Friday, December 21, 2012

Tis the Season.....

I have come to really look forward to my Saturday and Sunday mornings. We don't ever really "sleep in" anymore but 7:30 is a treat at the end of weeks when we've had late nights and early mornings. I mostly enjoy that we don't have to hit the floor running. Even on Sundays, we still have 2 hours to make it to the 9:30 church service. But some weekends....I need the sleep! This past Saturday night, I stayed up past 3 a.m. finishing up some online shopping. So, I was really planning to savor every minute of sleep until my alarm went off at 7:30. But, shortly before 7, I had that mommy sense that someone was up and in the room. I was right. There was Jude standing on her daddy's side of the bed....with a tambourine, just waiting on our eyes to peek open so she could really cut loose. I said, "good morning baby....watcha got there? A tambourine?" Jude says, "Yes, mommy...see??" And cut loose she did! A few short minutes later Doc, Peter's 60 lb Australian Shepherd, heard the performance and decided it must be time to get up and play. So, he came barrelling into our bed along with his toy dinosaur. A very few short minutes after that, all 90+ lbs of Peter was in the bed with us too. Steve laughingly said, "This is what we always dreamed of isn't it?" All I could do was laugh. There was a time when I would've tried to make Jude lay back down with us for a few minutes or told Peter and the dog to go play somewhere else because I needed my 30 more minutes of sleep!! Maybe I was laughing due to delirium from sleep deprivation but I don't think so. I think this past Sunday, I was just so thankful that I had them all here with me, that Jude is always with me and that I picked my boys up from school, safe and sound on Friday.

On Friday, I started my day with a mom's meeting that I go to at church twice a month. Our speaker this time gave us all a bit of a reality check. Her topic was on raising our children to be generous. After all, I think it can be said for most all children that they don't come into the world that way. Furthermore, just scolding them for not sharing does not make them generous at heart. She shared some really good ideas and made some really good points that are certainly worth sharing: We need to study our kids and see where their hearts are tender and then be intentional about giving them opportunities to learn to give in those areas; We also need to be intentional about our giving as well. Let them see us care for someone else. Better yet, let them get involved.....let them put the cookies in the bag and hand them to the sweet elderly lady. Let them see the smile and feel the joy; When our little one comes to us and says, I want to draw a picture for so and so.....try not to say, "Not right now, mommy's busy." If at all possible, drop what you're doing and help them. Let them know it's important and just how wonderful it is that they are so thoughtful. Then put their picture in an envelope and go straight to the mailbox with it.

All were great ideas and she had many more things to say about teaching our children to see needs of others and to give back to God. Her message was not to make us feel like bad was one of hope; Hope that they would one day be adults who are gracious givers with generous hearts... who make a difference in their world because they know the joy of giving all of themselves to God. As she said, Just as David from a young age had a heart and monumental trust in God that empowered him to pick up that one stone, face a giant, and make a difference in his world.....we need to teach our children how to pick up a stone too....equip them with the knowledge of God and then let them experience Him as they learn to give more and more of their time, money, and themselves.

Boy does our society need that message. A few weeks ago, as videos and headlines of the chaos that was Black Friday shopping in America came across our newsfeed, my husband said, "humanity has hit an all time low." Sadly, I had to agree. Now, I know there were plenty of dignified, smart shoppers out there trying to save the family money, too. But in a few instances, it was quite sickening to see the chaos and fights among grown people over saving $50 or the shooting over a parking space, to name a few. And all in the name of Christmas shopping?! Quite a stark contrast to the picture of hope we had drawn for our children as adults one day. Whether you're celebrating Christmas as a believer or not....I'm sure it still bids in your mind the age old question, "What is this world coming to?!" Maybe instead we should ask ourselves a better question.....what kind of world have we created? Who is to blame for the downward spiral we find ourselves in? Is it government? Is it parents? Teachers? This group? That group? This generation? That generation? In my humble opinion, I'll just say it's been a work in progress for decades and the ultimate mastermind has been pulling all of our strings like puppets with ever increasing finesse and I bet he is beginning to really enjoy the show. As a matter of fact, he's done such a great job that, in addition to pulling puppet strings, he has robot like souls now who blindly and willingly promote his agenda. Yes, he is having a good ole time right about now.

So, brace yourselves cause It's been a while since I posted. Thankfully the Lord continues to work on me and my issues and I've had words just brewing in some of them I go....this is my take:

Back to the question....Who is to blame? Here's a thought....let's stop blaming everybody else. Blame is a sickness in our country and it starts in the heart of each individual. Blame stems from the immaturity of avoiding responsibility and accountability, from the pride of not submitting to authority and of needing to be "right" always, and from the selfishness of justifying what we want or what we do, regardless of the consequences to others. To paraphrase my former pastor, Tim Bass (or as Jude called him..."the man"), "As goes the individual.... so goes the family, the church, and the nation."

We are quick to blame our parents, our school advisors, the friend who talked us into it, the husband who isn't doing his part, the ungrateful child, the company that doesn't work like we want, the government officials who aren't doing their jobs, the church that doesn't operate on our principles, and even at times...God for not fixing things the way we want. Exactly what are we blaming them for? For any ugliness that comes out of us. "If they had given me better advice....I'd have made better choices."; "If they would pay me more....I'd work harder."; "If this church member doesn't apologize to me....I'm going to have to go somewhere else."; "If my child would just listen and help out once in a while...I wouldn't fly off the handle so easily!", etc. See what I'm getting at? It's nothing profound and certainly not rocket science. In fact, it should be common sense that if we want change for the good, we can't defer the task to others that are deferring, too. We have to be a part of it. The problem is, though we say we want things to change, it's kind of hard for anything good to come out of a heart that won't take personal responsibility, is never in the wrong, won't submit to any authority....especially God's, and just simply wants what it wants. Oh, we can do some good. We can brighten a person's day. We can even help save a life. But, the world around us will never see lasting change for the better until we take a good look at ourselves and at our heart of hearts.

