Saturday, December 31, 2011

Difficult People Can Be Very.....um.....Difficult

A few years back I was having an especially emotional day and trying to get some chores done around the house. My highs and lows were getting to me, so I knew without a doubt that the others in the house had to be feeling the tension of dancing around my occasional bouts of temper. I had been prescribed an anti-depressant while I had been hospitalized for surgery just a few months back, so I had become unaccustomed to these emotional swings, and found them to be very unnerving.

My married daughter had come for a visit, and she, along with my husband, were in the kitchen. My daughter was doing some baking, and my husband was reading at the kitchen table. This was a peaceful, every day setting, but I just wasn't feeling that peaceful, and I didn't like the unsettled feeling.

I was doing laundry, and as I bent over to load the clothes from the washer to the dryer I made a passing comment, more to myself than to anyone else, but loud enough that the pair in the kitchen overheard me.

With my head tucked into the dryer I said, "I don't think my Zoloft is doing a very good job today."

Without a skip of a beat my daughter and her dad glanced at one another, and together they remarked, "Oh, oh."

Funny? They thought so. So did I, to a point. I seldom mind being the brunt of a joke or light moment, but I don't like having a bad effect on others. The thought of them having a tense moment caused by me was more unsettling to me than the Zoloft not working. I don't like making others feel uncomfortable, and yet, that's exactly what I unintentionally have done most of my life. My off-beat sense of humor makes some people get wide-eyed and not a little ill at ease, not knowing just exactly what I am saying.

I am also too blunt in some of my observations, I am not one to shy away from a good debate, and I am entirely too opinionated. Again, these are characteristics that put many people off. I have prayed, confessed, repented, and sworn to do better many times. Yet, I continue to slip back into these bad habits far too quickly.

I continue to ask the Father for help, and I know that He is continually working on me and my ways. This isn't a cry for help from anyone. It isn't a subject that I would welcome input from anyone on.  I'm just saying....

But I sure do need a lot of prayer and patience from my friends.

And, meanwhile, this little anecdote continues to serve up chuckles for my family, and, that, I like.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reaching Out To "Gomer"

Last night I attended church, and the pastor there mentioned the book of Hosea. Hosea tells about Gomer, his wife, or is it Israel that the story is about? Theologians can't decide, so I'm sure I can't. Nevertheless, I choose to believe, for the sake of my story today, that it is about a woman of, shall we say ill repute? That's the nice way to put it. God told Hosea to marry her, even knowing what kind of woman she was, and Hosea obeyed. And he didn't argue with God, and he didn't fuss or complain about it, and he didn't complain about her. He just simply obeyed God.

Since the day I first heard the story of Hosea I have had a very soft spot for it. I have always thought I would have liked to have known Gomer. She was a very interesting woman and most certainly required a lot of understanding to really know her. Some would call her evil and dirty, not worthy to be thought about except with disgust. Some might give her a chance, but never a second chance. Even to the people who didn't know God she would have been considered trash, filthy, stinking garbage. But, with all my heart I believe that these are the dear ones who need God's people the most, to love them, to encourage them and wrap their arms around them, draw them close enough to really smell them, and show them the true love of God.

People like Gomer have never experienced real love. Lots of times they have been mistreated to the point that they believe there is no such thing. Some have experienced physical intimacy and deceived into believing that this is love. So, they search and search for a love that never comes, building walls against people, living lies with bad reputations and no thought for anyone but themselves. It's a black pit of hopelessness that they dig and can never find the way out. And all the time all they want is to be wanted and loved.

Amazingly, I definitely have known some Gomers. Some of the Gomers I've known I had to leave behind due to their lack of response to the Truth or due to their total disdain of it. A very few of the Gomers I've known are now healed and love God and are loved by God's people, and they walk in Truth. They are miraculous stories of how God never gives up on us, never stops loving us even when we may be garbage.

If we say "yes" to God as Hosea did, we can reach out to every unbeliever, no matter how evil or filthy we believe them to be. Under all that filth is a child that God loves and wants in His family. When I turn away it's possible that I was the only one that God could use to help win that one that He loves so much.
And then God uses that new child of the kingdom to reach out to others. Imagine. Gomer can be out there winning souls for Jesus Christ!

I don't want to say "no" to God. I don't want to have to answer for the soul that didn't come because I wouldn't obey Him. As a former "Gomer", I know well how different a life can be when you know the Truth. I understand the miraculous effects of coming from a life of lies and filthy rags to being a "sweet perfume" to our loving Father. I know intimately the majestic Father, His Son, and His Spirit that leads my life and makes me, imagine it, more like Jesus every day.

I pray that each one of us can meet and learn to love a "Gomer". There is so much that they need to know about what true love is all about. And we have so much to learn about the wonderful miracles that God performs even today. There is a chance for each one, for God loves each one specially and completely, no matter how they smell.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

God, Talking To Himselves

                         

One day God was sitting back, looking over mankind as He always does, and He decided that today was going to be the day. He'd been planning this for a long, long time, and He had everything in place that He needed. So God, in His infinite wisdom, called together His committee, His Son, and His sweet Holy Spirit and looked at Them lovingly.

