Friday, September 23, 2011

Frank Friday - Jacob's Not The Only Wrestler

If you were alive earlier this week an had any access to the news, you hear about Troy Davis. This post is not specifically about him. Rather it is about a struggle I had with God as a result of that story. It's about a switch that was flipped in my heart. I hope it ignites something in yours.

I was drawn into the news reports about the Supreme Court deciding if they would give Troy Davis a stay. I watched on an off until they finally came out and gave his time of death. That really did me in. Not so much because I was sad about it, but because it really brought home to me the concept of God's sovereignty.

Only God, Troy Davis and Office MacPhail know if Troy Davis was guilty. That is a fact. The other fact is that regardless of guilt or innocence, on Septamber 21, 2011, Troy Davis lost his life. After hearing he was dead, I felt compelled to pray.

"God, you are the only one we can talk to that knows the truth, either way. In my head I say if he was innocent, it feels so tragic that he died for something he didn't do. But, if he was guilty, then justice was served. But we, who are left here, witnessing and experiencing this, don't know which is true. People who believe he was innocent will question why you would let this happen. And they will question why you did not answer their prayers. But if he was innocent then your answer to their prayers for his life to be spared was no. And we never like the answer no without some explanation. But in Your sovereignty, you don't have to answer. Not everyone can deal with that. Now, those who believe he was guilty will ask why you let this thing drag on for so long. And I know you have your reasons. I don't feel strongly either way about his guilt or innocence. I just sit in both awe and confusion as I try to comprehend an incomprehensible God. I can understand a little bit about how Jacob felt wrestling with you that night in Peniel (Genesis 32:23-32). And as I try to lay my head on a pillow and sleep tonight, I pray I make my peace with my struggle."

I tried to sleep, but I was struggling. There were so many questions like, "Who are we to decide who lives or dies?" That's God's job isn't it. And that goes for murderers and the justice system alike. "How do I as a Christian answer people with their own "why" questions about You Heavenly Father?" Just on and on it went.

Finally my husband asked me what was wrong because I was tossing, turning, sighing and crying. literally. I tried to explain as best I could what I was struggling with. Bless his heart, he understood. I finally said, "You know what? I am ready for Jesus to come get his children. This place we live in is so messed up and I'm just ready to go home. Come Lord Jesus Come. Your daughter anxiously awaits the Rapture"

He proceeded to tell me that he had so much stuff he still wanted to do, that he wasn't ready for it. The number one item on his list? He hadn't led anyone to a saving knowledge of Christ yet. Wow!

"So okay", I thought, "get busy so Jesus can come and He take that person with us." I mean I really was longing for heaven.

He then proceeded to ask me this question: "Don't you want to see our girls grow up and do well in life?"

Without one second of hesitation I said, "If I had to choose between them dealing with this increasingly immoral, increasingly hostile toward Christians and Christianity world we live in and them being caught up in the skies with all other believers and ushered into God's presence forever, I choose heaven. There is nothing here better than heaven. Nothing."


And then it hit me. I desire the eternal. And I am anxious for the rapture. But until then, while I'm here on this sphere called Earth, I need to keep that eternal perspective about everything. I need to take that fire for eternity (heaven) and use it in my everyday life until Jesus does come for His children. I've had head knowledge of it for a long time. But that night, it became heart knowledge. And that is a wonderful blessing. I pray I never let it fade.

Blessings to you all,


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turn It Around Tuesday - Don't Worry

Do you ever worry? I do. In fact, I worry a lot more than I'd like to. The funny (or not so funny) thing about it is that it's a fruitless activity. You don't feel better and usually no solution is devised. How's that for a colossal waste of time. I like to get something out of my activities. As I've thought about it, I don't reap one benefit from worry. And I bet you don't either. It's a crying shame.

But I've got a solution for this. When you meditate you think long and hard on something. You turn it over in your mind and maybe even in your heart. Isn't that what you do when you worry? You keep thinking about the thing. You turn it over in your mind. It messes with your heart. You just can't seem to let it go and it's in no hurry to leave you either.

Instead of worrying, meditate. But don't just meditate on any old thing. Instead, memorize scripture, also known as meditating on God's Word. When I memorize scripture I don't just learn the words. I think about what they mean to me. I say the verse over and over, adding emphasis in different places to see what feels right and will help me recall it later. I think about how I can apply it to my life or how it applies already. I'm  not able to let it go and it's in no hurry to leave me. At the end I haven't wasted my time. I feel closer to God. I have something to grasp when I need just the right word or thought.

Way back in the Old Testament we're told about meditating on God's Word. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 it tells us that we should have God's words in our hearts. We should teach them to our children, talk about them when we're sitting down, walking, lying down and waking up.

Well then.

That pretty much says meditate on the Word all the time.

I'd much rather meditate on some scripture that will keep me calm and sane during a rough time than sit around and meditate on the how comes,what ifs and if thens. So the next time I find myself beginning to worry, I'll turn my thoughts to the Word. How about you? Are you willing to turn your worrying into meditating? Try it. I think you'll like it!

