Respect

Respect. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, because I’ve been attempting to get it across to my school students that if they respect each other, there is little need for other rules. Today I went a little deeper and looked at what the Bible has to say about this subject. Here’s some of what I found and my current thoughts on the subject.

First let’s define respect. According to the dictionary, it means “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others; politeness, courtesy, civility, deference; honor, esteem, feel or show honour or esteem for, care, consideration, to care for, show consideration for.” Basically, be nice to others even if they aren’t exactly like you in every area. Is that so hard?

Now, the Bible doesn’t say much about “respect” but it does talk a lot about honour. Honor according to the dictionary, means “nobleness of mind, a nice sense of what is right or proper; great respect, high regard; respect highly, think highly of; show respect to; be an honor too.” In this blog post, I am using the Bible word honour in place of the more familiar word respect. I believe they have a lot of the same connotations. 

According to the Bible dictionary, honour means “of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold; of the honour which belongs or is shown to one, of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds.” Think about this for a bit, “the price paid or received for a person bought.” What was the price paid for us? Jesus died on the cross for every single one of us!! How valuable does that make us? And if we view every other person as having that same value how could we do anything else but show them respect?

Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” The Golden Rule. This is a basic rule of human rights and expectations. Everyone wishes to be treated with respect and kindness. If everyone treated everyone around them as they themselves wish to be treated, our world would be a much better place.

Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.” This is how we as Christians should act. Outdo in this verse carries the idea of being a leader. It means “to go before and show the way; to go before as a leader.” We should attempt to be the leaders in showing value to others, everyone. Every human being has the same value as the next one, from the worst criminal in prison to the most influential king. All humans were paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. That price gives them value. When they accept Jesus as their personal Saviour, they become sons of God. This puts them in an honourable position, which is just another reason to show them honour.

Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” 

Titus 2:7 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show, integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Wow! That is a high standard! In ALL respects we are too be a model of good conduct. Part of this good conduct is to show honour. If you always show honour and respect, who could condemn you for that?

I Peter 2:17 “Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.” Honour in this verse carries the additional meaning of “to fix the value of something belonging to one’s self.” If something belongs to you, you are more likely to treat it with respect. Christians are a family, your family. Treat them with respect due to family members! 

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.” Love is part of honour as well. We cannot honor others if we have no love for them. Like the song says “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I think sometimes we don’t do such a good job at demonstrating our love for each other.

Romans 13:10 “Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.” 

I Thessalonians 5:12-13 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” Honor those in positions with authority.

I Corinthians 12:24b-26 “But God has composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all members rejoice together.” I believe these verses hold some very valuable keys for us as we learn to always honor others. We might be tempted to look down on someone because they are different from us or less honorable in our estimation. But who are we to say who is less? All humans are created equal; therefore all equally worthy of our honor and respect. 

This is something we’ve been working on in my classroom. Currently, if they are all respectful and do not earn any consequences for a whole week as a class, they will all be honored. If, however, one person is disrespectful, the whole class will suffer with them by not being able to attain to the honor in store for them. This way they learn that their disrespect does not only negatively affect them but it also affects the whole team. This builds an atmosphere of positive peer pressure to do the right thing. 

Girls side of my classroom

Boys and younger grades side

Respect others and they will be more likely to respect you. Annoyed with rules and guidelines that seem unnecessary? If everyone walked in respect to each other, most rules and guidelines would become moot points. If a first grader can understand and know what is respectful and what isn’t, so can you as an adult. 

When you are respectful of others opinions and beliefs, they are more willing to respect yours. You do not have to agree with someone to be respectful to them. Example: I am a Mennonite who tends to the more liberal side of the spectrum, but most of the students in my school are Amish. Their parents are Amish. We dress differently and probably believe differently on some things, but that does not stop us from working together just fine. We have mutual respect for each other. And our outward appearances have never been an issue. We worship the same Jesus and side by side we work together towards the same goal of advancing the kingdom of God. Respect works! (And baffles those who receive it from the unexpected places like someone completely different from them.)

