Wednesday, December 31, 2008
If you are like most everyone else, you have heard the familiar ramblings of those who promise to work out more this year, save more money, lose 10 lbs and keep it off, take more time for self...and so on.
How often have you heard someone say I resolve to make this year about serving others? I resolve to be selfless this year, to give more, to want less...
We so often try and coat these clay pots in gold and make ourselves things God did not intend for us to be here. We want youth and vitality all the days of our long lives. To look 30 when we are 50 and older! To have all the benefits of youth and all the experience of age. That is just not what God has ordained for us. We are just passing though and at the end of this year, 2008 we will be one year closer to eternity.
Why not resolve to make 2009 about things that will really, really matter? Make this coming year about Christ. Make it about Him in every respect possible! Practice unity among the body of Christ, serve one another, care for others, put them first and yourself at the end of the train. Go out of your way for someone who doesn't deserve your kindness and show him or her the love of Jesus Christ. Remind yourself daily that the playing field is level as far as God is concerned, the ground is flat before the cross of Christ. We are all eye level with our sin and our Savior.
Christian, we are to be cross centered in our daily lives, to preach Christ in and out of season and to by our living example of Him cause others to desire Him for themselves.
That would be a great resolution, wouldn't it?
Happy New Year
Monday, December 29, 2008
There is no room for slack and no room for discussion when God says to do something, and there are always consequences when we refuse. Never going as far as God removing His Holy Spirit and revoking our position in Christ, but we experience consequences none-the-less.
Our Old Testament predecessors did not have it so great when it came to grace. Anyone who even cursed his or her parents was to be put to death! (Exodus 21:15, 17, Lev. 20:9; Deut. 27:16)
"If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. "They shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' "Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear." Deut.21:18-21 (NASB)
I fit every one of those adjectives; stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, glutton, and drunkard at one point in my life. When I think about it now, it brings me shame and I want to hang my head at the terrible way I treated my parents when I was a teenager. I didn't think anything of it, everyone talked to and about their parents the way I did. It was accepted and in many homes it was acceptable. It was not in my house. My dad thought nothing of putting me back in my place in ways that (unfortunately) are not acceptable in today's politically correct culture.
My heart was full of anger at things I could not define or understand. I just knew that I knew better than my parents! I reminded them of how old they were and how times had changed...I thought so much of my own opinions, and believed I was very wise. In reality, I was a prideful snot.
I wonder today how much my behavior hurt my parents. They were very good to me, and I lacked nothing growing up. I was treated well and loved and protected and I returned their goodness by being a brat. When I was 18 I decided that my mom was not so bad. I have no idea what changed, but it was in me. I asked my mom to go to a movie with me, and that was the beginning of our friendship.
I realized that my mom was an exceptional lady. She left school after the 9th grade and went to work. She is very smart, and I wonder what her life would have been like had she graduated high school. Despite her lack of higher education she kept meticulous financial records for our home, and under her guidance paid of not one, but two homes years before they were due. She was a fabulous cook and her delight was in being a wife, mother and housekeeper. It was because of her influence I wanted to be a wife and mother when I grew up and did not want a career like my peers and sisters. I saw how complete of a life my mom led all these years and I decided it was enough for me.
Today, as I care for her personal needs I know how much my heart has changed because of Christ. Gone is the prideful, jerky daughter who thought her parents didn't know anything. Now I seek them out for wisdom and guidance and I desire to model my life after my parents lives.
What is not to want? Married over 60 years to each other, they have been loving and faithful and have honored their marriage vows. They have made great examples for us and our children to follow.
I am honoring my parents today, and I say this not for my own boasting but for the glory of God. God has been faithful to my desire to honor my father and mother and changed my heart from one that sought after pleasing self to one that desires to glorify God. At least in this one area I can say I am honoring God with my life totally!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Whatever it is you are dealing with dear ones, you must understand that God has led you to this place. He has ordered your steps and allowed you and even brought you to the place you are right now.
"And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not," Deuteronomy 8:2
How long have you been wandering? Israel wandered for 40 long years and during that time God made sure they had food to eat, water to drink, and their clothes and shoes never wore out. Those were acts of God's mercy toward them, for they were wandering due to disobedience.
Our wandering may not be due to disobedience, Job's was not and so we should not assume that someone who is wandering or struggling is being disciplined or chastised by God. We should never assume they are being punished because no place in Scripture do we find God punishing believers.
