It began and ended in the Garden

chick garden

It was formed at creation; a place of splendor and beauty that we cannot possibly fathom. As beautiful as creation is now it still has thorns, mud and dying foliage, but that was not the case in the first garden. It had not rained so there would not have been mud, only perfect conditions for which to run and frolic in delight in that perfectly wonderful place… until we botched it through sin.  My stomach twists and turns as I think about Satan slithering his way through God’s exquisite creation to make his way to Eve, where his pleas would not fall on deaf ears but rather his wicked seeds of doubt would take root in her soul and forever change the garden.

Genesis 2:8, Genesis 2:9

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Eve traded Paradise for misguided perception.

The scripture says that Jesus and His disciples often resorted to a garden with His disciples. There is no doubt that He knew the garden of Creation and Gathsemane at the time it was created, long before sin had taken its effect on the land and before Satan’s ways had slithered into the heart of every man.

John 18:1-2

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

Another betrayal in the garden. In a place where Jesus had sought to find rest with His friends, and was perhaps a place where He had expounded the truth to His disciples many times, including Judas; it would be that place Judas would seal the deal with the Devil. Another poor choice by the creation that God loved. It was in this garden that Christ cried out to His Father to let the cup pass if there would be any other way, but there was not. The coming days would be filled with betrayal to the extreme when the world would turn their back on Him, He Who created them… loved them… and died for them.

But then the final garden in the story.

John 19:40-42

Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

As only Christ can do, it would come full circle in the garden! What Satan had intended to steal in the first garden, he was sure he had finally accomplished it in the third. But in the third garden, on the third day Jesus would prove victorious and in a twist of irony He was mistaken as the gardener by the women at the tomb.

John 20:15

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

The original Gardener. He Who had sown every seed in that glorious Garden of Eden, Who was there betrayed, had conquered every sin from the original to the end. Glory Hallelujah! Our Messiah. I’m so grateful for the Master Gardener… were it not for that empty tomb I would not stand redeemed and have peace in my soul that it so needful in this world of woe.

It was nice to find the gardens this morning in His word. I pray you find a little of your own to steal away and spend time with the Savior, be it in the garden, a coffee shop or a front porch swing.

Something Happened at the Church House!

chick church house

It is just a little past Palm Sunday, Monday as a matter of fact, but my mind is still on Sunday. Yesterday evening our choir performed the Cantata, “Jesus Saves.” I wept through much of it, tried to sing because I thought surely my big mouth would be missed, maybe not… but I was so caught up in the moment. My littlest gradbaby played Jesus with Mary and Joseph. Mary, who had forever wanted to play that role, but was never chosen as a child, yet as a young woman, God fulfilled her desire. I inwardly snickered at Joseph who was worried about OSHA regulations in the carpenter shop and refused to wear sandals but insisted on wearing his work boots. And then Jesus… played by a man our church had come to love as interim Pastor and continues to play an encouraging role even now. He came down the aisle to shouts of praises and Hosanna and in a twist of irony, his real lie daughter who played Mary had just left the stage. He was portraying Jesus, but more importantly he knew Jesus. There was a sense of worship on the platform, he broke the bread and shared the cup, pondered that day in Jesus’ life. He knelt and wept… and my heart was broken. How did that crowd go from shouts of praise to shouts of crucify Him?

Matthew 21:15-16

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

The children were crying in the temple. They were praising God and having a shoutin’ good time. Kids can do that because they have no concern for appearances, they live in the absolute moment. I have a feeling it was young and old alike who were living in that moment as Jesus made His way down the streets of Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” John 12:13

But something happened at the church house.

