Dare To Be Different!

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Tulips – April 18, 2017

Last Sunday evening , on my way home from serving at Simonka House, I was chatting with a younger friend of mine. We were talking about being a light where you are, and being true to who you are and who God called you to be. We agreed that it’s difficult for many people not to go with the crowd. Without thinking, I said, “It’s hard to be a shining light if you’re too busy blending in with the dark.”

It is definitely hard to be different in this world, to stand up for what you believe. The world makes it easy to go down the wrong path. The road to destruction is wide, but narrow is the path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). It isn’t easy being a Christ follower because living for Him goes against the flow of the world (Colossians 3:1-17).

Here is a new poem I wrote about daring to be different:

“Dare To Be different!”

God’s love through us reverses the tide,
goes against the flow of selfish pride.
We’re called to serve as His hands and feet,
showing compassion to all we meet.
Not by power, but by His Spirit alone
we follow His lead – our hearts are His throne!
Living for Him, we shine most brightly
giving up things once held so tightly;
To humbly walk the narrow way,
honoring Him through all that we say:
Speaking grace and truth, in equal parts,
lovingly engaging wayward hearts.
So dare to be different, let His light glow,
Dispel the darkness with the hope you know.
Dare to stand out, lead with truth and love,
pointing everyone to the Father above.

9-23-17
©Ladeena Ashley

As Christ followers, we obey God and not men (Acts 5:29), and some of our ways will seem strange to others. Hopefully, because of the outrageous love of God that we show, it will seem more intriguing than odd. For example: Success in the world’s eyes means “looking out for #1”. In God’s economy, success comes when we look out for others’ interests, often above our own (Philippians 2:3-5). As God works in and through us, His quiet power will shine brighter than the flashiest sports car, biggest gleaming trophy or glittering jewelry! If you’re smiling when the world says you shouldn’t be, that gets people’s attention.

Overall, living and sharing our faith takes a lot of prayer and humility. When we do engage others in tough topics, we can remain true to our faith and beliefs and still be loving about it. Many well-meaning Christians have preached (truth) more than they have shown love (grace), and turned people off (although these days, it seems that just appearing to have differing beliefs seems to offend some people). We must balance God’s truth with love. To love others as He loves us, the key is to abide in His love (spend time with and daily surrender to the Lord) everyday through quiet time, prayer and reading His Word. After all, it’s not really us who is doing the loving, but Christ in us! In our human strength and power, we can’t love the way God calls us to – only by His power can we love and serve the way we are commanded to in His Word (John 15:9-13; 2 Corinthians 3:5).

That being said, we should never back down from calling sin for what it is, and not candy-coat what God so clearly states in His Word. Sharing God’s truth with love, the ultimate goal must be salvation, not to convince others that we’re right and the way they are living is wrong. It’s not about being right, but about God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. Our part is to humbly share. Whether they reject the message or not, it isn’t about us, for Jesus himself said people will hate us because of Him (Matthew 10:22). There will always be a few folks around us – even extended family members – who merely tolerate a Christian’s presence. Yet those are the souls who need our prayers the most!

Dare To Be Different!
Where there is hate, show love. Where there is anger, offer forgiveness. Where there is fighting, be a gentle force of peace. Where there is selfishness, show love and give sacrificially. Where there is hopelessness, show others there is indeed hope, and more love, peace, and joy than what they’ve experienced before, in Christ!

Pray, be available and watch how God moves when you dare to be different!

“..for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:13-16a

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2017 All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

I Still Have Hope! Do You?

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I really didn’t mean to take a two week break. Things in my personal life threw me for a loop even before Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas and Louisiana, wildfires ravaged the Northwest and Hurricane Irma began tearing a path toward Florida.

The relationship that was on hold is not yet resolved, but at least we’re in the same state. I wish I could say that things were progressing nicely, but we still keep hitting the same old roadblocks. The added stress caused chronic headaches and increased my fatigue, which severely hampered my desire and inspiration to write. Thankfully I’m better now.

What Differences?
The eclipse was a literal bright spot of these past few weeks. It was amazing! Here in Salem, Oregon, we got a perfect view of God’s handiwork. It reminded me just how small we all are, and more alike than some prefer to admit. There was a short-lived peace as all eyes peered heavenward, setting aside their differences, if only for a while.

With the floods and wildfires, there arose entirely different reasons for setting aside differences. What an encouragement to see people rise up in love and compassion, helping others in times of crisis and disaster! It’s one of the good things that God brings out of what the enemy uses for evil. Strength and resilience is tested and grows through struggle and heartbreak. If life was always easy, we’d all be a bunch of wimps!

Here’s a poem I wrote about the source of my strength, and hope:

“Only God”

Only God has the answers for every troubled soul;
Only Jesus’ blood has the power to rid us of death’s hold.
Only God will be here now, understanding all we go through:
Because He loves us so much, He helps us in all we do.
Only Jesus is the answer to your deepest of desires;
In this contrasting world, His love smothers hateful fires.
Only God will be listening when all courage disappears:
When other people turn away, He’s the One Who always hears.
Only God will be here tomorrow – we may be at the end of our rope;
But God works all things together for good, and gives us hope.
For Jesus walks close beside us along the path of light;
As the Spirit guides our hearts, we’ll reflect His love into the night.

10-10-94
©Ladeena Ashley

Near the End?
We’re told in Scripture that there will be various calamities, wars and rumors of wars before Jesus returns. All that’s happening right now may be only the beginning of the “birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8). We know from His Word that it is all going according to His plan, so no matter what happens, whether storm, fire or threats of war, I know my God is still on the throne. I don’t understand how all of the puzzle pieces of life go together, but He has the puzzle box and sees how glorious the finished picture will be!

In church last Sunday, we had a missionary couple speak about their work in India. It was refreshing to hear some good news in the world. Of special interest to me was just how many unique dialect groups live in isolated and remote villages that have yet to be reached with the Gospel of Christ. With all that’s going on in the world today, many folks are wondering if Jesus is coming soon. Yet the Bible says that the Good News must be shared with ALL nations (all groups and tribes) before He returns (Matthew 24:14), and that doesn’t seem to have happened quite yet.

Shine and Serve
While we’re still here, the call to shine His light and serve others remains on those who claim to be followers of Jesus. The biggest disaster that can befall your family and friends won’t come from earthquakes, fire, flood, or the like. No, the biggest calamity is that loved ones might perish without ever standing on the solid ground of hope or experiencing the cleansing power of forgiveness by grabbing the life ring that is saving faith in Jesus Christ!

The darker this world becomes, the more obvious the light that we carry becomes. Be a beacon of hope! Help and donate whatever you can, but more importantly: pray for those affected by the disasters both near and far. Pray that those without hope will find it in the Lord, through the prayers and actions of the believers who surround them.

Faith Notes
Here is a great song that expresses a lot of my thoughts right now:
I Have This Hope – by Tenth Avenue North
(Note: Link opens up in a new window.)

“I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Ashley
2017 All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)