Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday's Fave Five #128

On Fridays, I link up with a group of bloggers for Friday's Fave Five, a meme that encourages one to look for 5 highlights that happened in the past week for them. You can join in at Susanne's Living to Tell the Story.

Little splashes of joy in the midst of a gloomy rainy week:

1.  Sitting in the drive-thru line at Hardees on our one sunny day this week, I noticed this bird on top of the menu board.  He, along with some of his feathery friends, were singing.  There's just something about bird song that makes me mindful of spring.

2.  We are now a two-van family!  Jim got his own van this week.  No more taking me to work when he needs the car! We've let the girls have our second vehicle over the years, so it's nice to be back where we started before having kids - a two vehicle couple ... I thought of challenging him to a contest on who could keep their van the cleanest ... but I figured I would probably lose ...

3.  Friends - This week I've received a card and some emails from various friends letting me know they are praying for me.  It means a lot to have friends go through trials with you.

4. Quote of the week

"Failure has been identified as the line of least persistence." Zig Ziglar

I love Zig Ziglar.  He is very "quotable" and I agree with his philosophy on life.

5.  Anticipation:  The hubs and I are going off to a bed and breakfast for the weekend.  It will be nice to get away and do nothing!  Plus, I always enjoy time away from the kitchen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Fave Five #127

Hello, everyone!  It's Friday again, and it's a time when I join the Friday's Favorite Five group over at Susanne's blog, Living to Tell the Story.  This amazing group of bloggers share about 5 highlights of their week, choosing to focus on the positive, oftentimes in the midst of trying times.

We are still going through a difficult journey in our household, yet there have been splashes of joy:

1. Monday was Valentine's Day. My sweetie got me a yellow rose bouquet and we went to a church valentine celebration.  It was fun conversing with the other couples, and of course, it's always good when I don't have to cook.  We had couples there that had been married 62 years all the way down to a couple being married 8 years.

2. One thoughtful, cute idea that I had never seen done before:  I was "heart attacked" by my boss! (Actually, the idea was conceived by his wife.) 

When I got back from lunch, I discovered all these hearts taped on the wall behind my desk.   It's always good to be shown appreciation!

3.  I'm still focusing on scripture that I quoted here, and also here.  I've added another couple that bring me comfort:

"God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night! My life is God's prayer."  Psalm 42:8 The Message

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

At some point, there is going to be something good come out of my mess!

4.  Liss and I have been playing Scrabble every night on her I-Pad.  She's been kicking my butt, but it's good to have something to take your mind off things.

5.  Thought-provoking quote:

"The aspect of Christianity that sets it apart from all other world religions is the fact of God's love. Instead of requiring us to sacrifice ourselves to gain God's approval, He sacrificed Himself for us in order to satisfy His own nature and fulfill His own attributes. " David Jeremiah, Turning Point Devotional 2/5/11

What a wonderful Savior!

Why don't you consider joining the FFF crowd?  They are wonderful bloggers and they are the best at leaving comments! Link up here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday- Will Anyone Remember My Name


February's Thankful Thursday hostess, Laurie at Women Taking A Stand, poses an interesting question:  "After I'm gone, will anyone remember my name?"  She concludes that there is One who will never forget us!

Isaiah 43:2 "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine."

Actually, Laurie's question is something I've already thought long and hard about.  When my father knew he was dying from cancer, he was concerned that his grandchildren would forget him.  I assured him that I would tell my kids all about their grandpa.  I did such a good job of telling stories about grandpa that nowadays when I start to mention his name, my girls roll their eyes ... I may have overdone it.

This experience weighed heavily on my mind as I began to approach my fifties. I'd already realized that stories without relationship won't mean much to most people. I wanted to be sure that when I passed away, people wouldn't forget me.  (I know, it sounds a tad vain - but hey, I'm just being honest about my feelings!)

After all, I had always felt that I was put here to do something!  I just never have quite figured out what that "something" is ...

