It is only just hitting me that in a matter of weeks, the girls I have lived with for the past three years and I will never live together again. In fact, each of us will be transitioning to living with– a man— for the […]
I remember that, in high school, a “normal” conversation at the lunch table, at a party, or at a friend’s locker was about someone else.
The “subject line” was rarely to do with the state of one’s soul, the deeper thoughts they’d been having, or the joy they’d been experiencing. No, a typical conversation began something like, Hey, have you heard about so-and-so?
I am in no way demeaning the friendships that I had the blessing of partaking in, many of which I still do. I was blessed by lifelong friendships of soul-care, deep things, and joy talks that began in high school, and existed that way in high school (Shoutout to Daniella, Chloe, and Sammy, among many others).
I am, however, making a comment on what I perceived to be the cultural norm about what a conversation should look like. And I absolutely contributed to these norms more than I wish I did.
I think we can all relate to gossip. “People-talk.” Slander. Rumour-spreading, and rumour-listening-to. It can be harmless, right? If it’s just a conversation with my best friend and it’s between the two of us, or an off-hand, “I heard so-and-so became a drug dealer after high school” to a colleague, it’s not a big deal, right?
Well, this morning, I was finishing up my personal study in the book of Luke, and a few verses in Chapter 23 stung me like never before.
In this chapter, the people of Jerusalem who have witnessed Jesus have accused Him of subverting their rules, and take him to Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea.
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”LUKE 23:3-12 NIV
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
I could not get the phrasing of this final verse, verse 12, out of my head. Luke, in his gospel writing, emphasized that Herod and Pilate became friends the day that Herod chose to doubt and ridicule Jesus. The same day that Pilate was trying to decide whether he himself believed that Jesus was the Son of God.
Herod and Pilate bonded over the ridicule of the Son of God.
Have you ever bonded with someone over the ridicule, put-down of, or collective dislike toward another person?
I was disgusted by Herod and Pilate… and then the Holy Spirit used the verse to convict me of my familiarity with their friendship to show me three things about the communal slander of others.
- Friendship that is held together by gossip and being caught up on the happenings of other people is not friendship. If you can discern friendships like this in your own life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that either of you are, at your core, gossipy people. In fact, I would argue that without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are ALL prone to this kind of sin. Try to reach out to these friends and be candid about the intentions of your friendship. Apologize for not asking more about that friend’s own life, and engaging in gossip and jokes about others instead. Vow together to engage in meaningful and compassionate conversations.
- Feelings of “bonding” that arise from talking negativity are lies. This is a false sense of bonding, because, in its very nature, gossip is something that breaks bonds. Imagine becoming friends with someone because of your communal ridicule of the God who created you, who purposed you, and who you will stand face to face with at the end of time, like Herod and Pilate. We are never called to speak deception or ridicule over others, but rather truth and life.
- Mocking is different from speaking genuine concern– and the difference is in your heart. We might share a rumour under the false pretence of just “sharing concern for a friend” with someone else, while knowing in our souls that our intention is not one of compassion. There are, of course, circumstances that demand sharing a concern for a friend with someone else, but both the language and tone of that conversation will look and feel very different from those of gossip.
God, thank-you for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross in my place. Help me to bring praise to Your Name and Life by speaking truth and love to and about other people– people You love and breathed life in to. Give me Your eyes, Jesus, to see others the way You do. Amen.
“Paradise.” That’s what my sister’s friend called my family cottage after just a few hours of exploring the grounds. “I’ve never been to a cottage like this.” Krystal, Johnny, and I exchanged satisfied glances; Aly was not wrong. Papineau Lake was not like most lakes, […]
When I got engaged, I pictured myself blogging about all the pretty details, aesthetically sharing the history of our venue, swatches of bridesmaid dresses, and details about the menu (which is, I must say, to die for).
I thought maybe I would naturally become one of those lifestyle bloggers who writes from a very unbiased, journalistic perspective, leaving lots of feelings and experiences at the door.
Don’t get me wrong– I have a MASSIVE level of respect for these bloggers and writers. I have often wished that Cassie, Compiled could be without personal, often heavy content.
