Saturday, April 30, 2011

Reflections On The Royal Wedding

Millions of people attended the Royal Wedding of William and Kate this week.  Some witnessed it in person, some via the television or internet.  I must say that I was one who chose to watch the recaps and get a good night sleep.  Still, it was fun to see the young couple celebrate an obviously joyous occasion.  My thoughts quickly drifted away from England though as I envisioned another celebration.  This celebration will be one where all of heaven will be in attendance and my Father God will be hosting the shindig.  William and Kate's wedding suddenly pales in comparison.

It doesn't seem by accident that I read Luke 14 this weekend... "The Story of the Great Feast".  Jesus is enjoying a meal with some Pharisees and one proclaims, "What a privilege it would be to have a share in the Kingdom of God!" (verse 15)  I totally agree!  What a privilege it is to be invited into God's house and to be received as royalty, as a child of the King!  Just imagine it.  It is our own Cinderella story.  The King chooses a commoner like me and clothes me in royal robes.  Then He rejoices over me as a bridegroom does his new bride.  What a day that will be!

You have been invited to this feast too.  Have you accepted His invitation?  Are you rejoicing today that you are a child of the King?

Revelation 19:9
"Then the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' "

Isaiah 61:10
"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."

Isaiah 62:5
As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

 1 John 3:1
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Backwards Philosophy

Some people are just plain irritating! 
I had a comment on a posting that I placed on Facebook a short time ago and I just wanted to lash out and call the person who wrote it a “jerk!”  He insulted me after all.  He had it coming to him, right?  My next thought was to remove that person from my “friend” list.  I didn’t need to be bothered by him anymore.  Just then I heard a little voice telling me that I needed to calm down.  How like God to speak in a still small voice.  Then He reminded me of a familiar passage in Luke chapter 6.  It teaches some interesting concepts like:

Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.  (Pray for their happiness.)
Lend without expecting repayment.
Give to anyone who asks.
When things are taken from you, don’t try to get them back.

These are NOT my natural tendencies!  It seems so backwards.  What person in their right mind would follow these instructions?  And why?  Christ said that there would be rewards for us in heaven if we do these things.  I am thinking that no reward seems worth all that trouble.  BUT, there is a greater motivation to follow His advice.  Christ alludes to it in the passage mentioned above.  He essentially says that loving the lovable is easy.  Everyone does that.  But loving the unlovable is a ‘God–thing’.  When we pray for those who hurt us (and not vengeful prayers mind you) then we reflect the character of God.  We identify ourselves as God’s children.  We represent our Father who loved us when we were unlovable (Romans 5:8).  We represent our Savior who prayed for those who put Him on the cross (Luke 23:34).  Is that enough motivation to “turn the other cheek” and give away the things we worked hard to posses?  If not, consider this.  When we implement “backwards philosophy” people will wonder why.  They may even ask questions.  Those questions provide the perfect opportunity to point them to our Savior.  What greater reward can there be than seeing someone in heaven and knowing that you played a part in helping them get there?  Now THAT sounds like a worthy cause! 

So next time someone irritates you, listen for that little voice and consider applying a little “backwards philosophy”.

(P.S.  If you are wondering about that facebook "friend",  he is still on my list - on probation!)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter -Part 2 Here's the Joy!

     Surely you didn't think I would leave Jesus on the cross all weekend!  The most wonderful truth we get to celebrate on Easter is that Jesus did not stay dead.  He is ALIVE!  He rose from the dead to prove that He has victory over death.  Our God raised His Son to life again, and He has the power to raise us from death to life as well. 

     If you are burdened over your sin today, God wants you to lay that burden down.  Just leave it at the cross.   Christ died to bring you forgiveness and freedom, and He rose to give you hope and new life!  If you ask God to take away your sin and you believe that Jesus' death is enough to cover it all, then you are redeemed, set free!  So don't walk around defeated today.  Live with the confidence that you are a child of the King!

           "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart
           that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  (Romans 10:9)

            "...because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the
            dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself."
           (II Corintians 4:14)

           "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great
            mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the
            resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..."  (I Peter 1:3)
           "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living
           in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your 
           mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you."  (Romans 8:11)

       I cannot end without singing another song today.  I pray that you will all experience the joy and hope of Christ's resurrection this weekiend.  HE'S ALIVE!

(The end of this song is the best part.  Wait for it!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Easter Thought - Betrayal

       What comes to mind when you hear the word “betrayal?”  Since it’s so close to Easter, you may have thought of Judas.  I’m thinking of another betrayal, though, that happened that very same night.  Jesus is in the garden, soldiers come to arrest Him, and what do the other eleven disciples do?  They run.  Peter tries to act brave, but he still disappears into the bushes leaving Christ alone, totally abandoned. 

      Betrayal comes in many shapes and forms. defines “betray” as: “to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to; desert.”  A synonym for “betray” is  “abandonment.”   In reality all the disciples were guilty of betrayal and I have been, too.  I have abandoned Jesus at times and I'm sure you can relate.  Picture it, a crowded room full of people who don’t believe as I do.  Someone says something that I know is contrary to God’s Word and I am silent.  I don’t want to “make waves.”  I don’t want to be the one everyone points at and whispers about.  I don’t want people to dislike me or make fun of me.  Satan would like me to believe that my saying something would not make any difference.  And the fact is that confrontation has never been my thing, so am I not “betraying” Jesus at this point?  I’m certainly disappointing Him and, in a way, “abandoning” Him.  I’ve never thought of myself as a betrayer, but I cannot deny the facts.  I don’t like that thought.  “Betrayal” is such a harsh word, one that I have reserved for only the worst of sinners.   Now I am thinking that it’s not so uncommon after all.  Consider a few more scenarios:

A high school student is ashamed to admit that she isn’t going to the dance because she has something going on at church.

A public school teacher is afraid to tell students that he believes in God and creation. 

A friend convinces another that it’s okay to not tell the “whole truth.”

A spouse or a neighbor doesn’t want to broach the subject of religion.

A cousin, sibling, or grandparent attends a family Easter gathering, colors eggs, hides baskets, and eats a big meal without ever acknowledging the real reason for the holiday.

      In essence, we betray Jesus every time we deny or disappoint Him. 
Ouch!  I think it’s time we stop pointing the finger at others and put our own name right up there with those whom we have judged to be ‘far worse.’  This Easter I’m going to remember that I put Christ on that cross and I’m going to celebrate God’s ultimate act of love and forgiveness that He made for me.

How are you going to celebrate Easter?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Faith – Is It Too Simple?

I am amazed at how easy our lives have become.  I told my husband the other day that I would never “make it” as a pioneer woman!  I just can’t picture myself making bread every day from scratch, going to the garden for all my vegetables, washing laundry by hand, making soap, and the like.  I have become so accustomed to luxury – life made easy.  Then; I read a story about a man whose life is not at all easy.  He is paralyzed and must rely on his friends to get him from place to place.  But that is not the part of the story that touches me the most.  What touches me is the extent that this man’s friends exert themselves to help him.  They carry him on a stretcher and wade in and out through a crowd so dense that they cannot see two feet in front of them.  Ultimately, they give up on their goal to go through the crowd and decide instead to go over it.  Have you read this story too?  These friends are so determined to bring their charge to see Jesus that they break a hole in someone’s roof and lower him down through it.  What lengths they wouldn’t go to!  My journey to find Jesus was so much easier than that.  In fact, I can meet with Him every morning by simply walking across my bedroom, switching on the light, and turning a few pages in my Bible.  How fortunate we are to have all that we need right at our fingertips! 

Yet for some, this is too easy.  To just read a book and believe what it says doesn’t seem like enough.  Surely the God of this world demands more than simple belief to “see” Him and be touched by Him. 

"I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 NAS)
“…but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise… so that no man may boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD.'"   (I Corinthians 1:27-31, NAS)

"Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.  Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.'"   (Matthew 18:2-3)

Are you thankful today that God didn’t make you jump through hoops to find Him?  I know I am! 
What better time than Easter to tell Him how thankful you are?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Picture of Progress

            A few years back, as a Christmas gift for my in-laws I arranged their family photos into albums.  It was a little tricky since I had not grown up in that family.  But for the most part, I could gauge the year of the photos by the apparent ages of the children in them.  I spotted clues like missing teeth, hairstyles, height, zits on the face, and braces.  Lucky for me, children change a lot from year to year.  I wonder, do I?  Granted, adults don’t change a great deal in appearance each year unless they lose or gain weight, but there are other ways we can change.  I wonder if we could see ourselves in a spiritual self-portrait every year, would we see an age progression? 

            A pastor once told me that the spiritual journey is an uphill climb – if you are not actively hiking up the mountain, then you are likely sliding down.  If that is true, then my portrait DOES change annually.  Sadly, some years I grow - and some years I shrink. 

            I recently read about a disease called Rett syndrome.  If a child  (usually a girl) is born with this disease, her parents may be totally unaware.  You see, a child with Rett syndrome will often grow and develop normally through certain milestones like sitting up, walking, talking, etc…  But by the time that child reaches toddler years, she will begin to regress.  Children with this disease can lose the ability to walk and talk, and may even become as dependent as they had been in their infancy.  It can be devastating for all involved.  I cannot imagine the pain parents must suffer watching their child slide backward on the developmental scale.  I wonder if it pains God the same way when I “slide backwards.” 

            “Let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. 
              Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.” 
(Hebrews 6:1 NLT) 

“Crave spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your 
salvation.”  (I Peter 2:2 NLT)

I am purposing today to climb that mountain!  I want to do all that I can to make sure that my spiritual portrait will show evidence of growth every year from now until eternity.  (But let’s take one year at a time.)

            How can I make this growth happen?  I need to be connecting with God on a regular basis through reading His Word and through prayer.  Big surprise, right?  We’ve all heard this perhaps a thousand times, but if you’re like me, you’ve allowed the pressures of life (and the pleasures of life) to squeeze your God-time out of your schedule again and again.  So, purpose today not to let that happen. 

A.)              Put a plan in place to meet with Him every day for at least 5-10 minutes.  It’s really not rocket science.  For some people it helps to make it the same time every day and even the same place.  It’s up to you.  If you have never read the Bible before, start slow.  Maybe read a Proverb a day or pick a gospel and start working your way through it.  (John is my favorite gospel.) 

B.)              Look for something God wants you to learn.  Here’s an acrostic that may be helpful:  SPEC
S – a sin to avoid (or confess)
P – a promise to claim
E – an example to follow
C – a command to obey

C.)              Write your lesson down and purpose to check back.  See how you are doing in a week or so.

This process has helped me tremendously.  I pray it will help you too.
Just remember that any progress is a good thing!  And, if you slide back a few steps in your climb, don’t beat yourself up.  Just start hiking again.  Remember that the goal is to see growth in your spiritual portrait, so keep at it.  Make your FATHER proud.

*For more suggestions on how to study the Bible for yourself, I recommend Priscilla Shirer's book, Can We Talk? Soul-stirring Conversations with God.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Think Before You Post

Have you ever seen a Facebook fight?  They're not pretty.  I'm ashamed to admit that I, myself played a part in one once.  The battle began with a good intention and came to an abrupt conclusion with someone deleting me as a "friend."  You know how it goes.  You read something and get offended.  You don't bother to call the person and talk about it.  Instead, you shoot back a "comment" which is met with another, perhaps more offensive,  "comment."  In the worst of battles,  this interaction takes place within a few short hours - maybe even minutes.  I was reading something in James this morning and I got to thinking, how would this look if it was posted on Facebook?  In particular, chapter 1, verse 19 stood out to me.  It reads, "My dear brothers and sisters, be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry."  Great advice for sure.  But I think James may have had another version of this verse for his posting.  I think it would've read, "... be quick to read, slow to post, and slow to get emotional."

James' advice about being slow to speak applies perfectly in a Facebook setting.  If we just take some time to consider what we read and give ourselves a chance to cool down a bit, we may discover that what we thought someone said wasn't really what they meant at all.  Or, we may find that the matter isn't even important enough to address.  Why do we think we need to make a comment?  Christ, in his earthly ministry, knew that sometimes it was better not to speak.  One day He jotted a few words in the sand and a riotous mob walked away.  On other occasions , a group of Pharisees approached Him purposing to start an argument and He posed a question and walked away again.  (Mark 8:11-13 and Mark 11:27-33)  Jesus never worried about what people would think of Him if He just walked away.  So why do we?  I think I would prefer to be known for saying nothing if the other option is to show up with egg on my face.  Wouldn't you? 

It's also important to note that God's wise instruction in Proverbs 15:1 ("A soft answer turns away wrath") cannot be "heard" over the internet.  Often the words we intend to say "softly" don't come across that way.  All the more reason to avoid confrontations using social media.  I'm not saying avoid confrontations altogether.  I'm simply saying that if you can do it face to face, or even over the phone, you are less likely to regret what you said. Just be sure to heed James' advice to listen first.  (And a little prayer certainly never hurts!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Playing Favorites?

Are you like me? Do you find yourself sizing people up when you meet them?

 “ She looks cool.”
 “ She doesn't seem to care much about her appearance.”
 “She must spend money like it grows on trees.”
 “I'll bet she shops for her clothes at the bargain basement.”
 “She thinks she's so smart. Could her head get any bigger?”
 “She’s likely never had to work a day in her life.”

Probably a day doesn’t go by before I've caught myself thinking at least one
judgemental thought. I take that back. Most days I don’t catch myself at
all. I just think it and sometimes act on it. Does it affect how I
interact with that person? You bet it does!

I remember a girl that I knew from my college days. She was naturally
beautiful - the kind of beautiful that you see in the magazines. She
was also extremely talented. She could play the piano flawlessly. To
make matters worse, she was actually smart! She usually held the highest
grade in the class on every test. I felt sure she was a snob. Even her
posture fit the part. Well, one late night I was studying for a test in
the basement of my dorm and she came down and started studying right next
to me. Then she spoke to me. Wow. She actually sounded like a normal
person. After an hour or so I realized that I had been all wrong about her.
In fact, her beauty, poise, and intelligence seemed to have worked against
her because she had very few friends. Most likely people had jumped to the
same conclusion I had and that made her untouchable. It's sad. Sometimes
I think we might be better off  blind. Then we would at least put everyone
on the same level as ourselves.

        “My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have
         faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some

         people over others?”  James 2:1

Ouch. I’ve definitely been guilty of that. Isn’t everyone?


Christ made no such distinctions. He chose Matthew, a tax collector, as one
 of his closest friends. Incidently, this was not the only tax collector to
 whom he had ever spoke. Remember Zacheus? In John chapter 8 Christ
defended a woman caught in adultery while the rest of the city wanted her
stoned. In John chapter 4 He spoke with a Samaritan woman and offered her
 life giving water despite the fact that she was living with a man who was
 not her husband and who was at least the sixth man in her life. What was
 the greater shock? She was a woman, a Samaritan (a people despised by the
 Jews), and what may have been considered in those days to be the town tramp.
 Christ was called a “friend of sinners”(Matthew 11:19). This was intended to
 be an insult. He didn't take it that way.

On the other hand, maybe it is easier to associate with the lower class,
 especially if that is where you find yourself. But we can see that He met
 with godly, powerful men as well. Nicodemus, a very important Jewish
 religious leader came to Jesus one day and Jesus treated him the same way as
 he had treated the rest (John 3). What way was that? He loved them. He
 served them. He thought of them as people whom God loved. And this is our
 mentor, our example to follow.

So what can I do when I’m having thoughts about others that place them in a
 lower rank than my own?
 - First, pray. We need God’s power to overcome any sin.
 - Second, fill my mind with Scripture to remind me of the truth. “There is
 none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10)
 “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16)
 “…in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves… Let
 this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form
 of God… made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
 servant…” Philippians 2:3-7
 - Third, purpose to treat them as you would yourself.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

Powerful words. Difficult challenge.
How are you doing?

In retrospect, I should know better. Over the years I have met numerous people who have become dear friends despite the fact that they dressed differently from me, came from a different tax bracket, wore big hair and nose rings, and had sordid pasts. I'm guessing you have met people like this, too. So next time you catch yourself  "sizing someone up,"  think about it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sweet Blessings

My daughter and I attended the Priscilla Shirer simulcast this weekend.  No one knows the joy of taking their daughter to a Christian women's event until they have been there.  I am so excited to see how God will use this in her life. 

Another blessing that God has given me over and over is how He confirms His Word and His work in so many ways.  A few days ago, I wrote my first blog in response to a contest.  My purpose was to give God a chance to send me to the She Speaks conference in NC if that was something He desired for me.  Sort of a fleece like Gideon used you might say.  The message of that blog was contentment, one close to my heart as of late.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a passion for speaking and for sharing the truth and application of God's Word.  But I've come to terms with the reality that that is not what God has for me right now (with the exception of my Children's Ministry teaching once a month - which I love.)  Anyway, the responses to my first blog taught me a whole new lesson.  Don't you love when God uses one desire to birth a whole different plan.  My sweet friends' comments taught me that I CAN minister to women here and now through this blog.  It may only be for a few of my dear friends and family, or it may become more than that.  The cool thing is that God is still able to use me, He just provided a different kind of stage.  And on top of that, He continues to reinforce the contentment issue with me.  Today I read Priscilla Shirer's post for the month of April and this sentence rang out.
"Contentment wasn't some unique gift the apostle Paul had been given.  It wasn't an automatic facet of his personality.  It was a skill he had chosen and adopted..." 

Then Priscilla quoted the same verse that I had posted a few days ago... Philippians 4:11.  Isn't that how God works?  He gently and lovingly reminds us of the truths He is using to shape us at any given moment, as if to say, "You're on the right track." 

Thank you Father,
Thank you Priscilla,
and Thanks to my dear friends who posted.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

6 Word Story

She Speaks is giving away another scholarship.  This time I must write a story in 6 words.
Here goes....

Infertile, Really?  Buying Diapers again.  Miracle.

We'll see what God does.