Jesus had made it to the church house; and what did He find? Greedy religious people making money and unconcerned about anyone but self.  He threw them out of the temple and justifiably so. But inside the temple there were still a few of them left. The children were in the temple praising God and celebrating the King and it upset the stiff necked religious leaders. So Jesus reminded them of the Old Testament words in Psalm 8:2 –  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

One sure fire way to tick off religious people is to catch them up in their own game. They were so wrapped up in the law and spouting off scripture that they stopped feeling it. They were now the enemy of the cross and were about to be stilled. Christ’s presence had Spiritually moved the crowd. They knew He was different but when it came to the church, they knew He changed things and religious people hate change. So they decided they’d get rid of the problem and changed the cry from Hosanna! To Crucify! By silencing the child, the one who has no concern for appearance, only truth; but not for long. The church was silenced for a few days…

But then something happened at the church house!

It changed no locations. It was no longer in a building but it dwelled within the people and it could not be silenced.

The tears that flowed down my face during last night’s Cantata was that inward child; the one in the temple crying “Hosanna, Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Don’t lose sight of that inner child this week…

Pondering Eternity

chick eternityI once heard that eternity can be understood by shutting yourself into a very small room and then imagining the remainder of the universe outside your door, and that’s only the beginning. Eternity is something we give little thought to in the day to days of life until something or someone causes us to ponder and desire to have a taste ourselves. The internet is filled with $1.99 wisdom on the subject and Satan and his doomsday tribe would love for you to buy it; ideas like reincarnation, soul sleep, deep self, or the end of existence. Because it brings you face to face with the reality of the means of passing to eternity most people don’t dwell much on the notion until life or death forces them to.

In my small world I’ve been dealing with it a little more than usual lately. A good friend’s funeral is tomorrow where I’ll say goodbye to his earthly body. A local family lost a child yesterday, a friend of some of my Sunday School students. It causes questions from the young and old alike as to why God would allow that to happen. How do we explain it to a child who barely understands the death of an older person but now has to cope with the loss of someone their own age? How do we explain it to us? It’s tragedy, plain and simple. But in pondering those why’s I have been dwelling more on the where. There is no peace in the loss of someone we love, but there’s a bountiful supply in understanding God’s plan of reunion.

When David lost his son as told in 2 Samuel 12 he told his servants in verses  22-23 “While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” David had not read the $1.99 internet wisdom. He had only read the Word of God, the truth on all matters of life. The truth on life and death is that this is not the end… this is the middle, and the end never ends… oh glory!!! That causes my heart to leap with joy when I think about all those people that I have loved and had to say goodbye to. There is coming a day when we shall reunite for all eternity and there will be no more farewells, only “Stop by again!” Open ended invitations of lovin’ on each other.

Today, I don’t want to think about what I lost, I want to think about what they found.

They found what God Prepared

1 Corinthians 2:9 ~ But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

They found a Place Designed just for them

And not just any place, but a mansion!

John 14:2 ~ In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

They found Paradise (Better than any postcard scene)

Luke 23:43 ~ And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

They found the Power Company! The source of all.

Revelation 21:21-25

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.  And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.  And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.

And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.

That is worthy of pondering. But before we get there we have to ask ourselves one question, “Just as the thief on the cross seen paradise by accepting Christ’s death as payment for his sin, have you done so likewise? Don’t miss your reunion day. Jesus told us “John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

That is the key that unlocks your story…

Paying off Jiminy Cricket

chick guilt

Why is it, that if it’s not Christmas, our minds are not on giving. Another Francis Chan study has me pondering this question this morning. At Christmas time the extra dollars seem to flow from our fingers much easier when we see the need of someone, time seems readily available to volunteer to help the down and outers. The needs of a child are first and foremost in our mind to insure that they have the best Christmas ever… and then it’s over. We go back to our mundane lives and there are no more bells ringing at the entrance of store. No more reminders that we need to think of the needs of others.

And then Francis Chan comes along and throws me outside my comfort zone. Actually I had been there for several weeks, because that’s how God works. Then He adds a series like “Crazy Love” into your life as if to say, why are you not listening? Life is about serving others, that’s how I did it and that’s how I’d like you to do it.

