Archive for October, 2015

What We Can Trust

October 30, 2015

“Though the earth shakes and all its people live in turmoil, yet its pillars are firm, for I have set them in place” Psalm 75

Sometimes it seems the whole world is coming unglued.  Right and Wrong are turned upside down.  Sometimes it seems as if every community is divided and people are all talking past each other.  Families are often as not broken.  Violence is everywhere from abortion to child abuse, slavery and human trafficking, murder and mayhem.  What do we hold on to?  If we believe we are all here as a result of random evolution, that there is no God and no order, then there is nothing to hold on to but thin air.  But if we believe God, a faith which rests on a firm foundation of evidence, we have God to hold on to.  He made this earth and everyone in it.  He won’t let this go any farther than He determines will result in a good outcome.  All works toward an ultimately good end. Those who don’t believe God have to believe that humans will solve this chaos.  Not a belief that promotes sound sleep.

Life is Short

October 30, 2015

“Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be.  Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.”  Psalm 39:4

We don’t like to think about our own demise.  We will keep ourselves busy thinking and planning for what are ultimately trivial matters in the light of eternity.  Part of this may be the fear of the unknown that is death.  But what if we determined to live as though each day is all we can count on?  What if we lived the way people live who have a terminal disease, and treasure each moment, as well as the people in it.  A couple years ago a book was published called “A Month to Live”.  The idea was to think about what were the most important things to do if you have only one more month.  If I had to meet God tomorrow and give an account of my life, what would I want to get accomplished today?  Would it be to forgive someone, or ask forgiveness for myself?  We have control over forgiving others, but ultimately none over whether we are forgiven.  So if getting a relationship mended means a lot to us, we have no more control over that than we had when we thought we still had years to accomplish it.  We can, of course, make overtures, and perhaps we should.  If our last day is to be used making sure all those important to us know we love them, we may be able to do that–if not face to face or by phone, than we could text or leave a letter.  There may be things we have always wanted to tell someone–such as passing on some of our hard learned lessons to grandchildren.  We can write those letters.  But the point is:  if these are the priority things we would do with our last day or days, why don’t we just make them a priority now.  If we keep people close, keep relationships mended, ask forgiveness as soon as we realize the need, and pass along those things we want to give to the next generations, then we will always be ready when the last day truly ends.

My Hearts Desire

October 30, 2015

“Be delighted with the Lord.  Then He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

I used to wonder how this could possibly be true.  If I found delight in the Lord, enjoying my prayer time and all, does that mean He will give me the house of my dreams, the vacation of my dreams, or something else I’ve always wanted?  Someone told me when you’ve delighted in the Lord, over time He will change your desires.  So I believed that was what the verse meant, but I didn’t really accept it as being true for me.  I couldn’t imagine the Lord cared what kind of house I had, where I traveled, or any of the other things I wanted (or thought I wanted).  Then I got older.  What I learned is priorities change as you age.  I no longer dream of the same house I dreamed of then.  I’ve lost a lot of the desire to travel.  And as the song said “Thank God for unanswered prayer”.  A lot of things I prayed for and never got, I’m now very glad I never got.  I got a better husband than the first young man I prayed for.  I got a better life than the one I had mapped out at 25.  When I try, now, to imagine what that life would have been like, I don’t think it would have been as happy as the life script God provided.

Now, I think this verse means, the closer you get to God, the more He will give you the things that will truly fulfill you–not the things you think you want or need.  He knows our hearts–He made us with our unique personality and its unique fulfillment.  Our real hearts desire may not even be known to us, but it is known to God, and for those who have walked with Him, He provides the fulfillment of those desires He built into us from the beginning.

What am I Doing?

October 29, 2015

“The Lord gazes down upon mankind from heaven where he lives.  He has made their hearts and closely watches everything they do.”  Psalm 33:13-15

If I imagine God watching me all the time, and He is, how would that awareness change how I spend my time?  If I also imagine He knows my thoughts and motives because He made my heart and knows it, how would that change how I think, and my reasons for my choices?  If I imagine He is right beside Him all day, would I be more careful about wasting time, doing useless or even harmful things, and pleasing myself much of the time?  Would I be more careful about my words, knowing He hears all I say?  Would I be more careful to please Him even in my thoughts, knowing He hears every thought?  Would I talk to Him more, knowing He is right there?  I need to practice an awareness of His Presence.  It wlll change my life.

Fear of Involvement

October 28, 2015

Sometimes I think I feel God nudging me to start a good thing, and I hesitate, and I continue to hesitate.  The actual thing required of me is quite reasonable, but I hesitate.  Then I wonder why I’m so afraid to get involved, and I realize its because I’m stepping into the unknown.  I don’t know where this thing is going.  I guess its not so much a fear of failure as it is a fear of success.  This first step might lead to another and then to another.  Before I know it, God may have something a lot bigger in mind than I had, and it might take more of me than I’m prepared to give.  I may have to change my whole life around, I might have to make some rather big sacrifices, I might…I might…. I might….   Its like writing a blank check that could take everything I have.  Then I remember Jesus saying:  “If you cling to your life you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will save it.”  Am I willing to surrender everything?  Jesus also said:  “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow.  God will take care of your tomorrow too.  Live one day at a time.”

