Tag: enemies

Neighboring Challenge, Day 6 – Love

Who’s “that person” for you?

  • Maybe it’s the mom in your neighborhood who’s kids are wild and disrespectful and unsupervised that you end up feeding lunch three times a week.
  • Or the neighbor whose dog barks at all hours of the day and night.
  • Or the one who yelled at your kids for walking across his lawn.

And yet, Jesus says, “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.” Mt. 5:44-45 msg

These irritations are minor compared to what Ananias was facing. He had a much bigger challenge than loving neighbors like the ones I described above. And you might too. But God called Ananias to love (like with real ACTIONS, not just words or prayer), Saul, who had been brutally persecuting followers of Jesus until his dramatic conversion. Take a look…

Acts 9 There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”

“Yes, Master?” he answered.

“Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”

So Ananias went and found the house, placed his hands on blind Saul, and said, “Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on your way here. He sent me so you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes—he could see again! He got to his feet, was baptized, and sat down with them to a hearty meal.

Reflect on this passage.

Neighboring challenge: Who is the neighbor (in your actual physical neighborhood, or work neighborhood) who has hurt you or is hard to love?  Pray for them today. Find a way you can bless them. Love not with just words, but actions.

The Secret I Learned From a Farmer in the Middle East

I’m still in Israel and Palestine as I write this…

where there are modern dividing walls, and an ancient wailing wall, biblical ruins,  refugee camps, olive trees, and ubiquitous tour buses, with sheep and shepherds liberally sprinkled throughout the countryside.

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It’s a place where it’s easy to see why David described God as his Shepherd.

The 23rd Psalm might be the most famous go-to Psalm, but I’m wondering how many people really experience verse 5“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies”.

That’s the line that keeps running through my head as we meet with Daoud Nassar at his farm on a hill outside Bethlehem that is ringed by Israeli settlements.

He is a Palestinian Christian who says “We refuse to be enemies” Continue reading

Changing the Conversation

Last night most of America was watching the Oscars...the red carpet beautiful people who seem to be as good at dodging questions as a politician running for office.  Many questions the press hurls at them are inappropriately personal or just stupid.  Who wouldn’t want to avoid some of that?  But there are other times when changing the conversation is positive, and important to growth.

This afternoon I’m leaving on a trip to Israel/Palestine.  I’m traveling with a few people from our church, led by Telos, an organization we’ve been partnering with that desires to engage evangelicals in conversations with Israelis and Palestinians pursuing peace.

This is hard stuff.  Complicated and intense and emotional, and personal for so many.  Frankly, I might prefer it if Jesus invited me to follow Him into, say…Hawaii maybe. Continue reading

“That” Person

I’ve thought a lot about this.

If I ever become an actress (Don’t laugh.  It could happen!), and I have a scene where I have to cry on cue, no sweat.  I’ve got this one covered.  Not because I’m particularly weepy (I’m really not at all, you know).  But because all I’ll have to do is think of “that person.”

You know.  “That person”.

I’m betting you have one too.  The person who won’t forgive you.

Or the one you thought loved you, but then betrayed, or rejected, or ignored, or walked away from you.  Or the one who pronounced a judgment that you’ve let define you.

Or the child you love who is making destructive choices, far from Jesus and you can’t control them or fix it and your heart is breaking.

And all it takes is for you to hear a certain song that brings back memories, or drive by a place where you used to feel welcome, or to accidentally see them.  Or not at all.

Continue reading

The Secret to being a Missionary Like Paul

I’m sitting in an apartment in Amman Jordan at 11:00 at night, a stuffed-up-sneezy-coughy-achy-in-my-chest-I-want-to-be-home-cranky-pants.  I’m on information overload, and if it’s possible for an extrovert, I’m peopled out.  I can’t take one more new foreign name or story or one more explanation of why this people group hates that people group.  I am feeling like the worst missionary ever.

And I’m wondering…did Paul ever feel like this?

Of course he did! (And he didn’t have running water.  Not to mention a few stonings and a shipwreck or two)

I’m thinking if Paul was in my place he would be reminding himself of what he wrote to the Philippians.  “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

And if he was me, one of the people who would come to mind would be Daoud, a Palestinian Christian whose family has owned the land on top of this hill for generations.

Fortunately he has the deeds to prove it. Israelis have taken the land on all the hills surrounding him and have made five settlements there, doing everything they can to squeeze him out.  Pulling up his olive trees, putting boulders across his road…

And I’m sure Daoud struggles with the injustice, but instead of asking “Why?” he asks “How?”

How would Jesus have me respond?

And this is his answer.

They refuse to be enemies.  They will welcome anyone.  They will abide by the law.  They will pray for peace.

Whatever is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy…think about these things.

© 2017 Laura Crosby

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