Let the Church be the Church

It seems like every time I open up facebook or other social media, there is another post or article bashing Christians or the church.   And sadly, these are from Christians.

for blog, inside of church

Let me say that I have been hurt by those in the church many times, but I do not want to get swept up in this thought process.  I just want you to know I am not coming from a “pollyanish” viewpoint.

From these postings, we are shamed that we don’t love the poor enough nor graciously accept sinners.  We don’t give enough and are made to feel like jerks because we go to church in man-made buildings with A/C.

Outside service

Lest I sound like one who “protesteth too much,” please allow me to share some things I see that are good and right in the churches we have attended recently.

First, my husband (Tom) has preached for 39 years in churches in different states.  We’ve seen the good, bad and ugly in many situations.  But we have definitely seen the good.  Tom is doing mission work now but here are some observations I have made.

We have attended a church a few times which gives 50% of their income to missions.  They had an announcement in their bulletin a few weeks ago about a friendship program with international students.   They are reaching out to many.   Many of their men still wear suits and ties and they are a tad bit conservative in their music and worship, but they are reaching the world for Christ.  (I only mention the suits and ties because some people think that type of dress offends others).

A tiny church on the North Shore of Oahu has increased their giving twice to support our ministry more.   Waialua Christian Church is led by Steve Sturm.  Steve and his wife, Blossom, toil tirelessly but most of their “fruit” eventually move, since many of them are military people.  But they love…deeply.

Waialua 6

Two good friends of mine quietly go to jail every Thursday night to minister to the women there.   Their husbands support them, their church prays for them, and they go.  Another friend I have (who is 82 years old) goes every week to a prison to teach, sing and play the piano.

I know of a couple who left their secure ministry at a fairly large church to run a ministry for the disenfranchised of Joplin, Missouri.

I know of Christians, from churches we have served, who have apologized to us and accepted our love, bringing healing to our relationships.

There is a small church in rural Missouri which had 9 baptisms a couple of months ago…and it wasn’t the “pretty people” who were baptized.  Somebody had to love them into that.

There are friends of mine who are growing by leaps and bounds (who attend traditional churches), and those who have incredible ministries to homosexuals, single parents, un-wed mothers, addicts (and the list goes on).

There are those we know who preach the Word of God without fear (including our son) and who love others sincerely at the same time – because how can you preach the Word and not love?

Others go on missions trip, collect items for the poor, serve meals and those who reach out to the homeless.

Still others lose sleep to be with those who are hurting, sick or grieving.

This is not a conclusive list…in fact, it is just the very tip of the iceberg! 

This is all (and more) within our small sphere of friendships or acquaintances.   I cannot believe that we are the only ones who see Christ at work through others.   Are we perfect?  Of course not!  But there are many I know who are trying to draw closer to the Lord and wanting to serve Him with their whole hearts.

God has not called us to deride other Christians, through sarcasm or shame-based criticism, for what they are not doing.  He wants to know what WE are going to do.   And quite honestly, when we judge others like this, are we not doing the same thing for which we are judging them?

When we give up trying to be responsible for others’ actions, or lack of service, or complacency, we will do a lot to move closer to Jesus and allow His Holy Spirit to convict others.

We don’t know what others are doing behind the scenes, nor do we know what is going on in their lives.  Let’s just be the church in our own lives, pray for others, love others and quit bashing that which Christ died for!

I would love to hear how you or those you know are serving others and reaching them for Christ.

 

I Can’t Walk Straight

Walking straight

“Their tidal-wave faith drowns the sand pebble efforts I make to draw near to God.”

We were blessed to recently hear our son preach at his new church in Iowa. He started a series on the book of Mark in the New Testament, but one thing he told about in this specific message made an impression on me.

It was a story he shared of a neighbor he and Beth had in Massachusetts.  She had walked away from the church and they were talking with her about it.  She gave the reason as, “I can’t walk straight.”  I was struck by the fact that she felt hopeless to “make it” in the Christian world.

It made me think of the many times I have felt like giving up because I feel like I can’t “walk straight.”  I compare my Christian journey to others in the faith who seem to have it all together.  They sail through rough times on the wings of angels, it seems.   They don’t struggle with depression, don’t worry, don’t get angry, don’t….well, you get my drift.

