Monday, December 11, 2017

Shine Humble




It's the season of Christmas lights!! Oh how I love them!! In fact, I see no reason to take them down after December fades away...at least the white ones. They lift the spirits and send out a positive, hopeful feelings to me. In the dark winter mornings, my living room lights welcome me to the day and make waking a pleasure. 

After studying Philippians 2, they know remind me to watch my attitude and words...to be humble, by remembering the grace I've been given. You see, when we refrain from grumbling...those guttural noises we emit showing an emotional dissatisfaction with God's providence in our lives...like messy children, an imperfect spouse, things breaking or illness...we shine.

When we refrain from criticising God's providence in our lives, questioning Him and arguing with Divinity...like, why me? Why can't  I have? Or, why do THEY get to? ...we shine.

We shine like white Christmas lights against the dark morning, just before dawn. We captivate eyes that are craving beauty and truth. We send a message of quiet hope, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. I never really equated grumbling and complaining with perversion, but that's how God sees it. I guess I can relate when my little kids would ungratefully whine in response to my sacrificial love. I then can see how these little, helpless people would actually die if I neglected them...and they seem to think they deserve something. I would never give them a stone if they needed a fish!  What a crooked way to think...that we deserve anything from almighty God!

Should we just be content to sit there and shine for our own glory? Philippians says to "hold forth the word of life" as we shine.  Tell those craving eyes about the source of our light. Tell them how we've graced by Jesus and how that changes everything. Humbly, refrain from complaining and think about...talk about...all you have been given. If you can't think of anything, just quietly breathe, in and out...with or without a yoga mat...and imagine not being able to do that.

Why would anyone want a Jesus that didn't make them full of joy?

Shine.

"Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life."

Philippians 2:14-15

Monday, December 4, 2017

Why Would I Do Such a Thing?





Been thinking about Christmas...Jesus's humility and obedience. 

It's not just little children who are called to obey someone.  Everyone is under somebody's authority.  It might be your boss, the police or a judge. It might even be your neighbor, as God calls us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. No one, at any time in their life, is free to live for themselves, as long as they are called a Christian.

Jesus came in this spirit. He left his high position and comfort to come here and serve us, under His father's authority. A grown man, God himself, obeying His authorities to the point of death. I cannot think of anything more difficult. To humble yourself,  when you know you are justified or worthy of more. To submit, when all  around you are telling you to fight..you deserve better. It's inhuman. It's divine. 

Why would I do this unnatural thing?

Because Jesus did. 
His example is there for me to follow, not just to see, be profoundly moved by or cried over. The Christmas story is focused on each year because we forget...or still haven't got it at all. My life, if I am a Christian, is not mine to live for. I was bought at a price and am always under authority...a good Master...with nothing to fear...but my own flesh. My proud feminism or adult position beckons me away from the manger and the cross. Giving in to wilderness temptations are anti Christmas. 

Because faith requires doubt.
Doing this is a leap of faith...because it goes against my flesh, worldly instincts, status quo and comfort. It won't ever feel right...but it will always be right. It's the trust that Jesus had to have and he asks as to have in the same Father.

Because I'm new.
This is impossible,  if you do not have the power of the Spirit in you. A new creation...a child of God...has the transformed heart, capable of inhuman actions...like selflessness. I can't heal someone or pull a rabbit from a hat...but now I can submit...ta da! Regeneration creates freedom...to do the impossible...live like Christ. More than that, it makes you want to...

Because I want to.
The biggest miracle is a desire change. Motivation is everything. Anyone can act a part, but sincerity is from the heart. Obedience and submission lose there difficulty when you want to do something...when you are in love. No longer the hard part of love, now the easy kind...the feelings kind. Once I have done the hard work of submition,  God rewards me with new desires making the relationship the fuel to burn my passion. The words "obedience " and "submission" are no longer bad words, but words I have conquered and made my subjects. Meekness is mine...power under control. 

Excerpts from Philippians 4...with personal application:

"Although he existed in the form of God He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  but made himself nothing taking the form of a bondservant."

Although I am a divinely created person, just like men, I do not consider my equal value as men, something to be grasped. Instead, I will set my mind to helping, respecting and being loyal to my fellow men.
"He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,  even death on a cross."

