Monday, November 04, 2019

Christians and Politics?

From time to time I post political news or commentary on my Facebook page. I did just that a few days ago. The heated and ongoing discussion sparked this blog. 

As I read through the comments I felt sorrow, disappointment, anger, and pride. There were mean comments written to intentionally hurt an opponent, lies intentionally written to malign someone's character, plus well stated arguments on both sides, and sadly all kinds of evil statements cast about to create destruction.

We people are divided, angry and determined to have our way. We have forgotten that we don't have to agree to be agreeable. We've forgotten that it's okay to disagree. And we've forgotten that we are stronger when we stand together, if not in ideology then at least in purpose. 

I'm a passionate thinking person. And I believe in speaking up about ideas and beliefs I hold dear, and that includes politics. It's not a thing I take lightly. When I post something on my page, especially when I know it might stir up controversy I try to present thoughts with clarity and accuracy It's not always easy to accomplish and I often fall short of my goal. There is so much misinformation "out there" that it's easy to be deceived. And yet, I am compelled to step into the fray from time to time.

When any of us does this, we are sticking out our necks. It's an emotional risk. We can almost count on getting piled on. It can get so bad that we vow - never again. But then there is that tug of the Holy Spirit saying, "speak up, but remember you represent The Father." 

I don't want to become what I detest - a reckless and malicious finger-pointer. May God forgive me when I allow weakness to draw me into such a despicable state.

I sometimes wonder what God thinks when he watches our wobbly efforts to share truth. He sees the larger picture, of course, and I'm sure many times he shakes his head and wishes we wouldn't get so riled up. Certainly, he is sometimes disappointed in us. But that does not mean he wants us to be apathetic or too fearful to stand up for truth and for one another.

There are those who believe we should never get involved in political discussions or causes. I don't agree. Believers have a duty to stand for what is good and right. God's Word gives us cause and permission to do so. I'm not trying to guilt anyone into doing something they do not believe they are called to do. We each must choose for ourselves. But I know there are many who remain silent, some who are gifted and who care enough to take their place in the political field or to become part of the press. We need more voices. 

At the very least we all need to pray, especially for our leaders. If we are praying for someone, it will be more difficult to hate them. First Timothy 2:1-4 says, I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

These are powerful words. How different the world would be if we committed to pray for one another and our leaders every day, and pleaded for God's mercy to be upon them.There is such earnestness in the word plead. 

The Lord hears our prayers. He wants us to live in peace and godliness. 

When we pray we are better able to speak with dignity and fairness, with strength and clarity, remaining respectful. When I am in the midst of a passionate exchange I must intentionally slow down and ask God what I should or should not say. Still, I sometimes fail miserably, but I won't give up.  

We need to be a positive influence in our world. And as difficult as it is to do, we are to place ourselves under the authority of those God has chosen to lead. 

But we are first to obey God. A clear example is in  Acts 4:18-19. So they called the apostles back in and told them never again to speak or teach about Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard."  

I love the statement, We cannot stop. I want to have that kind of heart.

We are able to remain steady in the midst of political storms. We are in the midst of one now. Daniel 2:21 says, He determines the course of world events; removes kings and sets others on the throne. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.

God has a plan.

May we encourage and pray for one another. God knows the beginning and the end of all things. We do not need to fear. 

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, October 21, 2019

Miracles Don't Happen Every Day

The definition of miracle is, an extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power. 

By definition a miracle is not something that happens every day. Granted, just the fact that we are alive and living on this extraordinary planet feels like a miracle and all the beauty around us reminds us of God and his miraculous power, but these things can be explained. What I'm talking about are those exceptional events that cannot be explained.

Six years ago my family came face to face with what looked like a tragedy (and in some ways it was and is), but foremost it was a miracle.  My grandson Ezra, who was eleven years old at the time, was at a friend's house and he was riding a side-by-side ATV when the vehicle tipped over. Ezra did not have a helmet on and was not wearing a safety belt so when the ATV went over he was thrown out and the four-by-four came down on his head and neck, 1200 pounds cut into his skull and ground his face into the rocks.

Ezra remembers coming out of unconsciousness and realizing he was trapped. It was a horrific moment. He could hear the engine running and smell the odor of gasoline. He feared the vehicle might explode. He could see a nearby highway and prayed that someone would see him. His friend ran for help and soon sirens were wailing and emergency crews arrived, along with an ambulance.