They can quote book, chapter and verse of the Bible…in several translations.   They brag about having no baggage.  Their tidal-wave faith drowns the sand pebble efforts I make to draw near to God.

waves against sand

Guilt and shame wash over me and I ask God why I seem to struggle so much with my faith.  I ask Him A LOT!  I do all the “right” things also.  I spend quality time in prayer and the word of God.  I rebuke satan and quote scripture.  I am constantly trying to find ways I can help others, but still….many times I feel weak.

My husband has been my greatest encouragement in my life.   Yet, he is one whose faith hardly ever wavers.   He’s been through storms that would make Jesus’ disciples quake.   Yet, he has never once, in the 40 years I have known him, thought about walking away from God.

Even with our differences, his patience, love and care for me and my fragilities is breathtaking.   I think there are several reasons for this.

First, he loves me more than anyone on earth – and I know it. (Although I admit, I do wonder about those darn grandkids sometimes).    Secondly, he has walked with me through many valleys and he knows how I struggle.  He also knows me because he has taken time to listen and care, and not judge.  He wants the very best for me, but he also acknowledges the lack of “tools” I was given.

For example, it is very difficult for me to believe that God loves me.  I can give that encouragement to others all day long, and truly believe it for them…..but it’s ever so difficult to accept for myself.   And I’ve heard about every answer for it I know.

Judgement is something we pass onto other Christians in a shameful way.  We may not voice it but we pridefully tell our own selves, “I would never do that.”  “What is wrong with her, why can’t she …. (fill in the blank.)

We condemn others with that judgement without ever taking the time to get to know someone.   That is sad and unfortunate.   It’s when we take time to understand others that we stretch our care of human beings, whom God has created in His own imagine, but whom He also knows  are very fragile.   And even if we don’t necessarily like what others do, we are strongly commanded many times to love them.

I find it interesting (and think it’s no mistake) that the love list in 1 Corinthians begins with, “Love is patient…”  To truly love others, especially some, takes a great deal of patience.   In fact, it takes lots of patience to exhibit love to our spouses and children at times. So, imagine what it will take to love others, especially those we don’t want to love.

But scripture dictates it.  And 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to start with how we do love.   It’s the greatest “way.”

In fact SO great is its command and way that Paul begins the chapter with his own rightfully shame-based diatribe for those who think they have it all together.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter who we think we are, what we think we’ve accomplished, how together we think we have it….if we aren’t loving, none of that matters.  NONE OF IT!!!!

In a little more modern terms, it doesn’t matter if we are the minister of a huge church with eloquent sermons, if we’re on the mission field, or doing great things winning the world to Christ, or know the Bible from front to back.  If we’re not loving – patient, kind, humble, seeking good of others, etc., it simply does not matter who we are, or what we’re doing.

And what is the point of all this?    To obey God, and to walk beside and with others so we ALL can walk straight.

 

 

 

This crazy week! Sharks, Girls vs. Boys, Friendships and Kim Davis

Jed in cowboy outfit

This has been  crazy week.   But, at least I’ve learned a few things.   Some good, some sad, some not so great.

I learned that raising girls is much different than boys.  Girls are like, “I had a fever one time and now I have a sore throat.”  “Ow, ow, ow, I hurt my foot,” (as I hunt and hunt for even a faint red spot on it).   Girls will create a safe place in the pool so the shark can’t get them.

Boys on the other hand are like, “Yeah, I have a 105 fever and I’m puking, but I can still go play basketball.”   Boys like to bleed and boys taunt the shark in the pool so it WILL come get them.   Girls can have a huge appetite as well as boys, but girls nibble….boys devour.

I have some incredible friends.  Some have been with me for over 40 years and are precious to me, as are the ones who are newer.  We still laugh, still play cards, but don’t quite stay up as late as we used to for nights on end.  But they love me, accept me and believe the best in me.  And when I am disappointed by others…they are there.

And then I learned about Kim Davis…someone nobody had heard of before this week.

Kim Davis 2

She has taken a stand because of her belief in Almighty God and His precepts.  I never dreamed I would see this in our country and I’m sure many Christians are repeating the same sentiments.

But it also emboldens me to live my faith, not obnoxiously, but in a way that I would be willing to be persecuted if the time came.  May God be with her, give her strength and protection…and may the rest of us be strong in our faith.  What an example she is.

But I learned one more thing about the Kim Davis situation….the world doesn’t understand conversion into Jesus Christ.   That’s ok…Jesus said it wouldn’t.  We can’t expect them to.   But sadly, many Christians don’t get it either.  Yes, she has multiple marriages and these happened before she turned to the Lord.  The world is tearing her apart because of it and can only yell, “hypocrisy.”