I love that movie "The Seige" with Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington. (If you haven't seen it, it's a great movie but watch it before you watch with kids....lots of adult content) It's an older, pre-9/11 movie about terrorism in America. There's a line that Annette Benning says to the good guy FBI agent, Denzel, when summing up her impression of him, "Catholic school, president of this, captain of that, work hard, make a difference, change the system from within...rarara." Well, that's exactly what I'm talking about. It's nothing new. Nothing profound. But it's hard and the concept of hard work has taken a beating over the last few decades, the last few years for that matter. "Change the system from within." Starting within us and within our families. lasting change will come though, unless there's been a true heart change.... Because it's HARD. It's hard to love people we don't love, think of others before ourselves, accept that some things aren't acceptable, admit that we were wrong, and ultimately.....go against our selfish nature and the flow of the rest of society. "Hard" is really an understatement. Therefore, any attempts we make to do good just to be doing good will prove tiring at some point and we'll eventually give up. So, how on earth, if we truly want one, are we ever to experience a heart change?
Ephesians 1:16-19  
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.
Sure, we may grow up and make better choices and be better people. But, there is only one way to experience the kind of true heart change as individuals that will redeem this country. That is by being honest with ourselves before God Almighty. Not by comparing ourselves to any other person, any church creed, any societal standards, or any of the latest trends that make us feel good about our place in the world. It's opening up God's living and active Word and studying His character, looking at the life of our Savior, and asking I look like Him? Do I love like Him? Do I love the things that He loves and hate the things that He hates? Can my kids believe I'm being real when I try to teach them something about Jesus or do they think I'm just trying to get them to conform to something that I don't want for myself? (because kids know when we're not being real.) Some days I think, "Poor God. He must really get tired of my thick head and hard heart." He has such a long way to go with me. Still, I am thankful for the ways that He has already succeeded in opening the eyes of my heart, in giving me a glimpse of the hope He has called me to, and in demonstrating the power that He provides me when I seek Him and His ways. He is faithful to reveal Himself if we are willing to open up our heart to Him.

If truth be told, we don't open up scriptures to examine where we stand but to try to find something that supports our stand. I've done it. We all have. Furthermore, we don't open up our heart before Him because we know it would require change and we don't really think we need to change. Yet, we have the audacity to look at the world around us in shock, pointing fingers, and even blame God for what we see or deny Him altogether.

Since the horrible school shooting in Connecticut last Friday, we've been doing a lot of finger pointing. Some say it's because we've taken God out of schools that this young man took the lives of so many. Some say it's because guns are too readily available. Some say it's because mental illness is not properly addressed in our society. It's likely to be a combination of all the above. I don't know why he did what he did. I had such respect for the dad of one of the little girls who spoke on camera and said he didn't know why it happened but that he was not mad. He went on to say that God gave us all free agency and he was thankful for his free agency to choose what to believe and how to act and he would never want God to take that away from him, even though others choose to exercise theirs for wrong.

Yes, taking God out of our schools has played a monumental part in the nose dive that morality has taken among our children in school and young adults graduating. The value of life itself has been lost on many of our young people as the value of self expression and actualizaton has taken root and taken over. School systems have thrown in the towel when it comes to issues that use to be basically nonexistent: disrespect for authority, laziness, foul language, blatant sexuality, etc because now they're combating drug problems, fights, weapons, and failing grades of children whose parents don't value education and hard work, etc. The God fearing teachers that are left in the system don't have an answer for kids as to why those things are bad for them because they aren't allowed speak to their hearts about the heart of God. Instead, discipline gets deferred to the home. There in lies the problem....back to the individual and their family.

[I really appreciated the link a friend shared on facebook of the Winthrop coach who used his time in the spotlight to share his heart....very interesting, blunt, and well worth your time to watch. ]

Could we use tighter gun control? Probably. I don't think the answer is to ban guns altogether, though. That would simply be blaming guns for the actions of people and that's beyond ridiculous to me. Yes, the availability makes it extremely easy to take the life of another. But, it doesn't fix the heart problem. It wouldn't have stopped a nurse friend of mine from being shot by her ex-boyfriend in front of her daughter. He would've gotten one somewhere. Or he would've made her life miserable until he came up with a way to act out what was in his heart.

Is the answer to provide more research and care of unidentified mental illnesses? I'm sure that is an area that should be explored further and support given to parents with unstable children. There are illnesses that we can not deny need treatment and continued research to improve outcomes. However, we need to be careful not to confuse lack of feeling, enormous temper tantrums when they don't get their way, or other seemingly odd behavior with mental illness. That again is blaming something, making excuses rather than getting to the root of the problem. We need healing.

As they always say, the first step is admitting we have a problem. I think it's clear to all that we do. Where we differ is on the root of the problem. I simply see all of it as symptoms of spiritual apathy. That's where the heart change comes in, though. That's the difference the Lord can make through a heart surrendered to Him and the difference it can make in our children and in the world they will enter as adults. Being givers is a huge component as it heals us of this obsession we have with self and into the awareness of needs around us as we become the hands of feet of Jesus. As our speaker reminded us Friday morning, we don't always understand giving because we don't need a lot here. It's hard for us to understand the hopelessness of mothers in other countries who hold their children as they die from dehydration from something as simple as diarrhea because they can't give them the clean water they need to live. It also seems to big of a problem for us to attempt to combat. But, the Lord can work through us and through our children as we allow Him to change and teach us and as we teach our kids to use their abilities, time, resources, and lives for His glory and His purposes.

