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Thursday, February 28, 2019

WAITING ROOM PHILOSOPHY

Another small group member and I went Monday and sat with a dear friend and group member in the waiting room while her husband had surgery---14 hours of surgery.  It was a long day for her and we did our best to keep her spirits up, fears abated, and be a general distraction from the obvious~  her husband was having extensive surgery.   If you have never spent any extended period of time in an ICU or surgical waiting room, it is "Another World" experience.  A microcosm of community which will never be duplicated again.  Everyone in the room is there for one purpose, waiting for news.  In this particular hospital there was no room for private doctor consults following surgery, so everyone in the room heard the discussion once the doctor appeared to give an update.  Technology has provided for more private updates during the surgery via cellphone calls and texts, but the inevitable face to face conversation was on public display.  Thankfully by the time they finished our friend's surgery, we were one of the few left in the hospital, so as we stood in the hall to listen to the surgery outcome, there was no public to overhear this very private time.


As you recall, I recently took a friend's husband to have day surgery when she suddenly became sick.  This also involved a waiting room occasion.  Frankly, I am a people watcher, so reading a book or mindlessly staring at the television does not happen.  I am studying those around me and watching their reaction to time in the "Waiting Room."  If you want time to slow down, go sit in a hospital waiting room or for that matter any waiting room.  We are all guilty of impatiently waiting and are not particularly patient about the time spent sitting in anticipation of what we are waiting for.


Life is filled with "Waiting Room" occasions.  Waiting for the birth of a child is a great example.  Nine long months of change, growth, and anticipation of the blessed event.  Then in a matter of a few hours, life is changed forever.  Waiting to graduate from high school, college, boot camp or any other major milestone in life also comes to mind.  We spend a great deal of time waiting and preparing for our lives to take a major change by completing our course.  Waiting for career changes, home purchases, children growing up, grandchildren arriving~our lives are filled with time waiting for the next anticipated event.  We seem to be in life's waiting rooms a great deal of the time.  The final waiting room comes in our final years.  We are waiting for the last diagnosis, the announcement of our time remaining, or any other event which proceeds the final act.


What is more important than these life changing moments is how we are spending our time in the waiting room.  Are we so consumed with the next "big thing" that we forget to live in the moment?  Do we idle time away instead of using it to the fullest?  Do we live the abundant life while waiting?  The waiting room can be a huge waste of time and filled with doubt and chaos or it can be a productive period of time wisely spent.  There is more time spent waiting than experiencing the "moment".  The challenge becomes to live life abundantly--even in the waiting room.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life
and have it abundantly.
John 10:10



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

EVOLVING LOVE

I have been watching the PBS special, "Victoria".  The story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert has them with seven children in the episode I watched this week.  As with all love stories there have been rough patches.  Outside influences, including the queen's own sister, have conspired to estrange the two.  The challenge of ruling the British Empire during an emerging industrial age is huge.  Prince Albert was raised in a different culture on the European Continent.  Victoria was raised as the heir apparent to the throne by an ambitious and domineering mother.  The story has more twists and turns than a modern day soap opera.  Add to this a new baby every time one gets close to walking and you have all the ingredient's for a stress filled marriage.  The two have been at odds in the last few episodes, but tonight saw them realize they were still in love--but the love has changed and evolved with time, maturity, and change of circumstance.  



Most marriages have periods of stress and strife.  I would dare to say that most relationships are stressed at some point.  A counselor friend once told me that if couples will only just hang on they will make it through the rough patches and come out on the other side stronger than ever.  The true test of any relationship is the willingness of both parties to work through the bad times.  The closer we are to someone the more likely we are to become aware of differences of opinion and even disagreements over circumstances.  How important that relationship is to us is then tested as we do the difficult work of reconcilement.  There are times we have to agree to disagree and respect the right to have a differing opinion without it threatening to end our relationship.


With time comes a deeper and more mature love in any relationship.  When thinking of my friendships, I know those which have endured for a long time have matured and deepened over the years.  A mutual respect and admiration has grown into a deep and abiding friendship where ideas are shared and opinions are debated without threat of malice or withdrawal.  With time and familiarity, those relationships have reached a deeper level of understanding and affection.  Love is ever evolving.



