Consider the Ant….

Ants

Steve and I went on a walk this weekend.  It was fun, it was hard work, it was relaxing, it was cold (at night), and it was beautiful!

As we were walking Friday, we came across an Ant trail.  We marveled at how hard they worked.  They were single-minded.  They knew their task and did their best to carry them out.  Steve quoted one of the few verses he remembers from school:

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Proverbs 6:6

On Saturday as we walked back, we came across the line of Ants again.  First of all we were amazed they were still working (definitely not sluggards).  We also noticed that one of the lines was different.  Some were not moving and there were others moving about quickly.   We discussed how they must have been stepped on.  We then noticed a single line of Ants, like we did the day before.  They continued to work as their fellow Ants “ministered” (took care of) their fallen comrades.

This all made me think of how God created this world.  In one of my favorite verses it states:  “ For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” 1 Corinthians 14:33  Of course Paul is speaking here of how the Church works, but it also shows us a facet of God’s character, so hence how His creation is made.  When we look at how God created every living thing, we see order, not chaos.  There is no way our solar system, our planets, our planet, our trees, plants, animals, etc….evolved from nothing!   It just does not make any sense, period!

Anyone who believes otherwise just does not want to admit that man is not the ultimate authority.  We are not supreme.  We are not eternal.  We do not rule our own destiny!  There is a Creator, who has created all things as He seems fit.  They work when He is acknowledged, and when His rules are followed.  An example we talked about of how man has thought they knew best and “tried” to help creation is anti-bacterial soaps.  When you are hiking you need water.  You obviously cannot carry all the water you will need for even a couple of days, so you need to get water from lakes or rivers near you.  After you collect the water you need to filter it, then put iodine tablets in it, then neutralizing tablets in it.  We discussed how back a long time ago, you just drank from the rivers.  Also I noted that in other countries the people there are used to the bacteria (built up a resistance), so they don’t get sick from the water, but we who have been uber cautious of germs get sick if we drink the water.  Now when we hike instead of just drinking water from a stream, we have to go through a whole process before drinking.  (Does that make sense?).  We have taken God’s natural resource and, thinking we know better, “fix” the issue, (but not really…..).

So back to the Ant, and our Creator.  God has shown me again through His creation (Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”)  that He is Sovereign over all things.  I can trust him, even when things look like chaos to me, they are not chaos to him.

Look around you at creation.  Study it.  See how God’s perfect plan is evident even in the smallest thing, then KNOW, KNOW, that He not only exists, but has created with a plan that only He can fully understand and know.  But that He has created us to learn more about Him through.  He is AMAZING!!

One more Ant verse:  Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer” Proverbs 30:25

 

It’s not all that….I’m just angry

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This morning in my bible study we went over the 6th commandment….”Thou shalt not murder”.  Pretty simple right?  Don’t kill anyone…….

Well we all know that is really not the case, but this morning as I read over one of the passages (Matthew 5:21-22) it hit me anew of how anger distorts and destroys relationships, reputations, churches, families, etc…..

Look at the words from Matthew 5:21-24

“21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (This is Jesus talking).

How is it that we, in the church, can so easily dismiss our attitudes and actions towards others, whether Christian or non Christian?  How is it that because we feel a certain way about something, we feel justified?  Our words and actions are indicative of what is in our hearts.   Here is what Mark 7:2-23 (also Matthew 15:17-19) says:

And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.””(This is Jesus talking).

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 (This is Jesus talking).

Christian brother or sister, what say ye to these verses?  How do you reconcile your behavior, thoughts or words against them?  Do you excuse them away?  Do you say “well in this case I am justified?”  Here are some other  verses from 1 John:

“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” 1 John 3:14

“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20

We who say we love Christ, have no excuses.  If we harbor anger, hate, bitterness towards a fellow Christ follower, and act on those feelings we are in the wrong.  Repent and make amends.  If we have harbored anger, hate, bitterness towards a non Christian, and act on those feelings, how do we honor Christ with our actions to draw that person to him?  Repent and make amends.  We who so easily say, I’m justified in my thoughts and actions, must exam our hearts, and repent.  Jesus knows our hearts:

But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. 25 No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.” John 2:24-25

We need to be about love.  We need to acknowledge our lack of love for others.  We cannot continue to let the evil in our hearts dictate our words and actions towards others.  We need to repent, ask God to help us love that person, because he loves us, and ask God to bless that person (Romans 12:14; 1 Peter 3:9).