Though not ALL sickness and brokenness we see will be healed until He returns, we can be the agent He uses to bring healing to many people and systems in this world. Starting today. Nowhere in scripture will we read anything that condones our pursuit of happiness while ignoring the tremendous needs of others. Our whole system is broken in this country. It's broken because we as individuals, families, and churches have tinkered with the foundational design He had for us, dismissing Him and His perfect ways as outdated and irrelevant. Now we find ourselves extremely weak in our self sufficiency. But, we have hope. Always. And if we're open to change....we can be strong again, this side of heaven.
Isaiah 58:6-11
"Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am. ’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.

Our pastor reminded us Sunday that with the shooting last week being so shocking and heartbreaking, that there are many right now without hope at all or questioning God......others feeling guilty for celebrating Christmas with their families in a few days. He reminded us how dark and bleak it was for God's people when He went silent for 400 years while sin and oppression just abounded. Justice was nowhere to be found. Through Isaiah, He had given them hope....the promise of a Savior (ch 59). Sometimes we get so discouraged that we forget what He has done....He has fulfilled that promise for us all and we need not ever be hopeless again. It might even be a good devotional for us this season to read prayerfully read Isaiah 57-59 and compare to Jesus' life, teaching, and heart. If we are ever to throw a big celebration for anything....should it not be the fulfillment of God's promise of hope....a save us from chains of sin, oppresion, injustice, hate, and death....and ultimately from ourselves.
Isaiah 53:4-11
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Whether issues of the heart, mind, body, individual, family, church, or society.... there is nothing beyond the healing hand of God. 

Thanks to the birth of that baby boy....we are always in a "season of hope". May it also be a season of change. May you all be blessed and may we all BE a blessing this Christmas and in the New Year to come!

And can I just clear one more thing's Christmas....the Lord loves a celebation! So, it's ok to have 2 pieces of pecan pie. 2 whole pieces. Not just "slivers". I think that's in the Bible somewhere!:)

Merry Christmas y'all!!

Much love!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Here I Go Again..... on My Own?"

"An' here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known,
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An' I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time.
Here i go again. "

If you have never heard this song....well you must've missed the 80's! I recommend going to YouTube and looking for it....I hate to think anyone missed 80's bands!

Yes that's right. I'm discussing White Snake in my blog. Just listen to those words....all the more effective with David Coverdale (lead singer) belting them out.
Why else would this song be such a huge hit and still so well remembered 20 years later? (Wait a minute...20 years later??? Oh my goodness. I guess it's actually 25 years!!! This blast from the past just momentarily made me feel like a time traveler or something. Wow!)
Back to the question. I think the better question may be, "Who CAN'T identify with this song??" We've all been "just another heart in need of rescue" lol! I know we have all, at some point, been the ones "searching for an answer".

I'm pretty sure it's a can't NOT like the song. Still today, 25 years later, it gets stuck in my head periodically. I know, I know. Enough of the blast from the past....Make your point.

So here's the thing:
While the song is (obviously) awesome, and while it does give mention to calling on the Lord for help....I wouldn't say it was written with the same intention as say, King David, would've written one of his sonnets! :) Yet, there are times that we can certainly feel the pain of White Snake here in this song.

In a way, this may actually be a follow up to my last post. If you read my very first blog, you are probably thinking at this point that I should've named it, "Robin's Ramblings" after all!:)

Almost every time I pull up my homepage here lately, there's more mention, perpetuation, and acceptance of the deception out there that we couldn't possibly have a Creator. As I mentioned before, I understand their doubt as one who has been through the questioning period myself. Many exercise faith and don't call it's faith in themselves, faith in man and faith in science. Many others take Darwin's approach and say, "I wouldn't say I'm an athiest, I'd rather be called an agnostic". Which, in my opinion, basically makes them, while incredibly smart, also incredibly confused as they don't believe He can be proved or disproved. And THAT makes me sad. But, I'm not going to re-write the entire previous blog. (You're welcome.) :)
The thing is, after looking at the multitude of unbelievers out there,
how can we possibly explain to them how it is we they will too?? We're at deadlock. They think we're ridiculous and gullible and we feel the same about them.

I've come to the conclusion that, many times, we look at it the wrong way and therefore, go about it wrong or maybe even take it personally. It's not something an unbeliever can understand. There is no need in trying to MAKE everyone believe with our arguments over creation Vs big bang or any other theory. That tends to lead to walls being put up. We would also do well to remember, we don't have to be "right"...Its not about us. And let's face it...we don't have all the answers and i'm pretty sure we will never know fully all the mysteries of God. Instead, why don't we just live the thing out. However small or big our understanding is right now...let's Why don't we just commit to simple obedience? Committing our hearts and lives to whatever He impresses upon us; Commit to trusting Him, even if it's at face value at first, so to speak (Not sure but this may be what He meant by "faith as small as a mustard seed").

Because, I can testify that He is faithful to the least bit of obedience from a heart that is turned back to Him.  It's not that we become perfect...still far from it...but, there begins to be a change in us that essentially....well, completely changes us.  I assure you, a person who has the Holy Spirit flowing freely will look different than the rest of the world. They should.
Lets look at one instance where He referenced the lowly mustard seed:

Matthew 17:16-20
And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

When the Holy Spirit is allowed to reign in our hearts and lives, we no longer have to rely on arguments of our own. He is able to do what we could not possibly do. From the simpleness of much needed restraint to  the building of a church to reaching the hardest of hearts. I'll give you a recent example from my own experience that I attribute solely to the intervention of the Holy Spirit!:

It was one of those days. My patience was wearing thin and my voice had steadily gotten louder as the evening progressed. We were all at the table eating a late supper. It was nearing bedtime and my disposition showed it. Jude had just "mommy'd" me to death that day. "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy....and on and on". At the table, I was trying to converse with Steve and the boys while Jude insisted on being in the conversation, too..... "Mommy, mommy, hey mommy, mommy!" I said, not in a very inside/at the table voice, "Jude, you have GOT to be quiet!!", and I went back to trying to listen to the others and eat. Jude sat there for a few seconds down, came over to me, started tapping me on the arm, put her little hand up to her mouth, and whispered, "psstttt, mommy....pppsstttt, mommy....hey mommy". I just put my head in my hands and, in a bit of a response that shocked me, burst out laughing. Typically, that would've been the point my nerves would be completely frayed and wouldn't have been pretty. I'm pretty sure the Lord heard the prayers I'd been muttering under my breath that evening. Not only did He offer the restraint to not respond in a way I would feel bad about later, but He replaced that frustration with laughter.
I know the change in response won't seem profound to many reading this. But, it was to me and I am pretty sure it was to all at the table, too!
Peter talks about these changes as fruits of the Spirit and even says they are the assurance of our very salvation.

2 Peter 1:3-15
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self- control, and self- control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

I've alway been one to love and be moved by music. But, even though not set to music, these words move me.
Peter is saying: don't stop with a profession of your faith..add virtue, to your virtue..add knowledge, to your knowledge..practice self control, to self control..learn to be steadfast under trials, to steadfastness..add godliness, to godliness..add brotherly affection, to brotherly affection..LOVE.

He's saying we should look different. We should BE different and that when those things are present and increasing, not only do they confirm our calling to others, but they assure us of our inheritance to the kingdom of God. And all of those things are essentially fruits of the Spirit, the Spirit that is flowing in the life of a believer. From the simple, daily aspects of life to the life-changing circumstances:

When we would ordinary lose it with someone, and we don't;
When we would normally worry, and we don't;
When we would not normally dream of doing that, but we do;
When we say something that we never would've said, but somehow our mouths open and the words come out;

When we open our mouth to speak (or our pen to write), and something comes out that we weren't even thinking;
When we pick up our feet (or our family) and go where we would've never even wanted to go;

It's not just those things....but the peace in those things...that is OUR confirmation of God's presence. That's a benefit only believers receive. It's not only the assurance of the variables in our present circumstance, it's the very assurance of our salvation.

I have to tell you, as mothers, we need Him. I need His assurance. I need Him to overpower me more and more. I need His direction, His peace, and I most definitely need His restraint. But, I also need to remember that others desperately need Him, too.

We live in a sad, fallen world. When we read the news, look at the government, and even the people around us, without the Holy Spirit, it would be easy to feel as though we're walking alone. Sometimes after reading the news or even Facebook I just want to scream, "Is there no one who fears the Lord?" and we can easily revert to "woe is me, I am alone" blah blah blah.

Contrary to the song I love, we were not "born to walk alone". If we are a believer in Christ, we are not alone. He is ever present. The issue becomes whether or not we make any effort to seek Him in our daily lives. And, as a bit of a side-note, He also instituted the Church. By His design, we are suppose to be plugged in so we can grow and help others grow. So we can share in joy, sufferings and accountability. So we won't be alone!! Often times, as an added benefit, it's in the lives of others that we see His power that grows and changes us, too. As I heard Priscilla Shirer say once, "it's like eavesdropping on the mercies of God". I firmly believe we are suppose to be involved in a local body of Christ....but I will have to save that for another blog.

I do love that line "I've made up my mind...I ain't wastin no more time".
We could waste a lot of time spinning wheels, arguing to be right with an increasingly unbelieving world, or even in our churches.  We waste a lot of time calling ourselves believers but showing no fruit. Now, I know I won't be called on by scholars to write a commentary on this....but this is my theory.....We don't show fruit because we don't really trust. We haven't fully committed OUR lives to the will of this God we say loves us and created us. Then, we wonder why no one believes us, why nonbeliever don't "get it".
I think that's the conclusion I came to several years ago, by the grace of God, that we're just blowing a lot of smoke and greying the issue a lot of the time. And I don't know about you, but, "I ain't wastin' no more time".

So, what does that mean for us? I hate using sales type analogies but.... would you spend money on a costly medicine that the doctor says would make you all better.....but the doctor is walking around with essentially the same ailments and it didn't seem to work for him?
No. Well, belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is costly in today's terms. Most people ain't buyin' without the product being successfully tested on others.

Yes, being a believer is costly in today's world. There will be more and more times we seem to stand out or walk alone. It's uncomfortable, even painful at times. But, when we allow Truth to take root (like the mustard seed) and allow His Spirit to rule in our lives, there is no greater comfort.....or results for that matter. And as Paul exuberantly declares, "the sufferings of this world don't compare to the glory that is being prepared for those who love Him and keep His commands." That's ultimately what we want for the unbelieving world around us. Not to know that we were right....but to know HIM!

So, I would suggest for those of us who call ourselves believers to stop wasting time (time that some may not have) and start living the thing. So that, through the Holy Spirit manifesting himself in a life surrendered in obedience, others may see and believe.

The wonderful thing is, in addition to the assurance of our salvation, which is priceless in and of itself, we find that we really are not alone. After all, that's why He created us...not to walk alone...but to walk with Him. In Genesis, He literally walked through the garden with Adam and Eve. That is, before the original deception and sin entered. Now, talk about a blast from the past! How great would that have been. Only, its not really lost. He may not physically walk on foot through our gardens, but He is still willing and waiting to speak to us, guide us, and be with us every step we make, anywhere we go.

I wrote 90% of this post, up to this point, early Sunday morning, before church. I had stopped at the reference to Genesis and God walking with them in the garden. I came out singing "And He walks with me and He talks with me....and He tells me I am His own..." I figured I would do a spell check later, maybe even post the song at the end and it would be ready.