So it is with our relationship with God.  As we spend time seeking Him, speaking with Him, and growing in Him, our relationship deepens.  The relationship I now enjoy with The Father is completely different from the one I had even a couple of years ago.  He has grown me and shown me wonderful things about Himself.  I have become more submissive and more dependent upon Him.  I have learned what to expect during the rough spots when life is difficult.  He has shown Himself faithfully to uphold me and provide my needs.  It is a beautiful thing to see how God has drawn me along the road to sanctification.  He is the most important and deepest relationship I have.  And the beautiful thing--though my relationship with Him is evolving--it is only drawing me closer to Him.  Evolving love is a beautiful gift of grace and mercy from The Very One Who Created Love and is Love--God the Father.

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
I John 4:16

Monday, February 25, 2019

BENEFITS OF THE TRAINER

I have been going to a trainer for a few months now in an effort to keep my hip going.  Bless his heart--he has helped BUT!



It started as a great relationship and THEN he wanted me to work.  It all began to go downhill when he assured me I could do whatever form of torture he had for the day.  I am pretty sure the man suffers from nightmares and all night indigestion---how ELSE could he dream up these methods of cruelty!

To make it even worse--he does NOT listen to my whining and "I can't's".  I tell you the man has NO mercy.  OH--he has some reason for everything we do, but my reasoning of why I should not do his plan does not go far.  It makes me question whether his momma raised him right.  He SURE doesn't listen to his elders!




The reward for my hard work is at the end of the session when he stretches my hip.  Even the reward has a cost!  He expects me to put my knee into my armpit and other such awkward positions.  I don't know about you, but I spend very little time with my knee in my armpit while on the floor.  BUT, when we (he) finishes the session, I walk out better every time.  And added bonus, I am stronger and able to do much more than I could when we first started.  I have a cumulative gain of greater strength.

You might call this a physical sanctification.  Through pain and suffering I am becoming stronger.  My endurance has increased.  With every session, I am able to do more the next session.  I know what to expect when the trail of the next session begins, but I also know I will not only endure, but grow after it is over.  Though I may laughingly give the trainer a difficult time, his insistence on my hard work is paying off.



So it is with God, He has us in the process of sanctification.  "The process of sanctification is progressive.  God grows and changes us from one level to the next instead of all at once."  Priscilla Shirer We endure pain, suffering, heartbreak, illness and all the other trials of life with a slow growth of assurance that God is at work in us.  He is faithfully by our side and loves us beyond our comprehension.  "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" Phil 2:12 was written for Believers.  Paul was telling these followers of Christ they needed  "to exert some effort, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in them, as part of their salvation experience."  We are growing spiritual muscle when we allow God to teach us and draw us closer.  AND--muscles have memory--it can be called upon when we once again are facing trails.

SO--WORK OUT your salvation.  Seek the Lord with all your heart and KNOW that He is God.


But if from there you seek the LORD your God,
 you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Sunday, February 24, 2019

NOT EVEN


NOT EVEN NOW

ARE YOU LESS

THAN ALMIGHTY GOD






YOURS IS ETERNAL GLORY

YOU ARE FOREVER STRONG



SABBATH BLESSINGS, DEAR FRIENDS!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019

GET YOUR SHOES ON

I am NOT a clothes horse--my closet is not filled to overflowing and I tend to wear those garments which I am most comfortable wearing over and over.  Shopping is not my favorite thing to do and in fact, is way down on the list.  I had almost rather go to the dentist.


I do not have books in my closet, but you get the idea.  

Shoes are not a big deal for me either.  What is MOST important is for the shoe to be comfortable and to not look like a stork on stilts when walking in them.  HOW do you walk in these??