I will humble myself by becoming obedient to God and my authorities, even when it is hard...even if it kills me.

"For this reason, God highly exalted Him..."

I know that if I do this, God, being perfectly just and righteous, will honor me and take perfect care of me, both in this life and eternity. 

"...to the glory of God the Father."

...for the purpose of glorifying God and proving that His ways are right. There is nothing I would enjoy more than this. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Idea Seeds

 Image result for bad ideas

There is nothing more dangerous than a bad idea.

We warn against and avoid drugs, immorality, alcohol abuse and violence...but not bad ideas.
Parents are content if their kids' behavior looks good...free of all the typical "bad things"...forgetting or ignoring the truth that all bad behaviors are conceived in the mind as ideas. 

Some of those ideas are born right at home, from the cursed flesh we have to endure as human beings, but many are injected into the mind from the outside...through the ears and eyes. We cannot escape the desires of the flesh, but can only fight them with God's wisdom, but what about the outside sources? 

Books, media, teachers and friends. All of these wonderful things can breed horrific consequences, if not managed well. All of these can carry bad ideas, like a Trojan Horse, and we allow it to happen by listening to everything. I'm becoming convinced that listening is not always beneficial, in fact, it can be fatal. Refusing to listen to someone or something seems wrong at first glance...intolerant, un-open, naive, but Ecclesiastical wisdom says that there is a time for everything under the sun...even to close the ears and eyes? I think so.

We are familiar with the dangers of TV, books and overt bad language, but do we notice a bad idea? A movie might be free of swearing, nudity and blood, but what ideas did it plant in the mind? Do we walk away when we hear people say things that make our hair stand on end or the little white cherub sits up on our shoulder, whispering warnings in our ear? People we love dearly and have great influence on us are still imperfect beings, fighting selfish motives. Conscience must be primed by the pouring of God's wisdom, daily, so that these bad ideas are noticed, evaluated and then rejected before they seed the mind. Especially ones wrapped in beautiful disguises. 

Young worldly circles are a breeding ground for bad ideas. Universities and internet groups where pride reigns. I've been a part of all of these...thankfully, escaped with my life and mind intact...not undamaged, but curable. Find circles and schools where those involved are seeking after God with a PURE HEART...not perfect behavior...that's a fairytale. Pure motives can only be known with testing. 

"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
2 Timothy 2:22

If it sounds pleasing at first, that should be a red flag. Be discerning and watchful. Evaluate and test everything. Stop up your ears at the first sign of danger...consider the source. Nothing good can come from a bad motive, even if it looks benign. Don't think you are immune or too wise to be fooled. Subtlety and time are the incubators for the worst kind of horror. WW2 should remind us of that. 

Youth is wonderful. Young men and women are full of potential and vigor...but their youth makes them targets. Hitler knew it and so does the ultimate enemy. Don't neglect your youth. Don't abandon them at their most vulnerable time.  Don't listen to everything you hear nor allow bad ideas into the ears of those under your care and responsibility. Evil is counting on your openness, your fear of being critical and your inattentiveness. Goodness is counting on your humility, hard work and faith.


Lest we forget.

 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Nearness is the Blessing


 Image result for nearness

I remember well the days of sending my little sweethearts to their beds to be alone with their thoughts. My anger burned as I saw them choose foolishly, disregard my instructions or just not think at all. It was better for both of us to be apart for awhile. I wasn't far. I could hear their selfish utterances and sighs. I'd be there in a broken heartbeat if their life was threatened, but our closeness was hindered. Their very natural sin bent caused the distance. My desire for goodness and true love for their soul could not allow for tolerance or ignorance. Although tempted, sacrificing our "unity" wasn't worth it. Prayer, patience and faith waited it out. Eventually, those little hearts would melt, the Spirit would speak and misery would draw us back together again. Sweet forgiveness and reconciliation.

Those baby steps lead to larger, harder leaps in the teen years. The timeouts became groundings. The relationship strains were a little more frightening and the prayers got a lot more passionate...because the stakes were higher. The time outs were not always in the safety of their little beds, but in a lying, merciless world. Out of my control. Our relationship wasn't the apple of their eye anymore. Faith is tested hotter in those years. It's easy to see why so many teens don't believe anymore. It's so difficult to allow our kids to struggle, but the struggle is the cure:

"I will go away and return to my place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me."
Hosea 5:15

 In their affliction. There can be no relief without pain. It's a truth that just won't go away...it's for everyone and for all time. For all ages and relationships. 