Perhaps this is why she is so willing to take a stand, because she understands the pain of brokenness, and she wants to stand for truth, justice and true love.  Her heart has changed devotion, from living for the world, to living for God.

Is she perfect?  No.  Who is.   I’m sad to see Christians vilify her along with unbelievers.   Do we not even believe our own message of grace?

I’m thankful for that grace.  I have been labeled a hypocrite by others also.   Yes, by Christians.   We shoot our own wounded.   May God forgive us.

 

 

Josh Duggar and The Heart

heart with cross

No doubt, the home-school and quiverfull world has been rocked with the latest news of Josh Duggar’s infidelity and sin.  In fact, many Christians are dismayed, disturbed and even disgusted.  Someone who has come from a strong Christian home, been in Christian leadership, with a beautiful wife and children,  has fallen. Plenty has been written about how he needs to repent, and how God can forgive him; and yes He can!

I believe we should learn several things from this.  Here are a few I can think of.

No amount of Christian upbringing can be a 100% guarantee for pure, Christian living.  I have wonderful Christian friends who daily wonder where they went wrong.   I watched them raise their children and know the prayer and devotion that went into their child-rearing.  Yet, some of them agonize over their prodigal children.  The fact is – we all have to make our own decisions as we grow older.  We live in a fallen world and we sin.  Satan will stop at nothing to destroy us.  We’re warned to, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil…”   (1 Peter 5, NLT)

Homeschooling does not save you.  I have wonderful friends on both sides of the aisle on this.  Those who lovingly homeschool their children, and those who lovingly send theirs to public school.   I have seen homeschool children leave the Christian faith, and I have seen some of the strongest Christians come through the public school system.  There are arguments for both

We can protect, shelter, shield and even shut ourselves off from the world, but the truth is – we have an enemy who will find us.   Continuing the passage from 1 Peter 5, “…he (satan) prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”   There is only one thing that can protect us, “…stand firm against him and be strong in your faith.”  Whether we are schooled at home or in another building….if we are not teaching our children to be strong in the faith, they are defenseless as they become adults.

Making judgment calls about either side benefits nobody.  Sadly, I have heard derision for the “other side” from both homeschoolers and traditional school people, whether they be parents, students or those who hold opinions of one of the other.   WHERE one chooses education for their children should not be a litmus test for one’s salvation.  Pride should have no place in our conversation.  But sadly, that is not the case.   I have to be honest, I have heard this come from those who homeschool more than the other way around.

FINALLY...and this gets to the gist of this blog and Josh Duggar’s problem.

Only the Maker of our hearts can purify us through the blood of Jesus Christ.   Only He can cleanse us from all unrighteousness, as we confess our sins.  Not homeschooling or utilizing public         education, having 20 kids or 2, leading a ministry or working in the worldly job force, abstaining from alcohol or having a glass of wine, having Christian parents or raised by heathens, wearing long denim skirts or short denim shorts,  having long hair or short, dating or courting,  wearing khakis or denim jeans, and the list goes on.

As people try to DO what it takes to be right with God, failure comes hard.  The more we worry about appearance management, the further we drift from the cross of Jesus Christ.  It’s a heart issue, plain and simple…and from a purified heart comes the right actions.

No amount of restrictions can come close to changing a life;  only realizing our dire need for a changed life through the power of the Holy Spirit, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Maybe, just maybe, if we figure out we need Jesus to purify us from all unrighteousness, we will have touched the hem of His garment….and be saved.

Grace, a Commodity to be Treasured

We have idolized grace.  That must sound like an abrupt statement, but I have been thinking about this for a long time, reading blogs and posts that are both conservative and not so much.  Yes, we have idolized grace.

We talk about grace like it is our salvation, but it’s not.  Jesus Christ, and our making Him Lord of our lives, is our salvation.  The cross, where Jesus died and paid for our sins, is what makes that salvation possible.  Grace is extended by a Merciful God, but God’s grace in His character gives Him the ability to do all this.  And gives us the opportunity to receive it.

We act like this is OUR grace, to be used whenever we want to pull the “grace card.”  Instead it is a gift and blessing extended to us by a holy God.  A blessing I believe many are taking for granted.