It took special equipment to cut Ezra free, but when he was loaded into an ambulance and then headed for the hospital he was alive. Some who watched prayed. 

I heard from many of the emergency crew and the doctors who cared for Ezra that night - none of them could explain how he had survived. But Ezra knew. He told me later that it was God who had saved him. 

Ezra was life-flighted by plane to Portland where he underwent emergency surgery, the first of many surgeries, which included a craniotomy to relieve pressure on his brain, repair deep lacerations to his face and skull, a partially dismembered ear, a jaw broken in two places, and an injured cervical spine.

He was a mess and in terrible pain. But we were so thankful that he was alive! 

Here are a few photos taken after the initial surgery just to give you an idea of his condition. I will spare you those taken before.

The doctors did their jobs well and saved his life. We and so many others prayed. God was with us and with Ezra through the ordeal and all the days, weeks and months following. 

As Ezra healed it became apparent that he had sustained injuries to his brain. His face and skull could be mostly repaired, but the interior damage was going to be a more difficult matter. Ezra had a traumatic brain injury. It has changed the course of his life, and he has had to battle to move forward. But he's a fighter and hasn't conceded. He knows God has a plan.

Here is our miracle kid today. He is now seventeen and a senior in high school. He's beautiful on the inside and out. He has a lot of life ahead of him. It's not going to be easy. The accident left him with life-long deficits, but he's facing the challenge courageously. I have no doubt that God will use his life to enrich others. 

When I think about all that has happened and all that is still to come I am reminded of these verses. 

Ephesians 3:20  Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

2nd Corinthians 12:9  Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses."

On that awful day, when I was called to the ER, I was afraid and a weight of hopelessness lay over me like a heavy mantle. But God had not left me or my family alone. On that day when we prayed for a miracle, God was merciful. We all are exceedingly thankful.

It is good to be reminded of God's goodness, but to also remember that God is sovereign. We can't know when or if a miracle will happen when we cry out for one, but we can be assured that God will always do what is best. And that we can be assured that he will be with us and uphold us with his mighty power and love.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, October 14, 2019

Knit together in my mother's womb.

On this lovely Autumn day I've been thinking back to the early days of my life and precious times with my mother.                                                            We were both  young when this photo was taken. I didn't know then that Mom considered me a God-given gift, but as the years passed I grew to understand.

Mom is gone now, but the memories are still here with me.

Psalm 139 reminds me of how much God orchestrated all of it. In verses 13-17 it says,

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O'God. They cannot be numbered."

As always, when I read this scripture I am reminded of how precious I am to God and what a wonder is His creation. 

But today as I read, something more grabbed hold of me. My mother. She also knew me before I was born. I know how deep her love for me was because I'm a mother too. I've yet to travel the long journey she did, but I know that even on my last day my children will be my most precious gift in life.

 I feel loved when I think on those days before I was born, when I lived beneath my mother's ribs. She was aware of me most every moment, and I can imagine the hopes and dreams she had for her child. And though I may not have followed the path she had imagined I know she loved me just as I was because that's how mother's are. And she saw beyond the shell of me - she saw my heart.

The memories are bitter sweet as I think about my mom, first vibrant and alive, and then aged and faded until her last day. But what a blessing to have been loved all my life with a love that still shines today.

I thank the Lord for the days he gave us. And those glorious beginnings when I was lovingly carried in my mother's womb, chosen by God just for her and greatly blessed to have been my mother's child.

I don't pretend that all the days were perfect, that my mother was perfect. And I was certainly not a flawless child. But I always knew I was loved. 

I have many beautiful memories of my childhood. One simple moment stands out. It was a summer day when my mother gently washed and then combed out my long hair. When she was done I raced outside and climbed onto the wooden swing my father had built and pushed off gently, then lay back and let my long hair fall beneath me to dry in the warm sun and gentle breeze of the swing. Mom stood in the doorway and watched, her eyes warmed by delight and devotion.

My heart is warmed at every remembrance of that moment. Do you have a special moment too that you would like to share?

Grace and peace to you from God,

Friday, October 04, 2019

A Better Way?

It seems that society today believes it's good to judge others (according to our own set of values of course), to blast someone who doesn't agree with us without forethought or kindness, and to wallop them by whatever means seems appropriate to us at the time.