"I'm ready to get started." God told Them. "I know You are excited to finally do this, so I'm going to lay it all out for You. Take notes if You need to."

God's Son and The Holy Spirit looked at each other and rolled Their eyes. Since when did They ever need notes to remember everything? God knew this, and He knew that They had rolled Their eyes, though He hadn't been looking up. God chuckled to Himself knowingly, and the others chuckled with Him. "We have such fun together," They all thought to Themselves.

So, God continued talking to Himselves, "You know I have had my eye on that little girl in Nazareth that we created a few years ago, and we were right, she's perfect for this mission. She's old enough now to conceive a child, and she just recently was chosen by that guy Joseph that we talked about. I like him. He's a good Jewish boy, a little older than she is, but still, I like him."

"Yes, yes," interrupted The Holy Spirit,"but I still don't understand why in God's name, oops, sorry Sir, we put her in Nazareth. It's suppose to be Bethlehem!" His eyes opened wide, "Hello!!"

"I know, I know," answered God. "Calm Yourself. I've got this all worked out. You worry way too much, You know. You need to trust me on this."

"Yeah, well I trust You, I just don't understand why sometimes You just do things the hard way, kind of screwy. No offense, Sir."

"No offense taken. It's those foolish humans that make Me do things the hard way. If they'd just listen and do what I tell them. They trust Me even less than You do." God shook His majestic head in dismay. "Now, I've got everything covered here, so listen up. Son! Are You listening?"

"To every syllable, My Father." 


And God smiled.


"Okay. That Augustus guy in Rome has decided he's a big shot, and he wants to know how many people he can count that he can make cow-tow to him. What a jerk! So he's ordered that they take a census, and everyone will have to go to the city of their forefathers to be counted. Get it? City of their forefathers?"

The Holy Spirit sat straight up in His chair. "Oh, sure! I get it now! Bethlehem! That's the city where Benjamin and David came from. Whoa!  This is just way cool!"

God is thinking how bright that Holy Spirit is.

 "But, wait a minute."

"Oh, no." thought God. The Holy Spirit was thinking again. 


"Okay. From Nazareth to Bethlehem. Isn't that like eighty miles or more? Won't that girl have to go eighty miles while she's pregnant, I mean VERY pregnant? Like, H-U-G-E pregnant! God, are You sure You've thought all this through?"


"Sometimes You are so exasperating. Didn't I say, 'Trust Me?'  I'll see to it that she and the baby and Joseph get there safe and sound. What's the problem? Eighty miles of good road with a few of their friends tagging along for company, and I'll make sure they've got the best donkey on the market, brand new, never been ridden. It's gonna be a cakewalk! Yes, she'll be a little uncomfortable, but I'll take care of her. You've just gotta trust me on this."

God's Son glanced at The Holy Spirit with disdain then turned back to His Father. "Abba, this sounds perfect. I know how diligently You have planned this, and I know, without a doubt, it's going to be fantastic. I'm ready to go anytime. Just give the word."

God thought He heard kissing sounds coming from The Holy Spirit, but He decided to let it go. "Kids." He muttered and moved on.

"It's going to be very important for the girl's sanity that we get her out of Nazareth to spare her of all those sharp tongues wagging about her. Sheesh. I've got quite a few stories about them I could repeat, but I won't......yet. Their day will come if they don't change their ways. Well, that's why I'm sending You there, Son. Okay! Let's get the lead out! Holy Spirit, You've got that star ready to go? And We've got to get those guys from the east moving, too. I'm counting on You!"

"You can count on me, Sir! I've got everything on my list ready." The Holy Spirit said this with pride, then realized He had revealed something that maybe He would have liked to have kept to Himself.

"Well, You know, Sir, sometimes I do have to write things down, You know, just in case."

They all smiled and quickly dispersed to accomplish the great task.

"We are such a cool team," God thought. "Lombardi ain't got nothing on Us."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NO MORE POWER

At the end of October most of the northeast states were pelted with heavy snow over a  weekend.  Pictures of power lines and trees were shown laying on the ground weighted down with the snow.  I read it on the computer news.  "MANY HAVE NO POWER AFTER THE STORM"

I guess that's always the way it is, isn't it?  When you are weak and the storms come along unexpectedly you are destined for a downfall.  The heavy snow causes the smaller limbs and the weaker, some even dead, trees to fall and are destroyed.  The power lines that were not replaced with underground cable were vulnerable to the harsh winds and snow.

How strong are you after, or during, a storm?  Have you done the preparation needed to withstand not only the every day problems, but the days of tragedy and pain? 

Cities across the nation should plan ahead for the easiest transition when the storms come.  Even when they are most prepared they still can experience total shutdowns.  But as a people of Jesus Christ we must prepare daily with God's Word and be fortified with His love. power, and protection against total shutdowns.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

PAY ATTENTION!

