Friday, May 23, 2014

God The Thinker

God ....who is God? He must have been a thinker...realizing all He was going to do in creation. When I ponder on these things, I think about how He could have 'made' us to worship Him, adore Him and honor Him in all things. It would have been easier on Him if He would have made us without 'choice', but that was not His desire. And He would not have been disappointed in me, hurt by my lack of living for Him daily. He would not have to listen to my repentant prayers. But most of all, He would not have had to send His Son to die for me on the cross! He could have made us perfect and not have a choice, if He had wanted to do that. 

Notice the last point...'if He had wanted to do that.' He had a choice to make us anyway He wanted, and He did. He made us so much like Himself, He gave us a choice, the choice to worship Him freely. The honor and praise He receives, because we want to do those things, are so much more meaningful! 

Aren't we the same way? When I tell my husband of 46 years, "You didn't tell me you loved me today." He smiles and says, "I love you." I always reply with, "That doesn't count, I made you say it!" It just isn't the same as when he says it freely, without the request. 

We need to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23  "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." 

We have a choice in what we say, in what we do and where we go. We need to remember to do the things that God Himself would/could have created us to say, do and go...if He had wanted to created us in that manner. If we have a decision to make, why not think about it in this way, "If God had created me not to have that choice, what would I do?" The answer to the decision will be to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

When we do those things, in honor and for God, we are blessed and we can bless others'  lives. When we choose not to do those things, we miss out on what He has in store for us.

When God created the earth, animals and mankind....He was thinking of us. He wanted us to love Him unselfishly, He wanted to give back to us blessings and His love. He thought of us before creation began...knowing He would give us a choice and we would fail...knowing He would make a way of forgiveness by sending His Son. He had a choice how to create us. He created us so much like Himself, He gave us a choice as well.

Above all things, He loved us enough to create us with a choice, He loved us enough to provide salvation, and He still loves us to go and prepare a place for us. He is a great God, Who is a thinker...thinking about His children.

'Above All'
Above all powers
Above all kings
Above all nature
And all created things
Above all wisdom
And all the ways of man
You were here
Before the world began

Above all kingdoms
Above all thrones
Above all wonders
The world has ever known
Above all wealth
And treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure
What You're worth

Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all
Michael W. Smith


Friday, May 16, 2014

The Storm in the Midst of the Storm

We deployed with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team to our home state, Alabama. Athens is not too far from where I grew up. A small country town of where almost everyone knows everyone or is related to them. Things have changed since I lived in this part of Alabama. Where cotton fields were, now there are homes. But the people, the kindness and helping each other during times of need, have not changed.

A couple of weeks ago, a tornado ripped through, just on the outskirts of town. It stayed on the ground thirteen miles and was at least a half a mile wide, with tentacles reaching farther in some areas. Trees came down, homes were damaged or destroyed and debris scattered about with memories. 

Today, we visited a man who had been at the hospital with his wife, of 42 years, in the final stages of cancer the night of the storm. She passed away that night. This man's spirit is broken. The outside of his home and yard, somehow reflects his spirit. When we drove into the driveway, we went through a deep mud hole, the front door and porch were so overgrown with bushes and shrubs, we had to go to the backdoor. His back porch was piled with things, either blown in from the storm, or empty spaces where things had been. 

When this man came to the door, his face had the shadow of grief, the 'don't care if life goes on' look. His eyes were empty and in pain, showing the emptiness in his life. 

He allowed us to share the hope, love and comfort that Jesus offers. As he reached for my hand, we had prayer with him. He held so tightly, my heart broke for him. 

Storms come and go in our lives. It doesn't matter if it is downed trees, lost homes or lost loved ones. The pain is there. The emptiness is there. 

The healing will start, sometimes slowly. We can hold on to the memories, but we must allow God to come in and give us His peace. That is how we prayed with him today and encouraged him to read the bible Samaritan's Purse had left for him. To start filling his spirit with God's Word and start looking ahead to the life that is before him. It is the only way to clean up our yards of overgrowth and neglect during the tough times in our lives.

Give your storm to God and start cleaning up your yard and spirit. Let Him come in to fill the void.

"Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30


Friday, May 9, 2014

To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?

To celebrate or not to celebrate, that is the question. I have often pondered about who came up with the 'holidays' that have been created, but I am sure it has to be someone in the commercial marketplace. Children and husbands, who love their mothers and wives, celebrate all year long by bringing dandelions and roses. 

But we have arrived at this weekend that is a celebrated one called Mother's Day. There is a big card display at the store, candies and flowers are advertised on television and in shops. Of course, we can't have Mother's Day without a Father's Day, so that is coming up next month! 