It is more than all that…….it’s a sin.

I shall not be moved.

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Lately, well for a good while now I have been struggling on several fronts.  I won’t go into detail, but one of the fronts is family…..church family to be exact, but also blood family.  It seems that where I thought I was in my freedom walk is not where I am.  I am bombarded by doubt and lack of trust.  I see people saying one thing, but not putting it into practice.  I try to be open and authentic, but feel like it’s met with resentment and distance.  I desire to air things, and openly discuss issues, only to find that people are not always willing to do the same.  It is so very easy (well not really) to remain silent and not confront.

In a devotion I read recently by Ed Welch, he mentioned this question he heard at a conference “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about conflict?”  So what is the first thing that comes to mind for you?  I thought of pain, stress, anger.  Guess what the speakers word was:   Opportunity!  Here is a link to the devotion.  We so often shy away from talking to one another about the hard stuff.  We would rather talk to someone who will agree with us, then seek out someone that will be work to get along.  This breaks my heart!  My heart is also breaking for those close to me who are struggling and I am unable to help and heal that hurting.  I feel incapacitated, bound my chains of fear and inadequacy.

All this to say, this morning as I was looking for a scripture for a Bible study I will be doing on Friday I came across Psalm 15.  Here it is in the NLT translation:

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?
    Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?
Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,
    speaking the truth from sincere hearts.
Those who refuse to gossip
    or harm their neighbors
    or speak evil of their friends.
Those who despise flagrant sinners,
    and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,
    and keep their promises even when it hurts.
Those who lend money without charging interest,
    and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.
Such people will stand firm forever.”

The part that stuck out to me was the “and keep their promises even when it hurts.”  Other translations say:  “who swears to his own hurt, and does not change” (ESV); “who keeps an oath, even when it hurts, and does not change his mind” (NIV).  In this chapter I am reminded that no matter how other people act, as far as it depends on me I need to live at peace with all people (Romans 12:18).  I cannot wait for them to act how I would have them act.  I can only change myself, well God is the only one that can change me, and them.  I just need to follow Him and be obedient to what he tells me to do.

So I will strive to live out Psalm 15 today and beyond.  Putting away how I “feel”, and live into God’s truth.

Well, In the End……

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So another episode of “This is Us” is done.  Well actually several episodes.  I finished the first season.  Now before I get to the point of this post, I have to say, this is a well made show.  The characters make you love them, with all their faults.  You root for them to reconcile.  You root for a good outcome.

But there is one thing that I have seen that is missing.  I don’t say this as criticism of the show, or the writers, I don’t expect them to have this, if they don’t know Jesus.  But for all of those out there that profess Christ, I hope you saw it too.  The lack of HOPE…..  Did you see it?  At every discussion of death, there were things said that just broke my heart.  After death, what is there?…..Nothing.  Or well they don’t know what’s after.  So many people in this show, and so very many people who are enamored by it, don’t have this hope, that we have.  One particular scene literally made me say (on the treadmill) REALLY, REALLY, REALLY!!!  Here is the scene:  Kate was just wheeled into surgery to have her appendix out, and Kevin walks up to a Menorah, Nativity, and a statue of Mary.   He asks the nurse behind the counter “If I want to pray, which one works the best?”  She says (chuckling) “Well, in the end, I’d say they all get the job done just fine”.

Dear person who may be reading this post, I want you to know that they all don’t work just fine.  There is only one who is able to give HOPE and that is Christ.  Someday a remnant of Jews (actually some even now) will know this truth, and there are those in the Catholic Church, who know already that you don’t pray to Mary, or any other saint, but we have been given access to the very throne room of God, through the blood of Jesus Christ(Eph 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19).

I am conflicted now because of this aspect of the show, as to whether I should continue watching.  One thing I do know is that I cannot be silent.  You see, I am a Christian….., but I am more than that.  That word has become overused.  Some wear that label who really do not profess Christ, and desire to follow him.  Society spurns that name, so I guess in that sense I rejoice in being called a Christian, as I hopefully move further and further away from societies norms.  But what I am…..what I desire to be above all is a follower, disciple, fellow-sufferer of Christ (Romans 8:17-18; 1 Peter 1:5-6).  So I speak…..