Sometimes I have something very serious that I want to say to my husband, and I need to have one hundred percent of his attention.  Past history has proven to me that if he isn't paying close attention he will only hear part of what I am saying.  He hears what he wants to hear, or he just doesn't get all of it due to trying to do more than one thing at a time. 

Now, multi-tasking is a gift that most men don't have, but they have been deceived by demons and other men who have told them that they do.  I'm convinced this is a conspiracy to shut out the world of wives who are talking non-stop at them.  That is not me.  I am not one to inundate my world, nor my husband, with endless chatter.  So, when I have something important to say I want him to stop what he is doing and listen carefully.  If my husband does not shut off the TV, or if he doesn't stop what he is doing I can lay odds that later he will have everything that I said twisted and formed to shape what he thinks I said, not what I said. 

There have been many times in our marriage that I have wanted to relate important (at least to me it is) stuff, but I just can't get him to stop and totally focus on me.  I will, at this point, just stop and say, "Forget it."  He will respond somewhat feebly that he is listening, but it takes no effort at all for him to go back to what he was doing.  He's really not interested.  He actually couldn't care less.  He is doing what he wants to do, and I go away frustrated, sad, angry, and/or hurt.

I often hear Christians say, "Gee.  God really never talks to me.  I wonder why.  My friends say that He talks to them, so why wouldn't He talk to me?"  I think it's time to wake up and smell the coffee, dear one.  God isn't going to talk to you if you're not going to stop and listen.  As we have heard it said over and over, God is a gentleman.  He's not going to come into your house without calling first and receiving an invitation.  He knows where He's not wanted, and He will not intrude uninvited.

I must make certain that in such a busy world I must stop.  Stop everything.  Yes, it's possible for even the most busy person to stop.  Take five.  Sit alone with Him and listen.  Read a verse.  Then tomorrow take ten.  Read a chapter.  And we must always listen.  We must open the door and ask Him to come in and give Him all our hospitality.  I believe that if Jesus walks by and you are too busy vacuuming, too busy watching your shows on television, too busy with Facebook, or too busy with your work He is going to say, "Forget it.  Maybe I'll come back later."  Then again, maybe He won't.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saved or Rescued

Is there a difference in definition between "saved" and "rescued"?  According to Webster there is very little.  But, in reflection of certain situations, I believe there can be a difference, one that may be ever so slight, and yet ever so important.  I even believe it can be the difference between life or death.


My dear friend Webster says that saved means to "deliver from sin".  I admit that I was a little surprised for the dictionary to take this fairly religious point of view on the word. The second definition was to "deliver from danger".  I looked up the word rescue and found, "to free from confinement or danger, to save, to deliver".  The differences may not be enough for one to normally comment on, but I believe I see a difference.

A few days ago my husband and I were talking about a situation that we have with our adult son.  His marriage is ending, he has no dependable transportation, no job, no place to go, and of course no money to achieve any of these. These problems, and many, many more, are long-standing, and over the years his cries for help and then abuse of the helper have caused him to alienate family and friends alike.  He has, as the saying goes, burned all of his bridges and has no one to go to, and he has no where to go.  His closest family has explained to him time and again that his hope is not in what his family or friends do for him.  His hope, and at this point, his only hope is in Jesus Christ who can and will turn his life around.  Our son has stedfastly refused to take this step in his life, and consequently his life is unbearable for him.  His last phone conversation with me was to say that he has nothing to live for, and he wants to end his life. 

There have been circumstances in this man's life that have caused him to believe that the world owes him, that his family owes him, and he has lived this way for so long that he knows nothing else.  How does someone watch two hardworking parents all of his growing up years become an adult believing just the opposite of what he saw? I can't answer this.  I can only rely on what I believe.  I believe in a Savior that can lift a lost man up from his grave of sin and despair and plant him on solid ground.

Today I am recognizing more and more a generation of adult children with this same mindset.  They don't want to work, let alone work hard.  They don't want to do a job that they consider not theirs to do.  They want at age 25 what our generation didn't have until we were 50, and they want it given to them.  This generation of which I speak has been pampered and spoiled with money and technology, and they have come away believing that they deserve it simply because they breathe.  We forgot to teach them that all these things in their lives wouldn't make them happy.  The things only cause them to want more.  There is only One way to happiness, and they don't seem willing to sacrifice to have it.

Yes.  I forgot to tell him because I didn't know Christ until my son was 15 and his brother was 17.  I didn't know the Truth, so how could I teach it to them?  But I cannot take the guilt upon myself when I have presented the Truth over and over to them.  As adults, my sons have continued to hear the Truth, then walk away to continue their lives of sin and depravity.  They have made their choices, and I am not responsible for their false thinking and bad decisions.  But I am responsible for praying for their salvation and deliverance.  My job as a "mommy" is over.  But my job as a believer in Christ demands my diligence in prayer, and it demands my unfailing and unconditional love for my sons whom I love beyond measure.  My greatest comfort is knowing that their Creator loves them infinitely, and because of that love He will pursue them for as long as it takes for them to recognize how much they need Him.

I am continuing to pray, and I am expecting great things from God for my sons.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'LL DO IT MYSELF!

