Monday, May 30, 2011

Society Led?

I have been thinking a lot about this topic over the last few months.  It has never been far from my mind but for some reason it seems that I just have been thinking about it nonstop.  So much so that it has burdened my soul.  I think it is time to share.

When I became a mother 20 ½ years ago I never could have imagined what was ahead of me.  I became responsible for little lives that were in my care.  Life didn’t seem to be so dangerous or threatening when it was just me.  I never noticed things before that all of a sudden just seemed to JUMP out at me when I saw them.  Now that one son is 20 and one almost 18, I find myself even more attentive.  I see things that now are common place.  Things that even just 20 years ago would have NEVER been talked about let alone put on the television and there was no such thing as internet to “vent” it.  What is acceptable has changed GREATLY!  Don’t get me wrong, things were still misconstrued when I was growing up but there were still those things you just never saw.  When I was in high school, I remember this so clearly, I came back on a Monday and someone told me that a classmate had her baby.  WHAT????  I didn’t even know she was pregnant.  She hid it VERY well.  It was not something that you wanted to show if you did happen to find yourself in that circumstance.  I also remember that yes there was homosexuality but it was not something you announced openly.  I had to deal with that reality at a VERY young age and the shame that it brought.  Now it is typical to see a pregnant teenager or know a homosexual.  We have become comfortable and tamed by this world we live in.  As a country we have become fast food.  As Christians some have become “fast food Christians”, get it how YOU want it.  And if it isn’t fast enough complain that you didn’t get it your way.  It isn’t just sex or sexual acts before marriage and homosexuality that I am speaking of.  Those two are just the easiest targets.  Check with your children to find out where they stand on those because what society tells them is acceptable is speaking louder than you know or think.  I’m talking about a lot of things.  What we say, how we conduct ourselves, what we watch or listen to, even what we allow in our lives have been compromised. 

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” ~ Romans 12:1-3 (NLT)

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.   For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.   And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” ~ 1 John 15-17 (NLT)

We are called to live in the world dear brothers and sisters but we are also called to be set apart from this world.  How can we be a light to this world if we look a lot like it?  How can God’s saving words go out from our lips if we act like those we are telling it to?  My challenge this week . . . Do you measure yourself by the faith of God or have you allowed yourself to be tainted by this world?  Have you allowed society to water down how God wants you to live a Christian life?  Take a little time and examine your life and ask God to show you if you are His faithful servant.  Be set apart my sisters and brothers!  Show this world what God can do if you totally give your life to Him!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cracks are not beautiful!

This last weekend my husband and I took a little mini vacation.  We really needed this time away to revive.  We decided to start our weekend off by going over to our house, that has been empty for 2 years, and check on it.  While he mowed the lawn I walked through the house.  What I found made my heart sink.  We knew there was damage to the house due to a water leak from the roof.  What we didn’t know is that our job of covering the area with plastic on the roof did not hold.  The last time we went a couple months ago it was still there but it does not take long when wind and rain are coming down daily.  I found a once beautiful kitchen that I worked so hard on remodeling, starting to actually crumble.  I then found myself sitting in the middle of the living room floor crying and asking God why He allowed this to happen to my home.  Why did He take us so far away that we could not stay in our home or keep a close watch on it?  My mind filled with so many questions.  Questions I could not find any answers to.  My heart truly seemed to be lying on the floor in front of me.  How on earth are we going to be able to move this house without it falling apart?  How are we going to repair all the damage and still have it livable?  So many more things started running through my mind.  As tears fell, my hope went with them.  My husband walked through the door and saw the new damage for the first time.  He turned and saw his wife and said, “It will be ok.  It will all work out!”  We finished up our business there and left.  We went about the rest of our night but the house was not far from my thoughts.  This situation, it seemed, was trying to ruin our much needed time to rejuvenate.  I played into that for a short time till God reminded me, once again, that He was in control.  “Ok God I trust you, with EVERYTHING!  You said go and we went.  You knew then what you were doing and you know now!”  We had a beautiful weekend after that.  Time shared with friends and family but most of all with each other.  When our weekend began to come to a close my mind fell to the house again.  This time however, it was thinking how this house that I so much cared for was a reflection of God in our own lives.  How you may ask?  Well let me explain.