Working in the church as I do, I'm used to discussing ideas such as this with a lot of my pastor friends.  One of them told me that I was being kind of prideful - the idea that God wanted me to do something "special" may just be the enemy's ploy to bring discontent into my life.  [But then, he is a firm believer in Calvinism, so it really doesn't matter what my longings and dreams are, it's already been foreordained what will happen.  I may as well just zone out and enjoy the ride!]

I discovered blogging and felt perhaps here was my answer.  Hearing stories about another person that you never met maybe won't touch you, but if I, as the writer, can build a relationship with you with my words, then perhaps I can have an impact.

Funny thing, though.  I've noticed that my real-life family and friends really don't read my blog all that much.  My side of the family, and I'm like this too, has good intentions but poor follow-through.  I can just hear some of my cousins saying right now "I've been meaning to read ole Jerralea's blog one of these days ... just haven't gotten around to doing it."

What I have noticed about blogging is that you can form a bond with a like-minded stranger that over the years becomes as strong as family. You get used to the way they write and you begin to notice when something is wrong.  They don't post like they used to, or something just sounds different about the way they write. And your readers notice the same thing about you.

I've kind of wandered off into a "rabbit trail" as one of my pastors used to say!  Getting back to the original question, "will anyone remember my name," I love what Laurie said about God calling us by name.  I'm so thankful that He will never forget me!

There's another scripture I love,

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget,

I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are ever before me.

Your children hasten back,

and those who laid you waste depart from you.

Isaiah 49:15-17

This is the Lord talking to the children of Israel.  When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are grafted into the family of Abraham, so these scriptures are for us, too.  He cares so much about us that we are engraved in the palm of His hand!  How awesome is that? You can't forget about someone that is written on your body!

When you get right down to it, isn't that more important than anything else?  If the Creator of the Universe knows who you are and promises to never forget you, what does it matter if everyone else does?

I'm thankful that I know my Redeemer, and He knows me, too!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Opposite Life

The Opposite Life

As Christians, we are asked to live a life that is oftentimes totally opposite of what the natural man would do.

Offering the other cheek instead of fighting back
Letting God seek vengeance instead of taking matters into our own hands
Instead of seeking to be number 1, being a servant
Instead of trying to amass fame and fortune, seeking first the kingdom of God
Be content instead of always wanting more

Let’s examine Psalms 1 which so clearly shows how opposite two different lives can be.

1 Blessed is the man
         Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
         Nor stands in the path of sinners,
         Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
         And in His law he meditates day and night.
 3 He shall be like a tree
         Planted by the rivers of water,
         That brings forth its fruit in its season,
         Whose leaf also shall not wither;
         And whatever he does shall prosper.

The word used for blessed in verse one can be translated HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable according to the Amplified version.

The first thing to notice about the blessed man is that he is not influenced by the ungodly. He does the opposite of:

Walking in the counsel of the ungodly – If you are walking, you are heading a certain direction.  Don’t go the direction the world does!  Don’t be influenced by horoscopes, talk shows, wrong music, magazines and books that are not based on godly wisdom.  Don’t take worldly advice!

The word translated here for ungodly is the Hebrew word “rasha.”  It means “to be loose or unstable.” According to Kelsey Coleman it means “loose from God, without Him as an anchor or controlling device. It refers to those who are controlled by their own desires, emotions, and flesh rather than by the Word and Holy Spirit.”  Don’t take advice from someone who does not have God as an anchor!

How should we walk?

·        We can ask God how to walk:  Psalm 143:8 says “teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift my soul.”
·        Psalm 86:11 tells us “we should walk in truth.”
·        Paul tells us “to walk in a manner worthy of your calling with which you have been called, with all humility, and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love …’
·        We should walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16

Standing in the path of sinners – After taking advice from the ungodly, we move to identifying with them.  We start to embrace what they have to say, we identify with their position.