I have a husband who, bless his heart, thinks if I have come to him with a problem that I want him to fix it.  I think this may be God's fault because I've read that most husbands think this way.  But all I really want is to talk about it to someone.  I just want him to listen to me, then I'll go take care of it.  I wonder if the reason for this is that, usually, men just don't talk, bless their hearts, unless they have to.  If they don't need help why would they talk?

Think about how God must look at this conundrum.  On one hand He watches a woman telling her loving husband about the kid in the back of her class who just won't follow directions and can't keep his hands to himself.  When she's finished her rant, dear, sweet, loving husband begins to recite a list of all the things that she needs to do to correct this youngster.  He may even have the audacity to put this list in writing for her.  "Follow these (my) guidelines (instead of yours), and you will have no more problems." This is what she hears him saying.  Her next decision will probably be to never talk to him about her job ever again.  "I'll do it my own way!  What does he know about it, anyway?"

On the other hand is the loving husband who is home from work, tired, just wanting a little peace in his world, and she's got a problem, and, God forbid, she wants to talk.  "Fine," he thinks to himself.  "I can take care of this for her, and then I can get back to peace and quiet.  This can't be too difficult.  It's a child, for heaven's sake!  Why can't she do this herself?  No.  I have to do it for her!"

Wanting to "take care of things myself" is typical in hundreds of different scenarios, not just between men and women.  But I wonder if it is one of the biggest chasms between man and God.  God is in control, but man wants to do it himself.  God says to man, "Trust in Me."  And man says, "I have to do something!"  "How can it be resolved if I don't do something?"

The writer of Hebrews says, "Faith is leaning toward God in complete confidence and trust in His power, wisdom, and goodness." (Amp. Bible. italics added)  Many times our faith needs feet and hands to accomplish God's power and wisdom, but first comes the faith, the knowledge of and intimate relationship with God the Father and His Son.  When we "put on the armor of God" then we will know the power and wisdom that we need to answer our daily problems because the constant in our lives, the Holy Spirit, will guide us through.  Yes, sometimes I may still need to talk it through to a friend.  But all I will need in the end to solve or alleviate my problems will come from the Counselor, God.  He does good work.  Even at my best I'll probably make a mess.  God's Word is the best resource I can ever need.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

God Doesn't Want the Scraps

I am a fan of crossword puzzles.  I've worked them since I was a young girl.  When I first started mom and I worked them together, then I began working them on my own.  I also am very interested in words, and to this day I love to learn a new word as often as I can.

If you work crossword puzzles then you will probably be familiar with the word "ort".  We almost never use it in today's world, and to use it in your conversations would probably cause others to pause and give you an inquiring look   or a look of doubt that you know what you are talking about.  Ort is a word that describes left-overs at the end of a meal.  Ort is what the pigs were fed on the farm.  Ort is the scraps that no one wants.  It is ort that I am thinking about today, that I want to use in my conversation, so don't look at me funny.

Those of us in the Christian church who call ourselves, and think of ourselves, as good Christians need to constantly be looking at our walk with Christ, testing and checking ourselves, and listening closely every day, twenty four/seven as the saying goes, to the Holy Spirit to guide us to completeness in Him.  Most of us have a long way to go, and learning to recognize the Spirit's voice is key to our walk.  To hear the Holy Spirit we must be willing to give the Trinity our full attention, our all.  And I am brave enough to say that every single one of us can do better.  He does not want, nor does He deserve our ort.

My guess is that most of us go to prayer if and when we have time.  When we awake in the morning there is much to be done to ready our family and ourselves for the day.  When we get home at the end of the day we are tired, worn out, and there's more work to do.  Meals and children and social activities, along with many other things, take all of our time, and by the time we get to our bed we have little left.  So we say a quick prayer, "Oh God, thank You for this day and please, God, help me to sleep!" What God just received was what little you had left for Him. 

Sunday mornings can be so hectic, and even during the week some of us spend so much time serving Him in our areas of ministry.  Wonderful!  But beyond serving Him, are we saving back the best part of our time for worship?  Or are we doing so much for God that we have no time to be with Him?  I believe God wants you and your time first, then your service.  Sometimes I've done so much for Him, I don't have time for Him.  He gets my scraps.

Another place we sometimes struggle, or perhaps don't even consider, is our tithe.  If I tithe and don't have enough left over to buy the extras in my life, I must make a decision.  And, often, we give to God on Sunday what is left after we have paid everything else.  You can reason this away, but I believe God is First in all things, even my money.  It is His.  He allows us the privilege to have it, and if we pay Him the ort that we have left over we have given to Him no more than we would give to the animals in the barnyard or the dogs at our feet.  I can reason that I can only afford to give Him a small portion, but God doesn't deserve to be robbed any more than you or I do.  My leftovers are the height of disrespect to the One who loves us beyond our power to understand.

When I go to my Father and I am in need I will never hear Him say, "As soon as I am finished with this one I'll get to you.  I'm busy right now", or "I think I can give you five minutes tomorrow at noon.  I'll try to fit you in  then."  He will never be too tired or too busy to listen and give me what I need to plod through.  God will never tell me, "Sorry, I'm a little short this month.  Can I pay you next week?"