My husband's doctor recommended a book to us as he underwent the surgery to repair his leg from a serious chain saw accident, a few years ago. It was called "The Gift of Pain" which tells the story of Dr.Paul Brand's years of working in a colony of Leprosy patients. How the absence of pain leads to desensitivity and death. We willingly mask pain to avoid another kind of pain, but end up worse off. 

"Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God.
For a spirit of harlotry is within them.
And they do not know the Lord."
Hosea 5:4

Our deeds lead us away from God. Our unfaithfulness to Him...because we think we know Him, but don't. Knowing Him is everything. Nearness is the blessing. Of course, He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us...but within that promise is a measure of closeness. We can be in a relationship with someone that will never change, but the quality of it does.

If I am experiencing distance from God, maybe He has drawn back form me...taking a time out...because I am not seeing Him as He is or my deeds are betraying Him. I'm still His, but our relationship is broken. 

Return to His precious side by truly seeking Him.



 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

He Is.

"God is not who you think He is,
He is who He says He is."

What a timely thought.
I would be so upset if someone tried to redefine me. If people went around claiming to know me, then described me inaccurately, saying I love to watch sports, have bleach blonde hair and am a high life city girl. That's just not me at all. Misrepresenting people is extremely important these days, it seems....except when it comes to Jesus. We have raised the human being...at least the born ones and the ones not in nursing homes...to god level. Worshiping the created rather than the creator. Our end games is to please the person, whatever makes them happy, regardless of what the creator thinks. Happiness is a trick and a trap. Perishable, and unreliable. God is sculpted from your own lump of clay...everyone's image is different. God is not multi-personalitied any more than you or me. We are unique, definite and knowable...so is He. 

No one has to accept who He is, but we certainly have to be made aware. I'm not the convincer, just the messenger. I don't have a magic wand to wave over people so they can see the real Jesus, but I do have a voice, a Bible and a heart that loves people enough to share Him. Christians are a dime a dozen who will tell you Jesus loves you and that He wants to help you forever, but few will share all of Him...even the parts you might not like. Yes, Jesus has personality traits that might not be like yours.

 Ever notice that diamonds are often displayed on a black backdrop? That's because they sparkle better with the dark contrast. The good news is better and brighter in light of the bad news of our need. Refusing to tell people what God is really like, of their sin and need of a saviour waters down the good news...it just doesn't have the same effect. Who needs saved when there is nothing wrong with them? Do you think your religion is so attractive that people will trade their own autonomy for litergy and a rules list? I wouldn't. My love for who Jesus is was accelerated once I was face to face with my imperfections...that's a nice way to say 'my evil ways' or 'sinfulness'. Those selfless people who told me the hard truth, spread out the black stage for me, then layed the precious diamonds out on it. The sparkle was bright and beautiful. Still is.

I heard a very famous preacher being interviewed the other day. He said all the things that people want to hear, and are truish, but he intentionally hid the sin part of the good news and even twisted God's personality to make Him more sellable. It made me sad and sick. People don't need to hear that...it makes their situation worse and misrepresents God. No sparkling diamonds there, just dull, undervalued gems that won't be bought.

The bad news isn't so bad, when followed up quickly with the good news. Don't hide his traits you think people might not like. He's tougher than I am. He's more honest than I am and He is far more just than I would be. He's righteous and I am wrongeous....but He gave me His righteousness, and I would rather die than try to sculpt His righteousness to my own image. People have accused me of wanting to be 'right' all the time. Sounds bad...but really if that means being righteous, being right with God, in the truth..then I guess so, for God's sake ya, I need to be righteous...according to Him. A great preacher once said that if we hide who God really is in order to please men and avoid conflict, then truth is left lying slain in the streets. If truth dies, then we have nothing to live for...no hope. 