Will I do it?  Will I actually do what He has nudged me to do today, and live one day at a time?

Needing the Big Picture

October 27, 2015

Someone once asked “Would you be open to letting God use you if you had no idea about what He was doing?

Our culture is a very goal oriented, achievement oriented one.  The majority of us are type A personalities, and some of the things we think we can’t live without are:  Having a goal, having a deadline, having steps to reaching the goal, having a deadline for each step, and so on.  We like to see we’re making progress toward the goal.  We also need:  to know the goal is worthwhile, and worthy of all this time and effort.  We want an assessment of the probable return on our sacrifice. We want to see the big picture before we commit.  This is often as true of relationships as it is to career, educational or other personal goals.

What if God just planted a situation in front of us.  What if a huge need just landed at our feet.  What if a longtime friend was suddenly left homeless and unemployed?  What if our neighbor is an automobile accident and needs some help for awhile.  What if a parent or a sibling suddenly needs help–a whole lot of help.

These situations don’t fit in with our goals at all.  No matter how worthy our goals are, these situations throw a big monkey wrench into our plans.  We may very well help out, but with what kind of joy?  We may do it out of guilt, but have no enthusiasm for it.

What if, these situations are part of God’s big picture–not necessarily for just us, but others as well.  And what if He doesn’t share with us what His plans are?  Can we give wholeheartedly to Him, and let Him use us, even if we don’t even see the good in what we’re doing, or if we never get to see the results.

Maybe if God let us see how He is using us, we would begin to try to organize it–set goals and deadlines, establish steps to accomplish it and all we are so familiar at doing.  Maybe we would get in our own way.  And maybe the biggest plans and the biggest pictures aren’t all about us.

Too Busy to Listen

October 26, 2015

When I was younger, I had the idea the more I did for God, the better.  I had read a quote from Erma Bombeck about meeting God and telling Him she had no more talent because she had already used every ounce of her talent for Him.  I knew we don’t earn God’s love, yet I wanted to show my love for Him so passionately, I was constantly looking for things I could do that used all my available time, energy and talent.  I actually would wake up in a panic, realizing my life was half over and I hadn’t accomplished anywhere near what I had hoped.

Later, I heard an elderly woman talk about her wonderful son, and how he would come over every week to do all the chores she couldn’t do for herself–the home maintenance, landscape care, etc.  Then she said wistfully, “I wish sometimes, he would just sit and talk to me instead of working so hard.”

I realized suddenly that perhaps God would like me to spend more time in prayer so “I would just sit and talk with Him.”  I tried adding at least 30 minutes of prayer to my busy schedule.  Out of my prayer time came ideas about people I should contact or things I should do that I hadn’t seen until I prayed.  I took these ideas as whispers from God.  Then, I realized I was so busy, I couldn’t add in one more thing.  I couldn’t do all those things I felt God nudging me to do, with all the things I was already doing.

Slowly, I began to realize God probably didn’t want all the things I had decided to do as an offering to Him.  He might not be interested in “my plans” to use every bit of every spiritual gift I thought He had given me.  He might want me to take my cues from Him instead.  Around that time my children were becoming more independent.  They were often going out on their own trying to do good things for me and for others.  A lot of those things ended up in a mess that could have been avoided had we worked together instead..  (One of those episodes involved trying to make hard boiled eggs in the microwave, but I digress.)

Anyway, somehow I began to learn that God was more interested in my listening to Him and obeying what He was showing me than He was in all the things I was doing on my own, trying to use all my time and talents.  So now I just ask every day “Lord, what would you have me do today for you and others?”  Then I just do what I see before me.  It doesn’t mean there aren’t still things on my calendar, or times that I serve on a regular basis.  But these are things I have felt God nudging me to do, without regard to whether I was using all my spiritual gifts or all my available time.  I have found when I do those things I feel God is calling me to do, I have plenty of time for those little “God appointments” He places in my day.  I am also more relaxed, knowing if my purpose is solely to please Him, the Lord will use me according to His purposes (not mine).  And life has become more of an adventure, less hectic, less scheduled, more spontaneous, and more fulfilled..