Go out and be respectful!!

*All verses taken from ESV Bible.

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My Uniform

skirtTonight I walked through the security room at a local emergency department. No one questioned my right to be there or challenged me. On the contrary, several security fellows looked up, smiled, and said hello.

Why was this you ask? It was because of my uniform. My uniform identifies me as a first responder. The patches on my sleeves show the company I work for and the level of training I have. The name badge on my collar contains my EMT number and employee ID.

Tonight I’ve been thinking a lot about my uniform and what it represents, even how it makes me act.

When I am in uniform, I tend to walk and act more confidently. I make an effort to look people in the faces. I walk with my head up. I try harder to act with courtesy and respect. And at all times in uniform I feel a pressure to be professional and at all times represent my uniform well. People stop me to ask directions. Little children are intrigued and want to say hi and talk to me. There’s a camaraderie between other first responders in the crew room. I’m allowed to go places and walk thru doors that are normally off-limits.

In emergencies, people immediately look to me because of my uniform. They recognize it as someone who should know what they’re doing. When people call us in an emergency,  they trust us to come into their homes and they trust us with the most private details of their lives. Because of our uniforms. They look at us to come in and bring order when their lives are upside down.

When I’ve been in uniform,  I have been handed free coffee. I’ve had people come up to me and ask if I knew their friend/family member who also works as an EMT. I’ve had people say thank you. I’ve also had people ask if I was a police officer. (I politely explained to them that I carry neither handcuffs or a gun nor do I have any interest in arresting someone.) People automatically lean toward trusting me when I’m in uniform. My word carries more weight.

All these thoughts got me to thinking. What if I acted this way as a believer in Christ? As a believer in Christ, I am in a sense wearing a uniform. My Christian uniform consists of the armor of God that’s in Ephesians 6:10-18 (AMP).

“10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. 13 Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. 14 So stand firm and hold your ground, having [b]tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waistband having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having [c]strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 16 Above all, lift up the [protective] [d]shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all [e]God’s people.”

These verses give us pretty specific commands on how to wear our uniform and how we are to act in the kingdom of God. Let’s look at it.

vs. 11. “Put on the FULL armor of God”. When I get ready to go to work, I have a mental checklist to make sure I have all the pieces. Pressed shirt? Washed skirt? Name tag? Trauma shears? Pager? Boots? Belt? Watch with a second-hand? Phone? Phone charger? Small notebook? Pens? Having all these things insures that I will be ready for whatever kinds of things may come up during the day. It’s the same way with our Christian lives. Do we run through our checklist at the beginning of the day? Helmet of salvation? Shield of faith? Sword of the Spirit? Belt of truth? Breastplate of righteousness? Shoes of the gospel of peace? Is it all in working order? Do we know how to use it? Do we take care of it?

vs. 14 “wide band of truth around your waistband”. My uniform belt is a sturdy duty belt. It’s wide, made of thick leather, and secure. It holds my trauma shears and pager. It provides a hand hold for my spotter when we’re carrying a patient up or down stairs. It gives fearful patients something to hold on to while we’re moving them from one place to another. And it provides a polished look to the uniform. These verses say that we should have a belt of truth. Since we’re wearing armor I imagine the belt should be sturdy and is important. It keeps everything together. It provides a place to hang all our tools on. It provides a handhold for those who are weaker and for our comrades to help us along. Truth is the centerpiece of our uniform.

vs. 14 “breastplate of righteousness”. I would liken this to my uniform shirt. It provides identifying marks that show my rank and company. It protects me against dirt and bodily fluids. My badges on my arms show that I have the training and authority necessary to step into crazy chaotic situations and attempt to bring help, hope, and healing. They identify what my role is and where I fall in the paramilitary ranking of first responders. So as a Christian, my breastplate, which is protection of my heart and vital organs. It should show that I have the training necessary to step into spiritual chaos and bring order, hope and healing to the wounded and hurting. By being willing to wear this, I am also showing that I am willing to step up to my training and use it in the way it was intended.