1 John 3:16-18

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Nowhere in that verse were the words “at Christmas time.” It is during that season that our excessiveness goes out of control, does it not, or am I alone? We buy in extreme for those we love, we expect in extreme from those we love and we soothe our guilty souls by dropping a few Benjamin’s or perhaps it’s a Jackson or Lincoln. It matters not, it’s often times for the purpose of paying off Jiminy Cricket. (our conscience in case you were not familiar with Pinocchio.) But God is not Jiminy Cricket, He’s the Holy Spirit and so much wiser… and bigger. And He’s around 365 days of the year, not just holidays or movie nights; and He has a much greater purpose than just telling us we’re doing wrong.

James 4:17

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I feel that I should buy the James 4:17 tee shirt, because I’ve earned it. And not in the good sense. God has been so very good to me. I would be ashamed to tell you how good, in that everything I’ve ever truly wanted I have, and almost every time it came in the form of a gift. The passel of instruments sitting in the chair and on the floor across from me attests to God’s goodness to me. People have invested in my love of music and my love of God. I continually am the recipient of words of encouragement that are priceless and yet cost only a second or two of someone’s day.

  • To him/her that knoweth to speak words encouragement and say nothing to him/her it is sin.
  • To him/her that knoweth to tip the box boy and doeth it not, to him/her it is sin.
  • To him/her that knoweth that child needs new shoes and buys them not, it is sin.
  • To him/her that knoweth that elderly person needed groceries and bought them not, it is sin.
  • To him/her that threw away food rather than sharing it with a neighbor, it is sin.

That list could go on a few miles or more, but I won’t. Mainly because my heart can’t bear the reality. Those “to him/her” comments are things I know I’m guilty of, they are not necessarily things you are guilty of. God speaks different purpose to different souls… are we listening?

Re-wrapped and Ready

chick gift

Wait… I said wait.

At first I wrote the second wait with an exclamation point, but then I reconsidered, because when God spoke those words to my heart, He didn’t yell. He wasn’t excited, He was in the same manner He always is…Rock steady. Unwavering. Unlike me. Lately there’s a scripture rolling inside my head from James 1:8 ~ A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. It’s like a pinball machine pinging from one corner of my mind to another failing to settle into a slot. Reminding me of the indecisions of my life, the ones that I thought I’d settled and yet I have not. They cause fear and anxiety to creep into my thoughts and unrest in my soul. That unstableness leads to feelings of unworthiness and it’s a downhill slope from there. But because my God is ever faithful and knows my every need He provided a place for my soul  to find rest in Psalm 27:1-3

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

I am confident I have no confidence.

It was a conversation I had with my teens on Sunday morning. They have no clue that I use them as mini psychiatrists; I pour my soul out to them in the guise of “opening myself up to them.” I’m kidding… kind of. It’s somewhat therapeutic to teach teens. They are nonjudgmental of my mayhem life. So when I tell them that my confidence level is nil when I take the platform to sing or speak, some are shocked, but most get it because they too struggle with confidence. Obviously I’m not alone in the adult category either. Even David, favored of God, and warrior extraordinaire had moments of doubt.

Doubt creeps into my life and then hovers over my shoulder like the evil it is. Sometimes the enemy is within and sometimes the enemy is without… It usually starts with someone or something, and then I take over adding fuel to the fire until it burns out of control. Possibly too metaphoric a statement but if you struggle with self-doubt you get it. It doesn’t take much to get you on a long journey down the road to the pity party waiting at the end and a box of Krispy Kreme Donuts, my reward of choice for having a bad day. Until God enters the scene and uses His man David to smack me back to reality.

God’s strength

But in “this” will I be confident. Then why do I not feel confident and strong? Because I have forgotten that within me is the strength of Jesus Christ.    

Hebrews 10:35Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

I had thrown away (cast away) my confidence. God is not an Indian giver; He has a no return policy.  If I lack confidence it is because I chose to throw it away not because God took it back. Again and again God has shown me favor in the gifts that He has given me, if I lack confidence it is because I am not trusting in His ability.