We see a lot of this on social media - Facebook, Twitter. We even see it on our streets. My daughter lived in Portland, Oregon for a while and she avoided any trips downtown because she was afraid. At that time, there were demonstrations on a pretty regular basis and sometimes they got violent. How sad it is to be fearful to venture out into our own town.

The meanness and cruelty I see in this world grieves me. It hurts my heart. And if I were to compare the size off my heart to God's ... well, mine is very small, which makes me wonder what does all this hatred feel like to him?

Do we truly believe it's all right to make a judgment about a person on the basis of race, creed, gender, or political position ... and any other number of groups? The point is judging by a category is small-minded and cruel. God is the only one who can judge. He's the only one who can see into a person's heart. He knows us like no one else can.

John 13:35 says this, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

When others watch how we live, would they know we are followers of Christ? Or do we look like the world? Do we pass the "smell test"? Actually, we never will. Even the apostle Paul recognized the evilness in his own heart. In I Timothy 1:15 he said, "This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - And I was the worst sinner of them all."

We are all going too fail. I mess up all the time. I get riled up or hurt and I lash out. I can be cranky and strike out at an innocent bystander. I can get passionate about something and say more than I should. 

We do need to be fair minded with one another. But that does not mean we can't speak up. Christ did. He spoke truth. He even got angry. Of course, where we go wrong is when we allow these emotions to fester into hatred and bitterness.

We're not going to walk through life perfectly. If we could then there would be no need for a Savior. What my heart is crying out is - Can't we try harder? Spend more time with the Lord, give the Holy Spirit freedom to work in our lives, Love the Lord above all others (including ourselves)? If we do that, our walk will improve. And the way we live may even speak to a lost and hurting world. We could make a difference.

Let's begin by praying for one another. I challenge you to choose someone who is difficult for you to love. Pray for them whenever they come to mind. You will see a difference, maybe not in them, but in yourself.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, September 23, 2019

Forever His.

I've been feeling melancholy today. I learned this week that someone I  trust and love and very much admire in the faith has a starkly different perspective of eternal security than I do.

I believe Go has laid out a clear path too understanding whether or not our salvation is secure. In John He tells us several times that all we must do to be saved is to believe in the Son of God. Ephesians four reminds us that believers are sealed for all time. (powerful words).

When we believe we become brand new creations through Christ. We are regenerated and adopted as God's own children. And though a child may become disappointed, even angry with a parent they will always be His child. There are no give-backs in the Kingdom.. 

If one of my own children became so angry or disappointed in me that they felt they actually hated me and told me they would never have anything more to do with me, they would still be my child. We are bonded by blood, just as we are bonded with Christ by His blood. I would be heartbroken, but I would still be the mother of that child because the bond of blood cannot be broken.

Since my conversation with my Christian brother, I've spent many hours studying applicable scriptures. And I've been reassured that my salvation is secure. Though I may lose heavenly rewards, I will never lose my place in eternity with my Father. Praise Him for his mercy!

So, what now? I've prayed. My husband has prayed. We wait.

Our Heavenly Father has whispered, "Seek me, Trust me - Do you trust me?"

"Yes. We trust you."

"All right then. This path is not too difficult for you. Remain in m e and see what work I have for you to do."

We will do our best to follow God and His will for us. Each day, each step is about what He wants, not just for us but also from  us. We ask for His wisdom and when we should speak and when to be silent. And when it is time to speak, we seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in what we should and should not say.

Christians are never going to agree on all things. We're just people and that's okay. But, there are some lines we cannot cross. Those things that are stronger than personal convictions, the truths that come straight from God's Word. Those we must stand on. And we will stand ... though with gentleness and in love.

Grace ad peace to you from God,


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Consumed by Cravings

I love to begin my mornings by spending time with the Lord in a devotional. I've been reading from a book called Embraced, 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close, written by Lysa TerKeurst. It was a gift from a group of women at the Church on the Mountain in Welches, Oregon, where I spoke at a retreat in 2018. They loved me well, and I am enjoying the devotional they gifted to me.

