Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Blessings....New Life

Hooray! It’s spring! The earth is stirring again...abounding with life is more like it. Brand new life is emerging everywhere we look, even within the quiet habitations of pastures and forest where only wild eyes see. What an exuberant time of year spring is!

Spring is all about new life. Spring is a time for rejoicing!

Easter is also a time for new life and rejoicing!

Have you ever wondered why Christ had to die? It’s because we can’t do anything about our sin...because no matter how many good things we do, they cannot out weigh our sin.  Christ was the sacrifice, the lamb without spot that was offered for the sins of mankind.

But the grave could not hold Jesus.  He rose from the grave, the victor over sin and death, giving us hope for eternal life through him.

I love spring.  I love the warmth, the bight flowers.  I love the lacy appearance of the trees as their leaves begin to unfurl. I love working with my hands in the warm soil. There is a truth I witness every spring. When I plant a seed in the ground, it dies, ceases to exist, but from it a new life emerges. It’s a truth that God wants us to see and understand.  Where once we were helpless because of sin, we, like the seed, can have new life…all made possible because of Christ’s sacrifice and victory over the grave.

That is what Easter is about. It's what God shows us every spring.  No wonder even the flowers seem to shout His praise!

Matthew 28:5-6 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified, He is not here: for he is risen.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blessings...the comfort of the Holy Spirit

I seem to need to be comforted a lot.  I worry about my family, not excessively, but still their health concerns me. As a family we do have a number of health related issues. Most times that is the reason I need to be comforted. Sometimes though, I am on the receiving end of criticism.  I tend to respond to that by generalizing and thinking I'm a failure...in everything.  I need comforting then too.  I am sensitive, not overly so, I have a little bit of a temper too, but still I function pretty well in my varying roles. Life can be difficult sometimes.  And then I think about people I know who really do have problems and I chastise myself.
That all aside, I am so grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. When I get down or angry or hurt, I ask God for grace, wisdom, for forgiveness and to be able to forgive.   Then I wait and watch for His supply.  Somehow through the work of the Holy Spirit my needs are met. My spirit is lifted and I can forge ahead with life.  I am helped and strengthened. I am blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit and very thankful for it.

Jesus said... John 14:16-18 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; who the world cannot recieve, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless;I will come to you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blessings ....Our All Powerful God

My Blog description focuses on the blessings of knowing God.  To date I have not really written about that.  Today will be my first in what will hopefully be a little series.
I am blessed and take great comfort in knowing that God is all powerful while I, on the other hand am pretty much helpless....at least in the critical issues of life.
For example,  our family is fragile and very vulnerable.  Three of our children, (now adults) were born with Wilson's disease.  Wilson's is a defect of the liver in which copper is not removed from the body.  It accumulates throughout the body including the brain, eyes, joints and organs.  It can present with neurological symptoms such as slurred speech, slack jaw, and small motor coordination.  These were the symptoms our oldest son presented with when he was 11 years old.
Undiagnosed, the disease is devastating and lethal.  It commonly causes liver failure that results in the need for liver transplant.  That is what happened to our daughter this past May.
But God was with us.  In fact he had been preparing me for this trial.  For some months prior to her liver failure I had the feeling that something was going to happen.  I had no idea what it would be or who was going to be affected.  I didn't necessarily think it would involve our family specifically.  At the same time I had a feeling that whatever it was, it was going to be okay.
On May 5th 2009, the day of her initial hospitalization, I had being feeling that God was very near, comforting me, guiding me...even though I had no idea a storm was on the horizon.
During the trial of her illness we felt God's presence and comfort.  Prayers were answered, Needs were met.
On Thursday May 7th,she was ranked number one on the transplant waiting list, so critical was her need.  On Saturday, May 9th a liver became available.
We had prayed for the right liver for Melissa, in God's time.  Our prayer was answered.
A liver for transplant must pass numerous tests.  It can be in flight to the recipients hospital and still be undergoing tests and awaiting results. The liver for Melissa passed all the tests. The rest is history.  Twenty days after her surgery Melissa was released from the hospital, still a long way from full recovery but strong enough to go home to her family.  Now nine months later, she is vibrant and full of energy.
My point is that God is merciful.  He is faithful.  He is all powerful. 
I am not a bastion of emotional strength and yet I was strong throughout Melissa's ordeal.  That wasn't me.  That was God through his Holy Spirit strengthening me, comforting me, reminding me of verses of comfort and promise from His Word and hymns of praise and promise and giving me a song to sing.
God's power was fully evident in us and during our time of need.  When we were our weakest, God was strong!   I am blessed by knowing that even though our family is fragile and vulnerable, in Christ we are strong!  

