Posts Tagged "Cassi Piper"

Love Is – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Love Is – Cassi Piper

I have always struggled with the concept of tough love. To be honest I have often felt the term was used too broadly. Some have used it when they don’t want to enable someone to make unhealthy choices or continue to engage in sinful behavior. Others apply it when the hard work of loving becomes too inconvenient, using “tough love” as an excuse to move on rather than acting in the best interest of someone else.  Few of us would admit to the latter. But I think if we were to examine our deepest motives, the ones we don’t want others to see, in one way or another we have all used the “tough love” card as an easy out rather than doing what real love requires.

So in the spectrum of the relationships we have with others, where does tough love fit? What is it and how should it be applied? When should it be used and what should the state of our hearts be when we use it? These are the questions that have been rattling in my head lately. I wish I had a definitive answer. But scripture does give us a true definition of love and that’s where we should start.

In the renowned 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians Paul lays out for us what love is. Many of us are familiar with at least a few of love’s many defining traits: “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” When I look at this list I am reminded of how my sinful nature is quick to defy loving others.

How often am I really patient with others? How often do I walk through one day without an envious thought? How often are my motives truly not self-seeking? I am humbled by this passage, especially when I think about how God’s love is perfect towards us in all of these categories. No matter what we do, God’s love does not fail.

When I think of love as Paul describes I do not picture a warrior toughened by battle ready to protect themselves from an oncoming enemy. Instead I see a shepherd with a staff ready to look out for the needs of others. I see a father patiently waiting for his son to come home. I see a savior, entitled to all things divine, but choosing to be hung on a cross so that others might live.  I see love emanating from within rather than a protective barrier keeping things unloving out.

This type of love is radical. It’s open. It’s freely given. And it can be heartbreaking. To give of ourselves in love of another and not have that love take hold in their life is painful. But we are still called to love. How often do we grieve the Holy Spirit with our thoughts, our actions or our apathy? But still God loves. And so must we.

It is my conclusion that real love is tough. It’s tough to be patient. It’s tough to be kind. It’s tough to always hope, to always persevere, to keep no record of wrongs. But the reward is worth it. For when we love we get a glimpse of God’s undying love for us. And the more we realize His love, the more we love others. Thus a beautiful cycle of grace, redemption and growth is begun.

Our love for others is not conditioned on others. It is conditioned on Christ’s example for us. We love unconditionally for we are unconditionally loved. It is my heartfelt prayer that as a church we recognize our need for God’s love while fulfilling our calling to love others so that they too recognize their need. May others see Christ in us because of the depth of our love for them and may we continue to bow in worship of the One whose love knows no depths.

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Surprised by Kindness – Cassi Piper

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Surprised by Kindness – Cassi Piper

My heart was recently touched by the kindness of a stranger. I had traveled almost an hour one afternoon to attend the funeral of a good friend’s mom. In tow I had all four of my children, ages eight down to 15 months. About thirty minutes into the drive I realized I had not given my third oldest his medicine to prevent car sickness. Shortly thereafter he threw up in the back of my van. Needless to say by the time we reached the service I was a little harried!

After a quick cleanup of the van we entered the church and was greeted by the funeral director. He took one look at me and my crew and pointed me towards the nursery they had made available to little ones during the service. My kids took one look at that unfamiliar room with new faces and clung to my legs. With a sigh I headed to the sanctuary where the funeral had already begun. Peering through the doors I could tell it was a packed house.

While contemplating where to sit I heard a shuffle behind me. The funeral director had grabbed some extra chairs from the lobby and was headed into the sanctuary. Several trips later he had created an extra row in the back just for us. Grateful, I quietly thanked him and we all took a seat.

About ten minutes later my youngest started to squirm in his stroller next to me. I pulled him out and held him in hopes that he would remain quiet.  Those were soon dashed as he began babbling quite excitedly. I was about to get up to take him to the lobby when I spotted the funeral director headed my way. Oh no, I thought. Here he comes to tell me that we are being too loud. To my surprise however, when he reached my chair he kneeled down and gently offered to take my son so I could stay in the service. When I told him that I didn’t think my son would go to him he then offered to sit with my three oldest children so I could take the baby for a walk.  Sure enough, after I had left my seat he took my place and began quietly joking with my kids.

Knowing they were not alone I was able to pace in the lobby with the baby while listening to the service. Periodically I would peek through the sanctuary doors to make sure the older kids were behaving themselves. Not only did they sit quietly throughout the entire service, but time and again I saw the funeral director answering their questions and patting their heads in affirmation of how good they were being. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to have someone be so thoughtful. After the service the director again approached me and asked if he could give the kids a sucker for behaving so well. I appreciated the gesture and my kids eagerly took the candy from their new friend.

In Hebrews we are exhorted to “… not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV) Now I am by no means claiming to be an angel, but I am thankful that the director of the funeral that day took this passage to heart. Through several small acts of kindness he allowed me to be present in support of a dear friend in the midst of her grief. For that I am very grateful.

I believe that God gives each of us an abundance of opportunities to be kind to one another. From sharing an encouraging word, to displaying patience, to offering prayer or financial support, as Christians we are called to reach out in love to those who cross our path. It is my prayer and challenge to us this week to intentionally look for ways we can be of loving service to others we may not know. In doing so we may or may not show hospitality to an angel, but I do know that we just might make someone’s day while exemplifying Christ’s love.

