Wednesday, January 14, 2015

All Things to All Men

Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law,[a] I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

How do I apply Paul’s philosophy of becoming “all things to all men” to help some get to Christ? I think it’s so important to show people who don’t know Christ and his love that we are all weak and we all make daily mistakes. I don’t want to go around acting perfect and saintly when I know that I’m not. Yes, I want to try hard and I want to be a good example and shine my light before men, but sometimes people need to know that I struggle too. People need to know that sometimes I feel jealous or envious and it causes me to manipulate or try to control others. They need to know that sometimes I turn to worldly things to try to make my problems “go away” only to make more for myself. I sometimes watch and read things that have no value to me whatsoever, and am still trying to learn how to tell myself no. I get grumpy and say some ugly things sometimes, and all I can do is ask for forgiveness….AGAIN. I feel sorry for myself a lot, which causes me to dwell on it and make it all about me. I tell myself I don’t want to be in the spotlight, yet feel hurt when no one notices what I did for them. I tell little white lies and I twist the truth to save others and MYSELF from pain. I’m sure I could go on and on.
The point is I sin every day. I think some people who haven’t been saved think they can’t be because they aren’t ready to change their lives. The truth is, I have to wake up every morning and ask for another chance. I’ve been saved for over 20 years and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t have to ask for forgiveness and for him to keep working on me. I don’t want to display my sin to all men, and I try to live the best life I can. But I need to be honest and tell them that I struggle with that side of me and that’s why I need Christ. I can tell them that now that I have him, I feel it getting better. I feel him working in my life and convicting me and telling me that I don’t have to do those same things to get results.
There is a better way…His way. Slowly but surely I’m learning that as I trust him and follow his lead. Denying myself and turning away from my human nature one trial at a time, I see his results and they are so much better. I still slip up and try to control things and make a mess, and I need to be able to admit that; especially to those who are not a Christian or are a new brother or sister. It’s so important that we encourage each other and sometimes that means admitting that we aren’t perfect and that we talk about our mistakes openly. I want to be able to sit down and talk to a person and have them relate to me and let them know that I get them. I just need to remember that after I've spilled my guts about all of my faults I let them know THIS is why I need Jesus!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Confession Time

     I have awoken and been convicted of my selfishness the last few days, but rather than be sad and mourn my sin, I am rejoicing because I feel Jesus changing my heart.  This may sound really trivial and just might show you how far I have to go, but last week my husband was given this.  It’s called a People Pleaser.  He is very sentimental and likes to keep things.  When he got it from his sister it was in pieces and no longer had the string holding it together to hang it.  When I saw the pieces I thought they would make nice trivets to hold some hot pans on the table and store away in a drawer the rest of the time.  They didn’t match my décor.  When he saw them, he wanted to fix it and hang it proudly on the wall.  I balked at that and let it sit for a couple of weeks on his dresser.  His mother made it.
     Today I cleaned the house and while I was dusting I came across the People Pleaser again.  I felt ashamed and angry at myself as I dusted his dresser.  My heart ached when I thought about my attitude and all of the other times I have acted that way about such small things, but at the same time HUGE things.  This wasn’t just a decoration to him, it was a memory and a special keepsake of someone that he loved very much who is gone, but her legacy lives on.  This is part of that legacy and it’s something for him to look at and cherish and love because her hands created it.   I dug out my twine and got to work.  It now adorns the dining room wall and I have to admit that it pleases me very much.  Turns out, it’s kind of cute. 
      This isn’t the first time this week that Jesus has taken over my selfish nature.  Yesterday at Walmart I stepped out of my comfort zone and helped a stranger, all the while feeling afraid of them and skeptical of their intentions but steadfast in my step of faith.  Nothing bad happened and I was able to pray with her and it felt wonderful.  The mature Christian, which I should be right now, already knows that obedience brings such amazing peace.  That I am amazed by this shows me how much I still have to learn.  It's not me that does the work, it's him living in me.  I have held it back for far too long and the freedom I feel giving up control is indescribable.  I want more!

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4

Monday, July 21, 2014

R.I.P. Wilbur

     Yesterday our guinea pig of seven years breathed his last.  Wilbur was an impulse buy one day when we went to the feed store.  I was younger and more naïve then, I guess and when I saw him, his cuteness won me over.  He was only $9.00, of course after we got him and all of his other necessities it was more like $79, but he was a good pet and we loved him, so I guess it was money well spent.  

     I know he was only a guinea pig, but as Abbey held him in her lap yesterday as her BFF, Peanut looked on with concern, I couldn’t help but get nostalgic.  Watching her pet him for the last time and thinking about the first time she held him and how young she was.  She gave him a name and took care of him every day, as faithfully as a little girl ever could.  He even got baths when he got his cage cleaned, complete with bubbles.