1 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Following the Crowd

I have noticed a tendency among  Christians today to follow the example of the world in a number of areas.  I think caution should be advised here.  It is so easy to be influenced by the world.  Our deceitful hearts will trick us into thinking we are doing okay when really we are becoming weak. Also, whether intentional or not we are influencing our peers to follow along creating a trend that weakens many thereby affecting the Church as a whole. .
Here are a couple of things I have noticed.
Instead of time honored, doctrine infused hymns, we are listening to and singing choruses...which is okay. Frankly I enjoy them.  I find them worshipful but... they do not strengthen me according to knowledge. Knowledge of the scriptures is the most important thing for a Christian. Choruses have a place, I believe, in our services but should not supplant the use of hymns totally.  When you go through trials it is a blessing to be able to sing a hymn to the Lord.  The rich lyrics remind us of promises from God's Word and are very comforting.  If we don't sing them enough to learn them, we won't have that as a resource when we are in need.  Think about the children and teens who are growing up on the diet of music being offered in our services today.  Will they be able to sing the rich hymns of our faith to themselves when they need some encouragement?

Instead of adhering to strictures about what we allow through our ear and eye gates, we attend the R rated movies and listen to contemporary music just like everyone else. Oh, the things that we see on those screens. I love motion pictures as an art form.  But while movies can be extremely beautiful, and moving much of what Hollywood produces falls short of uplifting. Are we any different from our unsaved friends in this area?

Drinking and smoking: Yes, I understand that Jesus drank wine. But we have to be careful. An occasional drink with a meal is okay even, some would say, healthy.  But social drinking is highly questionable.  What is the purpose?  Isn't it to fit in with contemporaries? To look like them?  Aren't we the ones who are supposed to be different?

 It's the same with the issue of dress.  Sometimes we dress just like people who have nothing better to wear.  Isn't there something worth dressing up for? Isn't God good?  Isn't he worthy of honor and respect?  Don't we show that in the way we dress? Would you wear holey jeans to meet the president of your company or to a wedding?  Isn't there a balance that can be achieved to the end that we don't make visitors in church feel uncomfortable but at the same that defines us as being different and desiring to  show honor and respect to God?

And now it's okay to smoke cigars. That's really crazy to me. There are significant health risks with this.  Even if you are not inhaling...what about the second hand smoke that lingers in the air that our children breathe?  What about nicotine addiction?  What example is being set for our children? If our children perceive that we allow these liberties in our lives, you can bet they will take it a step further and we won't have a leg to stand on  to counter their arguments.

Remember the story of the frog in the pot?  Because he is cold blooded (insensitive, not knowledgeable), when the water is heated, he is totally unaware that he is about to be cooked!

Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7:13,14

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

White As Snow

As I look out my windows at the white, clean snow and enjoy its beauty I am reminded of Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..."

The Bible talks about sin.  It tells us "All have sinned..." Romans 3:23  and .... "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23.  "Death"  meaning eternal separation from God.  Isn't that something to take seriously?

The Bible also tells us that "Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us..."Romans 5:8,  It says  "...as many as receive him, to them gave he the power to become the sons (and daughters) of God...." John 1:12  God provided the solution to our sin problem.

My concern  is for people who call themselves Christians but live as though there is no God,  no final authority about life and how to live it, no right and wrong, no standard for living.

First let me say that I am grateful that when I was young someone told me about my sin and Christ's sacrifice for me. I accepted Christ as my personal savior and forgiveness for my sins.  I am so grateful that my sins are made white as the snow by my faith in Christ and daily repentance.  I know there is nothing I can do to earn eternal life.  If I had to work my way to Heaven my gut would be tied in a knot all the time because,
1. I cannot live a sinless life and
2. I cannot do enough good to even remotely make up for or cover my sin.
This doctrine of faith in Christ and salvation through him is the defining factor of my life. 

