How you can help someone

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It started out as an ordinary church supper.  But two events transformed the occasion into a memorable one.

What do you take to a potluck?  For years I’ve relied on my standard, easy-to-assemble quiche.

  • Roll out a commercial pie crust into the plate
  • Add chopped cooked ham
  • Spread evenly 8 ounces of grated cheese (Swiss or Cheddar)
  • Beat up 3 eggs together with 2 cups of heavy cream (or 4 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of Sour Cream for less fat).  Pour on top of the ham and cheese
  • Bake at 400 for 50 minutes

There are rarely any leftovers, but the ingredients have grown pricey.  So I asked my ‘go-to source of practical wisdom, my hairdresser, for some fresh ideas.  What I wrote down was one of those Jiffy corn muffin mix-based dishes that also calls for an egg, sour cream, creamed corn, cheese and a stick of butter.

The little old ladies RAVED!  Not a finger-swipe remained in the 9×13 dish.  Note to self – keep making this for future potlucks.

The next surprise is weightier.  One of our elders shared a 20-minute message whereby he wove together and linked 30 or so Biblical promises from God to us, His people. This man’s goal was to encourage us to believe how much God loves us.  As I let wave after wave of strengthening truths bathe my heart, one couplet of verses startled me. Something new in Ephesians caught my attention, sparking some thoughts.

Whispering, I asked Mike to locate the passage on his phone’s ESV app.  I scanned the screen.  Sure enough, I noticed an anchor in Paul’s most famous prayer on behalf of this particular church.

Ephesians Chapter 3, verses 14-17 records the former legalist confidently asking God to grant the people strength to know His love so that they can be filled up with ALL of God. No new news there. But the structure of that clause-laden Greek invocation arrested me.  Here’s how I parsed it out looking at the Greek words on the Blue Letter Bible Website.

(Paul prays) I ask God to grant you all

  • to be strengthened with power
  • through the Spirit of God
  • by means of Christ dwelling in your heart by faith (both His presence and the gift of faith are permanent realities in the heart of believers)
  • whose presence makes it a given that you are rooted and grounded in LOVE and empowered with effective force
  • So that you all are enabled to seize and possess (meaning of  ‘to comprehend’) both the ‘physical dimensions’ of Christ’s love and the intimate knowing of Him that go way beyond knowledge
  • So that you all may be filled with the fullness (full measure of His grace and provisions) of God

What fascinated me was God’s supernatural interlinking of His Power with His Love. He then transmits to us intimate knowledge about Himself.  Thus, God’s power, love, and knowledge synergistically work, filling us up with Himself!

What a God! And what a prayer!  If you’re anything like me, you might be filled up with a churning mixture of anxieties, fear, doubt, pride with a touch of scorn for others tossed in to sour the pot.  Who would not rather be filled up with just God?

And just how do we replace the junk with the life-giving alternative?  By echoing Paul’s prayer for ourselves and then directing our thoughts to savor these God-given treasures that are rightfully ours.

Without a complete sifting through the Bible, these promises seem to constitute the most powerful prayer we can offer for others and ourselves.  And since I’ve been writing about power prayers, have you ever seriously thought about Jesus’ plea to His Father for us, His brothers and sisters?   Chew on this:

John 17:24 (NIV) “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Jesus is asking His and Our Father for transfer to heaven.  Do you think that the Father will deny His Son this request?

You wanna change your life?

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Here’s how:  change your narrative.

I think it is that simple.

A friend recently updated me on her warmer relationship with a formerly  (almost) estranged daughter.  This adult daughter repeatedly wanted to rehash childhood pain, assigning blame to her mom.  She maintained that only by revisiting those times could she and her mom reach a healthy place.

My friend decided to ‘change the narrative’.  She practiced a piece of Shakespeare’s advice fleshed out in Hamlet.  You’ve probably heard the adage, ‘assume a virtue and it’ll become yours’.  Here’s the context in this excerpt:

Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4, Page 7

Good night—but go not to mine uncle’s bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this:
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy.
How did she do it?  By ASSUMING that she and her daughter already had a healthy relationship and then proceeding from there.  In that way, she actually influences the conversations and her daughter has warmed to approach.  Their interactions have grown more frequent and enjoyable to both.
Jesus actually set this precedent long before Shakespeare.  I’ve often read the Upper Room Discourse in John 17 where Jesus makes this outlandish statement to His Father in verse 6:
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”
The disciples kept God’s word???? Really?  What about Peter’s denial or James and John vying for the premier cabinet positions in the new kingdom?
But should we be so surprised when the Bible is replete with bold promises that for those who are in union with Christ, God sees them as pure and righteous.  We are told that the Father loves us, His adopted kids, just like He loves His beloved Son, Jesus.
And maybe that is the key to behaving better, to assume that it is true what Jesus says, what the Father says and act the part.
What if in a marriage locked in an impasse, one partner chose to treat his or her partner tenderly,  as though they were worthy of love and respect?
What if like the Jews carted off to Babylon, they started to treat their new pagan neighbors as though they were just as worthy of love and respect as their own race?
To bring it closer to home?  What if I dropped the narrative built up in reaction to the pain of my first years in my current school?  What if I started to ‘channel’:  God has so blessed me by giving me this job here!  What might change?
I can think of many applications of this principle of rewriting the script to break the logjam of negativity and failure.
I can hear someone say, “But it is not true!”
My one-word quick answer:  ….YET!!!!”
Lookit….if Jesus can describe his wobbly disciples as those who have KEPT His Word, then we are in good company if we treat others with grace (including ourselves) and interact with them as though they were ALREADY mature….loving….kind.
One further scriptural support.  Consider the grammar of verse 6 in the second chapter of Ephesians.  The verbs are in the PAST tense, meaning the action has been completed. God through Paul informs us that we are already sitting with Jesus in heaven:
For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.

 

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