Grace is a gift to be cherished, instead I see many Christians wanting to get ever so close to the edge of sin, just to play with it a bit, or joke about it.  This is dangerous.  I recently saw a post on social media where ministers were joking about “coming out.”   Paul tells us it is disgraceful and shameful to even mention the deeds of the darkness.  He goes on to tell us to not even have coarse joking or silly talk in our conversations.  While some may think it’s funny, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who understand first-hand the darkness and entrapment of their past in homosexuality.

We, as Christians, stand on our right to participate in certain things (because of grace).  Although these things may not quite be sin, there is still a heart issue I’m very concerned about.  For instance, I don’t believe drinking a glass of wine is sin, but I do believe gloating about the fact that I have that right is wrong – for two reasons.

First, it’s not love for other believers who are convicted to the point of sin, or for our brothers and sisters who might be recovering alcoholics.

Secondly, it brings the attention to ourselves…this is what I can do and don’t tell me what is wrong and what is right.  I can do whatever I want because I stand in God’s grace.  It’s a very arrogant stance.

Even worse – others who profess to be Christians, seem to want to live in sinful lifestyles, while invoking God’s blessings and/or promises, ignoring His precepts and commands.

We proclaim the benefits of grace, but ignore the means by which we have received it – the blood of Jesus Christ.  The precious blood.  Do we even contemplate any more just how valuable that blood is?

Grace is a gift to be treasured.   But I see grace being used and abused.  We want to cover sin with it, but do so in a way it was never intended.  I believe the best evidence of the value and object of grace is what Paul tells Titus in chapter 2, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

If we understand grace to the fullest, we must embrace the fact that the true grace of God brings about change, is not to be taken lightly, and is a means by which we come into contact with a holy and righteous God.  Just one confirmation of this is found in 2 Corinthians, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;  and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

God’s grace is not something which we passively enjoy.  I believe it is a lifetime of cooperation with the Holy Spirit, of transformation; to become more like Jesus Christ – humbly and with deep, abiding gratitude.  Let’s not trample one of the most precious gifts offered to us.

 

To be loved and accepted

New sisters in Christ Ivory Coast 2014

Ladies, have you longed to be in a group of friends who accept you unconditionally?   Have you been jealous of a group who refuses you complete admittance?

When you get up in the morning, do you check your emails or text messages to see who has contacted you?   Does it disappoint you if there aren’t any, or at least not the ones you had hoped for?

When you ask for prayer, does it hurt when people don’t jump in and offer prayer.

Do you count the number of “likes” you get on social media?

Validation.  Love.  Acceptance.  We all want and need those.  Problem is – they will never be found, perfectly, in others.  There is only ONE Who provides those.  Jesus.

He has reached out and offered love and acceptance to us, as women, in ways we need to acknowledge and for which we need to be grateful.

I think of the woman at the well who had been married 5 times and was living with a man, now a complete social outcast.  Jesus gave her time and affirmation.  And she used it to evangelize.

The woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and he turned around and called, “Daughter.”   He covered her in healing.

Or the sinful woman in Luke 7, a complete disgrace.   Jesus gave her unbelievably higher status than the Pharisee in whose home he was a guest.   “…her sins, which are many, have been forgiven.”

How about the widow, who had lost her son…compassion and raising from the dead.

We do not have to look any further than Jesus to receive all we need, ladies.    Complete and unbridled love, acceptance, affirmation, forgiveness and care.

From one who needs all of the above….come, let’s run to Jesus.

 

 

New Beginnings 2015

 

picture of 2015

New Year’s resolutions are lauded by some and belittled by many. But for me?…I like them.  I love new beginnings, starting afresh.  I feel like the new year brings in a time to look toward the future.

In 2014 I decided to start reading through the Bible again.  But instead of reading to learn or to study for something specific, I decided to read to simply see God.   I spend time with the Lord every morning, before anything else.   Before I read, I ask God to let me see Him in what I’m reading.  It has expanded to a prayer of allowing me to see Him in everything in my day and life.

It has been a year of growth for me..in my heart and soul.  And I want it to continue.

From the time spent with the Lord I have learned some things about myself that I want to continue and expand on for 2015.   Here are a few, maybe you can see yourself in some of it also:  (and be sure to see the last one, as that is what it’s all about.)

1)  Realize my worth in Christ.  (I Peter 1:18-21) This is where it all begins and ends. From the creation of the world…to my creation by a Loving Heavenly Father…to what Jesus did on the cross – God had me in mind.  And you.   If I can grasp a fraction more of that,  I will be further on the path to wholeness.