Blessings to you all,


Friday, September 16, 2011

Frank Friday - I'm Off Duty

If you had ever asked my daughters what my husband says when I ask him how he liked dinner, they'll tell you that he  always says "It was alright." That's it. No "it stank" or "it was good" or anything like that. He just says, "It was alright." Honestly, it offended me. So did I try to probe him to see how it could be better? Of course not. That would be the mature, logical thing to do. And I was never feeling that kind of way. In fact, I'll go even further than that. When he would offer constructive criticism, I got mad. I never listened so I could incorporate the things he was telling me. Oh no! Again, that would require maturity, logic and humility. And again, I was never feeling that kind of way. (Not that I'm proud of that. I'm not. I'm just being honest about my junk)

But then......

If you read this post, you'll know I'm committed to deepening my relationship with God. I just need more of His presence in my life. See the previous paragraph for an example of why that's true. There's a teeny, tiny catch to that commitment. Okay, maybe it's not so teeny or tiny. The more of God's presence I feel in my life, the more it changes me.  That transforming presence made me care more about my husband's meals. That's a big deal because my husband is picky. Very, very picky. When he says "I'm hard to cook for aren't I?" I don't bother to respond. It's a rhetorical question!

Despite that, I started to really take my time cooking everything instead of rushing through dinner just so I could say I was done. I started paying attention to those little details. You know, the ones he had tried to tell me about a million times. The ones I ignored a million and one times. But I wasn't doing that anymore. Then a funny thing happened. Well two funny things. One, I enjoyed cooking more. Maybe it's because I was doing it out of love instead of duty. Just maybe. The second thing, that is now a common occurrence, is that he complimented me. He said, "Are you cooking my meals with lots of love? I'm asking because this food is so very good." I almost passed out.

I figured it was a one time "slip up". But the next day he said "That was great. Thanks for cooking.  Do you want me to help with dishes?" Again, I thought the room might be spinning. It wasn't. It was just my head and heart realizing that I should have done this much sooner. I can't change the past, but I can sure keep the present in good shape.

I'm now evaluating other things that over time, I've started doing with only a sense of duty. I want to replace that with loving purpose. My family is not a duty. It's a privilege. And I plan on treating them that way in every area I possibly can. I wonder if they'll start thinking the room is spinning?

How about you? Is there something you've started doing just to check it off your list? Is there something that you could do from the love in your heart instead of out of duty? Go ahead, go off duty. I dare you.

Blessings to you all,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Turn It Around Tuesday - When The Rain Is Pouring

These last few weeks have been quite a ride. Unfortunately, I don't mean that in a fun, exhilarating way. First, my cousin had a stroke and now has paralysis on the right side of his body. Last week my uncle had a stroke. Yesterday my mom called to tell me that one of my cousins was killed. A bullet came through the window, striking and killing him. There are other smaller things that have occurred but nothing like the "big three". I almost cringe when the caller ID announces it's my mom, because I'm dreading more bad news.

This torrent of discouraging news could have shaken my faith. I could have gotten angry with God. I could have thrown up my hands and said, "That's it. I'm tired of this. I quit!" I've been tempted to do that a time or two or thirty in my life. But this time I wasn't there. That wasn't in me. (Right here is where we can give God a clap offering!) Are you wondering why it wasn't in me? Great, because I'm going to tell you why.

I've accepted a church-wide challenge from my pastor to "practice God's presence" at least five minutes every day. In other words, sit in stillness and quiet for at least five minutes thinking on, waiting for and anticipating God's presence and hopefully at some of these sessions, a message from God. This isn't a new concept for me. The problem is that I've never consistently done it. But now I am determined. Why now? Now, because I am desperate to grow closer to God. Now, because it's just time to further solidify my relationship with Jesus.

I read something recently by C.S.Lewis that said we need to become dyed and not painted. I'm afraid all these years I've been painted. Paint fades, chips and peels. That's how I've felt recently. Temporary is no longer good enough. I want permanency. So I'm ready for my dye job. Ever dyed your hair? The dye has to sit for a good little while to actually "take". So I'm going to sit each day for God's presence to "take" in my life. I'm excited about that.

So when that rain came pouring down in the form of bad news after bad news, issue after issue, there was God. In my time of quiet and even throughout my busy days, He spoke two things to me.

  1. I'm still in control. You might not understand what I'm doing. And I know that frustrates you. But trust me. I've always been in control. I'm in control now. I'll be in control in the future. That's never going to change. Let me be me and you simply trust me. I'll never fail you. Never.
  2. Your days were numbered before you were born. I know the day I will call you home heaven. You don't know if that day will come now or ten years from now. Consider each day a gift from me. Unwrap it and choose how you will use it.
Psalm 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom."  That is my prayer each day now. Instead of turning my thoughts to worry and anger over problems, issues, situations and circumstances, I now chose to turn my thoughts to God and how what He's doing can teach my something. Yes, even the things I don't like. Even the things that hurt. Especially the things I don't understand. I'm not perfect with it yet. Never will be. But I choose to keep practicing His presence and His way of life for me. Will you join me? I promise it will change your life in the most marvelous way!

Blessings to you all,