God’s Sanctuary

David said in verse 4- One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

That one thing. The one thing worth desiring is to be in the presence of the Lord all the days of our lives. This morning it was not enough for me to hang out with God for a few minutes of pep talk. I wanted to really hang out and dwell with God in the Sanctuary of the Lord and hear what He desired my soul to hear. I am enquiring in His temple. Because He said when I’m in trouble He would hide me from the enemy, even if I’m the enemy.

While I’m here He has promised that He will

  • Lift me up above my enemies so that I can sing. (vs. 6)  That fear on the platform is not here.
  • He will hear what I have to say and answer me with mercy. (vs. 7) His answers bring stability.
  • I have an invitation for a face to face with God. (vs. 8) How can I not accept!
  • When the world walks out, God has never left my side. (vss. 9-10)
  • If I seek Him and listen to His teaching, the path will be plain. (vs. 11) I need plain…
  • I have enemies who seek to destroy the works that God has put into play, I’m aware of them. So is God. They should worry. (vss. 12-13)
  • I believe there is goodness waiting. (vs. 13)
  • So I am waiting. (vs. 14)

God’s Steering

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Twice He says wait.  “But I’ve waited so long,” I complain. And then I can almost hear Him sigh… “You’ve made Me wait. You have done everything humanly possible to ignore me.” Strong’s concordance says that this “wait” is defined as “to bind together perhaps by twisting, collect gather together, look patiently tarry and wait.”

That definition made me think about the bow that is tied about the gift. The gift is bound and sits waiting until the Receiver opens it. I’ve made God wait.  Now it’s my turn.  So the gifts that God has given me will sit wrapped up until He’s ready to open them and present them for use. For a “doer” that’s hard…

To be continued while I wait…

 

 

Sunday Morning Blues? I think I know why!

chick blues

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  ~ Philippians 2:5-8

The Sunday Morning blues… why that thought has been on my mind from the time I got out of bed I do not know. But it got me wondering today why some folks lack the motivation on Sunday to go to church.

Possibly the first reason is because they’re not in their right mind…

Paul said “Let this mind be in you.” And what mind was that? The same one that was in Christ Jesus. The mind that causes us to want to be like God. Wanting to be like God is okay when it’s in the biblical aspect. It really hit me this morning as I read this verse that people who say “So and so think they’re God,” Implying that a person thinks more of themselves than they should, may not be getting who God is either. In reality if one “thinks they are God,” arrogance is nowhere in the picture! God made Himself of no reputation but took the form of a servant. Being in “that mind” is polar opposite of arrogance.

What must Christ have thought when He went from being God to being God fashioned as a man? Paul said that He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of cross.

If on Sunday morning you have no desire to be in the house of the Lord (I speak to you as though you were saved) you’re not in your right mind. You should want to be where God wants you, and that’s in His house with His people, those that He gave His life for.  If you’re not saved there is still that desire to want to be where God is. God said in John 12:32 ~  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  There is a desire inside of you to know God, and to know God is to desire being with His people.

Sunday morning blues can sneak up on anyone. But when your mind is on Him…

He brings joy.

1 Peter 1:8 ~ Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoices with joy unpeakable and full of glory:

He makes the heart glad!

Acts 2:46 ~ And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

So… where is your mind this morning? There’s no room for the Blues in serving Christ! He deserves so much more and He wants so much more for you. He died that you might have life and that it would be abundant! So head on out to church and get ready to praise Him! He’ll meet you there!

Originally posted in April 2013.