But, that’s just never what my blog has been, and I don’t think it ever will be. So, in regular Cassie-style, I am gettin’ real with y’all today.
The most difficult aspect of wedding planning. It’s not in matching the flowers to the outfits or picking between cheesecake and brownies. It’s not in contracts or scheduling or even planning all the events to coordinate with a bridal party of 14.
No, I have found that the most difficult aspect of wedding planning has been a desire to ensure that those around me understand that all I truly care about for the day is that Jesus is glorified, seen, and praised. That the purpose of marriage (to serve Him, better together) would be admonished joyfully. That when loved ones ask what kind of shoes I want and how to make the ceremony room look perfect and my answers are that I’m just having fun with it and don’t have a ton of preference, they would KNOW that this is not me “settling” on the day Western culture says we should spend $60,000 on, but that I truly and wholeheartedly know that if I walked down the aisle in bare feet, I would not be bothered. If our outdoor decorations were rained on, I would ask for Jesus’ eyes and know that He was never looking at them. If the music during the ceremony was a little louder than I pictured, let it be for God’s glory.
And, honestly, it didn’t take long– by God’s grace– for me to realize that I really didn’t have to engage in any of that “convincing.” That’s not been the Lord’s desire for me, either. I just needed to put my trust in Him, and allow HIM to love others through me.
To see the generosity in the hearts of loved ones around me during this time. To recognize gifts and blessings bestowed as they see fit and that reflect nothing but good intentions and kindness. And even as I write, I feel I sound ungrateful, but that is not my sentiment at all. Johnny and I are absolutely beyond blessed by loved ones supporting our wedding financially and creatively, and by people putting time and energy into putting the day together.
And don’t get me wrong– I do want the day to be aesthetically beautiful. It is a joy to plan the decor and colours and menu with excellence and our tastes in mind.
It’s just that the reality is that the wedding day is a single one in which I am dedicating the rest of my life to glorifying Jesus (THIS is the purpose) with one person, the person I love, for the rest of my life. THIS needs to be seen and known. THIS needs to be the purpose that is supported. HE needs to be lifted high in our vows and in the entire day.
You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. 1 PETER 1:2
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell me…
Do you think much about the purpose of weddings? Has your particular culture influenced the way you think about them? How might you go about discovering what is the true purpose of a wedding?
Jesus really doesn’t ask for much. Well, yes, when we follow Him we surrender our lives from purpose for dead and meaningless, withering worldly things to the eternal purpose of Jesus’ glorification, and this may certainly be seen as “much” if we don’t know Jesus […]
This past Wednesday, May 22nd, I embarked upon a journey that changed my life, and that I will never forget.
This time last year, my dear friend and pastor, Nat, came home from a mystery excursion to the Muskokas raving about his experience, and telling me it was one he really thought I should consider applying for.
The Bloom Leadership Retreat, hosted by Fluid Conference, accepts 24 applicants from across Canada to take part in a three-day, workshop-filled retreat at Muskoka Woods Camp in Ontario. Upon Nat’s recommendation and prayers for me, I applied to the retreat a few months ago, and was excited to learn that I had been accepted to attend.
My journey began early Wednesday morning, as my older sister kindly drove me to Burlington, an hour from my own home, to be picked up by a complete stranger, who was also attending the retreat.
Megan Smylie lived up to her name. She met me with a beaming smile, and, after quickly introducing ourselves, we shared authentically with each other that neither of us knew at all what to expect from the few days, but that we shared an excitement and anticipation that came from God’s affirmation.
We shared our hearts with each other over the course of the three hour trip to the camp, where we met up with the other people who we would surely become equally acquainted with. As we toured the massive grounds, which were full of eager camp kids, we relented that we felt like we had just arrived at Camp Rock. The atmosphere was exciting and infectious.
The actual journey began on the entrance side of a loooong suspension bridge, which the staff kept questioning the safety of– statements we participants couldn’t tell the sincerity of.
We stood in a circle on one side, and each one of us was invited to share what we were bringing into the experience.