vs. 15 “strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation”. These are my boots. My boots are all leather, non-slip, rugged sole boots that give me protection on my feet and provide me stability and grip in all types of terrain and places. I’ve walked in hoarder’s homes with filthy floors. I’ve hiked up hills and walked in squeaky clean hospitals. I’ve stepped in blood, urine, ants, dirt, mud, gravel, carpet, hardwood, and pretty much everything else; and yet my feet have stayed safe, protected and clean. I take care of my boots almost more than any other part of my uniform. I clean them, polish them, and use protecting wax. I have not once lost my footing. By staying on my feet I have kept the rest of my uniform from being dirtied by the environment I found myself in. This is how we should be as Christians as well. Our shoes, the gospel of peace, provide our stability in the middle of the battle. It provides us grip and protection. With the proper shoes, we are able to walk in the midst of filth without getting it on ourselves at all. We can pull people out of the filth of their lives without getting it all over us.

vs. 16 “shield of faith”. I don’t carry a shield with me at work, but on certain calls I do work very closely with police officers who wear bullet resistant vests. So at the risk of stretching this analogy to far, I will liken the police officers’ body armor to our shield of faith. Their vests are often made out of materials which resist the impact of bullets and are often stab proof as well to protect from knives. These officers will risk their lives to protect us and others from people who want to harm or kill us. When police officers are on scene, I know that the scene is likely to be more dangerous than other scenes, but I’m also more confident because we have more protection. Our faith as Christians should be like this. We can walk confidently into situations that may be considered dangerous knowing that our shields will protect us and thwart the enemies attack. With our shields up, we will still have to be on guard, but we won’t have to fear any attacks.

vs. 17 “helmet of salvation”. Head protection. Depends where I am working as an EMT whether on a search mission or on the shipyards, I wear a helmet. On search missions I wear a climbing helmet and at the shipyards I wear a hard hat. The purpose of this is to protect my head, obviously. But protect it from what? Things falling down, me bumping my head into things as I walk through narrow places or under trees,  rocks sliding down from the climbers above me, all kinds of things that could cause my head injury. It also provides protection from weather such as sun and rain. With our helmet of salvation on, we can walk through crazy places, dangerous places and have nothing to fear for any type of head injuries. Make sure your helmet stays on and in place and you’re good to go!

vs. 17 “sword of the Spirit”. Now obviously as an EMT I do not carry any type of weapon with me on any scene. But I would like to liken the sword to my tools I carry, my gear. A sword is a tool of a soldier, so I have tools as well. My tools enable me to carry out my job. I have my various bags of gear, and all of the tools in them are at my disposal. However, it is up to me to be familiar with their locations and how they work. I need to train to know how to utilize them and which ones work best for which jobs. So as a Christian I need to train to learn how to best use my sword and how to wield it. It is my responsibility to learn this and keep up with my training. Just like as an EMT I have to keep up on my skills and continue training. I can’t ever assume that just because I learned it once I am done learning forever. Training continues forever.

vs. 18 “stay alert with all perseverance and petition”. Stay alert. This gets drilled into my head more and more as the situation surrounding all first responders becomes more and more sketchy in our current world. Threats against my coworkers. Firefighters off-duty being attacked. Many police officers being killed. Fake 911 calls being placed in order to attack the first responders. Normally safe scenes quickly becoming unsafe. More and more of our training centers around situational awareness and being constantly on guard even on “routine” calls. The more this is being trained into me the more I realize how much this is necessary on a spiritual level as well. Be alert. Watch out for subtle signs that not everything is as it appears. Don’t take things at face value. Be ready to deescalate any situation as needed. Learn HOW to deescalate a situation before it becomes more dangerous. Learn to control your reactions to things like anger and fear. Be able to remain calm in the face of high levels of stress. Always watch your back. Be alert for your partner’s safety as well. Be ready to vacate premises for your own safety as needed. And always remember your own safety comes first, then your partner’s, and then your patient’s. If you get injured, you’re no good to anyone. Stay safe! Not only physically but also spiritually!