God is my refuge and strength; an ever present help in times of trouble.  He deserves my very best at all times in return.  My God deserves to receive the cream of my crop, the finest and the most that I can give.  I'll save the ort for the pigs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What Am I Going To Do?

One of today's headlines reads:
Police: La. man decapitated disabled son, 7. Yesterday's television news was of a fifteen year old stabbing his grandmother to death in Atlanta. Another headline I read yesterday was about a mother who killed her three children. A woman in Florida was accused, but aquitted, of killing her two year old. A family of three siblings were just arrested in the last few days after a crime spree of bank robbing and attempted murder of police officers. The list of such frightening scenarios goes on and on, more of them every day. What, if anything, has changed in this wicked world? Hasn't it always been wicked? Haven't we always had such news and more? Can it get any worse?

I am disturbed with such reportings, but I should never be surprised. I shake my head in despair or in angst or just plain disgust, but if I am to believe what I read in the Word of God I shouldn't be amazed. This is the result of a contemptable enemy of God that is temporarily free to roam this world and snatch the unbelieving up to do his evil deeds and make them his prisoners. God has told us these things would happen, and there is more, and worse, to come. And if not, then it will be the end and I will have no more opportunities to do what He needs me to do.

The political and religious conflicts in Israel have intensfied and seem to be far from the "peace of Jerusalem" that David prayed for. The Church cannot even worship God without strife and conflict within its walls. Children are turning against their parents and each other. All of creation is painstakingly careful not to offend one another, but have no problem offending their Great Creator and Holy Father by ignoring Him, using His name in profane ways, and laughing and ridiculing His faithful. In much of the world Christians lose their lives in horrible ways for being His follower and disciple. And all of this has been the scene since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden.

Every generation has been convinced that the end of the world was near, but the more I read the Word, the more I believe it is closer than we think. So, what am I to do? I keep going to church every Sunday, and I keep praying for those loved ones that are lost to Him. I keep reading my Bible every day, and then, again, I pray for the lost and the sick and the hurting. And tomorrow I will get up and I will pray again, and I will read my Bible and I will be sure I'm in church next Sunday morning.

But what am I going to do about the problem?

And what are you going to do about the problem?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When Is Enough Enough?

When Jesus was asked how many times do we forgive He said 70 times 7, which really meant always forgive. Jesus forgave right up to the cross that they nailed Him to. He loved and forgave the ones who killed Him.

I was acquainted with a man I won't name who was convicted and sent to the electric chair for raping and mutilating two women. He was under the influence of drugs at the time, but that's no excuse. However, while he sat on death row waiting to be executed he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior. He spent the next eight years telling many of the men he came in contact with about Christ. God used him to bring other men to Him. He eventually went to the chair, but I expect to see him when I reach heaven. He was forgiven by God, even though humanity will probably never forgive him.

God is just and fair. He will do what's right. We must obey Him and forgive one another always whether, in our eyes, they deserve it or not.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Boy and the Broom

I heard a little story this morning that I want to remember, so I will keep it here in my blog.

There was once a little boy who was bored with his toys, and he wondered what he could do to have some fun. He looked through his house and he spied a broom hanging on a wall. "I know!" he thought, "I'll take this broom outside and ride it around the neighborhood pretending it is a horse." And that's just what he did.

Later that evening after the boy's mother had cleaned up the dinner dishes she went to find her broom to sweep up the floor, but the broom wasn't there where she had left it.

"Son," the mother called out to the boy, "do you know where the broom is?"

"Yes," replied the young man, "I took it outside to play with it, and I forgot to bring it back in."

"Well, I need you to please go outside and get the broom and bring it back in to me so I can finish my work."

"But, Mom," the boy said. "I can't do that. It's dark outside and I'm afraid of the dark."

The mom encouraged him, "Oh, there's nothing to be afraid of. You can go out in the dark because the Lord is always out there to be with you."

The boy walked over to the door, opened it just enough to stick his head out and called out, "Lord! If you're out there, will you please bring the broom in for me?"



We, the church, need to be careful that we don't behave as this little boy did. Sometimes we huddle in our church buildings and open up the doors just enough to call out to God, "If You're out there, Lord, will you please bring in the unsaved to us? We're too afraid to go out into the world and get them ourselves."

This is the purpose of the church in this world, to go out to them and bring them in to Him. We are the nucleus. They are the outsiders, and they need us to show them the way in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

THE ETHEREAL DOGWOOD




As we were driving home from church last Sunday I was struck again by the ethereal dogwood floating amidst the various woods we passed and all along the road side. I have no memory of dogwood before coming to Georgia, though Nebraska may have had them. But here in Georgia you cannot overlook the many, many trees sprinkled throughout the mountains and woods, and the impression is breathtaking because of their great number.

