I shout this out to you today, God Loves YOU With an Everlasting Love That Words Fail To Describe !!!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas 2017

http://mlcauburn.org/multimedia-archive/mike-m-on-christmas-day-2017/

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What if nobody likes me?

Living with low self esteem has me stuck inside a mind that is continuously overthinking and worrying about what others think of me. But, at the same time I am concerned with the fact that people are probably not even thinking about me or acknowledging my efforts at work or wherever. It's a continuous tug of war against myself, knowing that I won't win even though society says I should.

I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and imagine what it's like to be fully content with what I see looking back at me. When people tell me I am handsome, funny, smart, a great friend, or whatever, it's not that I don't appreciate it, I am just waiting for the day when I can feel the same way.

Social anxiety kills me, when I am not worrying about not being able to make friends at a party or something, I'm freaking out because I have to present a project to the bosses at work. What if I say the wrong thing, or my body language says the wrong thing? What if nobody likes me?

I think one of the most misunderstood things about low self esteem is that I feel that I have to go out of my way to help others to make them happy, hoping they will become my friend or make us closer friends, solidifying our relationship.

Being overly sensitive is not a quality I would choose to have. It's not that I can't take a joke, but it can be a little dis-heartening to have someone comment on an insecurity I have, such as being a loud talker, or dressing a certain way. In my own mind, as soon as I start making decisions for my own happiness, I think I am being selfish or self-centered. 

Feeling as if you are not good enough is a hard feeling to shake, but I don't mean to feel this way. I know I shouldn't have to apologize for low self esteem, but it seems to put a burden on my family and friends. They shouldn't have to help build me up and boost my confidence because I am incapable of doing it myself.

This is not a cry for attention......

It's a release....

Friday, December 15, 2017

How can a 12 year old boy who lost his dad at an early age feel ashamed?

I don't remember having a low self esteem during my childhood until I was 12. That is when my dad died, and I began to feel a deep , pervasive experience of shame. I mean, who experiences shame over losing their dad far too early? I felt different and disconnected from the flow of human connection. How can a 12 year old boy who lost his dad at an early age feel ashamed?

I was the only kid in school whose dad was dead, and I remember a time in 6th grade when the teacher had the class make father's day cards. I remember the teacher, who was ignorant of the situation, and maybe life in general, asked me why I didn't make a father's day card for my dad. One of the kids in the class jumped up and started chanting, "He doesn't have a father" over and over, and at recess all the kids in my class were chanting that phrase. I found myself wishing that everyone's dad was dead.

Shame had become a constant childhood companion, I felt deeply different from the other kids whose families were "normal." I never knew when someone might ask me about my dad, or a teacher would ask us to draw pictures of our family, or make father's day cards, or our school would sponsor a father and son activity. I lived in fear of being found out.

Even today, at 50 years old, I still feel some shame or experience low self esteem about not having my dad. Whenever I see a dad and son celebrate something together, of course I am happy for them, but there is still that little voice inside my head that tells me I never got to do that. I don't have those memories to share, I don't have stories about the things I got to do with my dad, I don't have that first thing we did together and it hurts.

38 years have past, and it is as shameful today as it was back then. The low self esteem affects me everyday of my life, the questions of ability and knowledge come into play. Am I good enough or smart enough? It's an everyday struggle, but with help from God and those around me who love me and support me, I make it through each day, one day at a time. 







Monday, December 4, 2017

We must remain humble in our service

                                               


      The Spirit leads Jesus into the desert where He is tempted. Satan tempts Jesus to settle a little identity crisis in an easy way, by acting out His divine nature, and to leave His humanness behind. Jesus' options come down to this, He could use His Godly powers or He could remain in His human form. Keeping his human form was a tough, but necessary decision for Jesus to make, if he was to fulfill His role as the Messiah. These were not easy temptations for Him. Lucky for us we are human and have no choice in the matter. So, we don't have to deal with these terrible temptations.

      Except.......We do. It has been that way since the very beginning of creation. We all know the story of Adam and Eve, and the serpent, and that darn fruit. You know, the only kind of fruit that God told them not to eat. How did the serpent get them to eat that fruit? He promised them that if they eat the fruit they will be just like God. Even though we would die if we fell from a high building, even though we can't turn stones to bread, and even though we can't control the empires of the world, we continue to be tempted to play God.

      The problem isn't that the things we try to do as God are bad, like feeding people, or maybe stopping oppressive forces. The problem comes in when we are playing God, then we are not worshiping the true God. If we speak as if we are God, then we are not listening to the voice of God. I recently heard a story about a man, who was very popular in the marriage ministry, was getting divorced. When he told everybody about it he referred to a story about a shoemaker who was so busy that his wife went without shoes. He said that he has been that shoemaker, so intent on being a god, that he forgot about following God with his wife. That is another problem with playing God, it not only distances you from God, it also distances you from other people. We place ourselves above them in ways that prevent true equality that we long for in the Kingdom of God.

      It is very easy to find these public examples of people giving into temptation, but what about us? Surely, as humble Christian folk, we know better then to try and play God. Don't we? We don't pick our stance on an issue and then go pray and search scripture for confirmation that we are right. We don't go on crusades for our cause, not paying attention to the destruction we leave in our wake. We don't get so busy with all of our good works that we forget to even talk to the One that has called us to do good. Well, maybe every now and then.