Like I said earlier, I do not expect those who do not proclaim Christ to get this belief.  If you do not have the  Holy Spirit these things don’t make sense (1 Corinthians 2:14).  But for the reason there may be one who as yet does not know Christ, I will speak that they may be drawn closer to him, and seek someone out who knows, loves and follows Jesus to teach them in the ways of truth (The Bible, scripture, God’s word).

Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one can come to the Father,except through me” John 14:6.   Only through Him is there HOPE, (1 Peter 1:3, 13, 21; Hebrews 6:11, 18, 19; and so many more scriptures on HOPE).  I don’t want you to be discouraged by what you see around you, Dear Person.  I want you to know, that you know, that you know, in Christ you can have HOPE and LIFE in the here and now, and a future with Him forever.

And “Christian Person”, please I beg of you, do not use that term flippantly.  If you say you know Christ, then be in His word everyday to know His heart, and the Father’s heart.  To know their character (that is unchanging).  Stop living with your feet in both worlds.  You cannot do so and claim Christ.  Your witness (my witness) is being compromised, but what we allow into our hearts and minds.  We need to keep our focus on Him and not allow ourselves to be drawn into worldly mindsets.  Be prepared to give a reason for your hope (1 Peter 3:15), to anyone who asks.  If you do not have hope.  If you wonder, like the characters on this show, I pray you  pray to God to show you the truth, and seek out godly counsel.

Love, means never having to say you’re sorry?

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I just got off the treadmill after watching an episode of “This is Us”.  Looks like a good show, well except for the “butt” in the very first scene.  Don’t need to see that.  Soooooo……  after I went upstairs to eat my breakfast a thought came to me “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” (must have been because Mandy Moore looks a lot like Ali MacGraw).  Does love mean never having to say you’re sorry?  Does it really?  I don’t think so.

Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

When you love someone and you’ve hurt them, either intentionally or unintentionally, a sorry heals a part of them that was wounded.  And the relationship that you both share is wounded.  Logically why wouldn’t you apologize?  For the LOVE, why wouldn’t you apologize?  Yes, yes it’s hard to do, and sometimes (sometimes) the person may have over reacted.  And sometime you may be the one who needs the apology.  That is for you to work out within your relationships.

If you love someone, you say you’re sorry.  Period.

Let’s look at it from a faith stand point also. What is repentance?  One definition is “to feel regret or contrition”.  When we sin, and repent, what are we doing?  We are saying we are sorry for what we’ve done.  A definition of sorry is  “feeling sorrow, REGRET, penitence”.  If you love God, you apologize, you repent, you turn from that action, you heal your relationship.  If you don’t love God, well OK, don’t be sorry.  What’s the point.  But if you do and you treasure that relationship, you say “I’m so sorry.  I want to make things right between us again.  I don’t want anything to come between our relationship again!”

So goes the same in our human relationships, whether Husband, Children, Siblings, Co-workers, Church Family, etc……  If you value that relationship and want nothing to hinder it APOLOGIZE!!!!  If you don’t care…….don’t.  It’s really that simple.

So does love mean “never having to say you’re sorry”?  Not so much…… Continue reading

Wrestling in the Walk

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My thanksgiving today was fought hard and wrestled with on my walk this morning. I swear if you see me on my walks you must get a good chuckle!! I’ll give you a preview, and show you a little of what goes on in some of my “walks with the Lord”.

I started out this morning disheartened once again but what I see on Facebook. On both sides of the election there is angry words and name calling. My heart was breaking, because I feel helpless. I don’t know what to do, how can I make a difference?  So I am walking and the song “Light up the sky” comes on. I start to cry. Not little tears, but sobs, as I power walk down Gayle Lane. Wanting God to show me he’s there through the clouds. Now mind you he’s done this before. But this time I feel him say “really, do I have to show you again, I AM here with you, do I need to show you a sign?” It reminded me of the verses where Jesus told the Pharisees that “an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign”. OUCH! OK got it. So I continue on and then the song comes on “When I’m with you” and the lyrics “Everything’s not fine, and I’m not O.K., It’s nice to know, I can come this way”.  So I start singing that out.  The lyrics ministered to my soul.  God is listening and is O.K. that I am at where I’m at.  He is listening.