I have four or five dogwood trees in my wooded back yard, and one of them standing alone on the side of my lot is a very pretty sight indeed. But gaze out across a wooded lot and you will catch the dainty white flowers floating against the browns and greens of the sunny and fresh April Spring day. The illusion is of bits of cotton hovering amidst the new leaves, threatening to dance away at the slightest breeze.

This picture will be gone all too soon as the dogwood flowers fade and the rest of the landscape comes alive. Georgia will become lush in greens, and small colors will require a closer proximity to enjoy them. Kudzu will fill any crevice it can and nature will overwhelm the traveler with its show. The sky that had peeked through the branches will disappear. But today the photograph is of whimsey and a gentle feeling of God's subtle beauty.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ASH WEDNESDAY 2011

Joel 2:12-13
"...it's not too late---God's personal Message---'Come back to Me and really mean it! Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!' Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to GOD, your GOD."

Today is Ash Wednesday, and I will observe for the first time in my Christian walk the next forty days of Lent. I've been praying and asking God to reveal to me what He would desire that I do to observe these days, and I really hadn't heard a definite answer. That is, until this morning.

I am beginning each day of Lent with a devotional Ashes To Fire, and this morning I began my day by reading the book of Joel. I had finished Chapter 2 when my body tensed, my eyes began to burn and I thought my nose was going to explode. These are sure signs that I am about to cry. But it was more than that. I knew in my heart exactly what I was to do over the next forty days of Lent. He was telling me what He desires of me, and I heard it loud and clear, as if He were here speaking to me.

These are the words of my heart:
"You have become lazy in praying for the salvation of your sons. You have almost given up on believing what I can do in their lives. You have prayed often and have seen no changes, and you are on the verge of despair. You don't need to see the changes. All you need to do is pray for them. That is what I want from you now. Each day during your devotional time I want you to think of them, as if you are doing it for them. Stand in the gap. Pray for them. Weep for their sins. Repent to Me for what they have done. And I will hear you, and you must begin again to believe what I will do. When you are eating, pray for them. When you are working around the house, pray for them."

He is asking me to change my pattern of prayer for the salvation of my sons and to actually mourn their present state of spiritual death for them, as if I were them. He has been preparing me for the last few weeks to be strong in Him to save my children.

Psalm 27:13-14 NASB "I would have despaired if I had not believed that I would see the loving hand of the LORD in the land of the living."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bill Gotthard (isms)

A friend of mine attended a seminar with Bill Gotthard as speaker. These are just a few of the words of wisdom he shared, and she has shared them with me, and I will share with you.

Meekness vs. Anger
Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God. (Psalm 62:5, "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.)

Attentiveness vs. Unconcern
Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions. (Hebrews 2:1, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.")


Loneliness is the anguish I feel when I sense I am being cut off from the spirit of others. (“I am full of heaviness: and I looked for someone to lament with me; but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.”-Psalm 69:20).

Loneliness is the evidence that I was expecting others to meet my needs as only God can. (“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5)

Loneliness means that at that very moment, God feels the same anguish toward me because my basic delight is not in Him. (“I will delight myself in the Lord and He shall give me the desires of my heart." Psalm 37:4)

Then Gothard adds, Read Psalms when lonely; quote 73;25 which says: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”



IT'S NOT MY JOB!

“Worry is assuming responsibility that isn’t yours.”
Bill Gothard


A friend of mine sent this quote to me this morning by email in response to a statement I had made to her. The statement was, "I don't worry about things that I can do nothing about."

I have tried at different times to explain to some of my friends why they should not worry and why it is so easy for me to almost, one might think, forget that I even have a problem. It's not that I forget, I've just learned that the process is one I wish to forego, eliminate from my being, and not be something that consumes minutes of my day. I do this for self-preservation. But I also do it because there is no logical point to it. I have much bigger fish to fry.

Self-preservation sounds so dramatic, doesn't it? I suppose that I have been known to be somewhat dramatic, (she says with an ironic twinkle in her eye). But self-preservation is indeed, in this situation, the awareness of what is necessary, or unnecessary, in one's life. I know quite well most of the necessary and unnecessary components of my life, but worry is one of the unnecessary items that I have been blessed enough to be able to conquer. Don't speak to me of fattening foods or sales at the boutique, but, rather, notice my victory in not wearing myself to a frazzle contemplating the unreachable.

The situation is this: I woke up for years every morning wondering "what is going to happen today?" and spending the next twelve hours waiting for a bomb to drop, not knowing how or when. I went to bed each night thankful that I had made it through one more day, not necessarily unscathed, but I made it nontheless. I lay awake at night worrying about the things that had happened, the repercussions of it all, and what will happen tomorrow? In the morning I began the process again.

The bombs dropped almost daily, and I lived through them if only to go through the worry process that I had established. My little world around me was falling to pieces, and all I could do was to watch and worry and wait for the next bomb to drop. Trying to prepare myself took concentration and constant worry. And the bomb would drop, and I was never ready, never concentrated enough, not worried enough to break the fall. Watch, worry, and wait. And where did it get me?