Our wanderings may feel terrible and lonely. We may struggle with confusion and deep discouragement and wonder why God would allow us to feel so alone, and so desolate. May I encourage you to take heart, even in the dessert places?
I have found that even in the wanderings God continues to provide for us as He did for Israel. While it may feel contrary to that, the reality is that God provides what He promises to provide. Our problem is that we sometimes begin to despise His provision for us. We grumble and complain that what God has provided is not good enough or fast enough or for long enough, just as they did.
Our hearts are never satisfied with anything, we always want more and more and better than what He provided yesterday. As we mutter against His provision we are revealing a complaining and unbelieving heart. A heart that is once again focusing on self and on the short-term point in time that we know as our life her on earth.
We so quickly fail to understand the wilderness wanderings are designed for eternal glory. They are intended to reshape us, to round off square edges, and to polish off the rough spots that hinder our spiritual growth.
It is in the dessert that we realize what bare minimum is necessary. All the stuff of the world and of life is suddenly very dim and appears so foolish! It is here that we see that all that we truly, truly need is Christ and what He provides for us.
May I encourage you to spread out your arms wide and throw them around your day of trial? May I encourage you to run toward the wilderness? Get out there- alone with God and embrace what He wants to do in your heart and your life. Invite Him to rub off those rough spots and to hammer away at your flaws. It will be a painful time, but well worth the trial. You will return from the trial in the wilderness with a deeper and fuller understanding of Him and of what He wants for you and from you as His child.
I am speaking to you from the dessert on my own wilderness journey. I can recall at least 3 major times in my life where I was led into the wilderness. I went away thinking I was full, but once I got out there I realized how truly empty I was. This time has been no different. Each time God has led me out here, He brought me deeper and deeper out into the place where all is stripped away and there is nothing but Him. Each time I have benefited spiritually and grown in ways I cannot accurately describe in words.
Friends, these times change us. They change us as God as determined and they make us more like Him. Come and walk with the Lord along with me and grow in Christ.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6
BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." Matt. 1:23
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."
But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God."And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We have our immediate family traditions, and then my family of origin traditions.
Christmas Eve is with our children. When the kids were little we would read the Christmas story and each child who could read would read a part. As they got older, we moved away from that tradition because we started going to Christmas Eve service. We have a dinner of some sort, usually finger foods and each of us is allowed to open one gift from under the tree. Even as adults, the kids still love this part of our Christmas.
On Christmas morning, we all gather in the living room and Christmas music is playing in the background. We come in our jammies and robes and slippers, just as we have crawled out of bed and gather around the tree. One person hands out the gifts to everyone, and we all enjoy watching each others delight as they open their packages.
Every year, each child receives an ornament that highlights some special accomplishment, or milestone, or something they were especially interested in over the past year. Our tree is full of Spiderman's, basketball players, SpongeBob, and so on. When my children move away from home, their special ornaments are packed up and taken to their new home for their own Christmas tree.
After gifts, we enjoy a breakfast of my bacon, egg, and cheese quiche, blueberry muffins and orange juice (made in the blender). THAT is really the highlight of the day for my kids. It is the only day of the year I am allowed to make this dish. They treat it as a sacred thing!
We then would head to my parents for the next day and a half. Prior to my mom's illness, the children would all sleep over at their house and spend the whole day after Christmas bowling or roller skating or playing games and pool. Of course there was plenty of great food.
This will be a year of new traditions in many respects. Our son and his wife won't be with us this year. It will be the first time all my kids are not home for Christmas. My daughter in law will be making the Christmas Quiche at their house this year...
Our celebration with my family will be different also. We will be eating in 2 different places because we can't all fit upstairs and mom is unable to go down to the rec room. Too many people cause her high anxiety now, so we will take turns in shifts coming upstairs. There will be no overnight for the grandkids, and no bowling or skating either.
Things have changed.
One thing that has not changed is Jesus. He is who we are celebrating with all our human activity. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and He will go forth triumphant and exhaulted. If all of Christmas depended on the traditions I would be so disappointed! But Christmas is Jesus Christ. It is not quiche and gifts, it is THE Gift, Jesus Christ the Messiah.
Bless you this Christmas Eve. Enjoy your traditions and make some new ones. But in the center of it all, keep Jesus.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My sister and I went to my parents after shoveling out (again) tonight. Mom had a time of wakefulness and while she is still very weak and tired and somewhat confused, we had an enjoyable time. She was mostly awake the whole time.
