Love Your Enemies

by Deb Trojak

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

I’m gonna be honest. I have read this scripture quite a bit in my life, and it was only in the past couple of years that it has made sense to me on a personal level. So often I would look at it and think, “What a great concept for people who have enemies.” Thankfully (or maybe naively) the word enemy had never struck a chord with me. There just wasn’t anyone out there who I thought felt that strongly about me.

Then came foster care. And over the past couple of years, I began to realize that enemy didn’t necessarily stand for someone who hated me and was trying to cause me harm. Enemy was someone that I felt very strongly about. Who I felt needed to have justice meted out upon them.

Along came a book (as they so often do in my life). This one is titled Foster the Family by Jamie C. Finn. (I highly recommend it.) The author has been a foster mom for many years and has much wisdom on fostering from a Christian
perspective. As I read the chapter entitled “My Foster Child’s Family Is My Enemy,” so many things I had felt and thought on my foster care journey fell into place.

Jamie writes, “On a good day, I may use a Christianese phrase like “I’m struggling to love them.” On a bad day, I just flat-out say it: “I hate them.” Either way, I need some direction for this fight. How do I think and feel toward someone who has hurt a child I love, someone who has hurt me? When it’s too complicated to pull through the tangled threads of all my
beliefs and emotions and expectations, I flip the script and simplify the struggle. I rename the discussion completely. I don’t have to sort through each piece individually. Instead, I can label my kids’ parents with a simple word, one that you would, most likely, never expect: enemy. See, God doesn’t provide specific direction for the complicated biological-foster parent relationship in His Word…. It’s all just too convoluted; I can’t wrap my head around it.
But I know how to deal with my enemies. God speaks to that, loud and clear. I find “enemy” to be a helpful category because it includes, well, everyone. Whether I’m actually experiencing threats and accusations or “just” struggling through hurts and disappointments, I have the same answer: love, do good, bless, and so on. Even when I reduce my relationship with my kids’ parents down to the lowest common denominator, I still know how God commands me to think about them and treat them.”

This chapter stopped me dead in my tracks. Because when I examined myself, this was truly how I felt about my kids’ birth parents. I viewed them as my enemy. And yet, how am I supposed to treat my enemies? The same way Christ treated His.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I was an enemy of God. I was dead in sin and choosing my own way. And yet, Christ still died for me. He died for all of us – even those who will reject His salvation. As difficult and painful as it can be, I am called to love, do good, pray for, and bless even the people I feel don’t deserve it. As we approach Easter, let us thank God that He chose to save us even though we didn’t deserve it. And let us also choose to show His grace to those around us, whether they are our enemies or not.


Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”


Flashback Friday: My Stuff

by Emma Turner (2020)

Just look at all this STUFF! It is not expensive STUFF, not beautiful STUFF, nor STUFF that appeals to anyone else, but it is MY STUFF!

By the time I was born, my parents had already collected lots of STUFF for me, including the baby STUFF they had saved from the four siblings before me. Growing up, I collected my own STUFF. Then when I married Jim, he had all kinds of STUFF. What a shock it was when he did not want to get rid of some of his STUFF to make room for MY STUFF! Hmmm, it was about that time the honeymoon was over. (Smile)

Now that my daughter and her husband live with me to help take care of me, they are bringing their STUFF with them that they have collected through 40 years of marriage and raising four children. All this being added to an already full home of Jim’s and my STUFF, means that together, we have all been getting rid of L-O-T-S of STUFF. I have told them I am not attached to any of the STUFF we are getting rid of, but just be sure they don’t send me out with it!

Now it is a matter of this one pile of My STUFF that means so very much to me. Emotions run high as memories reflect over a life time. As I hold on to this STUFF as precious treasure, a startling thought comes to me. This really is MY STUFF, and when I go to be with the Lord, there is no one else to whom this STUFF is going to mean a thing. But it seems like if they really love me, they would love MY STUFF too! And then I realize, how foolish, and how blessed I am with wonderful memories, and knowing the best is yet to come! So with that thought in mind, I continue to sort stuff, making that pile get smaller and smaller.

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things (stuff) which he possesseth. Luke 12:15

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the
excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:7 & 8


More With You Than Against You

by David Sullivan

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

In 2 Kings 6 the following account was recorded for our encouragement in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. Israel’s enemies were so desperate to capture the prophet Elisha they sent their great army of horses and chariots during the night to surround the city. When Elisha’s servant woke up and saw this army, he immediately filled with fear and cried out, “What shall we do?”

How many times has this question come to our minds as we receive news of a frightening medical condition for ourselves or for a loved one? In my life, I can say many times.

In the scripture, Elisha answered this question, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” He prayed and asked for his servant’s eyes to open so that he could see what Elisha could see. The scriptures state, “Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

When I heard the doctor tell us my wife had cancer I felt like Elisha’s servant. When I received news my mother was being placed on a ventilator due to Covid my heart dropped again. In spite of the outcomes, in those situations my fear was soon replaced with peace as my eyes were allowed to see the greatness of our God and His power to save us.