I found myself one day waiting again, but this time in a doctor's waiting room. This was not something that I had waited for, and I certainly was not happy about the procedures that I was about to experience. And I was to experience these procedures many times for the rest of my life. These procedures are necessary to preserve my life and make it more bearable. The reason for all of this? My doctor told me that it was the stress and worry in my life. I must learn a way to calm the stress, eliminate as much as possible, and stop worrying. Right. And I'm also going to fly to Mars tomorrow.

It took some time. My circumstances weren't changing at that point, and I couldn't see any light at the end of that tunnel, though later I would. I needed a power that I did not have humanly to carry me through the storms and over the bumpy road. But I did have an unearthly Power that I knew could help, and so I tapped into that Power and learned a process of putting away in the back of my mind all my experiences with bombs and storms. When the new ones came, I dealt with them and learned to move on without the concentrated worry and rehashing of them. I didn't walk away from them, I just didn't acknowledge that they were there. My focus was on the Power that was carrying me through. He was and is my strength. He demands my full attention, which leaves little time for worry.

Today I think about God's Word and how I must apply it to my life. I concentrate on obeying Him and living a life that makes God smile. When I allow my own demands or wishes to distract me I fail Him. But rather than worry about it, I go to Him and repent. He holds me close, forgives, and I move on, and we think no more about it. You see, He has others to care for, to worry about. I only have me, and I don't worry because He is taking care of me.

Today the bombs that fall cannot concern me beyond prayer. He has padded my world with His love. To preserve my physical body I must live in that cocoon of His love and His peace. To step out of the cocoon is a danger area that I must avoid to continue. And He has prepared it for me. And meanwhile He has other jobs to attend to.

“Worry is assuming responsibility that isn’t yours.”
Bill Gothard

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I See London, I See France.......

Take a look at all the comments that are being made by people on the topic of abortion. You will usually notice that those who oppose abortion do simply that, they oppose abortion, and they don't discuss it on a personal basis. Those who support abortion not only support abortion, but they attack the mentality, morality, and intelligence of those persons who disagree with them, and they accuse them of anything they can conjure up that might show them to be inconsiderate, uncompassionate, immature, women-hating morons.

I have always noted that the insecure, unintelligent, self-centered and ill-informed bullies who are afraid to be exposed as such are the ones crying the loudest about the issues they know little about, and simply want to look better than they really are. Pro-abortion proponents need to change their tactics. They're exposing their backsides.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scott Swim Message Summary:Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear Friends,I preached a sermon this past Sunday out of Ephesians 1 which says, "we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world." I received an email this week from a young lady inquiring about more information on what I believe to be true about the theological system known as Calvinism. Below is my response and I thought it might help anyone else who might be trying to "sort through" what it means to be "chosen" by God!...when we all get to heaven I'm not sure whether this will be near the monumental issue that it was on earth. It ought to be obvious to both Calvinists and Armenians that what matters most to God is the salvation of men, which should make the Great Commission the focus of our energy much more than debating the theology of "how" exactly God goes about redeeming fallen man. None the less, when preaching through a book like Ephesians, one can't "preach around" the subject, so I chose to deal with it on Sunday knowing that it is a very controversial doctrine that theologians have debated for centuries and will continue until Christ comes....I stand by my statement that when God "chose" us before the foundation of the world, in the mind of God there was no difference between the moment God "chose" us and we "chose" Him. I don't believe this is an extra-biblical statement at all when one considers the definition of "eternity". God does not dwell in our dimension of time. Where He dwells, there is no past and there is no future - only the eternal "present" where past/present/future all exist together. I don't fully comprehend this, as none of us confined to time can...but this I know - The "time-delay" between us choosing God and God choosing us does not exist in the dimension known as eternity. We became the "elect" of God because at the moment God "elected" us, we "elected" God. It was a simultaneous event in the mind of God "before the foundation of the world."

I fully believe that neither the five-point Calvinist nor the Armenian view are totally right nor totally wrong. The Armenians error because they emphasize "too much" man's "free will". The Calvinists error because they emphasize "too little" man's "free will". While man cannot exercise his "will" to choose God apart from the grace of God, that does nothing to eliminate the fact that God has given human beings a "will" to choose God or reject God. It cannot be exercised of his own "personal volition" like the Armenians say, but he still has one none the less and is therefore responsible for his own eternal destiny, which he would not be if he had no will of his own and his eternal destiny was "fixed" before he was ever born....In regard to Romans 9 - this is THE "proof text" the Calvinists use to illustrate that God does indeed raise up some for eternal salvation and others for eternal damnation. This is unfortunate as Paul clearly states the context of the entire chapter at the beginning! The entire 9th, 10th and 11th chapters of Romans is dealing exclusively with the salvation and restoration of Israel - not the salvation of individuals. It is not a doctrinal statement at all on the salvation of individuals, but rather a doctrinal statement on the restoration of Israel!