So, we went to church where we had a wonderful worship service, then the preacher began his sermon titled, "A Time Without Hope". He began by saying that there was a time when the world was a beautiful, peaceful place; a time when God walked in the garden with Adam and Eve, could we even imagine that, etc. (I knew then my post wasn't as done as I thought). Then he went on to Isaiah 59 where the question of "where are you God??" had been asked by many. There was so much oppression, so much injustice, no peace, no light, no hope in sight.  God again, through Isaiah, told them it was because of their own perpetual sin and blatant disregard for Him that He would not hear them. As Pastor Shawn put it, "When they called to Him, their sin answered back ." But out of His own steadfast love, to those who would turn from their transgressions, He promised them a Redeemer.

That Redeemer would later come. Some would still reject Him. Some would believe and be saved and finally know peace, joy, and hope. He is still the same Redeemer today. If we want this dark, increasingly unbelieving world to believe and be changed, we who claim to be believers have to start, in the words of Paul to the Ephesians, "walking in a manner worthy of our calling".

Let's just have a little confession time here... We all do it... We all pick and choose what areas we "agree" with God on and we let Him into those, but mostly on our terms. When the issue really isn't what we "agree" on. (Not that it matters to Him if we agree or not.) What we're really saying is we don't BELIEVE God on that issue or trust Him in that circumstance. Therein lies our problem. If we aren't walking as believers ourselves, adhering to some scripture but not others, praising God in some circumstances while not proclaiming Him in others, how can we fault unbelievers for their doubt in a good and sovereign Creator and Redeemer? Truth is, for many of us who call ourselves disciples of Christ, we are still that "faithless and twisted generation" that can't accomplish what we are sent to accomplish because we ourselves have little faith. The Redeemer was and is Jesus Christ. He took on ALL of our sins. He became all that He hated in order to restore fellowship with us. He desires us that much. The only sin He can't and won't pardon is our sin of unbelief.

Just as we wouldn't waste a lot of energy on fake, superficial relationships, He doesn't honor unsubstantiated professions of faith. But, the mustard seed of genuine faith, He honors and grows. We do not have to walk alone. In fact, if we lived with genuine biblical faith like that of Abraham, David, the Apostles, etc,  I have a feeling many unbelievers would see and be convinced. Its not about "having all the answers" for an unbelieving, ungodly world. Its about Him revealing Himself TO us in our daily walk with Him and THROUGH us in the life of a heart changed by and filled with the Holy Spirit.
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear falling
On my ear
the Son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own

And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Error Has Occurred

I don't know. Sometimes I think I must be built with a "share" button. (I guess by this little story, I'll be outing myself for spending entirely too much time on Facebook.) At times it almost feels like there's a button God just presses whenever He wants. I wonder what He thinks when He gets the "error" message that pops up on occasion. You know what I'm talking about! I'm not the only one with a Facebook addiction! :) If you've spent much time posting on Facebook at all, you have probably had the error message pop up when you hit the "share" button after typing your post. It doesn't usually explain what the problem just tells us an error occurred, to retry at another time. etc. Thankfully, He doesn't respond the way I typically do when these prized possessions malfunction: I have a strong urge to throw them through the window. Fortunately, God Himself tells us that He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. But, like my handy dandy PC, I don't always respond properly when He hits the share button. Sometimes I might tell Him to try again later, other times I may just lock up the whole screen. (Can I just say...I'm also glad He isn't up there, like I would be, saying, "Man, I wish I had a Mac!") No, He's patient but persistent and keeps tweaking me and hitting that button until I can't NOT share.

Now, the other thought that puzzles me about it sometimes is, "Why on earth would He prompt me to share THAT particular thing? Better yet......Why would He want ME to share it?" If you read on, you will be wondering those same things!:) Sometimes I really do get it. Others, I'm just simply sharing so He'll stop hitting the button. This is definitely one of those times as I am neither a biblical scholar nor a scientist. So, for this particular lesson, I'd suggest if you have wonderings yourself at the end of it.....consult my Manufacturer and/or His owner's manual:)

Scientists. Bless their hearts.

I read about a new found planet, HD40307g, on my MSN homepage a few weeks ago. A professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the university of southern California, Santa Cruz, along with an international team of astronomers found what they call a "new super-Earth" outside our solar system in what they think could be the habitable zone of a six planet solar system. I'm not going to go into all the technical things of how they found it with it being 44 light years away, what they think of it, etc. For more info, you can go to: or just do a search for "new super earth 2012", as it's not the first "super earth" to be located.

I mention it because it simply struck me in an odd way. The very first thing that came to mind was Revelation 21:1
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."
Now, let me just go ahead and clarify....I am in no way saying that this finding could be our "new earth" promised in scripture. But, it simply sent me on a little exploration of my own.

I love that, if you have a Bible reader app on your iPhone or iPad, you can do a search for a word or phrase and it'll bring up all the scriptures that contain them. (I just realized that's my 2nd plug for Apple products but I assure you I'm not on their payroll!:))
Needless to say I got out my iPhone and brought up the app. There are amazing references in the Old and New Testaments that talk about the real "Super Earth" that will be in plain view for believers one day.