Pay attention to your Christian uniform. Do I take as much care of it as I do my EMT uniform? Do I realize the significance of it? Do I walk out the confidence that I should have? My physical uniform makes me think of my spiritual uniform. Is yours in working order?

The Prince and His Bride, Part 1 & 2

Imagine with me for a moment, that you are on your way to the throne room of the King with an important-to-you request. You know that since it’s important to you, it will be important to Him. You heart is thrilled to know that you can enter His throne room at any time no matter what, and you will be welcomed with open arms and given the King’s full attention.

As you near the door to the throne room, you spot a pitiful figure crouched to one side of the door. When you get closer, you can see that it’s a girl. Her clothes are ragged. Her hair is unkempt, hanging loosely in her face. She’s crouching there, rocking back and forth slightly, sobbing.

Your heart fills with compassion, but just when you start over to her, the door to the throne room opens and a figure steps out. You gasp in surprise when you recognize the figure as that of the Prince! It’s the Prince who always sits on the right hand of the King!

He walks over to the girl and crouches down to look into her dirty, tear-stained face. As you watch, He reaches out and smooths her hair back from her face. She recoils instantly in terror from His touch. She cries out, “Don’t hurt me! Don’t hurt me!”

You wonder if she realizes who she’s talking to. The Prince is gentle, especially to those who are scared and scarred. You know from experience; you used to be the same way.

Then the girl starts talking, weeping, “What if the King hates me? What if the Prince kicks me out? I’m not good enough! My troubles are too small to bother the King with! Just look at all those other people entering the throne room. None of them have noticed me, so surely the King wouldn’t notice me either. I should just leave.” She starts to stand, but the Prince stops her.

“Child, the King loves you just as you are. He loves to transform those who think they are no good into beautiful princesses of His. It would thrill our hearts to have you enter the throne room, just as you are.”

The girl seems to take not notice of the Prince’s words. You decide to walk over and ask her if she heard Him. “Yes,” she says, “but I thought that He was talking to someone else. You mean to say He was actually talking to me?” Her surprise is so great that she actually lifts her head and stares at you in amazement. Then she turns to the prince, “Sir, do You think that maybe the King would allow me to be the most invisible servant in Your palace?”

The prince smiles gently. “No,” He replies, “I think that would not satisfy Him.”

The girl’s face falls. “You mean, I’m not even good enough to do that?”

“No,” replies the Prince, “I mean, that I want you to be My bride! My Father, the King, would love that!”

“But…but…I’m not good enough to do that! Look at me! I could never be a suitable bride in this outfit!”

The Prince’s face breaks into a broad smile. “That’s my specialty! I will prepare you and then present you to My Father!”

“Oh! Well…okay, but I’m scared to enter that door by myself. Will You come with me?” She reaches up both hands towards Him.

“Of course, My love, I’ll carry you through that door.” With that, the Prince stoops down, picks up the girl, and enters the throne room.

***********

You decide to follow the Prince and the girl into the throne room. As you enter, you see the girl be suddenly transformed! Her clothes change from rags to the beautiful gown of a bride. Her face is clean and beautiful. Her hair is beautifully done.

You expect the girl to notice her dramatic transformation and sit up in awe or something. You’re amazed when she seems to take no notice of what has just happened. Instead, she just keeps her face hidden against the Prince. She still seems to be terrified and ashamed. She’s trembling in fear.

You expect the Prince to do something, say something to wake the girl to her new reality. Instead, the Prince just quietly holds her, gently stroking her back. He walks forward and sits next to His Father, the King. You want to walk forward and shake the girl to her senses! You don’t understand why the Prince doesn’t say anything! His gift, the beautiful transformation, has gone completely unnoticed! You’ve never known Him to be wrong before, but surely this time…

After just quietly holding the girl for awhile, the Prince hands her to the King. The King continues to quietly hold the girl, while the Prince gets up and begins to dance!