What I do seem to have more of is my "work out" shoes.  There is a pair for the road, trail shoes, hiking shoes, weight lifting shoes, and the extra pairs of the road shoes which have seen a better day but can still be an alternate pair.  Then there is the rack with the recycled old road shoes which are now my garden shoes.  It is VERY important for stability, grip, form, and bio-mechanics to have the right shoe on for the right activity.  The shoe is my most important piece of equipment.  Taking a close second to that shoe is the sock I wear under the shoe.  It needs to have just the right support, be non-slipping, and moisture wicking.  My feet are essential to all of my activity and I try to take good care of them.

It is a sure sign of a worn out shoe (though they never look worn out) when my feet and ankles begin to get sore after my long walks.  The cushioning in the shoe is essential to absorb the shock of my heavy footfall.  Therefore I do not neglect or ignore the needs of my feet.  All forward motion will cease without the proper care of that which creates the motion.


I am preparing next week's small group lesson.  We are talking over the shoes of the gospel of peace.  The author makes a statement I LOVE,

"When you're wearing your daddy's shoes,
your footprints can start looking a whole lot like his."

She admonishes us to put on our Father's shoes and see the tracks of peace in our hearts and our relationships and experiences with others.  The proper footwear is essential for peace to rule in our lives.  Turmoil, drama, chaos, and strife all come from the enemy and he is out to steal our peace.  "A life without peace is simply unprotected, crippled, unable to move forward, hindered from maturing and developing in a healthy fashion.  

When we put on our Father's shoes, we experience the gospel of peace.  This peace spills over into our lives.  Even in the midst of pain, commotion, confusion, disappointment  instability we remain steadfast because we are walking with the Spirit given confidence, stability and steadiness.  "Our God can and will anchor your soul, tethering it to the security found in His gospel, the good news of His beloved Son."  Put on your shoes and walk in faith--KNOWING all things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

Since we have been declared righteous by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

Thursday, February 21, 2019

REDEMPTION STORY

I am always amazed when I see God working in my life.  At times it is the most unexpected of ways.

My blogging friend, Linda, lives far away in the frozen Northeast.  We met on the great waves of the Blogasphere and our friendship has grown over the years.  We share one most important identifying trait---a great love for God the Father and Jesus His Son.  Linda has a book club about once a month on her blog HERE.  As most of you know, I keep several books going at a time and am teaching the current Bible Study book.  So there is little time for extra reading.  I was intrigued with her choice of book and agreed to read this one~


C. S. Lewis is one of the modern day icons of the faith.  He prolific writings in a variety of genres has widely influenced young and old alike.  Frankly, I had him up on a pedestal.  Why wouldn't I want to read a book about his wife.  And then I started it.  Have you ever had a book that you picked up and put down repeatedly?  Declaring my anguish over the details of their relationship, I would put it down and promise I was finished.  The next thing I knew I would have it back in my hands needing to know if the story would ever redeem itself.  

After I finally finished the book I came away with several "take aways"~

C.S. Lewis had feet of clay just like the rest of us.
The relationship with Joy (his wife to be) began as an emotional affair.  As I have thought this over, I don't think there was even a concept of emotional affairs during the time period this happened.  We now recognize sharing intimacy of any kind with someone other than your spouse can be an emotional affair.  Throughout their relationship, Mr. Lewis maintained boundaries when it came to any type of physical relationship.  Clearly Joy yearned for this, but respected his clear reservations.  She was a married woman in a marriage with an abusive and alcoholic husband.  BUT she was married.  

I saw God's Word woven all throughout the story.
I thought of Job and his suffering and loss.  I remembered David, the one after God's Own Heart, who also messed up big time and not just once.  Bathsheba also jumped off the pages as I remembered the tragedy of the loss of her baby. And finally Moses came to mind as I reflected upon his not being allowed to go to the Promised Land.  All that wandering around, arguing with the stubborn people, putting his life on the line and he does not step one foot into the land promised because of his disobedience.  All of these suffered consequences of their actions.  

God answers prayers.
After Joy's diagnosis of terminal cancer, Mr. Lewis prayed he could take her pain.  He was then struck with his own debilitating disease.  Joy, in the mean time, was in remission.  They had three years together before she finally passed away.

Redemption clearly works it way into the story.
God is in the redemption business.  He desires to redeem our stories.  This does not mean we will not endure the consequences of our sin.  A Grief Observed was written after the tragic death after a brief marriage to Joy. It is a testament to the intense loss of his great love endured by Mr. Lewis.  