Social Media: Inherit the Land, don’t buy the farm

chick friends

I have watched it play out so many times it’s ridiculous. And every time I’m shocked that people had the audacity to say such things as my stomach twists and turns for the person to which they said it to; because usually it’s someone who will take the cut and go on in life  because “that’s what people do.” It happened on the Facebook page of a young friend not so long ago when a “so called” professional tried to smash her dreams by insinuating she wasn’t qualified for a job she was enquiring about. My blood went to the boiling point in seconds. I wanted to lash out and give that woman a piece of my mind, but I knew I didn’t have much to spare. My solution was to private message my young friend and tell her that the professional which offered her advice not to seek the “highly qualified” position was an idiot and I encouraged her to chase her dream. For the record, she was qualified for the position because it was a position that she could apply for and then seek the training, I wasn’t adding to a pipe dream, she was qualified. There are just as many other illustrations about every subject matter out there where people will comment hurtful, maliciously under toned comments that tear at the fabric of people and feel that they are entitled to do so in the name of “friendship.”

If I post on a public website I can expect that people who thrive on making others feel less, wrong, unimportant etc. will comment. If you post it they will come. But on my social media page, where I am queen of that domain, I will not cut your head off, but I’ll cut your access and be no worse for the wear because it’s biblical.

I don’t know what the “social media” site was in Solomon’s day, but he had a handle on it when he wrote Proverbs 27:6 – Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

For some reason today I felt compelled to post on the need to self-assess your self-access.  Who has access to you and how do you feel when you’ve come into contact with them? Because she’s the ultimate bestie, I’ll use my friend Gloria as an illustration. When Gloria and I converse I always leave the conversation feeling better than before, she’s an encourager. Apostle Paul’s advice to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – was Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

So as you self-assess or self-access ask yourself these questions:

Have you been comforted or discomfited? When someone was discomfited in the Bible they lost the battle after being attacked and were often times caught off guard. An attack of a ne’re-do-well often comes without warning. You posted something innocent enough and before you know it the conversation turned into a judgmental rant and stirred up all kinds of feelings in you and none of them were good. Pray and delete.

Have you been exhorted or exiled?  Are your friends invested in what you’re interested in or are your conversations one sided… and it’s their side? A real friend may not love all the things you love, but they love that you love it, or at least tolerate you while you talk about it. I won’t say you should delete this person, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend you investing in a one sided conversation. I would however recommend you search out Facebook friends who have a like passion. They’ll love listening to you and it may just open up doors to wonderful honest friendships that you never expected.

I have 1300 or so friends on Facebook and truthfully only interact with about 10%. It’s those 10% who have invested in me and I in them. They encourage me for the battles I face in life. The Lord told Moses in Deuteronomy 3:28 to “…charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see.”

If Moses had a Facebook account he would have had a few million friends, but not all those were encouragers. When they originally set off on the journey it was the bad advice of a few of his social media buddies that had them wandering around 40 years. (Numbers 13:32) But Joshua was an encourager and in return God made sure he was encouraged too.

We don’t have 40 years to wander. Invest wisely in your time on social media and make sure your friends encourage you to inherit the land, not buy the farm.

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Father vs. father… a point to ponder

chick ponder

During a recent study with the teens the subject matter came up how we often compare our relationship with God to that of our earthly parents. I hadn’t really thought about my parental viewpoint of God until that conversation. Yes, I viewed Him as my Father, but in so doing had I given to Him some of my earthly father’s attributes? I fear I had. My Dad, Gene Hardway, was an awesome godly man. But he had some quirks of human nature. He was a passive fella.

When I married my husband in 1980, yes I was baby of 18 years of age, I was not prepared for the culture of his family. They’re good people too, but they were different than the Hardway’s. They were more realistic to most families in the world. My parents never argued. For real! I never heard anyone raise their voice. So when I met people who could get loud, my Ozzie and Harriett world went upside down. I soon learned how to react in kind. I  don’t recommend it. But as for my Dad, he never changed. He did not yell. He did not argue. Which is awesome, till it’s not. I think possibly if my Dad had spoken more forceful on some things perhaps I would have listened, but maybe not.  The reality of it is, my Dad was who he was, and my husband David’s family are who they are. But now back to the Dad and God comparison… I had to ask myself if I viewed God as somewhat passive, even though I know that not to be the case according to scripture. And the answer was a resounding yes! So I asked my husband, if because his earthly dad had left him when he was one year old, if he thought that caused him to have a lack of trust in God. He said he hadn’t ever really thought about it… I’ve been married too him over half my life, I think he has.