We as Christians tend to think we have it all together.  Even when the rough stuff comes we still think we got it under control, at least somewhat.  As in taking care of my home while we lived in it.  If something went wrong  we would repair it, knowing that if we did not, it would only get worse.  We as Christians see things in our lives sometimes and we choose to fix them.  But sometimes we don’t pay attention to that small crack over there that we allowed to begin.  A word perhaps said unkindly or a thought left unchecked.  We go about our daily lives attending to the things we can.  Sometimes we may take notice of the crack and tell ourselves that it is ok, it isn’t very big at all.  We leave it unattended.  My friend I’m here to tell you that leaving things unattended in our Christian walk is very detrimental.  It can lead to so many things if left unchecked.  In time it can become a bigger crack and it can start to crumble the very foundation you stand on.  God doesn’t ask us to give all but that “one” thing to Him.  It isn’t ok for you to hold on to something that you value as important.  I’m here to tell you, like my house that I loved so dearly, you WILL begin to crumble.  Maybe not right away but I can guarantee that you will.

  “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-9 

Don’t be too proud to admit that you have cracks and for goodness sakes DON’T think that they are ok to let be.  God doesn’t tell us to be alert for no reason people.  There is someone out there that HATES you and wants to kill you.  It starts with allowing him access to the small things and him telling you that it is ok to let them be.  God NEVER told us that once we become a Christian we can sit back and relax.  STAND up Christians and FIGHT!  This is not a time for us to allow those cracks to remain in our lives.  My challenge this week . . .  What do you have in your life that you have allowed to stay a little too long?  What have you convinced yourself that it wouldn’t hurt to stay?  Don’t allow the devil to fool you.  Fix those cracks RIGHT NOW!  Make sure that you keep your house tended to.  Don’t grow comfortable or lax about your Christian walk.  Because I can guarantee that the devil NEVER becomes relaxed about trying to kill your love for God!       

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fail to plan, plan to fail!

Have you ever heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”?  There have been so many times I have made plans and they didn’t happen.  Or sometimes didn’t make any plans and something took up my entire day.  I have made plans for my life that I thought for sure would be the best thing for me.  I mean why wouldn’t I know what is best for myself, right?  So I proceed down that path that I so carefully laid expecting some pretty awesome things.  It starts out pretty cool.  The sights are beautiful and new.  I take my time and enjoy looking at the scenery.  I quickly decide that yes I made the right plans!  Then I come across trees that fell on my path, so I have to climb over.  Next a bump then a hole.  Then I come to a bridge and all of a sudden it crumbles and there is no way across to the other side.  What started out as what was a “perfect” plan had come to a complete halt.  Now what do I do?  My life has no forward momentum.  Has this ever happened to you?  You get to a point where you have no clue what to do now because you didn’t plan to have this happen.  I think everyone at one point or time in their life has laid plans only to have them crumble. 
Now I know we Christians NEVER do anything like that.  I know you would never move out on your own and plan something without God!  So I should just stop writing right now!  I think however we as Christians sometimes do it more than we think.  I think we have the intentions of following the plan God has for us but then somewhere along the line we began to rewrite them.  We don’t really notice it right away and only until we have really messed things up do we see that we changed them.  So then it is our responsibility to cry out to God and ask Him to correct us and guide us.  “I know, LORD, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.”  ~ Jeremiah 10:23&24 (NLT)  Your life is not your own my friend.  Your life belongs to God and if we would totally trust that, I think we would remember that He knows what is best for us.  We may not think that it is BUT sometimes it doesn't matter what we think.  When the times do come that we decide that we are going to write our own map, humble yourself to ask your God for correction and guidance.  My challenge this week . . . Do you need to stop thinking you know what is better?  Or maybe you are at that crumbled bridge and you need to cry out to God and ask Him for a gentle correction.  He loves you and all He asks is you TRUST Him!  Ask Him to show you and guide you in each and every situation you may face.  Don’t think you have a better way of dealing with it because I can guarantee that He has a better way.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Michelle and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