There is nothing harder and more precious at the same time, than a diamond. It's hard to live the truth of God today. His personality isn't politically correct today...but it's correct all right...sparkling. There are people out there who want it, need it and the message will get to them, if we trust and obey. Don't compromise...spread the black backdrop and present the sparkling diamonds. God will do all the selling Himself...He is who He is.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Clock Master

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Seasons are good. They are a kind of change that is good. Being someone who loves change, but realizing that faithfulness is better, I cling to the changes that are meant to be...like the seasons. Fresh then dirty Spring turns to Summer. Warm then busy Summer turns to Fall. Cozy then dead Fall turns to Winter. Pure then depressing winter turns again to Spring. Faithful AND changing...my need for mixing it up thanks you. It's good to realize that life has it's seasons too. Each one is meant for good and we shouldn't fight to stay in one or the other.

When life goes on too regular and predictable, I get sort of annoyed...itchy...almost tortured. I try to shake my head hoping that I'll see something different afterward. Changing the furniture around helps. Painting walls a new color, hair cut, day trip, anything to stimulate my mind out of it's sameness. When life changing news comes, good or bad, it seems to jump start my soul. I can breathe again. It's strange to me and I'm still trying to figure it out. A routine is comforting and I am mostly a planner, but occasional spontaneity is like cold water to the face when I am panicking from stillness.

I'm so glad for the verse "This too shall pass". I'm thankful for time...past, present and future. It's good to hold memories, wonderful to experience the present but even better to look forward to the future. With all that has happened and all that I am still going through, good and bad, I know my story will end well. The end of time will not be the nightmare movies are made of.

 "All things work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28

That makes the pages ok...fearless. I do worry about people I love...how their story will end, but that is out of my control, so I pray. Time is a gift and there is a time for everything under the sun. It moves forward on it's own, sun and moon in hand. We won't get stuck and it's not a race. The times are in His hands...safe and strong. How comforting to know we are being carried along by time unstoppable and divine! Knowing that nothing here will last, is good. The bad is temporary and the good will only be exchanged for better! The seasons and life events starting and stopping reminds me of this and I am grateful. Change can be very good if it is anchored in the Truth. An unchanging God that leads me through the changing seasons of life. Reliability and diversity wrapped together.

I'm not one of those people who says "where has the time gone!" or "they grew up too fast!". No...it seems like life is long and I'm always rushing to the next thing. I really want to stop this time urgency I struggle with. It's a stress I bring on myself....for no great reason. Yes, winter can seem to go on forever some years, but it always ends in spring, over and over again. It's true...the more years you live...the more winters you see come to an end...the easier it gets to wait it out. 

God always gives His children what they need and often what they enjoy too. He is a good Father!

He makes all things beautiful...in His time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Difference




Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why is there so much suffering in the world?
Why is depression and suicide so pervasive?

The disciples asked Jesus this question, in John's gospel, as they passed by a man, blind from birth. His answer was this:

"So that the works of God  might be displayed in him" (9:3)

If the power, love, healing and strength of God is as true as we say it is, then show it.

How can we show it without having something to overcome? Whatever suffering is ours to carry, it is there to show the world, or even just one person, the difference Jesus makes. If we handle it the same way the world does, in depression, substance abuse or any other kind of flesh feeding, we are wasting the pain and defeating the purpose. Our suffering is to display the power of God...the difference He makes. Second Timothy chapter 3 says that people, in the last days, will look the part, but there will be no difference in their lives to display the power of God:

"...holding to a form of godliness, but denying the power..." (3:5)

Everyone suffers. No one, Christian or otherwise, is exempt from pain. The difference should be the power of God to overcome that pain. If you are healed...to give Him the glory. If you are not healed....that his grace is sufficient for you...you have joy regardless. His presence in our lives should be enough to continue in His ways, even in suffering, with strength, joy and hope.  

Am I displaying the power of God in my suffering?
Do others see the difference God makes in pain?

Or am I just like everyone else...coping...settlement for momentary pleasures...using things of the world instead of the Almighty life giver?

The blind man answered the questions of the unbelieving synagogue leaders with this:

"If this man were not from God, he could do nothing"  (9:33)

So, they kicked him out.

It's not the answer people want to hear, but when you have been blind, and now you see, it's the only answer you can give. The difference is the evidence of the truth of God. You can reject it if you want...but the healed and the waiting will go skipping on their way...convinced and in joy...displaying the power of God.