God is truth

Titus 1:2  – In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Parents lie. They tell us things about the Easter Bunny and Santa, (Which I believe is okay) but God would not tell you those things were true, because they are not. Parents tell you you’re the most beautiful child in the world… you are not, but you are in their world, so perhaps that is true. By the same token a really crappy parent who would discourage a child and criticize them is not who God is either, they lie; God does not.

God is love

1 John 4:8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

God’s love is unconditional. We did not do anything to make God love us therefore we cannot do anything to make Him stop. Good parents for the most part love their children unconditional, but not always. Children grow into adults, make bad decisions, hurt us, let us down, as do the parents. God will not ever let you down. I would imagine unconditional love would be hard to fathom for someone brought up in a “conditional love home.”

God is Right

Psalm 18:30 – As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Parents make mistakes, Lord have mercy I have made my fair share and somebody else’s; but God has not ever had an “oops” moment. If you read and study His word from beginning to end, regardless if it is a scientific, moral or prophetic statement, it’s truth. Tell me any man or woman who you can say that about, although my husband does profess to always be right. (Insert smiley face here) But there is none but God Who is ALWAYS right.

God is forgiving

Matthew 6:14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Do we think of Him as forgiving or condemning? I think of Him in that manner, but my Dad was a VERY forgiving guy. I have a feeling if you were brought up in a home where forgiveness was not forthcoming, you might not feel as forgiven.

This idea gave me great reason to ponder my relationship with God. What do you think? I’d be interested in hearing if your view of God was parent defined…

That’s What Makes You Strong

CHICK STRONG

James 1:1-4 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Not once have I ever said to a friend going through trouble, “Wow, your life is a mess and this is a reason to party! We should break out the pop and chips because today is a celebration day. You’re in trouble!” Not one time have I said it, it’s absurd is it not?

But James is telling his friends who are facing trials, tribulations and persecutions the likes of which we have never known to celebrate the day. He doesn’t stop there, he at least tells them why; because that’s what makes you strong. There’s a Claire Lynch song that I’ll post below that I love it because the words are powerful

If you love somebody, Then that means you need somebody
And if you need somebody, that’s what makes you weak
But if you know you’re weak, And you know you need someone
O it’s a funny thing, That’s what makes you strong

That’s what makes you strong, That’s what gives you power
That’s what lets the meek come sit beside the King
That’s what lets us smile, In our final hour
That’s what moves our souls, And that’s what makes us sing

That’s what makes us sing! Nobody likes trials, but man alive I love the other side of them. Because it’s there that we discover the provision, the power and the plan of God. It’s there that we’re made stronger through the exercising of our faith muscles. If we never had to depend on God, if we never needed Him, we’d never appreciate Him. The truth of the matter is, in this wicked world, we’re lion bate. Satan is just waiting to devour us. But God’s swoops in, in His supernatural ways and delivers us out of the mouth of the lion and stands us back on safe ground.

Trials prove the Power of God

Who but God could prove to Satan that trials only draw us closer to the Creator, not further away. Satan heaps trouble upon us in hopes of us being angry at our lot in life, but to those of us who know Christ it just causes us to cleave tighter to the Lord knowing that it is He alone that will bring us through.

Trials prove the Plan of God

It is often times through the trials that our course in life changes. Putting us on a path of greatness that we never imagined. Sounds almost like a Hallmark Card, but it’s truth. Often times we’d never even look in a direction for another way out if God hadn’t blocked off the way we were traveling.

Trials prove the Provision of God

The wanting of nothing. When you’ve made it through a real hardship, the illness or death of someone we love, our own health or financial struggles, whatever it is… once you’ve made it through you realize that God truly provides everything we need. And it’s not possible for any person to provide it. He alone is the Giver and Maker of life.