     I thought about the many videos when he was the star, complete with an English saddle.  She taught him to jump little fences, poor Wilbur.  I thought about the first time she saw him “popcorn” and we had to google it to find out why he was doing that.  We were glad to find out it was a happy gesture and that he was excited and not having some kind of health problem.  I thought about when she saved up her money for a play pen so he could go outside and eat grass.  So many hours of her childhood included Wilbur.  He was her friend.
     I knew when I got up yesterday that it was his last day.  I thank God that she came home early from church to hold him one more time and that she was here to comfort him in his most difficult hour.  He waited for her so they could say a proper goodbye.  It was right and it makes me glad.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Rut is Not an Abyss

     Sometimes my mind gets in the wrong place and before I know it this rut that I find myself in feels like a bottomless pit.  My head swarming with all kinds of lies like, "I'm helpless to change this....I can't do it.....It's too late....I can't stand myself for getting into this mess...." , and so on.  I could go on with all of these nasty phrases the enemy likes me to believe.  This gets me nowhere fast, so the better choice is to look for truth and what my Father who loves me more than anyone wants me to know.
    It's amazing how getting into His Word and His affirmations can make a mountain seem smaller.  So many verses tell us that.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.  Ephesians 3:20

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

     When I'm in a rut and full of despair I feel powerless, but these words remind me that I don't have to have any might of my own.  Christ's power is perfect and more effective than trying to do anything independently or on my own strength. I really accomplish more when I stop trying to "do" something and I rest at his feet in prayer and sit down with a cup of coffee and a Bible and listen to him.  I'm really "doing" something when I surrender and do that.  Peace washes over me when I hear them and it makes my problems feel smaller.  Little by little and day by day, I see a change and before long I've reached solid ground again.  

     As Christians, I think we all want to meet the potential that God has ordained for us, but worrying about it and trying so hard that we feel discouraged all the time, holds us back.  He has a better way and He tells us how to get stronger and more confident.  We look to Him each day and He will give us what we need.  Change doesn't happen overnight for most of us.  So press on! 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:33

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Always Had to Learn the Hard Way

    There are so many times that I wish I could just transport my kids to a future moment and show them why I do what I do now.  Today's discipline saves them from a folly on down the line, but for some reason my words of wisdom aren't always enough.  It hurts to watch your kids learn the hard way.  It hurts even more because that was me and I want to save them from it all.
   I heard a song today by Laura Story called Blessings.  It's not a new song, but I had this subject on my mind and it made me think of them and of learning the hard way.  The chorus:

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

    Just up a few lines I said that it hurts to watch my kids make mistakes because that "was" me.  But actually if I really want to be honest, that still IS me.  I haven't really changed and when I'm going through a trial I know it's because I need to.  I know myself and that really is the only way I learn....through tears, sleepless nights, and storms.  
    So, in these days while my kids are here growing up and going through their own life lessons, I will walk with them.  I will hold their hand, guide them, listen to them, discipline them, love them.  After all, that is what my Father continues to do with me every day.  There is not a day that I resent Him for it, and they won't resent me either.

Mar 3, 2011 - Uploaded by LoveOneAnother2011
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Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  
       Prov. 31:28

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful for: A Softer Heart

     A bible study that I have been doing the past month was on loving like Jesus and what that means.  It has put as much emphasis on patience each week as the word love itself.  I have always been one to struggle with patience with others.  I love how God led me to this study so I could really focus on how the two go together and how I will never truly be able to show the love that has been given to me until I first learn how to be a more patient person.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.   
Philippians 2:2-4

     All month long, it seemed everywhere I turned I kept running into the same message from God. I won't even ask if that ever happens to you because I think it happens to us all.  God loves to speak to us any way He can and I believe He will continue to do so until we recognize it.  FOCUS is what He kept telling me, just focus.  There are so many distractions to call our attention away from Jesus, but the more I can call him back to my heart and mind the better off I will be.  For when my mind is on him and what he has done for me and continues to do, it makes me want to be a better person.

     When my heart grasps his loving sacrifice for me and for all, when I did nothing to deserve such an act, its easier to look at the world full of people around me and love them just because he loves me.  To wrap my brain around his forgiveness and sit and ponder it for meer seconds when faced with adversity helps me to be able to just let it go. The person that hurt me yesterday, the offensive rudeness of a stranger last year, the moodiness of a friend or family member today.... is me, and he loves us all the same.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Boats Against the Current

     Sometimes when I feel like I don’t understand my children and why they do certain things, I like to ask God to show me that same fault in myself.  And He always does.  Tonight I was trying to work with my daughter, getting her to study for an upcoming test.  She has a tendency to not see the importance of her education and a good grade has never been a source of motivation for her.  I’m still trying to figure out what is.  So, there we were butting heads but getting it done.  When we were finished I left to go grocery shopping and had some alone time to think about all of it.

     In order for God to really teach me, my focus has to be on Him.  That’s when His power and glory can really work through me and I can finally start to be effective in what I do.  My days could be spent giving and changing the lives of others first which would in turn give me what I need the most.  Grace and compassion could move me to forgive and be a peacemaker instead of adding to the turmoil in the world.  If I didn’t see my time as mine, He could show me how best to use it.  His unending fountain of patience could keep me from being distracted by the clock and focus more on the hearts in my presence.   He lives in me and his intentions are always good and even perfect.  When it comes to my kids, mine are not always perfect, but they are good.  I want the best for them and sometimes they don’t cooperate.  And guess what?  I don’t always let Jesus work with me and mold me like I really should.
    I thought about what motivates me to want to change.  After a wonderful ladies’ retreat this weekend and a great sermon today, I feel I have the answer.  What motivates me more than anything is to have peace and joy by complete life by the Spirit.  I want the kind of relationship with Jesus that never feels weak.  I want to wake up and go to sleep with constant joy in my heart knowing I am never alone and always loved no matter what.  I used to think heaven was the motivation, and of course I do want to end up there someday.  But for now, I want to surround myself more with him…hidden in him and alive through him.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Colossians 3:1-4