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The One Weapon We Need

Ephesians 6:18 – “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

It has been quite a month. We have had some tough things going on in our family life that has really been challenging. Cancer has struck our immediate family. And it’s the kind of cancer that has no known cause. Not that any cancer has a specific cause, necessarily, but there are some cancers in which you can trace the origins. This one, a brain tumor, has no known etymology. It is just cells gone bonkers. And that is frustrating.

When things like this come into our life, we want someone or something to blame. We seek out information that attempts to tell us who or what to blame. But in this case, it just isn’t there.

So, what do we do? We fight. We fight fiercely. But the one problem we, as a family, have been faced with is how? How do we fight? We don’t have the skill set or knowledge to remove this thing from our loved one. We don’t know the right combination of medication, chemo or radiation that is needed to destroy this foe.

But we have something way more powerful than medication, chemo and radiation. We have the Creator of all things in our corner. We have a direct line to His ear. For those of you who are familiar with old hymns, we have a Royal Telephone available to us. We have a weapon that is available to us 24/7 with no interruptions, failures or dropped calls. We have prayer.

And prayer is what is getting us through this period of uncertainty in our life right now. Prayer from family, friends, coworkers, church members, strangers (to us) in the community are all being lifted up for my family. And I am eternally grateful. Just knowing that someone is praying gives me strength, gives me hope and gives me peace.

Prayer truly is a weapon. It is a weapon that we can wield when all else is failing. It is a weapon that can be used before the battle begins, when it is raging and when it is finally over. Prayer is what holds us together, sometimes. Prayer is what connects us to one another – knowing that we can count on someone that we can see and touch to stand in our corner for us. People aren’t called Prayer Warriors for no reason. They will stand and fight (pray) through it all and in spite of it all.

So today, I encourage you to fight. Fight with prayer. Do your battles on your knees. And remember, if you pray while driving, don’t close your eyes. 🙂

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In the way

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethern, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26

Harsh words, aren’t they? How could Jesus, the One who loves everyone, say that we have to “hate” all the people in our life and even our own self?

Hate is a vicious word. I don’t like for my children to use this word because of the strength behind it. Good old Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “hate”, in it’s first definition, as “To dislike greatly; to have a great aversion to. It expresses less than abhor, detest, and abominate, unless pronounced with peculiar emphasis.” The second definition refers to Scripture – “it signifies to love less.” Matthew 10:37 describes what “hate” is referring to in this passage – “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (By the way, these references were pointed out to me during a sermon we had at church a couple of weeks ago – need to give credit where credit is due!)

So what is Jesus trying to get us to understand here?

Things get in the way. People get in the way. Jobs get in the way. Life can get in the way. We allow things to come between us and Jesus all the time. I am agent #1 when it comes to finding excuses and reasons why I can’t serve or be a part of something that would be a blessing to me and honor God. That is nothing to be proud of, I assure you.

I think if we are honest with ourself, we all have a hard time, from time to time, pointing others to Christ. And part of the reason for that problem, I propose, is that we let too many things come between us and Christ.

Have you ever stood in a forest packed with trees and tried to get someone else to see a bird on a branch in a tree about 10 yards away from you? You try explaining and pointing and repositioning them in front of you but they never really see exactly what you are seeing. It is really quite the circus to watch – this dancing around and pointing and jibbering about the cool bird. But because of all the trees and all the leaves and all the other things to look at, the one you want to share the beautiful bird with really can’t see it.

Same thing in our life when we have activities and jobs and family and friends and the desire to have the finest things that get in the way of us showing Christ to other people. We stand there pointing and explaining and repositioning them in front of us but they rarely see Christ because of all the other stuff that seems more important to us than Jesus. That hurts.

Ok, fine, I’m wounded now. I’m guilty. Now what?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is that we are encouraged to daily follow Jesus.  Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us”. Lay off that weight and run. You see, the sin – the stuff that comes between us and Jesus – needs to be laid off. We, I, need to get those things out from between me and Jesus. I need to walk closer to Him. I need to have Him so visible in my life that I shouldn’t even have to point Him out. Other people should just see Him working in my life.

I may not have all the answers, but I can do my best to point you to the One who does – Jesus.

In the way

Haggai 1:2-5 – “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?’Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.”
This was our message on Sunday night. And my, oh my, did it hit home.
Let me set this situation up here. The children of Israel had been released from captivity to come home and rebuild the Temple. They had remade the Alter, but that is as far as they had gotten. They had been too focused on building their homes and all the other stuff that comes along with a home in that time that they had neglected to build the Temple. And in walks Haggai. Being used by God, he reminds the people of what they had neglected – Him. And it was time to check themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I am abundantly blessed. I have a warm, safe home to live in. I have a family that dearly loves me regardless of the mood I am in. I have a good job that pays well and allows me flexibility in my schedule. I have food in my fridge and the ability to cook it whenever and however I want. I have a car that looks good and drives well. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! I am blessed.
But how often do I allow these blessings to get in the way of doing what God wants me to do? Too often, I tell you, too often. I have been thinking about writing this blog for 3 days now and every time I decide I am going to do it, one of my blessings steps in and needs attention.
Oh, I can’t do it this morning because I have to get laundry done and the lunches ready. Then I have to come home and get the floors swept and the sheets changed before I head off to work.
Oh, I can’t do it this morning because I have to go here and do that before I head off to work. Otherwise, I will have no time to do it.
Sound familiar? It is so very easy to get caught up in our blessings that we neglect to do what God has laid on our hearts to do. Hey, I get it. These things needed to be done for one reason or another. But how much more important is it to be obedient to the God of Heaven who sent His One and Only Son to die on the cross for my sins so that I could have the opportunity to have a home with Him in Heaven? Yep, that’s been in my head for 3 whole days!
God has given us so much. He loves us so much that He wants to give us good things and to love us with His love that passes all understanding. But He also expects us to follow Him and do His will. We can’t neglect His work to tend to our blessings. You notice that I said “neglect”. I think this is a purposeful decision that we make to be disobedient. I know in my own life that too often it is because I’m not listening that I don’t do what He is telling me to do. But I rarely neglect my blessings.
So today, I want to encourage you to appreciate your blessings but not to the point of neglecting God’s work that He has just for you. Blessings are sweet but they are so much more sweet when we experience them after a hard day’s work in the Lord.

Seeing the Super

Ephesians 3:14-19 – “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

Do you enjoy superhero movies? I do. I love watching movies about people who can do extraordinary things yet are able to completely blend into a crowded street.
Why do followers of Christ act any different?
Have you ever thought for a moment about the fact that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the work of God in every day life? Seriously, think about it.
Now, how often do we engage our “super power”?
When Paul was writing this to the Ephesians, there were no movie theaters down the street showing the latest film about someone who could fly or lift semi trucks with one hand. No, these were every day salesmen and women, farmers, weavers, moms, and young people who were doing their best just to survive. Yet, here is Paul asking God to strengthen them in His Spirit and to know and comprehend His love that is seemingly unthinkable. He was asking God to show these people God’s super power.
When times like a career change or big move comes up in our life, we are quick to look for God to move and work. We know that He has control of our future and we quickly desire to see Him at work. We are 100% confident that He will provide the strength and wisdom to do what He wants us to do.
But what about the every day stuff like paying for someone else’s drink in the drive-thru or letting that person who waited until the last minute to merge in or dealing with the animal that loves to gnaw on your pillows outside – how do handle those situations? Do we engage our super power then? Do we ask God how to handle those situations? Do we trust Him to give us what we need not to honk at that person?
You see, Love is a super power. It has the ability to conquer a multitude of issues and problems – 1 Peter 4:8 – “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (If you aren’t aware, “charity” is the Old English word for love.) Love has the ability to go out there and pay for someone else’s drink without them knowing who did it. Love has the ability to calmly allow someone in front of you in traffic. Love has the ability to not get mad at the crazy animal that chewed up your pillows and to be grateful that it only chewed up 2 of them. Love has the ability to allow God to work in the biggest and most life changing issues you face because you know in the deepest part of your heart that He can do all things.
So what I want to encourage you to do today is to engage your super power of Love. Let God have His way and to show you His love. Look for it like you would look for that last dime you need to get coffee at the gas station. Search for it diligently. And ask God to strengthen you in His love and guide you in His wisdom. He is just there waiting for you to ask Him to engage your super power.

 

Letting God…

‭‭James‬ ‭1:1-8‬ ‭KJV – “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

I know, I know. So many verses. But as we were reading this the other day in worship service, all I could see were the “let”s. And I have been thinking about what it means to “let” since then.

I looked up the meaning of the word in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary (gotta love that website!). It said this – “Followed by the third person, it implies permission or a command addressed to an inferior.” It can also mean “to permit or allow”. Either way, each definition points to basically the same thing – permission to do something.

We are in revival this week at my church. We have been encouraged and challenged so much in the last two days, that I have not wanted to stop listening. I wanted to “let” the preacher go on preaching until he ran out of words!

We are being challenged to be salty. (That’s a whole other blog post.) But the question I want to pose today is this – Are we letting God do what He needs to do to make us into the person He wants us to be? Are we letting God challenge us enough to grow His kingdom? Are we letting God show us our sin in our life? Are we letting God lead us away from the things and situations that impair our growth?

You see, here is the deal – we can pray all day long for God to change us and mold us into who He wants us to be, but sometimes, we are the thing standing in the way of that change. We aren’t willing to “let” God do what He wants to do. I know I have this problem in my own life. Right now I have a book on my countertop that I say that I want to read. But if I’m honest, I’m afraid to read it because I’m afraid of the changes God might convict me to make in my life. I’m afraid to “LET” God change me. There, I said it. I have been asking God to show me my sin and my life and right here, right now, He just did. I’m afraid to “LET” God.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to tell you. This is a burden and an issue that I have just acknowledged and now is the time to step forward. I don’t know what God is going to do with me now, but I am grateful that God has been on me to write this blog post. I’m glad He never backs down. Happy Wednesday.

Don’t see the stain

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭KJV – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

My husband went to a meeting last week and came home with a new saying (thank you Greg!).

“Don’t see the stain.”

I know I have written over and over again about perspective but this saying brought the importance of perspective to my mind again.

It is so easy to get caught up in the negative. We are going through our hunky, dory day and wham! Problem – in come the negative thoughts and opportunity to see the stain. It is a choice that you have to make to not see the stain. For example, I was having a good day yesterday when a problem arose at work of a lost item that I need for a patient. Now, I didn’t lose the item – someone delivered it to the wrong patient. I had two choices: 1) I could get mad and lose my ever-loving mind or 2) I could calmly call the representative and request kindly that they do their job and locate the item. Praise God, I chose #2. I am still trying to not see the stain in this situation. I am trying so hard to have a good attitude while I “patiently” wait for it to be located.

It is about choosing to think on other things. It is about deciding on a perspective that sees the opportunity and not the negativity of the situation. It is hard. Don’t get me wrong. So many times I feel like it would be easier to just blow up and deal with the aftermath. But that’s not how Christ wants us to behave and think. He gave us the good things in life to keep our perspective in line with His.

So today, when life comes at you hard and ugly, remember the things that are honest and pure and just and lovely and are of a good report. Think on these things. Don’t see the stain.

Becoming

‭‭Mark‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”

Last night, one of the guys at my church brought a message partially centered around this verse. He did a great job.

I had listened to a podcast earlier in the day about becoming who you are. Of course, it was a secular thing and there was really no spiritual meaning attached to anything they said, but I believe that God brings things into your life to teach you and grow who you are, no matter the source.

So, those things together got me to thinking about becoming. What does it actually mean? Off to Dictionary.com I went. Here is the definition I found – “to come, change, or grow to be (as specified)”. The 1828 Webster’s definition is this – “to pass from one state to another; to enter into some state or condition, or by assuming or receiving new properties or qualities, additional matter, or a new character”.

I am not the same person I was yesterday. I will not be the same person tomorrow that I am today. I should be growing and changing and becoming closer to the person God would have me to be.

When Jesus called out His first disciples, they were a ragtag bunch of men that really had no significant background. They were fishermen who had probably been fishermen since they came into that area. It was what they did and who they were. They weren’t great scholars or problem solvers or men of renown. But Jesus saw something in them that made Him call them away from their nets and everything that they had ever known.

And they weren’t great missionaries straight off the starting line. It was something they had to grow into. It was a pattern of growth from one state to another by the learning of new qualities and the refining of pre-existing qualities. But it required challenges and choices and being thrusted into situations that were confusing and combative. It wasn’t an easy growth period to be sure. But each one became someone different, someone better, someone who would advance the Kingdom of God beyond all human comprehension.

Where does that leave me? Have you ever heard that song “He’s still working on me”? That’s where I am. I am still becoming. I am still becoming the wife, mother, employee, blogger, daughter, friend, occupational therapist (and whatever other word to describe me that I’m currently leaving out) that He wants me to be. I’m a process – a work in progress. I need a sign some days.

I guess what I want to send out to everyone is this – be patient with yourself and with others. We are all becoming. We are all works in progress. It might take a while to get where God wants us to be, but one day, we will get there.