In the Old Testament:

Isaiah 65:17
“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent's food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

He goes on to say of this New Jerusalem:

Isaiah 66:10-14
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious abundance.”
For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

Hard to phathom isn't it? A new earth where we enjoy our work; infants won't die; the hand of the Lord will be seen, doubt removed; we will rejoice, be comforted, no more weeping; forever. "Sounds wonderful" is a huge understatement. Yet, in this instance, the passage that spoke to and challenged me most was in the New Testament:
2 Peter 3:1-13
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

This passage, while stirring me to thanks, also stirred me to pity. Pity for the brilliant minds out there that are so easily deceived. I understand their questions, because I've asked them, too. Could there seriously be a Creator of all seen and unseen? How can I believe in a being that I can not see? etc.
In this passage, Peter refers to the groups throughout history who said, "where is your God? Let Him act so we can see and know". We have an abundance of those groups today. I hear and read it everywhere. The news is full of it....obviously. My children are being taught evolution as fact and not theory, even having to do a report on "pre-historic" humans. We had a long talk about it but basically I just told them of the deceit many are under and for them to look at the report as a way for them to find out just how badly people need them to represent Christ. I told them to be kind about it, that when we ignore time with the Lord and don't pray, it becomes hard for us to see Him, too. But, when we pray and read His Word, He speaks to us and we see evidence of Him everywhere and as a bonus, we have a confidence that unbelievers will never know. I also told them that no matter what the majority of people believe and teach, no one....and I mean no one....can explain our origin and our world with any more plausible evidence than that of our belief in a Creator.

I found myself feeling sorry for the excited astronomers and for all the others who disregard the Lord so easily. All I can say is, "bless their hearts". They scoff at us "ignorant" folks as they search and search only to find more closer to the truth they had hoped they'd arrive at than when Darwin declared himself an agnostic...Not an atheist. I guess it's kind of like my dirty dishes....a vicious cycle.

Peter said that the "heavens that now exist are being kept for the day of destruction." These heavens stored up for judgment day are the very heavens they are hoping will support their theory of life on another planet; These heavens that supposedly exploded into being from nothing and subsequently created from nothing this ONE beautiful planet that produced, over billions of years, everything we see now from the brilliant dolphins that swim the seas to the high school quarterback that may one day play for the Miami Dolphins. One big error? Yes....I'm happy to tell all evolutionists and big bang theorists, that you too were created in the image of God. As such, I will sincerely pray for your hearts to be enlightened.

I understand the curiosity and the passion behind their efforts. It's just that, their elaborate research and theories, while a brilliant display of the human mind, are tantamount to the book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". Curiosity and passion often lead to much destruction. As beautiful as the scriptures I listed about the New Earth are, they are all preceded or followed about the "blasphemous, ignorant scoffers and unglodly" and what their inheritance will be. That's why Peter is always "reminding" believers of what is real and what is not. He even closed his letter with just that...a reminder.

2 Peter 3:14-18

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

I don't profess to be a brilliant mind with it all figured out but, solely through the grace of God, I know some things to be true without doubt and I have the assurance of my salvation that Peter speaks of in 2 Peter chapter 1. I know who my Creator is, more importantly, my Redeemer. I could just as easily be stuck in the questioning phases I went through in the past just like the scientists searching for life on other planets. However, I suspect that the Lord brought me into this generation of facebook and blogs because He knew me....after all, He made me. He knew that at some point, with His relentless love and patience, I would learn to use it for His renown. Just the thought that somewhere along the way, the scriptures mentioned could reach the heart of one brilliant, curious mind and His Spirit shed light on that heart, well... that's enough to keep me blogging to the moon and back. Or even HD40307g and back:)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Weezer...You're Almost Chipper....Did You Run Over a Small Child or Somethin'?"

I LOVE the movie Steel Magnolias. I’m not fond of sad movies but this one is too funny to get stuck on the sadness. My favorite scene is actually the cemetery scene where Malynn has a meltdown over losing her daughter and wants to hit something….hard, and her friends aren’t use to her losing her composure. So, the older friend Clarie, grabs the sour puss, Weezer, and says, “Here….hit this…..knock her lights out!” Eventually everyone busts out laughing, including the grieving mom. Malynn is speaking to Dolly Pardon’s character later and apologizes for breaking down on everyone and Dolly says, “Don’t be silly….Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion!” Everyone who saw the movie understood because we were all crying and laughing along with them.

Well, I had one of those moments myself this weekend. Fortunately, it was not to that degree. It was a moment where my heart was breaking a little but was quickly covered by a smile and just a moment of pure joy from above. It was our baby girl Jude’s 3rd birthday on Sunday. My parents were here for their first visit and I had decided to have her little party on Saturday night because it was unusually rainy and we were going to save our last outing for Sunday when it would be nicer out. Plus, I couldn’t wait for her to open her cash register and see how she liked it! J So, she took a late nap and my dad and I went to pick up her long awaited ice-cream cake. Only, when I got back…. she was in tears.

I’m going to have to rewind a little to better explain the tears. You have to understand, my youngest child is a little social butterfly. It’s new for me because my boys were always so stand off-ish.  They are super nice, mannerly boys but they are still not that outgoing when it comes to talking to new people. Not Jude. She carries on conversations with the checkers at the grocery store. She was very tight knit with her nursery buddies from our church we left in Tennessee….she saw them 3 times a week from the time she was a little baby. Plus, she had several cousins a bit older than her that loved doting on her. Not to mention all the adults!  So, she was use to a lot of attention and a lot of interaction. Moving to California and going to a new, much larger church, has been an adjustment. The people are super nice but, she’s one of many little ones and is missing the spoiling she received from our Tennessee crew. Her first two birthday parties had to be held in the fellowship hall of the church because there were so many people we wanted to share it with that there would be nowhere for them to sit in our house! So, in talking about her birthday over the past couple of weeks, she had already mentioned a few times “my friends aren’t going to see me for my party”. And by “friends”, she includes cousins in that….she enjoys them all so much she thinks of them as friends first. She also has a very good memory. So, needless to say……she realized this party was going to be missing something. Or someone.
Now I’ll fast forward back to the scene with the tears.

I put her cake in the freezer in the garage so it wouldn’t melt and came in the door with a big bundle of balloons only to find her in tears and the balloons didn’t make much difference at first. I asked her why she was crying and she said, “I don’t know!” My mother said she had just mentioned that her friends weren’t going to be at her party. I sat down and held her and talked to her as she sobbed and sobbed for a little while then said, “but you didn’t get me a cake!” Here’s where it got so unexpectedly precious:
Me: Of course I got you a cake! It’s an ice cream cake like you wanted….I just had to leave it in the freezer so the ice cream wouldn’t melt. You want to go see it?

