27 June 2013

He's all Yours, God.

Tonight I finally discovered who has been spreading far and wide in my ward the assertions that I'm agitating for women to hold the priesthood, and headed into apostasy.  (Which is so far from the truth!)  I'm so relieved to finally know who it is, and at first I wanted to approach him, and in two sentences tell him the truth and formally assign him to repair the damage he has done to my name and our ward.  But more than anything, I just want it to stop. I want the spreading of cancerous judgement amongst the members of body of Christ to end.  I want this brother to begin to have an understanding of the pain and damage he wreaks as he, of his own wisdom and understanding, fights pitched battles against imagined foes, leaving swaths of collateral damage along the way.

And then I read the third chapter of Paul's second epistle to Timothy.

Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 8-14 NLT

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.  For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.  They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.  They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.  They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith.  But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres. But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance.  You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it.  Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.

Observation: I live in difficult times, filled with people that will work against God's will and purposes; and plenty of them will be within my own church family.  And even then, what I'm dealing with right now is peanuts to what Paul and Timothy endured.

Application: I need to hold to what I know to be true. Those who agitate against me (or other simple followers of Christ) will eventually be exposed through their own actions.  It's not for me to spring to my own defense, for Christ is my defense, my rock & my salvation.  I have been told, so clearly and so sweetly and gently through His Spirit, that my job is to pray for this brother, and anyone else who does the same.  To bless them and love them and do all I can to be a window to the Light and Love of Jesus Christ.  Christ can and will defend His own.  Odds are, nothing I could say or do in and of myself would do any good; and it could possibly be turned to even more evil.  But if I leave this battle to Christ--to Him who has the right of judgement and mercy--it most definitely will be settled in the best way possible . . . Jesus can change this man's heart and mind.  I, myself, most assuredly cannot. (There is one in our church family who has tried, for two years, to reclaim his good name against this brother's black opinion. And utterly failed.)

Prayer: God, bless this man.  Bless his heart to soften and swell with love towards ALL of his brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.  Reach out your all-powerful hand and gather him in to Yourself, move in his life and make Yourself manifest unto him, even if it's as powerfully as with Saul and Alma the Younger.  Rise up and protect your gentle sheep, and show this brother the reality of what he has done.  Harrow up his soul with the true knowledge of his actions, and let him turn to You, so you can forgive and heal him, PLEASE.  Bless him with love from all sides--love expressed in ways that surprise and touch him; love unexpected and, in his mind, undeserved.  Let him accept this love . . . and let it change him forever for his own good and Your name's Glory!  Yes, I want this behavior to end--but more than that, I want this brother's heart to be at peace.  I want him to see the good in others, and no longer be so frightened by other people.  Let him trust in YOU, and give him blessed, sweet, peaceful rest.  Please . . . please, I plead with You, as the one who holds mercy and judgement in Your hands.  So be it, in Jesus name! Amen!

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!