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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Walking through the Valley

As Christians we have that blessed hope of an eternity spent with God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit. We live each day in this broken world, suffering the things this broken world dishes out, enduring hurts of every kind but still we cling to the hope that is promised in the Word of God...the hope of salvation and the knowledge that we do not endure alone.

We walk the path of this life. Sometimes the going is easy and smooth. Sometimes the pathway is broken and difficult. Sometimes we live with abundance and can easily pay the bills. Other times we struggle and have to sell off our possessions to put food on the table. We have times of health...and times of sickness. Times of great joy and times of unimaginable sorrow.

But through it all, even when we have no idea where the path is leading us, we can have the confidence of knowing the One who is paving the path. The One who is leading us to a specific destination. It's difficult when the path is rocky and covered with obstacles that we must traverse, but if it was always easy we wouldn't get to see how great our God is when He brings us through the hard times stronger on the other side. Resistance- life pushing against us- makes us stronger.

Ginny Owens is one of my favorite Christian singers. She sings a song that illustrates this so perfectly. In one video I found of her singing this song, she also tells the story of how this song came to be written and it's very good.


Please take the 6+ minutes time to watch this, listen to the lyrics. It's beautiful and might give you the courage to take one more step on the road that seems particularly difficult.


Monday, May 19, 2014

It's not supposed to be easy

Jesus never promised his disciples that following Him would be easy. He never promised that loving God and putting away the things of this world would be a walk in the park. In fact, He promises quite the opposite. He promises persecution. He promises hardship. And He goes as far as to say that if you are persecuted for His name's sake, you are blessed.

I was talking with my older sister the other day and we were having a difficult discussion about the death of a baby. The baby was only 2 months old when God took her unexpectedly and my sister was confused and angry and heartbroken over this news. She asked why...I said I didn't know because truthfully I don't know why it seems like the children of this world have to suffer more than any other. Children who are abused, children with cancer, children who die unexpectedly of seemingly nothing, as this baby did. And the children are the least deserving of these afflictions, they're innocent, they don't deserve to suffer that way.

When I spoke to my sister about her own beliefs she assured me that she believes in God, that she has a relationship with Jesus...but that it's volatile and hard.

Those 2 words struck me.

Volatile and hard.

And because her relationship with God is volatile and hard, she probably has the most real relationship with Him of anyone I know. It's not supposed to be sunshine and rainbows. It's not supposed to be easy and carefree. What happens to us when we spend our time doing only the easy things? We get lazy. We get complacent. We take the easy things for granted.

When we have something worth having that we have to work at, really work at, grind and toil for, we respect that thing. We appreciate that thing more than if it had simply been handed to us in all it's fullness. A relationship with God should be something we work at, something we sweat and bleed for. It shouldn't be something we get dressed up for on Sundays and sing a couple of hymns for, then go about our day as if we've done nothing at all.

It should be volatile and hard!

And yes, Jesus also said, Come, all who are burdened and heavy laden, I will give you rest. Because there are those times when our faith is sweet and precious and sunshine and rainbows. Those times when things are good and it's easy to believe. But those times are few and far between because life in this sin sick world is hard and it will continue to be hard until we die.

Once again my big sister is teaching me something about myself and my God and she probably didn't even realize it. She is amazing and one of the strongest women I've ever had the privilege of knowing.

So if your relationship with God is easy, you have no conflict about it, no persecution, no tears...then you're doing something wrong and you're missing out on something richer, deeper, and more meaningful than what you have. Dig deeper!  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Love in the face of hate

Several news outlets this week have reported on the fact that  Fred Phelps Sr.- founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas- is ill and near death. His family has asked for respect and privacy at this time and that no one picket his funeral.

This is the man who led pickets at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. He and his church have, in the name of serving God, spewed toxic bitterness that created agony for those trying to get through an already difficult day as they mourned for their soldiers.

They threatened to picket the funerals of the children who died at Sandy Hook. Turning something so intensely painful for the parents of these precious children into an agenda full of hate.

And yet this man's family asks for privacy and that no one picket his funeral. They request the one thing they refused those who were grieving their own losses.

The human in me wants to show up at Mr. Phelps' funeral and rage and give his family a taste of what they've given to so many. To let them drink the bitter cup they've poured out on so many hurting families who simply wanted to mourn and say goodbye to someone who fought and died for our nation, someone they loved and will never see again.