2)  Stop blaming myself.  (Philippians 3:7-11) I have a long history of beating myself up.  When something goes wrong I blame myself.   Constantly I ask myself what I could have done differently or better.  I know the experts say this is a form of selfishness, but many of those of us who lean this way don’t see it that way.   I obsessively wonder:  How I can love better and more?  Can I change something in my life to better the given situation?  How I can allow God to change me to be more like Him.  While it’s good that we are examining ourselves before God’s righteous throne, the enemy takes all things good and corrupts them.   And he has done this with me…long enough.  He has used what was meant to be good and beat me up.  And I have allowed him.  No more.  While I will continue to evaluate myself by God’s standards, I want to drop the polluted criterion of others.

3)  Realize that I am a loving, kind, caring person and if people don’t like me…well, it’s their problem.  (Romans 14:4)  Doesn’t that sound pretty narcissistic?   I contend it’s not.  Again, satan has battered me with a distorted view of myself.   And it has led me to the sin of being more concerned about what others think of me than I am of what God thinks.  I have no intentions of using this as a license to abuse anyone, but it’s time I saw myself through God’s eyes, rather than the Liar’s.

4)  Realize a) God has forgiven me and b) I need to forgive myself.  (Romans 3:23)  Yes, I make mistakes…sometimes big ones.   But we all do.  We all sin, we all have fallen short of the glory of God.   I tend to ruminate on all I do wrong.   This simply flies in the face of what God has done for me on the cross.  I am saying, “that is not enough.”  And that is wrong.   I want to allow myself more grace….knowing that TRUE grace (Titus 2:11-14) will lead me to a more holy life in Christ.  And this is what I long for.

5)  Understand that ALL of these concepts will enable me to receive and give grace, and love God and others more.  (Romans 12:9-21)   Paul tells us over and over that our ultimate goal should be love.  It doesn’t matter what we DO for Christ, if we don’t love.  Wrapped up in that has to be grace, because it can be difficult to love some people.  But when we understand what God has done for us and who we are in Him, it frees us to love unconditionally.  If we can’t do that, then we don’t understand it ourselves.

7)  LAST BUT NOT LEAST… ALL things for the glory of God.   (1 Timothy 1:15-17) – “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

Not of This World (Part 2)

facebook...colorado

In part one of “Not of This World,” I discussed how we were created to live in a perfect world, but sin destroyed that existence.   Now, people strive to attain it in many different ways.   Constantly going after it because there is an inner drive in us to live “there.”

Some of the approaches people take, to grasp that utopia, may even be outwardly focused on others, with great intentions, and the result may be good.   Likewise, there is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves.   But eventually, neither of these provide lasting fulfillment, joy and/or peace.   There always has to be another “fix.”

So what in this world are we to do?  Allow me to touch on each of the 6 subject matters I wrote about in my previous blog, “Not of This World, Part 1.”  It got a little long…grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate 🙂

1)  Jesus has become the Mediator between us and God.   There is no true life without Him.   He needs to not be a PART of our lives….He needs to BE our lives.    When we try to make Him only a part, we tend to have areas we seal off from His loving care, discipline and direction.   Perhaps we like to hold onto them, or are afraid of what it will require of us to give over to Him.   But the truth is, when He becomes our life….He gives life.   And although everything else becomes peripheral, there is peace in our hearts.   Most of us are familiar with what Jesus said in John 10:10, ” I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  But sometimes we neglect the first part of that verse, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”  

Since the beginning of time the thief (Satan) has been trying to destroy everyone he can.   People, families, churches, everything and everyone in his path.   And he will use whatever proverbial carrot he can….and make it look really good.    Pleasure, entertainment, health and fitness, relaxation, greener grass…all of it.   When these things become our gods, idols or even aspirations, he has won, and it leads only to destruction…eventually.

I know this seems harsh.   You might be thinking, “Are you telling me I can’t enjoy anything this life has to offer?”   Absolutely not.   It’s just when we view it through the eyes of our Loving Creator, when we put Him first in all of it…it is so much better and leads to life.   When we O.D. on the creation, it becomes an idol and can get in the way of our worship of God and service to Him and others.  It will only take us down, because nothing we can see will last.   If nothing else, we will eventually die.   Then what?