The way the word “sinner” is used here it means a person that has deliberately chosen a way of life contrary to God’s will.

Don’t go down a path following someone who clearly lives opposite to what God’s word teaches!

Instead of standing in the path of sinners, we are told how to stand:

·        Psalm 33:8 “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.”
·        We should stand firm in the faith (1 Corinthians 16:13)
·        Phil. 1:27 tells us to stand together in one mind and spirit with other believers.

Sitting in the seat of the scornful – Sitting is a position we take when we want to be comfortable, when we want to rest.  We now feel comfortable sitting with the sinners and we are in agreement with them when they scoff and mock at everything holy.

What does it mean to mock at the Word of God?  Mocking means to ridicule, to reject, to listen to the Word proclaimed, and then ignore it. “We mock the word when we fail to obey it and align our lives accordingly.” [Kelsey Coleman, Psalm 1]

Instead, the blessed man surrounds himself with godly influence.

He delights in the word of God and in His Law he meditates day and night. – A blessed man immerses himself in the word. 

We must desire the word as much as a little baby desires to have his bottle:
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of word, that ye may grow thereby:  If so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”  1 Peter 2:2,3

When we first got saved, we were on fire, and loved to read God’s word.  We thirsted for knowledge about Him.  But our “appetite for the Lord and His Word will become dull when we have tasted too much of this world.” [Chris Gowen, Making the Most of Your Walk With God] If you notice that your enthusiasm for God and His Word has waned, you need to pray and ask Him to give you a hunger for the Bible.

Not only must we read it, we need to meditate or soak in His word.  We need to do more than just read through the bible, we have to get the Word deep down inside us.  Romans 12:2 tells us to “be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed for the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect, will of God.”   Knowing His Word is the way to know His will.

“God has no plan or program by which you are to grow and develop as a believer apart from His Word.” [Kelsey Coleman]

What will the result be of living godly?

You’ll become like a tree planted by the rivers of water. You will always have nourishment.  When you are feeding on the Word, there is always Living Water.

You’ll be fruitful. I like the way John Piper describes fruitful Christians, “They are refreshing and nourishing to be around. You go away from them fed.  You go away strengthened. You go away with your taste for spiritual things awakened. Their words are healing and convicting and encouraging and deepening and enlightening. Being around them is like a meal.”

You won’t wither away.  You are rooted and grounded in God.  You won’t dry up – you’re here to stay!

Remember, just as it takes time to produce a flourishing tree, it takes time to grow and mature in the Word.

Everything you do will prosper! When you are a fruitful grounded believer, you will only want to do the will of the Father.  He will bless your efforts because you are doing His will. “There is nothing that God cannot do through you!” [Matt Black – Living in the Presence of God]

What is the result of living ungodly?

4 The ungodly are not so,
         But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
         Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
         But the way of the ungodly shall perish. [Psalm 1:4-6]

The opposite of a rooted grounded tree that is flourishing is chaff – dried up, useless, driven by the wind. Chaff is worthless.  Chaff gets burned.

Matt. 3:12 says “His winnowing fork is in His hand and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

In time, everyone’s true nature will be revealed.  Will you be judged ungodly?
Verse 5 says that the ungodly will not stand in the judgment. They won’t be able to stand on any excuses, they can’t stand on their own self-righteousness. Their sin will keep them out of the congregation of the righteous.

In the end there are two ways to be judged.  The way of the righteous; and the opposite – the way of the ungodly.

The way of the righteous is known by the Lord.  He knows His own and He knows their way.  It the way of the narrow path.  It’s the way of those who have chosen to do the opposite of the world.

Then there is the way of ungodly.  The Word plainly tells us that they will perish.  I think of that song that used to be popular, “I Did It My Way.”  The ungodly does what he wants to do.  The way of “if it feels good, do it,” the way of “relative truth” instead of absolute truth, the way of “legalism,” of earning your own salvation.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13, 14

It may look like the ungodly prosper and everything goes their way, but in the end they will come to nothing.

Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.”

I love this illustration by Chris Gowen: “A certain courthouse in Ohio stands in a unique location.  Raindrops that fall on the north side of the building go into Lake Ontario and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while those falling on the south side go into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.  At precisely the point of the peak of the roof, just a gentle puff of wind can determine the destiny of many raindrops.  It will make a difference of more than 2,000 miles as to their final destination.  The spiritual application is clear. By the smallest deed or choice of words we might set in motion influences that could change the course of others’ lives here and now and could also affect their eternal destiny.”

Destiny is determined by choice.

You are either blessed or condemned on the basis of one choice – the way you’ve chosen to walk. Will you choose to walk the opposite of the world? Or will you walk that “broad way to destruction?”

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday's Fave Five #126

Hello everyone!  I love to participate in Susanne's wonderful meme, Friday's Fave Five.  This is a time when we reflect on five highlights of our past week and share them.  You can link up at Susanne's blog, Living to Tell the Story.

I've not been able to join in for the last few weeks, but I miss the wonderful group of FFF bloggers so much that I had to post today.  I want to share five favorite scriptures that are helping me deal with a bad time in my life:

1. John 14:1 "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me."

2. Luke 12:32 "So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

3. Isaiah 41:10 "Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

4. Isaiah 43:1 "... Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine."

5. Deuteronomy 31:6 "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you."

(All scriptures quoted are from the New Living Translation)

I'm so thankful for God's Word that is an anchor for me when I feel flooded with trials!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Still Here

I'm still here.

I looked at the date of my last post and saw that it was January 20.  I was really surprised that it has been that long since I had blogged.

At first, I didn't blog because I was so preoccupied with my schedule.  January is the month of Annual Business Meeting at one of my churches, and it always takes up a lot of my time getting ready.  But the meeting has been over for awhile now.

A couple of my sweet friends left me messages to let me know that they noticed I hadn't been blogging.  One said, "Have you given up blogging?  What's wrong?"

I assured them that I was going back to blogging soon.

I began to think about my blog.  What is my mission?  Why do I blog?  I wanted my blog to accomplish two things:  1) leave a record of my life for my family, and 2) I wanted to share insights that the Lord has given me.

I believe in being positive.  I want to be an encourager. I try always to put things in my blog post that lift up a person's spirits. I love to share thought-provoking quotes and scriptures.

I rarely, if ever, share negative stuff. However, if blogging truly means sharing life with a community, then sometimes I need to share the bad.  The messy stuff of life is something we all, at some point, have to face.

Perhaps what I share might help someone to know they are not alone, others go through challenging and difficult times as well.  And maybe, just maybe, someone out there will have good advice for ME. We are all in this thing called life, together.

Right after the Annual Business Meeting, about the time I had a blog post ready to publish that I was excited about, "The Opposite Life," I came under a vicious attack from the enemy.  I really should have seen it coming, but I was blindsided.

Our youngest child one night just decided to leave home. She is 4 months shy of being 18 years old and she was tired of living by our rules. After a couple anxious days, we discovered that she is living with a boyfriend.

You can imagine how devastating this news is to us.  She knows that we believe that living together is a sinful lifestyle that is not pleasing to God.

I know that we are not the first parents to have a child reject all their teaching. I also know the Bible teaches that if you train up a child right, in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it.  It's that span of time, between the training and when he is old, that bothers me.

I do know one thing, I have to love her through this, but I can't make it easy for her.  I have to confess that so often through life I have caved in to my kids.  I cannot do that now when the battle lines are so clearly drawn: there is only one lifestyle that God will bless, the life of walking in His commandments and His way.  All other lifestyles lead to destruction.

Please pray for us as we walk through this trial. Pray that we stand firm and look to God for salvation.  Only He can deliver.