The brownies you can hide, but that forbidden fruit dangles out there in the open, all of the time. Being human is such a rough deal sometimes. We let our egos get in the way, even when we are doing something as seemingly selfless has helping the poor. Are we serving God, or playing God? Sometimes it is a difficult distinction to make, but I think the way we treat the people around us can give us a good clue. When we remain humble in our own humanity as we look to serve God, we can recognize and respect that same humanity in the people around us.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Givingthanks.......


   I am going to tell you a story from the bible, It comes from Luke Chapter 17: 11-19. This story introduces us to 10 mystery men, I say this because we don't know a lot about these men. They might come form totally different backgrounds, be of different ages, and for all we know they might not like each other very much. But, they have one thing in common, one experience that brings them all together. They had lived pretty regular, boring lives up until something happened, leprosy.

   In those days they were outcasts and made to leave the city, and somehow they ended up banding together. So, here they are together along a lonely, remote border between Samaria and Galilee with no hope for a cure. One day, hope appears. They have heard stories about Him, they have heard that He can do miraculous things. He has made the lame walk, given the blind sight, He has made the mute shout for joy, and unplugged the ears of the deaf. If He could do all of those things, maybe He could heal them. They cry out to Jesus, Master, Have mercy on us. He hears them, and sees their situation. Jesus simply tells them to go and show themselves to the priests, and there is only one reason Jesus would tell them to do this. They are the ones who declared them unclean and banished them and are the only ones who can declare them clean and allow them to return to their lives.

    As they are running to the priests they see themselves being healed. Nine of them keep running to the priests to get their gift of new life. One of them stops dead in his tracks and returns to Jesus, praises God in a loud voice, falls to his knees at Jesus' feet, and gives Him thanks and praise. It's very surprising to me that only one of the ten returned to do this, but even more surprising is the last thing we know about these men. The nine that didn't return were Jews, considered to be part of the people with a covenant with God. The one that returned to give Jesus praise was a Samaritan, supposedly cut off from God's covenant. The fact that Jesus was a Jew makes it even more surprising that a Samaritan would return and give thanks and praise.

   It is important to realize there was a difference in healing that day. The nine who kept going and never returned were looking for a physical healing, and Jesus gave them that. But, while their disease may have been healed, they still have to face the wages of sin someday. The healing they sought will only last for a relatively short time. The Samaritan who returned, yes he has the healing that the other nine had, but he also realized that Jesus had a lot more to give.

   Jesus can give the kind of healing that will last for eternity. That is why the Samaritan returned to give thanks and praise, and that is why Jesus said rise and go, your faith has made you well. The Samaritan knows he doesn't deserve any of this because of who he is, but this is because of who Jesus is. So, in this week after Thanksgiving, it's appropriate to really look at what took place on that small border near Samaria and Galilee. And as we do, we realize that the truth be told, we have a lot of similarities with the lepers in this story.

   As you have your Thanksgiving leftovers, remember Who it is that gives you everything, remember that you were once an outsider from God. Jesus Christ has lived, died, and risen again, and once again has given you some pretty amazing gifts, so that you are no longer a stranger, but a redeemed child of God. Yes indeed, in the words of the 107th Psalm, we rejoice to say, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever...... AMEN
    

 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Winners and Losers

Are there winners and losers in the Kingdom of God? I think society today is too wrapped up in competition, there has to be a winner and a loser. The most watched TV shows have a "loser" who gets kicked off weekly, elections are watched and treated like football games, and don't get me started on the stories of parents getting into fights at their children's sporting events. What are we teaching our youth?

I coach soccer and fastpitch softball through the parks and rec department where I live, the kids that play are playing for fun. It's not like little league, there are no winners or losers, the score is not kept and no records are kept. Some parents say that is ridiculous, since our kids live in the "real world" which is based on competition, when in all actuality most of our jobs or careers are based on cooperation. But, if competition is truly what makes the world go round, and I am to work with the youth, then part of my role is to paint them a picture of not what the world is today, but as it could be. A world where love and community are the focus, not competition, not self-sufficiency, or independence.

 Philippians 2:3-4 says, Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Our competitive nature prepares us for a world of winners and losers. "To the victor goes the spoils", I believe is the quote. We understand the ways of competition as if it were hard wired into our brains. And, since it is the winners who write the history books, little is made of this part of our lives. So how do we teach our youth humility and compassion?

 If you want to know the truth, it is not natural for us to care about other people. Humanity is born greedy and self-centered, and our youth are not any different. We need to see that the real problem here is in the heart. If we simply try to change their behavior, we are not helping them get closer to Jesus.

I see Philippians 2:3-4 used a lot in teaching our youth about humility and compassion, but I think maybe verses 1 and 2 should also be used , which explains, If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one with spirit and purpose.

Paul is saying that if your encouragement is in Christ, then you can put others first. If you have comfort in Jesus' love, then you can care more about your neighbor. If we want our youth to put competition aside and care about others, we have got to be aware of what fills their lives. We need to show our youth Jesus is real, and when that happens, their hearts will naturally overflow to those in need. So, are there winners and losers in God's Kingdom? What do yo think?