Based on this, I am burdened for those who take for granted that because they go to church and believe in God that they are saved from the eternal punishment that the Bible tells us of.  Despite this many live their lives the way they wish, profaning God's name and ignoring the precepts of His Word.  Don't they know better?

I wonder how can one say they are a Christian and take God's name in vain when the Bible says "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."?
How can one say they are a Christian but ignore His Word and go along with our culture that tells us it's okay to be sexually active outside of marriage? Scripture tells us that God ordained marriage Genesis 2:24, and to "Flee fornication." 1Corinthians 6:18,19.
How can one say they are Christian and be profane in their speech?  Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth..."

Hmm... God's Word also tells me to have "bowels of mercies." Colossians 3:12.

I am admonished. The truth is that many who live with disregard for God's Word probably do not know His Word... even church goers.

Whose fault is that?  Isn't it the fault of pastors who don't preach the full counsel of the scriptures? Isn't it the fault of Christian parents who don't implement God's assignment for the family by fulfilling their obligation to bring their children up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" Ephesians 6:4?  Isn't it the fault of those of us who know what the Bible says and are reluctant to stand up and speak out?  Yes, yes and yes.

So... the people who frustrate me, the ones who claim to be Christian but who live as though they aren't... probably AREN'T.

God's Word reminds me...  I have a purpose.
I have a command to obey.

'Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."  Matthew 28:19
Father, please give me the strength and the will to obey you.  Please give me the words to write and to say so that others' can see and receive Christ and so their sins can be as "white as snow".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Family Time

We had a sweet time with our family this weekend. Three of our five children plus 3 grandkids were here to help celebrate their Dad's birthday. I love spending time with my loved ones and being a part of their lives. I thank God they enjoy coming home.
I fixed some birthday fare, including carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. So good. Then we played Farkle, Ker Plunk and Bopit and watched UP together. There was time for talk too.
I thank God for the relationships we have with our children. The groundwork based on Biblical principles was laid while they were little and through the teen years. Even today it takes effort and wisdom to keep our relationships strong. I think of so many families that are broken having followed the "wisdom of the world". It is so easy to stray from God's way but the blessings of walking closely with Him are too many to number. Psalm 40:5 "Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward; they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Was That You Talking God?

For the past few weeks we have had a visitor in our adult Sunday School class. She has been coming with her sister and brother in law.
During her first visit she indicated that she was going through a difficult time right now, but she gave no details. As usual I didn't give it much thought, didn't take time to speak to her.
But she has continued to come. She participates in class answering questions brought up for group discussion.
Still it has been a number of weeks and until today I had not taken the time to introduce myself. I wonder how she felt about that? Did anyone else take the time to talk to her? Honestly I didn't notice anyone doing that.
Today, however, she contributed an answer to a question which in my mind showed me how much she is searching and how much she is leaning on God and the Church...the body of believers who are supposed to:
Love one another (John 13:34)
Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
Carry one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15)...and a whole lot of other "one anothers".

And then she asked a question. Not a question that the teacher would have studied in preparation for the lesson. Nonetheless it needed to be answered. The teacher responded with a general thought. I added some direction and one other person chimed in with some valuable input. So it was...sort of answered...and we went on.
Did anyone realize that she was really asking for some concrete answers? Did they notice that she was honestly seeking direction?
We don't see that very often... honest seeking and transparency. It can easily be missed.

I thought to myself, we are treating her as though she is a mature Christian, as though she knows where to go in the scriptures to find this answer.
She was being overlooked and her need is not being met as well or as thoroughly as it needs to be.

Was that you God?
She needs some encouragement?
She needs someone to teach her?
She needs someone to show they care?
Me, Lord?
You are My voice, my hands, my arms, my feet while you live on the earth.

So after Sunday School dismissed I went and sat down beside her. We chatted for a while. I apologized for not remembering her name and introduced myself. I asked a few questions.
I know her name now and she knows mine. I know a little bit about her situation and some needs that she has. I can pray for her and feel comfortable with her.

I believe she left Sunday School with a smile today, feeling a little encouraged, maybe a little more hopeful.
I feel better too!
It wasn't hard.