But the Jesus in me says something different.

The Jesus in me says that I should be praying for these people during what will surely be a difficult time for them. They're about to lose a father, grandfather, brother, and friend.

The Jesus in me says that I should mourn for a man who clearly never had Jesus in his own heart and will die apart from God. He will have to stand before His Maker one day soon and justify his actions, justify the hate he's spread in the name of God, justify the hurt he's caused when he had the power to spread love instead.

The Jesus in me says that I should behave the way a true Christian would in order to show the Fred Phelps' of the world what love truly looks like. Love, real love, does not teach hate. It does not intentionally cause pain to anyone. It does not use the name of God as a weapon to injure the grief stricken, the down trodden, the weak, and the hurting. Love upholds the weak, gives strength to the weary, encourages the hopeless, helps the helpless, befriends the lonely, leads the lost.

Jesus would not picket the funeral of Fred Phelps. He would attend and grieve and comfort those who mourn.

I cannot attend, but I will grieve with those who mourn and pray that the Phelps family and church will learn something from those who do likewise. I'll will be showing love in the face of hate and praying that Jesus will touch the hearts of those who have lived on a diet of hate for too long.




Sunday, February 23, 2014

A hard headed church...

I went to church with the girls this morning and I'm cautiously optimistic about this church we went to. We're searching for a new church, one that will be our home. My stipulations are thus:


  • Bible believing and teaching
  • Active in the community
  • Strong on social issues
  • Not afraid to speak the truth
  • Active Youth group

I've visited a few churches since we left the one we'd been in for 3 years. Finding a new home church is not an easy task, especially when I have specific requirements. The church we visited today is called Calvary Christian Fellowship. The congregation is quite small- about 10 in Sunday School and about 40 in worship. All of the people greeted us and engaged us in conversation, all were very friendly and these are good things but not on my list of must haves. 

The Sunday School lesson was good. It focused on making restitution for wrong doings. We read Exodus chapter 22 and discussed it. The people in attendance were engaged and talkative. This is good and shows me that they listen and are active and don't just sit waiting for the service to be over. 

Then things got good...so good! Worship service started. The musicians took their places on the stage with their instruments- piano, violin, 2 guitars, drums, and a keyboard. The music started with a quick beat and we sang and then it happened...the song that's been on my heart so much lately, the one that I posted the video link for in my previous post, Go Light Your World was played. My heart filled to overflowing and I dropped to my knees right there in the pew and sobbed. The music continued, Jesus I Need You was played and I cried harder. I was a mess but I felt God there, I FELT Him! He was right there in that sanctuary moving me to tears. I couldn't have stopped if I'd wanted to and I didn't want to! I've been in worship services like that before and Oh how I've missed it! People raising their hands in praise, singing with all their hearts. 

The message that the pastor brought was also an indicator for me. He titled it Persistence with God. He talked about being a hard headed church. A church that stands up against the pressure of the unbelieving world. Fighting for our rights to worship and believe as we do. Walking in the Spirit and behaving like a Child of God even when no one is looking. Be bold and confident in God and stop  believing the lies of satan. Satan wants to discourage us, make us believe we're not worth God's time. He wants to constantly remind us that we're sinners, that we've messed up, and convince us that God couldn't possibly want anything to do with us. 

HE'S WRONG!! 

Why else would God send his precious only Son to die on the cross for us if He didn't want us? He could have ended it all like He did in Sodom and Gomorrah but He didn't. He made a way. He bridged the un-crossable gap so we could be reunited with Him. He wants us! 

Be bold! Ask, Seek, Knock. These are action words. Ask and it SHALL be given, Seek and you WILL find, Knock and the door WILL be opened. Matthew 7:7 does not say ask and it might be given, seek and you might find, knock and maybe the door will open. It's affirmative. Do it and it WILL happen. 

Walk in the Spirit, Be bold, Do not be afraid, Nothing is impossible with God. Be a hard headed church and DO God's work and nothing can stop you.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A City on a Hill

My Bible study this morning was about being a light in the darkness, a city on a hill. In the book of Matthew, chapter 5, Jesus commands us to be the light of the world. To let our light shine before men so that men will see our good works and glorify God in Heaven.

