Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Growing Up Isn't Just About ME

"For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:7-8
  
I have been reading through Hebrews lately.  Being at my son's home with 2 little boys doesn't lend itself to much quiet time for deep reflection.  But God provides the insight. :)  He reminds me daily how important it is for me to drink deeply of His word and to live it always.  Little eyes (and big) are watching me.

We've all heard, "God sends the rain on the just and the unjust."  (from Matthew 5:45)  It states here that we should bear usefully for the One who is cultivating us.  So are we letting God garden and groom our lives? Does He use us as He sees fit, or do we spend our blessings on selfish desire and empty promises?  We know who wants us cultivating those thoughts and actions!  

Are you a beautiful herb garden, benefiting the kingdom of God or are you a briar patch?

Let me illustrate it this way:  My son recently moved into a home in southern California and the front and back yards are two very different environments.  The front  yard is kept by someone hired to water and cultivate green grass and neat gardens of rock and plants.  Roses bloom across the street, and a lovely tree shades the front yard of my son's home.  The other day I watched as a tiny hummingbird rested for several minutes on a now-empty plant hanger in that tree.  

But the back yard is a different story.  It is barren of green life; it is native sand and dirt and more sand.  The grass is brown and dry and the stickers are thick and grab on to the animals as they walk through them.  These stickers then drop on the tile and rug when the animals reenter the house and we find them with our feet!  Not pleasant especially in the middle of the night.

The point is, which yard are we? Are we allowing God to cultivate lovely herbs, useful to the kingdom He rules?  Or are we the stickers, weeds and thistles of the world, useful only for being cursed and burned?

Our choice is not only our fate, but the fate of those we influence.  Are we growing in the word, not just for our own benefit and eternal home, but those around us; our children, grandchildren, family, neighbors, and co-workers?  It isn't just a matter of making our own way to heaven.  It's a matter of being useful to God's kingdom.  

 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I have a 'guest writer' today.  Paula Bailey has been an internet friend for years. . . .and she posted this on October 27th.  She is a wife and mother of 2 girls who loves the Lord and, like all of us, needs an occasional change of perspective on the journey she travels here below.  
Thank you, Paula, for graciously allowing me to share where that perspective should be.  God bless!

Ok. So, I still can't find some of Mikayla's uniform clothes. They are hiding out somewhere. We have enough to make it for a bit, but still.... As I was looking for them today, I was aggravated. I can be pretty grumpy, so here's a list of my thoughts: Why should my kid HAVE to wear a uniform to go to school????? Really, so because there are gangs and other violence in schools, my kids have to wear uniforms-some of which I can't find right now!?!?! I then thought about our consequence-driven society. We live in a society where, regardless of the freedom people want, we are still dealing with the consequences of a few, and our freedoms - in this case to wear whatever we want - are taken away. So, she has to have uniforms. My mind went to Billy Joel's song, "We Didn't Start the Fire", because I was thinking her wardrobe choices are mandated by somebody else who decided to start a fire. After I fumed and fretted for a while, my mind then turned to how we are not to be "of the world". We live IN it and WITH all of the consequences of man, but we are not to be OF the world. Not only that, we need to be a light to show others that there is a way out of the darkness of our present circumstances.
John 17:16King James Version (KJV)
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain
By the way, the missing pieces are still AWOL, but I learned a new perspective.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Courage and Strength

On this journey below, we often stumble.  Someone once said that success isn't how often we fall, but how often we get up.  Success in the Christian walk is about discerning and avoiding the pitfalls of life, and when we do fall, acknowledging God's strength in overcoming the weakness of the flesh.  It isn't how strong we are, but how strong our God is.

When we were expecting our sixth child, we found that he had many physical problems.  It was a time of grief, tears, searching for answers, and learning to depend on God.  One of my Christian sisters commented, "You are so courageous."  My reply, "No, but my God is."

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!"  Psalm 27:14  

Our strength is only from God.  It doesn't  come from any other source.  Even Paul was encouraged more than once by his connections with the people of God; their gifts, their prayers, their presence.  (Acts 28:15, Phil. 4:17, Rom. 15:30, Phil. 1:22)

I would encourage you to spend time daily in the word, letting God strengthen you with His wisdom and knowledge that is available;  spend time with God's people, encouraging one another, worshiping together the God of all strength; and in prayer, seeking God's grace and mercy for our weakness, and wisdom to reflect the image of Christ to a dark world.

When the people of God had been taken captive and Nehemiah had the law read to the people, they recognized how far they had strayed and were deeply grieved.  But Nehemiah, inspires them with these words, " Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (Emphasis is mine.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Living In God's House


Psalm 15 (verses one through five)


Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?

Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,

    And works righteousness,
    And speaks the truth in his heart;
 
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
    Nor does evil to his neighbor,
    Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
 
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
 
He who does not put out his money at usury,
    Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.

Today is my youngest daughter's 15th birthday.  We decided to read this psalm for our devotional time together.  If we wish to live in the house of God, we must be willing to follow His words.  We have to change our character to the image of Christ.  

When we put on Christ in baptism we are on a spiritual high.  We are thankful, grateful, excited.  The world ahead looks bright and easy.  But as we begin the daily walk, we see it is a much more challenging.  There are those who speak against us, we might face challenges as we no longer share the outlook on life of those around us.   There are temptations everywhere as we change to reflect the face of Christ.  2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks of this change. 

