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 is...it 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: www.news.ucsc.edu/2012/11/super-earth.html 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 questions....no 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 years......giving. 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.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Merry Thanksgiving!!

Yes, I know it’s only the beginning of November and it’s going to be near 90 degrees here in the next couple of days, but I am ready to break out the Christmas music and decorations!! No, I am not going to skip over Thanksgiving. Quite the opposite….I’m ready for that, too!  I’ve already started gathering up food for our Thanksgiving meal…. Much like they did in the olden days! Well, not quite like the olden days.  I must admit, I was absolutely worn out after 2 grocery stores and 2 baskets full of groceries to load, unload and put away…..but, I am SOOOO thankful I didn’t have to pick, shuck, and silk all of that corn AND there was a big sale on for the corn I usually buy!! I think I let out a little “hallelujah” right there in the store! (We eat a lot of corn here.)

Anyway, back to the holiday spirit. I have always looked forward to it but Thanksgiving means so much more to me than it ever use to. It means more than our family favorites: Mama’s chicken & dressing & home-made rolls, my aunt’s orange congealed salad, my sister’s pecan pie, and all the other goodies that we enjoy together. The reason it has come to mean so much is because I’m more aware of everything we have, from the food on the table to the family that surrounds it, as being Blessings from our Father in Heaven. The most important of Blessings for any of us is found in His ultimate act of grace toward us when He sent His Son from the glory of Heaven to take on human flesh and live among us on earth, for the sole purpose of restoring our broken relationships with Him. If we haven’t accepted that gift, all the rest of it won’t matter. All that we have is His and rightfully so. So, I almost can’t separate the heart of Thanksgiving with the meaning of Christmas. I love O Holy Night…..My absolute favorite Christmas song. What a Holy Night it was when God came down to us. It deserves to be all out celebrated and the miracle remembered every year.

In Deuteronomy, the Israelites were commanded, as long as they lived in the promise land, to meet every 7 years at the feasts of booths and re-read aloud the books of the law.  It was not just to remember what all they were commanded to do…though that was VERY important….but to remember what they had been saved from and how their God loved them and had sustained them and even miraculously provided for them. They so easily forgot. Sound familiar? It was also important so the children who hadn’t yet heard it could, “hear and learn to fear the Lord their God” (Deu 31:13). Even the sojourners were to be included.

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 
When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you? ’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us. 20 “

Really hear the wording President Lincoln chose when he instituted Thanksgiving as an annual Holiday:

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation:    The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.  
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. 
By the President: Abraham Lincoln 
William H. Seward,
Secretary of State 

 I just love how all throughout the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord repeatedly commands them, “and you shall eat and drink before the Lord Your God.”  He delights in our celebrations of Thanksgiving and He is very much present. He has always delighted in that fellowship. I think the more yummy noises we make, the better! :) We should enjoy ourselves!! I heard a story on the radio the other day that a man shared about never forgetting his grandfather telling him just before passing away, "Enjoy your life!!! The Lord will take care of you!" The Israelites had a hard time grasping that. We still do today. This Thanksgiving..... let's remember.

Because, you see, now we can freely fellowship with Him, not because of the old covenant of the laws and the yearly prayers and sacrifices offered by high priests on our behalf, but because we accepted His gift of grace in the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb on the Cross for all of our sins. That is how we are able to receive His blessings now and “eat and drink before the Lord our God”. So, when we fuss about people (as I use to do) for putting up their Christmas decorations a bit too early….let’s just celebrate along with them as we drive by!:) As a matter of fact, I think it should be a year-round celebration! Joy to the World in June! J