Devastating are the effects of sin.  God is not a kill-joy.   He knows what makes us tick, and He knows what brings us true and lasting joy and peace…and life.

I know these concepts are not new, but I see more and more of some form of idol worship going on in our society and the horrific consequences of unbridled sin.

2)  Relationships with others.  This is a tough one.   Unlike our relationship with God, in which He provided a desire and way to be forgiven and healed…when we’re dealing with other people, much depends on their will.   We may be completely willing to reconcile, forgive, love and restore relationships.  But if they are not…it can cause great pain and disillusionment.

We have been and are there now with people.  It hurts and can go on for days, months and even years.   And, unless you’ve been seriously rejected by someone you want to love or by whom you want to be loved, it’s difficult to understand this anguish.

This is when we must back up to our priority….resting in God’s love and grace.   After we have done all we know to do to restore a relationship, there remains only one safe place…in the precious, loving, gracious arms of Jesus Christ.   You are precious to Him.   Others may disdain you, but He loves you with a dying love…That’s right a love that died for you.   And in that….we find His undying love.

And in that….we are able to continue loving them, whether we feel like it or not.  But quite honestly, I do not see a way in Scripture that Christians can ignore, disparage others or reject others and be in the will of God.  It’s simply not possible.

3)  Created to live…If you’ve read much of my writing, or know me at all, you have heard me write about the fact that I have lost, to death, my family of origin.   It created an orphan hole within me.   Not only have they left this earth, their deaths were not pretty, as if any are.   My brother passed away much too young at the age of 48 to the horrible disease of cancer.   A 6 foot, 3 inch athlete build, his body was ravaged and reduced to 93 lbs.   My dad developed Alzheimer’s and after a fall, rapidly went down hill.   A few years later, my mom gave up and decided to quit eating and drinking.   Four months later she was gone.

God is life.  He created life and sustains it.  One of the consequences of sin is earthly death.  But I love the fact that not only did He defeat death, He took away the FEAR of death.   We know that God has removed the sting of death, and we look forward to our eternal homes.  But many people fear their own deaths, being paralyzed by this fear.   The writer of Hebrews tells us that death has been rendered powerless, but God goes even one step further.   He has freed us from the FEAR of death.   Death is the unknown and because most of us like to have our ducks in a row, we don’t like that. But it’s ok….we can rest in the fact that Jesus has indeed been there and risen to life.  He has been in the grave and is on the other side!!!   We do not have to fear it anymore.

I was released from that fear years ago.  I had a very unhealthy dread of death, thinking about it constantly with great anxiety.  God, in His loving mercy, spoke to me one night and said, “The body you’re living in will die, but YOU, the person you are, will keep on living.”

We are told to set our minds on things above in Colossians 3 and, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also wil be revealed with Him in glory!”

4)  Aging happens.   I really tried to think of a nicer way to put it, but there really isn’t one.  🙂  Probably the most profound thing that can be said about this is:  Take care of yourself, exercise, eat right and deal with it!   My mother-in-law was perhaps the most balanced person concerning getting older and when it came time to go to heaven, she was ready.

Having said that, I do think it’s sad that age is not respected in our society.   Go anywhere else on the planet, pretty much, and grey hair is a natural respect feature.   The older we get, we are treated like we’re out of touch and worthless.  I’m starting to feel this even in my 50’s!  I have a dear friend who was extremely involved in churches all her life until her Pastor husband suddenly died.  Now, in her 80’s, she goes to church, does her own ministry on the side, but is never asked for wisdom.  That is sad.

Families should not be “putting away” their aged parents.   I set aside much of what I wanted to do when caring for my mom.   I also cared for my Dad for a very short time, which brought about much healing.

We are told to HONOR our parents.    It’s that simple.  We are told to treat our mothers and fathers in the faith with respect and honor.  Let us honor God by doing this.

5)  Live a contented lifestyle.   Years ago, when our boys were little, we went into debt for tires.  I hated it.  We vowed to get out of debt and try to stay there.   We had used furniture, used cars, used clothes most of our lives while raising our boys.   God blessed us with some very fun times.  We were a close family.   And looking back, I realize it never mattered what material possessions we had, we had each other…we had God.

But more than just being content, we need to counter this with being generous…on every level.   Generosity is the anecdote to living dissatisfied materially.