In our lives we may seem to face formidable symptoms, negative reports, and maybe even financial debt. But we are God’s beloved. Take your eyes off of the enemy so you may see the exceeding greatness of God’s power and deliverance.


Good Grief

by Chris Abbey

Grief. It’s a tough word, and it’s an even tougher emotion. It can come in many forms, for many reasons and at any time. You may be grieving a lost job, a lost relationship, a medical diagnosis, the passing of a loved one, the wanderings of a family member, or the way of the world.

Why does God allow pain in our lives? I think, ultimately, it’s so we can find Him after exhausting all efforts to deal with our issues on our own. 2 Corinthians 12:10 “… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Once we do find Him, He will be with us every second of our lives – helping us, cheering us on, crying with us, lifting us up, protecting us, and loving us.

God does not cause bad things to happen, but He does provide His blessings through those bad things. This is so we will fully rely on Him, be made stronger, and to maybe someday help someone else through their grief. I cannot imagine going through life’s trials without Him. Sometimes He makes Himself known in a big way, sometimes it’s through little things, and sometimes He puts someone in our path to be our angel on His behalf.

In some of the examples above, in addition to praying through those hard times, we are called to push through, cry through, and work through our tough times. How does God answer our grieving prayers?

If you are grieving a lost job: When one door closes, God will open another one, one that’s even better than the path you were on! Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If you are grieving a lost relationship: This person is probably not the person God has chosen to be in your life. Mourn, then be patient, pray and listen to Him. He will show you who He wants you to be with. Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

If you are grieving a medical diagnosis: Have faith. Faith in God and faith in your doctors and their team. The journey is hard. Sometimes we are healed and sometimes we are not. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which
transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you are grieving the passing of a loved one: Until the Rapture comes, we are all going to pass away. Celebrate the time you had with your loved one. Know that the grieving will never leave, but it will ease with time. Our separation is but for a moment compared to the greatest family reunion when we will spend eternity together in Heaven. 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

If you are grieving the wanderings of a family member: This brings such great pain, watching a loved one struggle through life without the help of the Holy Spirit. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

If you are grieving the way of the world: Always remember whatever is
happening, God is still on His throne. Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

No two people grieve the same, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grieve how you need to grieve. Just remember that you are not alone in your grief. God is right there with you.



Chasing Rainbows

by Laura Courtney

The other year my daughter got a glimpse of a rainbow at our house that just amazed her. It was short lived but she talked about it all the time after. Almost every time there would be rain and sun thereafter, we would run outside on the porch and we’d try to spot another rainbow. Sometimes I would run out myself staring up and straining to find just a bit of color in the sky. Usually it didn’t amount to much.

Not too long after that occurrence we entered into a period of nervousness and fear basically any time in would rain. Between thunderstorms, random power outages, and just heavy, noisy rains at night, my daughter started to develop a bit of an uneasiness anytime it clouded up or a rumble was heard. This continued for most of that summer. I would still make it my mission to run out as soon as it ended to try to find a rainbow again, thinking I could assuage the fearfulness with another sighting. Needless to say it didn’t really happen.

Fast forward to the beginning of summer this past year and we have our first thunderstorm just a little before bedtime. My immediate dread of the nightly fears and nervousness come flooding back from the summer before. But as we walked passed a window we happened to glace out to see the biggest rainbow stretching across the sky right in front of our house. There was no missing it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rainbow that big or that close since we’ve lived at this house (I’d share a picture here but I just doesn’t do it any justice at all to the beauty and enormousness that it really was).

I had a few thoughts in that moment as this beautiful rainbow calmed my daughters nervousness before bed. One was that I was probably going to have to write a Lenten devo about this experience. And the other was how this illustrates God’s work in our lives. We see Him at work in perhaps a simple little way, and when we catch that glimpse we try to replicate it ourselves. We strain to try to find Him where we want Him to be. We try to make something happen in our own strength and by our own power. But much like my rainbow search that won’t amount to much. But when we don’t rely on our own power and our own “magic” to make it happen – my daughter is also in the fairy/princess phase now so there’s lots of magic and “poof”-ing happening around here right now – when we just have open eyes to see what He has for us, we get something better than we could ever have imagined.

So I don’t know what fears and anxieties you have in your life. I don’t know what the storms are that you are going through. But if I could give just a little piece of advice it’s to remember that God is still walking alongside you. And that He is faithful. It might take a season and you might feel like the storms keep coming your way, but remember that He is
faithful. He will bring you through this. You don’t have to worry about straining to try to find Him or trying to make
answers and solutions by your own power. Just trust that He is with you and that He has good things in store for you. And keep your eyes open for that beautiful rainbow in the sky after the storm.

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. (Isaiah 25:1)

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)