Benefit of Suffering

So many times we ask “Why?” during times a trial. We think that if we know the “why” the burden will be more bearable, somehow. We read of Job’s extreme tribulation and all he suffered, from the loss of his children to his possessions and, finally, his health. He wondered “why.” He even got to talk to God about his situation. And do you know what God told him? Nothing. He actually even said (essentially), “Who do you think you are? I don’t owe you any explanation.” Ouch. But in Romans 8:17 we are given a hint of the purpose in suffering. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” God is not a genie, existing only to hear of our needs and issues. No. God desires RELATIONSHIP with us. Relationship is a two-way street. This life exists not just so God can know how we feel, but also so that we may know the very feelings of God. As life experiences unfold, they allow us to feel the devotion, pain and suffering of the Savior, from rejection to denying the flesh for the sake of God’s will. They are lessons hard won, but lead us to a closer walk and relationship with Him, so that we may share in His glory!

Serve the Season You’re In

The young slave girl sat, with babe at breast, pleading in prayer for her people under the hot, Egyptian sun. “If I were a man, I could lead your Israelite people out of this land of bondage. But, alas, I am but a lowly woman.” And as she prayed, her hot tears fell on the face of Moses.

The poem (above) was the opening to a book my mom passed down to me years ago, written in the 1950’s and it is still one of my favorites to this day, although the title and author escape me. So many times we feel we must be the ones to do the big thing, but God has not called us all to be Chiefs. He has, however, called us all to do what we can where we are with what we have. We are to serve the season we are in wholeheartedly. Who knows what may come of it?

The Small Things

As I was looking at my blog site, I noticed a “stats” button. When I clicked on it, I was surprised to see all the stats (complete with a bar graph) of every article I’d ever written. On average, I got 18 views a post and about 1600 since the beginning of the blog. I was a little bummed, as I only had the “Top Gun” authors to compare myself to. I prayed for clarity in what I should do, wether I should continue. “Eighteen’s not many, Lord,” I said. As soon as the thought was out of my mind, the Lord said to my spirit, “It’s not about being popular, it’s about being obedient.” Ouch. And SO TRUE. So many times in life we look at things LOGICALLY. “Does this make sense? Is this a waste of time? Do the numbers add up?” Convicted, I determined to continue writing as long as I felt the call from the Lord. The next day, I again clicked on the stats, but this time noticed a “location” button. After clicking on it, I was shocked to see that, after the United States in “most viewed” place, was China! “Impenetrable,” communist China! Wow. Who knows how many might be affected? Luke 16 says: “Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things.” Sometimes it’s the “little things” that reap “big things.” May we all be faithful in ALL things God has set before each one of us (little and big) and trust Him to bring the harvest!

Sweet Surrender

My prayers the past few years have centered around restoration, renewal and redemption. I have pleaded for God to redeem the time and moments stolen by illness and restore the energies and relationships within our family. But Restoration and redemption both require surrender. Surrender to the unknown. Surrender to “different.” Surrender to doing things a new way. Surrender of the old ways. Joseph knew all too well about surrender. He had to surrender his family, his home, his freedom and, perhaps, the future he thought he had been promised and dreamed about – literally and figuratively. The story ends well, though, as Joseph becomes second in command of, essentially, the whole world. He is given a wife and riches and reconciled to his family. All seems hunky dory. And yet…

Joseph asks for his bones to be taken back to The Promised Land, his homeland, to rest(Genesis 50:25). On the surface we assume Joseph is thoroughly happy – he is wealthy, in charge and “The Man” but his dying request speaks differently. It hints of a soul who still longs for home.

I love that verse because it shows the deep conflict we sometimes face between our flesh and spirit when following God’s will. It shows surrender. You, like Joseph, can know something is BEST and BLESSED and GOD’S WILL and it STILL not feel like home. And that’s ok. Because following God’s will does not always mean we are in agreement or “ok” with His decisions. We might have all the world at our feet and still not “feel it.” That’s ok. When you wrestle between obedience and the flesh, that’s actually normal. So, what do we do? Surrender. Step by step, and daily. Continually. Until His will has become our journey and story. But it all starts with Surrender.