6)  AH…my nemesis – loneliness.   My loneliness has caused me to seek God more than ever in my life.   Thus, I will thank God for it.  He has met me in the deepest of lonely valleys.   He is very near, when others are not.   It doesn’t give people an excuse not to care about us, but ultimately, only God can be with us 24/7

We will never attain the Garden of Eden before sin entered.   It’s simply not possible.   There will always be the hungry, underprivileged, abused, imprisoned, sinful lifestyles, disappointments and more among us.  We cannot solve everyone’s problems, pain and hurt.  We can barely live with our own sometimes.  Even when we become Christians, life is not perfect.

There is only ONE Who can meet the deepest of our needs, whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical or material necessity.   He has promised to forgive our sins and be near the broken-hearted.   He has promised to provide for those who trust Him.  He has promised a new body in a new heaven and a new earth.  He has promised to bless our generosity.   He has promised to give us strength and power in return for our faith.   HE IS GOD AND HE IS GOOD!

Not of This World (Part 1)

gorgeous clouds

There is a huge part of me that is unsettled as I live in this fallen world.   That unease grows the older I get.

I’m not talking about an unnecessary worry of circumstances, but an uncomfortable feeling that things just aren’t right here.  It’s difficult to look around at our world and not come to that conclusion.

We were created to live in a perfect world.    Although God knew we would sin, He still placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in unspoiled beauty and surroundings.  Because of their choice and their sin, all that was taken away, and people have been trying, ever since, to get back to that existence in one way or another.  Look at a few of the ways it was “to be.”

1)  We were created to have a perfect and whole relationship with God. There was perfect unity between God and people (Adam and Eve) before sin entered. That was shattered with one bite, and God and mankind have been in a battle ever since.  We are a broken people, and some of us have the deep wounds and scars to show for it.  No longer can we walk “in the cool of the garden” without interruption from the enemy.  He prowls around to devour us.  In addition, we sense shame, and that can cause us to run from our Loving Creator.

2)  We were created to have perfect and whole relationships with one another.   Because our relationship with God was severed, and everyone is broken, so are our ideal relationships with others.   This spills over into marriages, family, churches and friendships, as well as on a national and international level.  Hurt people hurt people.

3)  We were created for life.  There was no death.   It does not fit into the perfect plan.    Death is separation.   We miss friends and family who have left this world.   And, although we know if they were Christians – they are in a better place,  we are left with a hole in our lives that was never intended.  Not only that, but we fight, with our lives, to stay alive, to the point that many now die hooked up to machines in a cold and sterile environment.

4)   We grow old.  Did they age in the Garden of Eden?  It doesn’t seem so.   The years creep up on us and we find that our youth has been stolen by time.   In fact, my husband has said that if he ever gets up in the morning and doesn’t hurt, he will know he’s in heaven!

5)  Adam and Eve were completely satisfied with their surroundings. They had everything they needed and every possible, perfect way to care for all which had been entrusted to them.  And they had purpose.   Now, people are simply discontented.   We try to manage it with what seemingly will work and improve our lives.   Women go after every body fix they can.  Men take pills.   Everyone seems to want bigger houses, better jobs, faster cars, endless vacations and money. “More” is the word.   We want more.

6)  Loneliness wasn’t a word in the beginning.   Now, because of circumstances beyond our control, we miss people.   We miss loved ones who have died, or those who have moved far away.   Or we move and have holes in our hearts.  There is a constant longing to be near those we love, either in proximity or relationally.

I would say that most of us have fallen into the trap of “fixing” one or more of these areas ourselves.

I don’t want to die.   I believe there is something innately within us that fights death.  We avoid it at all costs.   We don’t even want to talk about it. Yet, every person has a plan for after death, whether they realize it or not.  Even atheists discuss it.   They claim there is nothing after death, but they still talk about it.  Why?  And sadly now people are starting to take control of their own mortality…or so it seems. Perhaps they think it will take some of the fear out of it.

Aging isn’t much fun either.   I look in the mirror and sometimes see a very old woman.  Body parts sag and hurt and I don’t have the stamina I once had.    Even if I were to beat my body into submission, so to speak….it’s going to fail me at some point.   And for 30 years I’ve been trying to get that 15 pounds off.

I, too, enjoy nice things…pretty things.  Sometimes when I go shopping I realize I have champagne tastes on a coke budget (yes, I know it’s supposed to be beer, but coke is even cheaper).