So I continue on, but my heart isn’t right.  I am thinking of ALL the things I want to say to some of the people who have made disparaging comments about, well, me…..Not in words directed specifically at me, but at my views (or views they assume I have because of who I voted for).  Boy howdy I was ticked.  I kept thinking, yeah, I’m going to type this, or that, or that’s a good one, that will passive aggressively stick it to them.  Ah…..yeah….then God does this———-He reminds me of these verses

“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:23-24

             “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

(Here are others that did not come to mind but speak to the same issues:  Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-28 (But read to the end of the chapter….It’s really good); Romans 12:14)

About this time I’m on the home stretch, traveling down 60th.  I am reminded that God does not want me to act the way my sinful flesh would want to react, but to act the way that Christ would.  To not turn on those who turn on me.   To not speak with anger towards them.  To not have unforgiveness in my heart, but love.  To listen to them.  To actually BLESS them!

So what I am thankful for today?  Those people who challenge me and challenge my faith!  You help bring me to my knees, and surrender my will to my Father’s will.  For that I am so completely thankful!!  I pray today that:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

 

Oh and the song that I ended with?  “Move, keep walking” by Toby Mac…..Lyrics “I know you feel like you got nothing left, well lift your head, it ain’t over yet.  Move, keep walking.  Soldier keep movin’ on.  Move, keep walking, until the morning comes.  Lift your head, it ain’t over yet……..Hold on hold on the Lord ain’t finished yet.  Hold on, hold on he’ll get you through this.  Hold on, hold on these are the promises I NEVER WILL FORGET, I NEVER WILL FORGET.

God is good!  Thanks for listening!

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Thankful for a God who disciplines…..

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In my bible study right now we are going through the book of Exodus.  So far we have studied chapters 10-3.  We are just to the point where God meets Moses at the burning bush.  We have just begun to hear Moses’ excuses for not doing what God was telling him to do.

But that’s only for context.  That is another lesson for another time, maybe.  Earlier this week I was taken to the 12th chapter of Numbers.  At the very beginning of the chapter Moses’ older siblings are a bit antagonistic towards him.  They’re upset (or that is their excuse) that he married a Cushite woman.  Listen to them in verse 2 – “And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?  Has he not spoken through us also?  And the Lord heard it.”  (OK there’s another lesson there too, but that’s still not what this is about).

It says next in verse 3 – “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.”  That’s a pretty amazing statement knowing who Moses is and what he is about to do.  So God calls all three of them to a meeting, right….So they obey and gather at the tent of meeting.  The Lord comes down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance to the tent and called Aaron and Miriam.  What do you think they were thinking right about now?  Were they thinking “Yes” he called us, not Moses” or were they thinking “Yikes” he called us out?”

So God say to them (and here is where I get to the lesson part for me) “here my words:  If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses.  He is faithful in all my house.  With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord.”

WOW!  I mean WOW!  This is Moses, this meek man.  This shepherd, this murderer.  He was special.  He was even different than the prophets.  Different then Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc…..  God spoke to him mouth to mouth, clearly and without riddles!

YET – Moses did not enter the promise land……   Moses disobeyed God’s instruction.  In Numbers 20, the people wanted water and were whining, so God tells Moses to gather the assembly.  He also tells Moses to tell the rock before their eyes (the assemblies) to yield it’s water.  Moses and Aaron do gather the assembly, but instead of telling the rock to  yield it’s water, he addresses the people saying “Here now you rebels, shall WE bring forth water for you out of this rock?”  And he strikes the rock with his staff.  Moses not only disobeyed God’s command, but in saying what he said he took credit for the miracle in front of all of Israel.

WOW!  So God says to both Moses and Aaron “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.  Moses (and Aaron) suffered the consequences of disobeying God.  Even with how close his relationship was with God, Moses still had to face the consequences of his actions.  He would not be able to enter into the promises land.  The land he spent 40 years of his life moving towards.  The land he pursued.

God desires (no demands) obedience.  No matter who we are.  No matter how faithful we are.  When we disobey there will be consequences.  Some big like this one, some smaller.