God gives us a free will.
God knew how this story would play out, but he did not intervene and stop the relationship.  This could have possibly called into question one of last century's greatest Christian writers.  God allowed it to happen.

God uses the unexpected.
C..S. Lewis was not a believer until he had a Paul like experience.  Interestingly enough, Joy had a similar experience and she was born Jewish.  What a duo!  There was never any doubt in my mind that they both loved God.  No matter what their relationship, God can still use the words of a great writer to influence countless others for years to come.  In my lifetime, C.S. Lewis is perhaps the most quoted Christian writer beyond the Bible.

I am glad I finished the book and will continue to ponder the lessons for some time to come.  There is no doubt we all have done things which cloud our witness and bring into question our faith.  BUT GOD---the Great God of the Universe--he is in the business of redemption.

2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—
 those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
Psalm 107:2

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

HOLD ON!

When I am in the gym, if I have my head below my heart for a period of time I am usually in trouble.  When I return to upright, my head is going to spin for a brief period of time.  Perhaps I am working my muscles so hard the blood flow has been diverted from my brain (I seriously doubt this--Slacker is my middle name).  Perhaps my blood pressure was low and the result was a little vertigo.  Perhaps I am getting old---I refuse to admit it!



For whatever the reason, a sure cure is to stand still and breathe deeply.  It does not take long for the world to slow down and finally stop.  The trainer told me one of the weight machines causes him to become dizzy every time he uses it.  He never pops all the way back up, but instead stays on his knees until the world has stabilized. Today he told me that one of the other weight lifters commented upon how spiritual he was while he waited for the world to stop spinning while on his knees.  He repeated the story with a great laugh at the misconception he had caused being on his knees.



AHA!  Perhaps if we all spent a little more time on our knees talking with the Father our worlds would stop spinning.  Perhaps you do not suffer from this, but some days I am totally off balance and the world seems to be off kilter.  I am so busy holding on to keep from toppling over that it never occurs to me to go to my knees to regain perspective.  Time spent in the gym is never wasted and time on my knees is time well spent.  A little knee workout every day might be just the ticket to make this world stop spinning!


26 "Or, you may fall on your knees and pray - to God's delight! You'll see God's smile and celebrate, finding yourself set right with God.
Job 33:26








Tuesday, February 19, 2019

RAIN ~RAIN GO AWAY!!

It has been a LONG WET fall and winter.  Starting tomorrow we have another five days of rain coming with an expected total for those five days to exceed five inches.  My back yard is so "squishy" I have not been able to begin construction on my ark.  I may be forced to rely upon the borrowed kayak in my garage.  Unfortunately this is a ride on top kayak.  This means I WILL get wet!


The only problem with my plan, I can conceive of, is if my niece wants her kayak back.  I live three doors down from her---this is a distinct possibility.

Personally I prefer the rain to come in measured doses.  This deluge will eventually lead to a L O N G ~ H O T summer with little to NO rain.  WHY can't the rain come according to my plan?  Let's say raining once a week and no more than an inch at a time--year round.  This should keep the grass happy and the mud to a minimum.  Louisiana gumbo mud is another topic for another day.  Let me just tell you quick sand looks like a wimp compared to gumbo mud.


Why doesn't God set the rain to fall like I set my sprinkler system?  It goes off three times a week for a determined period of time in the early morning hours to not interfere with daylight activities.  The slow and measured method of watering is preferable and allows for optimum grass growth.

We were reminded of the beauty of slow and relentless spiritual growth by the High Reverend Sunday.  Spiritual growth is not explosive, not flashy, and not instantaneous.  It comes over a long period of time in small and consistent acts of  pursuing God.  Those small ordinary moments of faithfulness on a day by day basis lead to a deep and sustained relationship with God.  The "Little Big Things" of showing up faithfully in the pursuit of a deepening love of The Father.
There is no forty days and nights of flood, but instead the slow but steady streams of mercy pouring over us day after day.  How beautiful our garden will grow with day by day showers of his love and mercy.

Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them,
 so that your progress will be evident to all.
I Timothy 4:15

Monday, February 18, 2019

BOUNDARIES

With all this talk about building fences and country boundaries, my mind has wandered over to the "personal boundary" territory.   I wouldn't touch the building a fence question with a ten foot pole.  Suffice it to say, my entire back yard is fenced so tightly you cannot see any of the neighbors, but somehow the varmints still are able to get in.  THAT IS ALL I intend to say about that, so save your comments.  



I strongly suspect we all have at least one of those individuals in our lives who invade our personal space when we try to have a conversation with them.  You know the type--they plant their feet toe to toe with yours and you begin to wonder if you are having a conversation or a dental exam.  It is so distracting to have someone inches from your face that it is almost impossible to pay much attention to what they are saying while staring at their nose hairs.  You begin to wonder if your are breathing in their carbon dioxide while they are taking all the oxygen out of the air.



And then there are those individuals in our lives who know no boundaries when it comes to asking personal questions.  I am usually so shocked to be asked "None of Your Business" questions that I stand there with my mouth unhinged.   It takes me a minute to come up with the quick comeback.  Somehow the quick comeback looses much of its effect when you are late with the delivery.




We all tend to put up boundaries around ourselves in some form or fashion.  Boundaries we do not want crossed--under any circumstance.  Those boundaries are usually  "self-preservation" tactics.  It is always a boundary in a relationship with another.  In an effort to protect ourselves we install invisible walls with large "NO TRESPASSING" notices all over them.  The price you pay for not allowing any trespassing is a less than honest relationship.
This crew LOVES to get in Lulu's personal space.  This is one instance I do not mind being crowded in on.


As I thought over the boundaries we place around ourselves, I began to consider how we make a futile attempt at placing boundaries between us and God.  You know all those areas where we think "I'VE GOT THIS!"  Thinking we are handling what ever the circumstance, we take God out of the equation.  We are busy planning every step of our life and God is up there laughing at our futile attempts.  We do not want to admit we are dismal failures at this planning business and His Way is always the best way.  So we do not turn EVERYTHING over to God, we place boundaries around ourselves.  We even place a boundary around old hurts, past grudges, deep seeded hatred, and on and on ---we don't seem to want to allow God to take them from us--instead we like to lick our wounds and fuel our anger--forever!  

Here is the truth about it.  God is rolling His eyes at our attempts to place boundaries between Him and us.  He knows our most intimate thoughts and understands us better than we could ever even understand ourselves.  Our trite attempts at placing boundaries between us and God is about as effective as me keeping the varmints out of my backyard.  He sees us---He knows us---He loves us---take down the boundaries--throw open the door and give Him it all.  You KNOW the plans He has for you!

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; 
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
 in the night also my heart instructs me.
 I have set the Lord always before me;
 because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 16:5-8

Sunday, February 17, 2019

MY JOY


TO THIS I HOLD

MY SHEPHERD WILL DEFEND ME

THROUGH THE DEEPEST VALLEY

HE WILL LEAD ME




BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

SEARCHING FOR HOME

I have wonderful memories from my childhood of hours spent playing games such as "Red Rover", "Tag", "Kick the Can","Mother, May I", "Chase"  among others.



Many of these games involved trying to get to home base.  As a child, I was quite fast and did very well at these games.  It was always wonderful to arrive at "Home Base" though and be "Safe".  While you were out running in No-Man's Land, you were fair game for the other players.  None us us wanted to be caught far from home!


In six years, I moved four times.  Thinking this over, I realize I have been searching for a home all of this time.  My first move was from the family home where I spent thirty years.  Many happy memories are tied to that house.  I never speak with anyone who visited during those years who does not also have fond memories of the house in the woods.  It was the perfect family home.