For the first time since entering the throne room, you take a good look around you and realize that everyone around you is dancing in worship to the King. Some are dancing slowly, methodically, with measured steps. Others are dancing, whirling wildly, with reckless abandonment.

The Prince seems to be dancing especially for the girl. He keeps watching her. When you turn to look at her, you notice that she seems to be watching the Prince out of the corner of her eye. Her face still mostly hidden, though, against the King. After a little, she shifts her position to watch the Prince more closely.

The Prince approaches her and asks her to join Him. Instantly, she shakes her head “no” and says quietly, “I’d just make us look like fools.” With that she hides her face again. The Prince and the King just smile.

The Prince does not seem to be at all worried by her first rejection. In fact, He keeps coming back to her, keeps asking her to join Him. You start wondering why the Prince even bothers. Can’t He see that the girl seems to be scared and uninterested?

When the Prince asks her for the fourth time, however, the girl says shyly, quietly, “I’d really, really love to! Honest! But I don’t know how, and I’m kind of scared.”

The Prince smiles broadly. “I have transformed you, and I can teach you to dance. Come! Join me!” He holds out His arms towards the girl. When the girl hesitantly reaches out to Him, He swoops her up and whirls her around.

For the first time since you’ve been observing them, the girl’s face breaks into a wide smile. She throws back her head and laughs joyously.

For a little while, the Prince just dances while holding her. Her arms are wrapped around His neck. She’s laughing and enjoying it to the fullest. Then He sets the girl down and lets her take a few hesitant steps on her own, before swooping her back up into His arms. He does this several times, and the girl gains confidence.

You’re amazed at the complete transformation of the girl! She no longer looks anything like the street waif outside, plus, she’s starting to act completely different. Her head is up. She’s laughing. She has confidence.

The Prince sets the girl down again, and they begin to dance together. The girl is smiling, head thrown back, eyes closed. She’s perfectly content to be dancing with the Prince.

Their joy is so contagious that you catch yourself smiling, nodding your head in time to the music. The King is smiling, reveling in His son’s glory and the transformation of His Son’s chosen bride. The Prince and the girl are smiling, joyous to be together, reveling in their new found relationship.

You are content, happy to have been allowed once again, to watch the transformation from pauper to royalty, from street waif to Prince’s bride. It is enough. You smile and join in the worship.

My Life Story (If You Care to Understand It)

Note: Please don’t be offended by the wording. I wrote it exactly as I pictured it in my head. It’s something that I wrote on Easter Sunday of 2012. I didn’t know or understand everything then, nor do I now, but more of it is making sense as I continue on this crazy journey of mine, following my Jesus.

blog post

How I pictured myself during captivity

I was broken in a million pieces. My hair was matted; my face streaked with dirt and tears. My clothes were that of a homeless street waif. I was covered in sores and cuts; some of my own making; some inflicted by others. I was not beautiful by any means. I lived in the streets, in the drainage ditches, in the filthy muck.

Along came Jesus looking for a bride. I’m not sure how or why He found and chose me, but He did. He saw me sitting in the ditch in my pitiful state and said, “There, that’s the one I want for My bride.”

I was so scarred and covered in filth. I was scared of the kingly figure who knelt quietly beside me in the filth. I recoiled in terror from His gentle touch and cowered in fear before His searching gaze.

“Child, would you like to go with Me to live in the palace as My bride?”

I wouldn’t say anything, but my heart leaped in hope, before I squelched it. I knew from experience that any man who offered me anything really only wanted to take advantage of me. Why would this be any different? Still it would be nice to have a roof over my head for a few days. I decided to accept His offer.

“Sure, I’ll go with You.” I nodded and began to get up, but with one smooth motion, He picked me up. I panicked! “What are You doing? Let me down!” He just quietly held me and began to walk back toward the palace.