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The Sword Army – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The Sword Army – Cassi Piper

Many young children have an imaginary friend or two that they do life with. My son has an entire sword army. My husband and I first began hearing about this mysterious band of weapon bearers several years ago. At first we thought he had picked up the idea from a television show or book, but we never could recall an episode or family reading time involving a militia of any sort.

Over time, we have learned many things about the sword army. For starters, it is very large and they practice, a lot. Every Sunday they gather to fight bad guys. Sometimes with swords, other times with tanker trucks and shields. Adults are not allowed at their station, and everyone is assigned a job to do. They have a family of pretty snakes for pets (the adult snakes are super long while the babies are really short), and they do not believe that root beer has sugar in it.

For the most part we don’t give the sword army much thought. After all, my son is only four years old and we think it’s awesome that he has such a grand imagination. Sometimes though, we wonder if perhaps he might take it a little too seriously. Like the time he told me he was super stressed because he thought the sword army was going to fire him from his job. When asked why he might be fired, my son blamed his dad saying that he gives him too many things to do so he is always late to his sword army job. When I jokingly told my son that he could get a job somewhere else, he quickly retorted that he had already tried every job in the universe, and that he would still choose the sword army even if he might be fired. Oh boy.

Although as adults we may think ourselves too mature to engage in an imaginary world like the one where my son sometimes lives, our imaginations are more present than we may think. Many of us, for instance, often live in the past replaying events and conversations over and over in our minds. Others use our imagination to catastrophize the future, causing ourselves to fear what has not yet happened, and most likely never will.  These mental wonderings can result in powerful emotions like anxiety, fear, shame, guilt and regret.

The good news however is that God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His love and grace are over our past, over our present and over our future. By faith our past sins and regrets are redeemed in Christ’s name. By faith our future is secure and we can have eternal hope. By faith we know God is actively working for His glory in our present circumstances. We can rest knowing that nothing happens outside of His divine authority.

So the next time our imaginations want to take us to a time of regret, let’s take them captive to the cross and be reminded that in Christ we are all made new. The next time we want to dwell on the worst case scenario, let’s take on an eternal perspective and remember God’s faithfulness. Let us remember the true purpose of our imagination, to contemplate God’s glory, His goodness, His steadfastness and His unending grace and love.

As for the sword army, regrettably one day my son will come to realize that it is all in his head. When that sad day comes my prayer is that as he lays down his imaginary armor he will pick up his spiritual one. That we will have trained him up to recognize there is a real war in this world, one for souls. After all that practice he should be a mighty warrior indeed!

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Spiritual Muscle – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Spiritual Muscle – Cassi Piper

Tabata. Tabata? When I first heard the word I must admit I had visions of spicy rice dishes and war crying men with spears run through my mind. Taba-what? Curious, I did some research and discovered Tabata is the latest and greatest in the world of exercise, a method of exerting oneself to the limit in short bursts of energy followed by minimal rest, all meant to increase your heart rate and your strength.

I was first introduced to the word this past year when my sister-in-law became a certified Tabata instructor. MacKensie, one of the most tenacious and motivated women I know, takes her exercise seriously. Having trained and competed in various fitness competitions and a regular at the gym, she packs some serious power into her petite frame. So when some family members encouraged me to join her class I was a bit concerned. Ok, I was terrified. Hadn’t I seen Kensie pushing a tractor tire on Facebook?

I knew that it would be good for me. Active and physically fit for most of my life, the past seven years of child bearing and raising had unfortunately resulted in a sedentary lifestyle that had not been kind to my body. I lacked the energy and strength I once had. I knew the benefits of being active. But after being sedentary for so long taking an intense exercise class seemed a bit overwhelming. Maybe I should ease my way in, slowly, like entering a pool of cold water…

Nope. Time to take the plunge. So, in November I signed up for her class. I bought a water bottle and dusted off my running shoes. I dug through my closet and found a tee shirt without a hole in it. Ah yes, I even wore yoga pants. I was ready, so I thought. I could not have imagined what awaited me when I first stepped foot in the elementary school gym my sister-in-law had rented for her purposes. There, spread out in stations, were the means of exercise torture: arm bands, medicine balls, thick nautical rope, chin up bars, kettle weights, an agility ladder. I was immediately transported back to my years as a collegiate athlete when my coaches pounded us with whistles and drills three times a day.

I gulped. What had I agreed to? But after a six minute warm up that left me breathless I soon found my stride. Joined by men and women of various ages and abilities, I was encouraged and stretched to try new things and push my physical and mental limits. My body did things I didn’t know it could do and by the end I had to admit I was having a blast trying to conquer each station. But most importantly, I found myself getting excited about being fit again.

Not unlike my journey to good physical health, there have been times in my life where I have found myself at a spiritual standstill, living a sedentary existence, not having the energy to dig deeper into my faith. Times when I knew a bigger commitment was necessary to grow in my understanding of God and who He wanted me to be. Times when I was hesitant to take a leap of faith and really allow God to search and grow me, terrified of what He may find if I truly let Him in. Yet every time I have acted on His prompting, whether it was a renewed commitment to get into His word, join a group Bible study, attend a faith conference, increase my giving, welcome accountability or invest in a new relationship, the result has always been a revival of my love, respect and adoration for my Lord. My spiritual muscle was also  strengthened, better able to meet life’s storms and uncertainties with peace, joy and discernment.

As we begin this new year with the usual plans and schedules, it is my challenge to us to seek where God would have us grow in our walk with Him. Is there something new He has been prompting you to do so your faith can grow? If so I encourage you to take the plunge. Tabata!

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