I have come away from each successive house with something learned, but the big lesson concerns my heart.  The house did not necessarily make a home.  There are wonderful memories of parties, holidays, small groups, visits, and the day to day living in the family home, but time has marched on.  Many of my friends are still in the homes they raised their children in and I understand why.  The physical presence in the place so much history was lived is comforting.  All of them are like me though -Empty Nestor's and the memories associated with the house are our history.  It would be wonderful to share the house their parents grew up in with my grands, but the pictures and stories will have to suffice.  A good friend recently commented "Look at your past, but don't stare at it."  Exactly!  The house is not where the memories are stored, they are stored in my heart.

So why all the moves in such a brief period of time?  I think I was looking for the home of the past.  That home is only in my memories.  My children are all grown and gone and I am living alone.  I am in a new season and life has changed from the frantic days of career and child rearing.  My hours are filled with volunteering, church, family, and friends.  My home is always open to friends and family and regularly filled with laughter and talk, but it is not the home of the past.  Life has changed and with it my definition of home has morphed.  Home is truly where my heart is--be that in a house, talking with a friend, with a group, reading with a child, spending time with family, or taking a walk in the great outdoors.  Wherever my heart is currently--that is my home.  

At this point, I look forward to residing in my final home--my heavenly home.  Until that day, I spiritually sit with the Father and His Son in the Heavenly Realms, but my earthly body resides in Ruston.  I have learned I may never feel truly "At Home" here on this terrestrial ball again, but I have finally learned to be content with where I am.  Until the final move, I will bloom where I am planted.

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Phillipians 4:12-13

Thursday, February 14, 2019

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

My mother was always insistent that unless I could be in on the beginning of a trend it was best to not jump on the bandwagon in the ninth inning.  For this reason I am announcing today


I AM NOT RUNNING
FOR THE OFFICE
OF
PRESIDENT OF THE
 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

For certain I am one of only a few of the scores of Americans who has not announced they will be running for the office.  


Politics is a dirty business these days.  You are placing yourself on the judgement seat for the entire country and will be exposed to the entire world for every mistake, mis-spoken word, stupid remark, and any other politically incorrect thing you have ever done.  Not only that, but you are also exposing your entire family to the same microscope of discovery.  It is truly beyond me why ANYONE would want to run for president. 

Add to that your own party (political family) will fight, bicker, name call, and attack every thought you have ever considered having during the race. For the months leading up to the primaries and continuing until the last person standing, your political family will do their best to destroy your reputation and attack your integrity.

Then we have the party conventions and we all kiss and make up and join together for a few rounds of "Kum Ba Yah."  Only those with thick skin could possibly act like they like each other after the months of debasement and ridicule.  I have noticed that seldom is one of the "Other Runners" chosen to be the running mate.  Perhaps there are some lingering hard feelings!  But for the sake of politics, we all join hands and attack the new enemy--those in the other party!

And then we have another round of announcing to the world every flaw and incorrect thought each candidate has every had.  Speaking of pulling back layers, this is not introspection but inspection by those who are delighted to pull back our layers and expose every moment of our entire life to the rest of the country.

What happened to the days of polite agreement to disagree?  When did it become the norm to campaign by attack?  I enjoy healthy debate, but this is not debate this is all out frontal attack.  We do not seem to be able to debate with respect anymore.  Gone are the days of sticking to the issues and hands off families.  All is fair and fair is a moving target on a downward spiral.

All of this serves as a distraction from that which is eternally important.  The media loves to whip us all up into a frenzy of hatred.  When our eyes are turned toward man, they are off Jesus.  The love we profess as Believers is put on the back shelf when it comes to the opposing political party.  What a sad state of affairs.  

This is my last political statement for this year.  About once a year I forget and step into the cess pool of politics.  Forgive my momentary lapse into that which is temporal.  I am back to the eternally important--Jesus.

OH, And HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

27 “But to you who are listening I say:
 Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
 If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
 30 Give to everyone who asks you,
 and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? 
Even sinners love those who love them.
 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you,
 what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment,
 what credit is that to you? 
Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, 
and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.
 Then your reward will be great, 
and you will be children of the Most High, 
because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Matthew 6:27-36

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

THE CASE FOR INTROSPECTION

There is a commercial for a local hospital on television for a 3-D mammogram.  Standing in a tight group are several nurses and they begin to talk about the special test they have which peels back the layers of tissue looking for the hidden cancer cells which might be lurking inside.  As the commercial continues the women begin to leave the group until all you see is the one woman with a pink smock instead of white.  They are demonstrating how the test slowly peels back the layers until the hidden enemy is found.  What a great concept to explain how the test finds the unwelcome cells.   I found this similar commercial on YouTube.