When it says, "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated," this is not in view of these men's "salvation" or these men's eternal destinies, but simply a statement that God chose Jacob to father the 12 tribes of Israel, instead of the firstborn, Esau. Calvinists always like to point to the example of Pharaoh in this text - but again, the salvation of Pharaoh's soul is not in view! It does not say God "raised him up" to send him to hell eternally, but God simply "raised him up" for the purpose of bringing Himself glory through the release of the Hebrew slaves so that He could transform these slaves into a nation of "priests and kings". It doesn't say God raised him up for eternal damnation, but that he would be God's vessel to bring about God's plan for His chose people, the Jews. It's often pointed out by Calvinists by going back to the text in Exodus that it says "God hardened Pharaoh's heart" as if Pharaoh had no choice. But a careful reading of the Exodus account tells us first that "Pharaoh hardened his heart" and only after "Pharaoh hardened his heart" does it say later on that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart"...God simply gave Pharaoh over to the choice Pharaoh had already made to harden his own heart.

I completely agree with the Calvinist doctrine of the "Total Depravity" of man, given in the verses I quoted on Sunday. Man is far too "depraved" apart from God's grace to seek God or to choose God solely on his own free will or personal volition. I also agree with their doctrine of the "Perseverance" of the Saints, given that salvation is completely a work of God's grace apart from any of man's works. It's God's grace that gives us our "eternal security" since salvation is not a work of man and solely a work of God. However, I stand by my interpretation of 1 Peter 1:2, "Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God"...Foreknowledge simply means God "knew beforehand" in His omniscience of who would "elect" Him and therefore He "elected" them. Anything else would seem to me to be "stretching" the definition of foreknowledge.

I stand by my statement that God has never "arbitrarily chosen some for salvation and arbitrarily chosen not to choose others for salvation, thereby choosing them for damnation" based on the same Scriptures I quoted Sunday. 1 Timothy 2:3 couldn't be clearer to me, "For this good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Honestly, why is this not clear? Has God "chosen" some ahead of time for eternal damnation when He says clearly in His Word He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth"? It's clear he desires all men to be saved, even though all will not be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 says God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." If it was the "will of God" to choose some for eternal damnation "before the foundation of the world" then why in His Word does He say He's "not willing that any should perish"? Is God confused as to His own will?

Finally, I believe the whole idea that God would purposely raise up human beings with an eternal soul and "predestine" them to spend eternity in a fiery torment goes entirely against not only the clear teaching of the Word of God, but also the very nature and character of God. Calvinists like to say that God "choosing" some for salvation is the ultimate expression of a loving, compassionate and gracious God. I couldn't disagree more! This would not make God "compassionate", but rather "cruel" - very, very cruel. It would not bring God glory - for what glory is in it for God that He MAKES His creatures worship Him? The glory is in it for God in that we WILLINGLY worship Him. Worship that is not freely given is not worship. Love that is not freely given is not love. If we had no choice but to love and worship God because He "fixed" it in eternity past so we would have no choice - that would not bring God glory. If God is the "puppeteer" and all we are is His "puppets", that would bring absolutely no glory to God. The glory we have to offer God is in that He does not make us love Him or worship Him, but that we offer it freely.

I reject completely the concept of "Limited Atonement" and John 3:16 ought to be enough for anybody to reject the idea that Christ died only for the "elect", but not for the "non-elect". That "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."is clear that Christ died for ALL, even though all won't be saved. The blood was shed for ALL, but it will only be appropriated by the few - God's elect. Christ shed His blood for the world, but it will only be appropriated by His bride. I think 1 John 2:2 should clearly settle this dispute as well, "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." It doesn't get any clearer to me.

I reject the concept of "Irresistible grace" as I fully believe that man does have a "free will' and that while mankind cannot choose God apart from the grace of God, man can still choose. Joshua 24:15 ought to make this clear, "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...whether the false gods of your fathers...or the gods of the Amorites..." Clearly Joshua was telling them to make a choice to serve the true and living God or the false gods - but choose. Would God give us a command in Scripture that we couldn't really do? It's clear to me that it's God who gives us the grace to believe - but He does not make us believe! Did Adam have a choice when He chose to sin against God and eat of the forbidden tree - or did God make him eat? The answer seems obvious. God gave him a "free will" as He has every human being since.

To say man doesn't have a "free will" of some kind is to make God the author of evil. But James 1:13 clearly tells us that God is not the author of sin or evil. The fact that even as a Christian I can and do still sin ought to be evidence enough that I do indeed have a "free will". Obviously I have a "free will" of my own and I exercise it every time I choose to sin - or are we going to say that because I have no "free will" that God has "foreordained" even my sin before the foundation of the world - so that I really have no choice when I sin? That is certainly what some Calvinists believe, but it's not Scriptural.

When I study the Bible I'm convinced there are aspects of Calvinistic theology and Armenian theology that are both biblically valid and biblically in error. Too much of the time people begin studying their "theological system" and then begin interpreting Scripture through the lens of their "theological system" instead of forming their "theological system" through their careful study of Scripture. I'm not saying Calvinists are the only one's guilty of this - we all have to be careful to "rightly divide the Word of truth" (2 Timothy 2;15).

In the end, we as the body of Christ should remember to have unity on the "essential" doctrine, liberty on the "non-essential" doctrines, and remember that any attitude that causes disunity is sin. God bless you!