My mom has had her hair fixed at the beauty shop once a week for my entire life. That is, until she got so sick and weak. Now we are unable to get her out of the house at all and this presents a dillema. Some very wonderful inventor made a shampoo cap that is heated in the microwave and needs no rinsing.
Tonight I washed her hair with the shampoo cap, and was just going to get them air dry as she has a perm. I was hoping they would look nice enough to look "fixed." Then as I was towel drying her hair she asked me if I was going to set them in rollers! SOOOO out came the spongy rollers, piks and hairdryer.
Now, mind you I am doing all this while she sits in her recliner and I am unable to actually get cloe to her because of the proximity of the recliner to the wall and various pieces of equipment that surround her.
So I am leading over, putting the rollers in, ( I have 3 sons, this is foreign territory!) and got out the hairdryer. This hairdryer is about as old as me, and is a round base with a hose that plugs into the base and has a plastic inflatable cap on the other end. I put the plastic cap on her head and when I turned on the hairdryer, the motor went kaput!
SOOOO, I asked my sister to get her blow dryer and I turned it on and stood with the end of the hose up against the blow dryer and it filled the cap with air and dried her hair! (You had to see this to believe it)
When her hair was dry, I "fixed it." No hairdresser needs to worry one little bit! But once again, God provided an opportunity to make a memory and I am so very very thankful I had this chance to love on my mom tonight.
She said to me tonight when we were alone, "Well looks like the dawn is coming, huh?" I knew what she meant, and so I said, "Yes mom, I think so." She became fearful and I had the opportunity to minister to her soul a little too. I reminded her of what she told me (and everyone else who was listening in the airport one morning over 2 years ago), "I am a born again Christian, and Jesus is my Savior and when I die I am going to heaven."
I remember thinking to myself that day, "Thank You God for this confirmation!" Now that we have traveled this far, I can see God's hand in that bold proclamation.
I promised her tonight I would be with her at the end, and told her how wonderful it was going to be to see Jesus. I reminded her she would be able to see again, dance again, and breathe again! I told her she did not need to be afraid, that we would be sure she has no pain and is comfortable. She calmed down then and agreed with me.
When she leaves us, I will grieve, but I will not grieve as those who have no hope for I know, I know, I know, that she will be waiting for me when I get there! If God allows welcoming parties at the gates to heaven, she will be in mine!
I realized once again tonight I am so very, very blessed beyond ALL measure to be able to share this with her! PRAISE BE TO GOD!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Those of you who read frequently know my mom is dying. Many of my posts recently have been about her, and what God is teaching me and how He is using me to minister to my folks in these last months and days of her life.
Today I am thinking about all that is yet to be done for our family Christmas celebration and realizing there is no way it is all going to happen this year. Also, I have realized I really don't care. So much of our American Christmas is propped up around shopping and presents and crazy hoopla, and each year we collectively grumble and crab about all "we have to do" and all the money it costs to do it.
Living though this time with my mom during the holiday season has certainly adjusted my perspective on all this stuff! Not one card was sent, not one cookie has been baked, and that tree that stands in my living room seems very out of place.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Instead, I am living Christmas this year. Sacrifice is what Jesus exemplified in everyday life. His sacrifice began when He sacrificially left heaven and the Father to come to earth. It was a volunteer mission you know. He intentionally humbled himself to become like you and I in taking on human form. That was the first demonstration of what is needed to be like Him- humility and sacrifice. These two attributes are deeply intertwined.
To live sacrificially a person must determine to empty themselves of themselves. The must decide that the one they are sacrificing for is worth the personal cost. In our case, Jesus did not make this sacrifice because we are so worthy; He did it because we are so hopeless. But we make these sacrifices when we determine that the one we are serving is worth our time, effort and energy.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
We must also humble ourselves to undertake activities that are unpleasant and distasteful. There is nothing glorious about cleaning commodes and wiping bottoms, and the willingness to do such things is but a taste of the humility of Christ.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:1-8
We attend church each week, but this is living church and living Christmas and I am certain that this time I am spending here is infinitely more important than shopping or baking cookies or sending greeting cards. Serving my parents is not convenient nor is it always pleasant but it is what I know Jesus would have me to do.