Until you begin to peel back the layers, you have no idea what is compromising the cells contained within the patient.  Layer after layer must be exposed and examined when trying to determine the wellness of the body.

Recently I read an article about dying to self and began to search for how we manage to do this.  After mulling it over, I decided until we know who we are and why, it would be difficult to leave our old self behind and become a new creature in Christ.  Our third week of our Small Group study addresses the heart and soul of who we are.  The four parts of the soul are:

the mind-your thoughts
will- your ambitions
emotion- your feelings
conscience-your moral compass

"When Scripture speaks of your heart, it's referring to the intersection of these four internal characteristics.  The heart is the centerpiece of the soul." Priscilla Shirer  The very essence of who we are not physically but the all important "What's on the inside."

We must begin to peel the layers back of who we are based upon all the external factors which have influenced us to understand what we are trying to leave behind.  As if we are peeling back the layers of an onion, we must slowly expose each and every layer to understand the whole.  Until we have exposed all the worldly influences which have impacted our beliefs and behaviors, how are we to change?  How are we to begin our journey of sanctification?   A good friend often says, "We need to get free of all of that!"



Thus the need for my months of introspection.  Without realizing why, I knew I needed to discover who I was.  I have dug deep and made discoveries that helped pull the pieces of the puzzle together.  Understanding my actions and reactions has come with my discovery of the inner workings.  Until I understand the one I am leaving behind, how will I truly put on my new self in Christ?  My heart yearns to know Him in a deeper and more intimate way.  How better to begin than to understand where I am starting from and what I need to turn away from.  


For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

MY OPINION -FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH

NOT a huge fan of the news, I can only endure short bursts before I am clicking the remote.  I have noticed there seems to be a new trend today of uncovering every foolish thing people in the spotlight have ever done.  There is no grace for the indiscretions and stupidity of youth.  Assault is one thing, but stupidity is completely different. The latest one I noticed is for inappropriate choices in the late 1960's.  In case you are not a math person, that would be 50 years ago.  NOW, I am NOT excusing bad behavior, but I am wondering how many of us could survive the revelation of every bad choice we ever made?  I can assure you I do not want to dredge up some of my personal choices from my mid to late teens.  

No credit is given for the following decades of good.  The one choice in your late teens, in a totally different culture, is not to be excused.  We are trying and convicting and demanding punishment by banishment from public eye without a blink of an eye.  No thought is given to how we might have acted during our "stupid years".  We all just want just punishment for the guilty.  



I seem to remember a great story in The Word, from the eighth chapter of John, about a young woman who was brought before Jesus.  Her accusers were demanding punishment for her sin.  As he stirred the dirt, he requested the one who had not sinned to begin her punishment.  The posse of righteous citizens slowly walked away.  When she was asked where her accusers were, she told Jesus they had all gone away.  He then told her to also leave and sin no more.

SO, I am saying to you, until the accusers are willing to stand under the microscope of righteous examination, I am not listening to all of this.  It is another political game bent on destroying.  What happened to grace?  Is there any willingness to hear the other side of the story?  Are we all to be held accountable for every bad choice and mistake we have ever made.  Are we willing to extend the same forgiveness that has been lavished upon us?

As I thought all of this over, I was reminded that God has forgiven and forgotten my bad choices.  I am so certain of this that those bad decisions do not even come to mind.  The sins of my youth have been removed as far as the west is from the east.  Grace was extended and the slate wiped clean when I called to Jesus.  Why then should they be a topic of conversation over fifty years later?

This is NOT up for discussion.  I am expressing my opinion for what it is worth and I refuse to get into a political debate.   I am asking for you to take the politics out of it and consider if this was your father, your grandfather who was standing accused.  What judgement should he receive? 


For if you forgive others for their transgressions,
 your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
Matthew 6:14