I don’t know about you but this story encourages me.  Why you are probably asking?  Because it shows me that God can be trusted.  He follows through.  He is consistent.  He does not let anyone get a pass, just because of who they are.  I can count on him and his word.

Also as a postscript, because of God’s love for Moses in Deuteronomy 34 he takes him up on Mt. Nebo and shows Moses all the promise land.  He got to see it from afar.  I love that.  Another really cool thing in Deuteronomy 34 is when Moses dies, God himself buries him.  That is amazing isn’t it?  Check it out.  Also I think in Jude Satan and the archangel Michael contend over the body of Moses.  (Just as a side note….Why do you think that is?)

 

The Choke Chain of Life

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DSC_7090I have a dog.  Actually I have a puppy, who is not even a year old yet.  We have been trying to teach him how to walk right, and using a choke chain to help with that.  On our previous walks he would constantly (and I mean constantly) pull at the leash and choke himself.  Also he had no direction.  He went everywhere!  It was not a lot of fun, so we would stop taking him on walks.  How sad is that?!

So for a couple of my walks I have been taking him, using the choke chain.  The first time he got the hang of it pretty quick.  This morning, not so much.  He kept pull at the choke chain, gagging, and hacking.  I would pull on it and tell him no, and he would keep it up.  It seemed like it went on forever, but eventually he got the idea that if he didn’t strain so hard, the choke chain would let up and he could walk with no pain if he kept at a consistent pace.

God used this illustration this morning to teach me about my life.  I do not use the choke chain as a punishment for Chewie (my puppy).  I used it as a discipline tool.  Something that teaches him the proper way to walk, so that he and I get enjoyment from the walk.  From our time together.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

God uses life’s circumstances, trials, hardships, testing, struggles, as our choke chain.  He doesn’t use it as punishment, but to discipline us.  To teach us.  To show us our need of the proper direction, the proper walk to walk that not only pleases Him, but gives us a life that is good.  We can learn to walk with the right pace.  Keeping in step with our Master, and enjoying our time with each other.  In that way we both benefit.  God is pleased, because he so desires relationship with us, and we are pleased because there is nothing better than spending time with our Master, Guide, Friend, Savior, Father.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,

but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness

to those who have been trained by it.”

Hebrews 12:11

Cultivating Relationships

Full Definition of CULTIVATE
transitive verb
1
: to prepare or prepare and use for the raising of crops; also : to loosen or break up the soil about (growing plants)
2
a : to foster the growth of <cultivate vegetables>
b : culture 2a
c : to improve by labor, care, or study : refine <cultivate the mind>
3
: further, encourage <cultivate the arts>
4
: to seek the society of : make friends with

Last night as I lay down to sleep the Lord brought this word to mind when thinking about relationships. Cultivate relationships. I wondered what that is supposed to look like. I thought about growing up on a farm and what I saw there. Part of the cultivation process on a farm is tilling the soil. Breaking up the soil with a sharp blade and turning it. Taking a hard piece of land and making it loose, and ready to receive seed.
Relationships are meant to be cultivated. A relationship without working at it really is impossible. If you desire relationship you need to seek it, and when you find it you need to cultivate it, labor at it, care for it, study it, foster its growth.
Sometimes when you Plowingare in a relationship, things happen that hurt. Do you abandon the soil of that relationship because if it? Do you stop tending it? This is where that sharp blade is turning the soil of our hearts to grow the seed necessary to go deeper. It is not easy, but that is the point. You need to be willing to experience the pain of the blade in order to go deeper in relationship. You have to be willing to give up your right to self-preservation and say “I think this relationship is worth it”.
Another thing that came of this thought like is TIME. Spend time, make time, be there, be present. I guess it comes from the week I have just spent after my mother’s death. Thinking about family, and how often in our busy lives we don’t TAKE THE TIME to see each other, to talk to each other, to give to each other. We run around doing all types of stuff and when something comes up we think “WE DON’T HAVE THE TIME” to see those we love. That is work too. If it’s worth it, if they’re worth it, then MAKE AND TAKE THE TIME.
I pray that what the Lord is showing me I will begin to cultivate in all my relationships…… Continue reading