Baptism – More Than a Symbol

Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with fellow believers and notice a difference in how we approach baptism. We all agree baptism is a symbol of dying to the flesh to arise and walk anew, but I have seen, through Scripture, that it is more than that.

The Old Testament is a foreshadowing of what was to come in the New Testament. Interestingly, in the Old Testament, there was a way for people to convert to Judaism. It was not after stating their belief (although that was required); it was not after repenting (although that was also required); it was not even after circumcision! It was only after the baptism was the foreigner considered a Jew.

Concurrently, the Bible is saturated in examples of people being saved through the water, from the Old Testament (from Noah to the Israelites in the Sea to Jonah in the big fish) through the New (Acts 2:38, “baptism doth also now save us”, etc). In fact, every convert to Christianity, save the criminal on the cross, was baptized. Immediately. So, we can see through this baptism was an important and integral part of the Good News.

Finally, we are told it is through baptism that we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are told the Holy Spirit seals us (Ephesians 1:13) leads us, interceeds for us (John 14:26) teaches us and brings things to mind (John 14:26), convicts us (John 16:7-8). In addition the Holy Spirit is a source of revelation, wisdom and power.

Baptism is more than just a symbol! If you haven’t done this yet, I encourage you to do so.

Room at the Table

I was, essentially, “out of commission” from the family for a couple of years during the cancer battle and recovery. I remember telling my husband I feel like I’d gone away to prison, only to return and see all I’d missed and have to rebuild. The kids were 2 years older. The house was in shambles from neglect. I felt like a man returning from war only to find his wife had run off and his field was overgrown. You mistakingly think the battle was the illness only to find it was just the beginning. No where did I feel the sting more than at the dinner table. After being absent for so long, the kids had found a new rhythm (thankfully) – but they had moved on without me and I felt I no longer belonged in the family. It’s as if the hole from my absence had been filled. It was, indeed, the most heartbreaking part of the journey. I remember telling Jay I nightly felt like there was no room at the table for me anymore. The next day this song came on my radio and I crumbled. In God’s perfect way and in His perfect timing, He was reminding me that, yes, I did belong and, yes, there was still room. If the devil has you believing the false feelings that you don’t belong, it is a lie. There is no shame, cause your sin is “nothing He ain’t seen before”. Come, take your place at the table. There is room for you!

Glorious Wonder

There is a beauty in brokenness. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the blemishes of an item and we try to fix, maneuver and manipulate it away. It’s human nature. And so, we do so. We struggle with the brokenness before we finally come to a place of acceptance. Like broken glass, we are tossed and tumbled until our harsh edges become softened, our bright colors, dulled. But it is then that we are finally useable. From Battered and broken to useful and beautiful – it is not an easy journey. But, when the tragedy is complete, leaves us with something glorious. Just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it is worthy to be tossed away. The ocean, like our Father, comes in and reworks us (like the glass) until we are a thing of glorious wonder!

Importance of Fruit

There’s a parable in Matthew 7 warning christians of false prophets that parade themselves as sheep but are really carnivorous wolves. In verse 20 Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits.” He compares this to trees. He states that good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad – so if the fruit is bad, so is the tree. This analogy has come in handy in my life working with people, but even more beneficial in making decisions. “You shall know them by their fruit,” can also be turned to say, “What is the fruit of this?” with situations. Life consists of a lot of greys, and it is sometimes hard to decide if something is good or not. Exercise or not? Save more or less? Things that are not specifically a sin can be hard to figure out. That’s where the fruit question comes in handy. Recently, I was at a yard sale and found a great deal! A motorized scooter (that worked!) for $25. Tantalized by the price, I almost whipped out my wallet when “the fruit question” crept up on me. “What is the fruit of this?” Well, sadly, it would probably mean the kids would ditch their bicycles for the scooter, resulting in less exercise. I put my wallet back in my purse, although a bit sad. The fruit that would result from a harmless scooter deemed the scooter a “no go,” This question can be applied to many situations: “What’s the fruit of not eating healthy? What’s the fruit of a little “innocent” flirting? What’s the fruit of buying more STUFF?” By forseeing the future fruit to come, we can make better decisions now. -ALE