I hope you’ll listen to this Claire Lynch song… she’s a dandy!

When Change has gone too far

chick change

Change has gone too far when the gospel no longer looks or sounds like the good news and Jesus no longer looks or sounds like the Jesus found in Scripture. – Outreach Magazine

That was a quote in an article in Outreach Magazine that  I read this morning that caused me to go, yep, that’s what I’ve been thinking, I just hadn’t put it that eloquently. I would say something more along the lines of “That doesn’t work,” or “Show me where Jesus was in that.” Both of which immediately put those on the other side of my argument on the defensive. And this comment might, but I think not. Because this comment puts Jesus right in the front of the conversation; and you have to go around Him to argue it. Once you’ve done that the argument is essentially over because Christ is no longer in the picture.

I’m all about change, I love the latest and the greatest. If there’s a new tech toy trending, I need it. Not, I want it… I need it. No, it’s not a healthy need. But I have a curiosity level that resembles that of a toddler. If you don’t believe me look at the “stack” of techy things in my living room; I’ll go one further and say look at the stack of instruments in my living room. I go from old to new it matters not, because I can make the old new again. But here I am at 52 years of age learning to play the fiddle, mandolin, guitar and upright bass. I figure I don’t have enough years left to try one at a time and that plays well into my Attention Deficit Disordered personality.

The problem lies when we treat church the same. I must reiterate the thought that I’m all about change, until the change has Jesus standing on the outside of the church asking to be allowed back in.

When change works:

Jesus was a culturally adept Savior. The culture was the people He met on the street, the hard working blue collar workers as well as the prostitutes and politicians. It was not the people at the church who were trying to fit the world into their building. Jesus said they were stinky, empty tombs.

Matthew 23:27

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

And while that is certainly an excellent description of the religious crowd it could just as well be said to those who are shouting loud how “culturally correct” they are and yet I don’t see Jesus. Jesus met in the middle with the commoner on a level ground where everyone could love on Him. Yes, He was extreme, but He spoke clearly. Yes, He offended…those whose hearts were not right with the Lord, He did not offend His own people.

As a youth leader I want to keep it hip and fresh. Yes, I am aware “hip” is an old word, I am an old woman, but I still like youthful things. That is why I attended Winter Jam with a few of our youth back in the winter. It wasn’t my genre of music, I’m a bluegrasser, but I enjoyed parts of it. It was the parts that I didn’t enjoy that I still have an issue with and are always in the forefront of my mind when I’m pondering the direction of our youth ministry.

  1. When the music level of a few of the bands got to the point where babies cried and my ears physically hurt I didn’t see nor hear Jesus. And I don’t really think He would approve of them causing hearing loss in His creation. Just sayin’.
  2. When a few of the groups screamed into a mike and called it music, and said they were proclaiming the gospel, yet I didn’t understand a word they said, I disagree that they are proclaiming the gospel. Jesus may have hung out with rockers, but He spoke clearly.
  3. When one group of guys “pranced” across the stage and sang a song about a chainsaw I thought… I don’t see Jesus.

Now for the flip side of that coin. If we expect youth to sit in a church that makes no attempt to keep it relevant to their world they’re not going to see Jesus either. I’m not talking about the preaching time. That time is between God and the man of God. And if He is preaching the Word… leave Him be. Kids need to be in a preaching service, whether that is one of their own or the regular worship hour. They need to see the gospel preached. But when it comes to the Sunday School hour and the youth ministries, that time should be their time, exclusively.

  1. Keeping it culturally correct doesn’t mean doing everything they like.
  2. Whatever it is that you do, when you’re done they better have seen Jesus, or you were just entertaining.
  3. Only infants like to be read to. If they are above the age of two, stop it.
  4. Invest in them both financially and on the clock.
  5. Find out what’s trending in their world, good or bad and then talk about it.
  6. Make sure it’s a two way conversation.
  7. All of these rules apply to adults as well!