Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~How Do They Live With Themselves?~ September 15, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 2:27 pm
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people-sin-differently-do-not-judgeIf we are completely honest with ourselves, we all have at least one person that we have at some point felt this way about. When we see them, we snarl our nose in disgust or shake our heads full of judgmental thoughts or roll our disapproving eyes. I mean really, how can they live with themselves knowing the horrible mistakes they’ve made?

I’ll tell you what we don’t know about “them”. We will never know the battle that’s raged within them over every bad decision they’ve  ever made. We will never know the nights they have lain awake and wept over the lives they’ve  damaged and hearts left broken in their wake. When we look at them, all we see are their sins. Our unforgiving eyes bury them in even more shame and regret than they already carry.

At one point, they saw themselves just as we do. Their reflection brought on anguish that cannot be explained as their transgressions swept over them and gripped them at the core. Then one day, they accepted the grace and forgiveness they had always heard of but never fully grasped was available to someone like them.

So now when you see them and they no longer drop their eyes in shame when they meet yours, perhaps you’ll think of your own demons that you’ve battled that gives you such boldness to walk around making others feel unworthy. That’s right, I went there. Not one of us has lived a sinless, spotless life & I’m sure we all have something from our past we’d rather not relive.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt 7:1-5 Message)

Your choosing to not shame someone over their past doesn’t excuse whatever they did to make you feel that way towards them. It takes a deep level of maturity to no longer seek vengeance. I have found when those feelings rise up in me, if I’ll take pause to think of all from which I have been forgiven, it knocks me down a peg or two and allows me to see them in a different light.

 

~Hate accomplishes nothing~ January 20, 2014

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. ”

-Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream” August 28th, 1963

While Dr. King was speaking about racial injustice, I feel that we could take his words of wisdom and apply them to any circumstances in which adversity is at the forefront.

We live in a diverse country where varying beliefs, values & opinions are in abundance.  I have seen time and time again when those variances cause people groups to pit themselves against one another.  There are no peaceful talks with mutual respect.  No.  It becomes a battle of who is right and who is wrong.  Ugly words are spewed.  Hate is spread like wildfire.  And just as in Dr. King’s time, nothing is accomplished.

If we are faced with a struggle of inequality or discrimination, what good will it do to engage in dishonest practices or bitter talk?  Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is remain dignified when someone is attacking who you are.  But there is something to be said about one’s character when you can lift your head high & hold your tongue during the fiercest of attacks and let your composure speak volumes.

When differing opinions present themselves, rather than allowing our differences to divide and cause hatred among us, can we not embrace one another in brotherly love?  Because we are in fact brothers and sisters.  We are all a part of the human race.  How you dress, whom you love, where you worship, the color of your skin should not dictate the treatment that you receive from others.  Respect should not be based on commonalities.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

(Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

 

~Story time~ July 25, 2013

There is a story floating around social media about a pastor who posed as a homeless man before beginning his job as the new pastor of a sizable church.  Out of curiosity, I googled it to check the validity of the story.  While I didn’t find any hard evidence to either validate or negate the story, what I did realize is that the point was not whether or not it was a true story, but the message of the story itself.  I have shared the story below for those who feel compelled to read it.  Maybe it is a farce meant to stir the hearts of complacent Christians everywhere.  I’m ok with that.  Didn’t Jesus tell “stories” in order to open our eyes and hearts to how we are to live as Christians?

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation. The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited,
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
‘The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”
He then dismissed service until next week.
Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

Helping-the-homeless

photo found on momitforward.com

Now, be honest with yourself, would you have been one of the 3?  Just a little food for thought to inspire us all to do a little soul searching today.  I pray we would all have a heart like Jesus, always ready and willing to serve those less fortunate than us.

 

~Casting Stones~ April 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:58 am
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Casting-StonesShe was contemplating an affair.  Immediately my mind went to, “How can a woman of God be so foolish?!”

Someone dear to me was experiencing gut-wrenching heartbreak but all I could focus on was the fact that she oughta’ know better!  Instead of listening to her and trying to think of how to guide her through this struggle, I was thinking of all the Scriptures that speak against adultery.  There wasn’t a helpful thought in my head, just judgement, plain and simple.  Then the Lord recalled to my memory,

“let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

(John 8:7 NIV)

Whoa.  How many times have you and I been quick to pass judgment on another for a mistake they have made?  How many times in self-righteous indignation have we scoffed, “I would never do such a thing!”  We’ve never contemplated this particular sin so we can’t wrap our feeble minds around how a fellow Christian can allow themselves to fall into this trap.

No one sin is greater than another and not one of us is without sin, not one.

Think about a time in your life when you slipped.  Had it not been for godly counsel, would you have found your way back onto the right path?  If someone hadn’t loved you enough to come alongside you and help you walk through your valley, where would you be now?  The Bible tells us this,

“If one of you should wander from the truth & someone should bring him back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death & cover over a multitude of sins.”

(James 5:19-20)

If you see someone you love beginning to roam aimlessly, offer words of wisdom and truth; not words of condemnation.  I’m sure you have heard the expression, you catch more bees with honey.  The same can be said for our Christian friends.  They will be more receptive to what you have to say if you cover your words with grace & humility.  And if you are like me and question whether or not it’s your place to say anything at all, think about verse 20-you will save him from death.  The truth, spoken in love, can save someone you care about from making a mistake that can lead to their spiritual death.  That’s heavy.  It is a huge responsibility to offer counsel to others, one that should not be taken lightly.  If you make yourself a student of God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit guide you, you will become more confident in your responses when someone comes to you for guidance.  When you do respond, let the words of Proverbs 15 ring in your heart:

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

(vs. 1)