Thoughts

October 25, 2015

“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14

I have always known that my words could be wrong or sinful, hurtful or hateful, and as someone who wants to please God, I need to “bite my tongue”, control my speech and try to always be tactful and kind on what I say.  What I didn’t always know, is I am also responsible for my thought life.  I just imagined that all thoughts were acceptable, and at any rate, not necessary to control.  I wouldn’t have advocated planning and plotting how to murder someone, but short of that, I thought all reveries were just fine–just letting my imagination and creativity have free reign.  Now I know, that the thought life controls everything.  I learned it because some things I had been thinking found their way into my words, and embarrassed me.  They could have just as easily hurt someone else badly.  If I don’t want to say unkind things, gossip, criticize others and the like, I’d better not have those imaginary conversations in my head either.

Well, how can you “not think” about something?.  If you simply decide not to think about a thing, it will be there all the more often.  But I learned its my responsibility to change my “self talk” to something positive.  I can tell myself to “just stop it” if I’m criticizing myself, criticizing someone else, ruminating about the past, having imaginary conversations with someone unpleasant, and the like.  I can first pray about the situation, then focus on re-framing it.  I can tell myself realistic things about myself rather than engage in self criticism.  I can pray for an enemy instead of having imaginary conversations where I try to justify myself, or tell off the other person.  Instead of engaging in “what if” scenarios and making myself anxious, I can thank God for all the blessings and protection I’ve been given.  I can rehearse kind things to say to someone who needs a kind word.  I can compose in my mind, notes of encouragement to someone who needs it.  I can simply put a brake on my thought spiral by just periodically declaring “break time” and examining my thoughts of the past minutes or hours.  If I do these things, and pray much, the meditations of my heart, as well as the words of my mouth are more likely to be pleasing to our Lord.

Reasons to Believe Jesus

October 23, 2015

There are at least 5 reasons to believe Jesus.  Here they are–in no particular order.

  1.  Scientifically.  Jesus talked about the Creation many times.  There is a creator.  If you have intricate design and purpose, you have a designer and a creator.  It is just not possible to get from amino acids to even the simplest cell.  To get to the simplest protein we know of, you have to have the right DNA combination.  The chances of getting that are 10×10 to the 77th power.  All the rest of the combinations won’t work.  That makes chance mutation, over and over, mathematically impossible, and this chance mutation is the basis for evolution.
  2. Historically.  The resurrection is one of the best testified events in history.  All history is based on the testimony of reliable witnesses.  The witnesses to the resurrection wouldn’t recant their testimony even under pain of death.  All but one of the apostles died for their witness.  Only John did not, and he was persecuted, imprisoned and exiled.  People will die for what they believe is the truth, they will not die for what they know is a lie. And the tomb was empty.  If there had been a body, somebody would have produced it.  As for the theory he really didn’t die–no one survived a Roman crucifixion.  Their job was to see their convicts died.
  3. Change in the apostles.  The changed lives of the apostles are a testimony that something happened.  They never portrayed themselves as heroes.  They all abandoned Jesus at his arrest.  Yet, after seeing the risen Jesus and receiving the Spirit, they became bold witnesses who traveled all over spreading the news of Jesus resurrection and his teaching.
  4. Prophetically.  Jesus fulfilled 317 prophecies about himself that were written in the old testament more than 400 years before his birth.  No one could do that on their own.  You can’t control how you will be born or die.
  5. Practically.  Look at the changed lives of people today, whose path has been turned around completely when they asked Jesus to come into their lives.  So many of them have experienced things they can’t explain and they will tell you they didn’t make it on their own.

This may not be enough reasons for everyone.  Nothing can be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Thats why in a court of law, proof must be based on  the “beyond a reasonable doubt” premise or the “preponderance of the evidence” method, depending on how the applicable law is written.

“”God always gives enough light for those who believe and enough shadows for those who doubt.”  Pascal

Not Thoroughly Thought Through Ideas

October 23, 2015

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth?  Have you ever had someone tell you, “Hey, that’s crazy”  “That’ll never work” or “You forgot about…”   all in a manner of correcting your “not thoroughly thought through idea.”

We all have “thought out loud”, musing through ideas that are new to us, and we get feedback from others allowing us to modify or correct our ideas.  However, newcomers to politics haven’t always learned you can’t do that in public..  Your political opponents will grab onto that half thought through idea and make you look like a fool, a “strange” person, or a crazy idiot.  Only those who have been groomed for the game know how to give a politically correct answer all the time, even if the answer in no way fits the question asked.

Otherwise brilliant people often have a long career end in infamy because their declining health, depression or early stages of senility cause them to write things that are quite out of character and “not thoroughly thought through”.  They may, at that stage of life, be somewhat isolated, and no one is listening to their ideas and sharing the feedback we all still need.  Their political correctness has declined along with age, and they have begun to sound like doddering old fools.  In reality, they just need the thinking adjustment that talking among friends produces.

The danger, of course, in our increasingly politicized and politically correct culture, is that everyone will be afraid to say anything new or to think aloud, and everyone will become parrots, stifling the new ideas that a vibrant, lively democracy needs to thrive.