We are not to do good works for a pat on the back or kudos that tickle our ears and inflate our pride and egos. We are also not to hide the light. Do not place the light under a basket and keep it all to ourselves. We are to share the source of the light- Jesus Christ- with those around us.

We, as humans, tend to underestimate how much one life can impact the world. We can be a beacon of hope for the lost or we can be the one person who turns someone from Christ forever by being hateful or arrogant in our salvation. With a single word or action we can be the one to lead someone to Jesus...or turn a seeking soul away. What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What kind of impact do you want to have on this world we live in but are not part of?

Help the homeless, the needy, the hungry, and the hurting. Be a good example to your children even in the privacy of your home when no one else sees. Be a good spouse. Treat each and every person you come across with dignity and respect even if you think they don't deserve it- Because after all, we don't deserve anything from God either. We're all wretched sinners in the eyes of God, yet He sent His only Son to die for us so that we might live. How then can we treat other sinners as though we're better than they are?

The Light of the world is meant to shed light in the dark places, the same dark places we once used to reside in. I'm posting a video of a song that I instantly thought of while doing my study this morning. One I've heard dozens of times and it touches my heart each time.

Chris Rice- Go Light Your World:


How are you, how am I, being a candle in the darkness? Will Jesus be able to say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant." ?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hello? Is anybody there?

Do you ever feel like God isn't hearing you? Like maybe he's turned His back on you? Or maybe in the chaos of this world He's simply overlooking you?

That's how I feel today. That's how I feel a lot lately. The Bible teaches us to ask and it will be given, but I ask and ask and ask and still I struggle. I know I have to ask for His will to be done so maybe what I'm asking for isn't in His will but it's something I really need, not something I want. It's a need and He promises to take care of our needs and because this need is not being met I'm crying out and asking and begging and it feels like my prayers fall on deaf ears.

I know He hears me so I have to ask, Why do I continue to suffer this way? Why do I continue to struggle in this manner? What is He trying to show me through this? What do I need to learn from it? He promised He would never give me more than I could bear but I feel like I'm at the end of my rope and barely hanging on. What do I do? To whom do I turn? How can I get through this when I feel so alone?

Please, Father, you know my needs. You know what's going on in my life right now. Please have mercy on my family, Lord. Please let me know You're listening and forgive me for my questions and my seeming lack of faith. I have faith which is why I haven't given up completely, but I need You, Lord. I need to hear from You and I need Your help. Please help me.

Amen

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spiritual Gifts

My Bible study today was about spiritual gifts and how we won't know true joy until we acknowledge and carry out the mission God has given us with those gifts. To fulfill the purpose for which the Lord has placed us in this world so that when we stand before Him he might say to us, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

When Jesus asked Peter- three times- "Do you love me?" and each time Peter replied in the affirmative, Jesus instructed Peter to Feed His sheep, tend His sheep. This was the gift He'd given to Peter and it wasn't a request, it was a command. Do this thing I've put before you.

So what is the gift that God has given me? What gift has He given you? What is the mission he has charged us with and what tools has He given us to carry out that mission?

I ask myself, "How do I know what gift I've been given?" And each time I ask myself this, a still small voice whispers to my heart "WRITE".

I believe God wants me to use my writing to feed His sheep. So how can I do this? With this blog? My poetry? Write a book?

I'm not sure yet but I do know that He wants me to write and reach the lost in a way that maybe no one else can- at least a portion of the lost. And if I can reach even one, just one...that's one more person destined for the kingdom because God chose to use me as a tool and I was obedient and used the tools He gave me. But I must be obedient first. I must reach out in faith and follow His leading, blindly if I must, because I know He will take me where I need to go, where He wants me to be.

Yesterday's service at a new church we visited- a very tiny church with about 40 attendees- was about joy. Claiming the joy that God promises. It belongs to us, it is guaranteed to us if we would follow His word and pursue the tasks He's charged us with. Satan does all he can to distract us from that. He draws our attention from God's word. TV, radio, computers, busy-ness, stress of daily living, disobedient children, etc. We forget the mission God has put before us and we lose our joy.

What is your gift? Are you using it to complete the mission God has given you? I must find the path God has intended me to follow with my writing because I have no doubt that the written word is my gift.