Jude: (tears starting to slow but in a pitiful voice), Yes, mommy.

Me: (As cheerful as I could possibly be) Well let’s go see your cake then!
Off we go to the garage where I put her down and pull the cake out of the freezer and bend down beside her where she can really see it.  Her face immediately lights up and she looks so happy.

Me: See…..this is your ice cream cake! J
Jude: (beside herself and giggling throws her arms around my neck and says,) Oh, nank you mommy!!!

She goes on and on about it and keeps hugging me and kissing me as I point out what all is on it. Oh my….words simply can’t describe the mixture of emotions wrapped up in this scene for me.
I asked if she liked her cake and she emphatically said, “Yes mommy! Now let’s put it back so it doesn’t melt!”
I returned all of her hugs and kisses and told her I loved her bunches and that she was such a sweet, special girl and deserved a pretty cake for her birthday and that I was so glad she liked it. She came back in the house a different child. She was in the best mood….helping everyone, listening so well, and just as sweet as….well….ice cream cake! She needed some help in the upstairs bathroom and as I was helping her she said, “I love you mommy. I not say no to you anymore. I sorry I not been a good sister, I not hit my brothers anymore.” (To which I thanked her for saying that and told her not to worry….that she is a really good girl and that we all act ugly sometimes but we all still love each other even when we’re upset…we just have to try not to get mad so easily and be nice to each other as much as we can.)
The point is….she remembered how much she was loved. She had an understanding that her mommy was there for her and loved her, no matter how she felt or how everything else looked. Not much can top that feeling for a mama. She went on to have a very large time that night. She loved everything and played hard until 11:00 (super late for her) without a single tear or grumpy word at all.

I also had a more subtle but equally rewarding experience earlier that day with my somewhat grumpy 11 yr old, Preston. He’s entering the stage of “mom is a bummer….won’t let me play xbox all day every day, won’t let me stay up late anytime I want, makes me get up and take out the trash, turn off the tv and do homework, take a shower, etc. “ Couple that with a middle schooler who, like Jude, is going from being in a really tight knit environment to a sea of strangers, then add in hormones…..  there tends to be a lot of pouting, “woe is me”,  and “the glass is half empty” mentality to deal with. He is really a great, funny  kid and really can be fun loving but he has a tendency to be soooooo serious.

So, here is the scene from earlier in the day with Preston:
On the weekends, we tend to snack a little in the morning and I fix a brunch late morning. As I’m cooking, I often have to tell the boys “no more snacks for now….this is almost ready”. This Saturday was no different. And as always, they weren’t thrilled with being told “no more snacks”.
Preston:  (comes back in the kitchen and sees the sausage casserole I’d just pulled out of the oven): What’s that?
Me: Sausage casserole
Preston:  (very excited)Alright!! And what is that you’re fixing there?

Me: Pancakes.
Preston: (his face lights up and he throws his arms open and…. using his silly voice….says),  Mommy!!!

Now, since he typically thinks he’s too big and cool to be lovey dovey, I’m usually the one who does the hugging these days….. so I seized the moment and enjoyed a big hug from my baby boy.
But, again, though maybe not as dramatically as his sister, he remembered he was loved and his mama took care of him. Pure joy for mama!

Sunday morning at church, this all came together for me. Our pastors Shawn and Garrick were wrapping up a series on being a living sacrifice: stewardship. This is the first time they’d actually shared the pulpit since I’ve been there. The sermon was, of course, on Thanksgiving. Oddly enough, the passage was out of 1 Chronicles 16, starting with verse 8. In my bible it titles this section, “David’s Song of Thanks”. Notice all the ways he tells them not only to remember…..but respond!
1 Chronicles 16:8-35
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
 Sing to him, sing praises to him,
 tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
his miracles and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of Israel his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
Remember his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan,
as your portion for an inheritance.”
When you were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth;
yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
 Shawn and Garrick encouraged us to remember His goodness, even when we face tough times..... and not just have the emotional response of thanks in our heart, but to go out and live thankful lives. A truly thankful heart will display some outward signs. Namely, giving.
See, for my children, remembering they were loved conjured up those feelings of thankfulness that displayed themselves through smiles and hugs and words of thanks. Though, it’s understandable how a child can consider the cup half empty, especially given the changes mine have gone through lately. Obviously, it's harder for them to see the big picture and their tendency is toward self concern. What about us adults, though? Don’t we tend to focus on all we don’t have or all we’re missing, too? Does that do anything other than make us even more of a sour puss than a preteen boy who has to make new friends and whose mama is a meany who won’t let him play xbox? (I guess that would make us grown-ups a “Weezer”). Anyway, isn’t that the view we default to with God sometimes?  Of course, we’re not going to admit that we think God is a big meany. But, its apparent in our actions…or inaction. Again, namely…giving. Where is our joy and thanksgiving?
I have to sum up a testimony given by a church member named Steve about tithing that I totally understood: Steve said he and his wife had been tithing for a long time. Yet, he admitted it was purely out of obedience. He said when it came to writing that check when they were paid every two weeks, he couldn’t help thinking how much better off they might be if they put that money toward something else. But, again, he would put it in the bucket that’s passed around out of obedience. He talked about the concerns they’d had with two kids in college and paying those bills. This series had brought about discussions between Steve and his wife. (In this 10 week series on giving, I think we all have been evaluating where we stand.) Steve told us about a realization he and his wife came to recently. They were curious and sat down and figured up what he USE to make and what their bills were on that salary vs what he makes and pays out today. He said the numbers didn’t add up at all. He did not know how they made it, other than the Lord doing much more with their money than they ever could’ve. He testified that the Lord had begun to show him where he was seeing writing that check every two weeks, wrong.  He asks us to give back to him 10%. That is 10% out of the 100% He has already given us. It was all His anyway. Steve said it was beginning to be a joy for them to write that check and place it in the bucket as it comes around. Not out of obedience with the 10%….but with thanksgiving for the 90%.