The purpose is to glorify God in how I live my life. This is to be the goal of each of us as Christians. We are to live sacrificially, and humbly, and glorify God as we serve one another.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tonight mom had a huge mental slip. She totally lost her grip on this reality and began to talk nonsense and act in a bizarre manner while dad and I sat in the living room with her. It was one weird moment I tell you! As her brain continues to suffer from a lack of oxygen I guess we can expect more of these things, but tonight, the first time...it was bad.
As I followed my mom slowly (s-l-o-w-l-y)down the hallway to their room, my dad went into the room in which they watch tv. I heard him singing softly under his breath, "Oh how we danced, on the night we were wed..." an old waltz that I vividly remember them dancing to each year on their anniversary. I recall it being played on their 40th, 50th, and perhaps they danced alone on their 60th too after our celebration dinner. They danced beautifully together and until a little more than a year ago, they danced several times a week. It was their joy and something they so loved doing together. I heard my dad's voice crack as he softly sang to himself, watching the girl of his dreams, his beautiful bride of 62 years slowly make her way past him. She no longer resembles the woman he married, nor the mom I knew.
Her "dancing partner" now is her walker, and she is lost to us all, trapped in a body that is dying.
I thought about how much life has changed in this past year, and once again I can scarcely believe all that has happened. When I think of this from my dad's perspective it about breaks my heart. I am losing a mom, he is losing the woman he has spent every day and night with for over 60 years. As with so many of their generation dad is the strong and silent type who reserved his affections for her alone. We always knew he loved us because mom told us he did. But with mom, he was different... He said he is losing his "pal." The woman that my dad loved is gone, our mom is gone...all that remains is a shell.
When she leaves us physically it will be the completion of the cycle for in that moment, she will be once again dancing and my dad, and I and my brother and sisters and our families will be left with a huge and gaping hole in our hearts and lives.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
When I saw her today she had just about gotten up and she was headed for her chair. She stayed there and slept for the next 5 hours. She looked feverish, felt "freezing" and her face felt warm. This gave my dad and I many hours to talk about what comes next.
This evening after she woke up, we had the weirdest episode...She had a sudden onset of terrible confusion, as though she had dementia. She does have some confusion normally now because of her condition but this was beyond anything that ever happened before.
All I could think of was "Oh Lord, not this too now!" Please don't allow her to be afflicted with this on top of everything else Lord. We have so little of her left already, and to loose what remains might just do us all in.
I am waiting for Jesus to come and get her. My beloved mom is for all intents and purposes already gone. When I look at her, the shell that remains is not the woman who raised me. That person is gone away. I am waiting for Jesus to come and claim His beloved one.
I never thought I would wish her to go, to leave us all behind but I do! I long for her to experience the joys of heaven and the embrace of the Lord who she accepts with childlike faith.
Her world is so small and clouded. Her vision and strength are gone. There is so little left for her here Lord, please come and get her and take her to Yourself. I know my heart will bleed the day she leaves this earth at Your calling, but I want for her to be free of the shackles of misery that have become her life. I want for her more than I want for me.
The timing of the Lord is perfect, and His wisdom is beyond question. Should He tarry in calling her home, it is intentional and it is good. I do not claim to understand it Lord, but I know You are working in this- as we are waiting for Jesus.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Most people like to help others and that is a good thing, because we are surrounded by hurting people every day. They may be in your small group or Bible study, over your backyard fence or someone you meet in line at the store.
What do we say, and how should we respond when a person entrusts us with things that are important to them? How can we help them in a meaningful way?
I am addressing this because I have seen and experienced the rather painful results of the responses of well-meaning people who think they are helping a hurting person. Some well intentioned answers can bring more pain and sorrow and add to their load of pain. Responding to someone who is hurting requires a sensitive spirit.
You must listen carefully to what the person is telling you with compassion and empathy. Let them tell their story! You may be the first person (or people) she has trusted enough to bare her soul to and your reaction to her will be important as to where she goes from there.
It is very difficult for someone in a leadership position to share anything about them self. There is the misperception that because a person is a pastor’s wife, or a Bible study leader, or even a Biblical Counselor that they don’t have times in life that get them down. We tend to think of these people as “above it all” and think they don’t have problems. Nothing could be further from the truth! Those in the ministry have the usual problems of daily life plus all the care and concern of the ministry. Those in leadership are often lonely and isolated. They have often had their confidence violated by someone they trusted so naturally, they are reticent to open up to anyone.
When someone is willing to share a part of their life with you because they are in some kind of pain the natural inclination is to want to fix it or to offer them an opinion or counsel that you believe will help them. This can be a mistake.