After awhile I got tired of struggling and so fell asleep. I actually slept quite well in His arms, which really surprised me, and after I woke up, I was quite content to just quietly ride in His arms for awhile.

Then I noticed on of my old bosses beckoning me from one of my old haunts. I at once became discontent with where I was at. “Sir, will You let me go talk to that fellow? He’s one of my old friends.”

The Man didn’t say anything, but a look of extreme sadness, mixed with intense love came over His face as He released me. I ran over to my old boss who welcomed me back, then pulled me inside, where I was ridiculed for having gone with the Man in the first place.

One particularly ugly character rasped in my ear, “You know you’d never be good enough for the likes of Him anyways. You belong here, in the whorehouse, just like you always have. You know the saying ‘Once a whore, always a whore’. There’s nobody gonna be changing that.”

Even as I nodded in agreement with the man, who was also my boss, I felt something die inside of me. I realized then that I had changed inside when the Man had picked me up. Saddened, I crossed over to the front window and looked out. There, across the street, stood the Man. His all-knowing gaze met mine, and I quickly dropped my eyes and the window shade.

I walked back to my boss, my head hanging. “Hey! Girl! Get your head up and a smile on your face! Our customers don’t like a sad disposition! This is where you belong, and this is where you’ll stay! Hear?”

“Yes, sir.” I meekly nodded my head and plastered a smile on my face. He was right, as usual. This was where I belonged.

This went on for quiet awhile. Every once in awhile, I’d catch a glimpse of the Man who had carried me still standing across the street as if He was waiting for me. Once I saw my boss talking to Him. My boss was talking very excitedly and seemed to be gloating, while the other Man just stood there and quietly shook His head. Whenever I’d happen to catch His gaze, I’d turn quickly away. I was ashamed of myself and what I had done, but I was too prideful to go and ask Him to take me back, cuz even the lowest in society still have pride.

Then one day I happened to meet a couple of girls who invited me to go with them to their church. I went and was soon living two lifestyles. On Sundays and my days off, I was the perfect kid who knew all the right answers to all the right questions. The one who never rocked the boat and followed all the rules, never pushing the line. During the week however, I was the lowest in society. I was a complete rebel who disregarded everything. I sold myself for a few moments of pleasure. I was used again and again.

One day I’d had enough. I decided this was it. I was tired of living a double lifestyle. The only one who knew it was my boss. My friends at church had no idea what my other life was like. I decided to end it all. Once and for all, I’d stop lying to everyone and myself. I’d fess up in a letter to those closest to me, and then take my life and disappear forever out of the lives of everyone that I troubled.

I wrote the letter, left it in a strategic place, then slipped out early one morning. I slipped down to the canal that ran behind my workplace. I sat down on the edge of the dock and was just about ready to jump when I felt strong hands grasp my shoulders.

I gasped in surprise and turned around to see who had dared interfere with my plans. To my shock, it was the Man! The One who had carried me. The One who was always waiting for me across the street.

He had on His face such a look of fierce, pure love that my heart almost stopped. I was so ashamed of what I had done and had been about to do, that I buried my face in my hands and began to sob. I knew that now would be the time. Would He pick me up and carry me towards the palace again? Or would He toss me in the river like I deserved?

Instead, He just knelt down beside me, wrapped His strong arms around me, and let me cry. When I had caught my breath, He picked me up and again started walking in the direction of the palace.

After a little while, we came to a little store that I had never seen before. We entered it, and the Man at once had me outfitted in the most beautiful set of clothing I had ever seen in my life! When we got to the checkout, I was worried about paying for it. It looked pretty expensive, and I hated to put the Man thru so much trouble, but when we got to the counter, the cashier smiled and said that the Man had already paid for everything a long time before.

In amazement, I stared at the Man. He just smiled and said, “I love you.” We walked out of the store, hand in hand.

We walked like that for awhile, but then I started noticing that to the side of the road were people following us. When I looked carefully, I recognized them as my old boss’s bodyguards. When they saw that I was paying more attention to them than to the Man beside me, they started yelling at me.