However, my heart broke when a young girl last week told me she would not be coming to church because of all the Mother's Day celebration that would be held. She and her mother do not speak, her mother does not come to church, and the daughter said it would be just too painful. 

I can relate to the pain, not because of the same reason, but because my mother is in heaven.The southern tradition says, "Wear a red rose if your mother is alive, wear a white rose if your mother is deceased." Here is my problem with that tradition: My mother is still alive, she has just moved to another location, that to be with the Lord. 2 Cor. 5:8" to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord." I have 'braved' the day and wore a red rose on occasion, just to be questioned by some. So now, I don't wear a rose at all. 

Another reason my heart hurts on this day, I always think of the precious mothers of my adopted children. I praise them for giving up their children for me to raise and love, but I know the hearts of mothers. They must pause and wonder about the children they gave birth to...where are they, are they healthy, are they parents (am I a grandmother?). All these thoughts come to my mind. 

Then there are the mothers who have lost children or had abortions, no longer mothers. Their hearts must be hurting. 

Mothers and Fathers are to be celebrated. Jesus honored His mother, Mary, when He was suffering the most. He remembered her, loved and respected her, giving her to His follower and faithful disciple, John.  John 19:25-29 "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then, He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home."

Some churches give 'prizes' to the oldest mother or the mother with the most children. My thoughts on this? It is the same women every year that get the prizes. But who wants to be recognized for being old or having a houseful of children? What about the lady who is sitting in church that was just told she would never have a child? What about the lady who miscarried last month? What about the lady who just lost her mother? 

I really don't mean to be a sour prune on holidays, but we should be mindful of those around us that are hurting. We live in a world who loves to commercialize. Let us be the Christians who look beyond the gifts, look to Jesus that gave us the life we live. It may be painful at times, but Jesus is always with us. We may need to look beyond the celebrations of others and understand...they don't know the pain you may feel. 

Love each other.....
1 Peter 4:7-9 "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint."

Now, I guess after writing this blog, my family will read this and say, "Whew, we don't have to buy flowers or candy!" Your right, you do not....I know you love me all year long!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Help Me"

The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Chaplains were in a tornado, ravaged Alabama town, bringing hope, comfort, spiritual and emotional care to the victims. They were there working alongside Samaritan's Purse Disaster Relief teams. The chaplains were asked to visit a home and deliver a Samaritan's Purse Bible. The Samaritan's Purse team had signed the bible and tried to give it to the homeowner, but she hesitated and asked that it be given when her husband was home.

The chaplains went to the home, on Saturday, when the wife requested. It didn't take long before the chaplains figured out the man had alcohol problems. After sharing his story about the storm, with tears running down his face, he admitted he needed help. The chaplains shared about how God loves him and forgives all sin, that all sin is equal in God's eyes. But the man stated he was not ready to pray and ask forgiveness.  His eyes looked pleadingly into the eyes of the chaplain, almost like an unspoken "help me".

After praying with him, he continued to hold steadfast and would not let go and submit to the Spirit. It was as if, without saying it, he thought he was not 'good enough' or 'worked hard enough.' Chaplains just visited with him and loved on him. When he asked could they come back another day, they assured him that they would be praying for him and would visit his home before leaving town in a few weeks.

Please pray for this man named David, that he will know that you do not need to be perfect before accepting Christ. He says, "Come as you are and your sins will be forgiven".

We as Christians often wish we could step in and do the 'salvation' for someone. But we know Christ died for each and everyone and everyone one has to make their own choice. We have met people who think they are 'good' and will go to heaven because of the way they have lived their life. Other times we have met people who think they must 'clean up' their own life before surrendering to Christ. This was the condition David felt the day we visited him.

Friends, we can never be 'good enough' or 'clean' enough on our own to enter into heaven. Only through the blood of Christ can we be cleansed from our sin. John 14:6 "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

I think of all the times others have said, "The Rapid Response Chaplains or Samaritan's Purse do good work." I do agree, but at the same time think and sometimes share, it is a reflection of Jesus. Jesus is the reason a Christian should do good. On the side of the Samaritan's Purse Disaster Relief trucks it plainly and boldly states "Helping in Jesus' Name" for a reason. It is Christians going out to share the love of Christ by helping those in need. 

When we come home, we take off our chaplain or SP shirts on the outside, but we are still the same on the inside. We still need to share His love in our own community. Isn't this what all Christians are called to do? Let's mount up, soar like eagles and go share Jesus! It only takes a little smile, helping hand or a plate of food to someone in need.......they are crying, "Help me."