First, ask her if she even wants feedback or counsel before you offer it. She may not be ready to hear counsel yet and telling her now may be a wasted effort and turn her off to you. While I don’t condone “venting” as a rule, please realize that when a person chooses to unburden their heart and soul to you that is a privilege you should not take lightly. She must really trust you to share her pain with you.
If she agrees to hear your feedback or counsel I again urge you to be gentle toward her. Watch her face for non-verbal communication and if you see she is stiffening up toward what you are telling her, ask her if she wants you to continue or stop. Be sure to the best of your ability that she understands you are her friend and helper and that what you say is being said in love and be careful not to be harsh in your reply. Even if she needs a rebuke or correction, she may accept it better if you are gentle toward her even though you may have difficult things to say to her.
Many of the things we struggle to accept are related to God’s sovereignty over our lives. Understanding God’s sovereignty does not negate our human emotions or feelings. Talk about God’s sovereignty must be balanced with God’s love, otherwise it is cruelty. If you are going to give counsel about this, realize that she may have a crystal clear understanding of God’s sovereignty and that she may know the Word of God very well; but it doesn’t mean she does not hurt anyway! Often our emotions are in conflict with our theology and even the strongest warrior sometimes has to find a place to cry.
Please be careful not to be chiding in your tone toward the one who comes to you for comfort. She knows what she knows…and a lecture is most likely not what she needs from you at that point. I would venture to guess she knows that the place to go is the Word of God, and perhaps she has done this already… God’s Word is never lacking for wisdom and it is in that very Word that we see how Paul was comforted by the people around him. He frequently notes how his misery was decreased by a visit from Timothy, or John Mark.
These things are important to keep in mind as you desire to help others in a meaningful way.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
If we are truly Christ centered we can say that we are loving God with our whole heart, mind and soul and that we can love our neighbor as much as we already love ourselves. That’s what it means to live a cross-centered life. Do you know what it means to live with the cross in view in your daily life?
But oh Believer! Oh Beloved of Christ, you must begin to believe and live out the truth that there is NO sin that can stand against His power, the power that has set you free!! As youput your faith into action, considering yourself dead to the sinful desires of the heart and instead living for the glory of God you will begin to see changes take place in your thoughts, beliefs, and desires! You will begin to experience the victory that is already yours in Christ!
Study Romans 6:1-11 to see what I mean, but you must understand and believe that it all begins in your heart- with setting your affections on Him more than on yourself!
We will be displaying Christ.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The human heart has so many crannies where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood lurks, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself. John Calvin
The Puritan pastor John Calvin identified that our hearts are places where pride lurks, where lies prevail to the point we deceive ourselves in not recognizing our own heart problems. The pride in our hearts shows itself when we decide that what we want is more important than glorifying God. The Bible uses words like lusts, passions, desires, longings, and pleasures to describe what our heart is set on.
These are the things that lead us into dangerous waters, and lead us to sin in thought and deed.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-15 (NKJV)
We usually do not give our thoughts, beliefs and desires much thought as being sinful because as Calvin said we tend to deceive ourselves as to our heart’s true condition. In truth, we can rationalize and justify anything!
James 1:13-14 explains to us how we sin-how the desires of our sinful hearts, give way to sin. The Greek word for tempted is described as being a hook, or a lure for a fish. So our own desires act like bait on a hook that lead us to sin in the ways we want to. It is rare we tell ourselves, "I am going to sin now and I don't care." Usually, we conceive a thought and give it a passing glance past our conscience or the Holy Spirit on the way to action.
Occasionally we catch it (depending on how spiritually mature we are, or on how determined we are to obey God) and stop ourselves even at that point. Unfortunately for us our sinful habits are so ingrained that we often react without much conscious thought.
This is not to say that we are not responsible for our actions, or that some entity outside ourselves is "making" us sin, we are always responsible and accountable for our actions and thoughts. That is why it is so critical to understand the affections of the heart, and how these thoughts, beliefs, and desires must be changed from those that are focused on our selfish, sinful selves to those that are focused on loving and glorifying God and serving others.
Look at what Paul writes about the desires of the heart and the outcome of following them-
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the
It is important to say here, that verse 21 says that those who live this way in a habitual way won't inherit the kingdom of God because only an unbeliever could follow these desires as a lifestyle! A true believer in Jesus Christ who has been redeemed by His blood will not make this a way of life and be unaffected by it. The Spirit of God that indwells the believer would be making the person miserable beyond words and repentance would take place. We must keep this in mind when we see people who have "prayed the prayer" or "made a decision for Christ" but have absolutely no evidence (fruit) of the Spirit's indwelling presence in their lives!