If we want to dwell with Christ today (Colossians 1:27) and for eternity,   
we must walk in the light, as He is in the light, (1 John 1:7)  giving up our will for His, joyfully enduring trials (James 1:12.) 

We have an example in Jesus, who was obedient to the Father (Hebrews 5:8), trusting Him, and then was raised, the first of many (Romans 8:29.)  I think of His time in the garden.  How alone and abandoned he felt as he waited in unthinkable pain and anguish for what he knew was coming.  

I think to myself and share with you; can we do less than Christ?  Nothing in my mind is worth missing heaven for and I want others to know that joyful expectation as well.  (read 1 Corinthians 2:9)

I am praying today for my daughter as she begins a new year of her life, and for those about us to see life lived to the glory  of God and His kingdom.  Today is a new day, living in the house of God!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Believable God

As we make our way towards heaven, it requires copious amounts of faith.  It is this faith which not only sustains us, but fuels us, and prepares our way into heaven. Hebrews 11:6 states that ". . . without faith it is impossible to please Him. . . ."  Pleasing God is my dearest desire, without which my life is an aimless ship adrift on the ocean of time and space.

Tomorrow morning, Rodger and I are putting our faith into the hands of an eye surgeon as he undergoes a refractive lensectomy on his right eye.  We trust in the doctors skill to do the job with mastery and excellence.  But we don't blindly do this.  We know that the surgeons at this center have a good reputation.  They have many years of combined experience and success to bolster our confidence in them.

Our faith in God is no less based on blind faith, but on the recorded deeds of our God.  The Bible is full of His promises, kept.  He never waivered in doing what He said, whether it was in response to faithful living, or discipline of His chosen people.

Not only is God's hand seen in the events of the Bible, but His reliability is seen in creation.  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, each faithfully follows one another throughout the years.  There is variation in their character, some are warmer, some are colder, wetter, drier, stormier, and on and on, but they do come without fail.  The sun is always there, whether we see it or feel it's heat.  The moon continues to orbit our earth, night after night.

These things, big and little help me believe in a God Who is Himself believable, reliable, trustworthy and faithful.  My faith is built on those things I can judge.  Even though I cannot feel Him, see Him or hear Him, I know by the record of those who did that He is.  I believe because the complexity and wonderful design nature speaks to a Creator.

So my life depends, not on whether God answers our prayers in the way we want tomorrow.  But on His faithfulness in doing what is best.  He sees the big picture.  I know that no matter the specific outcome that He will faithfully keep us and love us.  He will care for us until we do see Him face to face.

The journey continues;  sometimes over rocky ground, sometimes smooth.  But no matter, His hand guides and steadies.  It picks me up when I fall because He is totally dependable and believable.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Mentoring



I was reading a bit on the Barna web page about the millennial departure from the church and one statement stood out. The need for mentors. And not preacher or elder mentors necessarily, but faithful men and women who can take a young person by the hand and show them how important and how relevant belonging to Christ's body is. 

We've got to take responsibility for our young people. Think about what we put emphasis on throughout the year. Good grades, getting to sports events, going to prom, getting graduated, going to the right college, getting a good job, finding yourself, getting married, having kids, the list goes on. But where is the church? How are young people supposed to know how important their faith in God and their involvement in the church is when we've cluttered their lives with all this other stuff that's just going to burn up in the end? What are they seeing in our lives? Are we dedicated to the Lord more than one hour on Sunday morning? Do we find our niche in the church and serve others? How can we expect the young people to want to belong if we're not showing them the dedication ourselves? 

Invite a young person to come with you when you serve! Don't just assume they're too busy! My two are inundated with opportunities to serve, and we try to encourage it as much as possible. Young people need to know they're needed. And they should know it's important to be involved. 

I would love to go on with more on this track, but I'm sure you've got other posts you'd like to read. Thanks for your time. 


Thank you to Judy Preston for letting me share her thoughts here today!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Today in America it is Flag Day.  It was first observed on June 14th, 1877, 100 years after congress passed the first flag resolution.

I have always been grateful to be an American, where our religious freedom was protected by the constitution of our country.

Today in the chaos of our changing world, we should be thankful for the many blessings we have.  But we should also spend time on our knees asking God to guide our leaders as they make decisions that will impact us now and generations to come.  We cannot deny that things are changing and not for the better.  Ungodly people are making decisions and influencing change that will directly affect us and our descendants in their ability to worship our God and live as Christians.

Now, having said that, I want to qualify with this:  No matter what happens, God is still God.  He is still the Captain of my destiny and the Lord of my life.  The man in the White House will in no way change what I believe or Who I worship.

I love America, but I love God more.  I am blessed to live in a country where we have freedom to worship how we desire.  But freedom comes with responsibility.  One, to remind each successive generation of the sacrifices made for that freedom and also, the responsibility to share the truth of God's word with those around me.

God gives true freedom, no matter where you live.  The freedom from sin and death are greater than the freedom to live where you like or do what you want.  Eternity has two destinations.  Everyone has a choice which they will choose.

Where will you spend your eternity?  You may go where you wish, but I choose to spend it with God, praising the God Who offers us the only true freedom.  Whether you live in war torn city or quiet, peaceful nations, the real answer to all of life's trouble is to look to the Creator and accept the ultimate gift, Jesus perfect sacrifice, offered on the cross for us.

 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."  Romans 6:1-4 New King James Version