“Once a whore, always a whore!”

“Traitor! Goody-goody!”

“You think that just cuz you have fancy new clothes that you’re better and all holy now, but you ain’t. You’re still the same inside. You haven’t really changed, and you know it!”

My steps got slower and slower. My hand slipped from the Man’s. Finally, I stopped altogether. Instantly, the bodyguards surrounded me. They pummeled me back and forth, all the while taunting me. I cried out, “Sir! Help me! They’re winning! I don’t want to believe them, but if this keeps on, I feel that I must!”

“He can’t hear you, bitch!” roared the biggest one.

“No, He CAN hear me!”

“You’re a worthless piece of crap!”

“No! He told me I’m His princess!”

“You can’t tell us anything!”

“No, she can’t, but I can!” My Rescuer, the Man, stood there, sword in hand, fury in His eyes! “Be gone, fiends! This girl is Mine! She is My precious daughter, My princess, soon-to-be bride! If you want to mess with her, you’ll have to deal with Me first!”

“But she’s nothing but a loser and an ugly one at that!” yelled one of them.

The Man turned towards him with such a look of fury that I saw the bodyguard actually wilt and start to tremble.

“Now in the name of My Father the King and in My name, be gone! You no longer have any right to this girl! She has broken her agreement with you and has transferred it to Me! Now GO!” With that, the Man gave a violent slash with His sword, and the bodyguards turned tail and ran!

I had stayed face down on the ground throughout the entire exchange. I heard the Man put His sword away. Then I heard the gentle swish of His robe as He knelt down beside me.

I trembled from fear and pain, fear of the Man and pain from the blows of the bodyguards. I shook harder when I felt the Man put His hand on my back. He just sat beside me and quietly rubbed my back. As He did so, my fear melted away and so did the pain. He picked me up and placed me in His lap. I rested against Him, as He continued to ease my pain and fear.

When I started crying because of the lingering ache of the wounds and at the thought of how I had hurt the Man, He hugged me to Himself and started weeping, sharing my pain. Somehow that eased my pain, just knowing that He felt my pain.

After we had rested a little, the Man, whose name I now knew was Jesus, stood up, and we continued walking down the road toward the palace.

I knew that the bodyguards and possibly even my old boss would come back, but for now I could rest. And so I did. I laid my head against Jesus and relaxed.

A Story of Christian Bootcamp

I wrote this on December 2, 2012, and just recently came across it again. It seems appropriate to share it again now, considering where I am at in my life and the things I have learned in the last couple weeks. Enjoy!

A girl enters an army camp. She is carrying a knapsack with supplies. She has armor draped over her arm, and a sword dangling from one hand. Her helmet is crooked. Her shoes are untied. She stares at the ground. Eventually she ends up at the tent door of her commander.

“Sir, I was told to report to you.”

Her commander looks her up and down. What he sees may not look like much, but he knows and trusts that his Commander-in-Chief has sent him what is best for his particular band.

“Welcome, princess.”

She just shuffles her feet and continues staring at the ground. He sees that he has a lot of work to do in readying, in teaching this new warrior how to fight. First thing, how to properly put on the armor.

The first while is spent in learning how to properly put on and wear her armor. She does many things in it, until it becomes second nature to her. Until she is completely comfortable in her armor, and in fact feels quite undressed if she does not have it on.

And she gets to observe skirmishes so as to learn what a soldier is supposed to do, how they are supposed to act in battle. Occasionally, her commander takes her with him and lets her join in. He helps her hold her sword straight, puts his hands over hers to show her how to swing it.

Weeks pass. She slowly grows more confident in her job as a warrior-princess. She still runs to her commander for back up when she is confronted with the enemy. She just isn’t quite confident enough to tackle them on her own yet, even tho’ she knows that her Commander-in-Chief would send backup for her at any given moment. In fact, He’d show up Himself with HIS band of warriors if she only cried out. But still…she finds herself turning and running back to her commander.