Uncertainty about career, intense grief, confusion, sadness, and fear were among the answers. Some said they were bringing hope, but most were walking through a season of uncertainty.
“I have felt called to church ministry– a call outside of myself– since I was nine,” I said when it was my turn to share. “But I don’t know what God wants it to look like, or when, or where.”
Before we crossed the bridge, one of our leaders invited us to think about what it felt like to enter into a brand new setting in a treacherous way.
Crossing the swinging bridge was certainly treacherous, as Megan, one step in front of me, whispered, “I feel like I’m on the bridge in Shrek.”
As I crossed, I felt a release of worries and uncertainties as I prayed, and God’s presence enveloped me. Miraculously, I don’t think I stopped being aware of His omnipresence the rest of my time at Muskoka Woods, thanks be to God.
The Leadership Studio at Muskoka Woods that we entered after crossing the bridge was one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in. Every part of it, we were told, was designed with purpose. From the beautiful wooden ceilings with cracked outer edges that represented the beauty God makes of brokenness, to the open space with stunning table space and dinnerware set for kings and queens to emphasize the importance of hospitality and shared meals, the space was something out of a storybook.
The “pillow wall” you see above is where we got to cozy up for each one of our intense learning sessions, spent immersed in the Bible, in prayer, and in gifted preaching.
The room to the far left is where we gathered to worship together, strangers coming together to sing songs to the same Jesus who we’d all walked with, who was the only reason we were all there.
And the food we got to enjoy was absolutely incredible. Presented and described to us each night by the incredibly talented cooks, I teared up a few times at the incredible display of family-style hospitality, in which we all shared delicious food and ensured everyone was well fed.
The many conversations I got to take part in were absolutely beautiful. From a few spontaneous prayer sessions after heart-sharing vulnerability, once from my own heart and many times from others’, to conversations about our journeys with the Lord, to conversations simply about how good He is, I was made to be in constant, never-ending awe of my Father, and how every good gift comes from Him.
Here are the most fundamental things I learned:
- Soak yourself in the Psalms. This is the advice of John McAuley, president of Muskoka Woods. Absolutely drown yourself in them, He said. Never let yourself forget of the utter goodness, sovereignty, PERFECTION of Christ. Start with Psalms 1 & 2, he said, and always hold fast to Psalm 23. Allow the Lord to speak through His Word always– even if the reason you approach it is for academic purposes.
- Prioritize rest. There is a reason God rested on the seventh day of creation, and it was to marvel at the goodness of His work. He truly RESTED. He stopped, rested, delighted, and reflected. Have a day of the week in which you truly STOP, and have this rhythm of stopping in your daily life in some manner, too.
- What you look at, you see. Wow, so profound, right? Really, though, it is. Modern psychology reinforces it. If you’re looking every day at photos of a particular, posed body type that is presented as an ideal, that is what you will want to conform to. If your world is one of only Christians, and you’re living in a “Christian bubble,” you’ll forget the reality that there are many beautiful people in the world who don’t share the same belief, and that God is calling you to see those people, too.
- Where are you starting, and where are you going? In other words, you don’t need to know precisely where you’re going, but, to really get anywhere, you need to have an idea of God’s Truth and vision, and ask Him to help you understand His vision and purpose for your unique calling. How do we discover His vision, His overall and most important purpose for this earth? Revelation 21 is the final chapter in the Bible, which accounts what is most commonly assessed as the vision for Jesus’ return for His bride (the Church– you and I). It is summed up by “God with us.” So, our purpose as HIS people, His hands and feet, vessels of His goodness, is to live WITH Him. Not just meditating on Him, or learning about Him, but living in STEP with Him.
These are just a few little points in a massive list of learnings I had the honour of taking away from this incredible opportunity. Not to mention the chance to hike while praying and being in one of the most beautiful places in Ontario, to talk and pray with Ellen Duffield, and to come home with physical resources for growth in my walk with the Lord.
Thank-you, Lord, for changing and shaping me and reminding me of your goodness. Forgive me when I forget, and put aside Your perfection in pursuit of something– anything– else. Would this world fade, and You become all in all, so that Your Son is glorified.