Thankful for the Fleas

It happened sometime around our sixth move. I’m not sure if it was the fact we’d just moved again, or the fact the quarantine hit right after, but it wasn’t long after The Worries hit. And not just your typical worries. I found myself almost paralyzed at times with thoughts of the future, particularly my son’s future. Since the age of 3 we’ve known he had at least one learning disability and time proved it true. His dyslexia was only outweighed by his dysgraphia (handwriting) so school was not what you would call “fun.” I’ve known this f or years, but for some reason was AWASH with worry as to what would happen in the future.

That’s when I heard about the fleas. Corrie Ten Boom lived through the concentration camp of World War II. Somehow they got their hands on a Bible and found the verse that said to praise God f or everything. Everything? Yes, everything. So, they did. Down to the infectious fleas that constantly berated them. They later found out that it was t he fleas that caused the male soldiers to avoid their particular cabin. So, I did it. I started thanking God for the fleas. I thanked him for the way God had made Jace, with his tender heart, helpful nature and, yes, even the disabilities. I thanked him for the unrelenting dyslexia and dysgraphia, still praying for continual healing, but also for the disabilities.

I’ve noticed sometimes God brings healing and sometimes he brings insight. It was during one of my prayers that I realized my stress came from me trusting my own plans and path MORE THAN I TRUSTED GOD. Ouch. I made a concerted decision to STOP worrying.

Do I still worry? Sure. But this time instead of choosing to fret, I pray. I thank God for the “fleas” and His promise to supply all our needs…even when we cannot see the way.

Don’t forget to praise God – fleas and all!

Unbridled Passions

We’ve all been there. Perhaps it’s late at night or in the middle of the day: that craving for a decadent dessert. As we try to resist, the coveting intensifies – it’s as if we could almost taste the sweet goodness on our tongues! In my own diets I’ve discovered it’s not just the dessert I miss but the unbridled passion of loosening all restrictions and just diving in to a bowl of sweet abandonment and worry. It’s (temporarily) a relief and a respite from all my problems. It creates a feeling like nothing else.

But what if I told you that very feeling we pine for so was actually never supposed to have been felt to begin with? If gluttony isn’t your specific temptation, you can substitute it with your particular hang up. Does self pride push you? Do passing glances from someone other than your spouse make you crave more? Left CHECKED, all these issues aren’t more than a mere annoyance. But unbridled? They can lead to effects that rival death. Just ask King David.

The problem with unbridled passions is they always lead to feelings we were never supposed to know. And then what? Those passions leave us wanting what we were never meant to have. The pursuit of (or the fight against) the forbidden fruit has begun, an endless cycle of wanting and feeding or wanting and starving has begun. Pandora’s box has been unleashed.

“So what then?” you might ask. “How does that help?” Just KNOWING the very thing or feeling that we find ourselves craving we were never supposed to know helps us keep our perspective. “Yes, this feels overwhelming because that is something I was never supposed to feel/know” helps us keep our balance. It serves as a spiritual boundary line. So, what do we do? Well, what would we do if we were a child with a burden too heavy? Yes, we would ask our Father or a friend for help. Friend, our heavenly Father is not surprised when we struggle. As a matter of fact, He stands ready and waiting to help us – sometimes through angels and fellow believers to help us lift our load. A simple, “Father, this is too much for me. Please send help,” prayer is all we need to get the ball rolling. Even though we might not see the earth shake or the lightning shake, this simple request sets forth a spiritual battle in our favor. As in 2 Kings 6 when Elisha asked the Lord to open the man’s eyes so he could see all the fiery hosts of heaven surrounding them, so we too have the same. So many times we feel we should not ask for anything. “God is too busy,” or “This isn’t that important,” we might think. But God is not human, friend. God is God! He is infinitely more than we can even imagine! He longs to hear it all! So give it to Him – test Him in these areas and see if He doesn’t open the floodgates ot protection and mercy! He stands ready. All we have to do is ask.