This morning's reading was especially moving for me. When I feel overwhelmed and tears come I can't help but share. So that's what I'm doing, sending off these precious words to you. Here they are:

 "A few years ago, a weight-loss company came up with a brilliant advertising campaign. Maybe you saw some of their ads. A little orange monster chases a woman around, tempting and taunting her with foods that obviously aren't a part of her healthy eating plan. The ads perfectly capture what it feels like to be harassed by cravings all day long.
    While I've never seen this orange monster chasing me, I've felt its presence. I've felt it for food cravings, but I know that we all feel it for something. Sometimes, many somethings.
    Attention and satisfaction. Like me. Approval and appreciation. Follow me. Money and power. Give me. More, more, more. Sometimes it feels like the chase will never end, the cravings will never be filled ... that nothinng will ever be enough.
    While the orange monster is a great way to visualize cravings, those ads fell short in their promise to really help a woman. The weight-loss company's theory is to teach what foods are more filling and encourage consumption of those. But does that really help overcome cravings?
    We shop and spend  money on things we don't need. We still eat the chocolate pie when we're full from our dinner. We scroll through social media, checking our pages and counting our likes and comments. We indulge in our guilty pleasures, hide our secret sins, and lie in bed wondering if this is it. Is this it?
    What is actually going on here?
    I believe God made us to crave. Now before you think this is some sort of cruel joke by God, let me assure you that the object of our craving was never supposed to be food or the many other things people find themselves consumed by.
    Think about the definition of the word craving. How would you define it? defies craving as something you long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for. Now consider this expression of craving: "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God" (Psalm 84:1-2).
    Yes, we were made to crave - long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for - God. Only God.
    Sweet sister, does this resonate with you?
    Have you chosen to pursue God, to follow Jesus? He created you to know Him, to be fulfilled more deeply by knowing Him than by any other experience or pleasure this world has to offer. When we admit our need for Him, when we humble ourselves and confess our sin and ask Him to be Lord of our lives, that's where the journey begins. He saves us in that moment, and then we can begin the process of allowing Him to fulfill our cravings and make us eternally, completely, and wholly filled.
    Is it easy?
    Is it worth it?
    A thousand times yes."

It is my prayer that these words will uplift and encourage you as you walk the path laid out for you by God.

How lovely is the Lord's dwelling place where he waits for us and then welcomes us into His presence.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Prisoner for Christ?

Is it another one of those days? Nothing's going right. You're not feeling well. You wake up and all you know is pain, or remorse from  a wrong you've done. Maybe a friend betrayed you and you're heartsick. Or did you mess up at work? There are countless situations in our lives that get us down, hold us back, sidetrack us. Sometimes we even feel imprisoned by our circumstances. I feel like that a lot.

We are just people. So disappointments, travails, frustrations and fears are part of life. I'm right there with you. Too often, in the midst of a struggle I falter. I'm not the kind of friend I should be or the mother I should be, or Christian I should be. I become weary, angry, and sometimes I feel sorry for myself.  Ugh. I hate that.

When everything seems too hard or even impossible, friends are good and helpful, but the only place to find the right answers every time is in God, His Word. If only we will listen to Him. Sorting out troubles in my own power will lead me astray.

The apostle Paul spent long periods of time imprisoned and yet he wrote more books in the Bible than any other man, some of the most powerful words were penned from within the confines of prison.

Did he get angry or frustrated? Was he ever afraid? Did he struggle to carry out his mission? What do you think? He was just a man, after all. 

When Paul began his ministry, Christians did not trust him. They turned him away. Can we blame them? He had been the chief persecutor of Christ followers. Still, Paul persevered. He was hunted, beaten, jailed and ultimately gave his life for his faith. A man doesn't walk that walk without disappointment and even despair. But by the strength and power of God Paul kept on going. He didn't give up. He continued to preach Christ and offered wisdom and  knowledge and even encouragement to believers ... even while in prison.

When I think of this man who loved the Lord so much that he gave his life for him I have to look at myself too. I don't like what I see - weakness, fear, frustration ... self. 

But I'm not without hope. 

It is God in the midst of the difficult things of this earth that help me grow stronger. I am thankful for spring because there is winter. And the heat of summer makes me long for fall.  

What a privilege it is to serve the Lord. I can depend upon Him. He provides all I need. He never forsakes me. But if I am to live confidently rejoicing my gaze must rest upon Him.

The Lord's plans are perfect. I pray we recognize the beauty in His purpose for us, no matter what the circumstances. And may we rest in His peace, understanding how deep His love is for us. 

We do not walk alone.

Grace and peace to you from God.