This is a rhetorical question because I really already know the answer to it.  Have you ever had a time in your life where if it can go wrong it does?  There never seems to be a break from the constant hammering that is happening on top of your head.  You just start to figure out one thing that went wrong and before you can even finish, another thing pops up and shows you its ugly face.  Come on I know you have had those times.  I know you, as the reader, are nodding your head as you are read.  The fact of the matter is we have pretty rotten days sometimes.  Sometimes those days turn into weeks, months, or even years.  We get to a point where we scream and say “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!  I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!”  Maybe a tear or two falls and maybe a few objects get tossed lightly, *cough*, across the room.  Oh wait; you would NEVER do such a thing!  ;)    It has taken me a pretty long time to figure out that none of that stuff really makes the situation better.  It just adds to my frustration and unhappiness. 
Bad days happen.  We ALL have them.  It seems like I have had a perpetual bad day for quite some time now.  My bad days spill into bad sleepless nights.  It seems as soon as I turn another corner I’m smacked in the middle of the face with yet another bad thing.  What am I supposed to do with all this?  Why is this still happening?  What did I do wrong to have these things happen?  My mind begins to fill with questions with no answers.  I cry out to God and yet I feel I hear no answer.  However today I got an answer from God.  “I create the light and make the darkness.  I send good times and bad times.  I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.” ~ Isaiah 45:7 (NLT)  At first I was reading it and was thinking, “Why in the world?  That just doesn't make sense at all.”   I actually started to wonder why God would send the bad times.  We as Christians tend to think that God only makes the good things happen.  I then had another scripture brought to mind, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.   I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” ~ Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) So I had to stop and pray and truly hear what God was trying to say to me.  He knows what is going on because He SENT the bad days.  Maybe He sends the bad days so that I might remember that He is there, that He cares.  I then decided I needed to remember the scripture about being content and remembering that nothing I do on my own is going to make my bad days go away any faster.  I now take solace and rest in knowing that GOD is in control.  I may not like the bad days but I do have to remember that NO MATTER what kind of day it is, be it good or bad, I MUST be content.  God will give me the strength to make it through another “bad” day in order for me to grow and learn more about His abundant love for me.  Maybe, just maybe, my “Alexander” day might turn out to be a good day after all!  As Alexander learned, some days are just like that.  Even in Australia!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Christian in America

I must admit that my feelings and emotions have been hard to decipher the last 24 hours.  Everyone has been posting so many different feelings and opinions on how they feel people should react.  To be very honest with you, I cried real tears when I got the news that the man that caused so many deaths was himself now dead.  Yes I cried…
My thoughts first went to all those many lives that were lost not just on 9/11 but also of the ones that we as a nation continued to lose for our forced answer on the unspeakable terrorist act.  I then found my mind going to the thoughts of what his last moments must have been like for him.  Did he know that all he had to do was ask and even he would have found forgiveness in the arms of God?  Yes I do understand what this man has done.  Keep in mind he did not just cause the death of our American people BUT his own people that followed him whole heartedly.  Yes he was a bad man.  That I do not argue with. I then began to watch the human reaction play across the screen of the television and Facebook statuses.  I began to see a real hatred come out of people that I don’t normally see.  This has gone on now for an entire day.  The news and media tells us the details of how it all happened.  I have heard it actually said by MY friends, “He did not suffer enough!”  WOW really?  Is this what we as Christians have come to? 

My heart STILL bleeds for the family members of those that were lost 9 ½ years ago.  By no means does the loss of his life make the big gapping sore all of a sudden healed.  Maybe it brings a little less pain and the oozing may subside for a moment.  But then reality will hit again that there are still children that will never grow up, fathers never walking their daughters down the aisle,  mothers never again reading a bedtime story to sleepy eyes, and love that will never be allowed to grow and blossom.

So bottom line is... how does a Christian react to news of such great magnitude?  Don't we have feelings and emotions just like everyone else does?  Yes we do!  Matter of fact, God gave us those feelings and emotions.  That is how we can love Him so richly and deeply.  That is how we can have so much love for one another.  The emotions themselves are not bad and wrong but what makes them wrong or right is HOW we act upon those emotions.  We are going to have enemies.  God tells us this.  BUT He also tells us how to be when we have them. 

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.” ~ Luke 6:27-29 (NLT)  

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT)

So my challenge this week... use this current situation playing out before you to look at your life.  How do you treat those that speak harmful things about you?  How do you react when someone speaks ill against you?  Do you treat your enemies well or do you speak harshly yourself about them?  It is completely up to you how you are going to react.  But I plead with you to remember how God would want you to react.