I maintain that rather than trying to convince them and ourselves that they will get better we had really help them to see that in spite of their prayer or decision they may not be truly redeemed at all! To do otherwise is cruel and dangerous!
Paul is warning the Galatians that those who practice these things are in danger of the souls being lost because he is questioning their conversion in the first place.
And also note that Paul does not say that any of these things are disorders or sicknesses! He refers to them as SIN not some sort of addiction, disease or disorder.
Friday, December 5, 2008
All of us have times in life when we struggle so badly with ordinary things. Such was a time when I originally wrote what I post for you today. There is value in keeping a prayer journal or a "God Box" into which you put prayers to God and the eventual answers He provides for those prayers.
My journaling serves that purpose for me. Several years ago our family went through an incredibly hard time. Circumstances so bizarre that they could not even be made up. My husband had taken a new job in a well established place and left a well paying job with security to do so. This was to be a move up for him. After one week, he was laid off because the company had no money to make payroll and they hired him and 3 others under false pretenses.
It was winter, and here in the upper midwest, it gets cold! We were having a tough time making ends meet and I was quite frightened that we were going to lose it all. With this as background, I share my little story with you today....for the glory of God!
It snowed like crazy here today! We got a foot of snow canceling work and schools and making driving treacherous.
We live on a corner lot- a double lot which means we have lots of sidewalk. We also have two driveway approaches and a wide driveway.
We own two snow blowers, one smaller one and a larger one for the driveway. Both of them are broken. We spent the day trying to fix them and shoveling. The cost to fix the snow machines is more than they are worth, and we cannot afford to spend money on new ones because of the job loss.
We got one driveway approach cleared out and then the plow came by. The pile of snow in front of the other approach was at least 3 feet high with heavy wet snow boulders.
After over an hour of shoveling (for the 3rd time) I was just done, finished and pooped! My husband went to get our son who wasn't able to drive to work this morning due to the snow, and I tackled the 3 foot high pile of hard heavy wet snow the plow kindly deposited on the driveway approach.
By this point I was ready to stick a 4 Sale sign in the yard. I am so wanting to be done with all this and start over. It is dark outside and cold and windy and the snow continues to fall... I was tired, my back and arms ached and tears were not far off. I was on edge already.
So here I am feeling really sorry for myself struggling to hold my emotions in check and tackle that huge mountain of snow, and here comes the guy from across the street with his snow blower! He clears out my whole approach and cleans up the sidewalk does my driveway and won't take a dime.
While he was snowblowing, I ran in the house to get the last 10.00 I possessed. I had to at least pay him for the gas he used! When he finished the job I shook his hand, thanked him and tried to hand him the money and he said to me, "No thanks, my reward is in heaven."
I just lost it and right there in front of a stranger I broke down and bawled my eyes out like a baby. I could not believe what he had said to me! After he did a little more clean up on the sidewalk we chatted a few minutes and I found out he is a believer and we had the nicest talk and I told him that before he came along I was completely discouraged and overwhelmed by the daunting task in front of me. He smiled kindly and told me he was so glad to help and went on his way, to clear another driveway for the woman down the block.
When I came into the house I fell on my face and just sobbed and sobbed. God so knew that I needed some encouragement and that I was at the end of my endurance for the day. He is like that, you know. Just when you reach the end of yourself He swoops in to the rescue and saves the day! God knows exactly what He is doing in our circumstances beloved. Nothing happens to you or I without His purpose or plan going forward.
I continue to need prayer for the willingness to focus on Him instead of my circumstances. I pray God will strengthen my heart with faith for this continued testing that I might glorify Him as we go through this.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
These are people God has placed in your life for a specific reason; to make you more like Christ! They help rub off the rough edges of your flesh and they turn your heart toward prayer, and seeking the Lord.
I pray you will not stop loving them, and ministering to them daily in whatever way God provides for you. It is truly a ministry and brings glory to God when done in His power and might.
Despite all the trials and hardships these people bring, we continue to love them. Do not give up dear reading friends...God has a purpose and a plan in bringing them into your life and He WILL accomplish His goal in your life.
Blessings as you go forward!
Monday, December 1, 2008