Like others, I enjoy vacations, and love Hawaii but after a few days, we must take that dreaded overnight flight and come home.   Not only that, having lived there, I have come to understand that the paradise portrayed on postcards has a dark side.  A very dark side.   We are not shown the pictures of young girls walking the streets, or the homeless tents that line many of the beaches.  Disillusionment is at every corner, even in the paradise of the islands.  Especially in the islands.

SO…..with all these “broken” parts of our lives and our futile attempts to fix them….how  do we live in this world contented and free?  I’m glad you asked, and that will be my second part.    I will soon write.  I’m sure you’ve heard it all before…but maybe a different perspective will add something fresh.

Until then…know that you are loved by a loving and compassionate Heavenly Father, Who created you in His own image and wants to fill your life.  And please feel free to share my blog.

Our Country and God

Cross in sunset picture

I am very concerned about our country and where it’s headed. That’s no newsflash for most Christians…most of us are deeply troubled by what we see.

I grew up as a little girl in a small town in Missouri in the late 1950’s and early 60’s.   Life was simple and safe in Lamar, especially in the summer.   Give a kid a bicycle, pool pass, Wednesday matinee pass and life was good.

Sadly, my life started falling apart at the tender age of 10.   My parents were fairly well respected in town, but when my dad (a deacon in our local church) went off the deep end with my mom’s best friend, it was the beginning of the end.

Their messy divorce was one of the first among the middle class in town.   The humiliation and destruction it brought to my mom, brother and me still stings today.

But I’m not here to bash my family.  I love and miss them.   Thankfully, they all turned to God later in their lives and they are with Him in glory today.

The breakdown of the family, though, is – in my opinion – the leading cause of the near demise of our country.

But why does it break down?   Because we have turned from God.   It’s that simple.

1)  Life is no longer looked upon as a gift from God, but as something to be played with and even terminated.   Why is this so detrimental?   Life is created by God.  Only God can breath life into anyone.   It started in 1973 and now it is not uncommon to hear of late-term abortions by the hundreds and thousands.   Euthanasia is freely bantered about and assisted suicide is not even a shock anymore.

2)  Moral decline in so many forms.   Good is viewed as bad, and evil is considered good and normal.   But we are warned in Isaiah 5, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”  

Those who speak for God’s precepts are deemed as out of touch and haters.   If we dare turn to Scripture for answers we are labeled as extremists.

Pastors are afraid (or neglect) to preach the power of God’s Word.  And sadly, our country exhibits the consequences.

3)  Parents are no longer honored.   Though it may have started earlier, this certainly wasn’t helped with shows in the 1980’s that started portraying parents (especially Dads) as idiots and children as smarter than their parents.   Now we have generations of kids who not only disrespect their parents, but despise them.

4)  Marriage needs to be held in honor!  I’m stunned by the percentage of people, even those who claim to be Christian, who live together before marriage.   Sometimes, I hear that they want to know if this is the “right one,” before marrying.   This seems to come from the fact that their parents have divorced and they don’t want to make the same mistake.   I’m not going to even ask the question, I’m going to make the statement.   You can NOT seek God and hear from Him while living in sin.   I’m not going to limit His power to get your attention, but those 2 just do not go hand in hand.

5)  So many churches have become self-gratifying social clubs.   Society’s entitlement attitude has slipped into the church.   Christians either want what their tickling ears want to hear, or are not satisfied with what they’re getting.   The pastor is blamed for “not feeding” the members.   Divisiveness is in the church (as well as families) and is one of Satan’s greatest tools to tear people, families, friends and churches apart.

Someone recently asked me if I though Christians would be stronger in our country if we had persecution like what the rest of the world is experiencing.   I don’t know.   I really don’t want to find out.

One thing I do know – WE NEED REVIVAL!   WE NEED TO SEEK GOD…on our knees and in His Word.   We need to love like there’s no tomorrow, and encourage ’til the cows come home.   We need to search for His precepts in His Word.   Psalm 119 brings this out most vividly and one verse that kind of sums it all up is verse 104.  “From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.”

May we hate evil and love good, and may God bless us as we turn to Him.

This will not be a popular post, I know.  But I’m not out to please everyone else first.  Paul understood this in his life.   “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”  (Galatians 1:10)

God has given His precepts because of His holiness, but also for our good.   They are a safety net and protect us from all kinds of harm. They give us life, not only eternal life, but they give us life now.   Let’s go for life.

 

 

 

Author, Speaker

%d bloggers like this: