Sunday, January 23, 2011

High Priority

Unity: 1. the state of being united; oneness 2. agreement

If you knew you were leaving this earth tomorrow or the next day, what do you think you would spend your time doing in your last hours? I imagine like me, you would want to make sure everyone who was in your inner circle was going to be cared for; that you had “covered” it all as much as you could. I have heard of some people making recordings of advice for their children if they are dying. Others make sure finances are in order and relationships are mended.

Jesus spent the time just before He was arrested in prayer. This prayer is recorded in John 17. First He prayed for Himself, then for His disciples, and then for us who followed them. Do you know what His main agenda was? His glory and our UNITY.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

Why was unity so important to Jesus? So they will know WHO we are, and WHO HE IS. There is another verse that says we will be known as Christ-followers (Christians) by our love.

This makes me think about my family. It gives me much joy that my children are good friends. How wonderful it is when our home is peace-filled. Our relationships are stable. That helps me understand how delighted God is in us when we are living in unity & magnifying HIM to the watching world!

So, how do I/we look to Jesus? When He sees us does He see UNITY? Are we FOR each other? Do we yield to one another? Do we pray for one another? Do we honor one another? Do we serve one another? Do we build each other up? Each of us must search our own hearts before the Lord and ask Him, “How am I doing?”

Father, we pray Jesus’ prayer for your Body, please bring us to complete unity so the world will know that you sent Jesus who loves us, and that you love us as you love Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Ways Diverge

photo via flikr by Simon Whitaker
I saved a poem off of a church bulletin many years ago, I cannot find it right now, but I think I have it memorized, so here goes:

The ways diverge,
I stand and look them over
and hot thoughts surge about my heart.
And this I know,
I must choose one by which to go.
This one is flower strewn I see,
that one is rock strewn,
steep and foreboding,
dark and grim,
yet Christ walked there,
I'll walk with Him.

If you have read my blog off and on over the years, you might have glimpsed that I love contrast. Maybe it has to do with my "artistic leaning" (though I don't consider myself great at any of the art forms...I love dance, design, decorating and drama~well, at least watching the drama...)

As shadows enhance the light in paintings, I delight in observing how the bitter in life enhances the sweet. I love that in God's word we often find contrasts: Dark/Light...Evil/Good....Strong/Weak...etc.

Life is characterized by contrast and I feel it as well within my own heart. A contrast. Perhaps a synonym would be more appropriate: a conflict or divergence...

Since I invited Jesus to take ownership of my life, I desire to please Him, but often end up doing the opposite of what I want to do. Paul talks about that in Romans 7:21, 22 ...when I want to do good,, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind... and it hurts. It hurts when I fail...It hurts God, me and others.

...but he gives us more grace...(I am forever grateful!)

I sense contrasts in our society today as well; there are conflicting beliefs and ideas that are bringing a spirit of disunity. The devil is up to his destruction~inducing schemes. But we, His followers must not get weary, we need to remember the opposition Jesus endured and be encouraged. And we must remember what he instructed us to do in the face of conflict. Love and pray for our enemies, speak the truth in love, and do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

That is a tall order for someone who confessed a paragraph above that I don't do what I want to do...(being obedient in these areas), but the good news is found a couple of verses later in Romans 7:24, 25...What a wretched man I am!Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!

What that means is that I cannot do it. In my human strength I cannot love my enemies or overcome my sinful tendencies. That is humanly impossible. But by the grace of Jesus, after being baptized into him, and by His power in me, I can...I can! We can! You can!

Look at these contrasts: (I saw these on LPM blog today)

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Acts 2:17 (GOOD!)

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 Timothy 3:1 (BAD)

Contrast?!? Yes! As we increasingly see the disunity and bickering, finger-pointing, and deception, immorality and rebellion, we will also be seeing more of God. (WAAAHOOOOO!!!)  That is what I am determining to focus on and look for from this day forward. You see, it is easy to see the darkness closing in, but it is an act of faith to see past it to the Light that overcomes the darkness!

Lord, help me abide in You, to fix my eyes on You, the Light of the world!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Digging Wells

This is a repost from two years ago, but I needed to read it today, maybe you will be encouraged too.
Have you been pursuing something diligently only to encounter contention and opposition? Perhaps you have been praying for someone you love for a long time, with seemingly no answers from the Lord. Perhaps you have been pursuing a dream that the Lord has laid on your heart of writing or establishing a ministry. The more you put into it, the more you encounter obstacles or opposition. People doubt your calling, or you doubt it yourself. Or they oppose it, or get in the way...

Genesis 26:17-22

17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19 Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen and said, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."

What the Lord showed me in this passage is how Isaac persevered in seeking the water until he found it.

The first well was named Esek (contention).

The second was named Sitnah (opposition).

and finally the third Rehoboth (Broad places of fruitfulness)

This is a common experience for God's people in their journey with Him. If we think of stories of Joseph,
Moses, Nehemiah, David, Ruth, or modern ministers like John McArthur, or missionaries like Hudson Taylor...we find the same story. In any pursuit or calling there are wells of contention and opposition that come before the broad places of fruitfulness.

Hang in there! Press on, sister! Keep going! Never stop!

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Force of Fear?

Today my son-in-law left for the Air Force bootcamp. He is going in the reserves. I have been dealing with a certain amount of concern fear for his six week experience there.

He's so...young. He's...small. How will they treat him? How will he respond? Will they crush his spirit? Will he respond with faith? Will he remember that the Lord God Almighty lives inside of him and is right there with him?

For a woman of faith, the concerns fears lead me to cast my cares on the Lord who promises to care for me and my family. (and I must fight to believe it sometimes!) As soon as the questions enter my mind I turn them into a specific prayer: Lord, please make Andrew aware of your Presence. Surround him with the right people. Help him respond with faith to the hard things. Help him grow through discipline. Help him be the man that you desire him to be...In Jesus' name! ~how grateful I am to be able to message the King of the Universe on behalf of Andrew!

Amazing to me is how "images" from movies or news stories seem to effect my thought process...and it's the worst images that come to mind. It has been a looong time since I have seen "An Officer and A Gentleman". But I remember scenes...and they impact my thinking. They bring fears to the surface. Ideas that I received from watching the film. And Top Gun. I imagine if you have seen these, you have images coming to mind immediately. Powerful, isn't it?

I have been mulling this over for a few days due to other stories I have heard recently. People's fears in certain circumstances become exaggerated due to images and movies they have watched. So I wonder...should we be curbing our viewing more than we are? I wonder, are we making our battle more intense?

“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Parenting After Empty Nest?

I ate two meals with College Boy today.
We talked about goal setting and list making.
Watching adult children children is interesting.
To say the least.
When your children leave the nest you get a chance to observe.
What things they have gleaned from home.
And what they HAVE NOT. (yet)
When I entered said College Boy's room to get him a shirt tonight,
I thought to myself,
"he is going to be an engineer and does not know
how to close a dresser drawer." ~hmmmm

Back to "list making"...
I have observed College Boy has become used to staying
up until wee hours of the morning and then sleeeeeeeeeeping in
until. late.
Mom of College Boy thinks to herself,
"It's not good for boy to be lazy. He needs to make goals."
Mom makes goals and writes them down.
Dad makes goals and verbalizes them to Mom.
College Boy needs to learn to make goals so he prioritizes time
and makes wise decisions.
He says, "It was New Year, Mom." was, but now you have one week left of vacation.
What will you do with it?
So a list he makes and worked on it all day.
Mom thinks College Boy is feeling quite satisfied!
(So is College Boy's mom!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Look Back

I've been inspired by my new blogging, & tweeting friend, JoAnne in Australia. As I read her overview of her blogging year, I was enabled to get to know her better...So allow me to introduce a (very) short version of my year 2010...

January: 2010 started off writing about my new role  as Women's Ministries leader in our church. In 2008, the Lord took me to She Speaks on faith. I had no idea what for at the time; speaking, or ministry...but I went with Him and attended workshops on a little bit of everything. Guess what? Since then I have done a little bit of everything! Who knew? LOL

February: Found me pondering the past and learning from it. I put up a lengthy post of my former pit, as well as a post stemming from my deep desire for balance in Christendom...

March: I HAD to do a little more reminiscing of our daughter, Kayla's wedding from 9/4/09 before sharing about the coming changes in our lives...Empty nest and grand parenting!

April: I was deep in preparation mode for the coming graduation party and the upcoming strain on my heart (ie: letting go!).

May: I posted out of my grief over the disunity and self-protection I see among professing Christians when we engage in arguments, name-calling and finger-pointing.

June: Because I spend so much time in the yard, I learn much about God, truth and life there.

July:  Garden meditations continue...on walking with Jesus...and then a spiritual check-up for my "eyegates".

August: More marriage meditations. (AND we dropped Ethan off at college the same weekend that my husband's grandmother died, but I didn't post about it..)

September: I was busy with preparations for the Anniversary event and Harvest Open House in my little gift shop, Bittersweet Farm.  I posted on Bittersweet, the plant and the name. I also was asked to speak at a "Single Mom's Spa Day" and discovered that I need to feel more free to share my story...because it is really HIStory!

October: In the midst of the busy season of BECOMING A GRANDMA, gift shop ownership, and Women's ministry events, I joined a Thanksgiving meme in gratitude for my Dad's successful surgery, and the simple pleasures in my life.

November:  Our Pastor started preaching through the book of Jude for "such a time as this"...for I found the Lord calling me to Contend for the faith.

December: Early in the month our Women's Ministry hosted a Christmas Cafe outreach with my bloggy friend Heather Cox speaking. Then later, I found the Christmas story took on new significance with a grandson sleeping next to us in church.

And THAT'S my year in a nutshell!!!...May the Lord bless and prosper your New Year!
Livin' in Love,