 So, along with the Holy Spirit’s conviction, what is at the root of Steve and his wife’s heart change? REMEMBERING God’s love FOR them and faithfulness TO them. Steve made a conscious effort to look back over his life. I could certainly write a lengthy testimony about His faithfulness to me from childhood to now!  But, I’ll save that for another day since you would not finish reading it until Christmas!
Right now, though, when I think about all that we left for this move to California, especially the kids, it would be easy for me to start looking at it like He’s taken 90 and given us 10. Honestly, though, I just don’t want to be a “Weezer” saying, "the sooner my body gives out, the better off I'll be!"No, I want to be a Malynn… pushing the swing of her grandson, with a smile on her face saying “life goes on" and rejoicing as a bunny-clad man hops on a motorcycle to meet his pregnant wife at the hospital. Thankfully, though, it's not left up to just me...He has been faithful in His reassurances to me. That in itself has kept me singing His praises, trusting Him for our future, and thankful for and focused on all of our blessings: My hard working/fun loving husband, precious moments with our children like I had Saturday, family and friends, food on the table and a roof over our heads. Anything more we enjoy is just another example of His “grace upon grace.”

"Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
 "Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

 Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Seek Justice, Love Mercy

Jot this down….. Robin CAN shorten her word count on occasion! :) This may be the shortest blog you will ever see me post! Well, that is….one with the shortest segments of my own ramblings! J Today I’m just going to offer a couple of opinions.....maybe even charges, followed by some hard evidence. Then,  you can render your own verdict. (Sorry....I went through a brief phase of wanting to go to law school before we had the boys.)
This political climate has definitely been weighing on me on some issues.  However, it is the Lord that has REALLY been working on me in one area in particular over the last few Working!! As in, completely changing my heart…..and it really needed to be changed to be more like His and He still has plenty of work to do. So, I have prayed that as I tend to be bitter and easily stirred toward anger when it comes to government, taxes. and entitlement programs, for the Lord to help me weigh the matter the way HE would and show me where I’m looking at it wrong. I have to say….I’m still waiting for full clarity. As always, if we need answers, there is one Book that trumps all others. The Bible does have a lot to say about these topics that I struggle with and I'm sure I'm not the only one. So, let's start with the one that really ruffles our feathers.... idleness. One portion in particular is pretty blunt and it’s the one that we always refer to so, let’s just go ahead and look at it:

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

It’s pretty clear. That's why we always refer to it when we get on our soapbox. There are many references to being idle (lazy, not putting forth any effort in some area) throughout the Bible. But, one thing the Bible is also clear on is that there will ALWAYS be poor among us. In the past, my tendency has been to neglect those portions of scripture. We will always be equal in the eyes of God but that does not mean we will all make the same amount  money and own the same things. So, should the government take from the people who are “rich”, working 60+ hours/week for years and years and give it to those who don’t work and instead are “working the system”? I’m pretty sure that’s some type of robbery. Nowhere does scripture say that, because He intends for all who are able to work in some form or fashion. However, this is what I do know as suredly as He has taught me anything else: If we as Christians, (my, myself, and I and any of you who claim to be), would love the way He repeatedly tells us to love……there would be many, many needs met without the government taking one single step.

Micah 6:6-8
 What Does the Lord Require?
 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord,
 and bow myself before God on high?
 Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
 with calves a year old? 
 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
 with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
 the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
 8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
 and what does the Lord require of you
 but to act justly, and to love mercy,
 and to walk humbly with your God?

SEEK  justice, yet LOVE mercy.

Isaiah 1:11-17
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?, says
the Lord. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well- fed beasts;
 I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
 or of lambs, or of goats.
 12 “When you come to appear before me,
 who has required of you
 this trampling of my courts?
 13 Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
 New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
 I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
 my soul hates;
 they have become a burden to me;
 I am weary of bearing them.
 15 When you spread out your hands,
 I will hide my eyes from you;
  even though you make many prayers,
 I will not listen;
  your hands are full of blood.
 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
 remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
  cease to do evil,
 17 learn to do good;
  seek justice,
correct oppression;
  bring justice to the fatherless,
 plead the widow's cause.

SEEK justice, LOVE mercy.

Luke 14:13-14
 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

2 Corinthians 8:12-15
 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.  For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness  your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.  As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

Matthew 25:31-45
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. ’

 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? ’

 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. ’

 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. ’

 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? ’

 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. ’
I could go on and on and on and on and on with scriptural references. (But, I said this would be pretty short) It is THAT important to our God because He IS justice and mercy for all of us.
I still believe the way our government operates is unjust in forcing the hand of workers to supply for those who don’t work. There are many, many ways it could be more wisely distributed to cover true needs.
Here's the thing, though......  I believe that as Christians, we have thought of caring for the poor as an option.  Jesus said we would always have the poor among us. If we had no responsibility, why would He address it SO much? Yet, we (I) have ignored it and considered our retirement, our vacations, our hobbies, etc. more important than feeding and clothing those in need and our time in those things as more valuable than visiting the sick, downtrodden, or captive.  I don’t see anywhere in the Old OR New Testament where I ever had the right to leave their care in the hands of government or anyone else.  Not sure where He’s taking me with this but…. I’m listening. i'm not telling any of you what to do or think....but, i'm telling you what He is drilling into me. You will have to weigh the evidence yourselves and see where you stand. It's between each of us and the Judge.