Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year in Review

Today in church our pastor announced that in January we would once again, as a church, participate in a 21 day fast. We would start our year be dedicating the first part of it yielding to Him. My family participated in the fast for 2010 as well and I paused to think of how my life went this past year and how it differed from years past.

As I reflected, I realized how very blessed my year has been. My marriage has grown stronger, my kids have grown closer to God, there have been financial blessings, blessings in so many relationships, and a general feeling of joy and peace.

As I continued to reflect on the year, I realized that my year was not without it's problems. I experienced financial issues, betrayals, health issues, relational problems and surprising emotional crisis at different turns. I did indeed have more blessings this year, but I had my fair share of problems as well. What was different was me. I felt more joy and peace through all of these situations.

I was different. As I faced each problem, I faced it with God at the center of my life. I faced it in confidence that God "works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose". I walked through these situations with my Lord leading the way and with the peace that passes all understanding filling my soul. That's not to say I handled everything perfectly and that there weren't times when I waivered. But overall, I look back on this year and see joy and peace. And the problems of this world have been forgotten and put aside. Because they are just problems of this world. And because of the way I started my year and stayed focused on the One who provides, I have an eternal perspective.

So, I encourage you to join with us January 10th as we begin our 21 day fast and focus on God, center on God. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you". James 4:8

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sarcastic Santa

This week has not been without it's challenges. Each day presented a new opportunity to look for the bright side and yet, I still waited with anticipation for the day my kids would open their gifts and we would celebrate the birth of our Savior.

One of my challenges this week was that my van took a turn for the worse and died. So I borrowed my husband's truck. I ran my errands and purchased some large items and put them in the back of the truck. What I didn't know is that is where my husband had cleverly hidden my unwrapped gifts. And of course, I thought it was hysterical. Every year he surprises me, and every year he guesses what he is getting. So this year the tables were turned and I thought it was hysterical. In spite of the fact that he told me he was going to return the gifts. You see, I know my husband has a strange sense of humor, but he's not a cruel man so certainly he wouldn't actually return the items.

Christmas morning came and everyone was unwrapping their gifts and enjoying the morning and sure enough my dishes that I wanted (and he had purchased) were no where to be found. Until I come to a rather large gift. I open it and lift the lid on the box and what do my wondering eyes see? Nope, not dishes. Coal. I had to wonder...the question just begged to be answered...

How did I end up with coal? I'm not a perfect person but coal? really? ok where are my dishes? Much later he did end up pulling out the dishes I had wanted and he managed a surprise or two. Such as the extraordinary large gift in the corner. inside of it, a box. And still another box. And another, yes another. Inside of that, another box. After a series of boxes, a gift card for a pedicure.

Yes, my husband has a strange sense of humor. He's such a sarcastic santa!

The kids, well they all enjoyed their gifts. They are sitting together now playing the new Wii and trying to figure out the games, putting together puzzles, and enjoying each other's company.

Merry Christmas to you all! I pray your day brings you many blessings and surprises. I pray it brings you closer to your family. And I pray that we would all remember that it's not about the gift we received today, but the gift we received so very many years ago. God bless you and your family on this very special day!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's a matter of circumstance

2 Cor 6:4-10 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing and yet possessing everything.

Paul really had the right perspective. Couldn't we all use some of his perspective. Paul was beaten, persecuted and thrown in jail. When he was in jail he used it as an opportunity. He had a captive audience so to speak. Please pardon my pun. But he figured he was right where God wanted him to be and he could share the gospel with his fellow inmates and also with the guards. When he was beaten, he would look on the brighter side. He wasn't killed and he could still serve the Lord. When he was sorrowful he was still rejoicing because at every turn God was providing for him and never left his side. Paul looked at life from a heavenly perspectful.

He viewed his circumstances, no matter what they were, good or bad, as an opportunity. We could learn a lot from Paul. What can we learn about our current circumstances? How can we be a light in someone else's circumstance. I've had many circumstances in my life that the enemy would love to use for my downfall and discouragement. But God has a heavenly perspective and that's the perspective I want. God can take those same circumstances and use them for His glory. And He is doing just that. You simply need to ask some of the women I met with last night. We sat and talked about our circumstances and encouraged one another in sisterly love.

No matter what your circumstance, it can be an opportunity to be used to glorify God!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stand Firm

This morning my reading included 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 "Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong. Do everything in love."

I have always loved this verse but today it caught my attention and caused me to pause and just ponder the full meaning of it. So I thought I'd share my thoughts. There are many things in this verse that Paul is telling us to do.

First, he tells us to be on guard. Why would we need to be on guard. A guard is someone who watches for approaching evil or trouble and protects something of value. So if I am to be on guard, what I find of most value is my faith. So I would take this to mean that I would need to be watching for for spiritual enemies. Whether it is false teaching or or things that creep in to produce pride or sin in my life, I need to be watchful so that I can see it coming and protect my heart and faith before it can cause any problems.

The next thing he tells us is to stand firm in our faith. There is but one truth and that truth is Jesus Christ. He died and he rose again and he offers salvation to all who will believe. I stand firm on that and that truth transforms my life so that I might look more like Him who saved me.

He tells us to have courage. Why would I need courage? I would need courage not only to withstand the enemy and stand firm in my faith but we are called to go out and make disciples. Friends, to go out, share your faith and disciple people to grow and be transformed takes courage. To be in a body of believers and do life with one another openly and honestly takes courage.

He tells us to be strong. Notice he tells us to have courage and then tells us to be strong. They're not the same instruction, they're actually separate. Ephesians 6:10 says "be strong in the Lord and His mighty power". We are to invite Holy Spirit to fill us. Holy Spirit encourages us, convicts us and strengthens us with power. We are to be strong with the strength given to us by Holy Spirit.

And finally Paul tells us to do everything in love. And why would he end with that? Because it's all about our motivation. Without love, we are clanging cymbals. Without love, our motivation is wrong and pride has entered our heart. Without love, we have nothing. God is love. And if we live wonderful and good lives and have not done them in the love of Christ, it's meaningless. Our motivation means everything.

As I go through my life, I make mistakes and sometimes get off track. We all do. But we can quickly make a course correction and go back to what we know. And what we know is the love of Christ. The Way, The Truth, And The Life. He will always be faithful to strengthen us, love us, and transform us.

So today, remember to be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be a person of courage, be strong and do EVERYTHING in love.