Then one day she gets caught in the crossfire. She finds herself alone. She can hear and see the enemy. She overhears their battle plan, overhears where their headquarters are. She races back to her commander, only to find that another commander has showed up! This commander is the one in charge of the band in the area where she was nearly caught by the enemy.

She learns how to give a report. She doesn’t understand what the big deal is. I mean, okay, so yeah, she heard their battle plans and their headquarters, but so? I mean, how’s that gonna help her commanders? But she trusts the word of her commanders and gives them a full report of what she heard and experienced.

As she talks to this new commander, she asks him, “Why can’t I fight by myself? Why does the enemy laugh at me?”

“Because, you have not taken a hold of the power, the authority that our Commander-in-Chief has given to us.”

As her and her commander go back to their band, she thinks and thinks on that.

Then comes the day. She is caught, outside of camp. Her commander is gone, attending to other business. She has one other warrior-princess with her. *panic* Her companion is a much more experienced soldier, so she lets her take charge in the defense and attack.

She feels that she barely even knows how to hold her sword! She’s barely learned how to keep her armor on straight!!

But the enemy refuses to listen to her companion. Now what?

Suddenly, an anger arises within her. How dare the enemy!! She does not need her commander there to defeat the enemy! She has been listening and learning for a little while now. She knows that the Commander-in-Chief has commissioned her as a warrior. He has given HER the resources she needs. He promised to give her backup. (And the enemy HAS to listen to the Commander-in-Chief!)

She charges in, sword up! She knows how to hold it now!! It just happened as she grabbed it from its sheath. But how to swing it? Ah, who cares? She dives in, full throttle, hacking and slashing in a very unschooled manner, poking and stabbing when she forgets how to swing it.

And whaddya know? It works!! Her Commander-in-Chief came in with His band for backup, and the enemy was made to flee!!

Aha! After the victory, she turns around and grins. “Thank You, Commander!”

He grins back at her, “Anytime, princess-warrior.”

When her commander returns from his business, she tells him of the attack and the ensuing defeat of the enemy.

“Aha! Soooo, you HAVE been listening and learning after all? That is great! I’m proud to have you in my band.”

She has discovered that being a warrior-princess in God’s army in this particular band is an AWESOME calling! (And it’s a whole lot of fun to send the enemy packing!) 😀

Dear Little Girl in a Grown Up Body…

Dear Little Girl in a grown up body,

I wish I could reach out and tell you all the good beautiful things I see in you. I want you to know you are seen. You are loved. You are precious.

I saw when the man stole your innocence. I was there. I cried for you.

I was there all the times you hid in your bedroom and cried your heart out because you thought mommy and daddy didn’t love each other.

I saw when you tried to hide your femininity behind a wall of indifference and an “I don’t care” attitude. You hid your emotions and only showed happiness. I want you to know it’s really ok to be broken.

I created you as a girl on purpose. I created you to enjoy beautiful things, to enjoy the small moments in life.  You were created to be protected by me, and I know you didn’t feel protected by me when all those awful things happened to you. But I was there, with you, crying for you.

Daughter, I love you with a fierce love. I have created you to love like I do. To see others the way I see them. And to fight for others when they’re too weak to do it themselves.

You are a nurturer by nature, and that is good. I have created you to nurture and heal.

I know it feels messed up and unfair. I know it’s hard. I know it hurts. I see your scars. Don’t hide anymore. Don’t hide your femininity. Stand up. Be strong!

You are covered. Protected. Loved. Secure. Precious. Beautiful. The apple of my eye. A jewel in my crown. I delight in every part of you. In every part of your personality and what makes you you.

You are beautifully created just the way you are for a reason. I love you that way.

Walk with me. Let me lead you in paths of righteousness and freedom. Let go of your fears. Trust Me and I will never let you down. Walk boldly and without fear as is my will for you.

i love you so much that I gave up My only Son to die for your healing. Your complete healing. Won’t you trust Me?

Love Your Heavenly Father,

Papa God.